Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Audibles at the Line: Week 8
Audibles at the Line: Week 8
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 Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 at London Jaguars 18

Bryan Knowles: First thoughts: the NFL GameDay crew in the booth is an ... interesting experiment. I really like Rich Eisen normally, but he's not really working for me as a play-by-play guy. Mooch and Kurt Warner are good on color, and Irvin's not bad, either. They're not getting on each other's toes, which is a real fear from a four-man booth. Put an actual play-by-play guy in there, and you'd have something here.

Dave Bernreuther: I think Eisen could be OK with a bit more practice. He's obviously a bit out of his element, but he's inoffensive. And kind of funny in his restraint when they showed Jason Kelce walking off wincing and grabbing his, uh, crotchal region.

I can think of no more fitting Blake Bortles play than fumbling the first snap after being the beneficiary of a turnover.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, this is Eisen' s second-ever call. Dude's just not got the reps. Warner, on the other hand, has lots of radio experience, and was rumored for the MNF booth over Witten. May we have been so lucky.

The Jags identity is a "power running team," but they get stuffed in third-and-1 and don't even think about going for it on fourth. Have a better identity, guys.

Andrew Potter: Rich Eisen's far from the worst play-by-play guy out there, but a few times already he has either had the distances wrong or been uncertain about things that are obvious on the broadcast. That stuff comes with experience, or in this case lack thereof.

The game itself has had a few fun moments already. Carson Wentz picked up a first down on the opening series by catching his own deflected pass and diving past the marker. The second was even more spectacular: Wentz was being tackled from behind and falling down forward, but still had the arm strength to launch the ball 15 yards to Jordan Matthews on third-and-14. He tried something similar on the next play though, and instead he fumbled the ball on a hit from Marcell Dareus and Myles Jack recovered.

The Jaguars defensive line is winning early and often on passing downs, and the Eagles have already lost Lane Johnson with a suspected knee sprain. Jason Kelce left after the opening play too, but he returned two plays later. When the Eagles blocking solidified on their second drive, they marched down the field, but a superb read and break on the ball by Jalen Ramsey got him an end zone pick in deep centerfield. Given that Ramsey lined up at left cornerback, Wentz had no way to anticipate him getting deep centerfield that quickly. Just a fantastic play by a tremendous athlete.

Bryan Knowles: Well, the first half was certainly not short of action, even if scoring came at a premium. Both teams have shot themselves in the foot multiple times, with no real true "successful" drives to this point. We've already had three turnovers, with the latest one leading to our only touchdown of the first half. Avonte Maddox hit Keelan Cole just after he caught a pass -- it's the sort of bang-bang play that I feel would have been overturned a lot under the previous catch rules, but I like the ruling. The ensuing "drive" was just one Wentz scramble and then a deep shot to Dallas Goedert, but that plus the short field position is enough to give us a 10-6 game at the half.

The Eagles, when they're not turning the ball over, are doing a much better job of moving the football. It feels like they're going to pull away some in the second half, if they can just clean up a little bit of execution here and there.

Andrew Potter: The 10-6 lead is certainly indicative of which is the better team, but also of the type of game it is. One big play in either direction could swing it -- or, perhaps, one big injury, as Jalen Mills becomes the second Eagles starter to leave with an injury that is likely to at least keep him out for the rest of the game. Both offensive tackles, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, missed most of the first half, but according to the Eagles Twitter feed Peters is expected to return.

Bryan Knowles: One thing I'd really, really like to see is announcers recognizing that the fourth quarter is not some magical line of demarcation, before which two-point conversions are verboten. Four guys in the booth, and only Mooch went "eh, sometimes you might want to go for two outside the fourth quarter."

Of course, it's easy to be skeptical when Jacksonville fails to convert. I'm glad coaches are beginning to tap into the two-point conversion more and earlier, though. Slow but sure progress.

Speaking of "big injuries," the Jaguars are down four cornerbacks today now that Quinton Meeks has left the game, and it's leaving some matchup mismatches on the outside for Philadelphia. Tre Herndon, a UDFA who is Jacksonville's fifth or sixth corner, was beaten by Jordan Matthews for a 35-yard gain to start Philly's last drive, and then by Zach Ertz for a touchdown to end the drive. 24-15 Philadelphia. I don't know that I trust Jacksonville's secondary at all at the moment, so Jacksonville has to score touchdowns every time they get the ball.

Andrew Potter: The Eagles got the ball on downs with the lead and around 4:30 to play. 2:30 later they will kneel the game out with Jacksonville out of timeouts.

The Jaguars called nine runs today. Six for Carlos Hyde, two for T.J. Yeldon, and one to Dede Westbrook. Blake Bortles scrambled eight times, was sacked four times, and threw forty-one passes. The Jaguars led for much of the first half, were never down by more than 11 points, are missing their top two left tackles, and still called dropback after dropback: 30 consecutive dropbacks in the last 20 minutes of the game. Sure, their best plays have mostly been Bortles scrambles, but that's very clearly a team getting away from the philosophy they've tried to espouse. Bortles, for his part, was somewhat passable today, but he was much more consistently dangerous as a scrambler than a passer.

Bryan Knowles: Eagles hold on, 24-18. It was a deserved win in the end, though I think the Jaguars may have gotten hurt by a replay overturn. Josh Adams appeared to fumble with about seven minutes to go in the game, and Jacksonville recovered. The replay looked mighty inconclusive to me -- not saying it was or was not a fumble, only that I didn't see enough to overturn any call on the field. The replay officials disagreed with me, and said that Adams was down, allowing Philly to drain an extra two minutes off the clock. The Jaguars failed to score on their ensuing possession anyway, and they would have needed a touchdown either way, so I don't think the call was a game-decider or anything. Still, though, I think the Jaguars have a couple of reasons to be miffed.

Baltimore Ravens 21 at Carolina Panthers 36

Bryan Knowles: More epic standing around by Joe Flacco during the Lamar Jackson packages, but you have to admit, they're working. Jackson had a 17-yard run to get the Ravens into the red zone, and then handed off to Alex Collins, who broke through a number of tackles to finish off the drive. I do like how Baltimore has committed to the Jackson packages as a regular part of their offense -- not a gimmick, but something around which they actually build drives. I think the regularity of reps they get out of the package helps it be more consistently successful. I'll have to go through their games at some point and see exactly when and how they use Jackson (I'd imagine he's likely more successful in the red zone than in the open field), but so far, so good.

Lots of laundry to open this one -- a false start, a delay of game, an offensive holding, all outweighed by an unnecessary roughness that helped Baltimore covert a second-and-long to keep the drive moving.

The Ravens do not seem to fear the Carolina offense. They ran a fake punt from their own 10 and converted -- though it was called back for an illegal shift. That forced the actual punt, and the Panthers ... shred the Ravens defense. Newton completes three straight passes, then Christian McCaffrey, after getting stuffed at the line, ducks under his tight end's arms and finds some open space on the second effort, tying the game at 7. Game on.

Dave Bernreuther: It's not all sunshine and roses for the Lamar offense, Bryan. Deep in their own end they run one where Jackson moved to his right, drew the defender, had a wide-open receiver on the sideline for the first down ... and threw a Josh Allen pass. The camera was zoomed too tight to see if Joe Flacco clapped or smirked after that one.

Bryan Knowles: Cam Newton has generally been sharp today, but Carolina got lucky twice on this last touchdown drive. First, they pitched out to D.J. Moore on a third-and-1, who dropped the ball on a backwards pass a good 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The ball bounced right back to him, however, and he turned it into an 11-yard gain. Then, in the end zone, Newton's pass bounced off either Devin Funchess or Brandon Carr, fluttered around in the end zone, and found McCaffrey's hands. 21-7, Carolina.

Luck is great to have, but Carolina has looked good on offense all day long. That was a 99-yard drive against the third-ranked DVOA defense. Newton's 12-for-15, and D.J. Moore already has four catches for 71 yards, in addition to his run.

Oh, man, watching Carolina is so much fun today. After Baltimore put together a 10-play, 15-yard drive (!), Carolina got the ball on their own 29 with 52 seconds left in the half and just one timeout left. A deep pass to Moore got things going, and then Newton had a classic Newton-esque scramble, plowing his way through tacklers to get across midfield. On third-and-2, Baltimore rushed nobody, giving Newton all day to scan the field, but forcing him to throw it away, with 11 seconds on the clock. Carolina then takes a delay of game penalty while trying to decide whether to go for it on fourth down with no timeouts, putting the ball back at midfield. Hail Mary time, right?

No! Instead, bring in backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke to fake the Hail Mary, and instead have him throw a quick out to a wide-open Greg Olsen, who gets out of bounds and sets up a Graham Gano 54-yard field goal. 24-7 at the half, and Carolina is just doing whatever the heck they want. Newton has yet to be sacked, after Baltimore had 11 sacks two week ago. That first half went about as good as it possibly could have from Carolina; maybe they'll actually have a lead going into the fourth quarter this time.

Vince Verhei: Wait. Was Newton hurt? Does Heinicke have a stronger arm than Newton? What was the point of that swap?

Bryan Knowles: Newton's just fine. I can't actually explain the move except as some kind of massive confusion ploy -- no one on Baltimore's defense really seemed to get what was going on. I think they assumed that, oh, you bring in a specialist quarterback rather than the kicker or punter, it must be a Hail Mary, because NO one covered Greg Olsen. At all.

I can't explain it, but it worked.

Newton DID have a sore shoulder during the week, but he's 15-for-21 for 154 yards so far this game; he's doing just fine. Heinicke took most of the snaps during the parts of practice where media was allowed to watch this week, so they must have been cooking SOMETHING up.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34 at Cincinnati Bengals 37

Andrew Potter: Twice on their opening drive, Jameis Winston has thrown the ball almost perfectly into the hands of Shawn Williams. The first was dropped, but the second found Williams wide open in the end zone.

The problem, of course, is that Shawn Williams plays safety for the Bengals.

We've already seen two reasonably aggressive fourth-down decisions, too. The Bengals went for a fourth-and-1 just outside the red zone, but despite facing a seven-man box with only six blockers, Andy Dalton handed off to Joe Mixon on a shotgun draw that never looked like it had a chance. The Buccaneers then drove to fourth-and-4 around the Bengals 40, where Jameis Winston picked up the first down on a scramble. That led to his interception, and we still haven't seen any points.

Jameis Winston just hit yet another Bengals defender square in the chest with the ball. That's his third interception of the game, and he should have thrown at least two more. All three picks have come in Bengals territory. Winston now has nine picks this season, which is third-most in the league at the time of writing. He has only played four games. We know this is who he is, but usually he has thrown enough touchdowns as a young quarterback to make up for it. He's not that young a quarterback any more, and he only has six touchdowns versus those nine interceptions this year.

Then, just as I'm writing that, Winston throws his next pass of the game, and it's a pick-six STRAIGHT to Jessie Bates. That ties Winston with Sam Darnold for the league lead.

Dirk Koetter has seen enough. Ryan Fitzpatrick is in for the Buccaneers.

Bryan Knowles: Jameis Winston is part of arguably the most frustrating groups of quarterbacks. His talent is undeniable; he's not a Beathard or a Peterman or something, where everything is terrible. He's also not an Alex Smith-type, a steady, unspectacular game manager. Winston's highs are so high; he can do fantastic things ... but his lows are among the lowest in the league. And at this point, I don't know there's much you can do to fix that.

The Bucs picked up Winston's fifth-year option back in April, so he'll presumably be the quarterback next year, but it seems unlikely he'll get a second deal from Tampa Bay. He's good enough to get a second chance somewhere else, and maybe a new coaching staff and a new location can turn his career around. But for now, he's damaged goods, and that's just on the field.

Andrew Potter: The Buccaneers have never had a drafted quarterback reach his second contract. Never.

Only Vinny Testaverde lasted six seasons, and that's because his rookie deal was a six-year contract.

Bryan Knowles: This is why Tampa had so many players on our Greatest Journeymen list -- they've employed the top three, five of the top ten, and seven of the top 25. One day they might find their franchise guy. Maybe.

Andrew Potter: Ryan Fitzpatrick's second drive is a short one: two plays, the second of which is a 72-yard touchdown to Mike Evans.

The beautiful irony here is that Lovie Smith was fired so that the team could keep Dirk Koetter, ostensibly for the work Koetter had done with Winston in his rookie year. Now, Koetter's best chance to keep his job appears to require that he be the one to give up on Jameis Winston.

Bryan Knowles: Fitzmagic LIVES! He has led Tampa Bay to 18 unanswered points, and we have a tie game. My god.

Andrew Potter: The Bengals offense just shut down in the second half. The only second-half score for Cincinnati was the pick-six. After running up a 27-6 lead in the first half, they now have to hope Randy Bullock can kick a roughly 45-yard field goal on a windy day to win it.

Bryan Knowles: Fitzmagic does not play defense. Cincinnati escapes with one.

Cleveland Browns 18 at Pittsburgh Steelers 33

Scott Kacsmar: Rough start to this one. Have yet to have a return without a penalty. The Browns had a good opening drive with lots of passes to the edges, but Todd Haley had some questionable calls right up the middle that the Steelers snuffed out to hold the drive to a field goal. Pittsburgh seemed to have a third-and-1 run converted by James Conner, but Xavier Grimble was penalized for an illegal block in the back. Hardly ever see that called on such a quick, short-yardage run play. CBS didn't even bother to show a replay and the Steelers only bothered to throw a screen/failed completion on third-and-11 before punting.

Both quarterbacks force a pass on third down. Ben Roethlisberger's attempt was tipped and intercepted to give the Browns good field position. Baker Mayfield was luckier in that his tipped pass hit the ground before it could get picked. That led to a 45-yard field goal by Greg Joseph and the Browns are up 6-0. Conner almost coughed up the ball right back to Cleveland, but the Steelers were fortunate to recover. I thought the rain in Week 1 helped even the playing field a lot with turnovers between these teams, but conditions are good today and the play has been just as sloppy. Myles Garrett with a sack and the Steelers will likely end the first quarter without even a first down.

Dave Bernreuther: Baker Mayfield is running for his life every time I look up. But for good reason, as opposed to leaving clean pockets the way many young quarterbacks do. And he really does impress me, even when the results aren't there. His vision and presence on the move, keeping his eyes up, directing traffic, and throwing mostly accurately, really are quite incredible for a rookie. He's not Aaron Rodgers on the move, but he's good. Anyone who has ever read what I write knows that I'm pretty rough on quarterbacks and fairly curmudgeonly, and I didn't initially like Mayfield at all ... but he's the real deal, and I'd love to get to watch him with an actual coach.

I guess this is hardly news at this point, but the Chiefs and Rams offenses have kind of overshadowed him for a few weeks now so I thought it worth mentioning.

Scott Kacsmar: Not bad when you can look terrible and still lead 7-6 like the Steelers. The Browns again settled for a field goal attempt, but Joseph missed this time. The Steelers got a little life with a third-down conversion from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown, and then Roethlisberger found him again for a 43-yard touchdown after Brown got behind the secondary. This is like the opposite of the offense earlier this season when everything looked good except for Ben to Brown. Today, it's Ben to Brown that looks great, and everything else has been a little off.

Bryan Knowles: It's odd that they haven't been going to Brown more often -- he only had one target in the first quarter. Of course, only running nine plays will do that for you.

Dave Bernreuther: Everyone here knows all about the success of the quarterback sneak, but Mike Tomlin of course has always avoided it.

But just now, after Conner goes out of bounds just shy of the first ... Roethlisberger slow-motion falls forward for the easiest 2.5 yards you'll ever see on third-and-1. Maybe there's hope for him yet.

This drive follows a Joe Haden pick that was a great effort on his part to go up and get a decent throw. So in the span of five minutes we've seen great defensive back play and a quarterback sneak. From the Steelers. What's next, an appropriate challenge from Tomlin?

Scott Kacsmar: I think the sneak thing was a Todd Haley thing. For whatever reason, he didn't want Roethlisberger to run them, and now I believe they've used it three times this year against Haley's Browns. Roethlisberger converted both today with so much ease with his size. The second was initially ruled a fumble, but that was just a terrible call. His knee was down past the line to gain with control. What I loved on that second one was that the Browns stuffed the middle and Roethlisberger still ran the sneak by taking it to the right and easily gaining what he needed. Hopefully this becomes a staple in the offense.

What a drive by the Steelers (16 plays, 87 yards, 7:12) for a touchdown, and they get the ball to start the third too, up 14-6. The quarterback sneaks were helpful, as were some throws to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Interesting decision to go for it on fourth down in the red zone. Maybe the clock wasn't handled perfectly there by Tomlin (surprise, surprise). By throwing short of the end zone, but enough for a first down, the Steelers were really limited to maybe two throws in the end zone after converting the fourth down. Fortunately, Roethlisberger only needed one play to hit Brown on a screen at the 1 for the touchdown. This will only add to that split CBS showed where the Steelers have the league's worst first-quarter scoring differential this season, but the best in the second quarter. They're plus-14 in the second quarter today.

Bryan Knowles: Special Teams Rules Shenanigans!

Pittsburgh gets a safety on a holding in the end zone, so Cleveland has to kick the ball to the Steelers. Roosevelt Nix calls for a fair catch, and then lets the ball bounce, where the Browns down it...

… like it was a punt. But a safety kick is NOT a punt. It's a free kick. So when Cleveland downed it ... that's a recovery, just like an onside kick. Browns ball. Giving up two points for a 75-yard gain seems worth it, right?

Scott Kacsmar: Steelers just did one of the dumbest things you'll ever see. Bud Dupree forced a holding penalty in the end zone to get a safety. On the free kick, the Steelers had fullback Roosevelt Nix signal for a fair catch, and Antonio Brown and Ryan Switzer let the ball bounce. The Browns were all over it, and that's a live ball. So they take over in great field position just when you thought the Steelers could lock this one up. The defense is adding to the idiocy with penalties for roughing the passer, pass interference in the end zone on third down, and holding in the end zone that negated a sack.

All of that led to a touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway, who caught it despite being interfered with again. What a turnaround for this game. Browns are only down 16-12, because yes, the kicker missed the extra point.

Bryan Knowles: The free punt recovery might be the first play I've ever seen where neither team knew the rules, because it didn't look like any Brown realized they had just recovered the ball; they didn't immediately celebrate like it was a big play. I've seen plenty of plays where someone has forgotten how rules work (like the onside kick to the end zone against Mike Gillislee in Buffalo a couple years back), and plays where one side of the ball or the other wasn't sure what was going on because there was a trick play going on, but I don't think I've seen something where all 22 players seemed to have no idea what had just happened.

Unless Pittsburgh forgets a few more special teams rules, it looks like Cleveland will lose this one, falling to 2-5-1 and essentially ending any chance they had of competing this year.

With news reports coming out that Todd Haley might be the one who gets the chopping block for Cleveland's poor performance to this point, the question remains -- what on earth does Hue Jackson have to do to get fired? The Cleveland offense has advanced the ball just 11 yards in the second half, thanks to the 24-yard touchdown drive which featured a roughing the passer call and defensive pass interference. Take out penalty yards, and I believe Cleveland has -1 yard in a quarter and a half. In a must-win game against a division rival. Heads have to roll after this one, right?

Hue Jackson was asked why he didn't use his timeouts late in the second quarter. His answer? "Honestly, I don't even recall that."

How does Hue Jackson have a job?

Denver Broncos 23 at Kansas City Chiefs 30

Bryan Knowles: Gah, the Chiefs were lining up to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3-inch line, but a false start scuppers that. They're forced to kick the field goal -- always a win when you're playing the Chiefs -- and Denver has a 7-3 lead early. Kansas City had a first-and-goal from the 3 and couldn't find the end zone. Two false starts certainly didn't help. This is also the first time all year Kansas City hasn't scored on their opening possession, so things are going pretty well for the Broncos late in the first quarter.

Tom Gower: After running a draw play on third-and-goal from the 7, Vance Joseph does go for it on fourth-and-goal for the 4 to start the fourth quarter. After the touchdown cuts it to 30-20, he chooses to go for two. That's not something you see every day, and a rare instance of an NFL coaching being more aggressive than I probably would have been in that situation.

Seattle Seahawks 28 at Detroit Lions 14

Vince Verhei: Lions lead 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. I know it's a dome, but this game is in Michigan, and it feels like a classic late October Big Ten matchup. The Seahawks got the ball in bad field position and picked up a few first downs, but punted from around midfield. The Lions got the ball in bad position and picked up a few first downs, but it looked like they were going to be held to a long field goal try. On third-and-10, though, the Seahawks rushed three and actually got pressure, but Matthew Stafford slipped away and found Marvin Jones behind Tedric Thompson for a 39-yard touchdown. On the last play of the quarter, though, Seattle picks up a first down in Detroit territory. It's a run-heavy game -- 15 total carries, only 11 pass plays so far.

And then Seattle quickly finishes that drive on a play-action touchdown pass. Tyler Lockett lines up in the slot and goes slant-up-corner, beating Nevin Lawson on the play.

Thompson atones for his coverage error by forcing an Ameer Abdullah fumble on the kickoff, and Seattle recovers. The league's best red zone team quickly capitalizes on a Wilson touchdown pass to David Moore. Moore was isolated on the right sideline against Teez Tabor and Wilson threw a perfect back-shoulder fade. Moore bobbled the catch, but tipped it into the air and away from the defender and reeled it in in the end zone. If he catches it cleanly, he probably gets tackled at the 1.

Seahawks have the ball for what feels like forever, but is actually only six minutes and change, and Ed Dickson's first catch for Seattle is a touchdown to make it 21-7. Biggest play actually happened at the other end of the field. On third-and-7 at their own 23, Wilson threw to Moore, who got his hands on the ball in traffic against Tabor, but lost it as he went to the ground and it was ruled incomplete. Pete Carroll challenged the call and everyone I was watching with thought it was a bad move, but we were wrong and Pete was right and it was a catch and a first down.

Seattle forces a punt with a minute to go, but they get pinned inside their own 10, and they're content to run twice and go to halftime with a 21-7 lead. Wilson had a third-down sack on the first drive, but otherwise has been nearly perfect -- 11-of-12, 153 yards, three touchdowns, a perfect 158.3 rating. And they're running effectively too, with 19 carries for 95 yards in the half. I can't say Damon Harrison has had no effect -- the few Seattle runs that haven't worked, he has either made the play, or forced the double-team that let somebody else make the play -- but the problems with Detroit's defense go deeper than one guy.

Detroit's offense, meanwhile, looks totally overmatched. They've got 39 yards on the one touchdown, less than a hundred yards on their other 22 plays. Seahawks are getting lots of pressure without blitzing much. Detroit has nowhere to go in the running game. They do get the ball to start the second half, but there was nothing on either side of the ball in the first 30 minutes that would lead you to believe they're capable of coming back from this.

Still 21-7 at the end of three. Seahawks had a fourth-and-goal at the 1 and went for the death blow, and it looked like Wilson had his fourth touchdown, but Nick Vannett stepped out of bounds before catching the ball and it was a turnover on downs. That was set up by a play-action on third-and-1 where the Lions blew coverage and left Ed Dickson uncovered for a 42-yard gain. Dickson's only career 100-yard game was against Detroit in 2017, and he's having a big day again today, with a team-high 54 yards on the day.

Oh my god, Matt Patricia, what are you doing? Wilson completes a pass to Vannett for a third-down conversion. There's a penalty on Detroit, but Seattle declines. But Patricia challenges the play and it's overturned to an incompletion ... so Seattle accepts the penalty instead and it's a first down anyway! He challenged a play to gain 2 or 3 yards of field position! Next play, Wilson finds Moore behind the defense for a 45-yard gain; next play after that, Chris Carson steamrolls over Quandre Diggs into the end zone for a 28-7 lead, and this one's done.

I keep meaning to mention this and forgetting: the commentary team of Kevin Kugler, Ronde Barber, and Chris Spielman has been tremendous today. I've heard Kugler on the radio before and he's a very good play-by-play man. Barber has been outstanding pointing out Seattle's formation and play-calling tendencies. Most TV crews are actively bad. Some are neutral. This is one of the few that has actively made the game better.

Detroit threatened to make a game out of this. They dink-and-dunked their way to one touchdown (big PPR days for Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones), then got into the red zone on an absolute ticky-tack DPI on Bradley McDougald for 50-plus yards, when both guys were hand-fighting the whole way. My most hated play in football, just handing the offense half the field for not doing a damn thing. But then on first-and-goal, Stafford throws the ball right to Justin Coleman for an interception, Stafford's second turnover of the fourth quarter (he had a sack-fumble earlier).

Game ends in the funniest way possible. Seattle runs three times from their own 1-yard line. On fourth down, Michael Dickson takes the snap and rolls right. He's just going to kill clock and take the safety. But the Lions are napping, and Dickson runs out of the end zone and picks up the first down. The Seahawks were literally TRYING to give the Lions points and the ball, and the Lions wouldn't take either one.

Andrew Potter: As a Michael Dickson fantasy owner, I am devastated that this was only a 9-yard run.

Bryan Knowles: Your fantasy league is weird, Michael Dickson is amazing and the Lions are terrible.

Vince Verhei: Rushing first downs today:

Detroit Lions: 1
Michael Dickson: 1

Carl Yedor: Seattle picks up a big one in terms of potential playoff implications down the road. If they end up needing a wild-card tiebreaker over Detroit, this game will be helpful as it's a road conference game. The Seahawks played five of their first seven games away from home (four road, one London), but it's not like the schedule gets a whole lot easier moving forward, as they face both L.A. teams, the Packers, and the Panthers in the next four weeks. In other words, they really needed this one. Detroit drops to 3-4, continuing a fairly confusing season in which they've beaten New England and Green Bay (good!) and lost to the Jets and 49ers (not so good). They now sit in last place in the NFC North.

New York Jets 10 at Chicago Bears 24

Vince Verhei: Some terrible defense by the Jets on the opening touchdown here. Bears run what is supposed to be a screen pass to Tarik Cohen, but it's run so badly that Cohen is actually IN FRONT of his blockers. That sounds like disaster, but that side of the field is just totally devoid of anyone in green-and-white, and it turns into a 70-yard score.

Washington Redskins 20 at New York Giants 13

Derrik Klassen: The New York Giants offense right now is a perfect snapshot of what they have been for years. Though not his fault, Saquon Barkley is being stymied in the run game for fewer than 3 yards per carry, while four of Eli Manning's five throws to this point have gone for 5 yards or less. However, the one other throw ... was a 44-yard reception by Odell Beckham with a defender draped over him, which was later ruled a DPI that the Giants declined. That Beckham's heroic efforts are giving this offense its only signs of life is perfectly on brand.

Lucky for them, the Giants trail just 7-0 with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter despite their ineptitude and are now starting a drive at their own 30. Maybe Beckham can continue the magic on this drive.

My god, the game got even more peak Giants. Barkley and Beckham strung together a few great plays in the passing game to move the Giants into the red zone, then Manning promptly throws an interception right at D.J. Swearinger in the underneath area. Leave it to Eli to throw such a comically on-cue interception.

Aaron Schatz: The Eli Manning interception reminded me a bit of the Malcolm Butler immaculate interception from Super Bowl XLIX. In style, not importance, of course. Beckham was trying to slant to a specific location and Swearinger was standing in that location and just caught the ball with the two of them pushing into each other.

Not sure why the Giants aren't doing more to try to pick on seventh-round rookie Greg Stroman. That's the defender who was on Beckham on that big 44-yard play. He's essentially Washington's fourth corner but he's playing with Quinton Dunbar out. Washington leaves its cornerbacks on specific sides so whoever the Giants line up on the left is going to get Stroman.

The Giants defense at this point feels like it's "Janoris Jenkins and who are these other guys?" Landon Collins is out there, of course, and Olivier Vernon. Vernon finally started to make some noise on Washington's drive in the second half of the second quarter. Rookie defensive tackle B.J. Hill is also flashing, and had a nice batted pass on that drive. Ended with a missed field goal for Dustin Hopkins so it's still 7-0 with 3:19 left in the second quarter.

Derrik Klassen: You could convince me every Washington game this season has ended something like 20-13 and I'd believe it. With the game sitting at 10-3 halfway through the third quarter right now, it looks like Washington is right on schedule.

Aaron Schatz: If the Giants go for another screen pass on third-and-15, I'm going to hurt somebody. Then again, I guess they don't have enough faith in their offensive line to hold up long enough for an actual deep pass that might convert for 15 yards. The biggest difference between these teams today has been the offensive lines. Washington has six sacks with seven minutes left in the game. John Greco is getting eaten alive on the inside, and Nate Solder has given way to Ryan Kerrigan a couple of times. The Giants have no sacks on Alex Smith, and the Washington offensive line has made some nice holes for Adrian Peterson as well.

Bryan Knowles: No, no, no. The Giants need a touchdown and a field goal, and they end up with a fourth-and-goal from the three with 4 minutes left. They kick the field goal. Yes, that makes it a one-score game, but are you going to get closer than the 3 again? Plus, you're the New York Giants; what on Earth do you have to lose by just going for it? I would have tried to score with my second-pick-overall running back.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, Washington just ran power and it was beautiful. Center and right guard pulled around right end, beautiful seal on the outside by Brandon Scherff against Landon Collins, the center Roullier took out Tae Davis from the Giants, and Adrian Peterson was gone. 20-6 and that should be the game.

Indianapolis Colts 42 at Oakland Raiders 28

Dave Bernreuther: An Adam Vinatieri field goal closes out a 10-0 first quarter in which the Raiders ran three plays. I get the feeling that if it wasn't the Raiders and Vinatieri being five points from history, Frank Reich would've gone for that fourth-and-2, as the Colts are just having their way with the Raiders so far. Even the incomplete passes are good looking plays, including the third down near-touchdown before the kick. Turns out that playing the Bills and Raiders back to back can make you look like the 2009 Colts.

Vince Verhei: Big news here is that Adam Vinatieri has passed Morten Andersen to become the NFL's all-time scoring leader. Vinatieri kicked his first NFL field goal in 1996. Saquon Barkley was born in 1997.

Otherwise, the Colts' scoring was limited to a great one-handed touchdown catch by Mo Alie-Cox, a VCU basketball player who signed with the Colts last year but never saw the field until this season. Meanwhile, Derek Carr is having probably his best day of the year -- he's 1-of-4 for 14 yards to Jordy Nelson, but 8-of-8 for 100-plus yards and two touchdowns to everyone else. Not sure what it says that they get rid of Amari Cooper and promptly look better than ever, but it's probably not a good sign for Dallas.

Dave Bernreuther: Congrats to Adam Vinatieri, who is now the new NFL scoring leader after closing out the first half with a field goal.

The second quarter was the exact opposite of the first, with two relatively easy scoring drives for the Raiders sandwiched around a failed one for the Colts, which is probably a pretty fair outcome after I opened my big mouth a quarter ago. I guess it's easy to forget that although improved, the Colts defense still lacks a real pass rush, and this week's opposing Derek is, despite the handcuffs placed on his offense, still quite a bit better at quarterback than last week's opposing Derek.

Vince Verhei: The Raiders took the lead on a fourth-and-goal quarterback sneak by Carr. It's the first rushing touchdown of his career. It was called short originally, but Jon Gruden challenged the call and won. A big rushing drive for the Raiders -- besides the score, Doug Martin had runs of 29 and 6 yards on the drive, and Jalen Richard had a 13-yarder.

Colts respond with another Luck touchdown pass, and again it's a great catch by his receiver, as Eric Ebron runs a corner route, boxes out the defender, and pulls in the jump ball. They go for two and convert it on a wide receiver screen, and we're tied at 21-all.

Luck is now at 22 touchdowns on the year. This stunned me, but he was second behind Patrick Mahomes in touchdown passes coming into the day. That's partly because the Colts haven't had their bye yet, but as much as we've been fretting about Luck's arm this year, he and the Colts have been productive.

Dave Bernreuther: The Raiders move down the field in the blink of an eye to open the second half, lest any of us forget that the Colts still aren't a good team on defense. At the goal line they tighten up though, with an assist from the Gruden heavy package, and then get a stop on fourth-and-goal ... or so it's called. What actually happened, though, was that they went offsides and Derek Carr obviously crossed the plane over the top, but wasn't given the score. Which was an atrocious call.

Gruden had to know he was guaranteed the win, so he threw the challenge flag ... which made me wonder -- if you got a free play from inside the 1-yard line against a bad defense, what's your threshold rate of success for using that challenge there? A touchdown is nothing to sneeze at, of course, but fourth down is going to have some variance no matter how confident/competent you are. I guess the more I think of it the more I agree with him, even as likely as a score would be on the next play.

On the Colts' first drive of the half, Jack Doyle makes his return known by opening up a giant hole for Marlon Mack, who rips off the longest run I can remember a Colt having, which was followed by a nice touchdown catch by Eric Ebron and a two to tie. And now it's looking like the track meet I expected, as in the time it took to type that paragraph the Raiders have already made it down to the 10, because Colts defense. For the second straight drive, once on the doorstep the raiders revert to the offense of two weeks ago without any passes downfield, but this time Carr finds Brandon LaFell to retake the lead. That was an interesting play, as it looked like he had made up his mind to tuck it and run, only to pull up and hit LaFell. Carr is 17-of-20 now, and unlike his last over-80 percent game, he's getting a respectable yards per attempt.

Vince Verhei: Colts tie the game at 28-all in what has turned into the most fun game of the day. T.Y. Hilton gets his first catch today on a deflected ball for a 16-yard gain on second-and-20; later on the drive, he gets a diving catch down the middle of the field for a 34-yard gain and a first down in the red zone. Nyheim Hines does two full pirouettes on one run to set up a first-and-goal. Andrew Luck nearly throws an interception to Erik Harris, but then Marlon Mack carries it in from the 4 on third down to knot things up.

Dave Bernreuther: The Colts now have three touchdowns by three different tight ends, with Jack Doyle getting in this time to take the lead after a stop. "Fun" isn't a word you often use with a three-tight end offense, at least in this generation, but this team really is a lot of fun to watch. On offense, at least.

Vince Verhei: Jack Doyle is on fire, NBA Jam-style. On one drive, he gets four catches for four first downs in four targets, gaining 14, 11, 17, and 10 yards, the last a go-ahead touchdown. Colts are now the first team in NFL history with three different tight ends to catch a touchdown in one game. As the announcers point out, Luck's Stanford offenses were built around tight ends too.

Green Bay Packers 27 at Los Angeles Rams 29

Bryan Knowles: The Rams play in the Pac-12, right? The state of the Coliseum, with all of the USC graphics still clearly visible underneath the logo at midfield and in the end zones, is really an embarrassment. I'd love to hear from the groundskeepers about what's going on here, as I can't remember the stadium looking this bad in years past.

Green Bay draws first blood, after a 48-yard pass to Davante Adams sets up a 1-yard plunge ... and the crowd goes wild, because the stands are filled with Packers fans. I think this is slightly more defensible than the Chargers' usual fan situation because A) the StubHub Center holds only 27,000 people, compared to the Coliseum's 78,000-plus, and B) there are home games for the Dodgers, Kings, Galaxy, and Clippers today, making it a little bit of a crowded sports day for Los Angelinos. Still, we've got a Lambeau South situation developing here.

Aaron Schatz: There really haven't been that many years past to remember.

Bryan Knowles: I was alive in the '90s! There were football games back then!

Dave Bernreuther: Past L.A. games or not, it's still pretty poor. The Steelers don't ever have leftover graphics on their sod after Pitt games (then again, the field is usually just a muddy disgrace) and we never saw that out in Arizona pre-cactus either.

That said, I have no sympathy whatsoever for Stan Kroenke, so I am kind of enjoying seeing this all play out this way.

Which means I should enjoy that the Rams gained a mere 38 yards in the first quarter in multiple possessions ... but I also enjoy watching that offense. I don't think any of us expected the Packers to suddenly have the horses to keep up with them so this has been interesting so far. I wonder how long they'll be able to keep it up.

Aaron Schatz: I don't remember another game where I've seen the Rams giving up this much pass pressure. Packers are sending a lot of five-man rushes and getting guys to Goff over and over.

And in fact, they just sent five men after Goff and took him down on third-and-9. I believe that's the third straight third-down sack for the Packers.

Scott Kacsmar: It's funny how the thing worth preserving from the Jeff Fisher era in L.A. is the fake punt pass with Johnny Hekker. They really needed that, but it still didn't lead to points. This offense really misses Cooper Kupp in the slot. The last two games and especially today have not been too impressive for the passing game.

Dave Bernreuther: That wasn't all! In the span of about five minutes, Hekker had the first-down pass and two deep downed punts, including one an inch from the goal line that led immediately to a safety. The whole NL -- err, NFC -- West is in prime Fisher mode right now, with Hekker being his team's MVP and point totals of 5, 3, and 2 (two!), as the Giants lead the Diamondbacks (oops) in Arizona.

Bryan Knowles: The Rams finally find the end zone, and we have a 10-8 game at the half. I don't question the Rams' decision to go for two; I do question their decision to do it by just having Gurley plow into the line. They had two attempts at scoring with Gurley on or near the goal line, and Green Bay stacked him up both times. It was when they threw it that they actually got over the goal line for the touchdown. I think airing it out again would have been the wiser play, but I suppose it's easier to second guess from this side of the TV screen.

Dave Bernreuther: Dear Packers,

You should consider covering Todd Gurley. With someone. Anyone at all, really.

Bryan Knowles: See? Passing to Gurley! Passing to Gurley is good. A 30-yard touchdown reception, plus the two-point conversion score. That's the way you do it.

The Packers have done a good job bottling up Gurley, the running back -- just 50 yards, with nothing longer than 11 on his 15 carries. But when he's allowed to swing out into the passing game, he's just too much for Green Bay to handle.

Aaron Schatz: The Rams offense has gotten its act back together in this game, but not so much the Rams defense. There have been some significant coverage lapses in this game, mostly by Marcus Peters on Davante Adams. You also don't want to leave Mark Barron covering Adams one-on-one. Then Troy Hill just failed to get a good jam on Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and MVS blew past him and was wide open for a touchdown catch, which gives the Packers (with the extra point) a 27-26 lead.

Todd Gurley only has 65 rushing yards on 19 carries so far, which is interesting because the Packers are playing primarily dime defense here today. But the Packers have always played a lot of dime -- it was over 40 percent of their snaps last year -- so I think they're used to playing it on first downs or in possible running situations. It seems like we're seeing the Packers with more defenders in the box than we would usually assume if we knew we were seeing 11 personnel vs. dime personnel on every down.

The Packers' performance vs. Gurley is even more impressive since the Packers were No. 29 in run defense DVOA going into this game.

Bryan Knowles: Every time I look over, Jaire Alexander is making a huge play. Dude's having a heck of a rookie season.

How, how, HOW does Ty Montgomery take the ball out of the end zone on the kickoff? Kneeling would have given the Packers the ball at the 25 on the good side of the two-minute warning. Instead, he runs it out, blowing the stoppage -- oh, and fumbling, too. Probably should have led with that one. Rams ball, NOT quite game over yet, but close.

A touchdown would be really helpful for some of us.

Aaron Schatz: After a Greg Zeurlein field goal we have a 29-27 game and everything is all set up for an awesome finish with Aaron Rodgers getting the ball and two minutes for a comeback drive. Except on the kickoff, Ty Montgomery decides to take the ball out of the end zone instead of just taking a knee ... and Ramik Wilson whacks him around the Green Bay 20 and knocks the ball loose. Rams recover. Green Bay can stop it the clock one more time, but I assume the Rams will just run three times then kick another field goal and Aaron Rodgers will get the ball back with less than 40 seconds, no timeouts, and a touchdown needed instead of a field goal.

Gurley got free on third down and instead of scoring the touchdown, he went down around the 4-yard line. By getting a first down and not scoring, it guaranteed that Aaron Rodgers would not get that comeback attempt. Smart move by Gurley, and I'm always amazed when players have the brainpower to fight their own adrenaline and go down in situations like that (Brian Westbrook being the best-known example, of course). Rams win 29-27 and stay unbeaten. Should be another interesting week to see if the Chiefs or Rams come out No. 1 in DVOA. I'm going to guess the Chiefs stay No. 1 because the Rams' win was closer, but the Broncos were a stronger opponent by DVOA (albeit not by W-L record).

San Francisco 49ers 15 at Arizona Cardinals 18

Vince Verhei: 49ers up 5-3 at halftime. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between great defense and terrible offense. And sometimes it's obvious. These teams are awful. Josh Rosen and C.J. Beathard have each been sacked three times. (Richard Sherman has his first sack since 2012.) Neither team has gained 100 yards receiving or is averaging even 10 yards a catch. David Johnson has 42 yards receiving, already a season high, but it hasn't helped Arizona very much. The 49ers are averaging less than 3 yards per play and less than 2 yards per pass ... and they're winning. If they can hold on, Arizona's odds of getting the top pick in 2019 are going to skyrocket.

Bryan Knowles: The first-half drive chart: Three-and-out, three-and-out, punt, safety, three-and-out, 78-yard field goal drive, punt, interception, 3-yard field goal drive, punt, end of half.

The only first half that may have been harder to watch this season was the 3-3 Titans/Jags snoozefest back in Week 3, and at least that had fourth-down attempts and a missed field goal to keep fans somewhat entertained. This has been … terrible. San Francisco is averaging 2.3 yards per play, Arizona is averaging 3.6. The only difference in the game is the interception; Beathard's getting hit too quickly to throw any picks. Both teams have converted exactly one third down.

Both of these teams are in dead, going-nowhere seasons. If anyone is watching this game, they deserve to be committed.

T … touchdown? That's allowed?

Marquise Goodwin just caught a 55-yard touchdown. Before that, the 49ers had 35 net passing yards on the day.

Vince Verhei: A touchdown! Marquise Goodwin lines up on the left across from Patrick Peterson and beats him on a quick slant, and then there's just nobody to stop him as he goes 55 yards for the score. Kinda harsh to blame Peterson for that one -- he gave up the slant, but there was just nobody in the middle of the defense. 49ers go up 12-3. The good news for Arizona is, we know Nick Bosa looks good in red.

Right before that, George Kittle took himself out of the game after a shot to the head, and he's headed to the locker room.

A reminder that for all our jokes, there are Hall of Famers in this game. Larry Fitzgerald beats Richard Sherman for a 37-yard gain, and Arik Armstead is flagged for roughing the passer to boot. Two plays later, Rosen finds Fitzgerald in the end zone. 49ers still lead 15-10, but both teams still have plenty of time to screw this up. (I could only put the jokes aside for so long.)

Bryan Knowles: Let's sum up Jimmie Ward's time in San Francisco: he tried to do something illegal, failed, and so the 49ers benefit.

Jermaine Gresham was running up field when the ball just flew out of his hands, bouncing around near the sideline. Ward tried to bat the ball further into play, but he was out of bounds. Fortunately, he missed the bat, and so the 49ers were able to recover.

Vince Verhei: On that note: Arizona gets the ball back and is driving, but Jermaine Gresham fumbles and the ball goes dribbling forward down the sideline. 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward, who is out of bounds, tries to recover the ball, which would make it a dead ball and end the play and let the Cardinals keep possession. And at first that's exactly the ruling, but the 49ers challenge, and it's ruled that Ward failed at the dumb thing he was trying to do, the ball stays in bounds, and San Francisco recovers.

Bryan Knowles: San Francisco also knows Nick Bosa would look good in red.

With no pressure, Josh Rosen's able to drive the Cardinals down the field, with Christian Kirk scoring the touchdown and Larry Fitzgerald tacking on the two-point conversion. They take a 18-15 lead with 34 seconds left.

Vince Verhei: And suddenly the Cardinals make it look easy. They move 73 yards in 12 plays in only 1:42. Much of that, oddly, was targeting Sherman, including a 19-yard gain on a deep comeback by Christian Kirk. They get the touchdown on a third-down pass to Kirk in the back of the end zone, and then the two-pointer to go up 18-15. Only problem is they may have scored too quickly -- 49ers have 34 seconds and two timeouts to get a tying field goal. Under the circumstances, an incomplete pass on first-and-goal, and a completion for a loss and out of bounds on second-and-goal, might end up costing Arizona a chance to put this on ice.

49ers get into Arizona territory with a few seconds left ... and the ball is snapped over Beathard's head and way the other way. Beathard is able to run it down and throw it to nobody in particular, and it should be grounding, but there's zeroes on the clock and it doesn't matter either way. Cards win!

Bryan Knowles: On the last play of the game, the backup center snaps the ball way over Beathard's head. He manages to scramble back and get to it, but rather than falling down and calling a timeout, he flings it towards George Kittle -- incomplete, but it wasn't going anywhere anyway. Game over.

Everyone excited for San Francisco-Oakland on Thursday?

Aaron Schatz: Thursday night's Oakland-San Francisco game should be retitled Next Season Tonight with Ed Oliver.

Bryan Knowles: Can't we move that one up 24 hours? After all, nothing is scarier on Halloween night than watching those two teams play.

New Orleans Saints 30 at Minnesota Vikings 20

Aaron Schatz: I love, love, love letting Taysom Hill launch a deep pass to Michael Thomas. Finally, force the defenses to respect the pass when Hill comes in. It will make his runs even more effective.

On the other hand, I don't understand the red zone play with both Drew Brees AND Teddy Bridgewater in the game as fairly useless "wide receivers." Is that fooling anyone into doing something differently?

Carl Yedor: Huge swing right at the end of the half. Minnesota is driving with plenty of time left to score at the end of the half before they get the ball to start the third quarter. Instead of punching it in for a touchdown, Adam Thielen fumbles on a screen pass, which New Orleans then recovers and takes back most of the way, scoring two plays later. Instead of potentially being up 20-10 with the ball to start the second half, Minnesota is now down 17-13. Minnesota's linebackers haven't been able to hang with Alvin Kamara in coverage, which isn't exactly a huge surprise having watched them in prime time against the Rams. The Saints' two stops have been largely thanks to the fumble and a holding penalty. We could be in for a lot of points in the second half here.

Bryan Knowles: Heck of a first half on this one; a little bit of everything you might want: spectacular catches, turnovers, plenty of scoring but not up-and-down running through shoddy defense. Good football game, this.

Minnesota has generally outplayed New Orleans -- the Saints had that one great opening drive, and then not much since then. Brees threw his first interception of the year, Kamara dropped a conversion, things like that -- just a little bit out of whack. But the Thielen fumble with a minute left in the half ended up being a huge swing. Minny would have gotten at least a field goal and a six-point lead entering the half, but the fumble and ensuing unsportsmanlike call gave New Orleans a huge opportunity right at the gun. 17-13 New Orleans, but the Saints will have to be a little sharper here in the second half to hold on to that lead.

Aaron Schatz: I appreciate all this going for it on fourth-and-1 around the NFL but can we please have some more running plays? The Vikings started the third quarter by going for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 45 and threw the ball to Laquon Freakin' Treadwell.


109 comments, Last at 30 Oct 2018, 5:34pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

very food game packer vs rams. watched msot after watching Colts vs Raiders. Raiders fixing roster right now. Building block year. team will be back in 2019 with Super Bowl in minf.

2 Re: Thursday night's Oakland-San Francisco game should be retitl

well, still rare Raider s at 490ers game. not seen but for once ecvery 8 years. so even if both teams hadve bad records, still nice to see. this as opposed to crappy division rival vs crappy division rival or two NFC teams going at it or two AFC teams facing off. that will happen with upvmong Week 10 MNF gam,e

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

>a 44-yard reception by Odell Beckham with a defender draped over him, which was later ruled a DPI that the Giants declined.

That's a huge understatement. The defender straight-up tackled Beckham, and he managed to snag the ball as he was hitting the ground. That play took the Giants inside the opposing 40, but naturally they spent the next few plays going backwards and then punted. A few plays later, Janoris Jenkins managed to get called for a hold AND pass interference on a ball that Josh Doctson still catch. That's when I decided that my time was better spent making french onion soup than it was watching Giants football.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Was at the game with my son and 5 hours later we were still talking about that Janoris Jenkins play. Pretty sure that in 30+ years of watching football I've never seen teh same defender get called for holding and DPI and still give up the reception.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Vikings had 10 more 1st downs, and significant advantages in yards per play, and yards per drive, along with 1 more turnover. It's just that their 2 turnovers were much more non predictively harmful. This all happened on a night where they were missing several starters due to injury.

I doesn't look like they are going to have much luck this year, but these things can change, of course.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I left that game actually quite impressed by the Vikings, given all their injuries, particularly on defense.

Cousins is in a tough spot though. He's never been particularly adept in the pocket and now has to deal with a porous OL.

Also, what the hell was that last drive (the one they got the TD on to make it 30-20). Why are they huddling on goal-to-go situations. Why are they snapping with 10 seconds left on the play clock. The resulting onside kick made it clear they knew the urgency of the situation.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I thought that considering the competition, and minus those two really bad/unfortunate plays, it was the best game they played this year.

Cousins is a the most perplexing QB I've watched as a Viking fan. At times I'm thinking wow he can really wing it, at other times it's wtf. I've seen many mention that he handles pressure well. I think he makes some extremely good throws under duress, but that he really doesn't sense the rush well and doesn't slide around in the pocket effectively. All in all I think he's medicore. If I was rating the last 4 qbs the Vikings have had, I'd go"

1. Healthy Teddy
2. Healthy Bradford
3. Cousins or Keenum (and would change my mind every third play)

The injury to Bridgewater really was a tough blow for the team. Gave up a 1st and 4th for Bradford, lose him week 2 the next year. Then because of injuries to their 1st two choices have to cough up a ridiculous sum of money for an average QB. A lot of what is thought of as genius or stupidity is really just good or bad luck.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Well, look, a healthy Bradford, if such a thing had ever existed for 5 seasons, seperated from Jeff Fisher, may be close to a HOF qb. He was that talented. We'll likely never know a lot about Bridgewater. Really disagree about the Keenum/Cousins comparison. Keenum has really good pocket awareness, and that's about it; he doesn't throw very well, and was just damned lucky last year that he didn't have about 15 more ints (with significantly better protection than Cousins is getting this year) than he recorded. The Broncos would trade Keenum, and a lot more, for Cousins, if they could.

Spielman and Zimmer have had some really crappy injury luck on 1st and 2nd round draft choices.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

do the Broncos have any offensive lineman worth anything - we could use 4 or 5 of them.

It's funny, I've been trying to figure out why I loved Bridgewater so much. I mean it wasn't like he lit up the field when he played. I guess watching him behind such a horrendous oline and still getting them into the playoffs had much to do with it. He played like a smart warrior. As bad as the Viking line looks this year, it's nowhere near as bad as what Bridgewater and Bradford had to put up with.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Bridgewater's mentally superior to about 90 percent of starting NFL qbs. He's just not gifted physically by the standards of starting NFL qbs.

I never appreciated Bradford from afar. What he did for the Vikings in 2016 was truly remarkable.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

This pretty accurate about Cousins, especially he not sensing the rush well. At times he looks completely dominant but is always good for 1-2 huge "WTFs???" each game, be it an inexcusable turnover, not feeling the pressure at all (especially from blind side), throwing a terrible pass into triple coverage, etc. Its the main reason why the Redskins didn't want to pay him.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Yes to the plea, not only for more rushes to be called on 4th-&-1, but also for fewer empty backfields at the goalline and in short yardage.

On the opposite note, there were some curious runs called in the Packers-Rams game. Early on, with a 7-0 lead, the Packers called a run on 3rd-&-5 at the Rams' 25. I'm not sure what the Packers saw and liked, but the probability of a conversion seems awfully low to me. Perhaps they were worried about taking a sack and being forced out of field goal range. I don't think that's the right mindset on the road against the best offense in the conference.

Then in the fourth quarter, just before the two-minute warning and trailing by one point, the Rams handed the ball to Gurley on 2nd-&-20 from the Packers' 23. Good as Gurley has been, that feels like a give-up play to me. In effectively settling for the FG, McVay was obliging his defense to prevent the Packers from reaching field goal range; a Rams touchdown on that drive, unlikely but not impossible, brings the option of a two-point conversion, after which the Packers must score a TD even to tie the game up. Gurley gained only four yards, and the Rams ran again on 3rd-&-16, which I thought a little more justified if again not ideal. Of course it ended up being academic because of the surely-about-to-be-released Ty Montgomery; nonetheless, relying on your opponent to run the ball bone-headedly out of the end zone on a kickoff and then cough it up when tackled is not an optimal strategy, even against the Packers special teams.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

On the opposite note, there were some curious runs called in the Packers-Rams game. Early on, with a 7-0 lead, the Packers called a run on 3rd-&-5 at the Rams' 25. I'm not sure what the Packers saw and liked, but the probability of a conversion seems awfully low to me. Perhaps they were worried about taking a sack and being forced out of field goal range. I don't think that's the right mindset on the road against the best offense in the conference.

On the next drive, they did that take sack in FG range on 3rd down. Crosby managed to hit it anyway, but it was harder than it had to be.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"I keep meaning to mention this and forgetting: the commentary team of Kevin Kugler, Ronde Barber, and Chris Spielman has been tremendous today. I've heard Kugler on the radio before and he's a very good play-by-play man. Barber has been outstanding pointing out Seattle's formation and play-calling tendencies. Most TV crews are actively bad. Some are neutral. This is one of the few that has actively made the game better."

I agree with 2/3 of this. I liked Kugler and Ronde Barber but Chris Spielman was the personification of annoying color guy. He talked non stop and said some of the most inane things. I kept wishing he'd shut up and let Ronde talk once in a while. Ronde did a great job, I'm really impressed with his work in the couple of games I've heard him work.

I think the only reason Spielman was there was because he was part of the halftime show of former Lions players.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Past L.A. games or not, it's still pretty poor. The Steelers don't ever have leftover graphics on their sod after Pitt games (then again, the field is usually just a muddy disgrace) and we never saw that out in Arizona pre-cactus either.

Why did the field look like USC's field had been hastily painted over? Because that's what it is.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia let Pittsburgh (the college) and Temple play on their field as tenants. But in the case of the Coliseum, USC administers the facility -- the Rams are the tenants. Unlike the Rams, USC can sell the place out, too.

I suspect this happened to the Cardinals occasionally when they played at Sun Devil Stadium, but no one ever watched those games.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I'm guessing the above poster and/or Buck and Aikman meant the field conditions, not the weather.

Though in theory, the field could be in bad shape due to excessive dry weather, and California has historically had some drought issues.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The Chiefs-Broncos game had a really weird flow to it. After the first two drives, where they were held to just a FG following a penalty on what would've been a fourth and goal conversion attempt, the Chiefs went back to their usual unstoppable selves, scoring TDs on four straight drives through the third quarter. The Broncos couldn't quite keep up, but they were still fairly effective on offense and scored three TDs along with a FG miss and three punts.

Then the fourth quarter hit and everything completely changed. The Broncos defense stopped KC repeatedly, first with a pick of Mahomes, then with four punts. The Chiefs gained only 29 yards on 16 plays in the fourth quarter, which I would guess makes that by far their worst quarter of the year. Denver should really have had a chance to come back in the game, but couldn't get enough going on offense themselves. They finally did cut it to 7 on a FG inside of two minutes, but that was too little, too late. It was like a whole different game in the fourth quarter.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I will say this in defense of some playcallers in short yardage situations: when the playcaller has little reason, due to past experience, that the play will be blocked well, the playcaller starts grasping at straws. There's a lot of irony in this era having many rules and points of emphasis which promote passing success, while labor contract rules and the evolution of the college game have combined to really impair median o line performance. It gets really more ironic once you consider how the epitome of high level o-line play may have been the 70s dead ball era. Go watch the great teams of that era, like the Steelers, Dolphins, and Raiders, and you'll see just just an incredibly high level of teamwork, technique, and coordination. There had to be, to get any points scored at all, because the rules so favored defenses. I certainly wouldn't want to go back to that, but I do get tired of watching so much shitty blocking.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Well sure, the fact that the median NFL defensive player is much bigger and faster than the median college defensive player, while they all play on a field of the same size, means that defense improves more than offense, from college to the NFL. A lot of that college run success today comes from spread formations, with splits in the o-line that really can't be used in the NFL. I also think there is a cumulative effect with regard to practice time. College professionals don't practice as much as they used to, either, with a more pronounced effect on the o-line, relative to other units. Now, given how crappily college professional players are treated by the hideous NCAA and major conference cartels, I certainly wouldn't want to see the restrictions on practice time lifted. Those players are getting shafted in nearly every other way. The result, however, is that you end up with o-linemen who aren't getting trained as well in college, and then arrive in the NFL, which has a CBA which now restricts practice time more. I really think this affects the o-line more than any other units.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

A lot of that college run success today comes from spread formations, with splits in the o-line that really can't be used in the NFL.

Why not?

We said full-time nickle/dime, RPOs, short scrambling QBs, and all shotgun all the time would only work in college, too.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

As a point of comparison, the only reason unblocked defenders against a qb running an option can now work in the NFL is because defenders are no longer allowed to concuss qbs. In college, they could run it, because the defensive ends and linebackers were not as good at delivering brain trauma. Sometimes size and speed really make a difference.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Agreed about o-lines. It's why I don't find it very useful to draw conclusions from o-line play early in the season, especially with teams incorporating new players (including rookies, obviously). Detroit's win against NE has an asterisk for me for exactly that reason - the Pats o-line hadn't gelled at all, especially the run-blocking (and was without it's first-round pick - lost for season - and best player - concussion). Fans in NE were down on Michel the first four games because he couldn't get going but 90% of that was line play. Now the line is opening big holes and everyone is raving about Michel.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Yeah, it's so crappy to go to an otherwise unaffordable school for free, get to live on the best dorm on campus and have access to the best meals on campus for 5 years, have access to parties and girls that the regular students can only dream of, receive coaching and instruction from professionals for free, and work out in multimillion dollar facilities for free.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Yes, it is quite crappy to be denied the protection of antitrust laws which your immediate boss enjoys, and your boss two levels up enjoys. So much so that your boss two levels up enjoys a high 7 figure income, or even an 8 figure income, and your immediate boss now often enjoys a low 7 figure income. While cartels, working in conjunction, collude to limit your compensation to somewhere between 20-70k a year (being generous on the high end), despite you being the one experiencing significant health risks, and your talents often being more provably scarce.

In all seriouness, how can a person of sound mind not acknowledge this?

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Also lopping off 5 years when you should be learning a trade, getting a career started, etc.

Of course, you are learning a trade. But unlike most technical schools, where your odds of getting work in your field are quite high after graduation, your odds of getting work in professional football are vanishingly small.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

At least the creep who coaches the University of Kentucky's basketball team can honestly say that his employees, nearly all of them, will end up making millions playing basketball, here or overseas. The creep who coaches Alabama's football team? He has more guys play in the higher level professional league, compare to any other NCAA cartel coach, and he might have, in his best year, have 20% of his roster end up making serious money playing football.

Big time college football coaches are really engaged in vile economic practices.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Football factory schools and their trustees are ultimately the (mostly faceless) ones responsible for this system. The head coach is the face of the program and is a prime beneficiary of a system that allows him to get paid more because his charges are paid less, but he's really just exploiting the system, not perpetuating it.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Regarding college logos at NFL games, I'm old enough to remember when one endzone said "Tulane" and the other said "Saints" in the Superdome.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

If I'm Teddy Bridgewater, I don't set foot on an NFL field in a position that doesn't come along with the QB protection set.

Some DB is going to literally tear that poor guy's knee off if he keeps lining up as a WR.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Hue Jackson Out.

Assuming this will become an XP post soon, but man, not sure I get it. I don't think that highly of Hue as a coach, but I don't know if I think any better of Haley.

Also, the team seemed to play hard for him, and he's kept them competitive, even if his own coaching foibles may have cost them a win or two.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

In all my years of NFL watching I don't recall a coach getting fired MID-season. I've seen the Raiders dump Shanahan, Kiffin and Allen four games and in a few getting dumped in the last four but never 8 games in.

I guess they have their bye next week?

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Turns out, Haley's out, too.

Sadly, Gregg Williams is not only still there, but now interim HC, while Freddie Kitchens moves up to OC from Running Backs coach.

On the plus side, Williams' promise never to implement another "pay for performance" scheme is easier to believe in the context of the Browns' organization, a group never known to associate those two things.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The interior Packer o line held up most of the day but when it didn’t Rodgers could not escape. They 3 and out before the Rams final score was Taylor whiffing on Donald and 12 not getting an extra second to release the ball. If he does Adams might have run quite a ways. Matthews played his best game in forever. Dean Lowery of all people was giving the Rams line a handful as was Kenny Clark but that is no surprise

Ty Montgomery allegedly ignored coach instructions to take a knee if the kick went into the end zone

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The story going around (SI, Adam Silver, etc) is that Montgomery was already pissed about his role earlier in the game. After he was taken out during the prior offensive series, he reported slammed his helmet and had a tantrum. It's 2 PM in Green Bay and still no word on whether Montgomery is cut. I don't see how he is kept after that.

I said it yesterday in the weekly discussion and I'll say it again; the Packers have lost their discipline under McCarthy. Loss of discipline on special teams goes all the way back to at least to when Slocum was Special Teams Coordinator.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

If he's not cut, then he'll probably be buried in the depth chart and deactivated for the next games. Discipline can be recovered, but it's better to fix it before it starts costing you games. Right there, because a guy made something very stupid, it cost them a VERY winnable game.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"Derrik Klassen: You could convince me every Washington game this season has ended something like 20-13 and I'd believe it. With the game sitting at 10-3 halfway through the third quarter right now, it looks like Washington is right on schedule."

Well done Derrick! Called the final score at halftime. I knew that final Eli TD had a purpose.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I'm not watching much football this year (for the first time in about 20 years), but I did manage to catch bits of the last few weeks of Bucs games, and it's clearly time to bring the Jameis Winston Experience to an end. Even Bucs Nation, a site rife with FSU fans who defended the Aguayo pick because SEMINOLE, is full of people calling for Winston to go.

Gruden liked Winston pre-draft, right? Is Winston enough of a veteran for Gruden to actually sign him, or would he need to be a few years older? Come on, Jon, you know you want to divest yourself of a first-round pick or two for a big-armed QB who absolutely lacks the short-/mid-range accuracy to play in your system. It's a terrible idea, almost as bad as dumping Khalil Mack!

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Yeah, me too. After years and years of boring Dolphins football play, having two kids under three has given me an excuse to skip most of the NFL season this year. I caught some of the Thursday night game. It did nothing to make me want to see more NFL football. Only thing I can say about Miami is at least their oline looks better than the last part of a game I caught of theirs. Thinking I'll skip the whole second half at this point.

Gruden is shedding a lot of talent, he better have an asbestos suit because fans only take so much tanking in this day an age. I guess changing markets will help with that though.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Gruden's got a ten-year contract and an owner who by all appearances is kind of a moron. Throw in the move to a new city, and he's got a few years to run that franchise even further into the ground. The good news is he has all sorts of first-round picks now he can use to draft terrible players, as he's traditionally been completely awful at drafting.

I honestly believe drafting JaMarcus Russell #1 overall was a far better football decision than signing Jon Gruden to a ten-year contract.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I'm always hesitant to ridicule Mark Davis, in the manner I do some of the other billionaires that own NFL teams, because I really do get the sense that mental illness may be a significant factor in his decision making.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Not the haircut per se but the fact that he travels hundreds of miles to get it, and the accounts of how particular he is about sitting at a particular seat at a particular restsurant, eating a partcular item on the menu, along with some other stuff I've read, leads me to strongly suspect that he has some OCD or other significant mental health issues, beyond the norm for NFL owners. Feel the same way about the far more talented Elon Musk. Just makes me feel uneasy about heaping ridicule on him, with the caveat that, yes, if you are so unfortunate as to experience serious mental illness, it is best to do so as a mentally ill person who inherited an asset worth more than a billion dollars.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

And here I am on the far end of the offspring versus football tunnel. When FO first started, around 2003/2004, I had three sons under 4. The TV was known as the football box because that's all that was ever on, and it was not often. I saw the night games when they were in bed. Then as they got older and into sports (plus the zoo, the museum, boy scout camping trips, etc) less and less football. FO kept me connected on "deeper-than-surface" NFL issues far better than the TV or radio snippets.

Now the boys are all teens (one just played his last HS football game... sniff), we have some off-season lacrosse commitments on Sundays, but no HS games or practices, they're independent, and I can watch maybe three full games per weekend. Often with commentary by the HS senior. When he gets his labrum repaired and if he gets into a school with a D-2 team, maybe he'll play next year, too. Gotta get out money's worth out of the Vicis helmet. Then my weekends will once more be filled with going to the kids' sporting activities. But for now, I'll enjoy the free time I have to watch the NFL.


27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

How does Hue Jackson have a job?
He doesn't no more. Hue Jackson got the boot. You know, it is a surprise he still had a job after a combined 1-31 over 2 seasons.

Pittsburgh seemed to have a third-and-1 run converted by James Conner, but Xavier Grimble was penalized for an illegal block in the back. Hardly ever see that called on such a quick, short-yardage run play.
I think the refs were still protesting about their guy being fired by launching flags on every play for the first 10 minutes. I mean, how you get a block in the back on a 3rd-and-1 run when the defense is in front of you?

In others, Ryan Switzer legit didn't knew that Safety Punts are free kicks. That's understandable because safety punts are kind of rare, and he has 2 years in the league. But I still don't get how AB and Nix didn't pounce on the ball.

Also, the fact that James Conner is a nearly unstoppable bowling ball after he crosses the 5 yards is really helping the Steelers. The line is opening holes, sure (And doing an amazing job at it, and in pass pro), but it's all Conner in the open field. Looks like he might cross the 1000 yards mark easily. Hopefully they keep him under 300 carries. Meanwhile, Le'Veon Bell just watches from the outside. If his bet was to show he couldn't be replaced, it'd say it didn't work (I will totally believe in my own words when I see Conner run free against the Ravens run D, which is, before updates, 4th best in DVOA and stuffed Conner the 1st time they faced).

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"Baltimore put together a 10-play, 15-yard drive". This seemed incredibly inept so I checked the play-by-play to admire the ugliness. The drive summary on PFR is messed up and lists it as 15 yards on 10 plays, while the PBP shows it going for 54 yards, but includes 2 plays for 24 that were wiped out by penalties. The NFL website shows it as 30 yards on 10 plays and adding up the PBP you get to the 30 yards ending with an interception. So still bad but not amazingly bad.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I think the drive lengths typically include the net penalty yardage. In this case, 30 yards of offense generated yardage, plus 5 yards for a penalty on the defense, and minus 20 yards for penalties on the offense. The first play started on the Balt 25 and the last play (the 10th non-penalty play) started on the Balt 40.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I did want to credit both teams and officials for how the game was played yesterday. A) the refs did not call every touch foul B) neither were there any overt ongoing infractions. Every so often a db would grab a receiver for a beat or an O-lineman would have a shoulder pad but there was a quick release and the play continued. I was really impressed especially by GB and wondering why in the name of all that was good and holy it took this many games for the team to play to this level?

Both qbs took a pounding that if Tony Corriente (sp?) were calling the game from earlier in the season would have generated multiple flags. What is the status of that stupid rule enforcement? Seems like my Twitter feed of dubious roughing calls have dried up. Did the league quietly tell the refs to ignore this 'focus area' given that the refs were doing such a shit job of enforcement?

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

And let me stress I am not griping for a flag for any of the hits save for when 12 got punched in the mouth but given the angle can understand why the refs missed it. I am just curious if anyone knew of any quiet directive to the effect, "Hey that focus area about tackling qbs? Yeah, not a focus area"

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Also, something so rare that it's worth mentioning. After the Cardinals 2 point conversion to Larry Fitzgerald, he made the extremely rare and elusive "Fitz Spike". Then in the post game press conference he said sorry for spiking the ball.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Even Larry Fitzgerald's son recognizes that there are better entertainment options than watching a 2018 49ers - Cardinals game.

"Sorry, Dad. Maybe if you were playing the Rams. Think I'm just going to hang with my friends and chill."

I don't know how old Fitzgerald's son is, but I assume the above quote works from age 6 up.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The Packers had a play yesterday where Rodgers barked out a hard count, motioned somebody around, hardcounted some more, motioned the guy back, tried the hard count again, and then called a timeout right before the playclock expired. Only, it wasn't 4th and short like you usually see that move, it was third and 6. So an offsides penalty wouldn't have converted anyways. Somehow Mike McCarthy is becoming even less creative than ever, where the stupid hardcount-and-timeout manuver is the best thing he can come up with on third-and-reasonable.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Let's assume that was the playcall which as you detail is bizarre. This is where I actually have more of a problem with Rodgers than MM. Rodgers is a really smart guy. And he has not been subtle about his unhappiness with play calls. Why instead of being the good soldier is he not calling out an audible and pushing things to a head with his boss? This is not a short term situation. This is a situation long brewing. I am all about being a good employee but there are times where you are duty bound to the organization to call out something that is hurting the organization's chances for greater success. If 12 isn't going to take on MM's foolishness who will? And if not then he can cut out the snarky comments and the gestures and the facial expressions of "I knew this wouldn't work but I did it anyway and it didn't work not my fault".

There. Posted it. A pox on both of them for very different reasons

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

In the Panthers game "Hail Mary time, right? No! Instead, bring in backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke to fake the Hail Mary, and instead have him throw a quick out to a wide-open Greg Olsen". According to the Charlotte Observer: "The coaches wanted to try a Hail Mary, but Newton told them he did not want to attempt the pass, saying postgame that it was a “feel” thing.". According to Mike Tanier: "Maybe Newton should just run the plays as called; but then, maybe someone should have offered him the "throw to your favorite receiver to set up a field goal" option.".

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Newton didn't want to throw on that play out of concern for his right shoulder. He's had surgery on it and didn't practice during part of the week, so asking out seems reasonable to me. Anyway, once the backup QB goes in, opting for a shorter pass instead of the Hail Mary becomes a more attractive option because the defense presumably won't expect it.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

On his overturned touchdown, Nick Vannett didn't just step out of bounds, he was shoved out the back of the end zone. I don't remember if Wilson was in the pocket at the time; if he was then that's a blatant illegal contact penalty but if he wasn't then I think it's legal.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Montgomery's decision to run it out of the end zone was clearly dumb from a clock management point of view, but McCarthy didn't help him out by "saving" his final timeout. (It will roll-over to the next game, though, right?) There could have been at least 2:40 left on the clock before the kickoff.

Also, on Todd Gurley's decision to go down instead of score: It could be this was discussed in the huddle or practiced before hand. I remember once Maurice Jones-Drew (I think) went down on the 1-yard line with his team *behind* and then they ran down the clock and kicked a game-winning FG on the final play. After the game he said he only did it because his coach told him to. Good coaches know to do this, and McVay might be the best coach west of New England.

Speaking of interesting tactical decisions, as a Seahawks fan, I usually like it when Pete Carroll is aggressive, but I found myself wanting them to kick the field goal on 4th-and-goal from the 1 in the 4th quarter. It seems to me the difference between a 14-point lead and 17-point lead is much greater than the difference between a 17-point lead and a 21-point lead in that situation (take it from a two-score to a three-score game), and so the risk wasn't worth the reward. But I haven't seen the numbers on it, and so I could be way off base.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I agree about using the timeout before the FG, the extra 35 seconds increases the possible number of offensive plays more than a timeout does. As a Lions fan I was glad they called a pass on that play (in the 3rd qtr I believe) since the run game was crushing the Lions (176 yards on 42 runs). Yes a 3 score difference either way makes the FG decision more defensible.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Yes, you are right -- halfway through the 3rd quarter. Huh... I thought it was early 4th quarter. Well, actually, that provides more a reason to go for it, as it might have been too early to play the number-of-possessions game, and the best move was just to maximize points (which going for it likely does).

As for a pass play instead of a run, six one, half-dozen the other. They got stuffed on a run right before that and they've never been good at converting short yardage under Carroll for some reason (with a very notable example). Part of the problem is that Russell is bad at the QB sneak. He's been stuffed the few times I've seen him attempt a dive, and he's never, to my knowledge, attempted to go over the top a la Drew Brees. I seriously think the 'Hawks should consider bringing in a "short yardage QB" for such situations.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

McVay is a fantastic coach and deserving of praise, but let's not go overboard. I'd note that Washington didn't miss a beat when they replaced him. I don't think Squirrel fans (if there are still any) really miss him because Jay Gruden is just as good (and has a hell of a lot less to work with, and probably always will under Snyder).

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

McVay literally dared the Packers to send A-Rod to make a comeback against them. While it shows that he trusts his defense, it's the 12 on Green and Gold (Or white and green in this case). He's done stuff like that on a weekly basis and is memetically good at that.

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Maurice Jones-Drew did that play against the Jets in 2009. His coach was.... Jack Del Rio. I still think he's underrated; he started going for it on 4th down early in the 2000s. As long as teams keep him away from from an axe, he's been ok as a coach.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

2 Things: First, the Steelers CB situation is ... ugh ... Their CB1 and Slot CB are safe with Joe Haden (Who suffers a case of Ike Taylor hands) and Mike Hilton (I'll dare to say the best run stopping Slot CB in the league). But CB2 is bad. Artie Burns lost confidence in his coverage ability (Sad, because he has shown flashes of being a shutdown corner) and didn't even got a defensive snap on the last game, Coty Sensabaugh is not a great CB and should be limited to Dimeback roles at best and Cam Sutton is ... well ... there.

The other thing, is what the Bucs are going to do with Jameis Winston?

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I disagree about the comment the Jackson short-hop - Josh Allen would have burned the ball 3 feet to the receiver's right. I haven't seen him come up popgun short much, and even then it's at a million miles an hour. Jackson looked like he had nothing on that throw at all.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

So after watching the ugly Bears win, I clicked over to Fox which was showing bonus coverage of the Bucs-Bengals game. I got to see the Bucs tie the game up with a TD and a 2-point conversion, then got to watch the Bengals march down the field and get ready to try a game-winning FG. Then..."due to NFL rules, we have to leave this game (to show you a commercial and some meaningless pregame; the actual kickoff to LA-GB was at least a few minutes away)."

Two questions: one, why give "bonus coverage" at all if you're not guaranteed to be able to show the actual end of the game? If the scheduled game ends early, shouldn't you just cut to the studio or something? And two, does Roger Goodell have a bet going with Rob Manfred to see whose league can make life harder for fans who want to watch the product they're selling?

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I had a similar but different annoying situation. My coverage showed the end of the Cin TB game, then showed 3 minutes of commercials, then joined the LA GB game 3 minutes into the game. Commercials are much more important than fans.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

why give "bonus coverage" at all if you're not guaranteed to be able to show the actual end of the game? If the scheduled game ends early, shouldn't you just cut to the studio or something?

The rules go like this:

- The original game you're watching gets shown to its conclusion, unless they switch away from a blowout.

- If there's time after that game ends, they can switch to "bonus coverage" of another game until the beginning of the next slot. Ultimately, though, the exclusivity of the network with the doubleheader is sacrosanct. (CBS will go to the studio and show replays shortly after each play occurs; I don't know about Fox.)

- If you're in an NFL market, you'll see your home team's games beginning to end. Even if they switch the rest of the network away from a blowout, you'll see all of it. And if your local team has a late game, they'll switch to the kickoff even if you'd otherwise be watching the overtime of an early game.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

So, I was watching a little highlight reel. One of the videos was Kareem Hunt jumping over a Broncos defender. He did this in the Bengals game as well. He should try to stop doing that, there is going to be a savvy defender that is going to read the jump, grab him in the air and slam him in the back. Or he could kick a defender in the face, Antonio Brown kicking a punter in the face style and get a penalty.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I really like Ty Montgomery, and think he's an incredibly talented player that could be a useful piece to a good offense. Unfortunately, the team has no idea how to use him properly (they use him almost exclusively as a rotation back instead of the mismatch weapon he is) and it's frankly a waste. They should cut him for his boneheaded mistake (this isn't the first time a Packers player has defied instructions and done something stupid on special teams that cost them a big game), but also because if they're stubbornly not going to utilize him properly then he's better off somewhere else.

Another note from the GB/LAR game; the Packers have to be the worst clock management team in the league. It's stunning how much time they waste every game. They're always up against the play clock, which is often mistaken as Rodgers' pre-play wizardry, but often those plays (assuming they get the snap off) are a total mess because either the players look unprepared and confused or they defense gets a great jump off the ball because they know when the ball will be snapped. This also leads to them wasting timeouts and non-plays where the try to draw the defense offsides to no avail. This has a simple fix; break the huddle faster, get to the line quicker, don't waste timeouts when it's already third and long. But Rodgers and the coaching staff refuse to change, and it costs them games.

One last thing; Washington must have the greatest offensive line in the league. Every Adrian Peterson highlight looks like it should not be. He's got to be the slowest active running back in the league, as every cut and stride looks like it's legitimately being replayed in slow motion. His long run yesterday was bizarre; every defensive player was clearly much faster than him, but a combination of great blocking and poor defense somehow led to a long touchdown. He's not even the "oh once he gains a head of steam he's tough to catch" kind of slow, he's just slow and gets slower the longer the run. I've never seen a player look so cooked yet still have as much success as him.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

1. I'm kind of surprised Montgomery wasn't cut so far. That was a boneheaded mistake sure, but you can't blame a guy for trying to make a play for his team. However, a) The best play was kneeling, letting A-Rod drive, burn some clock, then let Crosby kick a chip shot and b) Proving yourself as a useful player should come secondary to winning the game, when said game is on the line. EDIT: That fumble was not the only thing bad from Montgomery.

2. I've read an article from Acme Packing Company (SBNation's Packers site) about teams with wasted timeouts. The Packers lead the league at the time of writing.

3. I would really like to say the Steelers O-Line, due to how effective James Conner has been the last couple of games (The fact he's a bowling ball helps), but the Washington O-Line has been breaking wide open holes for Old-Man Adrian Peterson. AP is still a powerful back. That 60+ yard run had me cracking up because AP was so slow.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I'm not sure his 64 yard run was as slow as you say. The two DBs eventually track him down -- after 60 yards -- but he runs away from the LBs and from the same start place it takes the DBs 60 yards to catch up. Even vintage Bo Jackson got caught from behind by DBs occasionally.

I think he's lost a step (or two), but let's not be ridiculous. He's not Mark Ingram.

He's also looked surprisingly spry in the receiving game, making some DBs look like fools in the open field. He's shiftier than I remember.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Since I don't have Redzone this season, usually my football weekend is me watching the Packers and then watching the highlights of every other game when the kids are in bed. Every week, I'm flummoxed by how slow Peterson looks in his highlights compared to the rest of the league. He still has some of his moves, but even those individual moves are much slower then they used to be (granted he might have had the best shifty moves of all time in his prime).

Also him running away from linebackers doesn't mean much of anything because he's running in a straight line with a head start and they have to quickly change direction once he's through the line (one linebacker was disengaging from a block when Peterson ran past him, the other two were on the other side of the play and didn't see where he was until he was already in the second level).

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"Andrew Potter: Twice on their opening drive, Jameis Winston has thrown the ball almost perfectly into the hands of Shawn Williams. The first was dropped, but the second found Williams wide open in the end zone.

The problem, of course, is that Shawn Williams plays safety for the Bengals."

As we say in Australia, Gold.