Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Week 2 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 Baltimore and Cincinnati and continuing through Monday Night Football when the Seahawks take on the Bears.


101 comments, Last at 18 Sep 2018, 10:32pm

3 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Wow, busy in here. Then again, it's not like the game is full of wow.

Other than the fact that maybe McDermott shouldn't hold that 3rd preseason game against Allen. Cincy is crushing the Ravens.

4 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Wow. The record for most receiving TDs in a game is apparently five. AJ Green might have a real chance at breaking or at least tying that tonight.

10 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I think it is a surprise to everybody how Dalton and the Bengals offence are eviscerating the Ravens defense. This was a good D last season - #3 in DVOA.

I figured Cincinnati would improve this year to somewhere around league average. Looks like they might have a chance of being quite good.

13 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I'm thinking the Ravens were too complacent after thumping the Bills, and were unprepared for a team that can actually play football, hence the improvement towards the end of the game. I'd expect them to improve in the coming weeks. I'm still unconvinced on the Bengals (can't see them getting past Pittsburgh or Baltimore in the division), but in such a weak AFC a 2-0 start could put them in a good position for a wild card spot.

14 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I dunno -- MAYBE complacent. But maybe just the usual shittiness of a Thursday night road game in-division. Ravens usually look crappy in Cincy, last year notwithstanding.

I'm not sure this game tells us that much. Or maybe I just hope that, since I'm a Ravens fan. :-)

15 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

By the same measure, Colts fans can unclench our sphincters a little. Indy was up on the Bengals 23-10 in the 3Q (94% win prob) last week and just before the 80-yard strip-six made it an 11-point win for Cincy, the Colts were 20 yards away and marching with about 30 seconds left (ESPN's win prob was 50.7% for Cincy with a minute left--a coin toss. If Doyle does not fumble, I assume the prob would have shifted to Indy at that point). So by extension, if the Bengals are really good, the Colts might actually be above-average (with below-average fumble luck). Whoo-hoo! (I think)

16 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Not to gleefully pour cold water on your optimism, and I understand you were talking somewhat tongue in cheek, but I think the chances of the Bengals being really, really good are slim. More likely they are, after a down season last year, back to where they have been for most of the Lewis/Dalton era: a likely wildcard team that will lose in the first round of the playoffs.

20 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

"This was a good D last season - #3 in DVOA. "

Its important to remember that Defensive DVOA is way more volatile year-to-year than offensive DVOA. Its too early to tell, but the fact that the Ravens defense was great last year isn't a strong indicator that they're great this year. And if they're just average, they're a pretty terrible team overall.

12 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Great TD catch by John Brown. I really hope he stays healthy, he's a fun player to watch and makes the Ravens much more interesting as a contender if he and Crabtree can provide a dangerous element to the offense

17 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

On last night's evidence Joe Flacco is still a bad QB. That should not be a surprise - it's been a long time since he was anything other than bad. But the goofing around with a handful of Lamar Jackson gimmick plays a game (all obvious runs) doesn't seem particularly helpful to anyone. Presumably he wasn't drafted in the first round to do this. It just seemed to disrupt the offence and make both players appear awkward and unhappy.

19 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I was peeking in and out last night, but it looks like they do have a legitimate package of plays that integrate different looks, motions and option reads (including a certain three letter acronym...) and Flacco threw at least one pass after faking a handoff to Jackson on a jet sweep. The plays themselves aren't gimmicks and could potentially work (and you can then throw gimmicky stuff on top of them from there). The problem is I can't imagine the Ravens want to actually expose Jackson from RB/WR positions more than a few times per game and I doubt they actually trust him as a receiver. Without the commitment to get defenses to take all of the options seriously it's hard to imagine it will pay much dividend.

22 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Yes, dismissing them as gimmick plays probably isn't fair. But on top of what you say, I also question the practice time being spent on these plays, which, amongst other things, could be spent giving proper reps to Jackson and help him develop as a genuine quarterback.

25 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Word on the street is that the team is still making an effort to trade.

The stories are about a "tardiness," and that supposedly the team has grown tired of him over issues far above and beyond what's been made public

I'm reading on one hand that because the team was patient with him in terms of accrued seasons and such, he finally has enough seasons with 6+ games played to not have to clear the waiver order, but also that he might have to go through injury waivers and receive a settlement because of a hamstring?

It has, though, been a good run...I guess...2013 was, at least.

27 Re: Week 2 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:

29 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

It's like every hit on a QB now has an x% chance of being called a whatever penalty. I don't know if it's random, but it sure doesn't have anything to do with driving the qb into the ground

35 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I've got a solution! Build the field on top of a grid of powerful electromagnets, and make defenders wear positively charged vests under their jerseys. When a QB impacts the ground, nearby grids are activated, thus allowing the defender to levitate harmlessly above the field!

30 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

The Fitzpatrick lead Bucs are wrecking another defense. While it wouldn't surprise me at all if he melts down in the second half or next week, it is looking like Jameis Winston not getting his job back in Week 4 is a serious possibility.

71 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

As a long term Bucs fan, I too am watching this run while masochistically waiting for Cinderella's ride to turn back into rats and pumpkins in some abrupt and terrible way. I'm not sure how much of this success is actually due to Fitz-Six-Pics-Magick and how much is due to Koetter turning the offensive play calling over to his OC, who seems to at least realize that he has a stable of thoroughbred receivers. If it's the latter, presumably Jameis can step right in, if the team's pharmacist has him dialed in right.
The current Bucs are also a powerful argument for never, ever running the football.

32 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Kevin Byard is STILL the leading passer for the Titans at the end of the third quarter. And they are actually WINNING. The NFL can be so weird.

37 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Cousins drops a perfect 75-yard TD to Diggs that traveled 60 yards in the air! Now the defense needs a stop. Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, Mahomes is lighting the Steelers up every time I flip channels

38 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I was about to make a joking post about how, if the Browns scored a TD (unlikely, it was 4th down) and then missed another XP (even less likely) they could set themselves up for another OT and maybe another tie. Now that that sequence has actually happened.

39 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Ouch, the Browns kicker misses another one trying to tie the game and send it to OT. This one was from over 50, but still, he had an incredibly bad day.

64 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Really, dude?


A perfectly legal hit that happened to take out a QB on a team that is completely reliant on their QB (to the extent that they're a slightly more-competent and better-coached Colts), Packers fans complained about it because their season went down the drain, the NFL overreacted, and the refs called the rule as written.

By their own petard, Packers fans are hoisted.

65 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Not to let the facts get in the way of a great argument, the ref actually claims it wasn't the new rule that he enforced, but that Matthews "lifted Cousins", making it roughing the passer. Look at the replay a zillion times-- no lifting whatsoever--- it was a tackle-- as he released the ball-- pure and simple.

43 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Wow! What a two-minute drill by Minnesota! Cousins will take criticism for his gun-slinging ways (there were like three potential interceptions besides the one actual one that came back on the quantum call). But what I like about the drive was every throw was aggressive: no dump-offs that wasted time for no appreciable gain. And as the touchdown showed, good things happen when you attack downfield.

And now we're in overtime! What a game

50 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

And even Scott Hanson gets in the act, stating the Browns and Vikes have offered Johnny Hekker a lifetime contract after he makes a chip shot FG. Hekker was kicking because Greg Zuerlein is out with an injury.

51 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I’m still ticked about the tie but I wonder how DVOA will see this game. It’s not often that special teams costs the opponent instead of the Packers. Blocked punt for a TD and 3 (!!!) missed FGs.
Cousins played very well against what looked like the old Capers 4th quarter defense.
I didn’t love Rodgers’ lone OT drive but he probably played as well as could be expected on one leg against this defense.

53 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I love watching the Rams go for 2 on every TD and going for the TD on 4th and goal from the 1 with 3 seconds left in the second quarter. Somewhere I hope the Bears coaching staff is watching.

54 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Congratulations NFL!!

You institute a rule because Team A has their season ruined by Team B-- then in the first time those teams with Team A's star QB playing, you incorrectly interpret the rule so that Team A is screwed out of a victory. Poor Clay Matthews-- he grabbed a QB by the waist leading WITH HIS SHOULDER just as he released the ball-- and tackled him... And is penalized for it. What a league.

That said, GB has defensive issues, MINN will have a new kicker, and Rodgers/McCarthy made two puzzling play call decisions (not the passes that allowed MINN to keep their timeouts-- Cousins had plenty of time to go downfield, timeouts or not) it was 3rd and 2 in the previous FG when apparently Rodgers audibled to a run. And then in the OT the botched run pass option on 2nd and 1.

Anyway the refereeing was inexcusable. The game in MINN will be fun.

62 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

It's a terrible call but an even more terrible rule.

You can't hit a guy above the shoulder, you can't hit him below the knees, and now if you wrap him up around the middle you have to make sure you don't end up above him in any way. I'm really sick of this "one player got hurt, make a rule to avoid bad luck." The stupid horse collar tackle rule is just as bad; they should have just told Roy Williams if he ever did it again he was going to get suspended for intentionally injuring another player, and that would have been the end of it.

61 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

To summarize the sequence of events:

1) In a game between Minnesota and Green Bay, Rodgers gets taken out on a perfectly legal hit.
2) In response to this, the NFL overreacts and decides to make "landing on a quarterback with the full weight of your body after the ball has been released" a penalty instead of accepting that football is a violent game and people will get hurt.
3) The rule proceeds to suck.
4) In a game between Minnesota and Green Bay, Green Bay hits Kirk Cousins with a hit that was perfectly legal before but is now a penalty.
5) The penalty wipes out what would have been a game-ending interception for Green Bay.
6) Minnesota proceeds to come back and tie the game on the drive.
7) Minnesota ends up walking away with a tie due to a combination of that penalty, McCarthy's conservatism, and missed field goals from both kickers.

Honestly, this sequence may be a clusterbleep, but I find it completely hilarious*.

*I do not like the Packers.

63 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Agree with all this-- except that it might have been Rodgers not McCarthy who was conservative-- and that under the new rule Matthews deserved a penalty. he hit Cousins as he was releasing the ball... leading with his shoulder, wrapping him around the waist, and then bracing himself in the subsequent fall so as not to have his weight land on Cousins. And yet it is a penalty. And Vikings probably also were victimized by a similarly bad call earlier in game. But the context of the final call was simply preposterous. Flag football is on the way.

67 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

People seem to be forgetting that Minnesota got screwed by the same BS roughing rule in the first half, gifting Green Bay a field goal.

The RANDOM enforcement of the rule is going to be unevenly harsh toward talented and aggressive defenses that get more opportunities to hit the opposing QB.

68 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Not to quibble but it as an apple and an orange. That one was clearly the new rule-- right or wrong-- according to the ref who made the call, Matthews's case was not the new rule, but an incorrect interpretation of a different rule. And graham had a TD called back because a Viking DL fell down and coaxed a nutty holding call... Anyway, welcome to the NFFL-- National Flag Football League.

88 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

No, Matthews' was for "lifting and slamming the QB to the ground", which was on the books prior to this year.

None of which Matthews actually did. I'm not a fan of either team, but that was the most horseshit call I've seen so far this year.

89 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Lost in all of this is the performance of the Packers' defense. I thought they played really well until the 4th quarter, when Kevin King got hurt and the pass defense struggled from there. The Vikings were targeting Davon House quite a bit, and he struggled to keep up. They got a decent but not great amount of pass pressure, especially up the middle, throughout the game. As long as King can come back healthy soon, I was encouraged by the performance and it should have won them the game.

69 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I’ll likely get slaughtered for this but I think of it this way. Would that call have been made in Foxboro in that context (essentially ending the game)
No. Okay.

70 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

So apparently Vontae Davis retired today at halftime. I've never heard of a player retiring in the middle of a game before.

72 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Belichick kicking the XP down by 12 was dumb, I think. You will have to go for two at some point, so you want to go for it was early as possible, that way you'll know whether or not you'll need a TD and a FG or two TDs.

74 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

It's time to get realistic about the "Aaron Rodgers Rule." The refs should only call it in blatant cases as they obviously have no idea how to call it. The old roughing/ personal foul/ unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are more than good enough in most cases.

It's already worse than the "What's a catch?" problem. (OK. Maybe not yet. But it's bad.) We've seen it called so inconsistently in games - even within games - that either the NFL has to admit that it's a bad rule (like that's actually going to happen) or the refs have to just ignore the rule much like they do with all minor holding and pass interference that goes on each game. Right now the rule is a joke.

The other option - which is also never going to happen - is that they start going to replay to review if the tackler actually used full force in driving the QB into the ground. Every time. If the issue is actually protecting the players and not the referees fragile egos, there really is no good argument against going to replay.

76 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Kaczmar alluded to this on Twitter, but it's interesting that the Jags' offence looked so much more dynamic with Fournette sidelined. The Patriots came today with their defensive focus on stopping the run. But without their 'star' RB, Jacksonville used creative ways to get the ball to their 'lesser' skill players in space, and were happy to let Bortles take shots at receivers in one-on-one coverage. And, hey, it was more efficient that way.

Of course it helped that the Jags offensive line dominated the Pats defensive front. Easy for a QB and play-caller to look good when there is barely a hint of pass pressure.

82 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I try not to keep up with what average fans believe (not when I can help it, anyway). But don't average fans believe Eli is a respectable NFL starting caliber QB? I'm pretty sure America-at-large happily concluded that the 2016 Cowboys were "for real" and 2017 was the fluke. It's more sad than anything, really.

83 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Huh. I never know what the "average" is due to the fact that it's weighted by whom you talk to and where you visit, but...

1) I'm under the impression that they believe Eli is a respectable starting QB, but I get the sense that a lot of people feel that the Giants are not that great; Eli may be okay, but the rest of the team (sans OBJ) not so much.
2) Not sure how they feel about the Cowboys. I just assumed that they'd make the Jason Garrett assumption everybody else does.

85 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I'd certainly say that the 2014 / 2016 Cowboys are the real Cowboys and 2017 was the fluke; even figuring in some regression, the should be solid playoff contenders. FO's projections agreed, what are we missing that makes it obvious the Cowboys will be mediocre? Why is it sad?

84 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

I would presume they got scheduled so early in the year for Sunday Night Football because if it was later in the year there would be a great chance it would be obvious the Giants would be one of the worst teams in the league and the Cowboys no more than mediocre. This way no one is quite sure yet and the game isn't totally irrelevant.

86 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

It's a good thing the Steelers and Patriots are so much better than the rest of the AFC, otherwise I'd be concerned that they might not be getting byes this year

96 Re: Week 2 Open Game Discussion

Even if two teams were head and shoulders over the entire rest of the league by a huge margin it would be unlikely they would go on a 20-2 run like that. No reason to expect it to happen just because it did last year.

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