Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 12 Open Game Discussion

With the Thanksgiving games over and done with, we can focus on the other big games of Week 12. Among those with major playoff implications are Seattle (5-5) at Carolina (6-4), Miami (5-5) at Indianapolis (5-5), Green Bay (4-5-1) at Minnesota (5-4-1) on Sunday night, and the Monday night game between Tennessee (5-5) and Houston (7-3). Use this thread to discuss them all.


113 comments, Last at 27 Nov 2018, 12:04pm

3 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

New England was called for OPI on an incomplete pass on 3rd and 2. The Jets took the penalty to make it 3rd and 12 rather than 4th down...and the Pats scored on 3rd down. Great job there, Jets.

5 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

It's time for another season of FO gameday chat! 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:

Please note that it'll probably take a few minutes for one of our admins to matriculate you into the chat

8 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

If you jump in the air and are caught by a defender, is that pretty much not the end to your forward progress? Letting the play continue long enough for some linemen to come along and push seems absurd.

9 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Eagles losing 19-3 to the Giants. What a disappointing season it has been for them. How unfortunate that their struggles mean a mediocre at best Cowboys team will probably have a home playoff game this year.

95 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Or we can talk about changing the pass interference rules to make Ty Law's style of coverage illegal because it was so sad to see great offensive teams keep losing to the Pats; or we could talk about making OPI a "point of emphasis" in 2014-2015 and targeting Gronk through the period (and ignoring plays like Luke Kuechly on Gronk in Carolina in 2013 to steal a game from the Pats). The "Ref's favour the Pat's" hypothesis has to be the worst case of confirmation bias in football since Tim Tebow.

12 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

That Browns-Bengals score is wild. Things have fallen apart big time for Cincinnati after that strong start. And how funny is it that that performance, with Hue Jackson on the opposite sideline, is probably far better than anything the Browns ever managed with Jackson as their coach?

13 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Small sample size and all, but has there ever been a week worse for a coaches' image than this one for Hue? I mean, having the kind of inside information he has is so useful that in investing, it is illegal to use such information. He has it, and can't help the Bengals perform better than this?

22 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

From interviews I've heard, most NFL teams are thoroughly uninterested in "inside information." (The Pats may be the exception, it's unclear.) It doesn't make sense, but many players have said they were willing to dish about their old teams, but their new teams wouldn't hear of it. Just more proof that the NFL teams and coaches don't care about winning half as much as they claim.

And no, it's not illegal (by US or NFL rule) to gather or use this kind of information, and it wouldn't be enforceable if it was.

85 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Generally speaking, what kind of inside information is there that cannot be seen watching game tapes?

It's been said that part of Belichick's motivation for hiring Dom Capers as an assistant coach was to get Capers to share his secrets about the zone blitz. But Capers stayed mum.

90 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Calls and signals, I would think.

It's public knowledge the Pats have a camera team whose job is to try to correlate game tape to sideline signals. Bringing in players/coaches would confirm/deny whether the Pats film crew's interpretation was correct or not. This is basically the same as signal-stealing in baseball, except there's no correlate to the pitcher headhunting in response.

100 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Now that D calls are radioed in I think the sideline camera thing is a lot less valuable. Prior to that though there is a wealth of information that can be pulled out of film like that. Signals to be sure but any competent team is going to change their signals frequently. Stuff that is hard to change and this is really what the Pats were after I think is decision loop timing. If we make a substitution how long before the call comes in, how long for the other team to analyse personnel groups. The real stuff they pay Ernie for. Scouts have been deciphering signals with binos and a notebook for decades the real signal intelligence stuff wasn't possible before video and computers were available.

104 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

I haven't looked at the specs of the radio equipment teams use, but I've wondered if it's analog or digital. If it's analog, anyone nearby with a HAM radio can scan for the right frequency and listen in on the calls. If it's digital it's probably only slightly more complicated, because I can't believe they would bother to encrypt/decrypt..

14 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Facing 3rd and 18, the Giants take a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. That's a ridiculous waste of a timeout. The difference between 18 and 23 yards to is not very significant. To make matters even more ridiculous, the playcall out of the timeout is a basic checkdown that has absolutely no chance of resulting in a first down (it actually loses yards).

15 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Some guy named Josh Adams is running the ball very effectively for the Eagles. He's apparently an undrafted rookie. Another example of why spending a top five draft pick on a RB is such a waste of resources.

16 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

I'm looking at the Patriots-Jets game. Sony Michel has been out for a while before the game. He was fully active on this one, but in the 2nd he got crushed at the line and was out for some plays. You can't expect. He's been solid, but he's been getting injured. Top picks on RBs are a serious gamble because a) Barring that back being amazing (Pretty much what Barry Sanders was and Saquon Barkley is), you can't that back to become a great performer right away, doubly so if your O-Line is made out of wet paper, and b) RBs probably take the most hits out of any skill players. They will get hurt a fair lot (Looks at both Michel and Leonard Fournette).

86 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Michel was the 31st overall pick. That's really not all that high.

It's kind of funny that you're picking on Michel for his injury. Compared to the other Pats' picks, he's been a model of health.

Highest pick Isaiah Wynn blew out his Achilles in the preseason and won't play until next year.
Second round pick CB Duke Dawson was put on IR in the preseason (though he's been activated, he's yet to play a snap.)

LBs Ja'Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam, 5th and 6th round picks, were both placed on IR in the preseason. Also on IR are 6th round pick Braxton Berrios and Ryan Izzo.

BTW, Michel returned to the game and finished with 133 yards rushing.

18 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

The Bucs defense managed to get an interception today. That was apparently their first turnover in eight games and only their second pick in the entire season. That's mind boggling.

19 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

I've thought for years that QBs can't be *that* accurate on deep bombs, and that "hitting a receiver in stride" is more on the receiver making adjustments running under the ball, and that the QBs job is to give them a chance. The network had a shot of the last throw from Wilson to Lockett, focusing on Lockett the whole time, and you could see how the throw was 5-10 yards away from being "accurate", but that far down the field it didn't matter because Lockett was able to adjust anyway.

I had similar thoughts on an incompletion to I think #18, where he made a wild last-second adjustment to get close, but 18 was still off by a few inches.

68 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Counterpoint: on the fourth and three pass to Moore the receiver had a defender running with him stride for stride and didn't appear to change pace at all as the ball dropped into his arm a couple feet away from the defender. That was a thirty five yard pass.

I'd say the receiver adjustments don't start to dominate over QB accuracy until you start getting into 50+ yards in the air.

26 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Big Ben completes a pass to Xavier Grimble. He gets all the way to the 1 before Will Parks knocks the ball out of his hands. The fumble goes out of the endzone for a Touchback. Do we agree the "Fumble out of the endzone = Touchback" is dumb, bad and should be replaced?

29 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

It's dumb because it is totally inconsistent with fumbling out of bounds anywhere else on the field, which results in the offense retaining possession.

FWIW I would have no problem if the rule went completely the other way, and punished any fumble out of bounds anywhere on the field with a turnover.

87 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

They could just return the ball to the offense at the point of the fumble, regardless of where it ends up, if nobody recovers it. (Alternatively, worse of 'point of fumble' and 'point ball went out of bounds')

I see no reason to reward the defense with possession if they do not recover the fumble.

97 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

This argument could easily be turned around to say "I see no reason to reward the offense with continued possession of the ball after they surrendered it". When a ball is fumbled, it isn't the offenses ball anymore than the defenses ball, when it goes out of bounds the decision as to who to give the ball to is pretty arbitrary (recovery rates are pretty even). I don't support a change to the current rule of the offense retaining possession - but it definitely seems "cheap" to me when a player on the sideline gets away with being sloppy with the football. I also agree with any and all means of punishing players for stretching out for the goal line, and so support the current endzone fumble rule - I think it's ridiculous that players can stick the nose of the football across the goal line and after that it doesn't matter if they fumble (though I get the player safety reasons why you can't making them get "down" in the traditional sense like they have to when catching a ball in the endzone).

25 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

Broncos benefit from the stupid rule where a fumble out of the endzone results in a change of possession and touchback.

Since today is also Grey Cup Sunday I think the NFL should adopt the 'rouge' rule from the CFL and award the Steelers 1 point.

27 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

I agree it is a strange rule, but I'm not sure what you replace the rule with. Stuff that happens in the endzone is often ruled on slightly differently (holding in the endzone becoming a safety etc...), and edge cases can happen. One way to look at it is the defence gets the benefit of the doubt on endzone recoveries (the sideline/backline counts as a defensive recovery) which at least discourages the fumble into the endzone play...

Most sports have some odd rules around the scoring procedures and areas. No problem here with the 'rouge' rule, though you probably want deeper Canadian-style endzones for that, and I'm not sure any NFL defence would like to try to defend a 20 yard deep end zone.

32 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

I feel like teams don't take advantage of the fumble out of bounds rule now. In some cases if you're not going to make it out of bounds it might make sense to intentionally fumble in a way that the ball only goes out of bounds (e.g a rugby style drop and kick along the ground).

33 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

I'd have no problem with that. Gives defences something else to work for, and penalising teams that keep letting go of the ball seems the right thing to do. As it is the current rule seems a lot better than just giving the offence the ball at the 1 (for example). Fumbles should be bad for the offence (as someone brought up with the Rugby 'knock on' the idea that you don't lose possession when you drop the ball seems pretty lenient ;) ).

66 Re: Week 12 Open Game Discussion

The rule everywhere else on the field is that a fumble that goes forward and out of bound is retained by the fumbling team at the spot where it was fumbled. They could just enforce that exact same rule when the fumble goes out the end zone, and spot the ball where it was fumbled. There is no need for a special end zone rule here.