28 thoughts on “2018-2019 NFL: Week 13”
Some general thoughts:
I told Don that if the Cowboys ran well and played defense up to my level of expectation for them, then I could see them having a good chance of beating the Saints. However, when I think about this more, the Cowboys haven’t been consistent, and so I would expect to see that type of play during this game; and thus, I wouldn’t expect them to win.
Obviously, the Seahawks have to win, but the nature of the game is important. For example, if they blow out the Niners, that would suggest they’re actually a good team, that they’ve taken a step towards consistency. Additionally, it can allow them to reduce snaps for their starters, especially on defense, which is something really valuable.
On the other hand, if they don’t play well, and just barely beat the Niners that would reinforce that they’re really not that good. My impression is that they’re really not that good, but I hope they prove me wrong. (I guess it’s possible that they play well, but the Niners play even better and/or get lucky and the Seahawks squeak out a win. However, I think this scenario is pretty unlikely. If the Seahawks play well, they should win in convincing fashion.)
One of the few times I will be cheering for the Patriots. I predict the Patriots will try to force Vikings to beat them with the running game, and if the Vikings can’t or don’t run and run effectively enough, I think they’ll lose.
I’m interested in seeing how both teams play.
If the Broncos play well, keep your eye on them. If they get in a groove and get into the playoffs, they could be a team you wouldn’t want to face.
I think top to bottom (maybe not depth though) this may be the best Cowboy team in terms of player talent since Aikman retired. But Dallas does not have any dominate pieces, like the o-line in 2016 or a Romo for example. All that to say just based on talent, Dallas should have a chance against the Saints. But based on how the Saints have been playing versus how Dallas has been playing, Dallas should not stand a chance (Basically agreeing with what Reid is saying.). This Saints team to be as dominate as that Moss Patriot team that went undefeated in the regular season.
I saw a little bit of the Broncos last week, and Philip Lindsay is a player. He’s not Barkley in terms of power, but he has some real talent.
This makes sense–if you’re looking at both sides of the ball, and I think I agree. I would say the 2014-2016 teams (at least if Romo didn’t get hurt in ’15) team were significantly better than the 2018 team, which maybe obvious.
One theory I have. While the overall talent of the defensive players may be significantly better now, they’re missing one or two truly great players to elevate their defense, and without that maybe the gap between them on the defenses from ’14-’16 isn’t as big.
This could be due to two factors. First, Marinelli’s system, like Carroll’s, can be decent even without great personnel. Second, a great ball control offense could mitigate defensive vulnerabilities. In 2018, the Cowboys might not have the talent on defense to make it dominant, and the offense is no longer good enough to elevate/protect the defense. I think the primary reason for all of this is decline in the OL play. If the ’18 OL played a similar level to the previous years, my guess is that this team would be close, if not better. And maybe it comes down to not having Frederick, even though Looney seems to be doing well. (Then again, Tyron Smith doesn’t seem all that healthy, too; and I still think Conor Williams wasn’t a liability. When did they get Sua-Filo?)
You could be right, although this comparison never came to mind. I tend to think this Saints team is more balanced and versatile.
I feel like this was one his most impressive games, although he’s definitely flashed in previous ones. I’m not sure how good he could be. Overall, I think the Denver offense looked better than they have in some of the previous games, and either the Steelers defense was off or aren’t as good, or the play calling was really on. I feel like the play calling was really good myself.
Dallas has D-Lawrence, who I’ve heard and not from a Dallas reporter, was a better player than Mack or Miller because of his ability to play the run. Not that I agree, but I can see where that person is coming from. Dallas probably has the best LB crew or right up there in the NFL, although Vander Esch and Smith are a little young. And they have Byron Jones, who is, at least at this point, a shutdown corner. I think the defense hasn’t played to their potential, but has still been good to very good.
Sua-Filo was picked up early in the season, maybe week 3-4. Hard to say if he was the reason for the o-line looking better since he began starting because his emergence was around the same time Cooper was picked up and Colombo took over as o-line coach. But I have a theory that Dallas should look to get these less athletic more strong guys to play with Fredrick, Martin, and Smith. Dallas’ best line was with Ron Leary who most think is an average lineman, but in Dallas he should have been a pro-bowler. He was strong, but not too athletic, sort of like Sua-Filo and almost the opposite of Connor Williams. But Williams has been good overall this year, and will certainly be the starter again next year.
Are you saying this Saint team is better than that Patriot team? Or are we just talking about their offenses? My take is the Saints are more balanced on offense, but they don’t have a Randy Moss, Welker tandem as good as Michael Thomas is. I would guess that the Patriot defense is slightly better as well, at least in terms of stars with Seau, Harrison, Vrabel, and Wilfork.
My impression is that Mack is a good run defender. In any event, I would not choose Lawrence over Mack or Miller. They’re not in the same ballpark in my opinion.
The key is that they haven’t played to their potential. I think they’re better than the Seahawks defense (although I think the Seahawk defense is shaky and inconsistent), but I think they should be significantly better.
I’m thinking in terms of the overall team. It just seems like the Saints can win in different ways. My sense is that the Patriot offense was better. But again, my memory of the 2007 Patriot team is very hazy.
Why do you think Lawrence is not in the same ball park as Miller and Mack? I’m going to guess you think Bosa is significantly better than Lawrence as well? Lawrence gets as much sacks as those three guys and with significantly more tackles overall. To me it’s not a stretch to say he’s in the conversation with those guys. Actually, Lawrence is closer to Watt in terms of being able to play the run as well as the pass.
What do you guys think about this decision to throw deep on 4th and 3? Yeah, it requires guts, but I tend to think this was the wrong decision, especially when you have Lockett underneath. I get Wilson’s point about either playing with fear or looking forward to a moment, but this has to be tempered with being smart, too. The smarter decision seems to go for Lockett. At the same time, Thomas Davis is in the middle of the field, and he basically only drifts away from Lockett when Wilson looks towards Moore streaking down the sideline, and when Wilson looks, I think he has basically decided to go deep.
Also, this play reminds me of a 3rd down play the Cowboys faced against the Redskins, where Prescott threw deep. The ball was basically on target, but the WR dropped the ball (but to be fair it wasn’t a gimme). That’s the thing the WR can drop the ball or the defender can make a good play. If the Seahawks did this on 3rd and 3, it would be more defensible, I think.
I wanted to make a comment about the Packers. I’ve thought the Green Bay OL has been excellent, particularly in pass pro, but they seem to be declining–so much so that I’m wondering if they have injuries (I’m too lazy to check.). Here’s an example:
In the past, against four pass rushers, the Packer OL could bottle up the rushers closer to the line. Rodgers could manipulate the pass rushers (e.g., moving into the pocket, and then backing up). But he can’t do this sort of thing when the pass pro is like it is above.
The Packer pass catchers still seem mediocre (They have a bunch of guys I’ve never heard of), but in the last year or two the OL could give Rodgers all day (at one point, teams had to keep blitzing). But that doesn’t seem to be the case. By the way, the Seahawks front four sacked Rodgers a few times, and that shows you there’s problems because the Seattle pass rush isn’t great.
Bakhtiari has nagging injuries I’m pretty sure and Bulaga has been in and out as well. The fact they have to play Byron Bell, who couldn’t hack it in Dallas says a lot.
OK, that makes more sense. If I had more interest, I’d look to see if there were correlation between injuries and decline in the OL performance.
On another note, my sense is the Packers prioritize the OL over WRs/TEs. If you have to choose, I think this is the smart choice. With a real good OL, plus Rodgers, particularly his ability to extend plays and throw off the run, this could overcome the limitations with the pass catchers. But if the OL deteriorates, the plan is no longer viable. I think that’s a big reason for their struggles. (On defense, the Packers continue to have a ton of injuries.)
Answer: The eye test. And I’ve had more time watching Mack and Miller vs. Lawrence. I could be wrong, though.
As for Bosa, I don’t think he’s in the same category, but not counting this year, it seemed like he was getting there.
Okay so I looked it up and Lawrence has better numbers than Miller and Mack this year, but Lawrence’s numbers from last year (his only full year playing and his break out year) isn’t up to Miller and Mack’s best years. These guys’ numbers however are dwarfed by JJ Watt’s best year. Mack’s best year was 15 and 77, sacks and tackles respectively. Miller’s best year is 18.5 and 68. Lawrence last year was 14.5 and 58. Watt’s best year was 20.5 and 81. Oh and Bosa last year was 12.5 and 70.
For what it’s worth, I had no idea what the numbers were for any of the players, and I primarily going on what I’ve seen. Also, at his best Watt, I would say what was a tier above Mack and Miller. I would also choose Donald over Mack and Miller right now.
The thing about Miller is that he seemed to be able to come up with big sacks during key moments–e.g., 3rd down and 2 minute situations. (Donald seems to be doing that this year.) Then again, he also got to play with DeMarcus Ware, whereas Mack and Lawrence really don’t have that type of partner.
I’m not sure if you’ve seen Frank Clark play all that much, but I tend to think Clark and Lawrence are in a similar ball park.
Frank Clark is really good, but I don’t think he’s in Lawrence’s league. If Lawrence isn’t in Miller and Mack’s league, he’s real close. How about the Minnesota guy Danielle Hunter? They were talking him up in the last broadcast. Speaking of d-linemen, I think Myles Garrett as good as he is, might be underachieving. He seems like he should be better.
I wouldn’t put him in the class of Mack or Miller. One thing to keep in mind is the supporting cast. Mack has played with a bad supporting cast–not only on the DL, but the entire defense overall with the Raiders.
I haven’t really watched Garrett enough so I can’t really comment.
By the way, one of the things I look at is how often the players are disruptive, whether they get a sack or not. When a player is disruptive enough times, that’s when I start paying attention. Another thing: The elite players can create the impression that they’re overwhelming the OL, dominating.
Having said this, I’ve noticed that even players like Miller and Mack can go through fairly long periods where I don’t really notice them. (With Mack this is somewhat understandable because the Raiders never had other players the defense had to worry about. This can happen with Donald, too, but I’ve learned that defenses have been double/triple team him quite a lot.)
Well, I’d say the Cowboys, especially on defense, lived up to their potential. The sense I got was it started on the back end–there didn’t seem to be very many open WRs. The Saints WRs seem blanketed for most of the game. I’d say the Cowboy DL won the battle in the trenches as well, both against the run and against the pass. The best defense I’ve seen against the Saints came from the Ravens and Browns. This was better.
Cowboys offense had some nice drives. The one bad thing was the pass rush getting to Prescott, and Prescott not protecting the football. He’s gotta fix that for sure.
When I first wrote my thoughts, I was actually rooting for the Cowboys, but then I realized their winning is worse for the Seahawks. So I’m little disappointed in them winning.
During Dallas’ four game win streak, this is the least amount of pressure by Dallas’ front four. I think that speaks more to how good the Saints’ o-line is. I thought the Saints would struggle running the ball, but I didn’t expect them not being able to pass. Richard seem to have brought the Seahawk thinking for the DBs to commit a penalty on every play, because they cannot call every one.
Prescott has to get rid of the ball quicker and make quicker decisions in general. Prescott is a good QB, probably a top fifteen guy (or right around there), but he has to be more decisive.
I doubt a Dallas win will have an impact on the Seahawks. I guess Dallas could take a wild card spot that the Seahawks could get, but overall Dallas’ best chance is to win their division, and if they ended up tied with the Seahawks for the wild card spot, the Seahawks should get the advantage because they beat them head-to-head.
The Saints front seven is good. They are not Philly good from last year, but they are good enough for them to win the Super Bowl for sure with that offense. Also if you believe like Reid (and myself) that a team needs to run the ball to win, that’s a good sign for the Saints, because they didn’t get away from running the ball. They stuck to it, despite it not being successful. Maybe because they were struggling in the passing game, but I thought it showed something.
Not sure if anyone cares, but Sean Payton’s in-game decisions had some influence in the loss. He burned his challenges early and it’s not so much the first one that they loss that was costly, but the second one wasn’t worth it knowing it was his last one. For background, a team gets two challenges and extra one if you win both. The Saints loss the first challenge and so Payton had to know his second challenge was going to be his last of the game. Despite the fact that they won the second challenge it was costly because there were a few other times that he could have used it. Also his last timeout at two seconds before the two minute warning was absurd. I’m not sure what he was thinking there. It not only allowed the Cowboys to pass because it wouldn’t matter if they ran because the clock would have stopped at the two minute warning anyway, but it would have cost the Saints another forty seconds even if the Cowboys didn’t get a first down. Because even if the Cowboys didn’t get the pass interference on their second down play, after the two minute warning Dallas probably would have run the ball let forty seconds run off the clock and then kick the field goal. Payton essentially would have cost his team forty seconds to save two?
I’m not sure if this is true, but I tend to think Prescott deserves more of the blame when they have problems in the pass game. At the same time, I’m not really confident saying that, as I don’t really know to what degree the WRs are getting open. The pass protection can be a little shaky, but I tend to think he should be better, despite this (assuming the WRs aren’t struggling to get open).
Being committed to the run is good, but if their running is going to be as poor as it was, I’m not sure it matters that much. Overall, the Cowboys defense dominating the Saints offense is what stands out of the most for me.
I think I’m indifferent to this because my feeling is that these decisions had very little impact. I would say the Cowboys defense shut down the Saints offense. I feel like the Saints had no chance in this because their offense had no chance.
Your statement could be interpreted to mean a few things: 1) Dallas defense is too good for the Saints’ running game or 2) The Saints’ running game is not that good or 3) A combination of both. Yes Dallas dominated on defense, but that doesn’t necessarily mean if they played 10 times Dallas would dominate 10 times. Nor do I think the Saints’ run game isn’t that good. My original statement of the Saints being committed to the run is coming from the fact that we had discussions on whether or not the Saints is a running team or a pass first team disguised as a running team because of the RB talent. I think most pass first teams would have abandoned the run earlier on. I think it speaks a lot to say that the Saints didn’t do that. I would also say based on what I’ve seen yesterday it didn’t make me less apt to choose them as favorites, but maybe even choose them even more. Now if I see other teams do what Dallas did to them going forward, that will change, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case.
I disagree, while Dallas defense dominated the Saints that doesn’t mean that Dallas overall dominated the Saints. Payton’s decision to use his challenges early on, cost him a chance to get the ball back (obviously Cole Beasley didn’t get the first down) with tons of time left on the clock versus the two minutes and they only would have needed only a field goal to tie it.
There has been a very slight difference in play calling, but Dallas getting better (far from successful) on offense has many parts. They had an offensive line coaching change, which I hear the old coach had very different ways of doing things. They moved Connor Williams out of the starting lineup after he got hurt, and of course Cooper. If I had to attribute any one of the those things, it would definitely be Cooper. Cooper has been great about getting open and giving Dak easy completions. Yes I do not know if other WR were doing the same thing prior to Cooper, but just in the last two games I think of five first downs he got on third down and that doesn’t count the two TDs that he got. Prior to that, as I stated before, Dallas led the league in three and outs.
OK, I think I know where you’re coming from here. Prior to the game, my sense is that the Saints were a balanced offense, but they lean more towards passing the ball. Essentially, I would consider them a pass-first team, but they can and will run the ball (including from under center). I would categorize the Chargers, under Whisenhunt, in the same way. To me, both offenses are different from a pass-first offense like the Packers. Maybe the difference is subtle, but I think there is one. At the same time, I’m not sure the Saints are the type of that would run 30+ times if the defense dared them to do so. I could be wrong, though.
In any event, seeing them run this way didn’t surprise me, and I think that’s a reason my reaction differs from yours. If I hadn’t thought the Saints would run this way, I’d have the same reaction. (Against the Rams or Ravens, after getting a lead, they ran and control the clock to protect the lead.)
I agree with you, too, that the loss didn’t make me drop them down. It’s one game, a Thursday one away at that. It could very well be an off day.
But the defensive dominance was quite significant. From what I recall except for one or maybe two drives, the Saints struggled mightily–it seemed like the offense had no chance. Previously we talked about really good defense looks like and why I felt there weren’t any great defenses. What I saw from Dallas came pretty close to what a great defense looks like. The WRs were blanketed and the defenders were knocking passes down. It seemed like the Saints could only get too check downs. The run game couldn’t get going, and at times the Saints OL looked overwhelmed, which is kinda rare.
Even though the Saints only needed a FG, it just seemed like there was a good chance they would not be able to get in range, which is saying something about the Cowboys defense that night.
That makes sense, although I would say the improvement in the OL is the biggest difference, whether that’s from the personnel or coaching, I don’t know. The OL isn’t great, like it was in the past, but they’re better than earlier in the season. (They don’t seem to be getting pressure in the interior. If anything the pressure seems to be coming more from the outside.)
One thing I forgot to ask: Have you noticed any significant changes in the play calling/plays? What stands out for me is that the offense isn’t avoiding long-yardage situations. I think Cooper has helped the pass game, but I’m not sure how much.
A tale of two halves. First half: Steelers dominated the line of scrimmage. Their defense shuts down the Charger run game, and soon their pass rush starts getting to Rivers. On offense, the Steeler OL shut down the Charger pass rush.
Second half. My guess is that the key to this game was the Chargers going to a lot of shotgun. In the first half, they seemed to want to Rivers under center, especially with the running. They gave up on that, and the running for a while. My impression is that Steelers defense, for a long time, have not really been good at defending spread offenses, so I feel opponents should utilize the spread offense a lot. The Chargers got into a groove–and they then started getting the run game going from the shotgun. Also important: They threw the ball in a way to control the clock, and that kept their defense fresh. The defense’s pass rush seemed better in the second half, and they sacked Big Ben, which eventually lead to a TD off a punt return.
Roethlisberger had a key errant throw that could have been a TD, and he also threw an INT.
I was happy with the win, but the Seahawks defense definitely puts a damper on the victory. They had two takeaways, including a pick 6, but if you take those away, they were horrid to me. Two things are really problematic about their defensive performance: 1) the defense fails too often at achieving one of their core objectives–namely, to force opposing offenses to nibble their way down the field, versus getting explosive plays. This Seahawk defense gives up way too many explosive plays, allowing opposing offenses to move down the field way too quickly in my view. And we’re talking about doing this against the Niners. I think Shanahan is really terrific, but if the Seahawks defense was better, the would not have played as poorly; 2) this seems like a well-established pattern; that is, I don’t think the defense is turning a corner; this seems to be who they are. It almost doesn’t matter who they play (except for maybe the Raiders). They could get hot or just have the perfect game plan in the playoffs, but I’m really feeling good about those prospects.
The score was a tad misleading in my view.
The Ravens offense is basically an option offense. As a passer Jackson looks pretty bad. Indeed, if this is a viable offense, then I would think Tim Tebow could be a viable QB. (Jackson’s passing makes me think of Tebow’s.)
Having said this, they run the Falcons defense into the ground. If they can keep doing this, they will be dangerous. I think this will only enhance the Ravens defense. I think it would be something if the Ravens could go deep in the playoffs with Jackson at QB. (Shoot, if this works, a team like the Jaguars should install a similar offense with a QB like Kaepernick.)
I feel sad watching the Jaguars defense, because it seems like a waste, and a wasted opportunity to win the Super Bowl. I disagreed with sticking with Bortles–not trying to get someone else–but it’s important to note that almost every phase of the offense has struggled, due to personnel issues. The team lost Hurns and Robinson to free agency and Marquis Lee to an injury. The OL has been really banged up. (They had a lot of penalties yesterday.), and so has Fournette, who I think is a really good RB.
Despite all these problems, they still won this game, which is an accomplishment. Then again, I don’t think the Colts have a great offense or defense, but the Jaguars offense contributed so little, besides protecting the ball.
I haven’t been following either team closely, but my sense is that the Texans are belong in the top tier right now. The seem balanced. They can run and pass, and their defense is solid, if not a little more than that. (The defenses in the league aren’t great this year, but I think the Texans might have one of the best ones.)
Like my reaction to the Seahawks game, what stands out is the Bronco defense–how they didn’t look all that good, especially when you consider that they went against a backup QB and AJ Green left the game with an injury. The Broncos looked pretty bad against the run–more so than usual for some reason. The Broncos also lost Craig Harris, their best CB, to what seems like a serious injury.
The Broncos were a dark horse pick, but if the defense plays like this, I’m cooling to that idea. Like the Seahawks, the Bronco offense would have to run well and control the clock to be able to go far—which might be a possibility. Lindsay, look good, explosive, making me think of Joe Morris, but I also like what Bill Musgrave is doing (maybe the OL is healthier, too?). If his offense looked like this when he was in Oakland, I would have liked him a lot more. Also, I wish the Seahawks can get Andy Janovich or someone like him at FB.
Two things come to mind:
1. Patriots utilized a lot of pro-style sets, including running the ball quite a bit. One thought that occurred to me: I wonder if Belichick invested a first round pick in Michel because he wants to shift to a more run-first approach? Maybe he thinks defenses will be more vulnerable? Maybe he felt this was crucial to help Brady? I don’t put too much stock into these thoughts, but they did come to mind.
2. What stood out more, though, is the way the Vikings offense played and the way the Patriots defended them. My general feeling is that a general pro style offense–with a strong run game and taking deep shots down the field via play action–is one offensive approach that Belichick’s smoke-and-mirrors don’t really work well on. But if you’re one dimensional, if you can’t and don’t run and pass well out of the same formations, Belichick’s defense will give you a lot of problems, and his defensive personnel almost doesn’t matter.
DeFillipo strikes me an OC who favors passing and favors the shotgun. Moreover, the Vikings not only don’t seem to run much, but they don’t run well out of the shotgun (at least that’s my impression). I think this is a big reason the Vikings offense struggled against the Patriots. If they had Bill Musgrave as their OC, they would be better off.
In any event, to me, what stood out was the ineffectiveness of the Viking offense. In a way, it kind reminded me of the Cowboys-Saints game. What the Patriot offense did was less important because the Vikings defense seemed so ineffective.
Also, the Patriots seemed to employ a lot of crazy blitzes and they seemed to do this a lot (reminding me of Belichick’s earlier years with the Patriots).
I still don’t think this Patriot team is great. If they play a team with a more balanced offense and a good defense, I think they could get spanked. On that note, I would be interested in seeing them go against the Texans, or maybe in the Chargers. In the past, I wouldn’t give those teams a chance against the Patriots, but this year is different.
I don’t doubt that Rodgers is difficult to coach, but I think the main problem isn’t Rodgers’ coachability or McCarthy as a coach. I think the problem is personnel, especially injuries (including to Rodgers himself). Address this issue, and I would predict a lot of regular season success and big numbers by Rodgers.
Rodgers looked gimpy early on this season, but he didn’t look that way recently. I thought he was moving pretty well recently.
I agree, but what about his supporting cast on offense. The OL has been really good for the last four or five years, but this year they didn’t look as good, and they were banged up. What about the receiving corps? Would anyone say they have a great group? To me, it doesn’t seem like it.
Even on defense, I feel like they’ve had a lot of injuries, especially in the secondary. You can say that about a lot of teams, but I don’t think this weakens my point. Brees and the Saints didn’t look so good, when they had a weaker roster and/or injuries either.
I’m at the point where roster talent and injuries are two things I focus on when evaluating a coach or QB. If both are serious issues, I tend to withhold blaming the coach or QB. This is especially true if both have had success when they’ve had talent and a healthier roster. Now, if I notice specific things that I can pinpoint to the coach or QB, then I might blame the coach/QB. But I think many times I don’t have the knowledge to do this.
Watch some (most?) of the first half of the Steeler, Charger game, and the Steelers definitely dominated. During the broadcast, it was pointed out that the Steelers d-line leads the NFL in sacks and it sort of showed at least in the first half. The Chargers couldn’t get going at all. They were sort of lucky the score wasn’t worse in the first half.
I didn’t watch much of the Vikings, Pats game either mainly because both teams didn’t look good (at least in the parts I saw), but as Reid stated it didn’t seem like the Vikes had any chance. As in the Vikes looked much worse than the Pats. I agree the Vikes pass way too much, but with their talent in their skilled positions and QB, they should do much better than they do. I’m sure their o-line should take a lot of the blame, but even then they are underperforming on offense.
I guess you didn’t watch Green Bay? What are your thoughts on the McCarthy firing? I thought McCarthy was a decent coach, and I’m sure he will get another job. Sort of reminds me of when Andy Reid lost (?) his job in Philly.
No, I didn’t watch that game. My recent comments to you about evaluating coaches and QBs will give you a good idea of my position on McCarthy–namely, I’m not comfortable blaming him. I never liked his offensive approach (same like Reid in Philly, the Gruden’s), but I thought he was a good coach for what he wanted to do.
Having said that, even if the problems weren’t/aren’t his fault, sometimes a team has to move on. For example, even if one is a great coach, if the players lose respect for that coach, it’s time to move on. The sense I get is that the Packers reached that point–at least that happened with Rodgers and McCarthy.