• The Zone Blitz: Week #5 Open Thread



    Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:26 AM
    From: Brian
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Amy


    Hey Amy,

    The Pats game just ended, you can breathe now.

    We're to the quarter pole for all but 4 teams, and I guess Denver isn't slowing down. Going into the season, it seemed that they had an embarrassment of riches, and that was even before the development and breakthrough of Julius Thomas. They are 3 deep at RB, and have 4 legit great receiving options. Manning has never had this type of arsenal to work with. But perhaps what makes them scarier is the fact that they should soon have Champ Bailey back, and Von Miller will be back in a few games as well to shore up their defense. The loss of Clady is huge, especially when they face a good pass-rushing team (like the equally 4-0 Chiefs), but Manning's on such a roll right now. We can say what we want about his postseason efforts, but dude is incredible. The postseason plays a roll when I think of the QB GOAT (Greatest of All-Time, as opposed to your much more entertaining version of GOAT), but really, Manning is only one playoff run away from slamming the door shut on that debate. We'll never see a player quite like him again, so we may as well enjoy it. No matter how painful that may be.

    Of course, no matter how well Denver is playing, they're still only TIED for the division lead with the Chiefs. I'd like to see them take some more chances offensively, but Jamaal Charles is such a good player, and that defense is absolutely loaded. If there's a team that can take advantage of Ryan Clady's injury, it's them. For all of the other names on that defense, Justin Houston has been an absolute beast so far this year.

    The Steelers played in London this week. In related news, things will be going really well for me if a "Let's Go Bucs" chant breaks out at the Steelers-Ravens game on October 20.

    I was busy watching the Steelers game at 1:00, so I missed the game I really wanted to see between Chicago and Detroit. Although once I saw your breakdown, and realized that Thom (I don't care, I pronounce the TH) Brennaman and Brian Billick, I was kinda glad I missed it. Those 2 annoy me more than probably any other announce team working right now, and that's saying something. I'm not a fan of Joe Buck by any stretch, but Brennaman is the anti-Buck, in that he screams absolutely everything. Anyway, I think Reggie Bush and Matt Forte are my two favorite players in the league to watch. I've been high on the Bears all season to this point, so seeing the Lions explode to a big lead shocked me. Clearly Cutler struggled today, but this was a huge win for the Leos. What's your sense on their performance today? Are they going to be a legit contender? Also, was this just a blip in the road for the Bears, or a harbinger for things to come?

    I get that Ray Rice was banged up coming into the game, but why are the Ravens always so quick to completely abandon the running game altogether? That was an ugly performance for them against what was a banged up secondary in Buffalo.

    Brian Hoyer is now 2-0 as the Cleveland starting QB. Let that one sink in.

    Another week, another big win for Seattle. That game was gift-wrapped to them, but you takes them how you gets them.

    Lastly, I get that most think he's a putz, but why doesn't Philip Rivers get more love? He has been lights out, despite dealing with an atrocious line, a terrible running game, an aging Antonio Gates, and not much else. I have absolutely no idea how he's doing it, or why it's being completely ignored, but quietly, San Diego is playing pretty good football. Rivers is the biggest reason why.

    Has Greg Schiano's lead in your GOAT standings increased this week? What other things stood out to you this week? The floor is yours, my friend.


    Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2013 8:59 AM
    From: Amy
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Brian


    Hi Brian,

    I'm very happy with how we played. While the Falcons had a little luck to make it close (Sudfeld bobbing the first onsides, Brady fumbling the sneak smap, Julio not being called for such an open push off to get them close that CC actually laughed, on air, about how bad of a missed call it was (and, to be fair it was a great catch. I don't want to diminish Julio's effort just because Walt Coleman's crew is meh)) we played very well over the course of the game. We're 4-0 with 14 rookies on the roster. 14 of 53. However, the somber news that Vince is done for the year puts a pall on things. Vince is awesome and not just on the field. What it really means is that Gronk needs to man up and play.

    On to Denver. Yes, they have been impressive beating the likes of Oakland and Philly. They'll look even more impressive when they beat Dallas and Jacksonville the next two weeks. And they'll lose in January. As much as people like to, you cannot divorce Peyton's failure in the playoffs when making a GOAT (in the good way) argument. If he wins the Super Bowl this year, he will be 12-11 in the postseason, or game over .500. To put that in perspective, for Brady to be one game over .500 in the playoffs, he'd have to play *11* more years and lose in the first round each of those years. Yes, Peyton Manning is an amazing QB, but you he's not a GOAT. I wouldn't have him in my top 5. (And, no, Brady's not my #1). Beyond Peyton (and Welker's) track record of post season failure, however, there's another aspect. You can't keep up what they're doing for 19 weeks. I know. I saw it. They'll eventually have to play good teams, and in January. I don't think they can beat 3 good teams in a row. What happens when they stumble?

    However, here is a hands down, no argument possible GOAT (in the good way): Tony Gonzalez. Best TE ever.

    I like how KC is playing. Andy's doing a good job there. It would not shock me at all if they win the West. Can't count out the Chargers, either. People might not like Rivers, but he can play, Gates is healthy, and Danny Woodhead is playing great, too.

    Tomlin's remarks after the Steeler loss are awesome. He's a great coach, and while I think this will be a long season for them, they'll be back quickly. That said, I'm rooting for Steeler collapse to be joined by a Bengal and (Sorry Kaba!) Ravens collapse, so that the Browns can win the AFC North. They're 2-0 since trading Richardson and benching Weeden, and while you can say 'Well, the first was against the Vikings' the second was a beat down of the Bengals. Can we admit that maybe the Browns knew what they were doing with the trade? The Browns pointed out that Richardson was very good, but not *explosive*. Yes, said the 'Browns are dumb' crowd, 'but teams could stack the box since Weeden sucks'. Yes, Richardson is still getting the same 3ish per carry with Luck and Indy that he got in Cleveland. I'm not saying he's bad, but, maybe he's not AP, and if you don't think he is what you want, why not get the pick for him?

    The Lions looked good. I think that if Bush stays healthy they'll be in the mix. I'm not worried about the Bears. They had an off game, but they're not about to fold up. I am worried about the Packers. Can they regroup? If not, AR will be wishing he'd been doing less 'grill class' and more offseason work with his team. Also, does anyone else find it troubling about how many of his ex-teammated talk trash about him? With the truly great QBs, it seems old teammates are always 'he was awesome' but ARs old boys say 'He's a *bleep* When Driver says that, it makes me hmmm......

    I don't know why the Raven's bailed on the run. I did like how Oakland fans were booing Flynn by the 3rd quarter. If the NFC East worse then then NFC West of about 3 years ago? Could we see a 5-11 NFC East Champ? Will Subway do new commericials if RG3 and Justin Tuck are a combined 2-14 after 8 weeks?

    As for my bad Goat, I'm going to split that into a new thing, since I made a scroring system and all. Schiano still leads, and I may have to try and catch rewinds on NFL Network to try and see more games to get eyes on other goat people, in the bad way.

    Miami and the Saints should be fun tonight, and Bills/Browns on TNF suddenly matters! Whichever teams wins is 3-2 and in the hunt! When will the Jags bite the bullet for Tebow? Is he really *worse* than what you have? He'd sell enough tickets so that they could finish painting those ugly helmets.


    Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2013 11:28 PM
    From: Brian
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Amy


    In a hypothetical world, if Manning wins a 2nd ring (something I'm doubting will happen), then I think he'd have to be considered as the GOAT. Clearly the playoff failures are a part of the equation, but once a QB has multiple championships, I stop nit-picking (for the most part). I'm partial to Bart Starr, Otto Graham, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and possibly Tom Brady as my top 5. Steve Young is the most dominant player I can remember seeing, at his peak. Manning is the cerebral surgeon. He's been exposed in the past by defenses in NE and Pittsburgh, and as has been documented on this site, struggles when the weather goes bad, but if he can overcome the weather and win a 2nd championship, his case becomes really strong.

    The Patriots looked like the Pats of old last night. KenBrell has really started to take off. I have zero faith in Amendola staying healthy, but with Edelman taking off, they really don't need him. A healthy Gronk, which is certainly no guarantee, would be the next step. Add in Vereen late in the year, and the Pats may have the tools on offense to make our nation's 3rd graders finally see Tom Brady come through in the postseason.

    Honestly, after the loss to Tennessee, I've shown zero emotion for the Steelers this year, whether positive or negative. I have zero expectations at this point. Tomlin is a great soundbite, and has proven to be a very good coach, but we'll see how he handles real adversity this year. Cowher rebounded nicely from his adversity in the late 90s. We'll see how Tomlin handles this. Clearly he's not going anywhere, but I won't be surprised one bit if next year, he's working alongside two new coordinators. Keith Butler is the heir apparent for LeBeau, but I'd guess they likely go outside the current staff for a new OC. But whether they make the switch or not, I hope they stick with the Zone Blocking scheme up front. That scheme usually takes a year to fully gel. And after just 1 game, Le'Veon Bell appears to be an absolute perfect fit for the system.

    The Steelers get a bye next week, which allows me to focus on some other teams. Usually I'd just let the Red Zone channel do the work for me, but this week, that Saints-Bears game will absolutely catch my eye. I'm really curious to see how Trestman handles the game-plan, in helping Cutler to rebound from an off game last week. He just comes off to me as a coach that gets it.

    Week 5 is shaping up as rebound Sunday. Aside from the Bears coming back from their disappointing effort against Detroit, we also have Cincy coming off a loss to Cleveland with a huge matchup against NE. Baltimore and Miami are both coming off of disappointing efforts, and now get to face each other. Baltimore's the more desperate team, but the key matchup could be whether or not Miami figures out a way to limit Ray Rice's effectiveness out of the backfield. That is assuming the Baltimore coaching staff is actually watching tonight's game, and realizes their best shot is giving Ray Rice at least 6-7 passes out of the backfield.

    Also, can KC keep the train rolling against a Tennessee team that will be without the suddenly competent Jake Locker? Can Detroit ride their momentum to a big win in Lambeau? And most importantly, we get to find out if the NFL can actually end up with a 0 rating east of the Mississippi for a regular season game. Honestly, if you live in Fayetteville, NC, and stay up to watch the Chargers-Raiders game, you have a sickness. There is no help for you.

    Close the show in style Amy, and help us kickstart Week 5.


    Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2013 4:21 PM
    From: Amy
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz
    To: Brian


    I disagree. Even if Peyton wins another, I don't think he'd be the GOAT. If he wins 2 more, I'd slip him into Top 5. He's amazing in the regular season, but, if you are talking the best ever, you can't ignore the playoff issue.

    The Pats still have a lot of growing room, and the loss of Vince is not good. Thompkins and Dobson are coming along, and Boyce's shoetop catch was insanely good. We're dangerous, though. The Pats are always better when we're blown off, and let's face it, in the eyes of the Media, we should cancel the next 14 weeks and just jump to Denver vs Seattle in the Superbowl. I have more faith than you do that Danny and Gronk will be healthy, but it's a win-win no matter what. If they do, we get more explosive on offense. Win. If they don't, we get more and more time to develop the guys that will carry Brady till he's 40. Win.

    Tomlin will turn the Steelers around. He can coach, and he's intense. You guys might even have an ok year still, the North isn't as hard as we thought it would be. Heck, you could come off the bye only 2 games out - it's not impossible that Miami, the Bills and the Pats all win, which would put the North at 2-3 for three teams. The Steelers could still win the division. I wonder how healthy Rice actually is? Could the lack of use be from concerns for his health?

    KC will smash Tennessee. The Chiefs are for real. It would be nice if Andy Reid makes Peyton Manning cry in January! Saints/Bears should be good as well, and I hope Cincy keeps playing bad against us. Chargers and Raiders might be fun. I've watched two Raider games, and while they're not awesome, if Pryor plays, we can see excitment and if Flynn plays, we can see failure. Win/Win.

    Tone's out for a few weeks, which kills the Jets hopes of offense. Suggs is joining RayRay in saying that Roger was behind the blackout in the Super Bowl. I like 52, and 55, both, but, really, c'mon. That's just silly.

    Now, for the best division in football chart!

    AFC East and West 11-5. So, for 2 weeks in a row, AFC East leads the way!
    NFC West: 9-7
    NFC North: 8-7
    AFC South: 8-8
    NFC South: 6-9
    AFC North: 6-10
    NFC East: 4-12

    Comments 95 Comments
    1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
      According to Adam Schefter, the Ravens and Jaguars have agreed in principle to a trade for OT Eugene Monroe.

      Now please excuse me while I go change my pants.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by KabaModernFan View Post
      According to Adam Schefter, the Ravens and Jaguars have agreed in principle to a trade for OT Eugene Monroe.

      Now please excuse me while I go change my pants.
      Initial reports said the trade was Monroe to Baltimore in exchange for multiple DAY-THREE draft picks. You have got to be kidding me, Jacksonville.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      To finish our dialogue, who ever thought we'd see the day where I'd become the apologist for Peyton Manning? I've been critical (or as I think of it- fair), but honestly, I think Amy's taking it a bit further than I'm willing to take it. In the hypothetical sense. In the real sense, I agree with her 100%. They'll have their great regular season, and then I think they'll find someone to knock them off in January.

      Also, while I'm not confident in Amendola staying healthy enough to contribute, honestly, you don't need him. Edelman is plenty good enough to take on that role.

      And I am more confident in Gronk, for some reason. Although I probably shouldn't be. Likely, my optimism has to do with the fact that I'm heavily invested in his performance in my home fantasy league. That team is struggling, and I desperately need him to come out of the gate producing right away.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      Good exchange...

      Regarding the Browns, I feel that the Richardson trade is pretty much irrelevant in regards to their recent success. The key is the benching of Weeden.

      Sometimes a QB is so bad that his mere presence on the field can cast a pall over the entire team. Seen it before in Cleveland, but Weeden reminds me of the great JP Losman, a QB with neither pocket presence, football intelligence or leadership qualities. Both men were also taken with the 22nd overall pick. (Useless trivia fact of the day)

      Regarding Jacksonville and Tebow - how many people would shell out $80 or more just to see Tebow take the field for a team that is a shocking -98 points after four weeks? The feel good factor would last for one home game - unless he somehow gets one of the truly worst teams in league history to pretend they are actually mediocre.

      Another thought - I've heard a few analysts talk about how bad the Steelers are - and they are pretty poor. But take a look at what the Giants have been up to... in the last three weeks, they have been obliterated. This is a team that can't play offense (and Snee is now out) and they have given up 146 points already.

      If the Steelers met the Giants this week, I know where my money would be.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Hoyer has made two fade throws near the goal line to Cameron for touchdowns two weeks in a row. Weeden was a pitcher with a good fastball and not much else. The same can be said for him as quarterback.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
      Good exchange...

      Regarding the Browns, I feel that the Richardson trade is pretty much irrelevant in regards to their recent success. The key is the benching of Weeden.

      Sometimes a QB is so bad that his mere presence on the field can cast a pall over the entire team. Seen it before in Cleveland, but Weeden reminds me of the great JP Losman, a QB with neither pocket presence, football intelligence or leadership qualities. Both men were also taken with the 22nd overall pick. (Useless trivia fact of the day)

      Regarding Jacksonville and Tebow - how many people would shell out $80 or more just to see Tebow take the field for a team that is a shocking -98 points after four weeks? The feel good factor would last for one home game - unless he somehow gets one of the truly worst teams in league history to pretend they are actually mediocre.

      Another thought - I've heard a few analysts talk about how bad the Steelers are - and they are pretty poor. But take a look at what the Giants have been up to... in the last three weeks, they have been obliterated. This is a team that can't play offense (and Snee is now out) and they have given up 146 points already.

      If the Steelers met the Giants this week, I know where my money would be.


      agree with the browns part for the most part. I do think the Richardson trade rallied the team together to prove everyone wrong that they were tanking the season, but yes Hoyer is playing really well. Cleveland has had some talent for awhile but just lacked a consistent QB presence.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Listen to Alex Marvez & Bill Polian chat with Bucs LT Donald Penn.

      https://soundcloud.com/siriusxmsport...lt-donald-penn
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Reports say that Jake Locker will miss four to 8 weeks with knee and hip sprains. I'm guessing his actual injuries are worse than simple sprains.
    1. Ragar's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Reports say that Jake Locker will miss four to 8 weeks with knee and hip sprains. I'm guessing his actual injuries are worse than simple sprains.
      I think we are all aware of a sprain being just a tearing of a ligament, which can be just a little or can completely tear it or even worse rupture it. All but the rupture are "simple" but the we know the severity is much different with each grade.

      I would guess is it's probably a 2-4 week injury (time unable to do much football related activity) with a questionable 2-4 weeks length of rehab portion and Locker's comfort playing with loose joints, and likely pain tolerance.

      As we know some people can tolerate all sorts of pain (with the right injections) and still play well (Favre) and others will tape up, shoot up, just to get on the field to continue a games started streak and not even get off the line of scrimmage on 2 running plays then not play the rest of the game, but hey games started streak!!(Cris Carter)
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Bears Pass D has looked pretty bad this year, giving up 8.3 YPA (5th worst). The Picks have made them look better than that. Consider that they have gone against, Ponder, Dalton, the OL-less Ben. The only true great passing offense they faced was the Lions, and they had their best showing of the season (6.9 YPA) whcih is slightly better than league average (7.2 YPA)

      By the way, when looking at ANY/A, the Bears have the 2nd worst pass defense. That's because thought it values picks, the Bears haven't been sacking anybody.

      In other exiting news, the Bears rank 31st by DVOA against TEs. Please check your fantasy matchups for Jimmy Graham or Drew Brees.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Reports say that Jake Locker will miss four to 8 weeks with knee and hip sprains. I'm guessing his actual injuries are worse than simple sprains.
      Anyone else think that he was nailed by a cheap, late hit?
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
      Anyone else think that he was nailed by a cheap, late hit?
      I'll list the first hit as okay and the second hit as at least questionable. I certainly could see a "dirty" argument for it.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Anatomy of a bad team. With today's trade, Jacksonville now has but one lone player from the draft classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      The problem with Denver won't be Peyton Manning, although that's who people will blame.

      The problem with Denver is their defense. Even when Von Miller returns they will struggle to rush the passer without blitzing. That's a fundamental flaw that today's best teams will exploit in the playoffs.

      But Manning will get the blame.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post

      But Manning will get the blame.
      I've been thinking about this. Rahim Moore should shoulder a lot of the blame, but so should Manning. He could have put that game away with 1 more first down, but instead he handed off 3 times. People blamed John Fox, but we always hear that Manning is the coach on the field, and if that had been Drew Brees or Brady, be sure they would have thrown for a 1st down. In Manning's offense, he chooses what to run (pass or carry)
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      Anatomy of a bad team. With today's trade, Jacksonville now has but one lone player from the draft classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010.
      Now THAT is Lionesque. Like, MillenLionesque.
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      Peyton and Eli Manning are a combined 4-4 this year. Archie is like the proverbial guy with one hand in boiling water and the other in ice water saying 'on average, I feel ok'.

      If you throw in Danieal Manning they're 6-6.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Bengals1181, this is for you. We have agreed on the continued importance of more than one or two good corners on defense. Here is a portion of Andy Benoit's work today:

      Just having good No. 1 and 2 corners is not enough anymore. The influx of three-receiver sets, dynamic tight ends and versatile running backs demands that a defense have at least four, and preferably five, abled man-to-man defenders. An athletic linebacker can suffice, even in nickel and dime situations (Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson and Tennessee’s Zach Brown are both very fluid here). And a starting safety who can play solo man against tight ends brings a significant boost. Berry, after struggling mightily in man coverage at times last season, has emerged in 2013 as one of the best cover safeties in football. For Tennessee, Pollard is less reliable, though he has done better in recent weeks.

      Then, of course, there’s the increasingly significant nickel back position. More spread offensive sets means more defensive backs getting major playing time. The more those defensive backs play, the more multidimensional they have to be. Offenses that spread out 30 times a game aren’t using the passing designs 30 times over. There are occasions where nickel backs, particularly those who specialize in playing the slot (like Tennessee’s Coty Sensabaugh), must be force run defenders.

      In fact, because offenses are expanding their run concepts out of spread sets, we’re seeing more defenses use surer-tackling safeties in sub-packages. Essentially, the No. 3 safety is replacing the No. 2 linebacker. Or, he’s replacing the No. 4 cornerback, which is how the Titans use veteran George Wilson. There are also occasions where Wilson replaces a linebacker in the base D to form a “big nickel” package.

      The Chiefs have a hard-hitting nickel corner in Dunta Robinson and behind him an intriguing first-year corner in Marcus Cooper. But in dime situations, it’s not Cooper getting the nod, but rather, Quintin Demps or Husain Abdullah. Thanks to various cornerback injuries, both of these backup safeties have actually seen time in nickel, too, where they are serviceable in man coverage. Which brings us back to the main point: the more quality man-defenders a defense has, the better. Tennessee and Kanas City have plenty.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      thanks Rich. I think you're seeing some of that in Cincy too actually (as far as using safeties differently). Taylor Mays was a average/below average safety, but may have found a niche as a nickel linebacker. It's been a limited role so far, but he's had success covering Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Randall Cobb (when Hall got injured they put Mays on Cobb in the slot, he allowed 1 7yd catch in 13 snaps). He did allow a touchdown to Jordan Cameron last week though. The coverage was good, but he didn't turn his head around to know the ball was coming. He also had a good game against Owen Daniels in 2011.

      It's a case of some safeties being better up close to the line than playing back and playing the ball in the air. The exact opposite of what you would have expected from Mays.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Bengals1181, this is for you. We have agreed on the continued importance of more than one or two good corners on defense. Here is a portion of Andy Benoit's work today:
      And it's why we need Frey to prove he can play quickly, if the Bears want a chance of staying relevant.