Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
04 Dec 2006
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.
Or: How Ryan Wilson Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Michael Vick
Ryan Wilson: On Atlanta's first drive, 13 minutes to go in the first quarter: One Vick pass, one Crumpler drop. I sense a theme for the day.
Washington's first drive: nine plays, 69 yards, all runs except for one really nice throw from Jason Campbell to Brandon Lloyd. DeAngelo Hall was in coverage, and every time I see him he's either getting beat (Hines Ward outrunning him to the end zone -- with one shoe -- comes to mind) or playing dirty. How is this guy not the most overrated player in the league?
Michael David Smith: Ladell Betts ran behind great blocking from left tackle Chris Samuels and fullback Mike Sellers for the game's first touchdown. Mike Pucillo, a reserve lineman playing tight end for Washington, had a good blocking day. There's a lot to like about the Redskins offense, even though it doesn't add up to a good team.
Ryan Wilson: Seven minutes to go in the first quarter: two Vick passes, two Crumpler drops.
The Falcons just got stuffed on a fourth-and-inches at midfield. Vick ran a sneak and actually lost inches. If the rest of the season plays out like the previous four weeks, I'm guessing Mora's gone, along with Knapp, and it'll be interesting to see what happens to Vick.
Meanwhile, on Washington's last drive, they ran the ball three times and threw it once. It just happened to be a 40-plus yard TD pass -- into double coverage -- from Campbell to Moss.
Props where props are due: On third-and-5, Vick play-actions and hits Crumpler in stride for a 20-plus yard gain. Great throw, great catch.
After trailing 14-0, the Falcons are now leading 17-14. The last TD resulted from Falcons DL Chauncey Davis intercepting a Campbell pass (Campbell's arm was hit as he was throwing) and returning it to the Atlanta 25 or so. Two plays later, Vick gets time and throws a laser to Michael Jenkins, who inexplicably doesn't drop it. By the way, the best thing about the Davis pick was that Grady Jackson was right next to him when he made the play and proceed to take two steps before seemingly saying, "Look, you know I'm not going to run downfield and block, and I know I'm not going to run downfield and block, so let's stop kidding ourselves right now." Jackson stopped running.
The Falcons' offense sucks and it has nothing to do with Vick. Ashley Lelie dropped a would-be first-down pass on second-and-15, and on the next play Vick scrambles for 17 yards, but it's called back because LT Wayne Gandy -- the human holding penalty -- gets his second flag of the game.
After a short scramble, Vick gets up slow, grabs his hammy and ... in comes Matt Schaub. Tim Ryan is working the game and initially said "Uh-oh" when Vick stayed down. My first thought was, "Well, Atlanta fans may get exactly what they've asked for." Of course, Schaub handed off, Dunn gained nine yards and Vick returned. So basically, disaster averted.
Mike Tanier: Vick had a relatively good game, but don't get too excited by the Falcons. Their run defense is terrible, and Allen Rossum is currently starting in the secondary. They just took advantage of a bad team with a novice QB this week.
Michael David Smith: Terrible drop by Ben Utecht of a pass right in his hands on third-and-7 to stop the Colts' first drive. Titans' first drive they start by running right at the heart of the Colts' D. Not a good start for Indy.
Russell Levine: The guy who writes "uni watch" on ESPN.com, Paul Lukas, better prepare for an email onslaught. Tennessee has broken out some light-blue pants to match the jerseys. I didn't think you could get much worse than the Seahawks' blueberry bodysuits with the neon-green accents, but these Titans' duds pull it off.
Doug Farrar: Drop by Marvin Harrison, which led to a Tennessee interception. Vince Young gave the ball back on the very next play. I think the Titans have a very good chance of pulling off the upset, though I would rather that they never win a game with the light blue unicolor unis. Some decisions just shouldn't be rewarded.
Russell Levine: More on uniforms -- this is the first time I've seen the refs in their cold-weather long black sweatpants. Awful. And speaking of those, how are the refs in Green Bay able to manage in their standard togs while those in Buffalo have gone to the sweats?
Maybe it's this whole BCS thing; I'm having a hard time concentrating on actual football today.
Aaron Schatz: You want to talk about bad uniforms? The Giants' red jerseys are bad enough, but they are made 100 times worse by those huge red socks. Yikes.
Mike Tanier: The Titans look like Care Bears. The Saints (all black with gold) look like Mystic Force Power Rangers. The Bills look great. The Giants' socks should have been hung by the chimney with care.
Doug Farrar: Dierdorf now criticizing Harrison for "dropping" a ball when the play was a catch and a tackle in which the ground caused Harrison to lose the ball. He leads the NFL in making me wonder which game he's watching when we're actually watching the same game.
Michael David Smith: Doug, I think you're being a little hard on Dierdorf there. I mean, the ball was in Harrison's hands and was then on the ground and ruled incomplete. Yeah, he took a hard hit on the play, but I think Dierdorf was correct to criticize him.
Doug Farrar: The ball shifted in his hands when the defender hit him, so I can see that. But I wouldn't call that a typical drop by any means -- he didn't actually "lose" the ball until he hit the ground. I'm guess I'm more prone to agree with criticism of a receiver when a drop is unassisted by a defender.
What I really didn't understand was the "inexcusable" comment -- sometimes a play is half the receiver and half the defender. That looked to be the case to me.
Michael David Smith: That I agree with, and I think Dierdorf was just adding to his previous comments about Harrison's first drop -- which really was inexcusable, although he made up for it with the TD.
I continue to have no clue what constitutes pass interference. Why wasn't Bob Sanders called for drilling Brandon Jones? Sure looked to me like the contact started before Jones touched the ball.
Doug Farrar: That's a whole lotta broken/whiffed tackles on Tennessee running backs. Indy's ranking of 29th in DVOA against the run becomes much easier to explain if this is a typical issue.
Mike Tanier: The Titans are a team that breaks a lot of tackles. Travis Henry has a lot of holes in his game, but the dude was always tough to tackle. Vince Young is tough to tackle. Teams are really going to stress wrapping up against these guys.
Michael David Smith: Tennessee's David Thornton had a big game against his former team. They miss him a lot.
Indianapolis had two straight false starts to stall its first drive. I just think too many Colts linemen make too many dumb mistakes, whether it's jumping or missing a blitzing linebacker.
Tennessee safety Chris Hope allowed Marvin Harrison to get all alone behind the secondary on his long touchdown catch. Pac-Man also struggled with Harrison.
Vince Young had a brilliant run to pick up a first down on third-and-4.
Aaron Schatz: Hey, DVOA knows something, Part I. Honestly, most of the story of this game is that the Colts CAN NOT STOP THE RUN. By the way, how strange is it that for eight years nobody hits a field goal over 58 yards and then two of them get hit in one season? Note: grouping is not a sign that a pattern has emerged from randomness.
I don't know why the Colts decided to return the Bironas squib kick at the end of the game, with laterals and all that. Wouldn't it make more sense to just pounce on it and give Manning and Harrison/Wayne a chance at a Hail Mary or something?
Ned Macey: Good gamesmanship by Fisher before the game-winner. The Titans initially sent Bironas out to kick, but he changed his mind and sent out the punter because the Colts had one timeout left. Don't want the Colts to get the ball at midfield with one timeout to set up Vinatieri. When the punt squad comes out, the Colts panic and call a timeout. After the timeout, here comes Bironas for the game-winner.
And the 60-yarder was ridiculous, but Dierdorf insisted there was a great deal of wind behind it, so I think it was less ridiculous than Tampa Bay's. Also, this game was tied, so the Colts only had a 50 percent or so chance of winning anyway.
This game was really lost at the end of the first half. Up 14-3, the Colts are in their two-minute when Manning gets picked off on a great play by Bulluck. Young drives down for the TD, and the entire complexion of the game is changed.
Other big play was an offensive pass interference on Ben Utecht on the Colts' last drive that pushed them from the 2-yard line back to the 12. Utecht somehow thought he could continue to sell the play action by blocking his defender to the back of the end zone before breaking out for the catch.
I wasn't watching enough Titans before last week to see Young on a regular basis, but watching this game, it is hard to imagine how he had a negative DVOA running the ball. Guy was elusive as hell and impossible to bring down.
Also, Harrison obviously had a huge game, but his two big plays came when Pac-Man at least thought the safety was covering. Those two plays accounted for 128 yards.
Funny how a team with a great record that was winning with lots of close escapes isn't really as good as most people thought (and no, I'm not bitter about the BCS).
Doug Farrar: On Arizona's opening TD drive against the Rams, Edgerrin James rushed five times for 32 yards, which is one more carry than he had against the Vikings last week. The Cards had six total rushing attempts in that game, and they ran the ball eight times on their opening drive. Apparently, Dennis Green is smart enough to try and exploit a horrible St. Louis run defense after balking at running against Minnesota's great run D at all. If Edge doesn't get 100 yards this week, he should petition the league to have his contract revoked.
The Rams oblige...
Well, Edgerrin James finally got his first 100-yard game as a Cardinal. Of course, Arizona had three rushing touchdowns and all three were scored by Marcel Shipp. If it ain't one thing...
Ned Macey: Vintage Edgerrin James. 120+ yards with no run longer than 10 yards. The Arizona offensive line finally found a defense they were equal to. Speaking of DVOA being right, the preseason projections more or less nailed the Rams. The offense is maybe a little better than we thought, at least pre-Pace injury, but this is a bad team.
Also, Marc Bulger is a future first-ballot FFHOF member. Nice garbage time touchdown today to put together a solid outing. Baldinger said that Bulger has never played a game where he completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
Nice to hear Pat Summerall's voice, but he really shouldn't be announcing anymore.
Michael David Smith: This is what it is to be a Lions fan: They're up 7-3 and have first-and-goal inside the 5. Do they score? Nope. Ball squirts out of Kevin Jones' hand, Patriots pounce on it.
Bill Moore: This game was too painful even though the Pats won. Just an ugly game all around. Patriots looked at be asleep during this game. Stupid penalties, a safety against, fumbles, Brady threw a terrible interception, etc. The game came down to who made the last mistake. It was, not surprisingly, the Lions.
With all the fist round wide receivers this team has, who saw significant action in the slot? Josh McCown.
Chad Scott 2006 = Duane Starks 2005
Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel has had ups and downs in the last two seasons. Right now he is up. However, he cost the defense an interception. Artrell Hawkins had an INT teed up, only to have it tipped away by Samuel. Speaking of Hawkins, he has performed well in Rodney Harrison's absence. He has been the Patriots' patchwork filler for the last two years. I'm surprised he hasn't landed in more of a regular role elsewhere.
Dry Bly (who had one interception today) has given Detroit this season excellent coverage against #1 WRs. They are sixth. However they are terrible against everyone else. The irony is that the Patriots really have no #1 WR. By default it's Reche Caldwell, who racked up 112 yards today, which is a first for a Patriots receiver this year. Other than Caldwell (eight), all other wide receivers had four catches combined.
Laurence Maroney went out early in this game with the "wind knocked out of him." He never returned. That has to be a first. Maroney's absence wasn't noticed by the F team announcers until sometime in the fourth quarter.
Although Brady was only sacked twice, the Detroit defensive line rushed and hit him often, plus forced a fumble that resulted in a safety.
Kevin Jones (are we allowed to mention his name?) actually played relatively well today. However, with roughly 140 combined yards he still remains more of a threat coming out of the backfield as a receiver than as a line-pounder.
Kitna's final decision to heave it up on third down under pressure inside two minutes was amongst the dumbest I've seen all year.
Aaron Schatz: The pain. Oh, the pain. Totally embarrassing. Patriots were lucky to win. It was hard to figure out what the heck went wrong. They missed Maroney, certainly -- Patrick Pass was getting actual carries in his first week back from PUP and, of course, fumbled. Pass was holding the ball away from his body; I keep seeing players who aren't holding the ball close enough to their bodies. The offensive line is not as good as past years, particularly Matt Light, who just got brutalized a couple of times.
The defense played a lot of zone and they were constantly giving up passes to guys open underneath, Corey Bradford, Josh McCown (WTF???), and especially Mike Furrey. This is the third straight year, I think, where the Pats have had terrible DVOA vs. #2 receivers, and holy mackerel did you see that today. Every Roy Williams catch seemed to be a very skillful grab while Williams was being covered closely. But everybody else was going nuts with seams and slants. Contrary to popular belief, DVOA vs. receivers is not about specific cornerbacks. DVOA vs. receivers is about coverage patterns, and the Patriots' coverage pattern is to leave the #2 receiver wide open all the damn time.
The Lions also seemed to do very well with draws because the Pats were always going after Kitna with the pass rush. That also hurt the Patriots later in the game when they kept not quite getting to Kitna and having the Lions convert on absurd down-and-distances. They converted a third-and-22 AND somehow got out of a first-and-30. Like I said, embarrassing.
From the Department of I Can't Tell What the Hell is Pass Interference: There was a play in this game where Artell Hawkins ran into Roy Williams from the back. I don't think he was even looking at the ball. So somehow, the play where Bernard Berrian is pushing on Hawkins' arm is PI on Hawkins, but a play where Hawkins is practically sitting on top of Roy Williams is not PI on Hawkins?
Fully agree with Bill on Chad Scott. On one play Furrey came in on a short curl, curling toward the sideline, and Scott actually started fading toward the inside. No idea what he thought he was seeing.
But this is why every game counts for DVOA. In the NFL, there are no Temples. On a given day (or Monday night, earlier this year) one of the league's worst teams can easily give a close games to one of the best teams.
I have no idea what is going on with Laurence Maroney, but I was very worried about Mike Vrabel -- it looked like he broke an ankle or something, and we had no audio in the bar. Anyway, turns out it had nothing to do with his ankle, even though he did land on it weird. According to Mike Reiss, he had a guy knee him in the back of the head. So he's going to be fine, which is good, because the Patriots have no linebackers left and were on the verge of becoming the 2005 Giants with a better quarterback.
Bill Moore: You had no sound for the game? You lucky, lucky bastard.
The knee to the head was about the only things J.C. Pearson (or whatever his name is) and the other guy covered well all day. Unfortunately, at the same time they were covering Vrabel's head, I was questioning why the play wasn't being reviewed. The ball lay on the ground post knee-head connection. The fact that it WAS being reviewed came as an after thought when the review was over.
Patrick Laverty: J.C. Pearson: "Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney are very similar type backs." Umm, ok, you seen Maroney run this year? AND Dillon? And how does Matt Vasgersian still have a job? Does he have photos on Rupert Murdoch or something?
Doug Farrar: The Seahawks had that particular crew two games in a row earlier this season. Bad, bad stuff. Not Bill Maas bad, but pretty close.
Bill Moore: Detroit pulled a Chris Webber. With NE on the 3 (or so), they called a timeout they didn't have. The refs blew the whistle, stopped the game, and announced that in fact, "There is no timeout since Detroit has none remaining." D'er. How isn't that stopping time!? There was no penalty on the play. Anyone know the real rule there?
Michael David Smith: The rule is that if a player calls timeout and his team doesn't have a timeout, the official is just supposed to ignore it and let everything keep going. The fact that the officials screwed that one up is no surprise, seeing as it was Jeff Triplette's crew calling the game, and he's the worst ref in the league by a huge margin.
Doug Farrar: Wow. In the first half, Rex Grossman completed 3-of-9 passes for 22 yards and two picks. That, my friends, is a quarterback rating of 2.8.
Halfway through the third quarter, Grossman has three more incompletions and another pick. His rating is now the Big Blutarsky. Take it, Dean Wormer: "Zero-point-ZERO." Right now, I'm picturing Grossman with a pencil in each nostril.
This game was a good validation of several FO numbers. The Bears rank first in the NFL in total defense, pass defense and special teams DVOA. They beat the Vikings, 23-13, despite being outgained 348-107, allowing 21 first downs to their own six, losing the time of possession battle by almost 20 minutes, and Grossman's 1.3 quarterback rating, because of nine defensive points (interception return and safety) and Devin Hester's punt return for a touchdown.
Michael David Smith: Chicago defensive tackle Tommie Harris got hurt and left the game. Haven't heard any more, but that would be a huge loss.
Mike Tanier: A very convincing win overall. Several Saints players appear to be peaking at the right time, starting with Reggie Bush. I won't say any more about Bush because you will be sick of hearing about this game by mid-day Monday, but the man is good.
Mike McKenzie is also getting hot at just the right time. Teams are going to adapt by picking on Fred Thomas. McKenzie had two interceptions today and one was a thing of beauty.
Joe Horn went into the tunnel midway through this game and I didn't see much of him afterwards, so the Saints were using Devery Henderson and Copper guy at wide receiver for much of the game. Luckily, their offense didn't become one-dimensional because the running back tandem gives them so many options and looks. I still don't think they have the defensive talent to compete in the playoffs, but their offense keeps impressing me.
Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure what changed with the Saints, but Thomas did so well in the early charting data, and since he came back from an injury he has been awful. Just terrible today, and terrible against the Bengals two weeks ago.
Mike Tanier: Chad Pennington had a great first half, floating passes into every hole in the Packers zone defense, and there were plenty of holes in zones. The Packers have gotten about as far as they can with all of those youngsters playing linebacker. Opponents are going to throw right over their heads.
The Jets defense brought tons of pressure from the outside against the Packers, and they had Favre on the run for much of the first half. Again, I think the Packers have gotten all they can out of the rookies on the offensive line. Opponents will stunt and blitz from the outside until these guys prove they can make adjustments.
Aaron Schatz: I still believe that DVOA was correct about the Jets winning games close and not playing that well over the first half of the season, but man, Mangini has them playing well now. I would like to apologize for saying something a couple weeks ago about this team still not being for real. This was an ass-whipping.
Man, the Jets like to run some wacky offensive stuff. Are we really sure that Brian Schottenheimer is really the son of Marty Schottenheimer, and not the illegitimate son of Houston Nutt?
Nick Mangold looked good when I was watching this game, had a nice pull on a screen; it is clear that he's getting it quicker than Brick. That doesn't mean he will be the better player long-term. But he is playing very well for a rookie center.
(Later, at night...)
Michael David Smith: I'm watching the Jets-Packers tape for EPC during Broncos-Seahawks commercials. Nantz and Simms are driving me insane. All they talk about is Favre. It's 24-0 Jets right now, and they've told us absolutely nothing about any player on the Jets. All they talk about is Favre. I'm not kidding, it's just literally nothing at all except Favre.
Doug Farrar: And this surprises you because...
Aaron Schatz: Hey, DVOA knows something, Part II. It just apparently took an extra week for me to look prescient. Oh, and a quarterback injury. We had no idea in the bar whether Frye was injured or pulled, but I don't even know if it matters. I expect that there will be a full-on QB controversy now in Cleveland.
We only watched the last couple minutes of this in the bar, so I am curious to hear from somebody what went wrong with the KC defense that had played so well this year. In those few minutes, Anderson looked good. He made a heads-up shovel pass, some good scrambles, nice pass to Kellen Winslow. However, like Patrick Pass and 100 other guys, he needs to learn to HOLD THE DAMN BALL CLOSE TO HIS BODY WHILE HE RUNS WITH IT. Unlike the Patriots, the Browns got lucky and Anderson did not fumble.
Ned Macey: Jacksonville was an underdog; are we at all surprised that they dominated? I only watched a bit of this, but based on what I saw and the stats say, Garrard had an excellent game. The Miami defense had been dominating opposition, but Garrard averaged over 10 yards per attempt.
The Jones-Drew TD run was an amazing play. At least five Dolphins seemingly could have brought him down. What a potentially amazing group of rookie running backs we have this year.
Aaron Schatz: I'm not surprised that the Jaguars dominated. I would not have been surprised if the Jaguars had been blown out of the water. I would not be surprised if the Jaguars went the rest of the year without winning a game, and I would not be surprised if the Jaguars swept the rest of the season. I would not be surprised if Matt Jones had 100 yards every game for the rest of the season and I would not be surprised if Matt Jones didn't catch another touchdown for the rest of the year. I would not be surprised if the Jaguars released Josh Scobee and traded for Josh Scobey from Seattle and had him kicking the field goals. I would not be surprised if the Jaguars came out next week in purple polka-dot uniforms and I would not be surprised if they all took the field in matching three-piece suits. I would not be surprised if the Jaguars all turned out to be green space aliens. Nothing about the Jaguars makes any sense anyway so why be surprised?
Ryan Wilson: The Steelers are way down the depth chart at WR. For example, on the last play Roethlisberger threw a pass to Sean Morey and it was broken up by ... Phillip Buchanon. This is sad on so many levels.
Doug Farrar: As your e-mail came through, Plaxico Burress got penalized for a moronic late hit on Keith Davis about five yards away from the play. Could be worse for the Steelers -- you could still have him.
Michael David Smith: Another guy to like on the Raiders' D: Stanford Routt is really, really fast.
Doug Farrar: This might be the Stat of the Day: In the first half, David Carr threw for 32 yards against the Raiders. He was sacked four times for minus-30 yards, so he had a net gain of two yards. In the second half, he didn't gain ONE single passing yard (he was the only QB for Houston!) and was sacked again, which gave a final net passing yardage of minus-5. Of course, the Texans won the game. The second half consisted of several Carr incompletions, three Kris Brown field goals, and about 400 straight runs by Ron Dayne.
Tim Gerheim: OK, I don't think you emphasized that enough, Doug. The Texans had NEGATIVE NET PASSING YARDS! If they had simply handed the ball off on every play all game, they would have gained more yards passing than they did in the game!
I didn't watch the game, because I'm studying for finals (since I didn't learn anything all semester partly on account of watching so much football), but my dad uncharacteristically emailed me about the game, because the spirit so moved him:
"I presume that CBS was kind and generous to you in Austin and refrained from showing the Texans-Raiders game this afternoon. [They were, and did. CBS has decided, probably correctly, that Austin would rather see Vince Young and the Titans.] We have finally seen a team that is demonstrably worse than Houston. Not that Houston covered themselves with any glory as a consequence!
Although the Texans scored 23 points, it was via three field goals (one missed also) and a special teams and defense score. The offense managed to rack up a staggering 125 yards net gain FOR THE WHOLE GAME -- clearly staggering. The stars of the game were Ron Dayne (!!!!) and Kris Brown (!!!!) and Jerome Mathis (long return to set up a three-yard TD).
Neither team showed the least bit of spark or enthusiasm, and there was a lot of head-shaking and solemn looks on both sides."
Bill Barnwell: I was watching this game out of the corner of my eye at the bar with Ian while, for some god-forsaken reason, I focused on the Giants game. Every time I looked over, someone was missing a field goal, fumbling, getting sacked, or generally doing something awful.
I realized we really need to come up with a metric that tries to find the worst-played games in the last ten years, although I guess we could just do the 10 worst combined DVOA performances.
Aaron Schatz: We may have reached the point where you should never let Eli Manning throw the ball in the red zone. Man, has he made some bad decisions, trying to fit a ball in where there was no space, and he's gotten lucky with no interceptions.
Doug Farrar: I have never seen any quarterback get more praise for throwing easy underneath stuff against a deep zone that Eli Manning. It's as if he invented the idea, and nobody else has ever done it.
Aaron Schatz: To say something nice about the Giants, that LT (Whitfield) who replaced Petitgout and has been awful has instead been pretty good in this game.
Aaron Schatz: At what point in discussing the problems of the Denver offense will somebody finally say the words "Matt Lepsis"?
Doug Farrar: The drops from Seattle's receivers are infuriating, but I really wish announcers would note a couple things when talking about them:
1. The Seahawks cut their drops in half last season. It was a huge problem in 2004, far less so in 2005, and intermittently in 2006.
2. Some of the drops had to do with timing issues between Seneca Wallace and the receivers when Hasselbeck was out. This was especially true of Wallace and Deion Branch. Those two always seemed half a tic off from each other.
It just annoys me because it shows that someone didn't do their homework. You wouldn't find Michaels and Madden saying that Brett Favre has a longstanding problem with interceptions because he threw 29 in 2005, would you now?
Tim Gerheim: Doug, I think the guys were pretty reasonable in their criticism of Seattle's drops. They said something to the effect of, "The Seahawks have had a lot of trouble with drops, particularly a couple years ago." It's not exacting detail, but I think it covers the point. Also, maybe you were being sarcastic but ... Michaels and Madden did at one point comment, following Jay Cutler's Aaron Brooks-class bonehead interception, that Favre has a longstanding problem with interceptions. Michaels was defending Cutler's decision-making based on his being a rookie, and Madden said there's something in his psychology that makes him throw that interception, commenting that Brett Favre had a problem with those when he was a rookie, and still has a problem with them.
When that interception went up, I about died laughing, and then I text-messaged my beleagured Broncos fan friend, "Why did they put Plummer in for one play?" He has not replied, and I fear lest I will be struck when I see him tomorrow.
Aaron Schatz: Good Madden: Pointing out that the Broncos are playing a lot of downs with three cornerbacks and only one safety. It makes sense because the Seahawks are playing a lot of three-wide sets, and the Broncos trust their third corner (Foxworth) more than their second safety (Cox) because the usual second safety (Brandon) is injured.
Bad Madden: "Champ Bailey is as big in the running game as he is in the passing game." Uh, no. He's fine against the run, but there's not really a comparison.
Doug Farrar: If I were Mike Holmgren, I'd have Maurice Morris out there quite a bit more for two reasons -- first, he's far quicker to the line than Alexander, who likes to wait for things to develop. Denver's defense is too quick for that to work consistently. Second, Denver ranks second in the NFL against #1 receivers, ninth against all other receivers, 13th against tight ends (which would be nice if Jerramy Stevens was consistent at all) and 31st against running backs. Morris is a far better receiver than Alexander. Seattle doesn't throw to the backs that often for a supposedly boilerplate West Coast Offense team.
Aaron Schatz: Bootlegs, scrambles, incomplete passes ... golly, Denver sure looks different tonight.
Doug Farrar: Watch out for rookie guard Rob Sims if he rotates in -- Seattle's running game seemed stronger when he spelled Floyd Womack. Fourth-round rookie from Ohio State. Lots of potential. He could be a starter soon.
I swear, they should just put it right on the ball: THIS IS AN OFFICIAL NFL FOOTBALL. DO NOT THROW THIS ANYWHERE NEAR CHAMP BAILEY.
Ned Macey: This is crap. The Broncos should be going to 8-4 and in control of their playoff destiny, but their large-egoed coach decided a rookie was a better solution. What a joke. I may be the world's largest anti-rookie-QB guy (because they generally are terrible and it doesn't seem to help their long-term development), but the "success" of Young and Leinart had me softening a bit. Then you watch this. Professional football is not practice or preseason. Cutler is not ready to be playing here. They are losing a game despite an excellent defensive performance and a dominating running game.
I can't imagine them winning next weekend in San Diego. If they don't come back here, they'll likely be 7-6 and have no confidence in either quarterback. Plummer was undermined from Day One of the Cutler Era. Shanahan should have kept his mouth shut, played Plummer this year, and cut him in the off-season.
Now, watch Cutler lead a game-winning drive ... or not, as there is the interception.
Aaron Schatz: No, he did lead the game-tying drive. He led it by throwing, what, a five-yard pass to Brandon Marshall, and then nobody on Seattle can tackle. And Michaels and Madden are taking this little five-yard pass followed by horrible defensive play and they are acting like Jay Cutler just invented a cure for cancer or something. Brandon Marshall may be worthy of that praise, but not Cutler. Come on already.
Doug Farrar: The Seahawks really deserved that Marshall touchdown against them. They've been tackling horribly all year, and it had to catch up to them at some point.
Doug Farrar: Okay, Seahawks fans -- your team is 8-4 and your kicker is your MVP. You'll take it, right?
Mike Tanier: So I have seen the Madden 07 commercial a million times where Dallas Clark catches a pass and is housed by two Eagles defenders. Has anyone else noticed this? Neither defender is controlled by a player. The dude playing defense is controlling Rod Hood, who runs past Clark and dives onto the ground just before Brian Dawkins grabs Clark and spins him into Darren Howard. It's weird that Clark actually got hurt against the Eagles in real life, and it was strange to see Hood diving at nothing at the commercial.
Man, what a long season.
Aaron Schatz: This may be the first time we ever have unanimous voting for one of the FO awards. Is anybody not going to vote for "This is Our Country" for "Worst Ad"?
Any Given Sunday: Undecided. Colts-Titans, but we did that earlier this year, so it might be Chiefs-Browns.
Every Play Counts: Jets' defensive development
189 comments, Last at 06 Dec 2006, 2:07pm by Sid