Derrick Henry Gets His Apology

Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 8 - In this overstuffed NFL Week 8 edition of Walkthrough...

  • The Seattle Seahawks force the New York Giants to fall back to earth first so they can land on top of them;
  • The New England Patriots once again prove that no one really believes in the New York Jets, especially the New York Jets;
  • Philadelphia Eagles receiver A.J. Brown turns the Pittsburgh Steelers into supporting actors in his one-man highlight reel;

and much more. But first...

An Open Letter to Derrick Henry

We're so sorry, Derrick Henry.

Walkthrough thought you were burnt toast in the offseason. We all but danced at your retirement dinner in a May column. When the Tennessee Titans suffered other defections and injuries—A.J. Brown, Harold Landry, Taylor Lewan, and this week Ryan Tannehill—we thought the team would drive you until your tires blew out and then abandon you under a railroad trestle.

Yet you led the Titans to a 17-10 victory over the Houston Texans with 32 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns on a Sunday when Matt Vrabel rarely dared to allow rookie Malik Willis to throw the ball. You side-stepped some defenders, stiff-armed others into the end zone, and dragged the rest behind you for first downs.

You have kept the Titans in the playoff hunt for over a month. You rushed for 128 yards in a hard-fought victory over the Colts in Week 7. You churned out 102 yards and two touchdowns in a narrow win over the Commanders in Week 5. Before that: 114 yards and another touchdown in the first meeting with the Colts. And before that: 85 rushing yards, 58 receiving yards, and a touchdown in a 24-22 win over the Raiders.

Five victories, three 100-yard rushing games, one 200-yarder, and one 100-total-yarder, all from the one guy that everyone in the stadium knows is getting the ball early and often, the only Titans player the defense must seriously game-plan to stop. We're not sure what the Titans' record would be with an ordinary running back, but there is no way they would be 5-2.

Can you blame us for our preseason skepticism? You missed nine games with a foot injury last year! Running backs with your mileage are rarely the same after a foot injury, and it looked like you were leaking a little transmission fluid even before you got hurt. Then there's the whole Curse of 370 thing and all of those departures and injuries on offense.

Walkthrough assumed you would spend every Sunday slamming into an eight-man box without much blocking or support. And we were right! But you have run with such power, vision, and determination that it has not mattered, mixing in enough value as a receiver to make Titans' game plans slightly less predictable.

Listen, Derrick: your 2019 and 2020 seasons were downright historic, but your 2021 season looked like another illustration of just how fleeting most running back's peaks are. This year, you were destined to either trudge along at 3.6 yards per rush for a ready-to-rebuild Titans team or—and this was always a long shot—establish yourself as the type of once-per-generation running back who scoffs at the wear and tear which forces 95% of your peers to retire by around age 28.

It looks like you really are part of that rare breed, the Adrian Peterson/LaDainian Tomlinson/Eric Dickerson types who make slobberknocker football playoff-viable and, if this keeps up, end up in the Hall of Fame.

So thanks for keeping the Titans interesting, Derrick. Walkthrough is overjoyed to be wrong when it means that we get to watch you hammer out yardage and old-school victories week after week.

But if another running back suffers a setback after a few high-mileage seasons, we guarantee that we will be even more skeptical of him than we were of you.

Game Spotlight: Buffalo Bills 27, Green Bay Packers 17

What Happened: The Bills used all their cheat codes and power-ups simultaneously before halftime. Seriously, look at this and tell Walkthrough that it doesn't look like Isaiah McKenzie was wearing Cleats of Extra Juking and mashing button combos the Packers had never seen before:

Ah, but the Packers had a plan for keeping things close in the second half: they began running the ball and slowing down the game while trailing by 17. Brilliant!

The Bills, meanwhile, were eager to put the game out of reach and began taking risks in the passing game. So the second half involved a team trailing by three scores munching the clock while the team leading by three scores threw interceptions. Weird stuff. Ultimately, however, all the Packers managed to do was slow the game down to the point that Aaron Rodgers' fourth-quarter touchdown bomb to Samori Toure proved irrelevant.

What it Means: The Bills exist on a higher plane of football consciousness. The only real weakness they demonstrated against the Packers was their run defense, and frankly, it looked as though they could have stopped the Packers running game any time if they chose to.

The NFC Fading Legends Trio of the Packers, Buccaneers, and Rams all lost again in Week 8, and waiting for them to find their level is becoming alarming. The Packers looked a little like they knew they were outclassed and gave up searching for answers at halftime. We may be back in 2018 again, when everyone checked out on each other, the team finished 6-9-1, and Mike McCarthy was fired. If that's the case, Rodgers is sure to let us know via subtly coded soundbites throughout the week.

What's Next: The Bills write another reality check for the Jets. The Packers work their frustration out on Dan Campbell's Extra Gritty Punching Bags.

Seattle Seahawks 27, New York Giants 13

(Otherwise known as the triumph of smoke over mirrors.)

What Happened: Two teams poised to crash back to earth instead crashed into each other. The Giants mustered just 46 yards and one first down in the first half. The Seahawks answered by fumbling at their own goal line to give the Giants a free touchdown and getting a little silly with the Geno Smith dink-dunkery.

A dreary punt-and-field goal fest—the sort of game we expected from these teams entering the season—broke open midway through the fourth quarter when Smith found Tyler Lockett for a 33-yard touchdown, followed by a fumble recovery after the next Seahawks punt to set up a Kenneth Walker touchdown. For the first time since Week 3, the Giants did not have any late-game magic in them.

What it Means: The Seahawks were clearly the better team on Sunday: dropped passes (one a sure touchdown for Lockett) and other miscues kept a Giants team that was clearly a step slower and a notch less physical on both sides of the ball in the game.

We're now getting a real sense of the Seahawks' capabilities: they are far better than the NFC bottom-feeders, well below the Eagles/Cowboys tier, and in roughly the same category as the Giants and Falcons, the adorable puppies of the conference. Whether or not they reach the playoffs may come down to how good (or bad) the Packers/Buccaneers/Rams Fading Legends Trio really is. Those teams will vacate one to three expected playoff spots, making room for some of the puppies. The Seahawks face the Bucs in two weeks and the Rams twice later in the season; based on current performance levels, the Seahawks will probably win two of those three games, which would likely make them a wild-card team.

The Giants are in a different situation: Sunday's loss looked like the prelude to a collapse, but it's hard to collapse when you have a bye, the Texans, and the Lions over the next three weeks. Unlike the Seahawks, the Giants had a loss to spare and still have a breezy path to a winning record.

What's Next: As noted, a Giants bye, followed by the Dan Campbell Cult and the Houston Cult Survivors. The Seahawks face a Cardinals team that they beat before and should beat again because they are not coached by a walking body spray commercial.

Game Spotlight: New England Patriots 22, New York Jets 17

(Otherwise known as "2021's young mirage quarterback versus 2022's young mirage quarterback.")

What Happened: The Jets took an early 10-3 lead, looking a lot like the 5-2 team their record said they were entering Week 8. Then Zach Wilson began running around in circles and tossing interceptions as if a toddler had dropped his PS5 controller down a flight of stairs.

Mac Jones was nearly as awful as Wilson for most of the game, but:

  • Jones, unlike Wilson, is more likely to cover up and take a sack than act like Carson Wentz after three hard iced teas when the pocket collapses;
  • A Jones pick-six moments after Wilson's first interception was nullified by a roughing the passer foul which registered about a 5.2 on the "tacky call" scale;
  • The Patriots started the third quarter with a touchdown when the second-half kickoff dribbled to their 38-yard line and Rhamondre Stevenson glitched right through a would-be tackler for a 35-yard run; and
  • Nick Folk nailed three second-half field goals while Greg Zeuerlein missed a third-quarter attempt which might have kept Wilson and the rest of the Jets out of "panicky puppy at a fireworks show" mode.

What it Means: Wilson is a liability that the Jets quietly concealed during their four-game winning streak. The sooner the Jets get real about Wilson, the better. Robert Saleh should be ready to pull the ripcord for Joe Flacco or Chris Streveler (not Mike White, we already did that) the next time Wilson starts doing whirlybirds in the pocket: better for the Jets to gain clarity about how to move forward with a very talented overall roster than talk themselves into Wilson as their future because they finish around 9-8.

The Patriots remain as likely as ever to reach the playoffs on mystique, a soft schedule, and a stout-if-sluggish defense: nothing else and in precisely that order.

What's Next: Interceptions may start flying out of all of Wilson's orifices as the Jets host the Bills in Week 9. The Patriots get a chance to beat yet another team thanks mostly to two decades of conditioning as they host Sam Ehlinger and the Colts.

Notes on Various Quarterback Situations

Walkthrough keeps you abreast of all of the quarterback benchings, injuries, and controversies around the NFL!

Indianapolis Colts

Walkthrough takes back all of the bad things we said about Matt Ryan! Sam Ehlinger dinked, dunked, wide-receiver screened, ran a little read-option, and led one 24-yard touchdown drive after a Shaquille Leonard interception in a 17-16 loss to the Commanders, but he also lost a fumble in the red zone while scrambling, and the Colts offense is somehow more limited now than it was when they were trying to protect a tower of soup cans in the pocket. Frank Reich kept settling for short field goals in the red zone with Ehlinger under center, which is a fine way to lose a winnable game.

Ehlinger just discovered the difference between running around making plays in the fourth quarters of preseason games and trying to move an offense against starting-caliber competition. The solution to the Colts quarterback problem is, unfortunately, not on the roster. And the decision by Reich to forever-bench Ryan now appears certain to finally plunge the Colts into a rebuilding cycle.

Washington Commanders

Taylor Heinicke led an 89-yard touchdown drive in the final seconds to beat the Colts, and Carson Wentz crumbled to dust and blew away like a vampire at sunrise.

Tennessee Titans

Malik Willis went 6-of-10 for 55 yards and one interception in relief of Ryan Tannehill, sidelined with an ankle injury and illness. Willis also rushed five times for 12 yards. His longest completion of the afternoon was a 16-yard side-armed wobbler while scrambling. One of his other "long" completions was a flat pass to Derrick Henry followed by 9 yards of stiff arms. Willis threw one pass in the entire second half.

Ultimately, we were spared the one 30-yard completion that rookie backups such as Willis inevitably throw in their debuts which spawn "THIS PROVES HE'S QB1 FOREVER" tweets and narratives about quarterback controversies. Willis isn't ready, and probably won't be at any time in 2022. We're better not pretending otherwise.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers fans are no doubt building a mountain of intangibles around Kenny Pickett: he showed "poise" or "heart" or something in a 35-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in which the only Steelers touchdown was thrown by Chase Claypool on a trick play. Whatever. The Steelers offense is completely dysfunctional, making Pickett nearly impossible to evaluate: he has thrown almost nothing but screens, rollout tosses into the flat, 50-50 jump balls to George Pickens, and end-of-blowout nonsense against prevent defenses. There's a difference between "experience" and "useful experience."

The danger for the Steelers is that Pickett becomes a cross between Mac Jones' physical traits/organizational wishcasting and Trevor Lawrence's ingrained bad habits, and that Steelers fans (and coaches) will still be trying to talk themselves into him this time next year.

New Orleans Saints

Andy Dalton is now the Saints starter over Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill plays the Taysom Hill role, and Walkthrough did not see enough of the Saints' 24-0 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders to comment meaningfully about what happened. Just two stray thoughts:

  • We love the idea of a Saints "Peasant's Revolt," where Rashid Shaheed and all the other interns and temps turn the team around while New Orleans' quarter-billion dollars in future cap liabilities watch from the sidelines or their living rooms; and
  • The historic Raiders-Broncos rivalry may be expressing itself by each team trying to be more disappointing than the other.

Carolina Panthers

P.J. Walker earned another start ahead of Baker Mayfield and…

Look, Walkthrough refuses to acknowledge that a 37-34 Panthers-Falcons overtime barnburner happened on Sunday; we don't cover Conference USA action in this space. Walker apparently threw for 317 yards against the Falcons' tutorial-mode defense, but his primary job skill remains making himself more popular and likeable in team headquarters than the likes of Baker Mayfield or gimpy, flighty, late-career Cam Newton. That's a really low bar.

That said, Walker may be the ideal quarterback for a team that wants a clear shot at the first overall pick.

Denver Broncos 21, Jacksonville Jaguars17

(Otherwise known as the AFC Relevancy Elimination Round.)

What Happened: It was business as usual for Russell Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett in the first half: Captain Cornflake threw an interception and was sacked out of field goal range, while Hackett punted on fourth-and-inches (fourth-and-6 after a delay-of-game penalty) and ordered a weird non-Hail Mary on the final play before halftime (more on this later). Only a Trevor Lawrence goal-line interception and an intentional grounding penalty to knock the Jaguars out of field goal range kept the Broncos competitive.

Broncos rookie tight end Greg Dulcich, who looks like what folks who have never watched 1970s porn think 1970s porn stars looked like, set up a third-quarter touchdown with 22- and 38-yard catches drive to give the Broncos a 14-10 lead. The Jaguars answered in between sputtering drives, and the Broncos re-answered, but neither team looked all that impressive doing so. Eventually, a Wilson-to-KJ Hamler bomb set up a Latavius Murray touchdown to give the Broncos the lead just after the two-minute warning, and Lawrence threw behind Christian Kirk for K'Waun Williams' game-clinching interception.

What it Means: Sunday's win saved Hackett's job for a few weeks but answered zero questions about the Broncos. Defensive stops and turnovers, isolated Wilson highlights, and weak opponents are a recipe for third place in the AFC West, and reports of Wilson's in-flight flightiness en route to London will do nothing to change the atmosphere around the franchise. Wilson, Hackett, and the Broncos need emphatic statements, not narrow escapes.

The Jaguars' two-week late-September period of relevance is long gone and best forgotten. The Jaguars lack talent on their back seven, their receiver corps is full of WR3-types, and Lawrence is proving to be a liability as a decision-maker in high-leverage situations. (A rookie season full of virtual self-coaching has consequences.) They're one more loss from TankWatch territory.

What's Next: A pair of byes, during which we can briefly, blissfully forget that both of these teams even exist.

Notes on Important Games Walkthrough Didn't Watch

It's impossible to watch every game on Sunday, but that doesn't stop a veteran take-slinger like Walkthrough!

San Francisco 49ers 31, Los Angeles Rams 14

With Deebo Samuel unavailable, Christian McCaffrey racked up 149 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns on 26 touches, plus one touchdown pass on a trick play.

Walkthrough hated the McCaffrey trade for the 49ers and still isn't all that thrilled about it, but the 49ers probably don't beat the Rams without McCaffrey to offset the loss of Deebo: despite the 31-14 final, the game was close until the fourth quarter, and few other players can do what McCaffrey did on Sunday.

If CMC's presence leads directly to an NFC West title which would have been in doubt without him, he's worth the hefty investment. And sweeping the Rams gives the 49ers a smooth inside track toward that division crown.

The Rams left Cooper Kupp in the game late in the fourth quarter, and Kupp suffered what appeared at press time to be a minor ankle injury. The Rams without Kupp are essentially the Matt Ryan-era Colts, so this situation bears watching. Sean McVay said he was "kicking himself" for keeping Kupp in the game and not just running out the clock when all hope was lost. McVay should hire someone else to kick him. Like, maybe Justin Tucker on his right and Jean-Claude Van Damme on his left.

Minnesota Vikings 34, Arizona Cardinals 26

Isaiah Simmons strip-sacked Kirk Cousins late in the third quarter, giving the Cardinals the ball at the Vikings 24-yard line trailing by five points. A noodling Cardinals drive ended with a botched snap (the Cardinals' 2,398th of the last two seasons) and a field goal. The Cardinals then forced the Vikings to punt, but Greg Dortch muffed the return, setting up a Vikings touchdown to make the score 34-26. The Cardinals had three opportunities to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, resulting in an interception and two fourth-down stops, with the Cardinals never venturing past the Vikings' 37-yard line.

Think about how much big-name talent the Cardinals have collected at the skill positions and try to reconcile it with that fourth quarter. For the record, Robbie Anderson was targeted three times without a catch, A.J. Green once without a catch.

The Vikings are the worst good team in the NFL. Or maybe the best bad team by far. Either way, they excel at getting other bantamweights to beat themselves.

Week 8 Awards

Time to hand out the most prestigious awards on the Internet.

Defender of the Week

Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty intercepted Zach Wilson twice in the second half. And that took some doing, because Wilson's throws were so random and off-target that only a 13th-year pro had any chance of guessing where the ball was headed. A supercomputer analyzing seven trillion possibilities could not have predicted some of the things Wilson did on Sunday. Seriously: most defenders would have dropped the ball out of sheer surprise if they saw an actual NFL quarterback attempt this:

Honorable mention goes to Za'Darius Smith for three sacks of Kyler Murray in the Vikings' victory over the Cardinals.

Offensive Line of the Week

The Titans line is usually pretty terrible, but they helped Derrick Henry rush for 219 yards, so let's hear it for Dennis Daley, Aaron Brewer, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, and the baby brother of the bunch, rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere. Right, Derrick?

Special Teamer of the Week

Travis Homer knocked the ball loose from Richie James. Will Dissly fell on it. And the Seahawks had the field position they needed to punch in the touchdown that delivered a knockout blow to the Giants.

Honorable mention goes to Younghoe Koo for three field goals, including an overtime game-winner against the Panthers, and to Nick Folk for five field goals to lift the Patriots over the Jets.

Burn This Play

Let's marvel at what the Bears dialed up on third-and-15 trailing 21-7:

Conceptually, there's something to work with here: it looks like the Bears are conceding with that screen to Dante Pettis, backside defenders might well either race across the field or just get caught napping, and David Montgomery could theoretically rumble for a first down after the cross-court pass.

But Pettis takes sooooo long to throw the ball. Then he throws it like he's a 75-year-old senator throwing out the first pitch in a World Series game. Traveling about 75 yards sideways and using a career WR5 as the lynchpin of your trick play doesn't seem like the optimal method of converting a third down.

In summary, Justin Fields' chance of developing into a franchise quarterback drops two percentage points every time the the Bears decide "let's scheme something up for PETTIS."

Honorable mention goes to the Broncos for Russell Wilson's Hail Maybe, a throw to nowhere designed to tick three seconds off the clock before halftime:

Hey, Nathaniel, we don't want to suggest that you have no idea what you are doing, heaven forbid, but Wilson is famous for completing miraculous bombs. Really! That's been his thing for, like, a decade! So maybe send at least one receiver out to see if he can catch a bomb up the sideline or draw pass interference for a field goal if this situation ever comes up again in your five or six remaining games as an NFL head coach.

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight

This week's BSASEH celebrates A.J. Brown's three touchdown catches with the comic stylings of Steelers defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick!

Fitzpatrick appears certain that he's about to intercept Jalen Hurts in the end zone on the first one. Then Brown appears to snatch the ball away, leaving Minkah with nothing to do but pound dirt.

Fitzpatrick figures his buddy Ahkello Witherspoon has Brown covered up the sideline later in second quarter. But Witherspoon flails, leaving Minkah to execute the "disheartened turn 'n' shrug" maneuver that Steelers fans have been executing all season long.

And finally, here's the Fitzpatrick-Witherspoon 7-10 split, with Brown drawing a taunting penalty for … OK, that's practically the textbook definition of "taunting," but Minkah and Witherspoon had it coming after three first-half touchdowns:

Rando of the Week

Who is Fat Batman? And what is his relationship to the mysterious onlooker in the bucket hat?

Are they somehow connected? Are they planning a meeting in Arizona in February? Will either of them be seen chugging beers at a World Series game on Monday or Tuesday night?

Probably not on that last one—they both have work to do next week—but Philly is full of Batmen these days. And folks in Walkthrough's neighborhood are feeling mighty super as a result.

Comments

125 comments, Last at 02 Nov 2022, 2:24am

#1 by Cythammer // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:05am

"Robert Saleh should be ready to pull the ripcord for Joe Flacco or Chris Streveler (not Mike White, we already did that)."

Mike White had a positive DVOA in his brief time playing last year, so I think he is who you would go with if you decided to bench Wilson. Or Flacco, if you decide your record means you are a playoff contender and should start the veteran. In any case, Saleh said after today's game that White is now the backup QB behind Wilson. Flacco is the third stringer.

Points: 0

#100 by Exystence // Oct 31, 2022 - 4:23pm

The Bengals game has to be majorly carrying that positive DVOA.  He had a 3.5 ANY/A in the 3 other games he played in besides that one, which I tend to believe is more indicative of where he actually is as a passer.  That said, yeah, he probably should still be the next man up after Wilson.  Though Streveler would probably much more entertaining, at least.

Points: 0

#2 by Shylo // Oct 31, 2022 - 5:09am

Titans line have been much better run blockers than pass blockers, or maybe Henry just makes them look better. Vrabel did manufacture wins without Henry last season en route to a 1 seed, but hopefully he doesn't have to do that again.

Points: 0

#3 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 8:15am

It should be known that Darius Slay, official custodian of Batman monikers, decreed that is not Fat Batman, but Sexy Batman.

Points: 0

#4 by OmahaChiefs13 // Oct 31, 2022 - 8:18am

Broncos rookie tight end Greg Dulcich, who looks like what folks who have never watched 1970s porn think 1970s porn stars looked like

We're done here.

Points: 0

#5 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 8:36am

The Vikings are not remotely close to being good. May not even be the best bad team. Still think they could end up with 9 or 10 losses.

Points: 0

#7 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 9:05am

They could be favorites in 9 of their 10 remaining games (Buffalo). It's hard to find 9 losses here.

Even if their plane crashed, they'd be favorites in three of these games and a push against the Packers.

Points: 0

#10 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 9:47am

If they are favored against the Cowboys, the peyote consumption in Las Vegas has increased 10,000%. 

Points: 0

#8 by TomC // Oct 31, 2022 - 9:05am

I appreciate your skepticism, Will, but 9 or 10 losses is almost literally impossible. They will likely be favored in 8 of the next 10 games, and to get to 9 losses they would have to lose 6 games to some combination of Commies, Pats, Jets, Lions, Colts, Giants, Packers, Bears. Just isn't happening.

Points: 0

#9 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 9:23am

It's just 2004 all over again. With the Packers, Rams, and Bucs declining hard, any NFC team in the "middling" category is suddenly a 10+ win team. The Vikings are apparently the 2004 Falcons.

And just like 2004, this doesn't mean any team in the NFC is bad. The Cowboys and Eagles are legitimate teams. But the only reason Philly didn't have a shot at being an undefeated team in 2004 is bad luck in the cross-conference games, which they don't have this year. They won't go undefeated this year anyway because rest is waaay too valuable to them (and the NFC is better anyway).

I am super-thankful that the Vikings play the Bills, though, since wins over the Texans and Commanders will likely put the Eagles 2+ games up on them, making both week 17 and 18 potentially pointless.

Points: 0

#11 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 9:54am

All they need is a minimal amount of bad luck. They won yesterday due to their talent in having the opponent drop a punt in the 4th quarter. If Jefferson or one of their edge rushers gets hurt, or they start having bad fumble luck,  it might result in a 8 game losing streak.They have no margin for error, against anyone.

Points: 0

#12 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 9:59am

The Vikings strategy of "let's wait for our opponent to make a fatal mistake" is likely to work well against Washington, New Jersey B, Detroit, Indianapolis, Green Bay, and Chicago.

It won't work against Buffalo (where it won't matter). It probably won't happen against New England (although with the Wonder Twins, it might happen on offense...). It's 50/50 w/ Dallas, who specialized in superficial overwhelming talent but loves committing just insanely spectacular failures. And it's hard to tell w/ New York, who is dangerous when they can hang around, but may not be able to hang around.

Let's put Minnesota down for 13-5, where they beat some decent but not yet ready teams in the WC and Divisional rounds, and get stomped by the Eagles in the NFCCG like they were the 1991 Lions.

\losses to Buffalo, Dallas, and New England, and a meaningless week 18 game in Chicago.

Points: 0

#15 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:26am

Waiting for the opponent to make a mistake works more reliably when there is competent defense. These Vikings can make the guy who began the season in the 4 spot on the qb depth chart look like 44 year old Tom Brady.Yes, they might end 12-5, but if The Great and Terrible God of Randomness just becomes mildly displeased, 8-9 is not a terribly surprising result.

If they win a divisional round playoff game, I'll wear  a Kirk Cousins jersey during the Conference Championship game. Then I'll go live as a hermit in a cave for 20 years.

Points: 0

#16 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:27am

Yeah, I'd imagine the Vikings might be favored over New England (they probably would be favored by a fair margin right now) but they probably shouldn't be. Cousins doesn't exactly have a long history with New England, but the 2018 game was his worst by AY/A by far, and the 2015 game was his 4th worst. And the '18 Patriots weren't exactly world-beaters on defense. Although I totally don't remember either of those games, to be fair. But I can't imagine Cousins vs a Belichick defense is going to be "advantage Minnesota."

Points: 0

#23 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:40am

It's just a bad matchup for Cousins, because Belichick defenses are built to stop guys like Cousins.

New England's defense is really well-designed to stop system-and-structure pocket QBs -- it was built to stop Manning and also stops lesser-lights who play in a Manning style (Rivers, Goff).

It struggles with guys who play in a structureless style well, or with system guys who can freelance big plays. Which is why it has had issues over the years with Kaepernick, Jackson, Allen, and recently Fields, and with Mahomes, Brees, younger Rodgers, Wilson, and even Manning the Younger.

Belichick loves structure. But he can be had if you are happier living with the resulting chaos than he is. You can't win a mud wrestling fight with a pig.

Points: 0

#43 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:04pm

Well, plus the Vikings aren't like, A+ in protection or anything. When you talk about stopping system/structure QBs, that also includes effing up where they think the pressure is coming from (which is part of their job). Offenses are always going to win if you send 5 guys out on routes and the QB still has 3 seconds to pass.

I'm not saying the Vikings are bad at pass protection or anything, but Cousins is already not great at reading pressure. They'd have to be dead perfect at it, and they're not.

Points: 0

#6 by johonny // Oct 31, 2022 - 8:53am

My brother's a Lions fan so this week's game was a big one for me. The Lions roared out in the first half and were on pace to score over 50 against the very so so Flores-less Dolphins defense. Then just like a good wrestling heel, they stopped. Not a single point in the second half. Hill continues to be the first legit HOF player since Jason Taylor in a Miami uniform. The guy is incredible. The AFC second place crown goes to which ever team can beat all their patsies this year.

Points: 0

#28 by Joey-Harringto… // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:58am

"Then just like a good wrestling heel, they stopped. Not a single point in the second half."

I think "jobber" is the term you're looking for, rather than "heel" (which is essentially a villian).  And a wrestling jobber is a perfect description of the Dan Campbell Lions.  Even when they were up 21-7, I had full confidence that they would find a way to lose.  No lead is safe with this defense (the offense went scoreless in the 2nd half, but that was mostly because they  only had 3 possessions due to the defense being incapable of stopping long, methodical, Miami drives).

Points: 0

#13 by JaguarUSF // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:05am

Jaguars are not on a bye next week: they host the Raiders at home. But it's probably better off that nobody acknowledges this game exists.

Points: 0

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

For those who missed SNF, Alex Smith starred as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers grounded and pounded and dinked and dunked to keep their win probability below one percent for most of the second half.

LaFleur got what he wanted, a 55 yard field goal attempt, hoping for the make, then needed an onside kick recovery, followed by a TD and I am assuming a two point conversion to win, so that he would not need to keep up this charade for 10 more minutes.

Crosby missed and the under 1 percent win probability was foiled before the attempt at all of the other required unlikely events.

I can not ever remember the Packers waiving the white flag so early in a game, nor do I understand.  To beat BUF, you at least have to give your best effort for a full 60 minutes, not turn Aaron Rodgers into Alex Smith.  The team even got two interceptions in the second half, which may have meant something if Herm Edwards were coaching and the Packers were playing to win the game.

Points: 0

#17 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:35am

It helped that Josh Allen was apparently guzzling the LSD spiked Gatorade in the 2nd half.

I think LaFleur's number 1 priority was minimizing Rodgers' hits, in a game he didn't think he could win, absent some phenomenal luck.

Points: 0

#19 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:55am

I don't really get the criticism of LaFleur there. He went for it down 17 in field goal range, which is definitely not waving the white flag. And then got some bad luck with the tipped-ball interception (although that pass was a bad decision by Rodgers anyway), and got the ball back in bad field position with 10 minutes remaining, still down 17. A three-and-a-half minute drive for 95 yards outside of 4th quarter timing rules is pretty fast, actually - you lose time just getting your own players down the field.

After that they just couldn't stop Buffalo. That's not on LaFleur, that's just the other team being better.

Points: 0

#21 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:09am

I really wasn't being critical. "Let's keep running the ball, as long as we can, and hope we catch some breaks", is not a bad approach, on the road, against a significantly more talented opponent.

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#55 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:36pm

True, but is it still true if you think you have a GOAT level Qb?

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#60 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:49pm

If my QB is in his late 30s, and might get the feces stomped out him, on October 30th? Sure. Your chances are poor no matter what you do. Live to fight on the coming Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, in November and December.

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#75 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:29pm

They entered the game at 3-4, I know Buffalo is a hard out but they've already cacked away three of the "easier" games in a row. Gotta actually win some games for those later coming days to matter.

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#76 by KnotMe // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:34pm

It's not like the passing game was lighting it up either. LaFleur was probably calling whatever would move the ball since they were having trouble with that. 

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#18 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:39am

LaFleur got what he wanted, a 55 yard field goal attempt, hoping for the make, then needed an onside kick recovery, followed by a TD and I am assuming a two point conversion to win, so that he would not need to keep up this charade for 10 more minutes.

I think this is a bit unfair: the Packers scored a TD with 6 and a half minutes remaining (and all 3 timeouts). 4th quarter timing rules don't kick in until 5 minutes left, so a 3.5 minute drive there is a pretty quick pace. The real issue was that they gave up 4 first downs to the Bills on the ensuing drive, forcing them to burn all their timeouts left.

Then, by the time they got the ball back it was just over 2 minutes and they had no timeouts. To be honest, if it had been me, I would've kicked the 55-yard field goal on first down just to save the 17 seconds the next three plays took. I'm a big fan of kicking the FG immediately once in range down 10, because you can score the TD on a play with zero seconds remaining from any distance on the field.

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#20 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:06am

To be honest, if it had been me, I would've kicked the 55-yard field goal on first down just to save the 17 seconds the next three plays took.

I understand the strategy behind it, but Crosby's leg looked absolutely cooked on that kick. I am not even sure 55 yards is his range any more.

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#34 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:17pm

is wasting downs there (58 seconds left on 1st and 10). You need a touchdown regardless. They had to try that first and in the process, if they get closer, well they clearly needed and would've appreciated it!

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#22 by jheidelberg // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:25am

It is what they did before the 6 1/2 minute mark of the 4th quarter that was absurd.  The GB pass chart was shown by Bryan Knowles on discord during the game, it was absurd.

The odds of coming back from 10 down and kicking off was still under 2 percent, too little, too late.

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#25 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:42am

If your opponent is actually 11 points better than you are, all choices are sub-optimal.

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#31 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:02pm

I think there is a fair question to ask what is the appropriate gameplan given the opponent you are facing?  2010 Indy faced 2010 NE in what was one of their bigger on paper mismatches and put the ball in Mannng's hands and said come what may. It was a loss and Manning had a few bad turnovers, but it was probably their best chance to win. 

GB has a better run game than the 2010 Colts, but the approach they took, especially once it became clear the defense was struggling, is an interesting one. It tamped down the scoring, sure, and probably made the optics look better, but it smelled like a low variance game that almost assured they were going to lose. Yes, maybe they somehow end up in a dog fight if GB manages to pull off any one of their dropped interceptions, but it also could have easily swung the other way if the Bills instead score and then the game is quickly out of reach. Honestly, even if the game were tied late into the 4th quarter, you would favor Buffalo heavily.

Really, I think if I still believed my QB was anywhere near as good as Allen(and I am paying him like he is); I put the ball in his hands and say come what may. If we are playing the probability dice roll game; the variation in outcomes is likely greater with ugly blowouts but also more chances of actually winning. 

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#36 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:28pm

GB has a better run game than the 2010 Colts, but the approach they took, especially once it became clear the defense was struggling, is an interesting one. It tamped down the scoring, sure, 

I just really, really don't understand the logic of criticizing Green Bay here.

They went into the half down 3 scores. They get the ball on their own 8, drive down to the 10 yard line, get a penalty, and are forced to kick a field goal. What the heck is wrong with that process? It's not like LaFleur said "OK, when we get here, make sure Tonyan gets a ticky-tack OPI call so we have to kick the field goal." It's just bad luck. Their gameplan was great - that was a 7-point gameplan, right there, with bad luck.

And then they force Buffalo to kick a field goal, and so they... do it again. Why the heck would you do anything else?? You're only down 17, you've got plenty of time, and as soon as you're down 17 your win percentage automatically includes "don't let the opponent score anymore." Because you can't win otherwise. And it works, they get down near the red zone... and a 4th and 1 fails. Solid plan. It just didn't work. I'm not going to argue against that.

Both of those drives would've closed them to within 10. Both of them took around 5 minutes-ish, so they had plenty of time. The reason why win percentage is so low at that point is that you let your opponent get 17 points ahead of you. You have to keep doing whatever works, and hope you can stop them, because that's the only way to win anyway.

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#42 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:04pm

There are two approaches to beating Buffalo:

  1. Outscore them in a pure shootout, because your offense is better than their offense.
  2. Acknowledge that they don't defend the run well and drag them into a slow-motion rock fight.

GB clearly does not have the offense for tactic 1, but their offense is good at rushing and not clearly less talented than the 2020 Patriots, Jags, or Colts, or the Ravens for the history of their franchise.

An 11 point deficit seems like a lot, but that's just two possessions. GB basically used the tactics that NYG used against them.

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#56 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:39pm

  1. Outscore them in a pure shootout, because your offense is better than their offense.

My caveat, which I wrote above, is what happens if you think your QB is the GOAT might even be better than Allen - something I bet was at least 50/50 this year coming into this season.

Really, this is saying I have a better chance playing a high variance game with my goat qb in a shootout than I do the slow death approach. 

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#64 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:56pm

If your QB is really the Greatest of All Time he should be perfectly able to recognize that their best option was to run the ball.

I don't understand why people think that running the ball takes it out of the hands of the QB. Who do you think's making the decision to kill it to a run?

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#65 by Noahrk // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:01pm

It doesn't matter what you think abstractly of your QB. Right here, right now, Green Bay can't pass the ball. You have to accept that and plan accordingly.

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#69 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:16pm

Do people really think that Green Bay's calling plays like "OK, Aaron, I know you're great and all, but you've got to hand off the ball here."

It's not high school. I guarantee Rodgers can check the play to a pass any time he wants if things are favorable. He's not doing it because it's not the right choice.

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#77 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:44pm

So here's the argument I am making. Right now, GB's anya is 6.

GBs average ypa is 5.

Yes raw yardage totals are incomplete but the general point is rushing is inferior to passing. Do I have a better chance of winning by putting the ball in Rodgers hands versus going the route of the ground game. 

I think at it's heart, I think the run game makes the optics looks better, but as an underdog, I'd prefer to play the high variance game. And if I have Rodgers, I'd rather take my chances and hope variance lands on the good side than the bad.

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#80 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:49pm

Do I have a better chance of winning by putting the ball in Rodgers hands versus going the route of the ground game. 

You really, seriously think that if Rodgers saw an option in the passing game that he'd just be like "well gosh darnit, our head coach called this play, and he knows football better than me, so we better run it!"

Rodgers literally spent the previous press conference telling people that the WRs weren't running the plays correctly. I don't think LaFleur took the ball out of Rodgers's hands at all.

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#91 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:37pm

Using adjusted is biased, because it doesn't credit rushing with its TD vs fumbles lost ratio.

And man, if you start considering Rodgers fumbles...

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#117 by Noahrk // Oct 31, 2022 - 7:46pm

Personally I think what they did was the best strategy. They almost made a game of it. Challenging that defense through the air with this group would've been nothing short of a Hail Mary, with only a nominal chance of success.

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#121 by BigRichie // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:30pm

On the other hand, doing it that way cost me 'Hi Score!' for the week. I think we can all agree on which hand is the more important one there.

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#70 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:18pm

I'll put it this way:

If you had Allen and Rodgers switch teams, I think the Packers still lose.

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#89 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:32pm

By all accounts, Allen is nice guy and well-loved by teammates and his community.  Swapping him with sourpuss could have significant knock-on effects for both teams.  Not if you swap them right before kickoff, obviously, but back at the start of training camp, quite possibly.

Would that make up for the general talent superiority of the Bills?  Probably not, because these are professional athletes.  But they're also human beings and I do believe that Rodgers being Rodgers has to have a negative impact on the performance of the rest of the team, especially when the going gets tough and it's time to fight through adversity for the guy next to you.

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#92 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:39pm

Rodgers was an entitled sourpuss last year and in 2020, too. He was 26-6 then.

Evidence is quite strong that Rodgers can make a decent roster pretty good.

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#103 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 4:30pm

Not that entitled! He just signed that bajillion-dollar extension in order to assuage his ego this past offseason, mind you. It's one thing to tolerate a guy when he's the best player on the team - it's totally different when he's suddenly making more money than everyone else in the league and you see other QBs doing more.

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#111 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 5:47pm

I don't agree. Lots and lots of highly successful players have been malcontents. Lebron is a notable passive aggressive personality. Kobe was more of an in your face jerk which worked sometimes and backfired badly in others. And MJ was also pretty loathsome.

Not everyone is Tim Duncan or Steph Curry. I just think talent trumps all. 

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#118 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 7:51pm

MJ, LeBron and Kobe were all notoriously obsessed workers. They were difficult to work with because they demanded you work as hard as they do.

Rodgers wasn't there in the off-season. The players he's criticizing who.were put in bad situations because of him are watching someone who didn't work as much as them and got paid ten times as much whine.

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#35 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:18pm

The odds of coming back from 10 down and kicking off was still under 2 percent

Looking at raw win percentage that late in the game is pointless: everything's massive leverage and unlikely. You're entirely relying on the other team to make mistakes at that point. For instance, once the onsides kick is required (which happened once they couldn't stop the Bills on that last drive, not before), then including its 2% chance of success in win probability is pointless: the sequence of events where you win is just "onsides kick*everything else", so you need to assume the onsides kick in your decision making. There's nothing you can do to avoid it. At that point the only thing that's important is maximizing your chances of winning with the onsides kick, which generally means "move the ball and score however you can."

Before that point, though, a better example is that all of their decisions required stopping the Bills. They had plenty of time to score 17 points, they just had to stop the Bills. They didn't. The offensive decisions were fine, it's just the defense couldn't stop Buffalo from gaining first downs.

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#24 by Paul R // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:42am

I expected some snark from Mike about D.J. Moore removing his helmet after the game-tying touchdown, drawing a penalty, turning the extra point into a 48-yarder, and costing the Panthers the game in overtime. Maybe that's too easy a target for him.  

By the way, does any metric measure critical, or game-changing, boneheaded penalties? Or do they all just go down as "penalties?" It seems that a random false start penalty in the middle of a game would be worth much less than a penalty which directly has an immediate effect on game outcome.

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#29 by KnotMe // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:01pm

Would probably need need to scan play by play and even then, it's hard to rate a penalty from that. Taunting is pretty avoidable so that one is easy, but others(*PI, fall starts, holding) it would be hard to tell. 

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#32 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:04pm

Its actually easier than that. There is charting data and you can marry that to win probability to get a sense which penalties have greatest win probability value add/subtract.

OTHO, the reason no one bothers is its unlikely to be predictive so its really just retroactive analysis. 

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#45 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:06pm

Arguing penalties aren't predictive is to ignore the existence of the Raiders.

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#47 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:09pm

Lol the players change, the coaching changes, the ownership changes, and shit, even the city and state changes and still they are who they are. You can't even blame it on the water this time. 

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#58 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:42pm

Going from "owner" to "owner's wife and son" isn't exactly a serious change in ownership.

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#63 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:54pm

Al Davis was heavily involved in the team. Mark Davis the son isn't. From all accounts, they are as different personality wise as it gets. So unless the penalties are coming because the refs hate the last name Davis, I don't see how the change in owner isn't significant. 

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#68 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:13pm

Personality?? It's about who he hires. The Raiders have senior guys who've been there 20+ years. Plus it's not like they changed the entire team from last year, and for the last several years the team was run by a guy Al Davis hired 25 years ago.

They did change things up a bunch last year, but it's only one year.

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#81 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:56pm

I'm saying that when the head coach goes on a personal mission to hire back the guy his dad hired 25 years prior for like, a billion dollars or something, he maybe, just maybe, thinks his dad had the right idea on who to hire.

Mark Davis idolizes his dad. As soon as an SI article came out about Reggie McKenzie changing the culture at the Raiders, Davis like, flipped and fired the PR director. And when McKenzie (former Raider!) didn't deliver the success he wanted, again, out goes that "new culture" and back comes in... Al Davis's hire from 25 years ago.

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#71 by jheidelberg // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:18pm

Bob Irsay found a way to get Elway to refuse to play for the Colts, I believe that he could have done the same with Peyton Manning.

The Baltimore Orioles franchise has been saved by the shift of ownership from father to sons.  The sons understand that they are not baseball people and hired people that are, dad did no such thing.

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#73 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:24pm

Oh, I totally agree. But Al Davis died in 2011, and basically the first thing that Mark Davis did was spend years trying to get Jon Gruden back as head coach of the Raiders. I don't really think there's actually that much difference in terms of the kind of people they want.

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#93 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:40pm

Mark might be cosplaying his dad, but it's still just a cargo cult. He can never be the person Al was.

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#49 by Paul R // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:11pm

I suppose it could be predictive in a way. A player with a higher potential for committing a Random-Boneheaded-Penalty (RBP) could have an effect on winning. Antonio Brown, for example, would have a higher RBP index than, say, Peyton Manning or some other mild-mannered player.

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#52 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:20pm

Anyone know how to make an initialism that yields BURFICT?

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#96 by Paul R // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:53pm

Or you could just call it the Burfict Scale. Perhaps based on how many points it costs the team, how it impacts the game-winning chance, and increased points for playoff games. 

So Mac Jones kicking Jaquan Brisker in the balls wouldn't score very high on the Burfict Scale since he only led three scoreless drives before being replaced. But Moore removing his helmet caused the team to miss the PAT and had a direct effect on the loss, so it would have a higher Burfict score.

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#97 by Eddo // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:56pm

Boneheaded, Unnecessary, or Ridiculous Foul In Critical Times

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#107 by Paul R // Oct 31, 2022 - 5:04pm

You got it! 

We might also consider the possibility of a penalty having a negative BURFICT score (or positive, depending on how you count it). For example, a flagrant DPI on a long pass might not accrue BURFICT points because it prevents a touchdown and buys the defense another play at least.

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#115 by TimK // Oct 31, 2022 - 7:02pm

That is some backronymisation there!

I’d guess Justin Simmons had the classic example of a good (zero or even negative BURFICT foul) on his defensive holding that stopped a TD a play or two before his endzone interception at Wembley.

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#116 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 7:31pm

The DE who tackled the Bears TE when there were three seconds left in the half, resulting in them having to take the FG is a negative-BURFICT play.

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#66 by dmb // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:02pm

I think that would work fine for defensive and dead-ball fouls, but for offensive penalties you would arguably want to consider also subtracting the EPA of whatever result was wiped out. (I.e., a penalty that cancels a touchdown is more costly than one that cancels a standard four-yard-gain, even though they could result in identical new downs and distances.)

Of course, that approach is still problematic because the wiped-out outcome is often, but not always, due to whatever infraction was committed. 

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#61 by colonialbob // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:52pm

Wouldn't this be equally true of every other play? A play that fails to pick up a first down in the final 2 minutes seems much more important than the same play occurring halfway through the first quarter, but of course if you can convert enough of those early in the game you often don't need that one single play at the end of the game. And I've watched more than enough Cowboys games to know that that "random false start" can easily stop an otherwise promising drive and turn likely points into a punt.

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#27 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 11:53am

It's really hard to read into this Packers season and then decide what it means for their future. Their pass game has ground to a halt and the culprits are many. 

If you watch their games, a lot of the reasons why the surface numbers look so down across the board has to do with the approach they are taking. This isn't quite hide the qb, but it's close. And does not resemble the prior iterations of Packers offensive football in at least 3 decades. JHeidelberg called it Alex Smith ball and he's not wrong. This game, at least in the first half, reminded me a lot of when the Chiefs visited Lambeau and appeared to get run off the field until garbage time. I just never imagined Rodgers would be playing that role himself. It just seemed so counter to his nature. But who knows, maybe in 10 years I'll be writing the same slack jawed reaction to Mahomes doing it.

Now, all this begs the question of why. Why are they doing this? And I'm trying to think back to offenses helmed by hall of famers without great talent. I think of 10 Manning, 13 Brady and 05 Favre after Walker left. They never played offense like this. The closest comparison came from 2014 first half Brady where I thought he had experienced a true decline and the offense was wheezing it's way through games. That appears now as barely a footnote. Perhaps the same is true for GB?

If Rodgers has declined and this effectively the new normal, the Packers find themselves trapped like the Broncos might potentially be. But if this an Adams issue, it makes you wonder why they didn't try to FT him and gut everything else. Because the biggest problem for GB is they took a league leading strength a year ago and with one departure it turned into a weakness.

 

EDIT

I forgot that the Packers sort of were like this in 2019. That was also a year I started to wonder why the Packers were doing what they were doing. 

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#39 by big10freak // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:42pm

The one positive that came out is that when 12 employs decent mechanics, even just setting his feet, he can still throw downfield effectively.  

 

He can also still move.  I took a beating on the Packers SB Nation site for making what I thought was an obvious observation.  That Rodgers can still move but has chosen not to much of the season.  Last night he moved around the pocket and rolled out fairly effectively.  The previous games he was VERY reluctant to get out of the pocket unless to save himself from being crushed.

 

So I don't think there has been some major decrease in physical effectiveness.  It's a combination of lack of faith in those around him (partially his own doing), lack of faith in the playcalls and not employing pass mechanics.  Enough with the back foot falling backward BS.  Enough with looking cool or whatever the h7ll he's trying to accomplish.  

 

And be more of a cheerleader.  You can tell the kids are desperate for his praise.  Give them encouragement and keep that snarky tongue under wraps save for the most egregious of errors

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#40 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:57pm

What I find rather interesting is Rodgers' feelings about this offense vs 2019. Stylistically, I thought they were also not using Rodgers in the way he traditionally was being used, but he was happy in that offense; giving the coaching staff a resounding endoresement even after getting destroyed in the nfc championship game.
 

This year he has taken veiled and not so veiled shots at the coaching staff despite what I can surmise is a similar offense to the one they ran in 2019. Of course, this is one is playing worse while that one was just solid. And ya they are losing now when they were winning a year ago but Rodgers is smart and knows not to base everything on wins and losses.

Rodgers being so smart and so not a company guy makes reading him a fun experience and I mean it as a compliment. 

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#41 by Mike B. In Va // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:57pm

I thought it was a pretty obvious reaction to Buffalo's pass rush success. If they kept throwing Rodgers was going to get killed, since no one could get open and theor line was getting shredded. They didn't have any success on anything long until Poyer got hurt.

Honestly, I feel like this played into Buffalo's hands, though. Even the GB defense successfully getting under their skin in the second half wasn't enough to let GB catch up running. 

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#46 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:06pm

Sure, if it was a game played like this in isolation; fine I get it. But this was pretty much how GB has played going back to week 1 and I've watched a lot of GB games. 

I think putting the ball in Rodgers hands can either work in your favor where you are keeping pace stroke for stroke with Allen or it can go very badly and the optics look a lot worse. I just think the approach they took is the kind of thing that can tamp down scoring but makes it more likely you lose a close game rather than win it.

I think its useful to think of NFL games like poker hands and not judge entirely based on what transpired this time.

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#50 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:13pm

Honestly, I feel like this played into Buffalo's hands, though. Even the GB defense successfully getting under their skin in the second half wasn't enough to let GB catch up running. 

I totally disagree: Green Bay in the second half had 4 plays which contributed basically 14 EPA directly and entirely swung the game (the expected result on those 4 plays would result in a 17-point swing very often). The OPI on Tonyan, the missed 4th down conversion, the interception, and the missed 55-yard field goal. You could say that the last play (and drive) was a giveaway by Buffalo, which is fine, but the other three were still enough. And I don't buy that any of those were Buffalo being conservative, you don't throw picks when you're playing conservative.

Green Bay's game plan coming out in the second half was totally good enough to win. There were just a handful of 50/50 plays which flipped the wrong way. (I'm not saying Buffalo was lucky, of course they weren't - you usually don't come back down 17 by just being better than the other team, because you probably didn't get there by being better.)

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#83 by Mike B. In Va // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:01pm

Buffalo wasn't being conservative until that last drive, they were just sucking because...well, near as I can tell, because Alexander's hockey game plan worked and they were trying to burn him on every play.

I honestly agree with Mike here and say that Buffalo could have committed to stop the run in the second half, but didn't. What they didn't want was to get in a deep ball shootout with a guy who's great at it, wo they took the lesser evil and banked on GB not being able to convert. It worked this time, but.might not next time they try it if their offense goes back to first year Allen like it did in the 3rd and most of the 4th.

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#86 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:14pm

Oh, totally agree - the Bills could've definitely committed to stop the run. No problem. Drop one of the safeties closer than what, 15 yards downfield most plays. That'd help. Except, like you said, that would've just turned it into more of a shootout.

Stopping pass offenses without dominant receivers is easy - you just hand them a semi-favorable running opportunity and they'll take it.

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#110 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 5:44pm

PFFs podcast mentioned this. The running game approach looks better mostly because Buffalo stopped scoring in the second half due to Allen getting sloppier with his throws. If those become tds, this approach looks a lot worse. I think too many people are responding to the optics of this rather than what is expected in practice. The Packers lost a game by 10. Maybe if Buffalo scores twice instead of throwing two picks, they lose by 20. That still doesn't look horrible. But also almost assures a loss every single time. 

 

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#119 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 7:55pm

Being down by 17 basically requires your opponent to stop scoring. Saying "this only looks good because the Bills self-destructed" misses the point. There's no way to win at all when you're down by 17 unless they self-destruct.

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#48 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:11pm

Now, all this begs the question of why. Why are they doing this? And I'm trying to think back to offenses helmed by hall of famers without great talent. I think of 10 Manning, 13 Brady and 05 Favre after Walker left. They never played offense like this. 

Late-Marino, when he was throwing to the likes of OJ McDuffie and Charles Jordan and fondly recalling the halcyon days of Duper and Clayton.

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#30 by serutan // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:01pm

, all from the one guy that everyone in the stadium knows is getting the ball early and often,

 

   Which is an excellent description of Walter Payton until late in his career.  Of course, as Mike alluded the obvious disclaimer about Henry's longevity applies before we can talk HOF.

 

BTW, props to Mike for the open letter rather than pretending he never said what he said earlier.

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#33 by big10freak // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:14pm

With so many young players Rodgers is the kindergarten teacher explaining how to line up for the fire drill on many downs especially the two minute drill.  

 

I do think the folks who had doubts about the Packers coaching staff have reason to be a bit smug these days.  GB seems to take forever to make obvious changes in scheme, make few if any halftime adjustments that make a tangible impact, seem convinced that even though a guy has struggled all season that THIS game will see a change and mostly just keep acting surprised that teams actually watch video and have a good understanding of what GB will attempt to do on both offense and defense.  In fact at times a better idea than the GB players.

 

 

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#37 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:32pm

With so many young players Rodgers is the kindergarten teacher explaining how to line up for the fire drill on many downs especially the two minute drill.  

If only he had been allowed to spend time during the offseason with the players in order to work on that! It's such a shame there's a No Aaron Rodgers During The Offseason rule. Seems targeted against Green Bay.

(/snark)

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#38 by big10freak // Oct 31, 2022 - 12:37pm

Rodgers keeping his interactions to a minimum with teammates on non-game days is definitely a contributing factor and not unnoticed by many writers and fans.

 

 

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#54 by Will Allen // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:36pm

It can be ok that your highest paid player is a passive- aggressive A-hole, as long as he makes every commitment available to improve group performance. Of course, passive-aggressive A-holes often don't demand that of themselves. Give me a straightforward, Michael Jordan-like, A-hole any day.

 

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#57 by big10freak // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:40pm

If folks are willing to tolerate some Rodgers gossip what I have been told is that dating that actress gave Rodgers a taste of being a CELEBRITY which he enjoyed very much.  So being a mere football player is no longer nearly as satisfying.

 

If remotely true then some of what is seen on the field is a man no longer fulfilled by his vocation.  Torn perhaps on his competitive need against his newfound desire to be something different (i.e. greater)

 

Through that prism his behavior the last 6-8 months makes more sense.  At least to me.

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#62 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:53pm

Wasn't he already a celebrity before dating that actress? He certainly had to be more famous than some of the actresses/celebrities he's dated before.

I mean, outside of Tom Brady and now Mahomes; hes the biggest name in football right? I think if you surveyed non football fans, Brady is the first name they know and then its Rodgers isn't it?

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#67 by big10freak // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:13pm

Completely different circle  It was apparently being granted access to a very exclusive club.  

 

Apparently there is a huge chasm between sport celebrity and Hollywood type.

 

Not being a People online reader or watcher of Entertainment tonight (is that still around?) after this my understanding fails.  

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#72 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:21pm

Entertainers want to be athletes; athletes want to be entertainers.

The grass is greener.

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#124 by serutan // Nov 01, 2022 - 11:02am

Or similarly, dramatic actors want to do comedy and comic actor want to do drama.

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#87 by SandyRiver // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:26pm

Maybe his two-week stint as guest host altered his priorities.  (Though his "Mister Excitement" [sarcasm] performance did him no favors.)

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#59 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 1:45pm

It can be ok that your highest paid player is a passive- aggressive A-hole, as long as he makes every commitment available to improve group performance.

It's even worse when your highest paid player is the highest paid player in the league. Oh, and you basically cede control over the entire direction of the franchise over to him.

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#120 by dank067 // Oct 31, 2022 - 9:04pm

I think there's one thing worth adding on to the Packers discussion in this thread that hasn't come up much yet, and it's tangentially related to your point about guys not knowing where to line up. After the first drive last night, the Packers had 4 wide receivers available. Three of those guys are playing for the Packers for the first time this year, two of them were rookies, and one of them was playing in his 2nd regular season game. (And the last guy made the best route adjustment of the night!)

On top of the inexperience and lack of talent in the receiver room, almost all of these guys have been in and out of the lineup throughout training camp and regular season practice. It's more than fair to criticize Rodgers for skipping spring/summer camp, but the WR situation is obviously a huge factor in why their passing game just isn't working. Based on LaFleur and Rodgers' post game comments I know that they don't want to just line up in 12/21 personnel and run the ball, and I don't think it's a long term winning strategy as I've mentioned to you before big10, but it honestly just might be the best way to try to muddle through things right now. See if you can get some receivers healthy and back in practice, maybe add someone this week, and see if you can build it up slowly over the course of the rest of this year.

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#74 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:26pm

Looks like things are getting unpleasant for the coaching staff in Detroit.

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#79 by TomC // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:49pm

Ah yes, the football equivalent of firing the hitting coach. Expect things to look completely different next week.

Looks like things are getting unpleasant...

+1

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#88 by KnotMe // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:31pm

Even funnier to do it after playing Miami who probably have one the best WR rooms in the game. It's like firing your hitting coach bc your team has a bad game against the 2000 version of Pedro Martinez. 

Does feel like Campbell is feeling his seat getting warmer. 

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#82 by Kaepernicus // Oct 31, 2022 - 2:57pm

Already planning a Vegas trip to cash that Seattle over ticket and we have 9 games left. I am kind of shocked at how bad GB is at this point. Rodgers seems like he has lost interest in football after signing the fattest annual contract ever. He's never really been a come from behind type of player in games or seasons in general. If I were to bet on outcomes I would say he shuts it down for the year with some sort of injury in the next 3-4 weeks. Even if they make the playoffs, what are they going to do against defenses like Dallas, Philly, or SF(healthy)? The whole season just seems kind of pointless for him/them at this juncture.

I still can't believe the Colts have not decided to sell everything now. If they don't move 2+ players before 4pm tomorrow someone needs to have adult protective services do a wellness check at the Irsay home. Even if they make the playoffs after some Titans collapse what is the point? That team at peak performance with the current players can't make the SB in the AFC without a ton of injuries to the other contenders. The roster build strategy failed. Everyone else seems to know it but them. There are a bunch of teams that will take Buckner and Nelson off their hands right now for premium prices. Reload now or forever miss the divisional round.

Final thought is what are the Raiders? That team makes no sense on paper or film. Is McDaniels the new Hue Jackson? That team is a high variance disaster.

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#85 by big10freak // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:06pm

Rodgers has been playing with a hurt thumb on his throwing hand the past several weeks.  Limited his ability to go under center.

 

Along with the multiple brutal hits he has taken due to the line in flux if this guy is not interested in playing football there are easier ways to make that happen

 

Not saying you are wrong.  I wrote above on the gossip I received that Rodgers is definitely conflicted on what he really wants to do/be.

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#84 by JS // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:05pm

Interesting that Tanier's joke/excuse for Generational Talent Trevor Lawrence's poor play is that he's still confused from last season's bad coaching. Forestalling, I guess, for a least a little while longer, any thought that one might eventually have to admit that he's just not that good, and that the monolithic media and NFL take on him was wrong.

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#90 by KnotMe // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:37pm

It's also possible coaching matters.  It took Geno Smith years to recover from the Jets. Nature or Nurture and we'll probably never know. 

But yeah, 2021 is shaping up to be an epicly bad QB class. 5 guys in the top 15 and only 1 has even been above average(and it hasn't even been the same one!). 

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#102 by colonialbob // Oct 31, 2022 - 4:29pm

I mean we're halfway through year 2, 1/5 above average shouldn't be very surprising. The issue is that Wilson very much looks like a bust, Lance has barely played, and Fields & Jones both seem to be on teams who are actively sabotaging them to one degree or another. Lawrence is honestly about what you'd expect from a young QB dropped into a comically bad situation year 1 that's improved quite a bit into year 2. Fields has started looking better the last few games, Jones will almost certainly get more chances to live up to his relatively low ceiling, and if Lance gets a full season maybe he's actually the reincarnation of peak Kaepernick dual threat monster he was hyped to potentially be. Sure, the chances of all of that happening is small, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if there end up being 3 solid to very good QBs out of the class. Of course I also wouldn't be too surprised if Jones 2021 is the high water mark, either. Development isn't linear and predicting the future is hard.

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#94 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 31, 2022 - 3:43pm

Maybe.

If you treated him as a rookie, how does his season look?

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#99 by KnotMe // Oct 31, 2022 - 4:09pm

He's 14th in DYAR so...probably pretty decent I think. Might make OROY since no other rookie on that side seems to be going off(hav't followed it that closely though). 

QB are probably the hardest to project. Probably need at least 3-4 seasons to see where they are. There are guy who start poorly and become great (Josh Allen), guys who can never get back to where they were (Wentz).

I can't think of a draft class with that many highly drafted QB wo 1 becoming elite however. would be a pretty epic bust of a class there.

 

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#101 by Pat // Oct 31, 2022 - 4:26pm

I can't think of a draft class with that many highly drafted QB wo 1 becoming elite however. 

That's because you won't find a draft class with that many highly drafted QBs, period.

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#105 by colonialbob // Oct 31, 2022 - 4:36pm

How many "elite" QBs even are there? Over the last two decades or so, trying to be expansive with elite, its been Brady / Manning / Brees / Rodgers / Rivers / Mahomes / Allen. There's a lot of QB drafts without one becoming "elite". 

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#108 by colonialbob // Oct 31, 2022 - 5:35pm

Favre? I'll be honest, originally I only mentally went back 10 years, which expanded to 20 to I think more accurately capture the length of the Brady/Manning/Brees triumvirate. I also think it's fair to say that Favre wasn't really elite during that tail end of his career, though of course YMMV.

 

The point is more "~20ish drafts, ~7ish elite QBs", with a couple of those not being "highly" drafted. So you're always more likely than not to not get an elite QB out of the draft.

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#109 by theslothook // Oct 31, 2022 - 5:39pm

I think he means guys like Big Ben or Warner.

Warner's career is too weird to call him a traditionally elite player. And by the time the 2000s rolled around, probably due in part to coaching, Favre had exited the elite category as well; leaving just Manning alone for a brief period before Brady and later Brees joined him.

I think your list is right except for Rivers who is a tier below those other guys. 

 

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#112 by colonialbob // Oct 31, 2022 - 6:10pm

Yeah my definition of elite requires a sustained very high level of performance. I think Roethlisberger and Rivers are basically the borderline guys; imo Rivers>Roethlisberger but personally I agree with you that both of them are just below elite status. Allen of course is assuming he continues with more 2020/2022 seasons and less 2021 seasons; it seems likely he's made the jump but elite is sort of a retrospective label. And Warner just doesn't have enough of the peak seasons for me to call him elite.

If he was implying Eli, then it's pistols at dawn. Romo > Eli is my biggest "I may be a homer but that doesn't mean that I'm wrong" belief.

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#114 by KnotMe // Oct 31, 2022 - 6:55pm

Yeah, I meant more HOVG rather than HOF, as those guys are rare.  Elite may be wrong. Above average maybe?  You usualy get 1 guys who is solidly above average however. Mostly the "not really easy to upgrade" level. 

I agree that HOF guys are pretty rare, but it's not that rare to have solid franchise guys. 

It does depend on where you put the cutoff. 

2020:Burrow and Herbert, Jalen Hurtz if this year is an improvement rather than a Matt Ryan year

2019:Kyler Murray

2018:Josh Allen and Lamar

2017:Mahomes, and he who must not be named

2016:Dak, Goff is solid at least

2015:nope

2014: None although Carr had some good years. 

2013:Terrible class, nobody took a QB till 16 and Geno Smith may end up with the QB AV lead

2012: Russel Wilson, Luck*

2011: Cam*, couple average guys in Tannehill and Cousins

2010: nobody

2009:Stafford

2008:Matt Ryan, solid guy in Flacco

2007,2006: Nobody really

2005:Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith had some good years eventually

2004:The infamous Eli, Rivers, Ben draft

2003: Carson Palmer

2002: Nope again

2001: Brees,  (Vick till he let the dogs out)

*Injuries cut these short

HOF guys are quite rare of course, but franchise guys arn't THAT rare. While far from the worst, 2014 where Derek Carr is the best guy is a pretty weak QB draft and 2021 may even beat that unless someone emerges. 

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#122 by jonr // Oct 31, 2022 - 10:33pm

Look, Walkthrough refuses to acknowledge that a 37-34 Panthers-Falcons overtime barnburner happened on Sunday; we don't cover Conference USA action in this space. 

 

Found this line highly amusing.

 

 

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#123 by billycurley // Nov 01, 2022 - 12:06am

I'm pretty sure this has to involve Ravishing Rick Rude ...

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#125 by Theo // Nov 02, 2022 - 2:24am

they began running the ball and slowing down the game while trailing by 17. Brilliant!

Pretty sure you speed up the game by running the ball, as the clock doesnt stop. 

Maybe they slowed their progress down the field, could be. 

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