Dan Campbell EXPOSED; Cowboys Feeling the Rush

New England Patriots defenders Kyle Dugger and Matt Judon
New England Patriots defenders Kyle Dugger and Matt Judon
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 5 - In the Week 5 edition of Walkthrough...

  • The Dallas Cowboys defeat the scuffling Los Angeles Rams with the help of some big time rush;
  • The Philadelphia Eagles survive a sandlot skirmish with the Arizona Cardinals;
  • Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett gets a rude NFL awakening;
  • plus Week 5 awards and much more.

But first...

Dan Campbell vs. Brian Daboll

Dan Campbell is the worst kind of con man: a sincere snake-oil salesman who believes his own bullsnot.

The colorful, quotable Detroit Lions head coach has had everyone charmed with his over-the-top tough-guy speeches and go-for-broke play calling since the day he was hired. But Sunday's 29-0 loss to the Bailey Zappe-led New England Patriots finally broke the spell. The gig is up. The Lions are 1-4 in 2022. They're 4-17-1 since Campbell took over. They just got shut out by an opponent which had a peashooter offense before their third-string quarterback was forced into the lineup.

The Lions aren't gusty, gritty, tough, promising, or fun. They're a bad team with an empty barrel of a head coach.

The Lions got whomped by the Patriots in large part because they went 0-for-6 on fourth downs. A fourth-and-9 Matt Judon strip-sack which Kyle Dugger returned for a touchdown gave the Patriots a 13-0 lead in the second quarter, essentially taking all pressure off Zappe to be anything but a caretaker. Sometimes, "aggressive" decisions backfire, right? But the Lions also failed on fourth-and-1 from their own 45-yard line in the first quarter and fourth-and-2 on a swing pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown before things got totally out of hand in the fourth quarter.

We're not here to quibble about what the analytics say about these fourth-down conversion attempts. We're here to assert that a truly tough, well-coached team converts at least one of the two short ones. Such a team also doesn't lose 7 yards on a sweep on third-and-2 to force the long one, which is what the Lions did.

This week the Lions got humiliated because of fourth-down mistakes mixed with defensive lapses. Last week, they lost because of defensive lapses. Against the Minnesota Vikings, it was clock mismanagement by Campbell, which exacerbated the defensive lapses. The Lions defense is dreadful, their offense is unreliable, and Campbell's seat-of-the-pants decision-making compounds both units' problems.

Three quick thoughts before we continue:

  • Maybe Walkthrough should be praising the resilient Patriots instead of ripping Campbell. Nope: the Patriots are just the Texans with more panache, and true contenders such as the Bills will use them as chewing gum.
  • The problem isn't Campbell; it's Goff. Goff is bad, but he isn't the one allowing 34 points and 429 yards per game.
  • No, the real problem is defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Oh sure, just like the real problem last year was offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. Remember: one of Campbell's selling points when he was first hired was the crackerjack staff he assembled. If they're all taking turns being the problem, guess who the real problem is?

To understand the depth of the problem in Detroit, contrast Campbell's Lions with Brian Daboll's New York Giants, now 4-1 after their Sunday morning upset of the Green Bay Packers. Daboll has as many wins in five games as Campbell does after one-and-a-third seasons! And he's doing it with a weaker roster! And Daboll somehow does it all without making himself the center of attention!

Daboll's Giants won't sustain their early-season success. But they do provide evidence of what a team that's actually well-coached and playing hard can do. The Giants also prove that 99% of NFL "culture change" talk is a lie: teams don't need extreme roster turnover or General Patton speeches to discover how to win some football games, merely coaching competence and professionalism. Campbell's "fun to play for" routine had some merit last year, when Matt Patricia had the Lions' few remaining locker room leaders ready to commit a little light arson. But NFL players aren't motivated for very long by speeches or back slaps. They are motivated by winning. All the posing and bluster in the world won't erase a shutout to a beatable opponent.

Walkthrough isn't ready to rev up the Fire Dan Campbell wagon just yet as the Lions enter their bye. But the Lions had better come roaring back in Week 7 against the Cowboys with some real solutions. And if firing Glenn turns out to be the "solution," then frankly, Campbell will be showing the world what sort of man he really is when the time comes for some real toughness.

Campbell probably doesn't have any real solutions. Up until Sunday, he may have been unaware that there was a problem. Campbell, like his apologists, likely felt that he was slow-cooking the Lions into winners through his motivational tactics.

If that's the case, Campbell needs to stop fooling himself, because he's no longer fooling anyone else.

Game Spotlight: Dallas Cowboys 22, Los Angeles Rams 10

What Happened: Cooper Rush proved that he's a winner who deserves to keep the Cowboys' starting job after Dak Prescott's return with another gutsy performance…

Just kidding.

What Really Happened: Micah Parsons, Tank Lawrence, and the Cowboys pass rush sacked Matthew Stafford five times, forcing two fumbles, one interception, and a bunch of empty possessions. Dorance Armstrong blocked a punt. And Tony Pollard scampered 57 yards for a touchdown. Rush spent most of the afternoon plying with a lead and trying not to get pulverized by Aaron Donald, getting 27 of his 102 passing yards on one outstanding sideline catch by Michael Gallup.

What it Means: In Tom Brady's "a lot of bad football" 2022 NFL, doing one thing very well makes a team dangerous. Parsons (who suffered a minor injury but finished the game), Lawrence, and company now have 20 sacks on the season. Their pass rush places the Cowboys at least on a tier with the Buccaneers and Packers (and, sure, the 49ers) as legitimate NFC Super Bowl contenders once Dak Prescott returns.

And yes, Dak Prescott needs to return. Don't listen to the hucksters and weirdos.

The Rams have been shuffling through interior line combinations since the start of the season but not finding any solutions. Their special teams are close to averaging a catastrophe per week. Opponents are outscoring them 47-3 in the fourth quarter. The stars-'n'-scrubs model looks scrubbier every day. The Rams will go as far as Donald and Cooper Kupp can take the team all by themselves. That may not even be as far as a playoff berth.

What's Next: Get the popcorn ready: Cowboys at Eagles on Sunday Night Football. The Rams have a virtual bye against the Panthers, followed by an actual bye, to dream up new offensive line combinations.

Game Spotlight: Philadelphia Eagles 20, Arizona Cardinals 17

What Happened: The Eagles took a 14-0 lead, then they almost let the Cardinals lure them into a playground pickup game.

Kyler Murray appeared to be calling his own plays at times as he passed for 252 yards and rushed for 42 more, and a fake punt before halftime set up a field goal which helped the Cardinals stay in the game. Jalen Hurts added 239 passing yards, 61 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and some schoolyard surprises of his own.

Ultimately, the game came down to the emergency kickers each team signed to cover for injuries this week. Cameron Dicker (hehehe) nailed a 23-yard chip shot to give the Eagles the lead just after the two-minute warning. Matt Ammendola, disappointing his second team in five weeks, sliced a 43-yarder wide right in the closing seconds.

What it Means: Gosh, what a strange game. Both teams moved the ball just well enough to force their opponent to keep starting drives inside their own 20-yard line. The Eagles failed to take advantage of an early interception, got a break when an apparent Hurts interception was dropped, had trouble covering Marquise Brown or Rondale Moore, and got gashed a few times by James Conner. Half of each team's offense looked like it was drawn up in the dirt, with Hurts dusting off Nick Sirianni's encyclopedia of wide receiver screens a little too often.

The Eagles; victory may have come down to Murray rushing for just 9 yards on second-and-10 in the waning seconds: the Cardinals were forced to spike the ball to send Amendola out for a 43-yarder, when 1 more yard and a Murray first down might have afforded them two more plays and 10 to 15 more yards (if not a touchdown).

Bottom line: The Eagles at their sloppiest defeated the Cardinals at something close to their best. That's a solid indicator of where each team stands right now: the undefeated Eagles at the top of the NFC and the Cardinals muddling around with teams such as the Falcons.

What's Next: Cowboys-Eagles, as already mentioned. Also, the Cardinals visit the Seahawks in what's sure to be a hoot: the early over/under is 50!

NFL Week 5 Q&A

You have questions after Week 5's action. Fortunately, Walkthrough has answers.

How did Kenny Pickett look?

The best thing that can be said about Pickett is that he did not look that much worse than Mitch Trubisky probably would have looked in the 38-3 Pittsburgh Steelers massacre at the hands of the Buffalo Bills.

That said, Pickett's 327 passing yards are merely prime rib for box score scouts. He threw for just 121 yards before halftime, with 29 of those yards on a heroic jump ball by George Pickens, plus an interception on one of his few true shots downfield. Case Keenum was in the game for the Bills by the time Pickett started racking up empty-calorie yardage.

Early in the game, Pickett threw across his body into traffic while rolling right; the high throw glanced off his receiver's hands and was nearly intercepted. That's a sign that the rookie just isn't ready. But again, Trubisky had been doing similar stuff. Coordinator Matt Canada's offense also remains a cavalcade of rollouts and nonsense, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.

The Steelers get the Buccaneers next. Good luck, Kenny Pickett.

How seriously should we take the Jimmy Garoppolo-led San Francisco 49ers?

Exactly 1.75 times as seriously as you take the Minnesota Vikings.

OK, Walkthrough didn't watch the 49ers' 37-15 win over the Carolina Panthers. But we know what Garoppolo-led victories generally look like. The 49ers are in the same category as the Cowboys: vicious pass rush, fine playmakers, adequate quarterback play. Few NFC teams have more to offer.

Baltimore Ravens something something Lamar Jackson something contract something something fourth-down decisions something something?

All Ravens conversations start to sound alike after a while, don't they? Lamar Jackson deserves ALL THE MONEY after every big play, just ignore the interceptions and all the downfield misfires to open receivers. And Jackson can't do it all himself, which is exactly what he would be forced to do if the Ravens locked up five years of guaranteed money for him, but internal consistency has no place in Internet discussions. And kicking a short field goal this week was the right call, just as NOT kicking a field goal was the right call last week according to the infallible computer models, even though it didn't work.

Repetitive debates aside: do you really have any confidence in this Ravens team? Like, beat-the-Bills-in-a-playoff-game confidence? Or are they just the AFC's third-best team because the competition is, like, what's left of the Chargers and Titans? Be honest. Thought so.

As for all the fourth-down decisions: the key to Ravens success will be to return to the days when they blew opponents out so thoroughly that games did not hinge on fourth-and-short decisions in the fourth quarter. Nothing about Sunday night's narrow 19-17 win over the Bengals suggests that those easy wins will return anytime soon. And next week's opponent—the Giants—will find a way to put up a fight.

Can the Tennessee Titans keep winning?

Maybe. The Titans have won three straight games by final scores of 24-22, 24-17, and 21-17. Still, they may have the slowest offense in the NFL, their defense ain't exactly an Olympic relay team either, and their offensive line was on roller skates for most of Sunday's win over the Washington Commanders. They won because Carson Wentz…

Really, Walkthrough should start ending sentences there. They won because Carson Wentz. But let's continue.

They won because Carson Wentz—despite having one of his better games—couldn't convert a single third down until late in the fourth quarter. The Commanders finally drove down to the 1-yard line in the final seconds, but Wentz threw an interception to David Long Jr. on third down after throwing a near-interception (the defender could not quite get both feet inbounds) on first down.

The Titans have the bye week to pack Derrick Henry in dry ice before facing the Colts and Texans; the NFL really wants to get all the AFC South games out of the way so we can all stop pretending to care about them. The Titans are perfectly capable of winning those two games 22-14 and 23-16, climbing to 5-2 on nothing but determination and vibes.

Which, come to think of it, is another reason to be suspect of Dan Campbell: Mike Vrabel has been manufacturing real tough-guy wins for a long time.

What about the Los Angeles Chargers?

Half the roster is hurt. The Chargers run defense has turned back into one of those airport moving walkways over the last two weeks. Brandon Staley is flipping the Two-Face coin to make fourth-down decisions; seriously, the first person to say "umm, actually, going for it on fourth-and-2 near midfield while nursing a two-point lead is GOOD because blah blah decimals" gets a wedgie that will saw them in half. Justin Herbert isn't even lighting up the highlight reel. Yet the Chargers keep winning because their few remaining healthy stars (Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams) are stepping up, rookie Jamaree Salyer has prevented a left tackle crisis and, most notably, the Chargers have beaten the success-phobic Texans and the Browns in Waiting.

The Chargers host the Broncos and Seahawks in a Days of Russell Wilson's Future Past homestand. Like the Titans, they are capable of slithering away 5-2. Unlike the Titans, the Chargers could get much better as Keenan Allen and others get healthier.

Whatever happened to the Jacksonville Jaguars?

All of the September helium has leaked out of the Jaguars' balloon. Trevor Lawrence threw an across-his-body interception while scrambling on second-and-1 from the Texans' 7-yard line. Travon Walker nearly decapitated Davis Mills after the whistle to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on third-and-20 to extend the Texans' late scoring drive. Mix in assorted other "growing pains" mistakes by young players and "not quite good enough" plays from veterans and you get a 13-6 Texans victory to drop the Jaguars to 2-3.

The Jaguars have indeed gotten a boost from the switch from Urban Meyer's dangerous negligence to Doug Pederson's quiet competence. That boost didn't boost them all the way to "serious playoff contender." There's a lot of work to be done.

Should we take the 3-2 Jets seriously?

Sorta. The Jets have replaced the Miami Dolphins as the team with so much offensive firepower that they can overcome inconsistent quarterback play. In that respect, they may be better equipped to linger in the playoff picture than the Titans.

How should the Dolphins proceed at quarterback with Teddy Bridgewater now in concussion protocol?

Ethically. Please.

Skylar Thompson spent Sunday's 40-17 loss to the Jets flinging the ball to Tyreek Hill and crossing his fingers. That sums up the Dolphins offense no matter who is at quarterback, though of course Tua Tagovailoa >>> Bridgewater >>> Thompson from a flinging standpoint.

The Dolphins want to reach November with a healthy viable starter AND some benefit of the doubt with the public/league/union that they do indeed take the health and well-being of their players seriously. Coming up with an extra YAC-intensive game plan for Thompson against the Vikings next week might be the best way to achieve both goals.

How can the Atlanta Falcons move the ball without Cordarrelle Patterson (and Kyle Pitts)?

They can't. They trailed the Tampa Bay Falcons 21-0 late in the third quarter, then manufactured two scoring drives out of runs by guys such as Avery Williams and Tyler Allgeier, plus a long punt return by Williams. Arthur Smith has run out of ways to hide how little talent he is working with, and any more five-sack afternoons will void Marcus Mariota's warranty.

How bad was that roughing-the-passer penalty on Grady Jarrett that sealed the 21-15 Buccaneers victory?

It was a Brady Call like any other, only more so.

Which team will emerge from the NFC's primordial ooze?

The contenders include the Falcons, Giants, Bears, and Seahawks, all of whom are mediocre at best but can lay claim to some surprise victories and close losses. But the bad team most likely to crawl out of the nutrient-rich broth of head-to-head victories against similarly weak opponents and set foot upon dry playoff land is the New Orleans Saints.

What will happen when the New Orleans Saints get Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas back and fully healthy?

The sun will go supernova before that happens. The real issue is that a Winston/Andy Dalton controversy is brewing, yet the Saints offense works best when Taysom Hill is at quarterback.

Did Sunday's 27-20 loss to the Giants reveal that the Green Bay Packers secretly stink on ice?

No. These are more or less the same Packers we have gotten used to over the last three years, and they will remain Super Bowl contenders until Aaron Rodgers either retires or grows a third eye in the middle of his forehead and starts to unmake reality.

The Packers' problem is that the rookie receiver tandem of Christian Vaporware and Romeo Dropps is unreliable, and Rodgers knows it. Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed Packers defense has now had trouble stopping:

  • The Bears, with their USFL receiving corps and 1956 Naval Academy playbook;
  • The Brian Hoyer/Bailey Zappe Experience; and now...
  • Injured-and-bloodied Danny Jones throwing to random tight ends, plus the Saquon Barkley Wildcat.

The only healthy and legitimate QB1-to-WR1 combination the Packers defense has faced this season has been Kirk Cousins-to-Justin Jefferson, and that resulted in 184 yards, two touchdowns, and a Vikings victory.

Fortunately, the Packers host the Jets and visit the Commanders over the next two weeks. That should help Rodgers figure out who he wants to throw to on passes which travel more than 5 yards downfield. The Packers are right on schedule to improve on offense just as their defense starts to really collapse, culminating in the traditional divisional round playoff loss.

Do Running Backs Matter?

Saquon Barkley has now rushed for 533 yards and three touchdowns, and he leads the Giants with 18 receptions. The Titans offense would fold inward on itself and disappear into a tiny speck without Derrick Henry, who rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Chargers-Browns was essentially Austin Ekeler versus Nick Chubb. Rhamondre Stevenson came off the bench for 175 total yards for the Patriots. And how about that Dameon "Three Pitbulls" Pierce, lining up in the I-formation and hammering out 99 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries?

Folks, running backs do indeed make a difference, and sometimes the worn-down or injury-prone ones come back and help their teams (and fantasy teams) win some games, have a hot month, and so forth.

If anything you saw in Week 5 makes you want to lavish a big contract on a running back, however, you should take some deep, cleansing breaths and watch some Bills highlights.

Week 5 Awards

Trophy time! Trophy time!

Defender of the Week

Matt Judon earns this week's award for a pair of sacks, including the strip-sack of Jared Goff which Kyle Dugger returned for a touchdown that gave the Patriots complete control of their shutout of the Lions.

Offensive Line of the Week

The Chargers offensive line of Jamaree Salyer, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson and Trey Pipkins held the Browns to just one sack while Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, and others combined for 238 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Salyer and Johnson are both rookies, with Salyer filling in for Rashawn Slater. Salyer played so well that Walkthrough thought Myles Garrett was still inactive due to his auto accident and and had to edit this segment: Garrett played. He just didn't do much!

Special Teamer of the Week

Dorance Armstrong of the Dallas Cowboys, for his blocked punt and recovery.

Honorable mention goes to Titans punter Ryan Stonehouse, who averaged 52.0 yards apiece on eight punts, pinning the Commanders inside the 20-yard line four times. The Commanders started their last two drives from the 10- and 11-yard lines when trying to come back in the fourth quarter.

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight

Dolphins rookie defender Kader Kohou almost won this week's BSASEH by going above and beyond the call of duty to stop Breece Hall:

But Kohou was no match for Tyreek Hill's impersonation of a 5-foot-10 point guard taking a charge against a power forward after Quinnen Williams' fumble recovery.

Burn This Play!

Let's see what happens when Zac Taylor decides to put his own spin on the Philly Special:

The problem here is that Joe Burrow lines up in the shotgun, immediately starts rolling right, and flips to Ja'Marr Chase far too early in the play's execution. The entire left side of the Ravens defense is in read-and-react mode because of Burrow's motion, so no one is caught off-guard.

And then there is Marcus Peters, shadowing Chase in motion. Once Chase flips the ball to Tyler Boyd, Peters is a free rusher with nothing better to do than go after Boyd. And since Peters had already been called for about nine penalties on that Bengals series, he was in a particularly ornery mood. Boyd appears to have the option to throw to one of the backside receivers crossing the back of the end zone, but no one told the backside receivers about it.

This is one of those plays that looks great on a chalkboard or in a non-contact walkthrough but simply doesn't fool a defense in real time.

Burn This Play Too!

Pete Carroll claimed that this was NOT a fake punt, but a "rollout punt:"

Since when do NFL teams execute "rollout punts" that force the punter to run 4 yards to his right before punting? That's a collegiate strategy. Also, collegiate rollout punts don't look like that; there are usually three "personal protectors" between the line and the punter, for example. And Michael Dickson is looking downfield the whole time. Despite having the space to punt, he sure looks like he planned all along to take off.

So, how about we leave the whole concept of "rollout punts" in the 2004 USC playbook where it belongs.

Burn This Execution!

Commanders rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. was back on the field on Sunday, just six weeks after getting shot twice in the leg during an attempted robbery. Robinson entered the lineup midway through the first quarter, because when Carson Wentz is your quarterback, handing off to recent shooting victims starts to look like a good idea. Robinson rumbled around left end for 8 yards on his first carry. Hooray!

Oops: Holding, tight end Armani Rodgers. No play. Robinson's official first carry netted just 2 yards, and he finished the game with just 22 yards on nine carries.

It's great to see Robinson return, and a shame that anyone ever has to return to the Commanders.

Rando of the Week

Walkthrough celebrates the boomer in the sunglasses and bowtie who got walloped by Daniel Jones on the Giants sideline:

Now all we need to do to wrap this column up is find someone else to write a joke for us.

Achievement unlocked!


106 comments, Last at 11 Oct 2022, 4:52pm

#1 by Laserblast // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:13am

The Chargers offensive line of Jamaree Salyer, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson and Trey Pipkins held the Browns (without Myles Garrett, but with Jadeveon Clowney) 


Myles played (and very well)

Points: 0

#95 by SAD Diego Char… // Oct 11, 2022 - 2:13am

The Chargers mauled the Browns with 238 yards rushing, BMW 10-137, and Herbie not hit once.  The only “sack” was a Herbie slide after escaping pressure.

Myles Garrett failed to dominate a rookie 6th rd LT making his 2d start.


Points: 0

#2 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 8:27am

Which, come to think of it, is another reason to be suspect of Dan Campbell: Mike Vrabel has been manufacturing real tough-guy wins for a long time.

Vrabel took over an underperforming 8-8 team, swapped QBs, and got Henry’s prime. Campbell took over a 3-13 team that just traded away it’s best players.

Look, Lions fans warned you. This roster is still at least a year away. We told you to not trust these Lions. Well, not to positively trust them.

Its not their fault you fell for them; it’s your fault.

The Lions are nothing like the Eagles, Mike. You need to have followed the Eagles since the 40s to have a feel for what the Lions are like.

Points: 0

#7 by Raiderfan // Oct 10, 2022 - 9:33am

Campbell committed an unforgivable sin for Tanier—his team made the Patriots look good.

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#69 by PirateFreedom // Oct 10, 2022 - 3:46pm

In reply to by Raiderfan

I like to make jokes about how much Tanier hates the Pats but I have to credit him for that acknowledgement.

The Pats probably were annoying to cover for a few decades there, if you didn't enjoy the over the top mythologizing and constant "greatest of all time" debates as much as I did :)

Points: 0

#72 by KnotMe // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:42pm

Teams that get alot of coverage are super annoying to non-fans of those teams. NE got alot of coverage bc they were successfull, although I think they are starting to fall back into the general mass of teams at this point, probably won't totally end till Billy B retires after which no one wll care about them.. Cowboys are another one, although NE backed up a bit at least. 

Points: 0

#15 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:30am

You need to have followed the Eagles since the 40s to have a feel for what the Lions are like.

Nah, it's just you need to have not followed Philly since the 2000s. It's been too long for Mike. The first few years in the 2000s were like "sigh, it's the same old Philly teams," but, of course, it wasn't, because now they were structured and run well and playing the long game. Even back in the 80s/90s when they had great teams you kept waiting for the stupid boneheaded move, which eventually came. And even when the stupid move for Philly came in the 2010s they flat-out reversed it a few years later.

Points: 0

#3 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 8:34am

No comments about sideline guy’s rose-colored glasses?

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#4 by nat // Oct 10, 2022 - 8:38am

[Detroit] just got shut out by an opponent which had a peashooter offense before their third-string quarterback was forced into the lineup.

Tanier’s brain turns to mush whenever he writes about a Patriots game. Last I checked even the Patriots don’t have their QBs playing defense.

Points: 0

#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 8:49am

That’s more of a Saints thing

Points: 0

#11 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:19am

To be fair to Mike, normally with a crappy opposing offense, you should be able to score easier because you're getting the ball in better field position. Except the combination of Detroit's crappy defense and their offense constantly going for it and failing totally blew that up (well, and sack/fumbling themselves out of field goal range early on).

The Detroit/New England game is one of my new favorite games because it totally screws up expected points totals for that game, because Detroit kept going for it on 4th down and failing (and punts are in general positive plays). The 4th down attempts cost Detroit over 20 expected points just from their starting position. So their offense looks terrible... but it was actually a pretty neutral game overall from the offense. They just chose to try (and fail) to catch up rather than pointlessly dink away at field goals.

Although the interesting point to note is that even swapping all those missed 4th downs with the "safe" option... it wouldn't have been enough to catch up to New England.

Points: 0

#18 by nat // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:44am

… the Patriots had worse field position than the Lions did.

Yep. It surprised me, too. You’d think all those failed fourth down attempts would have given New England great field position. But that’s not what happened.

Detroit started on average at their 31 yard line. New England averaged at their 22.

Points: 0

#21 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:55am

… the Patriots had worse field position than the Lions did.

Yes, because it was the Detroit defense who actually had a worse day than the Detroit offense. By expected points, the non-4th down plays resulted in something like -2 expected points. Basically neutral. It's just that the choice of going for it constantly on 4th down (and failing) resulted in massive losses relative to field goal attempts. If you swap over the 4th down plays for punts/field goal attempts, those swap over to special teams (for instance, going 0-for on field goals would be a massively bad game on special teams by expected points, but the same result).

The defense (which didn't have those high-leverage misses) actually had -10 expected points: they were worse than the offense. For instance: New England got the ball at the 3. Expected points there are -0.38, they actually scored 3. At the 13 (the second time), expected points are -0.32, they score 3. Both of those times, Detroit (with typical defensive play) should've gotten the ball back in moderately-plus territory. They didn't even get the ball back at all.

That shutout isn't actually on the offense. It's on the defense. You go for it on the 3 partly because even if you fail you should still get the ball back anyway. Not give up a friggin' 83 yard drive to the Patriots.

Points: 0

#48 by nat // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:50pm

The shutout is almost completely on the Detroit offense. The defensive failures simply did not hurt the Lions’ field position.

The Lions had 4 meaningful opportunities to defend after the offense had given up the ball on downs. 

One time they were successful in forcing an early punt on a NE drive starting from the 6, giving the offense that ball at the 35. That’s a field position win.

Three times they gave up scores, giving the offense the ball at the 25, 25, and 23 after kickoffs. Since the Patriots drives had started at the 34, 32, and Detroit 45, those defensive failures probably improved the offense’s field position rather than hurting it.

The blame for the loss can be equally shared by offense and defense: they were both soundly outplayed. But the goose egg is all on the offense.


Points: 0

#54 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 1:17pm


Three times they gave up scores, giving the offense the ball at the 25, 25, and 23 after kickoffs. Since the Patriots drives had started at the 34, 32, and Detroit 45, those defensive failures probably improved the offense’s field position rather than hurting it.

Um. What? Yes, of course giving up a score helps the offense's field position! By giving up points! When you give up a field goal, for instance, you're not handing the offense the ball at the 25. You're handing the offense the ball at the negative 12.5 yard line. Because the offense now needs to gain 3 more points to make up what you just gave up.

Let me be clear about what I'm saying: outside of 4th downs, the offense was slightly negative on the day based on EPA. This is just math, you can do it yourself on PFR. The offense on 4th downs was horrendous by expected points. However, the offense being on the field on 4th down is just a choice. So in some sense, it doesn't really make sense to lump those expected point losses in with the rest, because it's a choice to go for the higher-variance option.

Think of it like going for 2 and failing 4 times. There will be times when that happens even if it's a 50/50 shot. You don't blame the offense for it (based on play!) because they could have just taken the 4 points. They just rolled the dice and lost. 

The defense was more negative on their plays, and the Patriots didn't go for it on 4th down once. Which means on normal play, the defense was actually worse.

(n.b.: it is a reasonable argument to make that the Lions offense has been good all season, and defense was crap, so your expectation for the offense is more than the defense, so you blame the offense more because the defense always craps the bed. That's fair.)

Points: 0

#59 by nat // Oct 10, 2022 - 2:14pm

We’re talking about responsibility for the offense getting shut out. The Detroit defense had in essence no effect on the offense’s opportunity to score points. If anything, the defense’s ineptitude made the offense’s job easier, by giving them better field position.

Sure, the offense’s major sin was failing on third and fourth down. That was the offense’s sin. And, I suppose, the coaches’ sin for trusting the offense. But it certainly had nothing to do with the defense.

The defense was bad, too, I agree.  But they were not bad in the ways that screw over the offense’s chances to score. They just gave up a lot of scoring drives. Blame them for giving up 22 points.  

But blame the offense for scoring 0. That shutout out was their fault. (Or to the Patriot’s defense’s credit)

Points: 0

#62 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 2:46pm

We’re talking about responsibility for the offense getting shut out.

The offense chose to get shut out because losing 29-0 by failing to score touchdowns is better than losing 20-6 and only attempting field goals. Bad results. Good process. I don't blame the offense for the shut out. They had plenty of options to score meaningless points if they felt like it, and they correctly chose not to.

The offense had to make those choices because the defense kept failing by giving up points. Plus the turnover, which is just a combination of bad luck and a very bad decision by the coaches. Again, you pin the opposing offense inside the 20, you expect to get the ball back in plus position. That's the typical result from that.

Again, saying "but the Lions defense is awful, their expectations should change" is perfectly fine. Which is why most people would say the offense failed, because the Lions offense has been significantly better than their defense. I agree in that sense - the offense failed relative to their expectation.

They just gave up a lot of scoring drives. Blame them for giving up 22 points.  

Yes! Exactly! And when you're down lots of points, you go for it on 4th down rather than kicking field goals.

Points: 0

#71 by nat // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:33pm

First attempt, they were tied in the first quarter. Can’t say they were forced to go for it by their defense.

Second attempt they were down 6 in the second quarter. Same thing. It was still a close game and the first half. Can’t blame the defense.

Third attempt they would have been down 12 in the third quarter, except the offense had given up 7 points. 12 down in the third is hardly desperation time. Can’t blame the defense for that one either.

Fourth attempt they would have been down 19 early in the fourth quarter. Now you can argue that the deficit would justify saying the score forced them to go for it.  But here’s the thing: they were down 26 in large part because the offense had already been shut out for three whole quarters, and had given up 7 points as well. If they had not given up 7 points and had scored a measly 12 points of their own in three quarters, it would have been a one score game. That’s not asking for a lot, really. Their desperation was mostly because of the offense’s failure to score.

Same goes for the last two attempts. They were desperate because they had been worse than shut out for more than three quarters.

Points: 0

#100 by Pat // Oct 11, 2022 - 1:27pm

We're just viewing blame differently. I don't blame the offense for any of the 4th down plays. That's the coach's decision to go for them. In the beginning they were a bit aggressive, and that can backfire. Then they were stupidly aggressive, and it backfired hugely. After that it's just like going for 2 - you chase the points constantly and obviously there you end up with fewer points in the end.

It's the same thing as kicking field goals: if a team attempts 6 field goals and misses all of them, I don't say the offense was shut out. Here, I don't blame the offense for the shut out either - that was just a combination of the coach's decisions (which were the biggest "dumb") and poor defense.

On the whole, excluding the 4th down plays, the defense was worse on an expected play-by-play basis than the offense. Again: this is just math. The offense wasn't actually doing that bad (it was doing bad compared to its previous expectation but that's different).

You can see this just from the yards/play: excluding 4th down, they put up 5.85 yards/play. That's a top-half offensive performance. Defense gave up 6.75 yards/play. That's Buffalo Bills offensive performance levels.

Obviously, the majority of the point differential comes from the 4th down decisions. You're putting those failures on the offense. I'm taking out those failures entirely - because they were a combination of (good and bad) coach's decisions, bad luck, and situational issues. Again - it's just viewing the blame for those plays differently. But it's undeniable that outside of those 4th down plays, the defense was worse than the offense.

Points: 0

#6 by johonny12 // Oct 10, 2022 - 9:22am

The NFL created a new rule for Miami. Then punished Miami with new rule. It feels legit. Stephen Ross must really, really be hated by the NFL front office.


Thus begins the depressing stretch of the NFL season for Dolpfans as there would seem to be no way Teddy can play and Tua didn't even travel this week. Their line is mess so you'd have to be insane to stick a suspected concussed man behind it anyway. Can we fast forward to week 9 when they suddenly start to play lights out defense at least? 

Points: 0

#8 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:00am

Half of each team's offense looked like it was drawn up in the dirt, with Hurts dusting off Nick Sirianni's encyclopedia of wide receiver screens a little too often.

Yeah, that's what happens when you're down to like, one guy on the offensive line who's worth a damn.

Been saying it all season (and before the season!) - Philly will go as far as injuries/age let them go, and while you could say that for a lot of teams, it's more true for Philly since so much of their talent is old. Mailata's injury didn't hurt much last week because the passing game was shot due to the elements anyway, but my god Driscoll's worse. Pretty much every single Hurts scramble or rollout to avoid pressure was due to Driscoll flailing at attempting to hold in pass protection.

Ever since Mailata went down last week I had the Dallas/Philly game circled as "oh crap." I hope to God either Dillard or Mailata can go next week, and I'm not super-convinced on Dillard anyway. 

On the plus side, after the Vikings and Commanders games made it impossible to evaluate Hurts, he looked really good out of structure this week. Much better than in the Lions game. The best part is that I'm pretty sure he knew that Driscoll wasn't going to hold up like Mailata would - his pressure clock from his blind side was much faster than normal, which is a fantastic sign. Most valuable part of playing quarterback is understanding what your offensive line can and can't do. That's why it's so hard to evaluate OL play in general.

Points: 0

#16 by Harris // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:31am

You keep saying the Eagles' talent is old, but it really isn't. The team's average age is 25.5 years. There are five guys 30 or older on the roster.  Age certainly wasn't an issue for Mailata and Dickerson getting injured and for the 3rd-string LT, Driscoll wasn't good, but he battled. The injuries were a problem but they ran the ball successfully when they decided to try. Frankly, he bigger problem was that garbage game plan on both sides of the ball.

Points: 0

#22 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:10am

You keep saying the Eagles' talent is old, but it really isn't. The team's average age is 25.5 years.

I said the talent is old. I did not say the team was old. Yeah, there are only 5 guys 30+... who are some of the highest talents on the team.

Age certainly wasn't an issue for Mailata and Dickerson 

Age is why Graham and Cox aren't playing nearly as much as last year (edit: or would have, you know what I mean).

and for the 3rd-string LT, Driscoll wasn't good, but he battled. The injuries were a problem but they ran the ball successfully

Driscoll's problems weren't in the run game. He didn't battle in (traditional) pass protection, he just lost. Constantly. It was bad. They knew it, too, which is why they ran so many RPO/screen type plays. There was a passing play where Driscoll literally had no one to block initially because the Cardinals did a fake blitz and he still ended up being wrong

Points: 0

#25 by Harris // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:43am

Well, yes. They moved BG into the Chris Long Memorial Elderly Pass Rusher position. That's fine, all things considered. Cox is playing less because of age, sure. But also because they're running a different defense and the light is coming on for Davis. I don't have a problem with older guys losing reps because the team wants to get more young guys on the field. Cox was bad last year. Keeping him fresh is only a good thing.

As far as Driscoll, well, he's the 3rd LT for a reason. Hopefully, Mailata or, god help us, Dillard, will be ready by Sunday.

Points: 0

#34 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:08pm

I don't have a problem with older guys losing reps because the team wants to get more young guys on the field.

It's not because they want to get more young guys on the field. It's because they want as much vintage Cox and Graham as they can get. Cox and Graham are having ludicrously impactful reps. I'm a big Chris Long fan, too, but Graham's not fitting into that role. He's been way more important.

Davis has been getting more playing time and he's shown flashes, but Cox is still better at this point. This is why I keep saying Philly's threading a needle in the transition from their old talent - if Davis just turns out to be a "good" DT that's a step down. He needs to be great. 

As far as Driscoll, well, he's the 3rd LT for a reason.

Which, again, is why I said this team will go as far as age/injuries takes them. Mailata's never started a full season. We don't know how good he is at dealing with minor issues. And while the team seems to be high enough on Dillard, as your "god help us" indicates, it's certainly not a given that he's actually an improvement right now. Like I said at least Driscoll was decent on runs/screens/RPOs/etc. Mostly.

Points: 0

#9 by SandyRiver // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:07am

Except for opponent adjustment, the Pats' OL might've won that award - all those Rhamondre Stevenson yards plus zero hits on Bailey Zappe.  Oh, wait - maybe author adjustment.

Points: 0

#10 by Theo // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:10am

Pickett got a rude awakening... yes, handing the ball off for 2 yard gains on first and second down.

It must've reminded him of his peewee football days. 

Pickett plays in a team coached by someone who likes to re-establish the run in the 3rd quarter trailing by multiple TDs. Because that has been working all season... 

You are down 21 points, on the road against the Bills. It is fourth and 5 deep in their territory. Let's kick a fg! Then we are only trailing by 18!

Points: 0

#12 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:22am


You are down 21 points, on the road against the Bills. It is fourth and 5 deep in their territory. Let's kick a fg! Then we are only trailing by 18!

This is why Mike's being way, way too hard on Dan Campbell and the Lions by bringing up the shutout part. That shutout was a choice. They easily could've scored multiple times during that game. It just wouldn't've made any difference. The only chance they had at closing the gap was to score, so they went for it and failed. A loss by 20 counts just the same as a loss by 29.

Points: 0

#13 by KnotMe // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:25am

I can give them a pass for taking the points (4&5 isn't 4&"), not like they were moving the ball well or getting stops. 

Points: 0

#20 by Theo // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:53am

"taking the points"

Winds were swirling. You go from being down 3 tds and a fg to being down 3 tds. 

Maybe it was 24-3. Sorry for that.

And eh... if you are not moving the ball, nor getting stops, maybe you shouldnt settle for field goals.

Points: 0

#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:25am

Pickett plays in a team coached by someone who likes to re-establish the run in the 3rd quarter trailing by 2 TDs.

That was Narduzzi's MO at Pitt for most of his career, too.

Points: 0

#19 by Theo // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:48am

So Pickett's awakening is that the Steelers' coaching staff isnt more intelligent that Pitt's. 


Points: 0

#17 by KnotMe // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:31am

How many teams ISN'T th's true for?


Bills, KC




Tampa: Guess news of brady's demise was greatly exaggerated

Dallas: Would like to see them get past the first round first

I guess GB for the Rodgers factor but...

Points: 0

#41 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:27pm

Buffalo has been at that level for two years - the combination of our lack of running success to salt games and McDermott's defense getting exposed at the worst possible moments has cost us two straight road playoff wins. There's no real way to shed that monkey until the playoffs, when we're sitting on a 4 point lead with a minute left or something.


Bringing guys like Poyer and White back on defense may have a negative effect if it encourages us to start sitting passively in coverage again.

Points: 0

#77 by KnotMe // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:59pm

Even if you have a good team, you still need a certain element of luck both in games and on the injury front. The NFL is probably one of the most high variance of all the major sports. 

Points: 0

#102 by RickD // Oct 11, 2022 - 3:54pm

Until the Bills can beat the Chiefs in the playoffs, the assumption is going to be that the Chiefs don't really care until they need to, and that they still will be able to put up multiple TDs on the Bills' defense if that's what it takes.

Certainly the Bills shouldn't be presumptive Super Bowl favorites to the exclusion of other teams.  

Points: 0

#103 by KnotMe // Oct 11, 2022 - 4:05pm

No one team has a great chance of winning the SB. Even if the bills are the highest, it's 24.6%(right now)....so three fourths of the time they don't win it. It's all relative

Points: 0

#30 by mehllageman56 // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:52am

The Dolphins didn't just not end up as chewing gum, they beat the Bills.  Needed home field and a lot of breaks, but with Tua they might be a slight problem.  

Bills probably would chew up Brady and spit him out at this point, at least if the game gets called the way it was in Buffalo yesterday.

Any given Sunday still applies though.

Points: 0

#43 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:34pm

Assuming away any given Sunday, the only way to beat an overwhelming favorite to me is to be extremely top heavy in one direction of offensive or defense and hope the your weak side has a good day OR be very talented in your own right.

That leaves the Chiefs, Bucs, and Cowboys in the top heavy side of things and the Eagles on other other side.

Points: 0

#70 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:19pm

The Pats also beat Buffalo last year, in a similar scenario: The thing the Pats did really well (heavy set run game) aligned perfectly with what the Bills were bad at, and they snatched the win because Buffalo made a number of mistakes in scoring position. In the later games when Buffalo did not kill themselves with bad turnovers, NE got run off the field. The things Miami does really well (use team speed to stress defensive secondary, use confusing defensive alignments to spring blitzers) ran directly into a team missing 4 of its 5 secondary starters and 3 of its 5 offensive linemen.

Any team that can score as fast as Miami is always a threat, but I'm confident in how the rematch would look if the rosters are closer to full health.

Points: 0

#75 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:55pm

They didnt go run-heavy. They played in weather where neither team could pass or kick effectively.

Points: 0

#79 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 10, 2022 - 5:22pm

New England had 46 rushing attempts to 3 passing attempts, and used 6 OL on 31 of those plays. Short of a service academy, I can't imagine a more run-heavy game plan.

Points: 0

#87 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 6:14pm

It's not enough to simply eschew passing yourself. You also need the benefit of Buffalo being unable to pass effectively.

The two games there were not corkscrew winds defeating the Bills passing and special teams, they didn't have to punt.

Points: 0

#81 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 10, 2022 - 5:59pm

Heavy winds don't prevent an effective passing attack.  If they did, lots of CFL games played in Hamilton, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan would be run-heavy (they're not).  Yes, it affects which routes are viable and forces you to adjust your passing attack, but not to abandon it.

Belichick purposefully went run heavy and McDermott Jedi-mind tricked himself into thinking that meant he should go run heavy, too.  Late in the game when they fell behind McDermott finally let Allen throw and they moved the ball well.  Had Buffalo stayed more balanced they likely would have won (and Belichick and McDaniels likely would have started throwing more, too, but why show Buffalo it was possible if they're willingly going to take their best weapon (Allen's arm) out of the game?)

Points: 0

#97 by KnotMe // Oct 11, 2022 - 10:53am

The winds hampered the passing attack, which was enough. Look what they did to the NE defence wo the wind. 

Points: 0

#24 by Raiderfan // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:28am

“It was a Brady Call like any other, only more so.”
I know Tanier hates facts that contradict his preferred narrative, but he might want to visit https://www.nflpenalties.com/roughing-the-passer-by-qb.php?view=all.

On any per game, per attempt, or per sack measurement, Brady is not close to the top, as opposed to say, PM.

Points: 0

#27 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:51am

In reply to by Raiderfan

If you sort by sacks per attempt, you see that PManning was just different. He didn't really ever get roughed because he never got sacked. He covered for his o-lines like no one we've ever seen.

Points: 0

#32 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:54am

Exactly. Its disingenuous to suggest Manning was favored from a RTP perspective because the dude was rarely in the position to be the victim of RTP. 

Points: 0

#101 by SandyRiver // Oct 11, 2022 - 1:46pm

In reply to by Raiderfan

After watching the play several times, I'm not surprised at the flag.  Twenty years ago, that probably would not have been called but today I think it draws a penalty2/3 of the time.  (OK, 3-for-3 if it's TB12?)  Brady landed atop the defender, who had to do something as #12 conceivably could've scrambled off and continued the play, or could've if he was an RB - QBs usually get the quick whistle.  So the defender whipped Brady into the turf with sufficient force that Brady's helmet bounced off the field, fortunately not violently.  Just push the guy off and ensure he hits the ground and is down, no flag.

Points: 0

#28 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:51am

  • Maybe Walkthrough should be praising the resilient Patriots instead of ripping Campbell. Nope: the Patriots are just the Texans with more panache, and true contenders such as the Bills will use them as chewing gum.

The Patriots have been competetive in every game this year. They aren't as good as the Bills; whoopie doo; but there is a giant middle ground between living the good life and circling the drain like the Texans. I for one continue to be impressed with NE's ability to remain competitive given the state of their roster and the coordinators running their units. 

Points: 0

#31 by mehllageman56 // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:54am

The Patriots are on their 3rd string QB at this point, and are 1-1 with him, and the loss was in overtime to a playoff contender.  Give Belichick credit where credit is due.

Points: 0

#33 by KnotMe // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:01pm

NE might have be better off losing this. They need draft position and to restock talent levels more than they need  to be a 7th seed that gets blown away by a real contender. 

Points: 0

#104 by RickD // Oct 11, 2022 - 4:05pm

The very bad teams lack talent across the board, and replacing that often takes 3-5 years. 

The NFL is very different from the NBA, the only league where tanking really works.  NBA teams only have five starters, and it's common for the elite players to be far, far above everybody else.

The talent distribution in the NFL is flatter, and the rosters are much larger.  Drafting Mike Vick, an athletic superstar by any measure, only was enough to get the Falcons to a level that won two playoff games in seven years. 

There is no escaping the need to be consistently good at evaluating and developing talent.   That's why the NFL tends to be divided into the Haves and Have-Nots.  An occasional "Suck for Luck" might seem to work, but note again that Andrew Luck didn't end up being enough for the Colts to pass the Patriots, Broncos, and Ravens during his career. 



Points: 0

#45 by JonesJon // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:41pm

The Texans have been competitive in every game this year and are a half game back of New England so I'm not sure how giant that middle ground is

Points: 0

#47 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:47pm

All of the teams they've played are either outright bad or disappointing

Points: 0

#105 by RickD // Oct 11, 2022 - 4:08pm

They've lost to the Bears, Browns, and Chargers, tying the Colts and managing to beat the Jaguars.

Of those five opponents, I'd only rate the Chargers highly.

Points: 0

#106 by KnotMe // Oct 11, 2022 - 4:52pm

And New England has lost to the Phins, Ravens and Packers and beat Pitt and Detroit.  The Pats are better than the texans but if you have a spectrum with say, the Bills and one end and Houston at the other, they are probably in the middle or maybe a bit closer to the texans end. Neither team is good basically. 

Points: 0

#29 by Kaepernicus // Oct 10, 2022 - 11:51am

I think 1.75x more seriously than the Vikings is a little low for the 49ers. They steam rolled the Rams last Monday even though the Rams shut down their running game. They just gave up 2 total sacks to an above average pass rush using their 3rd string LT and playing random replacement sets with Brunskill as the swing OL for 4/5 positions. This is after they held the Rams to 0 while having to win that game throwing the ball and converting 3rd and medium repeatedly. The biggest takeaway from the 2.5 games with Trent Williams out is Aaron Banks may legitimately be an upgrade over Tomlinson already and the C/RG combo every 49ers fan was terrified about has proven they can be consistently mediocre(or better) even against top competition. When Williams gets back at LT and Mitchell gets back at RB the 49ers are going to have a terrifying running game. Kittle is starting to look like his old self as well, outside the fumble, as a receiver while Aiyuk keeps his positive momentum going from down the stretch last year. Jimmy just put together 2 straight excellent passing games against above average pass defenses after the worst game of his career against the Broncos. If you are a fantasy football player start fishing for 49ers players on the waiver wire/trade market. The defense is now down 5+ starters for a couple weeks and the offense is beginning to gel just in time to help make up for it.

The second thing to watch for is the potential for significant improvement on defense when Armstead and Kinlaw get back at DT. With Ward at CB and the emergence of Hufanga at SS this is the best 49ers secondary, even after losing E-Man which is awful, since the peak Harbaugh years. One of the positive things a team can get from injuries to starters is invaluable experience for depth players. Watch for the 2 rookies, Drake Jackson at DE and Womack at CB, to get a lot better with starting reps the next few weeks. If Jackson takes off while Bosa is out it will create the potential for their D Line rotation to get significantly better during the season. One thing is apparent though the 49ers build rosters better than almost any team in the NFL. If Lynch and the scouting staff keep this up for a few more seasons he will start to enter that Ozzie realm for consistency. If Hufanga keeps pace and Bosa is out for a short period and each gets an All-pro nod that will be 5 All-Pros at 5 different positions drafted since taking over in 2017. The ability to find elite players in FA, Trade Market, and the draft is a big reason why even having Lance be a complete bust would barely affect the team at any position other than QB. What other teams have been this consistently good at reloading talent the last 6 years? 

Points: 0

#37 by bravehoptoad // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:20pm

I suspect you're downplaying the 49ers Injury Effect, which states that all 49ers teams have to finish in the top 4 in AGL by season's end.  

So far, they're losing 1.8 starters per game.  If they keep up that pace, then by the time the playoffs start they'll have lost another 21.6 starters, which is more than enough to wipe out every starter they have.  They're a pretty deep team; Shanahan's a pretty good coach, but can they make the playoffs with a bunch of 2nd and 3rd stringers?  I'm not seeing it unless they somehow acquire Bones McCoy with his medical kit in a time warp.

Points: 0

#56 by Kaepernicus // Oct 10, 2022 - 1:40pm

You mean like last year when they finished 3rd in AGL and almost made the SB? I think the depth of these JL/KS teams is actually kind of underrated. They aren't only down all these starters on defense but guys they couldn't keep for cap reasons are key contributors starting on multiple NFL teams this year. I would love to see an analysis that ranks FOs based on how many starters they have drafted that are starting across the entire league. K'wuan Williams and DJ Jones are starting on a really good Broncos defense. Kendrick Bourne is one of the best WR on the Patriots. Then you have the reclaimation projects like Tomlinson and Key starting on other teams after decent FA signings. Raheem Mostert is the lead back in Miami. It's wild how many players they have lost to injury/FA while continuing to be successful, especially in the playoffs, with average QB play. The Newsome Ravens are the only franchise I have seen do this consistently. Then look at the coaching losses and their success so far in other locations.

Points: 0

#50 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 1:07pm

I think 1.75x more seriously than the Vikings is a little low for the 49ers.

It's probably not. The Vikings are better than people around here think.

FO is a horrible concept of what mediocre looks like. The Vikings aren't a great team, but they are high-floor. Even given horrid injuries, they usually bottom out at like 7-9 or 8-8.

Points: 0

#60 by AFCNFCBowl // Oct 10, 2022 - 2:21pm

The Vikings are 1-4 against the spread. They needed a 10 point comeback to beat DET at home, got outplayed in London by NO (bad PI call+2 lost fumbles by NO) and blew a 21-3 lead vs CHI at home before coming back.

They're not a very good team - they're solid, but their ceiling is a wild card loss.

Points: 0

#64 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 3:14pm

I think we agree that 1.75x a reasonably chance at a divisional winner is a pretty decent team.

Points: 0

#63 by BJR // Oct 10, 2022 - 3:04pm

It's linked to whole Kirk Cousins rhetoric. I listened to entire segment this morning where they dismissed him as "meh.....mediocre......etc,etc." The inevitable conclusion being he was the one limiting the team.

Say it with me: Kirk Cousins has finished #7,#9,#7 in DYAR the past 3 seasons. He is not a mediocre Quarterback. 


Points: 0

#65 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 3:17pm

I will say, I worry about how much Kirk Cousins needs a receiver like Diggs/Jefferson. Seeing Stafford and Tannehill look so much worse a season later reminds me that volatile QBs can have a very wide range of outcomes and its less the mean and more the uncertainty that upsets most people I think. 

Points: 0

#66 by BJR // Oct 10, 2022 - 3:29pm

Kirk's not an elite QB it is true, he won't carry an offense on his own. 

But he's been in the league 10 years now, always performing at an above average level. He was producing top 10 DYAR seasons on the frickin' Redskins. Suggesting he is mediocre is either not understanding what that term means, or willful ignorance of facts.

Points: 0

#74 by Kaepernicus // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:47pm

It's not Kirk's fault that he has been overpaid for the past 6 years. He has made excellent financial decisions and I support that. But he is an example of market inefficiencies that are pervasive in the QB market due to how rare elite QB play actually is. The truth is guys like Lamar, Pat, TB, Rodgers, and Allen play at a level that deserves to command $50 million of cap space given their ability to play at an MVP level consistently. After them you have another less proven high upside tier with Burrow, Herbert, Watson, and Murray where you have seen a lot of high level play with flashes of brilliance of varying lengths that are worth taking a flyer on because of what they could become. Then you have the consistent pro-bowl crew with Russ, Stafford, Cousins, and Carr where their value to the team they are on is highly dependent on how much they are paid. Jimmy G at $15 million a year is better than any of them pushing $40 million. Just look at what Geno is doing with the weapons Russ had in Seattle at a fraction of the price. This is a huge problem across the NFL that will soon force the Las Vegas Raiders into wild card bounce out purgatory when they re-sign Carr. Look what happened to the Seahawks after the first big Russ deal. The truth is the value of one of the top 6 guys and the next 6 is bigger than the pay gap between them. $20 million Kirk probably means we get to see that team with Jefferson and Diggs on the same offense. You can still win a SB with them but you need to hit a lot of homeruns everywhere else while minimizing the strike outs. 

Points: 0

#76 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 4:58pm

Is Burrow in that category? He’s not better than Cousins working with the same benefits, and he’s been bad this year despite the relative roster savings around him. That teams a disaster if he’s at Cousins’ price.

Points: 0

#78 by KnotMe // Oct 10, 2022 - 5:21pm

Young guys are their own catagory I think since they could, in theory, improve.  While it's not totally unknown for old guys to improve, it's pretty rare and we pretty much know what Cousins is at this point. If Burrow is still the same in a couple year...yup, he's in that category. 


Points: 0

#85 by Kaepernicus // Oct 10, 2022 - 6:12pm

Yeah you just nailed it there. Of that potential group I think there are more tiers too. I was really close to just putting Herbert in the elite group since he seems to be above those folks pretty obviously from a consistency/raw talent perspective and has shown he can elevate some terrible supporting casts already. I mean't to put Dak in the Kirk/Carr/Russ crew too. I think one of the big things about that overpaid group is the guys who are high variance vs. consistent. One of the biggest problems with Kirk is he achieves his top 10 status due to consistency meaning he is less likely to string together one of those crazy Russ/Stafford type playoff runs where they string together multiple elite performances using their raw talent. For Kirk to get to a SB he really needs to end up in a 2016 Matt Ryan type scenario where everything lines up. Burrow and Kyler seem destined to end up in the Kirk tier due to their limited physical talent, Burrow, or inconsistency, Kyler. We will see though. The big question now is which of the young guns elevate and replace Rodgers/Brady when they retire? 

Points: 0

#35 by mehllageman56 // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:15pm

Glad to see Salyer playing tackle well.  Means my impression during draft season was correct, but glad for the Chargers too.  I was high on Skylar Thompson, and was bummed that he went to a division rival.  He didn't play terrible, except for the sack/fumble, but he was definitely limited.  Jury's still out, but doesn't look that good now.

Points: 0

#36 by Theo // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:17pm

Hey mister Tanier. 

Whats the difference between Campbell and Tomlin?

Tomlin had a good team 15 years ago and has a more polished arsenal of bullsnot. 

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#39 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:23pm

This is a question I ask more broadly about all coaches. How do we know they are really good?

If the same coach can post an amazing win loss record and have a SB on his resume and then proceed to coach a team that gets utterly humiliated in every possible way, doesn't that reveal the limits of our understanding when it comes to coaching?

My favorite example will always be George seifert.

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#42 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:30pm

How do we know they are really good?

Same way you evaluate offensive linemen: by looking at the decisions/actions they take, totally separate from the outcome. Sometimes that leads to retroactive changes in evaluation.

I still feel like this discussion (over and over) is just a Bayesian vs. frequentist argument recast in a different form.

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#44 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:35pm

I see it as a measurement issue, not one about statistical methodology and Even applying a Bayesian framework doesn't solve this problem.

It's like trying to measure economic well being by counting the amount of steel produced.

You are essentially answering a very nuanced question with wholly aggregated data. 

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#49 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:57pm

If you judge football teams purely on wins and losses, the statistical evidence you have as to whether or not an individual team is good or bad is just non-existent. You barely have any idea by the end of the season whether or not the best team is better than the worst team. The majority of the spread between the best and worst teams comes from just schedule strength, injuries, and just dumb luck.

You deal with that by adding in the confounding factors and correcting for them. The difference between a Bayesian and frequentist approach is that a Bayesian would deal with the injuries by handwaving an estimate in, whereas a frequentist would say "hey wtf are you doing." You get a ton of information as to whether or not coaches are good or not. Including comments from former players. You just need to weight them appropriately.

The criticism of Tomlin, for instance, I mostly dismiss because the Steelers lost a player with nearly equivalent value to a starting QB and they already were starting off down that point anyway, so it's like talking about a team that's down to a third-string QB since the first week of the season. My base expectation for this season is already "bad," but little of that is attributable (in my opinion) to Tomlin.

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#51 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 1:07pm

You've said confounding variables and Bayesian methods and not addressed my main point, which is what measuring stick are you using. You said not to use wins but the only measurement I read from you is the Pat quality opinion index.

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#55 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 1:29pm

I've already said, it's based on what decisions they actually make. If you want me to list the good/bad opinions each coach has made and my confidence in those estimates it'll be waaay too long a post. You'll agree with some, disagree with others, because you weight certain things differently. I put the most weight in consistent success rather than peak success because I believe peak success is unimportant due to NFL seasons being primarily unpredictable.

If your point is "we can't measure the quality of coaches objectively," of course not. You can't measure anything in football objectively. That's why it's awesome.

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#57 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 2:05pm

I can infer a lot more about the quality of QB based on his passes than I can the coach based on the actions of the rest of the roster.

Similarly, if a cb gets beat, it paints a less informed measurement but still useful. The siefert example, be it whatever measurement you want to use, gives two answers that are complete opposites

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#61 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 2:30pm

Trying to figure out if Siefert was a good coach is like trying to figure out if a CB is good based on the play-by-play. Coverage of the NFL is ridiculously different from 20+ years ago.

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#83 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 6:09pm

Then why is there a pretense that Deion Sanders is by far the greatest cornerback of all time and a goat candidate when we have little idea about who's a great corner today and probably even less of an idea back then.

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#89 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 7:40pm

I didn't say you can't evaluate old players. I said you can't evaluate a corner by a play by play. Film exists.

You can't really evaluate old coaches, since very little information exists. There wasn't the kind of reporting there is now.

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#90 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 7:58pm

I was responding to this statement


 Coverage of the NFL is ridiculously different from 20+ years ago.

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#96 by bravehoptoad // Oct 11, 2022 - 10:49am

Pat was talking about media coverage, I believe?

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#98 by Pat // Oct 11, 2022 - 12:54pm

Yeah. Just sooo many more people covering inside details, and the information's so much more prevalent. I mean, it was a big deal when you started to get access to press conference videos/transcripts in the 2000s.

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#46 by Theo // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:47pm

We measure by the influence they have.

Tomlin was handed a hof defense led by a hof dc. On offense he had a young hof qb and every weapon needed. 

All he had to do was not intervene with the coordinators.

Then, in years after Tomlin though that hiring coordinators smarter than himself would expose him, so evey hire was worse than the next. Resulting in only 3 playoff wins in more than a decade, with the same hof qb and replenishments on defense. 

All Tomlin had to do, to consistently win multiple playoff games with Ben was to hire capable coordinators and call a time out when they Raiders are on the verge of scoring late in the 4th quarter. 

Tomlin is _by far_ the most over rated head coach in the nfl. Anyone who watches more than 3 steelers games a season knows this. 


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#82 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 10, 2022 - 6:06pm

Tomlin has coached in the NFL for 15 years and in his worst years his teams finished 8-8.  Campbell's two years are 5-7 as an interim coach and 3-13-1 as a head coach.

How in the heck can you think that Tomlin isn't any different than Campbell?  There's no objective basis for suggesting that there's any similarity between the two.


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#91 by Mike B. In Va // Oct 10, 2022 - 8:19pm

The prevailing theory is that he was handed a great team and is the benefactor of great coordinators, which conveniently ignores all the facts.

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#38 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:20pm

This site has no shortage of Lions fans so I'm curious to hear what they think about Dan Campbell. As Cale Clinton pointed out, Dan Campbell was inheriting an absolute disaster of a coaching job. But unlike Rhule, Campbell's Lions have shown progress, especially compared to the Matt Patricia regime.

Cale mentioned that disasters afford you some leeway, but by year 3, you'd better start being good. Except, look at this team. What about them inspires much confidence that they'll be good next year?

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#40 by bravehoptoad // Oct 10, 2022 - 12:23pm

The way, when they're knocked down, and get back up, they bite off your kneecap?  And then when they're knocked down again, they bit off your other kneecap?  

That screams progress to me.

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#53 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 1:13pm

He's fine. He's not amazing. I thought he'd be Schwartzian and nothing I've seen suggests differently.

NE is the kind of team Lions teams like this handle poorly. And sometimes David Strategy comes up snake-eyes. I like that he's at least aggressively trying. It's a mixed bag on offense and a wretched defense. The Lions haven't had competent LBs in forever or DBs since Patricia ran Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay out of town.

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#67 by KnotMe // Oct 10, 2022 - 3:33pm

Honestly, good coaches can have a bad game where its just not working. (for Belichick, take their playoff game vs the Bills last year....yikes).

Even taking the 4th down thing they had(score in parens)

&1 at DET 45(0-0)  Outside FG range only only led to a FG anyway. Pretty defensible if your scoring 35 a game

&9 at NE 32(0-3) - this was the fumble tuddie. Probably the only one were taking the FG really made sense

&2 @ NE 34(0-19) You need points and your offence is (in theory) good. Get 2 yards. 

&5 @ NE 5(0-26) - This one actually worked as the pats just punted their next possession after getting pinned deep in their territory

&1 @ NE 31 (0-26) 

&4 @ NE 18 (0-29) It was pretty much over at this point. 

Really, only one of the decisions seems bad, 


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#68 by Pat // Oct 10, 2022 - 3:37pm

Yeah, I agree. Going for it on 4th and 9 was very dumb, the others were all pretty defensible. Once they got down 3 scores, just constantly going for it when it was only ever a question made sense. Who cares if you lose 29-0 vs 19-6. Seriously no difference.

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#52 by Karystrance // Oct 10, 2022 - 1:09pm

McVay + Rams + Goff = 3 points

Campbell + Lions + Goff = 0 points



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#84 by theslothook // Oct 10, 2022 - 6:10pm

The clear and obvious solution is for Jared Goff to sign with New England and he won't have this problem

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#58 by Jackson87 // Oct 10, 2022 - 2:06pm

but he's no Ron Rivera.

And I mean that as a compliment.

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#86 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 10, 2022 - 6:14pm

All this talk about which unit on Detroit was responsible for the shut out and how many good/bad decisions Campbell made on 4th down and nobody here has pointed out the obvious:

The mere presence of Matt Patricia on the football field sent the whole Detroit organization into a PTSD episode.  By next week, hopefully they'll be fine.

(Apologies to anyone who is themselves or has family members suffering from post-traumatic stress - hopefully it's clear this is a joke and not a serious suggestion of equivalency).

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#88 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 10, 2022 - 6:16pm

Any Lion on the roster would have become a local hero by taking the 15 yard penalty and just decking Patricia on the sideline.

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#93 by Theo // Oct 10, 2022 - 10:36pm

Tanier didnt watch the Steelers game. He watched some highlights.

Kenny Pickett started really well, then he had a whole lot of 3rd and long to work with. Good luck with that.

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#99 by Mike B. In Va // Oct 11, 2022 - 1:14pm

They were also down by 28 points in a big hurry. Kinda makes your offense one-dimensional.

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#94 by laneveramisma // Oct 11, 2022 - 12:24am

Now that’s not only clever asf but also educational, as I had ere been familiar with merely “vaporwave”. So thanks, Mike. 

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