Week 6 Recap: Ravens Ready to Challenge the Bills
Wondering how the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Los Angeles Chargers so easily? Worried that the Cleveland Browns don't have what it takes to be more than wild-card fodder in 2021? Struggling to make sense of teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, and Chicago Bears? Unable to process all the zany stuff that happened in the Dallas Cowboys' overtime victory against the New England Patriots?
Don't worry. Walkthrough is here to sort it all out for you, starting with a handy Q&A segment.
Question: Can the Chiefs return to 2020/2021 form?
Answer: Don't count on it.
The Chiefs may have won the least-impressive 31-13 road blowout in history against the Washington Football Team on Sunday. Washington led 13-10 at half. The Chiefs defense allowed J.D. McKissic to convert third-and-16 on a shallow underneath route, then forgot to cover two receivers streaking up the left sideline on Ricky Seals-Jones' go-ahead touchdown. Chiefs receivers slipped and fell when running routes. Patrick Mahomes coughed up an interception while getting hammered by a defender that would have gotten a lesser quarterback laughed off the Internet. Tommy Townsend shanked a punt. It was plug-ugly.
The Chiefs eventually realized they were facing a pushover, downshifted into "semi-traditional offense" mode, took the lead, and watched Taylor Heinicke fling scatterballs to his non-weapons.
The Chargers' loss to the Ravens (more on that later) helps the Chiefs cause, and upcoming meetings with the Titans and Giants will get them off the endangered playoff species list. But if what we saw on Sunday was the new Chiefs normal, they're a one-and-done playoff team at best.
Question: How are the Raiders responding to Jon Gruden's resignation?
Answer: It doesn't matter.
The Raiders smoked the injury-ravaged Broncos, so they don't appear to be too despondent about Gruden's dismissal or too busy having sociopolitical debates to study their game plans. So the Raiders are likely to perform about as well this season as we expected them to as of one week ago. They're back-of-the-pack wild-card contenders who may be experiencing a brief "new boss" bump.
The Broncos, on the other hand, are falling off the back of the pack after their 3-0 start. That's going to create an opportunity for some also-ran, whether it's the Raiders, Bengals, Browns or an unanticipated team like, heck, the Colts.
Speaking of the Browns...
Question: Why can't the Browns beat quality opponents?
Answer: Because they're not very good.
A quick breakdown of what's ailing the Browns after their 37-14 meltdown against the Arizona Cardinals.
- Baker Mayfield is playing with an injured non-throwing shoulder.
- Injury aside, Mayfield keeps trying to tell us with his errant throws and strip-sacks that he's not accurate, reliable, or mobile enough to be an upper-tier starter. A segment of the football world keeps responding with, "Hmm, let's watch him complete a few more boot passes against opponents like the Texans and parse every possible extenuating circumstance before we pass final judgement."
- The Browns receiving corps is thin.
- They've had a revolving cast of characters at both tackle positions for most of the year, including Sunday. Yes, we're parsing extenuating circumstances. Play along.
- The Browns secondary is thin, particularly at cornerback. The Browns pass defense may have been overrated earlier in the year because: A) Myles Garrett covers a lot of sins; B) several of their defensive backs were high draft picks or flashy free-agent signings; and C) they faced the Bears.
Put it all together and the Browns are basically the Titans, but in a tough division instead of a silly one. And the Titans in a tough division would have little chance of reaching the playoffs.
Question: Who will we still be talking about in late December: the Carolina Panthers or the Minnesota Vikings?
Answer: Don't be silly. No team lingers in the wild-card picture like the Vikings.
We saw all the things that make Vikings football so delightfully exasperating in their 34-28 overtime victory against the Panthers:
- Too many penalties? 11 of them!
- Kirk Cousins throwing in front of the sticks? He threw a 3-yard pass on third-and-5 from the 10-yard line early in the game.
- Draw plays on third-and-13, deep in their own territory? Heck yeah, sometimes with a holding penalty, just in case Alexander Mattison gains more than 5 yards.
- Critical missed field goals in the fourth quarter? Two of them!
Fortunately for the Vikings, Sam Darnold threw an interception on the first play of the game, his receivers kept dropping passes (DJ Moore also fumbled), and the Panthers defense could not stop the run. The Panthers still crawled back into the game and are still alive at 3-3, but it takes experience to hover in the rearview mirror of the top contenders despite predictable team-wide mediocrity for an entire season. The Vikings have been doing it since Matt Rhule was losing Boca Raton Bowls, and they will do it again this year.
Question: Will the Bears keep clinging to the bottom of the playoff chase?
Answer: Very doubtful.
The Bears had the Packers right where they wanted them in the first quarter. Their pass rush was getting to Aaron Rodgers consistently (an injury to center Josh Myers was a major factor). Justin Fields threw a few early strikes. Rookie running back Khalil Herbert looked like the NFL's best Herbert. The Bears offense and defense then took the entire second and third quarters off, allowing the Packers to coast to a 17-7 lead, then hold on for a 24-14 win.
Matt Nagy, Bill Lazor, and their offensive thinktank has allegedly designed an offense to make Fields comfortable and successful. It just doesn't contain many designed runs, or many screens, or even that many rollouts to take advantage of Fields' wheels and cut down his reads. So maybe Nagy & Friends have concocted a whole new way to make a mobile rookie quarterback successful and it just hasn't clicked yet. Or maybe they have no clue whatsoever what they are doing.
Question: Will Urban Meyer make it through the year as Jaguars coach?
Answer: Calendar year, maybe.
Meyer bought himself a hall pass until early December with Sunday morning's mucky 23-20 victory over the depressing Miami Dolphins. We won't need to check in on his job security again until the next viral lap dance video, or until the college positions start to open up and the Khan family starts seriously thinking about how many competitors they will have on the NFL coaching carousel.
One more thought here: the Jaguars' close losses (and Sunday's narrow victory) may be hurting Meyer more than weekly blowouts would. If the Jaguars were getting creamed every week, they would be written off as a team with no talent, and Meyer would face fewer weekly questions about play-calling blunders. Tight losses have highlighted coaching gaffes such as terrible fourth-down decisions, which in turn have become embarrassing press conference soundbites that make Meyer sound like a clueless ninny.
Of course, the margin of victory has nothing to do with Meyer canoodling at the bar when he should be on the team flight or cramming his foot into his mouth on union matters. We're just trying to quantify the difference between getting fired in Week 7 and getting fired around Week 16.
Game Spotlight: Baltimore Ravens 34, Los Angeles Chargers 6
What Happened: The Ravens played their most complete game of the 2021 season. The Chargers played their most incomplete game of the season. Lamar Jackson only threw one truly bad pass the whole afternoon. Justin Herbert only threw one truly great pass the whole afternoon. The Ravens proved that they're the biggest threat to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC. The Chargers demonstrated that their somewhat middling DVOA rating entering Week 6 was entirely justified.
What it Means: Jackson spent the last six days answering the final lingering questions about his status as a championship-caliber quarterback. Jackson proved against the Colts on Monday night that he can consistently complete passes along the sidelines and lead the Ravens on comebacks when they are trailing big in the second half. He followed that up with a revelatory game as a ball-distributor from the pocket on Sunday.
Jackson's boxscore stats against the Chargers weren't all that impressive: 19-of-27 for 167 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions (one of which bounced of Rashod Bateman's chest), 51 rushing yards. But Jackson spent Sunday afternoon double-clutching and pump-faking to get receivers open on short passes, side-arming throws into tight windows, and scrambling judiciously for first downs. Jackson proved that he can be a game manager against a quality opponent if called upon. Throw in a much better effort by the Ravens defense than the one we saw on Monday night and the usual heroics by Justin Tucker and the return game, and the Ravens are the most complete team in the AFC south of Interstate 90.
Walkthrough listed two weaknesses for the Chargers in Friday's game previews: a porous run defense and terrible special teams. Both issues were on full display on Sunday. Jackson and the Ravens' 2016 fantasy first-rounder running backs (Le'Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, we think we saw Matt Forte out there at one point) combined for 187 rushing yards, while the Chargers missed an extra point and allowed long returns to Devin Duvernay when the game was still competitive.
We also pointed out that the Chargers' offense got better every week for five straight weeks according to DVOA. So they were either turning into the 2007 Patriots before our eyes or due for at least some degree of course correction. The latter happened, in part because the Chargers could not convert on several manageable third-and-medium attempts on Sunday.
The real Chargers offense lies somewhere between the one that couldn't stay on the field on Sunday and the one that smoked the Raiders and survived a shootout with the Browns. That offense can certainly pull a team that cannot stop the run or kick extra points to the playoffs. But it cannot pull them through the playoffs.
What's Next: The Ravens host the daisy-stomping 4-2 Bengals. The Chargers get a bye to search for solutions at kicker. Maybe the Jaguars can trade them one!
Game Spotlight: Dallas Cowboys 35, New England Patriots 29 (OT)
What Happened: The Cowboys convincingly outplayed the Patriots for 66 minutes but nearly lost because of some typical Cowboys mistakes and the Patriots "mystique," which is how Walkthrough frames "home-cooked Foxborough officiating" when we don't want to field angry emails from Patriots fans.
The Cowboys trailed 21-20 late in the fourth quarter when Trevon Diggs returned a deflected pass for a 42-yard pick-six. Diggs and safety Damontae Kazee were burned for a 75-yard touchdown by Kendrick Bourne on the very next play from scrimmage. The Cowboys then drove to kick a field goal to force overtime, their defense stopped the Patriots on their overtime possession, and Dak Prescott connected with CeeDee Lamb on a game-winning 35-yard rollout touchdown.
That's the best synopsis Walkthrough can offer without elaborating on a 12-to-5 penalty ratio or Prescott landing with everything north of his ankles in the end zone for an apparent touchdown that was spotted at the 1-yard line.
And before you send that angry email, remember: I'm a lifelong Eagles fan.
What it Means: We didn't learn anything about the Cowboys that we did not know before. Their defense can be picked apart. They're not the league's most disciplined team. Mike McCarthy can be a little quick to call for 51-yard field goal attempts on fourth-and-2. But Dak Prescott is playing so well, and the Cowboys offense is so balanced, that the Cowboys can win in a very hostile environment despite some red zone turnovers, a few unforced errors, and a 68-yard penalty differential.
The Patriots found a way (heh) to play another top NFC contender tough at home after nearly spoiling Tom Brady's homecoming flex two weeks ago. Mac Jones threw downfield more than he typically does and was legitimately impressive as opposed to theoretically impressive. The Patriots could fool someone who isn't watching closely into thinking they could be a legit wild-card team if they can turn some of their close losses around. But you know who isn't fooled? Bill Belichick. Watch him punt on fourth-and-short or kneel to run out the final 1:30 of the first half and you can tell Belichick realizes that his team is as close to 0-6 as it is to 2-4, if not closer. He's coaching not to lose, and it keeps almost working.
What's Next: The Cowboys get a bye, which means 93% of the population won't be forced to watch them in the 4 p.m. window. Sure, they were fun to watch this week. But can we give, say, the undefeated Arizona Cardinals a turn once in a while?
The Patriots host the Jets. It seems as though they get to face the Jets every other week so they can keep up appearances.
Extra-quick news 'n' notes from off the field this weekend.
Per an Associated Press Report: 'The NFL has found no other current personnel that have sent emails with racist, homophobic or misogynistic language like those written by Jon Gruden that led to his resignation as Las Vegas Raiders coach.'
Jokes about how unlikely this is to be true aside, a lot of NFL decision-makers probably saved themselves by not knowing how to use email or type in complete sentences.
Emails reveal that former Washington Football Team exec Bruce Allen and top NFL lawyer Jeff Pash traded jokes about creating a 'Lincoln Rule' as an alternative to the 'Rooney Rule.'
Walkthrough would love to see what grade Allen would earn on a seventh-grade history quiz. Unfortunately, Pash would end up grading it.
NFL on the Taunting Rule: 'We're right where we need to be.'
"Everyone's afraid to express themselves and we get to mete out arbitrary punishments without recourse or accountability. It's freakin' paradise."
Arizona Cardinals acquire Zach Ertz from the Eagles in exchange for rookie cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick.
Remember when the Patriots traded a second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu in 2019? LOL.
Christian McCaffrey placed on Injured Reserve
McCaffrey is looking more and more like Saquon Barkley, and the Panthers run the risk of turning into what the Giants would be if no one was paying any real attention to them.
Week 6 Awards
No week is complete until the awards are doled out.
Defensive Player of the Week
Intercepting two passes in one game is hard. Even when facing the Giants. Even when you and your defensive coordinator appears to know the Giants' game plan better than the Giants do. So this week's award goes to Rams defensive back Taylor Rapp for undercutting a pair of routes and getting Daniel Jones to throw two accurate passes directly to him. Here's one:
FIRST INT OF THE SEASON FOR @trapp07 😤
📺 @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/4NUbKZ1zIR
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) October 17, 2021
And here's the other:
ANOTHA ONE 👀 @Trapp07 with his 2nd INT of the day!
📺 @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/oxUdOTLkUo
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) October 17, 2021
Honorable mention goes to Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory for a pair of sacks that gave Mac Jones a combined 1.45 nanoseconds to get rid of the ball.
Offensive Line of the Week
Let's not overthink it: the Cowboys rushed for 122 yards, and the Patriots were held without a sack, so the usual suspects Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, and Terence Steele earn more hardware for the Plowboys trophy case.
Special Teamer of the Week
Luke Gifford blocked and recovered a punt against the Patriots, but the Cowboys couldn't punch in a touchdown because Dak Prescott needed to get more than his entire body into the end zone on third-and-goal, then fumbled on fourth-and-goal. So Gifford's play didn't have enough impact to earn him a trophy.
Frankie Luvu blocked a punt that Kenny Robinson recovered for a touchdown, but the Panthers lost to the Vikings and therefore will receive only derision and scorn from Walkthrough.
That leaves Jaguars kicker Matthew Wright , who wins this week's award for his trick-shot 54- and 53-yard curveballs to tie and win the game against the Dolphins.
Wright's three field goals today were the Jaguars' first field goals of the 2021 season. It only took Urban Meyer until the leaves turned to figure out how kicking works! He's sure to figure out fourth-and-short before Christmas! Just kidding: he'll be interviewing with power-conference athletic directors by Christmas.
Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight
Washington receiver Dyami Brown is either the greatest playmaking threat since Gale Sayers or the greatest actor since Sir Lawrence Olivier. Brown ran a little fake tunnel screen and three Chiefs defenders gaped flat-footed at him instead of covering the receivers streaking past them. L'Jarius Sneed appeared to have man coverage on Brown, so he's excused from criticism. But Mike Hughes and Ben Neimann let their receivers run free without deep safety support. Tyler Heinicke chose Ricky Seals-Jones as the recipient of the easiest fast-break score this side of the NBA All Star Game.
Taylor Heinicke finds a wide open @RickySealsJones and #WashingtonFootball takes the lead!
📺: #KCvsWAS on CBS
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/hHms6O97Rt
— NFL (@NFL) October 17, 2021
Burn This Play!
The Cardinals are undefeated, but Kliff Kingsbury and his COVID-negative lieutenants make some wacky decisions on the final play before halftime. Kingsbury called for a 68-yard field goal which resulted in a long Jaguars touchdown return in Week 3. On Sunday, Vance Joseph unveiled this innovative anti-Hail Mary scheme with three seconds left:
Baker Mayfield's Hail Mary 57-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones traveled 66.4 yards in the air, the longest completed pass in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016) by 2.0 yards.
🔸 Completion Probability: 15.4%#AZvsCLE | #Browns pic.twitter.com/7iBWUg60V8
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 17, 2021
It takes the dots to really do this defense justice. Linebackers Jordan Hicks (58) and Isaiah Simmons (9) are on the field because … reasons? Is a 4-2-5 really the best configuration when the opponent's only hope is a 50-plus-yard touchdown? The Cardinals appear to be playing quarters—not some deluxe protect-the-end-zone variation on quarters, but basic soft "third-and-15 leading by three scores" quarters, with everyone scooched just a little further back than usual. No defender rolls to the three-receiver side at all while two cornerbacks and a safety cover rookie receiver Anthony Schwartz (10), who must have been wearing an Odell Beckham mask. (Beckham was dealing with a shoulder injury at this point in the game).
Next time, we want to see a 4-0-6-plus-DeAndre Hopkins prevent package, and any defender who isn't within 3 yards of either the quarterback or the end zone when the pass is in the air gets traded to the Giants as punishment.
Do you think we get a little carried away with the first-quarter props and same-game parlays around here? It sometimes seems like Walkthrough loses a little money by wagering some arcane first-quarter split or moneyline-and-over combo instead of, you know, the result of the game.
Perhaps next week we will learn our lesson. But not this week, because it's time for yet another Same-Game Parlay and Prop-a-Palooza!
Jacksonville Jaguars First Half Moneyline versus Miami Dolphins at +135
Rationale: The Jaguars have been strong starters for most of the year; the Dolphins are both slow starters and a beatable opponent; and Walkthrough loves being able to use the first payout of the day on a breakfast sausage-egg-and-cheese sando on a long roll.
Result: We didn't count on the Jaguars defense being so squishy over the middle early in the game or their offense moving backwards on three straight possessions to set up short Dolphins field goal drives.
After trailing at halftime, the Jaguars then took the lead with the first drive of the third quarter and won the game just to troll us. LOSS.
Washington Football Team Under 2.5 touchdowns versus Kansas City Chiefs at -115
Rationale: We leapt on this when Terry McLaurin appeared on the late-week injury report, the Chiefs' terrible defense be damned.
Result: McLaurin played, but the Heinicke Hive has been exterminated. The Chiefs gave Washington multiple opportunities to make Walkthrough a loser, but Heinicke only took advantage of one of them. WIN.
Dallas Cowboys -1 After First Quarter versus New England Patriots at +105
Rationale: The Cowboys entered the game outscoring opponents 45-24 in the first quarter. The Patriots were getting outscored 23-10 in the first quarter because Mac Jones spends the beginning of most games getting poised.
Result: Curses! Foiled by a fourth-down stop, an interception in the end zone, and actual poise (as opposed to "say nice things about him because the Patriots has a huge fan base" poise) from Jones. LOSS.
Arizona Cardinals Moneyline versus Cleveland Browns +150
Rationale: We make many of these wagers on Thursday afternoon so they can be part of Friday's Walkthough. So sometimes we end up placing the bet before we know things like "the head coach has COVID." We could cash out or politely pretend the wager never happened for content purposes, but Walkthrough is just TOO REAL for that.
Result: The Cardinals don't need Kingsbury to have a good time, and it pays to be real. WIN.
Seattle Seahawks +5.5 and Over 42.5 points versus Pittsburgh Steelers at +265
Rationale: If Walkthrough has a system, it's A) bet on the backup in his first start of the season, and B) look for low over-unders in games that have a high points-off-turnovers probability. So this was a family-sized bag of sour cream and onion crinkle chips: the superego said "no way" but the id said "EAT THE WHOLE DAMN THING."
Result: Geno Smith was terrible, but the Seahawks ran the ball well enough to keep the game close. The turnover-fest never happened, but both teams crawled down the field often enough to force overtime. A parlay that looks odd on paper can make a dreary game watchable to the bitter, bitter, end. WIN.
Final Tally: Walkthrough came out ahead thanks to that Sunday night action. Now, let's keep the momentum going into Monday night.
Monday Night Action: Buffalo Bills (-6) at Tennessee Titans
No parlays. No historical ATS splits. (OK, one historical ATS split: the Bills are 18-9-1 ATS in non-divisional games since 2019). No musings about how strong the Bills are or how the Titans are practically the Lions with Derrick Henry, better luck, and a creamier schedule. Just take the Bills before the sharps show up two hours before kickoff and start pushing the line over a touchdown.
76 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2021, 9:23pm
#2 by nat // Oct 18, 2021 - 8:10am
How about you watch the game before you report on it?
The Cowboys convincingly outplayed the Patriots for 66 minutes…
Looking at the game book, it seems like that Patriots gained more yards per pass play and more yards per run play. Despite throwing much less often, the Patriots had the better total yards per play until the final drive, too. The Cowboys needed a couple of freak pass deflections and a long interception return (known by FO to be unpredictable, aka, lucky) to get to OT.
Seriously, if you can watch that game and come away thinking (a) the refereeing was biased, and (b) it was anything but a hard fought, thrilling regulation draw leading to a gutsy OT win…. well, that knock on your door is the sheriffs coming for your sports journalism card.
#8 by scottw // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:01am
There were some questionable calls on both side (leading directly to points removed from the board for both teams). It would be fairly easy to review the game and find 1/2 dozen bad calls for and against each team. That being said, the cowboys commit a lot of penalties (and not just when playing the Patriots).
I thought the Patriots were definitely the inferior team, but that was how they played. They tried to avoid the big play, and make the cowboys execute lots of plays without penalties -- which considering the lack of discipline makes sense. I think Jones played a solid game -- even his pick 6 was not a terrible throw. On the rare occasions when the patchwork line was not getting blown up he threw it down the field, and ate it rather than take too big a risk. The Patriots took advantage of the most of the mistakes the cowboys made. That's how you win when you're not the better team.
IMO, and as a pats fan, I'm perfectly wiling to accept that they are not very good this year. But they have played some very good teams very tough, and it's not because (as many people seem to think) because the refs continue to give them calls.
As an aside, I have literally no idea what the cowboys safety was doing on that 75 yard play. Like, where did he think the ball was going? One of the worst angles i've ever seen a guy take with the whole play in front of him.
#18 by scottw // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:55am
But, they absolutely needed at least a first down to win the game, and a 6 inches better pass gets them that. Even if they dive into the line 3 times after that first down Dallas would be getting the ball back at no better than the 20, with about a minute and no timeouts.
I don't like going empty on that play though. Telling the opposing defense you're about to throw it to the sticks seems like not something you should do when you don't have a lot of guys that can win immediately in their routes (currently the Pats don't really have any). It's not like they have a QB that is a threat to run the ball to keep anyone honest on that front.
That's quibbling, though. The concept of trying to win the game on offense there made sense to me. The D obviously didn't have much gas in the tank left.
#20 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 11:23am
Just a weird look with no threat. No motion. Not even an end around fake. Just a bland play with little potential reward that turned out to be the worst possible outcome.
The one time a RB can be useful.
#7 by Pat // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:01am
That game's like, a poster child for why averages can fool you. The Cowboys had 60% more plays than the Patriots did, and that's even with the Patriots having the drive advantage (they ended the first half, began the second, and ended the game - the final drive was mostly pointless, but it's still a single drive advantage) and wasting 4 plays. So they ended with 46 real plays. In 4 quarters. The league average is in the 60s.
And when you've got so few plays, that single 75-yard TD will just shove everything. That play alone added 1.5 yards/play to the Patriots statistics. Cowboys (pre-OT) yards/play: 6.5. Patriots yards/play: 6.7.
Only 2 ways you end up with that few plays: either you're scoring super-quick and murdering the other team, or you're punting super-quick and getting killed. It wasn't the former.
#62 by nat // Oct 18, 2021 - 6:06pm
Only 2 ways you end up with that few plays: either you're scoring super-quick and murdering the other team, or you're punting super-quick and getting killed. It wasn't the former.
It was both, wasn’t it? The Patriots killed ‘em on 3 drives, successful on 1, and were getting killed on the rest.
I’m using your concept of “killed” here: scored in very few plays.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys were successful on 2 regulation drives, and had field goal level success on 4 regulation drives, although some of those were pretty long attempts.
In a normal game, those drives would be a 28-26 Patriots win. Throw in the Int return, a missed long field goal and the extra point tries, and you get an OT game instead. Or maybe the Int (with a short return) results in a FG, and the Cowboys eke out a 29-28 regulation win. Or maybe that takes more time off the clock, and the Cowboys don’t have time for a final FG. Regardless, a close game, with teams equally good at scoring. Which is the point, right?
The other thing of note was that the Cowboys had 4 fourth down attempts, leading to 17 extra plays and 100+ extra yards, while also giving the Patriots a short field, and sacrificing a chip shot field goal. That’s the trade off you make with that strategy: more plays and yards in exchange for taking points off the board and giving up short fields.
#73 by Pat // Oct 19, 2021 - 10:39am
Meanwhile, the Cowboys were successful on 2 regulation drives, and had field goal level success on 4 regulation drives, although some of those were pretty long attempts.
In a normal game, those drives would be a 28-26 Patriots win
Yeah, but that's an unlikely outcome (even if it actually happened!). If you shuffle the Patriots plays around, you wouldn't score more: sticking two of those unlikely plays in a single drive doesn't get you 2 TDs. Shuffle the Cowboys results around and they almost certainly would.
That’s the trade off you make with that strategy: more plays and yards in exchange for taking points off the board and giving up short fields
Yup, again, see above. Also why it's an argument that this is sometimes a bad strategy for a good team, because adding variance for a good team basically only hurts you.
#15 by Ben // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:35am
Heh. I certainly get your point. The Cowboys can’t play that sloppily and beat good teams. That’s the point I was trying to make though, a better opponent would have taken more advantage of those mistakes.
It’s been a hallmark of the Belichick Patriots to be well coached and make very few mistakes. They’ve won a ton of games by playing sound football and waiting until the other team screws up. It’s just that the level of play provided by “good, mistake free football” isn’t as a high as it was in the glory days due to less talent on the roster.
#17 by RickD // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:54am
The Cowboys had the better players, but they were far less disciplined. The Pats have the better coaching staff (petulant whining by Pats' fans notwithstanding).
The Cowboys should have won that game by at least two TDs. They killed two drives with a loss on downs and a fumble in the end zone.
The Cowboys are going to roll over their weak division and lose in the playoffs to a better-coached team. That's the Mike McCarthy pattern.
#9 by The Powers That Be // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:03am
I'm going to feel really dumb if this was intended as a parody of insane Patriots fans. If so, you got me, congrats. I particularly liked the bit where you followed up "watch the game" with your supporting evidence, which was all in the form of data from the gamebook.
Maybe you turned it off after the first two Patriots drives and turned it on again in the 4th quarter? So you missed all the punts and blocked punts and strip-sacks that were the Patriots offense for most of the day. During that time, the Cowboys were driving up and down the field, only to be stopped by "freak pass deflections" (yes, those went both ways, which you conveniently forgot) in the end zone, that bizarre no-TD call at the end zone, and a missed FG.
Yes, the Patriots had comparable yards per play. A 75-yard TD pass will do that for you. The Cowboys had 230 more total yards and exactly one drive that ended short of a FG try (compared to six for the Patriots).
#11 by SandyRiver // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:18am
Perhaps the Prescott overturn was karma for the Harris overturn last week? (And I don't believe in karma.) I watched umpteen replay of the Harris play and have no idea how the TD call was overturned - too many bodies in the way. Would've been the same inexplicable overturn story had the initial call been fumble. Maybe the replay folks had views not televised during the game, or they timed the punchout with Harris' forward progress, or something. (Have not seen the Prescott TD/fumble play.)
#22 by MrMan // Oct 18, 2021 - 11:31am
Cowboys ran 82 plays to Pats 50
Cowboys had 567 yards to Pats 335
Cowboys generated two turnovers and blocked a punt
Cowboys held ball for 39 minutes to 27 minutes.
Only thing keeping Pats in this game were 12 Cowboys penalties, Dak not being awarded a TD despite everyone who watched it thinking he scored and Cowboys struggling in red zone.
If these two teams were to play 10 times Cowboys would win eight or nine times.
#30 by The Powers That Be // Oct 18, 2021 - 12:06pm
Everyone is talking about the 3rd-down play, when his entire body was inside the end zone and he was hugging the goal post with one hand and the ball with the other, and the officials called him short.
#67 by crw78 // Oct 18, 2021 - 9:57pm
I'm a Pats fan and thought the Pats were clearly outplayed. The Cowboys offense did whatever they wanted all day. Yards per play are inflated for the Pats because they ran so few plays and had one 75 yard play. Without that play, the Pats averaged 5.3 YPP to the Cowboys 6.9, and the Cowboys ran 35 more plays because the Pats couldn't stop them at all except for Dallas penalties and turnovers. 32 FDs for the Cowboys compared to 17 for the Pats. At no point did I feel like the Pats were going to win that game despite it going to overtime.
#27 by RickD // Oct 18, 2021 - 11:50am
The Cowboys committed more penalties and were flagged for more penalties. And they got away with a face mask/DPI on 3rd down in OT that should have extended the Patriots' drive.
Not really a surprise that the Cowboys got called for more penalties than the Pats. That's a season-long trend for them. (And it's hard for the Pats' offense to commit penalties when they aren't even on the field.)
#23 by RickD // Oct 18, 2021 - 11:38am
Seriously, if your judgment on Belichick is that he somehow lucked into winning 11+ games/year for nearly two decades, putting together two separate runs of multiple Super Bowl wins, then I don't know what to say. You think he's "exposed" now?
Shouldn't he have been "exposed" a long time ago, if he were as incompetent as you imply?
#26 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 11:47am
To admit that players might matter more.
Of course Bill is good. Of course it's not all luck.
But Bills excuses (or rather the ones his supporters use) are falling apart since he built this roster. Of course nothing he does will matter because he has the most job security of any GM/HC
#28 by RickD // Oct 18, 2021 - 11:54am
yes, and "this roster" won three Super Bowls in five years. It's gotten old and needs to be replaced. McCourty, Hightower, Collins, etc., aren't the players they were five years ago.
He doesn't need an "excuse" for not being able to stay in the top tier when his core of players gets too old. No franchise in history has been able to stay at the top when that happens. That Bill was able to build some many elite teams out of different groups of players - that's an achievement no other franchise has had in the Super Bowl era.
No other coach or franchise has this kind of demand placed on him/it. "Why didn't you keep winning 12 games per season for a second decade?!?"
#31 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 12:13pm
Hightowers getting old but he was a big reason they didn't do well since he opted out.
Either way, no was expecting 12 win seasons every year. Escepially since they lost the more important person.
But like I said, yall struggle to admit that.
#49 by RickD // Oct 18, 2021 - 4:04pm
Escepially (sic) since they lost the more important person.
I love the form of argument that consists of "This is my opinion and you "struggle to admit" that I'm right.
Forty+ years of watching football and I've seen a lot of QBs as good as Brady. But he's the only one with six rings. Why is that? Is he significantly better than Dan Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, and the rest of that top tier?
No. And I say that as a Pats' fan.
The difference is the coaching. And anybody who is serious about watching the NFL knows that the coaching (and roster building) is more important than any one player. Even the QB. Hell, we've even seen this with the Patriots themselves, unless there is some other reason why the peak of Brady's passing ability has a negative correlation with the team's ability to win titles.
So, yeah, I'm going to "struggle to admit" that a fact that is true about the NFL is general isn't somehow violated in this one case, just because Tom Brady is a much better interview than Bill Belichick.
#52 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 4:19pm
But yall do struggle to blatantly pick a side like I do. As if picking a side now means you have to stay there forever. Which, I promise you, you don't.
You think there aren't many different than Brady. I could say that about Bill (especially with his conservative calls nowadays). Lombardi, Shula, Walsh, Brown and the rest of the top tier.
Coaching and roster building sure is one big blanket statement. Hundreds outweigh one person, very surprising. But in reality we know that RBs have less value than QBs (even though RBs aren't completely worthless!)
Now we're putting coaches in the equation. It's interesting. Singular HC (that also acts as GM in this case) vs singular QB. We can certainly discuss which one mattered more. Maybe you think Bill was 20% and Brady was 10% and everyone else was <5%. That's what were discussing.
I obviously come down to Brady. IDK if it's Brady 30%, Bill 29% or Brady 49%, Bill 11%. But I think I have sufficient evidence as there were two distinct no Brady periods for Bill...and they weren't exactly GOAT worthy.
#33 by scottw // Oct 18, 2021 - 12:27pm
I think there is plenty of evidence that players matter. Is that in dispute?
Brady wasn't a superstar his first few years in the league, he was carried by a defense that was top shelf. By the time 2004 rolled around he was really very good, and BB and his staff did a great job in hiding the few flaws he had. By the late 2000's having Brady definitely *could* cover a multitude of other potential problems, particularly the hit or miss nature of the Patriots drafting.
Other coaches had legendary talents and did not do what the Patriots did with their HOF QB (i'm looking at the Colts/Manning, the Dolphins/Marino, etc.). I think the notion that a transition period "exposes" a HC/GM that has set NUMEROUS records for prolonged excellence is kinda whacky. Is he perfect? No, of course not -- i could certainly wish he had some idea how to draft WR for instance. But it's not like he's some mope that just got lucky for 20 years.
People are willing to cut him some slack because he has *earned* it with sustained excellence for 2 decades.
#35 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 1:07pm
But overall: Brady or Belichick? Who mattered more?
That's all that's being asked. And it seems most here struggle to accept it's Brady (hence the "transition period" which lasts an unspecified amount of time).
#37 by jheidelberg // Oct 18, 2021 - 1:50pm
I went to a Massachusetts town that is a suburb of Providence during the last week of September, a few days before Tampa Bay visited. I can assure you that in New England they are having no trouble realizing that Brady mattered more. There was even a billboard purchased by a rich person outside Gillette Stadium saying that the OWL is not wise without the GOAT. See below
#39 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 2:17pm
They can't even say anything without giving long winded explanations on why the Patriots aren't...good and how Brady wasn't a superstar right away, etc.
Like pulling teeth. Well if they thought Brady was more important, which it seems clear they don't.
#50 by RickD // Oct 18, 2021 - 4:07pm
This is really not much of an argument.
It has been well documented on this site that every single Manning-Brady contest was won by the QB who had the fortune to play on the side with the better defense.
If anybody wants to get rigorous about this discussion, as opposed to fanboyish, let me know.
If you want a sport where players are all that matters and coaches are secondary, watch the NBA.
#40 by BigBen07 // Oct 18, 2021 - 2:34pm
Brady played on all those top-tier defenses and special teams? I missed that.
Mac Jones just lost a game where he led TWO 4th-quarter go-ahead drives, something that never happened to his predecessor in 350 starts. Sorry Mac, no horseshoe for you! And you should have willed your defense to make that stop in OT.
#55 by jheidelberg // Oct 18, 2021 - 4:36pm
I will at least back up my argument with facts.
It is a fact that Jim Caldwell coached 3 years for the Colts:
2009 14-2 Super Bowl loss
2010 10-6 Lost wild card game
2011 = No Peyton Manning
Pete Carroll, FO mocks him for loving to punt in opponents territory, his record soared when Russell Wilson became the QB in 2012, before then, highly mediocre. He will decline again with Geno Smith.
#41 by DGL // Oct 18, 2021 - 2:52pm
But overall: Brady or Belichick? Who mattered more?
I think the only real answer to this question is "Yes".
I mean, it's fun to debate it, but it's not at all unlikely that without the other, both would have failed, and there's no way to disentangle the two. What's more important to cooking a meal, the quality of the ingredients, or the way you prepare them?
#43 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 3:04pm
I feel like it shouldnt be so hard to just choose one. It's entertainment, you can change your mind later. No one will crucify you either way
It's entertainment but Kraft still had to choose one. It seems he made a mistake. It's alright to admit as such. Sometimes we can't afford the best ingredients and the best chef. Sometimes we just have to choose and live with it.
#44 by scottw // Oct 18, 2021 - 3:28pm
You can assign whatever percentage of success you want to each of them. New guy seems to want to assign it 100% to Brady, but that's just an opinion (and in my opinion a stupid one). First 2-3 years, i think BB was more like 85% of the contribution, and towards the end it was probably about 65% Brady (with a long stretch of about 50-50 in the middle).
FWIW, I am somewhat skeptical that the Patriots of last year were a contender *with* Brady, and I would say the same about this year's team.
#47 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 3:44pm
I clearly don't. I said everyone matters but it seems like yall want to strawman me so you don't have to pick a side (a side you clearly do think was more important but struggle to bring requisite evidence for as time passes on).
The Patriots might not have been contenders with Brady last year but why? who's fault would that be moreso?
We got pre Brady Bill and now post Brady Bill. They exist and you can acknowledge them.
#59 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2021 - 5:21pm
The whole reason for the convo? Their time apart.
Like I said elsewhere, I'm not 100% sure what the exact percentages are but I do lean toward Brady in some capacity. The exact percentages are irrelevant to my overarching question (which should make it easier actually).
It's pretty hard to chalk 63-76 without Brady, and Brady 20-6 without him, to almost just pure coincidence/context. At some point you just gotta sit back and admit the 6th rounder was more valuable than we originally thought. That feels like just toooooo much for things to be perfect for Brady (again).
And it's kinda crazy because it's not like Bill has had a bunch of worse "talented" guys than Brady. Mac Jones is a top half 1st rounder (#15 was perfectly fine for him after the other 4 and absolutely worth a shot there by NE). Cam Newton was 1.01, ROTY, MVP. Kosar was a 1st rounder. Vinnie was 1.01. Even Bledsoe was 1.01! LOL. Like...that's not bad yall!
And ironically, on the flipside, Bradys other HC, Bruce Arians (a sassy Mike McMcarthy pre Brady imo, but that's irrelevant please don't focus on that comparison) had a similar vein of QBs coached with a bunch of them being #1 overalls like Peyton, Palmer, Couch, Jameis and Luck and other top half first rounders like Big Ben and Jim Everett.
That's a legit hilarious coincidence actually. Yet both HCs reached their peak with an unathletic 6th rounder. Pretty hard not to give Brady props one way or another.
And again, I know have to stress this before my argument gets misconstrued again, Bill (and Bruce) are not bad coaches. They aren't. Brady was just more important at the end of the day. He's the one that has to make the (enough) good reads, throws, etc. Coaches don't. And that's absolutely alright.
#68 by scottw // Oct 18, 2021 - 10:54pm
Who on earth is arguing that zero credit goes to Brady? I'll help you out...nobody is arguing that. As far as I am aware literally NOBODY is arguing that 100% of the credit goes to Bill either...
So congratulations on landing somewhere in between 0 and 100% for both... just like literally every other human on earth.
#70 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 12:35am
Where...please point to where I said yall were giving him zero credit and Bill 100%. Scott strawman with another strawman.
And I literally stated, clearly, that I leaned more towards Brady. I also, clearly, stated I don't care about the %s. Yall are the ones doing that.
Lol you are a mess. You skipped over the entire thesis on how Bill is lackluster without Brady (despite some actual talent at QB) and it's not vice versa. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.
#71 by scottw // Oct 19, 2021 - 9:44am
You have no actual point. Most people think Brady is an all-time great. Most people *also* think BB is an all time great. You seem to be the only one that thinks otherwise really.
Are the Patriots better with an all-time great? Yes. Are the Patriots worse without and all-time great? Yes.
Nobody is arguing otherwise.
Is Brady an all-time great because of BB? Probably somewhat. Certainly BB carried him in the early part of his career.
Is BB an all-time great because of Brady? Probably somewhat. Certainly having an all-time great at QB was a lot better than when you don't have one.
How do we know how much each contributed to the other's greatness? We really don't. Can we measure it? We really can't.
So what is your point?
#74 by SandyRiver // Oct 19, 2021 - 3:16pm
"...some actual talent at QB"
Not terrible but league average at best for the most part. The list in post #59 includes a fading Kosar and an occasionally excellent but often inconsistent Testaverde who QB-ed CLE's most recent PS win until last year. Then there's 2020 Cam, somewhat different than the 1.01/ROTY/MVP version. I've not noticed the line of suitors from QB-disadvantaged teams once NE let him go. Belichick inherited a good but stationary QB in 2000 but also a wreck of an OL, a recipe for 5-11, then BB raided the FA bargain bin during the off-season and found enough hits to rebuild the D and the OL. Brady "Pipp-ed" Bledsoe, and while he was good-not-great for 2-3 years as starter, he grew in ability thru 2006 then became a superstar in 2007 with the help of the best WR group he ever had in NE, and has been adding blocks to that monument ever since, even with lesser WR support.
JHeidelburg posted upthread that it was clear that folks in New England agreed that Brady had been a more important factor than Belichick in the Pats' dynasty run, and from 2007 onward I totally agree. For 2001-06 I'd put BB ahead of TB12, by narrowing margins.
#75 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 19, 2021 - 3:45pm
It wasn't like he was working solely with UDFAs at the most important position.
I answered j and asked why so many then outside of NE think it's Bill. You'd think they'd take Patriots fans word for it. Especially this bigben guy that I'm guessing is a Steelers fan who surely has seen Ben play well under two different HCs as well. Just bizarre.
#24 by RickD // Oct 18, 2021 - 11:41am
Yeah, "Tom Brady" would have held the Cowboys under 20 points last night.
Who do you think made Brady into the QB he was? Do you think he burst into the NFL with Peyton Manning's level of ability?
I guess if any narrative can be used to slag Belichick, people will embrace it, no matter how nonsensical it is.
"Lombardi didn't win any Super Bowls without Bart Starr!"
#34 by mehllageman56 // Oct 18, 2021 - 12:51pm
The fact that Belichick's tree has constantly withered outside of New England makes me respect Darth Hoodie even more, not less. While Brady was a massive part of the Patriots' success, one only has to compare Peyton Manning's 2 championships to the Patriots' 6 to realize how important Belichick has been to their success. Manning had Dungy for 7 seasons, and still only won one Super Bowl with a Hall of Fame coach. Belichick has to be on the Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches, if not the GOAT.
That Belichick is not doing as well now isn't just due to Brady; he's 69 years old. Age effects coaches as well as players.
#45 by SandyRiver // Oct 18, 2021 - 3:30pm
Agree with most, though I'm older than BB so won't jump on the "aging" bandwagon. IMO, Belichick/Brady made the coordinator and position coaches better, and those coaches not making good HCs elsewhere shouldn't be a knock on BB.
He's not been the greatest at drafting (good at assembling lots of picks, however) though draft position obviously hasn't been favorable, same as for any team that wins a lot. His coaching ability might be illustrated by comparing how many Pats' castoffs have become stars elsewhere to the number of Pats' stars who've become JAGs after leaving NE.
#54 by Pat // Oct 18, 2021 - 4:29pm
and those coaches not making good HCs elsewhere shouldn't be a knock on BB.
At this point I'm basically totally convinced that the Patriots offensive success was pretty much totally Brady. Last year in the beginning when they had like, an entirely new offense with Newton I was less sure, but yeah, that didn't last long. Even if you just look at Brady's missing year (and '19 to '20 Tampa), you'd guess Brady's intrinsic value's like, what, 20-30% DVOA on offense? Which is a massive effect, obviously.
Obviously, though, New England's been on the "good" side of defense more than you'd expect, in general. OK, they've had bad defenses, sure, but defense is a lot more variable anyway. On balance there's evidence that Belichick can generate better defenses than a die roll.
But when you add in the fact that none of that defensive improvement translates elsewhere, it's not nuts to say that takes some of the shine off of it. Certainly it's an interesting argument when you compare it to say, Andy Reid where the evidence is that he's a boost on offense - and then that offensive improvement does translate elsewhere. Or at least seemed to, I guess.
#58 by mehllageman56 // Oct 18, 2021 - 5:07pm
Flores survives, because he gets one benefit-of-the-doubt year. I don't think he or Flores are doing very well.
Please tell us the story of Dr. Flores and Mr. Flores, or is a split-personality horror film only showing on Sundays? One where Flores tells Tua to do something and then snaps while stabbing the playbook?