Football Outsiders
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Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Week 1 Open Game Discussion
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Here is this week's Football Outsiders open game discussion thread, the place to discuss all the games all weekend long, starting with the kickoff contest Thursday night between Atlanta and Philadelphia and continuing through the Monday Night Football doubleheader, Jets at Lions and Rams at Raiders.


149 comments, Last at 13 Sep 2018, 3:01pm

2 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Say what you will about FIFA, but they kept the games running on time at the world cup this summer: when they scheduled a game to begin at 6:20, the ball was actually kicked off right at 6:20.

The NFL is infuriatingly inconsistent on this. Usually the scheduled time is when the frou-frou fancy-dog show begins with kickoff at least 10-15 mins later, but I've missed the beginning of too many games when I counted on the bullshit delaying things.

Aaand apparently there's a rain delay now? Shit.

3 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

It's time for another season of FO gameday chat(weather permitting)! Join a star-studded cast of your favorite FO posters as we say smart, analytic and totally backed by data things about the football real time!

Unlike Jon Gruden, FO gameday chat isn't beholden to old ways of doing things so we've migrated from slack to discord the season. Among other advantages, it makes it really easy to join, just click the discord invite link:

4 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Can some one explain to me how there is ANY value in challenging a 3 yard reception that isn't a 1st down, at the 8 yard line, especially when it's not 100% clear that the call was wrong?

I am consistently baffled by the frivolous ways in which NFL head coaches manage to waste challenges and timeouts on frivolous play results.

12 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I agree with this I think the falcons offense looks okay and the eagles d is also good. Not surprising that Foles isn't lighting it up.

I love the Madden cam view and wish they would use it more. I don't know why they added that green zone though.

45 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I also very much dig the madden cam. Gives a way better look on the game than the standard "let's zoom in on the QB and the space behind him" camera.
That green zone looks alright tbh, a little less bright might be better; then it looks more natural.

44 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

100% agree. Little value in challenging there (certainly not enough value in my mind). It is the red zone, so 3 yards can feel bigger I suppose, but with the way "was that a catch?" challenges can never be counted on to be right even when you think you are certain, you risk hamstringing yourself with only one challenge for the rest of the game (and there was a lot of game left). Buddies I was watching with were more neutral when I said as much out loud because they thought it was certain to be a correct challenge thus not sacrificing you to necessarily ONLY one more. But I think they are wrong either way. -Poolboy

7 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Well, this turned out to start as a low scoring game. Not sure if the offenses are just being bad or the defenses being great.

13 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

That over-the-shoulder Julio Jones catch (or not, TBD) was an unusual situation where Madden cam kinda sucked. But 99% of the time I like it better. The dark green to the first down marker helps with depth perception too.

15 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

That looked like a catch (I think he got control before heading out of bounds), although he seems to have a bit of trouble catching the ball over-the-shoulder. That Madden cam looks pretty good, even if it blocked the view of the catch.

47 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

You could give away that *something* is up, but even if the D cottons on what are they going to do about it? Call a timeout I guess, if they're really spooked.

Reminds me a little of that [possibly apocryphal] story about the WR who only put his mouthguard in on plays where he was supposed to get the ball, thus tipping off clever defenders...

27 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Well crap, way to round out the 3rd quarter. Touching a punt that was about to be downed to let the other team be in Field Goal range.

29 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Originally I was going to say why they keep forgetting Julio Jones plays on their team whenever the Falcons are inside the red zone. Cue Matt Ryan throwing a pick. Like .... who was he targeting there?

35 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Well that was disappointing. Bad offensive execution all round (with the exception of Julio Jones - man he’s good). Combined with the penalty count, it made for difficult viewing.

Hats off again to the Eagles coaching staff. It’s not only the preparation of the trick plays, but the willingness to employ them at the most pivotal moments.

The Eagles also once again displayed the benefits of a deep, quality rotation of pass rushers. The pressure they were able to generate right until the very end, on a stifling evening, clinched the victory.

Speaking of which, I was a little surprised when multiple Falcons defenders went down with cramps in the second half. I understand it was humid, but these guys are supposed to be prime athletes. This suggests a preparation issue to me.

Ultimately a game the Falcons should never have lost which could have some serious implications come playoff time.

39 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

One of the issues in pro football right now is that there is that because there are few negative consequences to staying down with a nasty cramp in a situation where the defense is gassed (and quite a few positive consequences to doing so) - and training athletes in a way to avoid them is costly to peek performance - there is non-trivial incentive to train exclusively for peek performance (on the assumption of rotation), knowing that if the guy cramps and stays down you'll get a mostly free time out. All this is to say I think it's pretty rare to see guys fake injury, but I think coaching staffs train in a way that makes cramps and similar injuries much more common then they otherwise would be knowing that the net consequences of doing so are good for them - bad for the sport. And that the free time out for a cramp incentivizes it as a defense against a number of offensive strategies.

I think the right way to handle it is to make a guy sit out at least the series - maybe the quarter - rather than just the next play if they go down and force a time out. A way of tweaking the incentives without being heavy handed.

40 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Yes, very sloppy, but I was also struck by how Ryan threw the ball in such a mediocre fashion. He's never looked like Marino when delivering the ball of course, and he was under duress many times, but man, there were some tosses that looked like mid tier college quarterbacking.

42 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Stoked for Sunday! I've got a nice set of games in my area, per 506sports: HOU/NE (with Romo announcing) and SF/MIN in the morning, and SEA/DEN in the afternoon, thus avoiding having to listen to Aikman for an entire week!

I'm going to be a Vikings fan this year, because every Cousins TD this year is a needle in Dan Snyder's heart probably not literally though!

48 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Recipe for an upset special
-1 part turmoil due to the holdout of one of best players
-1 part historical tendency to play down to your opponent
-1 part crazy weather neutralizing the talent differential
-A dash of new hope in a moribund sports town
-A sprinkle of luck for good measure

1. Combine turmoil and historical tendencies in a training camp, let marinate for one month.
2. Boil marinated combination thoroughly four days before the game, removing from heat once the offensive line starts taking potshots at the star player.
3. Stir in crazy weather vigorously at game time.
4. Once the game has just begun, add sprinkle of luck and dash of new hope to be sure the recipe reaches its full potential.
5. Serve the upset special with a cold glass of revenge provided by the star player.


123 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Just to be clear, there are, and can be, no negotiations. The only things that can happen are the Steelers rescinding the franchise tag, making Bell a free agent, or Bell signing the tender and coming in. The former won't happen, so all that's left is wondering when Bell will, in fact, sign.

50 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

"Mike Zimmer loves to run the ball, he's a run guy. It helps his defense."
-Kevin Burkhardt I think (might have been Charles Davis)

If an professional announcer said it, it must be true!

I wonder will announcers EVER get better? Yes, the networks are aware that Tony Romo is wildly popular, but fuck if they're going to DO anything about it

51 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

NFL is serious about hits to the head this year. Bengals LB just ejected for hit to Andrew Luck's helmet. The penalty was a given, but this reminds me of how the NCAA is calling it.

71 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I also have Jones. I didn't grab Peterman because if he starts sucking (and that's inevitable), the coaching staff will go to Allen. I suppose I could have just grabbed both. Buffalo will be the centerpiece of many a Loser League team.

125 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

The r/buffalobills forum was making Kaep jokes midway through the 1st quarter.

I went to that game, since I live in Northern VA and my son's in the Raven's marching band. As a Bills fan for a long time, this team is on par with the horrific Kay Stephenson teams from the '80s. I know they're blowing it up so they're clear of dead contracts next year, but, man, is that O-Line bad. They'd be better off with Inanimate Carbon Rod as WR1, too, since it would have a better chance of getting open than anyone on this roster.

53 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

And Deshaun Watson looks like a rookie QB, he doesn't look comfortable in the pocket, and he's playing like NE's defense is formidable

54 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Just watching Red Zone because my team plays tonight. They just showed Cousins toss a beautiful pass to Diggs for TD. Diggs was covered pretty good but Cousins dropped it right in. I didn't watch the Vikings that much last year but I don't recall Keenum ever throwing a pass that pretty.

56 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

That Saints defense is regressing a whole, whole lot in the very early going of this season. Fitzpatrick has 210 yards and the Bucs have scored 24 with 4 minutes still left in the second. Bucs have scored on every possession to boot.

63 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Is any one else triggered by CBS using an orange first down line? I'm extremely triggered.

Guys, the visual language of the virtual first down line has been established for two decades. You're not innovating or adding any value by diverging from the norm. It's just a distraction. Stop.

64 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

These roughing the passer calls have been, well, rough this afternoon. Really dont know what Carlos Dunlap could have done, and it wipes out a huge turnover for the Bengals. The weight on the passer rule is either really, really, stupid or not clear. Knowing NFL leadership, I'm betting the former

67 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

And Sheldon Richardson gets slapped with a 15-yarder for failing to levitate above Garappolo. The only question is whether this rule is more stupid or more insane

73 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Browns getting the ball back late with a chance to drive for the win. Steelers could join the Saints as a team with Super Bowl aspirations to drop their first game.

74 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

First time watching Garoppolo play live and he still looks like a major work in progress. Had a few good throws but they came with some excruciating misses and bad decisions. Playing the Vikings in Minnesota is really tough and he got hit plenty, but he had some costly throws where he was just inaccurate on his first two INTs and on a 3rd down where he sailed it over a wide open receiver in the end zone

75 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Now I'm hoping this Browns game end in a tie. Would be amusing for them to sorta, kinda end their long losing streak, but only in a halfhearted, dissatisfying way.

83 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I actually like ties quite a lot because they make it less likely playoff spots will be decided by tiebreakers at the end of the season. More satisfying to have postseason slots determined purely by record rather than what is always a semi-arbitrary tiebreaker.

84 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Does Saquan Barkley have a nickname? I'm sure I'm not the first to think of it, but I propose Bigfoot Barkley

85 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I don't like when broadcast types say "… for more on Philip Lindsey, here's…" because it sounds like they're calling Lindsey a moron, which would be totally unprofessional.

87 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Denver's pass rush looks as good as advertised in the first half, though the tackling in the secondary was pretty bad. Keenum has looked a bit rough around the edges, but I optimistically think he's the same quarterback as last year and this is mostly growing pains in a new system.

Seattle has looked every bit a rebuilding team, especially on defense.

129 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Random thoughts on Denver after the Seattle game...

Is Seattle's defensive rush anemic, or has Denver's line reached a level of competence?

Keenum is certainly a step up from the past few seasons, but I certainly hope he gets better at keeping track of the defensive secondary or off-coverage guys will feast on him all year.

Tight ends are kryptonite for the Broncos secondary. Is that scheme or personnel?

I liked the occasional hurry-up look from the offense; it may help them take advantage of matchups they like for a few plays in a row.

Denver's pass run was great, but I was also impressed with how well they (mostly) kept Wilson contained.

88 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Dak Prescott looks completely overwhelmed. If it was mid season I'd assume he has an undisclosed injury of some kind, but he's looked out of sorts from the start.

The D looks fine, maybe even good, but their offense seems to be Ezekiel Elliot or Bust.

95 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

The entire Dallas offence is an abomination. Their best receiver is a cast off from Jacksonville. They've based their entire offensive roster around Ezekiel Elliott, but refuse to include him in the passing game. And now for a variety of reasons the O-line seems to have declined, they have absolutely nothing. This in spite of the fact they have the cheapest starting QB in the NFL.

This is the year when it finally all falls apart for Garrett.

89 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Apparently that Titans-Dolphins game is now officially the longest game in NFL history. It's going to end after games that started three hours after it started. Makes me wonder what the previous record holder for longest game was, I'm kind of surprised it took this long for this game to claim the record.

94 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Packers come out with 2 TEs. The reason they signed Lewis was to protect Rodgers. Bulaga just showed he may not be the blocker he was pre-injury. Graham shouldn't be blocking on pass plays. I can't guarantee McCarthy will do the smart thing and protect Rodgers from what looks like to be a pretty good pass rush. McCarthy can be weirdly stubborn. But the new GM has at least given him an option to improve blocking.

96 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

"Mike Pettine is a guy who wants to get you to third down
-Cris Collinsworth

You know Cris, if you don't have anything to say you can just wait a moment until you do

99 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I'll bet Raiders fans are pretty fired up about their new head coach right now.

Edit: Mack's play has directly led to 3 sacks (only one of which he was credited with), an INT, a Fumble/Recovery, a TD, and who knows how many incomplete passes.

That's why 141M dollars and two #1 draft picks is STILL a fair price to pay for a guy like that. How many players in the NFL can cause that kind of havoc? JJ Watt (if healthy), Aaron Donald... who else?

102 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I'm (obviously) a Bears fan, and even I don't want to see him with a serious injury. Players who compete at that level are the reason that professional sports are great. The entire game is diminished when they're not able to play.

103 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Even if it was nine yards to go, I think the Packers should've gone for it there. They still need three scores even with a FG and, of course, there's also the likelihood that the Bears aren't done scoring.

105 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

"When Khalil Mack ran into Aaron Rogers, it was the most expensive collision in the history of the National Football League"

Heh, nice

111 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

All kudos to Rodgers, and the Bears might still win, but that is a horseshit defensive performance in the 2nd half by the Bears. Stay on your feet. Make a tackle.

118 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

My favorite qb performances are the ones where the qb is productive despite gettiing the feces stomped out of him, or is playing while physically diminished. The qb's team doesn't even to need to win. Brady at Mile High. Manning two weeks later. Eli in the NFCCG in San Francisco. McNair had some great games like that.

I've always enjoyed, obviously, watching Rodgers, but tonight was really great.

119 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I noticed at the end of the game, passes were being broken up by GB's younger corners like King and Alexander. (Didn't hear Jackson's name.) Earlier, passes were completed against a bunch of safeties whose names I didn't know. I'm wondering if Pettine switched his defense strategy mid-game (and maybe gave more responsibility to the younger, more athletic CBs), something Capers didn't do other than sending more blitzers.

126 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Green Bay switched to a lot of dime later in the game because the RBs were killing them in the passing game and the DL was holding its own. Jackson was in on a couple plays too. I think a stronger test will be next week, the Bears game plan was designed around short, easy completions (and to hide Trubisky imo).

120 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Matt Nagy doesn’t trust Trubisky at all. I think he threw under 5 passes further than 10 yards down the field. A lot of horizontal stuff to the backs.

Rodgers is incredible, somebody needs to buy him one of those motorized wheelchairs or a golf cart or something so he doesn’t walk all week.

122 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I don't think the Packers are that good. 10-6 and an early playoff exit--at best. Too much talent elsewhere in the conference. And yes, it was a rookie QB, a rookie coach, and a star DL who was gassed by the 4th quarter.

I don't care. Sports are about thrills..entertainment... the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat...stories.. drama...

If I never see Aaron Rodgers win or even play another game, I'll still die a happy man for that hour or so of incredible "i can't believe what I just saw" tonight.

130 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I couldn't see it on the broadcast, but when exactly in the second half did John Fox sneak onto the sideline, whack Matt Nagy over the head, and take over coaching duties?

When the Packers scored to make it 20-10 I turned to my wife and said "the Bears are going to blow this." It was so painfully obvious. Nagy turtled and started playing not to lose with more than a quarter to go, which is inexcusable in all cases but especially galling when you're facing the king of late-game heroics.

Also, I didn't hear the exact quote, but apparently in the postgame Nagy used a lack of preseason reps as an excuse for why the team played poorly when he is the one whose ego decided that his players didn't need those reps. That's as galling as anything John Fox ever said in his tenure.

132 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Detroit has looked terrible in the 1st half and fortunate to only be trailing by 7. Not surprised at all. The usual preseason caveats apply, but the team has looked poorly coached throughout August, and his sound bytes and press conferences have been uninspiring. This is the most pessimism I’ve started a Lions season with since the year Sanders retired (yes, I had more confidence during the Millen years...including the sad 2006 training camp battle between Jon Kitna and Josh McCown for starting quarterback).

146 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Before the game I was worried about the Lions being torched by a first start rookie QB, then the interception happened and I thought "too pessimistic". No such thing as too pessimistic about the Lions. The offense played just abysmally and the defense was worse. I don't think there was a single positive you could take from that game.

133 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

It has actually been a surprisingly entertaining MNF game. Don’t know who the announcers are but they are certainly less painful to listen to than Gruden and crew was. Except for the first stupid rookie pass, Darnold has looked like the real deal. And the Jets D looks as if they took lessons from Ravens as far as takeaways go.

136 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Hey, this is still probably a better defensive performance than the last time we saw a Matt Patricia coached defense.

But seriously, the top two scoring teams for this week are likely to be Ryan Fitzpatrick lead team facing one of the best defenses in the league last season, and a team with a 21-year old rookie QB in his first start. That's nuts.

137 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

With number three being a team with Flacco at QB. Nuts does not describe it.
Speaking of QBs, first time I have seen McCown without a helmet. He is so blonde he looks like an albino. What is he—half Dutch and half Swede?

138 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

The good thing about Stafford being pulled is that he cant throw any more interceptions. Its on Cassell now to throw them- and he does!

140 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Watching that punt by Hekker reminded me that I'd really like to see the NFL track hang times in real time.

141 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

Booger McFarland does not have interesting thoughts about football. Jason Witten might do, but it's hard to be sure because listening to Booger has caused my brain to liquify.

143 Re: Week 1 Open Game Discussion

I just want to thank the Rams for scoring that TD at the quarter break, instead of right after it. We only got two blocks of stupid commercials in a row, instead of 3.

147 Ravens Special Teams for Week 1

Can anyone explain why the Ravens had such a low score for special teams in week 1? I haven't really paid much attention the specifics of the ST ratings on FO over the years, but I wanted to start this year, and already (yes I did read the explanation article) I'm a little confused. They gave up one 50 yard return on 5 kickoffs, so that was bad, but they made all the XPs and FGs, averaged over 50yds on punts, gave up about 6yds/return on punts, got 9yds/return on their own punt returns. Basically it seemed like a solid game minus one long return, with a 50yd punt return of their own to offset it. Seemed like maybe a top third performance, nothing super spectacular to warrant a top 5 rank, but decent averages overall and only one real negative play with an offsetting positive play. Wasn't expecting it to be in the bottom third of the league last week.

148 Re: Ravens Special Teams for Week 1

They are third-worst in kickoffs and kickoff coverage right now, mediocre in everything else. But I wouldn't get too worked up over it unless they start giving up 50-yard returns every game. Next week two or three other teams will give up big returns and the Ravens will probably jump up 7 or 8 spaces.

149 Re: Ravens Special Teams for Week 1

thanks! i'll have to go back and take a look on GamePass. they didn't stand out as bad during the game, but the whole thing was so one-sided i probably just didn't notice.

also, for kickoffs, with a touchback being a pretty good starting spot (especially considering how often the return team gets penalized even if they do run it out to the 25), are teams starting to strategically kick the ball to the front of the endzone (to force a return) instead of kicking it out of the endzone? i saw that early from Justin Tucker (who has no problem booting it through the endzone most of the time), so i was wondering if that's a strategy teams might start employing. personally i'd want the other team returning it until i have a comfortable lead, cause i feel like the average start position on returns is behind the 25. of course, once i'm up two scores i'd want to remove the risk of a return for touchdown, which is what i saw last week with the ravens, tucker kicking it out of the endzone once the ravens were up