NFL insider notes: Why scoring is on a file tempo in 2020, a glimmer of hope for Jets, Week 9 picks and extra


In case you have not heard, the NFL is on tempo to shatter earlier scoring information in 2020. By way of eight weeks, the league has seen its most factors (5,996) and touchdowns (692) than some other season because the 1970 merger at this level.

That might additionally imply we’re hurtling towards traditionally dangerous scoring protection totals. However one refined file the league’s defenses are on tempo for is the third-down conversion fee. 

By way of eight weeks, NFL defenses are permitting third downs to be transformed at a 42.8% fee. That is up from 39% simply final season, and it’ll smash the file of 41.5% set in 1972, which is way back to CBS Analysis and STATS LLC can monitor.

The 1995 Cleveland Browns‘ ignominious mark of permitting 49.6% of all third downs can be being outpaced by three groups. The 5-2 Tennessee Titans are blazing a path to the file books with an eye-popping 61.9% conversion allowance this season.

So what provides? That is what I requested Andy Reid. His Chiefs are an ideal instance of what is going on on within the league. The offense has improved in its third down marks (from 47.6% in 2019 to 49.5% this yr) whereas the protection has taken a slight step again from its 37.1% fee in 2019 to 38.5% this yr.

Are third downs getting simpler to transform, or are they getting tougher to defend?

“That is a rooster or the egg,” Reid mentioned this week. “That is a troublesome one to reply. Some weeks you’re feeling just like the protection is catching you, and the opposite instances you’re feeling you are forward of the protection and rolling. Third downs are nonetheless robust to get. I do know the numbers are up, however I additionally know it is the identical feeling you will have if you’re calling performs. These are necessary downs they usually know you are going to usually throw, and people D linemen know and rushers are fairly good now. You have to be sure to have all these bases coated. I can not reply that. I can not inform you how I really feel both means, I simply know the sensation I’ve if you’re calling them. These are robust downs.”

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For the Titans, Payments and Panthers, they’d in all probability say it is getting tougher to defend third downs. Regardless of their mixed 14-9 file, these three groups are forward of the ’95 Browns’ all-time mark. After the seemingly implausible 61.9% conversion fee in opposition to for Tennessee, the younger Panthers are in second at 54.2% and the AFC East-leading Payments are in third at 50.6%.

The Cowboys (49.5%), Lions (48.9%) and Giants (48.6%) are all inside a share level of the all-time file.

In Tennessee, head coach Mike Vrabel and his employees are throwing nearly all the pieces they’ve at determining why they’re so dangerous at stopping groups on third downs.

“We take a look at the self-scout. There’s a number of various things which might be displaying up. It is zone. It is man. It is completely different down and distances,” Vrabel informed reporters final week. “We have to proceed to work, focus, make it an consciousness, working it right now to get 11 guys to execute the decision, whichever one that could be, working along with anyone. In the event you’re in man and it’s important to combo and bought a pass-rush acquire and you have a spot the place you might want to be, getting there and with the ability to discover methods to win, successful the frenzy and with the ability to problem or to interrupt. 

“We’re shut. I do know that that does not imply something, however if you’re tackling them on the sticks, otherwise you rise up there on third-and-4 and bought a zone they usually attempt to run a man-beater and the receivers in a position to fall ahead for an additional yard – once more, it is difficult it and ensuring that we’re sticks consciousness and we’ve got an concept of what we’re attempting to do primarily based on the formations that they are popping out in, and the way we are able to influence the quarterback.”

Within the case of Carolina, the Panthers are permitting 75.4% of third downs between 1 and 6 yards to be transformed whereas hovering across the league common of 28.4% on third and lengthy (7 or extra yards). However Tennessee has allowed 23 of the 43 third-and-long makes an attempt to be transformed this yr, a surprising 53.5% clip that outpaces second-place Seattle by almost 10 share factors.

The Titans will hold tinkering with their protection whereas the remainder of the league figures out their very own points. Between 2010-2019, defenses allowed third downs to be transformed at 38.8%, 4 share factors lower than the 2020 explosion that is ongoing.

Once I requested Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians what is going on on, he offered essentially the most logical reply but.

“One factor [is] there’s fewer penalties,” Arians says. “I do not suppose you are seeing as many super-long [conversion attempts]. I believe groups are taking part in the sport in third-and-6 or much less, which goes to advertise higher conversion charges. I do not suppose there’s any rule adjustments or something which have actually sparked it analytically. Simply in all probability higher play offensively.”

Let’s take penalties first. We all know the league officers are calling fewer offensive holding penalties than earlier than, and that is one of many main anecdotal causes of elevated offensive efficiency this season. 

It is true that penalties as an entire are down. The common NFL group is on tempo to be known as for 91.5 penalties this yr, which is down from 104.4 penalties per group from the typical of the earlier 10 seasons. In that very same 10-year stretch, the typical group was flagged for 47.6 offensive penalties in a season. This yr, the typical group is on tempo for 38.9 offensive penalties. 

Offenses are getting away with extra, and that makes changing a play—any play—that a lot simpler. Equally, it retains a group out of third-and-long conditions.

From 2010-2019, third-and-longs accounted for 49.4% of all third down makes an attempt. However that has dropped to 45.4% this season. So Arians is appropriate in noting that third-and-7 or longer makes an attempt are much less frequent this season.

And at last, let’s handle the argument of higher offensive play. Groups are changing third downs between 1 and 6 yards at a better fee than earlier than. The 2010-2019 stretch noticed groups changing 51.3% of third downs between 1 and 6 yards, whereas that quantity has grown to 54.7% to date this season.

I believe Arians is correct on each level, and I believe all of them work hand-in-hand. There are fewer offensive penalties being known as this yr, and that retains offenses out of harder third down conditions. And with much less worry of being flagged, offensive gamers are having better success in additional manageable conditions. 

Sorry to those defenses.

Staying on prime of COVID-19

The NFL has develop into far more snug dwelling with COVID-19. One month in the past if a group had a constructive take a look at we puzzled if that week’s recreation can be performed on schedule. Now, we simply await the services to open up the following day and proceed with the work week.

The fact is the league completely needs to play 256 regular-season video games, and it is a credit score to the league’s and particular person groups’ medical of us who’re navigating what “high-risk shut contact” means. It looks like each week I’ve a word about COVID-19, nevertheless it’s crucial that we control the virus within the NFL and never get lulled to sleep.

Simply because video games do not get rescheduled proper now does not imply in any respect we’re within the clear. The truth is, a league supply reiterated to me final week that now could be the time to fret. It seems we’re in (or coming into) the second wave of coronavirus within the nation, and couple that with groups realizing midway by way of the season that their postseason chances are high fading and gamers and employees could start getting lax outdoors of the power.

I went by way of every joint NFL/NFLPA assertion for the final 11 weeks and located that there is been virtually gradual uptick every week in confirmed constructive circumstances within the league since coaching camp. That is not essentially stunning, and it additionally will not be overly regarding. But.

The league is testing almost 8,000 gamers and personnel day by day. Roughly 2,500 gamers and simply lower than 5,500 personnel members are present process testing, and between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 the league noticed 63 gamers and 99 personnel members take a look at constructive for COVID-19. Over three months and throughout 32 groups in a pandemic, these are comparatively good numbers in a career that doesn’t lend itself to bodily distancing.

The numbers had been good throughout coaching camp, with simply 5 gamers and 19 personnel members testing constructive between Aug. 12 and Sept. 5. That usually continued till the Titans outbreak the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 3, the place the league had 11 participant positives and 15 personnel positives. Since then, the NFL has seen eight gamers take a look at constructive in every of the previous 4 weeks. Personnel numbers have crept up, too.

Sept. 6 to Sept. 12



Sept. 20 to Sept. 26



Sept. 27 to Oct. 3



Oct. 4 to Oct. 10



Oct. 11 to Oct. 17



Oct. 18 to Oct. 24



Oct. 25 to Oct. 31



The numbers for this week aren’t in but, however already the Texans, Cowboys, Ravens, Packers, 49ers, Bears, Cardinals and Eagles have all had at the very least one constructive take a look at. I anticipate the ultimate numbers launched subsequent week to indicate greater than eight gamers.

It is essential that gamers and employees stay vigilant of their efforts to maintain one another protected. The NFL is increasing the bench areas from the 20-yard line to the opposite 20, and gamers and extremely inspired (however not required) to put on masks on the sideline throughout the recreation. A continued uptick in numbers might derail video games.

A Jets glimmer of hope

I believe Joe Douglas took one of the best, apparent, first public step in his post-trade deadline press convention in displaying individuals (i.e. Trevor Lawrence) that the Jets are a reliable group.

Douglas owned to not re-signing Robby Anderson, who’s flourishing in Carolina on a two-year, $20 million contract. Anderson can be the Jets prime receiver by a mile this season, and Douglas let him stroll in free company for a slightly easy contract with the Panthers. Here is what Douglas needed to say this week.

“I’ve thought of Robby lots. As you guys know, there’s hundreds of selections that come throughout your desk throughout the yr,” the second-year GM mentioned. “And I am going again, and I take a look at what I might have performed higher in that particular state of affairs. I assumed our guys did a incredible job of actually analyzing each place group’s market worth main as much as free company final yr. I believe what went unsuitable with us and Robby, we thought Robby’s worth was going to be even better than he signed for in Carolina. And so, I believe that is on me in the end, and that is on us transferring ahead to get a greater deal with on each participant’s market worth. Actually, we might all like to see Robby right here, doing what he is doing, however I tip my hat to the success he has. However clearly, we do not wish to be within the enterprise or dropping good gamers.”

Is it simpler for Douglas to personal the error since he is simply 18 months right into a six-year contract? Clearly. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless refreshing to listen to a GM personal a mistake. And I believe it sends a sign to future Jets that there will be accountability at prime ranges there, even when different huge points nonetheless exist.

I believe we’re in for a rumor-filled draft season for the Jets, particularly in the event that they wind up with the No. 1 general choose. I and a number of other brokers I spoke with took Lawrence’s “I might return to high school in 2021” to imply he was exercising no matter little bit of leverage he at the moment has. Lawrence is not going again to high school, nevertheless it felt like he was beginning to lay the groundwork for a 2004 Eli Manning transfer. 

The Jets is not going to retain Adam Gase subsequent season, and the Jets might want to rent a coach that may ease a few of Lawrence’s worries. There’s additionally the transition of energy that may seemingly happen on the very prime of the group. Chris Johnson has been guiding the group the final three years since his brother, Woody, took over as United States Ambassador to the UK. 

Ought to Joe Biden develop into the forty sixth President, Woody Johnson would (very seemingly) now not maintain that put up and return to his seat atop the Jets group. Lawrence can be nicely inside his rights to study all he can about group possession and the route of the franchise.

The Jets have a powerful public face in Douglas who must be in each assembly room and on each name with Lawrence ought to the Jets wish to safe the QB. However it is going to take some convincing. 


How do you observe up an 11-3 week? Nicely, with an 8-6 Week 8 should you’re me. A disappointing outcome, however there have been just some video games I did not see coming. I am now 77-40-1 on the yr, and I believe that is fairly stable. However I moved to 1-6 on Thursday Night time Soccer (after I broke out this week by selecting the Packers!) Let’s go to the video games.

Lions at Vikings 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

Once I first noticed this recreation I wished to take the Lions. Then I dug deeper into their loss to the Colts and realized the run all of us thought Detroit would go on could have been fugazi. The Lions had 29 dashing yards final week and now face the eleventh greatest dashing protection. Matt Stafford was positioned on the Reserve/COVID-19 checklist this week however ought to be capable to play Sunday. And the Lions solely had possession for 22 minutes in opposition to Indy. In the meantime, did you see what the Vikings did to Inexperienced Bay final week?

The choose: Vikings

Bears at Titans

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

The Bears façade is lastly crumbling. They are a group needing a mean quarterback to not flip the ball over and for the protection to play at an elite stage. Within the final two video games (0-2) the Bears have one takeaway and three turnovers. The Titans could surrender third downs to Nick Foles, however they’re going to additionally take the ball away from him. Tennessee is eighth within the league with 12 takeaways this yr.

The choose: Titans

Saints at Buccaneers

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

I completely love the best way Todd Bowles’s protection is taking part in proper now. The Saints are getting more healthy and it is a blessing to all soccer lovers that we get to see these groups wholesome halfway by way of the yr. The Bucs had been by no means going to be prepared in Week 1 in opposition to a Saints group that stored its core collectively for years, however now the Bucs are a well-oiled machine. 

The choose: Buccaneers

The remaining

Falcons over Broncos

Seahawks over Payments

Ravens over Colts

Chiefs over Panthers

Texans over Jaguars

Giants over Soccer Workforce 

Raiders over Chargers

Cardinals over Dolphins

Steelers over Cowboys

Patriots over Jets



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