Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Catch Radius: The Bigger, the Better?

Our season finale of catch radius focuses on the growing size of Josh McCown's talented receiving duos, including breakout stud Alshon Jeffery. Also: Anquan Boldin's incredible year.

21 Nov 2005

Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2006.

By the way, the discussion thread for this roundtable is an excellent place to suggest injuries you would like to see Will Carroll cover in this week's Black and Blue Report. And at the end we'll give you a little preview of what games we're analyzing later in the week.

Detroit Lions 7 at Dallas Cowboys 20

Michael David Smith: Is everyone sick of hearing me talk about Charles Rogers already? Well, here we go again. Rick Gosselin, usually one of my favorite football writers, wrote this: "Wide receivers Charles Rogers (second pick in 2003) and Roy Williams (seventh pick in 2004) have been slowed by injuries." How could anyone compare the two? Williams has missed five games; Rogers has missed 31 games. Rogers entered the league a year earlier, but Williams has almost four times as many career yards.

Tim Gerheim: Wow, how huge is Roy Williams? On that deep pass where he was covered by Aaron Glenn, he looked like a bear running with an Oompa-Loompa. There's the counterpoint to all the short receivers having big years.

Michael David Smith: I hate to say it because I want Kevin Jones to do well, but at this point I think the Lions need to acknowledge that Shawn Bryson is the better player right now. Make Bryson the main RB and Jones the change of pace, not the other way around. But the more I watch the Lions the more I think play calling is a bigger problem than anything. How do you have your receivers running six-yard comebacks on third-and-12?

Tim Gerheim: Will and others say it all the time, but people in and around the NFL are way too cavalier about concussions. Dallas RT Rob Petitti got up after one play woozy and unstable on his feet, but he convinced the official to let him stay in. On the replay you could see that just after he fell down he got kneed in the side of the head. Nobody on the Cowboys sideline took him out, and before the next play Bledsoe called time out. Petitti could barely stand up. It boggles my mind that 1) nobody took him out when he was staggering around initially, and 2) they put him back in for the next play after the time out.

Michael David Smith: Bryson runs the ball on third-and-3, clearly gets beyond the first-down mark, but for some reason they spot it about a yard short of where he went down. Then they bring out the chains, and the nose of the ball is just past the stick. Somehow, Ed Hochuli says it's not a first down. Huh? So then the Lions go for it on fourth-and-an inch, and Cory Schlesinger loses about six inches. But they spot it about eight inches ahead of where Schlesinger fell, so the Lions get the first down. I think Hochuli needs to have a talk with his line judge about spotting the ball.

Tim Gerheim: I swear I saw a game recently with a chain measurement where the ball was past all the chains but not yet to the stanchion, and they called it a first down. Never did I think it would matter whether the post itself was part of the 10 yards that make up the chains, but of course it does.

Oakland Raiders 16 at Washington Redskins 13

Tim Gerheim: Wow, three cheers for Houston having a night game. There's nothing like turning on the noon game on CBS and not hearing Don Criqui or Ian Eagle. Dick Enberg just sounds like football. All is right with the world.

Michael David Smith: Rich Parson of the Redskins just had a 35-yard gain, after which the announcers informed us that he had been seriously considering quitting football to become a marriage counselor before Joe Gibbs moved him from the practice squad to the active roster. I think the Eagles should have signed him to see if he could mediate things between T.O. and Donovan McNabb.

Carolina Panthers 3 at Chicago Bears 13

Michael David Smith: Nathan Vasher already has two picks, and the thing I can't figure out is why Delhomme is throwing in his direction. He's not covering Steve Smith on most plays, so it's not like Delhomme doesn't have other options.

Chicago's Carl Ford just downed a punt while standing three yards deep in the end zone. Shouldn't the punt gunners know not to cross the goal line?

Mike Tanier: The Bears defense doesn't have any major weakness. They get a lot of pressure with the front four. But they also generate a lot of coverage sacks and force opponents to check down to the third or fourth option.

The offensive line is also very good. Lots of push and plenty of blocks on the second level. Terrence Metcalf and Fred Miller were on the right side and they won most of their battles.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 at Atlanta Falcons 27

Michael David Smith: The officials need to be more consistent about when they call late hits on QB slides. Chris Simms just did a feet-first slide and two Falcons jumped on him. No flag. Neither Falcon hit him hard, but I've seen plays where the QB slides and the defensive player barely touches him and they throw the flag.

Russell Levine: Tampa Bay mugged the Falcons in the early going. In the first eight minutes, Atlanta had two personal fouls, two false starts, had two players injured (Rossum, who got poked in the eye in a pileup and got flagged for retaliating, and Vick, who got stepped on by his guard and then had Greg Spires dive on him on the ground -- Spires somehow did not get flagged).

They also gave up two sacks, the second of which was a fumble in the end zone recovered for a Tampa Bay touchdown. Not a good play call by Mora to have Schaub come in for an injured Vick and call a seven-step drop on third-and-22 from his own one-yard line. Simeon Rice went right around his man and stripped the ball, at which point Schaub was eight yards deep in the end zone.

After Atlanta's miserable start, they went to more of a rhythm passing game, throwing quicker on three and five step drops and planned rollouts, and Vick settled down. He's looked pretty good the last two drives, both long TD drives to give Atlanta the lead. And there's been a Roddy White sighting; he's made some nice plays down the field.

Everything is a confidence thing for Vick. Bad throws seem to snowball, as do good ones when he's going well.

Bill Moore: Oh, Vick fumbles and Atlanta loses it. Oh, that is bad luck. Or is it?

Russell Levine: OK, credit where credit is due. Vick conducted a clinic on third downs today, mostly delivering the ball from within the pocket, on time and in rhythm. As a result, Tampa Bay couldn't get off the field on defense and Atlanta had points on five straight drives at one point. He even moved Atlanta into position to at least attempt a tying field goal. If he's had a better passing day as a pro, I haven't seen it.

Other notes -- Cadillac is back, or maybe running against Atlanta's defense instead of Carolina and Washington was the biggest difference. Either way, he had his burst back, and showed patience waiting for holes to develop instead of slamming into the line.

Simms didn't do much on the day and threw one bad interception, but with Tampa down late, he brought them down the field (mostly it was running plays, but he picked up a couple crucial third downs) to tie it up. This game can only help his confidence. That's late comebacks against decent teams, two weeks in a row.

Tampa did a nice job for the second straight week going max-protect. Rod Coleman wasn't really a factor. It limits their passing game (Galloway was shut out), but it keeps Simms upright and gives him a chance to make some reads and deliver the ball.

Aaron Schatz: Russell, looking at the numbers I was struck by Tampa's poor passing numbers. Was that Simms having problems or the Atlanta defense looking a lot better?

Russell Levine: I think Simms' numbers were as much about lack of opportunity as anything. He did struggle on third downs for most of the game, but Tamap Bay didn't have the ball much (Atlanta had like five or six straight 10+ play drives) and when they did have it, they ran the ball pretty effectively. Simms only attempted 19 passes, almost none of them downfield. I think that had a lot to do with the max-protect blocking schemes.

But what has happened to Tampa Bay's defense? 34, 35, and 27 points the last three weeks, but more importantly, lots and lots of sustained drives. The safeties have been decimated by injury (rookie Donte Nicholson had to play yesterday, I think he's like 5th string), but I don't know how much a part of the problem that is.

Philadelphia Eagles 17 at New York Giants 27

Al Bogdan: Luke Petitgout is a walking holding penalty. He's lucky the officials don't call more on him than they already do. Even when he holds, he's ineffective. Trent Cole just blew right past him, even though Petitgout had his arms completely wrapped around Cole.

I don't think we'll be seeing too many goal line carries for Brandon Jacobs in the future. Three stops at the one yard line. The Giants line wasn't able to open any holes for him, but Jacobs wasn't able to push any Eagles defender out of the way. At least he seemed to be lower to the ground, although it didn't do him any good. Barber was the lone tailback the next time the Giants were at the goal line, when Manning threw a touchdown to Shockey.

It's great to see David Tyree back on special teams. He had a blocked punt, and a Giants punt downed at the one, which was called back because of a penalty, in the first half alone. If he was in the lineup last week, I don't think the Giants give up those two return TDs.

You'd think Terrell Owens was actually on the field with the amount that Joe Buck is talking about him. You're a play-b-play guy Joe, call the action on the field.

This was the game they signed Antonio Pierce for. I can't remember the last time the Giants did so well stopping Brian Westbrook. Sure, it helps that they knew he was the team's only offensive weapon, but it was nice to not see him rip off endless first downs like he usually does. Of course, just as I was writing this Westbrook takes it to the goal line to set up a Mike McMahon QB sneak TD.

Do we track penalties by officiating crew? We really should. There were some obvious holding plays today that just weren't called. Runyan had a handful of Strahan's jersey all game and the officials never called anything. Like I mentioned before, Petitgout holds on every other play, if not more often.

Mike Tanier: Guess I'm obligated to provide the Mike McMahon scouting report. He was pretty terrible in the first half, then settled down in the second half and made some good throws. He has a good arm and can run, and he seems to see the whole field. But he has happy feet and is too quick to scramble, and he does the hand pat before every throw, which slows his delivery.

It's difficult watching the Eagles defense collapse late in games. I'm used to watching them be "assignment perfect" for the last four years. This year, everyone leaves their feet when trying to make open field tackles, and cornerbacks with no safety help are letting receivers get behind them. On that Plaxico touchdown, Sheldon Brown has no business peeking and biting on the pump-fake: he has to keep the receiver in front of him.

On a lighter note, Michael Strahan and Keith Adams shook hands and smiled late in the game. If the Giants were to trade for Adams, they could switch to a two-gap defense.

Benjy Rose: I was impressed with McMahon ... in the first half, he looked bad mostly because the Eagles imported Paul Hackett as Guest Offensive Coordinator. Run, run, incomplete on an seven-yard out on third-and-9. Rinse, repeat.

Plaxico made an incredibly sweet move on his 61-yard TD catch. After catching the ball, he slowed down and took some steps outside as if he were running out of bounds. Defender bit hard and slowed down himself, and then Plax downshifted and sprinted into the end zone.

New Orleans Saints 17 at New England Patriots 24

Bill Moore: Who are these FOX announcers? Ron Pitts and Tim Ryan. Must have rolled out the A team for this blockbuster game. “Brady wears the gloves for the first time. Brings back memories of their 2001 Superbowl run.� Huh? He's worn the gloves since 2001. “The Pats are 29-5 in the last 3 seasons when they score first.� The Pats are 29-8 in total. Wow, compelling.

New Orleans is getting burned on the play-action. They are over-pursuing down near the end zone, probably because they have such a weak defense against the run (ranked 28th) and are trying to overcompensate.

During last season I was high on the potential of Pats cornerback Asante Samuel. Maybe it's the lack of experienced personnel on the field, but he just seems lost this season.

Note to Logan Mankins, yo rook, when you give up a sack, you pick up your QB off the ground, you don't walk away.

Aaron Brooks became the all-time TD thrower for the Saints. Well, there's a dubious title if I ever heard one. The list: Brooks, Manning, Bobby Hebert and Jim Everett. Brooks has been blitzed 12 times, and they have got to him 10 of those times including 7 hurries. But, ironically, late pressure off the ends on Brady makes this a close game.

With the exception of one long TD to Andre Davis, Brady's long ball was not particularly good today. A lot of overthrown balls and a couple underthrown balls.

“The runner's buttocks was on the ground prior to the ball coming out.� That's a new call.

Final note, Bill Belichick's father passed away last night. Although surely remembered by those who knew him for many more meaningful things, I'll always remember the poignant moment of him getting doused with the Gatoraid container while hugging his son at the end of last year's Super Bowl.

Aaron Schatz: The Saints took a timeout before the second play of the entire game. If you take a timeout after one play, this may be a sign your team has a problem.

The Pats scored a goal line touchdown on the play with Vrabel as a tight end. They run the exact same play every time Vrabel comes in and yet the Saints left him wide open. Has nobody on the Saints staff watched one of the last few Super Bowl telecasts?

I need to go back and count how many times this year a speed rusher has gone right around Nick Kaczur and batted the ball out of Brady's hand for a sack and fumble, but we had another one today.

If you added together all the yards Aaron Brooks ran backwards in one football season it would stretch from the earth to the moon and back five times.

The problem with the Pats secondary is not just coverage. They're having troubles tackling and get easily faked out when receivers juke them after catching the ball. And I'll echo Bill's statement that Samuel doesn't look anywhere near as good this year.

I think they tried the long pass to Andre Davis a zillion times and it worked that once. That once was nice. But then they tried it again on second-and-19 late in the game. When you just need a first down to ice the game why are you throwing the ball deep?

The broadcast of this game was very odd. Either the New England crowd was very docile or FOX forgot to set up the crowd mikes.

The Saints scored their second TD after a clear Delay of Game. I couldn't believe it was not called.

Bill Moore: Yeah. So clear that when the ball was hiked, I swear that Brooks, who was in shotgun formation, caught the ball, paused a moment, realized the play wasn't whistled dead, and continued on.

Jacksonville Jaguars 31 at Tennessee Titans 28

Ned Macey: I can't wait to get access to the play-by-play data. The Titans rank among the worst in the league against #1 and #2 receivers according to DVOA. But, like many teams, they play their cornerbacks on the same side of the field every play. The Jaguars continually attacked Reynaldo Hill but did it with both Jimmy Smith and Ernest Wilford. I am not saying Pacman Jones is playing well (although he is finally making plays in the return game), but I think teams are certainly picking on Hill.

By the way, Byron Leftwich is really tough, but maybe he should consider getting rid of the ball a little sooner.

Pittsburgh Steelers 13 at Baltimore Ravens 16 (OT)

Ryan Wilson: Without a doubt, Tommy Maddox is a difference-maker ... in a very bad way. Both defenses played pretty well, while Maddox and Boller battled for the "Worst QB Since Heath Shuler was a Starter" award. Chester Taylor is a really good running back, and if the Ravens re-sign Jamal Lewis, they deserve everything they get as a result. Both Taylor and Lewis will be free agents, and I'll actually be surprised if Lewis gets a bigger contract heading into 2006.

Last week, the Jaguars defense basically said they were concered about two guys on pass routes: Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. Apparently somebody on the Ravens heard the soundbytes, because for the first time all season, they successfully threw some balls to first round pick Mark Clayton. Still, this might have been the most boring game of the day -- exacerbated by overtime -- and thankfully, Matt Stover made a field goal to end it.

If anybody still thinks that Roethlisberger isn't an important part of this offense, I'd direct you to the Jags and Ravens game tapes. The Steelers now have to play Indy and Cincy and then the NFC North. They have their work cut out for them.

Mike Tanier: Seriously, let's talk about QB Antwaan Randle El, or however the hell it's Sp EL led. He ran the option ineffectually, threw a shovel pass and one other that I didn't see. Basically, he ran the plays Mike Mularkey put in for him a few years ago. I'd like to see him go back there and throw a few slants or hooks: that would get the defense on its heels.

Aaron Schatz: Ryan or anyone, what happened to turn the slightly above-average Maddox of 2002 and the slightly below-average Maddox of 2003 into the Most Hated Backup Quarterback Alive (TM) of 2004-2005? What is he doing differently?

Ryan Wilson: I have no first-hand knowledge, but I think that Maddox is still suffering from last year's arm injury that introduced Roethlisberger to the NFL. Maddox injured his elbow during Week 2 in 2004, and in the limited playing time since, he hasn't been able to complete a 20-yard out. Seriously. In 2002, 2003, he could throw the ball down the field. In 2005 he has been off-target, and often well short. He's still able to take a sack, however.

Indianapolis Colts 45 at Cincinnati Bengals 37

Tim Gerheim: This Colts-Bengals game is going to be a combination of that 38-31 (if I remember correctly) Indy-KC playoff game a couple years ago and the 58-48 Cincy-Cleveland game last year. I would be shocked -- SHOCKED -- if there were a drive that ended with anything but a score or a turnover all day.

Defintely neither defense is good. In other news, water is wet. But Indy's defense isn't as self-destructive as Cincy's. The Bengals seem to be playing defense with a certain desperation, like they know that they really can't stop the Colts, and their only hope is some kind of big play. The long pass to Dallas Clark should have been a medium-length play, but Ifeanyi Ohalete tried desperately to strip the ball instead of make the tackle. He almost got it, but Clark got past him and ran another 20 yards or so. I'm assuming that he did it because he thought just tackling him would be of no use, since Indy would just run some more plays and score. He was right, but that probably doesn't make it the right decision. Also, it's hilarious listening to Nantz and Simms fail correctly to pronounce Ohalete's name.

Mike Tanier: Was it an optical illusion, or was the cheerleader Chad Johnson proposed to on the sidelines taller than he was? I mean, after he stood up, of course.

The Bengals were playing lots and lots of Cover-2. They were picked apart. I'm not sure what the answer is against the Colts, but vanilla coverage with semi-experienced linebackers ain't it.

Tim Gerheim: Here's one of TMQ's "hidden indicators:" through three, the Colts have lost yardage on the last play of each quarter (including the half-endin kneeldown). If by some miracle they're trailing and trying to make a comeback at the very end, look for a Willie McGinest-class sack.

Postscript: Kneeldown. Much less dramatic. But it held to the trend. I wonder how often that happens, and whether anyone cares.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know what to say that hasn't been said about the absolutely crazy playcalling in this thing. Third-and-1 near the goal line and Cincinnati passes when they are running on the Colts at will? Blitzing eight when the Colts are at the goal line, leaving Manning with an easy open man for a touchdown? Manning throwing three incomplete passes when the Colts had to run out the clock to keep the Bengals from trying to come back?

It should be recognized that Manning was picking on Tory James all day (who was on Reggie Wayne) while Deltha O'Neal was doing an excellent job on Marvin Harrison. Also, I think the Bengals miss Madieu Williams -- Ohalete made some pretty egregious errors in judgment like his attempt to strip the ball from Dallas Clark that Clark avoided, running for 30 extra yards.

Ryan Wilson: Another egregious error was selling his #26 to Clinton Portis when he was still with the Redskins for a case of Bud Light and one of those "Mr. I Don't Know" outfits.

Ned Macey: I wonder how bad these defenses really are. I think they are better than they looked. In their previous 18 games combined, only Brady has really had success throwing the ball. Plus, the second half was 10-10 which is not exactly outrageous.

The first half looked like a 2004 Colts game. The Bengals decided to bring pressure. Have they not learned anything from the rest of the season? The Colts offense is great regardless, but making them grind out drives is much better than letting Manning beat you over the top.

Two great performances were turned in by Cincy players (besides the obviously dominant performance from Chad Johnson). First is Deltha O'Neal, who more or less shut Harrison down and broke up a pass in the end zone that would have ended the game. Second is Levi Jones, who dominated Freeney and did not receive as much help as tackles have been getting against Freeney recently.

For the Colts, the crucial drive was their first drive of the second half after the Bengals had cut the lead to one. The Colts ran James 7 straight times at one point and 10 times overall.

The biggest play of the game may have been on the next drive when facing a fourth- and-1, the Bengals called a sweep to Chris Perry. Yeah, because the Cots really struggle with team speed on defense but are real tough on runs up the middle.

Al Bogdan: Phill Simms was all over Marvin Lewis' decision to use the team's second time out to set up Shayne Graham's field goal attempt with 1:23 to go instead of rushing the field goal unit onto the field. It left the Bengals with only one time out, which meant they had to recover an onside kick to have a shot at tying things up. Now, the Benglas had a really sweet onside kick attempt that almost worked, but it's just terrible time management.

By the way, Flavor Flav has just eclipsed The King as my favorite spokesperson for the 2005 season.

Seattle Seahawks 27 at San Francisco 49ers 25

Mike Tanier: My buddy Frank the bartender has Shaun Alexander in fantasy football, so I got to see the first half of this game. The Seahawks offensive line is outstanding. It's hard to evaluate anything with the 49ers. When the quarterback is no good, you can't really judge the receivers. When the passing game doesn't work, it's hard to muster a running game. When the offensive line is weak, opponents just blitz and blitz. That said, they stayed in this game thanks to decent defense, two big plays, and a long pass interference call.

New York Jets 0 at Denver Broncos 27

Al Bogdan: Wow, the Jets are screwed. Bollinger gets a concussion in the first half and is puking on the sidelines. Vinny hurts his leg again at the end of the game. Next week could be the beginning and the end of the Kliff Klingsbury era in NY.

The Jets offensive line is awful. There were at least three botched center-QB exchanges. Scott Gragg was in at RT today and played terribly. He left Ian Gold untouched on one sack in the second half. How do you leave him untouched? When Gold rushed, Gragg literally stepped out of his way so that Gold would have a clear shot at Testeverde. He was worried about Lynch rushing in from the outside instead of the man lined up directly in front of him -- Gold. Curtis Martin was lined up on the right side ready to pick up the blitzing Lynch, but Gragg decided to leave his man anyway.

Like Mike said about the 49ers, it's hard to evaluate what Denver did because the Jets were just so bad at every aspect of the game today. They couldn't stop the run, the pass, special teams, pass rush, the Broncos cheerleaders, etc. You name it, they couldn't stop it.

Had Denver needed to pass the ball, Rod Smith would have had a huge game. He caught every pass Plummer threw at him.

The Jets' second-round selections aren't looking to hot right about now. There's the Nuge, of course, but Justin Miller also has played poorly. He's fumbled returns in consecutive games and was picked on pretty easily by Plummer when he needed to throw the ball.

Benjy Rose: Ouch. I think Bollinger was puking on the sideline because his team sucks, not because of the concussion. This actually hurt me to watch. The one positive was that the play-by-play guy on CBS (I don't recall the name) named the defensive formation, who was on the line, who dropped back in coverage, etc. before each play. I'd never heard that before, and it was quite nice to know. More announcers should do that.

I think we need to spend our high first-round pick on the entire USC roster.

Arizona Cardinals 38 at St. Louis Rams 28

Al Bogdan: What the hell happened in St. Louis? How does Steven Jackson only have 6 rushing yards, especially with Jamie Martin forced into action?

Ned Macey: The answer to Steven Jackson's problems is that Arizona blitzed a safety on almost every play. They dared the Rams to beat them deep. For a while, the Rams stubbornly ran Jackson into the line, but once they adjusted they moved the ball at will. Over three consecutive drives, they ran 17 out of 21 times and scored two touchdowns, with the other drive ending on a Jackson fumble. On the next drive, Bulger was injured.

Kurt Warner just can no longer throw the ball deep, but he is very accurate on short passes. Against the Rams that is all you need since they have no run defense. Even Arizona ran the ball effectively at times.

One player who was impressive for Arizona when I was watching was CB Eric Green. Very solid play for a rookie who the Rams were clearly trying to pick on.

Kansas City Chiefs 45 at Houston Texas 17

Tim Gerheim: Watch a normal team play, and when three defensive players start running free toward the QB about two seconds after the snap, you can bet the farm that it's a screen pass. Not so the Texans. They threw a 10-yard out to a wide receiver on a play that looked exactly like that. It's honestly depressing.

Mike Tanier: Just to hammer it home, Tim, I am fairly certain you are the only one watching this game. Not just the only Outsider, but maybe the only person in America. 'Tis a lonely vigil...

Tim Gerheim: Lewis Sanders is having a fantastic game for the Texans. Which is good, because they need somebody to. Well, Jerome Mathis is having a great game too, but since he's been relegated to the fifth WR position with Andre Johnson's return, he's basically only a kick returner. But Sanders got a block on Mathis' return TD, I think he made a great tackle on the subsequent kickoff, and he defensed a pass, which probably should have been an interception, after jumping a route later in the first half. Then he got an interception off a tipped pass that Tony Gonzalez (I believe) probably should have caught. That came one play after Philip Buchanon left the game injured, and I'll bet dollars to donuts that Sanders was his replacement.

Am I a bad person because I was kind of glad when Buchanon was hurt, not because I wish him ill, but because I figured it would bring in a better player that they don't feel compelled to play because they traded away two draft picks for him? The announcers commented on some of the things the Raiders said after they traded Buchanon: "He can't cover, and he won't hit." Check, double check. Opponents' offensive gameplans got a little more complicated when Buchanon left the game, because now they can't just tell the QB, "look for the guy that Buchanon's covering, and throw to him."

Michael Tanier: Philip Buchanon : Tim Gerheim :: Charles Rogers : Michael David Smith

Tim Gerheim: I don't know if all teams do this, but when the Texans motion a wide receiver from the wide position in toward the slot, almost to a tight end position, they always seem to run the ball. It has its value, but I'm not sure it's always a good idea. On a second-and-goal run from the five-yard line at the end of the third quarter, they ran out of that shift, and the outside was wide open, since the receiver's block drives the corner into all the defenders who would be trying to pursue to the outside and keep contain. But Davis ran up the middle on that play, and everybody could read the receiver shift to know he was coming. I think they'd do just as well to leave the receiver wide unless they were planning to run outside to his side.

Al Bogdan: I watched pieces of this game too. I'm not sure I've ever seen a bad team celebrate so much after routine plays as the Texans did on Sunday night. One guy made a special teams tackle and started strutting around the field like he had just sacked the quarterback as time expired. I didn't realize stopping a punt returner for a small run back when you're down 20 was such a big deal.

And not that it ended up mattering much, but the Texans were on the five-yard line late in the third quarter and had lined up to go for it on fourth-and-goal. The play clock was running low, however, and Dom Capers sprinted onto the field to call a time out so they wouldn't get a delay of game. After the time out, they decided to go for the field goal instead of the touchdown. If you're going to go for the field goal, why use the time out there? Even with the five yards for a delay of game, you're still looking at a chip shot from 27 yards.

Tim Gerheim: Just for the record, when I started putting Audibles together at halftime of this game, I guessed at the final score: 48-17. At least I didn't have any high hopes disappointed. I know these Texans too well for that.

Later This Week

Tuesday's Any Given Sunday: Bears over Panthers
Every Play Counts off for Thanksgiving

Posted by: admin on 21 Nov 2005

99 comments, Last at 29 Aug 2006, 4:21pm by Adam Connelly

Comments

1
by IzzionSona (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:06pm

So, one thing I'm wondering after Colts-Bengals... would it be possible to get a breakout of how the Colts defense did vs the No-Huddle compared to when Cincinnati started huddling up in the 2nd half? Also, does the play-by-play give information that would ennable you to determine the difference between defensive performance when the offense is no-huddle vs huddling up for all teams? I think that would provide some insight as to whether having the "undersized linemen" or using "specialists" frequently would cause a defense to look really good in certain circumstances, but have difficulty when the offense prevents its substitutions.

2
by the fumble (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:13pm

Maddox is now alot like Drew Bledsoe. Except his arm isn't nearly as strong and he isn't nearly as accurate, so he's just a terribly immobile quarterback with a bum arm. I can't watch the Steelers anymore if he's the quarterback. Honestly, what is going through Cowher's head? If not Randle El, then Hines Ward, or Cedrick Wilson (QB in high school), or Batch with a broken hand? or just a QB by committee? The Maddox Steelers can't beat anyone in the league.

3
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:19pm

#1

I dispute that. Miami got shutout by the Browns, so I'd say Maddox has a shot at beating the 'Fins.

Seriously, how bad were Miami? I was lucky enough not to see it, but someone out there must have been forced to endure it.

Also, I'd like to second Neds' Levi Jones comment. He was outstanding, as was Willie Anderson, the Bengals RT. Palmer had all day to throw, even towards the end of the game when he was permanently passing. I've seen the Seahawks a couple of times this year, and last night, Levi played like Walter.

4
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:21pm

When I posted, the fumbles comment was comment 1.

5
by Sara (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:22pm

Both of Delhomme's INTs to Vasher were intended for Ricky Proehl, not Steve Smith. (Maybe that was the problem.....)

6
by calig23 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:22pm

The only legitimate alternatives to Maddox were Ben and Randle El. But there is no reason to risk Ben against the Ravens with the Indy game looming.

7
by Nate (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:27pm

I don’t know if all teams do this, but when the Texans motion a wide receiver from the wide position in toward the slot, almost to a tight end position, they always seem to run the ball.
When the Bears do that, it's always with Muhsin Muhammed, and usually to attempt to get mismatches with a WR on an LB or a safety.
Also, the Bears o-line played ridiculously well. Peppers and Rucker didn't even sniff Orton's ghetto 'stache, and they were in a lot of 1 on 1 matchups. I was extremely unimpressed with Peppers. He seems to make a quick sprint, and if he's not going to get around the RT, he kind of gives up on the play.
And to all the the people bitching about how bad a QB Maddox is - welcome to the world of the Bears fans, when a rookie who averages 5 yards an attempt and a 61 rating looks good.

8
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:30pm

I think folks should just calm down about the Bears. First, the two interceptions were on terrible throws by Delhomme. Vasher pretty much had to stop in his tracks and wait for each ball. Just ridiculous passes.

And this whole nonsense about Orton being a great "game manager" needs to stop. Look, I saw Orton play at Purdue, and I have seen every one of his pro games.

He has the PHYSICAL skills. But his decision-making is very questionable. It was suspect at Purdue and Kyle still has problems. To his credit he has't griped as the Bears coaching staff has CLEARLY stripped down his options.

But there will come a time when Kyle will have to make a play or series of plays to win a game. And right now I have my doubts.

The defense is legit. But eventually the offense has to help.

9
by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:31pm

And I thought I was the only one who noticed that the play clock was at :00 about a full second before the ball was snapped on the Saints second touchdown. The announcers never mentioned it, neither the Pats defense nor Belichick was up in arms about it, and I haven't read it anywhere until now. I don't know which was worse, that non-call, or the catch they gave to Stecker when his left foot was on the sideline when he caught the ball.

Spot on with the repeated long attempts. I'm cool with the occasional bomb to loosen up the defense, but my God, how many 2 and 10s and 3rd and longs do you expect the offense to overcome? Especially with Brady not sharp (possibly windy at Foxboro?)

And I wish I could buy stock in that tomorrow afternoon Easterbrook is going to get up on his high horse and scold the Saints about leaving Vrabel uncovered, and quote himself from the post-Super Bowl 39 TMQ.

10
by Lev (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:31pm

Re: But there is no reason to risk Ben against the Ravens with the Indy game looming.

This is silly. The only really awful outcome from these two games for the Steelers is 0-2. If they go 1-1 they're in much better shape in the standings. Why have two games in a row where your QB is going to be overmatched if you can trade that for at least having one win?

11
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:39pm

I'm going to start rooting for the Panthers and Bengals to meet in the superbowl this year just so Chad Johnson can get on one knee in front of a Panthers cheerleader with a sign that says "Will you make out with another cheerleader?"

12
by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:42pm

#10: Because if Ben gets hurt against the Ravens (not an insignificant probability, given that Steelers QBs seem to have a propensity for getting hurt in Ravens games), then you're looking at the possibility of having him out against Indy, Cinci, Chicago, and Minnesota (or longer). I think the Steelers' chances are better at 7-3 with Ben finishing out the season than at 8-2 with Charlie (or, heaven forbid, Tommy).

13
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:51pm

#8 As a longtime Purdue fan, I think NFCCF is right on. I mentioned in the game thread that Orton missed an obvious audible situation on 3rd and 1. Of course, the fact that Ron Turner is calling a 2-yard out on 3rd and 1 with the Bears personnel is an indictment in and of itself.

To be fair to Orton, the Bears receivers had 4-5 drops in the first half that didn't help matters. Regardless, the Bears D is good enough to take them a long way.

14
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:54pm

I’m not sure what the answer is against the Colts, but vanilla coverage with semi-experienced linebackers ain’t it.

It's being able to get strong pressure without blitzing. If you can get pressure from a 4-man rush, you stand a great chance of stopping the Colts offense cold. It's how NE beat them two years in a row in the playoffs, it's how Denver HUMILIATED them in the regular season 2 years ago (and why they've failed so miserably in the postseason- no Trevor Pryce). It's also how Jax managed to play the Colts so close early in the season. Seems to be the only way to really pull it off. Of course, that means you also better have some good tacklers at LB because you can't stack the box to try and stuff James.

15
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:58pm

Can somebody clue me in as to how Carolina have been one of the better offenses this year? I've watched four Chicago games, so I know how amazing their defense is, but this is the first time I've watched the Panthers and they seemed surprisingly limited to me. The running game is pedestrain and the passing game is Steve Smith and not much else. Surely a well-organised defense will shut these guys down in the playoffs, or am I not giving Chicago enough credit?

16
by Ned Macey :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:05pm

Carolina ranked 17th in offensive DVOA before the Chicago game.

Kyle Orton is terrible. He has the lowest DPAR of anyone not named Alex Smith.

Could you intelligent readers stop stealing what I'm writing about for tomorrow's Any Given Sunday?

17
by Dan Riley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:06pm

I think Asante Samuel's problem is that he's trying to do the job of six guys back there. And I don't care how lost he looks at times...and he does...without him, the Pats might as well just go with an 11 man front.

18
by Art (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:07pm

Anyone notice how McNabb announced today he's getting surgery later this week after the Eagles playoff hopes vanished after the loss to the Giants?

McNabb, the self-proclaimed leader of the team, didn't make the trip to the game even though he's scheduled to appear on Letterman on Tuesday night (Which is in NY).

Since 80% of the Eagles sided with Owens in the McNabb-Owens faction, they must be laughing at the management now.

We need to start tanking the season and trade up with the 49ers for Lenairt, since they have Alex Smith.

19
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:18pm

#10 (Lev) My senitments exactly

The Divisional game against BAL is infinitely more important to win than a conference game against IND. Its not like PIT was competeing for HFA. And the main thing is to get at least 1 win out of those two games.

So focus on winning BAL game and who cares what happens at IND. If Big Ben cannot go he cannot go, but don't give some mealy mouth excuse about saving him for IND when anyone can see that the BAL is much much more important.

20
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:31pm

And I love how CHI is suddenly awesome now that they beat columnist darling CAR. CAR and CHI are the same team!

Supposdely CHI has benefitted from an easy schedule, well CAR has been just as easy to this point. That game told me very little about CHI beside that they can beat CAR at Soldier Field. Yay, clearly they are the NFC favorites now...

I am guessing CAR takes that game if they are at home, and what does that tell me?

That these are two decent, but flawed teams who will make the playoffs in the NFC. I think SEA is measurably better than both of them and will have HFA. Oh well I suppose these fools have to write about something, I just wish they would stop this flavor of the wek nonsense.

Finally, can people please stop ragging on the NFC North...I have seen quite a few people mention its suckiness this week (on ESPN particularly). It is mentioned in every article that mentions CHI even though the AFC East and NFC West are clearly worse. No one seems to hold crappy divisions against SEA or NE, or even against teams like STL and BUF.

It is still not a great divsion by any means, but it is much better than those other two.

21
by Jeremy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:34pm

I'm a Carolina fan, and I never thought that our offense was as good as they've been given credit for, but they were average. On Sunday, they couldn't move the all at all. They had one long play in the first half. In the second, they had two sustained drives, one coming as the clock ran down, the other more notable for its failure than its success. Still, they should have stuck with the quick outs and slants that got them in to feild goal range that time.

The problem was that the Bears Dline, usually more than one player, beat the Oline within about a second on each play. Delhome felt pressure on every pass. They didn't have a long run all game. Yes, Delhomme's interxceptions were stupid, but they only led to ten points, early in the game, and both drives would have likely ended in punts anyway. The offense simply wasn't able to ever put anything together.

The Bears offense is really bad, though, They put together a long drive once and that ended in a field goal. They dropped balls. For all the love the annoucners heaped on Orton, he's just not very good.
And the Panthers ended in field goal range, so they were DeShaun Foster being able to throw a HB pass downfield away from attempting a game tying field goal as time ran out. They were that pass and a Kasay gimme miss away from attempting a game winning field goal.

22
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:36pm

Also, everyone who has ever cracked a Jake Plummer joke needs to wrap their head around this...

Plummer is now in the top 10 in NFL HISTORY in consecutive passes without an interception. I'm trying to find the list somewhere, but I'm pretty sure he's currently sitting 8th or 9th all-time.

23
by B-spectacled (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:44pm

Yeah, Ned also nailed that Bratkowski had to have a brain-fahrt on that sweep w/ Perry -- maybe we see that in the end, it was coordinator versus coordinator:
CIN OffCoord sometimes weird play calling (ie Perry sweep)
CIN DefCoord blitz blitz blitz when it seemingly never worked. Someone said it already, but TMQ is going to have a field day with that.
IND OffCoord taking advantage of CIN D on _every_ play - especially blitzes.(Maybe more Peyton credit there.)
IND DefCoord -- well, just not making many horrible mistakes.

Indy just played a perfect game - and they do it regularly. Serious respect to the Colts.

Might be interesting to see if certain teams live by the blitz or die by the blitz - like PIT might live by it. CIN definitely died by it this week.

24
by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:56pm

#12 I think the Steelers’ chances are better at 7-3 with Ben finishing out the season than at 8-2 with Charlie (or, heaven forbid, Tommy).

Let's just you cannot risk Ben until Charlie is back.

25
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:57pm

#8: I have no idea what games you've been watching. Orton did make a lot of bad decisions in the early games, but he's been reading blitzes and coverages pretty well through the last few, and when the wind isn't 45 mph, been throwing strongly and accurately. He had a heck of a game vs carolina, even though his WRs simply dropped 6 on-target passes. Sure, he throws in double coverage, but he's been accurate enough to put it in the spot he has to. He's also willing to take risks, which is a must for a QB.

So yeah, we don't see him doing a lot of fancy stuff, but he is a rookie. He's reading defenses well and throwing well. I don't really know what else you could want from a developing player.

26
by Josh (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:57pm

Announcer in Jets-Broncos was Kevin Harlan, giving the substitutions on almost every play. I think I like that he does that, but in some way I do find it a little irritating.

27
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:09pm

Kibbles:

I can't find the full list either, but Jeff George is 3rd on that list with 279 in a row. Numbers can deceive.

28
by benjy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:09pm

Josh...I totally agree. At first, it was a bit disconcerting (OK, OK, enough already, Ellis is up on the line again...), but then as I was completely unable to stomach concentrating on any other aspect of the game, I found it nice and informative. They ought to show that as a graphic, kinda like they sho the runners on base in baseball.

29
by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:10pm

Just a soul-crushing game for the Jets. It's interesting to see Jets fans clamoring about Heimerdinger and how they were sold a bill of goods, how Heimerdinger isn't aggressive at all and now they miss Paul Hackett. Heimerdinger has actually been very aggressive ever since Pennington was injured. The Jets are attempting throws of 20+ yards at a rate of two per quarter, and yesterday they spent the entire game trying to beat the Denver blitz by attacking over the top. That's exactly the way to do it, but it does require personnel who can execute the gameplan.

I really feel sorry for the guy- he's been put in an impossible situation all season.

30
by Tony (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:13pm

RE: The odd sounding Pats game...

I only watched it for an hour, but I hear two clear "Sh-ts!!!" from the field very loud and clear. One by a ref who was almost run over by a Pats lineman blocking downfield, and the other by Heath Evans as soon as he got hit.

Just really, really odd.

31
by Nati (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:14pm

After reading the thread here and a lot of other online analysis, it seems that there is a lot of talking about how awful the Bengals D played, however, little has been mentioned about the Colts D.

Obviously, both D's were quite ineffective, but I am curious as to how the rankings come out for this game. Will the Bengals D rate higher since they held the Colts to more 3rd and Long plays (which were nearly always converted via penalty or completed pass) as opposed to the Bengals being caught in very few of those scenarios while easily moving the ball up and down the field.

I think this game was much closer than people realize and comes down to just a couple of plays.

- The Colts got a number of critical pass interference calls (a couple of which could have gone either way)... while the Bengals had one on 3rd and 5 to CJ on their first drive and a couple to TJ later on (one on 4th and 4) that looked like as much contact if not more than those penalized for Colts receivers...

- On the first series for the Colts, the Bengals stopped a 3rd and 10 play only to give the Colts a second try after lining up offsides...

- The Bengals missed their 4th and 1 conversion (on a questionable call - but they had been stopped on 3rd and 4th and 1 up the middle more than once this season) and the Colts were successful on their 4th and 1 conversion.

And I don't think it is really fair to try to pin this on the coordinators... The only questionable call I can think of by Cincy's OC is the 4th and 1 play, whereas Indy threw 3 straight incompletions with 4 minutes left when they could have run out a good chunk of the clock. On the D side, both D's gave up a long bomb in the first half and couldn't stop the other team, and they both made adjustments in the second half that held the opposition to 10 points..

32
by mshray (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:16pm

Re 22: Head. caught in. spatial vortex. must. escape. Aaiiiyyeeee!!!!!

Re 11: LOL! Me too, B!

33
by Falco (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:17pm

DVOA obviously is flawed. The Texans' DVOA rating in no way prepared me for how absolutely horrifyingly bad that team is in real life. My young impressionable son was in the room during the game, and he may be permanently scarred now.

I don't think I have ever felt pity for an opposing team while watching an NFL game, but I did while watching this game. There are so many holes here, and I don't think Reggie Bush can play offensive line, and defensive line, and quarterback, and linebacker, and cover in the secondary.

34
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:22pm

Kevin Harlan is fun. It's nice to know when players sub in and out. I can't stand Randy Cross's commentary.

35
by Nate (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:24pm

I thought Orton played a pretty good game on Sunday, especially compared to his recent games (New Orleans in particular was ugly). The only really bad throw I remember was the one that was intercepted, and it still could have been caught. He also did an excellent job of making throws in the face of pressure (the few times the Panthers actually brought pressure). Also, remember that Carolina has an impressive defense.
As far as the Carolina offense goes, they were 4th in points, but don't put up a ton of yards. Their running game stinks, and Steve Smith is really their only weapon (albeit an outstanding one). I was not impressed with either OT, or their center. Wharton was getting all the flak from the announcers, but Gross gave up four sacks, two more than Wharton. Looking at stats alone, I would guess that their defense has put their offense in a bunch of easy scoring opportunities.

36
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:37pm

I am really interested in the power rankings, do those go up on Tuesdays?

37
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:40pm

The problem with the Bengals D is the same problem they've had every game under Marvin Lewis: their defensive line isn't very good.

OK, I know the corners got toasted a little too, but that can happen when there is no pressure on the opposing QB (usually amplified if the opposing QB is Manning).

Also, if you watch replays of the Indy running plays, you'll often see the Bengals talented young middle linebacker Odell Thurman with a lineman right in his face, because Cincy does not have the kind of block-eating DTs that could occupy blockers and let him make plays (he made a great tackle for a loss on an Edgerrin James run to the outside in the third quarter when the D-line did successfully keep blockers off him)

The scarey thing for me as a Bengals fan is that Lewis seems to be in total denial when it comes to the talent of the D-line (an article on this very website documented their weakness just a few weeks ago) In almost every game I've watched in the Marvin Lewis era the defensive line has been the clear weakness on the team, and I can only hope that the coach admits it some time soon.

38
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:42pm

Fnor:

I have read your posts and understand that we have a differing perspective toward Orton.

Orton has the POTENTIAL to be a solid professional quarterback. And it's to be hoped that with experience his recognition will improve.

But my somewhat latent concern is that Kyle had the same problems at Purdue. He was making some of the bad decisions as a senior that he did earlier in his career. Not a promising sign.

Look, as a Bears fan I WANT Orton to succeed. But I am not so delustional as to think that after half a season Chicago is set for the next decade at qb.

If you are old enough think back to the early days of Wanny when the Bears defense had Dante Jones at middle linebacker and cleaned the Packers clock 31-17 thanks to two interceptions returned for TDs. (1993??) Everyone on ESPN etc. declared then that the Bears were "on the right track by building a great defense" while Green Bay "would never win anything with a qb so careless with the football". (Quotes courtesy of Mensa candidate Tom Jackson).

Orton isn't making any plays because the Bears don't HAVE to have him make plays. But someday soon they will. That will be the litmus test.......

39
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:44pm

Re #14

You hit the nail on the head about how to stop the Colts. Everyone talked about the Patriots big secret to beating the Colts was rushing 3 and droping 8. It wasn't that in and of itself though, it was the fact that the Pats could get good pressure on Manning with just those 3.

40
by James (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:46pm

No notes about the Chargers? :( I got to see most of the game and Brees was just flat out awesome. He managed well, made plays when he had to, and was accurate all day. Also thought it was interesting that 6 different players scored for the Chargers. 6 TD's, six different players, and not a one because of massive injuries or other problems. I wonder if that has been done by anyone before? Except the 2004 Colts of course, I'm guessing they managed to.

41
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:52pm

MDS, glad you noticed the errant spots in the Lions-Cowboys - I saw the same thing, and I'm afraid I offended the nice people sitting around me who were waiting patiently for the Colts game to start. I have no idea how that series of events could have happened. I realize that spotting the ball is an inexact science, so to speak, but rarely do you see multiple apparent mistakes in sequence, and rarer still do they line up to give the same result as you might have seen with a correct spot on the first play.

42
by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:54pm

Here are Orton's numbers coming into yesterday:

DPAR -29.8 DVOA -40.9%

His DVOA is almost identical to Brooks Bollinger's mark of -40.7%; the only difference is that Orton has been in on a hell of a lot more snaps, which is why his DPAR number is worse than Brooks' -12.1. Basically, he's played almost exactly the same as Bollinger, he's just done it for the whole season. To Orton's credit, he has been marginally better than Chad Hutchinson and Craig Krenzel, the latter of whom was the worst quarterback in the history of this form of stat tracking (but won the most games for Chicago- again, it's dangerous to look at the win/loss column and draw conclusions). I understand that Orton is a rookie who was put in a very difficult position, but unless there is some radical change in his performance over the rest of this season or into the next season, he's not showing that he can play in the NFL, he's showing that he can't, and that Chicago needs to address the quarterback position if they don't want to suffer the same fate as their 2001 team.

An Elias fun fact regarding Orton, just to drive the point home:

"Kyle Orton has quarterbacked the Bears to six consecutive victories, but he has passed for a total of just 832 yards in those six wins. The last QB with that low a total in six straight wins was Orton's fellow Boilermaker Mike Phipps (799 yards for the Bears in 1979). Of course, this was the hallmark of yet another Purdue quarterback, Bob Griese. Griese led the Dolphins to 10 consecutive wins in 1973 and never cracked the 200-yard mark. In fact, he passed for less than 100 yards in five of those 10 victories."

43
by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:59pm

James,

I agree, Brees was lights out. It's going to be very interesting to see how Chargers fans respond to Brees getting dealt in the offseason, just so AJ Smith can prove that he knew exactly what he was doing in drafting Philip Rivers. (It's astonishing to think that Smith will unload a quarterback playing as well as Brees, but I think it's almost a foregone conclusion- Brees has more trade value, and Smith has too much ego not to pull the trigger.)

44
by B-spectacled (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:07pm

Re: 31 (Nati)

FYI I'm a CIN fan (WhoDey!)

I see your point, but I can't tell you how many times in that game Indy had 3rd & more than average and I would chant "don't blitz don't blitz" and of course the blitz would come and Peyton would complete the pass for plenty of yards to move the chains.

I was hoping the defensive philosophy would recognize that Indy does not give up sacks and CIN does not sack, therefore: 1) try to cover as best as possible, 2) don't blitz to maximize coverage and 3) force the Edge to beat you instead of Peyton (which may have occurred anyway!).

45
by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:14pm

The starting cornerbacks for the 2001 national championship miami hurricanes: Mike Rumph and Phillip buchanon. The starting safeties: Ed Reed and Sean Taylor. I'm just saying.

46
by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:18pm

The only thing that slowed down the colts in the second half was one of their lineman getting randomly called for holding. So the colts lineman were only holding in 2nd half. Something seems fishy.

47
by Peter (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:35pm

I actually thought the announcers for the Pats-Saints game were fantastic. Sure, there was the usual filler and an occasional nonsensical comment, but on the whole they were great. They analyzed replays well, and pointed out plays that the guys on CBS rarely do.

48
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:37pm

Watching the Pittsburgh game I started to wonder if DVOA could be used to create a +/- statistic for individual players. Roethlisberger would clearly be the highest, but it'd be interesting to see how much difference Willie Roaf makes for KC, for example.

49
by MDZ (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:41pm

A general question about DVOA. Is a defense penalized more by allowing a team to get into good situations and drive the ball, or when they get to 3 and 10+ and give up the first down? If I remember correctly wasn't Denver ranked pretty low because of the loss to the Dolphins and poor play on third down?

50
by LTA (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:44pm

Having watched most of the Chargers games this season, I must say that San Diego is the scariest team in the league when they are clicking. I mean, that offense has more weapons than the 2004 Colts right now and the defensive line is pretty good at getting qb pressure. I have been really impressed with the offensive chemistry as well and I think that Parker and McCardell are among the most under-rated wide receivers in football. Nobody talks much about either of them or the stupid decision by Gruden to ditch McCardell.
Of course, the team is still pretty inconsistent, but they are my pick to win the Super Bowl at this point. This is, of course, assuming they even make the playoffs! If they don't make it in, they have to be the best team in memory to miss the playoffs. Too bad this isn't college basketball so that they could go to the NIT and blow out the competition. Or better yet, college football, so that the BCS system could put them into the Super Bowl.

51
by TomG (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:59pm

Re #47:

I think it was Bill Simmons that brought it to my attention in one of his articles, but I really noticed how often announcers drop "injury" from their dialogue. I counted it five times in Sunday's Pats-Saints game, my favorite being "He's battling a hamstring." Sounds so He-Manian.

52
by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:11pm

Phil Simms was completely wrong when he criticized Marvin Lewis' decision to call a timeout before the FG. Simms claimed that by saving their 2 remaining timeouts, they would still have a shot even if Indy recovered the onside kick.

Here's the best case scenario if Simms was calling the shots.

1:23-Cincy FG rushes onto the field for Graham to attempt a 40+ yard FG. (Do you really want to rush your kicker on a relatively long kick that must be made?) But let's say it takes them 15 seconds to run out there, line up, snap kick, through the uprights.

1:08-Onside kick recovered by Colts takes 3 seconds. (Even though they kicked twice in real life, we'll only assume one kick in this scenario.)

1:05-1st down Colts. Bengals with 2 timeouts left. The Colts would probably run the ball but let's say Dungy decides to kneel down. 2 seconds, timeout.

1:03-2nd down. Kneel down. 2 seconds, last timeout.

1:01-3rd down. Kneel down. 2 seconds. Start the 40 second play clock. Indy calls timeout before taking a delay with 0:20 left.

0:20-4th down. Indy punts. 5 seconds.

0:15-Bengals ball at their 20 or worse.

It would take a miracle to score a TD in that circumstance.

Simms was flat out wrong. Lewis did the right thing.

53
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:13pm

The hopeful Bears fan in me agrees with the Orton defenders who point out that his numbers would be significantly better if his multi-million dollar wideout could hold onto touchdown passes. But the cynical old man in me counters that not only has Orton been only marginally better than JonCraigChad QuinnKrenzelHutch, he's benefitted from vastly better O-line play than last year's three-headed monster. Very few of Orton's awful throws have been the result of pressure.

54
by Jerry (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:16pm

Of course, the best thing about the Chargers yesterday was the throwback uniforms.

55
by ackpfft (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:20pm

RE #14

It should be noted that Manning and many of the starters only played one series in that game. Denver then got smoked by the Colts the next week in the playoffs.

56
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:22pm

#14
You are totally right, getting pressure with your linemen is the only way to really stop the Colts. IMO, it actually takes more than that, you have to do pretty well with your middle linemen. If just your ends do well Peyton is pretty good at stepping up into the hole Saturday et al usually give him. The middle d-linemen don't actually have to get the sacks/pressures, but they do have to prevent there being a hole there. And there aren't many teams that can do this, which is good for the Colts.

57
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:27pm

I'm starting to think Nick Saban is not a genius

58
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:35pm

Re:55 That game was last year. The one two years ago was the one that convinced everyone that Quentin Griffin would be a star, and came with two or three games left in the season. Because of that regular season game, all the pre-playoff analysis was about "How are the Colts going to stop the Broncos running game this time?" It turns out, putting up 35 points in the first half is a good way to get your opponent out of their grind-it-out gameplan.

Re: 45 Don't forget, their defensive front 7 was dominant enough that they could have played without cornerbacks in some games and still held the passing game in check. And they pretty much did.

Re: 52 I agree. I was wondering what he was talking about when it happened, but I didn't bother doing the math on it. It seems like their only hope at that point was an onside kick. Of course, the worst course of action would be to run out the clock trying for the TD first, but since it was 4th down they didn't have that option, but it's amazing how often that happens.

59
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:40pm

A few random comments -

Aaron Schatz: The Saints took a timeout before the second play of the entire game. If you take a timeout after one play, this may be a sign your team has a problem.

Wait, you only might have a problem? What, does Haslett have to challenge the coin toss for it to be a certainty?

On Joe Buck... to show you how one Eagles fan is trying to cope, my thinking is that maybe, if the Eagles start to flounder enough, Fox will stop having Buck announce Eagles games. I mean, when an Eagles fan actually prefers Troy Aikman over his announcing partner, I think it says alot.

As for an NFL version of a +/- stat (one of hockey's underrated inventions), wouldn't DPAR function in that regard? I know it doesn't get discussed as much as DVOA, but I always like hearing about it.

60
by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:44pm

Simms should have been praising Lewis for going after the FG. Carolina was in a similar situation with about 1:00 to go but went for it on 4th & long inside of kicking a 30+ yard FG.

Now THAT was stupid-- kick the FG to make it 13-6 & then go for the TD.

61
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:56pm

I agree with the previous comments defending Lewis taking a timeout for Cincinnati. The FG absolutley had to be good or else the game was over, so why rush your kicker onto the field. Rather, let him compose himself and make sure of the kick. I think the onside kick would have been the call regardless of whether the Bengals had one or two timeouts remaining.

I also didn't think the 4th and 1 call was that bad. The Bengals are a good inside running team and a good outside passing team, so it's not unreasonable to suspect that the D-line and linebackers would have been looking inside and the defensive backs would be watching their receivers for a quick pass. The thing is that playing to your strength as a team also means playing right into what the opponent expects you to do. I do frequently see teams get stuffed in the middle on short yardage when a pitch to the outside would have found plenty of space because the defense all collapsed to the middle at the snap.

62
by Joon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 7:19pm

i disagree with lewis and numerous people here, and i agree with simms.

saving two timeouts would at least have given cincy a chance even if their onside kick failed. with 15-20 seconds left, forcing a punt can work out--maybe they'll block it, or put together a big return. also, the bengals special teams coach had that clever 30-yard onside kick up his sleeve, so it's not a guarantee that they would have had terrible field position even if they didn't block the punt. 15 seconds is enough to run a sideline play and then a hail mary, or something hook-and-ladderish, or maybe a crazy multiple-lateral miracle saints play.

probably the simplest way of putting it is this: by taking the TO before the FG, they saved about 20-25 seconds off the game clock. by saving it for indy's possession (or their own, if they did manage to recover the onside kick), they could use it to save almost 40 seconds.

63
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 7:33pm

Re #55: RE #14

It should be noted that Manning and many of the starters only played one series in that game. Denver then got smoked by the Colts the next week in the playoffs.

It should be noted that you're talking about the 2004 regular season game, while I'm talking about the 2003 regular season game. The one where Denver held Indy's offense to its worst showing since Manning was a rookie. The one where Denver had a 45 minute time of possession. The one where Peyton Manning passed for 150 yards- half of them on a single play- and the only points the Colts put on the board came on an INT return for a TD on the first snap of the game. It was perhaps the most masterful defensive performance anyone has turned in against Peyton Manning- New England included- since he became an MVP-caliber player. And it all got started because Trevor Pryce bought a condo and took up permanant residence in the Indianapolis backfield.

Re #27: I can’t find the full list either, but Jeff George is 3rd on that list with 279 in a row. Numbers can deceive.

No they can't. Not like that. Jeff George is just another case of the numbers demonstrating that some quarterbacks get an entirely undeserved bad rap in the NFL. Jeff George was a pariah from the NFL, but it wasn't because of his play- which is why it's so baffling to me that no NFL team has ever taken a chance on him again. Yes, off the field, he was a huge distraction- but on the field, he really was a very good QB, or so I've always felt. And the numbers back me up. Besides, his 279 pass streak wasn't even the only substantial INT-free streak of his career. He had another one of at least 161 passes (I have the game-by-game logs, but can't tell WHEN during the games the INTs occurred) spanning 1997 and 1998.

I have to admit... much like Len Pasquerelli, I am a confirmed Jeff George fan.

64
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 7:52pm

I don't know if I am a Jeff George fan, becuase I don't have all the facts, but from what I have seen he is definitely underrated.

65
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:37pm

#42: Which is why I was talking about "lately." He choked bigtime vs the redskins and the bengals, and that has a lot to do with his low ranking. However, he ended up with +2 DPAR for this game against Carolina, a game in which he got smacked by a whole lot of drops, including a few first downs and a touchdown.

NFCCF: I actually know next to nothing about the Bears. I'm an AFC guy (PIT), and my only connections to the division are that I have a friend who is a big Vikes fan, I happen to live in Chicago now, and I always sorta felt sorry for Joey Harrington. I sort of think we're talking about the same thing, except I'm saying "he is good" because he's playing decently now and should get better, whereas you're just leaving it at "I hope he has upside." Which is fine. If I was any good at evaluating talent, I'd have a different job. But it seems to me that he's been progressing well, and he's throwing pretty passes even when they're not on-target, which is good. Alternatively, he isn't freaking out when he's blitzed, he's not grossly misreading coverage, but most of all, he's not afraid to throw into coverage and he doesn't freak out and try to scramble when the play isn't progressing properly (he usually just tries to thread the needle and makes a bad throw, but hey, rookie). Those last two in particular are big with me, for completely nonscientific gut-reaction reasons.

So is he playing well right now? meh. Will he be good in the future? Probably. I wouldn't take struggles this year as doom, though. Even in a post-Roethlisberger world.

66
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:43pm

Sorry, I do have more experience with the division. Namely, the look of incredulity on Jerome "I called tails" Bettis's face on turkey day 1998.

My family heard the end of the game right as we were leaving Pittsburgh, going home. I don't think a word was said during the entirety of the 2.5 hour drive.

67
by BillT (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:55pm

I (heart) posts #63 & 64.

FREE JEFF GEORGE!

68
by calig23 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 11:11pm

I'd rather have Jeff George than Tommy Maddox...

69
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 11:23pm

Somebody tell Jason Wilborn to stop trolling those boards.

70
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 12:23am

Gawd. The Pats secondary. When they show the Pats D-backs, they should play that tune from the "Kill Bill" soundtrack that's used in the Vonage commercials: Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo! Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo!

That was one of the least satisfying of the Pats wins I've ever seen. I didn't even sigh in relief like after the Miami game last week. Ugh.

71
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 1:48am

Re #68: I like playing the "I'd rather have Jeff George* than _______" game.

I'd rather have Jeff George* than:
(the no-brainers)
Gus Frerotte
Tommy Maddox
Anthony Wright
Kyle Boller
Brooks Bollinger
Kliff Kingsbury
Mike McMahon
Josh McCown
J.P. Losman
Kelly Holcomb
Sage Rosenfels
A.J. Feeley
Ken Dorsey

(the "getting a little bolder"s)
Trent Dilfer
Chris Simms
Joey Harrington
Jeff Garcia
Brad Johnson
Kurt Warner
Mark Brunell
Vinny Testeverde
Aaron Brooks (basically the same model as Jeff George- great numbers, not great win totals- except a lesser version, imo)

(the bold statements)
Mike Vick
Kerry Collins
Tom Brady
Eli Manning

For the record, I was kidding about Tom Brady. Really. The rest are all guys who have gotten jobs ahead of Jeff George in the past 3-4 years who really haven't warrented it. And you start adding all of the backup QBs in the NFL to this list? Forget about it.

Anyway, there's one big asterisk, though. By now, he's been out of the NFL for so long that one has to wonder if he has it anymore. I sort of feel like he's a lot like Doug Flutie, in that if a team had ever just said "Hey, this guy has flaws, but for better or for worse, we're making him the face of our franchise, he's the guy we're going to pick to lead us", I think he would have done fantastically, but he was always getting shuttled around for the next guy. In all fairness, a lot of times he was getting shuttled, it was his own fault, but I still think that if he had ever just been given the reins, he could have done very good things for a team. Sort of like Jake Plummer- he has a horrible rap, mostly from playing for bad teams, but he gets to a good team where they don't NEED him to be their all-everything, and he becomes one of the most solid, best signal callers in the NFL. Plummer got that chance. Flutie and George never did. Kind of a sad story, really.

72
by Brian (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 2:50am

What teams in the NFL would you think could get good pressure on Manning just rushing four, have at least decent D-backs, and have a good chance to make the playoffs?

My HIGHLY inaccurate statistical foray: I counted up sacks by the front 4. Indy has 30 on the season, by far the most, so I said that a team with 20+ should be able to bother Peyton. These teams are:

SEA (22.5) - surprised me, haven't seen many games
JAC (20.5) - did annoy him some in their first meeting
CHI (20) - looked pretty convincing last weekend
SD (20?) - really depends on how you count given the 3-4, I counted linemen plus the top 2 LBs

Other possible playoff teams
NYG (19.5), ATL (19), CAR (18), DAL (17.5), PIT (17), TB (14), DEN (12), KC (11), NE (10.5), CIN (9)

73
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 2:53am

kibbles:

Bad rap??

Let's dispense with the revisionism shall we. A quick review for those not old enough to remember, memory loss, victims of a frontal lobotamy, or a head coach named Mike.

(I will George a pass on his collegiate nonsense as well as his time with Atlanta as that will obviously prejudice the jury. So he starts out square with the house. Fair enough?)

Oakland. 1997 threw 29 TDS with only 9 interceptions. Team went 4-12.

1998. George injured his groin but somehow the team goes 8-8 with the likes of Wade Wilson and Donald Hollas! at QB. George told the media he was done for the year in early December which was news to Jon Gruden. Oakland let him go.

1999: Jeff George comes off the bench when Randall Cunningham reverts to being Randall Cunningham and has a fine year in Minnesota leading the Vikes to the playoffs where they were rolled by the Rams. The Vikings were so impressed with George's performance they didn't make him an offer at the end of the season preferring completely untested second year player, Dante Culpepper.

2000: George signs a pretty mediocre contract (considering his work in 1999) with Washington as a backup to Brad Johnson. Johnson eventually gets hurt and George does ok finishing the season.

2001: Marty Ball came to Washington, George wasn't happy, openly clashed with Marty S., clearly tanked against GB in a Monday night game, and was released outright soon after.

Now, the usual axiom in sports is that if you produce you get to play. Baseball, football, basketball you name it have had their share of jerks, butt-munches, and weasels. And in EVERY case if you can hit, score TDS, or put the ball in the hoop you stay on a roster. Dennis Rodman stayed employed until he was almost 40 for heaven's sake.

Jeff George not once but TWICE had solid seasons in the NFL. Threw TDs. Teams won some games.

And in EACH case the team shrugged and when given a choice said, "Pass".

I think that's a pretty fair assessment of what George "brought" to a team. Not just in the latter stages when he was supposedly mature but pretty much throughout his career.

He was something of a loner. He wasn't big on preparation. Certainly didn't respond well to any kind of pass rush. And when things started to go bad George was well known to pack it in.

Folks didn't create a "Let's hate Jeff" conspiracy to pass the time. The guy worked his way through the league and repeatedly coaches, teammates, and front office folks said, "Ya'know, the guy can play. But we think we can do better."

And they did. Oakland got better after he left as did Minnesota (albeit not by much)

So we can wring our hands for "poor old Jeff". But at the end of the day he received MULTIPLE chances. And the whole package was found wanting.

74
by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 9:11am

It's also worth noting that the Bears signed George last year and he couldn't beat out Craig Krenzel or Chad Hutchinson.

I remember... Jeff George and Jeff Hochstetler... slinging it for the Colts. And Tommy Tupa punting, waiting, for that chance to shine under center.

75
by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 11:34am

#70:

Jeff George got plenty of chances. Nobody ever questioned his talent. The problem has always been all the baggage he brings with him. I tend to think that stuff is overblown in the media, but QB is the one position where it really does matter.

Flutie, on the other hand, was truly robbed of what should have been a solid NFL career. The Bills and the Rob Johnson experiment was just the final insult.

It's too bad Belicheck couldn't have picked up Flutie earlier. Not for the Super Bowls - so he could put him in late in the 4th against Dolphins when Jimmy Johnson was still coaching...

76
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 11:52am

Given that people are talking about Kordell Stewart as a potential QB for the Eagles, I figure that the Jeff George Experience can't be any worse. Besides, it's not like things are going to get much worse for Philly. And the humor value would be off the charts.

77
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 12:54pm

I took a peek at George's DPAR numbers. Unfortunatly the list only goes back to 2000, but we at least have his numbers in Washington. In 2001, he put up a respectable 7% DVOA, good enough for 12th in the league and better than Brad Johnson could do with the same team. Then in 2001 his rating fell off a cliff to -69%. It's a small sample size with only ~50 passes, but does anybody know what happened? That's a bigger cliff than the one Culpepper fell off this year.

78
by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 12:54pm

Kibbles -

Just an oversight, or would you rather have Kyle Orton than JG and all the guys you listed?

79
by MilkmanDan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 12:59pm

I don't think anyone is suggesting that Jeff George is a great NFL QB at this point. It's just that he's better than a goodly number of incredibly not-great "NFL QBs" at this point. I mean, the Jets wouldn't be better off with George? As impressive as it is to watch Vinny try to dance about the pocket whilst holding his walker, it's kind of painful to watch.

#68, I'd rather have my grandmother as QB than Tommy Maddox at this point, and she's been dead ten years.

80
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 1:01pm

And this business of Jake Plummer undeservedly getting a bad rap is bullocks. Plummer's body of work prior to this year is 100% deserving of his bad rap. Before this season, beyond the obvious, I didn't see any difference between Plummer and Aaron Brooks. This year, he's certainly in the top 6-8 QBs in the league.

81
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 1:44pm

Re: Jeff George

I think far more important than "consecutive passes without interception", which is nice while it lasts for 5-10 games occasionally, is the overall consistency of a quarterbacks play.

Look no further than interceptions per pass attempt.

The five best I could find among active and historical and current starting quarterbacks were the following:

Neil O'Donnell - 1 INT/47.5 attempts
Donovan McNabb - 1 INT/44.6 attempts
Mark Brunnel - 1 INT/43.3 attempts
Tom Brady - 1 INT/40.8 attempts
Jeff Garcia - 1 INT/40.6 attempts

Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Bernie Kosar are numbers 10, 11, and 12 all around 1:39.

Brad Johnson is 19th at 1:36.5
Jeff George is 24th at 1:35.1

Aaron Brooks is 35th, followed by Dan Marino and Peyton Manning at 36 and 37, all with around a 1:33.1 ratio.

82
by charles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 1:55pm

RE 77: In 2001, martyball took over and jeff george couldn't survive the aftermath. They lost 37-0 in week 2 on mnf in green bay and george was cut the next day. In week one i believe they lost to san diego something like 34-3, i might be a little off on that score.

83
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:09pm

Re #73: Thanks for providing me with a list of all the solid performances turned in by Jeff George, only to have the teams show him the door. That's sort of my point. He and Doug Flutie have both played very well when they've had the opportunity, but they've also consistantly been ushered out the door for the crime of performing well.

I'm not saying Jeff George would ever have been a top 5 QB, even though he certainly turned in two truly great seasons, two arguable top-5 type seasons. I'm just saying that Jeff George would have been better than probably 50% of the guys he keeps getting passed over in favor of.

Like you said, "in EVERY case if you can hit, score TDS, or put the ball in the hoop you stay on a roster." You're right- in every case except Jeff George and Doug Flutie. Or are you arguing that Kyle Boller, Kyle Orton, Brooks Bollinger, Rob Johnson, Chris Chandler, Mike McMahon, A.J. Feeley, and Ken Dorsey can perform better than Jeff George? There's a long litany of WORSE players who keep getting jobs ahead of George. Again, who do you think is better, Jeff George or Brooks Bollinger? Jeff George or Kliff Kingsbury? Jeff George or Mike McMahon? Jeff George or Tim Rattay?

Re #78: It was an oversight.

Re #80: And this business of Jake Plummer undeservedly getting a bad rap is bullocks. Plummer’s body of work prior to this year is 100% deserving of his bad rap. Before this season, beyond the obvious, I didn’t see any difference between Plummer and Aaron Brooks. This year, he’s certainly in the top 6-8 QBs in the league.

2000- 32nd DPAR, 32nd DVOA
2001- 8th DPAR, 10th DVOA
2002- 45th DPAR, 42nd DVOA
Average- 28.3 in DPAR, 28 in DVOA

That's his Arizona career. I'd say that's very much deserving of his bad rap- very inconsistant, often damages his team's chances. It's interesting to note how good his numbers were when he had a top-10 WR, though, but that's sort of a chicken-and-egg arguement (Was Boston so good in 2001 because Plummer was hot, or was Plummer so good in 2001 because Boston was hot?)

2003- 8th in DPAR, 6th in DVOA
2004- 11th in DPAR, 12th in DVOA
2005- 5th in DPAR, 6th in DVOA
Average- 8 in DPAR, 8 in DVOA.

Plummer absolutely HAS gotten a bad rap, because people are saying it's just this season. It's *NOT* just this season. It's his entire Denver career. He's never finished below 12th in DVOA. You know who has a higher average DVOA than Jake Plummer's 8th since he came to Denver? Peyton Manning (Avg DVOA = 2), Tom Brady (Avg DVOA = 6.7). You can stop waiting for me to start listing other names, because there aren't any. You want to know how many QBs have finished in the top 12 in DVOA for all of the last 3 years? Manning, Plummer, Favre. You want to know how many QBs have finished in the top 16 in DVOA for the last 3 years? Manning, Plummer, Favre, Brady, Hasselbeck.

Jake Plummer was a bad QB in Arizona. Jake Plummer has been an OUTSTANDING QB in Denver. Not just this season in Denver, but during his entire Denver career. And people refuse to recognize that simple fact. So yes, Jake Plummer got a bad rap while playing on a brutally bad team. Ever since he's been on a decent (i.e. top-50%) team, he's been phenominal, but everyone still thinks of him as a bad QB who gets his team in trouble. It's quite simply not true. Jake Plummer has gotten a bad rap because of his work in Arizona.

Go ahead, look at the numbers since he came to Denver and let me know if they're telling you something different.

It's also very important to note that these numbers only take into consideration Plummer's success as a pure passer, and that's just a small part of what he brings to the table. Not only is he one of the best and most consistant PURE PASSERS in the entire NFL, he's also a remarkable scrambler. There really aren't any stats to show just how much Denver's offense keys off of Plummer's mobility and his ability to run the playfake better than anyone except Manning. Plummer is quite simply the best bootleg QB in the entire NFL. There is SOMETHING that stats can show, though.

2005- Denver's 3rd in adjusted sack rate.
2004- Denver's 3rd in adjusted sack rate.
2003- Jake Plummer misses 5 games, Denver finishes 11th in adjusted sack rate.
2002- Brian Griese's in town, Denver's 26th in adjusted sack rate.

And, of course, there's the fact that he hasn't missed a single offensive snap for 2 straight years.

84
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:51pm

"You’re right- in every case except Jeff George and Doug Flutie. Or are you arguing that Kyle Boller, Kyle Orton, Brooks Bollinger, Rob Johnson, Chris Chandler, Mike McMahon, A.J. Feeley, and Ken Dorsey can perform better than Jeff George? There’s a long litany of WORSE players who keep getting jobs ahead of George. Again, who do you think is better, Jeff George or Brooks Bollinger? Jeff George or Kliff Kingsbury? Jeff George or Mike McMahon? Jeff George or Tim Rattay?"

You misunderstand my point.

I am NOT discussing Jeff George's performance on the field and whether that merits a roster spot. OF COURSE it did.

But teams STILL just let him go.

And THAT, more than anything else, delivers a VERY CLEAR message of what folks thought of Jeff George.

The guy could play the MOST CRITICAL position on the field pretty well. And team after team decided they were better off WITHOUT HIM.

Just stop and think about that for a minute.

You have this employee performing at a fairly high level. Productive on a consistent basis. But because of stuff not DIRECTLY RELATED to his performance you decide you can do better if he is let go.

So what would result in that type of decision?

Maybe he's downloading porn at work.

Maybe he shows up drunk 3 days a week.

Maybe he has horrendous body odor that offends everyone in the office but since he cleans up before visiting clients he still makes a good impression outside the office.

Or maybe this guy is such a malignant SOB nobody who actually has to work with him can stand him.

So he's nice to the clients. And he's nice to folks who clean the floors at night.

Otherwise, he's a piece of sh*t.

Again, set aside the quantitative analysis for a moment. Because in this instance rejecting the null hypothesis won't solve the riddle that was Jeff George.

85
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:23pm

No, I understand that he had a bad reputation, mostly from his days in Atlanta. And he deserved that reputation from his days in Atlanta. But in a league where Ricky Williams, Terrell Owens, and Randy Moss all keep getting second, third, fourth chances... I just can't understand why George stopped getting chances. I understand by Atlanta let him go. He was a cancer in the locker room. I don't understand why all subsequent teams kept letting him go, and why all other teams stopped giving him a chance. I mean, Kurt Warner has been released twice in the past 2 years, but teams have no problem giving him a chance. Brad Johnson kept getting released, and kept getting resigned. Jeff Blake got released from 4 different teams over the past 4 years, 5 different teams over the past 6 years. Meanwhile, what happens this season? Jeff Blake lands on a roster all over again. There was a REASON 4 teams have let him go in 4 years, but that hasn't stopped him from landing job after job, and he isn't NEARLY as good as Jeff George. Gus Frerotte- let go by 5 teams in 6 years, yet still signed this offseason to be a STARTER. Is Gus Frerotte better than Jeff George? Was he let go from 5 different teams by accident? And will it be an accident when Miami becomes the 6th team in 7 years to watch him walk away? Trent Dilfer got released after winning the superbowl. To borrow your words, "But teams STILL just let him go. And THAT, more than anything else, delivers a VERY CLEAR message of what folks thought of [Trent Dilfer]." But lo and behold, here's Trent Dilfer again, starting at QB in the NFL again.

Like you said, there was a reason why they were released despite being pretty productive- just like there was a reason why George kept getting released despite being productive. So why do they keep getting resigned, but not George?

It just makes no sense to me that Jeff George isn't in the pool of veteran backup QBs that get shuffled around every offseason, along with Brad Johnson, Kurt Warner, Jeff Blake, Trent Dilfer, and Gus Frerotte. Wouldn't you rather have Jeff George than Kyle Orton right now?

86
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:30pm

kibbles:

The answer is staring you in the face.

Jeff George, for lack of a better term, was perceived (rightly or wrongly) as a lazy *sshole.

Don't believe me? Well, look at his playing career again. Google articles. Talk to football fans over the age of 25.

I have already iterated his rep around the league. I had a good look at George firsthand during his season with the Vikes. And even playing for one of the most player oriented coaches George managed to wear out his welcome.

You read as a fairly bright individual so I must confess to being puzzled as to why you find it so hard to grasp that an organization would take into account things beyond the stats when evaluating a player.

Dick Allen got 1001 chances until he stopped hitting. Then teams ignored him.

George was such a jerk teams avoided him even when it was clear he COULD STILL PLAY.

That is as d*mning indictment as you are ever going to find on a pro athlete.

87
by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:42pm

You guys are remembering Jeff George with rose colored glasses. See the link on my name for his career stats. Pass completion of 58%, 7.0 yards/attempt, slightly more TDs than INTs. He was ok, but not a great talent who can get away with fighting his coach. And he's 38 and hasn't played for four years.

88
by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:51pm

Kibbles, IIRC George wasn't just a jerk (and his reputation first developed in college); he refused to run the offense his coaches wanted.

89
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 4:57pm

I still remember Bob and Tom ripping Jeff George daily. Good times.

Jeff George was a very good QB for awhile. Then he dropped off, and created the "Jeff George face" which was amazingly terrible to watch.

I think it was a monday night game where he looked like a deer in headlights. He literally would snap the ball, and then brace himself for the hit on play after play.

He was a strong armed gunslinger with less than excellent decision making skills. He would have been perfect on any long range passing game with a good RB.

Now, he is absolutely afraid of the game of football, and should not be anywhere near the QB position.

90
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:00pm

No, I understand that he had a bad reputation, mostly from his days in Atlanta. And he deserved that reputation from his days in Atlanta. But in a league where Ricky Williams, Terrell Owens, and Randy Moss all keep getting second, third, fourth chances… I just can’t understand why George stopped getting chances.

He didn't stop getting chances until that Monday night game (and perhaps some games after that)

It was obvious he was officially done. I remember watching in the 4th Quarter and he was the worst QB i think I've ever seen.

He would still be starting for a team if he could play. He can't play, and he's a prick.

Not a good combo at this point.

91
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:05pm

Re #86: Oh, and I suppose Ricky Williams was perceived by his coach as a really really hard worker who was absolutely dedicated to football.

I *get* that coaches feel like George is lazy, or uncoachable, or arguementative, or divisive. But coaches have been taking chances on lazy, uncoachable, arguementative, and divisive players for YEARS. There's Ricky Williams. There's Terrell Owens. There's Gerrard Warren, who certainly had a much stonger reputation for being lazy than George. Jeff George has been shouting for years that he's a changed man. I don't get why there isn't a single head coach in the entire NFL that hasn't given him a shot to prove it. It's not like he isn't talented. He put up some great numbers, and he was the #1 overall draft choice.

How is Jeff George different than Ricky Williams, Gerard Warren, Terrell Owens, Jeff Blake (who also has something of a reputation), or even Randy "I play when I feel like it" Moss? Why do those guys get chances, but not George? What do teams have to lose by signing George, who has repeatedly insisted that he'd play for the veteran minimum? Sign him to a 1-year contract for the veteran minimum and a $40,000 signing bonus. Give him one strike to work with, and if it doesn't work out, cut him.

You still haven't answered my question. Are you telling me that you'd rather have Kyle Orton than Jeff George?

Re #87: The fact that he hasn't played for 4 years is the most valid arguement against George. My arguement is that there's no reason why he should have been out of the NFL for 4 years, though. Anyway, his career statistics are not mind-blowing, no. However, he has had at least two spectacular seasons ('95, '97, probably '99 as well), and in the rest he's been pretty average. Do you know how many teams would KILL for an "average" QB right now?

P.S. 154:113 isn't "slightly more" TDs than INTs. It's a 1.36:1 ratio, or a +41 margin, however you prefer to reckon it. That's pretty solid. For reference, here's a list of the TD:INT ratios of some veteran QBs who have gotten jobs over Jeff George over the past 2 years.

Jeff Blake- 1.34:1
Warner- 1.54:1 (1:1:43 over past 4 seasons)
Dilfer- 1:1.10
Kordell Stewart- 1:1.10
Mike McMahon- 1:1.27
Bledsoe- 1.25:1
Testaverde- 1.03:1

All worse than Blake, except Warner, who scored so many TDs in the Greatest Show on Turf that his recent INT-fest hasn't even dented his ratio.

92
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:19pm

This discussion is becoming rather pointless.

Teams have assessed the positives and negatives of Jeff George and looked elsewhere. There is your answer.

And if you insist on who I would prefer at QB for the Chicago Bears (not that anyone with the organization gives a crap nor should they) I would take Kyle Orton every day of the week and twice on Sunday over Jeff George.

You are clearly enthralled with George's production and refuse to consider that anyone could be such a monstrous pain in the tuckus that all the downfield throws in the world can't offset that he poisons the locker room.

We faux analysts like to deride the notion of "chemistry" as being a critical element of team construction. But there ARE select instances where it does matter. And Jeff George and his toxic demeanor is one of those instances.

I am weary of this topic and have no further pertinent information that I believe would move it forward.

It disapoints me that I have been unable to explain myself well enough to help you understand why Jeff George sits at home.

93
by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 5:56pm

How is Jeff George different than Ricky Williams, Gerard Warren, Terrell Owens, Jeff Blake (who also has something of a reputation), or even Randy “I play when I feel like it� Moss? Why do those guys get chances, but not George?

As NFCCF has been saying, 32 teams are telling us that they perceive a greater downside than upside to signing George, while at least one team sees upside, rightly or wrongly, for each of the other guys you mention.

Are you telling me that you’d rather have Kyle Orton than Jeff George?

The Bears' preference is clear. So, for that matter, is your disagreement. But this isn't just the Bears saying they can do better than George, it's everybody in the NFL. Even when they prefer some of the guys named earlier in the thread. And while individual personnel departments can be clueless, when the league as a whole says a player doesn't belong, he almost certainly doesn't.

94
by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 6:02pm

Kibbles, if you look up a few guys you'll see only the very biggest stars are able to play into their mid 30s.

Terry Bradshaw retired at 35.
Ken Anderson retired at 37.
Troy Aikman retired at 34.
Jim Kelly retired at 36.
Joe Theismann retired at 36.

While you point to Kordell Stewart as a veteran QB, he's actually five years younger than George (as are Dilfer and Bledsoe). McMahon is 12 years younger! Five years is a long time in the NFL. At his peak George might be the best of the group you gave (I'd take Warner) but that best is a long time ago.

95
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 8:45pm

Re #93: Again, explain how Doug Flutie has been a career backup, then?

Bertrand Berry got cut from the Colts and spent a year out of football before the Broncos brought him back. He turned into a pro bowler and led the NFC in sacks last season. How many other Bertrand Berrys might there be out there that never got that second chance?

The entire league can be wrong just as easily as a single team.

Re #94: No, I understand the point that Jeff George is too old at this point, just like I understand that Doug Flutie is too old for some team to hand him a starting job. I'm more just lamenting that they didn't get a chance earlier.

96
by calig23 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 11:24am

Re:#81

Naturally, when Neil O'Donnell finally decided to start slinging INTs around, it was in Super Bowl XXX.

Jerk!

97
by Jerry (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 6:55pm

Re #95:

Again, explain how Doug Flutie has been a career backup, then?

Obviously, no NFL team that's had him (as opposed to the CFL) has felt like he'd be their best choice to start. Maybe they were/are all wrong, or maybe they're not.

Bertrand Berry got cut from the Colts and spent a year out of football before the Broncos brought him back. He turned into a pro bowler and led the NFC in sacks last season. How many other Bertrand Berrys might there be out there that never got that second chance?

The entire league can be wrong just as easily as a single team.

Tommy Maddox was selling insurance. (Maybe that's not the best example.) I'm sure that there are guys who would have had NFL careers if they'd found their way into the right situation, but I apparently have more faith in NFL personnel departments as a whole than you do. After all, the Broncos DID bring in Berry and gave him the second chance. And George had shots with enough teams that he'd have found the right spot if it existed.

98
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 11:19pm

Like I mentioned before, Petitgout holds on every other play, if not more often.

He certainly tries to, but those false starts kill him.

99
by Adam Connelly (not verified) :: Tue, 08/29/2006 - 4:21pm

Jeff George was a jerk. I say "was" because I don't know if he still is. He is not the most courageous QB. He once saw Bruce Smith bearing down on him and said "Oh s--t!" Not the second coming of legendary tough guy QB Johnny Unitas.
But my gosh, could he throw a football. He'll probably be 50 and still be able to throw better then 80% of the QB's in the league. In a league where so many jerks have gotten other chances, provided they produce, it baffles me why he hasn't gotten a legitimate chance. He was great for the Vikings in 1999, and everyone was shocked when Dennis Green chose to go with Culpepper.
George should never have gone to D.C. The Skins already had a Pro Bowl QB coming off a playoff season in Brad Johnson. And the Skins probably should have found more reliable kickers. George lost games to the Cardinals, Eagles, and Giants thanks to missed FG's.
And the Marty-Jeff marriage was doomed from the start. George liked to air the ball out, and Marty liked to run, run and throw short, play conservative. Credit Dan Snyder's "brain trust" for not foreseeing that one when they hired Marty and went with George over Johnson. George was terrible in '01, but the whole team started off badly, going 0-3 even after George was cut.
If JG gets some protection, he can still light it up. I can just see his stats from teh first game 4-15 for 249 yds 3 TD 3 INT.