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

Audibles at the Line: 2019 Opening Night

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.

We start, as is now tradition, with this Opening Night special.

Green Bay Packers 10 at Chicago Bears 3

Bryan Knowles: I think this should cover all my Audibles contributions for this year.

Dave Bernreuther: I raced into the room in order to sit down in time to watch what I hope will be a very exciting Packers offense. That ... was not it. I blame Aaron Rodgers' cartoon villain moustache.

That said, the second-down screen attempt to Aaron Jones looked like it was a really effective design, as the play by Roquan Smith to trip him up kept him from hitting what appeared to be a very large open space.

Both teams open up with a disastrous pitch play; Tarik Cohen didn't catch his, and the Bears got bailed out by a defensive holding call I didn't really see. I hate pitches. Too much risk for very little reward. Just hand it off.

Bryan Knowles: I love pitches, but a half-yard spread between quarterback and running back is probably less than ideal.

We kind of suspected coming in that Green Bay's offense would be a work in progress, with Matt LaFleur taking over the reins. Through a half-quarter, my most trenchant insight is that it sucks to be a work in progress against a defense as talented as Chicago's, projected regression or no projected regression.

Dave Bernreuther: If Rodgers is going to throw short passes into the turf at the feet of his receivers at the line of scrimmage and continue to take sacks on every third down like last year, it won't matter how different the design of LaFleur's offense is.

Credit for that second sack goes mostly to Khalil Mack, even though he got held (a lot) and thus couldn't wrap Rodgers up himself. In the replay, Cris Collinsworth talked about the Bears "surprising people with Khalil Mack." Um, how do you surprise someone with Mack?

Rodgers has made two throws so far and both have been bad. The Bears being good enough to hold you to three three-and-outs is not surprising. That, however, is.

Aaron Schatz: Have the Packers considered just punting on third down in honor of our celebration of the NFL in the 1920s?

Rivers McCown: The Mike McCarthy defenders have Logged On.

Vince Verhei: Five drives into the NFL season, and every team that has played so far has negative net passing yardage.

Dave Bernreuther: Whatever they're doing with the cameras on this drive -- it appears to be using the SkyCam but from a lower version of the normal sideline angle, then moving it mid-play -- needs to stop. Immediately. It's incredibly distracting and a little bit nauseating.

Bryan Knowles: Hey, it turns out, "throw deep, Aaron" is still a pretty good play call. Just took the Packers a quarter to figure it out.

Maybe Rodgers just had some rust to shake off after sitting out all preseason. Packers take a 7-3 lead after the big bomb to Marques Valdes-Scantling.

Scott Spratt: I like that when Mitchell Trubisky breaks football convention and throws across his body, it's nearly intercepted. But when Aaron Rodgers throws off of his back foot into traffic, it's a touchdown.

Dave Bernreuther: So following a brutal dropped pick by Kevin King, which was one of those throws bad enough that you wish there was a stat to use to penalize the quarterback more than just incomplete, the Packers wake up, completing a 47-yarder and then a jump ball to former basketball player Jimmy Graham. A lot happened on that deep ball. First, the Pack used more misdirection in one play than I remember in years. And man did that open up the pocket for Rodgers. Second ... well, I hate to say it, but he left that ball short. If you're Aaron Rodgers and you get that pocket, I expect better. Third ... my goodness. They really need to cut the crap with this camera. It almost missed the play.

The Bears just lined Cordarrelle Patterson up in the backfield, and I said "oh cool, a nice homage to his role with the Pats." Then they ran him straight up the gut as if he was Jerome Bettis. I guess there could've been some value in the deceptiveness of that move, but, uh ... burn that play, Coach Nagy.

Derrik Klassen: So, aside from whatever the hell happened on Chicago's first play, Tarik Cohen has zero carries, but has three targets. They also just had him in motion from a wide receiver position on that last third-down play. Don't think it's any surprise Cohen is being used this way and not as a runner, but it's still interesting to see Matt Nagy commit to it so strongly, so early.

Aaron Schatz: My girlfriend wants to know when the commentators are going to discuss some players that aren't Aaron Rodgers.

Scott Spratt: Friendly reminder that Davante Adams converted 19 third-down catches in 2018. Jimmy Graham converted nine. No other Packers player converted more than six.

Vince Verhei: I know there's still the second half and 15 more games to go, but I can't explain how funny it strikes me that Chicago was so worried about their kicking game that they let their entire offense decay to ... whatever this is. Every time they pick up a first down or two, I think they've turned it around ... then I realize they're still inside their own 40.

Rivers McCown: I mean Chicago's offense was real streaky last year as well. It rides with Trubisky.

Vince Verhei: OK, replace "decay" with "stagnate" then. Point still stands.

On the other side, we have Matt LaFleur's first half: 21 pass plays, six runs, including one by Valdes-Scantling. iViva la revolución!

Scott Spratt: Gotta establish the run, Vince.

Derrik Klassen: It's kind of painful watching Matt Nagy's offense sometimes. Nagy himself is solid, he does some cool things, but the offense still feels handcuffed by Mitchell Trubisky. I have to imagine Trubisky's shaky ability from the pocket and slow processing rips a large chunk out of Nagy's playbook. The offense rarely feels like it's being pieced together and instead feels more like each individual play is designed to emphasize anyone but Trubisky. Maybe I'm too harsh -- and I've never been big on Trubisky -- but through one half, we've seen a lot of what scared us (or at least me) about Trubisky.

Tom Gower: Halftime, Packers lead 7-3. They've only had one really good drive, but it finished in the end zone. Chicago's offense has felt a little bit better to me, conceptually, but the triggerman has done nothing to make me comfortable. I thought the best reason to expect offensive improvement would be actually having Allen Robinson, a significant upgrade as their best wideout. He has been open a couple times and has the Bears' biggest play, a 27-yard gain where he won in the air on an inaccurate pass. But I still have the same concerns I had last year and that have been expressed in this thread.

Matt LaFleur started off the game for Green Bay trying to run like he was in Tennessee last year, with familiar-looking results. What I've seen out there seems a mix of Lafleur from Shanahan/McVay/Kubiak and some Mike McCarthy. But McCarthy was a West Coast guy and Shanahan also has its roots in West Coast stuff, so it's not like you're blending Air Raid and the slot-T or something. I don't really think outside zone is a real option to run against a team with this sort of defensive talent up front and speed at the second level, and I wonder if Lafleur's pass orientation is a reaction to those hopeless early runs.

Bryan Knowles: Trubisky just has terrible field vision. It kind of was highlighted most on that play where he ran out of bounds with a couple open(ish) receivers ahead of him, but it never feels like he's able to find receivers if they're not just where they're supposed to be.

Outside of that one deep shot to Allen Robinson, the Bears just have nothing going on.

Scott Spratt: Do we feel differently about the Packers defense after one half? They were 26th in projected defensive DVOA this year.

Bryan Knowles: Not particularly; it feels like this is more Chicago unable to get out of their own way rather than anything in particular Green Bay is doing.

Rivers McCown: In the sense that I already thought that number felt low, yes.

But I agree with Bryan that it hasn't felt like they've had to do a whole lot. A lot of Trubisky's passes have been late.

Tom Gower: Packers defensive backs looked to be extremely aggressive going after the ball in the first half. That seems like a good sign. I don't know how much of that is the opponent.

Derrik Klassen: Re: Packers defense: Maybe They did have a high ceiling (relative to what they were) with all those new pieces, but I'm more convinced for now that it's the Bears' offense just not getting it together.

Vince Verhei: I'm leaning towards bad offense more than good defense, but I will note that Green Bay has been using high picks on defensive backs for years, so it's reasonable that that tactic would start to pay dividends.

I'll also note that last year's Atlanta-Philadelphia contest was also gruesome to watch, so this may be a "season opener" thing

Scott Spratt: So David Montgomery is the first prospect who has copied the Le'Veon Bell style of waiting in the backfield, right? Is that going to be the NFL equivalent of Steph Curry shooting crazy threes? I similarly feel like it's not a great idea.

Vince Verhei: Bears still trail 7-3 late in the fourth quarter. Following a delay of game, they go for it on fourth-and-10 from the 33. Trubisky scrambles but comes up way short.

Anyone want to argue they should have tried a 50-yard kick?

Add to that: earlier tonight, the Bears punted on fourth-and-3 from the Green Bay 41.

Aaron Schatz: I'm definitely curious what the EdjSports GWC model says about that fourth-and-10.

Vince Verhei: In the last five years, NFL kickers are 570-of-719 (79%) from the 32-, 33-, or 34-yard lines. It's the kind of thing that gets missed all the time. And if he had hit it, they still would have been behind.

On the other hand, the Bears offense has been so terrible tonight, I wouldn't have counted on them to win the game there anyway. They're way more likely to win with two field goals then with a touchdown.

Yeah, I would have kicked.

Bryan Knowles: I think I would have kicked as well -- but if I wasn't going to, and was going to go for it on fourth, I think I would have run the ball on third down rather than targeted Cordarelle Patterson. Two of Patterson's three targets have come on third down; I can't imagine that he's the best target they have there.

Aaron Schatz: Looks like the EdjSports GWC model has going for it on fourth-and-10 as a 2.4% win probability error, preferring that the Bears had tried the field goal.

Tom Gower: Can we also get what EdjSports thought of the earlier decision to punt on fourth-and-3?

Aaron Schatz: That decision to punt was a 2.9% error.

Derrik Klassen: I am almost certain Aaron Rodgers just shouted "Iced Coors, iced Coors, iced Coors," and Green Bay ended up running split zone. I have no idea if this actually means anything but now it is my mission to find out.

Bryan Knowles: NFL first: a (regular-season) pass interference challenge.

I think it's pretty clearly not going to work, but hey. Gotta start somewhere.

Carl Yedor: We have a pass interference review! Call stands. Curious choice to challenge that in my opinion, but I do think it's useful in general to have that as a data point for what officials will consider "clear and obvious" enough to turn non-PI into PI. It's only a first step in that regard, but hopefully we have a better understanding of what is and isn't reversible before long. Knowing the NFL, that might not be until the end of the season, but we can only hope.

Aaron Schatz: Playbook doesn't have a lot of plays for first-and-40.

Bryan Knowles: After yet ANOTHER Bears penalty, we have a first-and-40. Since 1994, there have only been four first-and-40-plusses -- once for the Raiders in '97, and then twice in 2017 (Saints and Vikings).

Vince Verhei: That first-and-40 was set up by what might have been Trubisky's worst throw of the night, which should have been intercepted, but the defensive back jumped too early, giving up Chicago's biggest play of the game, but then the receiver was called for OPI. Almost everyone involved played badly on that snap.

Bryan Knowles: Not a lot of plays have a high chance of converting on third-and-40, but the wide receiver screen ain't it. Throw it at least medium length; maybe you'll draw a holding or something.

Dave Bernreuther: I wonder if they'd have challenged that non-interception if they hadn't just lost the one on the pass interference challenge. It did touch the ground, but only barely, and while he had it as under control as is possible by the fingertips. I've seen worse upheld as catches/picks.

Of course, at first-and-FORTY, the Packers may end up with better field position even without that.

Aaron Schatz: Really would have been a great opportunity for a quick-kick surprise punt.

Dave Bernreuther: Exactly, Bryan. Either throw a pass that can draw you a penalty and freebie, or you might as well just punt it on third down; might even make more sense to, since it could keep more time available for a comeback, given that it's the fourth quarter and you're trailing.

Vince Verhei: Conversely, I think Green Bay made the correct decision to kick a short field goal on fourth-and-2. Now Chicago has to score twice to beat you, which feels impossible the way they've played tonight.

Bryan Knowles: For the first time all night, the Bears offense starts looking good, as a combination of up-tempo offense and three-man rushes actually gives Chicago room to throw and space to make plays. Maybe we're headed for something exciting here...

... and then Trubisky lobs a rainbow into double-coverage, and Adrian Amos, fresh from Chicago, makes what is, in all likelihood, the game-sealing interception. Whoops.

Scott Spratt: There isn't enough time left, but in future games, teams will always challenge those interceptions in the end zone looking for defensive PI. What's the downside other than fan annoyance?

Aaron Schatz: I look forward to more discussion on Twitter of Trubisky's inability to throw to his left.

Not sure why the Packers threw in an RPO -- and Rodgers threw on the play -- which handed the Bears an extra timeout for their final drive.

Vince Verhei: Because it's more fun to win after Trubisky throws up on himself again.

Seriously, though, if you're going to throw, I can understand doing it on second down when it's less expected. If they execute better and pick up the first down we're praising their aggressiveness.

Tom Gower: That looked like a coverage-related audible by Rodgers, not a called play. But if he can call it and you'll take it if you get the look, it's part of the game plan.

Final, 10-3. The Packers had one good drive in the second half. The Bears had a couple of non-awful offensive possessions. One ended in that fourth-and-10 should've-kicked it. One ended in an incredible series of penalties. The other ended on a Trubisky lollipop to the end zone. It's possible this game looks a lot better than it does. I mean, I still don't see any reason to have confidence in Trubisky in tough situations, but Allen Robinson is fantastic and while you can quibble with some of what Matt Nagy did, I maintain he still had the better offense in this game. Overall, the big winner of the night may be our projection of the Lions to win the division, but that's a thing you can say before the Lions have played.

Vince Verhei: Oh, I must disagree, Mr. Gower. The Bears occasionally moved the ball on their own side of the field, but could barely function once crossing the 50. Their only score came on a drive that gained 16 yards of offense. Let's not crown Green Bay's ass, but I can't say that they were the worse offense tonight.

Tom Gower: Well, which team had the better offensive performance and which team was the better-designed offense are different questions. My take on this game is that Green Bay had the worse offensive design but has the better quarterback, whereas Mr. Trubisky's struggles really hamstrung the small- and large-scale efficiency of what was overall an offense that produced a better schematic advantage.

Vince Verhei: Fair enough.

Bryan Knowles: Hey, at least the Bears kicked a field goal.

In a division as close as we're projecting the NFC North, divisional road wins are worth their weight in gold.

Rivers McCown:


90 comments, Last at 08 Sep 2019, 11:09am

1 Trading up for Trubisky over…

Trading up for Trubisky over Deshaun Watson and Mahomes has really got to hurt (it's the kind of move that traditionally costs the gm his job, though maybe less so these days where having a cheap, young quarterback is actually a huge advantage and they can roll it over by drafting someone else) and that Tramon Williams quote is just devastating. At least they haven't picked up his fifth year option yet so they could try again

2 Yeah, a terrible top half of…

Yeah, a terrible top half of the 1st round qb pick isn't nearly as costly as it used to be, before the rookie pay scale, like what the Vikings endured with The Ponderous One. Still, you do end up with years lost in opportunity cost, as you prove to yourself that your bad pick really can't play, and the Bears defense is good enough to likely prevent you from getting a top 12 pick for an obvious qb prospect. 

How the hell anybody thought Trubisky was a better bet than Deshaun Watson is beyond me. I won't pretend that I knew Mahomes was going to be terrific (I barely saw him play in college) but Watson, barring injury, was obviously going to be a good bet.

6 I'd forgotten they still owe…

I'd forgotten they still owe next year's 1st round pick in the Mack trade, so it really does look like they're going to be Jags part II (who also passed inexplicably on Watson to draft a rb who couldn't stay healthy in college), which is a shame.  Not even sure what the knocks were on Watson back then, but obviously he never should have slipped

8 I mean, Watson absolutely…

I mean, Watson absolutely destroyed, in successive years, the closest thing college football has to an NFL defense, on the biggest stage, and he didn't just do it with his feet. You're going to place a wager on Trubisky,  instead of that guy? Egads.

9 Amusing

A slew of posters wandered over from the Bears SB Nation site to the Packers SB Nation site prior to the game to explain among other things why MT was the better long term pick at QB instead of Watson


These dudes are very young so lots of possible outcomes. But at this moment of time that thread reads as pretty hilarious

10 I know as a Vikings follower…

In reply to by big10freak

I know as a Vikings follower that I was happy the day the Bears passed on Watson, and I had no opinion on Trubisky. Haven't seen much to make me think I was wrong.

11 Chase Stuart, who's pretty…

In reply to by big10freak

Chase Stuart, who's pretty bright, made a strong case a few years ago that guys who haven't 'made it' by their third season almost never do, and that teams are much more likely to hang on too long hoping the light goes on than to cut bait too soon

46 Intangibles

In reply to by big10freak

Looked him in the eye...felt it in the gut...has that fire...looks the part...student of the game...natural leader...not flashy...gritty...plays the white, uh, I mean 'right', way.

81 I don't know if this was the…

In reply to by RobotBoy

I don't know if this was the article I read, but I read articles with this sort of description right after they drafted him, and I was not, uh, confident:

When the dinner ended, Pace and Fox walked Trubisky to the parking lot. It was then that Trubisky first revealed his wheels: the now-renowned beige 1997 Toyota Camry with the odometer north of 130,000.

For whatever reason, Pace was charmed instantly, convinced the ride offered insight into Trubisky's grounded nature.

Seriously. They loved his car.

20 The Bears don't need to wait…

The Bears don't need to wait for next year's draft for a QB.  They could hire Kap off the street now and by the time that early bye week rolls around, he should be up to speed enough to run the offense.  With Allen, Cohen, and Montgomery, there'd be enough playmakers around to score enough points to win with the current Bears' D.  They don't need a great QB to win.

Of course, they won't do this, and their defensive unit is going to be squandered on a just bad enough to miss the playoffs record by a combination of Nagy's playcalling and Trubisky's decision making (really hard to distinguish between the two as they feed into each other like a vicious circle).

Now that I've publicly posted this, I suppose the Bears' O will go on to average 30 points a game the rest of the reason, with last night's results will be filed in the same bin as the Bucs win on the road vs the Saints week 1 result last year. 

25 I don't think they will, but…

I don't think they will, but they absolutely should (I was pissed last year that as my team's season circled the drain they stuck with Bortles and didn't even call Kap, but I also knew a hardass like Coughlin would never do it)

32 It would've been a desperate…

It would've been a desperate move, but wasting that defense for a year hurts (it probably starts to break up after this season), and he's never actually been as bad a quarterback as Bortles was last season.  Not even close, really.  He was also only a year removed from playing then.  I'd compare it to 'Mike Vick to the Eagles', maybe with less backlash (though I doubt it)

51 I didn't watch Bortles play…

I didn't watch Bortles play last year, but I can assure you that Kaepernick was truly awful in his last years in SF. This is a guy who was full value for losing the starting spot to a guy you should be familiar with, Blaine Gabbert. So I didn't watch enough of Bortles to know if you'd be happy with someone legitimately worse than Blaine Gabbert, but that's what you'd be getting.

I've come to believe that almost any quarterback with the right attitude can play "not horrifically bad", if given the right coach. Conversely, the wrong coach can ruin all but the best QB's. Probably due to a combination of running bad practices, giving bad feedback, calling the wrong plays for them, etcetera. Bortles is not supremely talented, but he does have a strong arm, and has some athleticism. A coach like Sean Payton, Sean McVay, and a few others, could find a way to make him if not succeed, then look like a decent backup. The problem in Jacksonville should be shared by the coach, and not put entirely on Bortles.

65 Trubisky was also not as bad…

Trubisky was also not as bad as Bortles last season, though.

I've never thought that they made the right decision in drafting Trubisky (especially with the trade up), and last night snuffed out most of whatever optimism I had that he'd take a leap forward this season, but there's no way the Bears would or should move on from Trubisky after 1 game.

And I have also been a huge advocate, still, that Kaepernick should be in the league but I find it really, really hard to believe that 2019 Kaepernick, dropped into the team in midseason, would give them a better chance to win than Trubisky. He's not Nathan Peterman-bad.

82 This is the key

This is the key: the trade up. I don't necessarily fault them for looking at Trubisky and thinking he might be better than Watson and Mahomes. But when you trade up, 1 spot, it signals that you are absolutely certain that Trubisky is better, and that the drop-off to the other two is so great as to be unacceptable. It signals a confident in your ability to judge talent that, frankly, no GM should have (much less someone who had just bid against themselves to sign Mike Glennon, but I digress).

The good GMs realize that they're not going to be perfect, and work around that. Pace seems to think that he can hit all of his draft picks if he just gets the chance to get the guys he likes, and I worry that that bill is going to come due very soon.

27 Really don't know where this…

Really don't know where this confidence comes from, for an almost 32 year old guy, who has never been great for a season, has been awful for a season as recently as 3 or 4 years ago, and is 6 years removed from having an above average year. Who hasn't taken a snap for more than two seasons.

48 Completely agreed here. As a…

Completely agreed here. As a rams fan I saw a lot of Kaepernick, and he's the rare guy who manages to obviously regress every single year, from great -> good -> mediocre -> sub-par -> awful. His first year starting is long in the rear view mirror. And it's not just statistics, his arm started sucking so bad I wondered if he had some serious injuries.

Actually, he sort of reminds me of Prescott. His first season he was behind that utterly dominant SF oline, which degraded along with him. I think we underestimate the importance of the surrounding cast, especially oline, for the success of young QB's, not just for the immediate effect on plays, but on the mental effect of getting hit and hurt by NFL players. I do believe that Prescott is a better quarterback, at least going forward.

52 I have to admit, I was wrong…

I have to admit, I was wrong twice about Colin Kaepernick. His first start against the rams in 2012, I thought he was awful. The very definition of a scramble and heave quarterback with no real feel for the game as a passer. 


Then he played the bears the next week and made me look foolish. His game against the Packers in the regular season in 2013 was splendid. I thought he showed so much poise and delivery with good accuracy. He tore apart the packers coverage. I was ready to proclaim him great that very day. And then...his career just eroded piece by piece. I just don't understand what happened. By the end, he was a bottom tier, ineffective qb. 


I just don't get what happened. 

12 I'm pessimistic that it will…

I'm pessimistic that it will cost Pace his job, unless Trubisky is actually as godawful all year as he was last night rather than being inconsistently mediocre like he was last year. Pace was allowed to hire Nagy after hiring the disaster that was John Fox (and I don't consider that the team pushed him to pick Fox as a valid excuse; he was the GM so whoever he hired is on him), so the McCaskeys will probably let him pick the QB after Trubisky.

Assuming he is not a good QB, as he appears to be, at least has the silver lining that the Bears won't extend him and pay $30M+ a year for a thoroughly average QB, which to me is one of the worst things a team can do. But I did really think going into last night that it was still possible if not likely for Trubisky to turn out to be a top 5 QB, and now I think it's about as likely as those 200-1 odds he opened at to win MVP.

One more thing about Pace: I hear people talking about what he's done with the Bears like he's Theo Epstein, and it boggles my mind. Apart from the obvious difference that he hasn't won anything, what decision has Pace made that has been brilliant? I don't give him full credit for executing the Mack trade because that was more based on the stupidity of Gruden than anything, and once Mack was available it was probably the most obvious move of his career. People also make a lot of the talent he's found in the middle rounds of the draft, and while that's certainly not a bad thing, I question how much of that is luck (and would be luck for any GM) and small sample size. If I go to the roulette table and pick 3 out of the next 5 numbers that come in it doesn't make me good at roulette. If you evaluate Pace's 1st and 2nd round picks, so far the best use of them has been trading for Mack.

17 That's the conumdrum with…

That's the conumdrum with evaluating draft pickers and talent evaluators; hardly any of them ever have a career long enough to provide a large enough sample to provide substantial confidence that the results were due to skill, or lack of it. Absent a Grigson-like psychosis which results in a Trent Richardson debacle, or a guy being in the job 15 or 20 years, you just can't be confident.

I think Spielman has been pretty good for the Vikings, especially since I'm pretty sure The Ponderous One was forced on him by ownership. He's had one awful 1st round pick in Treadwell, and some bad injury luck with 1st and 2nd rounders, but a fair number of good picks in the 9 years he's had clear control. Still, you're talking a very small sample, and some of those good picks are pretty clearly at least partly the result of Zimmer being really good at evaluating and coaching defensive backs. Then you look at the choice to invest so little draft capital in the o-line for decade, and how oline performance has held them back for the last 5 years, and you just can't be sure if he has actually been above average.

19 As a neutral observer, it…

As a neutral observer, it feels as though the Vikings have been somewhat blessed to happen upon two pro-bowl level receivers, one a 5th round pick and the other undrafted, to help provide them with offensive respectability in recent seasons. The rest of their offensive drafting in that era looks fairly putrid (although granted they were unlucky with Bridgewater). But again, how can we know with any confidence whether this isn't just normal variance? 

21 They were unlucky with…

They were unlucky with Bridgewater and last year's 2nd round pick, Dalvin Cook, who looked really explosive prior to the ACL. The Bridgewater disaster of course forced the Bradford trade, which I will defend as reasonable, which cost substantial draft capital. Patterson was not an awful draft in a league which was not yet trying to get rid of kick returns. The Treadwell draft was just a giant whiff, of course, and getting a talent like Thielan as an undrafted free agent stemming from a tryout camp is just a massive stroke of luck. Diggs somewhat less so.

The inability to land a good qb who they can remain healthy and start for more than 4 or 5 years has plagued the organization ever since Tarkenton retired 40 years ago. They've done remarkably well for four decades with ad hoc solutions, but still, a draft of a Christian Ponder in the top half of the 1st round, followed by a late first rounder like Bridgewater suffering a knee explosion out of the blue, has long lasting effects, like being kind of forced to reach on a free agent signing like Cousins.

Of course, if Spielman really was a strong advocate for Ponder, in the year prior to Spielman gaining much more organizational control, then that's really a black mark. I very strongly suspect, however, that in that era before ownership more clearly designated responsibilities, that there was strong internal disagreement on who should be drafted, and ownership broke the tie by instructing that the highest ranked qb remaining on the board should be taken, in a really bad year to draft a qb.

26 I didn’t realize people were…

I didn’t realize people were saying that about Pace at all, which seems like blind homerism. I wrote Pace off as clueless when he moved up one spot to grab Trubisky for no apparent reason. Then he moved up for a RB in this years draft when there was going to be similar talent available, and after signing Patterson and M Davis it seemed to make little sense or have any idea how to prepare for the future.

I guess he deserves some “credit” for moving on from Fox, trading for Mack, and signing Robinson when he was an injury risk. But those seem like pretty obvious moves. It seems like whatever he’s doing that’s good is just random noise compared to the misguided thought processes he’s using to make decisions

67 I may be relying too much on…

I may be relying too much on a couple of opinions I've heard a lot, but in general it seems like after last season and the Executive of the Year award the Chicago media consensus shifted to a positive assessment of Pace's tenure, and the idea that the team was starting to see the benefits of decisions he made in previous years. Not everyone is comparing him to Epstein, but I can't think of anyone I regularly listen to or read who voiced any concerns about Pace in the offseason.

73 I mean he doesn't seem to be…

I mean he doesn't seem to be a total disaster of a GM when I think about all the insane incompetence out there (Licht, Mayock, Gettleman, O'Brien, McCagnan), but he doesn't seem particularly adept either and I would have thought people would wait a bit before taking a positive tone when his record seems to trend more dubious than genius. Homerism expands to journalism, apparently

84 I think he's a decent talent evaluator

There's been very few "disaster" picks or signings that he's made. The worst is probably Kevin White, who was his first pick (and if you want to talk about blind homerism, the way some fans stanned for him way after it was obvious it wasn't gonna happen was shocking). But otherwise, even the picks who haven't been great have been mostly playable, so I don't think the fans get down on him.

I think the really problem is that he's getting pennies to the dollar. Anthony Miller, for example, seems to be a decent WR. So Pace didn't blow it by picking a guy who is useless. But did you need to trade up to get him? Trey Burton is a decent TE. But that contract is taking a lot of space, and they'll have to make a decision soon, and there's no clear solution in sight. It seems like eventually the team is going to top out, they'll be short of the elite teams in the league, and they won't have the resources to improve. And it won't be clear why they didn't make it, and my guess is that they just didn't pay attention to the fact that they didn't have enough gas left to get over the finish line.

I always remember that Pace came out of the early to mid 2010s New Orleans front office, when they were always capped out and being carried as far as Drew Brees could take them. I can't shake the feeling that he's done the same thing in Chicago, with one serious difference.

83 Part of it

I think part of it is that people really didn't like Emery, and they were glad to get that taste out of their mouths. And he's built a really great D, and the Chicago fanbase LOVES that.

I dunno. I tried to write this paragraph three times and had to start over. I really dislike Pace, I don't agree with a lot of the decisions he's made, but he's also been way more successful than my opinion would suggest, so I don't know how to square that.

But I agree that it's unlikely that he gets fired after this season. The D is going to be great so there won't be a lot of pressure to fire him for losing with a team that the city doesn't like.

3 That int in the end zone was…

That int in the end zone was just cover your eyes awful. Every qb has horrible decisions on their film resume, but Trubisky still seems to be adding to the blooper reel at an alarming rate. Then again, it is overeaction week.

85 My impression was that at…

My impression was that at that point, he only really trusted Robinson, and just figured his best play was to toss it up and hope Robinson would bail him out. Which, to be honest, might have been the case, though that still doesn't absolve Trubisky or the offense.

4 General observations

Wow did Billy Turner have a terrible game. Kind of stunned he wasn't replaced at halftime by Jenkins. Yes the Bears d line is fantastic, but Turner was repeatedly getting steamrolled.

Jones rarely had any holes but the guy slammed into the line and got what was possible.

Jimmy Graham actually seemed to be running better this season. Was he injured the bulk of last season when he was painfully slow?

Really enjoyed seeing defensive backs in the immediate vicinity of receivers, breaking on balls and not just hanging out waiting for the receiver to catch a ball so they could him to the ground.

Those Smiths guys on defense, goodness. 6 hits and 2.5 sacks and multiple other pressures.

That was an amazing punting performance by Scott. 5 punts inside the 20. Not great that he had to punt 9 times but he was rock solid after a pedestrian 2018.

14 Looks like LaFleur has…

Looks like LaFleur has Graham running in straight lines more than trying to make sharp cuts and that should make a lot of difference, he’s still big and decently fast but no agility at all.

Packers OL was bad but I bet part of it was figuring route schemes too; there were some messed up plays and I bet some more screwups were happening off camera as well.

I think part of why Trubisky was so bad last night was the packers pressure. Za’Darius Smith had 6 pressures, Preston Smith had another 3, and I think in general they were in his face on anything but the quickest throws and that made all the difference.

35 Best thing from the Packers yesterday

Was the pass rush. The number of sacks was great, but the consistent pressure was better, and being able to do it without having to send 5 or 6 guys, and without crazy overloads that would have allowed Trubisky to take off, was better still.

Next best thing was the play of the DBs. 

36 To be honest I wasn't super…

To be honest I wasn't super encouraged by Graham, he had some bad reps in the run game and didn't contribute that much to the pass game as a whole. Obviously great catch on the TD, but otherwise his longest reception was totally conceded by the Bears defense at the end of the half. If LaFleur is really committed to 2 TE sets (with both actually lined up at TE) and doesn't want to give away run/pass based on personnel, I wonder if it isn't worth seeing more snaps for Tonyan. I honestly don't know if he's a good blocker, but we know that Graham isn't.

I also hope the OL just needs some time to figure things out - have to assume they are working with new assignments and terminology as well. They are going to face a lot of good defenses early in the season though, so it doesn't necessarily get a lot easier from here. (That goes for Rodgers and the offense as a whole, too.)

23 Yeah, that was such a huge…

Yeah, that was such a huge change from last year.  Early (the second drive I think?) P. Smith got a little to far up-field on his rush and let Trubisky get by him for a first down, and that's the only bad play for either one of them I can think of.

Matthews / Perry were good for 4 or 5 of those "whoops, I just flew by the guy with the ball" plays per half.  

34 The Smiths looked great last…

The Smiths looked great last night, but I also think that was a game plan emphasis. When Tramon Williams talked after the game about how they wanted to "get Trubisky to play quarterback," he wasn't just talking trash (though he was). Keeping him in the pocket was a huge emphasis - not only is he a far more erratic thrower and decision maker from the pocket, they also did a great job limiting the damage he could do scrambling by forcing him up the middle - I think he only scrambled for one first down yesterday, and he came up well short a few other times.

5 Officiating

Other than the absurd phantom defensive holding call on Kenny Clark early thought the refs made all the obvious calls and did not blow any of the replays which is a big win for the NFL. 20 penalties is a lot in a game but these two teams earned every one unfortunately.

13 Going for it on 4th and 10

"In the last five years, NFL kickers are 570-of-719 (79%) from the 32-, 33-, or 34-yard lines. It's the kind of thing that gets missed all the time. And if he had hit it, they still would have been behind."

You don't kick the 51-yard field goal because it's a sure thing. You kick it because converting a 4th and 10 is highly unlikely, and even a successful conversion doesn't guarantee a TD (or even a FG for that matter).

Also, there were still 4 minutes left in the THIRD quarter at the time of this play. Way too early to start worrying about a FG still leaving you down a point.

The 4th down play Nagy should have gone for was the 4th and 3, and this is just one more way that Nagy is maddening. Conservative when he should be aggressive and then blindly and stupidly aggressive when he should be conservative.

15 Who do I complain to about…

Who do I complain to about the site not working right?

The text editor has all kinds of problems on mobile, and using html instead of the graphical UI does not work either.

The stats pages are not accessible at all. I haven't been able to access for example for a couple weeks now

This redesign is making this site unusable!!!! I emailed support@edjsports a few days ago, and got no response.

60 It's not just phones having this issue

Honestly Aaron, it's not just phone OS's having this issue. I've had issues with using HTML and other issues using the Comment interface. It wasn't an issue until relatively recently when you got rid of the old interface as an option. 


I know you always need to increase your audience and would like an easier way for users to comment. That's business. The updated front page is definitely an upgrade. I'm guessing you didn't get complaints about the comment interface earlier because most of us just opted to use the old interface.


I don't know the solution. I'm just saying the reason for these complaints being new is that there used to be a workaround which no longer exists. For new users, it is better and much easier for most people if you want bold type and special characters like ©; no need to have a basic knowledge of HTML's early coding. I'm sure I'll adjust. It's just tough on those of us who have been here since your early days. We're old dogs. New tricks are harder. 

61 I have many issues with the…

I have many issues with the new comment system. For one, it seems to cap the single page comment thread at 50 or so before forcing you to a new page. I wish the limit was more like 100 because audibles typically gathers a bunch of comments. Or maybe increasing the limit for popular pages.


Second, on mobile, you don't see new comments highlighted which makes it harder to find them. 

22 Hmmm... I thought both…


I thought both defenses played well and yet...I thought both quarterbacks were pretty lousy.

Ok, its one game, but wow, Rodgers did not look good. Yes the bears front got pretty consistent pressure on him, but so many of Rodgers' throws were errant. Crazy still, it looked like Rodgers has lost some of his throwing ability. He flicked a pass to the running back that took longer than I am used to seeing from him. And his hail marry fell short of the end zone(something I never see him do).

But the biggest sign of worry is the coach. That whole final drive for the Packers was mindboggling. You run and get 5 yards. Throw a short pass incomplete and then run the ball when you have a chance to end the game. If they weren't playing Mitch Trubisky, they probably lose the game given just how many chances they gave the bears last night,.

It was so eerily remeniscent of a team trying to hide their qb. But you have Aaron Freakin Rodgers! Yes, the dude with the lowest int percentage in nfl history. Play scared when you have Trubisky.

40 Agree that Rodgers looked…

Agree that Rodgers looked shaky, but part of the issue is that they are doing the exact opposite of hiding the QB. Rodgers is still trying (and struggling) to call too much of the game from the LoS, getting plays off late, teeing up pass rushers, and eating sacks.

The end of game sequence, most teams wouldn't even throw a pass. Rodgers had what looked like an RPO (or at least a green light to pass on what otherwise was going to be a run call), but the timing of the play was totally botched. That happened at least once earlier in the game on an RPO-esque look as well. Rodgers has run plays like this in the past, but not necessarily paired with outside zone and the corresponding footwork, WR alignment, etc. I would think those are types of things he can clean up, we'll see.

41 What has me concerned

is that a smart guy like Rodgers should know that fundamentals become ever more important as physical skills start to erode. And if not and nobody on that coaching staff is telling him that message then those people are not doing his job.


I am not asking that the guy be Mr Mechanical. But this continued fall backward BS is getting increasingly counterproductive as he slowly loses his grade A fastball. Plant your godd8mn foot and throw the ball 12. 


//grumble, grumble