The Game Ball Thread: Wk. 2 @ Pittsburgh

BaseballJones

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Parker, Smith, Henry, all zero catches for zero yards was interesting.
If Mac throws for 250 yards a game (he had 252 yesterday), that's 4,250 on the season. That's not an insanely high number of course, but it isn't bad. It would have ranked #9 in the NFL last season.

If he throws for 250 yards a game, what's the ideal distribution? What distribution exists whereby we aren't looking at SOME of the players as either busts or disappointments? Does such a distribution exist?
 

tims4wins

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I think Schooler was uncovered because the Steelers didn't have enough players on the field. I count 9, but it's possible someone is hidden to make it 10. Still missing a player.
Good point. Some great replies to the Tweet, with reminders of the time the same team forgot to cover Gronk, as well as Hogan (no Antonio Smith posts yet though)
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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I think Schooler was uncovered because the Steelers didn't have enough players on the field. I count 9, but it's possible someone is hidden to make it 10. Still missing a player.
It still amazes me to this day how some teams simply don't value special teams whatsoever.

In any case, my game balls go to Strange (massive day for the OL in general), Harris, Agholor, and Judon.
 

CreightonGubanich

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It's a small thing, but nice to see four targets in the passing game for Stevenson and Harris (two apiece). I didn't see Ty Montgomery on the field at all. Hopefully Montgomery isn't hurt, but it would be great if the other two backs could grow as contributors in the passing game, both in pass protection and as occasional targets. Getting away from having a "passing back" who telegraphs the play would be a nice development.
 

tims4wins

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It's a small thing, but nice to see four targets in the passing game for Stevenson and Harris (two apiece). I didn't see Ty Montgomery on the field at all. Hopefully Montgomery isn't hurt, but it would be great if the other two backs could grow as contributors in the passing game, both in pass protection and as occasional targets. Getting away from having a "passing back" who telegraphs the play would be a nice development.
Montgomery was placed on IR this week
 

CoffeeNerdness

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It's just two weeks but....

Miami scored 42 against Baltimore (who had allowed only 9 the week before). But NE's defense held Miami to 13 points (7 came on the fumble return for the TD).

Pittsburgh scored 23 against Cincinnati (who allowed just 20 this week). But NE's defense held Pittsburgh to just 14 points.

So Pats' opposing offenses have scored 65 points in two games against non-Pats defenses (32.5 ppg), but only scored 27 points against NE's defense (13.5 ppg).

Currently, NE is ranked #8 in points allowed (that includes the fumble return for a TD) and #4 in yards allowed.
It feels like their secondary is shaping up to be a relatively deep and competent unit with some young guys integrating nicely. Mills remains aggravating, however.
 

Jinhocho

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BigJimEd

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I think Schooler was uncovered because the Steelers didn't have enough players on the field. I count 9, but it's possible someone is hidden to make it 10. Still missing a player.
I believe there were 9 on line plus returner for 10. One of the linemen is tough to see but there is 3 on each side plus the backer.

Parker, Smith, Henry, all zero catches for zero yards was interesting.
Parker is especially interesting. Only 1 catch last week despite playing every snap. Might have been defensive game plan but wouldn't be surprised to see playing time decrease a little more next week.
 

Eddie Jurak

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OL and running game was very good. Other than that I was not impressed. Steelers should have had three picks and while the defense looked good Trubisky is really terrible, if embedded Patriot Gunner holds on to the ball I think we're all singing a different tune.
Gunner, too, because Schooler would have blasted him. :)
 

cshea

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JohnnyK

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Obviously it worked out and lol Steelers...but should the Pats have recognized this at the line and audibled to a fake? There's nobody within a million miles of Schooler. Obviously it's a punter throwing to a DB so there's risk things go sideways, but I'd be curious to know if the players had the option to do it.
With how conservative they have been the last few years (just look at the punts in Pittsburgh territory yesterday) I have my doubts a fake punt is even in the playbook.
 

moondog80

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With how conservative they have been the last few years (just look at the punts in Pittsburgh territory yesterday) I have my doubts a fake punt is even in the playbook.
Last time I recall them trying it was the Jets playoff loss in 2011.
 

lexrageorge

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A designed fake punt is one thing; audibling out of one is almost impossible unless the punter can also throw a pass. Randy Danny White or Tom Tupa probably could have made it work, but it's asking a lot of a regular punter. The infamous 1995 fake punt (thrown by Tupa) against Denver actually would have worked had Tedy Bruschi been able to catch the pass, which was right on the numbers.

EDIT: Thanks @EddieYost
 
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EddieYost

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A designed fake punt is one thing; audibling out of one is almost impossible unless the punter can also throw a pass. Randy White or Tom Tupa probably could have made it work, but it's asking a lot of a regular punter. The infamous 1995 fake punt (thrown by Tupa) against Denver actually would have worked had Tedy Bruschi been able to catch the pass, which was right on the numbers.
Danny White
 

BigJimEd

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A designed fake punt is one thing; audibling out of one is almost impossible unless the punter can also throw a pass
The upback/personal protector might be responsible for calling the audible as well as the throw.

One question has come up in the game plans which is why little to no play action and BB actually answered the question.
Improtant point. A lot of play action are merely for show and aren't "faking" anyone.
 

riboflav

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OL and running game was very good. Other than that I was not impressed. Steelers should have had three picks and while the defense looked good Trubisky is really terrible, if embedded Patriot Gunner holds on to the ball I think we're all singing a different tune.

It's not so much a recalibration from the Brady years but a realization that the team is not going to get past Allen and Mahomes (and Burrow, and Jackson, and maybe Carr, and...) with Mac unless they can build a great roster around him and win a grinding game where they force turnovers. Maybe that's the same as recalibrating but it's hard to feel rosy. It's an average team on the playoff bubble like 10 other teams.

I would feel a lot better if Mac looked better than last year (he doesn't) or if they had more contributions from the TEs, who it feels like should be making the catches over the middle and RAC yards that only Myers is giving them.

Go ahead and yell at me, I don't think we are as bad as we looked game 1 but lots of games against other average teams are going to come down to turnovers and luck like the first two, and I don't see much evidence they can control a game against a good passing offense (obviously they haven't really played one yet, jury out on Miami). The schedule from Thanksgiving on looks rough. YMMV
I always enjoys Fake Win Week here at SoSH.
 
I have no idea if they trust Bailey to make a throw - that’s the wild card.
Is it that hard? Feels like any NFL punter ought to be able to lob up a 30 yard pass accurately enough for a guy standing on his own on the sideline to be able to catch it. Sure as hell if I were playing that position I'd have spent a lot of time practicing it over the years (if only so I could badger my coach to let me do it in a game). But I've never tried to do with a couple of guys big enough to block out the sun running at me, so what do I know?
 

tims4wins

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Is it that hard? Feels like any NFL punter ought to be able to lob up a 30 yard pass accurately enough for a guy standing on his own on the sideline to be able to catch it. Sure as hell if I were playing that position I'd have spent a lot of time practicing it over the years (if only so I could badger my coach to let me do it in a game). But I've never tried to do with a couple of guys big enough to block out the sun running at me, so what do I know?
The Jets had a successful fake punt like this yesterday.
 

Mystic Merlin

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Is it that hard? Feels like any NFL punter ought to be able to lob up a 30 yard pass accurately enough for a guy standing on his own on the sideline to be able to catch it. Sure as hell if I were playing that position I'd have spent a lot of time practicing it over the years (if only so I could badger my coach to let me do it in a game). But I've never tried to do with a couple of guys big enough to block out the sun running at me, so what do I know?
I can’t answer that question or comment on your assertions. But presumably Bailey got an earful if it is expected that he would identify the uncovered gunner and throw the ball to him, and I don’t recall any beat reporter noting any interaction like that.

Whether every punter SHOULD be instructed and able to complete that throw, I don’t know.

But I am generally skeptical - rightly or wrongly - of the notion that executing anything outside the typical skill set of a player at a position, especially specialists, is as easy as it seems. Some punters may throw the ball well in simulated game conditions, and others may not.
 

lexrageorge

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Is it that hard? Feels like any NFL punter ought to be able to lob up a 30 yard pass accurately enough for a guy standing on his own on the sideline to be able to catch it. Sure as hell if I were playing that position I'd have spent a lot of time practicing it over the years (if only so I could badger my coach to let me do it in a game). But I've never tried to do with a couple of guys big enough to block out the sun running at me, so what do I know?
In a game situation, there are a number of steps where things can go wrong:

1.) Someone has to audible the play call so the gunner can know to run a route and look for the ball. Not something you want the punter to normally do; punter should be figuring out where to kick the ball and how much time he'll have to get it off. So probably goes to the deep blocker above.

2.) The outside "receiver" has to hear to the audible and then remember to run the play.

3.) Punter has to get the long snap and then quickly deliver the pass over the rushers to avoid a batted pass.

4.) "Receiver" then has to be in position to catch the ball before any of the 2nd level rushers figure out what is going on and move back to defend the pass.

5.) Receiver then has to actually catch the ball. And then not fumble it if he gets hit.

Also, the Pats needed 9 yards; while achievable, it will still take that much longer to develop, and every fraction of a second would give the Steelers time to figure out what is going on. Interestingly, Schooler was a 2-way player in his college career that spanned both Oregon and Texas, so if a player was going to be involved in a fake punt, it would be him. OTOH, it was his 2nd career game as a UDFA.
 

StupendousMan

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In a game situation, there are a number of steps where things can go wrong:

1.) Someone has to audible the play call so the gunner can know to run a route and look for the ball. Not something you want the punter to normally do; punter should be figuring out where to kick the ball and how much time he'll have to get it off. So probably goes to the deep blocker above.

2.) The outside "receiver" has to hear to the audible and then remember to run the play.

3.) Punter has to get the long snap and then quickly deliver the pass over the rushers to avoid a batted pass.

4.) "Receiver" then has to be in position to catch the ball before any of the 2nd level rushers figure out what is going on and move back to defend the pass.

5.) Receiver then has to actually catch the ball. And then not fumble it if he gets hit.

Also, the Pats needed 9 yards; while achievable, it will still take that much longer to develop, and every fraction of a second would give the Steelers time to figure out what is going on. Interestingly, Schooler was a 2-way player in his college career that spanned both Oregon and Texas, so if a player was going to be involved in a fake punt, it would be him. OTOH, it was his 2nd career game as a UDFA.
I'll admit to ignorance, but is all this really necessary for a professional football team? If the team lines for an ordinary punt, without any special call for a fake, and the opponent leaves one of the gunners _completely_ uncovered, is it possible for

a) the gunner to recognize that no one is covering him, and so run 5-10 yards along the sideline while looking for the ball
b) the punter to recognize that no one is covering the gunner, and so, after having caught the snap, to look briefly at the gunner; if the gunner is looking
back, throw the ball there

Step a), the gunner's actions, are not irrevocable: if the punter ignores him and kicks the ball, he's already moving (albeit more slowly than usual) in the right direction, and can simply speed up. Since he isn't covered, he'll probably reach the receiver in plenty of time. The crucial actions here are those of the punter. I could understand if the act of pausing the natural kicking motion to check out the gunner would be too risky -- if the punter decides to kick the ball, this hesitation could lead to a block.

Is this something that could only be done by a team with veterans in both gunner and punter positions, who have trained together for years?
 

speedracer

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I'll admit to ignorance, but is all this really necessary for a professional football team? If the team lines for an ordinary punt, without any special call for a fake, and the opponent leaves one of the gunners _completely_ uncovered, is it possible for

a) the gunner to recognize that no one is covering him, and so run 5-10 yards along the sideline while looking for the ball
b) the punter to recognize that no one is covering the gunner, and so, after having caught the snap, to look briefly at the gunner; if the gunner is looking
back, throw the ball there

Step a), the gunner's actions, are not irrevocable: if the punter ignores him and kicks the ball, he's already moving (albeit more slowly than usual) in the right direction, and can simply speed up. Since he isn't covered, he'll probably reach the receiver in plenty of time. The crucial actions here are those of the punter. I could understand if the act of pausing the natural kicking motion to check out the gunner would be too risky -- if the punter decides to kick the ball, this hesitation could lead to a block.

Is this something that could only be done by a team with veterans in both gunner and punter positions, who have trained together for years?
Johnny Hekker was a HS quarterback, so that's probably the level of skill that is required of the punter.

I suspect that NFL teams would love it if there were more college punters that had that kind of background, but knowing how notoriously risk-averse NCAA coaches are it seems unlikely to change.
 

soxhop411

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Imagine how this place would be if we had the talent (especially on offense), expectations and results of Cincinnati
We would need to hire more hamsters to keep SOSH servers from melting down
 

mulluysavage

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If Mac throws for 250 yards a game (he had 252 yesterday), that's 4,250 on the season. That's not an insanely high number of course, but it isn't bad. It would have ranked #9 in the NFL last season.

If he throws for 250 yards a game, what's the ideal distribution? What distribution exists whereby we aren't looking at SOME of the players as either busts or disappointments? Does such a distribution exist?
Or maybe this week it was a result of game plan and personnel packages used on plays called...

Snap counts
Devante W1 100% W2 77%
Jonnu W1 68% W2 57%
Hunter W1 77% W2 50%

Where do I find targets? And personnel grouping stats?
 
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Johnny Hekker was a HS quarterback, so that's probably the level of skill that is required of the punter.

I suspect that NFL teams would love it if there were more college punters that had that kind of background, but knowing how notoriously risk-averse NCAA coaches are it seems unlikely to change.
Sadly given that Bill is still punting from the opponent's 40 yard liine it's probably not going to be the risk-averse Pats leading the charge in NFL punters throwing the ball even if they did.

I'm guessing Bill's response to all this would be that the situations don't arise often enough, and are not valuable enough when they do, to waste valuable practice time on them and I'd defer to him on that being true for pure fake punts like the one the Jets pulled off. But failing to throw to completely unguarded receivers is a little frustrating to watch.
 

lexrageorge

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Sadly given that Bill is still punting from the opponent's 40 yard liine it's probably not going to be the risk-averse Pats leading the charge in NFL punters throwing the ball even if they did.

I'm guessing Bill's response to all this would be that the situations don't arise often enough, and are not valuable enough when they do, to waste valuable practice time on them and I'd defer to him on that being true for pure fake punts like the one the Jets pulled off. But failing to throw to completely unguarded receivers is a little frustrating to watch.
It was 4th and 9, they were on their own 43, and the result of the play was quite favorable.

There was a later mid field punt that went nowhere after a touchback, but the Pats were holding a lead in the 4th and the Steelers offense was inept.
 

rodderick

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It was 4th and 9, they were on their own 43, and the result of the play was quite favorable.

There was a later mid field punt that went nowhere after a touchback, but the Pats were holding a lead in the 4th and the Steelers offense was inept.
I had zero issues with their decisions to punt near midfield. Steelers weren't doing anything offensively, force them to come up with a long sustained drive without commiting a back breaking turnover or a penalty. The context of that game didn't call for aggressiveness.
 

Bowhemian

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I'll admit to ignorance, but is all this really necessary for a professional football team? If the team lines for an ordinary punt, without any special call for a fake, and the opponent leaves one of the gunners _completely_ uncovered, is it possible for

a) the gunner to recognize that no one is covering him, and so run 5-10 yards along the sideline while looking for the ball
b) the punter to recognize that no one is covering the gunner, and so, after having caught the snap, to look briefly at the gunner; if the gunner is looking
back, throw the ball there

Step a), the gunner's actions, are not irrevocable: if the punter ignores him and kicks the ball, he's already moving (albeit more slowly than usual) in the right direction, and can simply speed up. Since he isn't covered, he'll probably reach the receiver in plenty of time. The crucial actions here are those of the punter. I could understand if the act of pausing the natural kicking motion to check out the gunner would be too risky -- if the punter decides to kick the ball, this hesitation could lead to a block.

Is this something that could only be done by a team with veterans in both gunner and punter positions, who have trained together for years?
I would think that it is something they have discussed/coached the players to look for. But I am willing to bet that the players would have to get the go-ahead from the sideline before they tried to pull it off.

I used to coach youth football, and before a big game for the 8th grade team, we told our punter that if our gunner was uncovered, he could throw to him. Long story short, our gunner WAS covered, and the punter DID try to throw to him. Because he was covered, the gunner never looked for the ball. We ended up losing that game-not because of that unforced error, but it didn't help either.
 

BigJimEd

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I would think that it is something they have discussed/coached the players to look for. But I am willing to bet that the players would have to get the go-ahead from the sideline before they tried to pull it off.

I used to coach youth football, and before a big game for the 8th grade team, we told our punter that if our gunner was uncovered, he could throw to him. Long story short, our gunner WAS covered, and the punter DID try to throw to him. Because he was covered, the gunner never looked for the ball. We ended up losing that game-not because of that unforced error, but it didn't help either.
Was your punter Eric Weddle? He made a similar call years ago where the defender ran over after the audible. Of course, Weddle also converted a fake punt deep in their own territory, in OT, on the last week of the season to get them into the playoffs. He said after he probably doesn't make that call if they had made playoffs. He was actually stripped of the ball but officials ruled his forward progress stopped. Steeler fans were not happy since SD beat them out for the playoffs.

For the Patriots, there was the time Chung called an audible and then fumbled the snap. Belichick might have taken away special teams audibles in perpetuity after that.
 

cshea

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That was the divisional game against the Jets they lost. I think they ran one or two with Ebner back when he was a core ST player, but that's about it.

The last fake FG I can remember was Adam to Troy Brown in STL in 2003 maybe. They snuck Brown on the field and the Rams didn't notice. Quick snap to Adam.
 

BigJimEd

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That was the divisional game against the Jets they lost. I think they ran one or two with Ebner back when he was a core ST player, but that's about it.

The last fake FG I can remember was Adam to Troy Brown in STL in 2003 maybe. They snuck Brown on the field and the Rams didn't notice. Quick snap to Adam.
Yes, Ebner ran some fake punts. I just wasn't sure if they were called from the sideline or audibles. Chung admitted to making the call himself on the failed attempt.

That fake FG was great. Vinatieri had some highlights. I still remember him chasing down Herschel Walker for the TD saving tackle.
 

tims4wins

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Yes, Ebner ran some fake punts. I just wasn't sure if they were called from the sideline or audibles. Chung admitted to making the call himself on the failed attempt.

That fake FG was great. Vinatieri had some highlights. I still remember him chasing down Herschel Walker for the TD saving tackle.
His uncontested 2 point conversion vs. the Bills in 98 was classic
 

lexrageorge

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The defining moment for fake punts in Patriots' history is the Tom Tupa attempt during the "National Guard" game.

Tom Tupa attempt
The one aspect that is missed about that fake punt is that the play design actually worked; Bruschi was wide open, and the pass was on the money. Biggest problem was the timing of the play given the game situation was poor.
 

tims4wins

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The one aspect that is missed about that fake punt is that the play design actually worked; Bruschi was wide open, and the pass was on the money. Biggest problem was the timing of the play given the game situation was poor.
That play was right in front of me, I was there live
 

BaseballJones

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Gamethread-ish post here but here goes anyway:

I just wanted to say I really like "game ball" threads rather than "goat" threads following Patriots' games. You know?
 
It was 4th and 9, they were on their own 43, and the result of the play was quite favorable.

There was a later mid field punt that went nowhere after a touchback, but the Pats were holding a lead in the 4th and the Steelers offense was inept.
It was the later punts I was referring to, and using the result of a one-off play is a terrible way to judge a decision-process when you have mounds of data that can inform you. Particularly when that result is obviously an outlier.

If those later punts had been an atypical Bill move in reaction to the game situation I wouldn't mind so much, but they're not. They're quite typical of a coach who has been very much on the conservative end of the scale in recent years.