23 thoughts on “2019-2020 NFL: Week 12

  1. Colts-Texans

    I thought the first half was kinda boring. it looked like two teams that aren’t bad, but aren’t all that good, too. My sense was that both teams couldn’t really run–and my sense is that the team that could run better would win.

    The Colts run game came alive with about 7:00 minutes in the third.

    Even the Texans had some explosive pass plays the fact that they lacked a run game doesn’t bode well. (Watson threw a pick, and he’s lucky he didn’t have 2.)

    There’s 7:30 minutes left in the 4th.

    Welp. I wasn’t right, although the Colts didn’t do a great job of running the ball on the last drive. The Texans didn’t really run well when they got it back, but they were able to pass to win.

  2. Thu
    Colts-Texans

    Sun
    Dolphins-Browns
    Lions-Redskins
    Raiders-Jets
    Giants-Bears
    Panthers-Saints
    Seahawks-Eagles
    Buccaneers-Falcons
    Broncos-Bills
    Steelers-Bengals
    Jaguars-Titans
    Cowboys-Patriots
    Packers-49ers

    Mon
    Ravens-Rams

    1. Some things I will be watching for:

      1. Will the Seahawks defense play like they did against the 49ers, or will they play like they did for most of the season? The former will suggest the defense has turned a corner, and that they have a real shot at winning the Super Bowl. If not, it suggests the 49er game was a fluke, something they got up for, and the Seahawks’ chances for wining the Super Bowl would drop.

      2. Can Prescott and the Cowboys offense put up good numbers against the Patriots defense? If so, it will suggest Prescott really has taken significant steps and will strengthen those who believe he’s a legitimate MVP candidate. If he and the offense perform poorly (turn the ball over, struggle mightily), it won’t be a good sign.

      I’m also curious to see how this new Cowboys offense fares against the Patriot defense. My sense is that a more conventional pro style offense, emphasizing running and play action, is the best way to attack a Belichick defense. But I don’t get the sense the Cowboys play this way. Can they run well from the shotgun? Will they run enough? Will they use a lot of play action or not?

      3. I don’t know if I’m watching for anything specific in the Packers-49ers game, but this is one of the games I want to see, although the 49ers are pretty banged up. Oh, I will watch Jimmy Grapes’ ball security and how he handles pressure.

      I’m also watching the Packer run game–the frequency and effectiveness, primarily.

      4. Can the Rams force more long-yardage situations on the Ravens? And can Jackson pass well in these situations? (I wonder if the Ravens lead the lead in lowest number of negative plays.)

  3. I wouldn’t put too much weight on this Seattle game in terms of measuring their defense. I get the feeling the Eagles are a bad offensive team overall.

    1. If they play like they did against the 49ers, it’s not a slam dunk that defense has turned the corner, but it does provide a reason for optimism, even if Philly’s offense isn’t very good.

      If they perform like they have in previous games–making it look real easy to move the ball against them, lack of pass rush, etc.– then it suggests that the 49er game was an exception, and it will really pour cold water on their chances to go far this year.

  4. If this number is supposed to mean that Carr is the best or great at throwing under pressure, I disagree. I’d probably put Russ at number one, and after him, I’m not sure. Matt has been good in recent years, but I’m not sure about this year. Cousins seems like a decent pick. The thing about Ryan, Cousins, and Wilson is that they all play on brittle OLs. They can receive a steady stream of pressure throughout the game–it’s not like they small number of situations under heavy pressure. I think this matters. If a QB has mostly good pass protection and the moments under duress are limited and spaced out, I think their passer rating during these moments should be taken with a grain of salt.

    The other thing about Carr is that he’s playing in a offense that features quick, short throws, and a strong run game. This limits the number of passing situations where he’s under heavy pressure.

  5. Seahawks-Eagles

    Another ugly game by the Seahawks. On the plus side, I thought the defense played well–or at least played like they should given the Eagles plethora of injuries. And the ‘Hawks did this without Clowney.

    On offense the messy aspects stand out more–like the drops, Wilson’s missed TD (What the…?), the fumbles and penalties. Chris Carson has been fumbling a lot, and I’m losing trust of him already. There’s a pervasive pattern for this. If I’m the coach, I’m seriously thinking about benching him–especially if I value protecting the football as much as Carroll. It’s happening way to much. Now the weather was bad, so maybe that explains all of this. I hope that’s the case.

    On the positive side Rashaad Penny had a nice game. He is a legitimate home run hitter. The thing about him is that he needs clean blocking, especially at the line of scrimmage. And he’s not a bruiser. (I think I said this before, but I think he would be a perfect fit for the Rams, if their OL was solid.) Carson can clean up messy blocking, and he’s a hammer. I prefer him. He can also run better from the shotgun.

    For special teams, I think Michael Dickson, coming off an all-pro year in his rookie year, is having a sophomore slump.

    The Seahawks, they’re not really a really good team. The 9-2 record is still misleading in my opinion. They do have the potential, and if the defense is like this the rest of the way, and the offense cleans things up, then the record will reflect the quality of the team. But up to this point, I’d say it doesn’t.

    Patriots-Cowboys

    I think the game was sort of predictable–a defensive battle where both offenses struggles. The weather was a real factor. (Three East Coast games seemed to feature significant wind and rain. I got that impression from the Raiders-Jets game as well, although I stopped watching that one.) Early on, I felt the team that could run well would have the biggest advantage. Both teams had some nice runs, but for the most part, both defenses seems to contain the run.

    I thought the Cowboys should have put Dak under center more and utilized more play action, but by the end of the game, I’m not sure that would have made enough of a difference.

    What did the game say about Prescott? I’m not sure. I can say it didn’t answer the questions I had, or provide a clear answer for this MVP candidacy. It certainly didn’t help it, but I can’t say it strongly spoke against it.

    1. Pats, Cowboys:
      Some observances:
      The Pats’ offensive line was pretty bad to start the game in terms of pass-pro, and I don’t know what kind of adjustments were made, but their pass-pro was great in the second half. If their pass-pro is going to be that good, they have a shot even without any weapons particularly on the outside. Add to that, Sanu will help if he can come back healthy.
      Dak played without a glove for a good quarter and half I think. He was terrible without the glove. I agree that it was hard to measure what kind of QB he is after this one with his only turnover coming without the glove, I believe.
      If Amari was healthy, Gilmore was amazing in shutting him down. First time Amari has been really shut down as a Cowboy I think. Amari was pretty much a nonfactor last week as well, so it could just be he’s not healthy.
      The two tripping calls on Dallas’ o-linemen was terrible. I rarely see that called and it was called twice on the Cowboys in this one. My conspiracy theory is Belichick told the officials to looks out for it, and then told his players to look like they are getting tripped by running into guy’s legs and stumbling. If that is truly what happen, Belichick may have literally won the game for the Pats.

  6. Packers-49ers

    Disappointing game. First of all, the Packers kept committing penalties or getting in long yardage situations in the first half. In the second half, they seemed to get bailed out by penalties by the 49er defense. Overall, their offense just didn’t look good. Running is not a threat at all. And their passing game wasn’t all that great. Rodgers had quite a few errant throws.

    The 49er offense is still not great, but you could tell Kittle made the difference.

    This year’s Super Bowl is pretty wide open. I feel like there’s about 5-7 teams that can win it.

  7. Ravens-Rams

    Watching the Ravens, particularly the dominance of their option run game, reminds me of watching Wai’anae or Kahuku in their glory years. I have to believe that in the playoffs they’re going to face a team that stops the run, or slows it down considerably. But if not, they’re winning the Super Bowl.

    I think I said that there aren’t really any great teams or great position groups. I think I was wrong. The Ravens option run game is looking dominant, great.

    1. The Ravens were gashing guys last year in the regular season too when Lamar started playing. Then the Chargers shut them down in the playoffs. This is sort of what you are saying here. I didn’t think San Diego would last year, but being that it happen last year, I tend to agree that I would lean to it happening again this year. I will say though that Baltimore has these things in their favor: Lamar is better, the talent is better with Brown and Ingram, the offense has a full year of playing this style and more importantly a full off-season of practicing that style, and they seem to be healthier (less injuries) at least right now. The downside is their defense until recently hasn’t looked as good as last year and teams now have a full year of scouting what they are doing.

    2. They were gashing guys last year, but they’re also passing the ball a lot better, I think, and I think that’s due to better weapons as you mentioned and improvements.

      but being that it happen last year, I tend to agree that I would lean to it happening again this year.

      Even if it didn’t happen last year, I would still say it would happen. Here’s what I think is a universal football law: To win a Super Bowl, a QB will have to perform well from the pocket–making difficult throws and avoiding catastrophic plays–in predictable passing situations, under duress. If they don’t occur in the regular season, they will almost definitely occur in the playoffs. And if a QB can’t perform well in these situations, their chances of winning the Super Bowl decrease dramatically. (I’d say they’d need an all-time great defense.)

      Here’s another way to think of this, relating specifically to the Ravens: Can you imagine them running over everyone in the playoffs and Super Bowl–to the degree that Jackson is almost never in “must pass” situations? I think the chances are low. Some team will have a good enough defense and enough time to scheme something to stymie their run game. But if this doesn’t happen, that would be a remarkable achievement. It would be like the Cornhuskers or Sooners winning the national championship.

      1. But that would mean you are saying Lamar will never win a Super Bowl. Well without a all-time defense that is. I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t think any NFL team has taken this type of offense this seriously. I get the feeling most times when a NFL team tries to run an offense like this, it’s because their QB isn’t talented enough to play in a traditional offense. This doesn’t seem like a passing phase with the Ravens. I will add that Baltimore has only started this journey with this type of offense, and they will continually draft guys (probably no one else wants) to match the offense they will run. Well that’s as long as Lamar can stay upright, which is a whole ‘nother topic.

        I don’t get the Cornhusker reference. I’m pretty sure they won a few championships playing this style under Osborne. Or is that what you are trying to say, that it’s remarkable that they can win too? I don’t see it that way. I think most teams that run what we would call a “gimmicky” offense does it because they don’t have enough talent to compete otherwise. Urban Meyer was successful at both Florida and Ohio State running a “gimmicky” offense, with Tebow being one of the most successful college QB of all time. But Meyer had talent to back up that gimmick. If Baltimore can manage to obtain that much talent as well, they can win with Lamar as their QB, I think.

    3. But that would mean you are saying Lamar will never win a Super Bowl. Well without a all-time defense that is. I wouldn’t go that far.

      No. I probably wasn’t clear–he won’t win unless he can perform well in the pocket, especially in the situations I mentioned. Right now, I don’t know if he can do that or not. This is why I think a lot of people should pump the brakes on him. He and the Ravens are doing great now, but I would wait until we see him perform in the situations I describe before saying he’s going to be a great QB. He could very well turn out to be another RGIII or Kaep.

      And even if he doesn’t do it this year, that doesn’t mean he can’t develop these skills (although I think it’s rare for an athletic QB develop these skills once they get into the NFL. Steve Young might be the only QB that did this. Or am I missing someone?)

      I get the feeling most times when a NFL team tries to run an offense like this, it’s because their QB isn’t talented enough to play in a traditional offense.

      But can you think of another NFL offense that has made the option-offense the core of their offense–and ran it as well as the Ravens have? Off the top of my head, I can’t. Carolina comes closest, I think. Maybe some teams made the wildcat a core part of their offense, but I don’t think so. Prior to that–I think teams only sprinkled in option plays.

      Maybe you could count the Seahawks, but I really wouldn’t.

      I don’t get the Cornhusker reference. I’m pretty sure they won a few championships playing this style under Osborne. Or is that what you are trying to say, that it’s remarkable that they can win too?

      Remarkable in the NFL. For high school and college, a specific school can amass overwhelming talent–in the OL and runners. If you’re OL can completely dominate the opponent, and you’ve got great runners, it’s not remarkable that this offense can be successful.

      In the NFL, getting that type of talent advantage seems highly unlikely. Additionally, I tend to once you have the right game plan, these offenses can be defended. Even with the Panthers, the option stuff was more of a complement–it wasn’t something they could rely on as the foundation. Traditional option offense, like the wishbone are also generally one-dimensional. I think it’s very hard to win a Super Bowl with a one-dimensional offense. Now, the Ravens offense doesn’t seem so one-dimensional. Passing is integrated into their offense. However, my sense is that a lot of their passing success stems from their dominance in their run game. They’re constantly in good down and distances. And at 2nd and 6 or 3rd and 4–their running is a serious threat. The way they’re running, I would think of going for a lot of 4th and short. When you can run so well that you almost don’t need to pass, this creates a really favorable situation for the QB and passing in my opinion. In a way, Jackson is in a similar situation Prescott was in in 2016. It’s idea for a QB. It’s hard to judge when the situation is so favorable, and I think it’s clear he’s in a groove (like Prescott was). What happens when the offense and run game isn’t running so smoothy, when WRs aren’t as open, when he’s getting more pressure and hits? I want to see how he plays in those circumstances.

      Here’s what will be interesting to see play out. I think pocket QBs (or the skill to play in the pocket) is essential to winning a Super Bowl because playing well from the pocket becomes inevitable, especially in predictable, pressure/high stakes situations. But if the Ravens can dominate on the ground, through the playoffs and Super Bowl, then what I’m saying doesn’t apply. If the Ravens can do this–and they’re not relying on a roster that is extremely difficult to sustain or replicate–then this may shatter that universal football law. (And if that’s the case, I would mention the idea of not paying a lot for QBs, and just drafting a bunch of running QBs. Or maybe I’m selling Lamar short, here.)

      Of course, a lot of this is moot if Lamar can sustain this way of play due to injury. He took two or three fairly big hits last night. (He doesn’t seem like real sturdy, either.)

      1. But Lamar is throwing well from the pocket, just not in a traditional way. I don’t get that he will ever throw from the pocket in a traditional sense or in a consistent fashion. Defenses will always have to worry about Lamar running even when he just drops back to pass and that alone gives him an advantage. Basically his throws are easier because of what the defense has to “give in” to the Ravens. And I get that will always be true in terms of looking at an entire game. Where that might not be true, is if game script says he has to throw on every play at the end of a half or game or even if they fall behind by a lot. But I don’t see that being something only the Ravens have to worry about. Outside of a Rodgers or Wilson, a lot of teams will get in trouble if they became predictable and had to pass on every play.

        I thought what I’ve seen of Lamar he seems pretty sturdy. Weird, how we see it differently. Yeah I see him take a lot of hits this year, but he always pops right back up. I will also say he doesn’t look like RG3 or other “frail” looking QBs.

    4. But Lamar is throwing well from the pocket,

      What I tried to say (and I don’t blame you for not reading all of my post) is that their dominant run game creates really optimal passing situations–situations that are relatively easy to have success. Every down is manageable, and their run game is so good that the run game is a threat. I almost get the sense the offense would be just as effective if they passed less.

      But there will be a game(s) when this won’t occur. Maybe they’ll get behind; maybe they’ll have more penalties or miscues (like a bad snap) that create long yardage situations; you mentioned two minute situations. All these situations reduce the ability to run and make passing more predictable.

      All QBs and offenses won’t pass the ball as well in these situations. It’s hard. But there’s something Belichick said that I totally agree with–if you can’t pass when the the defense knows you’re going to pass, or run when they know you’re going to run, you’re not really good. Or something to that effect. I think that’s true. The team that wins the Super Bowl will be able to do that, especially in the post-season. The team that can’t likely won’t, unless they have an all-time great defense.

      Can Lamar do this? I don’t think he did this well in last year’s playoffs, but I’m only going by a vague memory (although I just re-watched a few series). But that doesn’t mean he can’t improve, and he does have better weapons.

      Also, there’s a possibility he may not have to really do this–if the Ravens can run the ball like they have been throughout the entire post-season. (If they can do this against the Patriots, I’ll be really impressed.)

      One other thing: It’s possible that other teams just haven’t caught up to the Ravens offense–i.e., they haven’t figured out a game plan. If that’s the case, then I’m almost sure they will, and the Ravens run game likely won’t be as effective–and that’s when the conditions to pass the ball may not be so optimal. That’s when a more meaningful test will occur in my opinion.

      I thought what I’ve seen of Lamar he seems pretty sturdy.

      I’m not talking about him bouncing up, but how he’s built. He seems lean and wiry. Maybe he’s like LeVeon Bell or Marcus Allen–to lean looking guys who are tougher and more durable than they look. On the other hand, Cam Newton was about as sturdy and robust as you can get, and even his body broke down.

      1. Basically we are saying the same thing. I’ll just point out a couple things. One, unlike Nagy’s offense, the Raven’s offense is not built on trickery or gimmicks. It seems gimmicky because no one else does it in the NFL, but it’s really built on a good foundation of running the ball and running it pretty much between the tackles. I understand that the option and wishbone allows offenses to run the fullback dive because of the attention that teams have to pay to the outside leaving the middle a little more susceptible. But teams will always have to play some form of that or be willing to give up a big play on the outside. I do agree that teams will get “used to” playing the Ravens, which will help, but like most good offenses, if run well “cannot defend”. In the heyday of the Patriots offense, people weren’t saying we will “catch on” and eventually we will learn to stop them. It was about the Giants rushing four and getting to Brady and having enough players to defend the pass. I sort of look at stopping the Ravens the same way. Teams may develop a better scheme or wrinkle, teams will get used to the Raven’s offense, but it may just take a defense’s ability to stop the inside run with five or six instead of the normal seven, and that will take superior talent. Or teams will have to be able to defend the outside receivers without any help and drop that extra DB/safety into the box and just live with the Ravens getting a big play if it happens.

        And two, I’m in total agreement that the Raven’s offense makes it easy on Lamar and that they might be times (parts and situations of a game not an entire game) when he will need to make plays with his arm. But I was trying to point out the Ravens are not alone in that problem. It’s a problem for most teams and almost every QB in the league, sans a couple. So I wouldn’t say that issue sets the Ravens that far apart from other teams. By the way, do you think if the Ravens was down couple scores in the fourth, that they would have to change their offense? They are still a pretty quick scoring offense with having to pass on every play. I’m not sure if they will have to be as one dimensional as one would automatically assume a team will have to be.

    5. I do agree that teams will get “used to” playing the Ravens, which will help, but like most good offenses, if run well “cannot defend”.

      Wait, you really think that’s true? I don’t think you can make a blanket statement like this. To me, it depends on how much of the success depends the degree to which the offense is novel and defenses/DCs don’t know how to defend it. Think of Chip Kelly’s offense or the 49ers and Seahawks in the first year of the read-option. Kelly’s Eagles, in his first year, seemed unstoppable at times. But it seemed like once defenses figured out an approach, those offenses were no longer as dominant.

      How much does the Ravens success depend on a novel approach and how much does it depend good players and execution? With regard to the latter, I think a key question is–do the Ravens need an exceptional roster–including unique players (e.g., three good TEs)–in order to sustain success (not necessarily dominance)? Suppose the offense–and Jackson–would be far less effective without three talented TEs. To me, that’s not a good sign for both because finding and keeping three good TEs doesn’t seem very sustainable. Basically, if you have a QB that either depends on a close to a perfect situation or a unique set of players, that’s a fairly damning quality.

      Now, if the Ravens offense doesn’t depend heavily on novelty and unfamiliarity of DCs/defenses, and if Jackson doesn’t need the perfect roster, then there’s only one thing that will determine if the offense is sustainable–namely, can Jackson stay healthy playing this style? Or can the Ravens easily find replacements?

      But I was trying to point out the Ravens are not alone in that problem. It’s a problem for most teams and almost every QB in the league, sans a couple. So I wouldn’t say that issue sets the Ravens that far apart from other teams.

      Right, but I don’t get why you’re saying this. Do you think I don’t agree? The universal football law–and using this term–basically says what you’re saying above, right? Jackson has to pass a test that all QBs have to pass–if you care about winning Super Bowls, anyway. A QB have a lot of success in the regular season–rack up a lot of stats–and not pass this test.

      By the way, do you think if the Ravens was down couple scores in the fourth, that they would have to change their offense? They are still a pretty quick scoring offense with having to pass on every play. I’m not sure if they will have to be as one dimensional as one would automatically assume a team will have to be.

      This is a good question. Off the top of my head, I’d say they’d have to change, when the clock is an issue. Even though they can run well, running would eat up too much clock, so that would almost preclude them from running.

      1. Wait, you really think that’s true? I don’t think you can make a blanket statement like this.

        I was using the Karate Kid line more as a joke, but I lean that the Ravens barring an injury to Lamar, will be running this offense for the next five years or so with success. Obviously if they are still running it, it has to be somewhat successful. Of course I don’t believe they will sustain the success they have currently, but they will still be a contender (unless their defense takes a nosedive), at least that’s my opinion.

        Right, but I don’t get why you’re saying this. Do you think I don’t agree?

        Yeah but you were using that as a reason why you think Lamar will not win a Super Bowl. By using this as a standard, that will mean they are very few QBs that can was my point.

    6. I was using the Karate Kid line more as a joke, …

      Haha, I didn’t get that. Hey, you can’t blame me, impossible to know without accent.

      Obviously if they are still running it, it has to be somewhat successful. Of course I don’t believe they will sustain the success they have currently, but they will still be a contender (unless their defense takes a nosedive), at least that’s my opinion.

      I get what you’re saying. For me, it’s too early to tell.

      Yeah but you were using that as a reason why you think Lamar will not win a Super Bowl. By using this as a standard, that will mean they are very few QBs that can was my point.

      I’m saying all QBs have to pass the test–and obviously Lamar is a QB–otherwise they and their teams chances of winning a Super Bowl drop significantly. A QB has to be able to play well from the pocket–making plays, avoiding disastrous ones–especially under pressure and in high takes situations. The number of QBs this applies is not large, but it actually seems a lot bigger this year. Lamar has been tested, unless you count last year, and if you do, then I would say he didn’t pass–yet. I don’t know if he will or not, but my point is that he has to. (But he won’t have to pass this test if the Ravens can keep running the ball like they have been.)

      I’m guessing we’re on the same page with all this, right?

    7. I don’t know if this is true, but I heard the Ravens haven’t punted for the past three games. Can that be right? That has to be a record, right? These are the type of things that make me think of Wai’anae playing Kalani in the 80s.

  8. I forgot to add that I don’t think the Ravens are a high TOP team. I could be wrong, but they seem to score pretty quickly with big plays. So I tend to think they could still play their style in the fourth down a couple scores.

    1. I would be shocked if they didn’t have a high TOP. (I checked–if you’re just talking about averages, they’re number one in the league.)

      So I tend to think they could still play their style in the fourth down a couple scores.

      When I evaluate the differences between regular season games and playoffs, one main difference is the pressure–coming from the high stakes, do-or-die situation. I think there are styles and ways of playing that mitigate pressure and are more resilient to pressure. Generally, I think a run-based offense is more resilient to pressure than a pass-based one. But in a deficit or two-minute situation, a run-based approach would likely exacerbate the pressure and anxiety. The more you run, the more time will go off the clock, and the more pressure the players will feel. That’s generally not good for performance.

      Also, there’s a point where time is more important than giving up points. When that happens, I don’t think the Ravens can run. This is the type of moment where the defense allows short passes, especially in the middle–because they care more about eating up the clock. If the offense runs, and doesn’t get out of bounds, they’re helping their opponent.

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