Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 5 Open Discussion

Carson Wentz
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Week 5 kicks off tonight with a battle of NFC playoff contenders, as Tom Brady and the Bucs (3-1) square off against Nick Foles and the Chicago Bears (3-1).

Sunday games include the first-place Eagles (1-2-1) heading across the state to play the undefeated Steelers (3-0); Las Vegas (2-2) desperate to remain competitive in the AFC West against Kansas City (4-0); and the Colts (3-1) against the Browns (3-1) in a key AFC game. The Sunday night game pits Minnesota (1-3) against Seattle (4-0), while the Chargers (1-2) visit the Saints (2-2) on Monday night. Use this thread to discuss them all. 

Comments

174 comments, Last at 15 Oct 2020, 10:13am

9 bad tackling

There were a couple plays tonight where the Bears literally tried to tackle multiple guys armless, including that easiest of all guys to tackle without wrapping up, Gronkowski.  Heads down, drive your helmet into a guy's thigh, hit the turf, then wonder why he's not on the ground also as he lumbers for ten more.  Jeez.... Maybe that was mostly early, however.

2 First week of Storm-Kremer!…

First week of Storm-Kremer!

Looks like Jones made a heck of a fingertip catch and rolled into the endzone. Weird that the refs called that incomplete late, usually if they let it play out like that they'll err on the side of caution. So apparently Tampa won the challenge but because the refs called it incomplete the roll into the endzone didn't count. Not that it matters, Brady to Evans for the TD - apparently they've done that in every game so far, despite Evans' injury issues, which is kind of amazing.

On the ensuing kickoff, Cordarelle Patterson has a nice return that probably would have been exciting to watch if we hadn't been stuck with the wire cam pointed the wrong direction as the live viewpoint.

Outside the game: there's this NFL Shop commercial this season, that has some song that's trying to make the phrase "winner winner chicken dinner" cool and aggressive, and it's so, so terrible. Almost so bad it's good, but not quite, so it's just so bad it's bad. I really hate it.

4 moar flags!!

What were there, 6 flags in a row in 5 snaps there?  Felt like it.

Bucs slightly more intent on killing their drive than the Bears were in keeping it alive.

6 These guys are REALLY hung…

These guys are REALLY hung up on the late passing play that gave the Bucs, what, 20 extra seconds?

Also, the fake crowd noise is distracting. 

38 late passing play

No, the problem was it gave them an extra FORTY seconds. I thought the same thing in real time too. The Bears got a little lucky, because the Bucs would have had time to set up the GW FG attempt, if Brady didn't lose track of downs. Considering that the Bucs had 1:13, I believe, to start their drive--that was pretty huge. They would have had no more than 40 seconds to work with, probably about 35. Considering that the Bucs were already past midfield when the drive ended, and there were about 30 seconds left, this means that the 4th down play would have been a Hail Mary (unless they would have had to throw it on 3rd down instead).

In my book, if you have a trustworthy QB and a simple pass play you like (say a screen, simple slant, play action to the flat, etc.), you might run that on 2nd down. At that point, they were still trying to get a little closer for the FG, and trying to run clock/make TB use their TO's. The idea wasn't bad in theory, esp. since the Bucs' run defense is so strong. BUT, run a play-action fake! Or a simple hitch route! Getting yards and a 1st down would have been a bonus; the object was first to keep the clock moving, and second to gain yardage. Even a run for no gain would have been okay. I mean, if the Bears don't complete the pass on 3rd down, but then make the FG, that gives the Bucs the same amount of time PLUS a TO. Not the best time management.

10 Senior moment

Yeah, that was peculiar.  Aikman noted, "It's surprisingly easy to lose track of that when you clock the ball...." but I don't think Brady spiked it on that drive. Brady looked a little like my father-in-law in that moment.  "Whose dinner is this on the plate in front of me?  Mine?  Oh...."

12 Yeah he didn't clock it, I…

In reply to by Bobman

Yeah he didn't clock it, I checked the play-by-play. Aikman had a senior moment of his own.

Watching the replay, while Brady forgetting it was 4th down is certainly notable, the bigger issue is: what on earth did he see that made him throw that? Brate was just about as tightly covered as humanly possible. I think (it's hard to tell from the broadcast) he maybe threw it before the break, hoping Brate would come open, but Houston-Carson had textbook perfect position the whole way. The checkdown was certainly open enough to move the chains (not sure he would have gotten out of bounds though, but between him and Brate he'd have 100% been the better target).

8 They say your short-term…

They say your short-term memory is the first thing to go.  Might explain Brady losing track of how many downs he had left at the end of the game.

Other than that, Brady looked quite good.  Foles looked ... really not.  Even his successful passes looked ripe for disaster.

24 Penalties killed the Bucs

That one drive in the 3rd quarter when they had several in short succession really killed their momentum.  I hate using that word, but in this case it applies: they lost confidence because they were shooting themselves in the foot.  Also, one of Khalil Mack's sacks came when the right tackle just ignored him.  Brady was right to be pissed off.

Didn't see the end of the game so I don't know what Brady was up to.  Maybe he was trying to fool the officials?  Arians has said Brady knew what down it was.  

11 I said in one of the preview…

I said in one of the preview threads that the Bears were dark horse contenders if they could get net-competent QB play from Foles and Trubisky, and, well, here we are, 4-1 with a win over the ostensible best team in the NFL by DVOA.

Was Foles "competent" tonight, though? I'm not sure. He was facing the League's second-ranked defense, to be fair - and he did a lot better than last week against the top-ranked one. But boy did he look shaky, wobbly passes all over the place and some near picks on misreads of the defense (and of course, that actual pick, although that was less his fault than some of the ones that should've been picked).

Nagy has to publicly support the QB that just notched a great upset win and I support that, but privately at least, he ought to commit to riding the hot hand going forward, whichever player that may be. Whatever Trubisky's faults, he can air it out from time to time - that might be more effective against teams that prep for Foles' dink-and-dunk, and vice versa.

The DVOA writeup said the Bears had the most difficult remaining schedule, but a big chunk of that was having to face the #1 team and they just beat them, so... Looking ahead, pretty much all of their games look winnable, especially if Brees is as limited as he's appeared in the early going - but they only look like favorites in a handful of those, too, their QB situation being what it is. They could finish 6-10 and I wouldn't be shocked, but they could go 13-3 and I wouldn't be that shocked, either.

16 The Bears defense is clearly…

The Bears defense is clearly good, but they were fortunate to face a MASH unit of Bucs receivers/TEs last night (Mike Evans was also playing hurt.) That caliber of offensive performance is not going to get it done against the better teams in the league most weeks. 

17 It shouldn't get it done…

It shouldn't get it done against the better teams in the league, but if there's any franchise that has made this formula work, it's the Bears. (Well, they haven't really made this formula work - they've only made the playoffs 5 times in the last 20 years - but when they have been successful they've won a lot of games that look like this.)

The offense has looked like complete garbage the past two weeks, but one would think they should at least get a dead cat bounce as they face some easier opposing defenses. As long as their defense stays healthy, they should be in every game they play, and they've spotted themselves a 4-1 start.

26 ""the ostensible best team in the NFL by DVOA."

At this point DVOA is mostly VOA so it's heavily influenced by schedule.  By this I mean that VOA is easily fooled by big wins over bad teams.  I don't quite know how the Bucs got rated so highly, but they're not a Top 5 team.  Not if they play like they did last night, that's for certain.  Leaving Khalil Mack unblocked, head-butting an opponent to get a personal foul that wipes out a long game - these are things Top 5 teams don't do. 

13 sigh

nothin like posting a joke and picking a wrong place to post it.

27 mulligan

In reply to by scraps

It's the next day and we're getting a laugh.

19 Hindsight is 20/20 of course…

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but at the time I was surprised Arians didn't go for it on 4th and short instead of settling for the FG to make it 19-17.  You have a good defense facing a non-threatening offense.  If you don't make it, the Bears will probably be non-aggressive and attempt to milk clock, meaning you'll likely get the ball back in decent field position.  If you do make it and score a touchdown, you force the Bears to score a touchdown in return to either tie or retake the lead.  Kicking the FG was the worst of both worlds.  The Bears are behind and will be more aggressive on offense, and only need an FG to take the lead. 

Yes, I know I'm not going over any new ground, but even as a neutral fan, I found it pretty frustrating.

21 Hindsight

Interesting take. Not sure what the win probabilities are. But when a FG gives you the lead while you were behind before, I think I would take the FG. Especially since I have a good Defense. Failing on the fourth and still behing behind is risky if you can take the lead. If they get a lucky pass completion because you have to play the run, you can be quickly in trouble.Especially since you can kickoff after the FG and Chi has a worse field position than after the failed 4th down conversion.

29 By EdjSports it was very,…

In reply to by Topas

By EdjSports it was very, very wrong (they said something like 8%) and that's a case where I agree completely, it's totally obvious he should've gone for it. I mean, mind-blowingly obvious that he should've gone for it.

Inside the 10 the defense is more likely to be the team to score next. There was plenty of time left - 5 minutes and all three timeouts. Failing on the fourth down, you're still in a plus situation, and you also still need a stop, anyway if you kick the field goal. If you go for it and fail, expected points are like, -0.5 for the other team. Kicking the field goal nets you 3 points, but puts your opponent at about +0.5 expected points. So if you kick the field goal, you're effectively up 1.5 points. If you go for it and fail, you're only down -0.5 points. Whereas if you go for it and succeed, you're effectively up something like 6 points. It's a no-brainer.

I mean, look at the way the game played out - there were 4 drives after that field goal, all of them with reasonable scoring possibility given the time pressure. It was way too early to give up those points.

33 "Especially since you can…

In reply to by Topas

"Especially since you can kickoff after the FG and Chi has a worse field position than after the failed 4th down conversion."

?

Chicago would be at about their 10 yard line after a failed conversion, with the Bears offense likely turtling with a lead.  After a kickoff, the Bears were regularly getting at the 25-30 yard line, with the offense being more aggressive trying to retake the lead.

What made Arians' decision even more puzzling is that he had gone for a 4th and short at his own 20 yard line earlier in the game.  In that case, failing would have been equivalent to a turnover, and there is not that much upside to converting, as you still have to march the length of the field to score.

23 Blocking

They cannot block for the run, 3 straight years now. I don't know what could be wrong, they keep bringing back all the same players, so it can't be that.

34 LOL

In reply to by Ambientdonkey

LOL

30 Montgomery appears to be an…

Montgomery appears to be an average talent. When Chicago faces teams with strong front sevens, like Indianapolis and Tampa, they will likely struggle to run the ball. Their top-quartile ranking in offensive ALY, paired with a low open-field rank, suggests that they must have that advantage up front in order to run effectively. Montgomery is not the kind of player who can create on his own. Not fast or agile enough. By comparison, I was much more impressed by Ronald Jones, who is few people's idea of a game breaker. He looked a lot faster when he did have room.    

35 A run game shouldn't be…

A run game shouldn't be dependent on an RB creating on his own.  The modern NFL just doesn't work like that, which is why the stats say that RB's are close to fungible.  Swap Eric Dickerson for Montgomery and I wouldn't have expected much difference in the numbers for last night's game.

The run game requires scheming to create lanes and space for the RB to attack.  It's not just dive ahead or run an end around and trust our guys to beat their guys and/or our RB to make something out of nothing.  I don't know how to do it, but coordinators with successful running games do. 

37 My point is we shouldn't…

My point is we shouldn't have expected the Bears to be able to run last night, given FO's numbers, referenced above, relative to their respective run-game components (nor last week versus Indy, both mismatches to the Bears' disavantage). The Bucs have stifled much more effective run games to this point than anything the Bears have been able to muster. And I never said a running game should be dependent on an RB creating on his own, but it sure helps when you have a player (like, sure, Eric Dickerson!) who can turn a 5-7 yard gain into something bigger; I've seen nothing from Montgomery to suggest he's that guy. He will get a little more than what's blocked because he's powerful, but i'd prefer he be a committee back rather than an every-down guy. The results will continue to be middling even when they're successful. To mention Eric Dickerson in the same breath as Montgomery is to overstate the case, which is true, to a point. RBs aren't that fungible. Goodness.

40 Of the 12 games left this…

Of the 12 games left this week with betting lines, 9 of them have the favorite by at least a touchdown. Hopefully some of those games will still be close.

41 Wilson in Primetime

is usually worth a watch.  The Seahawks announced they will be wearing "Action Green", aka America's favorite uniforms.  Hopefully that goes better for them than the "Black Mamba" jerseys did for the Lakers.

I'm genuinely intrigued to see if the Browns are fraudulent, or possibly due for a sugar crash after beating Dallas.  I'm not a huge fan of Baker, but I would like to see that fan base get something real to cheer for.

42 weird play in Washington

Kyle Allen scampers into the end zone, and he's clearly in bounds, as he entire body is inside the pylon. 

But...he's holding the ball in his left hand, and the arm passes over the pylon, with the ball on the wrong side.

Officials rule  a non-TD, saying he was out of bounds.  For a moment I wonder if the ball has to stay in the air space between the sidelines.

On review it's changed to a TD.  As explained by Dean Blandino, the ball only has to break the plane of the end zone.  

Squirrels up 7-6 and the offense looks much better with Kyle Allen at QB.  If they can get replacement-level play at QB, with the strong pass rush they have, they could contend in this miserable division.

85 I think the rule is that,…

I think the rule is that, when a player is going out of bounds, the ball is spotted where it crosses the sideline. But as long as the player is in-bounds, the ball is wherever it is (even if it's outside the sideline).

In Allen's case, the ball crossed the plane of the goal-line (though outside the sideline) and then Allen's foot landed in-bounds in the end zone, which makes it a touchdown. He was still in-bounds and the ball had crossed the extended plane of the goal-line.

43 With only seconds left, the…

With only seconds left, the Eagles are threatening to finish the first quarter with negative yards, currently have -2 yards total. On third and 9 they basically concede the punt by running a draw, but Miles Sanders takes it for 74 yards and the score. Now Philadelphia actually has more yards than Pittsburgh.

44 I'd like to know the…

I'd like to know the historical % chance of a big play from the "give up" draw on 3rd down.  Coaches call this play a lot, often to no effect, sometimes to terrible effect (see the Chargers fumble at the end of H1 last week when they could have just kneeled out and gone to the lockers).

Is there a meaningful enough chance that this play works to warrant the frequency with which it's called?  Or is the PHI TD run today the equivalent of a Hail Mary, i.e. something you shouldn't call unless you have no other choice? 

136 Let's be clear. The Chargers…

Let's be clear. The Chargers fumble last week was not 3rd down, and not a draw.

A lot of times "hand the ball off on 3rd down to be safe" gets called a "draw." Or really, any "run" in a safe situation. This wasn't one of those. The Chargers play last week, for instance, was absolutely just a bog-standard run play. Minimal pass threats in the formation, lead blocker for the RB, linemen immediately fire off in run blocking. No indications whatsoever that the Chargers are threatening the secondary.

hate hate hate draws being called "give up" plays. This was absolutely a draw. Offensive line pass-blocked all the way, handoff was delayed until the rushers had committed, 4 receivers lined up and fired off at the snap. And Pittsburgh had been rushing heavy all day.

Draws are misdirection plays. You call them when the linebackers/safeties are focusing too much on the pass. If you've got a feeling that the defense is in "pin their ears back and go" mode, calling a draw is a great callbecause if you've done the formation right, once you get past the line, you should have a playmaker in space with blockers in front. It's similar to a screen.

Sanders didn't get "lucky" on that play. Watch the play. The misdirection suckers in all of the Steelers linemen plus the blitzer plus the linebacker who was dropping to cover the blitzer's vacated section. By the time Sanders reaches the line, he's got 2 yards to make a guy miss and no unblocked defenders between him and the end zone.

That was not a "give up" play. That was a "you guys want to come after us? Fine. Try and tackle this guy in space" play.

143 Fair enough.  The Chargers…

Fair enough.  The Chargers fumble against the Bucs was on 1st down, not 3rd.  They were on their own 9 yard line and there was 0:50 left until the half.  TB had 1 time out left.

So the Chargers' options were kneel out the half, or try to score.  To score, they needed to advance the ball about 60 yards in 50 seconds. 

Rather than kneel the half out, they went with the try to score option, and for their first play called a run that was fumbled, giving TB an easy score.

My question is, what's the likelihood that a run play will gain enough yards in that situation to make it a viable choice?  Is the probability of generating enough yards to give you a chance to score a real one, or is it less than the chance of a turnover? 

I know we can't answer it in any particular situation, I'm just wondering what the historical odds say.   

45 Mahomes is absolutely…

Mahomes is absolutely slinging today. Just hit a dime-perfect ball a good 40 yards in the air to the sideline, and had another picture perfect TD bomb called back on a hold. But Carr is also being allowed to air it out, for once, and has at least his two longest completions of the year already. It's a shootout.

Raiders got a penalty on a punt return where the guy signaled for a fair catch, let it bounce, then picked it up and tried to return it. They have a different returner now. Do not incur the wrath of Chucky.

46 Now Oakland is actually…

Now Oakland is actually ahead, after a third and 20 Mahomes pass is dropped and the Raiders get a 72 yard passing TD. The defense definitely looks like an issue for KC. Oakland already has four drives of 75 yards or longer in this game, which is a wild stat for a game not yet at half time.

47 Carr has his three longest…

Carr has his three longest completions of the year now, in this first half, with a 72 yard catch and run to Ruggs (who shows why they picked him so high; the route and catch were Tyreek Hill-esque). And the Raiders are now up 24-21.

The Chiefs' pass protection has completely imploded, with Mahomes running for his life almost every play (Osemele went down early with a serious-looking injury). He's still slingin', but it's not working as well - he had a huge bomb to Hill (I think) that should've been called DPI (DB pretty much tackled him before the ball got there, but the announcer and apparently the refs seemed to think that was okay because he was "playing the ball"), and another ball on 3rd down (after a scramble) that hit Hardman right in the hands but he dropped it.

52 After all that offense in…

After all that offense in the first half, Raider-Chiefs opens with four straight punts in the second half. The Raiders then take the lead with a long TD drive and now are getting the ball back after another KC punt. It was the defense in the first half but now the Chiefs offense is the problem area.

54 An upset Raiders win now…

An upset Raiders win now looks extremely likely. KC is down by two scores with 6 minutes left, but have done nothing on offense in the second half., while being gashed on defense all day.

56 And now Mahomes throws a…

And now Mahomes throws a desperation pass on 4th down that gets intercepted and run back to the 2, and Jacobs punches it in on the next play. Oakland's pass defense has been absolutely amazing in the second half.

55 Wow. KC has to go for it on…

Wow. KC has to go for it on fourth down on their own side of field. The result is a pick run all the way back inside the 5. One play later the Raiders punch it in and this game is just about over.

 

EDIT: Actually, thanks to a missed XP earlier in the game the margin is still 16... Not quite over yet then.

57 4th down INT

Steelers intercept a Carson Wentz Hail Mary on 4th down to take over inside their own 25 instead of batting the ball to the ground to take over inside Eagle 20.  

 

59 I was in my car listening to…

In reply to by RickD

I was in my car listening to the game and yelling "BAT IT DOWN ROOKIE" but Steven Nelson is a sixth year player and should absolutely know better.

The Steelers' radio announcers were more nuanced, and pointed out that you're going to win the game anyway so stat padding isn't an egregious sin.

Still, it's exactly the kind of thing I've heckled Div III college players about from the stands.

58 Mahomes is tired, maybe from…

Mahomes is tired, maybe from all the running away. He's sailing passes he usually hits and had that pick.

Of course as I type that, he almost hits an absolutely amazing TD in the endzone (receiver tried valiantly but got the edge of the line with his second foot), throws a TD on the next play, then scrambles on a busted play and tosses a dart for the 2pt conversion. It's not quite over.

62 Now it's over. The Chiefs…

Now it's over. The Chiefs offense made it a little interesting at the end, but their defense snuffed that out pretty quickly. They had no prayer to stop Jacobs' physical running at the end, and they also gave up what might be Derek Carr's best ever game in the air (glancing through his gamelogs, I believe this is his best y/a by a good margin, even with him being much more pedestrian in the second half). They've got a lot of issues to sort out on that side of the ball.

The Raiders are in a really nasty stretch of schedule but got a W in what looked on paper like the single toughest game. They look like they've got 4-5 gimme wins in the second half of the season so if they can manage a couple more games like this in the next few weeks, they'll be in great shape for a playoff spot.

60 Glancing through the box…

Glancing through the box scores of the other games, the Eagles' Travis Fulgham had a huge receiving game in the loss - nearly quadrupling his career yardage. Good for him.

The Panthers are 3-2. Bridgewater looks pretty good and they have wins against some solid teams (and also the Falcons). I don't think 8-8 is out of the question - and the way that division is shaping up, that might have them in contention.

Alex Smith made it back onto the field, and got sacked 6 times for his trouble. I can admire the determination to rehab through such an injury and make it all the way back, but man, he's 36, he's had a fine career, this team sucks and isn't going anywhere, I don't think there'd be any shame in hanging them up at this point, especially if he's gonna get hit that much.

Meanwhile, Goff lit up a good defense. Rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.

137 I was cheering for both the…

I was cheering for both the Rams and Alex Smith in that game. A true moment of horror when you realized that Donald was unblockable, and was gonna get a bunch of hits on Smith. Apparently Brockers said after the game that they all knew the shot with Smith, so they were going to absolutely avoid hitting him in the legs at all cost. 

61 The last-place Giants…

The last-place Giants offense average 8.7 yards per play and score a TD on their first drive against the Allas Cowboys after not scoring a TD in their last two games. The stoppable force strikes first against the movable object.

64 Ravens fan here

Baltimore's defense was really good. The offense, no so much. Lamar Jackson looked shaky. Teams are really making him struggle when they can keep him in the pocket. He missed a few throws he should have hit, and the offense just couldn't sustain drives consistently.

Fortunately (for me), the Bengals OL did their best to get Burrow killed. Poor guy took an absolute beating. Horrendous pass protection.

66 Not pleasant

Jimmy G playing terribly with 2 picks and 77 (!) yards in first half. Shanahan may need to bench him. The 8th string CB getting burnt badly by Fitzmagic. This could end up 60-7 😳🤦🏼‍♂️

68 Beathard is replacing him…

In reply to by Bill Walshs Ho…

Beathard is replacing him for the second half. I know Beathard looked better last week, but I wonder if he's actually the better choice over Mullens. Mullens was 18th in DVOA when he started in 2018. Beathard was much worse.

75 I don't see enough 49ers…

I don't see enough 49ers games to know better, I guess, but Garappollo, Mullens and Beathard all seem like the same guy to me.  Just casually catching the random series here and there, I can't tell which of them is under center until they zoom in on their faces.  Their playstyle and results don't differentiate them to me, though 49ers fans may see what I've missed.

82 Garappolo is a competent NFL…

Garappolo is a competent NFL QB. Mullens is a backup quality QB. He doesn't have a strong enough arm to make the throws but he processes info okay. Beatherd has the physical tools to be a starter but doesn't seem to process the game well. 

All three are quite different, so pretty easy for me to tell them apart. Garappolo can process info quickly and release the ball. Look at the 49ers record when he's the starter versus when he's hurt / not playing.

He was hurt today and sailed a bunch of wobbly ducks as a result.

80 The Dolphins' D isn't that…

The Dolphins' D isn't that good, but seem to be playing better today than their talent would lead one to expect.

Watching the energy on the Dolphins bench, I wonder if Flores will break the Belichick tree curse?  It's way too early to know, but it seems like there's more hope in MIA than in CIN or LAC, who are playing their rookie QBs while MIA sits theirs and lets him heal/learn.  There certainly seems to be a good culture on the sidelines.  Will be interesting to see if that turns into a playoff team next year.

114 Flores is a good coach

Certainly much better than Patricia.  I still have no idea how he got a HC job.

Romeo Crennel I maintain is a very good DC but not a good HC.  That's pretty well established by now.  

I would argue Bill O'Brien had enough success in Houston to be viewed as a positive result, even though he didn't make any Super Bowls.  

BTW, Nick Saban was a Belichick assistant in Cleveland.  You should count him in Belichick's "tree", too.   Even though he didn't do much in the NFL, he's had a great run in the SEC.  For some reason, Saban usually gets overlooked in these discussions. 

135 Rick, you're a better coach…

Rick, you're a better coach than Patricia.

Hell, DIVISION is better coach than Patricia.

------------

Saban bombed out in the pros, and even in the NCAA ranks, his teams never really out-performed their talent level. It wasn't until he got to LSU and the SEC's complete absence of recruiting standards that he made anything of his coaching career.

138 Saban went 15-17 as an NFL…

Saban went 15-17 as an NFL head coach. With Miami. I'd hardly call that "bombing out," a term that conjured Gase-esque performance. 

And he did turn Alabama around quickly, and have massive prolonged success. I don't think you'd find to many people calling Saban a failed offshoot of Belichick, in the vein of a Matt Patricia.

140 Bobby Petrino was a…

Bobby Petrino was a successful college coach. The NCAA level better measures your abilities as a recruiter than as a tactician. 

And no, he's not a failure on the level of Matt Patricia. Most corpses could out-coach Matt Patricia.

161 Sabans defensive backs…

Sabans defensive backs earned a reputation amongst NFL teams as being busts, because they weren't actually as good as he made them look at Alabama, and thus were overdrafted. 

I hate to do the whole "go find one other person who agrees with you," but I have never met anyone else interested in calling or insinuating that Nick Saban is a low quality coach.

69 Dak Prescott just caught a…

Dak Prescott just caught a TD pass on a Philly Special. Cowboys have the lead for the first time all day, I believe, going into halftime.

72 Oh cripes it looks like Dak…

Oh cripes it looks like Dak just suffered a similar injury to what Alex Smith had a couple of years ago. He's been carted off in tears.

77 No kidding.  Just saw the…

No kidding.  Just saw the replay and said 'that could be his career'.  Thought he had ended up signing a contract, but see now that I was misremembering.  Not sure what sort of insurance he may have put in place to protect himself against an injury during his franchise tag season, but hope it was a lot.

Regardless, I hope he makes it back, both for his sake and as a football fan, I enjoy watching him play.

78 I'm no doctor, but unless…

I'm no doctor, but unless leg breaks are horrendous, they rarely seem to signal the end of a player's career these days. Even Alex Smith was back on the field today. His future earnings have taken a hit though, for sure. Miserable. 

Andy Dalton time in Dallas. He ought to be one of the best backups in the league. But there are no excuses if he can't produce with this supporting cast.

117 Dalton had a good second half

This is certainly an opportunity for him to audition for a starting gig in 2021.

Very sorry to hear about Prescott's break.  FWIW, the severity of the injury isn't necessarily greater just because it was a compound fracture.  

I will say I have never seen a foot at that angle with respect to a leg before.  

Saw a doctor on YouTube compare this to the Gordon Hayward injury.  Hayward took quite a while to recover and has arguably not been the same player in Boston that he was for the Jazz.  Having said that, basketball is more strenuous on joints than football is, I think.  

I wish Dak the best but this will be a long recovery.  

144 My Cards...

...are going to crucify Dallas on MNF.

Andy Dalton won't have anything but a basic system in place being the starter less than a week and Dallas doesn't have a defense.

I expect Murray to run wild, pass often and score quite a bit.  Losing Chandler Jones is bad, but we have depth and guys who can rush the passer.  

For those of you bettors, I'm calling it early:  Cards 35 Cowpokes 23

This is assuming Andy Dalton is halfway competent as a starting QB at this point and based on what we saw in Cinci, he hasn't been for years.

 

87 That was a nasty looking…

That was a nasty looking break. At first glance I thought his shoe had partly come off but it was actually his foot that had partially come off. 10 minutes later the sideline reporter confirms their uselessness by reporting "the Cowboys say its his ankle ...." That's real value added.

79 My goodness, Philip Rivers…

My goodness, Philip Rivers has unraveled this second half. The curtain may be drawing fast on his career......

But the Colts are still alive thanks to a kick-off return, and Baker Mayfield's own limitations.

129 Rivers

Its interesting that his three "best" games were all pretty unspectacular.  What made them good was a lack of mistakes (negative plays), rather than much on the positive side of the ledger. The 85 Bears could get away with that.  Not the 2020 Colts.

At this rate, maybe Brissett was the better option for $25M less.  And I'm a Rivers believer!  Always disliked his yapping, but thought he was a VG underrated QB.

If they truly believe he can't get them to the promised land (they basically pushed all their chips to the middle of the table this season) and with some of their injuries... is it time to get Eason some varsity reps?  What's up with the super-human OL?  The rushing game is pretty ordinary statistically, but then again that's with too few reps IMO.  Just 18 rushes today?  In know in the loss to Jax the breakdown was about 40 passes and 20 rushes.  Run-first team, what? 

Also, missing Castonzo and Leonard (and Mack and the young WRs etc) while facing their best opponent yet might have been too much to overcome. Looks like CLE attacked the middle of the field passing where Leonard would have been.

145 I thought Rivers...

...was done two years ago and nothing he has done so far has changed my opinion.  He's washed.  He'll give you somewhat competent QB play, but he's also a TO machine.  

 

81 In more fun news, the Giants…

In more fun news, the Giants scored a TD and then converted the 2pts with a pass to their rookie OT. 34-31 Giants in the 4th.

84 I see SEA came back from…

I see SEA came back from their trip to Florida with ugly souvenir t-shirts they're now wearing at home while their friends avoid telling them how gaudy and ugly they look.

146 Zimmer made a mistake...

...in not being more aggressive in the first half in the red zone.  21-0 is different than 13-0 at the half.

Squandering TD opportunities against the Hawks typically leads to a come from ahead loss.

It doesn't help that your QB is turning the ball over back to back plays in the 3rd quarter.

Awhile back we were having a Goff vs. Cousins discussion.  Goff may be one-dimensional but he doesn't throw the ball to the other team as much as Cousins.  

Zimmer's conservative play calling and Cousins' fumble/pick are why they ultimately lost...

 

90 tale of two halves

Seems so weird that the Vikings so thoroughly dominated the first half, and the reverse is happening in the second half.  Really defies any model that is based on constant levels of performance. 

The Seahawks seem to do this a lot.  Chiefs, too.  

91 Wow, this game turned around…

Wow, this game turned around in a hurry. Wright just picked Cousins - nice one-handed grab, I have to say - on the kind of dumb throw Cousins used to make a lot but had mostly excised from his game.

And on the first play, Carson broke a bunch of tackles and took it in for the score. I'm sorry but that was just pathetic effort by the defense there.

Saw Dalvin Cook went to the locker room. He's back on the sideline but not in the game it appears. That poor guy just can't stay healthy.

92 Cook's not needed on the…

Cook's not needed on the next drive, as Cousins rebounds and drives for the TD.

2-point PAT fails as Collier sniffs out the QB draw, so SEA still up by 2 closing in on the end of Q3.

93 Well, Cousins responded…

Well, Cousins responded about as well as possible, marching them right down for the score like a hot knife through butter. Obligatory "You like that?!?" Failed the 2pt QB draw though - I bet Seattle liked that playcall. 21-19 Seahawks.

94 Carroll makes what looks…

Carroll makes what looks like a bad decision, to me, to punt on 4th-and-7 from MIN's 41.  Then Dickson pins them inside the 5 and now it looks like a good decision.

EDIT:  and it didn't matter, as MIN drives 98 yards for the TD anyway. 

Somehow, trusting one the best QBs in the league to try and gain 7 yards in opposition territory is "risky", but trusting one of the league's worst pass defenses to hold the lead is "safe". 

95 Until those two long incompletions

Wilson was 15/15.  while under intense pressure and being sacked 4 times in the first half.  Yet to be sacked in the second half.

147 The reason the Hawks will struggle in division play...

...is that they literally can't stop anyone on defense.  No pass rush.

The Niners are done, officially.  They're headed for a 3-13 type season.

So it comes down the Rams, Hawks and my Cards.

I don't see these games being shootouts but more like slugfests and I like the Cards chances in those.

 

101 Ouch!  Zimmer goes for it on…

Ouch!  Zimmer goes for it on 4th-and-inches instead of, as Collingsworth describes it, "making sure you can't lose in regulation" by kicking a short FG to make it an 8 point lead.

And it fails.  Lead remains 5.

EDIT: and SEA drives for a TD with 15 seconds left, but misses the 2 point PAT. 

102 I'm curious what the numbers…

I'm curious what the numbers say about MIN gong for it on 4th down here. I think I kick the FG to go up 8. Odds of 2pt conversion are apparently about 50% Leaguewide, although I'd guess SEA against this defense is quite a bit higher - even if it's 70%, and SEA is 70% to get the TD in the first place, that's only about 50% to win. That's got to be comparable to the odds of converting the 4th down (assuming doing so wins the game, and they were around the 25 so yardage difference from the kickoff is negligible), and if you fail, that TD percentage is about the same but it wins automatically.

UPDATE: Yup.

113 No way Seattle had a 70%…

No way Seattle had a 70% chance to score a TD; that's way too high. Though it doesn't ultimately matter in this scenario, because whether or not you kick the field goal or fail the conversion, Seattle will need a TD.

Let C be the chance that Minnesota converts the 4th down, D be the chance that Seattle gets a TD on its next drive (assuming no conversion by Minnesota), T be the chance that Seattle converts the 2-point conversion and O be the chance that Minnesota wins in OT. (Of course, there are some situations that I'm ignoring here, like Minnesota having some time after the TD drive to mount a drive of their own.)

If Minnesota goes for it on 4th down, they'll win if they convert, or if they fail to convert but Seattle fails to get a TD, which is C + (1-C)(1-D) = 1 - D + CD.

If Minnesota kicks the FG (let's assume it's 100%, even though it's a bit lower), they'll win if Seattle fails to get a TD, or if they do and fail the conversion, or complete the conversion and Minnesota wins in OT, which is (1 - D) + D(1-T) + DTO = 1 - D + (1-T + TO)D. So going for it is better if C > (1 - T + TO). If we assume both T and O are 50%, that means they need to convert it at above a 75% clip for it to be worth it. That's pretty close to the success rate of 1 yard to go situations. However, Minnesota had converted only 3 of 6 such plays in the game, so I'd say that kicking the FG was the better option.

Edit: Oops, I just realized that the two D's are not the same, because field position is different. That evens it up slightly.

123 Well yeah, my point was that…

Well yeah, my point was that even if you're pretty generous to Seattle in terms of odds to equalize after MIN kicks the FG, it's still a pretty good call to kick the FG.

RE: you edit, I think MIN had it right around the Seattle 25? Field position is probably more or less a wash, barring something unusual on the hypothetical return.

Anyway, kudos for running through the math properly! I'd be pretty surprised if MIN's "true" probability to convert 4th and 1 in that situation were really >75%.

134 They also won the game…

They also won the game against NE on the last play 1 yard goal line stand.

Apparently SEA's D is all about conservation of energy:  make exactly the number of stops needed to allow Wilson to win the game, but not one stop more. 

109 Brutal loss for the Vikings…

Brutal loss for the Vikings there. Second loss in 3 games by exactly one point. Zimmer's probably going to catch a lot of heat for the failed 4th down; I think objectively it wasn't a terrible decision, but one with a lot more downside risk than upside.

115 The reason Zimmer made the…

The reason Zimmer made the right call was exactly because you've got what has to be a 70%+ chance, even with the Vikings' line, of winning before Russell Wilson can touch the ball. Asking Wilson to get you 6 isn't that much different than asking him to get you 8. 

119 they were averaging nearly 5 yards per carry

The key there is getting the right play call and having the blocks executed.  Certainly the Minnesota offense is capable of getting 1 yard against the Seahawk defense.  

And using "six" as your sample size for testing the probability of 70%...that's just not good enough. (Quick binomial test gives me a p-value of 0.25569.)

 

 

122 They weren't averaging 5…

They weren't averaging 5 yards per carry when they needed to get 1 yard. And I'm sure it's not statistically significant, but they need to take everything into consideration, and that includes getting stuffed 3 times earlier. If they had gone 6-6 instead it wouldn't be significant either, but I'd have a lot more confidence as the coach in deciding to go for it.

128 it's a bit of a myth

That defenses can be expected to play better when they must hold the offense to only 1 yard.  It's the same defense every play.  If offenses are deliberately trimming their playbook on short-yardage situations, and are getting worse outcomes as a result, they only have themselves to blame.

If it were so easy to keep an offense from getting 1 yard on a given play, the defense would do it on every single play. 

112 That was a pretty shitty way…

That was a pretty shitty way for the Vikings season to effectively end. 

That was exactly the correct decision from Zimmer. You've got what? A 70% chance to end the game, and probably a 50/50 chance to win, even if it doesn't work? Wilson needed two Superman fourth downs on that drive.

141 Yeah, people are really…

Yeah, people are really condemning that decision when I think it was the correct one. Let's say that you have an 80% chance of getting that yard, or a 95% chance of getting the field goal. 

IF conversion good -> Vikings win 80%

20% if conversion fails, Seahawks need to go all the way down the field and score from their 10. Let's say even 50% chance. Therefore 90% chance overall Vikings win.

But also, if the Hawks scored with too much time left on the clock, there's a chance that the Vikings still win anyway. 

In contrast, let's say the field goal is 100% sure. Then there's a >50% chance the Hawks march down for a TD and a 50% chance they get the 2 points. Let's say a 25% chance overall.

Ultimately it comes down to how confident you feel in both the Vikings getting 1 yard, versus the Hawks getting a touchdown and 2 point conversion. Only with a 50% chance of the Vikings getting a first down would the two probabilities break even, assuming a 50% chance of the Hawks scoring then a 50% chance of the 2pts. If you think the Hawks are even more likely to score, then it makes even more sense to go for it.

148 It's on Zimmer.

When you consistently play conservative like they did in the first half, you can dominate a team and only be up 13-0.

When your QB turns the ball over back to back possessions, that lead can quickly flip to 14-13 down.

I know Zimmer picked up this paradigm in Dallas when he was coaching there but it simply doesn't work well in today's NFL.

Teams can score so quickly that you could be dominating for over 3 quarters like the Niners were in the SB and all it took was a big Mahomes completion downfield to change the tide.  

Playing the way Zimmer wants to play, you'd have to almost lights out perfect for an entire game to keep the other team down.  It simply doesn't work.

 

111 My main impression of today…

My main impression of today's games, having caught parts of a few different games, is it was a horrible weekend for officials.  Wow, there were a lot of bad and impactful calls out there today. 

I don't understand the NFL's stubborness about not using technology to improve consistency of the way the game is called.  Pass interference and unnecessary roughing penalties in particular.  The on field guys are usually in the best situation to call the penalties in the trenches, but the cameras are much better at catching the others.  A guy in the booth for each game to review these calls and non-calls just seems like a simple solution to improve the on field game.

Anyway, great win for SEA, terrible day for Prescott, and a disappointing day overall for the worst officiated professional sport on the planet.

121 technology

IMO, technology is being used as a crutch and the on-field officiating is getting worse.  The final play in Seattle was mis-adjudicated in part because officials have been trained systematically to err on the side of ruling a play to be a turnover, since turnovers get automatic reviews while more generic plays (such as incomplete passes) do not. 

I'm baffled that the officials called that last pass a fumble, and even more baffled that it was not overturned on review.  I'm not a Vikings fan (or a Seahawks fan) and don't particularly care about the outcome, and I doubt the Vikings would have been able to score with only 3-5 seconds on the clock.  But they deserved that chance.  

125 Earlier in the game they ruled a Cousins fumble an INC.

In reply to by RickD

Had they not blown their whistles so quickly, KJ Wright returns it for a TD.  Fortunately, the call was overturned and the Seahawks scored anyways.

So the refs weren't very consistent with erring on the side of it being a turnover on that play.

126 So the Seahawks go to 5-0

with an historically bad defense and the offense has been 80% Russell Wilson.

Hard to believe.  5-0.

149 In context...

...It's not hard to believe at all.

Their defense is doing just enough to keep them in games so RW can grind out a win.  It won't work against the better teams or in division play (NFC West).

I could easily see Seattle getting swept in the division by L.A. and Arizona for different reasons  Defensively they're going to have real problems containing Murray and the receiving corps Zona has.  The Rams have so much movement that I don't see Seattle being good enough to stay with it or diagnose it.  Both the Rams and Zona have better defenses than Seattle and it's not close, frankly.

I don't get caught up in National hype or ESPN highlights.  I just watch the games and Seattle to me is basically Dallas but with a better QB and (maybe) a better secondary.  Poor O-line and D-line.  Raw talent, but poorly coached.

 

127 So Seattle wins despite…

So Seattle wins despite going 0-7 on 3rd downs, putting them at 32.6% for the season, good for 2nd-worst in the league. On defense, they were 3rd-worst at allowing conversions going into this game, and I'm guessing that they'll still be in the bottom 5 after allowing 6 of 14. I have no idea why they're so bad on third downs on both sides of the ball.