Cleveland Browns LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Week 3 Recap: Justin Fields Not Ready to Start; Chiefs in Trouble

Justin Fields is not ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. And Matt Nagy is clearly not the coach to get him ready.

Fields went 6-of-20 for 68 yards, with nine sacks for 67 yards lost, in the Chicago Bears' 26-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Yes, that adds up to three more sacks than completions and precisely 1 net passing yard.

What's worse, Fields wasn't as effective as even those putrid numbers suggest. His throws over the middle arrived late to blanketed receivers. Throws to the sidelines sailed on him. He held the ball too long and appeared to have no faith in his reads. He exacerbated sacks by trying to escape out of the back of the pocket, resulting in additional lost yardage. Worst of all, he didn't look all that quick-footed, getting chased down from behind while scrambling and sliding awkwardly at the ends of runs. His best play of the day was an interception nullified by defensive pass interference. He even bounced a pass off of left tackle Jason Peters' back at one point.

Fields did many things wrong. But Nagy did so little to put him in a position to succeed that he nearly guaranteed failure.

If there were any designed runs in the Bears game plan, Walkthrough didn't see them: most of the apparent zone-read plays looked like handoffs with option window dressing. If Nagy rolled the pocket for Fields, again: Walkthrough didn't see it (we tuned out at garbage time). The Bears were in the game until late in the third quarter, thanks to a defense that provided multiple third- and fourth-down stops, but David Montgomery rushed just 10 times, seven of them in the first half. Do you think the Bears might have tossed an end-around or some screens into the game plan to diversify their attack and create some easy completions for Fields? Nah. They just sent him out there with the same playbook that made Andy Dalton a laughingstock in Week 1 and got him injured against the Bengals.

Walkthrough has asserted since the start of training camp that Nagy is all but sandbagging Fields as part of an elaborate and ill-conceived employment-preservation tactic. But I assumed that the sandbagging would cease once Fields was forced into the lineup and became Nagy's only hope of keeping his job.

There's no way Nagy would sabotage his own future just to prove some elaborate point about how Dalton was the best choice to be the Bears quarterback all along, right? I'm about 75% sure he would never do such a thing. It's much more likely that Bears coaches neglected to create a robust Fields-centric offensive package and never bothered fast-tracking his development in any meaningful way because they were so invested in the "Dalton is our starter" narrative that they could not imagine a scenario where Dalton would be injured by Week 2—even though pretty much everyone else who follows the NFL could envision just that scenario.

Before you accuse me of being too hard on Nagy (admittedly a favorite punching bag around here), think back to how the Texans made Davis Mills (a blurry photocopy of Brock Osweiler) look semi-capable for a few stretches of the Thursday night loss to the Panthers. Nagy is getting out-coached by David Culley, for heaven's sake.

The McCaskeys need to take a cue from the 2018 Cleveland Browns: ousting the whole Hue Jackson regime in midseason salvaged Baker Mayfield's career before he got buried until a pile of bad ideas and conflicting coaching agendas. The sooner the Bears move on from Nagy (and general manager Ryan Pace, of course), the quicker the franchise can set about evaluating and developing Fields instead of using him as some sort of thought experiment, object lesson, or pawn in a chess game that a hopelessly overmatched head coach is losing against himself.

How to Think About the Chiefs' 1-2 Start

It's not difficult to pinpoint the Chiefs' biggest issues after back-to-back losses, including Sunday's 30-24 defeat against the Los Angeles Chargers. They committed two turnovers in a 36-35 loss to Baltimore on Monday night and four more on Sunday, while their boom-or-bust fastbreak defense isn't producing enough stops or turnovers to compensate for their mistake-prone offense.

The big question is not what is happening but how to interpret it. Mahomes still looks excellent when he's not trying too hard to shift into phantasmagoric yolo hyperdrive, all of the big names on offense and defense are healthy, and both of Chiefs losses came down to the wire against quality opponents. So is the Chiefs' 1-2 start no big deal? Some big deal? A very big deal? Here are a few templates to help make sense of what's happening.

The Andy Reid Eagles Template
The Chiefs have become an upgraded version of the 2006-2010 post-Super Bowl XXXIX heartbreak Eagles.

Reid's attention to detail lapsed in the late 2000s, and his commitment to the run completely disappeared. The Eagles still made the playoffs frequently thanks to big plays by their veteran stars, but every close game was a potential nightmare of clock mismanagement or some other form of sloppiness.

Likelihood: Low. It's hard to tell if this template even applies to the Chiefs, because Mahomes is far superior to Donovan McNabb, and because the Eagles had no weapons quite like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in the late Reid era. In fact, the Eagles template might simply be a variation on…

The Packers Template
The Chiefs have become like the Brett Favre-Mike Sherman Packers of the early 2000s or the Aaron Rodgers Packers of the late Mike McCarthy era.

The Packers started out 1-2 in 2003 and 2004 under Sherman (and went 0-3 when the wheels came off in 2005). They started 1-2 in 2006, 2012, 2013, and 2014 under McCarthy, plus 1-1-1 in 2018. Those Packers offenses became starring vehicles for their overzealous quarterbacks, sometimes to a fault, yet they often rebounded to make the playoffs because, well, look at who those quarterbacks were.

Likelihood: Moderate to high. Mahomes is clearly trying to do too much with some of his no-look passes and risky maneuvers at the ends of scrambles. The Chiefs defense has also bought too heavily into the belief that they can give up gobs of yards and big plays as long as they produce a few turnovers. The Chiefs need to act more like a supergroup than Mahomes' backup band.

If The Packers template applies, the Chiefs are now a 10- or 11-win team likely to fall victim to some flaw like a leaky run defense when they reach the postseason. That tracks, and it should be a major worry for Chiefs fans.

The Patriots Template
Nothing to worry about, folks! The Patriots went 1-2 to start the 2018 season but won the Super Bowl. They went 2-2 to start the 2017 season and won the AFC. Heck, what would September in the 2010s have been without an early-season loss or two and a PATRIOTS DYNASTY HAS ENDED storyline? The Chiefs are doing their version of the same thing and will stomp on the accelerator any minute now.

Likelihood: Moderate to low. The biggest difference between the 2010s Patriots and the 2021 Chiefs is their margin for error. The Patriots could noodle early in the year while counting on an easy divisional schedule to buoy them come playoff tiebreaker time, but there are no Jets in the AFC West this year.

There are other differences—those Patriots teams made far fewer mistakes, even in their losses—but "figure out solutions on the fly" tactics will likely force the Chiefs onto the road for at least part of the playoffs, which sends us straight back toward the Packers Template.

The Troll Template
Mahomes has been figured out, folks! It's over! The Chiefs are screwed for the rest of the decade!

Likelihood: Close to zero. But if it's true, Bills fans better start buying up those PSLs for the new stadium, because they're really gonna want a seat.

Game Spotlight: Rams 34, Buccaneers 24

What Happened: If you were looking for proof of concept for the "Matthew Stafford makes the Rams Super Bowl contenders" theory, well, this was it.

Stafford threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns. DeSean Jackson emerged from the duckblind he was hiding in for the first two games for a 75-yard touchdown. Sean McVay designed a nearly flawless game plan. Only the threat of Tom Brady magic kept the contest from becoming a laugher after the Rams scored touchdowns on four straight drives and added a field goal to take a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter.

What it means: The Rams allowed just one sack. Given time to throw against the fearsome Buccaneers pass rush (missing Jason Pierre-Paul, but whatever), Stafford completed six passes of 20-plus yards to four different receivers, and the Rams converted 10 of 15 third downs. Brady played well, but the Buccaneers running game was useless, and their passing game (without an injured Rob Gronkowski for much of the game) wasn't fast enough to compete in the track meet.

Most interestingly, the Rams were penalized just once for 4 yards. They have now been penalized just seven times through three games. That's not a sustainable pace, and it may be more of a random factor than a sign of superior coaching or discipline. But protecting Stafford from the Bucs without holding penalties and stopping the Buccaneers receivers without pass interference is impressive.

Combine the pass protection, run defense, and penalty-free football, and there is clearly more to the Rams than just Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Jalen Ramsey. It takes a complete team to convincingly beat the Buccaneers, and the Rams really look like one right now.

What's next: The Rams host the Cardinals, then face the Seahawks in a pair of games that should help us make some more sense out of the NFC West.

The Buccaneers visit New England next week in a game that some folks think is interesting or significant for some reason.

Quarterback Denial Index

A bad quarterback situation is understandable: teams are forced to start rookies, backups, and placeholder veterans all the time. Quarterback denial, or the belief that everything is A-OK despite evidence to the contrary, is inexcusable. The first step toward getting better is admitting there's a problem. After three weeks, here are the NFL teams least likely to take that step.

Honorable Mention: Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold's "improvement" is 50% a distortion caused by the fact that the Panthers faced a pair of XFL-caliber opponents, 25% wishful thinking by draftniks who stumped for him in 2018, and 25% our national eagerness to blame anything bad that has ever happened on Adam Gase.

5. San Francisco 49ers
The best argument for keeping Jimmy Garoppolo in the lineup is the fact that Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones all currently look like they still belong in college, and Trey Lance is probably less NFL-ready than any of them. On the other hand, the 49ers have been talking themselves into Garoppolo since before they traded for him, and Kyle Shanahan called every jet sweep and option concept he could dream up to get the 49ers offense moving in the second half (with Lance making some cameos). If the 49ers are using a protect-the-rookie game plan, they might as well use it for their rookie.

4. New York Giants
Daniel Jones hasn't committed a turnover in two games and has made some fine plays as a runner and deep passer. As a result, a somewhat-credible he's not the problem narrative is coalescing around him during the Giants' 0-3 start. That said, what the Giants did on Sunday practically broke the laws of thermodynamics: it's almost scientifically impossible to only score 14 points against the Falcons defense. It's foolish to hold Jones harmless from criticism.

There's a difference between not being the problem, not being one of the three or four biggest problems, and being part of the solution. Jones fits more squarely in the second category than the third.

Remember, Walkthrough is based in greater Philly, the home of the franchise-destroying he's not the problem quarterback narrative. But we'll get to you-know-who in a bit.

3. New Orleans Saints
Perhaps the most controversial team on this list. Jameis Winston keeps throwing touchdown passes to cap nine- to 12-yard scoring drives, the defense keeps providing turnovers, and the Saints keep winning. It all hides just how anemic their passing game really is. Sean Payton turned to Taysom Hill to execute his silly Wildcat package in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 28-13 win because Winston couldn't move the offense while nursing a one-score lead. A lack of weapons is a part of Winston's problem, but blaming the supporting cast is also a primary symptom of quarterback denial.

Walkthrough keeps comparing the 2021 Saints to the 2020 Patriots, and it keeps being true. If Winston doesn't improve, we'll be seeing more of the Lovechild as the weeks wear on, with predictable results.

2. Indianapolis Colts
Carson Wentz spent one-half of Sunday's 25-16 loss to the Titans throwing the ball away to avoid sacks, often simply bouncing them at the feet of a pass-protecting running back. He spent the rest of the time either getting sacked, tossing quick passes into the flats, or delivering risky downfield lobs. The Colts would have been utterly humiliated if not for three drive-killing Titans turnovers and the fact that Titans defenders were so eager to deliver the Wentz killshot that they gave up chunk yardage on screens.

This is the Wentz experience, folks. It's not that he renders the offense completely ineffectual, but that he takes the whole organization on a weekly rollercoaster ride regarding his health status and psychological state while playing just well enough to keep a strong supporting cast glued to the bottom of the playoff picture.

Or, as my wife said on Sunday morning when I explained that Wentz planned to play on a pair of sprained ankles: "He needs to spend less effort proving that he's tough and more effort proving that he's good."

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger has become the walking embodiment of the Y.A. Tittle "Fallen Giant" photo. The Steelers understand this on some level, but they have reached the point that the Giants reached with Eli Manning in 2017 or so. The Steelers purposely avoided acquiring an heir apparent (Dwayne Haskins is Geno Smith in this scenario) in an effort to build one last contender, leaving them with no choice but to prop Roethlisberger up and hope their defense holds opponents under 16 points.

The Steelers are likely to become the 2021 Saints or 2020 Patriots next year, keeping games close with someone such as Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. But they could also collapse when Roethlisberger finally crumbles to dust the way the Giants did after years of procrastinating with Eli. The Steelers haven't had a multi-year stretch of truly dreadful football in living memory, but there's a chance that one is looming on the horizon, and that the seeds of that demise were sewn against the Bengals on Sunday.

Quick Hitters

Snack-sized news and notes from the weekend.

NFL Moves One of the Wild-Card Weekend Playoff Games from Saturday Afternoon to Monday Night
My fingers type "this is terrible for competitive balance" while my mind screams "this is terrible for my weekly content schedule!"

Dallas Cowboys Offensive Tackle La'el Collins was Suspended for Attempting to Bribe the League's Drug Test Collector
COLLINS: "Imma wrap this paper cup full of Mountain Dew in a pretty green portrait of Alexander Hamilton, and you're gonna pretend I don't smell like the stockroom of a Colorado dispensary."

DRUG-TEST PERSON: "You know, under the new collective bargaining agreement, you can't be suspended for marijuana unless you do something really stupid like…"

COLLINS: "Just take the soda and the 10-spot, pee boy."

Christian McCaffrey to Miss a Few Weeks with a Strained Hamstring
Running backs don't matter, unless you build your rushing and passing philosophies completely around one, then back him up with a fourth-round rookie.

Buffalo Bills to Sell PSLs to Pay for New Stadium
#BillsMafia members sheepishly begin duct-taping tables back together because they can no longer afford both season tickets and new dining room furniture.

Tua Tagovailoa Placed on Miami Dolphins Injured Reserve
Raekwon Davis named injured reserve captain. And yes, I plan to beat this joke until it's carcass can not be identified by forensic science.

Andy Reid Falls Ill After Chargers Loss, Leaves Stadium in an Ambulance
Per reports, Reid is OK. And Urban Meyer just had a great idea.

Walkthrough Awards

Defensive Player of the Week
It sure has been a big month for two-interception games by defenders! That'll happen when the NFL is full of unprepared rookie quarterbacks, zombie Ben Roethlisbergers, and the Atlanta Falcons. Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy and Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson win the NFC and AFC versions of this week's awards for their two-pick performances. Murphy's pick-six in the Arizona Cardinals victory over the Jaguars turned a nip-and-tuck game into a rout, while Wilson did a fine job extending for a short Roethliswobbler and holding onto a ball that Big Ben thought he could throw straight through the defender's chest.

Offensive Line of the Week
The Rams' offensive line of 39-year-old Andrew Whitworth (Internet maritime law requires us to specify his age every time he is mentioned), David Edwards, Brian Allen, Austin Corbett and Rob Havenstein held off one of the best pass rushes in the NFL so Matthew Stafford could throw for 343 yards and one touchdown. The 39-year-old Whitworth even recovered a fumble by Tyler Higbee to keep an early-game drive alive! He's so awesome! And so old!

Special Teamer of the Week
Walkthrough used to call this the Justin Tucker Memorial Special Teamer of the Week award a few years ago, back when we were Monday Morning Digest. We stopped doing so because Tucker ended up winning his own award about once per month, and because a "memorial" for someone who is alive and active is a little weird.

Anyway: 66-yard game-winning field goal, longest in NFL history, one-hopped off the crossbar. 'Nuff said.

Honorable mention goes to Jamal Agnew of the Jaguars for his 109-yard touchdown return of a 68-yard Matt Prater field goal attempt—the Cardinals may be much improved this year, but Kliff Kingsbury is still a very handsome ninny—and to Andrew Dowell of the Saints for his blocked punt against the Patriots.

Mystery Touch of the Week
The Bills briefly tried to give away their eventual 43-21 rout of Washington by getting goofy before halftime. Dustin Hopkins' kickoff after a long Antonio Gibson catch-and-run touchdown bounced at around at the 20-yard line, and Bills return team just kinda stared at it like it was a punt. Hopkins raced downfield and grabbed the football, setting up another Washington touchdown.

So while it's officially a fumble recovery, Hopkins essentially returned his own kickoff. Eat your heart out, Justin Tucker.

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight
Grady Jarrett has been the Falcons' best defender for several years. But he remains a Falcons defender. So what happens when a 300-plus-pound defensive tackle squares off head-to-head with Daniel Jones doing his best Cam Newton impression at the goal line? Jarrett gets trucked, of course, because even in victory, the Falcons are the Falcons.

Burn This Play!
Check out the video of Darius Leonard's interception in the Titans victory over the Colts.

How do you think Tennessee offensive coordinator Todd Downing installed that masterpiece? "OK, I want the tight end to go straight into the middle of the field and then stop. And I want Jeremy McNichols to run to the exact same spot on the field and also stop. And Julio Jones, could you drift toward the same location too? No, don't run a route, Julio. Just sorta coast toward a spot near the hashmark, 3 yards shy of the sticks. That should result in about five converging defenders! Now Ryan, the tight end is your first read, McNichols the second, and Julio the third! This will BLOW THEIR MINDS on third-and-7!"

Walkthrough Sportsbook Sunday Same-Game Parlay and Prop-a-Palooza!

Walkthrough wagered on a five-flavor flight of props and parlays in Week 3 to shake up the routine a little bit. How did we do? More importantly, what on earth made us even consider such a strange assortment of wagers? Let's review a mostly successful Sunday:

Miami Dolphins +4.5 vs. Las Vegas Raiders AND final score OVER 44.5 at +260
Rationale: Walkthrough has been wagering on competent backups in their first starts of the year since before we could legally drive (and loooonnnng before we could legally wager). The low over, high payout, and four-plus points of breathing room made this same-game parlay too tasty to pass up against a Raiders opponent we had little faith in.

Result: Ah, the same-game parlay at its best! Sure, the Raiders pulled it out. But Jacoby Brissett proved capable enough to mount both an early lead and a fourth-quarter comeback, while a Dolphins defensive touchdown and a Raiders safety helped push the final score past the over before the overtime rolled around. WIN

Both Chargers and Chiefs to score 25-plus points: +150
Rationale: Betting the over (which landed at 54.5) would have been easy enough, but Walkthrough predicted a shootout between the Chiefs and a Chargers team that entered the game averaging a league-high 49.4 yards per drive. So why not juice the payout?

Result: Ugh. Those Chiefs turnovers were a killer, yet Walkthrough still had a puncher's chance at Hail Mary time. Anyone who bet the over felt the same pain. LOSS.

Baltimore Ravens Straight Up vs. Detroit Lions AND final score UNDER 50.5 at +145
Rationale: The Ravens at -7.5 against the plucky Lions felt like a backdoor cover waiting to happen. The over-under of 50 (teased up for parlay purposes) sounded a little rich: unless the Ravens scored around 34 points themselves, this game wasn't hitting the half-century mark. This same-game parlay gave me a strong payout for what amounted in my mind to a straight-up Ravens pick.

Result: This game played out exactly as expected! Except for the part where the Lions scored 10 fourth-quarter points to take a lead. And the part where Lamar Jackson needed to hit Sammy Watkins with a 36-yard pass on fourth-and-19 with no timeouts and 26 seconds left to set up a 66-yard desperation field goal. And the part where Justin Tucker bounced the game-winner off the crossbar and over like a ground-rule double. Otherwise, exactly as expected. WIN.

Russell Wilson Longest Completion OVER 38.5 (-120)
Rationale: The Vikings defense ranked 29th against deep passes in DVOA entering the game. If they couldn't stop Joe Burrow or Kyler Murray burning them with bombs, what chance did they have against Russell Wilson?

Result: The Vikings played a heckuva game in their 30-17 victory, thanks in small part to a classic Seahawks "get to 17 points at halftime and stop" game plans. The Vikings secondary also did a great job preventing Wilson from launching bombs to DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett. But tight end Will Dissly slipped away from linebacker Erik Kendricks over the middle and rumbled for precisely 39 yards. There's a reason Walkthrough didn't just pick the Seahawks to win, folks. WIN.

Matthew Stafford + Tom Brady to Combine for Over 599.5 Passing Yards +105
Rationale: A shootout seemed likely, and this prop is built to withstand a "Stafford 350 yards/Brady 250 yards" situation if the "shootout" turned into "Rams playing catchup for the entire second half."

Result: The "shootout" turned into "Buccaneers playing catchup for the entire second half." Whatever. This money was in the bank midway through the third quarter. WIN.

Final Tally
Five units wagered, a total of 9.93 paid out: not bad for a Sunday's work. Plus, I leapt and cheered like a lunatic in a South Jersey tavern when Tucker made that kick. Moments like that are priceless.

Monday Night Action: Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 at Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have scored 21 first-quarter points this season, so Walkthrough is taking them -0.5 to lead at the end of the first quarter before Kellen Moore runs out of cool ideas and the Cowboys start running curls-and-flats twice per drive.

You may have noticed that Walkthrough loves a good "longest completion" prop, and Jalen Hurts' over is way down at 36.5 yards, albeit with a -120 payout. Half the Eagles offense is moonshots to fast receivers right now, while the other half consists of quick screens to those same able-to-break-one receivers. This wager could take the sting out if a 90-yard Hurts bomb results in zero Eagles points again.

After that, Walkthrough wants little to do with this game. The Eagles will be without Jordan Mailata, while the Cowboys are coping with a minor COVID outbreak. After the Sunday you just read about, I see little reason to press my luck.

Comments

90 comments, Last at 29 Sep 2021, 10:25am

1 https://www.youtube.com…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9cExOBNjO4

That’s the link to an NFL Channel YouTube video where they cut up every play by Justin Fields. Honestly, I think I’ve seen worse. Yes, it was horrible, but you can also tell that the Bears offence just flat out sucks. Their line is bad, their receivers weren’t getting separation.

Fields himself, at 1:50 of the video, and again around 3 min mark, makes some headscratching “what was that,” throws. He made a grand total of two good throws in my estimation, and the rest was either routine, poor, or terrible, but it was actually mostly the former two. It was truly awful, but maybe salvageable.

Not a Bears fan. I don’t care, but I think it’s safe to say that Nagy has shown me nothing to suggest he is competent. Having a 12-4 record with the leagues best defence doesn’t impress me.

3 Fields looked unplayable…

Fields looked unplayable yesterday. It wasn't all his fault as Peters got destroyed by Garrett. Still, he was a big part of the problem. It was a tough watch honestly.

The thing is, he's hardly been the only rookie this season to look way out of his depth. Wilsons stat lines are shocking. And Lawrence hasn't been much better.

It's one thing for rookies to suck. It's another to witness performances like this. I'm not going to make any declarations yet obviously, but I am frankly astonished all of these rookies have struggled this much so far.

 

5 Fields, according to both…

Fields, according to both PFF and my eyes, had zero turnover worthy throws. That was really the only thing keeping that performance from being the worst I’ve ever seen. There were no outrageously horrible interceptions thrown right to the defender from Fields.

Silver linings and all that.

58 There were three other QBs in that class

The Rosen/Darnold class also includes Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson. Allen's rookie year was terrible and somewhat obscured by Rosen and Darnold. But Mayfield and Jackson were decent for rookies. I'm still fairly confident that Lawrence, Fields, and Jones will eventually be competent. I'm less convinced about Wilson's prospects and especially those of Trey Lance. 

84 Mayfield and Jackson

But Mayfield and Jackson were decent for rookies.

Yep!  Mayfield set the rookie TD-pass record, that Herbert broke last year.  And Lamar had the highest passer-rating of any 21yo passer in league history.  (Barely: he was hundredths of a point ahead of Jameis.)
 

... and especially those of Trey Lance. 

I'm still shocked the Niners took Trey Lance over Justin Fields. 

Matt Nagy may destroy Fields, artificially making the Niners choice look correct.  But that alone won't sway me.

28 Thanks for the link

I hadn't rewatched the plays, so it was good to see.

Looking at that...in the first half, it looks like Fields is actually looking at multiple receivers, going through progressions. And in the second half (until the final drive, maybe), it looks like he isn't--like he's just staring down one receiver the entire play from the snap.

Am I crazy to wonder if maybe the halftime "adjustment" that the coaching staff made was to tell Fields "hey don't use your eyes, just stare down your receiver until they are open"? It seems too crazy to believe, but...

Granted, there were problems in the first half where he was getting sacked, so maybe you could say that he wasn't processing quick enough given the mismatch of the Browns' DLine vs the Bears' OLine. But the solution of "telegraph where the throw is going"...well it sure as shit didn't help.

33 Am I crazy to wonder if…

Am I crazy to wonder if maybe the halftime "adjustment" that the coaching staff made was to tell Fields "hey don't use your eyes, just stare down your receiver until they are open"? It seems too crazy to believe, but...

Look at what he's doing in the first half, though. He's looking around, but he doesn't pull the trigger. Then you do see him pass, to a guy that's violently wide open because a 6-yard gain on 3rd and 22 is damn pointless. A better guess for a halftime adjustment would be "you've got to trust that these guys can make a play." Second half throws are into much tighter windows (including some of his best throws) but in general are fairly inaccurate and late. Which is exactly what you expect when a guy's second-guessing his instincts. Plus the receivers suck, so there's that.

Fields looks a lot like a guy who needs to adjust to NFL windows and accuracy needs. Which... is exactly what I expected. To be honest, I don't entirely get the "there was no package for him" part, because a bunch of those plays looked like they were designed for him. They just don't work as well in the NFL, because the players are faster (you have way less time on a naked boot in the NFL) and because the Bears line sucks.

35 I agree with this. Both…

I agree with this. Both halfs were awful, but awful in different ways.

Honestly, their scoring game off one big run that set them up in FG range and a big PI penalty(that I thought was a bit ticky tacky) that set up the second field goal. Otherwise it was just a big sackfest. 

36 That doesn't really sound…

That doesn't really sound right to me. Granted, it's a SSS because by my count he only actually threw 4 passes in the first half, but the other three were not wide open. The completion to Robinson is a VERY tight window, and the two throws to Mooney (one completed, one sailed) were open, but not uncovered.

I agree that he didn't pull the trigger quick enough on a lot of the sacks, but given what I can see (which is hard without a better view like All-22), it doesn't look like there are open receivers. Maybe there's a point to be made that he needs to lower his standard of what is "open" in the NFL, but by my view it just looked like he was correctly assessing that there was nothing there.

I disagree on the idea that he was consistently late in the second half, though. There's a few where maybe he could have anticipated a bit quicker but it's not like there are guys completing their route and waiting for a pass while the defender catches up. These are heavily covered receivers. And a lot of his inaccuracy looks to me more like trying to throw it where it won't get intercepted. Again, it's hard to say  without All-22 but second half Justin Fields doesn't look like a guy who is messing up plays with his faults, but a guy trying to execute doomed plays with no options and not succeeding.

I know I'm biased here, and I'm not naive enough to think that Fields' doesn't have areas to improve. I just don't think the things that went wrong on Sunday give a clear view into what those improvements should be.

49 The 3rd and 22 was…

The 3rd and 22 was ridiculously open? Like, no one within 5 yards, because... why would you cover someone tight 6 yards deep on 3rd and 22. Same with the 1st and 10 throw to Mooney (and the last play of the half, although there's nothing to complain about there). Big cushion there. If the closest DB is 5 yards away in the NFL... the receiver's totally wide open.

The Robinson throw, he's a step late. You can see him almost double-clutch as he's running: he doesn't start to throw until after Robinson stops, which is too late. He should know that Robinson's going to stop - which means the WR wins the instant the DB turns away from him. That ball should be right on Robinson the instant he's turning around. Instead, the DB has time to come back to the ball and (nearly) break it up.

But it's the same thing, he's just waiting until he sees the receiver win the route rather than anticipating it. Robinson won the instant the DB's hips turned, you need to start the throw as soon as it happens.

77 I've watched the Robinson play like 5 times

I don't understand what you're saying. Unless the route is supposed to be a stop and go (which I doubt, since Robinson comes to a complete stop), then it looks like a six yard stop route. I doubt Fields is supposed to hit him on it, since he faked a handoff and then rolled out, which makes me think he was supposed to do that, and by the time he's squared up it's way too late to throw the stop route. Robinson then turns upfield, goes another 5 yards and then turns again, and that's when Fields throws.

I interpret that as a scramble drill, and if you're telling me that Fields was supposed to have known that Robinson was gonna make the turn before he did...well, that's not something I expect. Though I do watch mostly Bears football...

Looking at it again, it looks like they're running a smash concept with Mooney running the corner? So I dunno what happened there, because it's not zone defense so I think the throw should be to the corner route. So maybe he read it wrong.

(The other possibility was that the ball was supposed to come out immediately after the fake handoff, and Fields mucked it up by trying to scramble for a better angle. The fact that he immediately moved left makes me guess otherwise, but it's possible)

82 It's a faked stop-and-go…

It's a faked stop-and-go (edit: in other words, it's a "stop and comeback" - run like a stop and go, but run comeback instead). Receiver stops, then turns to take off and stops to turn around right at the first down marker. That looks *way* too planned for a scramble drill. I *know* I've seen that play broken down before, too. Can't remember where, unfortunately. The whole goal is to get the DB's hips turned, which happens all the time since the go route's such a threat. Works well if you've got a receiver with good body control like Robinson. Good throw, too, just a little late.

48 To be honest, I don't…

To be honest, I don't entirely get the "there was no package for him" part, because a bunch of those plays looked like they were designed for him.

He had 2 designed runs, 2 designed roll outs, and 2 passes with max protection. That is quite clearly an offense not designed for a QB who's main identified weakness was holding onto the ball too long and main strength is 4.4 speed and arm strength. The Bears offense should have looked like an approximation of what the Ravens were running in 2018 for Lamar Jackson if they were actually trying to adjust it to what Fields is capable of at present. 

61 He had 2 designed runs, 2…

He had 2 designed runs, 2 designed roll outs, and 2 passes with max protection. That is quite clearly an offense not designed for a QB who's main identified weakness was holding onto the ball too long and main strength is 4.4 speed and arm strength.

Yeah, just a disagreement there. There were a number of plays that looked really close to OSU plays from last year, and it looked like he just made the wrong read.

 The Bears offense should have looked like an approximation of what the Ravens were running in 2018 for Lamar Jackson

They really don't have the offense for that. They don't really have much of the components of a good offense period, mind you, but most of the time the plays he was given should've just been easy reads. I don't think it would've changed much if he had just made the throw other than get rid of many of the sacks, though.

It's easy to look at the Ravens in 2018 and say "just do that!" but yeah, I can also point at Robert Griffin's rookie year as to why you don't do that. I'm not super-convinced of Jackson's long term potential in the NFL at all, and I'd have similar concerns if they tried to turn Fields into "Lamar Jackson 2.0" (which... would be a bad idea, in my opinion).

2 As for my Rams…

As for my Rams. Interestingly I think pretty much every major non statistical ranking outlet has to have the Rams No 1 in the league now. Not necessarily that they are, but because the Bucs and Chiefs were ahead of them and both lost, the Bucs losing handily to the Rams. The 2-1 Ravens squeaked out a win over the lowly Lions, so they can’t be up there.

Personally I think it’s plausible, and it’s possible to overcorrect the natural fan reaction to your team being successful and downplay how good they are. Is this Rams team truly special? Is this something like a 15-2 team? 

4 I thought the game between…

I thought the game between the bucs and Rams was closer than the score indicated. Even if we ignore that possible pick six that Matthew Stafford got away with, the Bucs got them in lots of third and mediums plus which Stafford completed. Good on Stafford and the Rams, but those can swing in the other direction on a rematch.

Similarly, the Rams got some critical stops at key times and the Bucs missed on some key third downs. 

I think the Rams are probably the best team in the NFC right now, but I still worry they are dependent on 4 players in Stafford, Kupp, Donald, and Ramsay and that losing even one of those 4 could have severe ripple effects.

I thought Sean McVay called a very impressive game.

7 Sorry, but what team with…

Sorry, but what team with playoff hopes wouldn't have severe ripple effects if they lost one of their QB, top pass rusher, top coverage player, or top receiver?

Maybe the Rams have a bigger dropoff but that's because Donald and Ramsay are competing for best in league at their positions. QB is a silly position to include as any team with a top 16 QB is basically cooked without them in this day and age. I shudder to think what last year's Packers secondary would have been without Alexander (another potential best in league). 

I think they would struggle, sure, but I think they may adapt to the loss of one those none QB players better than you are giving them credit they aren't completely devoid of depth and they have good coaching. It may cost them a game or two, but not a season.

 

 

15 I too am getting somewhat…

I too am getting somewhat tired of the whole “yeah but if generationalPlayerHere or topQuarterback gets injured, they won’t be as good,” analysis. I mean, yeah?

And echoing the commentator below, the idea that the Rams don’t have depth is just flat out wrong. People just say that because it seems plausible because they have traded their first round picks the past six years. Even with that, what position specifically lacks depth? Because it’s not WR or DB. 

The rams have hit on almost all of their secondary picks after the first round. They have Fuller (sixth round) playing well in the secondary. Rapp (second round), Long (3rd), Rochell (3rd), and Williams (UDFA) all playing very well. But I guess because these guys weren’t first round picks they’re scrubs who can cover as well as wet tissue paper.

It’s just weird how people assume that the guys they’ve never heard of on the Rams are terrible, but don’t do this for other teams.

16 Ok forget QB. I included it…

Ok forget QB. I included it just for completeness.

I'm of the opinion that this team looks dramatically worse if they lose one of three not because their depth is bad, but because they are superlative players. TB could lose one of their top pass rusher, corner, or receiver and I think they have enough other stars to compensate. 

32 It very much is not. Is…

It very much is not. Is there a drop off from Ramsey or Donald to the fifth string player at those positions? Well of course. It’s also true that there’s a huge drop off to the second string player. There’s a huge drop off from those players to many teams first string player. That doesn’t mean those players are replacement level scrubs.

For all its faults, just go look up PFF grades for the rams defense, and it’s hard to find a below average player. Same for that Rams offense. It’s a lot more than just Stafford, Kupp, and then a bunch of replacement quality players. It’s a fantastic offensive line coupled with tons of depth at receiver, plus Stafford and Kupp.

The rams front office gets a lot of attention for trading first round picks. They get less attention for intentionally accumulating later round picks through compensatory picks and trading back. They have spent the draft capital they have very well, and gotten a team stacked with solid players at every position. 

8 Rams Roster

I’m finding the Rams roster construction really interesting at the moment. They have gonna big on acquiring players at key positions (QB, Corner, Pass Rusher) which makes their roster look top heavy. 

On defence they are getting good enough play out of the rest of the DBs and DL to ensure that there isn’t a significant weakness. They have worked this way for a few years now with decent success. 

Is it a scheme thing or coaching? Or is the play of Donald and Ramsey just so good that it doesn’t matter who you match them with? 

30 Week 3.

Analyzing these games, people get lost in a vacuum and forget that it's a long season.  Injuries are a huge factor.

It was a great win for the Rams.  I don't take much out of it beyond that.  The Bucs have injury issues in the secondary and they had a suspect game-plan going in.  Committing to the run more might have helped them in this game.

Next week's game between the Cards/Rams will be a good barometer of where the NFC West is.  I said before the season that the division would come down to these two teams.  It's round one.

Seattle is in for regression and we're already seeing it.  I see them being 1-4 very quickly.   

The Niners are smoke and mirrors.  I don't believe in Jimmy G or their running game.  They also have injuries in the secondary. 

 

38 Brady's rush yards

In reply to by DIVISION

It was a great win for the Rams.  I don't take much out of it beyond that.  The Bucs have injury issues in the secondary and they had a suspect game-plan going in.  Committing to the run more might have helped them in this game.

Agreed.  How many games has a Brady-led team won when he led the team in rush yards?

44 Well the Bucs had a 2.7…

Well the Bucs had a 2.7 yards/carry average despite Tom Brady running the ball 3 times for 14 yards, which noticeably boosted those numbers. The running backs combined for 11 carries and 22 yards, and they were down the entire game, and by 17 late. Not sure why we’re doing the whole “establish the run even when you’re getting 2.7 yards per carry and are down by 17 points late in the third,” line here on FO, especially when Brady throws for 430 yards.

Nor do I understand not giving, you know, the opposing team credit for the Bucs running game being so abysmal. I guess the Bucs should have just decided to run for more yards. How silly of them to not do that. Who needs 400 passing yards when you could have another 10 runs for 20 net yards?

We could just as easily ask, how many games has Brady lost when throwing for 400+ yards and no interceptions?

43 Well, yeah.  It's easy not…

In reply to by DIVISION

Well, yeah.  It's easy not to believe in the 49ers run game when their top 4 RBs are out injured and they're playing guys they signed off the street earlier in the week. 

70 Exactly.

That's precisely why I don't believe in their running game.  You need talent to run your schemes.  Their lack of depth in the secondary is why Aaron Rodgers only needed 37 seconds to steal a win.  

 

74 True that.  They're also…

In reply to by DIVISION

True that.  They're also signing veteran CBs off the couch and playing them.

But at least they have 12 top-notch D-linemen. 

6 Burn This Play!

Mike, did you saw a 4-and-10 Steelers play at the end of the game?

Burn everybody who were involved in this desicion. JFC, how can anyone draw a 4-and-10 play near opposing goalline with an option to dump the ball?

9 I did but forgot to write…

In reply to by galerus

I did but forgot to write about it! It was indeed BURN THIS PLAY worthy! But in terms of play design (and I am sure a few guys blew their assignments) the Titans INT was still "better."

80 Last week, they punted on…

Last week, they punted on 4th and 1, 2 scores down end of the 4th.

The seeds to the Steelers going to suck have been sowed with every Mike Tomlin extension.

Because he will never learn from previous mistakes.

10 Tucker

When Tucker's field goal went through, my reaction was exactly the same as the Rodgers Hailmary in 2015: I wasn't even mad, I just shook my head and laughed out loud.  And I wasn't even thinking about the 4th and 19 or the missed delay of game penalty on the last drive.  Only the Lions!  They now have TWO record-breaking field goals to beat them at the gun in their franchise history.

The extra gut punch was, a few hours later, Stafford balling out against a top defense for the first time in like 9 years.

The silver-lining is, for "tanking" purposes, this is the result you want: bottom-3 roster plays hard, some young players show promise, and you still don't ruin your draft position. 

17 If Goff remains serviceable,…

If Goff remains serviceable, perhaps you can trade Rattler to the Texans for their next five 1st round picks.  That's what I'm hoping the Jets do, and their quarterback has given barely any sign of being decent, compared to a guy who went to a Super Bowl within the last four years.

12 One of the most mobile QBs

And they refuse to adapt from Dalton and use a strength. I've defended Nagy (Pace more of a culprit) but man they're really bungling things.

OL is a mess and they are missing Jenkins but there's a discussion there about the process of trading up for a non QB. One of picks they traded was JOK who looked like he had nice day...against them.

14 Walkthrough has been…

Walkthrough has been wagering on competent backups in their first starts of the year since before we could legally drive (and loooonnnng before we could legally wager). 

No! Nononono! C'mon you cannot look at that game and call Brissett a "competent backup!"

Up until the last drive of the game, Brissett had been terrible. He had under 100 net passing yards. The Dolphins had more rushing yards than passing. He hadn't completed a pass more than 10 yards downfield the entire game. They were getting massively outclassed. He was 'competent' in the way that trying to give CPR to someone bleeding out could be "competent." Yeah, you might be doing something that could help... for a totally different situation.

The only reason that bet covered is because of the Dolphins defense and them suddenly realizing "hey... that Trayvon Mullen guy sure does commit a lot of dumb pass interference penalties. Let's just chuck it deep to a big receiver and get the penalty!" Literally the only attempt to Mack Hollins on the entire day.

while a Dolphins defensive touchdown and a Raiders safety helped push the final score past the over before halftime rolled around. 

Pretty sure you mean before overtime, not before halftime. Halftime score was 14-12, and I don't think your math skills have declined that bad.

52 I'd say Brissett used to be…

I'd say Brissett used to be a competent backup. Like many other Dolphin players and ex-players, he looked better when he was on another team. Here's looking at you, Tannehill. But if van Noy is back to playing at a high level, that would be definitive proof that something is not right with this team beyond talent level.

83 He didn't look good with the…

He didn't look good with the Colts or Patriots. At best I would've called him a "mediocre backup." Reich did a great job in 2019 (especially on short notice!)  - but just look at the run/pass yardage. He passed for over 200 yards 5 times. They simplified things like crazy for him. With the exception of like, one or two games, he's always been a liability to a team. And yeah, obviously, he's a backup - but a "competent backup" is neutral.

I'm not saying Brissett's crap, get rid of him - a mediocre backup is still better than a bad backup.

18 Chiefs' template

To me, the 2021 Chiefs just look like the 2020 "Flip the Switch" Chiefs with 5% less luck and/or 5% more mistakes. Yeah, the Chiefs ripped off wins in 14 straight meaningful games (- the Chargers finale) but it was by the slimmest of margins: A last minute TD pass vs. Vegas, a lost fumble called back vs. Buffalo, a missed FG by Carolina, a last minute TD pass vs Atlanta, etc. Mahomes is 6-2 in playoff games, and they've been down two scores in five of those wins. They just feel like "Casey at the Bat" smiling at the first two strikes before crushing the third out of the park - except when they suddenly don't.

20 The defense seriously…

In reply to by IlluminatusUIUC

The defense seriously worries me. When that's the case, any off day from your offense and you have 0 margin for error.

21 What if Mahomes is this…

What if Mahomes is this generation's Brett Favre? Goes to back to back Super Bowls early in his career, wins the first, loses the second, and that's it?

25 That's a pretty harsh take…

That's a pretty harsh take on Favre's career. In sort of this binary SB way of judging things, thats a better performance than Steve Young, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers(so far), to say nothing of Dan Marino.

29 I wasn't comparing him to…

I wasn't comparing him to Rodgers or Brees, or giving a take on Favre's career. Favre literally went to back to back Super Bowls early in his career, won the first against NE and lost the second to Denver, and never appeared in one again. Also notoriously lost a couple of heart wrenching NFC Championship games along the way. It's not out of the realm it could be Mahomes as well. Just interesting symmetry. 

54 You never know, it might…

You never know, it might very well go like that. I remember Marino saying after he lost the SB he thought no big deal, he'd be back every year. 

It could happen, but I wouldn't bet on it. QBs are too important nowadays to keep a guy like Mahomes down forever.

31 Simplistic.

I said last year that Mahomes' career would look more like Russell Wilson than Tom Brady.

That's not all his fault, of course, but it's also why I thought the "baby goat" talk was ridiculous.

He's already 1-1 in the SB and has only played well in one quarter out of eight.

I don't remember the Favre SB's, but I'd imagine he played better in both.

53 Wow, you're right. I…

In reply to by DIVISION

Wow, you're right. I completely forgot Wilson has the same Super Bowl resume so far as well. And both Wilson and Mahomes went to their first SB in their second year as starting QB.

66 The problem is, when your…

The problem is, when your metric becomes getting to the super bowl or winning it, you are now raising the bar to such an extent that it's less about the QB and more about the supporting cast and luck. Take Rodgers, he probably should have won that Seahawks NFC championship game. He could have won last year's NFC championship game. A lot of other things besides his own play factored in.

Mahomes right now is saddled with a pretty bad defense. That can blow up in his face at any moment. Going forward we have no idea what kind of teams he's going to have around him. We have no idea how they will eventually replace Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelsey. No idea what their draft picks will turn into. It's just very hard to forecast

71 The narrative...

...is so much of how we remember these teams in retrospect.

How many times did Joe Montana's Niners get knocked out of the playoffs?  Many times, I'm sure.  What I remember most about Montana, though is him being 4-0 in the SB and being flawless in those games.  

Mahomes, in the moment has the problem of expectations.  People anointed him "the baby goat" when he had only won 1 SB.  The expectation was that he'd get back over and over like Brady has.  I never thought that would happen for various reasons.  I don't think Andy Reid is a great coach, just a great OC and paying a QB crazy money will only lead to thinning of the roster at key positions.  Their defense has regressed back to 2018 level bad.  They don't have dependable weapons outside of Kelce and Hill.  Mahomes is starting to see his TO worthy plays increase at an alarming rate. 

The SB this past year was merely a sign of things to come.  

Also, almost forgot, that rebuilt O-line doesn't seem to be as good as the one that got them to the SB last year.  In fact, it looks worse.

I'm happy that Andy Reid got his SB, finally.  I just don't see the Chiefs as a dynasty team that will get back year after year.  They have long odds of even winning their division.

81 This is beautiful. It might…

This is beautiful. It might be time for the Chiefs to have some regression to the mean, folks. Mahomes' absurd style of play in not sustainable, under any capacity

75 Still seems like, other than…

In reply to by DIVISION

Still seems like, other than the "no opening day Browns wins since 2004" (which, statistically improbable as it is -they "should" be about 4-13 since then and not 0-16-1 - largely seems to be a function of playing harder opening opponents) the biggest constant random stal is the SB Loser Curse.

I still don't see KC going worse than 11-6, maybe 10-7, though.

 

The comment about "Reid losing attention to detail" doesn't seem to make sense and, yes,seems loe probability here- he doesn't seem like he would lose focus over a multi-year stretch (granted, he had a 1-year stretch in 2012 where he buried one Baby Walrus, and just wasn't himself, not to mention that the other Baby Walrus' extreme DWI has probably been eating at him since February.)

26 I was more skeptical of this…

I was more skeptical of this year's Bucs than most, simply because the quarterback isn't the only player of an advanced age, and they seem highly susceptible to injury. Yesterday they faced the Rams without JPP, and also lost Gronkowski for a while. Both of those guys had trouble staying healthy at age 26, so what do you expect now that they're 32?

34 Fields

I realize I am a Bears fan so I am emotionally invested in this, but here goes anyway:

First off, I think the description of Fields' play doesn't ring true:

throws over the middle arrived late to blanketed receivers

ok this one is true, but it is hard to say whether there were ever open receivers to throw to (the limited skycam views we got say no, but without all-22 I couldn't say for certain). I think it's fair to say that he wasn't throwing on time, though.

Throws to the sidelines sailed on him

This seems wrong to me. I rewatched the "every play" cut that someone else posted, and I only saw one throw to the sideline that "sailed" (3:50 in Q2). There are two others that went out of bounds but it doesn't look like it sailed--more like Fields is trying to fit it into tight coverage and the receiver runs out of room. There were some other ones that weren't quite on target but they didn't sail away from him, they were just off. And there were other sideline throws that were bang on. Maybe his accuracy can improve but I think it's far down the list of concerns.

He held the ball too long

fair, although again, it's not clear that he had options (I guess he could have scrambled more)

appeared to have no faith in his reads

I don't know what this means? It didn't seem like he was confused by his reads, it just seemed like he didn't have any confidence that anyone was open. But he didn't throw any obvious interceptions, so I don't feel like he wasn't reading things correctly. He had faith in his reads, but his reads told him his receivers were covered.

He exacerbated sacks by trying to escape out of the back of the pocket

True, but hardly a problem; the Bears offense wasn't getting hurt by the difference between a 7 yard sack and a 12 yard one. The bigger issue is that he just wasn't escaping, which could have countered the Cleveland rush.

getting chased down from behind while scrambling

Most of these were done by Myles Garrett and, well, that is gonna happen. It's not great but also doesn't concern me greatly

He even bounced a pass off of left tackle Jason Peters' back

That play was just so goddamned weird. Peters is two yards upfield, but it's not a screen pass? So what's happening? There was play-action but it was pretty muted. I wonder if it was a RPO and Peters just assumed he was supposed to run block? Because he drifts out to try and block a DB and ends up right in the passing lane to Robinson (who was open, albeit for a 4 yard gain probably). Anyway, I blame that one less on Fields and more on "WTF was that Nagy/Fields".

OK, now that I got that out of my system...

I am a little skeptical of the notion that the Bears just had to make some different playcalls on Sunday, i.e. "they need to move the pocket and/or throw some screens/end arounds/etc.". But this is not me defending Nagy, because my reasoning is that I don't really believe that those calls would have been successful, either. I don't know a ton about offensive line play, but I'm skeptical that it's easy to just "construct a moving pocket" or "run a screen". The OLine was uncoordinated and unprepared on Sunday. I doubt that they could have pulled off different plays. Which, then, is a condemnation of Nagy and his staff, but not for playcalling, but for preparation. It didn't look to me like they were able to get an offensive line together that could run ANY plays. I think even if the game plan had looked different the end result would have been nearly the same.

Also: I mentioned this in another thread, but watching the plays again, it seems like in the second half Fields stops trying to go through progressions and just throws to his first read. I don't doubt that maybe the coaching staff thought he wasn't processing quick enough, but is it possible that they told him to just stare down the primary receiver? Seems insane, but also...possible?

Anyway, I've long been of the opinion that focus on Nagy distracts from the real problem, which is that Pace continually undercuts this roster with bad planning and poor bets, but even I have to admit that Nagy looks like a detriment and not a neutral element. I just don't want Pace to get the chance to select a third coach. Fire Everybody, Please.

39  That play was just so…

In reply to by Duke

That play was just so goddamned weird. Peters is two yards upfield, but it's not a screen pass? So what's happening? There was play-action but it was pretty muted. I wonder if it was a RPO

It was definitely an RPO, and Fields made the wrong read. You can see him watching the Browns linebacker, who starts to crash at the snap - and immediately holds up. But Fields pulls anyway. Peters is run blocking because the right read with the linebacker staying put is to hand off. Otherwise Fields is throwing right at the guy. It's not a WTF play, it was just a misread by Fields - you've got to extend that decision just a touch longer until that linebacker commits.

Really, it's a common thread in these plays, Fields just looks a touch slow. Not a huge deal. Kid's a rookie. Shouldn't've been playing yet.

42 I will admit to a certain…

In reply to by Duke

I will admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude watching the Fields-led Matt Nagy offense fall flat on its face. It's not because I dislike Fields, but because I hope Pace and Nagy are fired into the sun by season's end if not sooner before they can entirely ruin his career.

I'm so sick and tired of hearing people who cover the Bears make excuses for Matt Nagy four years in when he has NEVER demonstrated an ability to run an offense, regardless of who is playing QB. First it was that Trubisky was too bad at decision-making and seeing the field, so Nagy couldn't properly run his offense. Then they brought in Foles who was supposed to be the stable, smart veteran who knew how to run Nagy's offense...and it was even worse with him. Now Fields is definitely the most physically talented and arguably the best QB Nagy has coached on the Bears, already, and yesterday's performance is what we get. There's one common denominator and it's Nagy. But because he rode a great defense to a single 12-win season, and technically has never had a losing season (drink every time you hear a Bears reporter mention that and you'll have cirrhosis in a month) thanks to 2 uninspired 8-8 seasons after that, he gets too much of a pass.

Though, in fairness to Nagy, I'm not sure any coach could design a good offense behind the offensive line that Ryan Pace has put together. He is the one who in my opinion should definitely have been fired after the 2019 season, once it was clear that Trubisky was not going to be a good QB, and it's unconscionable that he got to keep his job to select Fields (even if Fields turns out to be a good choice). Is there any precedent for a GM trading up to take a 1st round QB, that QB failing to the point that the team didn't even use the 5th year option, and then the same GM keeps his job to trade up again in the 1st round? Even if Fields turns out to be a perennial All-Pro, IMHO that's a bad process.

47 Watching the Bears…

Watching the Bears experience from afar, I have no idea why Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have jobs. Did Pace build the talented defence that went 12-4? Is that it? Because he should get responsibility for the bad parts of the roster as well. 

I looked it up and he was hired in 2016. Yeah I guess he needs another 5 years to have a good roster and coach who can run an offence.

50 The Bears OL getting abused…

In reply to by Duke

The Bears OL getting abused was going to mean any QB had a rough day (see Mahomes in the SB). I doubt Fields' final line looks pretty even if they game plan properly but he also probably doesn't have a first career start that's in the conversation for the worst game of all time. Even if he still has an ugly final stat line they'd also have gotten a better chance to see what he is and isn't capable of. With the exception of those who had anointed him an instant savior, we didn't really learn anything new about him yesterday

37 Matthew Stafford

The crazy thing about Bucs-Rams is that Stafford was awful early. He started out 1/6 or 1/7, and he missed DeSean Jackson wide open 40 yards downfield twice. If Stafford had been on early, he might have gotten to 500 yards, and it would have been a complete blowout.

I am a Bears fan, but I am not discussing that game. The poem I wrote 14 beers in last night got it out of my system for now, and I choose not to let it back in.

41 Stafford has always been…

In reply to by TomC

Stafford has always been streaky, but the difference is that if he started out that way with a Matt Patricia Lions team, the game script would have gotten out of hand early on, making things much more difficult later on (and of course he didn't have Sean McVay before).  Now, he has much more margin for error.

As for the Bears...don't worry, the perfect elixir, the Lions, are coming to town, so I'm sure Fields will look like a future HOFer, and this week will be forgotten (for a while, anyway).

40 Just curious- what…

Just curious- what historical teams are the closest comparison to the Cheifs. Teams with all star qbs but allowed 30+ points a game. One that comes to mind is the 2000 Rams.

46 The Dan Fouts / Air Coryell Chargers

From about 1979 to 1982 or 83 the Chargers would routinely lead the league in points & yards, and routinely rank in the mid-20s in pts-allowed or yds-allowed.

  • Dan Fouts
  • Kellen Winslow
  • Wes Chandler
  • Charlie Joiner
  • John Jefferson

Amazing team to watch. 

(Actually that 1979 D was better than I remembered.)

 

45 I think the Bucs have some…

I think the Bucs have some very serious problems on defence, and while I hate the term “exposed,” I do think the Rams did something of the sort to that pass defence. Yes, they were without Jason Pierre-Paul, but he’s not exactly an elite pass rusher anyway. Yes, they were without Sean Murphy-Bunting, but he’s just a solid starter.

Stafford passed for 343 yards and had a QB rating of 134, and to my eye he actually missed on at least three throws that he should have made. More than that, there was some shakiness where Kupp dropped a ball, or some weird RPO type play where it looked like the offence wasn’t on the same page. I think the Rams have an elite offense, but they made some unforced errors against the Bucs, yet they still passed for 350, scored 34 points, and could easily have thrown for 450 had the game situation called for it.

The Bucs may have the best offence in the entire league. Maybe KC has something to say about that, I hope the Rams are in that conversation, but there’s no question the Bucs are a fantastic offence. But just like KC, elite offences are a lot less scary when a merely competent passing attack can throw for 300+ on them no problem, maybe even 400+ if the game situation calls for it.

The Rams have a great offensive line, but the Bucs have just two sacks in three games anyway, JPP or no. Their run defence is great, but who cares when you can throw all over them at will? I don’t see how they suddenly become a great or even good pass defence with this roster.

72 Settle down, baby Rams fan.

The Bucs had a depleted secondary that only got more injured during the game.

You had practice squad guys out there trying to guard Kupp!

Any team would be exposed when they're down to their 3rd or 4th best Corner/Safety.

Let's say you lose both Ramsey and Donald against the Cardinals on Sunday.  

As a result, the Cards put up 45 points.  Would you say the Rams were exposed?

76 What's the point in calling…

What's the point in calling another poster "baby"?  FO comment threads have been what keeps me coming to this site for 15 years now, mostly because 99% of the commenters treat each other with respect and don't talk shit to one another.  Can you please stop this?

56 Living Memory....

The Steelers haven't had a multi-year stretch of truly dreadful football in living memory

Some of us were alive in the 1980s and beg to differ.

60 "Truly Dreadful"

From '80 through '84, the Steelers never finished below .500 and made the playoffs 3 of 5 seasons, including the AFCCC in '84, so I'm guessing you are referring to the last 7 years under Noll.

But even in those 7 years, the Steelers were more mediocre than truly dreadful.  Their worst season ('88) they were 5-11, but they made the playoffs the following year.  They had three other seasons below .500, but never worse than 6-10 (plus two years at 7-9).

I was also alive in the '80s, and my recollection of them was that they were just meh.

90 Steeler's below .500 in living memory

I was alive in the '80's and also the '60's. I remember the last 6 Steeler coaches. The period from '64 to '71 was bad. It included 3 head coaches, 4 if you include the first Noll years. Not pretty. Those Steeler fans who throw stones at Tomlin should do a look back to those years. 

59 Just Win Baby

3-0!
@7 “because Donald and Ramsay are competing for best in league at their positions.”. LOL. I don’t think there is a whole lot of competition in Donald’s case.
@ 16 “TB could lose one of their top pass rusher, corner, or receiver and I think they have enough other stars to compensate. ”. Yeah, but not when they lose one of each—JPP, AB, and they are down both their starting corners, I think.

@44. “We could just as easily ask, how many games has Brady lost when throwing for 400+ yards and no interceptions?”. Well there is at least one, and he threw for over 500 yards.

62 I like the Chiefs-Mike Sherman Packers comparison

Strangely, I thought of the Sherman-era Packers when watching parts of yesterday's Chiefs game. The need to score a lot of points because the offense has to carry the defense. The in-game discipline mistakes. The bad turnovers. The improv plays that are either brilliant or a disaster. The same expectation of the great QB somehow pulling off a miracle finish. The parallels are uncanny, with the main difference being Mahomes has a better skill position cast while Favre had a better O-line. 

64 Nailed it.

"The McCaskeys need to take a cue from the 2018 Cleveland Browns: ousting the whole Hue Jackson regime in midseason salvaged Baker Mayfield's career before he got buried until a pile of bad ideas and conflicting coaching agendas. The sooner the Bears move on from Nagy (and general manager Ryan Pace, of course), the quicker the franchise can set about evaluating and developing Fields instead of using him as some sort of thought experiment, object lesson, or pawn in a chess game that a hopelessly overmatched head coach is losing against himself."

I have no faith the McCaskeys will actually do this, however. They need the football equivalent of Theo Epstein to shuck off the torpor of a stale culture, built around stock slogans like Bear weather, '85, Ditka (et al., ad nauseum), as killing a self-branding as the "lovable losers" of Wrigley, and really start over. From everything I've heard reported locally, Pace and Nagy's seats are a bit cooler than fans and national media would like. Ownership embraces the status quo; as long as things don't descend to league-worst levels of ineptitude, and revenues don't crater, I wouldn't expect any drastic measures, though they're clearly warrented: https://www.profootballweekly.com/bears/analysis/2021/09/08/hub-arkush-theres-no-reason-to-believe-ryan-pace-matt-nagy-enter-season-on-hot-seat/.      

65 Join the club

In reply to by ALauff

Honestly, most of the NFC North doesn't have a great ownership situation. The Ford family, like the McCaskey family, has historically been far too complacent to the detriment of the Lions with even less success than the Bears. It took them forever to fire Matt Millen. The Packers, for all their success have missed the strong presence of former board president Bob Harlan and the chaos of the last offseason could be an indicator of an inability in the future to adjust to the current NFL environment. The Packers had similar disfunction on the board in the 70s and 80s. (And I'm saying this as a Packers fan.) I do think they have the best coach in the NFCN with Matt LaFleur, with Mike Zimmer a close second. The best situation is probably in Minnesota where the Wilf family seems to actually care about trying to win rather than just filling empty positions and hoping for the best like the rest of the division. 

Yes, I agree Nagy is hopeless as a coach. I'm less convinced about Pace, but it's not like he's been great and a clean sweep of the both positions would probably be best for Fields (who I really loved coming out of college and still believe he's the best prospect after Lawrence). 

69 Same

In reply to by justanothersteve

All great points from both.

Although I still hold Pace more accountable due to (recent) silly moves such as giving Jimmy Graham a NTC. Having to get rid of decent players like Leno and Fuller because you signed Dalton and made Foles uncuttable. Not to mention he's just been around longer (3 losing seasons before Nagy and he's still around). 

But Nagy is certainly losing it quicker than he ever has. 

73 Mistakes in Steelers section.

1.  Seeds of demise are “sown,” not “sewn.”

2.  Steelers haven’t had a Multi year stretch of truly dreadful football in living memory—depends on how long your memory has been living. The years before Chuck Noll was hired (and his first year) were bad, and despite my now-obsolete name, I remember them all too well. Kent Nix, Dick Shiner, and Ron Smith were, to be kind, not as good as many other quarterbacks in the league, and many other players on the roster, again being diplomatic, had rather short careers. 

85 The last Qb on the list is

0. Jalen Hurts. First 7 possessions against Dallas - 4 first downs, 7 points for the Cowboys. 

He's 'led' the Eagle offense in the 2nd half of his 7 starts to a grand total of # TDs, including the garbage-time one yesterday down 27. Netting out his pick-6 that's a net two [2] TDs on offense in 7 2nd halves or 14 quarters of football. He can't get the ball out on time, he stares down his WRs but none of that matters due to his woeful inaccuracy.

 

ps Why on earth do you keep writing about Wentz' 'psychological state?' It just makes you sound like an ignorant ex-girlfriend Facebook stalker.