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

Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Los Angeles Rams WR Josh Reynolds
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Andrew Potter

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

On Monday, we compile a digest of those 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.

Chicago Bears 30 at Atlanta Falcons 26

Bryan Knowles: We had our first real COVID scare of the season, with A.J. Terrell being put on the COVID list last night, and some frantic contact tracing going on to make sure the rest of the Falcons defenders were OK. Fortunately, we can confirm from our advanced tracking numbers that no Falcons defender has come within 6 feet of anyone this season, so everything looks to be alright.

On a serious note, this is the first real test of the NFL's procedures with regards to the ongoing pandemic. MLB couldn't make it through the whole season without cancelling some games, as travel is difficult at the moment. Fingers crossed that Terrell, his teammates, and everyone else ends up OK.

Scott Spratt: I think you deserve to miss your field goal attempt if you don't try to convert a fourth-and-5 against the Falcons from their 27-yard line. And Cairo Santos did!

Scott Spratt: And then taking over on downs, Matt Ryan immediately hit Calvin Ridley for a 63-yard catch without Julio Jones playing. Two players later, the Falcons are up 7-0.

Scott Spratt: Make that 6-0. Kicking is hard.

Scott Spratt: I think we knew the Falcons defense was bad. They are 28th with 15.5% defensive DVOA through two weeks. But Mitchell Trubisky just scrambled up the middle and gained about 40 of his 45 yards before a defender was even within 5 yards of him. We'll just have to see if the Bears can actually score a touchdown on their third red zone trip so far today.

Bryan Knowles: The plague on second-overall picks continues. Nick Foles has come in to replace Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.

Oh, not because Trubisky was hurt, mind you. More for the ugly interception he just threw, setting the Falcons up in the red zone. BDN time in Chicago.

Scott Spratt: Nick Foles touchdown or interception? You decide!

Dave Bernreuther: As I read that and turn my attention to that game, Foles -- who is wearing a tinted visor, which is very odd -- throws to the end zone, and if ever there was a simultaneous possession type of play, this was it. Both teams are celebrating. Two refs signal touchdown, while another waves his arms incomplete. Darqueze Dennard is running around with the ball like he just scored a touchdown himself... I have no idea what the right call here is, but it looked a lot to me like Dennard had a better claim to that ball than Allen Robinson did. This one is going to review and even with a two-minute commercial break to sort it out I have no idea which way they'll rule.

Scott Spratt: Play of the day so far today. Nick Foles throws the ball up to triple coverage, it somehow gets through for a Jimmy Graham reception. He fumbles. Anthony Miller picks the ball up. He fumbles, but the Bears somehow still end up with the ball on the doorstep of the end zone.

A few plays later on fourth-and-goal, Foles finds Miller for a touchdown. Probably too little too late for the Bears, but maybe Foles could be earning the starter job going forward.

Cale Clinton: 3:00 left in the third, backed up in their own end down two scores, and Chicago chooses to open their drive with a short run for a 1-yard loss.

Ben Baldwin's RBSDM lists the Bears as last in the league on early-down passes, throwing on 40% of those plays.

The drive ends with a punt.

Scott Spratt: Annddd Miller's catch was not a catch. Turnover on downs. Nothing is going well for the Bears today.

Scott Spratt: The Falcons didn't take kindly to the Bills nearly taking their corner. With some stellar tackling, they've allowed the Bears back into this game at 26-23 with a bit more than four minutes left.

Bryan Knowles: While we were all talking about the Bills becoming the Falcons, we forgot that the Falcons themselves are the Falcons! This was a 26-10 Falcons lead before Trubisky was benched, but Foles has led the Bears to two consecutive touchdown drives, and it's only a 26-23 Falcons lead now, with 4:18 left. Atlanta can't do this AGAIN, can they?

Dave Bernreuther: They're certainly trying... Clinging to the three-point lead, they're taking false start penalties on third down (at home in an empty stadium) and then Matt Ryan overthrew a wide open Olamide Zaccheaus. The Bears have the ball and four full minutes to work with.

Scott Spratt: The Falcons threw on all three downs of their next possession and went three-and-out. The Bears have the ball back with four minutes and are probably going to win.

Cale Clinton: Atlanta really needs to learn how to close games. Following up last week's collapse, Atlanta allows a touchdown to make it a one-score game with 4:20 to go. On the proceeding drive, the Falcons miss two short passes, push themselves back with a false start, then overthrow a deep ball. Really left scratching your head way too often with this team.

Bryan Knowles: Nick Foles takes a hit in the backfield, but finds Anthony Miller lost in coverage for the go-ahead touchdown. This can not be happening.

Bryan Knowles: And then Matt Ryan airmails a ball, and Tashaun Gipson comes down with the interception. Falcons still have two timeouts but, this Can. Not. Be happening.

Aaron Schatz: Next Gen Stats says the Bears were down to 2.0% win probability in this game. EdjSports' model had the Bears at 5.8% when they brought in Foles to replace Trubisky and 1.3% when there was 9:05 left in the fourth quarter. For the Falcons to lose leads like this in two straight weeks is just nuts. How on earth are the Chicago Bears 3-0?

Cale Clinton: I'd love to look at an archive of Win Probabilities by Play just to see if any other franchise in the NFL collapses as often and as spectacularly as the Atlanta Falcons.

If this was any other franchise, I would ask how you could ever come back from this. I would say they should blow the whole thing up, sell off assets to acquire picks, liquidate the coaching staff, and completely start from scratch.

This isn't a typical franchise. This is the Atlanta Falcons. This is all just another Sunday for them.

Los Angeles Rams 32 at Buffalo Bills 35

Andrew Potter: As is my usual Sunday routine, I opened Game Pass and skimmed the list of games, trying to guess what would be blacked out in the UK. Texans-Steelers looked the safest bet, followed by maybe Raiders-Patriots. Figured I'd be safe with Rams-Bills, but no! We live in strange times.

(Meanwhile, my grandad's beloved Leicester City is destroying Manchester City 4-1 at the Etihad. Very, very strange times.)

Dave Bernreuther: Second-and-9 on the opening drive and Josh Allen shows the best pocket presence I can remember seeing him have... albeit in a clean pocket with a four-man rush. Nice footwork, no unnecessary scrambling, slight shuffle to space on his left, and then a dart... straight into tight coverage for an incompletion. The Bills punt two plays later, but I just found that worth noting. It's the kind of pocket he would usually bolt from for no reason. Which is what I expected a lot of with Aaron Donald doing Aaron Donald things.

The Rams' first possession looks pretty darn good so far coming back the other way.

(The football, that is. The all-blue uniforms look godawful.)

Bryan Knowles: I'm watching this one in part to see how the Josh Allen-Stefon Diggs deep ball connection is working with my own eyes. So far, I've been left wanting -- just one target Diggs' way, a wide receiver screen that ended up hitting the ground after initially being ruled a touchdown. Overall, though, Allen has impressed so far, not only this season but this game. As Dave mentioned, his pocket presence looks very sharp, and while he still isn't going to win any accuracy competitions, he has thrown some absolute darts. He has made significant progress between Year 2 and Year 3, just as he did between year 1 and Year 2. That's all you can really ask for, right?

It helps, of course, that the Rams seem incapable of stopping Devin Singletary, who is averaging 6 yards a carry in the first quarter. That gets the Bills down to the 1-yard line, where they have the aforementioned incomplete pass to Diggs. The next play is another apparent touchdown to Diggs, but offsetting penalties make them do it again. Third time's a charm, though, with Allen hitting Lee Smith to give the Bills the 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Dave Bernreuther: I should compliment Josh Allen more often, because then he does Josh Allen things that make me laugh. Such as in this case, running a wide receiver screen to Diggs on the 1, throwing it directly into the turf.

After wasting an unusually long time on the review, the Bills get to run another play, and after running straight backwards, Allen hits an uncovered Diggs (again) in a throw that shows off the arm strength they (over)drafted him for, falling backwards from about the 15... and that one comes back on offsetting penalties. A fake over-the-head snap (direct to Singletary) goes nowhere, but they finally get in on the fourth try, with Allen hitting Lee Smith. This time the points count, and it's 7- 0 Bills (the Rams joined the missed field goal parade after their first drive).

Vince Verhei: It took several, several tries, but the Bills got into the end zone. Devin Singletary looked like he had scored from the 13, but they marked him down at the 1. Second-and-goal, Allen hits Stefon Diggs on a wide receiver screen for an apparent score, but the pass is ruled incomplete on replay. Third-and-goal, Allen backpedals about 15 yards but finds Diggs all alone in the end zone, but the score is wiped out by offsetting penalties. So, third-and-goal again, the direct snap to Singletary is stuffed. They go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Allen finally finds Lee Smith for the 1-yard score and a 7-0 lead.

(And I like the all-blue Rams unis. They are for sure better than the all-greys at least.)

Bryan Knowles: Vince, I too would rather slam my fingers in a door than get stabbed in the gut. The Rams redesign was such a downgrade from one of the most classic and unique sets in the league. The NFC West's sartorial standards are rock-bottom.

Bryan Knowles: Goal-line running back Josh Allen!

After a (bad) Jared Goff interception, Allen immediately hits Gabriel Davis along the sideline, who has to pull off some nifty footwork to stay in bounds but manages to hang on for a 40-yard shot. A few plays later, Allen bullies his way to the left to get the ball to the 5, plunges up the middle to get the ball to the 1, and then goes around right to get the score and the 14-0 lead. Fun, fun offensive set there from Buffalo.

Vince Verhei: I wanted to watch this game to see how Allen performed as a passer, but let's not forget how effective he can be as a runner. The Bills take over following a Jared Goff interception when he forced the ball to a well-covered Van Jefferson, and they get one big passing play when the Rams leave Gabriel Davis totally uncovered. They work to a second-and-5 from the L.A. 11, and Allen finishes the drive with three straight designed runs -- 6 yards on a speed option keeper, 4 yards on a quarterback draw, and a 1-yard touchdown on another option play.

Haven't really seen a ton of actual pocket performance so far from Allen -- the offense has been all screens and the one blown-coverage Davis play -- but hey, it's working.

Dave Bernreuther: I thought for sure that Sean McVay would be better prepared to help Goff succeed against the Bills' defense than Josh Allen would be against Aaron Donald. Enough to hammer the Rams moneyline beforehand, and enough to feel good about it after that first Rams drive, even with the missed kick.

Since then, though? Not so much. That Goff pick was terrible. The sack he took was terrible. And on this current drive they look almost like they're pumping the brakes and just calling run after run.

Then again, that works pretty well when you're running well, and they're just gashing the Bills so far on this drive. Wouldn't surprise me (and yes, I'm rooting for it ... never thought I'd find myself rooting for Goff) to see a nice play-action strike to get them back in the game.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, the Bills are for real. After the Rams are forced to settle for a field goal in the red zone, the Bills march right down the field behind deep passing from Allen, hitting both Davis and Cole Beasley for back-to-back 20-plus-yard gains to get the ball down to the 4. Allen then rolls out, and Tyler Kroft is as wide open as you will ever see in the NFL; easy pitch-and-catch for the touchdown and a 21-3 lead with 38 seconds left in the half.

The Bills' front line is just giving the Rams zero time to work with; I'm surprised McVay hasn't pulled out some screens or something to try to alleviate it. Meanwhile, the Rams defenders seem just utterly confused out there, and Allen and company are taking advantage. Beating the Jets and Dolphins? Meh. Clobbering the Rams, on the other hand ... I'm impressed.

Dave Bernreuther: At this rate Josh Allen's 300-yard game streak might end on account of it being a blowout win, not due to coming back to earth against a solid defensive Line. A well-placed sideline ball to Cole Beasley sets them up near the goal line yet again and when the Rams elect not to cover Tyler Kroft, the Bills take a 21-3 lead near the half. I did not see this one coming.

I'm still not ready to call Josh Allen good.

But man ... it's getting harder.

Bryan Knowles: Allen is definitely being helped by Brian Daboll calling some great designs to this point in the season, but Allen is taking advantage of it. His accuracy has improved significantly, and while I'll be interested in seeing what happens when a great defense shuts down some of these open receivers, there were points last year and definitely the year before where Allen would have sailed those guys by 20 yards. He can hit the broad side of a barn now, and with that arm strength and those legs, look out.

Vince Verhei: Just adding to the consensus here, but yeah, I'm surprised with how dominant Buffalo has looked today. Their offense has been very QB-friendly, with lots of easy throws on screens or wide-open guys downfield. I've only seen one big-boy throw from Allen -- that dagger down the sideline to Beasley was capital-N Nice -- but again, if it's this effective, no need to change things up and force more difficult throws just to make a point to critics.

Biggest news for L.A. might be some clarification in their muddled backfield. Malcolm Brown got the start, but has only three carries for 6 yards; his meaningless 4-yard gain on the last play of the half is his longest run so far. Second-year man Darrell Henderson, meanwhile, has a dozen carries for 68 yards.

Dave Bernreuther: A dart to Diggs -- and a well-placed one, at that -- makes this one 28-3. The Bills aren't the Falcons, so this one is over, and I'll shift focus to ask: Why on earth wasn't Stefon Diggs just penalized for punting the ball into the stands?

Bryan Knowles: McVay tries to get something going to start the second half, but a fourth-and-4 from midfield ends up falling as Goff can't find anyone to get the ball to. Can't blame the decision at all -- to get back in this one, the Rams will have to pull something out of their hat, and that requires at least putting the hat on. Goff has been off-target and indecisive all day, and that's not going to work against the unstoppable force that is the Buffalo Bills.

In the "over-analyzing everything Josh Allen does" category, the Bills get a first-and-goal from inches out. Allen A) is utterly indecisive on an option play, losing 3 yards; B) throws a screen behind Cole Beasley, keeping him out of the end zone; C) bullets a great pass to Diggs to get into the end zone for the score. Hey, you only need one!

28-3 Buffalo, and this game is all over bar the shouting.

Vince Verhei: Obviously, this is the best the Bills have looked in a while. They haven't won a game by 25 points or more since a 42-17 win over Miami in Week 17 of 2018.

Of course, in the time it took me to look that up, L.A. scored. Eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, with Goff scoring on a sneak on second-and-goal. Henderson had two carries for 21 yards on the drive and is up to 101 yards on 15 carries now.

And there's the first "Josh Allen" Josh Allen play of the day. Under pressure, he lobs up a total duck to Tyler Kroft in double-coverage. It looks like Kroft has bailed his quarterback out with a miracle catch, but A) he was called for obvious offensive pass interference, and B) John Johnson wrestled the ball away from him, so it's an interception for L.A., pending a review. Either way, though, this is going to be bad news for the Bills.

INT stands. Rams ball at their own 46.

Vince Verhei: And the Rams pay it off right away. Goff finds Tyler Higbee deep down the sideline for a gain of 31. One play later, Robert Woods takes a wide receiver screen and breaks four tackles on his way to a 25-yard score. Rams get two touchdowns in less than two minutes of game time, but still trail 28-17.

Scott Spratt: Are we sure the Bills aren't the Falcons? This game that was 28-3 is now 28-25. The Rams just scored and are kicking off, but they still have 10:34 to complete the rally.

Bryan Knowles: Who said that the Bills weren't the Falcons? Because after holding a 28-3 lead early in the fourth, the Rams have come marching back. It's 28-25 now, and I'm gonna have to refocus on that one...

Aaron Schatz: According to the EdjSports model, Rams GWC was 0.7% when the game was 28-3.

Vince Verhei: Oh goodness. Rams force a three-and-out, but a 72-yard Corey Bojorquez punt pins them at their own 3. No matter -- they drive 97 yards in 10 plays, getting a 16-yard touchdown to Cooper Kupp and two-point conversion to Higbee, and the score is cut to 28-25 with 10-plus minutes to go. Biggest play yardage-wise was a 31-yard strike to Woods down the middle of the field. Woods also had an end-around for 15 yards to convert a second-and-10 on the drive.

Dave Bernreuther: Aaron Donald just did Aaron Donald things, sacking Allen (by the jersey, which was every bit as much of a "horse collar" as some of the not-quite-but-now-by-rule-horse-collar ones we've seen this year), and then taking the ball from him as he fell at the 40. The Rams are now down three with the ball in the red zone. I am tempted to leave it off my screens so as not to jinx this, as this entire comeback has happened since I turned it off.

Vince Verhei: We haven't mentioned him today, but the Rams still have the NFL's best defensive player. Bills drive into L.A. territory, but Aaron Donald comes unblocked off the edge and sacks Allen for a loss of 12 on first down. That sets up a third-and-22, and there's Donald for the fumble-sack and and L.A. recovery. Worse, Allen thinks he was horse-collared on the play and draws a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on top of it. Rams are getting the ball at the Buffalo 37.

Bryan Knowles: You can't stop Aaron Donald forever -- he had two huge sacks on Josh Allen on this last drive, including a forced fumble to give the Rams the ball back. Man, if the Bills blow this...

Aaron Schatz: According to the announcers, there is no horse collar tackle rule on a quarterback in the pocket.

Vince Verhei: Goff-to-Josh Reynolds gains 23, and Henderson scores from a yard out to put the Rams up 32-28 with 4:30 to go.

In the Super Bowl, after falling behind 28-3, it took the Patriots over 20 minutes of game time to tie the score, and 12 minutes more than that to take the lead. The Rams have gone from a 28-3 deficit to a 32-28 lead in about 19 minutes today.

Bryan Knowles: How on earth do you let Cole Beasley get wide open on third-and-22? Confusion in the zone for the Rams, and the Bills are driving...

Dave Bernreuther: Just as I'm about to ask if Josh Allen had been hypnotized or something -- because his willingness to stay in the pocket is just night and day better than it used to be, and that statement is true even under actual duress -- he rolls to his left (justifiably) and goes back to his old tricks of just heaving the ball stupidly when in trouble near the sideline. It wasn't rookie Allen flinging it backwards over his head dumb, but it was dumb. And they tried to let him get away with it too. Great challenge by McVay, since his knee was clearly down for a sack.

The Bills convert on the next play anyway, but at least McVay helped his guys on the stat sheet.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know how Josh Allen just fought off three different pass-rushers who had him for a sack. And I guess now I know... he got the rare offensive facemask call for grabbing Justin Hollins and not letting go. Important 15-yard penalty against Buffalo.

Bryan Knowles: 2019 Josh Allen has arrived at the game. His pocket presence has just evaporated late in this one. Bills still could pull this one back off, but oof. After all those nice things we said in the first half, too!

Aaron Schatz: Wow, very iffy DPI call on Darious Williams of the Rams on fourth-and-9 will go a long way towards deciding this game. Both players were hand-fighting and that did not look like more interference by the defender than by the offensive player.

Bryan Knowles: That sound you hear? That's the world's tiniest violins coming from New Orleans, after the Rams are burned by a questionable pass interference call which may end up costing them this ball game.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm not going to say that wasn't DPI, because he definitely held him beyond 5 yards downfield, but wow... if the mandate to the referees was to let them play and that's why the games of the first two weeks were so watchable, well... that was not that.

Bills score on the next play -- Allen goes for four passing touchdowns and one rushing -- and win and cover by a point. Ouch.

I don't have the sound on to hear what Mike Pereira is saying, but I can't believe they just made that call -- very late, too -- on fourth-and-ball game.

They're not wrong. But I'm surprised.

Vince Verhei: Allen has played the entire second half waiting for multiple pass-rushers to corral him before trying to break tackles and make plays. Usually he has complained that they have fouled him. Instead the Rams have gotten zero flags for anything related to their pass rush, but Allen now has two penalties for 30 yards. But on fourth-and-9, the Bills are bailed out by a DPI on Damarious Williams, and one play later Allen hits Kroft for a 3-yard touchdown that should win the game barring some absurdity in the last 15 seconds.

Vince Verhei: I thought this game would teach us a whole lot about how good these teams really were. At halftime I really felt like I knew. Now, if anything, I'm more perplexed by both teams than I was going in. What a crazy game.

Las Vegas Raiders 20 at New England Patriots 36

Aaron Schatz: With center David Andrews out, Patriots have moved franchise-tagged left guard Joe Thuney to center and are using rookie Michael Onwenu at guard.

There was some thought that the Patriots might use Stephon Gilmore on Darren Waller today but it looks like the Patriots are playing cornerbacks on sides and Gilmore is staying on the defensive left. So far I've seen Devin McCourty and Joejuan Williams on Waller.

Scott Spratt: Just as Tony Romo finished complimenting the Raiders' establishing the run, Josh Jacobs fumbled the ball to the Patriots. Seems like a big football karma day early.

Scott Spratt: Rex Burkhead just crowd-surfed his way into the end zone.

Scott Spratt: Slot receiver Hunter Renfrow had seen just nine targets in his year-plus career of 16 or more air yards downfield. And then, with just a few seconds left in first half:

Replay showed he was down on the 1-yard line, and the Raiders now have nine seconds and no timeout to try to score.

Aaron Schatz: The Raiders are pretty clearly outplaying the Patriots today but they're down 13-10 at halftime. Raiders have 7.4 yards per play to 4.8 yards per play for the Patriots, and that doesn't even count a terrible 28-yard DPI against Stephon Gilmore that put the Raiders in position in the final minute for that Renfrow catch and then the touchdown by Foster Moreau from the 1. Patriots have won the battle of fumble recovery randomness, recovering two Raiders fumbles including one by Josh Jacobs that on replay was clearly recovered by Jacobs, who should have been down by contact before the Patriots defenders wrestled the ball away from him.

Raiders are playing a lot of man coverage on the Patriots receivers and doing well with it so far, but Cam Newton has also been off. He definitely doesn't look like the star quarterback downfield that we saw against Seattle Sunday night. Doesn't look like the change at center is affecting things much, as the running game has still been good with a mix of running backs. As for the Patriots defense, look, we told everyone regression was coming but the announcers still talk about it like this is last year's defense. It's definitely not.

Aaron Schatz: Darren Waller just got his first target of the game, two minutes into the third quarter, although he has drawn two defensive holding penalties today. Good coverage today by Devin McCourty and Joejuan Williams.

Raiders bog down after a long pass to Bryan Edwards, try a field goal, and Daniel Carson misses, so we're still at 13-10 Patriots.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots offense has woken up in the last two drives. The big plays were big runs by Sony Michel with gigantic holes at the line of scrimmage followed by great cuts by Michel in the open field to avoid open-field tackles. Thirty-eight on the first drive, then a 48-yarder on the second drive. First drive ended with a Burkhead touchdown, second one with a field goal. Now 23-10 Patriots near the end of the third quarter.

Aaron Schatz: This Patriots-Raiders game has been a good primer on why passes defensed predict future interceptions better than past interceptions. A lot of balls tipped in the air that didn't come down in the defense's hands.

Cale Clinton: How about Sony Michel today? Seven rushes for 112 yards, averaging 16.0 yards per carry. Sure, 48- and 38-yard runs are going to pad those averages, but he and J.J. Taylor have really helped the Patriots stay on top of this game.

With the extremes we've seen out of New England's offense through two weeks (15 carries for Cam Week 1, 397 passing yards for Cam Week 2), the Patriots offense has really shown off its malleability depending on the week's opponent. Las Vegas is 28th in the league in rushing DVOA through two weeks at 9.4%. The Raiders allowed 5.89 yards per carry against the Saints in Week 2 after allowing 4.3 yards per carry to the Panthers Week 1. This week, the Patriots are averaging 6.97 yards per carry with 10:30 left to play.

Washington Football Team 20 at Cleveland Browns 34

Vince Verhei: Great touchdown run by Nick Chubb to put the Browns up 10-7. Browns come out with a fullback offset to the right and run to that side, but a giant cutback opens back to the left and Chubb sees it and takes it. Then he makes about four jukes beyond the line of scrimmage and forces a bevy of missed tackles to get into the end zone. It's "only" a 16-yard score, so it may not make a ton of highlight reels, but it was a tremendous play.

Dave Bernreuther: I don't hate all reverses. They certainly have their place, and they're very fun when they work.

But there are most certainly better play designs than running a slow-developing reverse, where the ball is given to a receiver who is running away from the line of scrimmage at the time of the exchange, to the short side of the field.

Isaiah Wright did an awful lot of running, probably 50 yards or so worth, in order to be lucky to gain a generously spotted 6 yards.

It didn't derail the drive or anything (it ended in a touchdown to Dontrelle Inman to take the lead), but man... that was a whole lot of effort for very little benefit.

Dave Bernreuther: Dwayne Haskins just threw one of the worst picks of the season. Deep in his own territory, under no pressure, he stared his guy down, patted the ball, waited, patted, patted again, and threw the ball directly to the defender that hadn't even been hiding or baiting him. Two plays later, Nick Chubb gives the Browns a 10-point lead, and no, I am not angry at all about the bet I had on this game, why do you ask?

Vince Verhei: With a 34-20 win over Washington today, Cleveland makes the tremendous achievement of getting to 2-1. Why is that significant? Because it's the first time the Browns have gotten above .500 since Week 15 of the 2014 season. They actually got to 7-4 that year before losing five in a row to end the season.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 at Philadelphia Eagles 23 (OT)

Bryan Knowles: 2020 has not been good for second-overall draft picks. A week after Nick Bosa and Saquon Barkley were lost for significant periods of time, Chase Young goes down with a groin injury and is immediately ruled out the rest of the game. That was a very quick call, which is rarely a good sign.

Scott Spratt: Also Carson Wentz is terrible at football for some reason, Bryan.

Dave Bernreuther: Well if Scott's going to insert that out of nowhere without saying something else, I'll second it, since I wanted to say the same thing about Wentz without any real context. I flipped over to that game in time to watch him hesitate, hesitate, hesitate, then take a sack when he could EASILY have either thrown or run for a score. Just now he threw it 5 yards over Greg Ward's head, and it's hard to blame the contact or the route for that placement. They zoomed in on his face, and I'm not one to play the body language second guessing game, but damn if he didn't sort of look an awful lot like one of those rookie quarterbacks that's getting a rude introduction to a much tougher game than the one he used to dominate in college. I don't know what's going on there, but he just looks lost. I can't think of anyone else in my lifetime that has regressed so severely.

Cale Clinton: I absolutely love what I have seen out of Joe Burrow today. The shot he took in the first half really scared me, but seeing how he has bounced back from it has been so fun. Burrow strung together 13 consecutive completed passes with some quality throws sprinkled throughout. He's 8-of-12 for 132 yards on targets 10-plus yards away from the line of scrimmage with seven minutes left to play. Shown flashes through his first two weeks, but today he's really put together a quality start.

Bryan Knowles: In the battle of 0-2 squads, it looked like Joe Burrow was going to pull off his first NFL win. But thanks to a pair of defensive pass interference calls, Carson Wentz was able to drive the Eagles down 75 yards to tie the game at 23 with less than a minute to go. Who wants extra football between a pair of terrible squads?

Dave Bernreuther: For all we talked of Wentz earlier, he just somehow magically ducked what should've been an easy sack and took it in himself to send this game -- the one against a terrible team that they should've won going away -- into overtime. This 1 p.m. slate has ended up giving us a bunch of interesting finishes. An hour ago I was almost bored.

Andrew Potter: Wentz then opened overtime by throwing the ball straight to Bengals safety Jessie Bates, who dropped it. I switched over to this game when the clock hit zero in Minnesota, and after two overtime drives I'm already wondering why.

Andrew Potter: The Eagles have moved the ball across the broadcast's imaginary field-goal target line twice on their second drive of overtime, once on a lovely bomb to Zach Ertz ... and both times have immediately taken an offensive line penalty to push them back beyond it. So now they're punting on fourth-and-19 from barely their own side of midfield, and it's still a tie with 2:56 to go.

Cale Clinton: Four overtime punts. I think I'm gonna be sick.

I get that none of these drives have really gotten going, all resulting in third-and-longs and all but one failing to cross midfield, but you can't feel good about voluntarily surrendering the ball in a next-score-wins scenario.

Bryan Knowles: With two minutes left in overtime, in a tie game, I think it's time we give Mike Tanier some love. From this week's Walkthrough:

On paper, this game looks a lot like the Eagles-Bengals 13-13 "Donovan McNabb doesn't know the overtime rules" game of 2008. The Eagles were a few years removed from the Super Bowl back then, the Bengals in one of their usual states of transition, and McNabb was coming off multiple seasons of injuries and maybe the backup is just as good speculation. McNabb, Reid, and the Eagles ultimately bounced back that year, but that tie felt worse than a loss (as ties often do), and it served notice that while the coming rebuild could be forestalled, it remained inevitable.

Prediction: Eagles 22, Bengals 22

Bryan Knowles: The Eagles can't do much, and have to settle for a 59-yard field goal...

And then they false start, so it's a 64-yard field goal, and they're punting instead. With 19 seconds left. Wooooooow.

Andrew Potter: That was ridiculously conservative. Just ridiculous. The Eagles got to the edge of field goal range and, the one time they didn't immediately take a stupid penalty, squatted on the ball for a long field goal attempt ... which they then denied themselves ... by taking a stupid penalty. Punting instead of trying a 64-yard field goal, with 19 seconds left against the Bengals, is nonsense. At least try to win the game. Even if you don't think it'll work. It's not like your season is going to be decided by the extra half-point you get from a tie against the Bengals. Nonsense.

Aaron Schatz: If I was Doug Pederson, I would have tried the 64-yard field goal instead of punting. What the heck, fortune favors the bold.

Bryan Knowles: And then the Bengals run a DRAW with 13 seconds left, giving up the game and settling for the tie.

Burn this football game.

Cale Clinton: Nobody wanted to win this football game.

Rob Weintraub: If there are fans at the Linc do they boo the Eagles into a 64-yd attempt?

Zac Taylor now 0-10-1 in one-score games. Should've won this by 17, however. There is almost zero likelihood he's on the hot seat, but his first 19 games haven't made anyone think he's the next McVay by any stretch.

Cale Clinton: Since 2008, there have been ten ties in the NFL. The Bengals have been involved in four of these games. They are the only team in this span that has tied more than twice.

Why 2008? That was when the Bengals recorded their first tie. On November 16, 2008, Cincinnati closed their game in a 13-13 tie to ... the Philadelphia Eagles. This was also the last tie before the NFL modified their overtime rules in 2012.

Rob Weintraub: Only I care but the 2008 Bengals weren't "in transition." Carson Palmer was out for the season and a clean-shaven young lad named Ryan Fitzpatrick was playing quarterback, and poorly, I might add.

Houston Texans 21 at Pittsburgh Steelers 28

Bryan Knowles: It took a while for both offenses to get into this one, but we're beginning to get some actual excitement in the Steelers-Texans match. First, Deshaun Watson did some Deshaun Watson things, scrambling around in the pocket under heavy Pittsburgh pressure and still finding his way to hit Will Fuller on a key third-and-9 to set up a touchdown on the next play. Not to be outdone, the Steelers pound the rock into the red zone, before Ben Roethlisberger somehow slides the ball into a perfectly covered Eric Ebron for the score. 14-10 Texans midway through the second.

Dave Bernreuther: I wish that CBS cared to show replays of the actual game as much as they do the stupid celebration dances, because it'd be lovely to know why the Texans just decided not to cover the Steelers' best receiver as he wandered across the field and scored a touchdown so uncontested that Eric Ebron was celebrating as he caught the ball at the 18.

But hey, we got to see a stupid dance twice...

(OK, coming back from commercial as I type this, they revisited it ... two defenders decided to cover the same guy, leaving Juju Smith-Schuster alone with nearly the entire far side of the field to himself.)

Andrew Potter: That's not even the worst of it, Dave. The receiver on the other side was wide open too!

Deshaun Watson drove the Texans straight back down the field for another touchdown though, and this looks like a fairly surprising shootout.

Dave Bernreuther: Holy crap. Did Ben even pump fake toward James Washington on that play? He drew THREE defenders on a route that barely even crossed the line of scrimmage.

The Texans answered that score, and quickly, on a really nicely placed fade from Watson to Will Fuller. I was certain on first viewing that Fuller pushed off to catch it, but upon review, it was legit, and he very delicately snuck his arm out and around the defender while moving and jumping. Impressive.

Vince Verhei: This isn't news, I suppose, but it's striking how few of Deshaun Watson's weapons are home-grown. Nine different Texans have had a handoff or a target today, and only three of them -- Will Fuller, Jordan Akins, and Cullen Gillaspia (who, as I noted in an email this week, sounds more like the next target of the Mandalorian than an NFL fullback) -- were drafted by Houston. I don't know if this matters -- the goal is to get good players, and the methodology is irrelevant in the long run -- but it's sure unusual.

Vince Verhei: Every time I glance at this game lately, the Steelers are ripping off a long run. James Conner is over 100 yards on the ground now, and Anthony McFarland has added 42 on only six carries.

Rivers McCown: Today's TL;DR version of this one. The Texans got destroyed by the 30th-ranked VOA run offense heading into the game. The Texans looked really good when they were in empty formations that let Watson process pre-snap and let the offensive line block five rushers. Pittsburgh's defense became the latest one to crush Watson to the tune of five sacks and 11 quarterback hits. Houston's pass defense mostly looked good over the top, where they still have not allowed a 20-plus-yard completion this year. But they give up everything underneath and I'm starting to wonder if their linebackers are a good fit for the underneath scheme that new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver has put in. More here.

San Francisco 49ers 36 at New York Giants 9

Bryan Knowles: I haven't been commenting much on this game because, oofda, the level of talent in this one is ... well, I'll say impressive. And the 49ers already have two more injuries on the MetLife turf -- Jordan Reed hurt his ankle, though he's gutting through it, and Emmanuel Moseley is out with a head injury. I don't think you can blame either on the turf, but I would not be surprised if the 49ers burn down the stadium on their way out.

Nick Mullens is a fine backup quarterback, by which I mean he can make the plays required when given time in the pocket. The reason he's a backup becomes apparent under pressure, as he freezes like a deer in the headlights; he has been clobbered a couple of times by unblocked rushers and thrown some real ducks with terrible footwork. Still, when given time, he has had the 49ers moving. It has resulted in some stalled-out drives -- a couple of field goals and a missed field goal after a bad snap -- so the 49ers' lead on the scoreboard isn't quite what the rest of the stat sheet would indicate. They have 40 plays to the Giants' 18, and are outgaining them 187 yards to 100, but only just got into the end zone on a Jerick McKinnon run, giving San Francisco a 13-6 lead later in the second quarter...

... and as I type this, Daniel Jones fires a ball directly to Fred Warner. The 49ers have been getting significant pressure up the middle with Javon Kinlaw and Ziggy Ansah (wearing Solomon Thomas' number to just confuse me all the more), and Jones has not handled it well. Mullens, given time, finds McKinnon for a 20-plus-yard gain to get the ball into the red zone. They give Mullens one shot at the end zone, but time constraints force them to kick the field goal for the 16-6 halftime lead. A classic pre-Garoppolo Shanahan game with plenty of Robbie Gould out there, but that might well be enough to beat the Giants.

Bryan Knowles: With Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and now Jordan Reed all out, the 49ers need someone to step up. Hello, Brandon Aiyuk! Shanahan must have been getting antsy, so he opened the "use only with Deebo" envelope and called the end-around to Aiyuk, who showed off his exceptional speed for a 19-yard touchdown. Our own Derrik Klassen said, pre-draft, that Aiyuk was a player who needed special plays designed for him, and, well, that's the Shanahan system. So far today, Aiyuk has three receptions for 39 yards and three carries for 31 yards and the score. Not bad for the rookie. 23-9 49ers late in the third quarter, and it feels like the 49ers are going to get out of this injurypalooza at 2-1.

Mullens is the first 49ers quarterback since Joe Montana in 1985-1986 to throw for 220-plus yards in nine straight starts, in your "weird endpoint" stat of the day.

Vince Verhei: We've barely mentioned this today, but the 49ers' backups just finished thrashing the Jets and Giants in back-to-back weeks by a combined score of 67-22. Does this tell us more about San Francisco's depth, or the complete lack of anything resembling competent football in New York?

Andrew Potter: It's the second one. Definitely the second one.

Bryan Knowles: I would definitely say it says more about the Giants and Jets then it does about the 49ers' players, though I think you also have to give Kyle Shanahan credit for getting his guys to perform despite all the injuries. It has been suggested on Twitter that, when the 49ers' starters are healthy, they should play the Giants and Jets once more, simultaneously, with Shanahan calling both games like a grandmaster playing a chess simul.

Andrew Potter: You could put every player from both starting defenses on the field at one time, and I'd still be tempted to favor Shanahan's offense.

Dave Bernreuther: As a native upstate New Yorker, I will once again step in here just to point out that the actual record of actual New York football teams is now 3-0 (sigh).

Tennessee Titans 31 at Minnesota Vikings 30

Dave Bernreuther: Kirk Cousins has thus far avoided a safety, although the Brett Kern punt before the half put him in some serious danger of that for a second there before they ruled that it bounced over the pylon and would be a touchback. Yes, I have this game on mainly to root for a safety.

The Vikings have woken up a bit after two really bad weeks to start the season, but it's worth pointing out that Taylor Lewan got carted off the field earlier, which can't be good for the Titans offense.

That said, Ryan Tannehill threw a pick the play after he left, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the line. From a clean pocket, Tannehill threw a ball to the end zone with excellent touch and placement ... but completely missed Harrison Smith lurking in the middle of the field. Smith made the easy pick to kill the drive and take points off the board. The game is otherwise very closely matched through a half, but the Vikings hold a 17-9 lead.

Carl Yedor: First-round pick Justin Jefferson has announced his arrival in a major way today. He has the most receiving yards in a game so far today and would be a major boon for the Vikings offense if he can be a factor. Through two weeks, Minnesota struggled to find anything effective on offense, but if Jefferson can emerge as a viable No. 2 receiving option, it will take some of the pressure off Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook to carry the entire load for the Vikings' skill position group. I'm sure Kirk Cousins doesn't mind. Minnesota's locked in a tight one with the Titans right now and holds a 24-19 lead late in the third quarter.

Bryan Knowles: What a catch by Kyle Rudolph! Kirk Cousins somewhat airmailed him in the end zone, forcing Rudolph to lunge, grab it with the fingertips of one hand, and barely dot his feet into the end zone. Hell of an acrobatic play by the tight end there. The two-point conversion does not succeed, so the Vikings are only up 30-25, but considering how bad they looked through the first two weeks, they have to be happy with how things are going so far.

Vince Verhei: I have not seen much of this game, but in one hell of a bounceback for Stephen Gostkowski, he has hit all six of his field goals today, including a 55-yarder to put Tennessee up 31-30 with 1:44 to go.

Vince Verhei: And the game ends with Kirk Cousins fumbling a snap on second down, then throwing a desperate interception on fourth-and-24. Vikings fall to 0-3. Titans move up to 3-0, outscoring their opponents by a total of six points on the year. Screw you and your Pythagorean wins, they say.

Carl Yedor: In fairness to Cousins there, it looked like he was trying to make a call at the line and was not ready for the snap, which was off to the right. Minnesota then gave up fairly quick pressure on both subsequent plays. But it was an ugly sequence to be sure. From 0-3, it's going to be rough waters if they still have playoff hopes.

Tom Gower: Two straight weeks of "can the Titans offense do enough to make up for the Titans defense?" This looked like a shaky proposition after Justin Jefferson whipped Jonathan Joseph for a 71-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 24-12 lead midway through the third quarter, as the Titans struggled to continue or finish drives and managed just three points in two possessions starting in Vikings territory (one of those a blindside block by Jadeveon Clowney erasing what would have been a pick-six by Joseph on what was probably a miscommunication between Jefferson and Kirk Cousins).

But then Derrick Henry started finding the running room that it seemed near-certain he'd find against an undersized and understrength Vikings front that had been easily moved the first couple weeks, and Ryan Tannehill hit some big pass plays. A nicely designed play to Corey Davis set up Henry for one score, and following a three-and-out, a shot to Kalif Raymond -- the one guy they've had in the past decade who can actually track a deep ball -- set up another Henry touchdown to give them the lead. Minnesota re-took the lead as Dalvin Cook found some of his rare second-half running room, but up five sensibly decided to go for two. Tennessee didn't get inside the Vikings 35 again, but Gostkowski hit two long field goals, Jeffery Simmons was quickly getting pressure on the Vikings interior, and Cousins picked a worse time than Tannehill did for his center to snap the ball when he wasn't ready for it, and that was that.

The Titans are now 3-0, with their three wins coming by a combined total of six points. The standings board doesn't care about that, and the pass game still looks pretty good outside of Tannehill's mistake that led to Harrison Smith's interception. For now, that can be what matters, especially if you didn't come into the season sharing the conceit the Titans were a top-ten defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 at Denver Broncos 10

Dave Bernreuther: I despise the unitard look. This is well-documented. But the all-pewter is the least worst of that genre, and a clear step up from any of Tampa Bay's uniforms from the last five years.

Also, Tom Brady hits Chris Godwin, who streeeeeeetches out nice and horizontally to get in for a 7-0 lead. The Broncos are starting Jeff Driskel and trail only the Jets in injuries, so something tells me that this will be Tom Brady's easiest trip to Denver in about 15 years. Unless I'm forgetting a game from the Tebow or Siemian eras.

Cale Clinton: This pewter vs. orange uniform game has to be one of the worst possible color matchups for standard uniform sets? Color Rush matchups would put this debate into another stratosphere.

Dave Bernreuther: As long as I'm talking about uniforms, I should punch myself for only just now noticing that the Broncos are still wearing their home orange. It's one of those extremely rare games without a white jersey (L.A. Rams' "bone" excepted, of course). When the sun sets and I put on my blue-blocking red nerd glasses, this could get a little bit tricky.

I don't actually have anything to say about the actual football that is being played in this game. So as long as I'm off on pointless tangents, I'll mention that my Twitter feed this morning was full of people that were thrilled about the fact that there are five late games today. Obviously, so am I. (But with that said, why on earth did they put the Jets-Colts game at 4? Especially when they knew they had four west coast games scheduled and had a premiere game, Dallas at Seattle, for Fox to feature as the national broadcast?)

Bryan Knowles: I believe the all-pewter IS technically the Buccaneers color rush unis, if they're still making that distinction. But yes, this is an eye-sore of a matchup.

Bryan Knowles: And one last uni note: Remember, the Broncos played the Browns in a color-color matchup last year, in a similar eye-gouging matchup. They haven't learned!

Dallas Cowboys 31 at Seattle Seahawks 38

Bryan Knowles: I'm still on the overtime game so I'm only catching this in flashes, but play-action just caused Xavier Woods to bite terribly, and Tyler Lockett just runs 10 yards behind everyone on the deep post. Easy touchdown, 7-3 Seahawks lead.

Bryan Knowles: So, Dallas opens the game by blowing a coverage to allow an easy touchdown, then had a terrible muffled kickoff to start at the 1, and then ended up taking a safety,

Credit them for getting off the turf, with a pair of 30-yard completions to CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, to score a touchdown and get back into this. They miss the extra point, though, so it's one of the weirder 9-9 scores you'll ever see.

Bryan Knowles: This game is on something. Russell Wilson hits DK Metcalf on another deep shot, wide open, and Metcalf jogs towards the end zone --- but just before he crosses the plane, Trevon Diggs catches up to him, knocks the ball loose, and it rolls out the end zone. Touchback. Should be a 16-9 Seahawks lead; instead, it's Cowboys ball. Wooooow.

Vince Verhei: Both teams are missing several key defenders in this one -- Anthony Brown and Chidobe Awuzie for Dallas; Marquise Blair and Bruce Irvin (both out for the year) and, surprisingly, Quinton Dunbar for Seattle -- so I came in expecting a shootout, with 40 points probably necessary to win. Instead Seattle opened the game with a three-and-out and Dallas answered with a field goal drive that needed 13 plays to go only 55 yards.

Then the fireworks started. Lockett had the easy 43-yard touchdown. Tony Pollard bungled the ensuing kickoff and was lucky to fall on it at the 1. Next play, Poona Ford trips up Ezekiel Elliott in the end zone for a safety and a 9-3 lead. Seattle immediately went three-and-out (Aldon Smith is eating Duane Brown's lunch today). CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper each get 28-yard receptions to move Dallas into the red zone, and Elliott dives in from the 1 on third down. Greg Zuerlein's extra point takes a crazy hook and doinks off the upright, and we're still tied 9-9.

And then Wilson finds DK Metcalf behind the defense for what should have been a 63-yard touchdown, but Metcalf slows up and Trevon Diggs runs him down and swats the ball out of his hands and out of the end zone for a fumble-touchback and Dallas ball.

And that's just the first quarter. We're tied 9-9.

Carl Yedor: Seattle gets the ball back fairly quickly after the Metcalf goof, but they go run-run-pass-punt after Wilson misses Lockett open on the right sideline. Both offenses have shown signs of explosiveness in the early going but have not been perfect. As a result, we're still sitting at 9-9.

Derrik Klassen: Credit to Dallas, I think they are actually doing a great job getting to Russell Wilson today. Don't know when/if it's going to net them enough to matter considering Russ is still doing Russ things, but it's at least a good start. Might start clicking if Dallas' secondary can actually hold up without committing a penalty.

Vince Verhei: Well, Derrik, I'm afraid they can't. Three penalties for illegal contact or DPI on that last drive, the last by Brandon Carr on Greg Olsen in the end zone for a first-and-goal. Wilson hits Tyler Lockett for a touchdown on second down and Seattle goes up 16-9.

Dave Bernreuther: After my earlier comment about reverses where they run away from the line of scrimmage, I feel compelled to criticize that flip to CeeDee Lamb, who was running at least sort of laterally before catching it and turning to his right and ending up close to 10 yards behind the line before sneaking forward for a loss of a mere 4 yards. At least that one wasn't to the short side of the field as well, but come on ... don't run misdirection plays like that if you aren't going to block them. Unblocked they're just slow-developing dead-in-the-water plays.

As we draw close to halftime, I figure I'll put this before an educated crowd ... my good friend, a Cowboys fan, has been taunting our other former roommate from Chicago, a Jets fan, about the quality of quarterback play that each franchise has had. By his count, the Cowboys have had EIGHT quarterbacks better than the best to have taken the field in a Jets uniform. Now, he has some obvious bias, but even disinterested parties can make the case that Joe Namath was overrated. And the more I think about it, the less ridiculous I think he's being. The Cowboys have had excellent luck with quarterbacks, even as a star like Tony Romo didn't get to hoist a trophy, while the Jets have had quarterback play that has universally been as bad as any franchise other than the Bears.

Seems like a fun topic for discussion. Romo, Roger Staubach, Dak Prescott, Danny White, Troy Aikman, Don Meredith, Drew Bledsoe and in his eyes Craig Morton would be the eighth.

They just flagged Brandon Carr in the back of the end zone for breaking up a pass to Greg Olsen that gave Seattle a first-and-goal at the 1 and it struck me as incredibly sketchy. In real time I assumed that he must have hooked the back hip and spun Olsen for leverage in order to reach across to break up the pass with his front hand, but on replay it seemed pretty obvious that they were both clutching at each other and that if anything, Olsen tried to throw Carr aside. Again I find myself thinking that the standard of "make sure it's obvious" has gone out the window. At least in this case, the Cowboys still have plenty of game left to recover from the gift. That seemed like a really iffy call to me. And two plays later, Lockett scores again to put Seattle ahead.

Vince Verhei: Dallas' responding drive: 13-yard completion to Amari Cooper, 22-yard completion to Cooper, 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Cedrick Wilson (first touchdown of his career). But the extra point is blocked, bringing Zuerlein to 0-for-2 on PATs in the half, and that's the difference right now as Seattle still leads 16-15.

Carl Yedor: Dallas takes little time to respond, as they get Cedrick Wilson in the slot matched up on vet linebacker K.J. Wright. That works strongly in favor of Dallas and results in a 40-yard touchdown. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they can't convert the PAT and are still down 16-15.

Bryan Knowles: Dave, your friend is nuts. Namath's peak wasn't very long, due to injuries, but eight Cowboys quarterbacks better? Not in this universe. I wouldn't even put Aikman above him, much less Craig Morton or Don Meredith.

Also nuts? This football game. Cedrick Wilson gets matched up one-on-one with K.J. Wright, and easily romps into the end zone ... but then the Cowboys miss another extra point, and it's still a 16-15 Seahawks lead.

Aaron Schatz: One comment before I sign off for the night: the idea that Namath was overrated is somewhat based on taking today's standards for quarterback play and retroactively applying them to a very different game in the late 1960s. But he also really had a peak that was just three years, 1967 to 1969, before he broke down from injuries. What Namath would look like in today's game with today's doctors and today's sports medicine is one of the great questions of NFL quarterback history.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm inclined to agree, especially since the window is only what the quarterback did with that team (otherwise Favre would count for the Jets, for instance). Bledsoe has no business on that list. I don't know enough about Morton or Meredith (although from what I've seen the latter is underrated), but even as one who thinks Aikman is overrated I'm not sure I'd slot him that far down (I have never thought much of Namath).

Doesn't change the fact that they've been pretty fortunate when it comes to quarterback play, when the one that won three titles is possibly as low as fifth on their franchise totem pole.

As for the game itself...

What is going on with these kickers this year? (!)

Rodrigo Blankenship doinked one in Indianapolis, and now we see ANOTHER missed extra point here. We're sitting at 16-15 now, and while it feels to me like we're deep into the second half, it's just the two-minute warning of the first. The kicking game this year seems like it is WAY less reliable than in any year prior, and not just because of the change to the extra points. The NBA bubble's lack of fans led to many people speculating about shooting percentages going up without the background distractions; I wonder if the opposite is true of kickers for some reason.

Bryan Knowles: Speaking of great Cowboys quarterbacks, Prescott throws his first interception in 292 attempts, which allows the Seahawks to march down the field with 36 seconds left in the half, and Wilson finds Tyler Lockett for his third touchdown of the day, all of them almost entirely uncovered.

The Dallas halftime speech is just going to be a picture of Lockett, circled in red, with a plea for someone, anyone to cover him.

Vince Verhei: The last minute of this half was a slog of penalties and replay reviews and felt like it took 20 minutes of real time to finish, but the end result is this: Shaquill Griffin undercut an Amari Cooper post route for an interception to set Seattle up in good field position, Greg Olsen had a pair of big completions to get them to the goal line (one of which came with yet another Dallas penalty, though it was declined), and Wilson found Lockett in the end zone for the third time today.

So Seattle leads at halftime 23-15. And to give you an idea of how frenetic this game has been, they should have 30 points at the half if not for Metcalf's bad-effort play ... but they have also punted four times. Quite an all-or-nothing day for their offense.

Seattle's leading in most stats: First downs: 15-9. Total yardage: 268-201. Yards per play: 6.9 to 6.1. Time of possession: 17:59-12:01. Turnovers are even. The biggest area where Dallas is winning is third downs, where they have converted five of eight plays while the Seahawks are 1-for-5. Cowboys are getting the ball to start the second half, and even Troy Aikman is telling them to just give up on the run and let Prescott throw every play. Ezekiel Elliott has 14 yards on nine carries; Prescott has 181 yards on 22 pass plays.

Speaking of, in the Let Russ Cook watch: Wilson has 24 dropbacks; the Seahawks have 12 handoffs. Wilson himself has three runs. One designed run for a loss, one third-down scramble that came up short of a first down, and one I can't remember off the top of my head.

Vince Verhei: First play of the second half, Seahawks get their first sack of the day: Jarran Reed swats the ball out of Prescott's hand and into Benson Mayowa's for the fumble recovery. It's close enough they may change that to an interception after the game, but either way, it's Seattle's ball at the 5. Two plays later Wilson has touchdown No. 4, this one to Jacob Hollister, and now Seattle has their 30 points, 46 seconds into the second half.

Bryan Knowles: The very first play of the second half? A Jarran Reed sack, forcing Prescott to fumble, and the Seahawks jump on it inside the 5-yard line. Wilson hits his fourth touchdown of the day, and the Cowboys need to put something together right now.

30-15 Seahawks as this one is in danger of getting out of hand.

Dave Bernreuther: You're not kidding about it being a slog, Vince. The Colts-Jets game has ten minutes left. As in left in the game. Depending on how this goes with running out the clock (it's 31-7 and neither team even seems to be trying anymore), they could conceivably be done playing before the first series of the second half of this game ends.

Carl Yedor: Third-down defense has been a real problem for Seattle in the early going. Given their struggles against the pass so far this year, this should not be particularly surprising, but Seattle has given up third down conversions at a frighteningly high rate so far this year. Atlanta went 7-of-14, New England went 7-of-12, and at halftime Dallas was sitting at 5-of-8, as Vince mentioned. Off the top of my head, I believe Seattle was pretty good on third down in previous years (maybe that was 2018 specifically?), but I doubt those numbers are really sustainable in either direction. That said, the Seahawks have had some real coverage issues so far this season, so it's not like those poor third-down performances have been unlucky.

Tom Gower: When I looked a couple years ago after the new XP rule came in, I was surprised how shaky kicking was in Weeks 2 and 3. It's not a surprise that Week 1 is tough, but you'd think it'd work out better after that. Nope, Weeks 2 and 3 were at least as bad and maybe even worse. After that, especially on short kicks, it really settled down. Of course, that's with the benefit of a full preseason, so it may take longer this year. A developing story...

Vince Verhei: Dallas gets a fourth-and-1 near midfield, and down 15 points, going for it is a no-brainer. Elliott converts by about half a football. But Dallas goes nowhere after that and soon faces fourth-and-9. It looks like they're going to go for it again, but they're very confused with only 10 men on the field, and they end up taking a delay of game and punting.

I remain confused why people thought Mike McCarthy would be a coaching upgrade in Dallas.

Bryan Knowles: Dallas, backed up on their own 6, needed a touchdown to stay in this game. 52-yard pass to Michael Gallup, incomplete pass, 42-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson. Sometimes, we make this "offense" thing seem a lot harder than it actually is.

The Cowboys do manage to kick an extra point this time, so it's 30-22 -- a one-score game in Seattle midway through the third quarter.

Vince Verhei: Another lightning-strike touchdown drive for Dallas: 52-yard bomb to Michael Gallup: incompletion to Elliott; and then another long catch-and-run touchdown for Cedrick Wilson, this one for 42 yards. Griffin in coverage on both of the big plays. Zuerlein finally hits an extra point and Seattle's lead is cut to 30-22.

Elliott, by the way, has been completely bottled up. He's now at 18 yards on 11 carries, and his five targets have resulted in a bunch of incompletions (most of them drops) and one catch for a 4-yard loss.

Vince Verhei: Cowboys are driving as the third quarter ends. Seattle's last drive ended on Wilson's fourth sack of the day. That sounds bad, but all four have been coverage sacks with Wilson hanging in the pocket forever, and he has had tons of time in the pocket most of the time. If anything, Seattle has had the more consistent pass rush today, and I didn't think there was a prayer of that happening.

Dave Bernreuther: Vince, did anyone actually think that about McCarthy, though?

It's worth pointing out that Aldon Smith has been a force on almost every snap in this game. When he doesn't get near Wilson, it's often because he's getting held. Turns out that five years off (when you're not getting tested for anything and can thus gain 40 pounds) can keep a freak athlete fairly fresh. He's still young, right? 31? That kid is making himself some money this year.

Vince Verhei: Michael Gallup scorches Tre Flowers for a 43-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion barely fails as Ugo Amadi makes a stellar tackle on a Noah Brown completion. If the Cowboys had hit their PATs they'd be ahead right now. As it is, they still trail 30-28.

I thought it would take 40 points to win this. Now I'm thinking it might take 50.

Carl Yedor: That was quick. After going up 30-15, Seattle gives up touchdown passes of 40-plus yards on back-to-back Dallas drives. The Cowboys are stopped just short on their two-point attempt, but they are right back in this thing early in the fourth quarter.

Dave Bernreuther: Dak throws a tad short of perfect to hit Gallup in stride, and we have ourselves a nice setup for a great fourth quarter in the national game.

And somehow that's the least interesting thing to happen simultaneously, compared to the play to end the Chargers game...

Bryan Knowles: Just like you draw it up! Off the defender's chest, off his foot, into the hands of Michael Gallup for 18 yards.

Dave Bernreuther: That's 400 yards passing for Dak with half a quarter remaining. I will vote against the idea that 50 will be needed to win it, but only because if the Cowboys score here, give up the lead, then win it on the next possession, it'll mean they landed on 42. Which I'm not betting against.

It feels like almost every play Cedrick Wilson decides to shuffle around and take risks to get an extra yard or 2, but he has thus far not been punished. I fear for their chances on a final come-from-behind drive when he ends up getting tackled in-bounds while fighting for 1 extra yard.

Vince Verhei: Cowboys' last three drives: 94 yards, touchdown; 89 yards, touchdown; 70 yards, field goal to take a 31-30 lead. Still 3:59 to go with both teams full of timeouts, so plenty of time for Seattle to take the lead -- and then give it back, if they're not careful. Especially with Jamal Adams out with what appears to be a groin injury.

Dave Bernreuther: Wow what a throw. Wilson didn't even set his feet in that direction but just dropped it in a bucket for Metcalf. Ballsy route combo on third-and-3 too. You wonder if maybe they left too much time left on the clock with the way this quarter has been going...

Bryan Knowles: DK Metcalf finally does something good! Wilson, with all sorts of time, finds Metcalf 40 yards downfield for the go-ahead score. What a play call, with Metcalf running all the way across the field. That needed the offensive line to step up big, and they did. Fantastic football from Seattle. The two-point attempt is good, and the Seahawks now have a 38-31 lead.

You do have to question the clock management, though -- running to get a play off before the two-minute warning, throwing incomplete on second down. That leaves 1:47 left on the clock and Dallas with all three timeouts.

Vince Verhei: DK Metcalf with a 29-yard touchdown catch, and my concern as a Seahawks fans is that they scored way too quickly. 1:47 and three timeouts is way too much time to leave for Prescott and the Cowboys today.

The good news is that Hollister gets the two-point conversion for a seven-point cushion. That's enormous. Overtime is now the realistic worst-case scenario, unless McCarthy really did spend his offseason studying analytics as he claimed.

Bryan Knowles: About eight thousand things happened on the last Cowboys drive -- odd penalties accepted, a thousand dink-and-dunks, Prescott absorbing some hits. It came down to one final third-and-14, where Seattle rushed just three men and still got pressure. Prescott somehow managed to stay on his feet, but had to fire a desperation shot into the end zone. Interception, game over, Seahawks survive!

Carl Yedor: Seattle manages to hang on. Barely. Rookie fifth-round pick Alton Robinson picks up a big sack on second down just outside the red zone, and Prescott throws the game-ending interception on the next play. Robinson was the subject of a bit of training camp hype this year, but on a team with a dearth of pass rush options, he was inactive for the first two weeks. The pick fell into the hands of Ryan Neal, filling in for the injured Jamal Adams. Seattle's secondary is seriously banged up at this point, and next week brings a cross-country road trip to Miami.

Vince Verhei: So on Seattle's final, game-winning defensive stand:

  • Shaquem Griffin, called up from the practice squad to fill Bruce Ivin's spot at edge rusher, gets put at middle linebacker and used in coverage. And plays very well!
  • Their second sack of the day comes on a three-man rush, of all things, when Alton Robinson busts through and pulls Prescott down. Robinson, a fifth-round rookie, was also pulled off the practice squad and playing in his first game.
  • Last play, Seattle nearly gets another sack on a three-man rush, but Prescott escapes and throws a desperation pass into the end zone ... where it is intercepted by Ryan Neal, who -- repeat after me -- was pulled off the practice squad (yesterday, in fact) for his first game of the year and the fifth of his three-year career.

Seattle wins a lot, but it's never, ever easy. Up next: FitzMagic.

Cale Clinton: It's always been fun to watch Russ play, but there's something really incredible about the windows and targets that he's been able to complete passes to.

Last week against New England, Next Gen Stats had Wilson down for three Improbable Completions, all for touchdowns. One of his passes last week (a 38-yard touchdown reception by DJ Moore) had a completion probability of 6.3%. Not only is that the lowest completion probability on a pass this year, but it's the lowest since 2018. He has at least one of these today on a 16-yard completion to Greg Olsen.

He's completing some pretty spectacular passes, but Russ has also just thrown some beautiful balls over the last three weeks, putting them in places where only his receivers could catch. The 29-yard game-winning pass to DK Metcalf was so perfectly placed above Darius Thompson. Having a receiver with the size and vertical speed of Metcalf always helps to create that half-step, but that ball hung in the air enough for Metcalf to create separation and get under it. It came in a spot where Thompson couldn't even make a play on the ball despite the tight coverage.

Russ is cooking and it is beautiful.

Scott Spratt: The NFC West is up to a 9-3 collective record with a +100 scoring margin while the NFC East is down to 2-9-1 with a -97 scoring margin for the season.

New York Jets 7 at Indianapolis Colts 36

Scott Spratt: Haha, the Thursday Night Football promo for next week is incredible. Melvin Gordon. Sam Darnold. They might as well keep going with Jeff Driskel and Braxton Berrios.

Scott Spratt: I think I lit a fire under Braxton Berrios with my earlier joke because he just caught a touchdown to pull the Jets even with the Colts at 7-7. Catch another one or two and he really can headline the Thursday night game.

Dave Bernreuther: He doesn't need to catch another one. With Melvin Ingram on IR he might be the biggest name in that game. But let's see how Justin Herbert does today. Maybe he'll earn top billing by the time the afternoon is over.

Philip Rivers and the Colts easily find their way back down to the red zone. As they have, seemingly, in every drive this entire season so far. We're only in the ninth quarter of the season and I'm already wondering how they'll manage to only score three points.

Cale Clinton: After surrendering their second defensive score of the day, the following Jets drive featured five runs on seven plays before punting.

Gase has quit on this game.

Bryan Knowles: The Joe Namath talk during the Cowboys game brings up a good point from Doug Farrar.

Sam Darnold has thrown two pick-sixes today, but that is NOT the most in Jets history -- Namath threw three against the Bills back in 1968. The Jets went on to win Super Bowl III at the end of that year; this years' Jets may not even be allowed to watch the Super Bowl on television.

Bryan Knowles: It's 33-7, Sam Darnold just took a safety ... and the Jets are getting flack from the 0-16 Detroit Lions.

Dave Bernreuther: This one wraps up quickly and painlessly with Jacoby Brissett saving Philip Rivers some snaps. The Jets managed to get a few more guys hurt, but the Colts escaped unscathed, which is the real win here. As easy as that was, some concerns still remain. The defense scored 16 points, which, if removed, shows just how much the offense continues to sputter and fail to finish. At some point that's going to be a real concern. At least they're up two games on the Texans (sorry, Rivers). But if you expect -- as you should -- that Rivers (Philip, that is) will falter, they need to get better across the board in order to lower the pressure on the quarterback.

Cale Clinton: As the clock winds down on this one, I just want to remind everyone that Adam Gase said that his team's offense was going into "hyperdrive" this week. What did hyperdrive look like?

  • seven points
  • 4.3 yards per play
  • 13 of 17 completions coming within 10 yards of the LOS
  • longest air yard completion of 35 yards (NGS)
  • three interceptions, two going for touchdowns
  • An EPA/play of -0.40 (RBSDM)
  • Darnold had an EPA/play of -0.55

The Jets are 29th in offensive DVOA and will more than likely fall off further this week. The New York Jets cannot justify keeping Adam Gase around any longer. This team isn't great by any means, but Adam Gase really threw up the surrender flag with a whole quarter left to play. What more do you need to see at this point? What do you gain from keeping him around any longer?

Dave Bernreuther: Cale, you could easily have asked that same question before they even hired him. They won't fire him yet ... to do so would be to admit failure. Same concept as letting a high-drafted quarterback bust linger for far too long instead of cutting ties and doing what's right for the team.

Carolina Panthers 21 at Los Angeles Chargers 16

Scott Spratt: Austin Ekeler just scored the Chargers' first rushing touchdown of the day against the Panthers. Entering the week, the Panthers had allowed an average of 2.5 rushing touchdowns per game over their last 12 games.

Cale Clinton: Carolina has now kicked field goals from the Chargers' 11-yard line, 6 yard line, and 12-yard line. One can only wonder if the injury to Christian McCaffrey has changed the Panthers' aggressiveness in the red zone, but you won't win many games settling for three field goals in as many red zone trips.

RBSDM notes that through the first two weeks, Carolina had a red zone touchdown rate of 57.1% on seven trips.

Scott Spratt: The Panthers tried to kick their fourth red zone field goal, but a Chargers illegal formation penalty gave them a new first down for Mike Davis to score a touchdown on a screen pass. Davis has 71 yards and a score in the first half. Christian McCaffrey, system running back.

Bryan Knowles: I loaded up on Mike Davis shares in daily fantasy thanks to the great advice on Football Outsiders Dot Com!

Bryan Knowles: Justin Herbert is now down, and if I were him, I'd stay as far away from the Chargers' trainers as physically possible.

Easton Stick is warming up. I have been assured this is a real NFL player and not someone from the Madden name generator.

Scott Spratt: Justin Herbert had to go 99 yards in a two-minute drill because of a really bizarre review ruling that the Panthers successfully downed a punt at the 1-yard line even though like five Panthers touched the ball while falling into the end zone. And he was going to do it too when, with six seconds left, he completed a pass to Keenan Allen that Allen lateraled to Austin Ekeler. The entire Panthers secondary went for Allen, and Ekeler would have walked into the end zone for the win. But Ekeler couldn't secure the lateral, and the Panthers held on for a 21-16 win.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, that would have been an all-timer had it worked. Last play of the game, 30 yards out from the end zone, Justin Herbert hits Keenan Allen at about the 15-yard line. Allen immediately laterals it back to Austin Ekeler, who has an angle and a clear path to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown ... but Ekeler can't handle the lateral, it falls to the ground, and the game ends. That would have been on every highlight reel forever.

Dave Bernreuther: Oh my. Herbert hits Keenan Allen in the hands, and Allen "passed" it -- volleyball set style -- to Austin Ekeler on a lateral. Ekeler would have scored, no question ... and it was just a tad behind him and he dropped it.

Great throw and catch. Great idea. Almost a great execution. And it would've won the game.

Instead, the Panthers, sans-CMC, get in the win column.

Detroit Lions 26 at Arizona Cardinals 23

Bryan Knowles: Kyler Murray's arm hasn't quite been on target today -- I mean, he's 12-for-15, but with two interceptions already against a Lions defense which does not, as a rule, force turnovers. No matter; Murray dances and scampers his way into the end zone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season, giving the Cardinals the lead back --13-10 near the end of the second quarter.

Scott Spratt: Maybe Kyler Murray should have played basketball instead of football or baseball.

Scott Spratt: Jeff Okudah grabs the third Kyler Murray interception of the afternoon, but more importantly, check out DeAndre Hopkins' lack of effort to touch him down, allowing a 35-yard return. Vindication for Bill O'Brien???

Dave Bernreuther: Not sure anything Nuk does can count as vindication for Bill O Brien when the Texans are 0-3 and David Johnson has 200 total yards in three games...

(Sorry, Rivers.)

Dave Bernreuther: Feels like nobody is watching this one, and it's a close game. I had a hunch it would be; seems like these two teams each have a knack for making games close even when they're terrible (in today's case, of course, the Cardinals are not terrible). Matt Stafford just threw one away on third down here to lead to a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 6, and it's 20-16 and just feels an awful lot like a setup for disappointment. Murray has been doing his scampering, but the Lions have handled him fairly well and played decently on offense too. There's still plenty of time left, of course, for this to get crazy late, much as the Cards game did two weeks ago.

Bryan Knowles: The Lions have won a football game! The Cardinals opted to punt, in a tied game, from midfield (though it was fourth-and-9, so not exactly a gimme), and never saw the ball again. Detroit marches 70 yards and uses all of the 4:49 remaining to set up the game-winning chip-shot field goal. The NFC West coming back to the pack just a little bit here.

Green Bay Packers 37 at New Orleans Saints 30

Bryan Knowles: Apparently, this week is a "bye week" for Al Michaels, who will miss about one game a month as NBC tries to give the 75-year-old some rest. I would have thought next week's 49ers-Eagles matchup was a better choice for a week off, but I suppose these things have to be decided slightly earlier than that.

Bryan Knowles: It's a fair fight -- both teams are out their top wideout, with both Michael Thomas and Davante Adams on the sidelines. So far, that has meant no deep shots from either quarterback -- the Packers running plenty of short passes to Aaron Jones and Allan Lazard, while the Saints tried some power football, with Alvin Kamara rumbling off left tackle for nearly 50 yards to set up a Brees-to-Kamara touchdown pass. 7-3 Saints, and we'll see when or if either quarterback looks downfield.

Scott Spratt: It is pretty amazing that Allen Lazard stumbled and managed to recover to catch that 48-yard pass.

Bryan Knowles: Deep ball count: two for Rodgers, zero for Brees. After forcing a punt and getting the ball near midfield, the Packers immediately took a shot to Allen Lazard, who corralled the ball in and was dragged down at the 2, leading to a touchdown a couple of plays later. Lazard was second in DVOA coming into tonight, and I was really looking forward to seeing if he could keep that efficiency up without Adams to draw the top coverage. So far, at least, so good. 13-7 Packers, early in the second quarter.

Scott Spratt: Brees has double-clutched on a few apparent deep attempts and ended up being sacked. Bryan, do you think he's just being careful to avoid bad decisions? Or do you think the low-aDOT thing or his arm strength is top of mind for him?

Bryan Knowles: I think coverage has taken away some of those deep shots, and it's better to check them down than to throw something into coverage deep, but I'd really like to see at least one target downfield at some point in this game. I mean, the short passing game is working, and Brees is clearly more comfortable with it at this point in time, but he'd silence a lot of people if he took one shot eventually.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm not Bryan, but I do suspect that it's on his mind. Brees has always given me the impression that he knows what he can't do just as well as he knows what he can; he isn't the arrogant gunslinging type and never has been. I noted two weeks ago a throw or two he left on the field, and it's not as if he's not seeing them; he always has. I think he knows his limits, is probably very conscious of how much those limits affected past quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning (insert standard Dave disclaimer here about Peyton's process also being slowed by being forced to learn a new offense by Kubiak that just compounded the problem) and heck, himself in past Decembers, and is thus more willing to eat the ball than he is to take what he perceives as a risk.

It's a virtue, really. Better to live to play another down than to leave a deep ball short for a safety to undercut.

But yeah. I thought the same thing about those double-clutches. There are throws there that he'd have made three years ago. We're judging him against an incredibly high, Hall of Fame level bar, but he's absolutely seeing those throws and choosing not to attempt them. It's plain as day. And tonight it has gotten him sacked.

Dave Bernreuther: Bryan, while you're right that it'd silence people, that's no reason to force things ... people can be as loud as they want if he dinks and dunks his way to endless success. The real reason to still take (and hit, occasionally) those deep shots is simply to keep the defense honest and open up other routes.

Speaking of things that make their offense successful, Andrus Peat just got carted off the field. That won't help matters. Not that it's a surprise to see this many injuries after a weird preseason without games, but damn. Can it stop now? At this point it's just mean.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, you don't want to force things, but at SOME point, someone's going to be open, and you'd really like to see Brees taking that shot.

That being said, that last drive had 11 short Brees passes on it, finally finding Emmanuel Sanders for a touchdown to give the Saints a 17-13 lead just before half, so if it's working...

Dave Bernreuther: In the middle of a conversation about arm strength fading, Brees just lasered one to Emmanuel Sanders in the end zone. The way Sanders caught that -- keeping his hands tight to his body until the last possible second, when they darted out much like how a frog catches a fly -- reminded me very much of Reggie Wayne. Which is not the first time I've said that about Sanders.

Bryan Knowles: The Packers open the second half with another deep shot, again to Allan Lazard, again which ends up just short of the end zone. If you're in a fantasy league which gives bonuses for long touchdowns, you are really annoyed with the Packers tonight.

The Saints stiffen up from there, but the Packers (wisely!) keep going on fourth-and-goal from the 1, finally getting Aaron Jones in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown: 20-17, Packers. A well-played game by both offenses so far, albeit ones with very different strategies for moving the ball through the air.

Bryan Knowles: Oooh, I'm fairly sure Marcedes Lewis had a push-off and a half there, but no flag, no foul, I suppose. On the same drive where the Saints get penalized for pass interference on what was clearly an uncatchable ball, well out of bounds. Well, you can't challenge pass interference anymore, so the Packers' 27-20 lead stands for now, as we go back and forth...

Bryan Knowles: Let it be noted that, with 1:25 left in the third quarter, Drew Brees attempted a deep pass, completing it to Emmanuel Sanders.

And then he tosses a little screen to Alvin Kamara, and Kamara just keeps going and going and going. He just weaved his way through everyone for a 52-yard score. Absolutely insane, and we're tied at 27.

Dave Bernreuther: I take a different view of that sequence, Bryan. On the play on which the Saints were flagged, they showed (and discussed) a pretty clear pick that threw the defender (Jenkins, I think) way off before he recovered to commit the foul on the ball that was out of bounds. That looked like pretty clear OPI to me, and a sketchy DPI call.

But on the Lewis touchdown, they were both fighting at it and while Lewis did use his arm a bit for leverage, it was hardly a forceful push. Even allowing for his hugeness, that was something that could've been played through. Perhaps owing to Jalen Ramsey's success in selling it two weeks ago, the defensive back (was it also Jenkins? It has been a long day and now I'm mixing stuff up a few minutes after) pulled up and did the "hands in the air, I'm innocent!" gesture immediately -- as in before the ball even arrived -- which indicates to me that he was acting.

It's really hard to say for sure, though. Professional athletes are both strong enough to make big differences with very little noticeable effort and also quick enough to capitalize on small moves or shoves or leverage that even trained eyes don't notice in real time. So I guess by that definition he absolutely pushed off ... but so do receivers on most plays. And if we're going to start admitting that that's the case, then every catch is going to turn into one of those "there's holding on every play" type of conversations that we have about offensive lines.

All of which is a verbose way of saying I wouldn't have flagged that one either. But that I think that's fair because I disagreed twice on the preceding play with the DPI call.

....

And while I typed all that -- possibly for the entire duration of the typing -- Alvin Kamara just dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, and dodged the entire Packers defense en route to a touchdown on a pass that didn't even cross the line of scrimmage. And as much as Cris Collinsworth is praising Erik McCoy for racing downfield with him to throw a block (which I always love), it looked to me like he actually whiffed the block and that Kamara would've beaten that defender anyway.

Regardless, this is a great game, and I'm glad that I'm somehow still awake to see it.

Bryan Knowles: The Taysom Hill experiment continues to frustrate me. Offensive PI, stopped short of the sticks, and now, a fumble on the handoff! A big defensive stand by the Saints goes for naught as Hill fumbles and turns the ball right back over to the Packers. Ugh.

Dave Bernreuther: The Saints brought in Taysom Hill to run an option play and he fumbled and I'm not even gonna say it.

Dave Bernreuther: Put this one in the books. In a ridiculous sequence, the Saints jump offside and give Aaron Rodgers a free play. You just know he's going to the end zone, and he does, and Janoris Jenkins flat-out grabs and wraps Lazard's arm and draws another flag, meaning that the Packers get the ball at the 1, up three with four minutes remaining.

After a stuffed run, Rodgers throws to the corner of the end zone... where Janoris Jenkins blatantly grabs and holds an arm AGAIN, giving the Packers a few inches of field position but more importantly a fresh set of downs.

No, they haven't yet scored, but even if you assume you can hold them to a field goal (and if you're Matt LaFleur, up three from the 1 at about a minute left in the game, why would you kick that anyway?), they needed those two downs' worth of clock.

In the end it doesn't matter, as nobody covers Robert Tonyan on a play-action and the lead will be 10, not six. The Saints will need a miracle.

Bryan Knowles: And that will be all she wrote. After the field goal after the Hill fumble, the Saints go three-and-out and punt it right back to the Packers. And then the king of the hard count goes to work in a silent Superdome -- Rodgers not only gets the Saints to jump offside, but draws a pass interference call on the same play to move the ball down to the 1. It took four cracks from there, and credit to the Saints for holding on for a bit, but eventually, they get into the end zone on a roll-out pass from Rogers to Tonyan.

The Packers, after all the offseason worries about their questionable draft and the lack of receivers behind Davante Adams, will go to 3-0, and be either first or second in the NFC (depending on how you work tiebreakers this early in the season -- the Packers will be 3-0 in conference compared to the Seahawks' 2-0, but the Seahawks have the better strength of victory).

Dave Bernreuther: Despite the loss, it's worth mentioning that despite the negativity we've thrown at him, Drew Brees is still pretty great. Maybe he's missing parts of his game, but he was still 24-of-28 to start this drive (in which he gets dinged for a spike and a Kamara drop) with the three scores and no turnovers. Please know that even as we point out his shortcomings, we're measuring him against an extremely high bar. And it's not as if he's falling way short; he still clears that bar, but maybe now his heel is nicking it on the way over. This is still a very good team that can beat just about everybody; the Packers are just playing like a 13-3 team.

Which is interesting, of course, since picking them to regress from last year's 13-3 record seemed like the lock of the century.

Comments

198 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2020, 11:48am

1 I watched Namath play

And I watched him comeback from his injury.  Even hobbled he was better than most of those Cowboys.

4 The Cowboys fan should have…

The Cowboys fan should have been laughing at the Jets string of coaches.  I would take a healthy Ken O'Brien or Chad Pennington over Danny White, but we don't think of them being any good because their coaches (Joe Walton and Herm Edwards) got them killed.  It's only since Pennington that the Jets have had a bunch of quarterback busts, instead they break them... literally.

 

Also, the right thing to do is to keep Gase for the entire season, but put all the starters on injured reserve.  In bubblewrap, so Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields will have a better infrastructure around them.

36 Were I Trevor Lawrence, I…

Were I Trevor Lawrence, I would refuse to sign a contract with the Jets, and would state so publicly before the draft.

I would think long about adding the Browns and Dolphins to the list, too.

96 The Dolphins? Who just…

The Dolphins? Who just drafted Tua #5 this year?

Anyway, I don't remember much of Danny White, but Chad Pennington was awesome when healthy, and Ken O'Brien  was also pretty good for a while, although I'm probably biased because of how he would usually blow those terrible Dolphin defenses up every time they played.

 

167 Doubt that the Browns will…

Doubt that the Browns will draft high enough to get a shot at Trevor Lawrence, but I understand the sentiment.  The Browns had a strong, respected organization in my childhood, which makes it extra painful to realize that they have now become the NFL's Siberia.  They're an organization that draws nothing but laughs and sneers.  And since the Browns are in a division with always-strong Baltimore, always-strong Pittsburgh and a Cincinnati club which appears to have found a true savior quarterback, it looks like Cleveland is going to continue to be the NFL's Siberia for the foreseeable future.  Can't blame any player for saying forget it, I ain't going there.  Eventually it will change, I guess, but probably not until the Browns get their own LeBron-type savior.

 

170 well...

Despite the NFL and Cleveland conspiring to pretend, the Browns of your childhood were of course literally not at all the Browns of now.

 

190 Agree.

I can't realistically seeing Trevor Lawrence agreeing to a contract with the Jets after seeing how Darnold has been abused, not to mention the culture of the organization.

 

197 I wonder how much Lawrence…

In reply to by DIVISION

I wonder how much Lawrence would be worth to the XFL, if he did get in a weird stalemate with the Jets.

2 The worst part about Doug…

The worst part about Doug Pederson's punt was that it was the right decision. He wasn't going to make that kick. I mean, jeez, they couldn't stay still before the snap, why would anyone think they wouldn't eff up the protection, too? "Right" in terms of "believing you can somehow fix this and try to make the playoffs," which of course just means they're not realistic about the season.

Of course I would've liked to see them try, but I've been a realist about this season since Brooks and Dillard went out. And alone in that regard, apparently: no idea why anyone thought they were a playoff team this year.

37 no idea why anyone thought…

no idea why anyone thought they were a playoff team this year.

Because Washington and the Giants are possibly even more wretched, and you can't spell "underperforming season" without "Cowboys".

48 Well, I mean... okay. Except…

Well, I mean... okay. Except when WFT picked up Young in the draft that immediately became my top worry.

And plus... I'm an Eagles fan. I can't count on the Cowboys underperforming hilariously. I have to be worried about them. Otherwise it's not hilarious when they fail.

 

114 Eags sculd sitll make…

Eags sculd sitll make playoffs but might take goign 8-5 rest of season. Squirrels and Gaints stinky,. cbwoys less stinky but still need cologne and deodorant. 8-7-1 rreally could win nfc eats. 

 

knew b. brooks injury bad btu thought Eags could still win division. 

 

 

125 legitimately

you (meaning me) could see 7-9 winning the NFC Eats (love that typo; all the teams in the NFC Eats get swallowed by the rest of the NFC).

Though that would require continued criminal mismanagement of the Cowboys. (Which is easy to see.)

 

142 I don't see the Cowboys…

In reply to by scraps

I don't see the Cowboys finishing below .500, not the way Prescott is playing and with games against the Giants, Football Team, and whoever shows up wearing Eagles' jerseys.

I stand ready, willing and hopeful to be proven wrong, though.

148 Looking at the rest of their…

Looking at the rest of their schedule, I predict them to go 0-4 against the NFC West, 2-2 against the AFC North, 5-1 in-division, and 2-0 against Atlanta and Minnesota, for a final 9-7 record.

39 They made the playoffs with…

They made the playoffs with a roster mostly on ir. As Brooks mentioned, the NFC east is largely putrid and I thought Wentz would be a top 10 qb, not a bottom 10 qb. 

 

How much of the Eagles narrative gets switched if Wentz plays to expectations?

46 "They made the playoffs with…

"They made the playoffs with a roster mostly on ir."

Yeah, and what exactly did they do to fix that? The common thread by Week 16 is "OMG, look at Wentz's receivers, these guys were bagging groceries a week ago, the only guy he has is Ertz and Goedert" Guess what? Wentz's leading WR in week 3? Same guy who was his leading WR at the end of last year! Why were people counting on an Eagles drafted WR to change this?

DBs still suck, other than Slay. So now the Eagles just get beat by the second best WR on the team. They did nothing to bolster the DL, and nothing to increase the OL depth. And they got burned by OL depth in the offseason. The instant that happened, I knew they were toast this year.

"I thought Wentz would be a top 10 qb, not a bottom 10 qb."

With a garbage OL and garbage receivers? What the heck QB in the league plays well under those circumstances?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Wentz isn't part of the problem. But this whole "this team would be winning if Wentz wasn't sucking!" thing? Are you kidding me? They might be 2-1 if Wentz was playing well, but that doesn't make them a playoff team worth crap.

And the whole "NFC East is largely putrid" thing? Winning a conference at 7-9 does not make you a "contender." It makes you a "hilarious playoff joke."

49 I'll go more in depth about…

I'll go more in depth about my preseason thinking:

Offense

1) I liked both tight ends in Goddert and Ertz. You can craft a good offense around two good tight ends and a weaker wide receiving core. 

2) I was bullish on Jeffrey and Jackson thriving as complimentary players

3) I thought the line would be very good. I got more worried when Brooks got hurt, but Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are both terrific players. 

4) I liked the coaching staff so I thought they could paper over some of the weaknesses and accentuate the strengths

5) I thought Wentz at his weakest was probably an average player. His mean result was top 10 and a small but not unreasonable shot at being an MVP level player. 

Defense

 

1) I thought the defensive line, which has been very good in the past, would be very good

2) I thought Darius Slay was a great addition and would enjoy a halcyon year with the Eagles.

3) Combine a strong pass rushing unit with one great corner and you have the makings of a solid defense

 

Combine a good offense with solid defense and a weak division and you get a team that I thought would be a 3 or 4 seed. I didn't think they were an elite team, but certainly a dark horse SB candidate.  

95 I don't understand why…

I don't understand why people overthought this. If Brooks and Dillard had both stayed healthy, the OL was still probably good, but thinner than last year. What with losing Vaitai and Peters being gone (obviously he was brought back, but, yeah, they released him for a reason). Note that I'm talking about losing Vaitai and 2019 Peters, and 2020 Peters is worse. Putting Peters at LT was a Hail Mary, and like most of those, it didn't work. I mean, even the "Peters at RG" was a bit of a Hail Mary too.

Then that thinner line got hit with losing 2 starters for the year. At that point the line's going to be markedly worse than last year. No question. Now it's still thin, but also average at best.

WRs are still bad, DBs go from "they're all trash" to "they're all trash but Slay," and the Eagles pass rush has been overrated since probably 2017. They've got a single dominant DE and then just a bunch of guys. LBs are trash.

100 Pat, the big element missing…

Pat, the big element missing here is relative to who?

Pointing out all the flaws is fine until you remember that every second tier contender has flaws on their roster. The Eagles had on paper a good offensive line, a good defensive line and had acquired a top corner. Pair that with a top 10 quarterback or maybe even better than that with a competent coaching staff and I don't see why you think that alone isn't enough to vote them into second tier playoff status.

115 Relative to who? The…

Relative to who? The majority of the teams they're facing! Before the season started I expected their ceiling to be 8-8, and typical to be 6-10.

Look at their schedule. They were going to be in big trouble against any team with a great DL or a great QB/WR combination: which means they're screwed against Washington (x2), San Francisco, Steelers, Ravens, Saints, Green Bay, Rams, and Seahawks. That's 9 losses right there, and I usually figure sketchy teams drop at least one extra (which I figured was a Dallas game). Ceiling is if you take away both Washington losses.

Best chance Philly had for reaching the playoffs is taking the division. I totally agree with that. But once they lost Lane Johnson for the opener, I pretty much threw in the towel on that. No way were they hitting 8-8.

Maybe people just didn't look at their schedule? I mean, obviously the whole NFC East has a hard schedule, but the Eagles drew the Packers and Saints, versus MIN/ATL (Dallas), and DET/CAR (WFT). Obviously NYG doesn't matter. That's why I don't understand why people slept on WFT. I figured Dallas will win the division, and thought Washington/Philly would fight for second place. And even if Dallas slipped up, I figured Washington would be a big problem just because they'd have a 2 win cushion and a solid shot at sweeping the Eagles.

Normally the non-common games in division don't do much, because it's only 2 games, but I didn't see much separation between DAL/PHI/WAS this year, so that was a big factor why I didn't think they'd be challenging for the division.

122 I don't understand this: How…

I don't understand this: How was their o line supposed to be a problem coming into the year? I didn't predict their offensive line would all get injured overnight; we're talking strictly earlier in the year.

You seriously think PHI is screwed to face Washington? Why???? Doesn't bad qb play negate any mismatch your defensive line has? Washington was coming off a horrible year; youd need to be the biggest Rivera/Haskins optimist to see any rosy picture from them. 

Again, I am surprised you looked at the roster and came away soo pessimistic. They acquired a top DB, had a good defensive line, and again, you can cobble together a good offense behind a good qb, a good line, a few tight ends, and a solid playcaller. None of the other second tier contenders you've mentioned are without their own warts. 

 

128 Coming into this year, if…

Coming into this year, if you looked at their OL, you'd say it's about the same as the year before (swapping Dillard for Peters cuts the age decline, but Dillard's no guarantee), but thinner (no Dillard as backup, no Vaitai as backup).

Then they lost Brooks. Then they lost Dillard. Now they're just strictly worse than last year, and even thinner. When they lost Brooks, I thought they'd be in a battle for the division. When they lost Dillard, I pegged their season at 8-8, with the "likeliest record" being 6-10.

All of this happened 2+ weeks before the season.

"You seriously think PHI is screwed to face Washington? Why???? Doesn't bad qb play negate any mismatch your defensive line has?"

Uh... no? Teams are allowed to play conservative and run the ball, after all. Is it a good plan? No. Is it a workable plan against flawed teams? Yup. Washington had a freaking 8.3% ASR last year, and they added an elite pass rusher.

I didn't think Philly was "screwed" to face Washington. I thought there was a good chance they'd lose both games, hence Philly's "best case" was sweeping Washington, but most likely losing both.

"they acquired a top DB, had a good defensive line, and again, you can cobble together a good offense behind a good qb, a good line, a few tight ends, and a solid playcaller."

1. A top DB plus crap is still not a good secondary. They didn't need 1 DB, they needed four. Was it an upgrade? Yes. Enough to make them able to win a single game versus GB/SEA/NO/BAL? Hell no.
2. They do not have a good defensive line. They have a great run defense and a middling pass rush, and have done nothing to attempt to improve the pass rush in years, so it's just going to decline (if only slowly).
3. By the time the season started, their OL was mediocre and very thin.

To be honest I was terrified when they drafted Reagor and Hurts, because it meant they had much higher opinions of some of their units than I did.

130 Ok let me ask it this way…

Ok let me ask it this way. Are you surprised that Wentz has played like this? And if the eagles got league average QB play, do you agree they are probably 2-1 instead of 0-2-1 and we'd have a very different perception of this team?

144 Am I surprised Wentz has…

Am I surprised Wentz has played this bad? Yes.

Would they be 2-1 with competent QB play? Hell no. They'd be 1-2. They were a lot farther than Wentz's play from winning that first game, and a lot of the bad decisions were just due to pressing when things weren't there. Once the corners started adapting and covering tighter closer, there just weren't many options left. Score might've been closer, but they still would've lost.

158 Pat we may have reached the…

Pat we may have reached the point of agree to disagree. I didn't see the game so its not in my ability to comment on the specifics. I would only note that they were up 17-0 until Wentz threw his first interception. Two of WAS scores were setup off of those interceptions. I suspect the by half splits will paint a picture of a second half meltdown by the offense.

Is that just the entire team falling apart or mostly due to Wentz, again I will defer to your expertise. 

186 Like I said, the reason the…

Like I said, the reason the offense halted in the second half (well, it started at the end of first half) was that Washington adjusted their coverage and essentially trusted there was no way Wentz was going to have enough time to be able to hit anything deep. It's easy enough to try to gauge fault in this case: the Eagles scrambled around linemen like crazy in the second half trying to find something that would work, and none of it did.

Not saying Wentz isn't part of the problem, just not all of the problem. Interceptions suck, but if the offense had gone 3-and-out instead of that interception (which they easily could've), the result wouldn't've been that different.

Halftime in week 1, Philly's up 17-7 and I was really worried, because I saw the coverage adjustments and how bad the line was playing. At that point I was hoping that Philly would basically play super-conservative and hope Washington would implode. But that's not how Pederson coaches, because well, to be honest, analytically that's the bad choice most of the time. Most of the time.

Honestly I just don't get the whole "if Philly had competent quarterbacking..." bit. Who am I supposed to put in there? Let's swap in Aaron Rodgers. Like he's done well when his line can't protect and his receivers can't get open? No, of course not. Was he as bad as Wentz? Again, no, of course not. But Wentz isn't a QB like Rodgers.

--

Look, the problem is that after 2017 everyone had Wentz pegged as a top-10, top-5 QB. He's not. I don't know why anyone thought that. He's capable of top-5 QB play, just like a half-dozen other quarterbacks (Kirk Cousins!). As a note, for people who think "man, maybe Philly made a mistake in what they paid him," you might want to recheck how much they paid him, because they didn't pay him like a top-5 QB, regardless of what the contract looks like.

So his down years, when the rest of the team stinks, are going to be bad. Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck. Same deal. Doesn't mean he's still not valuable, or that they should look to replace him. F'crying out loud there's a thousand other things wrong with the team, all of which are flamingly obvious. He's just the one that gets the most stats pegged on him.

Now, honestly, it might actually be worth benching him at some point, so long as he understands that the reason isn't actually because they think Hurts is better, but because really, he'd do better sitting and watching what's wrong with the team and how to deal with it.

191 Wentz Regression.

He's to the point that even the simple routine throws are not a given.  I've watched enough of the Bengals game to see that he's just not the same guy.

Now, the reasons behind that could be many.  I don't know.  Not a Philly fan at all.  Their lines sucks, which of course affects Wentz, but there were many times that he had plays out there and didn't pull the trigger.

Some have posited "hero ball" ala' Favre of yesteryear, but I don't know.  

Foles looked better in his abbreviated start for Chicago than Wentz has looked in a year and a half!

 

55 Someone on this site, and I…

Someone on this site, and I apologize that I don't recall who, commented during the offseason negotiations that DAL and PHI think they have each others' QBs.  PHI was confident about what they had in Wentz, while DAL was skeptical about Prescott, and it should have been the other way around.

3 GB-NO game

The GB offensive line did a really solid job.  And it was delightful to see special teams not be outplayed by the opposition. 

I continue to be impressed by backups and then backups to backups coming into live action and not looking lost or being picked on by the opponent.  None of these guys look to be a special player, but just not killing the team is more than acceptable.  That is something that undermined the last 3 odd years of McCarthy's tenure.  

That Kamara run was the result of a huge effort by the running back and sorry effort by everyone on the defense except Tyler Lancaster.  

 

It's three games into the season, and I hunted around for proof to my belief that whether announced or not the NFL had cut back drastically on calling offensive holding.  Per nflpenalties 75 off holding in 2020 through three weeks.  In 2019 there were 216 calls.  So, that's a difference.

 

What really fascinates me is the lack of complaining by the defenders.  It was standard MO for Clay Matthews in his heyday to throw up his hands DURING A PLAY to gripe about a perceived holding.  And he was far from the only pass rusher I saw take that approach.

 

But now hardly any complaining.  

5 I was not expecting GB to…

In reply to by big10freak

I was not expecting GB to win last night, figured they'd have a hard time with the Saints short passing game. Which they did, but the Saints D got roasted by what looks like an incredible offense coming together from LaFleur et al. Yards per play is depressed by a lot of goal to go misfires, but otherwise the Packers O looked great. Defense will need Kenny Clark back soon though, and I'm hopeful that Oren Burks and the other young LBs that came in the game after the Kirksey injury can build on their good play.

6 Tight ends

I was glad for Sternberger that not only did 12 throw him the ball, but that he was able to catch the ball.  Tonyan had a solid game.  Old man Lewis showing up in the box score helps reward him for all his hard work blocking.  

 

That game calling was straight out of the Badger playbook.  Play action crossing patterns to tight ends who rumble until someone gets the gumption to try and take out their legs.

7 Tanier's prediction

Everybody can stop predicting game scores now.  Tanier predicting a 22-22 tie in the Eagles-Bengals game is not going to be topped.

Yes, I'm sure we can find numerous examples of pundits hitting a score exactly, especially with scores like 21-10 or 28-24.  But predicting a tie is a crazy bet.  It makes '00' in Roulette look like a reasonable play.  To nail a prediction of a time while only being off by one point?  Pretty special.

18 I'm certain he only picked a…

I'm certain he only picked a tie because the two teams played to a tie several seasons ago and both teams are pretty terrible.  Still though, pretty incredible when a prediction made in jest comes through.

8 if the mandate to the…

if the mandate to the referees was to let them play and that's why the games of the first two weeks were so watchable, well... that was not that.

The problem with "let them play" is it only benefits the team that's cheating. I'm fine letting ticky-tack or inconsequential stuff go, but at some point you need to make a call because it's affecting the outcome of the play and the game.

It's one thing to ignore some hand-fighting or an in-line hold or a half-second late hit on the QB when they are chucking it from their own 30, but it's another to ignore a DB tackling a receiver or an OT tackling a DE on the same play -- some of those matter and some don't.

13 NFL culture

Is kind of interesting in that the league rolls out these officiating initiatives periodically, there are multiple situations which directly impact game outcomes and then over time the implemented change fades away and the game gets played per the 'standard' until the playoffs.  Come playoff time you see a lot more stuff that was called not called.

 

Easy example was the protect the qb effort.  Clay Matthews getting penalized two straight weeks for what were pretty straightforward tackles. Now this past Sunday I saw several quarterbacks all but get decapitated with no flags.  

 

Not complaining.  Just observations. 

9 Patriots have won the battle…

Patriots have won the battle of fumble recovery randomness, recovering two Raiders fumbles including one by Josh Jacobs that on replay was clearly recovered by Jacobs, who should have been down by contact before the Patriots defenders wrestled the ball away from him.

A fumble that is incorrectly ruled for New England and against the Raiders in Foxboro? That never happens.

People surprised by Renfrow never watched the Clemson-Alabama games. He was the one guy Alabama could never figure out how to cover. He inherited Wes Welker's mutant ability to get open.

11 Even if you don't think it…

Even if you don't think it'll work. It's not like your season is going to be decided by the extra half-point you get from a tie against the Bengals. Nonsense.

In 2008, the Eagles season was decided by the half-point they got from the Bengals tie. They finished 9-6-1, and got the 6 seed, ahead of three 9-7 teams. They had a H2H loss against 9-7 Chicago, and would have lost the tiebreaker. That team had a lead with 3 minutes left in the NFC Championship game.

I would check PFR, but everything good about that site is now behind a paywall. The problem with really long FGs is because of their lower trajectory, they are more prone to being blocked and/or returned by the other team.

28 Statistically, in fact, ties…

Statistically, in fact, ties have to be slightly more valuable than half a win (as long as they stay rare enough that having multiple teams with ties is very unlikely).

Imagine if the win cutoff for getting into the playoffs is above you, so the tie keeps you in. If you have a tie, that means the win would get you into a *tie* with a team above you, which means statistically, you've only got around a 50/50 shot of getting in (depending on the average number of teams above you). Now consider the situation that the win cutoff is *below* you, which means the tie is keeping you *in*. Because in a playoff race the win cutoff is above 50%, there are statistically more teams below you. So converting the tie into a loss means you've got a *worse* chance at making the playoffs.

So on balance, converting a tie to a win should gain you *less* (going from 0% to fighting with a small number of teams above you) than converting a tie to a loss hurts you (going from 100% to fighting with a larger number of teams below you).

It's the same logic as saying "some games aren't worth risking your starters." In football you typically only think of this as "rest your starters in Week 17 if you're already in the playoffs," but that's obviously just a hard cutoff on the "risk/reward" curve.

That being said: deciding not to kick the field goal there because a tie is statistically better for your playoff chances is a fantastic example of being too buried in the analytics. Philly tied with the Bengals is just a further indicator they're not a good team, which means thinking about playoff positioning (and not future years) is just foolish.

32 I get what you're saying at…

I get what you're saying at the end, but teams aren't totally static over the course of the entire season. Given their preseason expectations, it's not unreasonable for Philly to feel that they'll play better ball later in the season and to do what they can to salvage a half-win while they're stuck in reverse. Plus, they're only a half game back in the division!

That said, I'm not going to be the one to put any money on them right now...

40 "Given their preseason…

"Given their preseason expectations,"

This is why I said above that the saddest thing about the decision Pederson made was that it's not wrong - I think his logic is exactly the same as yours.

The reason it's sad is that I don't know why Pederson or anyone else had high preseason expectations for this team.

Just go through the roster last year. Where were they a good team? Offensive line - absolutely. 3 Pro Bowl players (Brooks, Johnson, Kelce) and two servicable players (Seumalo, Peters), with the hopes of actually improving at one (Dillard). Tight end? Yes, with Ertz and Goedert. Quarterback? Sure.

Where else? Not WR. Not DB. Not LB. Not even DL, except for run defense. Sure, maybe running back, but Sanders is a good player, but not otherworldly like Kamara or something. You can't just chuck it over to him, expect him to make a play and be right often enough that it's a good decision. He needs an offensive line for that.

Now in the preseason, you go ahead and take their strongest unit - offensive line - and rip it to shreds. Yes, they survived OL injuries in 2017, but in 2017 the team's defense was significantly better. Now you've got 2 Pro Bowl players (depending on the week, sigh) and 3 replacement-level guys. That's a significantly below-average OL.

Why did people have such high hopes for this team? What did they do in the offseason to put off decline? Drafted a WR and a backup/gadget QB? Have people not looked at the drafting record for this team on WRs?

What am I missing? This team was never going to be a serious playoff contender unless they got stupid-lucky.

59 Psst

This team was never going to be a serious playoff contender unless they got stupid-lucky.

And yet they're only a half game out of first place in their division!  Of course, "getting to play in the NFC East" might count as "stupid-lucky".   

69 You're acting like the…

You're acting like the offseason additions never happened: They fixed DBs with Darius Slay who has been as good as advertised and NRC at the slot DB. They added Hargraves to the DL and got Malik Jackson back who only played one game last year. So that's FOUR upgrades to the defense [not to mention Cox not playing injured as last season].

Why is drafting a WR in the first round not an improvement over playing Arcega-Whiteside? How is that not adding a young stud to put off the decline? Are you saying Reagor's thumb injury week 2 has something to do with....'draft record?' You're not making any sense. Agholor [drafted by Chip not Howie] wasn't an All-Pro but in 2017 he had 8 TDs and 9 catches for 85 yds in the Super Bowl.  

You have Sanders, Ertz and Goedert who are all excellent offensive weapons. 

The LBs are trash though.

The reason for a 4th year of playoff expectations was that the division is also trash: correct analysis by national writers and Eagles fans. 

Dallas sucks this year, what's their excuse? They should be in dead last 0-3 in the NFCE if Atlanta would pick up a ball on the ground. They'd be behind the Eagles!

73 Sanders 18 carries for 95…

Sanders 18 carries for 95 yds and 3 catches is pretty good, oh, and Wentz airmailed a game-winning TD over his wide-open head. He's not Kamara but he's not all that far behind.

 

Wentz, ugh, talk about someone who really needed the preseason to get his timing right.

89 Wentz, I think, is suffering…

Wentz, I think, is suffering from two primary issues.

1. He doesn't trust his line.
2. He doesn't trust his receivers.

(Check it out -- he's forcing everything to Ward or Ertz, and Ertz has spent the year trying to pout his way out of town)

87 " They fixed DBs with Darius…

" They fixed DBs with Darius Slay who has been as good as advertised"

It's a good thing other teams aren't allowed to send more than 1 WR out on routes! Clearly, adding a single NFL quality DB fixes everything.

Yes, Slay's been great! Now look at how the Eagles are doing against #2 receivers.

Claiming NRC is a defensive upgrade is comedic. He got a 1-year contract worth $1.3M, which is barely an increase over a vet minimum. That's not an upgrade. That's literally an "oh crap, we need to fill our roster out and have no money" signing.

Jackson and Hargraves are both DTs. Philly's problem's never been the interior line.

"Are you saying Reagor's thumb injury week 2 has something to do with....'draft record?' "

Why yes, yes I am. By default, Philly drafted WRs should be considered sub-par. Lacking any other information, that's what you have to assume. He's a rookie. We don't know how durable he is or what his ability is, only that Philly drafted him.

See, the thing is, when people talk about "oh, Howie drafted him" or "X drafted him" - truth is, the scouts on the team have typically been there forever. Things don't typically change over unless you get a change in ownership, and sometimes not even then. Roseman's been with the team since 2000, for instance.

They just stink at drafting WRs. Literally the best WR drafted since 2000 is DeSean Jackson who averages under 1000 yards/season for his career. They're like New England. Believe in their decisions, except when they draft a WR.

They went into this season with a WR corps of 2 rookies (Raegor, Hightower), a 2nd-year draft pick (JJAW), a 2nd year UDFA (Ward), a 34-year old declining WR (Jackson), and injured Alshon Jeffery.

Is that an upgrade on last year? I mean, in the same way that Blake Bortles was an upgrade on Blaine Gabbert. Seriously, how do you look at that group and say "oh, man, these guys are gonna be great"? 

"Dallas sucks this year, what's their excuse?"

Are you nuts? You don't gloat over the Cowboys until they're not a threat! Otherwise an Eagles win just feels like "so what, it's Dallas" and an Eagles loss feels like utter trash.

90 Claiming NRC is a defensive…

Claiming NRC is a defensive upgrade is comedic. He got a 1-year contract worth $1.3M, which is barely an increase over a vet minimum.

Pay != quality. 1.3M is more than Cam and Minshew are making this year. It's half what the reigning MVP makes.

98 Newton's the exception, not…

Newton's the exception, not the rule. If you go through the league and say "this guy's making ~$1M on a 1-year contract, he must be a solid starter" you'll be wrong waaay more than you're right. It's a prove-it contract. You give guys prove-it contracts because you aren't sure about them.

Minshew and Jackson do not have negotiated contracts.

Could NRC have been a major improvement to the Eagles DBs? Yeah, of course, just like Mitch Trubisky could have majorly improved in the offseason. It's not impossible, but you'll lose money betting on outcomes like that regularly.

99 I'm not the one here arguing…

I'm not the one here arguing that increasing a player's pay increases that player's quality.

How much he plays for has no bearing on whether or not DRC is an upgrade over the previous guy or not. These are uncorrelated.

118 I'm not arguing that. That's…

I'm not arguing that. That's causative. I'm arguing that it's correlated, not causative. It's like me saying "you're arguing that great players don't get large contracts in free agency."

Also, again: he can be an upgrade but still be not good. The best thing about the NRC signing is that he's missed very few games in his career. But he's not like, a great DB or anything. And me saying "he's not great, otherwise someone would've signed him for more money" is not some crazy idea.

 

117 A tie is not better for Eagles playoff chances

Since there are so few ties, a tie all but eliminates the opportunity to end the division in a "tie" ironically. The Eagles will likely win a tie-breaker with Dallas.  I am assuming that if either team sweeps the other, that they will win the division regardless of what happens in the Eagles-Cincinnati game (sorry to break your bubble Washington fans and Giants fans).   Thus, since the next tie-breaker is record against common opponents, the Eagles will likely win the tie-breaker with Dallas, since Dallas has already beaten a non-common opponent (ATL) and the Eagles play the Saints and Packers and would need to win both to have any chance of losing that tie-breaker. Also, since the NFC East is so weak, I expect that the second place team will not make the playoffs even with an extra slot this year.  

Thus, the value of a win, is greater than the cost of a loss in this case.  I have no idea why you think that a tie in general has more value than half a win.

In conclusion, a coach must know before a game starts is a tie as good as a win?  Or is a tie as bad as a loss?  In week 17 it is obvious, in week 3, not so much, but the odds favor that a tie is as bad as a loss here, so the Eagles should go for the 64 yard FG.  Making the FG wins it, missing it does not necessarily lose it (and in a small number of cases, the Bengals being the Bungles, turn the ball over, and the Eagles could still win).  And yes, I know the Bengals tried to Bungle things by fair catching the punt (why would you touch that ball?), giving the opportunity for a muff and Eagle recovery, then running a draw, giving the opportunity for a fumble recovered by the Eagles.  

 

 

 

123 "Thus, the value of a win,…

"Thus, the value of a win, is greater than the cost of a loss in this case.  I have no idea why you think that a tie in general has more value than half a win."

It's just statistics. Just imagine asking "how many wins did you get" and then "what seed did you get", and plotting % of X win teams to get the #1 seed. At 0, it'd obviously be 0%, and stay 0% for a while, increasing probably at 10 wins. But the "marginal value" in terms of seed percentage when you get to 14-15-16 is dropping rapidly. That means the value of going up one win is less than the cost of going down one win. So there, wins aren't worth it. We understand that - it's why teams in week 17 rest starters.

That's on the "downslope" of the marginal value curve. But there's also the "upslope", where you start going up from 0%. At that point, the value of going "up" one win is more than the cost of going "down" one win. So the value of a tie must be more than halfway between the loss and the win.  

However, this is basically all predicated on the idea that good teams make the playoffs, which is my entire point. Going for the tie is the right thing to do if you think you're a good team. Which is why it's sad that he made that decision, because it means he thinks they're a good team.

129 Which is why it's sad that…

Which is why it's sad that he made that decision, because it means he thinks they're a good team.

I prefer Pederson game-plan as if his team is good and chastise them publicly, as opposed to Adam Gase, who does the opposite.

139 An interesting counterargument, but I will counter

Your argument of marginal value starting at 16 going down, vs starting at 0 going up is excellent and makes sense.  However, eliminating the strike year of 1982, only two teams have made the playoffs with a losing record (7 wins).  Thus, using your logic, your 0 starting point should be 7, as a tie is worthless to the playoff odds of any team winning few than 7 games (and realistically 8 games, since there are only two 7 win playoff teams in the history of the 16 game schedule).  However, this is going from the past, with the extra playoff spot, lets move the 8 wins back to 7 wins. A tie is also meaningless for playoff position for any team at the 15 win total.  Now with a new curve using only teams that win 7-14 games, I do not see how your marginal value curve argument for ties is valid.

The general value of a tie, is very different from the situationally specifics of a tie.  I hold to my argument that the tie had little value to the Eagles.

As far as it being a sad decision because Peterson thinks he has a good team, do you want a coach saying in the postgame press conference, "I went for the tie because it was the right thing to do because I know that my team is not a good team. In addition, if you think that our 0-2 team is going to be a team that will make the playoffs, think again, we are last in DVOA so that we are worse than our 0-2 record indicates."  Is that the coach that you want?  

 

 

143 This has been an interesting…

This has been an interesting discussion. 

I suspect it's correct that for a 0-2 team, the value of a win is likely more than 2x the value of a tie, while for a 2-0 team the reverse is likely so. 

There's still the question, though, of what the % chance of a win and chance of a loss really was in PHI's situation?  The FG was a low odds event, but a blocked FG leading to a CIN score or a missed FG followed by a CIN quick strike and their own successful FG could not be high odds events, either.  I don't have the data to assess the situation, but it's quite possible that Pederson saw his own FG chance at close enough to zero to render the other calcs moot. 

160 EDJ Sports 2nd worst decision of the week

According to EDJ sports the the decision to punt was the second worst of the week as far as decreasing Game Winning Chance.  Football Outsider Writers, please help, should they have gone for the field goal, or as nobody has mentioned yet, should they have gone for 4th and 12?  

163 I think the GWC/EW models…

I think the GWC/EW models don’t handle ties correctly. I want to say they produced bizarre results for the end game of the Lions-Cardinals game last year, too, where they wanted something asinine on 4th-whatever from their own 10 with like a second left. 

181 I mean, let's be serious -…

I mean, let's be serious - if they claim that that decision did anything to change Philly's GWC, they're nuts. They were going to tie. Kicking the field goal had zero percent chance of success. That's what the kicker told Pederson, that's what he based his decision on. So forget that.

It's not surprising that models in these situations are crap, because they're just extrapolations since the result is a tie like, 90+% of the time. You'd need hundreds of these situations to get a reliable guess.

So the only choice is between going for it on 4th and 12, with 19 seconds left. The "dumb" estimate of 4th down conversion percentage would be something like 20%. However, that's crazy - there were only 19 seconds left, the Bengals didn't need to defend the whole field. A deep shot where they're tackled at the 5 is game over, you can't get everyone up there, line up, spike the ball in that time. It's more like an end-zone situation, where you don't have to cover the whole field. In that case the 4th down percentage is more like 10%, and you still have to line up and spike the ball with no false start (which ends the game), and kick the FG. Say that works like what, 70% of the time. That's not nuts.

You've probably got some small percentage of a Bengals turnover + score, which loses you the game. Just call that like, 3%. Way high, but whatever. So realistically, let's say you're talking about going for it resulting in a tie 90% of the time, a win 7% of the time, and a loss 3% of the time. Sound good? In that case, going for it gains you the grand total of 2% GWC. Whoop-de-freaking doo.

The only reason punting was wrong there is just emotional. It didn't do crap for their game-winning chance in any realistic world. It's like criticizing the Ravens for taking a knee at the end of the game on Monday. I mean, yeah, sure they could throw an instant touchdown there, recover an onside kick, and another instant touchdown. So taking the knee clearly cost them GWC. I can stack probabilities too! But c'mon. Be real.

195 8.8% GWC

I was hoping Aaron would answer, or one of the other writers to our discussion about the EDJ sports 8.8% GWC cost by the punt.  

You don't need hundreds of these situations in real life to come up with a calculation of game winning chance.  The computer data can play out the game thousands of times in a day.

Is this really game winning chance?  Normally we are talking about winning vs losing, not winning vs tying so I do not assume that it is 17.6 divided by two to get 8.8.  (if you want to use a different factor since you feel a tie is not worth 1/2 a win, feel free to do so).  And yes, its a model and all models have flaws, but until we have a better model it is what we go with.  

I applaud football outsiders striving for constant improvement.  DVOA is a model that Aaron is constantly trying to improve.  Last year a made a comment that scrambles should be passing plays for DVOA purposes, Aaron acknowledged that he was going to work on it in the offseason, and now scrambles are a pass play for DVOA purposes.  Last week I pointed out that the McCaffrey injury could not possibly be equally as important as the Jimmy Garoppolo injury or the Michael Thomas injury.  Aaron responded that he has this as an off season project comparing value of a RB vs a WR or TE as he was also skeptical of the injury of the McCaffrey injury.

The point is that DVOA and EDJ GWC are models, they are not perfect but they are excellent tools.  And it is obvious that Aaron and others are striving for constant improvement with regards to these models.

For arguments sake, lets go with 5% GWC, not 8.8.   I think that going for 4th and 12 (using Pat's 20% then reduced to 10%) is the right move.  Failing on 4th and 12 does not move the ball back 8 yards as it does if you fail on a missed FG.  Thus, the odds of the Bengals winning on a failed 4th and 12 are slim.  The Eagles are already at the Bengal 46 and a failure can be anything from a turnover with a return to a sack to a gain of 11.  Secondly Bullock is the Bengals FG kicker, not the strong legged nor accurate kicker you are looking for in a last second desperation kick (see game 1).

You can not give up the chance for a win here.  It is not an impossible victory.  A baseball team that forfeits a 5% victory chance is giving up 8 games over a 162 season.  A football team is giving up 5 games over a decade.  You do not want to give up one game every two years, that could be the game that gave you the position required to win a Super Bowl (ask any NY Giants fan about their regular season during the last two Super Bowl victories).  If you coach gives up 5% GWC each game just on one decision, he is costing his team 0.8 games over a season not counting other poor decisions.  

I do not know how you can quit on a season after two games.  The Ravens in 2000 were 5-4 and ran the table for a championship.  They went 5 consecutive weeks without scoring a TD.  The 2001 Patriots have run a table from 5-5 to a championship and I believe that the Steelers have also.  

You play to win the game.  I don't care if you don't have any wins at all. Where are you Herm? 

I just can't agree with the criticism of Peterson that he should quit on this season and play for the future.  This is what you do in the second half if you are 1-7. (in this case 1-6-1 or 0-7-1).  Unless of course you are the Falcons, when you win games to save your coaches job two years in a row only to get off to a more absurd start this season than either of the last two seasons.

 

 

196 "You don't need hundreds of…

In reply to by jheidelberg

"You don't need hundreds of these situations in real life to come up with a calculation of game winning chance.  The computer data can play out the game thousands of times in a day."

No, it can't. You can't simulate nearly-unique situations. That's the point. Best you can do is extrapolate them, but stuff like GWC and conversion percentages don't have to be smooth.

"A football team is giving up 5 games over a decade."

No, it really isn't. We're not talking about giving up 5% on every game, every year. This is a unique situation, one that a team faces maybe once every decade. Sacrificing 5% GWC in a game that occurs once every decade means you're giving up 1 win every 200 years.

"I just can't agree with the criticism of Peterson that he should quit on this season and play for the future.  This is what you do in the second half if you are 1-7."

This is about honestly looking at your team and planning ahead. Philly is not in good cap space for the next few years. It's pretty bad. In general, things are actually unlikely to get better: the best players on the team are all on the wrong side of 30 next year, and there are no "promising rookies" except for a tight end.

198 You can simulate any situation

I do not know what was unique about this situation vs any other situation in which a model is used to predict GWC.  Bottom line is that you can not throw away 5% GWC on any one call (although EDJ said it was 8.8% chance, I am being conservative).  In a sense, no situation is exactly the same, and thus the model is always dealing with a unique situation.

194 Win must be more valuable at 0-2

Hard to tell how many times value at 0-2 a win is vs a tie, but it is clearly more valuable than for a team that is 2-0.  I am glad that you have enjoyed the discussion, I will continue it with Pat shortly.

180 Yeah, that's because I'm…

Yeah, that's because I'm crap at remembering how this argument goes, and botch it every single time. Sigh. It's the exact same argument as "you don't need every win to clinch playoff positioning, so the marginal value of a win drops." Dunno why I mentioned the "rising side" of the slope, that's totally wrong.

Warning: this is long. It's also extremely simplistic and in general pointless, because really, you should just try to win every game. It's safer for the mentality of the team/fans/coaches, and going with the analytics here would likely result in maybe 1 more playoff appearance over like, 30 seasons. Big freaking deal. Is that clear? This is all just stupid math. Got it? Great.

There are actually two ways in which you can view a tie to be more valuable (if you're the right kind of team). The first is related to marginal value. Functionally they're the same argument.

The "actual" exact playoff percentage vs team wins is something like

  • 7 wins: 1%
  • 8 wins: 11%
  • 9 wins: 51%
  • 10 wins: 90%
  • 11 wins: 98%
  • 12+ wins: 100%

So let's simplify everything and just assume this is how you get into the playoffs. Get X wins, roll die, get into playoffs. Early in the season this isn't that much of a simplification since you have no idea how things are going to play out. Let's also pretend that each team has a "platonic ideal" true strength which leads to a certain winning percentage.

Now consider 3 cases. You're either a rare playoff team (true strength results in less than 9 wins), a common playoff team (true strength results in more than 9 wins), or exactly in the middle (true strength results in 9 wins). How much a tie is worth depends on those 3 cases.

If you 're a "rare" playoff team - as in, your true strength would on average result in less than 9 wins - every win is incredibly important, and ties are worth less than half a win. You can easily see this in the above graph: if you're given 7 wins in 15 games and faced with a tie or a 50/50 win/loss, you want the win. More mathematically, if you fit a function to the rapidly rising graph, 7.5 wins would be ~3%. So a win gets you to 11%, a loss gets you to 1%, and a tie gets you to 3%. Functionally the tie is only worth 0.2 wins in that case.

Intuitively this is fairly obvious if you just think of 8 wins as a "cliff" below which you don't get in. If you're a team that would average 7 wins typically, you want to claw and grab for every damn win you can to get above that threshold.

If you're a "common" playoff team, as in your true strength would on average result in more than 9 wins, every loss is incredibly damaging, and you want to avoid them at all costs. It's the same argument as before, just flipped around, and the math is actually exactly the same since the distribution's essentially symmetric.

As in, if you're the kind of team that would, on average, result in 11 wins, ties are essentially worth 0.8 wins. To be dumb-specific, in 15 games you expect to win 10.3 wins. A loss results in missing the playoffs 5.8% of the time, a win 0.7% of the time, and a tie 1.6% of the time, so a tie is worth 0.82 wins. (The third possibility, exactly at ~9 wins, is where a tie is worth around half a win, but obviously you don't have a tie if you're at exactly 9 wins. To a 9-win strength team, ties are worth a little under half a win). 

--

The second argument is goes like this. Pretend tiebreakers are really coin flips. So now there are only two cases to consider: either a tie is what knocks you out entirely from the playoffs, or a tie is what puts you in the playoffs. If the tie keeps you out, then if you had won, you'd be tied with other teams to get in, if the tie puts you in, if you had lost, you'd also be tied with other teams. If you're a good team (9.5 wins), then if you're in the "tie keeps you out" situation, there are likely very few teams above you. Let's just say 1. That means the tie cost you 50% to get into the playoffs. If you're in the "tie keeps you in," there are likely more teams below you. Again, let's just say 2. That means the tie gained you 66% to get into the playoffs. Functionally, that means the tie is worth about 0.57 wins. To be clear, I made up the numbers here. If you actually do the math, you get basically what's above, because it's the same idea.

Again, this all hinges on Pederson believing his team is good (should earn 9+ wins on average), which is the sad part.

"do you want a coach saying in the postgame press conference, "

Let me be clear - trying to kick it was the only choice he should've made. You can't justify the punt at all to people. If he wanted to play for the tie, that was trivially easy - you run the damn ball on 3rd and 7 to kill all time. Bengals were out of timeouts.

That's the funny part here. People are criticizing the punt, and that wasn't the mistake. The mistake was not having a coherent strategy in the first place.

12 So, what is behind the…

So, what is behind the offensive explosion to begin this season? It is contrary to the usual trend of offence being slow to get going out of the gate, and especially surprising given the nature of this particular season.

As noted above, penalties appear to be a factor. Through three weeks, offensive holding is significantly down, and DPI is up compared to previous seasons (although admittedly we are still dealing with small sample sizes). We could discuss why this might be happening, but I'll leave that for now. 

Are offences becoming savvier? I've read plenty about rates of play-action use and other misdirection being way up across the league. Ultimately, the offense dictates, and the defense responds. Teams are slowly becoming more analytical, and as such, play calling could now becoming more optimal.

Is the current crop of QBs better than ever? Are they not getting injured?

Anyhow, this is just anecdotal musing. It's probably all just random/small sample size stuff. A couple of significant injuries and a bit of bad weather will probably put pay to any of these theories quite soon. 

15 The 2011 season was coming…

The 2011 season was coming off of a shortened off-season due to a potential lockout. That was the year that had three 5,000 yard passers I believe, back when 5k yards was actually a serious milestone.

 

I will take this data point to suggest that it's much easier to go out and run an offense then it is to cobble together a good defense on the fly.

14 About eight thousand things…

About eight thousand things happened on the last Cowboys drive -- odd penalties accepted

Seattle accepted the ineligible downfield because in the last two-minutes, it incurs a 10-second runoff.

43 Also, by declining the…

Also, by declining the penalty, it would have been 3rd-and-4 (as opposed to 2nd-and-7) in an obvious four-down situation.  Dallas is very likely to convert either way.  In that situation, I would prefer to move my opponent back as much as possible, even if it's only three yards.  As the Seahawks showed last week, three yards can matter a lot!

16 A genuine question, who is…

A genuine question, who is the worst NYC football team?

I know it was said in audibles but it bears repeating... Both New York City teams got destroyed at home against a 49ers team playing their backups. 

For the Jets, this was kind of the predictable... But for the Giants I'm left wondering if this is a relic of their unwavering delusion for Eli Manning that lasted 5 years longer than it should have. 

24 jets gm

i think Douglass is a pretty good GM.  He has the proper pedigree and remember this is only his first real season as GM.  

The Jets are the worst team in NY though, because even when healthy the giants have a better line and weapons than Gang green.  

51  "because even when healthy…

In reply to by Jetspete

 "because even when healthy the giants have a better line and weapons than Gang green."

This exactly.  Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios wouldn't even make the Giants roster, much less be starting WRs.

57 Now you've made Hogan and…

Now you've made Hogan and Berrios mad.

The Jets' offense is like the hyperdrive on the old Star Trek movies.  It doesn't kick in immediately when you flip the switch.  There's a long revving up process, followed by a light show disappearing act the like of which is rarely seen.

This Thursday, the Jets will be that light show.  Or the disappearing act.  One or the other.

60 I think it speaks volumes…

I think it speaks volumes that I think the Jets are going to lose at home to a bad Broncos team playing their no name backup.

I have often remarked - its not the bad defensive teams that end up losing seemingly every week, its the bad offensive teams who do. In today's NFL, if you cannot put together even a wheezing offensive effort, you are going to get beat. In that regards, Ryan Fitzpatrick as your starter saves you from being a complete laughingstock. 

79 I don't think BOB as a coach…

I don't think BOB as a coach is really that different from Adam Gase aside from the fact that BOB walked into a much more talented roster and has now landed on a dynamite QB.

Gase's reputation has sunk so low that people think he could mess up any and all situations. Do remember - Gase was the coordinator for the highest scoring offense in NFL history. While I think he deserves less than 1 percent of the credit for it, it does show at the very least he won't ruin it(or maybe Manning intentionally relegated him to polaroid duty). He also managed to squeeze some cromulence out of Jay Cutler's twilight years - not an easy feat.

Meanwhile, BOB's track record on offense pre-Watson topped out at bad despite fielding far superior offensive talent. 

84 I think Cutler succeeded…

I think Cutler succeeded because he's cut from the Favre/Fitzpatrick school of simply being out of damns to give and if he doesn't like the play call, he simply doesn't pass it along and just runs what he wants. It's like a pressure-relief valve on Gase's accumulating bullshit.

121 Have you SEEN the Denver offense?

If the criteria is some sort of offensive competence, I don't think you can assume Denver is ahead of the Jets.  A 0-0 tie isn't out of the question here.

Bet the NFL wishes they could flex a Thursday night game :)

147 They're starting those guys? Really?

Two Patriots cast offs at wide receiver are starting on the Jets? Hogan needs a walker and Berrios was a stand out...on the practice squad.

It's a copycat league so of course the aspect of the Patriots that Gase & Co. chose to imitate was wide receiver.

Ever since Sexy Rexy jumped the shark, Gangrene has been a clown car filled with raw sewage.

177 Come on.  Gase hand-picked…

In reply to by Jetspete

Come on.  Gase hand-picked the GM, and his main -- perhaps only -- criteria was to hire someone who would be unlikely to fire him.

I do agree that the Giants have a massive talent advantage over the Jets.  With Adams being gone, I don't know who anybody would want from that team.  Barton looks like a potentially great player, and I think Darnold is a bona fide NFL QB.  The former Seahawk they got in the Adams trade is decent, and there's probably another lineman and/or linebacker I'm forgetting.  But I think that while the Giants are very much less than the sum of their parts, the Jets don't have much in the way of parts.

Plus I can look at Judge with a bit more of a straight face than Gase.  One looks like he should be coaching high school football in 1970s Ohio, while the other one looks like he's brazenly dived into the deep end and knows nobody likes him enough to throw him a life preserver.

178 Bradley McDougald

McDougald’s pretty good.

Now I’m imagining with sympathy and horror the phone call that must have taken place between McDougald and general manager Schneider. “I’m really sorry, but we’ve traded you.” “Ah, shit. [bravely]  Well, it’s a job. [sucking in breath]  Which team? Patriots? Vikings? Packers?” “Welllll...”

 

183 Gase may have wanted Douglas…

Gase may have wanted Douglas as a GM, but Gase didn't get him hired.  Douglas has a good reputation around the league, and would have gotten a shot somewhere.  Gase got MacCagnan fired though.  Douglas also got 2 1sts in the Jamal Adams trade, so he's already better than Bill O'Brien as a GM.

Not sure who Barton is, but the rookie Mekhi Becton is playing well at left tackle, even though he got hurt against the Colts this week.  You are correct that the Giants have more talent, but the Jets have more future resources right now.  The real question is who would get the first pick in the draft if the season ended now.  It seems the Giants would have first crack at Lawrence.  Denver is also 0-3 and a contender for that pick, so hopefully Gase pulls out the loss this week.

184 People are acting like its…

People are acting like its clear the Giants have more talent. But the results so far suggests its much closer(if not equal). The Colts score looks more lopsided because of the turnovers turning into TDs. The giants meanwhile made Nick Mullens look like Patrick Mahomes.

187 Ah...Becton's friends call…

Ah...Becton's friends call him Barton.  He might be the best player on the team three games into his career.  You'd know better than me.

I seem to remember that, while Gase didn't literally hire Douglas, he recommended him and strongly lobbied for him.  Again, in the name of job security.

I don't think Douglas is horrible.  I said bad, but maybe that's unfair.  I think the worst GM conversation begins and ends with Gettleman and O'Brien, and the worst HC conversation begins and ends with Gase and Quinn, if he's still HC today.  Okay, I'll entertain Patricia, I guess, but I think he's better than those two.

17 It's strange to say this…

It's strange to say this after a big win on the road, but I don't think Rodgers is fully back to his best. He made some brilliant throws but mixed in a lot of malaise in the middle. Prime Rodgers somehow managed efficient down to down accuracy with his improvisational brilliance. 

22 Regarding 12

Here are the things that seem to be different:

 

--getting the ball out faster

--once a guy drops a ball who does not have 17 on his back that guy is not dead to Rodgers for the remainder of the game

--Seems to be more of a cheerleader 

 

I was fairly critical of Rodgers last season in that I thought he contributed to guys playing poorly, namely 83, because the players were unnerved by their QB openly showing his displeasure at a mistake.  There have been none of that this season except when Rodgers has directed it at the coaching staff once or twice (calling a timeout on a play that Rodgers had his guy wide open as an example)

 

I have no idea if Rodgers made this change on his own or whether someone came to him and explained that younger guys don't respond to negative feedback in that manner.  Or not all of them do

 

Anyway, it's a very clear change in his demeanor.  And I give the guy credit because any behavior change is not easy.

27 Malaise? Sure, Rodgers…

Malaise? Sure, Rodgers missed a few throws last night. The Packers have struggled a bit to finish drives throughout this season - they've gotten stuck in the red zone too often and have had to settle for more FGs than you would want to relative to how many times they've gotten into opposing territory.

But they've been moving the ball up and down the field - they've only punted 5 times in 3 games. Rodgers is getting the ball out much more quickly in the past, with LaFleur giving him a lot of easy reads and more play action to keep him in rhythm. His throwaways are down and his peripheral accuracy numbers are up. He's only been sacked twice so far this season - and while he still has a great O line, that was just as true in recent seasons (and they're actually managing a lot of injuries and position shifting right now).

It's so much better and smoother so far than it was in 2018-19, where 'malaise' meant listless 3 down sequences where he couldn't (or wouldn't) find an open receiver and wander around in the backfield and they only finished about 14th-15th in scoring.

19 I watched the Oak NE game…

I watched the Oak NE game. My thoughts:

 

1. This game was a lot closer than the score would indicate. The Raiders kept fumbling the ball over and over. 

2. I think the Pats receiving core stinks. Edelman is a good slot receiver, but he's overtaxed in that role. There is no juice to this offense at all.

3. I'm convinced that the entire defense save for Gilmore is a product of Belichick wizardry. It would not be hyperbole to say that if you handed this roster to another coach, it would be among the worst defenses in football.

Edit

 

Crosby is a good pass rusher.

 

29 I went into the NE OAK game…

I went into the NE OAK game not knowing what we had with either of these two teams this year, and not certain we'd find out much.  This was one of those games where no result would have surprised me: a NE blow out, an OAK blow out, or a close game all seemed like viable outcomes.  Either of the first two results may have given some clarity on the two teams, while the third result wouldn't necessarily tell me much.

I agree with you that regardless of the final score, the game itself fell into that third category, a closely played affair that could have gone either way.  And after watching it I still don't have a strong sense about what NE and OAK are likely to be this year.

What I think they are is that OAK is a dangerous team that can beat anybody, but more often than not won't when facing a good opponent, and that NE is a tough out who'll prevail against non-playoff teams and more often than not make playoff teams play relatively mistake-free football to beat them.  That's enough to put both teams in the playoffs as underdogs, but we'll see how the season plays out.

PS I know OAK is now Las Vegas.  I just don't care.

45 Start of 2nd half, Vegas…

Start of 2nd half, Vegas were driving for a go ahead score. Turned into FG attempt which was missed. Pats go down field and score to make it 20-10.  Never really look back from there.

I'd suggest Belichick has done this dozens of times against opponents over the past twenty years leaving everybody underestimating them as a 'lucky' team.  Maybe not so much from 2013-18 but certainly in that first decade or so of success they seemed to win a lot more games against teams that were more efficient.

66 point 3

Well, the Pats lost their LB corps from last year so they nearly have to start from scratch there.  But any team should want Winovich.  

In the secondary, you're underrating JC Jackson.  Also, the McCourty brothers have had solid careers, though they are both on the wrong side of 30 and slowing down.  

The D-line is solid but not exceptional.  Laurence Guy is somebody any team should want.  But, yes, to a large extent the D is rebuilding, esp. at linebacker.

As for their receivers...well, Edelman is great at what he does.  Cam seems to have a good rapport with Byrd.  Harry is an adventure.  All put, not a great corps.  

I still think the offense is better than last year's.  And let's see how James White can help them when he gets back (just a terrible tragedy for his family to deal with).  

The defense was always going to regress, and losing the entire LB corps made that worse.  

Really looking forward to see them play the Bills.  They're clearly not at the Ravens/Chiefs tier, but it'll be interesting to see if the Pats continue their absurdly long dominance of the Bills.  This Bills team is better than they've been for quite a long time. 

68 I don't watch a lot of…

In reply to by RickD

I don't watch a lot of Patriots games but I will say - Winovich is good. JC Jackson is good in NE, but I've seen way too many corners and safeties leave NE and be horrible players. Scratch that, I've seen way too many (insert every position) leave NE and be horrible players except for a rare few. 

Jason McCourty never rose above replaceable outside of NE. I am kind of convinced the same would be true today and for his brother, though its speculation.

Cam Netwon is an upgrade over Tom Brady(at least given the current NE roster construction); that's why this offense is better than last year's.

My bottom line point remains. Any other team that lost its entire linebacking core + suffered all of those free agent losses + fielded a receiving core this bad would be living in the toilet. 

 

83 My bottom line point remains…

My bottom line point remains. Any other team that lost its entire linebacking core + suffered all of those free agent losses + fielded a receiving core this bad would be living in the toilet. 

And just like that, I suddenly understood what BOB was going for in letting Nuk walk.

Jesus, all the ex-Patriots guys really do just cargo-cult Belichick, don't they?

74 Stealing Games

In reply to by RickD

Shorts is right about BB and his ability to steal games against teams that are moving the ball well. It's followed him since he was with the Giants (though from 07-~17 he went to low-variance tactics).

With respect to the defense; the rebuild at LB is interesting - and they've lost some other talented players. At the same time defense is as much about the worst player on the field as it is the best, and they still seem to doing well at not having holes. We'll see how it plays out.

151 Remember

In reply to by sbond101

This team is a yard away from being 3-0, despite having to rebuild its LB corps late in training camp and featuring a new QB who didn't play for over a year and only picked up the playbook in May. There is most likely room for improvement.

The O-line and the DBs are very good.

I agree that this looks more like the off-year Brady teams. They'll beat teams with less talent and/or crap coaching and at least compete with teams that have more. They'll probably steal a game or two against the best opposition.

168 Stealing Games

In reply to by RobotBoy

I think the thing this team has most in common with the 01 team is that I believe they can steal game from anyone (it would not surprise me at all if they stole one from the chiefs).

I don't see enough there to suggest they'll win more than 1 playoff game. I guess we'll see.

174 Sounds about Right

In reply to by sbond101

2001 is a good comparison. One big difference though is that Newton has the potential to be much better than the two guys the Pats had taking snaps that year - Drew 'The Human Statue' Bledsoe and game manager Tom Brady. Given the importance of the position, that could make a real difference. The 2001 offense was mediocre-average. Even 34 year-old Edleman was better that Troy Brown and David Patten. Antowain Smith was decent but I don't think he and the other RBs compare to what the Pats have now (the RBs and the O-line are the strengths of the offense). I think the 2001 defense was probably better - two hall of famers in Law and McGinest. Profootball Reference ranks them in the top ten in most categories. That team also got better in the second half of the season - I'd forgotten that they'd started 1-3.

182 0-2 after week 2 and Dr. Z's…

0-2 after week 2 and Dr. Z's power rankings had them dead last - QB gone for the season and an unknown 6th-rounder replacement.

IMO, 2001 Troy Brown was about the equal of 2020 Julian Edelman, though for career JE is better.  Brown was the one "Smurf" that stood out from the rest in getting open and eluding tacklers - easy to forget that so long ago.

176 It's certainly possible the…

It's certainly possible the Patriots receivers are trash.

My hunch is that while they're not particularly good, they're probably better than common wisdom, and we'll find out now that they have a quarterback that doesn't stubbornly refuse to throw them the ball.

23 regarding Sam

I'm not sure why Dave thinks the Jets should cut ties with Sam.  The Jets have a horrible playcaller, no healthy weapons, and easily the worst offensive line in the league even before Becton left.  If you want to use yesterday's interceptions against him alone, at least go watch the plays.  On the first, Lawrence cager (whatever that is) makes no play to come back for the ball, and it was also a great play by Rhodes.  On the end zone pick that effectively ended the game, Rhodes is completely lost in coverage and Sam recognizes that.  Rhodes just happened to turn around and have a look what i found interception.  Sometimes bad results happen on the right decision. And finally i just saw the third (i wasnt hanging around for the second half), and have no clue on earth what Hogan was doing. This is a lost offense right now, and it has little to do with the quarterback.  I'm not trying to give him a free pass.  I just know the JEts would be better off trading down or using the picks on pieces elsewhere.  Because if Sam is cut he's getting multiple starting job offers as opposed to Gase, who wont even be allowed to sell concessions in an NFL stadium again.  

120 According to the eye-test …

In reply to by scraps

According to the eye-test (of my eyes), the O-Line is not nearly as bad as it's been in the past.  Most of the sacks allowed have been because Russ is hanging on to the ball too long, waiting to make a play (which he often does, so we all live with it).

Stats back this up.  According to the Ringer's Danny Heifetz, "He had an average time of 3.4 seconds to throw this week, the longest in the NFL for Week 3."

True, the Cowboys don't have too fierce a pass rush, but this isn't the work of one of the worst O-lines in football.

If you want to talk about the *D*-line on the other hand...

26 I have a general sense that…

In reply to by Jetspete

I have a general sense that when an offense becomes embarrassingly awful, the QB is unlikely to be a good player. I'm happy to concede that Donald is nowhere near as terrible as he looks right now, but I think it's time to be very pessimistic about his future outlook. 

 

If the Jets find themselves with a chance to draft Trevor Lawrence, I think they would be fools to trade the pick.

33 Unhelpfully, I'll say you're…

Unhelpfully, I'll say you're both right.  A possible superstar QB is too valuable to pass up on, but Darnold is far from the Jets' biggest problem right now. 

What the Jets really need is a properly functioning football team, and if they had that Darnold is likely to be good enough to win with (I'm guessing here, since we've never seen Darnold take to an NFL field as part of a properly functioning football team).  But if you get a chance at a superstar QB on a rookie contract, you have to take that and build the rest of your team around him, as nothing you could get in a trade would give you as good a chance at the Super Bowl three to four years down the road.

62 "Everyone" seems strong. …

"Everyone" seems strong.  Rosen got to start for two teams, and couldn't dislodge a journeyman on the second, whereas Darnold has at least kept his job.  I've no idea who the better QB would be between Rosen and Darnold if they were on the same team, but Darnold gets to play and that by itself gives him a somewhat greater chance to turn his career around.

Mind you, if Brady turns to dust around week 12, we may get to see Rosen have a chance to turn his career around, too.  Then let the irrational "Who's better? Rosen or Darnold?" flamewars break out in full intensity!

64 The thing is, if you believe…

The thing is, if you believe that Darnold is secretly a good qb being mashed into guacamole - then the same thing could be argued for Rosen. The fact that Darnold kept getting chances while Rosen was discarded like a used napkin is more about circumstance than on the field play. Its hard to overstate just how awful the 2018 Cardinals and the 2019 Dolphins were.

 

I think Fitzpatrick by himself elevated the Dolphins offense from sinkhole to just vanilla awful. If the Jets traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick, I would bet actually money that the offense would improve a lot. That speaks more to Fitzpatrick than anything else, who in some ways is an offense unto himself and transcends supporting casts/coaching staffs. Sort of like Peyton Manning. 

 

Of course...the Fitzmagic offense, even at its full glory - translates to a season enjoyed by his successor in Tampa.  

 

67 That's a fair point about…

That's a fair point about Fitzpatrick.

Also, I now desperately want to see the Jets trade to get Fitzpatrick while Gase is still coach.  Just to watch Fitzpatrick ignore whatever gets called in from the sideline and call his own plays.  Because you know darn well that's exactly what he'd do.  Honestly, if Fitzpatrick went so far as to start overriding Gase on player substitutions, does anybody think the team wouldn't follow the beard?

 

103 Rosen has played a lot worse…

Rosen has played a lot worse than Darnold. The gap in production between Rosen and Darnold has been as large as the gap between Darnold and a borderline Pro Bowler (e.g., in DVOA, ANY/A, or QBR).

And NYJ should probably move on from Darnold after this year if he doesn't improve.

106 Regarding Darnold/Player improvement

There does not appear any infrastructure upon which Darnold can rely to help him get better.  Not the coaches, not his peer group, certainly not the organizational culture.

 

So who in this type of environment WOULD get better at any role barring someone who is a savant?  I realize this becomes a nature vs nuture discussion. But I think it's super unfair to brand any player a failure when there is no framework of any substance to help the player get better.  

 

I don't think just handing Darnold a football and a playbook constitutes being helpful.

53 you make good points, but it…

you make good points, but it really is a chicken and the egg question.  These qbs that win on rookie contracts, or even make runs, almost always have the functionally football team in place around them.  And in many cases they werent the highly touted superstar.  Jackson was the 5th qb taken and went to a perennial contender.  Mahomes went to the Chiefs and Andy Reid.  Wilson and Dak were not first rounders.  Watson i would put in the middle of both, he was a superstar who went to a circus organization but does that team look anywhere close to a superbowl?

The case for Lawrence (or ditching Sam) this decade would be found in the guys who succeeded.  The best comparison would probably be Cam, he was a star who went to a horrible organization.  The second would be Goff, but he found a team making a complete fresh start with one of the brightest young minds in a generation (go look at his 2016 before he found a competent coach).  But i think to your point, the Jets have to become a functioning franchise first, and with the head boss due to return in december who knows if this is possible. 

165 Wilson would succeed…

Wilson would succeed anywhere he went. Seattle wasn't good when he got there. He's the rare exception to the rule. Their Oline has been bad for most of his career and yet he has carried the team for years now.

Jackson definitely needed to land in the correct spot i.e. an organization that would build around his strengths and coach him up.

Mahomes should thank the gods that he landed with Andy Reid. The best QB coach in the league for a good while now. He may have been good elsewhere but who knows?

Dak landed with a good team and (at the time) a great Oline. That helps a lot. It appears he was better than his draft position though. He looked good right from the start.

If the Bengals don't make major improvements to their Oline, Burrow may get broken ala David Carr and others.

188 Cam Newton's rookie year was…

Cam Newton's rookie year was also Ron Rivera's rookie year as head coach.  The Panthers may have been a travesty before (although they were 2 years removed from going 12-4, so they weren't a travesty for that long before Cam got there). 

The real problem for the Jets is that they really didn't rebuild until this year.  MacCagnan didn't accumulate draft picks, he relied on trades and free agency signings that occasionally worked out (2015, anyone?).  The only one who tried actually rebuilding the team was Idzik, but almost none of his 22 draft picks (over 2 years) worked out.  At least Lawrence would have Becton protecting him unless something bad happens (or he goes somewhere else).

42 Unlikely only means >50%. …

Unlikely only means >50%. 

In 2015 and 2016, the Rams had some of the worst QBing in NFL history, on putrid offenses.

The 2018 NFC Championship Game matched up two of them, with one winning SB MVP. In 2019, the other one lead his team to the SB.

Look at Tannehill once he escaped the Gase/Philbin vortex of suckitude.

41 Darnold probably needs a…

In reply to by Jetspete

Darnold probably needs a change of scenery if you aren't thoroughly determined to ruin him. Because even a wholesale front-office change won't change the stink of the players around him. He needs to spend some time with sanity, like a post-49ers Alex Smith.

44 Responding to this and your…

Responding to this and your reply above:

I can count on one hand the number of qbs who have looked terrible and somehow salvaged their careers through a coaching change.  And even then, people are skeptical of Goff and Alex Smith never rose above solid starter. And Tannehill is a poor example because he was at least a solid player for the Dolphins; he never sank to the depths of unplayable. Meanwhile, I can list example after example of busts who remained busts no matter the coach, team, or organization they belonged to.

 

Frankly, I've heard Raiders' fans make the same excuses for Jamarcus(they were even legitimate on the surface - Al's late age stewardship had plunged the Raiders into a deep, ugly hole). I am sure same was said about Ryan Leaf. Josh Rosen went to two dumpster fires and everyone pays him no mind. Sometimes both can be true. A terrible qb + terrible situation = terrible offensive football.

I am not sure its wise to point to a pair of exceptions when the long list of evidence going the other way far exceeds. 

 

50 Steve Young, Drew Brees,…

Steve Young, Drew Brees, VinnyT, Rich Gannon .... I'm still on one hand.

I think your underlying point is correct; but of course rookie turnover is much quicker this past decade as are HC/GM and sunk costs are lower.   Teams are much less willing to devote time and effort to a retread, easier to draft someone new.  Someone like Jim Plunkett would never get the chance today to wash up twice and then play in two Super Bowls and be MVP of one of them.

54 Brees and Gannon were still…

Brees and Gannon were still reasonable NFL starters with their old teams (Brees more so than Gannon, who was probably around the 20th best QB with the Vikings, in a 28 team league).  Young and Testaverde were stuck in a special kind of hell known as the Hugh Culverhouse Buccaneers.  

70 drop Brees

add Plunkett.  

Plunkett is the prototype of "bad QB who turned it all around by changing teams".  

Poor Testaverde and Young go stuck in the sinkhole of Tampa.  

As for Darnold himself, I'd like to see if he could do better separated from Gase.  Gase really seems to be an especially bad coach.  

77 Rosen only got buried after…

Rosen only got buried after Fitzpatrick showing you could turn lemons into slightly sweeter lemons given the Dolphins roster.

Now, Fitzpatrick is like the perfect QB for a bad team, so even that comes with an asterisk, but people did give Rosen a pass on the first go-round.

Just HOF QBs who looked bad before a coaching change:
Blanda, Young, Favre (50% of the passes he threw at Atlanta were intercepted), Aikman, Dawson, Tittle, Starr.

Starr was in his third year with Lombardi before he was more of an asset than a liability.

82 Its ok to look bad or pretty…

Its ok to look bad or pretty bad as a rookie or 2nd year player. Its another to live two nightmare seasons and recover to tell the tale. Darnold has been pretty bad, god awful, and unthinakbly terrible in his career thus far. I understand his circumstances are a black mirror hellscape; my larger point was that even with all of that being true - it doesn't change the sad fact that almost no one experiences this career trajectory and manages to dramatically turn their careers around. Even Goff rebounded massively after one year spent in a hell hole. 

47 Regarding Smith

Smith's stint with sanity didnt just come post 49ers.  It came when the Niners hired a competent coach and he led them to an NFC title game and a solid record before being replaced by he who shall not be named 

58 Not all Bad in SF...

Smith had some good years with SF.  Don't forget he was in the NFC Championship game in JAN 2012 and would have likely won if not for two muffed punts.  I will agree I wished he had more success though.  

76 "I'm not sure why Dave…

In reply to by Jetspete

"I'm not sure why Dave thinks the Jets should cut ties with Sam."

I didn't say that, nor would I. They need to cut ties with Gase. 

30 The Saints overall had a…

The Saints overall had a good night on offense, and they can obviously still craft efficiency with a short passing game. They just don't have enough options without Thomas right now. Kamara had something like 14/35 of their targeted throws, and while he made some great plays and embarrassed the Packers defense on the long touchdown, GB was able to key in on him on 3rd downs to get just enough stops. Then you had a completely telegraphed WR screen to Taysom Hill on another 3rd down, and the disaster read option fumble.

31 Back when the Rams had Jeff…

Back when the Rams had Jeff Fisher, I really had started to hate him by the end of his tenure. Then he got fired and, as a result, the rams got Sean McVay. So in a roundabout way I'm actually fond of Fisher, because if he hadn't been hired we wouldn't have gotten a real coach.

Adam Gase makes Jeff Fisher look like Bill Belichick. However, he's the perfect coach to destroy your team in order to get Trevor Lawrence. So Jets fans take heart, without Adam Gase you wouldn't have the best QB prospect maybe ever on your roster. 

52 Two AFC East teams have had…

Two AFC East teams have had a perfect start to their season:

Bills at 3-0 and Allen rewarding the faith management has shown in him the past couple of years.

Jets at 0-3 and getting closer (at hyperdrive speed!) to removing the biggest immediate impediment to them turning their fortunes around

34 It's interesting to me the…

It's interesting to me the contrast in outspoken opinion regarding Adam Gase vs Zach Taylor. The former is vociferously regarded as a black hole while the latter gets barely mentioned. I mean...Zach Taylor's record to this point resembles Hue Jackson. And while it's all the rage to roast Gase, his win loss performance is far superior to Taylor.

 

I'm also of the opinion that Gase is a bad head coach, but we should be intellectually honest with ourselves to at least consider that Taylor is as well and that Darnold may just be a huge bust. That's pretty much the conclusion everyone has reached with Rosen.

38 There's been a lot of chat…

There's been a lot of chat on these boards recently from Lions fans lamenting ditching a safe, stolid coach, for the latest flavor of the month from whichever successful regime. 

The same applies, perhaps even more so, for the Bengals. 

65 How we get to a point…

How we get to a point sometimes matters, especially when it comes to memes.

My recollection (and my memory's horrible, so I may be wrong!) is that folks were fairly neutral on the Taylor hire, i.e. nobody knew what the Bengals were getting.  Whereas the Gase hire prompted a lot of "huh? what??" reactions on day one.  So, yeah, Gase tends to be more top-of-mind for people when reaching for the terrible coach metaphor.

Also, Gase has a talent for making himself look bad in the media that I'm not aware that Taylor possesses.  That may, however, simply be the excessive coverage of all things NY versus the somewhat less well covered (nationally) Cincy sports scene.

 

108 Because Gase comports…

Because Gase comports himself like he's an offensive genius. 

 

It's the same reason I find David Gettleman so much more odious than a run-of-the-mill bad GM.  If you have to keep reminding people you're the smartest guy in the room, you probably are near the other extreme.

56 " Kyler Murray's arm hasn't…

" Kyler Murray's arm hasn't quite been on target today..."

I think his main problem is that in a misguided attempt to "spread the ball around", he kept trying to force the ball to non-DeAndre Hopkins receivers.  2 out of this 3 INTs (and a 4th that was dropped) can be blamed on this.  I thought his only really inaccurate throw was when he threw slightly behind Hopkins, and Okudah made a fantastic play to pick it off. 

The Lions otherwise simply could not cover Hopkins.  He had 10 catches for 130+ yards, but he should have had 20 for 200+.  On most replay angles you can see him constantly running wide open.  I have no idea why the Cardinals didn't try to keep targeting him until the Lions proved they could stop it.