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05 Oct 2015

Audibles at the Line: Week 4

compiled by Andrew Potter

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

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors 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.

New York Jets 27 "at" Miami Dolphins 14 (London)

Tom Gower: Time to introduce London to the wonders of a Ryan Tannehill-Ryan Fitzpatrick matchup!

Andrew Potter: Three drives for Miami so far, and continuing Cian's theme from last week they've tried (and failed) to pass on each of their four first-down plays. The most recent of those was a Tannehill strip-sack, fortunately recovered by Lamar Miller. Their one successful play was a 13-yard Miller run on their opening drive, but they tried the same on their next two second-down plays and were stuffed both times. Add in three short throws on their three third downs -- two failed completions and one incomplete pass -- and it has been a brutal offensive display so far.

The last play of the first quarter is finally a first-down rushing attempt for Miami ... and they gain 1 yard. Which is, at least, 1 more yard than an incomplete pass. Of course, they then open the second quarter by losing 10 yards on a sack, then throwing short on a long third down, and it's time for Matt Darr to punt for the fourth drive in a row.

Halftime now. Miami was finally able to put together a drive in the second quarter, which started with a 14-yard Jarvis Landry run (longer than any Dolphins pass play so far), then was aided by 58 yards in a pair of pass interference penalties (more than the total yards passing for Miami to that point). Tannehill's only completions on the drive were both 8-yarders to Jake Stoneburner, the second with the tight end wide open in the corner of the end zone. Since then, the Dolphins have gained 9 yards on six plays: one run, four incomplete passes, and a 9-yard pass to Greg Jennings on third-and-10.

Meanwhile, the Jets have done quite well on the ground (110 yards in 19 runs, three of those by Fitzpatrick) and hit on 11-of-19 passes to lead 20-7. Brandon Marshall is over 100 yards receiving, including a 58-yarder on New York's first play of the game, and Eric Decker has a 10-yard touchdown as one of four catches for 46 yards. Jets look solidly the better team, and abundantly the better-coached team.

Cian Fahey: Ndamukong Suh is going to get labelled as an Albert Haynesworth type free agent addition but he has been pretty good today. The rest of the Dolphins defense has been atrocious though. Fitzpatrick has thrown a bunch of passes that should have been picked off and the first drive in the third quarter was basically the same running play over and over again that they couldn't stop.

Aaron Schatz: Is Suh the guy who convinced the coaches that it was illegal to let Lamar Miller touch the ball?

Andrew Potter: Five minutes to go. Here's a complete list of Miami's third-down plays so far:

3-15-MIA 27 (13:06) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to J.Landry to MIA 29 for 2 yards (B.Skrine).
3-11-MIA 9 (9:52) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to L.Miller pushed ob at MIA 19 for 10 yards (C.Pryor).
3-7-MIA 29 (3:03) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short left to L.Miller [D.Davis].
3-19-MIA 31 (14:21) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to J.Cameron to MIA 39 for 8 yards (C.Pryor).
3-10-MIA 24 (3:55) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short left to G.Jennings to MIA 33 for 9 yards (A.Cromartie) [L.Williams].
3-10-MIA 30 (:20) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short right to K.Stills (M.Wilkerson).
3-4-NYJ 47 (8:11) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short right to G.Jennings to NYJ 45 for 2 yards (B.Skrine).
3-10-NYJ 41 (3:34) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short right to J.Cameron.
3-17-50 (:59) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short right to J.Landry [D.Davis].
3-4-NYJ 4 (6:22) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass incomplete short left to J.Landry [L.Williams]
3-11-NYJ 11 (5:39) (Shotgun) R.Tannehill pass short right to J.Landry to NYJ 9 for 2 yards (D.Bailey).

0-for-11. Average 10 yards and 2 feet to go. Every single one a short pass. Average gain of 3 yards.

Jacksonville Jaguars 13 at Indianapolis Colts 16

Tom Gower: Early on, it looks like the Colts game-planned for Matt Hasselbeck to start. A lot of spread formations, a lot of short passes. Basically, let Hasselbeck read the field and concentrate on getting the ball out quickly rather asking him to take intermediate and deep shots with little mobility and some questions on the offensive line. The Colts should probably be doing this most weeks, really. It has produced a field goal in a couple of possessions early, but I think it's the right way to play.

Jacksonville... got a couple big pass plays to get their first field goal, and they're driving right now after backup Colts running back Josh Robinson fumbled yet again (their quest to spell Frank Gore really needs another option or two). Blake Bortles' good plays mostly seem to come after he has broken the pocket, and he just found Allen Hurns again for a score to put them up 10-3 after scrambling. Inside the pocket, he seems more hit-and-miss.

Colts drove the field, aided by five Jaguars penalties, before Hasselbeck found Coby Fleener for the score. Frank Gore is at something like nine carries for 6 yards, and the run game has been about that ugly. Bad blocking, Jaguars filling the box because you don't have to play two safeties deep against a noodle arm, and Gore has little juice in his legs. Colts came out trying to create space by throwing laterally, but Gore wasn't catching the ball cleanly, or at all, and that lack of juice meant he didn't do anything after the catch.

Up 13-10 at the half, Blake Bortles' line probably looks pretty impressive. He is executing from the pocket (he had a stretch of nine consecutive completions), but all of that has been short, short, short. Seven of the nine went for less than 10 yards, and it only came up to 88 yards in total. Even Vontae Davis has gotten into the "giving up catches" game, getting beat on deep cross on one of those outside-the-pocket plays earlier and ceding a short completion on a third-down conversion. Why you play 9 yards off and don't come up aggressively on third-and-3 is a whole separate question, one perhaps better directed at Greg Manusky.

But on the whole, a close game at halftime is probably what you should have expected between these teams. Indianapolis is playing with their backup quarterback and the whole roster isn't that good. Jacksonville isn't good yet, but isn't dreadful.

Andrew Healy: If the Colts didn't have high preseason expectations, we would think they're a 2-2 team headed for 6-10. They win only after Jason Myers misses three field goal attempts that would have won it, the first after Chuck Pagano counterproductively ices him at the end of regulation.

And I wondered after Myers missed the first kick at the end of regulation like he was Mike Vanderjagt at the end of the 2005 divisional game against the Steelers: Myers was 5-for-10 as a college senior at Marist, including 3-for-6 from 30-to-39 yards. For his career, he was 3-for-9 from 40-to-49 yards. Now, he had a 58-yarder earlier this year, but man are those alarming college stats for a rookie kicker. It's possible these misses were predictable.

Tom Gower: Free football in the AFC South was not really on anybody's list of requested hits today, but that's what we got anyway. We found out in the second half why Blake Bortles threw short passes when he was in the pocket. When he tried throwing something other than short passes (say, more than 10 or 12 yards downfield), they weren't completed and weren't necessarily that close to being completed. Jacksonville was shut out in the second half, thanks in part to a pair of missed field goals at the end of regulation and in overtime. The drive at the end of the second half was probably the best. Indianapolis had their first shot at a two-minute warning, and the Jaguars had just a minute to get to field goal range. A 53-yarder is no gimme, of course, and even after Chuck Pagano iced the first miss Jason Myers couldn't put it home. T.J. Yeldon looked pretty good.

Frank Gore had his moments in the second half after I buried him at halftime, though he offset much of that good with a fumble inside the 5. He'll probably get some good words for his overtime run to set up Vinatieri's game-winner. The key on the play was Anthony Castonzo blocking two linebackers, but what made that happen was the middle linebacker was backup Thurston Armbrister, and he didn't recognize as quickly as Paul Posluszny would have. Telvin Smith got caught in the trash, and a 5- or 7-yard gain became 23 or whatever. That the Jaguars were also down starting free safety James Sample and cornerback Aaron Colvin late probably didn't help much, nor did all those penalties throughout the game.

Andrew Potter: The interminable sequence of failure throughout the end of the fourth quarter and overtime has left me with a (very real) stress headache, so rather than attempt to recount just how messed up it was I'll just note that maybe, just maybe, if your kicker is terrible and has already missed a potential game-winner twice, settling for a 48-yard field goal in overtime by calling a run up the gut on third-and-long is a terrible idea. Sure, maybe (probably) you'll fail with the pass play, but at least *try*.

Oh, and just in case there was still any doubt, icing the kicker is also a terrible idea.

Watching Jets-Dolphins followed by Colts-Jaguars has left me with a burning desire to see 75 percent of NFL coaching staffs replaced. And the aforementioned stress headache.

New York Giants 24 at Buffalo Bills 10

Aaron Schatz: Defensive battle early in Buffalo behind the Giants and Bills. Stephon Gillmore with particularly strong, close coverage on Odell Beckham, and the Bills' run defense is excellent. Karlos Williams has broken some tackles but the Bills passing game isn't doing much so far. Both teams have been consistently backed up to start drives until the Giants just got a great interception with Devon Kennard stealing the ball away from Charles Clay on the sideline. Giants then score a touchdown in just two plays, two passes to Dwayne Harris for a combined 32 yards. Second one has Harris wide open in the middle of a zone coverage -- I think Cover-3, at first glance, and I think Baccari Rambo was supposed to have that deep zone over the middle. Rex Ryan can do all kinds of fun things with schemes and he can coach 'em up, but at a certain point you aren't going to make Baccari Rambo a good pass coverage player no matter how you scheme.

Sterling Xie: Giants front seven has exceeded expectations all year and they've controlled this game so far, harassing Tyrod Taylor and containing Karlos Williams on early downs. Kerry Wynn has especially stood out on the strong side and Devon Kennard, who has a pick earlier, also did a nice job of batting down Taylor's most recent third down pass.

Aaron Schatz: This is all about the Giants' front seven. They are mauling the Bills' offensive line today. Karlos Williams is running well, too, but he's breaking tackles and pushing guys forward behind the line of scrimmage on almost every carry. The Giants just took him down for a loss when Trumaine McBride and Kerry Wynn came at him pretty much untouched. That's not supposed to happen because Kerry Wynn is a defensive end. You know, those guys should generally be blocked.

Andrew Healy: And Odell Beckham did it again. He actually had to turn his body a little more this time. He was out of bounds, but he now has both the best catch ever and maybe the best non-catch ever.

Aaron Schatz: Of course, the sad thing about saying "the best catch ever" is that we really only mean "the best catch ever in a game that we can find on video." I would bet there are some pretty amazing catches in the years of NFL games that don't exist on film or tape of any kind. A lot of those years were when the game was super run-heavy, but not all of them.

But our memories really only go back to the last couple decades. And out of all the receivers in all the games over those last couple decades, hard to think of one who made more memorable catches than ODB in just one calendar year. The dude has absurd talents.

Bills come back to make the game 16-10, but then the Giants score a touchdown to make it 22-10 on a little dumpoff pass to Rashad Jennings on the left sideline. Nigel Bradham totally blows a tackle that would have limited it to just a 3-yard gain, and Jennings goes racing down the sidelines, outraces Preston Brown, stiff-arms Baccari Rambo, and it's a 51-yard touchdown.

ODB tripped over Rambo after Rambo was laying on the field post-missed tackle, and he went flying and was sprawled on the ground. But it looks like he's OK. Rambo is walking back to the locker room and may not be.

Vince Verhei: The great Paul Zimmerman once wrote a terrific piece about a near-mythical catch made by Don Hutson, a one-handed, palm-down catch. He heard people talking about it but figured they might be exaggerating, and he spent years tracking down old game films (literally in this case, reel-to-reel films) and watching them one play at a time, searching for the great play, and then he finally found it.

Andrew Healy: Bizarre play-calling for the Giants. Again. Up 14 with under four minutes left inside the Bills' 20-yard line, they throw a fade that stops the clock on second down. And then Eli Manning gets picked on the goal line on third down. I'm generally all in favor of continuing to throw, but they are taking something easy and making it difficult. Kick a field goal if needed after running clock. This self-inflicted stuff seems to happen almost every week for the Giants.

Aaron Schatz: Penalties are out of control for the Bills. Their 17th penalty of the day is a chop block called on Richie Incognito for going low on Damontre Moore while the left tackle was already blocking him. On replay, I'm not even sure that Incognito was that low but I'll admit to not being an expert on the chop block rule. It negates a touchdown pass to Charles Clay that would have made the score 24-17 and given the Bills a shot at an onside kick and comeback to tie. Seventeen penalties, and that's the official listed total on NFL.com so I don't think that even includes declined and offsetting penalties.

Carolina Panthers 37 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23

Sterling Xie: Buccaneers have probably outplayed the Panthers today, especially since the first couple Tampa Bay drives ended in turnovers. Tampa has outpossessed Carolina by about 9 minutes and held them under 4 yards per play. But two more missed field goals from Loser League MVP Kyle Brindza kept them down 17-10, and then a Jonathan Stewart fumble just popped up into Ed Dickson's hands, who took it about 50 yards to the house. Panthers somehow up 24-10 now.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Washington Redskins 23

Andrew Healy: Nelson Agholor gets the unnecessary one-handed catch and credit from the announcers for a great one. No idea why he didn't just put two hands on that deep post.

Cian Fahey: For whatever reason, Chip Kelly has become infatuated with east-west plays. After Sam Bradford hits Agholor for a huge play downfield, Kelly calls an end-around where Agholor fumbles. 2013 Kelly runs the ball down their throat or looks to push it downfield again.

Andrew Healy: That fumble is punishment for the unnecessary one-hander.

In the three games DeMarco Murray has played the Eagles have three points altogether in the first half. They were shut out by the Cowboys in Week 2 and they're shut out here by Washington after Caleb Sturgis misses a field goal late in the second quarter. They only even got the attempt after a 45-yard Darren Sproles punt return. Maybe the Curse of 370 applies to the entire offense this time.

Smaller point, the Eagles couldn't find anyone other than Caleb Sturgis? Maybe they could have found Bjorn Nittmo somewhere.

Aaron Schatz: Explain to me why you give DeMarco Murray all that money if he's only going to carry the ball three times in the first half.

Cian Fahey: Nothing in Philadelphia makes sense so far this year. When Murray does get the ball he's generally directed towards the sideline.

Vince Verhei: Miles Austin gets behind the Washington secondary and Sam Bradford hits him for a 39-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 20-16. Earlier Bradford hit Riley Cooper for a 62-yard score, and he also has a 45-yard completion to Nelson Agholor. Agholor is one thing, but when the likes of Riley Cooper and Miles Austin are getting open deep repeatedly, your defense has problems.

Oakland Raiders 20 at Chicago Bears 22

Andrew Healy: Amari Cooper is already so good. There are tougher corners to leave grasping for air than Tracy Porter, but I'm not sure anyone short of Darrelle Revis would have covered that gorgeous cut out of his slant. Then a touchdown to Roy Helu to make it 14-6 Raiders.

Scott Kacsmar: Every year there is a defense that just cannot seem to cover the tight end position. That is Oakland this season. No one even picked up Martellus Bennett in the end zone on a wide-open score.

Vince Verhei: Raiders kick a field goal to go up 17-16 early in the third. They're actually getting dominated statistically but taking advantage of good field position -- they're three scoring drives start at their own 49-yard line, the Bears' 25-yard line, and the Bears' 39-yard line following a good punt return and a pair of fumble recoveries. Derek Carr has both touchdown passes (maybe his red zone performance last year wasn't as fluky as we thought), and his only interception actually hit Latavius Murray in the chest and bounced into Pernell McPhee's hands.

Bears have been moving the ball up and down the field with Matt Forte running and Jay Cutler spreading the ball around, but have been undone by those fumbles and a blocked extra point.

With the ball at the Oakland 36-yard line, John Fox calls a draw on third-and-14. Forte gets stuffed for no gain, but even a 6- or 7-yard gain there is still settling for a long field goal. Fox gets bailed out when Robbie Gould hits a 54-yard field goal and Chicago goes ahead 19-17.

Turnovers continue to be the story of this game. Raiders follow the Bears' field goal with a lost fumble when Latavius Murray can't handle a simple pitch, and Chicago recovers. Then Jay Cutler has Martellus Bennett open on a deep corner route for what would likely have been a clinching touchdown, but with his feet unset he puts up a badly underthrown lob, and Charles Woodson intercepts it. Woodson is now 39 years old with two interceptions on the year -- the only other players to do so at that age were Darrell Green (who did it at 39 and 40) and Clay Matthews Sr.

Unbelievable. Bears are down 20-19, but they have the ball on a second-and-1 at the Oakland 34-yard line with 34 seconds to go and a timeout. So I'm thinking they've got plenty of time to run two, maybe three plays and kick a short field goal. Instead John Fox calls for a run and Matt Forte gains the first down. OK, so call your timeout and line up and spike it, right? Nah, Fox lets the clock run down and calls timeout with just enough time to try a 49-yard field goal. Gould bails him out again and Chicago wins 22-20, but my God, it's like the man has never seen a missed field goal in more than a decade of coaching.

Houston Texans 21 at Atlanta Falcons 48

Cian Fahey: Bill O'Brien never gets criticized but his team has consistently not shown up this year despite playing against teams with lesser talent.

Vince Verhei: Arian Foster getting the ball punched out by his own offensive lineman, leading to a Desmond Trufant scoop-and-score touchdown, is the most Texans thing ever.

J.J. Watt has at least one sack and two tipped passes in the first 20 minutes, but it feels like he makes a play or Atlanta gets a first down, and those are the only possibilities. Atlanta's offense is like Peyton Manning's Colts teams, where they score a lot, but on slow drives that limit the number of possessions, so their final point total will actually understate how good their offense is.

Texans miss a field goal late in the second quarter and trail 28-0 at halftime. Houston has decided they're just not going to tackle or cover Devonta Freeman -- he has 53 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving in the first half, with two rushing scores.

With the competitive portion of the game over, I think it's time to ask two big-picture questions:

1) Is J.J. Watt the best example of a great defender on a terrible defense? I know some of Deion Sanders' Atlanta defenses were pretty awful, but nothing else is springing to mind.

2) Do the Falcons have the NFL's best "triplets" with Matt Ryan/Devonta Freeman/Julio Jones? Ben Roethlisberger's injury takes Pittsburgh out of the equation. Cincinnati and New England don't qualify because they can't pick a running back. Only other option I can see is Aaron Rodger/Eddie Lacy/Randall Cobb in Green Bay.

Aaron Schatz: Freeman is not one of the best running backs in the league. I appreciate what he's done the last couple weeks, but that's significantly about the defenses he's faced. In the preseason, it seemed like he was going to gradually lose his job to Tevin Coleman over the course of the year, but now Coleman's on the sidelines with a rib injury. I don't remember ever reading anyone saying that Freeman even had the possibility of developing into one of the top five backs. Not to take away what he's done in these two games, he's been great, and it's not just because he has huge holes. But when Roethlisberger comes back, the Steelers easily have the league's best triplets. Otherwise, even though I prefer a downfield receiver like Julio Jones to a slot guy like Cobb, I would have to go with Green Bay.

Tom Gower Not watching this game today aside from the highlights I see on Red Zone, but Freeman is having success the same way Justin Forsett is, by being in the right scheme, where he's a good fit and you can utilize his strengths. Have people really been talking about him as one of the best backs in the league? Even one of the best fantasy backs is questionable because of Tevin Coleman's eventual return.

Vince Verhei: To reinforce Aaron's point about Atlanta's opposition, Falcons backup runner Terron Ward, an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State, is getting the first runs of his NFL career today. So far he has eight carries for 45 yards and a touchdown.

Kansas City Chiefs 21 at Cincinnati Bengals 36

Rob Weintraub: The Bengals go right down the field and score on Kansas City with a nice Jeremy Hill sighting. Key play a third-and-short, bad snap to Andy Dalton but he handles it and goes deep down the left side for A.J. Green to set up the score.

The second Bengals possession almost as sharp as the first. Offensive line dominant, another touchdown run, this time from Giovani Bernard. Big play a Dalton scramble and lob downfield to Rex Burkhead for 33 yards. 14-3 first-quarter.

Bengals have no answer for Jamaal Charles, especially as a receiver.

Halftime in Cincy: 14-12 Bengals. Difference in the game: a few red zone defensive plays by Cincinnati. But the Chiefs have moved the ball mostly at will and have yet to punt. Mike Nugent also missed a field goal while Santos is 4-4. "Last possession wins" kinda game.

Couple of other notes: the crazy "what is and what is not a catch?" rule continues to haunt the Bengals. Jeremy Maclin made a catch, then was blasted out of bounds and dropped the ball. Never went to the ground with possession. But of course that's a catch and what Tyler Eifert did last week was not.

Meanwhile the Chiefs almost Andy Reid'd themselves out of three points at the end of the half. They had fourth-and-inches and were totally about to spike the ball to stop the clock and turn it over on downs. But a measurement saved their bacon and Kansas City got a field goal out of it.

Kevin Zeitler holds on the first two plays of the drive but gets bailed out. Marvin Jones drops a bomb touchdown and commits a procedure penalty but gets bailed out. All because Brandon Tate made a spectacular catch on an Andy Dalton improv play and scores. His first catch all season. 21-12 Cincy.

Replay follies taking over the Bengals-Chiefs game at the end of the third quarter. First Travis Kelce fumbles stretching for a couple of meaningless extra yards on third-and-30. Sets up the Bengals for another Jeremy Hill touchdown. Cincy goes for two and Hill clearly extends the ball about 2 yards over the goal line. Somehow the side judge says he did not get in. But that is overturned and Cincy leads by two touchdowns.

Cairo Santos kicks his sixth, count them, sixth field goal of the game to make it 29-18. But then he kicks off out of bounds.

Cincy puts together a tremendous putaway drive off that kick out of bounds. Highlight the third-and-1 run fake and throw to Eifert all the way across the formation. That set up Jeremy Hill's third touchdown of the game. Back in the fantasy good graces is Mr. Hill.

Bengals win 36-21 ... and don't give up a touchdown. First 4-0 start since 2005. Tremendous pressure applied by Bengals front all day. Charles quick hitters countered for a while, but Chiefs couldn't make those happen in red zone. Meanwhile Tamba Hali/Justin Houston pretty much blanked by Cincy offensive line. Pacman injury and some sloppy penalties only negative.

Cleveland Browns 27 at San Diego Chargers 30

Rob Weintraub: Who needs Johnny Football? Josh McCown converts a third-and-long by avoiding a rusher, then flipping a pinpoint pass to Travis Benjamin while backpedaling.

Jeremiah Attaochu gets him moments later though for a key sack. Forces a field goal that makes it 20-19 Chargers. San Diego hanging in despite being down to two healthy corners.

San Diego also down to two moving bodies at wide receiver. Steve Johnson went out earlier. So in a crucial moment they go to one of them, Dontrelle Inman, who makes a huge catch-and-run to set up a touchdown pass to John Phillips. Bolts up 8 with about 7 minutes left.

Exciting finish out west. Gary Barnidge makes a spectacular juggling catch that was reviewed endlessly before standing (didn't agree myself) to set up Cleveland tying it up late.

Then Philip Rivers gets San Diego down the field, keyed by a blatant (uncalled) pick play and a big run by Danny Woodhead. It would never happen but the Browns safety was better off letting him score rather than trip him up. Pure instinct play. San Diego lets clock run down, then... Josh Lambo misses the short field goal!

But offsides Browns! Rekick is good, and the Chargers save the season with a gutty short-handed win. And the Browns are the Browns. McCown played well enough again, but their defense isn't getting the job done. They had some effective exotica from Mike Pettine like moving cow zone blitzes, but man on man they got repeatedly beat.

Green Bay Packers 17 at San Francisco 49ers 3

Aaron Schatz: I don't quite understand why Green Bay is using Ty Montgomery as a running back.

Vince Verhei: Colin Kaepernick is definitely playing better than he did last week, but not as well as his 7-of-10 for 78 yards would indicate. His biggest play was a 40-yard "completion" to Quinton Patton that was really a fly sweep -- the ball traveled maybe a foot of real distance in the air. Kaepernick also killed the 49ers' best chance for a touchdown when he took long sacks on both second-and-goal and third-and-goal to set up the San Francisco field goal.

Green Bay got a touchdown on their first drive, but then punted on three straight possessions, including back-to-back three-and-outs. That includes a decision to punt on fourth-and-2 on San Francisco's side of the field. They finally got aggressive on their last possession, with Eddie Lacy twice converting on fourth-and-1 (quite easily both times, in fact). Aaron Rodgers then went incomplete-incomplete-sack, and Mason Crosby missed a 44-yard field goal to end the half.

Colin Kaepernick's terrible 2015 continues, to the point where Joe Buck has called for a change to Blaine Gabbert. But the real story is that Green Bay just punted again, and still only has 17 points late in the fourth. It doesn't look like the 49ers are doing anything special, they're just getting good pressure by rushing four, and that's letting them keep enough guys in coverage to take away most big plays.

St. Louis Rams 24 at Arizona Cardinals 22

Vince Verhei: David Johnson is the early goat here. He fumbles the opening kickoff and the Rams recover. Nick Foles converts that with a third-down touchdown to Tavon Austin, who continues to have a breakout season. Cardinals then get a goal-to-go on my most hated NFL rule, the enormous DPI call (a 29-yard penalty on Janoris Jenkins covering Michael Floyd). On third down, Carson Palmer hits a wide-open Johnson for what should have been a tying touchdown, but Johnson drops the ball and Arizona kicks a field goal.

Cardinals gave up one sack in their first three games. Rams already have two sacks and the first quarter isn't even over yet.

Cardinals are moving the ball a lot with short passes to the perimeter, a fine strategy because it gets the ball out of Palmer's hands before he gets killed, and forces St. Louis' worst defenders, the cornerbacks, to make tackles. However, the Rams have taken away the deep pass, especially when Janoris Jenkins intercepted Palmer in the end zone on a pass thrown to John Brown from near midfield. Cardinals have been held to three field goals.

As for the Rams, they're ahead, but their offense is Tavon Austin and nothing else. He's got one carry for 8 yards and two catches for 59 yards; otherwise, the Rams have 31 yards on 18 other plays. Their running backs can't get anything on the ground -- Todd Gurley, Tre Mason, and Benny Cunningham have eight carries for a total of 1 yard. And most of their passing game has been jump balls to Jared Cook with little success. Rams are up 10-9 at halftime, but it feels like they've been badly outplayed.

Larry Fitzgerald has what appears to be a third-down conversion and a big gain, but then Rodney McLeod forces a fumble and the Rams recover.

Todd Gurley gets the ball four times in a row on the next drive, including two gains of 10-plus yards, after getting only four carries in the first half. That set up a third-and-5, and Foles hit Stedman Bailey on a corner route out of a bunch formation for a touchdown to put the Rams up 17-9. Hard to tell if he beat Tyrann Mathieu in man coverage, or if Jerraud Powers was supposed to have the deep zone.

Ridiculous luck for Rams at the end of the third quarter. On first down deep in their own territory Gurley fumbles and it appears that the Cardinals recover, but it's ruled Rams ball. There was a lot of pulling guys off the pile there and then a discussion, so Arizona coaches had plenty of time to consider a challenge, but they don't. Then on third down, Benny Cunningham fumbles and the Rams recover, but the refs had apparently called the play dead, and so Arizona is not allowed to challenge, and the Rams punt. That's one of those things that happens to everyone once in a while. But not twice in three plays.

Cards got a field goal after the Fumbles That Weren't to make it 17-15. Rams then score a touchdown on the next drive to take a 23-15 lead. Big play was a Gurley run for 52 yards, where he had a huge hole between center and left guard, then made the safety (Rashad Johnson, I think) look silly in the open field. Foles finishes the drive with a great touchdown pass to Austin. Cardinals brought a blitz on third down but kept a spy/robber in the middle. Foles had to hang in the pocket, pump fake the spy out of position, and then hit the pass to Austin, who had just a step on Powers on a crossing route.

If the Rams preserve this lead, they're going to win with turnovers (where they have, officially, a +3 margin) and red zone defense (no touchdowns allowed on four drives inside the 20-yard line).

Well that finish turned out more exciting than I thought it would be. David Johnson redeemed himself with a touchdown that left Arizona down 24-22, and the Rams then followed with a three-and-out. Cardinals drove to the edge of field-goal range, but Carson Palmer overthrew receivers on third-and-2 and fourth-and-2. Arizona still had all three timeouts though, so the game wasn't all they way over. Rams then gave Gurley the ball four times in a row, including runs of 20 and 30 yards. My favorite part wasn't the physicality, it was his intelligence. On all four runs, he was sure to go down in bounds as soon as defenders got close to him, and didn't risk a fumble or going out of bounds by fighting for yards that weren't needed. Impressive football smarts by a guy in his second NFL game.

Minnesota Vikings 20 at Denver Broncos 23

Cian Fahey: I can't remember the last time a quarterback played with such a bad cast of offensive linemen and wide receivers as Teddy Bridgewater enters today's game with.

Aaron Schatz: Pass rush has been most of the story in the first half. The Denver pass rush looks phenomenal, but the Minnesota pass rush is doing some good stuff too. It's not just bad offensive line play by the Broncos -- the Vikings have gotten some free rushers with good play design. Both teams are also getting strong run defense, except on one play. Adrian Peterson eight carries for 21 yards. C.J. Anderson five carries for 11 yards. But Ronnie Hillman got one carry and he got free wide and then just ran off down the sideline for a sweet 72-yard touchdown.

We've all been complaining about the rise of penalties this year and a play that slowed down a Denver drive with 7 minutes left in the second quarter really encapsulates the problem for me. The Broncos should have converted with a short pass to Emmanuel Sanders on third-and-4, but they got called for an illegal formation. The problem was Ryan Harris at left tackle was apparently slightly too far back behind the butt of the center, but it didn't look different from any other play to me. They've decided that they're going to let offensive lines set up in an arc with the tackles a little bit behind the interior line. They allow that in every game. If they're going to decide that's not legal, then decide it isn't legal and make offensive lines line up shoulder-to-shoulder and straight across on every play. Don't decide that the arc is fine but occasionally throw a flag because one of the tackles is too far back by an inch or two, that's ridiculous.

Rob Weintraub: Cincy got dinged for a similar "arc" call too. All the linemen and coaches were apparently yelling "make up your mind!" at the refs.

Tom Gower: Huge swing at the end of the first half. Given a second chance from 38 yards after missing from that distance earlier, Blair Walsh makes it 13-3. Broncos are driving into the two-minute situation, in long field goal range, but Peyton Manning seems to get something he isn't expecting and throws a ball right to Anthony Barr. Return to field goal range, then a pair of Mike Wallace receptions, one each against Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, and it's 13-10 at the half after it was 13-0 at the two minute warning.

Aaron Schatz: This game is still being dominated by the defenses. The Broncos are getting great play from their cornerbacks and their outside pass rushers, not just the starters but also the depth guys like Shane Ray. Vikings are getting huge games from Anthony Barr (picked off Manning) and Linval Joseph, who is really pushing around the Denver offensive line.

Sterling Xie: After it looked like the Broncos were on the verge of self-destructing, Peyton leads them on a much-needed clock-killing drive with 5 minutes left that ends in a Brandon McManus chip shot field goal to go ahead 23-20. The Vikings probably could have driven for the tie or even the win with 1:50 and 2 timeouts left, given how well Teddy Bridgewater played in the second half, but Von Miller abused rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings twice on the final drive, the final of which resulted in the game-ending strip sack. Miller in general was the MVP of this game, and as has been the story so often this season, Denver's defense (its front seven in particular on this afternoon) bailed out an offense dragged down by some shaky decision-making from Manning.

It wasn't hard to see the mismatch coming with the Denver defensive line vs. the Minnesota offensive line; the Broncos ended up with seven sacks and probably at least as many quarterback hits. The pro-Teddy contingent will point to this game as an exemplar of his poise and general toughness, but I was most impressed with the Vikings receiving corps. Down its No. 2 (Charles Johnson) and No. 3 (Jarius Wright), Mike Wallace and the bench crew somehow managed to consistently get open against Denver's secondary. If Bridgewater had played with even a remotely competent O-line, Minnesota probably breaks 30, and that's including Adrian Peterson's poor day (minus one long touchdown run on fourth-and-inches). Stefon Diggs at least warrants a longer look after what he did today. Hopefully Bridgewater can stay healthy long enough behind that O-line to keep the Vikings in the wild card race.

Dallas Cowboys 20 at New Orleans Saints 26

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys defense looks good on first and second down but they can't seem to get off the field on third-and-longs. First drive of the second quarter, they let Mark Ingram gain 14 yards on a catch on third-and-13, and a hold on Brandon Carr nullifies a pick on third-and-11. The drive before that, Willie Snead caught a 19-yard pass on third-and-11, then Benjamin Watson caught one for 7 yards on third-and-5.

And as soon as I type this, they finally do, with a sack of Drew Brees on third-and-6. So hey, they finally get off the field on third-and-long.

As for the Dallas offense, I know Brandon Weeden looks like Super Captain Checkdown, but I have to give him credit for always delivering the ball to the open guy. It certainly helps him that the Dallas offensive line is giving him tons of time to throw, and the Saints defense is not particularly good, but still -- he's moving the ball down the field in reasonable fashion.

Brees' shoulder has absolutely limited him tonight. He generally averages over 11 yards per completion. Tonight he's averaging 6.8 yards per completion. So the Saints have just 10 points even though Brees has completed 17-of-21 passes through the first 35 minutes.

Tom Gower: Leader of tonight's game: secondary penalties. New Orleans' plague has continued tonight, and this Saints drive down 13-10 in the middle of the third quarter has had a few of them.

Aaron Schatz: Hey, look, Christine Michael sighting! The Cowboys finally bring him in on a third-and-1 with 6:37 left in the game and he gets stuffed behind the line when Ronald Leary gets blown up and Barry Richardson spins off of Jason Witten's block attempt. Alas.

In case you wanted to know how bad the Saints' defense is, they just let Brandon Weeden march 91 yards up the field in 2:14 to tie the game at 20. Great diving catch by Terrance Williams to get the touchdown in the right corner of the end zone. I guess Sean Payton didn't think it was a catch, thinking it was not secure in Williams' arms as he hit the ground? Anyway, even though the refs had already reviewed the play, it looks like he wasted his final timeout just to bitch at the refs about the catch. Not like he would need that with the game tied and Brees getting the ball for a two-minute drill.

(Actually, he didn't need it. Brees got the Saints all the way up the field into field goal range without needing the timeout.)

Tom Gower: Hey, kickers. And C.J. Spiller renders the whole thing moot in overtime by going 80 yards, most of it after the catch. He also put Brees over 10 yards per completion. I wonder just how healthy he really is, and just how much of it is the new New Orleans offense.

Aaron Schatz: There are guys with speed on that offense. Brees completed some deeper passes in the first two weeks. I think the low yards per completion number today was all about the shoulder, not his offensive teammates.

Scott Kacsmar: Brees may have been limited by the shoulder tonight, but I wouldn't read too much into the one game. His injury happened in Week 2. In Week 1 against Arizona, Brees had 78 percent of his yards after the catch, which is an absurd rate. That's just how the Saints offense is at times and tonight he had 150 receiving yards from Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller alone.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 05 Oct 2015

276 comments, Last at 08 Oct 2015, 7:25am by bengt


by nuclearbdgr :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 10:48am

Packers OL (especially Barclay) didn't look nearly as good as the last couple of games - at least against the Seahawks and Chiefs, he was able to push the DE/OLB up the field, but versus the 49ers he gave up the inside at least once for a sack, and let the OLB get around him a couple of times for pressures/sacks. The interior lineman seemed to be racking up the penalties as well.

by Pat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:03am

Nothing in Philadelphia makes sense so far this year. When Murray does get the ball he's generally directed towards the sideline.

I mean, color me completely shocked - an offseason of moves that make absolutely no sense is followed by a season where the gameplanning makes absolutely no sense? Totally crazy, I tell you!

I don't get why people are surprised that Philly's offense is anemic. They got rid of 2 of their starting offensive linemen and replaced them with... a guy that couldn't make the team last year. Seriously. It doesn't matter what you think of Mathis and Herremans, or how they're doing with their new teams. If you thought your two starting linemen weren't good enough to come back, then you obviously need to pick up more talent. And they didn't.

I've got the same opinion on the WRs, too, obviously. You want to let go of your best WR, fine, but replacing him with just a rookie is insane.

by Coaldale Joe :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:16am

They didn't let go of their best WR, they were outbid for him. Had they ponied up the money for him, Chip probably would have been crucified for not understanding the salary cap. Heads his critics win, tails he loses.

Getting rid of Herremans doesn't bother me, I think they probably thought Barbre was better last year as well, but he was hurt. Mathis was tough to swallow. The only way the moves make sense is if you don't believe guard play is that important, that if your guards are surrounded by a good center and good tackles, you can get by at that spot for cheap. Either that or you're not really playing for this year, that you see this as a multiple year rebuild, although if that was the plan it kind of begs the question why sign Murray and Mathews ?

by Pat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:41am

They didn't let go of their best WR, they were outbid for him.

That was going to happen the instant they signed him to a 1-year deal and he outperformed it. I'm not being critical because they didn't outbid Kansas City. I'm being critical because they let Maclin get to free agency in 2015 at all.

Getting rid of Herremans doesn't bother me, I think they probably thought Barbre was better last year as well, but he was hurt. Mathis was tough to swallow.

You're forgetting something - even if you get rid of a starter and replace him with his backup, you need a new backup. And preferably a good one. If you can't find one (which... apparently they couldn't) you'd much rather keep Mathis/Herremans on the roster for another year, and let Barbre/Gardner take over the spot via competition. Then if there's injury, or just total suckitude, you can at least fall back.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:44am

Yeah, depth is the name of the game in the NFL - and inexcusable for coach who took so many risks on injured players to not heavily factor into the equation.

by Pat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:57am

Yup. Think about this.

The Eagles replaced 2 10+ year starters on the offensive line with two career backups. And added zero depth behind them. What the hell made them think they would get through the season okay?

I had them pegged for 4-6 wins before the season (as you know - I think we were both roughly in the same range) and I *hate* that they're becoming this predictable. I haven't enjoyed a single game this year because the problems are just so stupid obvious.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:18pm

No, I honestly thought they'd be ok in 2015 and make it to 10-6 or 11-5 and then crater in 2016 when they had to make hard choices about the QB, what to do about Jason Peters and a lot of the valuable role players (like Curry and Thornton) as well as some of the last of remaining Reid guys. That, plus a soft schedule. Of course, late in the off-season, they shipped out Boykin and signed Kendricks (thus committing to another injury-prone player) and if I had stopped to think about I would've realized that they were already too far gone to snap out of it. But I still think 9-7 and a division title is on the table this year - how could you not? The Redskins look awful and the Cowboys aren't beating anyone until week 10 at the earliest.

But yeah, it's INSANE how repetitive the offense has become. If they can't get a defense on their heels with the pace, they're just hopeless. I'll give credit where it is due and say that Bradford taking some deep shots this week might cause defenses to stop choking up on the short stuff, but I'm with you that these WR's just aren't good enough to scare anybody other than Redskins' backups and CB's playing through injury. If they can hang with the Giants in two weeks, that will show whether the division title is a realistic possibility. If they can't even beat the Saints at home this week, even waiting that long will be beside the point...

by Pat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:13pm

No, I honestly thought they'd be ok in 2015 and make it to 10-6 or 11-5 and then crater in 2016

OK... so then I can take credit in being one of the few people that really couldn't see how they would ever reach 8-8. Yay?

But I still think 9-7 and a division title is on the table this year - how could you not?

Because I think in 4-6 weeks they'll have at least 1 or 2 offensive linemen starting that they sign off the street, and just about everyone will have realized that they can just bring both safeties down and make sure that Sproles/Mathews can't get to the edge.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:21pm

I also think the Giants have a chance to be really, really, good on offense, and kind of put the division away.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:31pm

The Giants defense has impressed me too. They have so little front-line talent, but are coached really well, don't give up too many big plays, and are opportunistic. They are kind of the anti-Giants from 2007 and 2011, but Spags is doing a good job keeping them decent.

They really should be 3-1, if not 4-0, and I do think the division is theirs, especially if the Cowboys can't manage 2-3 wins with Weeden.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:31pm

Tom Coughlin is the Walter Alston of the NFL. Every time folks thought the Dodgers would fire Alston he would win a World Series. Seems like Coughlin is along the same lines.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:41pm

Look, Victor Cruz may never be the same again, but if he does get back to form, come playoff time, and the rest of the offense stays healthy, that's not a bunch you want be running your defensive backfield out against, in a one and done tournament, as Eli gets focused again with talent around him, as produces facsimile of his work in January and February 2012.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:48pm

Yeah, but the Eagles have just OWNED the Giants for so long (at one point under Reid they were 12-3 including the playoffs) that it's just hard for me to get used to them as a threat. Like, the Giants are NEVER the thing standing in the way of the Eagles' success. Not for a decade and a half at least...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:14pm

Well, the Giants won two championships in that span, so they got in somebody's way eventually.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:36pm

Yup - two of the only years under Andy Reid when the Eagles didn't make the playoffs. I always joke with my Giants fans friends they were lucky the Eagles didn't make the playoffs either year. They knocked the Giants out of the playoffs in 2006 & 2008 and prevented them from qualifying in 2009 & 2010 with sweeps (of an 8-8 and 10-6 Giants team respectively.)

Eagles fans do not sweat the Giants. If anything, Reid's ownership of the Eli and Coughlin's Giants are probably why both Eli and Coughlin are underrated to this day.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:57pm

The thing is, it's not like this is a recent phenomenon. Even the great Parcells teams always seemed to struggle against the Eagles. That's not even mentioning the fact that there are three(!) plays named the Miracle at the Meadowlands.

The 2008 team is the one that really makes me angry - top-to-bottom, that was more talented than either of the super bowl teams. They also had a fool-proof strategy against the Eagles that year: have Eli toss a jump balls to Plaxico Burress when he was matched up against the generously 5'10" Lito Sheppard. Then Plax shot himself in the leg because he couldn't afford a $20 nylon holster, and Eli decided to throw to Asante Samuel instead.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:01pm

Thank goodness ol' Plax missed his femoral artery, and everybody else, so I could chuckle guilt free at that mishap.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:07pm

Asante just had Eli's number, like I can only compare it to as a lesser version of Ty Law and Peyton. He just would make Eli look foolish - at one point Eli gave an interview where he said he simply wouldn't even look Asante's direction, he just couldn't figure out what he was going to do on any play.

In defense of losing to the 2008 Eagles, that was the second best defense in the history of the franchise and the best team of the Andy Reid era. I watched that playoff game in a bar in midtown and thought I was going to have to sneak out the back, so enraged and disappointed were the Manhattanites around me, who I think were of the same mind as you...

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:10pm

Ronde Barber & Donovan McNabb, you jerk.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:19pm

Ha - that was a single pick! And the Giants got the rings in the end, so any Eagles dominance over the Giants is hollow as hollow could be!

by RickD :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:33pm


With the injuries in Dallas, the Giants look like the team to beat. Philly looks like a last-place team.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:51pm

Washington looks pretty bad too - Eagles very easily could've won that game yesterday. And Dallas with the injuries doesn't seem capable of winning a game, especially now with Sean Lee gone.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:23pm

No, I should have seen it coming, especially since no one has been more vocal about their terrible off-season than I have. But they made the Mathis and Boykin moves so late that it didn't register along with everything else totally. I really bought in on the idea of Agoholor being able to have a Mike Evans/Kelvin Benjamin level of rookie production. I believed the sports science might make their oft-injured players less of an issue (since they were so healthy in 2013 & 2014.)

I also didn't see how much McCoy was making Kelly's schemes look good as far as the running game is concerned. Watching Murray back there, it's just never going to work. It's not a question of it they bench him, but when. And then they'll be dealing with lock-room discord because a) that issue has plagued Kelly all along and b) Murray is already proving to be a vocal malcontent. But I had no real idea that Murray simply would not be functional in this offense.

I don't know, I just thought they would do that Chip Kelly thing of racking up yards and that would keep them afloat, but it's obvious there's a lot of garbage yards in there (DVOA has always thought so.) Also, I think the QB matter with squeezing out close wins and all you have to do is look at Sunday to see the difference between Foles and Bradford on that count.

But yeah, they're very close to being in contention for a Top 5 draft pick.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:11pm

I wouldn't be surprised to see Chip Kelly pulling a Saban and going back to a PAC 12 rival of Oregon soon.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:03pm

I'm really curious what happens if they continue on this way. He made such a naked powerplay for control of the front office and this mess is so clearly 100% on his hands, that I just can't see how it plays out. By all accounts Lurie loves him and most people think he won't get fired if he goes as low as 6-10... but if he stays, he can't possibly be allowed to oversee another off-season, can he? And if he's not allowed to have total control, does he just walk?

So, if he sees changes in the front office/GM structure coming, does he get out early and just quit when they're 3-9 to go take a job at USC? If they're 1-7 what happens? I just have no idea - this off-season, everyone seemed to think Bill Davis' was on the hot-seat, but he can't possibly be a human shield for Kelly at this point, right?

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:16pm

Not sure if he could get in USC, they're doing ok. Honestly, the Ducks might just take him back, they're not doing that great right now, but the boosters didn't like Kelly that much, and vice versa. He might also stay on the East Coast, since he's from there.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:37pm

If he couldn't manage the booster relationships well at Oregon, where it means managing the relationship with Phil Knight, and the others being of secondary importance, he's gonna hate managing the relationsips with USC and Texas boosters, where they all think they are Phil Knight.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:42pm

USC is way too blue blood to hire and put up with him, but he will definitely stay on the west coast where he has a strong recruiting base. i think he goes to a place where he take over an athletic department thats thirsty for a winner... Colorado just built facilities comparable to Oregon. Washington is another school thats a former western power where I could see him.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:01pm

I think his recruiting base will travel just fine. Put him at a small-ish, private university like Syracuse, where the boosters (football division) aren't so overbearing, and he'd have that school winning again. Off the top of my head, teams like Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland would seem to be good fits.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:23pm

Are you sure he's a good recruiter, though? Wasn't some of his success at Oregon tied to the Nike recruiting violations? Granted, I don't know much about the subject, but I had always just assumed that since those violations are what caused him to run away from the college game, that they must have been meaningful...

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:25pm

Just because you cheat doesn't mean you aren't good!

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:27pm

No, I don't. He might not have been recruiting that much at all. I honestly have no idea.

I'm guessing going forward it will be good because he's a name-brand coach who runs an offense that I imagine would be very appealing to High Schoolers, with a good track record of getting guys in the NFL.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:39pm

Well, I know Rutgers is melting down into chaos, I'd be surprised if he elected to step into that mess, especially since he'll have his choice of opportunities. I wonder if there's a non-zero chance he gets fired and jumps to another NFL team. You think he's totally toxic at the pro level if this mess continues?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:45pm

If Foles plays well and the Rams win 9 games, while Bradford plays poorly, and the Eagles win 6, I don't think any other owener trusts Kelly. If your qb talent judgement is seen as poor you can't get an NFL gig, especially if your orientation is offense.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:52pm

Oh, I think he'll never again get to be a GM even if this team rights the ship and goes 9-7. I wonder if he has any interest coming in with a clear role as HC and just implementing a scheme with the players he's given.

You're right. That sounds positively ridiculous when I write it out.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:59pm

If your qb judgement is that poor (remember when we thought the Eagles had to be getting the draft value, before the reporting was clear, and we still didn't like the trade?), then the GM in charge is not going to want to have anything to do with you, most likely.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:12pm

I agree... if the Eagles fall flat, Chip Kelly becomes Josh McDaniels in Denver without Bellichick to go back to.... I can't see a team wanting him or him wanting whatever limited role he may receive.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:22pm

So... the Eagles are going to have a QB as good as Peyton Manning fall into their lap is what you're telling me? That's what I choose to take from this analogy.

by Grendel13G :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:58pm

Yes, but you have to start Tim Tebow first.

by Alex51 :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:41am

So be it.

If we have to put Townsman Tim at the helm of the Green Eagle, and let him run it aground on a desert island, I for one am willing. If that's what it takes to get a competent crew, it would be worth it.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:59pm

Do you think he'd take an offensive coordinator job? His ego doesn't seem like it could handle it, but then Mike Martz did it for years.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:02pm

Why would I want him? So he can tell me that Jimmy Clausen shoud start in front of Jay Cutler?

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:10pm

Guys like Kelly who run a unique offense like that I assume would get another shot or two from desperate teams just like Martz did (though obviously Martz had impeccable taste in QBs). While as OC only the HC can inform him who will be starting at QB and you'd be hiring Kelly for his scheming, play-calling, and innovative practice techniques.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:38pm

I used to think the Kelly sports science stuff was a great idea because the players' health is such a valuable commodity and taking care of that commodity is a really wise thing to do... but then all of the guys who you expected to get injured actually do get injured and it's just like "oh, this isn't about smart practices, you're just a control freak." It's just a weird variation not letting his QB's call audibles and trying to get the plays off before the helmet radios cut out at 20 seconds on the playclock (so the QB might try to read the defense without Kelly or Shurmer in his ear) or not having his WR's run from route trees. It's just an insistence on total control.

There's part of me that thinks Kelly would never in a million years be able to be a coordinator. Who knows what will happened if he gets humbled, though...

by LyleNM :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:41pm

If you want a comparison for Chip Kelly, Steve Spurrier is the guy. Massive ego, operating under the assumption that everything that worked for him in the college game will work in the NFL, with the results that one would expect out of that. I mean, who can forget Spurrier's QB (Patrick Ramsey, right?) getting hit by 4 defenders when they only rushed 3? And that was before he completed his dropback.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:51pm

The Fun N' Gun. Jesus, you're right.

by Alternator :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:16pm

I'll give you a nightmare. Imagine this:

Kelly told Lurie that the team was getting old, there was a lot of overpaid dross on the roster, and it had to be blown up - that he thought there might be one more good year left if they grabbed some strong vets, but the rebuild needed to happen. So, trade for a QB who's still young and you think can be built around, sign some veteran RBs who'll be gone when the new crop fills in, keep the fans coming to games, and do a rework.

So when the team bottoms out, Kelly goes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and Lurie just accepts that the price of the rebuild came a year earlier than hoped, so Kelly gets to keep on his plan for a few more years.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:29pm

Gah - you're so right and I can already see this is the tact that Kelly apologists are going to take. There's someone arguing this in another thread. The problem with that idea and what makes it utter bullshit is that you don't go into a rebuild by maxing out your cap. When I checked last week, they were 12th in spending for 2016 and every single team spending more than them already had a highly paid QB on their roster (which they don't as Bradford's contract is up after 2015.) I've seen people argue that they can move on from some of their high-priced free agents relatively painlessly, but I truly don't see how they can get out of the Maxwell, Murray and Cooper deals before 2018 without it being a major issue. Peters is also on the books for a lot of money and he looks totally spent this year. You're going to have to ask some, if not all, of these guys to restructure and why would any of them want to do that? All of them but Cooper will have suitors elsewhere if they get cut and I imagine Murray and Maxwell would want to leave this city far behind as soon as possible.

Walter Thurmond, their only successful FA pick-up, is on a one-year deal. Other starters like Nolan Carroll and Cedric Thorton are also free agents next year. If they're trying to rebuild, they already screwed it up. Kelly's weak drafts in 2013 & 2014 definitely aren't helping anything. It's already a bad rebuild.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 8:16pm

If Lurie buys that a rebuilding team ought to trade Foles and a lot of draft value to get Bradford, and Bradford's contract, then Lurie's methods have become....unsound.....and he has quite obviously gone insane, and needs his ownership terminated, terminated with extreme predjudice....

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:15pm

I would bet money on Texas; it's a high-profile program in disarray, there's loads of money, and it's a relatively easy conference where building a winning program should help restore his reputation pretty quickly.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:35pm

I wouldn't call it an easy conference, necessarily; TCU and Baylor finished #5 and #6 last year, are both in the top four this year, and Oklahoma is in the top five of many of the computer rankings.

It's also a conference that already uses a lot of the offensive principles Kelly brought to Oregon, so it's not like he'd be bringing a ton of innovation along with him

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:29pm

Barbre? Alan Barbre? The guy out of Notre Dame? Someone thought he could be a starting offensive lineman in the NFL for a team with divisional title aspirations?

I guess Philly doesn't think blocking matters in which case Barbre should be a good fit.

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:05pm

Didn't he play for some random school in Missouri?

As I recall during his tenure with the Packers, he had the athletic ability, but was so dumb that when the live bullets started flying, it overwhelmed his pea brain and he was rendered non-functional.

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:20am

They got rid of 2 of their starting offensive linemen and replaced them with... a guy that couldn't make the team last year.

Both starting guards on opening day were on the Eagles last year. Barbre got hurt in week 1, Gardner started eight games. Barbre looked fine when he did play in 2013, to replace Herremans with him was fine. Gardner though, bleh.

by Pat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:31am

Both starting guards on opening day were on the Eagles last year.

Exactly. Which is what I said.

Look at the offensive line as a whole. They got rid of Mathis and Herremans, and replaced them with their backups. OK, that's fine. So they think that those guys would be ready to step up.

That means that in 2015, they had 2 starter-level or near-starter-level backups. So to keep the line at the same level, you need to get 2 starter-level backups. Who did they get? Josh Andrews. Who was cut last year before the season started, and signed by no one.

There is no way to view the 2015 OL for the Eagles as anything but a downgrade. They didn't draft anyone new. They didn't sign anyone new. All they did is lose 2 guys who were good enough to beat out the guys that are now playing. Again, even if you think Barbre and Gardner are equal to Herremans and Mathis, that means their depth has been completely gutted.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:41am

The o-line has been an issue since Kelly took over - back in 2012, these guys were getting old and Kelly has consistently done NOTHING to address it. Getting rid of Herremans or Mathis was going to be necessary sooner rather than later, it's just that Kelly's plan for what to do after they left was worthless. I mean, you could see this coming, they're basically starting the same o-line that got dominated by Washington and SF early last season (where this year's starters were pressed into service from their back-up roles.)

And like every position on this team, there's no depth. When Peters goes down, there's nobody there to plausibly replace him. And a guy like Tobin certainly isn't the kind of versatile "across the line" player that they lost in Herremans.

(Also it's funny that the FO commentators are surprised by the lateral east/west focus of this offense - have they never seen a Chip Kelly game or heard a single press conference where he goes on and on about the field being 53.5 yards wide as well?)

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:41am

Are we sure it's not the teams Philly has played? The Jets and Skins are in the top five for defensive yards against, and the Giants front seven looked nasty today on the road against a decent team. The Falcons are the only one that has a weak defense, and honestly, they aren't that bad on that side of the ball.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:49am

Eagles haven't played the Giants. They played the Cowboys. Also, look at their run yards and ypc. Even playing a handful of good defenses, the numbers are awful.

(And they were ok vs. the Jets. Honestly, DeMarco Murray's total mediocrity is as much the problem as anything. Mathews is no world beater, but he at least has the acceleration to get to the edge and the agility to make a guy miss. Murray is just going to get hammered for losses over and over and there's no clear way to improve.

R-E-L-A-X, eagles fans!)

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:54am

Yeah, you're right. Maybe the Eagles are propping up the Jets and Skins defensive stats. I find it hard to believe they're both a lot better than the Bills right now.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:17pm

Well, I think Bardford's 118 yards passing is a testament to the Jets defense. And his 3 long TD's yesterday a testament to the poor Redskins secondary. But I've watched every game and their failures in the running game are consistent - they have looked bad in the exact. same. way. every. game. every. play. The only difference was the acceleration of Mathews versus the Jets allowed him to get to the outside occasionally...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:55pm

Once we get full opponent adjustments, it's gonna be fun to see the difference between Foles and Bradford yesterday, and let's face it; any defense of Chip Kelly is going to have avoid the shoals of the Bradford trade. It's kinda' like trying to defend the captain of the Titanic; in the end the ship was sailed into an iceberg.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:13pm

What kills me is that you look at Reid's final draft in 2012 and it's the starter package for a winning team, it's a bunch of guys who have been extremely productive:

Fletcher Cox (All-Pro)
Mychal Kendricks (Pro Bowl caliber LB)
Nick Foles (NFL-claiber QB with high, proven upside)
Vinny Curry (9 sacks in 2014)
Brandon Boykin (Top nickel CB, likely starter-caliber)
Dennis Kelly (serviceable back-up o-lineman)
Bryce Brown (serviceable back-up RB)

I mean, that it, that's the groundwork for a team right there (especially a defense) and Kelly could have ALL OF THEM right now on their rookie contracts. Instead, the worst one (Kelly) and the best one (Cox) are the only ones that might play on Sunday and Kendricks (who is injured) is the only one with a longterm contract. If you immediately infused that talent onto the Texans or the Dolphins, they'd be a Top 10 team and a likely playoff contender - and they could all be had for cheap. they all could still be on their rookie contracts!

I mean, Reid gift-wrapped him an excellent draft and he botched it.

by James-London :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:24pm

That is a seriously good draft; you'd take that every year

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:29pm

Yeah, even if Foles' baseline is "ranked somewhere between 12 and 19th in DVOA," that's a HUGE draft. If you had draft that good two years in a row (at different positions), you'd have very legit Superbowl aspirations.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:31pm

Boykin is what?

The standard is the standard!

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:38pm

It's not his fault the coaches in Pittsburgh are clueless when it comes to the secondary. FO and PFF both have rated him as a top nickel CB.

(I've only watched two Steelers game - one he didn't play in and the Steelers were a bunch of bumbling idiots who could've used his help. In the other one, he didn't get beat on anything I can recall - and I was only watching the game to see how he'd do. Not sure what the Pittsburgh complaint about him might be.)

by aces4me :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:42pm

He probably wont play as far off his man as the Steeler defensive scheme calls for.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:46pm

"Boykin, on this next play, we want you to not cover anybody."
"Excuse me, coach?"
"I want you to stare at the LB closet to you and let the start of the play catch you off guard."
"But what do I do on the play?"
"Hole in a zone needs covering."

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:03pm


by bengt :: Thu, 10/08/2015 - 6:59am

William Gay is and will remain the slot CB, and Ross Cockrell appears to have passed Boykin for other purposes.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:32pm

Matthews also forced a bunch of missed tackles, mostly from Demario Davis, who also couldn't cover him on the touchdown catch. Matthews first big run was off-tackle, but not completely outside, and Matthews ran through Davis to set up their first field goal. The thing about the Jets defense that works is that their 4th and 5th corners were their starters last year, and honestly, Marcus Williams might be better than Cromartie right now. You have to run on the Jets right unless you have Rodgers or Brady, which proves how stupid the Dolphins' game plan against the Jets really was.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:06pm

Yeah, Murray not having any elusiveness is just killing the running game. For some reason there's always a free tackler in this scheme and you've either got to make him miss or beat him to the edge (or I suppose run through the tackle, but it's usually a DE coming free, so good luck with that.) Mathews & Sproles can do that occasionally, Murray cannot.

Will say in general that the Jets tackling is surprisingly sloppy - on the Sproles return TD three different guys probably should have made the tackle and yesterday there was another similar punt return where the guy should have been taken down much earlier. It's not AS pronounced on defense as special teams, but it's there.

by James-London :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:09am

I couldn't get a ticket for the London game, and it's money well saved. Miami were beyond awful, and looking like a legitimate 1st pick contender. I don't watch any college ball and Miami need any or all of OL, DL, LB, CB & FS; who's in the frame?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:39am

I feel like the money on the TV license was wasted watching the Dolphins and Jets. On the plus side the BBC does make Doctor Who and there's a few good things on iPlayer ... :-)

by James-London :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:48am

On the plus side, the Beeb did use Mike Carlson (still awesome) and Osi Umenyoria, who was suprsingly good. The game itself; utter gash

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:51am

I like the Jets and enjoy rooting for them when I can, but they are insanely boring. If Chris Ivory weren't such a tough runner, their offense would be unwatchable.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:57am

They'll be more fun once Geno replaces Fitz, simply because Geno is ridiculously variable, the only guy right now capable of posting a zero passer rating and a perfect one in the same season. Not saying they will be better, but more absurd.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:10pm

Oh, I don't WANT them to be more exciting - I think Bowles is being (somewhat) smart and trying to make this offense as consistent and low-variance as possible. When it isn't clicking, it looks like the Eagles game, where the lack of urgency and variation was just astounding. When it works, it looks like the Dolphins game, where the lack of urgency and variation is a sedative.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:42pm

I'm not sure the Jets coaching staff know what they have in their offense right now, other than Ivory. They really want to run the ball, but I'm not sure if they are forced to go to Geno, that they won't run a lot, and then play action into deep throws and not so much the middle stuff. They realize Fitz can't hit the deep throws very much, but they need defenses to back off for the bread and butter, the runs and short slants to Decker and Marshall, so they do the deep throws every once in a while.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:12pm

The thing is, Fitz can really nail those deep outs to Marshall and mid-range crossing routes to Decker, which means the safeties can't really choke up so hard on them. It's not like Fitzpatrick can only throw the ball an Alex Smith/Sam Bradford-type distance 0 he's very good at the mid-range stuff about 12 to 20 yards down the field. And (with the WR's) is good enough to burn an enthusiastic safety on corner route or a double-move where the ball only travels 25 yards in the air.

His deep ball is worthless, though, that is correct. And to me his biggest issue is his love of forcing the ball into double-coverage on Marshall.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:29pm

Carlson was excellent, funny and insightful as always.

Osi was good until he tried to claim that coaches don't lose the locker room. Hmmm ... I guess we'll see whether the Dolphins come out and play the same mediocre level in two weeks under Dan Campbell.

"Utter gash" ... tremendous phrase :-)

by bigpoppapump :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 11:34am

I was there, but I'm on the jets +7.5 season wins so I, ahem, enjoyed my Sunday afternoon gash.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:45am

Walter Football has Connor Cook going first in next year's draft, but then there's the Ole Miss tackle who isn't playing, Joey Bosa, Jared Goff who probably is the best quarterback, and maybe Ronnie Stanley at Notre Dame. If the Fins do get the first pick (I doubt it, but they did lose to Jacksonville), they should ransom it off to a quarterback needy team. I blame Tannehill very little for this mess.

by James-London :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:50am

Tannehill's not the problem in Miami, so I can't imagine them taking a QB, but if the rest of the league know that it's difficult to imagine a Rams type trade.
Of course, none of that matters unless someone halfway competent is picking the players and then coaching them up...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:00pm

As far as good quarterback prospects go, there really only is Goff. So if the Fins get the first pick (again, I doubt it), there will be a competition to draft Goff between teams, so the fact that the Dolphins aren't going to draft him won't drive the price down that much. They could just stay there and draft a left tackle.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:37pm

Like the rest of the AFC East, the Dolphins will be able to beat up on the AFC South and (some of) the NFC East. "First pick" should be out of the question. That will go to a truly terrible team like Tampa.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:40pm

Oh, SF has got to be in the running for the Top pick. They don't even get to play the AFC South (like TB) or the NFC East (like Miami)!

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:13pm

The Lions are on-target for the top pick. Now, I don't think they're the worst team in the league, but their remaining schedule is brutal. They still have:

Seattle (tonight)
Green Bay x2
St. Louis
Kansas City (who I think is better than their record, they just had a brutal schedule, too)

The only games they are likely to win are Chicago (at home, the road game in Chicago is 50-50 at this point, Oakland at home, and SF at home. Eagles at home is probably another 50-50 game.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:18pm

Wow - with the last two games on their schedule (SF and the Bears) they're really going to control their own destiny in regards to the top pick in the draft! Hell, they even play the Saints the week before that, who I think will be in strong contention for a top pick, too!

You might see one of the most blatant tanks in recent memory there if they're coming in at 3-10 or something...

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:46pm

While you may be correct that the schedule will prevent the Dolphins from getting the first pick, they did just lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:49pm

God, what a crapshow the AFC South is. They should give away the playoff spot for that division's winner.

by PirateFreedom :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:12am

I still miss reading Paul Zimmerman.

by James-London :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:35am

Yeah, Dr Z was tremendous

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:05pm

Not only were the writing and insight better, but his wine comments far outweighed reviews of airport Starbucks....
I never met the man, but still think of him as kind of an uncle, or maybe that guy who coached my older brothers' teams and who knew me as a 5 year-old (which is why I was called Bobby throughout high school by anyone connected with the athletic dept, but that's another story).

by Athelas :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 7:40pm

I didn't always agree with him but I always learned something when I read his columns.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:46am

Vikings Broncos was a typical 3 point NFL game, in that the most random events can make a huge difference. On Hillman's sweet 72 yard run......


.....Owen Daniels holds Terrence Newman, which is why Hillman get a clear, untouched lane down the sidelines. That hold is called at least 50% of the time, probably more like 75% of the time, because it is so easy to see. The replay camera angle shows it best, and is the one that best replicates the view of a referee.

In any case, if anybody doubted whether the Vikings should go all in on Bridgewater, this game should end those questions. I know they didn't plan on Clemmings playing a lot this year, they are playing with their back-up center, but they have not used enough draft value on offensive linemen. Than goodness Kalil has rebounded somewhat; absent that, it would be an unsalvageable situtation.

The Viking are going to be a lot more formidable at home, simply because their very bad o-line will function better at home, and their pass rushers, who are pretty good, will make more things more miserable for opposing qbs with the home crowd helping. They desperately need to get 2 or 3 road wins, however, and I think they are going to greatly regret not showing up in San Jose in the late Monday Night opener, and not making one or two more plays yesterday.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:47am

Yeah, I was stunned by how unflappable Bridgewater was. I still think he's extremely limited as a passer, but he has real poise and intelligence in the pocket and that alone will win you some NFL games...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:59am

Every time I'm about to say Bridgewater just doesn't have the arm to be good, he makes a throw that impresses me, even under pressure, when the forced lack of mechanics should prevent him from doing so. If they can keep him healthy, and don't make him play like Andrew Luck, throwing vertical 40 times a game, he can be a consistent top 10 guy, because he just flat plays cool and smart. Again, they need to adopt the first commandment of Joe Gibbs Football, the quarterback will be made to feel comfortable in the pocket.

by Duke :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:29pm

It still boggles me that so many teams passed on drafting him. Worst case scenario looked like Chad Pennington. And Pennington was pretty good!

by LyleNM :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:07pm

What I noticed, without having seen much of Vikings games the last two years, was how much he has to wind up to get some zip on the ball. Reminded me of Ken Dorsey (or maybe it was one of those other nondescript Heisman winning QBs who were non-prospects for the NFL in the last 20 years) who had to really wind up just to throw a short out route. Hopefully the coaching staff can find other ways for him to get some zing on the ball because I think the rest of his game could give the Vikes a playoff caliber QB.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:29pm

Chad Pennington was pretty amazing when healthy. I don't think anyone's worst-case scenario coming out of the draft is Chad Pennington.

That said, I think you're onto something - Bridgewater had a higher floor than a lot of QBs coming out of college.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:41pm

Yeah, I'd his best case scenario is Chad Pennington and he has been nowhere near that good yet. I agree Bridgewater's floor in not as low as most college QB's but he's hit it on more than a few occasions - it's a matter of seeing how consistently he can rise above it...

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:50pm

Yeah have to be careful with those worst case scenarios. Worst case for Bridgewater would be like Ken Dorsey where he was just too noodle armed to pass in the NFL, or Shane Matthews where he could kind of play but was severely limited.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:04pm

His floor is probably Matt Cassel, his likely outcome is probably Alex Smith, and his ceiling is Chad Pennington. That's worth a first round pick, especially one as where the Vikings got him.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:17pm

I don't know - Matt Cassel is a serviceable NFL starter. That's actually a really high floor for a QB.

The real floor for just about every quarterback - even "can't miss" ones, like Andrew Luck - is almost certainly lower than what the worst league backup is.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:50pm

Have you seen Matt Cassell play? You're being awful generous.

by Duke :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:14pm

When I say worst case scenario, I'm throwing out injury-type risks, which can happen to anybody...I mean more, "we have a range on these skills, and what happens if he hits the our low end on them".

I know there was a lot of worry about Teddy's arm strength, but I didn't really see it...and I thought he was intelligent enough that if he didn't really progress much, he'd still be a competent distributor who could run an offense.

Maybe I'm misremembering/underestimating Pennington's arm strength.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 1:23am

Pennington's arm strength was ok when he entered the league. Defenses could bait him into throwing the deep out, and maybe cause problems that way, but his deep ball was pretty and accurate, and anything short wasn't a problem at all. Honestly, his deep outs might have been fine, I just remember Romanowski picking him off in the 2002 playoff loss. Once he hurt his shoulder, his arm strength became a problem. If the Vikings can build a line to protect Teddy, he should be fine.

by Eddo :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 12:37pm

Thing is, Pennington's actual scenario is full of injuries. By saying Bridgewater's worst case is Pennington, and throwing out injury risk, you're saying that Bridgewater's worst case is a borderline Hall of Famer.

What I'm saying is that the worst case for just about every QB drafted is "unplayable". Overestimating worst-case scenarios seems far too common, even on this site's really intelligent comment section.

by Duke :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 3:16pm

I get what you're saying. Now I'm curious what QBs you think had a worst-case scenario above "unplayable". For example, what about Luck? Do you think Andrew Luck had a worst-case scenario of unplayable?

I guess what I'm saying is I thought Bridgewater had a "complete bust" chance about as low as Luck's, but of course his overall probability curve (read: ceiling) is much lower.

And, to continue the general congeniality of your last statement, I'll also say that this site's comment section is really intelligent, and that you're a fine person Eddo.

by Eddo :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 3:58pm

That's a good question. Given Luck's risk tolerance, perhaps even his was below unplayable.

Peyton Manning's an example. Probably Carson Palmer. I think you see more high-floor QBs taken a little later than top of the draft, though, and Bridgewater is certainly a relatively high-floor QB.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 10:45pm

I really enjoy how well-regarded Chad Pennington is around here. I respected the hell out of him, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.

One of the worst shows NFL Films ever produced was the one about the QBs drafted ahead of Tom Brady. I was really excited about it, but instead of telling us about what the coaches saw in each of those guys, they just made it a hagiography of #12. The worst part was when they got to Pennington, and all they talked about was his injuries, and how many games Brady started while Pennington was on IR.

That tells me absolutely nothing of value. Everyone knows that Brady is an all-time great - how about telling us about the unpredictable nature of the draft and the limited information scouts are working with?

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 1:28am

I actually liked that show. I never really thought about Brady much as a human being until I saw that. The part about him crying because he let down his parents because he wasn't getting drafted... I don't know, it just moved me, and made it hard for me to root against him. As a Jets fan, I already knew a lot about Pennington, so him being minimized didn't matter as much to me, I was just glad to see footage of him. Perhaps they weren't as fair to Pennington as the Elway to Marino doc was about Ken O'Brien, but I still appreciated that one.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:51am

Perhaps that was a hold, but its negated by the very questionable Talib holding call that kept a critical Minnesota drive alive. If that play is holding, then there should be a flag for defensive holding on every play.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:11pm

What Daniels did was hold, period. It's not debatable. He has his hand grasping the jersey/ shoulder pad, on the defensive players back, preventing Newman from turning towards the ball, giving Hillman a chance to run unimpeded down the sideline. You may be correct on the defensive play, but that just underscores my point, that in a close game like this, very random events typically determine the winner. That's why I say we'll never see great teams again like we did pre salary cap, where several champions won 3 playoff games which were made noncompetitive by half time. Any champion which won a close playoff game easily could have missed hoisting the trophy, absent a tiny bit of dumb bad luck.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:07pm

You just need to hope things even out when it comes to officiating and over the course of a season they probably do, but not always during a game.

I can understand your frustration on that play, but if Denver had lost I'd be just as frustrated by poor calls/non-calls that went against them.
1. The hold on Talib that at the time was a turning point in the game.
2. The offensive holding against Ware while Bridgewater was in the end-zone that should have been a safety.
3. The OL arc calls referenced above that stalled two drives.

I'm sure there are other calls you can recite, but I'd say the bad calls collectively were about even. I do get your point though, there are so many random events that can effect games that lead to the best team not winning.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:16pm

Well, in most close games it is hard to say which team is best, which is kind of my point; a game like Broncos-Vikings yesterday really is essentially a tie. This gets at the truth that a stomp of a poor team can be more indicative of team's quality than a close win over a good team. Of course, the greatest teams, like the pre salary cap champs I mentioned ('91 Washington, '89,'84 Niners, '85 Bears, maybe '86 Giants) tend to stomp the hell out of good teams as well. I just don't think we'll ever see teams like that anymore, which I kind of prefer, to tel the truth. Blowout playoff games are kind of boring.

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:10pm

All I saw of that game was Minnesota's last drive, and it left me thinking there's no way he'll be successful (obviously it's just one series in a tough spot - I don't mean to assert my impression was in any way accurate).

I know the protection was not good, but on the last two plays he showed zero pocket presence or awareness of where the rush was coming from.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:17pm

It was his 16th start, and Wade Phillips has done that to HOFers on occasion.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:26pm

He was also doing the correct thing off keeping his eyes down the field and attempting to get a meaningful play off instead of a dump-off, it wasn't like he stared down the rush and crumpled up or immediately looked to chuck the ball 4 yards to the RB when he didn't recognize the coverage. Compare what he did to Sam Bradford on the Eagles final drive (an almost identical situation) and you can easily see the difference in pocket awareness and football intelligence even if both drives ended in failure.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:38pm

I like Bridgewater a lot (even as a Bears fan), but I don't think I agree with this assessment (Bradford aside).

The Vikings were facing second-and-ten, at their own 42, needed a field goal to tie, and still had a timeout left. The absolute worst possible outcome, turnover aside, is a sack. A four-yard dumpoff isn't great, but throwing the ball away there is perfectly fine. It was really poor pocket presence from a QB that I've seen show much better poise.

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:55pm

I'd have to go back and look, but I couldn't tell you who, if anyone, was running a 4-ish yard pressure valve route for Bridgewater at the end there. Regardless, he had Broncos jerseys in his face for much of the game.

Overall (and I am a generally neutral or pessimistic Vikes fan), I am fairly bullish on Bridgewater as a long-term QB for the Vikes. But they need to spend at least half of the next draft on each line, especially the O-line.

What pleased me about this one - even though the Vikes lost (I assumed it would be a more definitive loss) - was the fact that Bridgewater appeared more of a QB, and less of a 'game manager'. Up to now, he was looking like a 2nd-year regression.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:03pm

He has Peterson in the flat waiving his hand (he sees the pressure coming) and #19 coming across the middle 4 yards past the LOS. Both are open when he gets hit.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:16pm

Peterson was supposed to be blocking and acknowledged that he blew his responsibility after the game. Phillips confused the Vikings running backs and tight ends, with regard to blocking, even more than the o-linemen.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:27pm

Don't doubt it at all - there was just a question on if there were any dump-offs available on the play so I went back to check the reality against my memory and there were indeed two dump-offs available. Even if Bridgewater doesn't expect Peterson to be open in the flat, he's ignoring #19 going short across the middle (the 4 yard dump-off I was initially referring to.) #19 would've definitely been tackled immediately, keeping the clock running and hurting the drive more than helping it. In fact, throwing the ball to the underneath dump-off is likely what the defense was trying to bait Bridgewater into...

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:36pm

I think you're suffering from having too much information about him. 2 plays is generally such a big sample that age effects start overwhelming actual talent.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:45pm

Pocket presence was pretty irrelevant on that last drive; on the strip sack, the RT didn't even slow Vonn Miller down. He basically got a six-yard dash to the QB, and there wasn't anything Bridgewater was going to be able to do there.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:50pm

Wade really did an outstanding at confusing the Vikings in their protection schemes, which, I know, is kinda' like beating Miley Cyrus at chess, but credit where it is due, and all that....

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:56pm

I stopped playing chess with Miley once the twerking started. You don't want to touch your queen, king or knight after she's done that to 'em...

by nat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:30pm

Now you just sound like that old guy on the front porch shouting,

"Get off my pawn!"

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:12pm


by dryheat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:09pm

The queens we use would not excite you.

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:13pm

+1 - and apparently you two are gearing up for a quip-off

by nat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:48pm

Nah. I bow to my master... this time.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:44pm

Holy mother of God, did we just get a "One Night in Bangkok" reference?

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:05pm

Hell yes we did, and +1.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:50pm

Well, he stepped up into the pocket and had a chance to get rid of it. I agree most QB's would've been sacked, but it wasn't entirely hopeless. He even had a dump-off that he ignored.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:37am

Cortez Kennedy is probably the greatest defender on a bad TEAM I can think of. Certainly, he made more of an impact for improving bad defense than Watt this year (is he hurt this year? seriously, he's barely factor) or Sanders in Atlanta (who teams just stayed away from) those examples that Vince mentions.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:57am

I was just about to type a comment about Cortez Kennedy, but you beat me too it. I think Lee Roy Selmon on those early Buccaneers teams counts, too.

by Travis :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:57am

Cortez Kennedy had the one DPOY season, but I think Dick Butkus (0 playoff appearances) has the career Greatest Defender on a Bad Team title.

Nnamdi Asomugha had the Great Defender, Bad Defensive Team reputation, but then went to Philly and his career cratered, and I'm not sure if that's caused people to reassess his Oakland performance.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:09pm

Nnamdi's reputation was always based as much on the fact that no one threw at him, and I think after the move to Philadelphia the CW became "He was better than Chris Johnson" rather than "He was good and coordinators were scared."

Still, watching him in Oakland he looked pretty legitimate, so I think a lot of what happened in Philadelphia was awful scheme fit and, more important, losing a step of speed he couldn't afford to lose.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:14pm

Well, what I saw in Philly was that when teams started throwing at him, it was revealed he had ZERO ball skills. Seriously, he'd be in perfect, perfect, perfect coverage and then the pass would somehow end up complete, just go straight past him. Once teams started to see that (the division rivals in particular) they would go right at him. He also got blamed for a lot of Nate Allen failures where he was the only player on the tv screen on a long completion (even though he wasn't in coverage) because Nate Allen had screwed up.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:48pm

In Oakland, Scrabble worked hard for about three years before finally having a breakout year and being recognised as a decent corner. His ball skills were pretty terrible but that's not surprising given that he was an Al Davis size&speed pick.

The Raiders system was man-to-man and I think he played the left side and always lined up against whichever receiver was on that side of the field. He never switched around or matched up against the opposition's #1 guy.

Consequently opposing teams then found that there were easier pickings elsewhere on the defense e.g. DeAngelo Hall for the first 8 games of 2008.

Opponents would line their best receiver up on the right side of the field which is easier for a right handed QB to read and throw to. Plus the Raiders run defense was terrible.

Most games the Raiders would fall behind and the opponents could get away with playing conservative offense, running the ball and clock and then punting knowing that the inept Oakland offense wouldn't be able to score points.

Point is, teams just never NEEDED to throw the ball at Scrabble to Asomughua.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:22pm

Aeneas Williams is worth a mention during his 10 years in the desert: six pro bowls, but the only time the Cardinals made the playoffs they had -17% DVOA.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:27pm

Oh man, he was great. I didn't have season tickets, but I'd still go to a few Eagles' games every year when I was kid and we could always go see the Cardinals. He and Larry Centers were the only thing worth watching on those early 90's teams. Ricky Proehl also played for them - I can remember being stunned when he turned up 100 years later on the Colts.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:37pm

I'd struggle to name many of Junior Seau's teammates on the 90s Chargers. DE Leslie O'Neal is probably the only one I remember.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:11pm

Rodney Harrison in the second half of the decade. There was a small amount of offensive talent on the super bowl team (Tony Martin & Natrone Means, basically).

Still, Seau led the team in AV nine seasons in a row!

The Chargers have had five outstanding, long-serving players – Alworth, Fouts, Seau, Tomlinson and Rivers – whose careers overlapped just about as little as possible.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:37pm

I didn't see Alworth, but Antonio Gates has a very similar career AV. He played plenty with Tomlinson/Rivers, and, yes, one of those teams should have at least reached a Super Bowl.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:38pm

paging Pat Summerall...........................

The standard is the standard!

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:45pm

Butkus was great for some crappy teams, but there was some pretty good defensive talent around him. Doug Buffone had a 13 year career (and a lot of old timers claim he is the most underrated Bear). Doug Atkins was an 8 time probowler and all-pro one year. Richie Pettibon was a 4 time pro-bowler and also named all-pro once.

by jdpollock :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:40am

Always an interesting read. But as a Bengals fan, also a funny one -- does nobody else email each other ever about the Bengals game? Because more often than not each week the Aubibles section on the Bengals is made up entirely of Mr. Weintraub's recap (typically incisive and fair, especially for a fellow Bengals homer).

by Robert Weintraub :: Wed, 10/07/2015 - 1:54pm

It's the Bengals, man--no one else watches until we play in primetime. Hence our lack of national respect.
Thanks for the love and fellow fandom,

by BJR :: Wed, 10/07/2015 - 5:23pm

On Sunday I fully expect the Bengals to beat a Seahawks squad with some major offensive issues, on a short week, doing the dreaded early kick-off. They'll likely get some national respect then.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:42am

Bridgewater easily could have been sacked another 3 or 4 times, but made great plays to avoid the sack. To only commit one turnover and move the ball against the pressure from that defense was impressive.

Denvers defense looks great, but Minnesota found the way to move the ball on them that will be copied. Use man-beaters to get them to play zone and hit them with quick passes.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:50am

It's been a well know fact for decades, but Wade Phillip is a helluva coordinator, as is Norv. Wade had the better day yesterday, but he had the better players, too. He knew confusion could be sown among the Vikings pass blockers, and he proceeded to do so. As you note, however, Norv called a good game as well. Really interesting game, as I thought it would be.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:11pm

Norv Turner vs. Wade Phillips is an amusing, and good, matchup; never before have two coaches been so good as coordinators and so bad as head coaches.

Did Denver's offense look as bad is it has so far this season to everyone who watched the game? I missed them.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:17pm

Denver's offense was again average, though that is a good defense they played. The run game was slightly better with Hillman in there - even if you take out the big run. The protection was better than I expected, especially interior where Manning often had space to move up.

As for ol' Peyton, this to me was a reverse of the other games. His issues were more mental than physical for once. I thought he actually looked good in his throws. They were going out on time, with decent zip for him, tighter than normal spirals. But he got fooled on the first pick and that was ust a bad throw on teh 2nd.

Odd thing about the Denver offense was on their possession before the Vikings TD that made it 20-17, they passed up a 4th and 1 near midfield. Didn't the Broncos hire a game-management analyst or something?

Ironically, the Vikings went for it at about the same spot and got a 1st down on their 4th and 1.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:28pm

OK, I'm going to defend both guys as head coaches. Norv Turner's time as head coach was for 3 of the worst owner/management situations in the league, and the one time he didn't have a bad owner, when Jack Kent Cooke hired him in D.C., the roster was exhausted, and even so, Norv had 4 winning seasons in 7, before Snyder fired him. Then, he goes to late stage Al Davis. 'Nuff said. Then, A.J. Smith saddles him with Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator before hiring Norv. Now, true enough, Norv agreed to take the job under those terms, but he still only had one losing season in six there.

Sure, Wade was given a situation with a HOF qb in Denver, and didn't do much with it, but his time in Buffalo looks pretty good in retrospect, and he did have untethered Jerrell to deal with in Dallas, and his overall winning percentage is .562.

No, neither guy was terrfic as head coach, but they didn't come close to being bad, either.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:08pm

Yeah, but Schottenheimer was fired for going 14-2, and Norv never went 14-2 with that team! I don't think Norv is a very good in game coach except as a coordinator, that's all.

I actually think Wade got a raw deal in Dallas and think he probably could be a good head coach again, but the joke works because the CW is otherwise...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:21pm

Of course, I wasn't arguing that Norv was in Schotty's class, which, in my view, is The Hall of Fame.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:57pm

The line was much better and the Vikings were all over the bubble/short passes, but there were guys open for mid-range passes that Manning completed. Still Manning really kept the Vikings in the game with his picks, especially the first one which turned a likely 16-3 halftime lead into a 13-10 tight game.

Minnesota is good, but if Denver plays on offense the way they did against NE or CIN they would lose. They only kept the ball 26 minutes with turnovers that led to 10 points. Can't give away points or make the defense stay on the field that long against better opponents.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:45am

Don't understand the Drew Brees comments. He's always been a YAC, and almost a YAC-only passer who doesn't go downfield. Everything is short and mostly to the outside, and has been at least since he arrived in New Orleans. He doesn't put up 70% completions throwing deep posts. He doesn't do it without Darren Sproles, either, but maybe CJ Spiller will help.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:59pm

I wouldn't agree with that at all. I've spent months on receiving +/- and Brees finishes first in almost every single query I run. How do you explain all the deep success with Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Kenny Stills? Brees' deep ball is fine and that offense attacks the entire field.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:48pm

That doesn't surprise me. I always recall Brees going deep at least 4/5 times a game to those guys you mention. I also recall him dominating on mid-range throws (Jimmy Graham says hi). Basically he's been good all over the field. You don't put up the numbers he has throwing dumpoffs and screens all day.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:02pm

Both Packer tackles have struggled the last few games especially with bull rushes so in an effort to compensate now are letting guys get the edge on speed. If not for the greatness of number 12 the Niners could have easily had twice as many sacks, minimum

The Packers really gained an edge having Cobb out of the backfield last year mostly receiving but also sometimes carrying, and Montgomery expands on that as the team has chosen to use him there periodically as a change of pace.

Really stunned by Nick Perry not only generating pressure that he finished but that at least one of the sacks was a clean beat of Joe Staley. Perry missed all of training camp and likely made the team only because of being a former first round pick. If he can actually play and contribute it's a pleasant surprise after four years of fits and starts

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:02pm

Agreed, Perry's suddenness in whipping of Staley on that play was surprising, to say the least.

Bhaktiari needs to be more consistent moving his feet so he can stop getting one or two holding calls every single game. Barclay just needs to keep hanging in there. Whether he's still recovering from his ACL, or the decrease in skill is permanent, he's gone from an above to a below average sixth guy. My guess is that it's some of both. Playing on a short week has to be especially tough on a guy coming off ACL replacement.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:20pm

I think the only reason Barclay is still in the lineup is that he is a known quantity versus a Josh Walker. But Barclay is getting closer to and closer to putting Rodgers on the sideline.

And instead of getting better with each game he's getting worse which tells me he's not physically improving while teams are seeing his flaws via film and adjusting accordingly.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:20pm

It was pointed out here on FO that Staley had been in decline last year, I didn't want to believe it and hoped he'd have a bounce back year but he's not the pass protector he was. Perry does look improved though.

The scary thing from the niners' perspective is that he's still their best OL but has been surrounded by retirement rumours (it is the niners after all), if calls it quits, Anthony Davis stays retired and Boone leaves then the niners Thin Red Line could get even thinner.

It's all beginning to look like the franchise is on a ten year repeat cycle.

by oaktoon :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:08pm

Thanks for covering Aaron's: "I really don't understand" comment about Montgomery...pretty obvious to anyone who actually watches the Packers play.

Packers have 13 sacks in last two games--most in NFL in some considerable time, but the "real story" is of course how they only scored 17 points and won a game by 14 that they were favored to win by almost half of that amount.

Football Outsiders-- it's a very interesting world... To be serious, Barclay is having major protection issues-- hopefully Bulaga returns just as schedule starts to get a lot tougher... And not having Adams and the deep threat he provides doesn't help either, though the afore-mentioned Montgomery should have caught first pass of game for what would have been at least a 45-50 yd gain... But without their starting right tackle, without two of their top three receivers, without their second tight end, with their other top receiver reaggravating an injury, and with their top running back still playing with an injured ankle-- well, life could be worse. We're on to St. Louis-- well, the Rams are coming to GB, actually-- let's see if they can topple an unbeaten again.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:12pm

Wouldn't be the worst thing for you to leave the snark at the door. It's tedious.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:01pm

Seconded. The last time the Packers won while scoring 17 or fewer was in the last regular season game of 2010. Both the offense and the defense were surprisingly low-scoring/conceding in SF. They are both valid issues to discuss in Audibles (as is almost anything, in fact).

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:34pm

The unfortunate thing about the Packers unique ownership situation is that it allows people, who send cash for nothing in return, except irrational warm and fuzzy feelings, to rationalize the use of "we", despite not drawing a paycheck from the organization.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:56pm

The unfortunate thing about the Packer's ownership situation is that it shows that socialism may actually work. I need to send an email off to the White House about stamping out any threat of a good example. I'm surprised Kissinger hasn't already done so.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:07pm

Let's not get close to rule 1, please, even in an oblique attempt at humor.

by Gaucho :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:15pm

And also lacking terminological precision. If Green Bay is socialism, so would be many, many, many corporations out there. The Packers are still privately owned, although it has thousands of owners.

"A NY Football Giants fan from the Pampas"

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:33pm

True. Please accept my apologies for the failed wit turned into snark, even worse, inaccurate snark. My only excuse is that I am a transplanted New Yorker. This apology goes out to Chemical Burn as well; the discussion about the Jets and Eagles has been fun and interesting too.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:34pm

Sorry, Will, for some reason I thought you were Chemical Burn. So yeah, I'll restrain myself in the future.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:15pm

Well, I am a known communist. It makes sense for me to be caught up in this discussion.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:37pm

EDIT: eh, let me forget about that avenue of thought.

by oaktoon :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:18pm

I'm not an owner... the "we" was an attempt at Belichickian humor... and believe me I restrain about 80% of the snark this New England-oriented site could merit... (If Rodgers and Co. had closed the deal with Seattle (alas), then things could have been settled/ But "they' didn't, so I am only very infrequently chiding folks)

The guy's great.. the team wins... just write about them a little more, because a) they deserve it and b) what he/they are doing year after year is, if not quite the story of B+B at NE, still pretty damn interesting.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:23pm

Again, you are free to write very extensively about them, and the people who read this site tend to read comments, I'd bet.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:23pm

Again, you are free to write very extensively about them, and the people who read this site tend to read comments, I'd bet.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:50pm

And you can discuss all of the that and more in great detail at AcmePackingCompany.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:15pm

Kelce was awful in the Cincy/KC game. Even before the fumble he was clearly not on the same page as Smith and with the Chiefs offense being what it is the tight end has to be in synch with the qb for them to make plays.

But ultimately this game came down to line play as discussed above. The Bengals d-line regularly got pressure while the Chiefs d-line spent a fair amount of time spinning its wheels

by barf :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:06pm

I can't believe no one is mentioning Andy Reid's HORRIBLE decision (one of many the last couple of weeks) with about 9 minutes in the game to kick another field goal when down by 2 TDs. I know it was 4th and 10, but there are only so many possessions left in the game at that point. You need 14 points to tie, you've already kicked 6 field goals - WHY would you kick it now?!!? And now the Chiefs are 1-3.

The Chiefs actually should be 2-2 if not for the epic collapse against Denver at home. Just horrible coaching, time management and decision making this year. I had hopes this was out of his system, but Andy finds a way to screw the pooch yet again.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:11pm

Yeah... that's what rooting for an Andy Reid team is like.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:18pm

The Chiefs have played by far the most difficult schedule to date. Three road games, two against great teams and a home game against a division rival that has their number. They've played 3 of the undefeated teams in four weeks

by barf :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 9:06am

That's a good point - and 2 of the 3 losses were winnable with good decision-making and game management.

Andy Reid gets them ready to play every week, he's very good in that aspect. He then manages to sabotage any chance to win with bad decisions and tactics.

by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:43am

Teams that have played three of their first four on the road this season

ranked by combined DVOA of opponents through week 3
Ravens (1-3) 88.9%
Chiefs (1-3) 79.1%
Eagles (1-3) 30.3%
Dolphins (because I don't count London as a home game) (1-3) 14.2%
Lions (0-4) 13.5%

by techvet :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:20pm

Allen Barbre went to Missouri Southern State U, not Notre Dame.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:27pm

Look, the important thing is, we can all agree he's terrible.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:40pm

I think they're referred to as "the Notre Dame of Southern Missouri."

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:53pm

My error. I don't know why I had it that he attended Notre Dame

by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:35pm

"On replay, I'm not even sure that Incognito was that low but I'll admit to not being an expert on the chop block rule" My thought exactly as I watched this play. The internet seems to think that to be an illegal chop-block the block has to be at the thigh or lower. The replay shows the block by Incognito was at the waist. Well, he does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:43pm

I've seen that play not be called, but he didn't really need to engage. Shame, too, as that pass from Taylor was very pretty. The kid has a lot more arm than I thought he did.

This Bills team is exactly what I thought it would be - better than last year's (I suspect Taylor won't be benched after game four), but still with some serious growing pains to go through. The surprise so far is how much better the offense has been - which is good, because the D has been solid, but not last years' terror-inducing group.

If they clean up the penalties, this is a dangerous team. If they continue to self-immolate, well, it'll be yet another long year.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:13pm

You can spend quite a long time waiting for Rex Ryan teams to stop self-immolating.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:36pm

Denvers defense is a marvel to watch. They are deep and talented at pass rush and at corner back. Cosell had a nice article on them too. I thought teddy played about as well as he could yesterday. So did the receivers. But thats a tough tough defense.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:43pm

Yeah, they're fun - I'm ready for them to play a good offense though! Good defenses are the most fun when matching wits and talent versus another great team. Beating up on Detroit, KC and The Ravens is only so interesting. They got two more stinkers coming up (Raiders, Browns) then finally we get a delicious showdown with Aaron Rodgers - and at home, to boot!

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:25pm

I've watched every Denver game so far and, as impressive as they've been, I'll be surprised if Green Bay doesn't crack 30. Denver's run defense is dominant, but the pass rush has covered up the fact that receivers are getting open on the secondary. Thus far, opponents have had significant limitations at OL, QB or WR but I think the first one that is competent across the board will move the ball with surprising ease.

Call it a gut feeling.

by Duke :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:37pm

I was so mad at John Fox. I couldn't really even enjoy the win.

First off, I don't understand why they kicked the PAT after the second TD, rather than go for 2 to tie the game. Why do you so prefer a 1 point deficit to a 2 point one? They seem equivalent to me, and if you make it (which has a good chance) you can be tied!

I was also echoing Vince's screams at the end about settling for a 49(!) yard FG attempt. Robbie Gould is a good PK but that's not automatic for anyone, and the wind was I his face. You have to keep driving in that scenario. I'm almost mad that Robbie bailed him out.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:42pm

You really need to become comfortable with the fact that "Field Goal Range" is a binary phenomenon. One yard outside the range and it's a 0% chance. Inside the range, it's 100%.

Once you accept that, you can get a job as a special teams coach in the NFL.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:02pm

Or you believe proper football games are won 13-7

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:36pm

13-7 is a proper score for a football game? You expect your defense to get 2 safeties per game?

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:18pm

It was meant to describe most coaches who are stuck in old school ways of thinking.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:16pm

I think you missed his joke that Fox doesn't expect to score a TD.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:38pm

Agreed on all counts, and I'll add one: with 1:15 left in the 1st half, Eddie Goldman sacks Derek Carr for a 15-yard loss, back to the Oakland 5 yard line. To my wife's severe annoyance, I immediately begin screaming "call time out! call f***ing time out, you moron!" because I know Fox won't. He lets Oakland run the clock to 39 seconds, then begins using his 3 timeouts. Predictably, the Bears run one play after the punt and eat the remaining T.O. I mean, did Fox really worry about giving Oakland extra time to drive from their own 5 yard line starting with 2nd and 25? (Answer: no, he didn't, he just wasn't paying attention.)

Side note: What happened to Marc Mariani? The whole point of having a slow 35-year-old returning kicks is that he'll always make the right decision, but he ran a KO out from 9 yards deep with no wedge set up (resulting in a predictable tackle short of the 20 plus holding or BITB penalty so the drive started inside the 10), and he botched the return of the punt mentioned above, badly enough that even Trent Green noticed it. Other than Gould on FGs (and O'Donnell punting when he's healthy), the Bears special teams are terrible right now.

Other side note: The difference between this team with and without Cutler is starker than ever. With Cutler, they are bad with a shot at mediocre; without him, they are 0-16.

Final side note, I swear: I will be very disappointed with Quotes of the Week if this postgame one from Martellus Bennett does not make it: "They threw rocks at Jesus, and Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff."

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:57pm

The contrast between Cutler and Clausen is illuminating, but I don't know if it's illuminating how good Cutler is or how bad Clausen is. If Josh McCown was still the backup, how would he look? I suspect much better than Clausen.

By the way, doesn't it feel like Cutler is playing markedly better this year than he has as Bear? It seems like he's getting into a rhythm and feeling the flow of the game much better.

PFR says it's his 3rd best in ANY/A right now behind 2011 and 2013, but we don't know how opponent adjustments will affect things.

by Duke :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:07pm

I think Cutler's overall play has been good this year.

I think he might have been playing better in some of the J'Marcus Webb Experience years. But to a lesser result.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:40pm

I totally agree. Settling for a long field goal, in that wind - and I was at the game, it was really windy, at there was some cross-wind as well - was awful. I actually said that I wanted Gould to miss to "teach a lesson" to Fox.

by Hummingbird Cyborg :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:15pm

I doubt that John Fox would learn that lesson. I mean, be honest Chicago fans, it's fair to hope for a miss there if for no other reason that it positions you for that first overall pick.

by Duke :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 3:19pm

On the other hand...I read Dan Durkin's column on the game, and he pointed out/reminded me that the team lost it's starting center, and mostly (except for one fumbled exchange) hung together. The line didn't collapse into a steaming pile.

IDK how much you can attribute that to John Fox vs. Adam Gase vs. the line coach, but it's the kind of crisis that theoretically Fox is supposed to be good at managing. I guess there probably is a skill in that, and Fox brings it, and it's hard for fans like me to appreciate/acknowledge it.

I'm just tired of overconservativeness in my Bears offense.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:09pm

Cortez Kennedy is probably the greatest defender on a bad TEAM I can think of. Certainly, he made more of an impact for improving bad defense than Watt this year (is he hurt this year? seriously, he's barely factor)

Actually Watt has been an enormous factor:

* 4.0 sacks, tied with Tampa Bay's Jacquies Smith(!) for second place behind DeMarcus Ware's 4.5
* Yahoo! has him with eight stuffs, two more than the next best guy (Aaron Donald, who has also been amazing this year).
* Yahoo! also has him with five PDs; nobody else with at least two sacks has more than two PDs.

So Watt is still awesome. The problem is that the other ten men are so very, very dreadful.

Which brings me to a clarification: I didn't say best defender on a bad team, I said best defender on a bad DEFENSE. Cortez Kennedy's defenses were usually pretty good, and they were third in DVOA when he won defensive MVP on a 2-14 team.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:32pm

Yeah, but that seems like a very thin distinction between the situations of Watt and Kennedy - you'd never get a defense THAT bad with Kennedy at full strength on your team. I just wouldn't happen. It's not like Kennedy was playing with of All-Stars on that 1992 defense (which was ranked 3rd in DVOA on a 2-14 team) the only other notable player is Eugene Robinson. I haven't heard of 3/4 of the other starters. Rufus Porter? Dwayne Harper? David Wyman? I mean, Joe Nash was good ten years earlier.

I guess I'm more curious as to why Watt isn't making anywhere NEAR that kind of a difference this year. You can compare the rosters between the 1991/1992 Seahawks and this year's Texans defense - there's almost definitely more talent on this year's Texans' D. And I'd like to point out that the Texans are ranked this year about where the Kennedy defenses were generally ranked (the Texans and the Kennedy Seahawks are all floating around in 13th-18th on total defense) so I'm not sure what the distinction you're making is. The Seahawks a couple times had great defenses with Kennedy (although the 1991 team wasn't an awful team), but that's proof that he was great more than anything. So, Kennedy definitely played on defenses mediocre almost exactly like this Texans one and he was definitely as good as Watt (probably better)...

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:11pm

Most of Kennedy's teammates in 1992 had high pedigrees and/or long, productive careers. Jeff Bryant was the sixth overall pick in the draft in 1982 and started 167 NFL games. Joe Nash went undrafted, but he started 169 games himself and made some All-Pro teams in the 1980s. (Granted, both were pretty old in 1992.) Tony Woods was a former first-round pick who started 125 games for the Seahawks, Rams, and Redskins. Terry Wooden was a second-rounder (the 29th pick in the draft -- would have been a first-rounder with 32 teams) who started more than 100 games himself. Dave Wyman, a second-rounder who started 80-plus games. Rufus Porter was a UDFA who had at least 9.5 sacks three times and started 98 games. Strong safety Robert Blackmon was a second-rounder; cornerback Patrick Hunter, a third. Dwayne Harper was an 11th, but like Blackmon and Hunter, he totaled more than 100 NFL starts. And the free safety was Eugene Robinson, a three-time Pro Bowler.

They were not All-Stars, but there was talent all over the place and not much of a weakness to be found. Every starter on the defense was at least average at his position, most better than average, and most at or near the peak of their careers.

(Yes, I am only familiar with this team because I live in Seattle, and no, I don't expect most football fans in 2015 to get excited about names like Tony Woods or Dave Wyman.)

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:28pm

But Nash and Bryant (whose names I did recognize - I mentioned Robsinon) were drafted in the early 80's! It's not like Kennedy got to play with them in their prime! The Texans have several defenders who have played many games, made Pro Bowls and were high level picks. I think the whole "they were not All-Stars, but there was talent all over the place" can just as much be said of this Texans defense. If you're talking the 1993 or 1994 Seahawks (where the best guys you mention were old BUT old!), I think the comparisons are extremely apt.

(Cushing's a "Pro Bowler" - hmph! - Kareem Jackson is a solid veteran, Jonathan Joseph in his prime was a borderline All-Pro, Jadeveon Clowney is a high pick, Whitney Mercilus averages 6 sacks a year, Vince Wilfork is an almost perfect Joe Nash analog! These rosters we're comparing not that different at all. Even Rahem Moore and Quintin Demps are the kind of unremarkable, perpetual veteran starters in the secondary that compare to Harper and Hunter.)

(Also, I gotta say that you are far and away my favorite writer on this site and it is always a pleasure having a discussion with you!)

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:51pm

Maybe this Texans's defense is just poorly coached.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:00pm

Wouldn't disagree with that. Those Seahawks teams didn't exactly have a crackerjack coaching staff either...

by Travis :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:46pm

As mentioned above, a very good choice for best defender on a bad defense is Deion Sanders on the 1991-1993 Falcons, as can be seen by just how bad those defenses were when he was hurt or off playing baseball. As a reminder, positive defensive DVOAs are bad, and the worst team in a given year rarely breaks 30% for the season.

Falcons' pass defense in games Deion Sanders missed, 1991-1993:

1991 Week 11 vs. Redskins: 104.9% DVOA (Mark Rypien: 16/31, 442, 6 TD)
1992 Week 1 vs. Jets: 95.1% (Browning Nagle: 21/37, 366, 2 TD; never threw for more than 200 yards before or after)
1992 Week 7 vs. 49ers: 52.8% (Steve Young: 18/28, 399, 3 TD, int)
1992 Week 9 vs. Rams: 32.4% (Jim Everett: 22/33, 253, 4 TD)
1993 Week 1 vs. Lions: 61.8% (Rodney Peete: 11/20, 178, TD)
1993 Week 2 vs. Saints: 68.5% (Wade Wilson: 22/34, 341, 3 TD, int)
1993 Week 3 vs. 49ers: 60.8% (Steve Young: 18/22, 210, 3 TD, int)
1993 Week 4 vs. Steelers: 132.7% (Neil O'Donnell: 19/25, 259, 2 TD)
1993 Week 5 vs. Bears: 20.4% (Jim Harbaugh: 16/23, 122)

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:57pm

Wow, I had forgotten how bad the Falcons were. I think Sanders has the crown until unseated...

(Just seeing his name on there reminds me that Wade Wilson's 1992 remains the strangest thing to have happened in all of football. I guess 1993 was a revenge game?)

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:24pm

God, I remember that Browning Nagle game. I had Giants fans congratulating me on Nagle's future later that day.

by Gaucho :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:11pm

Zimmermann did not see THE PLAY, but what he saw was enough for him:

"... Hutson was part of a five-play generic highlight film. A former
Columbia quarterback, Ed Rovner, who is now a lawyer in Maryland,
once told me something that I have never forgotten. He said he saw
Hutson catch a pass in full stride, a one-handed low catch in which
he snapped up the ball with his palm turned downward. I've asked many
people about this, but no one else remembered it. That's the stuff I
wanted to see... and then on the sixth play of the highlight reel, there it was.
The play that was worth the trip.
The Packers were playing the Giants. Clarke Hinkle, the fullback,
took a direct snap. He scrambled -- two defenders were in his face --
and threw the ball, sidearm. Hutson was running a down-and-in. The
Giants' Tuffy Leemans went up for the ball with him. Hutson did a
scissors kick in the air, up, up -- and stayed up, like Michael
Jordan. With his body fully extended, Hutson snatched the ball away
from Leemans, came down running and glided in for the score, a
62-yard touchdown. It was over in an instant. Smooth, quick,
decisive. Eleven years of that. Ninety-nine touchdowns.
Two plays later Hutson ran a deep sideline route. Tailback Cecil
Isbell threw the ball, not well. It was behind Hutson, the defensive
back was screening him off. With his momentum carrying him the other
way, Hutson reached back, reached, reached -- his arms seemed five
feet long -- reached past the defender, made the catch, kept his
balance and scored. I ran the play back, frame by frame. It was an
impossible catch. I've only seen one other like it: Lynn Swann's
against the Cowboys in the '76 Super Bowl."

link: http://www.si.com/vault/1989/09/11/120491/the-bronk-and-the-gazelle-fift...
"A NY Football Giants fan from the Pampas"

by Perfundle :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:28pm

with Eddie Lacy twice converting on fourth-and-1 (quite easily both times, in fact)

It looked like San Francisco conceded the conversions when they kept two safeties back fairly deep both times. I guess they would rather Green Bay kick a short field goal than risk giving up a TD before halftime, and it worked out for them in the end.

by TB284 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:41pm

At this point, I mostly just read these to see Cian's comments about Ryan Fitzpatrick. They're like an oasis in a vast desert of inept sportswriters clinging to the weird notion that Fitz is a lower-risk proposition than Geno Smith because he's got a terrible arm, he went to Harvard, and something-something-game-manager. I understand that click-baiting people is arduous work, but watch him play for like an hour and it becomes pretty obvious that he's not.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:48pm

I'm more surprised that there's a vocal contingent of Jets fans that think Geno has some hidden upside he's never shown (and maybe now with what's happened in Miami, I'll have to hear less about his perfect passer rating versus them to end last season.) The Jets have two options: suffer through the mediocrity (and yes, mistakes and lack of arm strength) of Fitzpatrick or burn their season to the ground by starting the QB who got benched for Michael Vick last year and put up a DVOA with ranking (31st) sandwiched between two rams back-ups. Guys like Geno Smith don't suddenly become good. They stay Colt McCoy their entire career.

by TB284 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:25pm

We just don't see eye to eye on what Fitzpatrick is doing, I guess, because I think mediocre is being really generous. By my count, he's already thrown 11 passes that should've been intercepted this season in 145 attempts, excluding the pick last week that bounced off of Marshall. That's pretty ridiculous. He's tried his absolute hardest to lose games this year, and if the Jets hadn't played a few teams that they could just bully defensively, he would have succeeded. I'd much prefer to go with the mistake-prone young player with some physical ability over the mistake-prone old player with no physical ability. Maybe they can ride that variance train through the playoffs instead of being the 2012 Texans.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:44pm

A few words here. Most Jets fans support Fitz, and not Geno. I'm the vocal one on this site, and I would say I'm creating a small sample size distraction on the Fitz/Geno polling. Hopefully I'm not driving you nuts.

Secondly, Geno had a perfect passer rating last year against Miami, with 200 passing dyar. The Dolphins played terribly in London, and poorly last year, but if anything, Fitz played horribly as well (check out his PFF grade). Geno has had several huge games, and several disasters. Geno was the starter until Ik decided to break his jaw, and none of the beat reporters were questioning that decision; if anything, they kept reporting how much better he was in Gailey's offense. He also still has a QBase projection of 800, after this site tweaked the formula to make both his and McCoy's projections (as well others) fit what has happened in the NFL. Geno has potential, it's just doubtful he'll ever reach it until the Pats sign him.

Third and last, you're generally correct that guys like Geno don't suddenly become good, but there are several exceptions. Drew Brees stunk until his fourth year, it took six or seven years for Alex Smith to become a decent starter. Bradshaw stunk until his fourth year, although that was a different era. Testaverde and Plunkett are other examples. All of the guys I mention made it to championship games at least. Fitzpatrick has never made it to the playoffs, much less started a playoff game. He's also not started 16 games in a season in his entire career. So I expect Geno to make a start this year.

by TB284 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:53pm

To add to what you mentioned about Smith's disasters: I still feel as though the low points of Smith's 2014 (the MNF Bears game and the Bills game that got him benched) masked the fact that he did make notable improvements last year. Per Cian's charting, he threw 15 interceptable passes in his 13 starts, and 8 of them were in those two games. Once he was reinserted as the starter, his mistakes were very limited. Additionally, there's some peripheral stuff that suggests he could be a lot better than what his reputation has become so far.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:01pm

That Brees thing is a bit of a canard: he didn't play as a rookie, was bad in his first year as a starter, played through injury in his third year and then was excellent (5th in DVOA/7th in DYAR) in his second full season as a starter. There's just not a lot to compare between his career arc and Geno's so far. I think we can all agree players (failing reaching the Gabbert level) should probably be given a mulligan on their first season as a starter. And I didn't entirely write off Geno after his. If you're still making the same mistakes and look just as clueless (and have tons of questions about your work ethic and responsibility) after your second year, it's not worth it to give you another chance, especially if there's a veteran journeyman on the roster who can match your production.

Alex Smith became ok but that was after a half dozen years of being unacceptably awful. Are you willing to go through six years of awfulness just to see if Feno can eventually become Alex Smith? Even in SF, his DVOA was not that much better than Fitzpatrick's last year and this year. He was 14th in his only full season (Fitzpatrick was 13th last year.) Essentially, you're saying that maybe the Jets should consider waiting a half a decade to see if Geno develops into Fitzpatrick.

Anyway, I'm not some Fitzpatrick booster, I'm just very touchy about taking competent QB play for granted...

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:16pm

I don't think they should spend six years finding out if Geno is the guy. The end of this year and the start of next year would be enough to figure it out. I think you are just assuming Fitz is going to be competent, like last year, when chances are last year was a fluke. Again, the guy has never played an entire season, so the assumption that Geno will play at some point is a good one. Doesn't mean Geno will be any good, but he's better than the other option, unless they get David Fales off the Bears practice squad (Oops, too late).
My other problem with this situation is that Petty is going to be terrible, a weaker version of both Geno and Fitzpatrick. They should have drafted Hundley, who looked really good in preseason this year. Pretty much MacCagnan's only big mistake so far. So the number one option is whoever is going to be available in the middle of the first round next year. Here's hoping the usual suspects pick up the usual suspects like Cook and Hackenberg, and Goff slips.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:20pm

Perhaps I should clarify my better option point. Geno is a better option than Petty or anyone available in a trade unless the Saints give up on Brees. If the Jets keep winning, Bowles won't put Geno in unless Fitz gets hurt. Chances are, Fitz will get hurt at some point this season, or just tank several games in a row, because that's what's he done in his career.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:38pm

Yeah, Hundley dropping deep in the draft despite looking exactly as promising as a player as Winston or Mariota is one of the great mysteries of the NFL evaluation process to me. And surprise, he gets taken by a franchise with a long history of developing QB's and maximizing their potential. I mean, he easily looked the best of any rookie QB in the preseason, it's mystifying why clownshows like the Texans and Browns passed on him in favor of obviously terrible journeyman prospects.

But the more you talk to me about it, the more I think you might be right - if Bowles is trying to build a contender and not just a team happy to go 10-6 and lose a playoff game, he really should make sure of what he has in Geno. We can disagree that the question is settled, but another half dozen starts for him probably would be for the best just to close out the issue and put the longterm future ahead of a fleeting present.

On the other hand, he's clearly trying to build a certain kind of locker-room and wash the "rex Ryan circus" taste out of the team's mouth, so a staid veteran like Fitzpatrick might be better than an idiot who is getting his jaw broken by team-mates in the locker room and missing meetings to go to movies. I think Bowles really wants a kind of steady competence that i can't see how Geno fits into.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:47pm

Agree with your last paragraph, so the only time Geno gets to play is when Fitz gets injured. Otherwise the locker room may flip out, although I think that's overstated a little. So if Fitz gets lucky this year, Geno doesn't go in, but is it likely for that to happen two years in a row? There's no reason to jettison Geno until his rookie contract runs out in 2017, and I really doubt Petty passes him on the depth chart either. Hoping the Jets signed Fitz to a 2 year contract now; with them winning I need something to worry about, and resigning Ivory and Wilkerson and the cap room next year seems like the biggest elephant in the room right now.

by TB284 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:50pm

To start, I won't make any comparisons because its a pointless exercise. Every situation is unique, and pointing to guys in the modern era who were bad their first couple of seasons isn't a useful guideline because it would be fraught with selection bias. The stuff about work ethic and responsibility is a write-off for me; I stake as much on the anonymous sources spouting that garbage as I do the ones pining for Johnny Manziel to start in Cleveland. The players putting their names on quotes praise him for his work ethic, but we tend to disregard it as lip service.

Moving on: my only real complaint here is associating Fitzpatrick with competency. Just to keep harping on the interceptions, since that seems to be the go-to criticism of Smith: Fitz has had an adjusted interception rate around 4.5% for most of his seasons as a starter, and his 4.2% rate for 2014 was pretty much in line with that. So that 13th ranked DVOA from last year loses some of its luster when you notice he had a likely-unsustainable run of luck with dropped interceptions. On top of that, his accuracy rating is generally terrible (and has been so far this season) and his inability to throw downfield is obviously well documented. There's really nothing the guy does at even a passable rate.

Similarly to you, I don't want to come off as a Smith fan-club inductee. I wasn't thrilled they drafted him, and I've suffered from some of that post-Sanchez PTSD that I think will give most Jets fans a short leash with young QBs. I just think the general public is selling Smith a bit short.

by Biebs :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:28pm

I think I watch Fitzpatrick play and I think, without Brandon Marshall, he'd be a disaster, even with Marshall, he's kind of being carried to victory. Geno Smith had Decker as a #1 WR last season (and early in the season Decker was out/not close to 100%).

Geno Smith with a guy like Marshall AND Devin Smith (who Fitzpatrick has missed over and over again) seems like he'd be at least as good as Fitzpatrick as been this season. I don't think it really makes sense for the Jets to change QBs, but Fitzpatrick hasn't shown much to make me think he's even any better than Geno Smith (through the first 4 games, Fitzpatrick's numbers are somewhat similar to Geno Smith in 2014 7tds/6ints, 225YPG, 60% passing vs 13tds/13int, 190 YPG, 59% passing ), but Geno Smith didn't have Brandon Marshall and Devin SMith's value is quite limited with Fitzpatrick out there (on a side note, the INT to Devin Smith was strange, Smith was pretty clearly bumped off the route and knocked down, and DPI wasn't called, curious if anyone had more info on why that wasn't DPI).

Fitzpatrick has made some good throws when he's needed to, but he's missed a lot of open receivers all over the place. He's not really careful with the ball. Jets are winning despite of him, IMO. But, they are winning.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:42pm

There's no info on why that wasn't DPI, because it was. Revis and Cromartie are probably griping/laughing about it while watching film, why the refs called interference on them when that play was just as bad. The officiating was pretty sloppy in that game too, while it didn't really favor either side. Watching Browner get called for holding last night, I said, "Yeah, that's what holding looks like".

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:58pm

I don't know, watching that Smith non-DPI call in replay, I thought "Well, in the land of soccer it makes sense to flop like that..."

Revis and Cromartie both got called for jersey tugs. Jersey tugs always get called - and I'm ok with that, it's one of the few clear standards for DPI (and holding) that I think you could expect refs to consistently enforce...

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:58pm

I felt the interference jersey tug calls were legit, but Browner last night looked like a mugging. Wasn't sure the penalty on Skrine was legit. It just seemed a lot of penalties were being called yesterday, not just in London.

by TB284 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:58pm

After reading the past few comments, I think I should add this: I totally understand Bowles not making the change. The NFL culture is hyper-conservative most of the time, and standing pat is a good way for a rookie(ish) head coach to avoid criticism. After starting 3-1, if you switch QBs and Smith is a dumpster fire -even though I still feel that is quite unlikely- you're inviting a lot of unnecessary drama. The regression Gods will catch up with Fitzpatrick, and if they don't, his injury history might, so the decision will likely be made for him.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:09pm

I think we are closer to agreeing than it might seem!

My main feeling is that teams should not take Fitzpatrick's level of production for granted - it's very difficult to find a guy who is even the 20th best QB in the league. Fitzpatrick has been about that good for a year and quarter - and hasn't shown a downside as far down as Geno's. I feel like there's common perception amongst fans that you MIGHT be able to upgrade from a guy like Fitzpatrick, so it make sense to that shot. Personally, I feel like you should only take that shot with good reason and that Geno's performance, personality and production to this point are about as far from a good reason as you can get...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:52pm

I saw you mention the 2008 Eagles again in the thread and that reference always gets me because, to get back to 20th best qb notion, I think if the Vikings would have had the 20th best qb in the league that year, instead of Tavaris Jackson, they handle the Eagles in that playoff game, and beat the Cardinals, who they matched up with very well. Yeah people really underestimate how difficut it can be to get the 20th best qb.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:10pm

I don't know - they had a great defense and made a lot of good QB's look bad that year. They were a turnover generating machine and that wasn't so great on offense, but would knock teams out with big plays from Westbrook and DeSean Jackson. Their playoffs game against the Vikings I had total confidence they would win, even though it stayed close for a while. They would sort of jab and then knock people out with a big Westbrook catch or an Asante pick and frequently both. What they couldn't do was come from behind with methodical drives or control the clock. But anyway, they were #1 in DVOA by a healthy margin over a very good Steelers team and I just don't believe a Fitzpatrick would've been enough to challenge them. The Vikings weren't even a very effective running team that year (I know, stacked boxes and all.)

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:30pm

Well, that's just it; the Eagles especially, against Tavaris, would literally often have 10 defenders within 7 yards of the line of scrimmage to stop Peterson, so little repect did they have for The Magnificent T-Jack. Even then the Eagles offense, despite getting the ball back very quickly, only managed 17 points, 7 of which came on a 50 yard screen pass that Kevin Willims missed getting his hands on by about 1 inch. You can't tell me competent quarterbacking dosn't make any difference in that game; hell who wouldn't be confident when Ol' Tavaris is slingin' the ball for the other side?

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:49pm

Yeah, but the Eagles had 50 yard screen passes every game (and they were always just barely over the d-line - that's the idea) and were 3rd in defensive DVOA behind two all-time great Steelers and Ravens defenses. Asante was always getting pick-sixes. If they had Farve, that's a different story. If they had Bridgewater or Alex Smith or Fitzpatrick, I still think the game is exactly the same. It wasn't an eagles team that won by 20, it was a team that scored 24 points off of a handful of plays and held down the opposing offense - a big DJax bomb, an Asante pick and a Westbrook screen/corner route were what they always scored with. It's not like the Vikings defense did some notably good job on them. They played exactly the kind of game they always played. If you think Dawkins, Mikell, Samuel and Brown would've been throw for a loop by a marginally better QB, you're kidding yourself. They had great cover LB's that year, too - and a d-line that was great against the run. Jim Johnson wasn't going to get confused and out-coached by Brad Childress. There's just no scenario in which that happens.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:36pm

Nobody needs to be thrown for a loop for a competent qb to make a difference in a game that is 16-14 entering the 4th quarter. The difference in the game was one 3 and out by Tavaris in the 2nd half, and while nothing can be known, of course, ya' just can't dismiss the difference between quarterbacking that is so-so, and that which is cover your eyes awful.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:48pm

Eh, I could just as easily point out that the rush they gave up to Peterson was the longest rushing TD they gave up all year and in another universe, the one where Williams knocks down the screen pass and Asante doesn't have the pick, Peterson doesn't have that long TD. I mean, the Vikings needed McNabb to fumble at their 40 to keep it close that late. The fumble recoveries went against the Eagles. They won by 12 and had the lead the entire game, it was not a skin of the teeth win for the Eagles - it looked like all their wins that year, wins that came against near-MVP Kurt Warner and Tony Romo and Eli Manning and Matt Ryan and other QB's with good running game support. I wasn't like they won on a last second field-goal after a Vikings wide receiver fumbled or dropped pass in the endzone. It was a very healthy, normal win for them. DJax caught a long pass, Westbrook hit a screen, Asante got a pick, the defense clamped down. That's what that team did.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 8:33pm

A normal win against a team starting a qb who has never, in all likelihood, been among the 32 best in the league, is a game that can easily be lost if facing a competent qb. That's kind of the point.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:02am

Will, it wasn't that close of a game. Even if their new QB was automatically worth another TD and FG (which is a huge freakin' jump in value) they still would've lost. I mean you can see my dubiousness: the massive jump in value was supposed to come against the 3rd ranked passing defense and 3rd overall defense that was one the Top 30 defenses in the history of DVOA. With Matt Ryan back there (throwing to Bernard Berrian), The Vikings probably would've have a couple more long-ish drives and the Eagles would have won by a few points instead of a dozen.

I mean, it was Jim Johnson - he had an easy time shutting down Randy Moss and Culpepper twice in a single season back in 2004. I think he would've been able to handle a scheme adjustment.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:58am

CB, your perceptions are simply at odds with observable reality. With 8 minutes left in the game, the Eagles just taking possession, the game was 16-14 Eagles. Each team had completed 9 possessions. This was the result total yards of drive and result...
Eagles Vikings
1 22 yds punt 19 yds punt
2 1 yd FG 36 punt
3 42 yds FG 78 yds TD
4 59 yds FG 6 yd int
5 22 yds int 64 yds td
6 12 yds end of half 3 yds punt
7 52 yds Punt 29 yads punt
8 -6 Fumble 9 punt
9 42 yds punt 5 punt

Total 246 yards 249 yards

The lead the Eagles had was obtained by a 60 yard pun return, followed by a 3 and out with a field goal and the pick 6. The Eagles, facing a team with zero passing talent, had given up 118 yard rushing, and two long td drives. It simply is at odds with reality to claim that you can have confidence that competent qb play for the Vikings would have made no difference.

by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 1:37pm

The real interesting thing to me about this argument is what would have happened the next week. If the Vikings won they would have played at Carolina (Arizona was the 4th seed, and would have played at the Giants). So the Giants probably handle the Cardinals, who couldn't deal with early East Coast games, especially in cold weather, and the Panthers probably melt down against the Vikings. Who wins the championship then, and do the Steelers win it all again, or does Eli get another ring?

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 4:31pm

I know it's not a reliable indicator, but the Giants lost a meaningless (to them) their Week 17 matchup in Minnesota by 1 point. I can't remember if Minnesota needed to win that game, but I feel like the Giants would have crushed them.

Pittsburgh would have been a tough matchup, though; I feel like Polamalu would have picked Eli four times. The Giants did not play well in their regular season matchup at Pittsburgh (though they did win that game), and I distinctly remember the Steelers playing significantly better late in the season (and the Giants defense playing worse).

by bengt :: Thu, 10/08/2015 - 7:25am

The Steelers lost their long snapper in that regular season game and replacement James Harrison caused a safety on a punt attempt, which started the Giants' fourth quarter comeback win. Also, that was the game DE Aaron Smith just came along for from the intensive care unit where his son was treated for leucemia. It was probably not a representative game.

The Achilles heel of that Steelers team was their Oline, as usual. Since the Giants usually won their games with their pass rush, I would assume they would have had a good chance.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:48pm

I don't think Tampa was outplaying Carolina as much as Carolina didn't even really need to play hard to win. Winston fumbled the opening snap, threw a pick-six on the next series, and threw three more interceptions after that. Bleah.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:54pm

I'm curious what you think of Winston. I only saw the initial Mariota/Winston showdown and haven't seen the Bucs play since. Obviously, most of his "highlights" are pick-sixes and sundry dumb interceptions, but is he as bad as looks to folks following him very casually?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:27pm

Winston is shockingly good when he has a nice pocket, is calm, and steps up into his throws. I mean, he throws a beautiful ball and looks perfect in those situations. When he doesn't have that ideal setup, he's absolutely terrible. He has a tendency to just fling the ball up off his back foot into the middle of the field (the "Josh Freeman Special", for nostalgia's sake), stares down WRs on plays where he's apparently pre-decided where the ball is going (yesterday's pick-six on a quick out, he threw the exact same pick-six to the opposite side of the field in week 1), and his pocket presence really sucks.

Other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

He's being asked to do a lot as a rookie, and he's not doing it well. Against the Saints and their nonexistent pass rush, he looked great. Against better teams, he's been just terrible. Right now he's what was expected, a highly talented guy who isn't vaguely ready to start, but is being throw in to learn. My hope for the year was he'd finish the year with less than 20 picks. I'm beginning to wonder if I should have gone for 30 instead.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:16pm

Hm, sounds like my general impression. I also feel like this year I'm hearing "he's very good... if you get him a clean pocket" more than maybe ever in my life. It's used a lot for Tannenhill and Bradford, but also that concept is being attributed to Palmer and Dalton's jump. That always seem like such a shaky foundation to build from though.

You think there's any hope for him or just that his mistake-prone bone-head-ity has graduated with him to the NFL level and there's not much to hang your hat on?

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:23pm

I'd like to think that every QB good enough to play in the NFL can be very good "if you get him a clean pocket".

I'd like to...

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:41pm

FO's numbers show a massive, about seventy percent, difference between qbs under pressure and not. There's the really rare beast like Roethlisberger but for 95% of qbs the worst in the league without pressure are better than the best under it.

And then there's 'David Carr syndrome' where a battered qb stops seeing the difference.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:47pm

Bradford definitely has Carr syndrome - early in the game on Sunday, a Redskins player slapped him on the back (he was being driven around the back of the pocket and had no chance of making a tackle, it was just a desperate swat) and I thought Bradford was going to piss his pants. He tucked the ball and ran directly into another defender for a sack.

He then got up, puts his hands on his hips, threw his head back and rolled his eyes: the Bradford classic.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:00pm

This is kind of correlation does not equal causation though because research has shown that the QB has more of an effect on pressure rates than offensive line quality.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:05pm

Very good point.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:50pm

Oh that's certainly a factor, probably a big one but there're non-lines that just melt on a regular basis.

P Manning, and a handful of others can mitigate this but disastrous blocking hurts and it hurts bad.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:57pm

According to this article that is true, even Bortles has a positive DVOA with no pressure and average DVOA without pressure is about 45%.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 12:37pm

There's very much an "eyeball test" character to my assessment of Winston; he has really beautiful mechanics when he's calm, and it seems like every throw when calm is about as perfect as can be. "Good when not pressured" is pretty clearly a standard thing, but my Winston take is really that he's better than average-not-pressured when not pressured, and notably worse than average-pressured when he has pressure.

by Peregrine :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:24pm

Anybody see the final play of Texans-Falcons? It was the football gods bringing down their Wrathful Hammer on Houston coach Bill O'Brien.

The Texans trailed 42-0 at one point and spent the 4th quarter trying to make the score respectable, which necessitated wearing out their first team offense (with Hoyer) against Falcons backups. I thought DeAndre Hopkins was going to wear himself out earning fantasy points, which was the only relevance to this entire garbage time exercise. In my view, O'Brien risked injury to every player on the field - including his best players - for no perceivable benefit.

Anyway, here's the final play. Texans trail by 21, 1 second left, and they have 4th and goal at the Falcons 17. The Texans run a WR screen to the left side to Cecil Shorts. He runs around like crazy, failing to make any headway, but the Falcons get hold of him, knock the ball loose, and reserve LB Nate Stupar picks up the fumble and runs it back the other way for a score that was only meaningful to fantasy owners of Cecil Shorts and the Falcons defense. Dan Quinn opted not to kick the extra point, hence the 48-21 final. Meanwhile, Shorts looked like he badly injured his shoulder getting tackled. Again, for no perceivable benefit.

I hate it when coaches risk injuries in hopeless causes. Serves you right, Bill O'Brien.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:46pm

Even Belichick has the good sense to pull his top guys on the rare occasion they are losing badly.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:51pm

Belichick is rarely put in that situation as a losing team. I'm not sure having a 38 year old Hall of Famer throw 40-60 passes a game is a great idea, but he does swap out defensive guys in blowouts, I believe.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 5:50pm

On the other hand, if you're trying to get Gronk's and Edelman's backups some quality reps with Brady to prepare for when/if Gronk and/or Edelman miss some games, when better than late in a blowout to do it?

(And in that Jags game I believe that Gronk and Edelman did come out of the game while Brady was still in.)

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 10:37pm

I also recall Belichick using a blowout to replace 2-3 guys on the line at once, to prep for that scenario should it occur in a real game. I remember being stunned by the brilliant simplicity of it.

by CaffeineMan :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 11:24pm

Yes, Belichick will use game reps as practice if at all possible. He'll only pull Brady if he thinks there's nothing to be practiced/learned, like in that KC game in 2014.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:48pm

Quinn didn't kick the extra point? Did they even run a play, or did just tell the referees that's the end of the game?

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 3:52pm

It looked like they were in a field goal formation, but just took a knee.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:22pm

Classy move by Quinn, especially after the Texans injury.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:51pm

The Rams defense is aggressive, nasty and fun to watch. They gave up plays yesterday (and will continue to do so as their LBs and DBs are average at best) but harassed Palmer all day and hit the Arizona ball carriers hard at every single opportunity. Jeff Fisher's record was discussed on these boards last week, but whatever else, he very definitely knows how to get his players up for a game.

by Grendel13G :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 12:36am

The Rams do seem to have an amazing ability to play up or down to the level of their competition.

by Tim R :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 6:16am

Yep. It's incredibly frustrating to watch. Their rank in variance the last 3 seasons is 2012 - 26th, 2013 - 31st, 2014 - 32nd. This is looking like another fairly high variance seasons. I wonder if this is a traditional Fisher thing or if its more to do with the team being consistently among the youngest in the league.

Either way its really annoying watching your team play like they did against the Seahawks then follow it up by playing like they did against DC

by BJR :: Tue, 10/06/2015 - 12:11pm

It was equally frustrating that they didn't take advantage of Roethlisberger's injury to come back and win that game. The offence looked awful in both losses so I'd kinda written them off, but maybe if they can get the ball into Austin's or Gurley's hands enough times there is hope. They certainly aren't a fun matchup for any team with that D-Line and aggressive scheme - one QB has already had his season partially ended against them and I wouldn't bet against another along the way.