Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: Ronnie Harrison

Though teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick gets more headlines, the other Alabama safety prospect in this year's draft deserves plenty of attention too.

14 Oct 2013

Audibles at the Line: Week 6

compiled by Rivers McCown and Andrew Potter

This year, we have a new format for our Monday morning feature Audibles at the Line, combining our Twitter feeds with our e-mail discussion. First, we're replacing our usual back-and-forth with some longer-form dissection of each game that at least one of us watches in depth. Second, every game that we find time for will also have a selection of tweets from us and a few reader tweets we found particularly insightful. To follow these tweets live on Sunday, or to contribute your own thoughts or a question for the FO staff, you can use hashtag #foaud. We discussed the new format in this post.

On Monday, we will compile a digest of tweets and e-mails to produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed, not entirely grammatically correct, and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Audibles is still being written from our point of view, meaning 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 49ers 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 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. Audibles is often written from a fan perspective as much as an analyst perspective; in order to properly accuse FO writers of bias, please check our FAQ.

(EXTRA ED. NOTE: Can we please, please, please use this week's Audibles thread to discuss football games and not for a long series of complaints about the new format of Audibles that then turn into an even longer series of complaints about everything you don't like about Football Outsiders, like "why aren't you working 36 hours a day?" and "why can't you hire five or six programmers to constantly work on improving the site?" and "why does it now cost ten times as much to read Football Outsiders when you print only one-third as much content as you used to?" Thanks. -- Aaron Schatz)

Green Bay Packers 19 at Baltimore Ravens 17


Scott Kacsmar: A.J. Hawk is pretty good at pass rushing as long as he's left untouched.

Vince Verhei: Ravens just picked up a first down on a blocked punt. May have been their best play of the day.

Ben Muth: They aren't saying Kuhn, they're saying Boo. Really dumb play touching a blocked punt past the LOS.

@RobertGrebel: After Ravens fail to score three times with 1st and goal at the 5, that *may* have been the exception to the rule on going for it. Of course, I could be blinded by the crappy play call on that 4th and goal.

@timmys24: Can we all agree the 3 TE formation at the goal line is stupid? It's making geniuses of morons who think FG on 4th & 1 is right call.

@pchicola: Is it me, or the 4th down Goal-line stops have become more common this year?

Aaron Schatz: Fourth and goal (1-2 to go): Last year 55%, this year Wk 1-5 (not incl DPI) 40%. But it is still early, small sample.

@RobertGrebel: Randall Cobb got hit in the knee on a catch over the middle and is in agony.

Ben Muth: That Randall Cobb injury is why guys would prefer to be hit high going over the middle.

Peter Koski:: Twitter rule: When talking about Randall Cobb injury, you must also mention that James Jones is already out of game.

Vince Verhei: Packers up 6-0, start second half in BAL territory after a punt return. Feels like they can win with one more field goal. Rodgers throws INT instead.

Aaron Schatz: Question for BAL fans: Does it look like something is up with Ray Rice, or is his lack of yardage all about the OL?

@RobertGrebel: Nothing like a play-action bootleg bomb for Aaron Rodgers. Safeties totally bit, and no one within five yards of Jordy Nelson. Webb was playing trail technique, expecting help over the top. Pollard and Elam bit on the play-action. Great execution by Rodgers.

Vince Verhei: As noted in FOA 2013, Jordy Nelson is not deceptively quick, he will torch your ass. Burns BAL for big TD, GB up 16-3, game over.


Vince Verhei: Baltimore's offense was a clown show for about 3.5 quarters today. They picked up a first down on a blocked punt, and that was one of their better offensive plays. They couldn't run for anything (Ray Rice was hit in the backfield over and over again), and only had luck passing when Joe Flacco could stand in the pocket for a long time and wait for receivers to find the soft spot deep in Green Bay's zone. They hit a small number of big plays late to keep it close and pad their stats, but this was not the kind of day that should inspire confidence in their fans.

Green Bay played most of the game without Randall Cobb and James Jones, which limited what they could do somewhat. But they now have a reliable running game, which set up the biggest play of the contest. Rodgers used a sweet play-fake to draw up the safeties, and Jordy Nelson blew right by Lardarius Webb for an easy touchdown.

Mike Kurtz: Much was made by the announcers about Green Bay's red zone woes, but the Packers are roughly where you expect them to be in the red zone: good at passing offense and averageish at rushing offense. The real issue with the offense in the red zone today was that the Packers were down to two functioning wide receivers fairly early in the game. The result was Jarrett Boykin, who did a poor imitation of his canine namesake by dropping everything, including a few very important third down passes.

The most interesting thing to me about this game was the excellent effort in man coverage we saw from Davon House. Baltimore targeted him early and often, and he was stellar in coverage. After Flacco got the message, it often seemed that his second read was removed, and with an injured Ray Rice that makes the Baltimore offense a really bad one-trick pony.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 at Buffalo Bills 24 OT


Andrew Potter: That A.J. Green touchdown catch was fantastic. Covered but he extended high, both feet down as he fell out of bounds. Spectacular.

@blotzphoto: C.J. Spiller is really exploiting the Bengals on the edges. Ugly missed tackles by the Bengals not helping.

Mike Ridley: Things I never thought I'd hear during an NFL telecast: "You've got to be worried about Thaddeus Lewis …"

Mike Ridley: Jackson stopped on three straight goal-to-go situations after replacing Choice, who was running well.

@GDFar: 4th and goal from the 1 and the bills give their practice squad QB a PA rollout with a run/pass option. Needless to say, they didn't get it.

@blotzphoto: Shovel passes FTW! Helps to have the dynamic Giovani Bernard on the receiving end.

Peter Koski: Just saw the highlight of Bernard's TD reception. Wow. Impressive display of athleticism and vision, though that play will not be on Kiko Alonso's DROY campaign film.

Rivers McCown: Giovani Bernard looked so good on his touchdown catch that I may even remember there's only one n in his first name some day.

Mike Ridley: What would the Texans give for Thad Lewis right now?

Aaron Schatz: I'm going to go out on a limb here: Despite a good game today, Thad Lewis will not be a starting NFL QB in 2014. Calm down, folks.

@MilkmanDanimal: Dear Thad Lewis; don't get too excited. Signed, Matt Flynn.

@blotzphoto: No team makes scrub QBs look better than the Bengals


Matt Waldman: I've been willing to go along with the idea that Andy Dalton could develop into a solid NFL starter but as Marvin Jones has shown potential to develop into a complement to A.J. Green, the Bengals passing game is limited by Dalton's down field accuracy. Give the Bengals a quarterback with an aggressive mentality like Philip Rivers and I think the offense would be a solid step ahead of where they are today. Dalton simply waits too long as a deep ball thrower. Green can win some of these targets with his skill in tight coverage, but few receivers have that skill.

I'm not surprised by Thaddeus Lewis' play. He was solid with the Browns in a start last year and Fritz Shurmur thought Lewis flashed long-term potential in Rams' training camp. Lewis is the type of smart, solid passer with enough mobility to hang around the league awhile. Considering how many teams passed around Brian Hoyer, a player who I think the Patriots did a poor job of cutting loose for a big-armed backup in Mallett lacking Hoyer's savvy for the game, I'm rarely shocked that there are surprisingly decent quarterback performances from journeymen.

Rob Weintraub: There is no way this game ever should have gone into overtime. Cincy was up 24-10 late third quarter, and drove deep into Buffalo territory, thanks in part to a fourth-and-15 conversion (!) in the maroon zone. They settled for three, but a very dubious hold turned a made 24-yard field goal into a missed 34-yarder. The Bengals had numerous chances after that to salt it away, but a couple of odd calls from Mike Zimmer (last week's MVAC -- most valuable asst coach) kept the Bills in it. On fourth-and-8 the Bengals max blitzed Thad (deus) Lewis, leaving Scott Chandler to merely run past Carlos Dunlap, of all defenders, with the middle of the field empty for the easiest touchdown in memory. Zim often blitzes on third-and-long, but against more experienced quarterbacks. In this case, he dialed up precisely the lone defense Lewis could have beaten for a big play.

The Bengals then did the usual poor job in the four-minute offense (apparently studied by the Saints). They had fourth-and-1 on their own 46 and punted, assuming Lewis couldn't drive the field. He did, thanks mainly to another blitz call on the bomb touchdown that tied it. Terence Newman either missed the call or was hampered by an injured hip from earlier in the game, because he let Marquise Goodwin run right by him for an easy six.

So, you know, poor. But Zimmer recouped in OT, playing a combo zone that forced a three-and-out with the Bills backed up. A rare good punt return by Brandon Tate set up the winning kick.

Overall, Lewis was decent, hurting the Bengals early with his feet and a nice deep passing touch. But once the Bengals got ahead, and shut down the Bills backs, they were in control -- Lewis was tentative and wild on short and intermediate throws. He might have more success against a team with a lesser pass rush.

Good news for Cincy was the offensive balance. Lots of guys involved, and Andrew Whitworth looked healthy and nimble for the first time this year. Plus tremendous blocking by the wideouts, which was good because the tights ends had an off game blocking.

Detroit Lions 31 at Cleveland Browns 17


Aaron Schatz: Early on, looks like DET is only using Megatron in spread sets, not in 21 or 12 personnel.

@zlionsfan: If NFL ever prohibits going for it on fourth down, Schwartz will finally be ahead of the curve.

Aaron Schatz: Browns just used a 6th OL at FB -- and had to give him help blocking Israel Idonije.

Aaron Schatz: Browns 107 yards on 15 attempts so far against DET defense that was 7th in def ALY going into today. OL opening huge holes.

@MilkmanDanimal: Dachshund races at halftime of Browns-Lions; Detroit expected to sign winner in an attempt to shore up secondary.

Aaron Schatz: Calvin Johnson on and off the field, one catch on five targets in first half... The man is just not right.

Aaron Schatz: Even when Suh makes a clean, legal tackle, whole press box gasps as if we're waiting for a flag.

Aaron Schatz: Browns OL has played great all game, finally gives up a sack on 3rd-long to end Q3. That one is mostly on Mitchell Schwartz.

Tom Gower: Buster Skrine being good is up there with Terrelle Pryor's passing ability in terms of "I did not see that coming. At all."

Aaron Schatz: @ThomasGower I'm afraid Buster Skrine being good has only been true for about 45 minutes. He's been not good most of the year.

Tom Gower: @FO_ASchatz After as much of a disaster as he was, simply being not very good was a big upgrade, I thought.

Aaron Schatz: Brandon Weeden with the lesson about why you don't just toss the ball away sidearm to avoid sack, landed in bounds, in DeAndre Levy's hands.


Aaron Schatz: Tale of two halves for Cleveland, which went into halftime up 17-7, then had 18 net yards on their first four drives of the second half. I thought the offensive line did a good job of opening up holes in the running game, and protecting Brandon Weeden. In the first half, Weeden was getting the ball out quickly, and things looked good -- for the most part. There were still plays where you could see the way he holds the ball too long. There was one play that stood out to me... Jordan Cameron was open from the moment the ball was snapped as he crossed from the right slot all the way over to the left side of the field. I just sat here saying "Jordan Cameron, Jordan Cameron, Jordan Cameron," I knew that's where the ball was going, and yet Weeden just held and held and by the time he threw it, the Lions nearly ended up with a pick. (It was simultaneous catch.)

In the second half, Weeden was suddenly back to holding onto the ball too long all the time, and the offense fell apart. It was hard for me to tell if this was an issue of Detroit just having improved coverage. The run holes seemed to close up too. And finally, when Cleveland could have maybe been driving, Weeden threw one of the dumbest passes ever. The press box people generally thought it was the worst pass ever, but I'll still go with the infamous Jake Plummer left-handed interception because at least Weeden was trying to get it out of bounds. (I can't seem to find that play on Youtube -- anyone know where a video of that is?)

Here's a gif of the Weeden pick, by the way.

Calvin Johnson was clearly hobbled and was used as a decoy for a large part of the game. (Not always, but often.) He also came on and off the field much more often than I think anyone would expect. I was surprised at just how much of a role Kris Durham plays for this offense. I also want someone to explain to me why Tampa Bay cut Kevin Ogletree, who is a perfectly serviceable depth receiver. Is Tiquan Underwood really better than him?

On a different note, for those who didn't see my tweets about this before the game ... Coming to Cleveland was a really great experience. You've got the stadium right downtown, and while the Lions aren't a rival of the Browns, you had the Michigan-Ohio rivalry so this city was filled with fans in Lions and Tigers gear. All the fans were mixing together last night, then the walk down the stadium today was great. Such a different (and better) experience than driving to Foxboro, where the stadium is out next to a mall and a bunch of cheap motels, or Philadelphia, where all the sports stadiums are out on the edge of the city. I said on Twitter that every analyst should have to go to at least one game a year just to feel the atmosphere, to remind us why we do this for a living (and of the fans whose love of football allows us to do this for a living). I'll amend that to say that every analyst should have to walk from their hotel to a game at a downtown stadium. Now I'm hoping to hit at least one each year... Chicago is like this, I'll bet Indianapolis is like this. Is Seattle's stadium in downtown? It was just a great fun morning.

Vince Verhei: Century Link Field is a half-mile from Pioneer Square, the main club/bar neighborhood in downtown Seattle. And most of that half-mile is made up of other bars and restaurants.

St. Louis Rams 38 at Houston Texans 13


Rivers McCown: Shiloh Keo returning punts is a cry for help.

Rivers McCown: Zac Stacy doing pretty well against a stout run defense. Really like his patience and vision.

Tom Gower: I hate watching the Texans this year. Made it 1Q into that game, now onto OAK-KC.

Rivers McCown: Texans: less compelling than the Raiders.

Rivers McCown: Rams DB (20) completely bought Schaub keeping the ball on that last long Foster run.

@scott_tanner1: despite Arian Foster averaging like 10 yards a carry, Gary Kubiak continually finding ways to call other plays instead

Vince Verhei: Rams giving up big runs because they think Schaub is keeping the ball and are chasing him.

Scott Kacsmar: Somehow Sam Bradford is roughly on pace for 35 TD, 9 INT this season.

Aaron Schatz: HOU is gaining over 10 yards per play and somehow losing 17-6. It's been a nightmare season.

@GDFar: Texans got so close to a SB team. Maybe just Schaub and Cushing injuries from a SB appearance. Looks like it's about to blow up.

Scott Kacsmar: @FO_RiversMcCown Remember 2007 Titans/Texans with the crazy Sage Rosenfels 4Q? Yeah, that's probably not going to happen today.

@MilkmanDanimal: You know, you really want your backup QB to be able to fill in for your starting QB, but, uh, not quite that way, T.J. Yates.

@BrandontheFick: At what point does the Texans offense start practicing their tackling on INT returns?

@pchicola: Someone should check on @FO_RiversMcCown and give him a hug.

Rivers McCown: Things Houston won: time of possession, rushing yardage. Things Houston lost: ability to call themselves an adequate NFL team.


Tom Gower: I don't even know what to say at this point aside from, sorry, Rivers. The Texans used to be good at playing games the way they needed to to win. Now they make way too many mistakes.

Rivers McCown: I came down with food poisoning on Friday night, and somehow that wasn't the worst part of the weekend.

What to focus on that didn't really get discussed ... I think Ed Reed is the worst Texans free-agent signing in their history. He was hurt from the beginning, he actually cost more than Glover Quin, and has been a completely disinterested tackler. I've seen security guards tackle streakers with more intensity than he's shown. The Texans defense has created three turnovers. So has Quin, for the Lions. Total misfire.

This was the worst game I've seen J.J. Watt play since his rookie season.

Texans fans have gone from over-anxious rivalry creators to torching Matt Schaub jerseys, finding out where Matt Schaub lives, and cheering when he gets hurt.

I think this game was probably the official end of the Kubiak Era. I can't see Houston winning more than six games at this pace, and that's even considering they have two games with Jacksonville on the schedule. They are the 2012 Chiefs.

Oakland Raiders 7 at Kansas City Chiefs 24


Peter Koski: It's a sack Rope-a-Dope in KC. Nick Roach's turn. Alex Smith held the ball instead of hitting hot read dumpoff to Charles.

@ptmovieguy: Nice discipline by Justin Houston, containing edge on OAK read-option. Next play, OAK forgets to block, jailbreak, sack.

Peter Koski: Chiefs have ZERO answers for OAK's blitzes. Another 3rd down sack for OAK.

@ptmovieguy: Is KC's o-line this porous? At least 2 blown blocks by guards. Not like OAK doing anything crazy, a couple stunts.

Tom Gower: Everybody watching game is saying it, but it's true-Raiders D is getting good pressure on Alex Smith & disrupting entire KC pass O

Tom Gower: Great quick slant throw for Pryor on the TD to Moore, plus the YAC. Where did the ability to throw come from after past 5 years?

@GDFar: Wow. Free JHouston stood still in front of Pryor. Pryor's legs clearly in the mind of the D. Smartly threw it away.

Tom Gower: Terrelle Pryor with a Brett Favre Dying Quail Special under pressure. Easy INT for the Chiefs, who are in FG range.

Vince Verhei: Terrelle Pryor with the back-foot wounded duck for INT. Thought we'd see more of that this year, honestly.

@ptmovieguy: Haven't seen DVOA splits, but eye test says OAK/Pryor play well in 1st half, not so much 2nd half.

Vince Verhei: Oakland's second-half offense is pretty much a single-wing. Nothing but misdirection built around QB runs.

Mike Ridley: #Chiefs just tied their sack total from last year. Absolutely abusing the Oakland o-line.

Andrew Potter: Oakland in second-and-37. That is one impressive series of screwups on first down. Pryor is sacked to make third-and-Missouri.

Vince Verhei: Raiders just had third-and-48. Is that a record? It fell incomplete. Ensuing punt did not go 48 yards.

@estebistec: 10 sacks of the Raiders by the Chiefs today. That is all.


Tom Gower: In the first half, Terrelle Pryor moved around well and Oakland's pressure got to Alex Smith, who struggled to do anything much when he couldn't escape the pocket and take off. I thought Oakland was the better team in a 7-7 game. In the second half, though, the Chiefs adjusted to what the Raiders were doing offensively, and Oakland struggled to move the ball with any consistent success. Pass protection behind that offensive line (Tony Pashos and Khalif Barnes was a mediocre enough tackle pairing for the 2008 Jaguars, and it's not 2008) was an issue. Pryor chucked one up off his back foot on third-and-long deep in his own territory for an easy pick to set up the score that made it 14-7, and it felt over at that point. Another Pryor pick set up a field goal for 17-7 and then a garbage time pick-6 made it 24-7. The second half was pretty much what I expected this game to look like.

Vince Verhei: Echoing mostly what Tom said. In the second half, both teams figured out that Oakland's only reliable weapons were Pryor's feet. So the Raiders went old school, using tons of fakes and counters off of QB run plays. It worked a few times, but eventually resulted in lots of long-yardage scenarios (including, seriously, a third-and-48), and Terrelle Pryor in obvious passing situations is bad news.

Carolina Panthers 35 at Minnesota Vikings 10


@Daniels_Ryan: Ted Ginn motions across the formation, and blocks Jared Allen on a draw to Mike Tolbert. What the hell? #BurnThatPageInThePlaybook

@BryKno: Rivera going for it on fourth-and-1! Aaaand they burn a time out.

Tom Gower: Apparently Ron Rivera is allowed to be aggressive if every other coach is being conservative

Aaron Schatz: Adrian Peterson 5 carry 12 yds start not related to his personal issues. CAR 3rd in def ALY going into this week.

@Shake1n1bake: Has there been an official ruling on whether a Mike Tolbert score qualifies as a Fat Guy Touchdown?

@Shake1n1bake: I made fun of Ted Ginn's attempt at blocking Jared Allen, but he just had a massive downfield block to spring Brandon LaFell for a TD.

Mike Ridley: Ted Ginn with an excellent downfield block to help LaFell score. #decleater

Scott Kacsmar: The Panthers basically have to have a massive fourth-quarter lead to win ballgames. 38-0 vs. NYG, 28-3 today.

@CyrisJonfs: Twice this season Rivera has gone for 4th down early. Both games became blowout wins.

Aaron Schatz: Panthers now have 3.8 Pythagorean wins, 2 actual wins.

Philadelphia Eagles 31 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20


@MilkmanDanimal: The Tampa defense--making Nick Foles into Peyton Manning since 2012.

Aaron Schatz: @MilkmanDanimal TB is 3rd in defensive DVOA. I don't expect Foles to rip them up all day. The prob on that team is offense, not D.

@MilkmanDanimal: This week is reinforcing what I saw 2 weeks ago; Mike Glennon can be good when he isn't pressured. When he is pressured, not so much

Ben Jones: The eagles D is getting absolutely gashed on 3rd down. I wonder what their DVOA on 3rd down is?

@MilkmanDanimal: Mike Williams is to Buccaneer beards as Tiquan Underwood is to Buccaneer hair.

Ben Jones: Regardless of how this game ends, this has been a marvelous job of running out the clock by philly. It's best to avoid the victory formation against tb.

@MilkmanDanimal: Up 8, 3 minutes left, 4th and 2 inches, Eagles line up to go for it in obvious attempt to get Tampa to jump offsides, and they do. Dear Greg Schiano; whatever you are doing to make your team be "disciplined", IT ISN'T WORKING.

@MilkmanDanimal: For all the good talk about Mike Glennon in the next few days, I don't think he's completed a pass that went 10+ yards past the LOS.

Pittsburgh Steelers 19 at New York Jets 6


Scott Kacsmar: Umm, Bill Cowher's calling the Steelers game with Simms and Nantz? Is this supposed to be therapeutic?

Aaron Schatz: @FO_ScottKacsmar CBS is doing this a lot today -- sent their studio people to be color guys on different games.

Cian Fahey: Steelers started Isaac Redman Week 1 and Jonathan Dwyer was cut. Now Redman healthy inactive and Dwyer is active. Evaluation is a worry. Furthermore, Mike Adams went from long-term option at LT to healthy inactive behind Guy Whimper and Levi Brown in weeks. And this was after they had Marcus Gilbert at left tackle and switched Adams to that spot in the middle of training camp

@laufy84: Big Ben pass just bounced off not one, but two helmets! Eat your heart out Sanchez/Tebow

@JP_Wright: @FO_ScottKacsmar Was Bill Cowher always this turned on by field goals as a coach? Half expect a Shakespearean sonnet about them.

Cian Fahey: Todd Haley only ever gets abuse, but he's called an outstanding game for the Steelers today. Creating yards through scheme

@TerrapinPrime: Cromartie is a clown. Brown beat him and dropped the td and then Cromartie showboats?

Cian Fahey: The Steelers offense looks more like it did under Bruce Arians today. Lots of third/second and long conversions. No run game

Cian Fahey: Troy Polamalu can't cover, but he still has speed running straight at the quarterback. Not sure problems are really a lack of speed

Cian Fahey: While there was play-action on the Sanders 55 yard TD reception, Cromartie never bought on it. Sanders beat him with his route

Scott Kacsmar: STEELERS HAVE A TAKEAWAY. I forgot what they looked like.

Cian Fahey: Geno Smith threw the Ryan Clark interception into triple coverage. That's the only way the Steelers were going to get a turnover

Cian Fahey: Haley will get crucified for that reverse pass call in the redzone, but it's one blemish on a perfect day


Scott Kacsmar: The Steelers finally got some takeaways (two), partly through pressure and confusion of a rookie quarterback, and protected the ball on offense. Ben Roethlisberger was very sharp with the short-passing game, which helped ease up the pressure on him on a day the Steelers were down to six offensive linemen. That did not bode well for the running game against a good run defense, but it did not matter this time.

The Jets had opportunities, but Geno Smith missed Stephen Hill on a deep ball when he was wide open. Jarvis Jones had a big pressure late in the game that led to Smith's second interception. Ryan Clark dropped a pick earlier in the game. The defense played well for Pittsburgh outside of a mental lapse before halftime that led to an open receiver and three points.

Not the most memorable game, but an efficient performance and win by the Steelers. There was also only one "Fire Todd Haley" moment, when he tried to go to the trick WR pass for the second time on the day. The only other thing I would mention is CBS had Bill Cowher do commentary with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, and I did not think he had a good day. He preached on pretty much every conservative call in the book (kick field goal on early fourth-and-1, run the ball on third down with chance to clinch things, kick FG to go up 13 rather than 17 in the fourth quarter, etc.). When Simms is the voice of reason on coaching decisions, that's a scary thought.

Cian Fahey: In many ways, the Steelers' first win of the season was the worst win imaginable. It's a victory that erases that zero on the left side of their record, but it wasn't a performance that suggests they can do anything more than hurt their draft spot for the remainder of the season. The offensive line still can't create running lanes and the offense was handicapped because of that inability. Todd Haley called a perfect game except for that reverse pass in the red zone, but even at that the unit still struggled to put up points because of their offensive line. This wasn't a dominant display from a team that is set to turn things around. It was a display good enough to get the best of an inconsistent team with a rookie quarterback.

That rookie quarterback, Geno Smith, made many good plays, but he couldn't make the pivotal ones to win the game. He led three defenders to the football on Ryan Clark's interception and missed a certain touchdown when Stephen Hill got behind the Steelers' coverage. The same precision that had been on show in Atlanta the previous week was lacking this week. For the Jets and Geno, this was just a part of the development process, for the Steelers, it was technically a step in the right direction. However, that is only if the right direction is mediocrity.

Jacksonville Jaguars 19 at Denver Broncos 35


Andrew Potter: LOVE the Jacksonville fake punt call. Probably going to lose anyway, DEN probably going to score anyway. Need to take those risks.

Andrew Potter: Cecil Shorts now questionable with a shoulder sprain for JAC. They might need a few more fake punts to have a chance. Nothing to lose.

Scott Kacsmar: The best defender at slowing Denver's offense this season: Montee Ball.

Scott Kacsmar: Another one of Denver's fake screens working for an easy TD down the middle.

@RyanCrinnigan: Knew that 2nd TD was coming the sec DEN went 3x1. JAX in Cover 2 and made absolutely no effort to disguise it. Hello Wes. Come on.

Andrew Potter: In SEA, worst possible outcome of a botched FG for SEA. In DEN, best possible outcome for JAC as next play is a Manning pick-six.

Scott Kacsmar: Dan Fouts seriously wishes he would have bet on Jaguars leading at halftime. Said it when the Jags trailed 14-12 and could only tie.

@MilkmanDanimal: Broncos fans actually booing at halftime because they're only leading 14-12. Entitled much, guys?

Andrew Potter: You are winless, have the devastating Broncos offense on third down in the red zone, and get flagged for TAUNTING? Cut on the spot.

@Broncfan07: Orlando Franklin's leg rolled up on the Moreno TD, now out with knee injury.

Aaron Schatz: We may be able to take Denver and Jacksonville off the best/worst DVOA ever lists after this week.

@ander1dw: Jacksonville trying to prove that parity is still alive and well in the NFL. Also, dumb luck.

Scott Kacsmar: If Denver gets a TD, i'd go for 2. Go up 17. Why not?

@bstage: Denver O hasn't looked right since Manning went to locker room. 2 fumbled snaps and some missed throws including pick6

Andrew Potter: Not seen full game, but appears Denver struggling to get pressure. Against tackle tandem of Bradfield and Pasztor, that's a problem. Though lack of pressure hasn't stopped Denver's D-line from tipping about a million Henne passes. Game ending INT off another tip.

Tennessee Titans 13 at Seattle Seahawks 20


Tom Gower: Fitz with his legs and Kendall Wright positives for the #Titans early, as is a D that's playing well.

Vince Verhei: I'm happy Russell Wilson can run. But this is three games in a row now where that's been Seattle's best play.

@SeattleDoorMat: Derrick Coleman has three major blocks in the run game already, including sealing out a blitzer on the Lynch TD. Don't miss MikeRob.

Vince Verhei: Hauschka in locker room with apparent concussion. Seattle driving for score before halftime, but no kicker.

Vince Verhei: I could not summarize the amateur hour end of the half in Seattle in 140,000 characters.

@ExcessiveFarce: Well that's about as bad an outcome as one could have on your first FG attempt

Vince Verhei: Kicker is hurt. Punter becomes emergency kicker. But that means you also have an emergency holder. Chaos ensues. SEA FG try turns into opponent TD for second week in a row.

Tom Gower: #Titans needed at least one big break to get the win today. That counts, legit 10-point swing.

@robbbbbb: @FO_VVerhei Research opportunity: What happens when a team goes for it on all 4th downs instead of taking FG 'cuz the kicker's hurt.

Vince Verhei: I don't think Chris Johnson is a very good running back these days. But man, when he breaks tackles, I start to panic.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks have four fumbles early in the fourth quarter. It's a sunny, dry day in Seattle.

@AndrewLShepherd: Seahawks just caught a huge break. What looked like a fumble rec TD bounces off of defender right to Russell Wilson. Arguably two different 10-point swings in this game, one on each side.

@robbbbbb: Apparently, Fitzpatrick has not learned that throwing deep to Richard Sherman's side is a bad idea.

Vince Verhei: I'm pretty sure that Sherman's INT was the first pass thrown in his direction all day. #ShutdownCorner

@robbbbbb: That whole drive, from the INT to the Rice catch to the Lynch TD, was what I expected from the Seahawks today.

Tom Gower: Nutty catch by Sidney Rice on the sidelines, Lynch finishes off the drive, and moribund TEN O needs 10+ in 7:33. Na ga happen.


Tom Gower: Surprising me not very much at all, the Titans scored six offensive points. They couldn't run the ball, of course, and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two picks, one a bad overthrow and the other a deep ball where Richard Sherman rather than his target won the jump ball. No surprise there.

Offensively, Seattle looked how I thought they'd look, except for the surprising ball security issues. Marshawn Lynch ran very hard and effectively at times, Wilson got out of the pocket, but overall they didn't do too much. If not for Steve Hauschka's injury, which resulted in the botched hold and fumble giving the Titans the long fumble return touchdown at the end of the first half, this is the sort of 23-6 game I was expecting.

Vince Verhei: Another ugly day for Seattle, their third in a row, though they somehow went 2-1 over that stretch. For the second week in a row, a field-goal try turned into a touchdown for the other team. There were fumbles, and dumb penalties, and bad clock management, and some oddly pass-wacky play-calling.

The defense got caught with ten guys on the field again, so there are still some management concerns here. And they had little interior pass rush, which gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a chance to step up and make plays with his legs. Thankfully, in almost every other way, they dominated. Tennessee held the ball for a while in the first half with small-ball tactics and converting third downs, but eventually got exposed in long-yardage situations. Richard Sherman was outstanding -- I believe he was thrown at twice, one 4-yard catch and one interception.

Due to the injuries on the offensive line, Seattle's most reliable play, by far, is the Russell Wilson scramble. That's fine for moving the ball in the middle of the field, but it's resulting in far too many stalled red-zone drives these days. There's just not enough real estate between the line of scrimmage and the coverage guys to due any significant damage.

New Orleans Saints 27 at New England Patriots 30


@pchicola: That Brady sack inside the red-zone was more a testament to his WR inability to beat man-coverage, than a coverage sack by NO.

@pchicola: For NE, trickle down effect of losing Wilfork, is having to play Big Nickel w/ Spikes in sub. Major liability in coverage vs TE & RB

@pchicola: The year Belichick finally puts up a competitive defense, it falls apart piece by piece (Wilfork, Kelly, Talib, Mayo)

Aaron Schatz: Kenny Stills TD catch to go ahead of Pats 24-23 is extra remarkable because two defenders are right there. Dennard's hand in his face

@WhispersMoCo: @FO_ASchatz Gregory wasn't "right there." He was late and out of position.

Aaron Schatz: @WhispersMoCo No, on further view, you are right. Gregory was a step late. Dennard was right in his face though.

Matt Waldman: Good technique by Stills to keep hands on shoulder of Dennard. Keeps hands free from entanglement & gauge DB

Cian Fahey: Well, that's a fitting final drive for the Patriots offense, at least if that proves to be the final drive

Aaron Schatz: And Aaron Dobson with the straight-out drop on fourth-and-6. Not a PD.

Matt Waldman: Dobson has had hand position issues since college. Perfect example on this route. On this play, would have liked to see Dobson attack the ball rather than wait on it. Hand position was set to wait. If Dobson extends arms for ball, can make catch with palms up rather than down, and have more control of pass.

Cian Fahey: Going for it on fourth down was the only decision there for the Patriots. Still a one score game with either TD or field goal

Aaron Schatz: Pats gets ball back with 1:13 left, no timeouts. Should be time for at least two more dropped passes here.

Tom Gower: Jabari Greer doesn't defend the back corner of the end zone. Kenbrell Thompkins found it.

Aaron Schatz: Kenbrell Thompkins TD catch had Jabari Greer's hand in his face almost as bad as Dennard on Stills TD catch. Good coverage by Greer, just like by Dennard.

@GDFar: Loss falls squarely on Sean Payton's shoulders. Talent bailed him out multiple times, continued to make clock errors. If you think Rob Ryan is the reason the Saints lost, you have an already established narrative with no interest in doing analysis.


Tom Gower: I only watched this game after the Titans-Seahawks game was over, but Bill Belichick's call to go-for-it on fourth-and-6 from the 24 was unsurprising and the move I would have made. Aside from that, well, I've watched enough of Brady and the Patriots that the final comeback was not surprising. I wish I had something more insightful to say than that, but I don't, really.

Scott Kacsmar: It's amazing how offenses, including the best in the game, do not even try to do a good job in the four-minute offense to put away games so that these miracle touchdown drives never even have a chance to happen. Everyone knows about the prevent defense, but the prevent offense that practically every coach falls into where you run the ball twice and maybe throw on third down is just as much of a problem. The Saints handled those final minutes as poorly as I've ever seen.

Arizona Cardinals 20 at San Francisco 49ers 32


Danny Tuccitto: Maybe THIS is the week Eric Reid isn't just an honorable mention for our Madden Ultimate team?

@matthew_carley: Glenn Dorsey goes down with wash at looks like a hamstring. Without their top two nose tackles, we could see Quinton Dial next week.

@Coboney: Nominating Andy Lee for Robo Punter. 58 Yard punt there to stick Peterson at the 10 - and penalty moves it inside the 5

@Coboney: Fitzgerald makes a good play to stop a pickoff by Tarell Brown - for another turn over that would have given niners ball inside 10 ... But apparently ... he was feeling that wasn't enough as he gave it to Carlos Rogers next play. Gets to the 12 - so outside the 10!

@matthew_carley: Frank Gore just missed a blitz pickup, first of the year.

@Coboney: In a weird play Arians runs a give to Patrick Peterson to go for 2. Peterson looks to throw as he's blocked nad persued by 9ers. Int

Ben Muth: Glad to see the Cards D act tough w/a personal foul in the end zone after the 49ers rammed it right down their throats all drive.


Tom Gower: That 49ers drive to make it 29-20, 18 plays, 89 yards, 9:21 was what teams built like that need to be able to do; to take a game and throttle them like that. On a side note, kudos to Bruce Arians for going for two at 22-20 in the middle of the third quarter. Knowing you'll probably need two at some point, it makes sense to do it earlier rather than later so you can plan accordingly, as we've probably discussed an nauseum by this point. Aside from that, what I saw of this game was 49ers edges on the lines bearing out, plus a couple big touchdown passes to Vernon Davis.

Washington Redskins 16 at Dallas Cowboys 31


Scott Kacsmar: I picked Dallas, but there's really no result from this game that would surprise me. That's the NFC East in a nutshell.

@GDFar: Is it my selection bias, or does the Washington offense, even when effective, seem incredibly safe? Almost Kubiak-esque.

Tom Gower: Heck of a play by Sean Lee on that QB draw. He was blocked & still made the tackle.

@GDFar: If I was playing madden, I would've slammed my controller over that Sean Lee play and cursed how unrealistic it is.

Aaron Schatz: Al michaels: "Dez Bryant is one of the nfl's best young receivers... And DeAngelo Hall has been around a while." And is not the best.

Aaron Schatz: If you put the Cowboys and Patriots together at this point, you might almost get one entire defensive line!

Aaron Schatz: Washington really getting a lot on these short passes, but they aren't getting anything deeper.

@AlvaroIM77: Washington putting on an absolute clinic on how to most egregiously mismanage the clock.

Andrew Potter: That Romo touchdown pass to Williams was everything there is to love about Romo. Simply incredible play by the QB.

@RyanCrinnigan: Dallas covering the middle of the field well on Washington's play action. RG3 doesn't like looking outside as much off PA.

Tom Gower: Mo Claiborne, what happened to "highly-drafted CBs struggle as rookies, then get better in their second season"?

Scott Kacsmar: Cole Beasley - the last guy you expect to catch the ball in this offense.

Aaron Schatz: I criticize DeAngelo Hall a lot, but that was a great play using his speed to sprint back and slap a TD away from Miles Austin

Vince Verhei: I think Washington just ran a pistol-slash-wishbone play.

Rob Weintraub: Why even have that "you can't push your teammate into the end zone" rule? Never called, and makes little sense anyway--why not?

@PigskinLover: As unimpressive as both of these teams look, one will likely end up in the postseason this fall. Why not expand the playoffs?

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 14 Oct 2013

226 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2014, 8:18pm by ?????? ???


by The Ancient Mariner (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:17am

Aaron--yeah, Indianapolis is like that. Good tailgating scene too, when it isn't pouring rain. My dad and brother have come out here for these last two 'Hawks-Colts games; we've been jinxed on the outcomes, but otherwise, it's a good experience. Colts fans have to be told when to make noise, and even then they aren't that loud, but they're a classy bunch.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:22am

Re: noise. The amazing thing was how quiet the crowd would get during the Manning administration. When the Colts had the ball, it was like watching a surgical demonstration. Dead silence, Manning calls signals, eight-yard pass, golf clap from crowd, repeat...

by The Ancient Mariner (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:34am

Yeah, I remember that from four years ago. You wouldn't think a stadium could *be* that quiet.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:53am

That's how Peyton wanted it.

And really, I've never understood why a home fan would want to yell during the offense's pre-snap routine anyway. You yell during the opposing offense's pre-snap routine in order to prompt a false start or some other miscue. (How much of an effect it has is open to debate, but that's the theory anyway.) If you're going to yell when the home team is on offense, you do it in an orderly fashion, after whatever good thing happened and before the team gets back up to the line. So Peyton sayeth it, so it shall be done.

by ClemsonMatt (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:02am

It might be interesting to look at college vs. pro. When Clemson got loud in the 4th this past weekend BC had multiple false starts and other miscues.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:20am

"And really, I've never understood why a home fan would want to yell during the offense's pre-snap routine anyway."

In my experience, most fans (well, people) are just plain dumb.

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:27am

Agree here. Why screw up an audible or a snap count for your own team?

Yelling AT Peyton next Sunday will seem so strange. Maybe the stadium will just stay silent the whole game?

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:51am

The would be pretty humorous to see a tennis-like crowd at an NFL game.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:51pm

Just come to Gillette stadium.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:54am

That would be glorious.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:13pm

If this storyline was written by Shakespeare, Robert Mathis would sack Peyton and cause a career-ending injury.

P: "Hike you, now!"
R: "The way, 'tis clear! Pagano's scheme has proved true!"
P: "Alack! The backer comes unhindered!"
R: "Dare I strike my former Prince? I must, though my heart wishes it not."
P: "Oh! The sack is nigh!" [He falls]
R: "The play is done. I shall not dance. This stat weighs heavy."
P: "Damn thee, Donald!"
R: "In his pain he knows not the season. Arise, friend, that the game may go on."
P: "Oh, that I should fall in this house I built myself."
R: "He cannot continue. The mighty arm has thrown its last." [Weeps]
P: "My field days are done! Now, to coach."
[A Messenger approaches]
Mess.: "Sir Peyton, a message from Tampa!"
P: "Tampa? 'Tis warm there. [reads] Zounds! Seven zeros and more!"
Mess: "'Tis good to see you smile, Sire."
P: "Come, boy! We must make the Bay by sunrise!" [Exits]

R: "How can I continue? My traitorous act has left me undone. Who approaches now?"
[Enter Sir Kenneth]
K: "Gird yourself, friend. A new player trots nigh."
R: "I cannot read his number through my tears."
K: "It is Brock O'Swiler. A knave."
R: "Oh ho! He has no place here! Him, I shall cleave asunder. Blow thy whistle, Ref!"
[Play continues after commercial break}

by Blotzphoto :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:27pm

That was beautiful.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:30pm

Brilliant, indeed.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:31pm

Paul that WAS sweet. I am currently reading a book called "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" ($8 at Costco!) and it's on par.
Keep in mind, though, that Mathis is a tiny little thing next to Peyton. Heavier, yeah, but if Manning put a stiff arm on RM's forehead, it would be like a 12 year-old holding off his 8 year-old little brother with longer arms. That, and 18 would never work for a guy like Schiano.
What an awesome parody.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:47pm


by theslothook :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:09pm

I live in the bay area but I went to a game once during his 2006 season. When PM was on offense, everyone was silent and also made sure to "shhh" people in the crowd. I've been to a few 49er games, but its never been like that. All you heard was his cackling voice echoing through the stadium. Really strange if you didn't know why.

by Sisyphus :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:19pm

Not entirely accurate about the noise factor. There were complaints from some teams (cough Patriots cough) that the Colts piped in noise at the RCA dome and it was very loud there. I was at the 2006 AFC Championship game and after that I couldn't hear for about 24-hours. Lucas Oil stadium is a bit more sedate though and when Manning was playing and the offense was on the field it could be very quiet. Not so much though when the opponent had the ball, again the Welker bobble on fourth down and two in 2009 was pretty load. The Green Bay come back in 2012 would be another game I remember as being really load (at least in the second half). Colts fans are spoiled in that they never feel like they are out of a game after watching Manning and now Luck. They tend to stick around and pay attention throughout the game.

The crowd is actually pretty well-behaved and knowledgeable about when to make noise and when to be quiet. It is a nice place to bring the family to see a game.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:32pm

Just since that was one of my favorite football games ever:

The bobble was Kevin Faulk, not Wes Welker, at Fourth-and-Two-gate. Welker would have just dropped the pass.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:36pm

If I had to rank my favorite/most memorable games as a colts fan...

1) OBV - AFC champ game with NE

2) Same year, at NE 2006. The pats coming off a huge blowout win vs the Vikes, the colts coming off a gutty last sec win in denver. Collinsworth predicted a blowout in favor of NE since the Indy defense was horrible again. Statistically, wouldn't even sniff manning's top 20, but this was(imo) his greatest game ever. Pass protection was spotty, receivers dropped balls, run game was a non factor, and manning had to scramble so many times to hit his receivers. My favorite performance of his ever.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:18am

Aaron, Indy's stadium is downtown. It marks the southern end of the best part of downtown. (Unless you're a connoisseur of meth. If so, go a little further south.)

You should check out a game. Most of the Super Bowl crowd liked it, and I think you would, too. There are some good restaurants within walking distance, and a saxophone-playing street performer who can play any song ever written as long as it's "When The Saints Go marching In."

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:06pm

Hilarious. I've enjoyed the same rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" for years.

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:35pm

I will listen for this if I'm around the stadium Sunday. (Unfortunately do not have tickets...heading back to Indy to wander around and see if anyone accidentally dropped his/hers.)

To Indianapolis readers: When I lived in Indy I never bothered going to a bar to watch the game, but now I'm heading back this weekend (from Chi) and would like to go to the crunkiest craziest bar possible for this game. Any recommendations?

by Sisyphus :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:44pm

The Colts Grille is downtown; I would imagine that you would need to get there early on game day to get a seat. (I have never been there for a game though.)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:23am

"The press box people generally thought it was the worst pass ever, but I'll still go with the infamous Jake Plummer left-handed interception because at least Weeden was trying to get it out of bounds."

I hear the song of my people!

I realize this was accidentally a running play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHIFLNWZBfA

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:26am

"or Philadelphia, where all the sports stadiums are out on the edge of the city."

Rookie mistake. Pre-game downtown, like the locals, then take the subway to the game. That's why all the stadiums are where they are.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:33am

3rd-and-48 isn't even a record for the last season.

The Redskins had a 3rd-and-50 last year. The Vikings had one in 1999.

Cincinnati had a 3rd-and-goal from the 40 in 2005.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:33am

"Question for BAL fans: Does it look like something is up with Ray Rice, or is his lack of yardage all about the OL?"

Rice does not look as explosive, but neither does Pierce, so the main culprit has to be the putrid O-line play.

It's been tough to figure out the O-line woes. Oher has been slightly worse than last year, Yanda went from dominant to average, Osemele went from good to bad, and Gino Gradkowski replacing Birk has been a horror show at C. I thought Monroe played OK last game, except he was the one who totally whiffed his block at the end of the 1st half and allow the disastrous strip sack that led to 3 points for the Packers. Gradkowski is totally clueless whenever teams run any sort of stunt, he just stood there and watched blitzers run right by him a few times yesterday.

The hope is that they are somehow able to improve the line play as they did last season in the playoffs. Maybe replace Gradkowski with Shipley, who graded out OK last year. They also have a rookie C named Jensen who broke his ankle in training camp, and the team surprisingly didn't IR him. He just started practicing, so maybe he's in the Ravens plans.

Overall I'd say the WR's for the Ravens have performed admirably. The TE's as a group are almost as bad as the O-line, though. That obviously factors into the running game issues.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:58am

I would not be too hard on the Ravens offensive line. The Packers d-line has been playing at a really high level most of the season and yesterday was more of the same. Jolly, Raji, and Daniels are just mauling the inside allowing the linebackers to make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:12pm

"I would not be too hard on the Ravens offensive line."

No doubt the Packers D-line played well, but the Ravens offensive line has been awful against everyone all year. I mean, the Bills stuffed the Ravens rushing attack better than the Packers

by dcaslin :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:33pm

As a Raven's fan I'd like to believe that its simply that the Broncos, Browns, Bills, Dolphins and Packers have the top 5 DL's in the NFL. But probably not...

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:04pm

There is something to that...the Lions offensive line has been pretty good this year, but had their worst game of the year against the Packers.

by dcaslin :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:04am

If you want to summarize Ray Rice this season vs. last (and this is all season, not just after his hip injury), there was a dump-off pass he got earlier in the game that ended up with him one on one in the open field with a DB. From the moment he got the ball, he looked like he was going to get tackled, and then he was. In previous years everyone would be screaming "Yes, he's got an open field and a one-on-one with a DB!" and Rice would proceed to juke by him and/or break the tackle for a long gain. In 2013 even Leach would have been a bit better, b/c he at least would have plowed the DB forward 3-4 yards before going down.

I don't know if Rice came into the season injured or he's just breaking down early, but I'd almost prefer we sit him for a few weeks at this point as he's not adding much on the field. Heck, we should consider a 2 FB set that at least would give Flacco some more blocking...

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:18pm

Something is definitely up with Ray Rice. He missed a game (!) a few weeks ago with the hip injury: I don't think he's 100% back. The week before that game, Bernard Pierce was on the injury report with a thigh. He came off the report right quick when there was an opportunity to start, but didn't look great. I don't think he's 100% either.

It's tough to tell with the implosion of the O-line, but I'm not sure how much 100% of Ray Rice is anymore. 4th-and-29 was week 12 last year; by late last season it seemed that Pierce was the better runner. More speed & power; though not the receiving threat that Rice is. I wonder if Rice is on the downside of his career. He's 26; and he had very high usage in college. His ypc has dropped since 2011. It seems to me that he's lost a half-step; though again it's hard to tell between the atrocious O-line and the hip injury.

by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:37am

I note that, thanks to Edelman, Aaron was right about there being time for two more Patriots dropped passes, despite the game-winning drive!

On the Seahawks kicker situation, I think this falls under the general heading of "The guy who is your emergency X should not himself be someone who plays a key role in the stuff that X does." An injury to one player should not immediately cause two backup guys to come in.

Denver OL line woes are starting to scare me. As are their general defensive woes.

The commentary by Cowher should pretty much scare off any GMs who are still thinking about dragging this guy out of retirement to fix their team. It's one thing for head coaches to be arch-conservative because they're putting the self-interest of preserving their job over the interest of their team winning games--sleazy, but at least results-oriented. It's another thing for the same guy, now a commentator, to not actually know the correct decisions. When you throw in the kind of play calls we do see on fourth down go-for-it attempts, and then the kind of play calls that Kubiak, etc. actually request from their offense, I am left scratching my head at how many people who are deeply involved in the decision-making side of the game of football, who spend hours upon hours analyzing game film and watching their players practice, apparently have no idea how football actually works. The disconnect between conventional wisdom and the results on the field has never been greater.

(It nearly made me lose my brunch when one color guy--I don't remember if it was Cowher, Simms, or the guy doing the GB/BAL game for Fox--out and out stated that it was important to establish the run to set up the pass, and that it didn't matter if the running plays actually worked; "it's not about yards, it's about attempts." Because y'know, it's true that your play-action game is probably more likely to succeed if the defense believes that a handoff might happen, but it might be even more useful if you didn't have to put your offense in 3rd-and-8 all the time to do it!)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:48am

Is it some strange mystery that defensive coaches tend to be more conservative on go-kick decisions than offensive coaches? I would hazard a guess it's because they think about points differently -- seeing points allowed as a defensive failure, regardless of whether it was 3 or 7.

Or maybe Cowher's just some kind of idiot, having gone 149-90, with 12 playoff wins, and 2 SB appearances running a team constructed very much like this one. He clearly has no clue how a defense-first, offensively-limited team can function successfully.

by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:53am

Successful results do not imply optimal process. Hell, look at the howling over Cowher's successor, the equally-successful Mike Tomlin. Just because you win games as a coach does not make you a genius at all aspects of coaching. And "seeing points differently" implies that there are multiple ways of seeing points. Sure, if you have the 2000 Ravens defense working for you, then you know that the value of taking the FG is greater, but that's because you have specific information to work with in calculating your win probability formulas, rather than using an "across the NFL" standard that includes the Jaguars and Broncos in the same math. (It's no different than saying "go for it is a good decision--but not if you line up with three tight ends and an I formation and run a dive play into the guts of 11 in the box.)

Jim Caldwell has a pretty good career W-L record with a SB appearance, and his key coaching decision was "Start Peyton Manning when he's healthy."

And lastly, even if we concede that the totality of Cowher's football knowledge and coaching acumen made him superior to his peers at the time of his coaching, that does not mean that his perception of the game as it is played today isn't lacking. (Actually, that may be the #1 problem with ex-players and ex-coaches as studio commentators. When enough time passes, the worse among them continue to apply the anecdotal evidence of their own time in the league while failing to understand that changes in the rules and in the players themselves have occurred.)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:01am

There may well be other ways of thinking about points, and about the optimization of scoring decisions in the context of a particular team and its particular era. You don't play with the team you wish to have, you play with the team you do have.

While certainly true that successful does not mean optimization, a theorist is also wise to acknowledge that all theories are simplifications of real systems, and that meaningful information may have been neglected. Success certainly implies optimization, or at very least, that solutions may be non-unique.

Simple rationale is not necessarily sufficient. Cargo cults were practicing rational behavior. It just wasn't successful.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:56am

+1 for "lose my brunch"

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:51am

Funny, though one of those drops was on Brady when he threw a layup game winning TD 8 yards short and low. The other was a legitimate drop, though it might have helped that it was, because if he wasn't able to roll into the end zone a lot of time would have ticked away.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:06pm

That was a really strange couple drives to watch. Brady was legitimately terrible for the previous couple drives. At one point they went 4 or 5 plays without throwing the ball, even running on 3rd and goal from almost the 5 yard line. There was chunk of time where his only 'completion' was a ball that bounced off the ground in front of the receiver, and the ref somehow missed it.

The receivers have dropped some balls (and the Dobson 4th-6 drop was terrible), but he has also made some god-awful throws. Besides the fact that the Int is a ball that never should have been throws, it was 10+ yards short of where it should have been, and it was pretty clear the defender made no effort of even covering the receiver because it was clear Brady couldn't hit him.

There were atleast a handful of balls during that game (and there have been some in each of the last couple of games) where one of the receivers has gotten open deep by getting behind the defense, and Brady hasn't even come close to hitting him. I know you have to throw deep occasionally to keep the defense honest, but its starting to feel like the defenses aren't even bothering to cover it.

That being said, that throw to Thomkins in the back of the endzone was a thing of beauty.

by Gregg (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:47am

Surprised nobody is talking about how awful the Saints' defensive scheme was on that last play. Ball on the 17, no timeouts, a QB who has absolutely zero chance of running it in from there. You just defend the sidelines and the end zone. Any tackle in the field of play--game over. And Rob Ryan's scheme calls for CB to be covering the wide receiver one on one in the corner of the end zone?

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:10pm

The coverage was good, it was just a fantastic throw. There's not much you can do there.

The NFL rules are such that a perfectly thrown ball to a big receiver is pretty much impossible to cover.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:47am

"Rodgers used a sweet play-fake to draw up the safeties, and Jordy Nelson blew right by Lardarius Webb for an easy touchdown."

That play was a staple of the Packer offense in 2010 and 2011 but the non-threat of the Packer running game kept it from working in 2012 and I would feel reasonably certain in saying it was part of the reason the Packer's went and drafted 2 running backs. Rodgers would run that play at least once or twice a game last year and there was nobody open but add the threat of Eddie Lacy and the improved running game and the cornerback hesitates for a second and Nelson is gone.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:01am

"Matt Waldman: Good technique by Stills to keep hands on shoulder of Dennard. Keeps hands free from entanglement & gauge DB"

By "Good Technique" you mean blatant pass interference, right? You can't put your hands on the DB's shoulders as you jump to keep him from being able to jump

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:17am

It would be a real tough call to make their to call OPI against a guy, because he had his hands on the shoulder pad. OPI only seems to be called when a WR chucks a guy to the ground, or is blocking downfield on screen passes.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:22am

Tough call? No, its pretty much textbook, and very easy to see, whether or not it gets called often.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:48am

I swear to god, until just know I didn't realize that Anonymousse and Anonymouse were two different people.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:48pm

Ha, you're right! So what's next, Anonymoose?

Anyway, on that play I didn't see any PI. There was PI, technically, but not the kind you call.

The man with no sig

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:14pm

Rewatch the play. When Gregory jumps, Stills puts his hand on Gregory's shoulder, and literally holds Gregory down. It's why Gregory appeared to have better position on the ball but got absolutely no elevation.

It's a good play on Still's part, because its tough for the referee to see, and it's a ball that he was beat on, but it absolutely is PI.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:32pm

I linked a GIF of the play for anyone interested. It looks like clear PI to me, but we can disagree.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:33pm

Maybe this one works?

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:39pm

Agreed, subtle and effective PI. Almost impossible for a ref to see that as it's happening, but still interfered with the DB.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:08pm

But, I mean, would you call it? There always a lot of contact in these plays, and it's not even like it helped keep Dennard out of position. He just whiffed on the ball.

Nice gif, btw, the contact is seen clearly.

The man with no sig

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:12pm

Well I just said it was almost impossible for a ref to see it. So I wouldn't fault the refs in this case. They're not going to catch everything, and this wasn't an egregious foul. Just have to shrug your shoulders and move on.

I disagree that he didn't affect Dennard's ability to go up for the ball, however.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 4:18pm

It is Dennard, my bad (not Gregory).

My opinion is that if the referee is right there, it should be called. The problem is, on most of these plays the referee is somewhere around the 10 yard line because he can't keep up with the defensive back/receiver, and has absolutely no view of the play.

Which means we've got all these complicated rules about pass interference, and the referees are basically just guessing.

by Anonymoises Alou (not verified) :: Wed, 10/16/2013 - 4:29am


by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:54pm

How do you know we are different people? Internet schizophrenia is a very common disease...

by CBPodge :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:03am

A bizarrely interesting stat: in games where a player has thrown 16 or fewer passes, and 2 or more TDs, his team are 355-8*. Players with 30 or more rush attempts and at least 1 TD are 453-54. Forget run to win, if your QB throws 2 early TDs, bench him and you've basically won!

Oddly, throwing for a third TD on so few attempts hurts your chances of winning, as QBs with 3 TDs in 16 or fewer attempts are 97-4.

I just thought Sam Bradford's statline from yesterday was weird enough to look into. Obviously it makes sense that if your QB is very efficient and doesn't throw much you'll win most games, but I was surprised at just how big the margin was.

*One of the 8 losing QBs, oddly, was Walter Payton, who managed to go 2-2 for 2 TDs passing in a loss to the Saints in 1983.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:12am

I want to see the guys with 30 rushes attempts and no TDs.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:32am

174-50 as best as I can tell. Making the total something like 525-100 or so for having a guy with more than 30 rushing attempts, regardless of TDs.

by Blotzphoto :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:03pm

Is that post merger data? I wonder how the different eras stack up. In recent memory it would seem to be difficult to lose a game where you were even allowed to get 30 rushes. Maybe back in the cloud of dust period?

by merlinofchaos :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:11am

Man. Denver media and blogosphere is full of WOE, WOE I tell you over the sloppy performance of the Broncos.

It certainly wasn't a clean game, and it highlighted that the fumbling mistakes just keep on giving, but the game was never really in doubt. Denver needs to figure out what's wrong with its defense and stop giving up so many passing plays, but my goodness, with the doom and gloom some of the spoiled Denver fans act like we're going to suddenly lose out the rest of the season because Jacksonville put up a fight.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:22am

I wonder sometimes if Jacksonville is a hard team to prepare for because they're so bad. What does the coach say in the film room? "Okay, defense, on third-and-long, the Jags quarterback likes to run backwards for ten yards, close his eyes, and lob the ball into triple coverage. So be prepared for that."

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:34am

Seriously, it's one semi-bad performance where you still win by 16. Take away the pick-six (a terrible throw by Manning) and the fumbled snap inside the 10 and the Broncos might cover.

I'm still going to wait until Miller comes back (and hopefully some of these other guys like Woodyard, Ayers, Harris) to fully judge this Broncos defense. I think they can cover well for short periods, but that pass rush is so impotent at times. I think Miller will fix some of those issues, but honestly, if they can keep teams under 24, they'll win almost any game

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:48am

I was telling a friend at work last week that I wasn't looking forward to this game at all because only bad things could happen for Denver. And, no, losing the game was not the worst thing that could happen. The worst thing that could happen was if Brock Osweiler was warming up in the first quarter, and sure enough that happened because Peyton took a couple of low shots to his legs and had to go to the locker room. Luckily it didn't turn out to be anything, but then later on they lost Orlando Franklin to a knee injury, and he may miss some games. That would be both starting tackles out now. One thing the game did show is that Denver's pass defense is just horrendous now. Granted, Woodyard, Ayers, and Carter were out, but Blackmon had a field day in the secondary. Von Miller better be a one man demolition crew on Sunday.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:26am

The beautiful thing about the fumbled snap was the way Peyton Manning just took a step back and watched the scrum for the ball, happening about two feet away from him, making no attempt to recover it.

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:32am

I think I can understand why a 38-year-old with a surgically re-re-re-repaired neck might hesitate to dive head-first into a pile of enormous people.

Plus, he's built up some capital with the whole 22 touchdowns thing.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:35am

Normally though he's the master of making just enough of an effort to chase down a turnover to not be seen as loafing, while not making enough effort to actually tackle a ball carrier, or recover a fumble. I kind of expected him to jump on top of the pile or something.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:39am

Yeah, I think Manning probably took the wisest course there. It was just funny to see.

Manning actually made a half-assed effort to chase down Posluszny on the pick-six, and got a blind-side block for his efforts. He probably won't be doing that again.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:18am

Aaron, I don't know if you've used your travel quota for this year (and you've already seen the Lions in person), but a Lions home game on the same day as a Tigers home playoff game is also a great experience. Both stadiums are next to each other in an urban decay-free pocket of the city. Too bad the Red Sox visiting (if the series goes 7 games) doesn't coincide with the Lions' next two home games. Maybe next year.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:20am

"@MilkmanDanimal: Dachshund races at halftime of Browns-Lions; Detroit expected to sign winner in an attempt to shore up secondary."

Actually the secondary has been solid this year, with two functional, honest-to-goodness, NFL-level safeties in the starting lineup for the first time in years. It's the receiver corps outside Megatron that could use a Dachsund with speed (don't think their catch rate would be too high, though).

by Ben :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:09am

You just need to hope they have the Frisbee dog halftime show soon...

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:49am

I wonder if the monkey riding the dog is available? The dog could run routes, and the monkey could catch the ball.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:21am

Ah, Greg Schiano. You scream about discipline! Hard work! Playing the game right! AND YOU SUCK. So, let's see, the team jumps offsides on an obvious attempt to get them to do so. Yes, that's the players, but it's not the first time it's happened this year. Your team does stupid things. Repeatedly. Please stop talking about "discipline" and set yourself on fire.

Also, you did not sign Darrelle Revis to make him play zone. HE IS DARRELLE REVIS. You have the best man corner in the league, and you make him twiddle around in zone coverage?

I cannot wait to set my DVR for the NFL Networks' inevitable "Top Ten Worst Coach Hires", just to see exactly how high on that list Schiano winds up.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:04am

He's probably only 3rd worst on the Lions list. Maybe 4th. And that doesn't include Bobby Ross, who chased away Barry Sanders.

Hell, he could take the wind in overtime and still only wind up 2nd.

But then, a convicted coke dealer is the best Lions coach of my lifetime.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:13am

"But then, a convicted coke dealer is the best Lions coach of my lifetime."

It's just a shame he never had Walter White-level genius.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:13am

Point taken, but we claim partial responsibility for Rod Marinelli getting a HC job. I would, however, take Morninwheg over Schiano. I honestly can't recall seeing a team play this consistently sloppy and repeatedly manage to blow close games. At this point, Ron Rivera thinks Greg Schiano is a lousy late-game coach.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:21am

MilkMan has a point. Also I can't remember a Lions coach ever referring to himself in the third person.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:52pm

We can blame you for Fontes, too. =)

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:08pm

I suspect both Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano will be looking for new jobs next year; your opportunity to pull from the dessicated trunk of the Tampa coaching tree will have a chance to renew itself.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:28pm

If the Lions hire Raheem Morris as a position coach, I'll really start to wonder.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:28pm

Haha I forgot about that.

by ChrisS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:03pm

I thought Wayne said the coke belonged to his son and they dropped those charges and he just got a fine for the DUI.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:03pm

Now THAT'S parenting!

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:35am

Around the league, how can New Orleans screw up the 4-minute offense twice. If they just play for TD after the 4 & Out, the game's over (or I guess, in this case, maybe not, but the Pats need a 2-point conversion). Brees was off a lot of the game (ended under 50% completion). The Pats defense is good, but the injuries are starting to mount. Hopefully for them the Talib & Mayo injuries aren't too serious.

Famed Colts Blogger Nate Dunlevy tweeted last week that the Texans might have had the shortest Super Bowl window ever, and he's right. They were, in my mind and FO's at the time, the league's best, most complete team in 2011 until Matt Schaub, who was playing well at the time, got hurt against I believe Tampa. They were obviously very good for most of last year, but Schaub's peak never aligned with anyone elses peak on that team outside of Andre Johnson. I don't think they built the team wrong, but were unlucky some years, overmatched others (the early years of Schaub's peak Manning was still in Indianapolis).

The Panthers need to go on a run, but I still think they are contenders for a Wild Card. Their defense can play so well, and their offense can play a lot better than they looked in Arizona. I actually think Cam is improving, and he's starting to work better with those non-Steve Smith receivers.

Quality win by Detroit, who didn't blink when down 10 at the half, and came out and played like the better, more talented team. Sure, Weeden's Weeden-ness helped them a lot, but that was a determined Lions team. Big game next week with Cincinnati going to Detroit. Should be a highlight in an average Sunday of action (bet CBS wishes they could redo that Ravens @ Steelers late double-header game), until of course the Return of the Manning.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:54am

Re: Texans

My big fear as a Lions fan is what happened to the Texans: that by the time (if) they plug up all the holes on the roster and approach being a superbowl contender, their superstar receiver named Johnson will be old and injury-prone (these last two weeks are actually uncharacteristic for him). Instead of having the Manning Colts in their divsion, the Lions are stuck with the Rodgers Packers, who will probably be favorites every year to win the division for the next several years.

by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:23pm

Worse, really, because the Bears are good every year as well with their D, and the Adrian Peterson Vikings can be relied on to at least show up. The Texans really only had one competitor during their run.

(Thinking about the Manning Colts division play reminds me of how, year in, year out, the Jaguars would always play the Colts close and lose 28-24 or something along those lines, regardless of how good or bad the Jags actually were that year. The trend's still continuing...)

by panthersnbraves :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:46am

re: Panthers

We were talking about holes on the team, and ended up that they will have trouble peaking. By the time they fix their O-line issues, they still have Secondary and WR issues. If that takes any length of time, then other holes emerge as players age. At some point they will have to figure out how to win with "good enough" players.

The question becomes: Is the old saw about "O-Line is about gelling as a unit, and not necessarily having great skill" really true?

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:50pm

Yes, there's no way the Pats get three freaking chances in the last three minutes of the game. To be fair, the Brady interception happened in the first play of the drive, so it didn't run any clock off or burn any TOs, but still.

The man with no sig

by Jerry :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 6:29am

Even if Bengals-Lions is a better game (which it may or may not turn out to be), I'm sure Ravens-Steelers is more attractive to CBS.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:55am

Green Bay was playing without Clay Matthews and Brad Jones so you had guys like James Lattimore filling in at linebacker and killing the Ravens attempts to run. The defensive linemen were tying up multiple blockers at a time so the linebackers had all kinds of room to operate which led to 10 negative plays by the Ravens on offense.

Tramon Williams was the one real negative as he seemed to be going through the motions in the second half resulting in either completions or penalties that helped the Ravens. The one long catch and run in the 3rd quarter was the direct result of Williams just refusing to try and tackle the receiver. Just really disappointing.

The Packers special teams did more good things than bad which against the Ravens return guys is a clear win. Crosby did miss a field goal but the guy for the rest of the season has been outstanding. Micah Hyde made plays on returns as well in coverage. All promising things to see.

Really impressed by how GB closed out the game. Big third down pass to Finley followed by Lacy just rumbling through guys trying to strip the ball. Just all kinds of wonderful

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:23am

I have been all sorts of impressed with Lacy this year. I think the thing that sticks out the most with him is his ability to protect the ball. When he gets in a crowd, he brings it closer, wraps it up, and just keeps his body moving.

Green Bay, while not flawless even on their best days this year, have been good enough to remain in the discussion, and I definitely think they will slowly get better as they get more guys back. Their backups, for the most part, all played reasonably well, even adjusting for the lapses (looking at Boykin).

A separate, yet understated, effect of this entire injury situation is that some of the backups get real play time. Boykin with first-team snaps for a week could be a difference maker (that lone catch-and-run was impressive). On the other side of the ball, Lattimore definitely looks serviceable and could be a huge rotational guy down the stretch and into the playoffs.

If they keep playing "good enough" football, I can see them having a 7-3 or 6-4 record by the time all of their starters return.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:30am

If there is a concern on Lacy is that boy does he take some shots. Is he running that upright to give more of a target?

I think it's a lot to ask a guy to become the centerpiece of the offense as soon as he comes off the bench. I am guessing it was because of soft coverage but other teams devise plays to get key players free. Instead there were multiple passes in a row to the guy getting his first real playing time.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:39am

My wife even complained the few times on that single drive where Rodgers threw the out to Boykin and he just miscommunicated the route or flat out stopped it (whichever turns out to be true), and she is a Saints fan. The fact that Boykin was not yet comfortable was obvious, and I think Rodgers was doing too much to try to force him into a role for which he was not yet ready.

Lacy is a local kid, so I will ask some of the people around here if he has always run like that. I do not think he is significantly taller than the average RB (listed at 5'11"), but he definitely plays taller than most seem to.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:02am

Anyone else have a team where the secondary is incapable of effective zone coverage?

It may not be EVERY time but by inspection it sure seems like the bulk of the big pass plays against GB are when the team is trying to play zone. And the Packers defensive backs stink at zone. Shields it is well documented he just cannot get his depth correct. That and he has said he hates it because he deems it 'passive'.

Certainly the safeties continue to blow assignments in zone.

I am curious if this is something other fans experience.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:06am

Modern safety rules have basically eliminated the zone as a viable strategy.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:11am

I don't think the rules had anything to do with the Packers safety letting a guy just run past him and then falling down as he began to chase.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:46am

That defensive scheme on that play just seemed idiotic.

Jerron McMillan does okay close to the line of scrimmage, but should not be on the field on 4th and forever. McMillan started out in fine position, and would have easily been able to stay on top of the WR if he hadn't simply fallen down trying to turn upfield.

MD Jennings would be a better fit for that play, and in any case, they would have been fine if it was Burnett in the deep middle and the other safety underneath, since Burnett makes the defensive play easily, in my opinion.

by ebongreen :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:11pm

I was furious-within-reason at three plays in the Packers-Ravens game.

#1: Sam Shields - you have a Raven running past you, and your buddy in front of you covers the Raven heading shallow. WHY DO YOU NOT GO DEEP TO COVER THE CORNER-FADE IN THE ENDZONE?

#2a: Jerron McMillan falls down as a deep safety in the middle third, yielding fourth-and-21 plus about forty yards. OMFG.

#2b: Jerron McMillan fails, so I read, to get the call to cover Dallas Clark man-to-man, and yields a TD to a man a decade his senior and how much slower?

And off of these three plays, the Ravens get fourteen points in an otherwise pop-gun display of offensive "prowess". GAH. Three plays turned what should have been a near-shutout into a near-loss. If I were a Packers secondary coach, I'd be bloody livid.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:39pm

In fairness on 2b, the throw and catch to Clark on the TD was a thing of beauty, regardless of how old Clark is. I don't really think there's much fault on McMillan on that play, unless you think he should be at least 6 inches taller.

On Shields, he had a couple of plays that made me mad. The one you pointed out, where he acted like the side/back of the end zone was about 3 yards closer than it actually was, and the play where he almost gave up a completion along the near sideline in the first half. The Ravens WR went up for the ball and came down just out of bounds, but Shields simply gave up on the play once the WR jumped. All Shields has to do in that case is know that he's on the sideline and push the WR out of bounds while he's in the air, and he can guarantee an incompletion instead of just hoping for one.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:04am

I think this is an indication that I need to stop taking football this seriously, but I was not just angry but offended, on a deep, moral level, by Washington's clock management at the end of the 1st half.

Also, you will never convince me that if you did an objective, thorough search for a coordinator that the best-qualified candidate would ever happen to be your son.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:23am

"Also, you will never convince me that if you did an objective, thorough search for a coordinator that the best-qualified candidate would ever happen to be your son."

I had two thoughts about this comment:
1) What if the main qualification is "ability to tolerate Mike Shanahan"?
2) Chris Polian approves this comment.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:34am

#1 is a fair point. I can see the job posting: "Is your entire subconscious wired for pleasing Mike Shanahan? If not, please do not bother submitting an application."

by JIPanick :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:51am

"I was not just angry but offended, on a deep, moral level, by [poor clock management]."

Are you me?

by TomC :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:57pm

Hmmm, I don't *think* so.....

OK, did you feel that?

No, I think it's just that we have similar pathologies.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:38pm

TomC, poke yourself with a pin again, just to be sure. And again, just to amuse us. Okay, I guess you were right.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:48pm

Watching the Mike Martz Bears must have been torture for you.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:15pm

Yes, but in a different way. When I watch the Bears, I go into fanboy mode and only care about winning and seeing the Bears make awesome plays, so the torture there was more watching a coach actively try to get the best Bears QB in my lifetime killed. It's only while watching other teams that I can turn on football aesthete mode (which I rather enjoy, so I kind of look forward to bye weeks and primetime Bears games).

Oh, and Bobman, let me guess: you have younger siblings, right?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:11am

For anyone impressed by Mike Glennon's numbers in his two starts, don't be; any noticeable yardage is a result of yards after the catch. I think he threw three balls even vaguely deep this week. Two were deep sideline patterns to Vincent Jackson, and both were very badly thrown out of bounds. The other was a deep seam route to Tiquan Underwood (who should not be going deep in any way, shape, or form), and was, again, badly overthrown. Glennon has looked comfortable when he has protection and is throwing short. That's it. It's easy to complete lots of passes when you're throwing four-yard curls with nobody in your face. I have very much not seen anything in Glennon that makes me think "NFL starter"; he's just dumping the ball off quickly. Sucks for Doug Martin, as I saw a lot of one-deep coverage with ten guys on-frame at the snap. Four separate times Martin broke off a good run, and holding calls made them come back. Arrrrrgh.

Oh, and Kevin Ogletree getting cut was quite welcome in Tampa. He had a series of drops, and in the Arizona game I think ran three separate third-down plays a yard short of the sticks. He did that consistently, just not going up the field far enough. It's not like Tiquan Underwood is exactly a phenomenal slot guy, but at least he knows to go to the first down marker on his routes.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:54pm

Quarterbacks are atleast as responsible for YAC as the receivers.

A two foot change in placement can be the difference between a receiver across the middle slowing down to catch the ball, and getting drilled by a safety, and the receiver catching the ball in stride, beating the safety to the edge, and getting run out of bounds 20 yards downfield.

Tom Brady basically made his career on turning 4 yard throws into 12-15 yard gains.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:07pm

Tom Brady also has a proven ability to actually put the ball down the field, and showed early some poise and patience. The issue with Glennon so far is a tendency to be very quick on the trigger for the dumpoff. Yes, a lot of that could be coaching, but even after the Arizona game a few weeks ago, people were talking about how Glennon had been impressive, and this is just in response to that. It's more about the quick trigger on getting rid of the ball than anything else.

Of course, being that Schiano and company have repeatedly said the offense was going to be based around power running and the deep ball and they're now throwing short passes and running Doug Martin up the middle into constant nine-man fronts, it's pretty irrelevant.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:59pm

Glennon is only starting because Schiano is hoping to not be fired on the "I have a rookie quarterback I'm working with" excuse. Schiano is a terrible excuse for a coach (not to mention a terrible excuse for a human being) and is likely to ruin any potential for success Glennon has, not that there is any reason to believe he has any.

However, Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson are above-average outside receivers and will reliably bail out Glennon's yardage stats by making insane leaping catches downfield.

Doug Martin is his generation's MJD.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:20am

No mention of how the Patriots NOT spiking the ball was a major reason they were able to win? They wound up needing all four downs immediately prior to scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:30pm

Seattle tried that at the end of the half too, running a play on first down instead of spiking the ball,but they committed a false start on the play and had to burn a timeout to avoid a 5-yard loss.

Then, with 20 seconds left and no timeouts, they completed a pass in bounds that nearly ended the half. They ended up spiking the ball with two seconds left to at least salvage a field-goal try.

And then disaster struck. It was an amazing series of incompetent events.

by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 4:32pm

I honestly thought Seattle should have saved their Timeout and taken the 10 second runoff, where they were on the field, I don't think an extra 10 seconds would have done a whole lot, a timeout might have come in handy with how the half ended. Of course the optimal strategy would be for James Carpenter to actually not commit a penalty (which is a pipe dream).

by DJG (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:30pm

The five-yard loss was still assessed, but the 10-second runoff was avoided by calling timeout. The debacle was equal parts incompetence and bad luck. Russell Wilson's biggest mistake wasn't throwing to a receiver in bounds (a broken tackle and it's a TD), it was throwing the ball to the ref, who bobbled and dropped it before picking it up and spotting it, possibly costing the 'Hawks one more shot at the end zone. Then, how often does a kicker have to leave the field for a concussion test? And why did that backup holder suddenly think he was Garo Yepremian?

(For more on this game, check out my Seahawks blog: Jim Zorn's Lemma.)

by Perfundle :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:59pm

As a Wisconsin fan and thus a Wilson fan, this is the third time in the last three years that the refs have mucked up spotting the ball. Obviously there was the Arizona St. fiasco a few weeks back, and then in the Rose Bowl the ref told Wilson that there be enough time to run a final play, but it turned out not to be.

As for the play, Seattle had a similar play (fumble return TD after the opponent has almost reached the end zone) last year against San Francisco, and then another one against Denver in the preseason this year, so it balances out, I guess.

by smade :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:31am

Aaron, going to a game in Seattle is a fantastic experience, especially for a Raider fan when Oakland is in town. Raider fans, in general, travel well, as they say in college, and they travel exceptionally well to Seattle where the rivalry still lingers more than a decade after the Hawks left the AFC West. I went to a preseason game a few years ago and was warmed to the cockles by the sight of a several dozen Raider fans marching to the stadium behind a black banner chanting "Seahawks suck!" They went almost entirely unchallenged.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:45am

Going to a game in Seattle is a bit weird though - if you approach from downtown alongside the water its a fantastic approach to a stadium that feels like its right in the center of town. But if you leave by any other direction it seems to be a weird trek through either an industrial park or a city made entirely of car parks leading to Seattle's equivalent of slums (which are still quite nice, I guess). Which I guess pegs it as right on the edge of downtown.

I've only visited for a baseball game though. It did seem that all the pretty women in Seattle like baseball.

I genuinely think sports generally would be much better if a geographic center for each city was determined, and any new stadiums needed to be built within a max of a mile or two from there. Trekking to out-of-town stadiums is no kind of fun in my opinion.

by Hector Rex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:10pm

Century Link definitely meets the criterion in your last paragraph; there's really no way it could have been built any closer to the center of town without demolishing a bunch of office towers and blocking streets on the downtown grid. But your other points are well taken: you can't really approach from the west, approaching from the east is a bit dicey with the International District, and the south is Safeco Field and then industrial land as far as the eye can see. Coming in from the north is the only way to get a real game day atmosphere. That said, it's still pretty great.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:43pm

In my daily driving in and around Seattle I probably see five cars a week with prominent Raiders decals in their overly-tinted back windows. Even in my fancy-schmancy suburb (where Holmgren used to live, owner Paul Allen lives, and doubtless numerous Hawks with families live). Not only to Raiders fans travel well, but when they move, they proudly bring their affection/psychosis with them. I think locals look on them with detached amusement.

by arias :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:34pm

Glad to hear you've never had any problems attending games to the clink what with all the drama surrounding attacks on opposing fans. Makes sense though since you guys seem to carry yourselves well and stick together. I used to attend Raiders games when Seattle would come to play when still in the AFC. Always had a great time and never understood the bad rep Raiders fans had.

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:10pm

Side note--as I suspected, I have gotten used to and even accepted the new Audibles format. Part of it is just that natural human resistance to change. The other part of it is I'm probably just happy that two of my tweets were included. At the very least, it's a nice way to find new people to follow.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:26pm

My first thought about the new format was "meh." Reading the constant whining about it was 10 times worse.

Now I'm agreeing with you. It's actually starting to grow on me.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:23pm

Leslie Frazier did a nice job of not hiring any assistants who can be entrusted to serve as an interim head coach, so Frazier likely will have his job until about 5 minutes have passed since the clock went to zeros in the week 17 game. When you are a former NFL defensive back, it isn't good sign that your secondary hasn't looked well coached since you arrived several years ago.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:23pm

"When you are a former NFL defensive back, it isn't good sign that your secondary hasn't looked well coached since you arrived several years ago."

Seemed to work for Tony Dungy in Indy.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:53pm

Tony Dungy's track record prior to Indy was far superior to Leslie Frazier's prior to arriving in Minnesota.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 4:14pm

Of course.

But Dungy was a defensive back, and spent years and years in Indy with a terrible defense. And won a superbowl (with P. Manning, of course)

So why don't we just say that Leslie Frazier probably isn't a good coach because the team hasn't gotten any better? Rather than meaningless asides?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:00pm

It isn't meaningless that the side of the ball the head coach is from is poorly coached, and not being talented is not the same thing as being poorly coached.

by andrew :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:47pm

If they replace him with Chuck Foreman, we can have Greg Cosell shout "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!"

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:23pm

LOL at Kacsmar going out of his way to pretend Brady's final drive wasn't impressive. I love this site, but man was that a questionable hire, and nothing I've seen since makes me feel any different.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:19pm

Yes, the anti-Pats bias of this site continues to amaze...

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:29pm


by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:13pm

He said nothing about Brady's final drive. He did say that he thought the Saints final couple drives were poorly thought out.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:54pm

You didn't see his extraneous tweeting away from this page.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:04pm

I really wish 2 to 3 of you would change your screen name.

by Anonymice (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:14pm

As long as they don't take my name.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:46pm

How do you know it's not the same person with multiple personalities?

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:36pm

That's not what he said, he said the Saints did a poor job of running out the clock. The only mention of the Patriots drive was to call it a "miracle" drive, which doesn't mean it wasn't impressive, right?

The man with no sig

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 4:10pm

You need to check out his twitter page.

by Anger...rising :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:29pm

I came down with food poisoning on Friday night

This made me smile.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:00pm

Yeah, that was great. (edit: And I believe it is actually true and not hyperbole. I would rather spend a night in intestinal agony than watch my formerly promising team swirl down the toilet.)

by ChrisS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:51pm

I liked the call Belichick made at the end of the first half. Fourth and 5 with 4 seconds left, Brady rolls outside the tackle box and flings a pass as high as possible out of bounds. Time runs out at the half with no chance of a blocked punt or punt return. This is the first time I remember seeing this play, anyone else remeber differently?

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:44pm

I recall the Titans doing something similar in an endgame situation once. McNair ran around for a while, then heaved a high-arching pass downfield.

EDIT: Based on the two following comments at this level, it appears I'm remembering the Patriots doing it against the Titans...

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:58pm

Belichick did the exact same thing on the last play of the 2003 Divisional Game against Tennessee. 4th and something, with about ~5 seconds to go, Brady went backed, rolled a bit and flung one as time expired. Pretty good play call.

by Travis :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 12:58pm

The Patriots did the exact same thing on a 4th and 15 with 3 seconds left at the end of the 2003 Divisional game against the Titans.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:49pm

I love the call and wonder why it's not done more. Though I would have preferred no pass at all--one good thing can happen, and a few bad ones. (clock stopped a half second early, INT, OPI, QB hurt as he passes, etc.). I'd rather have him run circles backwards then take a knee once it's 00:00. Curled in a rib-protective fetal ball. Seems safer to me, unless you're playing a Schiano-coached "team."

by PaddyPat :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:08pm

It's amazing how offenses, including the best in the game, do not even try to do a good job in the four-minute offense to put away games so that these miracle touchdown drives never even have a chance to happen. Everyone knows about the prevent defense, but the prevent offense that practically every coach falls into where you run the ball twice and maybe throw on third down is just as much of a problem. The Saints handled those final minutes as poorly as I've ever seen.

This is a compelling question. I have had many opportunities to wring my hands over the years watching the ineptitude of the Patriots' 4-minute offense which, for example, cost them the 2011 season Super Bowl. But it seems to be not only an overlooked aspect of the game, but also a very difficult one. Seldom does one see an effective 4 minute offense out of any team. Off the top of my head I can recall one game that New England iced effectively in the past 3-4 years where they beat Miami with a nice, slow developing grind down the field, and I remember at least once when Baltimore did it in a primetime-type showdown. Apart from that, teams are lucky to get 1 first down in such situations. I would love to see numbers on this sort of thing. We have all of the new stuff coming in on "game-winning drive" opportunities and so forth, but I have never seen numbers on the 4-minute offense. Are there teams that are well-coached in this area? Has performance fallen of significantly with the advent of the high-octane passing offenses as opposed to two decades ago when running games still dominated? Are there trends with 4 minute offenses linked to quarterbacks, ie. was Montana great at this while Elway wasn't? Or is it more connected to coaching? This seems to me like a great question for future inquiry and analysis, and one integrally connected to winning close football games.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:24pm

Its a playcalling/coaching issue.

Teams are way more concerned with taking time off the clock than they are with actually scoring.

In the modern NFL, there are very few teams that can't run the two minute drill well. Its not 1980 anymore, and most teams/coaches don't seem to realize. You're much better off giving the other team the ball back down 10 with 1:30 left than playing super-conservatively and giving them the ball back with 45 seconds down 3. Killing time is important, but its pretty much irrelevant if you put more points on the board.

It's like every team comes out and runs two running plays in a row into a 9-in-the-box defense, and then throws an incompletion on 3rd and 8.

Also, I agree with you on the Patriots. It's been infuriating listening to how the Patriots defense is the problem (and it wasn't good, it was PART of the problem) when almost every Patriots playoff loss of the last couple years ended the same way - the defense coming up with a big stop, with a small lead and roughly 3 minutes left, and the offense going 3-and-out.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:03pm

I've written about the four-minute offense: http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/gutless-nfl-coaches-fail-ba...

That includes one of the craziest tables I've ever put together, though I did find afterwards I missed one drive in a game (thanks for the interception, Carson Palmer). Still, it's nearly identical in pass/run ratio for each down from 2011 to 2012. Will update 2013.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:22pm

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The best way to run the clock out is to get a bunch of first downs. It doesn't matter if they're run, or pass. The running game is probably lower variance, as a stuff still runs out clock, but its also significantly less rewarding, as the average yardage gained (and thus the chance of a first down) is significantly lower.

by Blotzphoto :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:13pm

I remember during the Greatest Show on Turf Rams games there was much angst about the teams being unable to run the 4 minute offense and close out games close games. I believe the Rams answer was "If we score another touchdown then it won't be close anymore." I think that's what the Saints did wrong. Don't switch up the game plan to eat the clock if you aren't set up for it. Just march down the field with your whole playbook open.

Also, I swear I'm not Spam... really.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:47pm

Exactly. The worst case in a 4 minute situation is a failed pass play, and most coaches, for whatever reason, want to rule out worst case scenarios even if it reduces their overall chance of victory. We know this from 4th down strategy and the same applies here. So obvious run plays are called even though they probably have little chance of success.

by PaddyPat :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:52pm

I guess the big picture here (and thanks Scott, so much for the great piece... it certainly answers some questions) is that we as fans, all suffer together with this problem. Football teams don't know how to hold onto close leads at the end of games. They tend to win in such situations, but not through intelligent coaching. I'm not sure if it's nice to know that everyone sucks at it, or just more depressing, but I have often wondered if it was, for example, a critical failing in the Belichick/Brady dynasty that they have been so bad at the 4 minute offense so consistently. I guess the next question would be, were teams better at this in the past? Is it something that the 49ers dynasties did well? Or the Steelers? Is there any way we can know that without an obscene amount of annoying work?

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:55pm

I think teams were worse at running a 2 min drill in the past. So if you got the ball with 3:14 left and ran 3 times a punted chances are that the other team would most likely fail.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:08pm

Offenses in general were worse.

I don't think modern nfl coaches realize that down less than 7, with the ball, and 2 minutes to go, isn't a real bad place to be.

Forcing teams to go for it on 4th down really changes the math when you start looking at how easy it is to score.

They always seem to come out in prevent and look shocked when 35 seconds later, the other team is on the 20 yard line.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:42pm

Passing offenses were certainly worse. I think a lot of teams compensated with better rushing offenses in eras gone by. However, a great rushing attack doesn't do much for you with 2 min left.

by BengalFaninIN :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 2:53pm

In no small part because getting beat on a single long play, pass or run, gets you fired a lot quicker than losing to a "stunning" series of nine or ten completions in a row.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:37pm

I'm more than willing to do the annoyingly large amount of work, but that's what the offseason is for. I just can't attack huge projects during the season.

by Byrk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 12:39am

I don't know, according to the article NFL teams have a very high rate of wins with the run heavy strategy, so it's going to be hard to get enough data to prove an improvement over a 90%+ win rate.

I think that it should depend on the team that you're playing and the clock/timeout situation more than anything. I remember the Patriots going for it on a fourth down versus the Colts in their own territory, since it was figured that if Manning was given the ball back with that much time remaining he would score no matter the field position. If you're playing the 2011 49ers, it's probably best to run three times and punt because it's unlikely Alex Smith could run a decent two minute drill.

If there's 2:30 left and the other team has no timeouts, you can nearly run out the clock with three runs and a punt. If it's 3:30 left and the other team has all their timeouts, then you need to pick up two to three first downs otherwise the other team is left with too much time.

by coremill :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 8:22am

A tangent, but Alex Smith was actually very good in the 2-minute drill that year. The Niners had 4Q comeback wins during the regular season against Philly and Detroit, and then they did it twice against New Orleans in the playoffs.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:28am

Yeah, Smith has always been like that. It's when he can say "What the hell, nothing to lose," and take off those psychological handcuffs he's always wearing that make him ultra cautious.

by rich006 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:55am

Two points: first, you don't remember the 4-minute offense working well because when it works, the game is not as memorable. Second, in the case of Saints vs. Patriots, the Saints had not had much success getting first downs all day, and their defense had been doing well against Brady in the 2nd half. So, I think I understand Payton's decisions even though I still think his best chance was to be more aggressive--play to win instead of playing not to lose.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:11pm

The Chiefs defence is clearly very good, but I'm anxiously waiting for a time when they have to break out of their ultra-conservative offensive game-plan. Right now I have a hard time imagining them beating any of the league's powerhouses; I've watched 3 of their games now and don't think I've seen a pass travel further than 15 yards down the field.

Incredibly they play Houston at Arrowhead next week, then Cleveland (also home), then Buffalo, then a bye in week 10 before finally facing Denver in week 11. So might have to wait a while yet.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:17pm

I don't get this thinking. Why does a team "have to" throw passes more than 15 yards downfield? I feel like the Patriots would put up a lot more points if damned Tom Brady would stop throwing balls deep downfield. If your QB is not a good deep-ball thrower, and you have an elite defense, why do you need to chuck up a few deep passes every game?

by BJR :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:21pm

The Chiefs have so far beaten a bunch of mediocre to poor teams with good defence and extremely conservative offence. Which is good, but I'd feel more confident about their ability to beat good teams going forward if they had displayed more big-play capability on offence.

It also begs the question why they paid Dwayne Bowe so much money when they are hardly using him.

by Guest789 :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:10pm

To keep the safeties honest, I would think. If you never throw deep, they can come up and sit on the short routes and running game.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 11:17pm

I get the theory, but I am just not that certain that it really rises to the level of something a team "needs" to do. The area between the line of scrimmage and twenty yards downfield contains almost 10,000 sq. ft. A well-thrown ball can generally find a guy somewhere in that 1/4 acre area. An offense that can throw short and long is obviously better than an offense that can only throw shorter routes, but if you aren't built that way, stick with what you can be good at.

by Robert Grebel :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 1:58pm

To be fair, this comment from the Packers game:

"Webb was playing trail technique, expecting help over the top. Pollard and Elam bit on the play-action. Great execution by Rodgers."

was not me. The first half of that tweet was me, but the quoted part was from @pchicola

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:46pm

It was such a good play fake that Pollard bit on it all the way in Seattle!

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:56pm

You're right, I pasted in the wrong place when copying it over. Apologies to both of you.

by Robert Grebel :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:46pm

No worries from me; just want to make sure he gets proper credit for the naming and shaming.

by Robert Grebel :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 9:48pm

Apologies, duplicate comment.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 2:40pm

Seemed to me that if New Orleans had gone all out conservative, they would have won, also. If they had run rather than throw that incomplete pass, New England would have had much less time to work with. So, I can see the arguments for either going for the touchdown, or completely locking it down (which Denver did well against Dallas in week 5). Seems like New Orleans did a little of both, though.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:05pm

That's a good point. Kneeling 3 times and punting could be seen as a valid strategy at the end of a game, as it completely and utterly eliminates the chance of a disastrous turnover. But coaches never do it, instead usually running plays with very little chance of success. Why? Again, probably perception.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:17pm

I think the odds of getting a first down with 3 runs are significantly higher than the odds of fumbling, so I think coaches are making the right call with trying running plays.

With the Saint's first drive, they also made life a little bit easier for the kicker by gaining a few yards.

by Byrk (not verified) :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 12:43am

I think that runs burn a little bit more time off of the clock as well. If you run up the middle into a pile of guys it takes more time to get the pile of players off of the ground and the ball re-spotted than it would take kneeling.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 3:18pm

I finally got to watch both the ravens and packers after not having seen either since week 1. The Ravens pretty much looked exactly as they were portrayed, pretty strong defense overall(daryl smith is a really good zone defender) and brutal offense due to a horrendous receiving core that gets no separation and a really poor offensive line that sucks at both pass and run blocking(to think, this was a top 5 unit less than 10 months ago).

Something almost no one is mentioning, but the packers o line was absolutely terrible also this game. A friend of mine and I had different thoughts about the packers o line so we independently charted the amount of times they gave up pass pressure(and we were limiting it to plays where Rodgers' DIDNT hold the ball forever). The numbers were ghastly and probably the worst part was it came from all directions. This affected the offense just as much as the lack of receivers as rodgers' accuracy tumbled because of it. Maybe its just one game against a stout d line, but has the o line been this bad all year?

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:49pm

I don't know if the Ravens WR corps is all that bad. Torrey Smith didn't have a good game, but has turned into a decent #1 option. Marlon Brown has tons of potential, but as a UDFA is obviously inconsistent. I'd like to see more Deonte Thompson. But Doss has also played OK out of the slot. Jacoby Jones has caught everything that's come his way so far, but he's been injured for awhile.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:13pm

"Something almost no one is mentioning, but the packers o line was absolutely terrible also this game."

I think it's because it's taken for granted now, and with all the injuries they've had it's not surprising either.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 9:46am

Spam trap ate my post so I'll try a quick summary.

Hard to tell on the Packers offensive line. They've looked better running the ball but pass protection has been weaker but could be due to all the changes such as new tackles and Sitton switching from the left to right. Overall, it's hard to judge since they've faced some very good defensive fronts thus far.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 1:35pm

Bob McGinn disagrees pretty strongly with you on GB's O-line, as he rated them quite highly this week (he's a Packers reporter who rates each GB unit after rewatching each snap of the game).

His basic conclusions were that Dumervil's pass rush overmatched Barclay, but that was about it in terms of pass protection. The run blocking was certainly above average. Rodgers absolutely is a contributor to those sacks, and I disagree that he was under repeated quick pressure. Overall, I agree much more with McGinn's assessment than yours.

Overall, GB's line has been similar in pass protection and much better in run blocking compared to last year, really starting with Jeff Saturday's benching near the end of last season.

link to McGinn's article for the curious:

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 3:57pm

Pff in their refocused said the o line was poor at pass blocking as well. I should have just said it been more explicit when I said it was poor pass blocking. Rodgers held the ball a few times, but for example, that sack fumble was the result of his tackle getting beat almost instantly(and that on bhaktiari.)

by DA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:00pm

As expected, the AFC vs NFC gap continues to get closer. With the Best AFC teams (DEN/KC/plus somewhat INDY?) beginning the year with many of their games vs the NFC the results were skewed. Now, most of their games are done and the NFC gets to play against many of the weaker AFC teams

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:26pm

it seems more of a divisional strength thing. The NFC North and NFC West are 11-4 vs the AFC North and South; the AFC East and West are 16-2 against the NFC East and South.

by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:02pm

Anyone have an idea or answer as to why Seattle's defensive DVOA is so awful vs no 1 and no 2 wr's???

by Hector Rex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:26pm

I'm guessing the answer is Andre Johnson and TY Hilton.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:53pm

TY Hilton is officially #3. At least if you are Colts management. But I assume your guess is right. I think it also has to do with INTs--a couple weeks ago someone here was discussing this issue and 5 of Seattle's 7 INTs (to that point) came vs TEs, so their rating vs TEs was stellar, and less so vs WRs. Don't know if that is correct, but it makes some sense if that's how things are weighted in the calcs.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:50pm

Possible explanation (would need more stats to confirm or disprove): Teams are generally avoiding throwing to their #1 and #2s when playing Seattle, and only do throw to them when they're wide open.

by EricL :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:18pm

The Tennessee game would tend to reinforce this notion. I believe (and I haven't seen anything official to back this up) that Sherman was thrown at twice. One was a 4-yard gain, and the other was a pick.

Browner, on the other hand, was having a rough go of things and got benched. So, I expect yesterday's game to be good vs. #1 and bad vs. #2.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 6:05pm

I actually missed most of the game against Houston, but have talked to others who said Andre Johnson beat up Sherman pretty good.

Cecil Shorts also put up great numbers against them, but his biggest play came in blown coverage, and the majority of his yardage came after Seattle was protecting a big lead in the second half.

by arias :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:47pm

Last 3 weeks. Like someone said, Browner got his number called repeatedly in the 2nd quarter against Kendall Wright and got benched for Thurmond until the 3rd quarter. BB sometimes has problems with shorter receivers but he played much better in the 2nd half. The entire secondary was spanked against Indy as Sherm had his worst game of the season. Andre Johnson appeared to have no problems getting open for Schaub even though only caught 3 of 4 attempted for 44 yards against Sherm and racked up the rest elsewhere. That's more a testament to AJ's skills though. The other Houston receivers, not so much.

by Blotzphoto :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 5:16pm

I recommend a trip to Paul brown Stadium. The ballpark village is set up for the Reds better than the Bengals, but there isn't a bad seat in the house and the tailgating lot is a sight to see.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:11pm

Re: the final tweet about the possibility of expanding the postseason. I'm not in favor of expansion, but the reason one of the mediocre teams in the NFC East will make the playoffs has nothing to do with too many teams making the playoffs, it's the arbitrary dividing of the teams into divisions and decreeing that the division winner always makes the playoffs.

If the goal was to make sure that the best X teams make the playoffs, then it would be better to just take the X teams with the best records regardless of division.

As it stands now, the current setup almost suggests that expansion should happen. It seems easy to predict that the 2 wild-card teams in the NFC will be better teams than the winner of the NFC East; it's not inconceivable that the 3rd or even 4th-best non-division winner could be better as well. So why should the Cowboys/Eagles/Redskins get in automatically?

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:40pm

I don't mind the automatic playoff berth for division winners. I do think they should change the rule over which teams host the playoff games. The team with the best record should get the home game though. It would mean no more 8-8 or 7-9 teams hosting playoff games with the visitors having won 11 or more games.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 7:41pm

If the goal was to make sure that the best X teams make the playoffs, then it would be better to just take the X teams with the best records regardless of division.

I disagree. There's simply too much scheduling disparity in the NFL system.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:29pm

But think about it. If a division winner has a worse record than a 7th-place team, that means they played at least 6 games against even worse competition than themselves, while the 7th-place team has at most 4, and at least 2 games against better competition than themselves. I'm pretty sure that almost all such division winners will rate worse than the 7th-place team in DVOA, the most recent examples being 9-7 Tennessee (6.6% in DVOA, 13th) against 8-8 Denver (-11.8%, 24th) and 10-6 NYG (13.0%, 9th) (or 10-6 Tampa, 3.7%, 12th) against 7-9 Seattle (-22.9%, 30th).

But yes, I'm definitely in favor of letting division winners in but with no guarantee of homefield advantage. Otherwise there's no point to having divisions anymore.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/14/2013 - 8:33pm

I don't think the goal is to get the best X teams in the playoffs. It's more esoteric thing. If one were cynical, he would say it's about keeping the most teams' playoff hopes alive as long as possible so as to increase revenue for those teams. If one were less cynical, he might say it's about entertaining the most fans possible.

by BigDerf :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 2:47am

Just posting to say i didn't read any of audibles this week, once i got to the editors note, i simply stopped and jumped down here to comment. Don't complain about us complaining about the format. Fix it, or shut up about us complaining, but don't bitch about our opinion of the format. I'm done with audibles in full for the year, I'll check back next year to see if you've fixed it, but you bitching about us bitching about it isn't helping any Aaron.

by nat :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 8:03am

Yes, the editor's note was lame.

It's not as if people were complaining about a new logo or font. They're lobbying for abandoning a failed experiment. Aaron is clearly aware that this is an inferior product. He just thought he could slip it by and save some effort. If we want it improved, we can either boycott the feature, as you are doing, or keep voicing objections in a public forum.

Aaron, you are not the victim of unfair criticism here. Instead of telling your most loyal followers to shut up, why not listen to them instead?

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 9:39am

You're absolutely right. You should demand a full refund immediately.

by Anonymoises Alou (not verified) :: Wed, 10/16/2013 - 6:39pm

This bit of snarky witticism might be a little more effective if FO didn't run ads. We don't have to buy the FOA or subscribe to the site to generate revenue for them. If Aaron had said people who don't like the new Audibles shot stop visiting the site, that would be fine. Instead he's basically saying, "We don't care if you like the product or not. Please just shut up and keep coming here and generating ad revenue for us regardless."

by dbostedo :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 10:02am

I would just add that "listen to them" doesn't really mean acquiesce to their demands.

I believe FO has addressed the complaints, changed things a bit, and that's as far as they are willing to go. Sure, enough complaints in the forum may eventually change FO's mind, but it ruins the forum discussion; Especially if it's not suggestions but just "this is bad, put it back the way it was".

Calling the format a "failed experiment" does a disservice to the amount of thought and effort that likely went into, and goes into, providing this feature each week.

by nat :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:05am

No one said acquiesce to demands.

Actually, I also don't say they must put it back the way it was. But "the way it was" is proof by existence that it is possible to do Audibles with good content. So it's reasonable to call my position "make it as good as it was". Why shouldn't we ask him to do that? Especially since doing it the way it was requires zero extra work over what he did last year.

I'm giving Aaron the benefit of the doubt when I called this a "failed experiment" as I am crediting him with thinking this would improve the content. If his intent was to pass off lower quality content to cash in on his site's accumulated good will, I wouldn't think much of that. Would you?

At some level, it doesn't really matter how much thought went into this change. If the result was to lower the quality, it's a failure. Lamenting the lost effort is the "Sunk Cost" fallacy.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:35am

What if the response is that they choose to lower the quality of audibles in order to improve the quality of the site in another area? I think that would be reasonable, if not ideal.

by nat :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 12:04pm

I agree. It would be good if Aaron would acknowledge that this was his intent, if so. He has hinted, but only after five weeks of low-grade content. And it would help if he told us what new, better content he's put up instead.

Besides the tweets, I mean. They just suck.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:47am

If we want it improved, we can either boycott the feature, as you are doing, or keep voicing objections in a public forum.

Or you could use the Contact FO link to submit directly to Aaron or Rivers why you think the feature is inferior, and what you'd like to see changed or reverted.

Aaron has made two points on this:
1. Complaints in the discussion threads clog up those threads with what frequently becomes a "voice your gripes about FO" conversation, which can impair the football discussion and spoil people's enjoyment of the thread at large.
2. Complaints in the discussion threads are less likely to be seen by FO Staff, and therefore less likely to be answered or effect the change you seek.

It doesn't have to be Aaron you contact -- Rivers is the editor of Audibles -- but you're more likely to get a response and to get something changed by contacting the Outsiders directly than by complaining in a discussion thread or by boycotting.

by nat :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 1:02pm

Contact FO is a great channel for private suggestions, immediate issues like broken links, or for longer stuff that wouldn't work well in a comment thread. It's also a good way to suggest future articles or mailbag responses, keeping it under wraps until the article appears.

It's less good for (a) gathering consensus about specific content (b) generating ideas about how Aaron and others could make their site more awesome.

I'd much rather talk about football or stats. Or at least about improving the content of this series. Talking about the proper way to talk about improving the content of this series is a bit meta for my tastes.

So, Big, what do you like best about the new format? Or, if you prefer, which tweets do you think gave us the best hooks for interesting discussion this week? Or just quote a great tweet and use it to start a thread.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 1:30pm

Personally, I think the new format has gotten better as the staff adjusted to it. I'm not sure if I prefer it to the old format. I do still find it enjoyable. But as one of the readers not much bothered by the new vs old, I have to say you're not growing a consensus as much as a group of like-minded individuals who agree they don't like the new format.

I don't know how much work went into this year's Audibles vs previous years'. I'm guessing the new format is easier for the FO staff. This is the only football site of which I'm aware that collates real-time commentary from several NFL games. Considering it really doesn't support their mission of creating new and improved football statistics to improve analysis of the game, that Audibles is even on this site is really a bonus.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 3:02pm

So, Big, what do you like best about the new format?

I like the real-time, interactive aspect of it. I think the e-mail conversation made for a better article, but the Twitter feed makes for a better Sunday evening. That's probably difficult to balance, as I'm not convinced how many people you'd sell on using the hashtag if there wasn't the chance of seeing their comments (and Twitter handle, hello extra followers) here on Monday morning.

I don't read the tweets in the finished article, because I saw them as they happened. (I would read them, however, if I hadn't already seen the live feed.) I'm interested in the longform portions, but they aren't as enjoyable as the staff e-mails were. I can see why people who can't or don't participate on Sundays would be disappointed. I'd say my Sunday has been enhanced by the change, and my Monday probably hasn't -- but I still spend a lot of Monday reading Audibles for the comment thread so it hasn't been diminished much either.

All of which is a long-winded and wishy-washy way of saying, "I like best that it gives me more people with whom to chat relatively intelligently about the games on Sundays."

by nat :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 9:20pm

Interesting. I can see how that could work for you.

The trick is going to be figuring out how to tweet in a way that generates content that doesn't go stale by Monday morning. Because as fresh as it seems on Sunday to you, it's dead fish heads the next day for people who don't follow during the games..

If they stick with it, they will need to do something different and difficult. Maybe they need to imagine a specific person to tweet at, so the tweets naturally become conversation. But whatever they do, it'll require a fair amount of attention.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 10:54pm

The trick is going to be figuring out how to tweet in a way that generates content that doesn't go stale by Monday morning. Because as fresh as it seems on Sunday to you, it's dead fish heads the next day for people who don't follow during the games.

I agree, and that's been my perspective throughout: that as the season goes on, the Outsiders in particular (and the compilers/editors) will get more familiar and comfortable with what does and doesn't work in the Tweet-to-article format. Matt Waldman's description of Aaron Dobson's hand technique in the Patriots-Saints section took three tweets to cover, but I think he did a good job of explaining the drop quite thoroughly -- and in a way that's still useful today, but wasn't obtrusive in the Twitter feed. I've seen Aaron describe action across several tweets too (Week 4, Patriots-Falcons, rant about the William Moore penalty), and there's a similar example of that from Cian (Steelers player evaluation concerns). More of that could help with the later readability.

Maybe they need to imagine a specific person to tweet at, so the tweets naturally become conversation.

The conversational exchanges are, I think, what I miss most from the old format. I'm a bit disappointed how little Twitter really lends itself to conversation. It's hard for two people to have a real conversation in 140 character soundbites.

Are there other, subtler changes you think would help to make the reading itself more enjoyable? Cleaning up some of the alphabet soup in the editing phase? (So for example, replacing OAK with Oakland, OL with offensive line, and so on.) Formatting the conversational sections so that the @whoever is removed? Or is the frustration for you solely the perceived staleness and shallowness of the content, regardless of its presentation?

by nat :: Wed, 10/16/2013 - 11:23am

Mostly it's the shallowness, as enforced by the tweet format.

The long-form stuff isn't as bad, but it's not in-the-moment. So we're supposed to forgive that it is dashed off quickly, while not getting the benefits of spontaneity. That's a hard sell.

I think, in the end, that warping the tweet format to give non-tweet-like content may take more energy out of these guys than writing and editing emails ever did.

I also think that some people (as at the start of this thread) are going to decide that they might as well wait for Tuesday to read FO.

Well, to Aaron and company I'd say this: if you insist on using tweets for this, work very, very hard to make the thoughts compelling enough to span multiple tweets by multiple Outsiders.

Because a series of context-free one-liners, even if some are clever, makes terrible reading.

by David :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 3:08pm

Football Outsiders - come for the innovative statistics, stay for the passive aggressive editorial snark

by Anonymooooose (not verified) :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 5:21pm

Money comment. I honestly have no problem with the new format, but if you wanna keep people from complaining, go back to Soviet Russia.

by Anonymoises Alou (not verified) :: Wed, 10/16/2013 - 6:34pm

I'm not going to stop reading, because there's still some interesting stuff in there and I'm not looking to 'punish' FO by reducing their ad revenue or whatever, but I agree. If you change up one of your products and the reader response is poor, maybe - just maybe - that's a problem with your product and not the readers?

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 11:19am

This was the second game in a row that the 49ers won largely because of a massive number of turnovers. That's not a foundation you want to build your house on.

On the other hand, I get they idea they could become a much better team if Kapaernick could manage to recover some or all of that completion percentage he's lost since last year. Like, 10% less than a year ago? Sheesh.

One thing I've noticed is that he throws such a hard, flat ball that everyone is sticking their hands in the air the moment he winds up. He's had a lot of deflections this year.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 1:17pm

It could also be that Kaepernick misses Crabtree. They had developed a great rapport by the end of last year.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 2:39pm

Kap's slightly elongated release doesn't help avoid batted passes either.

After you criticised him last week I went back and looked at his performance (I didn't post it because it wasn't until later in the week) and I counted one clear miss where he lead Davis down the sideline and it looked like VD couldn't use his usual burst to catch up to the ball in the air. He had a few drops on high velocity passes into tight windows but other than that his main issue seems to be the one you have identified, batted passes, at least three last week and a few more this week. I still think that he looks very different when Davis is on the field which stops defenses from just doubling Boldin. I think we really need more receivers, unless they know Manningham and Crabtree will be good to go. I'd love a move for Gordon but it looks like they just want to try to make it through till the NFI pair come back.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 3:45pm

Every week Kap's numbers aren't so good, Crabtree looks better and better. Kind of scares me what he's going to ask for when his contract comes up. And if we don't pay him, we're going to...count on Baalke to find a WR in the draft? Ha. Overpay some other guy in free agency? Sounds more likely.

I'm so used to superstar QBs who can seemingly work with almost any receivers that it's shocking (to me) Kap loses 10% completion percentage with the backups in the game.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 4:00pm

I'd say Bradys drop from otherworldly to above average is pretty indicative of what losing receivers will do to you.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 4:22pm

He's still only started 16 games, were those qbs so effective at this stage. The only one of the 'Gang of Four' that hasn't seen a bit of regression is Andrew Luck and it probably isn't a coincidence that the others have had to deal with injuries to themselves or their supporting cast and he hasn't.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Wed, 10/16/2013 - 9:40am

The 16 games started is the key point. Many quarterbacks have had "good" starts to their careers but it's the ones that can adjust to the adjustments defenses make that prove to be the great ones and right now Kaep is at that point where teams have enough film on him to figure out what he likes to do in certain situations and take that away from him.

The two games I saw him play it really looked like he was trying to be a pocket passer which to me does not play into his strengths. I really wonder if the RG3 injury last year spooked the SF coaches into making him change his playstyle (thus reducing his effectiveness.)

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 10/16/2013 - 12:20pm

He looked pretty good as a pocket passer last year against some good defenses. When he shredded Chicago from the pocket, they were the #1 defense. He looked good in the pocket against Green Bay to start the year. I don't think that's the problem.

If he manages to figure things out, SF will look a lot better than the 10th best team. If he doesn't, they'll stay in that range.

by liquidmuse3 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/16/2013 - 3:27am

!?! Did you just ask why the Bucs gave up on Kevin Ogletree?!? Because literally...LITERALLY...he couldn't catch the ball. It grew comical/sad, to the point where Bucs fans were asking Mr. Schiano---"Hey, bub...if Josh Freeman gets benched for 'performance'...why the hell is Ogletree still out there?". Ogletree was strictly a John Garrett move. Somehow Jerry Jones is f*cking up other teams.

by ?????? ??? (not verified) :: Sun, 01/05/2014 - 8:18pm