2017 NFL: Week 3

Thursday
Rams-49ers

Sunday
Ravens-Jaguars
Broncos-Bills
Steelers-Bears
Saints-Panthers
Buccaneers-Vikings
Browns-Colts
Dolphins-Jets
Texans-Patriots
Falcons-Lions
Giants-Eagles
Seahawks-Titans
Chiefs-Chargers
Bengals-Packers
Raiders-Redskins

Monday
Cowboys-Cardinals

29 Responses to “2017 NFL: Week 3”


  1. Reid

    Power Rannkings

    First Tier

    Patriots

    Right now, I’m putting them up there because other competitors are so flawed or bad match-ups for them.

    Second Tier

    Cowboys
    Falcons

    I think Cowboys, and potentially the Falcons, are good match-ups for the Patriots, and they’re pretty solid. I’m not 100% sure that Dak can win games when he needs to (if the Cowboys have to throw a lot) or make the handful of plays needed, but until I see more evidence that he can’t I’m going to leave the Cowboys in this position. Their defense is vulnerable, but that was always the case.

    Falcons seem solid, and if they play a more run-based style against the Patriots, they could get beat them.

    Third Tier

    Broncos
    Packers
    Raiders

    It comes down to the running game for the Broncos. If they get that going, I think they have a shot at beating the Patriots, or any other team.

    I’m not sure how good the Packers offense is, and I’m not sure how good the Raiders defense is. I don’t think they’re a great match-up against the Patriots either. (I’d love to see them beat the Patriots, though.)

    Fourth Tier

    Under this tier the teams that I’m really iffy about, but still think there’s a chance they could emerge. Some of these teams could shoot up to the second tier, maybe even the first. Here are some teams that come to mind:

    Seahawks: OL. And right now, I’m not confident they can get this right.

    Lions: They’re balanced team. I feel like they’re missing one or two players on offense and defense to be a really great team.

    Chiefs: It still comes down to Smith making a handful of plays, and I don’t think he can do this.

    Vikings: Not sure there defense is good enough

    Steelers: Terrible match-up for the Patriots

    Dolphins: I just like how they look so far, although I don’t know about their defense. I’m skeptical that they have a style that can beat the Patriots, though.

  2. don

    So hard to gauge anybody and I would put the Patriots highest on the list of hard to gauge. I didn’t think the Patriots looked as bad as people thought against the Chiefs (just giving up too many big plays), but I would say the opposite in their game against the Saints (Brady just made too many plays early, when I thought the Saints coverage weren’t that bad.).

    I would put the Patriots, Broncos, Raiders, and sort of reluctantly the Chiefs in the first tier. Siemian has been playing well, and their offensive line seems much improved. I agree the Broncos run game is a huge factor, but Jamaal Charles looks really good and could be a huge factor towards the end of the year (pick him up in fantasy). As Reid stated, (I did as well in the preseason) really like the impact of Lynch on the Raiders.

    I’ll have the Steelers, Falcons, Cowboys, Vikings, and sort of reluctantly the Seahawks in the second tier. I didn’t watch the Steelers play this year yet, but they haven’t been great based on stats and opponents. The Falcons don’t look as explosive as last year (but that was a historically good offense), but they have weapons. I really like the Vikings with Bradford, but hard to say if he can stay healthy (I do think their defense is good enough.). The Seahawks look awful on offense, but I don’t think it will take a huge improvement by the offensive line for the Seahawks to average 20 points a game with Wilson in there, and with their defense that may be all it takes.

    I’ll just have the Titans as the last team I mention. I think it’s only a matter of time before their offense gets going. They have so many new pieces and don’t seem to clicking and Murray doesn’t seem in mid-season form (and possibly still hurt), but both of those could change soon. I don’t like their offensive play-calling, though.

  3. Reid

    Don,

    So hard to gauge anybody and I would put the Patriots highest on the list of hard to gauge.

    Based on what you said after this, it sounds almost as if you’re the most sure about the Patriots being a good team. Did you mean that all the teams are hard to gauge, but the Patriots are the easiest?

    . I didn’t watch the Steelers play this year yet, but they haven’t been great based on stats and opponents.

    For what it’s worth, the Steelers were night and day in the first two games. Unless the Browns are better than I think, the Steelers didn’t look very good at all. But against the Vikings, they looked solid on both sides of the ball–maybe more than solid (although the Vikings played without Bradford). So who is the real Steeler team? It’s so hard to tell.

    The Falcons don’t look as explosive as last year (but that was a historically good offense), but they have weapons.

    Right now, they don’t seem as aggressive offensively–for example, I don’t believe they’ve gone to a no-huddle. If they are more conservative (i.e., run the ball more and control the clock), I think that increases their chances of going far. Their inability to run the ball and chew up the clock is the main reason they lost to the Patriots in my opinion.

    I really like the Vikings with Bradford, but hard to say if he can stay healthy…

    I think Bradford can lead them deep into the playoffs, but I’m uncertain about how good this OL is.

    They have so many new pieces and don’t seem to clicking and Murray doesn’t seem in mid-season form (and possibly still hurt), but both of those could change soon. I don’t like their offensive play-calling, though.

    What don’t you like about their play-calling? I like some of their play designs, and I like that they emphasize the run, but there’s something I don’t like about the coaching as well. I’m not sure my problem is with the play calling, though. But I have no idea. I do think the offensive doesn’t seem to be totally in sync–or it seems like they should be functioning better.

  4. don

    I probably wasn’t clear, but what I was trying to say about the Patriots is that were not as bad as people think against the Chiefs, but not as good as people think against the Saints, making them hard to gauge. Not hard to gauge in the sense they are not good, but how good. They were supposed to be close to all-time great team or the Golden State of the NFL.

    I think a healthy Bradford with Diggs and Thielan can make up for that shaky OL. Bradford is willing to stand in there, making him a greater injury risk, but also more productive. They have a willingness to run Dixon as well, which should, at least in theory, aid their pass-pro. I didn’t see them against the Steelers though.

    The Titans could run an offense like the Cowboys. The Cowboys main objective is trying to smash you in the mouth and wear you down. I think the Titans can do that especially since they have two great running backs and a great o-line. The Titans, though they are dedicated to the run, also love to run misdirection stuff and bubble screens that sometimes put their offense in tough down and distance situations. I think they should try to get away from the “college-type” plays or at least run them much better.

  5. Reid

    Don,

    OK, I think I know what you mean by the Patriots now. I didn’t really think of the Patriots as an all-time great team, but I thought there was a good chance they would be better than last year’s team and possibly as good as the 2007 team. (I guess, you could say the 2007 team was an all-time great team, but, for whatever reason, they’re not a team that I would choose.)

    But is it clear that they are the best in the league now (or will be by the end, assuming they don’t have any more major injuries)? I would choose them, and everyone else at a distant second.

    The Cowboys, Falcons, Broncos are teams that have a shot at beating them–mainly because they either have or potentially have the type of offense that Belichick’s smoke and mirrors won’t work on. Falcons and Broncos also have the defense that can contain the Patriots offense. (If the Seahawk OL was solid, they would be a terrible match-up for the Patriots–sort of like how the Pats are a bad match-up for the Steelers. I don’t have a lot of hope the Seahawk OL will reach that level, but if they could somehow meet the Patriots in the Super Bowl, the Patriots front four doesn’t seem that great, so it still might be a decent match-up for the Seahawks.)

    Re: Vikings

    Whether others can make up for the OL depends on how good/bad the OL really is, in my view. Yeah, the running game could help a lot (I think you meant Cook), but that depends on the OL. As with Seattle, match-ups may matter a lot. If the Vikings have to go through teams with strong front sevens, that might not bode well for their chances.

    The Titans could run an offense like the Cowboys.

    Right, but I don’t think this is really the problem–that is, I don’t think the problem is the exotic stuff they add in. I feel like the problem has to do with Mariota and the WRs. Maybe it’s the fact that Mariota struggles to make certain throws. I think he does struggle with some throws, and I think he’s still rough around the edges when it comes to QB-ing. (That might be it.) Or maybe they don’t really have a true playmaker, yet–a player where defenses have to adjust to, which then helps the other WRs.

    On a side note, after watching the Dolphins, I once again felt the desire to see Mariota play in that type of offense. I feel like he could thrive and put up big numbers.

  6. don

    This week’s games were probably affected by traveling, Raiders going to DC, and looking flat, Seattle going to Tennessee, and Denver going to Buffalo. I want to put the Ravens in that list as well, except both teams traveled, so really the Ravens is probably just a bad team.

    Pats, Texans:
    I’ll reiterate that I don’t think the Pats are as good as people say (or were saying preseason), at least not right now. All teams will get better, sans injuries, as the season progresses, but I wouldn’t doubt the Pats will improve more than others. The Texans’ D did well in spurts, but had some major breakdowns on certain plays. Brady looked like a MVP again for the second straight week. The Pats’ D left something to be desired. Caveat I only watched about 2 and ½ quarters.

    Hawks, Titans:
    Man the Titans o-line was spectacular in pass-pro. Even when the Seahawks blitzed they couldn’t really collapse the pocket. The Seahawks defense did well overall, but probably got worn down by the second half. I thought Seattle’s o-line was okay in this one (much better than the Green Bay game), but I’m guessing receivers are unable to get open. Mariota played well overall, but struggled with some accuracy in parts of the game.

    Raiders, Redskins:
    What’s the deal with the Raiders struggling against the Washington D? The only thing I can think of is the travel. Cousins was good in the parts of the game I saw, but the game was awful and I only saw 2 and ½ quarters of this one as well. That may be my limit for bad football. 

  7. Mitchell

    Wait. Did you at least see how the Patriots finished the game? That was the best part.

  8. don

    I did see the TD pass to Cook on highlights, but didn’t see what preceded it. Was the parts leading up to the final TD special or were you referring to the Cook TD? If yes to the Cook TD, that’s definitely Brady being Brady.

  9. Reid

    I didn’t get to watch as many games, partly because I had to go to a party and partly because I found out the outcomes of many games, which killed my interest.

    Raiders-Redskins

    Turnovers hurt the Raiders, and they just seemed out of sorts on offense; they could never get anything going, and this just snowballed for them.

    The Raiders defense continues to look better than they did last year, although I don’t think the Redskins are a really good offense.

    Texans-Patriots

    I only watched the latter part of the game. DeShaun Watson looked good, especially for a rookie. Brady’s last drive was impressive, not just the last throw. He made throws under pressure, if I recall. (The Texans secondary seemed to make some big mistakes or they’re not that good, or they have some injuries.)

    Chiefs-Chargers

    Rivers played badly. I think he threw three INTS, and they were all on him, if I recall. I didn’t finish watching this.

    Ravens-Jaguars

    Ravens offense seems pretty anemic (again). I missed the Ravens game in week 2, but it sounded like the defense played well. They didn’t look all that impressive in this game. The Jaguars OL continues to look solid, if not more than that.

    Lions-Falcons

    Falcons turned the ball over two or three times. At one point, it looked like the Lions couldn’t stop the Falcons run game, and I thought the Falcons went away from the run. (This lead to one INT, at least.)

    Lions lose in heartbreaking fashion, but they are a solid team. If they can keep this team together and add one or two more pieces, they can be Super Bowl contenders.

    Don,

    I’m interested in whether you agree with the following impressions I had of the Seahawks-Titans game:

    1. The Seahawk offense is dysfunctional. They’re relying way too much on Wilson. Basically, because of the OL, I feel like all the players have to be perfect for the offense to function like a normal offense. The OL may not have been as dramatically bad as they were in the Packer game, but they still look like bottom three OLs.

    If this were another team, I’d be thinking about firing the OC.

    2. The Seahawk defense broke in the 3rd. I don’t think I’ve seen them do that so early, but they collapsed–by a combination of the Titans pounding them, the Seahawks inability to extend drives, and the weather.

  10. Don

    The Seahawk offense is dysfunctional.

    During the Seahawks Super Bowl winning season and the following Super Bowl losing season, the Seahawks were ranked first (if not top three) in rushing yards per game. I thought the Seahawks abandoned the run a little early in this game. I thought the running game wasn’t great, but was good enough to stick with it. I thought running Prosise was also wasting downs, because although Carson wasn’t great, Prosise was even worse. I think getting into more third and fives will help this team, and maybe it wouldn’t allow them to score more, but at least hold the ball longer. Actually passing more may get them more points as it did against the Titans late in the game, but it probably increases their chances of winning.

    The Seahawk defense broke in the 3rd.

    Yes I agree I was sort of surprised at how early the Seahawks folded defensively. That being said though, the long runs by Murray and Henry both happen on the outside via a pitch or wide handoff if I recall correctly. It wasn’t via a normal stretch play. It either caught the Seahawks off-guard or was a play Seattle’s defense is susceptible to. Whereas other runs, the Seahawks seem to be able to get penetration and disrupt the play early. But I’ll add that the Titans o-line is a bad-ass unit, well at least they looked like it for good parts of the game. Lewan and Conklin really control the edges of the line well.

  11. Reid

    Don,

    More 3rd and 5s would help, but that’s the thing–penalties, stuffed runs, blown up plays–there’s too many of that. Add to that errant passes (not necessarily an inordinate number). Does this look like a normal, functioning offense? To me, it does not. They rely way too much on Wilson to work miracles. It’s ridiculous the degree to which they have to do that. It almost feels like Archie Manning and the Saints.

    That being said though, the long runs by Murray and Henry both happen on the outside via a pitch or wide handoff if I recall correctly.

    I don’t think that’s the reason. The defense also, uncharacteristically, allowed catches that went for long runs. They looked like a defense that was gassed and broken.

    The Titans OL is very good, but they looked even better against the Seahawks. This is a bad match up for the Seahawks. Seahawks d is small and fast, and the Titans are big and powerful–and they run right at you. Throw in some misdirection, read-option, and that can mess you up.

    The way to counter this is for your offense to hold the ball for long periods of time. Seahawk offense obviously failed.

  12. Don

    Correction:
    I wrote above, “passing more may get them more points as it did against the Titans late in the game, but it probably increases their chances of winning.” I meant to say decreases their chances, despite being able to score more.

    To be honest, imo, Seattle’s offense always struggled even when they were good. If I remember correctly, in their Super Bowl lost to New England, the Seahawks only converted on one third down. I didn’t think they faired that much better against the Pack on third down in the NFC Championship game either. It’s just their offense problems are exacerbated now with a weaker o-line and no weapons outside of Baldwin with an injured Graham.

    Yeah I think the breakdown on the Hawks had way more to do with be worn down (maybe physically and mentally), but I remember the Cowboys running a version of that outside pitch play with some success with Murray when they played against the Seahawks as well. I thought that time the Seahawks was doing okay against the outside zone stretch plays, too.

  13. Reid

    I meant to say decreases their chances, despite being able to score more.

    I figured, but thanks for the clarification. I agree with this, by the way, but I want to hear why you think this is the case.

    To be honest, imo, Seattle’s offense always struggled even when they were good.

    There are different reasons, though. When they faced the Packers and Patriots in 2014, that was without Paul Richardson (who got hurt prior to the Packer game). They also lost Zach Miller (and Percy Harvin) earlier in the season. I do not think they would have struggled, not nearly as much, in the Packers and Patriots games if those two guys played. I’m not sure you can count struggles by an offense when injuries are big factor.

    Last year, Wilson was hurt, and that was a big factor, but I also think the OL just wasn’t good enough. Same with this year. Their starting LT, Fant, was lost for the season, but I don’t think he would have made a huge difference. (This is a guy who didn’t play much football, until last season.)

    … but I remember the Cowboys running a version of that outside pitch play with some success with Murray when they played against the Seahawks as well

    1) That’s the Cowboys offense; 2) the Seahawks rarely give up a huge run like that (although they allowed two against the Niners, but not toss sweeps).

    In my opinion, they can struggle against offenses that go to a run-first style, even if the offense isn’t that great at that style. But the teams that have a beefy OL and a good run-first offense–that’s their Achille’s Heel. The only way out is if the offense can control the clock, or if the defense can generate turnovers.

  14. Reid

    Cowboys-Cardinals

    Couple thoughts:

    1. After two long opening drives, I thought the Cowboys defense might get knocked out. But they came roaring back–although is the Cowboy front four that good, or the Cardinal OL that bad.The Cardinal OL was about as bad as the Seahawk OL. A part of me feels like the Cardinals should have ran more, to keep the Cowboys defense honest, but at a certain point, they couldn’t. The other problem is that the Cardinals seem to have a limited short passing game.

    2. Prescott saved the offense. In the early part of the game, the Dallas OL didn’t look so good, in pass protection and run-blocking, but they seemed to make the right adjustments. The run game got going later, but I think Dak made the key plays.

    Still, I think I kinda want to say the defense won the game, and I don’t think I ever thought I’d say that about the Cowboy defense.

  15. Don

    I figured, but thanks for the clarification. I agree with this, by the way, but I want to hear why you think this is the case.

    Like you stated previously, the Cowboys offense is the one to carry the load. In the case of Seattle it’s their defense. This means giving them as much chance to win the game by winning field of position, turnover margin, and time of possession. All those things do not come with a pass first offense.

    If I was advising Seattle’s offense, I would say stay about 50-50 on running on first down. But on second down, I think the run percentage should be closer to 60-40 run. Most teams will pass on second and long, but Seattle should be running a good portion of the time in those situations to try and get to third and medium. They may still only convert 40% of their third and medium, but that is probably better than what they are converting currently. They should also worry less about scoring and concern themselves with time of possession and shorting the game.

    Cowboys, Cardinals:
    The Cowboys have been playing a lot of zone against the Giants and the start of the Cardinals game. As soon as they went to more man coverage, the Cardinals offense looked bad. If it wasn’t for some beautiful plays by Fitzgerald, the Cardinals may have been shut out, after the Cowboys went man. And yes that is the worse o-line Dallas has faced this year. At certain points, Dallas was rushing three and getting to Palmer. They may be worse than Seattle. Also Arizona is still uber aggressive on defense, and it really cost them in some big plays by Dallas.

    Dak was very good in this game. He will have his share of errant throws. I would say he’s average in terms of accuracy inside the pocket. Maybe he’s a little short like Wilson, making pocket pass a little more challenging. He, as usual, was great outside the pocket, however.

  16. Reid

    All those things do not come with a pass first offense.

    Yep, those are my reasons as well.

    They should also worry less about scoring and concern themselves with time of possession and shorting the game.

    Totally agree. I suspect Carroll would like to do this as well. I think the main problem is that Carroll and Bevel have very little trust in the run-blocking right now. Defenses blowing up run plays happens too often. Right now, the offense is the most reliable and functional in a hurry up situation, in a spread formation.

    As soon as they went to more man coverage, the Cardinals offense looked bad.

    But you think switching to man helped the Cowboy pass rush–because that is what came alive in a big way. I believe I’ve seen the other two Arizona games and the OL looked shaky, but not this bad. By the way, I thought Palmer handled the pressure well, considering he had a lot of it.

    The sense I got was that the Cowboys just didn’t respect the Cardinals run game, and they decided they would force the Cardinals to beat them that way. For whatever reason, Arians didn’t go that route.

    Maybe he’s a little short like Wilson, making pocket pass a little more challenging.

  17. Don

    Carroll and Bevel have very little trust in the run-blocking right now.

    Seattle is probably averaging 3 yards per carry, which is horrible. But it still will put them in 3rd and 6 or 7 situations most of the time. Those are not easy conversions, but has to be better than what is going on now.

    But you think switching to man helped the Cowboy pass rush–because that is what came alive in a big way.

    In terms of pressure maybe not, but it’s hard to say because Palmer was getting the ball out so quickly against the zone. In terms of sacks though, I would give a even distribution between the defensive line penetrating and the DBs covering once they went to man coverage. There were a few times, Palmer ate the ball because he didn’t seem to have anyone open.

    Yeah Dak at 6’2″ has to be in the bottom five in the league in terms of height. I know Wilson, Brees are shorter, but I don’t know that many more QBs that short (Taylor in Buffalo?). You think the 2 inches make that much of a difference between Wilson and Dak? Wilson should just try play with some lifts in his shoes if that’s the case.

  18. Reid

    Seattle is probably averaging 3 yards per carry, which is horrible.

    I sort of feel like that stat isn’t that useful in this context. If the average based on zero or negative plays on one end and fairly longer runs on the other, that might cause an OC to hesitate. When you’re a run-based offense negative plays/penalties can be devastating, especially a run-based offense that is struggling. So I can understand if there is hesitation. If they lose yardage on run plays, they’re less likely to get to 3rd and five. My guess is that they might want to ensure getting a first down early in the drive and then hopefully sprinkle in runs.

    In terms of sacks though, I would give a even distribution between the defensive line penetrating and the DBs covering once they went to man coverage.

    I sort of feel like the man-coverage wasn’t a big factor, but if it lead to the Cardinals calling longer developing routes, that definitely might have helped the pass rush. Still, the Cardinals OL looked overwhelmed, often right from the start of the plays, especially at the edge. Palmer seemed to be constantly sliding and dancing back there (and he did a pretty good job). The pressure seemed on top of him from the start–and in this way, it was about as bad at the Seahawk OL. (The Cardinal pass pro seemed a little better in the first half.)

    Yeah Dak at 6’2″ has to be in the bottom five in the league in terms of height. I know Wilson, Brees are shorter, but I don’t know that many more QBs that short (Taylor in Buffalo?). You think the 2 inches make that much of a difference between Wilson and Dak?

    The difference isn’t 2″. Wilson is listed at 5′ 11″, but he actually might be a little shorter than that.

    My sense is that you don’t have to be really tall, but you can’t go below a certain point. I believe Bill Walsh said the ideal height was 6′ 3″ (or maybe 6′ 4″?). This is interesting because it also suggests that a QB can be too tall.

    With Brees and Wilson, I think the shotgun has really allowed them to be more viable QBs. Also, with Brees you can tell the Saints have prioritized pass protection, particularly the bottom of the pocket. The G-C-G is generally rock solid for the Saints. (I wish the Seahawks would put more emphasis on that for Wilson.)

  19. Don

    If the average based on zero or negative plays on one end and fairly longer runs on the other, that might cause an OC to hesitate.

    But for every negative play there has to be a positive one to make up for that if their average is three yards. So in the short term yes, but over an entire game the result should be either more third and mediums or in the very least some long runs sprinkled in there.

    My guess is that they might want to ensure getting a first down early in the drive and then hopefully sprinkle in runs.

    So is the belief that if they were more pass-centric that their chances of getting first downs versus getting three and outs are better? I’m not sure that’s true. If it is true, I’m for doing that as well, despite what I said earlier about the offense being designed to help the defense.

    I sort of feel like the man-coverage wasn’t a big factor,

    So your theory is that because the Cards refuse to run after the first couple drives (I don’t recall them running all that well in the first couple drives either.) that Dallas’ defensive line was “teeing off” and that resulted in the Cardinals demise offensively, sans a few nice catches by Fitzgerald, which resulted in another TD. Maybe, but the man-coverage seems like a more logical correlation. Plus I think twice Gruden showed the all 22 shot and showed how no one was open.

  20. Reid

    But for every negative play there has to be a positive one to make up for that if their average is three yards. So in the short term yes, but over an entire game the result should be either more third and mediums or in the very least some long runs sprinkled in there.

    The average doesn’t tell when those long runs occur. What if they occur at the end of the half or in 3rd and long, on a draw play when a team is pinned in their territory. They skew the average and make it seem better than it is. My point is that I wouldn’t simply look at the average and conclude that the running game is good enough to do what you’re suggesting.

    So is the belief that if they were more pass-centric that their chances of getting first downs versus getting three and outs are better?

    I’m guessing they want to start a drive off with passes, because they’re nervous about running the ball so early. In other words, they want to secure at least one first down, avoiding a three and out. And that might be why they may look to pass more initially. Eventually, they want to run the ball more. This is just a guess, though.

    Maybe, but the man-coverage seems like a more logical correlation. Plus I think twice Gruden showed the all 22 shot and showed how no one was open.

    Coverage and the pass rush work together, but the reason I think they were teeing off was because the OL looked overwhelmed almost at the snap. The pressure seemed to be coming right away. I’m not sure how the coverage would affect that. Also, if they’re not “teeing off” then this suggests the Cowboy DL is just really good and/or the Cardinals OL is really that bad. Maybe they have injuries, but the Cardinal OL looked worse than they did in the previous games, and it’s not like the Cowboy DL looked really great in the previous games. Finally, the pressure seemed greater in the second half.

  21. Don

    My point is that I wouldn’t simply look at the average and conclude that the running game is good enough to do what you’re suggesting.

    Actually running three yards a pop is really terrible. And being in third and medium most of the day isn’t all that great either, if not most teams would opt for it. However, my main point is that this is better than the alternative. Also, just so I’m clear, I was still saying running about 50% of the time or maybe slightly higher, so it still means lots of passing. But it seems in the games I saw (I didn’t see San Fran), that Seattle seemed reluctant to run because of what you stated. And more so on second and long, but that just meant more third and longs, and thus more three and outs.

    In other words, they want to secure at least one first down,

    As I said previously, if they think passing would give them a greater chance for a first down, I would say go with that. Do you get that feeling that passing on first and second downs give them a better chance of getting first downs even though it’s just early in the drive? If the answer is yes and if I was a fan, I think I would be pushing for a more pass-centric offense as well, despite what I said about allowing the defense to win the game. The thing with the defense is they are still the “bend but don’t break” type, and thus makes it harder to win the time of possession and field position battles.

    it’s not like the Cowboy DL looked really great in the previous games.

    I don’t know if it’s coaching or talent or possibly both, but Dallas never had a front line, even with D Ware in which they produced constant pressure on the QB. It seems more like in some plays they get to the QB and in some they don’t have any penetration. But prior to this game, D Lawrence was in the top three in sacks and I’m pretty sure he was close to the top in pressures. He did alright against Denver, but Denver was getting the ball out quick, and against the Giants he was killing them on some plays.

  22. Reid

    The thing with the defense is they are still the “bend but don’t break” type, and thus makes it harder to win the time of possession and field position battles.

    Exactly, and the Sheldon Richardson hasn’t really changed that, so far. I think opposing teams have figured out how to move the ball slowly down the field without turning the ball over. The only think that will change this is if the Seahawks can get a big lead. Going to a hurry-up could possibly do that, but this will weaken the defense in the process in my opinion. The lead would not only have to be sizable, but the offense would have to continue to score after they get a lead (which is a lot of pressure on the offense). Even with a really good OL and skill-position players this is a tough proposition.

    But the reality seems to be that the spread-based offense, particularly in hurry-up mode, is when the offense actually functions well. Should the Carroll switch to that, or still try to develop the run game? I think it’s a really hard question to answer. If you agree with the drawbacks I’m mentioning, would you still push for a pass-heavy offense? I’m becoming more ambivalent.

    Let me throw another angle on this. Carroll believes that you never change your philosophy (maybe except in extreme situations), and I tend to agree with that. If Carroll decides to make this dramatic shift, I think it can undermine his authority and the confidence the players have in him. Also, this shift could possibly hurt the development of OL. The goal is to try to get them to function in a run-first offense, moving them away from a college spread offense. Switching may retard that development. (On the other hand, if the OL continues to struggle mightily, I think the team risks destroying the confidence of these young players and ruining them permanently.) Finally, if the team doesn’t do well from this approach, that could lead to better draft picks.

    He did alright against Denver, but Denver was getting the ball out quick, and against the Giants he was killing them on some plays.

    I don’t know if we can count the Giants game, because their OL is also suspect. The Cardinals, Giants, and Seahawks are the worst OLs I’ve seen. (Houston was also terrible against the Jaguars, but when they switched to Watson, the OL looked a little better.)

    It’s hard to say how good the Cowboy DL really is. I sort of get the sense that if they can pin their ears back, they can be effective. The Broncos ran the ball quite well, so the threat of running might have kept the DL at bay. (The Broncos OL doesn’t seem all that great, either, but they seem at least competent.)

    By the way, I think I was too dismissive of the idea of that switching to man coverage explained the better pass rush. If the Cardinal pass-catchers weren’t getting open quickly, that’s going to force Palmer to hold the ball longer. It’s just that the impression I got was the Cardinal OL looked overwhelmed from the snap. (But this impression could be inaccurate as well.)

  23. Don

    What about that magical run Wilson went on two years ago when he was putting up crazy stats? Weren’t the Seahawks in pass mode that time?

    You think the Giants o-line is in the same category as the Seahawks and Cardinals? I didn’t think so against Dallas. How did they do against the Eagle defensive front? I feel like the Eagles have one of the best front sevens. On a side note, Washington’s front four seems pretty good as well. Actually Washington’s offensive and defensive lines combined may be top three. I’m not surprised by their offensive line with Williams and Callahan coaching, but their defensive front surprises me. They were killing a good Raider o-line. I’m sort of high on this Redskin team after the last two weeks. They seem to be able to run anybody behind their o-line.

  24. Reid

    What about that magical run Wilson went on two years ago when he was putting up crazy stats? Weren’t the Seahawks in pass mode that time?

    No, I wouldn’t say they were. There may have been a few games where they leaned more in a pass-heavy way (like against the Steelers), but I think that can be done, on occasion, without signifying some dramatic shift. Or do you disagree with that?

    Would you also agree with me that all NFL offenses are a hybrid of spread (e.g., run and shoot) and more traditional pro-style, run-based offenses? The difference are a matter of degrees. The Dolphins and Packers are predominantly spread-based, but they will line up in i-formations for a series and function like an older offense.

    You think the Giants o-line is in the same category as the Seahawks and Cardinals? I didn’t think so against Dallas. How did they do against the Eagle defensive front?

    The Giants OL didn’t look as bad as the Cardinals did against the Cowboys or the Seahawks against the Packers. I don’t think they’re worse than the Seahawks, and it’s not clear to me if their better or worse than the Cardinals’ OL. The Giants OL doesn’t seem completely incompetent, but they seem very ineffective, if that makes sense. (I didn’t watch them play against the Eagles so I can’t comment.)

    I’m sort of high on this Redskin team after the last two weeks.

    You know, I haven’t paid attention to them very much, and maybe I should. I think Charlie Casserly said they’re the best team in the NFC West. So far, I haven’t gotten the impression that they’re really good. They seem like in a similar place as the Bengals. Or maybe they’re like the Lions.

    By the way, on completely different note, one of my complaints about the Raider offense, besides the fact that they’re more of pass-based team, is the way they integrate their running and passing games. In short, I think they’re not very good at this, and I really dislike that.

  25. Reid

    I don’t like this. (I think it’s great for KC, though. This is how they’ll have a chance.)

  26. Mitchell

    Speaking of context (I just read your recent comment about the type of journalism you’re looking for) is this enough context for you to say whether you like it or not? It’s just a ranking among current teams across three games. I’m sure you don’t like that Seattle is running the most plays per game in the league, but is KC’s pace significantly slower, or is it still pretty quick in a league that lately favors quick play? It’s one thing to say KC has the slowest pace; it’s another to say whether the value is actually slow, you know what I mean?

    Also, I wonder how this stat is measured. Long passing plays take longer to unfold than short passing gains, and you’re opposed to taking large chunks of yardage when you can just keep the chains moving. Is KC’s pace the result of Smith throwing the ball deeper this season (so far) than he has in the past?

  27. Reid

    Speaking of context (I just read your recent comment about the type of journalism you’re looking for) is this enough context for you to say whether you like it or not?

    No, it’s not, but I’m also relying on what I’ve seen from both teams, and these stats seem to consistent with that. For example, I don’t know if 31.71 seconds per play is slow or if it’s significantly slower than 28.08 seconds. But the Chiefs are a ball-control team–or at least they seem that way to mean. I don’t know if I would have guessed they’re the slowest (I would have mentioned Bears as well; maybe the Niners and Bills), but it’s not surprising, and it makes sense. I feel similar about the Seahawaks (although I’m a little more surprised that they’re the fastest).

    … and you’re opposed to taking large chunks of yardage when you can just keep the chains moving

    “You” meaning me? If so, I actually think that deep passes are important for a run-based offense. If you’re good at deep passes and have a really good run game, that’s a difficult combination to stop.

    Is KC’s pace the result of Smith throwing the ball deeper this season (so far) than he has in the past?

    I tend not to think so. They’re all about ball-control, and like other ball-controlled offenses, they can have trouble scoring. My sense is that they mix in traditional run plays with college misdirection run plays. They’re passing is of the short ball control nature, too. And then every once and a while, like most run-based offenses, they’ll take shots down the field. But I bet it’s mostly like 2-3 times a game.

  28. Mitchell

    Okay. That actually makes sense given their rookie running back. I just wondered if those pace stats were meaningful without any real context, and you answered my question. Is Seattle doing any no-huddle stuff? Because if they’re not, that ranking really is surprising. Unless they’re getting a lot of three-and-outs.

  29. Reid

    Is Seattle doing any no-huddle stuff? Because if they’re not, that ranking really is surprising. Unless they’re getting a lot of three-and-outs.

    Both. They’re getting a lot of short possessions early and then having to rely on no huddle in two minute situations or when they get behind. (The Niner game was an exception, though.)

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