Bills vs. Bills; Bengals Survive; Giants Leap Forward
NFL Wild Card - In this super, wild, Super Wild-Card Weekend edition of Walkthrough:
- Buffalo Bills ... kink-shamed?
- Cincinnati Bengals: too banged up for Buffalo?
- San Francisco 49ers: the Team of Destiny?
- New York Giants: stealth contenders or bunco squad?
- Brandon Staley: threat or menace?
… plus Wild-Card Weekend awards and more.
Let's get straight to the action.
Game Spotlight: Cincinnati Bengals 24, Baltimore Ravens 17
What Happened: We saw a lot of football this weekend. By the fourth quarter on Sunday night, your bingo card was probably full except for one square: the game-reversing Ravens cataclysmic short-yardage blunder.
So it came to pass that Tyler Huntley attempted a goal-line sneak, foolishly lifted the football high in the air as if he was presenting Baby Simba to the jungle kingdom, and…
Sam Hubbard takes the fumble 98 yards for the TD ‼️
📺: #BALvsCIN on NBC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/hNJJJGqxGF pic.twitter.com/PoVImXrfpz
— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2023
Lots of other things happened, including five possessions after that fumble in which the Bengals could not munch the clock and the Ravens could not score. But ultimately, the Ravens season ended in the most predictable and maddening way possible, considering how hard they played on Sunday night.
What Sunday's Win Means for the Bengals: Like the Bills (see next segment), the Bengals cannot be thrilled with how they played on Sunday night. Ravens receivers inexplicably got wide open in crucial situations. Left tackle Jonah Williams got hurt, and an already rickety offensive line could not protect Joe Burrow or sustain the running game. The Bengals averaged just 4.3 yards per offensive play and barely moved the ball at all after one long third-quarter drive.
The Williams injury bears watching as the Bengals limp into Buffalo. Their offensive line is in no shape to face the Bills right now.
The real winners of wild-card weekend? The Chiefs. No one ever loses a bye week.
Looking Ahead to the 2023 Ravens: They will franchise-tag Lamar Jackson. We will then discover the truth about both Jackson's ankle and his willingness to keep playing for the Ravens. There will be no long-term contract and no trade, despite months of speculation and gossip. He will eventually sign on for a prove-he's-healthy year. And nothing else the Ravens do this offseason will matter all that much.
What's Next: Bengals at Bills, next Sunday at 6 p.m. The Bills open as 3.5 point favorites.
Game Spotlight: Buffalo Bills 34, Miami Dolphins 31
What Happened: The Bills took an early 17-0 lead, then indulged in their all-too-common urge for autoerotic asphyxiation. Three Josh Allen turnovers, a few not-quite-caught Allen bombs, and some missed tackles later, the Bills trailed 24-20 midway through the third quarter while Skylar Thompson and the Dolphins looked on in awkward astonishment.
A Kaiir Elam interception and Cole Beasley touchdown gave the Bills back the lead, but they weren't done choking themselves for jollies: coordinator Ken Dorsey broke out the Nothing But Hero Balls game plan to "protect" that lead, and the Dolphins pulled within a field goal on a Jeff Wilson touchdown run to cap a long drive.
That's when Mike McDaniel's hybrid edibles kicked in and he forgot what sport he coached. McDaniel began calling timeouts because he did not like the defensive formation as if he were Mike Krzyzewski. With no timeouts left when trailing by three, McDaniel took forever to get a fourth-and-1 call into the huddle, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty that led to a Bills defensive stop which (essentially) iced the game.
What Sunday's Win Means for the Bills: The Bills are the NFL's best team, and they will lose by two touchdowns to the Chiefs in two weeks if they do not stop spending the second and third quarter exploring their self-destructive fetishes.
To be clear, no one is saying Dorsey should call nothing but handoffs for 50 minutes after the Bills take a 17-0 lead. But … quick game? Screen game? Zone-reads? Anything but Elden Ring special attacks? Game management is a thing, folks. The Bills stink at it. It's a problem now that all the easy opponents are eliminated.
Looking Ahead to the 2023 Dolphins: Logically, the Dolphins should backstop concussion-plagued Tua Tagovailoa with a Jimmy Garoppolo type—Jimmy Garoppolo, for example—and keep trying to build a Miami YAC Machine with an older and wiser McDaniel calling the shots.
But logic does not matter: the Dolphins are a Stephen Ross vanity project. If Ross wants Jim Harbaugh, Sean Payton, Tom Brady, or a talking unicorn, neither common sense nor optics will stop him. The Dolphins will be a dwarf star of speculative nonsense throughout the offseason, with no rumor preposterous enough to be implausible.
The Dolphins enter the offseason over $10 million in cap debt but can easily clear enough space to make some really foolish decisions.
What's Next: As mentioned above, the Bills host the Bengals next Sunday night.
New York Giants 31, Minnesota Vikings 24
What Happened: This game was fun in a Division II playoff matchup between Lutheran Seminary of the Wilderness and Mount Nowhere Community College for Wayward Lads sort of way.
The Giants took an early 17-7 lead. The Vikings hung around in Vikings fashion without looking particularly dynamic or well-coached. Both defenses played as though it were the Pro Bowl. The Giants could not be bothered to cover the right sideline. The Vikings were stunned every time Daniel Jones ran and mystified by every shallow cross. Jalen Reagor muffed a punt but recovered. The Vikings lost a fourth-down sneak to a false start and settled for a field goal.
Does this sound like playoff football yet?
Saquon Barkley capped a 75-yard fourth-quarter drive with a rugged 2-yard touchdown run. The Vikings went three-and-out like it was their sworn duty to do so. The Giants tried to milk the clock, but a third-down pass bounced off Darius Slayton's belly, forcing a punt.
Kirk Cousins ran The Cousins Special (ticky-tack roughing the passer after an incompletion) to get a Vikings drive rolling. But then, facing fourth-and-8 trailing by a touchdown with no timeouts left, the Vikings dialed up the Ultimate Super Deluxe Kirk Cousins Special: a 3-air-yard pass to a well-covered T.J. Hockenson. Ballgame.
What Sunday's Win Means for the Giants: It was their Super Bowl, and the final validation of the job Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen did this season. But let's get real: the Giants would have gotten smoked by a real contender.
Looking Ahead to the 2023 Vikings: They will look a lot like the 2022 Vikings, who looked a lot like the 2020 and 2021 Vikings, though with fewer creaky veterans as the organization sheds $20 million in cap weight.
If the Vikings try to run this season back next year, they will go 6-11 against a tougher schedule. But the threat of sustained mediocrity never stopped them before, so there's no way they will make sweeping (but necessary) changes after faking their way through this charmed season.
What's Next: Giants at Eagles, Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. The opening line is Eagles -7.5. Take the Eagles and avoid the rush.
Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Los Angeles Chargers 30
What Happened: The Jaguars spotted the Chargers a 27-0 halftime lead on four Trevor Lawrence interceptions and a punt return fumble by Chris Claybrooks. The Chargers then melted like a candy bar on a summer dashboard thanks to defensive lapses, stalled drives, bad fourth-down decisions, meaningless replay challenges, sacks, batted passes, Joey Bosa tantrums, and an all-around lack of composure and game-management savvy.
"I'm hurting everybody in that locker room," Brandon Staley admitted after the game in a rare fit of self-awareness.
Oops, Walkthrough got that quote wrong "I'm hurting for everybody in that locker room," Staley said, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. Sorry, but the incorrect quote made more sense.
What Saturday's Win Means for the Jaguars: Lawrence's second-half comeback speaks well to his performance ceiling and long-term capabilities. His early-game blue-screen crash is a reminder that he's not a finished product, nor are the Jaguars. Lawrence's receivers could not get open for him in the first half, and the left side of the Jaguars line remains a problem with Cam Robinson unavailable.
The Jaguars defense played well when not trying to stop 16-yard touchdown drives after turnovers. Their pass rush continues to make big late-game plays, a trend that began late in the season.
Looking Ahead to the 2023 Chargers: Walkthrough's crystal ball sees Brandon Staley keeping his job by yeeting offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi into a volcano in favor of someone such as Mike LaFleur. That would be an upgrade, but Staley remains a problem
Staley is the Aaron Burr of head coaches. He was ultra-aggressive on fourth downs in 2021 but skewed conservative in 2022. He rested his starters for the entire preseason but inexplicably exposed Mike Williams to injury in a meaningless Week 18 finale; Williams' absence contributed heavily to Saturday's loss. Staley doesn't really have a philosophy, he just does what he thinks will bring him the least criticism. That's a dangerous trait in a leader.
Justin Herbert is now due for the Standard Rich and Famous Contract, and Tom Telesco must move money around to make that happen. (The cap situation is not great but very manageable.) The Chargers will select a wide receiver in each of 10,000,000,000 mock drafts over the next three months. The overall roster will be solid once Rashawn Slater returns and (optimistically) J.C. Jackson rediscovers himself.
Herbert's potential remains stratospheric, and he cannot be blamed in any way for Saturday's loss, but his signature highlights during the Jaguars comeback were a routine scramble and a roughing-the-passer penalty. Walkthrough can't wait to see what he can do with better coaching and support, nor can we wait for the early-week all-22 drop, when film-hipster Twitter will reveal that the Chargers secretly won.
What's Next: The Jaguars are 8.5-point road underdogs as they visit the Chiefs next Sunday at 1 p.m.
Game Spotlight: San Francisco 49ers 41, Seattle Seahawks 23
What Happened: The Seahawks led 17-16 at halftime thanks to a Geno Smith-to-DK Metcalf bomb and Kyle Shanahan's habit of settling for field goals. But the Seahawks had no answer for the tackle-breaking talents of Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey.
Brock Purdy capped a seven-minute third-quarter drive highlighted by a 21-yard Deebo catch-and-run with a 1-yard sneak. Nick Bosa strip-sacked Smith at the Seahawks 19-yard line on the next series. Everything after that was just a long 49ers victory lap.
What Saturday's Win Means for the 49ers: The Seahawks exposed lots of little 49ers weaknesses in a game which was closer than its final score. Some flaws we knew about: the 49ers defense is susceptible to bombs whenever Bosa and the pass rush cannot get home (which is seldom). Others are still emerging, such as Purdy's habit of escaping to his left and running into trouble when the pocket collapses. None of it mattered thanks to Bosa, Deebo, George Kittle, and McCaffrey
The Cowboys or Buccaneers (who play on Monday night) must find a way to make Purdy's inexperience a factor. That means not just limiting YAC but taking advantage of Purdy's early-game off-target throws and Exit Stage Left scrambles while mounting a lead that forces Purdy to throw into tight windows (which rarely happens) and punishes Kyle Shanahan for playing for field goals in the red zone. Easy? No way. But the Cowboys are built for the task, and the Buccaneers ... um ... have Tom Brady.
Looking Ahead to the 2023 Seahawks: Overall, this was a phenomenal year for the Seahawks: the Russell Wilson trade was a historic blowout, the draft class a slam dunk that fast-tracked their rebuilding plan, the regular season filled with solid victories and the fun vibes that come from refreshed expectations.
Geno Smith deserves to sell his services as a premium "bridge" quarterback to the highest bidder. The Seahawks must decide how high they really wish to bid. They have $48.6 million in paper cap space, but they have needs all over the defense and along the interior offensive line, plus depth questions at nearly every position.
Keeping Smith with a $25-million cap figure and building through the draft sounds like the best course of action, especially with no guarantee that an A-tier quarterback prospect will be waiting for them with the fifth overall pick. (Will Levis does not count.) But if some suitor throws $150 million at Geno, the Seahawks would be wise to stay the rebuilding course instead of overpaying for what may have been a lightning-in-a-bottle season.
What's Next: The 49ers host the winner of Cowboys-Buccaneers next week.
Around the League
Some brief off-field news and notes:
Michael Vick thinks Lamar Jackson should have played through his ankle injury.
If that's what Vick thinks, imagine what the NFL establishment thinks.
Sean McVay expected to remain the Rams head coach.
Announcing Thursday Night Football on Amazon isn't as appealing as it sounded last year. Especially now that the Rams are likely to be frequent flyers on Thursday Night Football.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos did not bid to purchase Washington Commanders.
The world was a slightly better place when the same three a**holes didn't own everything.
Rams expected to pick up Matthew Stafford's 2023 option bonus and guaranteed 2024 salary: a $62-million dollar combined package.
Walkthrough predicted/advocated for this a few weeks ago. It's the lesser of many evils and among the easiest of many difficult decisions the Rams must make in the months ahead.
Kliff Kingsbury visiting Thailand instead of interviewing for vacant offensive coordinator positions, per Peter Schrager.
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble.
Wild-Card Weekend Awards
Time to dole out some hardware.
Defender of the Week
Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel II became the first player in NFL history to intercept three passes in the first half of a playoff game on Saturday night. Somehow, it wasn't enough.
Offensive Line of the Week
Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Mike McGlinchey, and backup guard Daniel Brunskill (who filled in for Burford for much of the game) held the Seahawks to just one sack and helped Christian McCaffrey and company rack up 181 rushing yards.
Special Teamer of the Week
The Bills were trying so hard to mortify themselves late in the third quarter that Nyheim Hines muffed a punt. Fortunately, an alert Tyrel Dodson leapt on the loose football at the Buffalo 32-yard line, setting up the touchdown drive that gave the Bills some much needed breathing room.
Burn This Play!
There's a lot to choose from: a pre-halftime 49ers squib kick that set up a Seahawks field goal, Michael Bandy's third-and-1 jet-sweep fumble for the Chargers, and of course Kirk Cousins' failed end-of-game completion, shown here in dots form:
Thielen, Osborn, Jefferson. Left to right. On fourth-and-8 with the game on the line. The result was a 3 yard check down to Hockenson. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/OvVV4tdY3M
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) January 16, 2023
K.J. Osborn was as open as anyone is going to be on fourth-and-long. Dalvin Cook might have been able to YAC his way to a first down. But Kirk Cousins is committed to his personal brand. (Thanks to @fakeninjitsu on Twitter for pointing out the dots.)
Kirk's dots deserve honorable mention. But we're giving this week's Burn This Play to whatever 500-word essay Mike McDaniel was dictating on fourth-and-1 with the game on the line which prevented the Dolphins from lining up until there were three seconds left on the play clock
On 4th & 1, delay of game on MIA#Dolphins 31 #Bills 34 4ᴛʜ pic.twitter.com/fjn7sSESap
— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) January 15, 2023
It should only take one second to say "quarterback sneak" into a headset. And since McDaniel clearly had something more esoteric than a sneak planned, he was doing fourth-and-short wrong.
Though perhaps not every fourth-and-short play needs to be a sneak…
Frame This Play!
Travis Etienne's T-formation sweep on fourth-and-1 is so sexy that it's NSFW.
What a call on 4th and 1! #DUUUVAL #SuperWildCard
📺: #LACvsJAX on NBC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/LG9lf52l9m pic.twitter.com/59hFX41f1C
— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2023
Walkthrough is working on a New York Times feature on quarterback sneaks, which succeeded 82.8% of the time in 2022 and 78.7% of the time since 2016. The only time a team should not run a sneak on fourth-and-1 is when they are running a play that looks like a sneak.
Look at that yummy T-formation, with two tight ends in the backfield. They're just going to run up and push Trevor Lawrence, right? The Chargers defense thinks so. Even Samuel (26), tasked with stopping any sweeps, is sucked in by the threat of a sneak. And gaining 25 yards instead of 3 feet makes a big difference late in the fourth quarter, trailing by two points, on the fringe of field goal range.
It's almost as if Doug Pederson knows a thing or two about risk management in critical situations.
Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight
Nothing screams "overmatched rookie teacher who has completely lost control of his class" like Brandon Staley scuttering around to fetch the helmet Joey Bosa slammed to the ground, then obsequiously handing it back to Bosa so he could slam it again.
— Chet Ubetcha (@chetUbetcha__) January 15, 2023
What a LEADER OF MEN Staley is!
Honorable mention goes to Mitch Morse, who Jedi Mind Tricked officials into giving Devin Singletary a game-clinching first down with his emphatic celebration, even though Singletary looked about a half-yard short and Morse had his back turned to the (still-continuing) play:
Love the Mitch Morse celebration DURING the play! @mithenmor60 #MIZ pic.twitter.com/5kIbpIeN9W
— Jonathan Deutsch (@JonathanD_TV) January 15, 2023
Rando of the Week
Walkthrough is drawn to Skylar Thompson's father. He reminds us of someone. We are not sure who…
Skyler Thompson’s dad is by far the most calm/coolest dude in Buffalo today. Son throws a playoff TD & he just smiles and nods… pic.twitter.com/UcqYQHEyyp
— B. Taylor: 1 of 3 with #DadBodGolfPod (@ause7en) January 15, 2023
Resemblance? What resemblance?
FO Wild Card Weekend Preview with @FO_ASchatz & @MikeTanier 🍿
Aaron and Mike discuss the Wild Card matchups and make their predictions, plus pick out their favorite bets for the weekend!
👇 WATCH/LISTEN 👇 https://t.co/FLNSLBQ2G2 pic.twitter.com/lrAodmrzVK
— Football Outsiders (@fboutsiders) January 12, 2023
You're right: Thompson's dad DOES look like Aaron Schatz!
119 comments, Last at 17 Jan 2023, 5:13pm
#91 by dmb // Jan 16, 2023 - 2:53pm
But we're giving this week's Burn This Play to whatever 500-word essay Mike McDaniel was dictating on fourth-and-1 with the game on the line which prevented the Dolphins from lining up until there were three seconds left on the play clock.
When asked about it after the game, McDaniel said he was initially told they'd earned a first down, so he started sending in a playcall for that situation and then changed it upon realizing that it was 4th down.
Not arguing that he's blameless for the flawed sideline operation, just pointing out that the reason it seemed like he was taking the time required to call two plays was because... he called two plays.
#114 by Rufus R. Jones // Jan 17, 2023 - 2:51am
Why don't they try actually using the rules that they have? The only time the "booth" should review a play is after turnover, score, or inside of 2 min of a half. And when the play clock hits "0," a delay of game should be called. Not a timeout, and not a "look the other way and pretend we didn't see it." For a league that is constantly accused of manipulating their games, they sure seem to not mind the appearance of doing just that.
#73 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 1:00pm
Re: Za'Darius Smith
Let me stress that I appreciate everything “Z” did as a Packer. His 2019 season is one of the five best individual Packer defender seasons in my memory. He was a one man wrecking crew.
And I remain a tad sad that his time in GB ended with acrimony and Smith still holds ill will towards the org
That being stated for a fine player this is now another no show in a playoff game. Smith did well against the Seahawks in the 2019 playoffs. Had some moments against the Rams the following season. But in both NFC championship games he was MIA. Then after the sack early last season disappeared. And yesterday he was clearly controlled the bulk of the time by NY
Just strikes me as odd how a guy with his skill set and so much fervor when playing can seemingly vanish.
#66 by johonny12 // Jan 16, 2023 - 12:35pm
The Dolphins blew their team up to transform them from the annual 9-8 going nowhere team that hadn't won a playoff game in nearly twenty year and emerged 4 years later a 9-8 probably going nowhere team that still hasn't won a playoff game. 2008 is the last time Miami's starting QB was even healthy for the playoff game (not that it mattered). A lot of fans think this is the beginning, but feels like an end product. These are the teams Ross has proven his organization builds. It would be foolish to think different until the something different happens.
Onto the offseason where it sounds like Brady is already off the table. Let's hope they find some oline/QB health and a CB and move through the 2023 offseason without silliness from Ross. One thing is for sure, the AFC East might not be such a gimmie for anyone as DVOA shows that they all have talent and a few good moved/bad moves could make a difference for any of these teams.
#86 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 16, 2023 - 2:21pm
"The Dolphins blew their team up to transform them from the annual 9-8 going nowhere team that hadn't won a playoff game in nearly twenty year and emerged 4 years later a 9-8 probably going nowhere team that still hasn't won a playoff game."
Hey, let's give them some credit, they started out as the annual 8-8 going nowhere team, so 9-8 is at least incremental improvement.
In all seriousness, and in fairness, they looked pretty damn unstoppable on offense with non-concussed Tua. Not sure what the plan at quarterback should be going forward, but as a neutral, it would make me feel pretty queasy in fear for his safety if Tua tries to play again.
#90 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 16, 2023 - 2:43pm
Miami has an incredibly potent team built on the kind of guys (Mostert, Tua, Armstead, etc) who just can't all stay on the field. The same as the 49ers, for whatever reason the Shanahan tree seems to produce these teams. If they stay healthy at the same time, the way SF largely has this year, they can be really dangerous.
#64 by Kaepernicus // Jan 16, 2023 - 12:12pm
It's definitely a good sign to see that Purdy is no longer getting graded on a rookie grading curve. Seattle played a perfect game in the first half and abused the interior OL of the 49ers in nearly every passing set. They had 181 yards of rushing offense on 33 carries. 90 of those yards came on 2 carries. Outside of a couple big runs the Seahawks shut down the SF running game. Purdy had to keep the drives going through the air and using his legs. Seattle also did a good job of limiting Kittle, who has destroyed them historically, by forcing SF to have him help more with blocking.
The Seahawks actively tried to push the middle of the pocket into Purdy's lap so he couldn't really step up the way he likes to. He did some houdini stuff at the end of the half to avoid sacks and threw the ball away multiple times to keep them in FG range. Seattle played a perfect game in the first half and still got blown out. Bosa, Ward(s), Trent Williams, and Warner all played poorly by their standards. Lenoir, Greenlaw, Omenihu, Burford, and Deebo all stepped up to partially make up for it.
For a team loaded with All-Pros it was the other guys and rookies who stepped up in this game. Each time Seattle took the lead the 49ers took it back. Purdy was jittery in the first quarter and missed a lot of guys high and behind them in the rain leading to a couple passes that could have been picks. He played lights out in the second half and Seattle had no answer. Their line got tired from chasing him around all afternoon and failing to sack him. This game reminded me of the Commie game where they clearly emphasized batting down passes in the first half and it killed Purdy's rhythm leading to some bad throws/sacks. Then he came out in the second half and lit them up just like this Seattle game.
Pete Carroll compared Purdy to Fran Tarkenton because he is an otherworldly scrambler. He has an insane collection of moves he deploys to get away from guys and extend plays. The dude high stepped on a scramble to make a faster defender hesitate for a second while he got enough for a first down. He does these types of things every game. His TD pass to Mitchell after eluding 5 dudes was straight up prime Russell Wilson stuff. He has an elite first step that he uses to near perfection all the time. His combo of accuracy, mobility, awareness, processing speed, and toughness is something that Kyle has never had before.
A lot of the ex-players and coaches have come around to the fact that Purdy is a legitimately good QB. The advanced stats say he is a very good player. The traditional stats say he is an elite player. The tape and PFF have him as an above average starter at QB in the league as a 7th round rookie. Is the issue with acknowledging this being withheld because a bunch of journalists are sitting on some perfect Purdy slam piece they have been waiting to roll out when he fails? Either way it doesn't really matter. I hope he keeps getting doubted all the way to a SB MVP.
#68 by Noahrk // Jan 16, 2023 - 12:41pm
And Tua was having a peak Manning/Brady/Marino season until he wasn't. All that can be said is that Purdy is performing very well, which is great for him and the team. But many here are interested in how context helps or hinders the performance of a player, in particular QBs, who are typically only judged by results in most places.
It's not an easy conversation. It's hard to separate a QB from his context. But it's undeniable that a QB will perform much better when he's surrounded by great players than when he's surrounded by poor players. Combine a low sample size with a great context and it doesn't matter if Purdy wins SB MVP, as far as what his future holds.
#75 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 16, 2023 - 1:18pm
For instance: https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/nfl/qb/1991
Mark Rypien was a perfectly adequate QB. But he wasn't a colossus astride the world like he looked on the 1991 Redskins. That was just a juggernaut of a team.
#81 by Kaepernicus // Jan 16, 2023 - 2:06pm
That's a perfectly reasonable take and makes a ton of sense. I have issues with stuff like the SF offensive line getting line of the week when that was probably their worst run blocking game since Purdy took over considering the opposition. It also fails to realize that his elusiveness is a big reason why there was only one sack in that game. Jimmy would have probably been sacked 4 or 5 times in that scenario. People look at the rushing number and then go, see he was helped by a great running game, even though it was mostly bad with a couple big plays. The passing DVOA/rushing DVOA splits for the game will be illuminating. I think a lot of SF fans look like they are overreacting because we have watched so much Jimmy in this offense. The Purdy experience has been new. It also coincided with acquiring CMC. The full offense with CMC and Jimmy only looked this good once, against AZ in Mexico. Purdy's ability to scramble has unlocked a new level that we all thought was going to happen with Trey Lance. Watching it on the field makes me understand why Kyle wanted a mobile QB so bad. It's been fun to watch.
#63 by vrao81 // Jan 16, 2023 - 12:12pm
Ode to 98 yard fumble td:
Huntley attempted a sneak
But his arms were apparently weak
Ball popped loose and went in the air
Anyone could grab it, chance was fair
Hubbard hustled and got there in a flash
Ball in hand, towards end zone he dashed
Bailey strode along for the ride
The course of the game changed tide
Huntley pleaded he had scored
But he and the Ravens were floored
No coming back from that
Sideline expressions were flat
Now Bengals get to face Bills
It will be a test of wills
Best way to get to next round
Is to plant Josh Allen on the ground
#52 by theslothook // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:31am
I've written above that Jones seems to inspire a lot of venom from the comments; but so does Kirk Cousins which I won't belabor here.
I will say - I thought he was really good for a lot of the game yesterday. He handled pressure well when it came, was pretty decisive with his reads and seemed to adjust properly when the Giants made it a point to take away JJ.
And YET - I still can't get over the final play of the Vikings season. It was so thoroughly inexplicable in every way. Just why????
That one decision may have scarred my view of Cousins indefinitely.
#62 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:47am
Kirk is a vet but it’s a huge play the pocket was collapsing so it’s possible he saw a guy flash as an option so threw the ball just hoping.
Let’s keep in mind that Cousins has been pulling plays out of his rectum all season late in games for MN. In the moment he had to think this would continue.
and then it didn’t
#78 by andrew // Jan 16, 2023 - 1:46pm
In the press conference he said his first read was to Jefferson, but he saw the safety shading over him and decided to not throw there and instead started to go through his progressions. When he got to Hockenson he saw that he was well short of the line to gain but felt he was about to be sacked (and he was) and felt throwing it was better than a sack so he threw it to Hockenson. He didn't have time to reset and throw a jump pass to Jefferson, which obviously in hindsight would have been a better option. Still, he said on some other plays Hockenson had managed to pick up a first down when short of the sticks, though not as far away and tightly guarded as this obviously. If he had more time to throw, maybe? If he had been a more mobile quarterback, maybe? On his other side, Cook was also well short of the sticks but with more room to try and make something happen. They had gotten to midfield with a first down, so there were multiple plays to get it. They had two drives down 7 and neitehr worked, with a lot of short throws and screens mixed in, after moving freely down the field on previous drives.
#40 by JS // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:41am
But … quick game? Screen game?
Amen, brutha. I think Allen threw to RBs twice all game, one completed. Way to mix up the play calls.
Playing hero-ball for 60 minutes isn't the way to keep Allen from doing brain-fart, "I'm freaking Josh Allen, muthaf***as!"-type things. But Dorsey will be someone else HC problem in a year or two.
#13 by mansteel // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:08am
As a Giants fan, what a way to wake up this morning, in the afterglow of a first playoff win in 11 years. And later today I get to go to a Daniel Jones gloating party, to be attended by the seven of us (nine if you count Mr. and Mrs. Jones) who kept the faith through the Judge years .
#45 by TomC // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:57am
I mocked the pick mercilessly when it happened, but once I actually saw him play I've been in Jones's corner the whole time. (I don't get invited to the party, because I'm a neutral observer, not a Giants fan.) I had a secret hope that NY would jettison him, and the Bears could pick him up cheap as Fields's backup, but that's clearly out of the question now.
#47 by mansteel // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:19am
Yeah, I hated the pick too, mostly because it seemed like they could've gotten him with the 15th pick (which turned out to be Dexter Lawrence, so that worked out ok). But he's been stuck in a horrific situation in terms of coaching and O-line and despite that has shown some good traits all along, but rather than acknowledging that (as they did with Trevor Lawrence last year and Justin Fields every time his name gets mentioned) people generally just pointed and laughed.
#48 by theslothook // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:28am
Based on the comments here and in the FO discord channel; Jones' reputation outside of NY is pretty close to rock bottom; at least prior to this playoff win.
I have maintained in the past; he's been a bad player but undoubtedly on a team that was basically a disaster since the day he got there. I thought played well yesterday, but the Vikings defense was such a disaster that I don't want to go overbroad with praise.
Bottom line - people want to lump him into the Trubisky tier of busts, but he's clearly better than that. I am frankly astonished people cant grasp that he's not a bad player. With a good good supporting cast hes an asset, which puts him in the tier 3 range of Qbs. The problem is the contract. His agent can now credibly ask for big money and suddenly; paying could end up becoming an albatross contract.
#58 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:44am
Jones biggest issue was turnovers. Chronic fumbles from the pocket. And picks. This season the fumbles were down to 6 and Jones int pct was only 1.1 which I think led the league.
Some of this is coaching. Daboll clearly has a clue. Some is playcalling Some luck. But also a lot from the player. Jones is clearly more aware of managing risk. Good for him
So NY has a physically gifted qb who apparently is fairly smart and a hard worker. Pretty good combo
#72 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 16, 2023 - 12:49pm
"Some of this is coaching. Daboll clearly has a clue."
Did any one else notice how proud Jason Garrett was of Jones' performance after they showed the highlights on the SNF broadcast? The same Jason Garrett who did nothing to tap into Jones' strengths while he was the Giants' OC? I had a good chuckle at that.
#11 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:04am
This game was fun in a Division II playoff matchup between Lutheran Seminary of the Wilderness and Mount Nowhere Community College for Wayward Lads sort of way.
Those are DIII schools.
DII would be Directional-Directional State vs State Regional Nickname.
#98 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 16, 2023 - 3:31pm
I went to State Tech, whose conference was dominated by Regional Nickname State 1 and Regional Nickname State 2. Those schools usually played Regional Nickname State 3 or Directional-Directional State in the playoffs. I know of what I speak.
#8 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 7:44am
Appreciated the quick reviews that promptly (and I believe accurately) resolved questionable plays. For example it would have been ridiculous if Cincy had had to risk a challenge on that obvious incomplete that was initially called a fumble. Cripes refs call fumbles incomplete passes throughout the season and then the one time it's an obvious pass attempt gone awry they call a fumble? Good grief.
Anyway, review crews seemed to be operating effectively which is not the norm for NFL. So I wonder how they will F it up??
#10 by mansteel // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:03am
I've been waiting literally since about 1990 (the first iteration of instant replay) for them to do this. If it's obvious, just have the replay guy in the booth tell the head official to change the call; no need for the performative sideline peepshow. Seems so simple, yet it took them so long to come to that conclusion.
#69 by ChrisS // Jan 16, 2023 - 12:41pm
Yes so, so, so much better than a boring 5 minute on field review. The only thing that bothers me is when the announcer says 'great job by the refs, they got together to discuss and ended at the right call'. Nope the on-field refs blew it and were overruled by the video officials.
#79 by rh1no // Jan 16, 2023 - 1:57pm
This is going to sound a little crazy, but bear with me: Matrix-style replays are the future of the league.
As technology advances, the NFL will place few tracking chips in the ball and receptors at certain points around the field, allowing the referees to understand in near real time where the ball is at any given time, and whether it is in the air or on the ground. Did the ball cross the goal line? Did the ball hit the turf before the receiver gained possession? Did the defensive back make contact with the receiver before the ball arrived? These questions will become easy to determine with a high degree of accuracy in real-time.
But the NFL isn't incentivized to get rid of lengthy in-game reviews; after all, these time-sucking pauses in the game allow for more commercial breaks and more revenue. Unfortunately, they also make the game a bit more boring. So if they have the technology to get rid of reviews, but not the impetus, what will they do? I think they will make reviews more exciting.
Placing high-def cameras around each stadium in the league to capture the angles necessary to create true 360-degree images, but using artificial intelligence to insert graphic overlays and "fill in" missing gaps in the footage for replays is commonplace for VAR in all the top-tier European football leagues, and provides fans with a satisfying sense of security regarding important officiating decisions. Knowing the NFL, the league will probably even use this opportunity to sell more ads, telling audiences, "This 360-degree replay is brought to you by State Farm: Get 360 degree protection for your home and auto with our Personal Price Plan (TM)."
We are already well on our way there with pylon cams and frame-by-frame replay analysis. It's all just so technical right now and I think the NFL will inevitably look for ways to improve the entertainment value of the process.
#41 by Noahrk // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:42am
I've taken to muting the games -except when I watch RedZone. I can't stomach the shallow narratives anymore. Even the camera continually panning to the QB on the bench in a 'behold the hero!' way bothers me.
#4 by andrew // Jan 16, 2023 - 7:18am
Burn this play
At least worth a mention for "Burn this Play", on the Vikings second drive, after both teams easily scored touchdowns their first drive, the Vikings faced a 3rd and 1 and decided their best option was a Justin Jefferson sweep throwback pass to Kirk Cousins. Jefferson might have picked it up had he just continued to run, but the play call was to have him, a non-thrower, throw to Cousins, a non-receiver, Predictably the pass was in his area but Cousins had to wait for it which allowed ample time for multiple giants defenders to react and be between him and the line to gain by the time he corralled it.
The largest difference between this game and their ealier meeting was in that one, the Vikings got the early lead, and were somewhat able to work at a running game (side note - the vikings need to part ways with Cook), this week they were trailing from this failed drive onwards. It also says volumes that they decided against trying to run for this (let alone sneak) for it, they had no faith in the running game.
This isn't the first time the Vikings got too cute on a key short down play early in a game, they did the same things at Detroit a few weeks ago, which similarly ended in disaster and left them trailing.
I know it was early but I feel this play set the tone and played a large role in how the game played out. If they kept driving and scored to remain ahead the pressure would have been on New York.
Kevin O'Connell had a lot one his resume as an offensive play designer and caller (read: he knows McVay), but this is a worrying trend. It feels like the kind of play meant to highlight his skills as an offensive play designer and play caller rather than using a more obvious and boring method of converting. Teams take on the personalities of their coaches, and I'm not sure what O'Connell's personality even is. He just seems like a nice guy to have on a staff. I'm trying to imagine what this squad would have looked like with a Harbaugh instead, I feel the team personality would have at least been something. Most vikings fans expect Donatell to be the scapegoat and he certainly deserves blame, but not sure this is leading to anything. They got zero contribution from their first two draft picks, losing both to injury (but also noted that even before Booth got hurt they consistently went with other DBs ahead of him). I suspect you're right they really need to blow up the team before they can get farther than this, which seems their ceiling. Kwesi even mused whether he made a mistake in not doing so before the season, so at least there is hope he is aware of that.
#16 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:42am
I feel like there is some degree of hindsight bias and results-based thinking when observers criticize teams for "getting too cute" with trick plays.
The Lions got praised for the hook-and-lateral play in the week 18 Sunday Night game, and the Jags got praised for the sweep on 4th and short. But if St. Brown's pitch is a little off target and the Packers got a long fumble return, or if the Chargers defender was more assignment-sound and didn't get sucked inside to lose contain, the narrative would have been very different. With the Dalvin Cook jump pass from week 14 you mentioned, if the Vikings LG doesn't get smoked by the DT, that would have been an easy TD, and O'Connell would have been praised for being "gutsy".
#18 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:58am
On the other hand, the Campbell Lions identity has become 'extreme aggression'. He's not Staleyian about it -- it's all aggro all the time. That's who they are. It's out of character when he does the resignation punt/FG.
We ding the Chiefs for getting too cute at time, but that's part of who they are. You live with its failures, sort of like you tolerate when Josh Allen tries to throw a ball through a DB's torso.
#50 by serutan // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:29am
I think also that Pedersen knew that he had to take risks to win the game and acted accordingly. In this case the risks paid off. And yes, it is annoying that reactions to risky calls are binary in the media 'cuz it ain't always that simple.
#25 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 16, 2023 - 9:18am
Bang on. If the edge defender keeps his discipline and drags Etienne down in the backfield, everyone's talking about "why didn't you just QB sneak"??
I think the reality is that you need to sprinkle these "gutsy" plays into the playcalling or else your offense becomes too predictable and easy to defend against. The actual coaching skill is sussing out when to pull out the aggressive play because the odds are in your favour, whether because of what the defense has been doing, you have a favourable player-vs-player match up, something (other than your own confidence that "this is a cool, novel play"). Taking the Jags sweep, for example, even if the edge defender reads the play, Etienne has the skill set to beat him 1-on-1. Probably the odds were good that JAX converts that play.
Since plays only get run once in these specific circumstances, though, nobody gets to see the actual odds of success. Instead, we're left with a binary outcome:
FAIL "Too cute! Coach is an idioit! Would have succeeded if they'd only done X, Y or Z!"
SUCCEED: "Gutsy! Brilliant coaching! Had a play they loved and picked the exact right time for it!"
#84 by Raiderfan // Jan 16, 2023 - 2:19pm
Solak of the Ringer tweeted an analysis of the play. Jags were in 13, and there were two TE on the right side to seal the edge. The WR assignment was the safety. The whole scheme was blocked to give the RB 1-1 on Surtain and force him to make the tackle. Solak also showed that the Jags ran a similar concept, also against Surtain, in their earlier game.
#33 by jmaron // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:06am
Do you remember Burns rant when reporters complained about the play calling and he defended OC Schnelker? That was epic.
As for Donatell, he has been a DC for 11 yrs, in pts allowed he had 3 consecutive yrs in GB between 2nd and 6th lowest, never been better than 14th any other year.
#35 by Will Allen // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:12am
Coaches get too old, just like players. Guys like Wade Phillips are an anomaly.
(edit) Here's the Burnsy rant. What a beauty. All coaches should be this entertaining...
#37 by jmaron // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:30am
I feel the same about coaches as Buffett felt about business managers
"When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact."
Most of what people think as great coaching at this level is just great players
#96 by rh1no // Jan 16, 2023 - 3:20pm
I agree 100%
As an NFL fan with absolutely no ties to the NFC North, I thought the Vikings were the most entertaining team in the league this year. They played FAR beyond their potential, taking big risks and delivering thrilling performances when the chips were down. I'm still a bit in shock that they played it safe on fourth-and-ballgame, in large part because that isn't how I had seen them play all year. I'm glad they took chances this game. As the inferior team, they probably needed to take a few more.
#32 by Will Allen // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:02am
The Vikings either have a bottom 5 roster, or the coaching on defense is so bad it's a bottom 15 roster, masquerading as a bottom 5 roster. On offense they have 2 above average offensive tackles, a HoF receiver, & a middling qb who consumes too much cap space. The tight end is useful. The guard play is poor, the center is below average and easily overpowered. Cook, with this offensive line, is not worth the money. On defense, it's so bad that it's hard to evaluate the personnel; you need to fire the defensive coaching staff just to try to get a better handle on it.
If Jefferson gets $ consistent with his status at that position, and Cousins' contract being what it is, I have no idea how they go forward, but I'm prettty ignorant when it comes to cap maniputation methods.
#89 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 16, 2023 - 2:32pm
Same. That was the same week they fired Aubrey Pleasant. At 1-6, these moves seemed like the coaching staff jettisoning scapegoats, and the front office tanking for next year. Who could have predicted they would go 8-2 from there?
I can't get a good read on why Hockenson didn't fit into Ben Johnson's offense (he had impressive stats, but tended to disappear for long stretches), but reading between the lines, Campbell seemed a bit exasperated that Hock was seemingly uninterested in or incapable of improving his blocking.
#53 by theslothook // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:32am
I think the Vikings will need to have a moment where they decide if they want to commit to Cousins long term. If so, you can probably renegotiate the contract to make it more palatable.
The whole NFC north is pretty wide open for the next few years. It will make team building a very interesting question moving forward
#92 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 16, 2023 - 2:58pm
It seems to me that their main decision now isn't related to Cousins, it's related to Jefferson. I may have these details wrong, but I believe he has one more year under contract? Do you try and extend him this offseason and build a team around him or do you try and trade him for draft picks to build a team with?
#105 by Will Allen // Jan 16, 2023 - 4:10pm
If I was Jefferson, there's no way I'm playing until I get a new contract that guarantees me more $ than any receiver has been guaranteed before. If the Vikings don't offer that, then I'm demanding a trade to a team that will. It the Vikings don't agree to either, then I'm having vague back pain symptoms that begin the day before every game.
Yeah, I've reached the point that I think these players, given the risks they take, should work any angle, that doesn't entail a felony, to maximize their income.
#104 by riri // Jan 16, 2023 - 3:56pm
I get the impression that at some point this year, O'Connell lost confidence in their atrocious running game. Against the last-ranked DVOA run defense, with the offense never being forced to hurry up until the desperate stages of the 4th quarter, they passed 39 times (40 if you include the "Burn this Play" moment) and ran 15 times. Considering that Dalvin Cook was last in DYAR among running backs this week, it's hard to call that imbalance a mistake. But it is a failure of team-building when you pay your running back $15 million a year, but can't trust him to produce against the worst DVOA run defense in the league.
As for the defense, I sure hope Donatell ends up the scapegoat. While covering people was always going to be an issue with how weak the CB room was at the start of the season and then getting hit hard with injuries on top of that, I cannot overlook how bad the pass rush was. They added Za'Darius Smith, got a full season of Danielle Hunter, and finished with a significantly worse pressure rate than last year's team (26.2% to 19.7%). Also, the defense was completely non-adaptable; the only adjustment I can recall them ever making was blitzing more often against the Colts in their big comeback. It worked! Imagine that you don't have to treat every opposing quarterback like they're Josh Allen, going into your soft shell and praying that the big bad quarterback beats himself.
The only saving grace was that Dalvin Tomlinson, Harrison Phillips, and Khyiris Tonga played well against the run and made running up the middle one of the only bad play calls against this sorry defense.
#3 by bravehoptoad // Jan 16, 2023 - 7:03am
Nick Bosa strip-sacked Smith at the Seahawks 19-yard line on the next series.
Oddly, Nick Bosa didn't even have a single QB pressure in this game, let alone a sack. He did pick up a fumble forced caused by Charles Omenihu on the 49ers 19-yard line.
#2 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 6:45am
Feel bad for Will. Vikes game outcome unsurprising. Still had to be a tough watch as the Giants disappeared JJ in second half and Z Smith spent more time arguing with refs than trying to tackle anyone Versus Dexter Lawrence who was in and around Kirk all game.
Miami D played so so hard. The Dolphin ends turned the Buffalo tackles into turnstiles. If Allen were not amazing Miami might have had 6 more sacks yesterday. (on top of the 7) Meanwhile if the kid Miami qb had any help from some of his receivers the game might have had a happier ending. Bad day for a case of the drops.
Congrats to Bengals. Gutted out a win with guys falling left and right. And as game progressed became more and more pro Bengal as a reflex to Tirico seemingly part of Ravens marketing dept. and Chris not wanting to look too Bengalish I guess so no balance. Do want to think being rid of Baltimore will make for a different Cincy team next week. These games look to be a real street fight/slog.
#7 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 7:39am
23 for Bengals did his best to help blow the game. Early on he committed a penalty to give Ravens new life in red zone which led to a TD. Then late first he false started on fourth down with Cincy already backed up THEN he clearly ran out of bounds as the gunner giving the Ravens ANOTHER five yards at end of play.
Just a brutal few plays.
#15 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:35am
Will was posting like a man resigned to his fate (like Edward Norton's character in 25th Hour), so he's probably as unsurprised by this result as we are. In fact, he predicted it (their soft defense eventually biting them in the ass).
#17 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:42am
True. But there is 'knowing' and then there is KNOWING. Because as a fan you always keep a small amount of hope that MAYBE.....
So anyway, wish him and the other Vikes fans here well. It was a tough watch
#49 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:28am
The game was played differently of course. But in 2002 and 2003 the Packers defenses were legitimately good
And this was not a squad that was filled with individual talents. KGB was a speed rusher who could manhandled on the run. Cletidus Hunt was inside and a guy whose effort level was erratic not just game to game but within a game. The linebackers were ok. The secondary was legit good with Mike McKenzie and Darren Sharper both at their playing peaks. Tyrone Williams and Al Harris were solid corners. People forget now but for a few years McKenzie was as good as it gets at cornerback. Nick Barnett was a rookie in '03 but a good player
Really Ed took the fall for things somewhat beyond his control. In 2002 the team was crushed by injuries late so on the last game of the season when they had a chance for the 1 seed the Packers were blown out by the Jets. Next week the Falcons with Vick came in and also made GB look silly.
Following season defense finished strong and after holding off a good Seahawks team in the first round had Philly on the ropes. But McNabb did some crazy stuff including the legendary 4th and 26 when Barnett didn't drop into coverage giving Donovan a free passing lane. So GB loses despite sacking the Eagles qb I think 9 times?
What Mike Sherman ignored but no Packer fan does to this day is that earlier the Packers had 4th and a half yard at about the Eagles 42 with little time left. And with the best run game in the league at that point (Packers o line in 2003 was excellent) and a running back in Ahman Green who was outstanding at getting first downs on 3rd and 4th and short Sherman punted. Eagles of course moved down the field and converted. Later winning in OT.
General belief is that Ed took the fall for the bad finishes especially in 2003.
Don't know about how he was after leaving GB. But for a few seasons he got as much as one could expect from the roster and helped young guys get better. Cannot ask for much more.
#19 by Will Allen // Jan 16, 2023 - 9:06am
Hell, I said the Giants getting 3 points was an absolute gift, and if Bradbury couldn't go, and they had started their 3rd string center, a couple turnovers would have been in the mix, and the final score would have been something like 41-17.
The Vikings played pretty close to their potential, with this defensive scheme at least, and they still made Daniel Jones look like Steve Young in his prime, and could only Jefferson their way to 24 points. They're a bad roster, poorly coached on defense. The only mystery is how much management lies to itself in the offseason.
#27 by Will Allen // Jan 16, 2023 - 9:22am
I mentioned it in the game thread Saturday, but when I saw Dungy was in the booth for Chargers/Jaguars, I turned up the volume to hear how he did. Words can barely describe how much better he is than Collinsworth. He may be too low key for many, certainly for the network suits, but if that was what was given every game from the analyst chair, I'd start watching games unmuted again.
#38 by andrew // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:36am
Every year as a Vikings fan at some point you know that once again they aren't gonna win the Superbowl. Some years its later than others. This year it was pretty much after the Eagles game. Maybe the Cowboys game if you are an optimist, which is counter to being a Vikings fan.
This year wasn't as bad as 1998, which is a year where it lasted until the Gary Anderson miss in the NFCCG.
#54 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:33am
The difference between the Vikings and the Lions is:
- The Vikings lose because the opponent cheated. The opponent is punished, but it doesn't benefit Minnesota.
- The Lions lose because the opponent benefitted from an absurd rule. The hole is quickly closed before the Lions can benefit from it.
#57 by big10freak // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:38am
Fans always claim that vet star qbs get preferential treatment from refs. I want someone to watch that Vikes/Saints game with Favre getting beat to sh8t, cheapshotted and basically living the football version of Thunderdome and tell me with a straight face and fingers uncrossed the refs did BF any favors.
#102 by Will Allen // Jan 16, 2023 - 3:54pm
The loss to the Falcons really wasn't agonizing to me, missed shortish fg and all. The Falcons were better on the line of scrimmage, and Cunningham had enough miscues to make the loss unpleasant, but I could roll with it.
The Saints loss was just awful. In addition to the uncalled cheapshotting of Favre, the Vikings really whipped the Saints on both lines of scrimmage, and Favre, battering and all, decisively outplayed Brees, especially once dropped ints are factored. They just kept fumbling, and losing most of them, while the Saints recovered their fumbles. Then they lost a winning FG opportunity in regulation, just befote the Favre int., by having too many players in the huddle. That one was nasty.
#112 by jmaron // Jan 17, 2023 - 12:59am
Watched that game with my Dad and brother, as we had since 1969. My dad was 80 at the time, I was 47 and my brother 46. Just before the too many men penalty, my brother said, "I can't believe it, we are going to the Super Bowl". I turned to my Dad and said, 'he's so young."
#113 by jmaron // Jan 17, 2023 - 12:59am
Watched that game with my Dad and brother, as we had since 1969. My dad was 80 at the time, I was 47 and my brother 46. Just before the too many men penalty, my brother said, "I can't believe it, we are going to the Super Bowl". I turned to my Dad and said, 'he's so young."
#1 by ChiRho // Jan 16, 2023 - 6:16am
The Seahawks-49ers game was not “closer than its final score.” The Seahawks played them close in the first half, then got drubbed in the second. Roughly 8 yards per play for the 49ers to around 5 for the Seahawks. +2 turnover differential. And it was especially not closer than the final score considering the Seahawks got a garbage-time TD against the 49ers backup defense. Aiyuk even dropped a dime from Purdy after an awesome scramble (there’s your tight window throw you’re looking for, but I agree he largely hasn’t had to make them), though that was basically garbage time.
It would be more accurate to say the game was close until it became a beatdown. And I was especially happy to see it considering Abram’s twist of Deebo’s leg after the play was one of the dirtiest things I’ve seen in a football game in a long time and angered me almost as much as when people dumped popcorn on Bowman in the NFC championship game as he was being carted off.
Still, respect to Seattle for keeping it close for a while, and I do agree the 49ers are vulnerable on defense, especially in the secondary. But with all the playmakers on offense and Purdy’s elusiveness (see his elite 10-yard split) relative to most any QB but especially to Jimmy (Jimmy does not find Mitchell for that TD and maybe not CMC either because of the movement they required to elude the rush), it may not cost them even against other very good teams considering there are no truly elite defenses in the NFL this year.
#6 by bravehoptoad // Jan 16, 2023 - 7:23am
The 49ers D has certainly cost them against very good teams already this season. I could it costing them big again against any number of rocket-armed, mobile QBs they have to face coming up. The Chiefs, for one, have got to be giggling at the thought of facing the 49ers again in the Super Bowl. That looks like another 44-23 blowout in the making.
Not sure what happened to Charvarius Ward yesterday...for a day he looked like the 3rd-string 2nd-year 5th-rounder pressed into duty because there's no one else to press, and Lenoir on the opposite side looked pretty good.
It did feel like, once the 49ers got two scores ahead, the game turned into a blowout because the Seahawks just gave up, like, screw this, lets go to Cancun (or Bangkok).
#23 by apocalipstick // Jan 16, 2023 - 9:11am
I disagree. This 49ers team, with Purdy's decisiveness and willingness to push the ball coupled with McCaffrey's full integration (he had just joined the team in October), can easily carve up the Chiefs' weak D. I think a rematch could easily be 47-45 either way.
#31 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 16, 2023 - 9:58am
The Chiefs, for one, have got to be giggling at the thought of facing the 49ers again in the Super Bowl. That looks like another 44-23 blowout in the making.
That was before Bengals, Broncos I, Texans, and Broncos II.
I promise we're not giggling at anybody anymore...more "head down, just making time toward the finish line".
#95 by rh1no // Jan 16, 2023 - 3:07pm
I'm a Bengals fan, and I've consistently picked the Chiefs to win it all this year ... in large part because of the three consecutive losses to Cincinnati.
I think the Chiefs played all three games with a certain degree of arrogance, leading to an inconsistent mixture of overly aggressive playcalling and overly conservative playcalling. They always seemed to expect that their superior talent would help them overcome any miscues. They now know they're vulnerable and other teams are capable of beating them ... and beating them consistently, too. They're going to rediscover that chip on their shoulder this post-season, work harder, and play with purpose. They're going to drub the Jags, top the Bills, and pull away from the Purdy-Niners to claim their second Lombardi trophy this decade.
Look out for the Bengals next year, though. We play against the AFC South and NFC West while facing fellow division Champs Kansas City, Buffalo, and Minnesota. That's about as favorable a schedule as a division-winner is going to get. We have a realistic path to the #1 seed if we can eliminate our early-season miscues, and I don't think Joe Burrow's appendix is going to be a problem this year.
#101 by ChiRho // Jan 16, 2023 - 3:51pm
If you think the Chiefs will hold the 49ers to 23 points again, you’ve got another thing coming. 49ers could easily put up 40+ on the Chiefs in a rematch given the upgrade Purdy is over Jimmy. Now the Chiefs could score that many points as well, no doubt, and the 49ers D may indeed cost them, but I would expect a close, high-scoring affair if these teams meet.
#14 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 16, 2023 - 8:30am
I saw a lot of fellow Lions fans lamenting on social media that they would have given the 49ers a better game than the Seahawks did, but I doubt it. The final score would have probably looked similar, it just would have taken a different route/sequence of plays to get there. The 49ers are just a machine. I'm looking forward to what would be a fascinating potential matchup between SF-PHI in a couple weeks (yes, I'm aware upsets happen).
#34 by Will Allen // Jan 16, 2023 - 10:09am
Oh, goodness, yes. Against a good defense, Purdy might have tossed 4 interceptions in the first half. He was shockingly bad, in a situation where everything was in his favor. He did some nice things in the 2nd half, of course, so who knows what the next game will bring. I guess that's why we watch!
#51 by Kaepernicus // Jan 16, 2023 - 11:30am
He had 2 dropped interceptions in the first quarter and a third ball that was too deep to intercept because he missed wide open Deebo on a crosser and Aiyuk stopped on his route to start blocking. If Aiyuk stays on that route he had a 50-50 chance of a great TD catch. How different is the narrative after this game if Aiyuk catches that insane Mahomes like scramble and dart while totaling 5 TDs on the day? But hey anybody can do it in this offense. The only time the Shanahan system has been this good, after Purdy took over, was when MVP Matt Ryan led the Falcons to the super bowl. How can so many informed fans watch his Russell Wilson style scrambling ability and assume that there are a bunch of dudes that can do that sitting around each year? I dig it though. This is a franchise tradition at this point. Every successful QB in franchise history was a misfit toy who was doubted way longer than they should have been. Purdy looks like he's the next in line.
#70 by bravehoptoad // Jan 16, 2023 - 12:42pm
Remember how well Nick Mullens did when he was starting under Shanahan? He was doing things like: in his first 13 NFL starts, Mullens was behind only Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck in passing yards. And that was Nick Mullens with a much worse team. His starting WRs were Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, his RB Matt Breida, for crying out loud.
Little adventures like that, plus Matt Ryan falling off after Shanahan left, plus the ongoing disrespect Garoppolo has gotten (your 2022 DVOA champion!)--all that means it's hard for a Shanahan QB to get much credit.
#77 by Kaepernicus // Jan 16, 2023 - 1:29pm
Nick Mullens had a noodle arm and literally could not scramble in the same universe as Purdy. His greatest game was a 34-3 beatdown of the Raiders historically terrible passing Defense where YAC made up 67% of his total yardage. Purdy is sitting around 55% YAC. Mahomes is at 53% YAC. Mullens being productive on that roster is a true coaching masterclass by Shanahan. I am confused by the people who actually watched Mullens and Purdy play who think they are somehow comparable. Their skill sets and play styles are wildly different. Purdy looks more like Kyler Murray than Mullens and that is still not a great comp.
#99 by ChiRho // Jan 16, 2023 - 3:48pm
The point isn’t that Purdy is a great QB (need larger sample size… maybe he will become one, maybe he will look far worse over time), it’s that he’s better than Jimmy (at least right now) and the odds of the 49ers winning the SB went up when Purdy took over. When has Jimmy ever had a good playoff game? Haven’t things been really stacked in his favor in many playoff games? Yet the 49ers have gotten such little output for the talent they have. And while Purdy threw some balls that could have been picked, Jimmy did that all the time, too, but with none of the upside Purdy provides in scrambling.
Also on a few of those early throws (it was raining in the first Q), he said the ball just slipped. It happens. Of course, bad weather happens and he’s got to be better than that, but he turned it around.
#116 by bravehoptoad // Jan 17, 2023 - 11:11am
The point isn’t that Purdy is a great QB (need larger sample size… maybe he will become one, maybe he will look far worse over time), it’s that he’s better than Jimmy (at least right now) ....
Come on, man. This is a stats site. Where's your evidence for a statement like that? Garoppolo was having the best season of his career. His DVOA is the best in the league, almost 4 points better than Mahomes'. Do you think this team isn't stacked in favor of Purdy, either? The fact is, since McCaffrey became a starter, neither one of them has lost any games.
#118 by ChiRho // Jan 17, 2023 - 4:34pm
He’s far more elusive, for one. I could point to his 10-yard split (1.55s for Brock, 1.78s for Jimmy), and you see this when he extends plays in ways Jimmy can’t. Pro football reference has a stat called pocket time. It's the time from snap until a player is either pressured or releases the ball. Jimmy and Purdy are tied in this stat (2.3 seconds each). They both also have very similar pressure rates(15.5% for Jimmy vs 17.6% for Purdy) as well. But Purdy’s average time to throw is 2.84s, compared to Jimmy’s 2.66s, suggesting it is the scrambling outside the pocket that is allowing for higher average time to throw. This allows for plays like finding Mitchell in the flat for a TD after the play breaks down, or his scramble to find Aiyuk (dropped) in the corner.
Jimmy’s DVOA is higher, but his total QBR is roughly 10 points lower than Brock’s on the season (not including this playoff game). Now to be fair, Jimmy’s QBR was higher with CMC, and Brock has had CMC for every start, but if I’m going to account for injury, most of Brock’s games have been without Deebo (injured in Tampa Bay game, his first start, and Deebo just returned last week), whereas Jimmy had Deebo for his starts. Total QBR accounts for things like intentional throwaways that DVOA does not, and Purdy scrambles and throws it away a lot in a way that Jimmy didn’t (consider at least 4 of Purdy’s 12 incompletions vs Seattle were throwaways). Through the second Rams game, the 49ers had the lowest throwaway percentage in the NFL while under pressure or against the blitz. And that quick average time to throw for Jimmy is a little misleading in that it’s weighted downward a lot for first-read throws, but when that’s not there he holds onto the ball way too long (see, for example Chiefs game where he was pressured 11 times, took 5 sacks—three of them coming when he held onto the ball for over 3 seconds without moving in/out of the pocket—and had zero throwaways).
So those are two ways Purdy is better than Jimmy. Does that make him better overall? No, not necessarily, though there are other stats like him having a higher rate of deep, outside-the-number touchdowns. Maybe Jimmy is better at tight window throws? What does he do better?
But what I’m much more interested in is the difference between their postseason performances. Small sample size so this won’t mean much for Purdy, but Jimmy has been bad most of the time and doesn’t have a single start close to the quality of this Purdy one, despite having a lot of talent (granted, no CMC in the past). To be sure, Seattle’s D is bad and the 49ers are loaded. But Jimmy has done little (unless you want to cite QB wins) with past elite teams in the playoffs. I can make little of one start vs. Seattle, but I prefer the mystery box, given the promise I have seen so far, to something I know has been subpar (Jimmy in the playoffs).