The Humiliation of Aaron Rodgers and Mac Jones

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

It looked at times as though Justin Jefferson was taunting Aaron Rodgers.

Jefferson was open in the flat for a Minnesota Vikings touchdown. He was open over the middle for another touchdown. He was open all afternoon for nine catches and 184 yards in the 23-7 Vikings victory, doing everything a bona fide WR1 of the caliber Rodgers covets in every draft class could be asked to do. Neener-neener-neener, you can't have me, and your buddies can't catch me!

As for Rodgers, well, there was this:

There were also sacks, an interception, and so many dinks and dunks that even Kirk Cousins started to get a little embarrassed. And of course there was lots of RBF: Rodgers Bemused Face, the priceless expressions Rodgers makes in television close-ups which convey messages like a skunk just sprayed my dog, I left my headlights on all night or (most appropriately for Rodgers) no human beings are worthy of anything except my contempt, but especially not these receivers.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Davante Adams was doing everything possible to spark a Raiders comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers. At about the same time as Rodgers' last-gasp series ended with an ugly blown-up slot screen to Watson on third down and a prayer to a well-covered Robert Tonyan on fourth, Adams was capping a Raiders drive by reaching to grab a short touchdown pass at the right pylon. Adams' 10 catches for 141 yards weren't enough to beat the Chargers, but Packers receivers Christian "Whoopsie" Watson, Romeo Doubs, Sammy Watkins, Juwann Winfree, and Randall Cobb combined for just 120 yards on 12 catches. And of course, Jefferson's heroics were enough to fuel an entire series of Rodgers offseason manifestos.

Lest Walkthrough be accused of jumping to any conclusions: the Packers were playing without starting tackles Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari, who are expected back soon. So the Packers dink-dunk-screen-reverse-punt game plan was not exclusively the result of replacing Adams with a bunch of guys from a Senior Bowl Sleepers article. Allen Lazard should also return soon to help the receiving corps. Better days will come for Rodgers and associates. Heck, they host the Chicago Bears, who are coming off a soppy win, in Week 2.

But the Packers are a Super Bowl frontrunner, so they are graded on a different curve. Sunday's loss had significant Super Bowl implications. It's both a conference and a divisional loss on the playoff tiebreaker ledgers. More troublingly, the Vikings looked like the better team at every position on the field except quarterback. The Rams' Thursday night loss to the Bills was an unmitigated disaster, but it's one thing to fall flat against an out-of-conference Super Bowl favorite and another to do so against a familiar foe that has spent four years defining the exact median NFL performance level. Packers fans who aren't worried must have spent Sunday with their fingers in their ears. And Rodgers? He was humiliated on Sunday. You better believe he'll be sharing the misery all week long.

Matt Ryan, Baker Mayfield, and Beyond: NFL Week 1 Debut Roundup

Week 1 of the NFL season is all about debuts and first impressions, of course. Rodgers' Adams-less Junior Achievement Receiving Corps made an awful first impression. Adams himself made a fine one for the Raiders in a losing effort. But there are lots and lots of others to talk about. Let's get rolling!

The New England Patriots' Ask Madden Patricia Offense

The Patriots' biggest problem isn't that clueless Matt Patricia is calling the offensive plays with Bill Belichick looming over his shoulder and waiting for him to make a mistake like a toxic Little League dad. No, the Patriots' biggest problem is that they lack any speed whatsoever on offense.

The Patriots committed few glaring tactical errors in Sunday's 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Oh, there was a false start here, an unnecessary timeout there, a second-and-17 handoff, a sense that Patricia failed to install a solution to the Brandon Jones safety blitz that led to a Mac Jones strip-sack, and so forth. But the larger issue is that when Jones needed a big play down the field, he was forced to throw to DeVante Parker (early-game tip-drill interception), Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, or Hunter Henry. Rarely did any of them have separation. Josh McDaniels could scheme these slow-pokes open AND do a fine job of keeping the Patriots ahead of the sticks so Jones wouldn't be forced to flutter too many third-/fourth-down deep shots. And even McDaniels needed Jets-caliber opponents or typhoon-force winds to maintain the illusion. Patricia doesn't stand a chance while operating out of Baby's First Playbook. When your greatest offensive highlight is Ty Montgomery rolling into the end zone after a flair pass to break a shutout late in the third quarter, it's a sure sign that your team lacks the sizzle it needs to hang with opponents such as the Bills.

The Patriots defense still looks stout enough to win a bunch of games if the offense can make it to 21 points. Based on what we saw on Sunday, that's not gonna happen very often.

Tyreek Hill and the Tua Tagovailoa Experience, Miami Dolphins

Let's see, there's:

  • Tyreek catching the quick underneath smash route, then trying to elude seven defenders for a gain of 5 yards;
  • Tyreek motioning across the formation, then part of the way back, then doing a little back-'n'-forth boot-scoot behind the tight end before the snap, only to catch a flare pass and get immediately flattened by Kyle Dugger;
  • Tyreek running a would-be deep route, realizing that Tua couldn't reach him if he had a golf cart, then stopping and out-leaping one of the Patriots defensive backs named Jones (it's not gonna be worth learning which one is which this year) for a 23-yard gain and a very Tua-worthy highlight.
  • RPO? Heck yes, we're still the Dolphins.
  • End around! Didn't see that coming! Oh yeah you did. Anyway, gain of 6.

Hill finished with eight catches for 94 yards, plus that 6-yard run. The Dolphins offensive line is still five mall cops trying to stop a looting spree. And Tagovailoa's Sunday blooper reel features lots of throws directly into the turf while getting sacked.

In summary: the new Mike McDaniel Dolphins offense is chaotically, entertainingly bad, but still bad.

Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts

Ryan threw a screen-pass interception, got strip-sacked, fumbled a snap, and often looked a lot like that fellow who got run out of Indianapolis in 2021 through three quarters against the Houston Texans. Then came the Lovie-ing, when the Texans reached the 20-point barrier at the edge of their known universe and began playing not to lose. And not lose they did, despite Ryan finding his rhythm and helping the Colts score 13 fourth-quarter points in a 20-20 tie.

To be fair to Ryan: Alec Pierce and Ashton Dulin dropped passes in the end zone on drives that ended with a fourth-down stuff (on a Nyheim Hines Wildcat play, no less) and a field goal. And the Colts would be 1-0 if not for Rodrigo Blankenship's 42-yard overtime misfire.

But that's enough Ryan benefit-of-the-doubt! The Colts' game-tying final drive featured 49 Jonathan Taylor rushing yards against the Lovie-2 defense. Frank Reich more or less shrugged instead of trying to be aggressive when the Colts got the ball with 1:16 to play and two timeouts in a tied fourth quarter. This is not the veteran franchise quarterback experience you were sold, Colts fans. Instead, it's the veteran franchise quarterback experience the Falcons have been dealing with for the last four years.

Baker Mayfield, Carolina Panthers

Mayfield spent the first 25 minutes of the Panthers' 25-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns bobbling snaps, taking sacks, tripping over himself while scrambling, getting multiple passes tipped, and misfiring over the middle of the field. It's almost as if he joined the team in July and didn't get as many first-team training camp reps as he should have or something!

Mayfield, like other veteran quarterbacks who started out flat on Sunday (Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston), settled down against a Browns team that plans to never throw downfield at all this season until the Lifetime Network switches to all Christmas movies, and will therefore keep a lot of opponents in games. Mayfield's handful of splash plays and a fourth-quarter comeback weren't enough, however, as the Browns mustered a late game-winning field goal drive out of grit and roughing-the-passer penalties. Also, the botched snaps never really went away; one nearly cost the Panthers the game while they were trying to line up their go-ahead field goal after the two-minute warning.

Bottom line: "Baker Mayfield Revenge" is a rather silly concept, anyway. And now we can stop pretending to pay attention to the Panthers.

Mitch Trubisky, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers' plan entering this year was to win a bunch of games with their pass rush while Trubisky took care of the ball and mixed screen passes with other YAC-heavy passing concepts to his playmakers. That plan worked about as well as it possibly could in Sunday's 23-20 overtime victory over the Bengals. There are only three problems:

  • T.J. Watt may have torn a pectoral muscle late in Sunday's game. There go many of the sacks;
  • Najee Harris got hurt in the fourth quarter and was seen leaving the stadium wearing a boot. There might go one of the playmakers, thoughinitial reports are that Harris' injury is not that serious;
  • The Steelers settled for eight punts and allowed the Bengals to stay in the game, then come back to force overtime in the fourth quarter, even when everything was working optimally.

So now it appears that the new Watt-less plan is for Trubisky to keep up appearances until Mike Tomlin thinks Kenny Pickett can take the field without getting clobbered. Which, really, isn't that much different from the original plan.

The Rebuilt Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line

Yuck! Joe Burrow was sacked seven times, twice in the first quarter. Steelers defenders were credited with 11 quarterback hits and Burrow spent much of his late-game comeback effort running for his life or calling his own number when he saw a running lane.

So far, Bengals 2022 football looks a lot like Bengals 2021 football: Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and the other playmakers drawing plays in the sandlot dirt with stunning success and little help from their blockers or coaches. But the Bengals should be better after spending big bucks to upgrade 60% of their offensive line, and they need to be better to keep up with the AFC arms race.

Mickey Loomis' New Orleans Saints Escrow All-Stars

Jameis Winston was under constant pressure from the Falcons defense—repeat, the Falcons defense—for three quarters. He mixed off-target throws with turnover-worthy plays as a result. The lone Saints touchdown through the first three quarters came on some signature Taysom Hill Wildcat nonsense.

Then came the fourth quarter, the Falcons witching hour, and Winston began completing deep passes to wide-open Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry as if they were practicing against air in a come-from-behind, Falcons-gonna-Falcon 27-26 victory.

Overall, the Saints were inconsistent on offense and surprisingly ordinary on defense: perfect for second place in the NFC South, but not ideal for the Team That Debt Consolidation Loans Built. Still, Landry caught seven passes for 114 yards and Thomas hauled in two touchdowns instead of sitting at home with his leg elevated atop a pile of Loomis Bucks, so the Saints have some success to build upon.

Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons

Arthur Smith unveiled a Big Ol' Bucket O' Bootlegs offense for Marcus Mariota. For three quarters, the pistol-formation rollouts and read-option concepts were enough to produce some points against the mighty Saints defense.

Ultimately, Smith ran out of misdirection, and the Saints figured out that Atlanta's 10th player down to the bottom of the roster would barely cut it in the USFL. The result was a wacky new variation on the heartbreaking last-second Falcons loss. Falcons football is still tortuous with Mariota under center, but in a different way.

Khalil Mack and the Retooled Los Angeles Chargers Defense

Mack recorded three sacks, including the fourth-down strip-sack that iced the game, in the Chargers' 24-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Slot cornerback Bryce Callahan, a quiet offseason addition, pitched in a fourth-quarter interception. And the Raiders rushed 13 times for just 64 yards, with nary a third-and-forever draw play for a first down in sight. The Chargers even produced a third-and-1 stuff! The Chargers have a few issues yet—Justin Herbert and the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread Offense still settled for lots of three-and-outs and a goal-line stop against a so-so defense—but a bumbling run defense no longer appears to be one of them.

Howie Roseman's Latest Philadelphia Eagles Science Experiment

A.J. Brown caught 10 passes for 155 yards. More importantly, he and Jalen Hurts connected several times over the middle of the field, opening up a new element for the Eagles offense. James Bradberry added a pick-six. The Detroit Lions came out of the tunnel like the entire team had just taken an adrenaline needle to the heart and surged back late to backdoor cover as only they can. But the Eagles held on for a 38-35 victory.

Both the Eagles and Saints won by close final scores against bottom-feeders, but the Eagles appeared dominant for stretches, while the Saints needed a fourth-quarter wakeup call to stave off an upset. Let's give both Howie and Mickey Loomis a "W" for their offseason strategies, but the Eagles were more impressive when you look past the similar final scores.

Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders

Welcome to the Carson Coaster, Commanders fans: three quarters of Competent Carson, then an early fourth-quarter of Carson Comedy Classics featuring two interceptions (and a third which was nullified by a penalty), followed by a late fourth-quarter cameo by the rarely-seen 2017 Great Carson. That's as good as it gets, and Commanders fans should be thrilled that Wentz exorcized his Jaguars demons in a 28-22 vengeance victory over the team that humiliated him with the playoffs on the line last season. Lotta demons left, folks. Like: nothing but demons.

Week 1 NFL News 'n' Notes

Your weekly roundup of off-field developments.

Lamar Jackson reportedly turned down a six-year contract with $133 million guaranteed, more guaranteed money than Russell Wilson or Kyler Murray.

There's "betting on yourself" and then there's "Leave that heap of roulette winnings on the table. I'm gonna play Powerball instead!"

Los Angeles Rams considered adding Jimmy Garoppolo as insurance against Matthew Stafford's injured shoulder.

But Matthew Stafford with an injured shoulder IS Jimmy Garoppolo.

Indianapolis Colts sign Quenton Nelson to an extension making him the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

The four-year extension guarantees that Nelson will be blocking for the Colts' next three starting quarterbacks.

Le'Veon Bell TKO's Adrian Peterson in a Saturday night boxing match.

Gonna be awkward when they're both on the Ravens roster by Week 9.

Week 1 NFL Awards

The most important weekly awards in the world are back!

Offensive Line of the Week

The Kansas City Chiefs opened their 44-21 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals with 11-play, seven-play, and 11-play touchdown drives. They ended the game with a trio of run-heavy, clock-munching touchdown drives. And Patrick Mahomes was not sacked once, though he did suffer what sounds like a minor wrist injury when he landed hard after taking a hit on an all-out blitz. So this week's award goes to some familiar names: Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, and Andrew Wylie, plus Nick Allegretti, who filled in for the injured Smith for much of the game.

Defender of the Week

We mentioned Khalil Mack's three sacks earlier. He shares this trophy with Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher Alex Highsmith, who recorded three of his team's seven sacks and forced one fumble that led to a Steelers field goal. If T.J. Watt really did tear a pectoral muscle on Sunday, the Steelers are gonna need more big games out of Highsmith, who will also be getting a wee bit more attention from opposing offensive lines.

Special Teamer of the Week

Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked what would have been a game-winning extra point for the Bengals. Fitzpatrick also returned an interception for a touchdown on the Bengals' second play of the game, but that doesn't count toward Special Teamer of the Week!

Honorable mention goes to New York Giants punter Jamie Gillan, who pinned the Tennessee Titans inside their own 20 five times on six punts. That's right, the Giants can now win games due to special teams and field position after Joe Judge leaves. Enjoy your crackerjack coaching staff, Patriots fans!

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight

Ladies and gentlemen, the Atlanta Falcons football experience, as exemplified by someone named Dean Marlowe (21), here seen having a fainting spell just as he's about to tackle the invincible Taysom Hill:

Juwan Johnson also gets a trophy for blocking Marlowe at the beginning of the play, then charging downfield to throw himself in front of Rashaan Evans at the end.

Rando of the Week

The first ever Walkthrough Rando of the Week, awarded to an unlikely on-field contributor of significance, goes to Texans tight end O.J. Howard.

You remember Howard from: a) starring at Alabama; b) getting drafted in the first round by the Buccaneers in 2017; c) always being injured or disappointing in Tampa Bay; d) signing with the Bills this offseason; e) getting released by the Bills in training camp; f) nearly signing with the Bengals (confusing Walkthrough, as we thought it was a done deal when we went to press); and finally g) landing on the one roster where all failed prospects of the past and oddball veterans with name recognition in the football world can feel welcome.

Howard caught two touchdown passes in the 20-20 Texans-Colts tragicomedy on Sunday. Rest assured that he will catch at least one more touchdown this season as a reward for whoever in your fantasy league burns all of their waiver points on him. Howard: you are the ultimate Texans acquisition, and if you play your cards right you'll parlay this opportunity into a Jared Cook career.

Burn This Play!

The Packers miss Davante Adams. The Patriots miss Josh McDaniels. But that doesn't mean everything in Las Vegas is operating like a well-oiled machine:

Your basic problem here is that McDaniels tried to create a misdirection play that sends Hunter Renfrow AND Derek Carr to Joey Bosa's side of the field, then asks Adams to wander over there and presumably attempt an option pass. Bosa wasn't "fooled" because, um, all the people he's supposed to worry about were standing right where Adams was headed. That left Carr to chip-block Bosa, which is certainly a play-design choice.

If Matt Patricia had called a play like that, Boston would have tumbled into the Massachusetts Bay.

And Rodgers?

He was willing to block for Romeo Doubs on Sunday, so you know Rodgers would have laid Za'Darius Smith the hell out if it could have brought Davante back.

Comments

185 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2022, 11:13am

#1 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 11, 2022 - 11:20pm

Just cut ✂️ Hanson...again. Zach Tom and company can't be worse. 

Points: 0

#2 by Romodini // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:00am

Rodgers has no receivers.

Stafford is probably still injured and the Rams have no running game.

Dak has no receivers (that includes you, CeeDee) and has also officially entered the Romo stage of his career in which he'll be injured every season. 

Trey Lance looks no bueno

Murray obviously didn't do his required study homework.

If the Vikings and Eagles are the only teams standing in the way of another Tom Brady Super Bowl appearance this is going to be a long season.

 

Points: 0

#5 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 7:35am

I don't know what the Cowboys need except better health and more depth. I highly doubted they'd win this game but I thought they might be competitive over the year if they could get through the early part of the season without more injuries. Doesn't really look like it.

Points: 0

#6 by BlueStarDude // Sep 12, 2022 - 7:43am

Yeah, Dak has skipped right over the make-Miles-Austin-and-Laurent-Robinson-look-like-Pro-Bowlers-even-with-a-shaky-O-line stage and gone right to one-injury-after-another. 

Then again Dak has made a career of putting up good DYAR/DVOA when he has a stacked supporting cast or/and he is slinging it to open receivers in comeback mode.

Points: 0

#11 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 12, 2022 - 8:00am

They looked pretty terrible on offense for the whole game. Makes me wonder what Dak did during the preseason, in fact, because he threw an interception in the 3rd that the Mahomes/Allen/Herbert gang combined wouldn't have had the arm strength to complete. It looked like something from a Sam Darnold highlight reel.

(Edit: This was supposed to be under 5)

Points: 0

#15 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 8:19am

The Cowboys came into the game with crap health, though. Prescott's ankle, losing their tackle, Gallup out. It doesn't really surprise me they looked bad when an already limited practice time was slashed. Plus they're obviously not that deep anyway as they're cap constrained.

To me they had a needle to thread on health this year and it's pretty clear they're not going to be able to.

Points: 0

#51 by Rufus R. Jones // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:28am

The Cowboys came into the game with crap health, though.

Plus they're obviously not that deep anyway as they're cap constrained.

To me they had a needle to thread on health this year and it's pretty clear they're not going to be able to.

 

Same story, different year. Same irrelevant Cowboys. 

Points: 0

#70 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:26pm

Basically. As I've said elsewhere, the Cowboys are well run enough to frequently be competitive (competitive does not mean good!), but not well run enough to be serious contenders. They hamstring themselves with stuff like Prescott and Elliot's contracts which cascade over to trading Amari Cooper away for nothing. Everything needs to go perfect for them because they don't have any margin.

Points: 0

#87 by colonialbob // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:43pm

At this point the best case scenario is that Cooper manages to win a couple games while Dak is out (with the Giants/Commanders/Lions/Bears on tap, that's not impossible), Gallup and McGovern come back healthy (or maybe Peters still has something?), and they are able to finish strong enough to scrape out a wildcard spot. Oh, and nobody else important picks up a major injury along the way. I don't find it very likely at this point, but there's a world in which a healthy Cowboys are the wildcard matchup teams don't want. (I don't think I'm being too homeriffic with this - I think the more likely case is that they finish 7-9 or so and are eliminated with a couple weeks left, showing McCarthy the door soon after.)

Points: 0

#89 by Romodini // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:52pm

I think it will be Micah Parsons winning the games if there are any to be won.

If Peters is capable of playing right tackle, I wonder if it would be a good idea to start him there as soon as McGovern can come back and move Tyler Smith back to left tackle, because he seemed to play pretty well all things considered. That would at least have the best linemen playing all at once.

Points: 0

#90 by colonialbob // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:56pm

Oh absolutely. I should've said "Cooper does enough for the Cowboys to win a few of his starts" because he isn't going to come in and lead them to the wins.

Also agreed - Smith was one of the few bright spots last night, while Steele... wasn't.

Points: 0

#92 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:08pm

Peters is absolutely capable of playing right tackle, he was planning on playing right guard in '20 before Dillard went down.

Points: 0

#73 by serutan // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:40pm

Murray obviously didn't do his required study homework.

   Neither did his coach (p-poor preparation of the team), GM (didn't seem to address major needs and let Jones walk), or owner (extended coach and GM with -IMO- nothing to indicate said extensions were deserved).  Note: the QB extension may not prove a good thing either, but you have to balance that risk against how hard it would be to get someone better so I can't slam that too hard.

Points: 0

#158 by Stendhal1 // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:32pm

As to the comment about the purported unearned GM and coach extensions, which echoes something Tanier wrote in the off-season:  the Cardinals won 3, 5, 8, and then 11 games per season over the past four years, mainly by quickly recognizing and rectifying the mistake of Josh Rosen.  And it wasn’t an accident:  the team hired a coach who, before he had an inkling of getting the job, said that if he was an NFL coach he’d pick Kyler Murray.  A lot of people need to stop writing as if the Cardinals were the Washington Generals.

Points: 0

#3 by tjb // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:09am

Do we have numbers yet on how much the Cardinals decided to blitz Mahomes?  Every time I looked at that game it appeared that the Arizona D was choosing the exact opposite of the game-plan the Bills and Bengals laid out in last year's playoffs...

Points: 0

#4 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:00am

We do. And you are not wrong. 

Points: 0

#9 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 12, 2022 - 7:55am

Sounds like the AZ defensive staff needs to lay off the peyote.

Points: 0

#75 by serutan // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:43pm

No chemicals necessary - long term exposure to the desert sun creates the same effect by parboiling the brain.

Points: 0

#18 by jheidelberg // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:28am

When it has been proven time and time again that the ideal number of blitzes to use vs Mahomes is near zero, Arizona goes rogue.

Can FO make their own guidelines to compliment EDJ Sports 5 worst coaching decisions of the week?  
 

If the blitz rate vs Mahomes is not number 1, does anyone have anything worse?

Points: 0

#28 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:54am

The DC got confused by which scrambling QB from a Texas school who dabbled in baseball he was facing.

Points: 0

#39 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:39am

Somebody needed to put a 4 hours of game film study requirement into their coaches' contracts, too.

Points: 0

#63 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:08pm

In reply to by theslothook

+1

Points: 0

#98 by OmahaChiefs13 // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:29pm

The Ringer is making a good point this morning, though...

Mahomes' EPA per dropback and yards per dropback were:

Blitzed: .55 EPA/dropback, 5.47 yards/dropback

Not Blitzed: .79 EPA/dropback, 11.86 yards/dropback

So it would seem that the blitzing was actually having a positive effect 

Points: 0

#101 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 12, 2022 - 3:25pm

Hmm. Is AZ's coverage THAT bad? Or is there no pass rush without a blitz?

Points: 0

#103 by OmahaChiefs13 // Sep 12, 2022 - 3:30pm

Without Jones in the house, I think it's mostly the latter: they had to blitz to bring any semblance of pressure. A team that's more capable of bringing meaningful pressure with 4 (Buffalo?) will have a much better time.

Yeah, those numbers don't suddenly mean blitzing Mahomes is a great idea....it's not. But the people reflexively bashing the AZ staff for "not following the blueprint" don't exactly have it right, either. 

That blueprint is great...IF you have the materials to actually build to it.

Points: 0

#104 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 3:43pm

I've never seen a reliable blue print against any elite QB other than be better than they are. It's boring to say this but you need pass rush and good coverage to stop great quarterbacks and great passing games.

Hurling indiscriminate blitzes or just dropping 10 into coverage aint going to work.

Points: 0

#102 by IlluminatusUIUC // Sep 12, 2022 - 3:27pm

choosing the exact opposite of the game-plan the Bills and Bengals laid out in last year's playoffs...

I'll grant you the Bengals, but my Bills' gameplan against Mahomes gave up 42 points and ended with 4 straight scoring drives including, y'know, that one.

Points: 0

#141 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 12, 2022 - 8:43pm

It's a cliche, but those defenses were totally gassed by that point. That was just next-level offense running both Ds into the ground.

Points: 0

#146 by OmahaChiefs13 // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:50pm

I mean, all 42 points (or 36 for the Bills) were scored against a gassed defense.

Points: 0

#147 by OmahaChiefs13 // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:50pm

I mean, all 42 points (or 36 for the Bills) were scored against a gassed defense.

Points: 0

#7 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2022 - 7:45am

Lemme know who gets/stays injured, and who is/gets healthy from now, through about the 3rd quarter of the game on February 12th, and I'll be much more confident in my soothsaying. 

Points: 0

#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 7:49am

Did the Bills blitz at all on Thursday?

Points: 0

#10 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 12, 2022 - 7:56am

According to the film breakdowns I've seen, no. They never sent more than four, and one of the sacks occurred when they sent 3 (!).

Points: 0

#14 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 8:19am

So that’s two games this week where a defense sent zero blitzes.

Points: 0

#17 by Tutenkharnage // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:17am

Also, the Rams apparently ran every play out of 11 personnel. I believe the split was 31 plays in the first half and 34 in the second. Something like that.

Points: 0

#12 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2022 - 8:00am

I think this year the Patriots, strangely enough, may add evidence to my strong suspicion that hiring defensive coordinators to be head coaches is generally less favorable than hiring offensive coordinators. The game has become so qb centric that stability in managing the qb's environment is more important than ever, and even if you have a defensive oriented head coach who is good at hiring offensive staff, eventually, if those offensive coaches get promoted to head coach other teams, you end up with a lesser offensive coordinator, or some kind of dysfunction in managing the qb relationship. You're just better off with rolling the dice on a head coach who was an offensive coordinator, I suspect.

Points: 0

#19 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:37am

It seems to me that the best way to build long-term success is:

1. Find a HOF QB.

Failing that:

2. Find a HOF HC.

Failing that:

3. Make whatever sacrifice is demanded by the best-available dark god.

 

The distribution of said HCs doesn't seem strongly biased. There's Belichick and Reid. Harbaugh and Tomlin. Payton and Carroll. Dungy. McVay. That's basically 4 DGs, 3 OGs, and 1 STG. I'm not sure there's a trend there. 

This model may work better for more middling teams, but I wonder if it's not Peter Principle. Guys who aren't actually good HCs can kind of make it work despite their inability to delegate authority or find quality coordinators by remaining as a pretty good OC. This may work better than the DC version (defensive quality has more moving parts and is harder to maintain) or STC version (who has to delegate a lot...). On that other hand, Zac Taylor is an OC, and his team seems to succeed despite him more than because of him. Luck is hard to discount here. See also, factor 1.

\"Guy" instead of coordinator. Tomlin spent 1 year as a DC. Reid was never a coordinator.

Points: 0

#33 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:14am

I  also wonder when owners are going to start putting a provision, in their head coach's initial contract, that under no circumstances can the coach's Fredo of a son be hired as an assistant coach. Of course, that may raise questions as to why the owner's Fredo of a son is drawing a VP or even President's salary, so maybe that'll never happen.

Points: 0

#35 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:21am

Anti-nepotism hiring provisions should be an NFL diversity push rather than an owner issue. It's a tough sell, though, because to be honest, coach's kids actually tend to... make pretty good coaches because they've been around coaching forever. I'd think the sane thing would be to require nepotism hires to be offset by diversity hires although that's another can of worms.

Points: 0

#36 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:29am

Hard case to make. Belichick and McVay were nepotism hires.

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#40 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:41am

McVay was a legacy hire (which is a similar but different problem) - he didn't work for his dad, as far as I know. Off the top of my head, Kyle Shanahan obviously began as a nepotism hire, as did Wade Phillips. But I'm sure there are so, so many others. 

Belichick's not really either: if you're going to include guys whose parents were football coaches anywhere dear God you'd have a long list.

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#44 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:01am

Belichick got to the heights he got under his own steam, but he got his foot in the door because his dad had connections with the Lions and Colts.

Shanahan and Phillips, and even the Ryans, point to the problems with anti-legacy/nepotism hires. Phillips was a great DC. Shanahan is a pretty decent coach. The Ryans were up and down, but probably better than median. They didn't exactly embarrass their family name.

\Steve and Brian are totally nepotism hires

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#46 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:09am

Belichick got to the heights he got under his own steam, but he got his foot in the door because his dad had connections with the Lions and Colts.

Like I said, if you're going to go that route you might as well make a list of guys that don't have parents with connections. Mike McDaniel got started with the Broncos, who his stepfather worked for for years on the video staff (which ended up being important because video stuff is what McDaniel started with).

Shanahan and Phillips, and even the Ryans, point to the problems with anti-legacy/nepotism hires.

Oh, I forgot the Ryans, duh. And yes, that's why I said it probably needs to come from the diversity push rather than from the owners. You could do it, it wouldn't be hard: you basically create an HR-type office at the NFL that reviews nepotism hires, just like most large companies have, which would basically force nepotism hires to follow a similar career path/track that non-nepotism hires do.

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#50 by mehllageman56 // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:18am

Rex was a good coach.  His decision to hire his brother got him fired from his last job in the NFL, so I don't know if the Ryan experience really is an argument for nepotism.

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#53 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:41am

To be clear, Belichick's two sons are much clearer nepotism than the Ryans: both of them had 5+ years of experience at the college level before they got the job with their father, whereas neither of the Belichick children had any. Kyle Shanahan's a super-tough case because it's more of a "hire your friend's kid" situation. By the time he took the job with his father he was already a coordinator, so he was qualified.

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#79 by ahmadrashad // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:17pm

Or "hire your nephew" - a lot of these guys are related though marriage in non-obvious ways. 

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#95 by JoelBarlow // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:21pm

For reasons pure (privacy, relevance etc) and impure (implied favoritism) these details aren't mentioned much but sometimes come out. usually presented as like super weird coincidence -- Coach X is also brother in law to GM Y who has worked in the NFL for 40 years - neat! -- 

The reality is that the NFL is a prestigious well paying industry with no clear entry point other than being in the top 5% of all college coaches, which has its own issues. 

If not, basically every one of these guys origin stories goes back to a first job that clearly was connected to being related to someone - or being a player

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#29 by Tutenkharnage // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:57am

We know that offense is more consistent year to year than defense. Hiring an offensive-oriented HC allows you to minimize disruption and turnover even if you have to switch OCs, because the HC's hand is there to further steady the steadiest part of the team's performance.

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#31 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:02am

I wonder if that logic doesn't work the other way, though, too. The defense -- which is more variable -- benefits from having a second expert around to steady the ship.

If offense is inherently more stable, why does it need a second guide?

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#42 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:44am

I don't agree with the statement that offense is inherently more stable: I think it's more repeatable. As in, you try to do the same thing in year N+1 as you did in year N, you're going to have closer results than if you do the same thing on defense.

But you've got to actually have the people around to try to do the same thing. Obviously if you lose major players on offense things don't magically keep working.

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#59 by RickD // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:05pm

This isn't how modeling works.

 

I think this year the Patriots, strangely enough, may add evidence to my strong suspicion that hiring defensive coordinators to be head coaches is generally less favorable than hiring offensive coordinators. 

The best HC in the Super Bowl era is a former defensive coordinator.  And you want to use a down year for the Patriots as "evidence" that "hiring defensive coordinators is less favorable than hiring offensive coordinators."

Serious theories are not extrapolations of statistical noise.  Using Belichick at this point in his career as "evidence" that hiring defensive coordinators is a bad idea shows a real lack of understanding of how science works.

A theory has to work in all its particulars.  It's already an established fact that Belichick is an extraordinary head coach.  Using him as "evidence" for the opposite reasoning is dishonest.

Statistics isn't the art of erasing information until you can present a data set to support your pet theory.

 

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#68 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:22pm

Statistics isn't the art of erasing information until you can present a data set to support your pet theory.

Ahh, see, here we encounter the difference between theory and practice. =)

 

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#105 by Sixknots // Sep 12, 2022 - 3:44pm

Lies, damn lies...

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#134 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:52pm

You misunderstood my point, which was my fault, because I was posting quickly, and didn't fully explain it. To be too brief again, all coaching hires have a large element of randomness, and the most important relationship on a roster is between the chief offensive coach and the qb. If the chief offensive coach is the oc, and the oc is good, he's likely to be hired away. I'd rather have my chief offensive coach be a guy who can't be hired away by a competitor.

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#173 by Scott P. // Sep 13, 2022 - 11:09am

Tom Moore was the second-most important person on the Peyton Manning Colts?

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#182 by Will Allen // Sep 13, 2022 - 6:06pm

That wasn't what I wrote, and qbs like Manning and Brady are the very rare exceptions that prove the rule.

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#16 by pm // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:04am

I got to say that the DVOA projection for the Washington Commanders to have the 32nd ranked offense is looking bad now. I never saw a scenario where Washington would be 32nd. Last place is usually reserved for the inept offenses like the Jets, Bears, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, etc. Wentz had 300 yards and 4 TDs in Week 1. When was the last time those teams I mentioned ever had a QB throw for 300 yards and 4 TDs? It never happens. I can't see a scenario where Trey Lance or Justin Fields ever has a productive game on that level.

 

Wentz was 16th in DVOA and DYAR last year. Give him Terry McLaurin, a returning Curtis Samuel, and a 1st round WR Jahan Dotson and that's a solid offense right there. Nowhere close to whatever the Jets are putting out there.

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#21 by eggwasp // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:38am

Well maybe but lets see him play someone other than the Jags shall we?

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#22 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:40am

Slow down there:

Denver and Miami threw for 300+ yards on the Jags last year.

\In raw stats, their pass defense looked reasonable. In part because their rush defense was atrocious and teams stopped bothering to pass and gave their QBs the week off.

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#48 by mehllageman56 // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:13am

The main difference between the Jets offense and the Commie's offense is Wentz.  He's a lot better than Flacco or whatever else the Jets put out there.  Still the Jets outgained the Ravens by a hundred yards on Sunday, and averaged over 5 yards a carry.  Unfortunately, they also averaged 5 yards a pass (see Flacco).

I realize you think this website is biased against the Commies because of Wentz hatred.  It should be obvious by the perverted nickname I am using for your favorite team where the bias comes from.  Unfortunately I see a path where the Commies go to the playoffs, and maybe even make a run for it all.  I realize we don't do politics here, but I think the threat of a Communist victory can unite this divided nation, and I for one welcome the attempt to rule by our Wentzian overlords, as long as they fail in the end.

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#20 by johonny12 // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:38am

It feels like only Miami could go through all the embarrassment and hype that was the last offseason and yet yield essentially the same production from the team as I saw last season at least through one game. I'm interested to see this run through Ravens, Bills, Bengals next.  

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#23 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:41am

It feels like only Miami could go through all the embarrassment and hype that was the last offseason and yet yield essentially the same production from the team as I saw last season at least through one game.

Did Dallas leave the NFL?

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#69 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:24pm

They had the stray offensive no-show game last year, too.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/202111210kan.htm

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#142 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 12, 2022 - 8:44pm

They're going to have more than a stray one for the next six weeks.

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#32 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:10am

The Dolphins are my most uncertain team in the NFL and Sunday did nothing to help. They were "meh" last year, started with a new head coach (so a big unknown, especially because the last one wasn't bad), splashed big with spending buckets on Hill (also big unknown when coupled with Tua) and their quarterback's iffy too (big unknown).

And then on Sunday they go and play the Patriots at home, which gives the least information it possibly can because of Miami's Anti-Belichick Field or whatever the hell is going on there, and it's a chaos-ridden high-leverage play game determined entirely by turnovers. God damnit, Miami.

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#57 by KnotMe // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:54am

We learned Miami and Ne both irrelevant, although it's not much of a surprise. 

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#97 by ImNewAroundThe… // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:28pm

That's 99% of this thread tbh lol

1% being Jake Hanson shouldn't be on an active roster. Unless you want him?

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#100 by Sixknots // Sep 12, 2022 - 3:12pm

National Jump-to-conclusions week.

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#162 by LionInAZ // Sep 13, 2022 - 12:04am

OK, so it's only the Patriots that are irrelevant.

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#66 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:14pm

Honestly, I have no idea if this is true. That game's just so friggin' throwaway. Turnovers make games crazy (see Cincy/Pitt) and the Miami-New England voodoo is too strong to ignore at this point.

And with McDaniel being as aggressive as he was with that fourth down call and Hill and Waddle both showing signs of being problems, Miami could be a real pain in the ass for teams.

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#125 by KnotMe // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:05pm

Mia may be a bit better than expected. NE may be a bit worse, but ceiling for either of them is a first round WC out honestly, so not sure it really matters. MIA has more upside (I suppose if the TuAnon was actually right they would be pretty decent team. but still not quite with the elite teams I think). There is really no vaguely sane path where I can imagine NE being good. 

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#24 by eggwasp // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:47am

Depressed that finally after 20yrs the Raiders have a bit of talent, only to realise KC and LA have drafted Brady & Manning. Really looking forward to watching those two in the division for the next 15yrs of my life....  I so so so want Herbert to be found out like an RGIII  but damn that guy can throw.  And Mahomes 2021 decline seems to be forgotten already.  I think the best I can hope for is some sort of inexplicable coin toss accident that blinds both of them next Thursday. 

Actually thought Raiders D did pretty well considering they were playing Herbert with a depleted secondary (starting FS and CB out early). Ekeler didn't gash them at all, and they also had a goalline stop that was nullified by a ridiculous penalty (Herbert runs for FD/EZ and slightly makes it look like slide at the last milisecond).  Carr had an un-Carr-acteristically poor game (throwing picks taking chances, not throwing it away on 3D) but that O-line was a problem last year, wasn't fixed at all (the opposite) and looks as bad as advertised. 4 RG/RT combinations in 1 game doesn't suggest McDaniels knows what he's doing, and there's no point paying Waller and Renfrow if you have to leave them out the gameplan for extra pass protection.  And now the C has concussion. I sure hope the cheque book comes out for some vets this week. 

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#27 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:53am

from 1983-1987, you had Elway and Fouts in the division and still won it twice.

\LA is LA. Fouts never won anything.
\\Denver is Denver; they only get there with a HOF QB when the defense and running game drags his corpse there

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#163 by LionInAZ // Sep 13, 2022 - 12:07am

RGIII wasn't "found out" but ridden to physical destruction by bad coaches. He never had a chance.

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#167 by Mike B. In Va // Sep 13, 2022 - 8:10am

Yeah, losing a step after blowing out his knee in that playoff game pretty much turned him from Lamar Jackson 0.9 to EJ Manuel - never quite fast enough to threaten with his legs again.

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#169 by apocalipstick // Sep 13, 2022 - 9:07am

That let him come back too fast. His entire throwing motion was ruined by that decision. He's the NFL's ElRoy Face.

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#172 by theslothook // Sep 13, 2022 - 10:43am

That's part of it. 

Shanahan the elder dropped some breadcrumbs to suggest Rg3 and his family saw the injury as an inevitable result of him scrambling and being in an offense that invited hits from playing that style. Thus he balked at the Shanny offense and wanted a more traditional drop back system. Shanahan replied that RG3 did not have the experience to run that style and suggested they stay the course and slowly transition away from it. But RG3 refused. That seems to be shanahan's perspective.

Some time later while RG3 was playing under Jay gruden, Greg Cosell did a deep dive on a play where RG3 drop back and literally had all five receivers wide open and did not throw the ball, suggesting he just wasn't seeing the field at all by that point.

All that suggests that RG3 needed the athleticism because he could only play in that one style to its fullest. So in that sense, his injury serves as a cautionary tale.

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#25 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:49am

The Packers are an interesting intellectual study of how much a QB makes a line/receivers and how much receivers/line make a QB, by pairing their MVP QB with no line and no receivers.

\meanwhile, in Philadelphia...

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#34 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:17am

I mean, it's not exactly by choice in Green Bay, having Bakhtiari and Lazard out sucks. Not much you can do for that except weather the storm.

Philly worries me because people tend to think that a great OL means the QB's just going to be able to sit back there with a clean pocket and drink tea or something no matter what.

No, of course you can pressure a QB with a great line. It's easy: just send more guys than they have blockers. The problem is that if the QB isn't skittish, stays calm, and the OC still builds in hot reads, they'll just pick you apart. And man was Hurts skittish on Sunday.

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#38 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:31am

I was actually impressed at how much pressure Detroit got, and how quickly.

It didn't matter, because their secondary covers receivers about as well as my grandmother does, but the line looked solid.

\My grandmothers are dead.

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#43 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:50am

I was actually impressed at how much pressure Detroit got, and how quickly.

That's... a very different impression than I got. Most of the pressure I saw tended to be from either blitzes or the all pass rusher set, which should've been easy for Philly to respond to given Detroit's coverage issues but they didn't really adapt. The fact that they couldn't bring Hurts down is an indicator of that, because they were short on guys to keep contain. Eventually it felt like they just stopped bothering playing solid coverage and that freed up guys to keep contain.

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#45 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:04am

Hurts was throwing early to beat a collapsing pocket, because Detroit can't actually cover anyone. But there was early pressure.

That alone is something of a change of pace for Detroit, who tended to pair a high oxygen-exchange secondary with a pass rush vacuum.

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#49 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:15am

I don't really count pressure that a QB can respond to by throwing early as pressure. That's the way the plays work. Pressure's when things break down unexpectedly. Early in the game things were mostly on-script for Philly. Then Detroit started to go damn the torpedoes and Philly went "um what" and folded like a paper tiger.

It's a similar thing on the other side: I thought Detroit's line held up... okay? I mean, there were a couple of total goofs but for the most part it was fine. 

I do agree Detroit's defensive line looked better than it has previously!

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#52 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:28am

I'm just happy that Detroit made a team throw hot, even if they didn't bother to cover the hot guy.

(Lions fandom is about the small joys; it's like having a 3-legged dog.)

Their o-line is okay. They can even run the ball now!

\it's been 22 years now...

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#54 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:46am

Oh yeah, definitely. In some sense we're just looking at things from an opposite perspective there.

What's funny is that in some sense I bet people are thinking like "look, everyone thought the Lions were going to be terrible and the Eagles great, the NFL is so unpredictable!" Yeah, no. Even the team I'm most confident about being bad I'd put a win range of 4-8 wins on. You expect a 20% win rate team to be better.

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#71 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:26pm

Even bad teams are made of professionals.

The Jaguars, who are a walking joke, have the best player on two national championship winners on their offense and defense. Even the terrible teams are really, really talented.

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#88 by colonialbob // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:46pm

I don't really count pressure that a QB can respond to by throwing early as pressure.

This feels a little too dismissive? Obviously early throws can beat pressure, and good teams can make their offense work just fine with those throws until they break one, but quick throws often tend to lead to tighter windows and shorter passes, both of which seem like good things for the defense. An offense may prefer to wait and let their routes develop, but if the pressure is knocking them out of that gameplan then it still feels like it's having an effect. (Another example of this would be keeping extra people in to block; it may keep the pressure from getting to the QB, but it's easier to cover 3 guys than 5).

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#129 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:17pm

There are degrees here. First, the case where the QB just flat out knows the pressure's going to get there quick and he throws hot straight off. Manufactured pressure - more guys coming than you can to block. That's not pressure, that's a game plan choice. You can't blame an OL for not being able to be in 2-3 places at once.

Then you also have the case where the line blocks fine but there's a schematic issue, like a blitzing linebacker that's just unaccounted on one side. Also not pressure: the QB knows he has to throw hot if a linebacker blitzes that side. He might get hit. Still not pressure. Part of the job. Or a play-action pass where no one buys the play action and the linebacker's staring you in the face. Not pressure, just a bad play matchup.

Both of those are just, in some sense, rock-paper-scissors plays. If the defense blitzes and everyone gets picked up, crap, they're in deep trouble, since they're down a man. Yeah, sure, you asked them to pass early... into your now-depleted secondary. Like I said, it's just a game choice. That kind of pressure is the QB's job to deal with.

Specifically in the Eagles/Lions game there was a lot of pressure like that. Five, six man rushes, even seven. That's how you ended up with wide-open fields for Hurts to rush through on third downs. On more neutral downs there wasn't really a ton of pressure. Some, sure. But most of it was manufactured.

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#82 by Harris // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:30pm

It's impossible to know if Detroit's coverage was any good without the All-22. HOWEVER, either Hurts is congenitally incapable of finding his hot read or Sirianni/Steichan don't include hot reads in their play design. One or all of them better figure that out ASAP.

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#84 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:37pm

It's impossible to know if Detroit's coverage was any good without the All-22

Pretty damn sure it's safe to say it's not good when they tried to cover AJ Brown with Hole in Zone straight from the beginning of the play.

I'm worried with Hurts because I think I'm seeing his mechanics/accuracy go to hell when he's forced to accelerate his process unexpectedly, and that's not an easy thing to fix. It's also one of those things that you don't notice when things are going well, so the QB looks great and then suddenly really, really bad/limited.

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#94 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:19pm

Hole in Zone was Detroit's best pick in the secondary in years.

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#56 by JonesJon // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:54am

having Bakhtiari and Lazard out sucks

Bakhtiari is a stud but I wouldn't hold my breath on the guy who averages under 35 receiving yards per game for his career suddenly becoming a true WR1 in year 5. 

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#62 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:08pm

but I wouldn't hold my breath on the guy who averages under 35 receiving yards per game for his career suddenly becoming a true WR1 in year 5. 

I'm not expecting Lazard to be great, I'm expecting him to not be a rookie. Green Bay's receivers with Lazard are bad. Without Lazard they're eeek.

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#30 by Ryan // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:00am

I'm sure Mike would file this under Colts Fan QB Denial Index or whatever his latest bit is, but Matt Ryan was absolutely not responsible for that debacle yesterday

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#41 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:42am

Matt, you named your burner account "Ryan"?  Really??

/joking

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#47 by Ryan // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:13am

Har, har. I mean, I know it's a predictable comment from a Colts fan, but that the same time, good lord, EVERYONE was asleep at the wheel for about 50 minutes yesterday

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#55 by Ben // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:47am

The three fumbled snaps and chucking it straight to the LB on a blown up screen play weren’t good though. Neither was taking a 5 yard sack on the play before the missed OT kick (though, that kick would have missed from anywhere outside the 10 yard line)  

Those are the exact kind of things you’re supposed to be avoiding by signing a “veteran QB on the downside of his career”.

His throws and pocket presence looked good, but he made some critical bad plays. He was far from the only reason the Colts looked so sloppy, but did have some contributions. 

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#85 by Ryan // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:38pm

I split that INT on the screen 3 ways: Ryan, Hughes making a nice play, and Reich with a poor play call. Reich didn't have his best day in general yesterday--don't get me started on the 4th and goal.

My only semi-informed opinion? There were too many busily orchestrated run plays and constraint-type calls in this game, as if they were still trying to generate huge yardage through mirage and confusion and protect their QB. But the point of bringing in Ryan was to play some vanilla, move-the-ball offense. I thought they should have played more "boring," straight-up, shotgun football. Let Ryan see the field, get into an easy call, get the ball quickly for 7 or 8, move on, no huddle. Super effective late--and of course it helped that Lovie was turtling--but it was clearly the best flow on offense all game.

If Ryan has always been a poor man's Peyton, yesterday's Colts felt like a poor man's version of the 2012 Broncos. A disjointed mix of calls the coach likes and plays the QB is clearly more comfortable with. I'm hoping we get more of the latter as the season goes on; Taylor is going to get his yards anyway, so who needs the elaborate orbit motions and sweeps and stuff? 

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#80 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:17pm

I may need to finally suck it up and get directv because once again finding an illegal stream to watch the Colts live was not possible. Now that the game is over, I can probably find a replay. But man, the box score suggests this is a depressing game to watch.

I was on record before this season began that this would be a bad year for the Colts. The Colts have played these last 3 years as if their talent is good enough such that they only need a better version of a game manager to be successful. That was true for Rivers. That was less true for Wentz - when everyone blamed the losses squarely at him, and its even less so for Ryan. 

3 years in the NFL is like 3 decades in vanilla time. 

I don't blame the coaching staff and front office. They are buying time. A nosedive season and Reich probably gets fired. But that's probably what they should be doing, ie - telling the coaching staff they aren't on a win meter explicitly and letting them rebuild the team with a longer lense in mind. Going for Ryan just to prop up the floatsum is tantamount to a wasted season tbh. 

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#37 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 10:30am

Let's give both Howie and Mickey Loomis a "W" for their offseason strategies, but the Eagles were more impressive when you look past the similar final scores.

I'm still wearing my doubting hat on Philly this year. The Lions' main second half change was "huh, if we just bum-rush Hurts and don't worry about the deep field he tends to panic and he's not that accurate" and "huh, the Eagles aren't that strong up front anymore and are chaotic and undisciplined in the secondary so short stuff tends to break." Both of which are kindof natural consequences of relying on Hurts and scrounging the NFL for secondary deals.

If Hurts doesn't settle down the Eagles offseason plan was terrible because Brown's just going to end up like a beautiful expensive yacht in the middle of a desert.

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#64 by RickD // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:11pm

On a day with so much weak QB play, Jones go to co-star with Rodgers?  

Dak Prescott's agent is on Line Two.

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#72 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:37pm

Tampa is a juggernaut, for better or worse.

The nearest to a decent QB who played a patsy defense and looked terrible was... Lance? And he's functionally a rookie who played in a monsoon in a swamp. (Chicago is where offense goes to die) Wentz? But Tanier has sworn off Wentz jokes. Ryan? But no one expected him to actually tear things up.

In terms to combining schadenfreude and ironic outcome, I'm not sure who is left, unless Russ fails to cook tonight.

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#74 by nat // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:41pm

When Tanier has an agenda, there is no stopping him.

Seriously though, Jones’ day was not at all great. It was about average as a passer, but also included a strip-six sack that may have been a missed read on his part.

But with 9 QBs posting ratings of 75 or lower, and 6 throwing more interceptions than TDs,  calling an 87 passer rating a humiliation is quite silly.

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#127 by BJR // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:11pm

FWIW Jones was rock bottom in ESPN's QBR metric (before Monday night). But I'll be interested to see how he rates by DYAR because it didn't seem a frighteningly bad game. More just mediocrity, with some very poorly timed turnovers tossed in. 

From my vantage point Tua was scarcely any better, but he somehow avoided any turnovers, and has some good, fast players to help him out.

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#178 by SandyRiver // Sep 13, 2022 - 2:17pm

Tua had 29 DVOA and ranked 17th, right at the median.  Jones was 4 slots lower and DVOA of zero.  Given the non-Mahomes range of DVOA, 163 to -147, the difference wasn't too great, but it was enough.

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#81 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:21pm

Jones seems to draw a lot of ire from everywhere. I didn't see Jones so maybe he was the problem. But its hilarious to me that everyone is mentioning the Packers lack of receivers + line injuries and sort of just ignoring the fact that the Pats own offense feels totally bereft of any dynamic skill talent or speed. This is back to the days of smurf receivers for Tom Brady in 06. 

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#110 by nat // Sep 12, 2022 - 4:15pm

2006 was the Patriots’ experiment in “a bunch of good #3 receivers should mean that one of them gets open against a #3 defender”. Which doesn’t work (well enough) in this century’s NFL.

And it’s not a great situation in 2022 either.

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#123 by KnotMe // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:02pm

Well, yeah, it's pretty obvious when your WR1(Parker) is the guy kicked off the island bc he was sorta injury prone and not needed. 

You swap the WR rooms and you probably swap the result, but Jones isn't good enough elevate meh receivers. (Heck, even Rodgers failed at this on sunday). 

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#126 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:09pm

Thats the point. Who is "good enough". I've seen Brady look rather average in 2013. Manning's 2010 season was also one of his worst statistically. 

It sort of being assumed that Mahomes can with Tyreke gone, but that team still has a ton of all pro caliber talent on the o line and plenty of depth around another star in Kelce. 

Also, I am a noted Patriots hater, but Jones is a second year QB. I don't really understand what the expectations are for him. 

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#130 by BJR // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:18pm

The Patriots have failed to acquire or nurture any WRs of note for a long time now. Meyers has done everything that could have been asked of him as an UDFA I suppose, but when he is your best option it is worrying, especially after all the recent free agency spending. It definitely appears to be an organisational black-spot.

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#83 by colonialbob // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:36pm

Considering Dak's injury didn't even make the "News 'n' Notes" section, I think it's pretty safe to assume this is solely due to the fact that the Cowboys played Sunday night, which makes for quite a tight turnaround to have something ready Monday morning.

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#86 by Pat // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:39pm

Especially considering this was posted glances at byline 16 hours ago. As in, around 9 pm EDT.

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#111 by RickD // Sep 12, 2022 - 4:24pm

There were plenty of QBs with higher profile than Mac who did not do much of anything yesterday.  Joe Burrow had a terrible day, and a lot more is expected of him than of Mac Jones.  Matt Ryan, too, though apparently these days "Indy" is a burial ground for QBs.  Derrick Carr threw three picks in a loss.  As did Matthew Stafford.

Far less was expected of Mac Jones, so it feels like Tanier just continues to use his high-profile gig to work through his hostility issues with the Patriots.  

Just wondering if I hadn't noticed this for years or if Mike just kept all of the hostility bottled up inside until he could kick the Pats while they're down.  

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#113 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 4:28pm

You hadn't noticed for years.

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#136 by RickD // Sep 12, 2022 - 6:08pm

"For years I didn't notice..." wasn't meant to imply the most recent several years.

 

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#122 by colonialbob // Sep 12, 2022 - 4:58pm

The Bengals lost in overtime after missing a game-winning XP in regulation. The Colts tied. Stafford played on Thursday, not yesterday. Carr, sure, but the Raiders did score 19 and lost by 5 to a Chargers team pretty much everybody thinks is quite good, while the Patriots scored 7 and lost to the Dolphins, who aren't as highly regarded. I would also definitely argue that Mac Jones is at least as high profile as Derek Carr, as he plays for the Patriots. This feels like homerism defending your QB rather than a particular grudge (see Wentz, Carson for a better example of that...)

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#124 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:04pm

Following Tanier, I think the names in his crosshairs the most are :

Rodgers(probably tracing back to at least the vaccine fiasco), Cousins(probably when he signed a huge deal with the Vikes), and Wentz(maybe after his Eagles implosing?)

Frankly, Rodgers' level of play puts him above most criticism save for Skip Bayless/Colin Cowherd types, but Mike is hardly alone in bashing Wentz and Cousins. I end up sounding like their defenders because, as evidenced yesterday, you can do a LOT worse than those 2 players. All those people lampooning the two probably have to admit, albeit grudgingly, that replacing Wentz with Hienecke and Cousins with Ponder and they probably lose those games. 

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#144 by Raiderfan // Sep 12, 2022 - 9:11pm

You certainly don’t follow Tanier if you didn’t have Brady first on your list.

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#137 by RickD // Sep 12, 2022 - 6:14pm

The Bengals lost in overtime after missing a game-winning XP in regulation. 

Yes, in a game where Burrow threw four picks and lost a fumble.  Very hard to make the case he had a better day than Mac Jones.  

I just don't get why Mac Jones would be singled out.  The Patriots were not expected to win yesterday.  Relative to expectations, Jones was close to what we were anticipating.  He didn't have a great day, but I didn't see it anywhere near "humiliating."

 

 

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#139 by KnotMe // Sep 12, 2022 - 7:22pm

In reply to by RickD

Not sure the patriots were expected to win yesterday, but them and Miami are both middle of the pack fringy-in-or-out AFC wildcard fodder so you would expect a better showing. Most of the bad stuff on the pats side wasn't really in the box score. (WR not getting seperation and Jones being really inaccurate at times and well, accuracy is really the only thing he has going for him). 

Still, Tanier is a writer and hates the pats and he needed a second team so it didn't look like he was picking on green bay. The only other QB who had a sorta bad game and was sorta established on a decent team was Ryan and well, done that already. Basicly, it was narrative convenience I think. 
 

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#131 by BJR // Sep 12, 2022 - 5:27pm

Let's face it - the Patriots offence was bad yesterday. But yeah, I don't understand why Mac Jones would have the finger pointed at him one game into his second season, following an undoubtedly positive rookie year. Try starting with the coaches, and the wider organization that has assembled this cast of offensive 'weaponry'.

Even then though, it's one game. The Patriots are notoriously slow starters, and that's before we get to their record in Miami. Ripping them to shreds now does smack of an agenda. Let's revisit in 6 weeks time eh?

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#164 by LionInAZ // Sep 13, 2022 - 12:23am

Maybe it's about smacking down the smug expectations of Patriotfandomstan. Jones had a better rookie season than expected, a sure testament to Belichick's genius. Shouldn't he have been expected to at least outperform his opponent on a 2nd rate team? Or maybe was just McDaniels smoke and mirrors...

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#180 by BJR // Sep 13, 2022 - 4:26pm

Maybe it's about smacking down the smug expectations of Patriotfandomstan.

That is not something I expect from this site. This is a place for objective analysis (with a little humor thrown in), not silly axe-grinding

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#181 by theslothook // Sep 13, 2022 - 5:05pm

There are occasionally smug fans. But absolutely every fan here, no matter what team they root for, has experienced a soul destroying cannot climb out of bed loss. 

07 probably killed every irrational Pats homerism forever. A few Green Bay fans also have exhibited this from time to time but have since vacated the site.

 

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#65 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:11pm

I don't see the audibles thread so I'll just post this here.

It's probably damning with faint phrase, But I saw genuine flashes for Justin Fields in the second half. 

The first half was dreadful in many of the same ways it was when I saw him make his debut. The coaching staff did him zero favors with conservative calls on first and second down and then asking him to do something on 3rd and long. The blocking was bad too.

In The second half, Fields really came alive after a few successful scrambles. To be clear, these were not designed scrambles by the coaching staff, but improvisational scrambles that fields really showcased his athleticism. And that seemed give him a nice jolt of confidence as he was much much better in the second half. Now granted, the 49ers decided not to cover in the second half, but it's a credit to Fields nonetheless. I think Bears fans have some reasons for optimism, even though I don't think this coaching staff did anything interesting scheme-wise and I don't think the talent around him is any good either. But still, liked what I saw.

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#76 by Eddo // Sep 12, 2022 - 12:45pm

The first touchdown was an old fashioned broken play that Fields made happen with his scrambling ability; the skill is real and repeatable, but the play itself isn't.

The second touchdown was really encouraging, to me.  The pocket wasn't clean, and Fields still made it through at least two reads before he hit St. Brown with a nice throw.

I agree that I would like to see the staff call more plays that work into Fields's strengths, such as designed rollouts.

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#78 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:12pm

The play itself isn't, but I genuinely don't think he makes that throw if he's not feeling a bit of confidence at that point. Hard to say, sure, but you could just feel some energy in the offense once he started scrambling and getting a feel for things.

To be 100 percent clear, I just thought the offensive approach to this game was turtle, hope Lance plays even worse, and then ride that to a win. In some sense, that was what happened but it was a tale of two halves.  After Fields threw that hideous interception, the team basically turtled until Fields himself started to scramble and make things happen.

I don't want to paint the coaching staff as stupid because they are facing a conundrum with respect to the talent on hand.  People are complaining about the Packer receiving and o line situation without batting an eye at what the Bears are trotting out there. Is it so wrong to play the low variance game when you have 0 faith in the talent of your offense? I think its hard to say but frankly, they need to see what they have in Fields, results be damned. I would be crafting an offense around Fields' mobility,  but that's not the approach they took in week 1. 

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#107 by TomC // Sep 12, 2022 - 3:48pm

Trust me, there has been plenty of eye-batting about the Bears OL and WR corps. (Look at FO draft coverage. Tanier called it malfeasance, the worst draft he could remember.)

I don't blame the staff for looking at what they have on O and what the Niners D-line looks like and crafting a ridiculously conservative game plan. They can get a less risky look at Fields' progress against Houston and the Giants.

As for yesterday's performance, I'm happy with the outcome but am not taking anything from it in terms of where Fields is.

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#165 by Duke // Sep 13, 2022 - 1:10am

on the initial game plan.

Looking it over, it looked like the first half the Bears had 19 runs (for 3.4 yds per) and 9 passes, which jives with my memory. I think they wanted to try to lean on the RBs (where there actually is some talent), get a bit of a running game going, and then maybe sprinkle some play action off of that. But the problem there, of course, is that the 49ers DLine is also good against the run, and with no passing threat the safeties were unafraid to just come right to the line. So they couldn't maintain a running attack, and their conservative plan failed.

(Obviously without the All-22 I can't say for sure, but I suspect the 49ers were paying extra attention to Mooney and Kmet, assuming nobody else on the team was a threat)

We'll see if the plan works better against less talented DLines, or if the coaches change it up (they seemed to adjust a bit at the half, though the ration was still 18 runs, 8 passes).

It wasn't a disaster, at least, which is better than most predicted, I think. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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#166 by Duke // Sep 13, 2022 - 1:16am

I couldn't tell whether the problem for the 49ers D in the second half was that the coverage suddenly got bad, or if the pass rush stopped getting to Fields. In the first half he had almost no time to throw the entire time. In the second half, he had more. My impression is that after he ripped off a few scrambles, the 49ers started to slow down their rush and worry about contain more, and that gave Fields time to find receivers. But I could be wrong--maybe he was able to make throws quicker because the coverage was worse.

Anyway, an okay day by Fields. Though I bet he doesn't look good in Quick Reads.

My last comment would be--any discussion of this game should definitely point out the penalty difference (12 for SF, 3 for CHI). There were several Bears drives that got saved by SF penalties. It's nice to be on the winning end of this battle after the Nagy years, but it's probably not repeatable.

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#179 by JonesJon // Sep 13, 2022 - 3:50pm

The play that really seemed to wake him up was right before the end of the half when he turned around off a play action bootleg and had an edge rusher in his lap and he calmly juked right past him and scrambled for a first down. Not uncommon for young QBs but you can tell how much better he tends to get after he makes a good play and starts to play with confidence and vice versa when he has bad plays.

The coaching staff last season failed to adjust for that and for the most part they didn't have game plans that gave him the easiest opportunities for confidence building plays and would take the ball out of his hands when he made mistakes until desperate scenarios called for passing. The simplest way to illustrate that is the Bears ran the ball on over 60% of their first downs when Fields was in. The first half game plan was extremely run heavy (they had 2 straight handoffs to net like 2 yards and go 3 and out at one point) but here is to hoping that was dictated by the poor weather. 

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#77 by takeleavebelieve // Sep 12, 2022 - 1:03pm

Not sure about what the splits say, but the Jones-era Pats sure do feel like a totally different team when they’re playing from ahead than when they’re playing from behind. 

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#112 by RickD // Sep 12, 2022 - 4:26pm

This version of the Pats (going back to last year) depends on the running game a lot.  So, yeah, if they're down by two scores or more in the second half, they're kind of in trouble.  They're not going to pull off 25 second TD drives with five passes to five receivers like Brady and company could do 5-10 years ago.

 

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#115 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 4:29pm

At the risk of being overly reductionist -- you usually play from behind against teams who are better than you, and from ahead against teams you are better than.

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#151 by takeleavebelieve // Sep 12, 2022 - 11:03pm

Well, duh. But the 2021 Pats were a top 5 team by DVOA, so there’s obviously more to it than that. 

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#176 by KnotMe // Sep 13, 2022 - 12:54pm

I think the joke is "it's not clear the Pats are the better team anymore". 

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#183 by takeleavebelieve // Sep 13, 2022 - 8:55pm

Does ABGT make jokes? I thought jokes were supposed to funny. 

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#93 by theslothook // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:16pm

My thoughts on Lance:

He looked like a rookie making his third start. Not really sure if sitting for most of the year did much for him, but that's unanswerable.

It should go without saying but being a rookie implies its hard to draw definitive judgements about what he WILL be in the future, but for now, I thought he looked ok. As a rusher, he reminds me less of someone like Vick or even Wilson, and more in the veign of Newton or Josh Allen - basically finding a lane and then taking on defenders with reckless abandon. I dont think thats wise and he should probably be coached out of doing it; especially for gains of 6 yards in the first half. 

His accuracy was all over the place. He uncorcked some beautiful down the field throws, catching receivers in stride. He also ran into pressure; threw short passes into the dirt, and his interception was simulatneously the result of not seeing a defender lurking and throwing an inaccurate pass. 

I am also discounting the entire 4th quarter because Soldier Field turned into a river by then. But still, it was total uneven performance. I will also add, he didn't wow me with this athleticism this game; but that might be because I came in with insane expectations. 

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#96 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 12, 2022 - 2:22pm

It's weird how much we avoid the obvious Smith-Kaepernick comparison.

Is it because Smith had more post-Kaepernick success than Kaepernick did post-Smith?

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