Football Outsiders
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Week 9 Open Game Discussion

It's a milquetoast slate of games in the NFL this week, with only four contests featuring two teams at .500 or better. The action kicks off with the 1-6 Raiders traveling across the bay to face Jimmy Garoppolo C.J. Beathard Nick Mullens and the 1-7 49ers in one of San Francisco's few realistic chances to get a win and get out of the top overall draft pick. Notable Sunday games include Steelers-Ravens, Chargers-Seahawks, the Packers-Patriots Sunday nighter, and the biggest game of the week, the undefeated Rams visiting the 6-1 Saints. Use this thread to discuss them all.


259 comments, Last at 05 Nov 2018, 11:58pm

1 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Anyone else is here to see T.O. get his HOF Ring of Excellence? Because that seems to be the only interesting thing that's going to happen in this game, other than some Grudenisms post game and the Niners giving up a thousand sacks ... even though the Raiders don't have a pass rush.

4 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Not that often for there to be a starting QB whom probably 90% of NFL fans have never even heard of.

Anyway, on paper this is obviously not a good game. Still, I'd rather see a tight game between terrible teams than a blowout between the two best teams in the league. So hopefully this will be close.

6 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Streaming this on Amazon with Storm Kremer in audio. Unfortunately they are no better than the terrible twosome. Interestingly, the stream is about five seconds ahead of the tv.

27 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I did.

2QB league, and the proud drafter of Andrew Luck, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Bradford and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Since I dropped 3 of those guys, and I traded for Mayfield, I needed a QB to start with Mayfield this week. Mullen it was, as there were literally ZERO QB's on the WW.

19 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

The Raiders didn't need to travel across the Bay, to get to Santa Clara from Oakland you just head south on 880. Levi's Stadium is just about the same distance from the Town as from the City.

23 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I only watched the highlights, but Mullens actually looked quite good. Obviously there were plenty of classic Shanaclan PA rollouts leading to wide open receivers, but he also looked genuinely accurate on more difficult throws, hitting receivers in stride, sometimes in fairly small windows, sometimes under pressure. Is that purely a function of selection bias, or did anyone who watched the whole thing get the same impression?

24 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I thought he looked pretty decent, with Shanny giving him a lot of half-field reads with clearly defined options, like he did with Cousins in the beginning.

Also, the Raiders suck. I mean, their D is really, really, bad. Undisciplined and uninspired, in what has to be the easiest road game for traveling on Thursday night this year.

28 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

You could tell he was a rookie - on a short week of preparation, no less - in the amount of time it took him to get the offense out of the huddle. That left him continually pressed for time trying to make his pre-snap reads. I can only recall one delay of game penalty, but the refs may have been being kind to him, because there were at least a half dozen more when the snap was borderline late (based on the TV clock).

There was also one weird false start on the Center, which Mullens immediately took responsibility for (you could see him clearly saying "that's my fault" afterwards). That's almost certainly just a prep time issue, and I really liked how Mullens handled it.

Once the ball was snapped, he looked good, but his first read was almost always open. And he probably made a few throws into tight windows, but more often than not he had a fairly generous sized window to throw into. Sometimes the window had a 5 yard radius.

Another positive is that I can only recall one throw that he forced into a situation he shouldn't have, and that one went for a huge gain when Kittle made a crazy one handed catch to deny the Raider safety a sure interception. But again, I didn't detect many situations where Mullens was forced to make tough decisions.

All in all, I was impressed, and wondered why the coaching staff has been sending Beathard onto the field. Hence my earlier comment about Beathard's injury forcing them into playing the guy who's going to cost them on draft day. But again, any NFL roster QB should be effective against a college defence, and I'm not sure Oakland's D last night was playing up to the standards of even a Division 1 defence.

30 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I thought the only really bad throw he had was the one into the end zone before the second touchdown. That definitely could've been a pick. But the one to Kittles was a sweet dart. Kittles did make a very tough one handed catch, but the ball was right on him, chest high, in a tight window. And there was no safety behind him to pick it, which is why he was able to split the defenders on either side of him and run fifty yards with it. If a safety had been in position for a pick, he would have blasted Kittles before he secured the ball.

All in all, it Mullens was the beneficiary of some atrocious defense. He got Grudenized into greatness for a night. But he made at least four or five tight throws, and a few other good throws with dudes in his face. One was a sidearm completion on a screen when the defender got to him quicker than he expected, and Mullens threw it around him and on the money.

He definitely had the grasp of the offense, and he exhibited accuracy, with only a couple of throws being off target when they shouldn't have been. The only question is whether he can do it under fire against a legitimate NFL caliber defense.

34 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

We might be thinking of different Kittles plays. I recall the one you're talking about. I'm talking about the other one, where the Safety was already in catch pose to make the interception and Kittles reached out to snag, with one hand, a ball that was too far out in front of him, stealing it from the Safety.

44 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I'm thinking of the one Kittles caught over the middle and ran fifty yards down inside the ten. There was no safety behind him on that one. It was clear sailing into that long run. I don't remember the other one.

The one I'm talking about was the one the that Collinsworth called a bad play design because they ended up with multiple receivers in close proximity to one another over the middle.

48 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

You guys are talking about the same play.
The ball was a bit high and n front but Kittles made a great catch. Pre snap Kittles didnt seem to know his route, so maybe thats why he ended up in the same area as wr #10.
Thought the safety made a bad play on that one.

The throw before the second TD was pretty bad across the endzone. The defender almost picked that.

All in all, I was impresses by Mullens. He looked accurate most of the times, poised and in control.
I watched the Jax Eagles game todat too and Mullens is much, much better already than Bortles.

The play design and the Raiders (lack of) defense helped too.

49 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

My memory may be failing me. Wouldn't be the first time. I was sure there was a defender settling in to make the pick as Kittles just got a hand far out enough to pull it in. No, the defender didn't tackle Kittles, whose route was a couple of yards in front of him. He was getting ready to make the pick, and was flat footed as Kittles crossed his face.

Unless I imagined it all. Didn't think I was drinking anything that good Thursday night!

62 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I went back and looked at it. Maybe we were both wrong. I remembered three DBs around Kittles, but there were actually four. The one behind might have picked it if Kittles hadn't got a hand on it, but looking at the slow mo from the back side, the db appeared to be out of position with his momentum taking him in the opposite direction of the ball's flight. To pick it he would've needed Kittes not to touch it, then he'd have needed to make a one handed catch with his left hand while moving away from the ball. Of course, if Kittles tips it up, then all bets are off. Anything might happen then.

It was definitely a dangerous throw, but I did think it was a good throw either way. He put it in front of Kittles, chest high, where he could catch it in stride. Kittles was late on his break, not seeming sure where to go, which I think is why he couldn't get two hands on it.

All in all, it was a darn good needle thread that was probably more likely to be incomplete than either complete or intercepted. From a kid making his first start, I would say it was a pretty good throw. And Kittles made it a harder catch than it needed to be by coming late out of his break. Mullens definitely threw it to where Kittles was supposed to be, and he put it in between the defenders on either side and in front of Kittles. And in the slow mo you can see that Mullens had to throw it from an imperfect arm angle due to the rush in front of him. I'm definitely impressed by the throw and catch.

Here is a link to the replay from two angles.

31 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

What's funny is that Mullens will keep the story about this game from being Gruden. This game was everything many of us expected from the guy who said so many stupid and wrong things while he was an analyst. This entire first season couldn't be much more of a disaster. And for all the talk of how the picks he has accumulated have set the organization up nicely, it's not like he did anything special. Anyone could've traded away the teams best players for picks. And while he benefited nicely from.Jerry Jones being so very bad at football, it's not like he got a huge haul out of Mack. He had to give a good pick back to Chicago in that deal. And it's very possible that Chicago's picks end up low in the first round. They are not guarantees of great players, especially with Gruden picking. And even if they hit on those picks, there is no indication that Gruden won't end up getting the least out of whatever talent he has. By my eye, whatever record Gruden ends up with in a given season, it sure looks like a competent head coach would get at least a couple more wins out of them.

Imagine thinking he was worth a ten year contract. That's just bananas.

33 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

It's really an awful situation for the NFL. Yes, getting Las Vegas to build a 1.8 billion dollar palace solves the (quite literal) Oakland stadium shithole problem nicely, but having an owner an owner in his early 60s taking a team to a new market, while either hugely incompetent, or even perhaps suffering from significant mental illness, is really bad. Maybe the league figures they can sell 50k-plus tickets a week to visiting team fans, for a highly probable victory, and that was better than, heaven forbid, the NFL building its own stadium.

37 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

Maybe the league figures they can sell 50k-plus tickets a week to visiting team fans, for a highly probable victory, and that was better than, heaven forbid, the NFL building its own stadium.

The problem is they actually need to sell 100k+ such tickets every week in the southern California market, because the Rams and Chargers also need 50k road fans per week to sell out.

Pretty much all phases of the LA movement swap has turned into shit for the NFL. They got what they had coming.

39 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

At least the Rams are quite good, and the Chargers highly competitive! How many Johhny Walker Blues do you need to get into the gullet of some degenerate from Denver or K.C., to get them to pay to watch da' Raidahs!?

(edit) Now that I think about it, that's the marketing plan. The casinos buy the tickets, and then comp them to the degenerate dolts from the visiting team cities who will reliably lose 20k plus at the tables or slots, in a couple of days. Are there enough degenerate dolts? Ya' got me.

45 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I can imagine that happening to a certain extent, but casinos are loath to send money players off property for five hours. That's why they have their own entertainment, which then exits customers right into the casino.

I'd also think that a perennial laughingstock football team is not going to be a big draw in a city with more entertainment options per square inch than almost anywhere in the world. They may well sellout thanks to corporate buys, but I'd be prepared to see "sellouts" with an enormous number of empty seats if I were them. And that's a big deal, as concessions are every bit a part of profitability as ticket sales. You need people to show up and buy those five dollar hot dogs and ten dollar beers.

Then again, it shouldn't be hard to make shitpiles of money (especially as compared to being in Oakland) with just a decently competitive team. But I'm not sure what the odds are on decently competitive with Gruden in charge. And if he botches these next two drafts, as he has botched talent evaluation so often in the past, then it could be a lot of years before the Raiders are anything approaching decent. The thing about a fire sale is that it means you must hit big with those picks you get back, or else be consigned to years before you can fix the disaster.

As someone who has seen this happen for decades in Cleveland, I can assure everyone that coming back from fucking up multiple high draft picks in successive years is not something you can do quickly, if at all. That kind of failure can spin out of control and just become a reinforcing mechanism.

And, of course, a bad owner exacerbates it all.

47 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

I was thinking about this the other day - what if the purpose of the Raiders is to be a perennial whipping boy for out of town fans to watch. Think about it - you go to Vegas to watch your team wail on a hapless team, maybe you put some money on it cause you know that 10 point spread is myth, enjoy your win and get loose at the casino etc etc. Having the Raiders be terrible might just be good business is what I'm getting at. Cynical as it is, Gruden provides perfect cover.

64 Re: Week 9 Open Game Discussion

As a Winnipeger I know many people that travel for games. My dad and I drove the 900 miles to KC just two weeks ago.

But the cheapest flights into the US are to Vegas.

As soon as the Raiders are there I will be down probably yearly, as well as many of my friends, including Chiefs fans, Steelers fans, and whichever team is hot (my dad).