Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

11 Sep 2006

Audibles at the Line: Week 1

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 2007. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

Miami Dolphins 17 at Pittsburgh Steelers 28

Aaron Schatz: How long will it take John Madden to realize that, in fact, Miami is not avoiding Ike Taylor, that they keep throwing at whichever receiver Taylor is covering? It just doesn't happen to always be Chris Chambers.

Bill Barnwell: Madden's also been making some statements that have been begging for refutation -- teams rush worse at the beginning of the season than they do at the end of it for one.

Aaron Schatz: My god, can we just chart this immediately? At this point, EVERY SINGLE PASS is thrown at Ike Taylor. Michaels says, "Chambers with the catch and Taylor is right there." Um, yes, but Taylor let Chambers catch a FIRST DOWN, Al.

Doug Farrar: Uhhhh ... guys in the booth? Do you think Saban might have been "tentative" in throwing the flag because he was yelling at the official to turn around and see him throwing the thing? Why does he have to run all over the field, screaming bloody murder, on a borderline OB call that changes the tempo of the game? If you're a zebra in that instance, doesn't the slightest hint of the notion that he might challenge waft across your mind like a summer breeze? Sheesh.

Anyway, Polamalu looks great. And Culpepper dun got suckered again.

And yes, this is very much the same defense that beat the four best offensive lines in the NFL -- every one on the road -- on their way to the Big One. Wow.

Aaron Schatz: After the game, Joey Porter had to pull out the no respect card, "Nobody's pickin' us to do nothin', everyone said we were gonna lose." What the hell are you talking about, Joey?

Ryan Wilson: Other than the Oh God Don't Throw It To Me drop in the end zone, I thought Ike Taylor played pretty well. Yeah, the game charting might say he gave up some first downs, but what the game charting doesn't tell you is that the Steelers play a lot of three-deep zones behind all the blitzing schemes. Ike's job is to keep the play in front of him. So take that for what it's worth.

And I wouldn't listen to Joey Porter talking about being disrespected because that's about as predictable as Rodney Harrison bringing it up. Just a bunch of talking.

Bill Barnwell: In all fairness, it's a better card to pull than the "I'm going to get ejected before the game for throwing down" one.

Tim Gerheim: So I don't know whether it's the Dolphins offensive line or the Steelers defense, but Miami's run blocking was terrible today. Ronnie Brown looked like a stud, as much as you can while running for two yards a carry. Almost all of the yardage he made was on his own. If he went down at first contact, or didn't make sharp, sudden, well-timed upfield cuts, he would have had negative yardage for the day.

Chris Chambers and Daunte Culpepper are not on the same page at all. During the Chambers drought in the first half, Culpepper threw at him a lot but it didn't look like they had the same route in mind at any point.

Seattle Seahawks 9 at Detroit Lions 6

Doug Farrar: Seattle S Ken Hamlin, who should get some serious consideration for Comeback Player of the Year, missed a tackle on a Kevin Jones 9-yard run but recovered nicely in coverage on a pass to Jones later.

Floyd Womack is having some real trouble with Shaun Rogers.

Michael David Smith: Shaun Rogers is absolutely dominating this football game. I don't want to get too excited 18 minutes into the season, but Seattle just has no answer for him right now.

Doug Farrar: Josh Brown has now had TWO field goals blocked in the first two quarters. On the play before the second blocked FG, Shaun Rogers got around Womack and Mack Strong and rang Hasselbeck's bell pretty good on third-and-3 from the DET 28. Matt is 9-of-10 for 104 yards. Let's try and protect him, guys...

... Time passes, as time is wont to do ...

Walter Jones had a Lions defender roll up on the back of his legs and went off the field (sort of) on his own steam at about 12:40 remaining in the third quarter. Replaced by Tom Ashworth. After a false start on Chris Spencer, James Hall just went right by Ashworth first play and sacked Hasselbeck. Drive over after a perfunctory Alexander third-down run. Everyone in Seattle just aged about five years.

Michael David Smith: Either having your position coach drive around nude makes a defensive line turn into the 70s Steelers, or the Seahawks really, really miss Steve Hutchinson. The Lions' D-line has destroyed the Seahawks' o-line.

The Martz offense doesn't look quite so impressive when run by the Lions' personnel. The best play Jon Kitna has made was pouncing on a Kevin Jones fumble that it looked like Seattle was about to recover.

Doug Farrar: Seattle has been running right without the cutback. Be interesting to see if that's a season-long adjustment or just a Rogers adjustment.

It took the Seahawks - the NFL's #1 team in points in 2005 - four trips into Detroit territory before they could score, and that was on a 20-yard chip shot by Josh Brown. Detroit is bringing bricks in their briefcases - maybe the most obvious early effect of Marinelli's influence.

Seattle was very lucky to win this game. Unusually poor line play (five sacks), abysmal tackling and their usual spotty special teams. Plus, Mike Holmgren usual dunderheaded two-minute clock management at the ends of both halves. It's as if, at the 2:00 mark, a switch in his brain goes from "Change Brown Right Slot A Right 322 'Y' Stick" to "Oh, look at the kitty!"

Hasselbeck's audible at the line set up the Maurice Morris 17-yard run which was the backbreaker, one play before the winning field goal.

Aaron Schatz: For what it's worth, Seattle actually was number one in kick returns and net punting this week by our special teams ratings.

Buffalo Bills 17 at New England Patriots 19

Aaron Schatz: The Buffalo Bills have not solved their run defense problems, despite the return of Takeo Spikes. The Patriots are creating huge holes, and then once the running backs get through the holes, Bills are missing a ton of tackles. Add to this that Maroney is just amazing, shifting one way, then the other to get around people. 50 yards in his first two carries.

Four fumbles in this game before the first quarter ends. Bills recover the first one for a TD. Then Losman fumbles two straight snaps, one goes over his head (actually, the center fumbled technically) and then the next one he drops a play-fake. Then Brady fumbles a second time but Dan Koppen recovers.

Doug Farrar: I'm so glad I picked Maroney for my fantasy team.

Bill Moore: Despite major hardware problems, I did actually see 5 minutes of the Pats/Bills. Maroney looked good, but was making moves you just shouldn't be able to make in the NFL. Normally, moves like that get shut down and some announcer says, Mr. XYZ halfback, you're not in college anymore. Time will tell if that tells us something about Maroney or the Bills.

Bill Barnwell: Daniel Graham is such a great blocker. Forget the Bills' run defense problem, though. How about the Patriots'? Willis McGahee is getting to the second level on every carry. The Patriots linebackers basically haven't shown up - Mike Vrabel totally bailed on his lane on a screen play and it costs the Patriots fifteen yards. If you're going to be regarded as this smart LB, well, you don't do things like that.

Banta-Cain has been absolutely anonymous, and the defensive line has done absolutely nothing. I don't think they even have a tackle at this point, and it's halfway through the second quarter.

On the other hand, maybe the Bills should snap every ball over J.P. Losman's head.

Aaron Schatz: The Pats o-line looks bad on pass plays. The Bills are really confusing them with various LB blitzes and DL stunts, and over and over again there are plays where two offensive linemen are blocking the same guy while some other defender is coming in to get Brady untouched.

Losman looks much better than last year. Nearly everything he's throwing is short, but he is not looking to scramble immediately like he did last year.

Bill Barnwell: Simms has some weird Laurence Maroney agenda going on. "Quite a few NFL GMs would've taken Laurence Maroney as their first running back in this draft", he said. I find that slightly difficult to believe. Later he said, "How many times did you hear Laurence Maroney's name before the draft?" Jim Nantz confirmed that, in fact, Laurence Maroney's name had not graced his (or Simms') ears before the draft. Apparently they've never, ever watched college football coverage. "It's cause his team didn't win every game! You don't get coverage if you don't win every game!", Simms said.

Aaron Schobel is a class above Matt Light right now.

The Patriots game plan seems to be to spread the ball (I know, not surprising) in Branch's absence, but Watson's been absolutely silent, Reche Caldwell isn't getting open, and their screens, outside of one, have had very limited success. The Bills DL, Schobel in particular, are beating the Patriots OL 4-on-5 and even 4-on-6 and there's no way the Patriots can win if that's the case.

Also -- something I noted but I didn't do a full through-and-through check on without TIVO installed yet -- WR pre-snap motion seems to indicate a Patriot passing play with a pretty strong consistency.

Aaron Schatz: The difference between the first half of the Bills-Pats and the second half of the Bills-Pats was astonishing. Maybe, like they say, Belichick is the best coach in the league at halftime adjustments. Suddenly, the offensive line was blocking all the right people on Buffalo's stunts and blitzes. They confused the Bills with plays that motioned Faulk out as a receiver, including the one he caught for the touchdown.

Weird call of the day: Donte Whitner intercepted Brady on a pass to Watson -- either Watson ran too far, and forgot to turn around, or Brady underthrew, but it looked like miscommunication. Anyway, Whitner brings it back, and very early on they throw a flag for block in the back, and he keeps going, and the officials whistle the play dead. Why? Whitner never goes close to stepping out of bounds, and you aren't supposed to whistle an interception return dead on a penalty.

Robert Royal, who last year dropped an absurd percentage of passes according to the game charting project, had another one go right off his hands today. He also had the most obvious block in the back I've ever seen in my life, which cost the Bills a third-down conversion when they were trying to come back after the Pats safety.

Bill Barnwell: The real difference, I thought, in the Bills-Pats game came after the second Bills touchdown. The Patriots' defensive line was a totally different animal after that, and the Bills' offense stopped going.

Whitner went sorta close to being out of bounds, just not at the spot they marked it at. I think it was just ref miscommunication.

Atlanta Falcons 20 at Carolina Panthers 6

Aaron Schatz: OK, someone tell me why I allowed people to talk me out of my original KUBIAK projection that had Michael Jenkins as this year's biggest breakout wide receiver? "Oh, no, Roddy White is the number one guy," everyone said to me.

Benjy Rose: Watched the second half of this one here in Atlanta, and here are my thoughts:

We've secretly replaced the Panthers' defense with Folgers Crystals ... let's see if anyone notices the difference. Wow, did they suck. No penetration from the line, no tackling from the LBs. Just awful.

There were three mentions of DeAngelo Hall as "one of the best cover corners in the NFL," without anything to back it up. Hmmm.

Dunn was a monster ... finding holes, blasting through them, shifting, cutting ... it was beautiful.

Vick was his usual self -- fired a fantastic laser-beam TD to Crumpler, overthrew 5 or 6 wide-open receivers baaaaadly with his typical floaters. Same old Vick, even though the announcers kept telling us how much more comfortable he looked.

I wish I remember who said this -- it was a local radio announcer (I caught the last 5 minutes on the radio in the car), but someone had a great quote: "Steve Smith just made a terrific argument for MVP by his absence today."

Delhomme looked lost. His passes were ugly, he was not very comfortable at all ... you could see what he was thinking as he was going through his progressions: "Steve? No, not there ... crap ... Steve? No, that's Keyshawn, can't throw him the damn ball. Steve? Where are you? Steve? Steve? Ouch. Hi, Mr. Abraham, can you help me up, please?"

Philadelphia Eagles 24 at Houston Texans 10

Tim Gerheim: "All the great coaches throw more in the first half to get the lead, and then run in the second half to preserve it," said the color commentator during the Texans-Eagles game. I can't remember if I've ever heard a talking head say that before. Maybe we're having an impact.

Based on quarter of one game, the Texans offensive line has done a complete 180. Their pass protection has been very solid, but their run blocking is atrocious.

Mike Tanier: Random Eagles Thoughts:

1. Jimmy Johnson pulled his entire starting defensive line after the first series (a cakewalk touchdown by the Texans) and replaced them with four subs. I though this was punitive, as did local color guy Mike Quick, but that was how he subbed for most of the game, four at a time.

2. Lito Sheppard sprained his ankle early in the game. The defense played better after Rod Hood replaced him.

3. After the Texans took a 7-0 lead and McNabb threw an ugly pick, they were handing out cyanide capsules at my sports bar.

4. That D'Meco Ryans kid for the Texans looks like a legit prospect at MLB.

5. Matt McCoy played very well at linebacker for the Eagles.

6. Weird fact: I taught at Overbrook High when Ron Dayne was there. My wife taught at Holy Cross High when Wali Lundy was there. I just bet one of my ex-girlfriends taught Verand Morency.

7. What was the Eagles gameplan supposed to be before we got Stalloworth? Was Jabar Gaffney supposed to run those routes?

8. Bobby Clarke was in my sports bar. A bunch of the drunks were planning to bother him about someone named Simon Gagne. I don't follow hockey. In fact, it might not have been Clarke, just some impersonator. A Flin Flon artist, if you will.

9. It was good to see Greg Lewis involved and playing hard, The local sports talk guys have been hard on him. He lowered his shoulder on a first down catch and looked good on special teams.

10. Bruce Perry isn't much of a kick returner. Hurry back, Reno Mahe. Wow, my keyboard just burst into flames!

Aaron Schatz: A Flin Flon artist? Like Mark Robinson?

Baltimore Ravens 27 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0

Ryan Wilson: I was skeptical that the Ravens' o-line would be able to keep Steve McNair upright for more than a quarter or so, but through the first quarter he's only been touched once. Jim Fassel did a nice job of mixing in both runs and short passes during the first series that ended in a Jamal Lewis TD.

The Ravens defense looks as stout as ever and the Bucs are playing like this is their fifth preseason game. Simms has already had three dropped passes and has been hurried plenty through the first 15 minutes.

It'll be interesting to see how opposing defenses adjust when they realize McNair hasn't thrown a pass of more than 15 yards all preseason.

Will Carroll: That will happen when both starting guards are out. I'd expected Caddy to look like a Chevy, but Simms doesn't look like he's made the big step up that many expected.

Russell Levine: Ugh, what an ugly half of football from the Buccaneers. As seems to happen to them a lot, they got pushed around by the run game on the first drive before settling down on defense.

The TB offense has been horrific. Two bad Simms interceptions, one returned for a TD, one 60 yards on a tipped ball. Normally you'd say tipped balls aren't the QBs fault, but since Simms gets roughly one in three passes batted at the line, I'm hanging that one on him.

I actually think Tampa Bay's replacement right guard, Jeb Terry, has played pretty well. The replacement left guard is Sean Mahan, who started at guard all last year.

Simms looks totally out of sync. He's been late, forcing balls, batted balls, throwing behind people. And the pass protection hasn't been that bad. He looks more confused by the defense than he does rattled by the pass rush.

Odd play in the first half. Following a touchback, the Ravens came up just short of the 30 on third down. They brought out the sticks to measure. How do you measure after a touchback? If the ball's brushing the 30, first down. End of story.

Russell Levine: And the ugliness continues for the Bucs on their first possession of the 2nd half. Blown oline assignments on back to back snaps, resulting in a five yard loss for Cadillac and a sack.

I'd just like to add that this is my first time having Sunday Ticket in HD. I'd always heard rumors that DirecTV amps up the bandwidth for all the HD games (which look insanely good) at the expense of pretty much everything else -- also true ... Tampa Bay-Baltimore in standard def looks a little bit like watching TV underwater. Probably better for me in this case.

Denver Broncos 10 at St. Louis Rams 18

Ned Macey: The Rams offense with Bulger plus Scott Linehan made it pretty obvious that they would have some red zone struggles. This is absurd, however. Five possessions, five trips across midfield, five field goal attempts--three of those inside the red zone. They recovered a fumble at the 3-yard line and ended up missing a 44-yard field goal (intentional grounding plus a holding penalty). The Rams defense has dominated the Broncos but only lead 12-0.

As a result (or maybe just because he is smart), Shanhan had the confidence to go for it on fourth-and-1 on his own 30-yard line. Dan Dierdorf was shocked that Shanahan would go for it, but it was actually the percentage play. And even if they got stuffed, it could only cost 3 points. Now, on the same possession, they're driving inside Rams territory.

The Rams, by the way, are running almost exclusive two wide receiver sets with either a fullback or two tight ends. This is certainly not the Mike Martz Rams.

Aaron Schatz: I really hope that the NFL shows STL-DEN as one of their midweek replay games on NFL Network, as part of that new feature. I want to know what the heck happened to the Rams defense: massive improvement, or luck, or just one-week fluke?

Doug Farrar: Nice shoulder-shiver on Torry Holt by The King.

Ned Macey: The St. Louis-Denver game was extremely odd. The D-Line of St. Louis just dominated the Broncos offense, particularly on passing plays. I think Denver could have run more, but they were losing the entire time. A couple well-timed blitzes also helped. With Plummer constantly under pressure, the bad throws were almost inevitable. The game-clinching interception came off a beautiful deflection by Witherspoon -- an incredible individual play. The Broncos also seemed to be obsessed with throwing to Walker who looked like someone that hasn't played in two years. The physical tools are there, but he definitely dropped some balls.

Jason Beattie: I will try to remind myself that the Broncos looked MUCH worse in last year's opener against Miami than they did today. The St. Louis defense was able to apply enough pressure to reincarnate the Jake Plummer of 2004 ... attempting one of his ridiculous left-handed passes on the second Denver possession, and generally forcing more plays than he should. And I agree, Javon Walker looked like he still needed to shake off some of the rust. The fact that the Denver D gave up no touchdowns after all those turnovers was pretty impressive at least. Not sure how much of that was due to the conservative Rams offense though. Yep, that's about as deep of analysis as you can get from me ...

Cincinnati Bengals 23 at Kansas City Chiefs 10

Will Carroll: Trent Green just took one of the most evil hits I've seen in a while. It wasn't a dirty hit -- the defender was committed to the hit before Green was sliding. His head bounced off the turf like a basketball and I still haven't seen him move. Green was unconscious before he even stopped sliding.

Russell Levine: Aye Carumba. Trent Green just took one of the worst "whiplash" hits you'll ever seen. Watching his head bounce off the turf was blurry even in slow-motion.

Will Carroll: Did that sound like a boo when Trent Green was being wheeled off the field?

Russell Levine: It did. I have to think that was a reaction to the replay being shown in the stadium or something.

New York Jets 23 at Tennessee Titans 16

Will Carroll: Always listen to Jaws. Jaws said earlier this summer that Pennington was looking healthy, with good velocity on his ball. I bet that Pennington's available in a lot of leagues and while he's no elite QB, he does look healthy.

Dallas Cowboys 17 at Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Aaron Schatz: Early in the game, it looked like the list of "players praised highly in PFP 2006 who sucked today" would have Brian Williams right at the very top. On one play, he was caught looking in the backfield, but I'm not sure what for, since the running back was STREAKING BEHIND HIM AT THE TIME. Julius Jones, 39-yard reception. Three plays later, Williams is on T.O., doesn't follow his cut in, should have given up a third-down conversion, except safety Deon Grant came in on a nice play to slap it away.

Doug Farrar: The Tuna threw a challenge flag right before the snap after a Reggie Williams catch to the right in the fourth quarter, no official saw it, the next play (Wilford catch to the left) went off, Tuna called Austin over and found out that whatever he was challenging was "unchallengable". Thus. Parcells lost a timeout on a challenge that nobody saw.

So now you know that when a flag falls in the forest and nobody sees it, you will still burn a timeout.

Benjy Rose: How to stop the Jacksonville Offense: bring rain. In the first half, they were pitiful. Just awful. Bad. No running game, Leftwich can't pass a wet ball. Speaking of Leftwich, has he always had that odd roundhouse throwing motion? It's like he doesn't use his elbow when he throws.

How to Stop Drew Bledsoe: well, we all know this ... bring pressure. Yikes, he just folds. On the other hand, though, his 50-yarder to Glenn (about 45 yards of which was in the air) was a thing of beauty.

Aaron Schatz: Brian Williams played much, much better in the second half. For most of the second half, Dallas didn't try passing to Owens.

Matt Jones looked good, using his body to shield passes from defensive backs. Reggie Williams looks like he's running crisper routes this year. The Dallas o-line looks much better this year. Bledsoe threw his second and third interceptions right at Jacksonville guys. The second one was right at TWO Jacksonville guys at the same time. Golly, Bledsoe sure does make good decisions.

San Francisco 49ers 27 at Arizona Cardinals 34

Aaron Schatz: Edgerrin James in the first quarter: 8 carries, 4 yards, but of course a touchdown so nobody will think anything is wrong.

Michael David Smith: Alex Smith hasn't looked bad at all. I thought he was terrible last year, but watching him today and watching the Packers today is making me think his real problem was Mike McCarthy's offense.

Russell Levine: Congratulations to Mike Nolan for knowing that when you're down 10 or 11 points and out of timeouts in the final minute, you kick the field goal as soon as you get within range, then hope to recover the onsides kick. Someone please forward today's SF-ARI game tape to Mike Holmgren, who butchered this same scenario in the Super Bowl.

I didn't see too much of hte game, but the little I saw, Alex Smith has come miles from last year. He actually looked like a competent NFL QB today. Every time I saw him last year, he looked completely lost out there.

Indianapolis Colts 26 at New York Giants 21

Aaron Schatz: It looks to me like Eli is still having accuracy problems, in particular sailing his deep passes. He got lucky on the one where Plaxico Burress jumped and tipped it to himself. Then Plaxico did the same thing again, a few plays later, in the end zone for a touchdown.

Will Carroll: Did Madden just say "cankles"?

The Colts running game is as bad as Peyton Manning is commercially overexposed.

Al Bogdan: Fred Robbins is having a great game for the Giants. I was worried he would be the weak link on the line this year, but he's done very well this week.

The Giants offense would be unstoppable if they had a quarterback who could regularly throw accurate passes to open receivers. I've counted three of those so far this game out of Eli's 21 attempts (as of now).

Ned Macey: If the Giants lose this game, it will be entirely their own fault. Penalties, dropped interceptions, and now a fumbled handoff. They've dominated both lines of scrimmage and have never really been stopped by the Colts defense. Now, Peyton is throwing on basically every play. If the Colts can hold onto this game, I will take great pleasure from the fact that the supposed players' coach's team wins because the disciplinarian's team made a dozen mental mistakes.

By the way, can Edge and the Colts get back together and re-think this whole letting him go to Arizona? Neither can be too happy about it after one game.

Bits ‘n' Pieces

Bill Barnwell: Pre-game show thoughts:

  • CBS has a feature called "Chalk Talk". This feature involved, surprisingly enough, 0% Chalk and 100% Talk. Shannon Sharpe mentioned that Kansas City doesn't pressure the quarterback or tackle on defense. Meanwhile, Cincinnati had one fewer sack than Kansas City last year. Right.
  • I don't know how much Chris Mortensen got paid for that ESPN Mobile ad where he's in the department store with the scarf half-tied around his neck, but there is no way it was enough.
  • "You can't tell a man when to retire" says Michael Irvin about Brett Favre. That would be the Michael Irvin who doctors told he had to retire.

Aaron Schatz: In the Nike Briscoe High commercial, who is "Brian," the kid who is supposed to be Deion Sanders's son? Is that just some actor, or a player I don't recognize?

Doug Farrar: This is the tagline for the "Mannings in the kitchen" commercial for NFLShop.com:

The Manning's are ready for the season. Are you?

I will be, just as soon as I figure out what to do with this darned apostrophe.

Bill Barnwell: If I was a groupie following Big & Rich's tour bus around, Prilosec wouldn't be the pill I'd be worried about taking.

COMING THIS WEEK

Any Given Sunday: Rams over Broncos
Every Play Counts: Mario Williams
Plus the premiere of Doug Farrar's Manic Monday column on FOXSports.com.

Posted by: admin on 11 Sep 2006

112 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2006, 10:19am by B

Comments

1
by PantsB (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 10:54am

Yeah... McGahee totally romped with his 20 carries for 70 yards. An amazing 3.5 yard average....

2
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:08am

"After the Texans took a 7-0 lead and McNabb threw an ugly pick"
It went completely unacknowledged but the replay clearly showed the receiver falling down on that play, hard to blame McNabb on that play.

3
by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:09am

Three comments on SF/STL, but nothing on CHI/GB? Really? Nothing to say on a 26-0 game involving good ol' #4 and a resurgent King Rex? Really? Damn you guys are cold.

I am officially pulling the "no respect" card on behalf of the Beloved Bears.

4
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:14am

On the first Burress tip-catch, I thought the throw was fine. Burress, for some reason, slowed down when it was in the air, then had to leap to tip it and catch it. If he had simply kept running, the ball would've hit him in stride. Maybe he lost it in the lights or something.

5
by Sep (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:31am

I was watching the St. Louis-Denver game with a big time Bronco fan. It was uncanny how he would scream "Throw it away!" or, "Take the sack!" or even simply "Noooooo!" about 2.5 seconds before each of Plummer's interceptions. Was it the TiVo? Or was it simply three years of watching Plummer?

Combine that with all the people jumping off the bridge by calling for Cutler in week 3 (vs. NE?) on talk radio, and it makes for an interesting atmosphere here in the Mile High city. Ahhh, Broncos fans, gotta love em.

6
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:32am

RE:1 PantsB,

McGahee put up a lot of those yards on plays where he was hit in the backfield, or plays where JPLosman fumbled and he picked up the ball. He looked phenomenal in the first half.

The problem is, the holes dissapeared in the second half.

7
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:35am

I thought Denver threw on first down more than they should have. They were able to run the ball pretty well, but they were always in trouble on pass plays (the linemen couldn't block, the receivers couldn't catch, and Plummer was Plummer).

8
by TheWedge (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:35am

I don't know if it was just me, but everytime I tuned into the Colts-Giants game Peyton Manning through a ball directly at a Giants player who promptly dropped the INT. Did anyone else see this, did he really play that poorly or was it just my selective viewing habits that made it seem like that?

9
by Larry (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:37am

No comments on Losman losing the game on a safety? That's just inexcusable to get tackled in the end zone in a tie game. If the locker room wasn't in open revolt before won't it be now?

10
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:41am

Ugh, I should be glad that nothing was said about the GB/CHI game.

Oddly enough, other than GB's O-line (the #1 weakness for GB in this game), GB did not lose because of the expected reasons. Before anyone looks at the 2 INTs Favre threw, no he didn't lose the game for the Pack. Both picks came in the 4th quarter down at least 19-0. Favre actually started very well (6 for 6, 94 yards before first incompletion), but barely had any chances because of a special teams turnover and early attempts to run the ball (which the Pack also ended up doing pretty well).

GB's interior line looked very bad though, though I'm holding a bit hope that this had more to do with the Bears having a very good front four and simple inexperience than a total lack of ability.

The Bears will be very tough this year. D is still very good, offense was quite sharp in the passing game. Muhammed looked like the player Chicago expected to get for the big contract.

What gave me hope for the Packers: Favre (before Bad Brett came out late), Green and Driver all looked quite good. This was expected from Driver, but it was nice to see Green looking like his old self. Good run and red zone D. Also, they get to play New Orleans next week, which worked pretty well last year.

11
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:45am

"Detroit is bringing bricks in their briefcases" Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'm confused.
Also, the Bills/Pats game really shifted when the Bills got stuffed on 4th down. It was a real "momentum" shift that "inspired" the Pats to take it "to the next level" and give "110%" and whole bunch of other "cliches."
Of the four teams that were supposed to be battling for the AFC crown, only the Steelers looked good, assuming that Batch won't continue as thier starting QB. The Colts, Patriots and Broncos didn't look sharp at all.

12
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:53am

3 - what this means is that they didn't watch the game, at least not live. Since there are no Bears fans and no Packers fans on the FO staff, IIRC, this isn't suprising.

13
by Adam H. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:53am

I suppose that's better than packing a load of bricks in thier briefs.

14
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:57am

Re#8

There were 3 potential INT chances though i though No. 2 on the slant was a tough one, but the other 2 were more straight forward.

I thought that the Colts-Giants game turned on the phantom and non-existent PI call. The next play was when Eli hee-howed a poor throw for an INT and the match was as good as over

Extra: I think someone needs to tell Shockey that when he near the sideline inside the 2 min, he has to get out of bounds and not stupidly bump inside to be tackled.

15
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:57am

Re#8

There were 3 potential INT chances though i though No. 2 on the slant was a tough one, but the other 2 were more straight forward.

I thought that the Colts-Giants game turned on the phantom and non-existent PI call. The next play was when Eli hee-howed a poor throw for an INT and the match was as good as over

Extra: I think someone needs to tell Shockey that when he near the sideline inside the 2 min, he has to get out of bounds and not stupidly bump inside to be tackled.

16
by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:06pm

I was encouraged by most facets of the 'Hawks special teams--Willie Ponder looked like a really nice pickup. And Jimmy Williams didn't muff any punts, so that's nice. But someone's going to have to remind the O-line to hold their blocks on FGs--that was pathetic.

In general, the 'Hawks O-line got beaten like a rented mule most of the day (especially--gulp--Womack at LG). Is the Lions' D-line really that good, and I just haven't been paying attention? Shaun Rogers, I get it, but he wasn't the only Lion disrupting the offense yesterday. And Fernando Bryant made some heady plays yesterday, too.

At least it looks like the 'Hawks will get a chance to get right against the Cardinals at home next week. That's quite an offensive display the 49ers put on against the Cardinals' D.

17
by Senor Eseban Spielbergo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:07pm

Will Carroll: Did that sound like a boo when Trent Green was being wheeled off the field?

Russell Levine: It did. I have to think that was a reaction to the replay being shown in the stadium or something.

I was at the game. We were saying "boo-urns."

17
by noah of the ark (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:07pm

I thought Vick did look more comfortable. Yes, he overthrew a few balls, and maybe it was just great play calling, but he seemed to be a functional part of the offense.
It's probably a lot easier when you run for 250+ yards instead of, say, next week, but let's watch.

About the Dolphins, I'll have my crow crispy fried, please.

19
by Tony (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:08pm

I believe the kid in the nike commercials is noel devine.... watch a video of him on youtube and you'll see why he gets his own commercials.

20
by Adam (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:08pm

Re#8
Peyton and the Colts were extremely lucky last night. That was a BAD win. Peyton was pressured often and could have left last night with 2-4 int. instead of 1. Where was the Colts pass rush? Oh yeah, allowing Tiki to run for 7 yards a carry.

21
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:10pm

I have to say, I like FO's statistical analysis, I love the contrast to the usual talking head commentary, and I appreciate the way that FO looks critically at the conventional wisdom -- but Audibles is the most fun read. "Thanks for sharing", guys.

22
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:13pm

14/15: The game didn't turn on that call, the Giants had already made enough mistakes to cost them the game, and didn't deserve to win. Also, there's no rule that after a bad call, the QB is required to throw a stupid intereception.

23
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:16pm

One other bizarre note on the GB/CHI game. Did anyone watch the game and notice that the Bears bailed themselves out of a huge loss of yardage with an essentially illegal play? I'm referring to a HB pass by Thomas Jones back to Grossman. The play was supposed to go downfield but GB covered it and Jones ran backwards about 20 yards behind the LOS. He then threw to Grossman just as he was about to go down, who turned the play into only a 4 yard loss.

The kicker: this drew a flag because Grossman was ineligible (presumably because he lined up under center and not in the shotgun, but I'm not positive on this rule). However GB was only given the choice between an illegal touching penalty and taking the play. Gb chose the 4 yard loss and loss of down rather than accept the penalty (5 yds but repeat the down).

What I want to know is why was this allowed? I think it's just because illegal touching wasn't intended to deal with this kind of bail out play, but in my opinion Thomas Jones should have been flagged for intentional grounding because the catch was 15 yards behind the LOS and Grossman, who was ineligible, was the only Bear in sight. It's a rare situation to deal with, but either the refs screwed this call up or the illegal touching rule needs tweaking, because a team should not be able to save themselves 16 yards with an illegal pass completion.

24
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:17pm

And here I was expecting someone to say "Ladies and gentlemen, your Loser League MVP... Breet Favre!"

Also, since I am a Philly hockey fan, I can say that Simon Gagne is far from the first player I'd bring up if I had a shot to heckle Bobby Clarke. In football terms, it's like deciding to get on Matt Millen for signing Jeff Garcia. Sure, not a sterling move, but there's so much better choices.

25
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:17pm

Nope, wedge, if the Giants had just caught Peyton's errant throws, it would have been a far different game. Combined witht ehother factors outlined above, it becomes pretty undeniable that the Giants blew a game that they should have won comfortably.

I watched the first half of GB/Chi, and although one really shouldn't put too much stock in week one performances, The Pack looked indescribably bad on defense. Grossman made a throw early on that was a candidate for worst decision by a QB yesterday, but other than that, the feeling I had was that Green Bay would have had trouble stopping USC yesterday, so it is really hard to say how well the Bears played.

I didn't see Tampa get smacked by the Ravens, and I can't imagine they are as bad as that score indicates, but Green Bay may be. Not trying to trade Favre in the off-season may go down as one of the worst blunders made by any team since the end of last year, and Favre not trying to get out of there may have been an abominable bit of managing the end of a career.

Also, I think Parcells would wise to play Romo, as much I try to avoid falling into the trap of overrating the back-up qb. Flozell Adams just doesn't have enough mobility right now to be effective against a fast edge rusher, and Bledsoe can only play well if he is completely unpressured.

26
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:19pm

#3: In the spirit of zlionsfan, I humbly submit the following template for complaining about the games discussed in Audibles:

comments on and nothing on ?

Really, you guys

27
by oppenheimer\\\'s pen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:20pm

re.15: I don't understand how the PI call took over eli's brain and made him throw a glittering rainbow to the colts. The giants probably sealed the loss when eli handed it off to tiki barber's face instead of his hands.

28
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:20pm

23: I beleive you are correct that it should have been intentional grounding, assuming that Jones was not outside the tackle box, of course. Of course, it's hard call a pass intentional grounding when the pass was caught.

29
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:21pm

OK, the HTML worked in the preview. I'll try it again.

30
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:22pm

Ned Macey,

The Colts have never had much of a running game against quality defenses. Do you need a list of all the examples? They can't run because they have a poor O-line. Giants went nickel on 1st down for the same reason the Steelers went Dime w/ only 2 linemen last year -- they had no respect for the soft O-line (see e.g. Porter, LB Pitt.).

Why should that change because Edge left?

31
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:25pm

In the spirit of zlionsfan, I humbly submit the following template for complaining about the games discussed in Audibles:

Square brackets used instead of angle brackets to avoid more HTML screwups.

[Number] comments on [game that was discussed] and nothing on [game that was not discussed]? [Anecdotal comment about something interesting in game that was not discussed.]

Really, you guys [statement implying lack of interest in or respect for one of the teams playing the game that was not discussed.]

32
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:27pm

Carolina were shocking yesterday, really bad. While this may be week 1 madness, (see Denver @ Miami last year), their O-line in particular stunk. I know they lost their LT fairly early, but that didn't make a huge difference. John Abraham played really well, but on a number of occasions the Panthers left Brad Hoover to block him one-on-one, and that went as badly as you might imagine.

Senor Mexico was pretty effective yesterday. His throwing was fairly erratic, but he ran really well, and really smartly too. When he took off (mostly on designed running plays) he was looking to avoid contact and get OB, which wasn't something I'd seen before, and he had one scramble which was pure Donovan McNabb. Vick did his crazy stuff in the backfield, but kept looking down the field for a pass, found one and got about 8 yds to Warrick Dunn (I think). Not a huge completion but in previous seasons he'd have just pulled it down and run. If he's learning not to get hit when running and to scramble to buy time for a pass it can only be good for the Falcons. Now he just has to stop overthrowng 6"6' recievers by 3 feet...

33
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:27pm

The Packers might be working on a mythically bad pass defense. The last time I saw Bear WRs open by several yards downfield, Erik Kramer was their quarterback.

34
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:27pm

The Packers might be working on a mythically bad pass defense. The last time I saw Bear WRs open by several yards downfield, Erik Kramer was their quarterback.

35
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:28pm

I should amend: the last time I saw Bears WRs open by several yards downfield (AGAINST TEAMS OTHER THAN THE VIKINGS), Erik Kramer was the quarterback.

36
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:31pm

Re: Philly/Houston

Tim Gerheim: “All the great coaches throw more in the first half to get the lead, and then run in the second half to preserve it,� said the color commentator during the Texans-Eagles game. I can’t remember if I’ve ever heard a talking head say that before. Maybe we’re having an impact.

I'm pretty sure that was one of the commentators (I forget which one) quoting Andy Reid.

And can anyone ever remember a team using two complete defensive lines and subbing them as a unit. That seems like, if you have the players to pull it off, a brilliant move. Not only do you keep everyone fresh, but everyone on both lines gets to know each other and would seemingly develop better chemistry.

37
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:33pm

Of the four teams that were supposed to be battling for the AFC crown, only the Steelers looked good, assuming that Batch won’t continue as thier starting QB. The Colts, Patriots and Broncos didn’t look sharp at all.

Keep in mind it was only the first game of the season. The Steelers had the least turnover of the four teams that you mentioned, so it's natural that they should be the most likely to pick up where they left off last year.

Also, the Colts were playing a pretty talented team, while the Pats and Broncos were playing teams with new HC's, which means absolutely no film on their tendencies. A new HC is generally a liability in the long haul, but it can give you a short term edge for a game or two (much like bringing in a young, uncsouted QB) because you're unpredictable. This is especially true against teams whose strength is good coaching and scheming, which is the case for the Broncos and Pats. The Steelers, on the other hand, were playing one of the most overhyped and overrated teams so far this year (in thie Pats fan's opinion).

38
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:34pm

#25 - Heh heh... Will Allen is talking about dropped INTs by the Giants... (Sorry, Will - I couldn't resist)

Anyway, I agree with you. Too much went wrong to pin the Giants loss entirely on either Eli or the refs. Before they ever got to the iffy penalty, the Giants already had:

9 legit boneheaded penalties
2 dropped INTs on scoring drives (including 1 in the end zone)
1 fumbled handoff at midfield
1 missed 40 yard FG

I'm a Giants fan, and I'm plenty upset about the PI call, but that's not what cost them the game.

39
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:36pm

I'm glad I wasn't the only one impressed by Ronnie Brown, though. It's weird to say about someone with his statline for that game, but he did look really, really good. A lot of RB's would have had even worse stats--he consistenly turned 2-3 yard losses into 2 yard gains. In my opinion, I'd far rather have him than Willie Parker, who kind of epitomized "boom or bust" RB in that game, at least to my eye. Parker either broke for 10-20+ yards, or got stopped for no gain.

40
by Al Bogdan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:36pm

#24: Not after Mike Nugent's stellar -4 point loser league day. Nothing like a missed XP.

41
by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:39pm

RE: 23

That was a head scratcher of a play. Since it went my team's way, though, I assumed the refs were being fair and vigilent: )

As for the rest of you. I am pulling the "no respect" card for the Beloved Bears on this entire thread, except Arkein, who has shown an appropriate level of respect.

The rest of you have been warned. (pointing finger menacingly)

42
by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:44pm

RE: 34 & 35

Pacifist, your characterization of the history of Bears WRs is painfully accurate. I hope yesterday's performance is a sign of things to come, rather than a Week 1 aberration.

43
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:50pm

Re: 23, 28, 41

Maybe I am not remembering the details correctly, but I thought that Jones ran to the right, well outside the pocket, then ran backwards and back to the left (his right because he was running backwards) and then made the pass. Because he left the pocket, the refs couldn't call intentional grounding if the ball passed the line of scrimmage. However, the ball did not pass the line of scrimmage, as Arkaein pointed out, so it seems to me that Arkaein has a point. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some other quirk to the intentional grounding rule that trumps this interpretation.

What I want to know is why is there a rule that prevents a QB from being an eligible receiver in that situation? It seems to me that all that rule does is prevent exciting plays and stifle innovation.

44
by dbt (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:55pm

The QB is eligible if he lines up in the backfield, but not under center. I'm sure there's a reason for this, but it seems kinda stupid to me.

45
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 12:59pm

Ahh, I was missing Audibles. :-)

The Rams-Broncos game has been pretty well dissected. Although there was more to the game, it was basically Plummer losing it for the Broncos.

I'm most disappointed at Shanahan's gameplan and his complete inability to adjust. You can call it a strength to have a good scheme, but you need to have a fallback plan when your scheme isn't working. Denver never seems able to adjust, in especially stark contrast to the Pats today.

The only positive for Denver was the defense, which at one time faced 22 straight plays inside their own 20 including 1st and goal from the 3, and only gave up 2 field goals in that stretch. Champ Bailey got beaten a few times, but that's Torry Holt, he ain't too shabby. He did make some amazing open field tackles. Darrent Williams held up his own end and made some good plays. 3 sacks without much blitzing; the D line did its job. John Lynch is a clear liability in coverage; I wish they'd take him off the field on passing downs. Gold even dropped an INT; the ball bounced off his hands. A big play from the D could have sparked the team like it did last year against SD, but there weren't any this game.

Can't be too gloomy though. The two big worries of Broncos fans for this season were the running game and the pass rush. Both looked just fine.

46
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:07pm

Bill Barnwell: "Quite a few NFL GMs would’ve taken Laurence Maroney as their first running back in this draft�, he said. I find that slightly difficult to believe.

Peter King reported in April that Mike Shanahan said of Laurence Maroney: "I loved him," Shanahan said. "I think the Patriots got a steal. An absolute steal. I think he's going to be the best back in the league."

47
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:13pm

All the usual remarks about the infallibility of hindsight aside, I am a little miffed that I didn't predict with 100% confidence as to what the effect of an injured Steve Smith would have on Jake Delhomme and the Panthers' offense. I really like watching him play, but here's hoping that he doesn't get back to his spectacular form until week three, after the Vikings play Carolina.

48
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:14pm

31: You beat me to it.

Two comments on ATL/CAR and nothing on NO/CLE? Payton used Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister in the best possible manner, even after both fullbacks went down.

Really, you guys must be avoiding the Saints now that Aaron Brooks is gone and they're only exciting for non-UIC reasons.

:)

49
by Rob Hammond (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:17pm

For the GB/Chi game: I watched the botched pass play with Jones and it sure looked to me like he was way outside the takles when he threw the ball, so no intentional grounding here. I'm pretty sure that the Zebras got this one right.

50
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:23pm

Maroney might be good, but there's no way he'd be drafted before Bush. Still, I want to see how he does against a non Big-12 defense. What do you mean the Bills have are an NFL defense, not a Big-12 defense?

51
by Mac (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:24pm

If you'd ever watched any college football coverage, you'd know it was DeMeco Ryans, not D'Meco.

52
by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:24pm

Did anyone watch the Cleveland-NO game? I'm curious about Winslow's play - did he look good, or did he just pile up catches and a TD because the NO defense was terrible?

53
by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:24pm

Did anyone watch the Cleveland-NO game? I'm curious about Winslow's play - did he look good, or did he just pile up catches and a TD because the NO defense was terrible?

54
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:26pm

#30
The Colts don't have success running the ball against quality defenses . . . you didn't take that far enough . . . they don't have success pass protecting against quality defenses either. Peyton barely missed some sacks with some uncharacteristic footwork. In fact, the reason Peyton is sacked so few times (in the regular season) is because he gets rid of the ball so quickly. He has learned to deal with the poor blocking.

55
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:32pm

#30
Makes you wonder how good Edge could have been with a decent O-line.

56
by centrifuge (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:36pm

19: If it is Noel Divine, why don't they call him Noel instead of Ryan (or Brian, as Aaron said -- either one)? They used Urlacher's name, and I don't see why they would have changed it. I was of the opinion that it was just a random kid who ends up being the star.

39: Parker didn't have many no-gains. He had lots of 2-yard runs, but I agree that Ronnie Brown's 2-yard runs were more impressive.

57
by jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:40pm

remember guys

caroilna
seattle
denver

all lost week 1 last year

58
by jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:40pm

remember guys

caroilna
seattle
denver

all lost week 1 last year

59
by jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:41pm

remember guys

caroilna
seattle
denver

all lost week 1 last year

60
by jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 1:41pm

remember guys

caroilna
seattle
denver

all lost week 1 last year

61
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 2:22pm

re:50, what makes you think that Cleveland's defence is better than Buffalo's.

Conventional wisdom tells me that buffalo's is probably much better than Clevelands.

62
by Marko (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 2:22pm

"In the Nike Briscoe High commercial, who is 'Brian,' the kid who is supposed to be Deion Sanders’s son?"

Actually, his name in the commercial is "Ryan," not to be confused with the "Brian" in the commercial (Urlacher). I presume people noticed that the girl who says "Hi" to Ryan in the hallway is Jillian Barberie. And what is the name of the woman playing Deion's wife/Ryan's mother?

On the Thomas Jones pass: The penalty was called correctly. As dbt points out, Grossman was ineligible because he lined up under center, not in the shotgun. The play obviously was a broken play and was not designed to go to Grossman.

Thomas Jones did leave the tackle box, as CA points out, running around for what seemed like an eternity. But that didn't matter because (as pointed out above) the pass was caught. In addition, aren't the rules different for intentional grounding if the passer is not the quarterback? Can someone who knows the rule explain whether the rule for intentional grounding is different if the person throwing the ball did not receive the snap directly?

As for the Bears, that was an utterly dominant performance from the first snap of the game to the last. Green Bay is awful, but the Bears played extremely well in all phases. Other than his terribly ill-advised pass that was intercepted, Grossman was very sharp, and Muhsin Muhammad had a great game. The defense was outstanding as usual, and the special teams were great. Robbie Gould was solid, and Devin Hester put the icing on the cake with his 84-yard punt return TD. (Anyone who saw how explosive Hester looked in the preseason on punt returns, and who saw how pathetic the Packers looked on punt return coverage in the preseason, shouldn't have been surprised that Hester took one to the house.)

63
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:00pm

61: Cleveland's rush DVOA last year was ranked 26th, Buffalo's was ranked 31st. I didn't see anything to indicate that Buffalo got any better in the off season.

64
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:16pm

Re 49, 62: Thomas Jones was obviously outside the tackles, but the pass was caught about 15 yards behind the LoS, and wouldn't have come near the LoS had it not been caught, so I'm pretty sure intentional grounding could have been called. I'm not usre if the rules are different for non-QBs throwing, but I'm pretty sure I have seen intentional grounding from a non-QB before somewhere.

In any case, my complaint isn't so much that the refs might have gotten the call wrong, because with such a bizarre play there might not be a rule that really cover the situation. What gets me is that a team should not be able to bail itself out by completing an illegal pass to avoid losing yardage. If a QB tried to get out of a 20 yard sack by throwing to an offensive lineman 10 yards behind the LoS, with no eligible receivers in the area, then intentional grounding would be an obvious call. For consistency I think this ought to apply to any PASSER (not just QBs) and any INELIGIBLE RECEIVER. This is just my opinion though.

For what it's worth I think that QBs lined up under center should be eligible receivers under any situation. it would be simpler and allow a few more interesting plays.

65
by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:28pm

Pennington isn’t an elite quarterback? Really? In the two seasons when he had more than 300 attempts, he posted the #1 and #6 DVOA in the league. That sounds pretty elite to me.

Much of the speculation about the Jets’ terribleness seemed to assume that Pennington was either going to not play or was going to be ineffective, as he was when he tried to play hurt last year. But he looked healthy all preseason, so no one should be really surprised by his performance. While there are no elite receivers in the group, it may actually be the best all-around corps in the division, as there are five solid players (this speaks more to the poor state of receiving corps in the AFC East than anything). Yes, Pac-Man Jones can help any passing attack look good, but the important thing is that Pennington showed he was able to make strong, accurate throws at every depth level. His recovery is every bit as big a deal as Daunte Culpepper’s arrival in terms of the overall AFC East picture.

66
by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:37pm

Who cares about the kid's name!???!?? You're telling me that Don Schula can't win a high school football game (with Urlacher, Vick, LT and who knows who else) without a last second halfback option pass? I'm not sure what I like best about the ad spot, JJ lecturing Urlacher about history or Schula taking the ball out of Vick's hands with the game on the line. oh well, click-clack everyone.

67
by kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:48pm

Simms has some weird Laurence Maroney agenda going on. “Quite a few NFL GMs would’ve taken Laurence Maroney as their first running back in this draft�, he said. I find that slightly difficult to believe.
I don't know about "quite a few", but Denver at least went on record calling Maroney the best RB in the draft this year.

I really hope that the NFL shows STL-DEN as one of their midweek replay games on NFL Network, as part of that new feature. I want to know what the heck happened to the Rams defense: massive improvement, or luck, or just one-week fluke?
I think a lot of it was offensive ineptitude on Denver's part. There were a TON of dropped passes (insert Seahawks reference here), including 3 or 4 from Javon Walker alone, an uncharacteristic drop or two from Rod Smith, and a pass to Tony Scheffler that actually hit him in the helmet. Also, for some reason, Denver's pass blocking was also uncharacteristically horrible. Someone was in Plummer's face all day, and we all know what happens when Plummer gets pressured. One or two of the Ints weren't totally his fault (one of them went right through his receivers hands and into the waiting hands of the DB, and another was a deflected pass), and the fumble was just a blindside hit that caught him by surprise, but he really wasn't looking comfortable out there.

Re #63:Cleveland’s rush DVOA last year was ranked 26th, Buffalo’s was ranked 31st. I didn’t see anything to indicate that Buffalo got any better in the off season.
TKO Spikes?

68
by Grouchy Bills Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:53pm

Re a few previous comments about Willis McGahee. His stats for the Pats game were similar this to his preseason stats. A bunch of great runs. A bunch of runs where he gets tackled in the backfield and loses yardage. So you can blame it on the OL instead of on Willis, but you still lose the game. Pray for Takeo.

69
by FalcFan Derek (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:53pm

Man, I can tell there is some predetermined biases here. :shakes head:

70
by Phil (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:57pm

re:36

And can anyone ever remember a team using two complete defensive lines and subbing them as a unit. That seems like, if you have the players to pull it off, a brilliant move. Not only do you keep everyone fresh, but everyone on both lines gets to know each other and would seemingly develop better chemistry.

Not only that but it could create a nice little rivalry between the two lines. Right now the backup line is leading the first team line, three sacks to one.

71
by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 3:59pm

Who was the mascot in that commercial? He seemed familiar but I didn't get a good look. That commercial is very irritating for a number of reasons...

The Bears played well, the Pack still sucks, and if the Vikes lose tonight then Chicago will sit all alone atop the North. At least I don't have to keep reminding myself about 2002. The Bears may actually be one of the better teams.

72
by David Mazzotta (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:15pm

...having your position coach drive around nude makes a defensive line turn into the 70s Steelers...

If they can get Martz to order his morning Sausage Mcmuffin the buff, the Lions become the odds on Super Bowl favorites.

73
by Nate (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:32pm

71 - Lee Corso

74
by Bad Doctor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:32pm

I think the mascot is Joe Namath, but he's there and gone so quickly.

The halfback option? Hey, why wouldn't they want the best passer in their backfield to make the throw with the game on the line?

Mike, you have me beat ... we only had Aaron Rowand at our sports bar. And he was there for the Bears game, not the Birds.

75
by Nate (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:32pm

71 - Lee Corso

76
by Josh Ballard (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:56pm

As someone who was at the Browns game, here are some comments...

1. Their 1st half offense was one of the worst displays I've ever seen. Abandoned the run almost completely after like 2 bad carries.

2. Things got better in the 2nd half, but in a manner that I hope doesn't continue - namely, Charlie Frye scrambling. Besides the rushing TD, he had a total of 8 carries for 44 yards IIRC, and had to scramble on some of his completed passes as well. It's good to know he's capable of pulling this stuff off, but he'll get killed if it continues.

3. The running game never did get a rhythm going. In the 2nd half there were a few fairly long runs, but also quite a few stuffed attempts.

4. Note to fantasy owners: Droughns was pulled for Harrison on the majority of short-yardage plays. I wouldn't be surprised if this continues either, as Droughns was and is so terrible in short-yardage that you cannot blame it all on just the O-line.

5. Given the lack of pass protection and the poor running game against THE FREAKING SAINTS, the line is the clear culprit. There wasn't any one guy I noticed, the whole line just didn't seem to have any chemistry. Hopefully this works itself out soon!

6. The red-zone defense was tremendous, as they were within the 10-yard line 5 times and only gave up 1 TD. Allowing the opponent to get that far down that often is a real problem though. The main problem is, if they run to the outside and avoid Ted Washington, we can't stop it.

7. Braylon Edwards was more or less invisible - until the drop that clinched the loss. Just hoping this is typical WR inconsistency.

8. The one big positive to come from this game was Winslow. It was not just a function of the Saints' crappy D...he was consistently making moves and breaking tackles after the catch. Will definitely be a major focus of the offense, especially with the news that Jurevicius is out 4-6 weeks.

9. Brees looked quite rusty, not as bad as Culpepper but not very good. Also, Joe Horn appears to have legitimately jumped the shark.

10. On the other hand, the Saints' running game is vastly improved. They are basically doing the USC backfield, with Deuce as LenDale White, and it's a perfect role for both guys really. For fantasy purposes, both appear to be good #3 RBs...in PPR leagues, or leagues with yardage bonuses, bump Bush up to "solid #2".

11. One last fantasy note...Marques Colston could be a nice waiver-wire pickup. He looked good and got the Saints' lone TD, and they are very high on him in general. IIRC, they even directly said that his improvement was one of the main reasons they were willing to trade Stallworth. He definitely has the size to be a consistent red-zone target, and with Horn's apparent decline he could catch a good number of balls. In some leagues he's even considered a TE, and is a must-have in that case.

77
by Mitch Cumstein (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:57pm

Aaron Schatz: OK, someone tell me why I allowed people to talk me out of my original KUBIAK projection that had Michael Jenkins as this year’s biggest breakout wide receiver? “Oh, no, Roddy White is the number one guy,� everyone said to me.

I can see the raw stats, but its not like Jenkins had a ton of catches, either, he had the one big play down the sideline. What were the targets to each player, and how were they used? Basically, is Jenkins and not R. White the guy, or is it going to be a random thing depending on which guy actually gets fewer passes zipped 20 yards over his head on a given week?

I have to put Joe Jurevicius on injured now, so I can pick up a WR. I have Roddy White. The available free agents that played well in week 1 are Jerricho Cotchery, Michael Jenkins, Reggie Williams, and Marques Colston. Oh, and Bobby Wade's out there too, probably going to pass on that one. For those who saw either game, who should I target, Cotchery or Jenkins, and why?

78
by Mitch Cumstein (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 4:57pm

Aaron Schatz: OK, someone tell me why I allowed people to talk me out of my original KUBIAK projection that had Michael Jenkins as this year’s biggest breakout wide receiver? “Oh, no, Roddy White is the number one guy,� everyone said to me.

I can see the raw stats, but its not like Jenkins had a ton of catches, either, he had the one big play down the sideline. What were the targets to each player, and how were they used? Basically, is Jenkins and not R. White the guy, or is it going to be a random thing depending on which guy actually gets fewer passes zipped 20 yards over his head on a given week?

I have to put Joe Jurevicius on injured now, so I can pick up a WR. I have Roddy White. The available free agents that played well in week 1 are Jerricho Cotchery, Michael Jenkins, Reggie Williams, and Marques Colston. Oh, and Bobby Wade's out there too, probably going to pass on that one. For those who saw either game, who should I target, Cotchery or Jenkins, and why?

79
by Kyle (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:07pm

Re 38:
Agreed, but I would like to amend the number of legit boneheaded penalties (before the phantom call on Carter) from 9 to 7, because the stadium didn't see Toomer flinch and the crackback block call on Burress was downright absurd. They hit each other in the helmet/shoulders.

While watching the game, the scoreboard would regularly cycle through the various statistics and whatnot, and I kept thinking aloud "there is no effing way Eli is 14/21 right now", and this continued until the final bell. Statistically he had a fine game but watching him I could've swore he was burdening the offense with a sub-50% completion rating.

That and its always irritating to see a team average 6 yards per carry with two different running backs throw on 1st and 10 multiple times in the 3rd Quarter. Post-game, Carl Banks revealed that during the 2nd Quarter, he and Lawrence Taylor were on the sidelines and LT told him "the Colts front seven is no bigger than their secondary... none of these guys can get off the blocks". Its not like that was a mere observation of size that didn't translate into gameplay, as the Giants offensive line, and thus running backs, ran roughshod over the Colts defense. Thus there was no damned reason to ever throw on 1st and 10 unless you're going deep to take advantage of Sanders walking up into the box. Naturally, their 1st and 10 throws were of the short-to-barely intermediate variety.

80
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:16pm

Link to the commercial in name.

81
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:16pm

Re: 62

And what is the name of the woman playing Deion’s wife/Ryan’s mother?

Jill Arrington

82
by Marko (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:36pm

That was Jill Arrington? Wow, I didn't recognize her.

83
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:44pm

No mention of the horrible decision by the Lions to punt from the Hawks 37 on 4th and 3, near the end of a tie game.

Also to add some commentary on the SF/AZ game, Warner sliced and diced the 9ers when he had time and then when they started getting pressure he was pretty hilarious. He had at least 5 throws that either were called or were borderline grounding, including one of the more effeminate efforts I've ever seen.

84
by Finnegans Wake (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:45pm

Speaking of Lee Corso, did anyone catch the "Lee Corso Has a Baby Arm" sign this past weekend? LOL! WTF does that even MEAN?!?

Hard to find anything that tops last year's simple yet effective "Lee Corso is a Bastard."

85
by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:47pm

DavidH (51)- Kellen Winslow looked healthy and dominant like a huge WR when he was running pass routes. He made more than one nice circus catch in the game, though I recall one of them on a 2nd TD being called back on a penalty. I can't tell you how he looked when not catching passes, as I was mainly focusing on other games and only looked over to the NO-CLE tv for highlights.

86
by Eorr (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 5:59pm

: “All the great coaches throw more in the first half to get the lead, and then run in the second half to preserve it,�

This was not a reflection of his actual viewpoint.

The commentator was acctually referring to what Andy Reid talked told him in an interview before the game. He had prefaced the statement with, "I was talking to Andy Reid about how he scripts the first 15 plays of the game and...."

In my oponion he sounded mildly dubious about the statement.

At least on quality Offensive coach gets it and explains why he threw sooo much last year.

87
by underthebus (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 6:04pm

from deadspin "What to watch as you wonder what the heck ever happpened to that third Manning brother ..." i thought the same thing. And wasn't that funny seeing Peyton whine about not tugging on his jersey?

88
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 6:05pm

83: How late in the game was it?

Late in the fourth, didn't Hanson missed a 50+ yard field goal? And the way the offense was going, they couldn't have had much confidence in picking up 3 yards.

Just wondering, since I was only flipping to the game occasionally.

89
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 6:14pm

#87: If memory serves me right, the third Manning brother was a WR whose career ended in college due to a spinal condition. It's unfortunate, too, because he was a deceptively fast fan favorite who ran good routes and was an excellent blocker.

90
by Bad Doctor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 6:14pm

re: 81 ... I thought it was Maria Sharapova. You can definitely pick up on a foreign accent, and Sharapova is Nike-affiliated.

91
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 7:33pm

George, your memory serves you well. I read an article about him in SI a few months ago (complete with the pronunciation guide: something like Cup-per instead of Coo-per), and there are several Google links to similar stories.

I think the rule about an I-formation-type QB not being eligible is in the same category as requiring WRs/RBs to be on an end of the line or behind it. It doesn't seem like much of a big deal, but there must be something about trick plays (or perhaps standard plays at the time) that prompted the rule changes.

Unless someone asks Jerry Markbreit, I'm not sure if we'll ever know, but it does seem as though the officials should have flagged Jones for intentional grounding as well as Grossman for illegal touching. Maybe it was just a case of a very strange play, the kind the Sporting News used to ask about back in the day, and the refs simply didn't know what to call.

92
by Are-Tee (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 8:12pm

Re. #65: Well said, Sean.

Pennington and Jets detractors - you will have your come-uppance! (I hope.)

93
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 10:10pm

7. What was the Eagles gameplan supposed to be before we got Stalloworth? Was Jabar Gaffney supposed to run those routes?

Nope. Gaffney was supposed to be a slot receiver. Pinkston was supposed to run those routes, who was the X-receiver in previous years. Failing Pinkston, it was supposed to be Baskett, who was the starting X receiver in the preseason.

They never planned on having Baskett start in the regular season if they could avoid it. Him, along with Avant and Brown, give them a young trio with ridiculous potential, but split end isn't exactly a position you want a rookie playing. Too risky.

94
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 10:36pm

I want to know what the heck happened to the Rams defense...

No more Larry Marmie. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Seattle secondary.

95
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:32pm

Re: 90

Sharapova is barely 18, if she is at all...that would be just creepy. I'm pretty sure that it's Jill Arrington.

96
by Nick W. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:32am

Are the Rams for real or was it just an abhoration. Their defense actually WON them a game. I can't remember the last time that was true. The offense was less than spectacular, however.

97
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:25am

re: 88 I think about 3 minutes left. 4th and 3 on the 37. I wouldn't have tried to kick the FG, I'd have gone for it. footballcommentary says you only need to succeed 35% of the time to make going for it worthwhile.

Just think about it for a while, the average net yardage you'll get out of a punt can't be more than about 22-25, is that worth giving up a 50-50 shot of your own FG attempt?

98
by R.J. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 4:52am

#96
I'm not sure if the Rams defense is for real or even if it "won" the game by itself (SJax had a lot to do with it), but Little played like a monster and the secondary showed great ball-hawking skills. Mostly though the Broncos self-destructed with a terrible play calling. They continually put the offense in general and Plummer in particular in situations that "played to their weakness". If the Broncos don't pass out of play action (preferably with Plummer on the move), they don't pass well. The O-line can't pass block much and Plummer doesn't make many good throws just standing in the pocket. Why they tried so many straight-drop-back pass plays (especially on 1st down) when they were successful running the ball would be baffling until you remember that Heimerdinger has taken over Kubiak's role. (And this Bronco fan's worst fears were realized, at least for one game.) I can only hope Shanahan learns from this and gets the Broncos' offense back to what it does best.

98
by T. Owens (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 4:52am

That commercial is getting a bit overplayed, but I do like Leinart toting the clipboard. And Corso as the mascot is a nice touch.

100
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:20am

76: If the Saints don't lose both fullbacks in the first quarter, the game gets out of hand. And maybe Gibbs is a better DC than Venturi was. Just a hunch.

Regarding Cooper Manning, who is the first, not the third Manning brother, he was probably the best athlete of the three. He started off as a QB, moved to WR in high school, and signed with Ole Miss. He had a degenerative spinal condition which ended his career, and he's doing well in business now. For those who like to bash the Mannings, you've obviously never met any of them. Archie is a genuinely nice guy who refuses to put pressure on his sons and does NOT live vicariously through them. Olivia would be completely miscast as a super villian, as she is one of the sweetest people on the planet.

101
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:21am

#98: I've read a couple of other things implying that Steven Jackson had a good game. Where's that from? Take away his last two runs (inside the 2 minute warning against a Denver D that had given up after Plummer's last INT) and he was 20 for 71. He went nowhere in the red zone and dropped a couple of balls too.

102
by Ken S. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:41am

#95: Sharapova is 19. Acts 29 until she wins a major and screams like, well, a teenager.

Pennington looked very sharp. OL for Jets didn't look bad considering 3 rookies on the left after the 1st Q. The pass blocking looked better than run blocking all preseason, and Sunday was a continuation.

How bad are the Raiders? I mean, really.

103
by MKH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:48am

101: I completely agree. I don't understand why so many people are saying he had a great performance. I was following the game, and I wasn't particularly impressed. Guess I shouldn't have taken him in the first round.

104
by DWL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:26pm

Before FO, I used to think most commentators were idiots, now, thanks to FO, I know they're idiots. Thanks FO.

105
by Yuri (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:28pm

Off topic a little bit, but I just saw a PFP reference in the mainstream philly media. This deals with the injury to Lito Sheppard.

"According to Pro Football Prospectus 2006, Hood was the third-best cornerback in the NFL last season at stopping pass plays that were targeted in his direction. Teammate Sheldon Brown ranked fourth and Sheppard was 79th. The same publication listed Hood as allowing the fewest amount of yards on passes thrown his way, with a 4.9-yard average. Sheppard ranked 81st in the league with a 10.4-yard average."

Click on name for link.

106
by billvv (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:08pm

Re: Jets v. Titans
The rookie line is better than last years mess that cost the Jets two QBs. Line blocking for the run will be coming next, then it won't matter who the running back is.

107
by Rodafowa (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:43pm

Random note from the mother country:

Mike Carlson, who does a great job analysing the Sunday/Monday night games when they're shown on Channel Five in the UK, had a copy of PFP 2006 on the desk in front of him for last night's game.

I was sort've hoping he might batter Colin Murray to death with it by the end of the broadcast, but hey - maybe next week.

108
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 7:57pm

I was sort’ve hoping he might batter Colin Murray to death with it by the end of the broadcast, but hey - maybe next week.

Ha ha. Now 1002 uses for PFP2006. Gets rid of pesky commentators!

Great to have Audibles back, guys! So now I'll do the cheeping hungry little bird thing: "When's DVOA for the week going to be out?" :-) Mmmmmmm, data...

109
by T. Owens (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 9:22pm

"Archie is a genuinely nice guy who refuses to put pressure on his sons and does NOT live vicariously through them."

Um, are you a mind-reader or something? Archie seems to inject himself into an awful lot of his sons' affairs (a la the draft thing), and if your sons following in your exact professional footsteps doesn't mean living at least a tiny little bit through them vicariously, then brother, I don't know what does.

110
by R.J. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:11am

101 & 103
Re: S. Jackson's game, it's all relative I guess. The Broncos have been fairly stingy with their run defense the past couple years and SJax gashed them as well as just about anyone has (except L. Johnson). He did have several carries for negative yds -- but he had several good runs more than the usual Denver gives up.

111
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 4:28am

Re #95: Re: 90

Sharapova is barely 18, if she is at all…that would be just creepy. I’m pretty sure that it’s Jill Arrington.
It is Jill Arrington. Her Wikipedia entry backs this up.

Re #101: #98: I’ve read a couple of other things implying that Steven Jackson had a good game. Where’s that from? Take away his last two runs (inside the 2 minute warning against a Denver D that had given up after Plummer’s last INT) and he was 20 for 71. He went nowhere in the red zone and dropped a couple of balls too

As a Denver fan who watched the game, I agree that SJax looked phenominal. While his early stats didn't look stellar, he was consistantly getting hit behind the line and dragging several defenders with him. An average RB would have been getting 2 fewer yards on every carry. Also, those long runs at the end were the game-clinchers (prior to that Denver still had a chance to get the ball back and mount a drive, but the late first downs killed that chance). And the fact that SJax was absent in the red zone is a reflection on Linehan, not SJax. The fact that St. Louis didn't run in the red zone was a huge reason why they didn't score any TDs in the red zone.

My impression during the entire game was that SJax looked like a very good runningback that Denver was managing to contain, not a mediocre RB that Denver was exposing.

112
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:19am

#67: Takeo Spikes was out for most of the game, so for that game at least, The Bills run defense was as bad as it was last year. Things should improve if he can stay in the lineup.