Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

25 Dec 2006

Audibles at the Line: Week 16

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.

Originally, the plan was to post Audibles on Tuesday, but we realized that none of us will actually be near a computer while watching tonight's games, so enjoy some Christmas morning reading...

Kansas City Chiefs 20 at Oakland Raiders 9

Aaron Schatz: Larry Johnson: 383 and counting. He's so talented, so fun to watch, and he seems like a good guy. I really, really, really hope that he can be an ED-like exception, but I wouldn't count on it.

Bill Barnwell: I was just listening to Herman Edwards' post-game press conference and the KC radio guy asked him about his usage of Johnson today and he responded with something like "How many yards did he have tonight? 100?" The radio guy informed him he had 133 and then Edwards asked, "How many carries does he have now? 400?"

Doug Farrar: It was difficult for me to focus in on the action, because I found Bryant Gumbel's presence more distracting than I normally do. In this case, he had an ex-coach in the booth (Dick Vermeil) who coached one of the teams playing in the game until last season. He coached Trent Green in St. Louis AND Kansas City. He knows more about football than just about any other analyst, and you'd think that Gumbel would either a) Defer to Vermeil as much as possible in technical football matters; and/or b) Know enough about group dynamics in a booth to know when and how to lob some big, fat Chiefs questions for Coach.

Nope -- didn't happen. Gumbel would occasionally, almost accidentally, mention that Vermeil might have some basic familiarity with his ex-team, but it wasn't nearly the engaging thread of dialogue it should have been. Beyond all the criticisms of his actual play-by-play ability (which have been repeated in a thousand reviews), I think the real problem with Gumbel is that he believes he can attain an elite knowledge of football in a relatively short time. But his lack of easy familiarity with the sport is howlingly apparent every time he opens his mouth. The NFL Network really needs to do something about this -- they've made some really questionable hiring decisions in "Total Access" hosts/co-hosts this year, and the Gumbel thing is even worse. There's no redeeming factor here. In an era of predominantly bad football play-by-play guys, he's still a real "standout."

I wanted to find this game interesting -- I wanted to watch Oakland's historically bad offense, and I wanted to see Herm push Larry Johnson over the 370-carry mark. I saw both, and then I changed the channel. Couldn't stand it anymore.

Tim Gerheim: The LJ situation blows my mind. I remember a quote a few weeks back saying something like "Johnson had 300 carries after 10 games last year. He has 300 carries now. There's no problem." Except that he only played 10 games last year (or whatever it actually was) so he had no opportunity to get another 100+ carries and die on the field last year. If Herm can't understand that distinction, I would be terrified if I were a Chiefs fan knowing he was the steward of my team.

Russell Levine: Coaches simply cannot look beyond this game or this season when it comes to the usage of players. When LJ breaks down in three years, it'll probably be someone else's problem.

Doug Farrar: For the sake of the next running back Herm gets to coach, I hope someone in a personnel department realizes that he did the same thing to Curtis Martin two years ago.

New England Patriots 24 at Jacksonville Jaguars 21

Russell Levine: I'm trying to decide on my lineup for the fantasy semifinals. (Yes, I'm in one of those odd leagues with a Week 17 championship.) I need to pick two of three: Maurice Jones-Drew, Edge, or Joseph Addai.

Will Carroll: I'd go definitely MJD and flip a coin on the others. H&V has both Edge and Addai with 16 (86/1 for Addai, 94/1 for Edge), while Accuscore has them both at 11. (BTW, is there a FO viewpoint on Accuscore?)

Aaron Schatz: I have no idea what Accuscore is. What's Accuscore?

Mike Tanier: I am vehemently opposed to Accuscore. Accuscore is destroying the American way of life. What is Accuscore?

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots apparently saw something in the Jaguars that reminded them of the Minnesota Vikings, because they came out with the exact same offensive philosophy that they used in that Monday night blowout: spread the field, nearly every play in shotgun, 3-4 wideouts, Faulk or Dillon motioning wide, and then Brady just finding the open guy against the zone coverage.

Unbelieveable play in this one. Maurice Jones-Drew goes down, except that he ran into his own guys, and the Pats never touched him. As he's getting up, you can see Tully Banta-Cain has his hands on him and it looks like he's trying to make a decision: "If I tackle this guy, do I get an unnecessary roughness penalty?" He lets Jones-Drew go to avoid the penalty. 74 yards, touchdown. Otherwise, Jones-Drew isn't getting anything on this defense, and this game is entirely one-sided. The New England receivers have saved Brady with some good catches on low/underthrown passes, but they are moving methodically up the field with short stuff and quarterback sneaks -- I think four of them so far, all successful. At a certain point, isn't that no longer supposed to be sneaky? Meanwhile, the Jags have no offense other than that one fluky long run and a couple of screens to Jones-Drew. Then again, hit a couple of those and the Pats will stop falling for them.

Patriots intercept David Garrard, but they blow it when Richard Seymour gets a somewhat questionable roughing the passer. That's followed by a long completion to Ernest Wilford on a play with a BLATANTLY obvious Kyle Brady hold. Maybe I'm sounding like a homer here, but come on already with this nonsense.

End of the third quarter, Laurence Maroney took a pitch right and shortened up like it was an option play and he was going to pass -- and then he looked forward again and kept going. I think that I just saw that rarest of all species, the running back who knows not to throw into coverage when the option pass isn't open.

Mike Tanier: I remember that Walter Payton always knew when to eat the ball on a RB option. Of course, Payton was generally an exception to everything.

Aaron Schatz: Laurence Maroney with a 27-yard touchdown, untouched. Great blocks on the left side by Daniel Graham, David Thomas, and Heath Evans coming out of a 3-TE, 2-RB set (with the other TE being, yes, Mike "The Decoy" Vrabel). We'll have to see if Vince Young can lead another big comeback today, but his old teammate David Thomas had a big coming out party today, as a receiver and a blocker.

Greg Gumbel: "Where would this team be without number 12, Tom Brady ... he was clutch in every big situation today."

What, like the third-and-long where he overthrew a completely wide open Troy Brown when a reception would have finished off the game for good? I love my Pats, but the man is just a human being.

Bill Moore: He actually threw a lot of balls well over the head of receivers, including sometimes open receivers. You could attribute it to the rain and wet weather. However, as Steve Young pointed out in ESPN Countdown discussing Rex Grossman, a good quarterback has the ability to throw strong spirals in all weather conditions. I'm not suggesting Brady is not a good quarterback, but something has been bothering him this year. I'm no Will Carroll, but his throws this year have not been as accurate as years past. He also hasn't been throwing deep. It has been attributed to the fact that he doesn't have connection with his receivers, but that's getting old. I have been critical that the Patriots don't have a deep attack playbook, and I'm beginning to worry that it is carried out of necessity rather than game planning.

On the other side of the ball, take three plays away from Jacksonville and this game isn't even close. Without the "non-tackle" run, Jones-Drew had three yards per carry for 56 total, and Garrard had something like 150 yards passing.

Bill Barnwell: So I was, in fact, actually watching the game at Logan International and got to hear the wonderful insights of the guy behind me at the sports bar. "Wide right! Wide right!" he said to his kid (yes, at the bar) when Josh Scobee's kick went, in fact, wide left. But, you know, it's right on the TV. Maybe it was Marshall McLuhan and his kid.

And also, two reasons why JetBlue is the greatest airline alive:

  • They had the Giants-Saints game on the TV by the gate leaving for New York as opposed to the Pats-Jags game. Of course, then again, I probably would prefer the Pats game at this point.
  • They have the 36 standard channels of DirecTV and they have a 37th channel on each flight that's different each time, depending on when you're flying. When I went to Vegas, they showed OLN for the Stanley Cup Finals. Very nice. Today? They showed THE DIRECTV RED ZONE CHANNEL.

I was so giddy. I almost refused to get off the plane. Somehow, I went from my house to being on a freaking PLANE and had more access to football. It was amazing. And the channel rules. The guy hosting it is as smarmy as can be ("Dick? Jaur-on the hot seat after that play call!" he said, and I wept) and I now, for Christmas, only want a view of the Southern sky.

New Orleans Saints 30 at New York Giants 7

Mike Tanier: Saints offense looks real flat in the 1st quarter. The timing seems off on the passes, and the Giants are slicing up the line of scrimmage against the run. They got three points off a muffed punt. As I recall, they got points off a muffed punt against the Eagles. The little things that make a season...

Doug Farrar: Brees is rounding into a slight rhythm, especially on the longer throws. Unfortunately, his receivers used the Koren Robinson Brand Reverse Stickum and are dropping balls all over the place. The Saints had a first-half stretch in which they called 13 straight pass plays.

Watching Eli Manning get into one of those places again where he simply throws to zones and seems incapable of adjusting to any variance in circumstance ... this just happens too often. Throwing to a fullback who hasn't even turned around yet on a little dump pass, throwing to a place where a receiver's already vacated or isn't there yet -- it shouldn't be this frequent with a quarterback who's been in the league this long and has this many weapons. What's he going to do when Tiki isn't there?

Marques Colston made up for past drops with a beautiful touchdown catch near the end of the first half. Brees, from the New York 2-yard line, threw it to the left side of the end zone on Colston's back shoulder, and Colston flipped himself from back to front in the air to grab it. R.W. McQuarters is going to have nightmares about that one.

It's only fair to say that not only does Accuscore taste great, but it's also less filling. However, Accuscore cost the Seahawks the Super Bowl last year. What is Accuscore?

Mike Tanier: Darn. Missed the Colston catch but saw about 10 drops, including the Devery Henderson drop of what looked like a touchdown. Cooking and watching here. Remind me to share the Buffalo Dip recipe with our readers.

Back to back personal fouls by Giants offensive linemen. One turns third-and-3 into third-and-18. The Saints aren't playing a particularly good game but are up 20-7. The New York crowd may soon turn ugly.

Troy Aikman is now speculating that the Giants are playing like they don't want to go to the playoffs. Normally, I would say that's nuts, but watching the Giants over the last six weeks, he may be on to something.

Chicago Bears 26 at Detroit Lions 21

Michael David Smith: Clip and save, I'm going to say something positive about the Lions: Dan Campbell was a nice pickup at tight end. Good blocker, good hands, good speed. The Bears look like a team that just wants to get to the playoffs without getting anyone hurt.

I love how every week an ex-Lion has a big game against the Lions. Alfonso Boone just sacked Jon Kitna. If you don't know who Alfonso Boone is, that's because he's never done anything worth mentioning before because he's never played against the Lions before.

Doug Farrar: If we don't hear from MDS again, it's because he left his house with 8:57 left in the second quarter and never came back.

Michael David Smith: Yeah, my wife didn't want me to walk out of the house.

Indianapolis Colts 24 at Houston Texans 27

Aaron Schatz: What a comeback! Ron Dayne has finally rediscovered his Heisman Trophy form! Hint: This may involve playing the Colts.

Mike Tanier: My wife could jog through that defense for a touchdown wearing the new iPod I bought her for Christmas.

Doug Farrar: The gift that keeps on giving? The Alleged Indianapolis Run Defense! The Texans scored the game's first two touchdowns -- Ron Dayne on the ground in both cases. Dayne picked up 55 yards on 10 carries in that quarter, just a bit better than Indy's three total rushing yards.

Aaron Schatz: The June kids always know what they're getting on Christmas Eve, cause daddy can't wrap anything up.

Doug Farrar: Gary Kubiak is giving in to the obvious down in Houston. The Texans responded to the Colts' first-half tying drive with a 14-play, 75-yard scoring trip down the field. Two passes, twelve runs. Teams aren't even giving the impression of offensive balance against the Colts, and why should they, when the weakness is so glaring? Get used to it, Indy -- here it comes again, right up the middle.

Michael David Smith: Texans go for it on fourth-and-2. The announcer says "They're in an area of the field where they'll go for it." Wouldn't that be any area of the field where the defense across the line from you is the Indianapolis Colts?

My family has a blood feud with Accuscore after it killed my brother. What is Accuscore?

Ned Macey: Christmas Eve is my wife's birthday, so we don't spend the whole day in front of the TV. The good news is that we're a fair amount richer because she was in the finals of a fantasy league with Bulger, Bruce, Jackson, Betts, and the KC defense. Better than any present I can buy her. Nevertheless, a fair number of drinks into my night, I'll contribute my thoughts on the Colts debacle.

I could just say "See my Titans-Colts Any Given Sunday" except Houston is terrible. The Colts offense had six possessions the whole game and scored 24 points. In a regular game, they would have had over 40 points. This is just so embarrassing a level of performance for the defense. Any thoughts of Bob Sanders or Rob Morris being the savior have to be out the window. They now have to win at home against a wild card team (hard enough) before going on the road to Baltimore and San Diego. Their Super Bowl hopes are a pipe dream.

One funny thing about today was that the Texans had Robinson on Wayne. I imagine he generally plays the left side or something, but Harrison had quite the field day on Faggins. The Colts are unique because Harrison and Wayne are always on the same side. As good as DPAR is for receivers, Wayne does not get Pac-Man or Champ or Rashean Mathis. That's five games where he has a significantly weaker corner on his side. (Ok, maybe Williams isn't significantly worse than Mathis.)

Anyway, the best season ever for Manning/Harrison/Wayne is being wasted, and it is kind of sad.

Too bad SD lost, because I have nothing to say about the HOU-IND game for AGS. Maybe Tim sees something quality in that team, but if the bright spot is Ron Dayne, you don't have a bright spot. Andre Johnson is an excellent player, but otherwise, the 5-10 record appears well-earned.

Tim Gerheim: Well, I'll take Ned's invitation to extemporize on the Texans.

I really don't know where this team is going. It's clear that Gary Kubiak has no faith in David Carr, which is weird considering that not drafting a quarterback was a vote of confidence for him. But he never lets him throw the ball down the field. I can totally see Carr getting cut this off-season and catching on with a team with a good offensive line but no quarterback, like Kansas City (after Trent Green), Minnesota, or Carolina (if they tire of Delhomme, which they seem to have) and winning like eight Super Bowls. Basically, I see us becoming the Detroit Lions. If we aren't already. Never mind, this is too sad to think about on Christmas.

Incidentally, the Colts had Rob Morris in basically all game. So he's not the answer.

Baltimore Ravens 31 at Pittsburgh Steelers 7

Mike Tanier: These guys could be really scary in the playoffs if their offense is no longer Captain Checkdown and the Hitch Routes. McNair just went up top for a nice post pattern.

And that kid Koch just sewed up rookie punter of the year. He can really angle it out at the 5-yard line. Looks like he gets a lot of hangtime too.

Every time I flip to this game, the Steelers are punting.

Carolina Panthers 10 at Atlanta Falcons 3

Mike Tanier: Wanna cry? Read the Panthers-Falcons stat line. Then realize that neither team is technically out of the playoff chase as of 4 PM on Sunday. Wow.

Just in case someone missed this game, the Panthers ran the ball 12 straight times on their first drive. Their second drive started with five straight runs. They spent the whole second half nursing a 10-3 lead and never bothered passing the ball. I think Jim Mora Jr. better take whatever college job he is eyeing up.

Aaron Schatz: The fact that Michael Vick went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season, an NFL record for quarterbacks, in the same game where the Falcons scored just three points, well, that pretty much sums up the whole Jim Mora-Michael Vick era right there, doesn't it?

San Diego Chargers 20 at Seattle Seahawks 17

Doug Farrar: Sean Locklear was beaten by Shawne Merriman for a sack on the first play of the game. One three-and-out later, the Seahawks are punting. Their defense is getting a lot of flak for falling apart, especially late in games, but there is something to the fact that they're just on the field too much. The offensive line has been horribly inconsistent, and the running game has been pretty much nonexistent. The only sure thing on offense has been D.J. Hackett, the third-year wide receiver who has played the part of Joe Jurevicius this year as the receiving corps has struggled with injury again.

Uh, Randy Cross? Chris Spencer's a center, not a guard. But I agree, having him block Merriman on a pull to the left wasn't a great idea. Sack #2 for Lights Out.

One thing I have to say about Seahawks offensive line coach Bill Laveroni is that I've been very disappointed in the lack of adjustment, schematically, for all the personnel turnover. There's that Alex Gibbs school of coaching in which you can seemingly plug in different people and still have some measure of success, and it goes beyond chop-blocking. The Chargers, for their part, have a rookie left tackle (admittedly, Marcus McNeill is NOT playing like a rookie at all) and they're just banging people around every week. I see that ex-Seahawk Steve Hutchinson is having difficulty adjusting to zone blocking in Minnesota and I wonder why. I'm starting to understand just how much ridiculous talent the line had last season, because I don't suspect it
had a lot to do with coaching. Seattle started the same line all year until the last regular-season game in 2005 when they had the NFC one-seed sewn up, and you can't ever expect that to happen.

On the good side, I think Shaun Alexander is running harder this season than I've ever seen.

In the second quarter, Walter Jones was called for holding after Merriman beat him outside, Jones bulldogged him to the ground, and Merriman STILL got up to add pressure with Jacques Cesaire on Cesaire's second sack of the day. Jones' one true weakness is the speed rush outside, and that's as true now as it was when Osi Umenyiora beat him for two sacks last year. Still, that play was the closest I've ever seen Jones to being totally dominated. An incredible performance on Merriman's part.

Last week, Seattle held the 49ers to six straight three-and-outs at the start of the game. Against the Chargers, Seattle forced the first five drives to end in punts. Halfway through the second quarter, Lorenzo Neal blew up Leroy Hill up on the outside, and Tomlinson found the open gap up the middle for 62 yards. With L.T., it's as simple as that. One good block, one seam, and it's all over. Rivers threw a nine-yard TD pass at the end of that drive to Vincent Jackson after starting the game 0-for-9. On that play, Jackson had enough time to run from one side of the end zone to the other, as no pressure came from the line and the linebackers just hung in the middle.

San Diego gained 30 yards on their first five drives. They gained 86 yards on the sixth. Hasselbeck, Alexander, and 2005's best offense could do nothing with those first five chances. That's how defenses die.

Aaron Schatz: Do you mean that Alexander is running harder in this game than any other game this season, or that he's running harder this season than previous seasons?

Doug Farrar: Harder this season than in previous seasons, and harder since he returned from injury, and most likely because he's had to.

Aaron Schatz: It's possible that Doug is sitting in front of his television in shock. How is Seattle beating San Diego? How is Philip Rivers 6-for-22???

Doug Farrar: Yes, that's quite possible. For Rivers, starting the game 0 for 9 helped. Also, rookie CB Kelly Jennings has been playing out of his mind in place of the injured Marcus Trufant. He's broken up several good throws to Vincent Jackson.

Seattle has shored up their blocking in the second half, and it's possible that this is the first time since Week 1 that Shaun Alexander has been completely healthy. Again, he's running with a punishing style I haven't seen too often from him in the past.

In truth, this game should be 24-13 right now with two minutes left in the game. Nate Burleson's 96-yard kickoff return in the third quarter was nullified by a completely bogus holding penalty on TE Bennie Joppru. Now, it's one more stand for Seattle's defense. We can only hope that the first-half offensive inefficiency didn't wear them out. They know that the 49ers lost, so they know they won their "division." Now, they need to find out if they're worthy of anything more.

Mike Tanier: So I loaded up the net and I saw that Rivers just threw a bomb to Jackson. WTF is going on?

Doug Farrar: So ... As I was saying...

On the winning TD to Jackson, Kelly Herndon gave up too soon on the route, and Michael Boulware just got flat-out beaten downfield. Jackson was able to beat TWO GUYS deep for the score -- he was a good five yards in front of Boulware when he caught the ball. Seattle really needs to evaluate the secondary situation in the off-season. Herndon is nothing more than a nickel corner miscast as a starter, and Boulware's been a liability against the pass all year. I know that Seattle GM Tim Ruskell is a believer in the idea that a strong pass rush can mitigate flaws in the defensive backfield, but your front seven has to be far better than Seattle's for that to work.

And I'm not blaming the penalty on the kickoff return for this, though it may have made the difference on the scoreboard. The penultimate play of the game was Merriman's third sack of Hasselbeck. Pretty much emblematic of the whole season, sans a few bright spots. Even in the weak NFC, this is a team begging for a road butt-kicking in the playoffs.

Arizona Cardinals 26 at San Francisco 49ers 20

Aaron Schatz: I'm switching between DEN-CIN and ARI-SF. Yes, that's really our second game. Matt Leinart was injured in the middle of the second quarter, but before that, he just looked much more comfortable in the pocket and much less like a rookie compared to Cutler. Yes, I know Cutler has started for only a few weeks, and he can throw the deep ball which Leinart cannot throw, but I would still rather have Leinart.

With the exception of the Bears MNF game, which I think everyone believes was a little weird, this is the first time since Football Outsiders started where I have seen the Cardinals and said, "You know what, all that 'Arizona can make the playoffs next year' hype might actually be realistic." I know that the 49ers aren't a good team -- nobody in the NFC West is a good team -- but the Cardinals look like they could maybe possibly make something happen with a couple more pieces and some more experience. The defense hits. The offense has the weapons. The offensive line is playing better, although this doesn't mean they are playing well -- Leonard Davis had one play where he tried to cut-block the guy because he just had no shot whatsoever of stopping a speed rush. It was sort of pathetic for an alleged NFL starting left tackle.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 at Denver Broncos 24

Aaron Schatz: Carson Palmer looks awful today. He overthrew T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the end zone, and it went right into the hands of Darrent Williams. Later, he had Housh one-on-one against John Lynch on a corner, open, and over threw him so Housh was stepping out as he caught the ball. And he threw one to Chad Johnson with Champ Bailey practically sitting in Johnson's lap. DON'T THROW THE BALL NEAR CHAMP BAILEY!!!!

Also, Denver RT George Foster sucks.

Bill Barnwell: Is Denver's secondary always this bad? Cincinnati is getting people open and moving the ball but shooting themselves in the foot with drops, penalties -- a Chris Henry 71-yard TD was wiped out by Chad Johnson tapping his foot on the line -- and overthrows.

Aaron Schatz: Darrent Williams has just been awful the last few weeks. He seemed a lot better than this as a rookie. The Broncos actually pulled Williams out of the lineup in favor of Karl Paymah when the Bengals went on their game-tying (almost) drive. Could he be playing himself out of the starting gig, even if they make the playoffs? By the way, the first time the Broncos run the end around to Javon Walker, it's a surprise. The second time, it's not so much of a surprise. By the third time, the Bengals are tackling it for lost yardage. By the 12th time...

And now, an impressionist interlude on the wacky end of the game, by Mike Tanier.

Mike Tanier: Palmer on fourth-and-9: Strike.

And the Bengals are running with a minute fifteen left ...

Touchdown, Bengals. Honey, take over with the kids ...

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Bill Barnwell: You can take the kids back, Mike. Wood has been chopped.

Mike Tanier: The long series of question marks represented the bobbled extra point.

Only die-hards spend Christmas Eve looking forward to games on New Year's Eve

Michael David Smith: Which teams will rest their starters next week? Which game will NBC want? Taking a quick glance at the week 17 schedule, it looks like another crappy close to the season.

Aaron Schatz: Jags-Chiefs (both should still be in the playoff hunt) or Eagles-Falcons (same).

Bill Barnwell: Falcons are out -- at least, I'm pretty sure they are.

Aaron Schatz: The Falcons are still in it, as far as I know. Remember -- only five NFC teams have winning records. Also, if the Eagles win tomorrow, that Eagles-Falcons game is for the NFC East title for the Eagles. Another reason for NBC to choose it.

Mike Tanier: Reason not to move Eagles-Falcons game to New Years Eve night: extra hours for the Philly Phaithful to get tanked.

Bill Barnwell: By the way, while I was traveling. I began to feel a little uneasy about the flight as we were over the Cape and suddenly the stewardess handed me a package with two tablets of Accuscore inside. Soothed, I merrily sang carols with the crew and passengers the rest of the way home. What is Accuscore?

Posted by: admin on 25 Dec 2006

96 comments, Last at 13 Jan 2007, 9:39pm by AccuScore

Comments

1
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 1:14pm

Saints offense looks real flat in the 1st quarter

The Saints had a first-half stretch in which they called 13 straight pass plays.

In the first quarter Sean Payton seemed to think the Saints had to pass on every play while they had the wind at their back. For the second straight week the team had a bad case of the drops (not as bad as the Giants however). Joe Horn wasn't missed against the Cowboys, but his absence has been noticeable the past few weeks.

It was only in the second quarter (when they were going into the wind) that Payton started calling running plays and the offense found a rhythm. The passing game never seemed to get completely in sync, but it didn't matter when they had a steady ground game.

2
by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 1:18pm

Re: Merriman's performance.

The 'roids work. The 'roids work!

3
by Josh (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 1:27pm

The final NBC game of the season looks like it won't work out to be a great thing for NBC this year. There are games that could be meaningful, but based on what happens earlier in the day might not be. And I doubt so many people will be watching football late on New Year's Eve; I certainly hope to but may not be in my control.

4
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 1:30pm

Even though the Saints run defense was better against the Giants (being up by more than one score helps a lot), I'm certain that they will welcome Hollis Thomas back with very, very open arms for the playoffs.

Geaux Eagles.

5
by Jesse (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 1:30pm

It's not the Broncos secondary that is hurting the team...it's our abysmal defensive line that can't ever get QB pressure on a team with a decent offensive line...

6
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 1:52pm

As mentioned above, Colts had only six possessions -- 3 TDs, 1 FG, 1 punt, 1 fumble. Average of 4 points per drive. Converted 75% of 3d downs.

QB threw only 6 incompletions and had a passer rating of 135.3.

RBs ran for 115 on 17 carries.

AND THEY LOSE!

That is impossible.

I guess the offensive players for the Bengals in 2005 and the Chiefs in the 2003 playoffs must have felt the same way after playing the Colts.

Unfreakingbelievable. Un-freaking-believable.

7
by William T (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:02pm

Is there any utility in using an offensive safety back behind the kicker for really big kicks in wet conditions? He might be able to recover a bad snap and hail mary to a tight end or attempt a drop-kick.

The color commentator gave everyone an inkling of the botched snap with his comments right before the kick.

8
by Flux (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:05pm

If anyone saw both games and can compare to earlier games, I'm wondering what's going on with SD's passing attack. What's with Rivers going 8/23 and 10/30 back to back weeks against KC and Sea's mediocre pass defenses? Has Rivers hit an Eli-esque wall or have defenses found a new strategy that chokes off the SD passing game, or what?

9
by Joe Rowles (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:08pm

Number 6

That and the fact that they were playing our Safeties deep most of the game (or it seemed like it) Which allowed them to run on us. I hope that Denver drafts and signs at least two more good linemen. Our ends are not nearly as bad as our tackles though Warren is pathetic.

10
by Francisco (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:34pm

Accuscore tried to tell me not to play Vick in my championship game, but Bledsoe's blog (www.tonyhomo.com) convinced me otherwise.

I should've listened to Accuscore.

What the hell is Accuscore?

11
by im_no_playa (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:40pm

Re - JetBlue -- AMEN AMEN AMEN!!! (its Xmas, ya know)

Had my first JetBlue experience last week and got to see Red Zone Channel - very cool. But of course, after waiting at JFK for over 5 hours, I just wanted to get on the plane and watch MIN-GB -- but, alas, NFL Network is not even on the JetBlue flights. Is NFLN only available outside the US?

12
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:46pm

I think David Carr is going to have a Jon Kitna-esque career. He'll never be terrific, but he can be a good starter and a good backup for a lot of teams.

The Panthers need a QB, period. I haven't given up on Jake Delhomme, but the ship has sailed on Chris Weinke. When your own teams gameplan is to take the ball out of his hands, going so far as several direct snaps to RBs, then you know he's not an NFL caliber starter, quality backup, or even a very good mentor.

13
by Yaxley (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:46pm

So Mike Tanier, when are you going to share that Buffalo Dip recipe?

14
by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 2:59pm

My personal favorite part of the Pats/Jags broadcast: Maroney has a nice run in the third quarter, dragging a defender for the last yard of two after solid contact. Dierdorff makes one of his favorite points that Maroney "finished his run". Then he introduces the replay: "Take a listen to this". Only the replay is without audio. So when the moment comes when the collision between Maroney and the tackler comes, Dierdorff augments it with a popping sound...like sticking your index finger in your cheek and popping it out. High comedy.

15
by acoleman (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 3:01pm

I can say this already about the playoffs. I don't know who will being going to the Superbowl, and I don't know who will win it either, but I do know that it won't be Colts in the Superbowl.

16
by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 3:40pm

You would look at the final stat line and think Eli had a terrible game, but he really didn't. It's actually getting to the point where his receivers are performing so abysmally that it might not be possible to get any feel for how good he is or can be. I spent most of my time flipping back and forth between the Pats-Jags game and the Giants-Saints game, and it was as striking a contrast as you could ever find. Brady was spraying the ball all over the yard-partly because he was having accuracy issues and partly because when he was placing the ball, the coverage was good enough that he needed to put the ball somewhere where only the receiver had a shot at it-and his collection of no-name receivers were absolutely going balls to the wall for him. They were jumping and diving and reaching out to pluck balls from right above the turf with a defender right with them. Then I flipped over to the Giants game and watched someone in blue drop another pass. If Eli put the ball on the body of a Giants receiver, they dropped the ball. If he didn't get the ball on the body...well, then the receiver would go into his post-play disgusted gesticulating WHILE THE BALL WAS STILL IN THE AIR. The lack of any effort to go get the ball was astounding, and it wasn't just from one guy.

17
by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 3:43pm

#11,
I live smack-dab in the middle of the lower 48 and I've got NFLN on Dish Network.

18
by Boots Day (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 4:11pm

Can someone point me to all the playoff scenarios including Wild Card berths? All I can find anywhere are the official NFL scenarios, which cover only division winners, for some stupid reason.

19
by Gordon (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 4:15pm

Some random thoughts:

The June kids always know what they’re getting on Christmas Eve, cause daddy can’t wrap anything up.

That's hilarious.

Did anyone see that Hawaii bowl game? I refuse to believe anyone named either Smith or Quinn deserved any award they got more than Colt Brennan. You can say "system quarterback" all day long, but you don't throw for 5500 yards with a 72% completion rate by Mark Brunell-ing the opposition to death. I really want to see him in the NFL; I wonder how good he'll be against a pro-caliber pass rush.

I have no idea what Accuscore is, even after reading the website. 78% NFL game predictions is crazy, if it's true, but I don't believe everything I read. What is Accuscore?

Go Eagles (and Scarlet Knights, if you're into that college thing)!

20
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 4:17pm

Aaron: I would still rather have Leinart.

If you were watching the first ten minutes of the game, this opinion is not surprising. But if you watch Cutler over the last couple games, I think you might change your mind.

His pocket awareness is poor, but there are signs of improvement. He fumbles a snap a game, but that surely can't go on. He stares down a receiver on occasion, but that too, will be coached away. All these are rookie things... as he gets more experience, he will process more information faster.

On the plus side, his arm strength is impressive, his accuracy (except on screens, for some reason) is very good, he can make plays with his feet, and most importantly, he doesn't seem to ever get flustered.

Denver RT George Foster sucks.

Amen. Meadows was healthy, apparently, wonder why he didn't play.

Darrent Williams injured his back, which is why Paymah was in. I wish Shanahan wasn't so in love with the kid. When we get real safeties back on the field, I think Domonique Foxworth should start across from Champ.

And, on the end-arounds, c'mon Aaron. You may not have noticed that they accomplished their goal: making the Bengals D hesitate. The running game opened up in the second half, and the end-arounds were part of the reason why.

The Broncos got away with this one, but if we can beat the 49ers, hello number 5 seed. This is a flawed team, but so are many of the others. In the playoffs, anything might happen...

21
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 4:49pm

Nobody can tell you what Accuscore is; you have to see it for yourself.

22
by dryheat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 5:00pm

#19....How does he compare to Timmy Chang? I think the fact that the all-time D1 passer was an NFL afterthought coming out of Jones' system doesn't bode well for Mr. Brennan.

23
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 5:09pm

I loved the June comment as well.

Is there any way for the Broncos and Colts to play in a Wild-Card game? It would be hilarious for the Colts to make some kind of insane Superbowl run.

24
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 5:16pm

Is it possible that the Giants hate Coughlin and each other so much they're actually trying to lose, South Park Cows softball-style? And if Coughlin's Randy Marsh, who is Batdad? Parcells? Lovie Smith? No, it's got to be Holmgren, and the 'Hawks certainly are the Losingest Losers in the playoffs . . .

25
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 5:43pm

Could somebody at FO at least pretend that the Bills and Titans played an interesting game this week? Maybe take one guy off of the Patriots beat?

26
by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 5:54pm

This just in from Accuscore: With yesterday’s win over Jacksonville, New England’s regular season franchise won-lost record stands at .500 (349-349-1) for the first time since Sunday Morning, September 21, 1969. At long last, the curse of Marty Schottenheimer (Patriots LB 1969-70) has been lifted!

On a completely unrelated note, I think DVOA might be suggesting the Jags have Super Bowl level talent on the field and replacement level coaching on the sidelines. So if you’re the Jags owner and/or GM or whoever it is that would make the call and you see that you have this window of opportunity, who could you target as the guy to get you to the championship game?

27
by rationalfan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 5:58pm

7

That's an interesting idea... I have no idea how much having one less blocker will affect things but it's a good point. (A bit like baseball - I don't know why there aren't players running in to back up a base on every throw, not just to home plate).

Alternatively, the teams could line the kicker slightly farther away so that the holder/kicker have more time to recover the ball in case the snap is bad. Or do both, really - the pressure of having one fewer blocker would be alleviated by having your kicker farther away.

28
by Raj (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 5:58pm

My biggest concern of cutler would be his lack of pocket awareness. I can think of a couple of sacks against SD, where he drifted into the pass rusher. Had he stepped up in the pocket, he could have avoided them. I feel that his other problems - staring at the receivers, slow to figure out coverages etc can be fixed with coaching/time but I am not sure if a QB can imrpove pocket awareness.
On the other hand, Cutler's biggest strength over others must be his ability to complete in tight windows. I beleive that in addition to arm strength, you need accuracy and a different mind set to make those throws. It was impressive that he completed some 3rd downs with such throws over the last 2 games

29
by morganja (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 6:00pm

Panthers-Falcons game was a great game to watch with some very interesting formations and plays. The Panthers pulled their quarterback for almost every thrid down play. But since no one saw it up there I guess it didn't really happen.

Seriously, it wouldn't kill you guys to watch someone besides the Patriots every week. I'm just concerned what's going to happen to you all when the patriots start having losing seasons again. It kind of looks right around the corner. Should we sock some money away now for some counseling?

30
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 7:07pm

#29: Seriously, it wouldn’t kill you guys to watch someone besides the Patriots every week.

Uh. If you're a fan of the Panthers, should you watch Seahawks games, in case the Panthers start to have losing seasons?

Jeez.

31
by David Lewin (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 8:25pm

#22

Timmy Chang was an accumulater, he got all those yards because he threw a lot. His efficiency was mediocre. Brennan set a new record for passing efficiency this year, averaged almost ten yards per attempts and set the TD record, he is much better than Timmy Chang. Now that doesn't necessarily make him all that good, and the offense helps him out quite a bit, but he is on a different level than Timmy Chang.

32
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 9:00pm

What I don't understand is why top schools don't build systems that allow their quarterbacks to average 10 yards per attempt.

33
by admin :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 10:28pm

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.

The Football Outsiders FAQ (click name) has a complete list of which writers follow which teams and if you don't like it, tough cookies. We decided from the very beginning of Audibles last year that we were either going write about the games we would have watched anyway, or we would not do the column at all.

We force you all to read critiques of the Lions and Texans each week, but for some reason we never get complaints about that.

34
by theory (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 10:38pm

No mention of the "roughing" the passer call against the Jags' Clint Ingram? He gave Brady a very slight shove after he released the ball, and the ref threw the flag. There was a lot of outrage over "QB trips over a guy on the ground" call last week, but this seemed 20 times worse... at least the QB was roughed by something on that play. I guess it's time to replace linemen with a 7-Mississippi rule.

35
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 11:09pm

After doing a little research, it seems that stud RBs LT, LJ, and Steven Jackson have already crossed the dreaded 370 touches mark. (Edge, Rudi Johson, Thomas Jones, and Frank Gore should all come close too). Should we expect a drop off in production next year from those that pass the mark? Is LT good enough to beat it, very few have?

36
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 11:27pm

If I had my way, no sentence or comment anywhere on the internet would ever start with "Uh,". I will make it a goal to point this out enough so that everybody who thinks of starting a sentence in writing with "Uh" will consciously think about it and then not do it.

I will now go back to my hole for pretentious grouchy Viking fans.

37
by Raj (not verified) :: Mon, 12/25/2006 - 11:42pm

#35 LT has only 332 carries for the year.

38
by Kyle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 12:25am

#37 LDT has 332 carries, but #35 referred to his total touches. Combining the 332 carries with 54 receptions, LDT is sitting at 386 with one game left plus the playoffs.

39
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 12:54am

I think it's 370 carries, and more like 400 touches, and playoffs are sometimes included, sometimes not. It's not a magic number or anything. Just in general, the more carries beyond 330 or so that a halfback has, the worse off he'll be next year. In other words, LJ is screwed, LT might be screwed, SJax will probably be OK.

40
by blahblahfalcons (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:00am

"Panthers-Falcons game was a great game to watch"

No. Just... no. It was excruciating football. Both teams should be kicked out of the NFL for at least a season. That goes for the rest of the NFC, actually.

41
by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:10am

Re: #34 Ingram took a step or two AFTER Brady had released the ball before shoving the QB. In a saner world, what happened wouldn't have been flagged. Maybe the ref would have given him a warning and let it go. However, the penalty call was more or less in line with how that foul has been interpreted all year. As ticky-tack as it was, it was still in no way as bad as the roughing call against Wilfork for lying on the ground as Harrington tripped over his head. If you'd seen the play, you'd understand.

42
by Jericho (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 2:02am

So apparently despite playing a third string QB, despite it raining like crazy, and despite playing a terrible run defense that Ronnie Brown was gashing for 6 yards a pop, the Dolphins felt the nedd to go pass wacky and lose. Nice! Way to go Dolphins! No wonder you suck!

43
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 2:10am

#16... I was at the game and saw pretty much the same thing. The overanalysis of all things Eli has allowed the fact that the o-line has completely gone in the tank to go unnoticed. Charles Grant seemed to be in the backfield all game and they should change the name of that movie from "John Tucker..." to "Bob Whitfield must die". While I've heard the excuse of "Eli sucks" so there's eight men in the box, that doesn't explain the team's complete decline in short yardage situations. The drops did seem to be a problem for both teams as Bush dropped 4 of the first 5 passes thrown to him.

I spent all Christmas night explaining to my family I lost my voice screaming "Fire Coughlin". He's simply not the right personality for this group.

44
by farkerzulu (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 2:11am

(A bit like baseball - I don’t know why there aren’t players running in to back up a base on every throw, not just to home plate).

There should be, and on a good team, there usually are - with nobody on, the catcher usually backs up throws to first, pitchers should back up throws from the outfield to third, and the outfielders should always be ready to charge in to get errant throws to second.

45
by hector (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 2:25am

Tremendous debunk of Gumbel, Doug. You've really nailed it. I couldn't agree more.

46
by Sergio (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 2:44am

re: 39

And quoting my trusty PFP, 2006:

"[...]This suggests that carries are a better indicator of worload than touches."

Also, from the same article:

"It looks like postseason carries matter, with a total of 390 carries forming a barrier equivalent to 370 regular-season carries."

To non-owners: Buy the books. They're really, really good.

47
by Raj (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 3:07am

I think LT must have the best chance in this group to overcome workload curse. I heard during the telecast of some game that coaches allow him to take practices off to keep him fresh for the games.

48
by ygold (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 4:04am

I don't have the stats, but I've also read that LT runs out of bounds alot instead of taking a hit for a few more yards. I think Jim Brown criticized him in the beginning of the year for this.

49
by Ben B. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 4:26am

From watching all the San Diego games this year, it does seem like Tomlinson probably saves himself about 1-2 hits per game over the average running back by going out of bounds. Also, Tomlinson doesn't get preseason carries.

50
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 8:56am

Now, it's official. The last NFC playoff will be earned by a 8-8 team at best. The problem is all "contenders" will play away on Sunday. There are good chances that the #6 seed will be a team with a losing record. This is the games scheduled:Giants @ RedskinsFalcons @ EaglesPanthers @ SaintsPackers @ BearsRams @ Vikings

51
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 9:17am

Now, it's official. The last NFC playoff will be earned by a 8-8 team at best. The problem is all "contenders" will play away on Sunday. There are good chances that the #6 seed will be a team with a losing record. This is the games scheduled: Giants @ Redskins; Falcons @ Eagles; Panthers @ Saints; Packers @ Bears; Rams @ Vikings.

52
by Steve Greenwell (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 9:36am

50 and 51: I've always thought this is an unintended consequence of the the NFL's parity. At least from casual observation, it seems like every year it's becoming more of a race to the middle. Then again, I was a kid when the Cowboys and 49ers were dominating the league, so it could just be a sort of mystique factor at work.

Of course, the NFL still isn't close to the NBA and NHL, where marginal, deeply flawed teams get into the playoffs each year. Baseball is a little different, since only 8 teams make the postseason and there is a much greater sample of games to determine who's good and who isn't.

53
by jdb (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 10:07am

re:Hawai'i (correct spelling lifted from that bastion of cultural sensitivity, the Worldwide Leader) and Colt Brennan

as #31 pointed out, Timmy Chang just threw and threw and threw, e.g. his numbers were purely a product of the system. But besides setting the NCAA record for single season TD passes and almost for passing yds and leading the nation in like a bazillion offensive categories (no doubt helped massively by the runn'gun) Brennan also nearly broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency. A significant portion of those yards are from YAC, but he's also on an entirely different level from Chang as previously noted. He's a better athlete, he has a stronger arm (not a rocket, but pretty good), has a super quick (if kind of funky) release, can make plays with his feet when needed and has mobility to avoid the rush (don't know how he'd do against an NFL pass rush). I'd peg him as the 2nd-4th QB taken in the 08' draft (in the mix w/Brohm, Matt Ryan from BC, JaMarcus Russell from LSU and Henne from Michigan). As a Bears fan he reminds me a little bit of McMahon (crazy record breaking college passing attack, scrambling, quirky and kind of weird, w/out the same arm strength though).

For anyone who doesn't watch Hawai'i football, it's awesome. Guaranteed 400+ yds and 4 TDs passing per game, plus they have a 260 pound tailback and another tailback who's at least 300 pounds. And there's a definite warrior culture to it-their defense isn't the greatest but they hit super hard and scare the crap out of people (be honest-the idea of a bunch of huge, angry Hawaiian dudes bearing down on you in the pocket out for blood is scary).

54
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 10:23am

RE Ingram's roughing call: Sure it was a baby-soft hit. In fact, I don't even think it moved Brady. But the fact is, he was more than five yards away when Brady released the ball, had momentarily stopped (or at least slowed way down), then took two or three steps at Brady for the sole purpose of touching his chest. He should get flagged for stupidity, if not roughing. It was one of the stranger plays I've seen recently.

55
by Paulo Sanchotene, Brazil (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 10:33am

Re #52: Steve, the problem is not just parity. Those teams are not playing well at all. It's good that there are 7 teams fighting for 2 playoff spots, but - come on! - Green Bay? Saint Louis? 1-6 Giants? Those 7 teams, and Seattle, play against themselves more than their opponents. There is parity on AFC but the teams are also better...

56
by Justanothersteve (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 11:22am

re: MDS Which game will NBC want?

and the answer is Packers @ Bears. Maybe the network will promoting that this might be #4's last game in a Packers' uniform. Of course, the scary part is that the game may actually have playoff implications. As a Packers fan, I'll be watching (besides, I'm too old to go out drinking on New Year's Eve). But will anyone not a fan of these teams care?

57
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 11:48am

"I’m not suggesting Brady is not a good quarterback, but something has been bothering him this year. I’m no Will Carroll, but his throws this year have not been as accurate as years past. He also hasn’t been throwing deep. It has been attributed to the fact that he doesn’t have connection with his receivers, but that’s getting old. I have been critical that the Patriots don’t have a deep attack playbook, and I’m beginning to worry that it is carried out of necessity rather than game planning."

I've been saying that all year, and no one believes me. Theres something wrong with Brady.

58
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 12:59pm

Re:56

I will certainly care if it has playoff implications. I have been rooting for the Packers to sneak into the playoffs since they were 4-8. I think that it would be great to see Farve in the playoffs one last time*.

*not guarenteed

59
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:00pm

Is there any way for GB to beat out the Giants of strength of victory if both of them win?

60
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:11pm

Is there any way for GB to beat out the Giants of strength of victory if both of them win?

Yes, if the Packers' opponents run the table, while the Giants' opponents all lose out. See this graphic for details.

61
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:21pm

Hey thanks Travis for the quick info. So only eight other games need to go right for it to happen, good to know.

62
by Peter Griffin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:23pm

be honest-the idea of a bunch of huge, angry Hawaiian dudes bearing down on you in the pocket out for blood is scary

I don't want them moving to Spooner Street.

63
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:29pm

So only eight other games need to go right for it to happen, good to know.

"Only" eight. The odds on such a parlay (Detroit is a 13 point underdog, Arizona 13.5, San Francisco 11, Miami 9) are astronomical.

64
by jebmak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:32pm

Right, right, I was just using understatement for effect. Essentially impossible.

65
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 1:45pm

Accuscore improves gas mileage by at least 10 MPG, but is a leading cause of alopecia universalis. What is Accuscore?

I'm still puzzled why we in Boston got treated to Fox showing us the Niners/Cards game. Did they just not have the rights to any other game?

Right now, I'm having a hard time finding any reason why the Saints won't come out of the NFC for the Super Bowl. As an Eagles fan, I'm trying hard to find one.

66
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 3:01pm

Re: Tomlinson, with 332 carries.

It's carries and not touches. If you factor in touches, Tomlinson has had 390 or more touches every single year he's been in the NFL.

Touches really don't seem to play much into it, it's carries. Tomlinson has only had one year over 370 (where he eclipsed it by 2, at a very young age). 339 seems to be the magic number for Tomlinson. He's had 339 carries in 3 of his seasons.

Looking at a list of the top 30 rushers in the NFL this year, not only is LJ above the 370 mark, but he appears to be the only RB this year that will eclipse it. There's a huge drop off carries from LJ at #1 in carries to LdT at #2. and I find it VERY unlikely that LdT, Edgerrin James, and Rudi Johnson all see 40+ carry games this week.

67
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 3:16pm

#60... Isn't that impossible considering the Eagles and the Falcons play each other and the Giants beat both of those teams? One of them has to win.

It's nice to see the Times doing it's work so diligently.

68
by steve hasegawa (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 3:54pm

Accuscore adherents believe in the prophecies of a 14th-century Jewish-Japanese mystic who supposedly deciphered a divine language in the rustling of undergarments. Accuscore agents infiltrated the CIA in the 1960s and used their position to launch a massive misinformation campaign resulting in widespread belief in the entirely fictive nation of Venezuela. That one got away from them a little bit. What is Accuscore?

69
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 4:02pm

RE #67 kevinNYC
The grapic seems to work out to me. The Eagles and Falcons are listed with either record they'll have whether they win or lose, and the final wins vs losses for the Giants strength of victory count is the same either way, 52-76.

The Packers need a LOT of help.

70
by witless chum (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 4:16pm

"We force you all to read critiques of the Lions and Texans each week, but for some reason we never get complaints about that."

Complain! I sat through the Lions games once already. Why make me relive it? Maybe you should write about my dogs dieing or something instead.

You could just replace the Lions critique with a "Fire Millen" chant. His last #1 reciever pick couldn't make a play to beat the Bears. Had the ball in his hands on a perfect throw from Kitna that would have won the game.

Poor Kitna. He hasn't been great, but he's been good enough to be at least 8-8 for most teams. Ah, Lions fans, how we dream of 8-8.

71
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 4:32pm

The reason nobody complains about critiques of the Lions and Texans is because it's always so funny. Although as this season winds down, it seems as though the world has finally run out of Matt Millen jokes.

72
by Jeremiah (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 5:13pm

"Incidentally, the Colts had Rob Morris in basically all game. So he’s not the answer."

Gah, whoever thought he was the answer? Most Colts fans, I hope, could have told you 2-3 years ago that Rob Morris wasn't any good.

73
by Snidely (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 5:24pm

Can somebody please explain what's happened to the Giants? I'm dyin' ovah heah.

74
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 5:24pm

I think the Texans / Lions games and the reason nobody complains about them, outside of feeling horrifically bad for their fans, is that nobody ever hears anything about either team. They're never showed on primetime, their players are rarely ever mentioned (your "average" football fan could probably name only 2 people on the entire Texans team, and 1 of them because he was drafted over Reggie Bush).

Meanwhile, over the past 5 years, the Patriots have been the Notre Dame of the NFL. Since their run, Pats fans have popped up all over the place, and get a ridiculous amount of coverage regardless of what they do, how they do it, constant debates all over other football sites about whether Dan Koppen is the best Center in the NFL. I really think it just boils down to the fans of the 31 other teams in the league are sick of hearing about the Patriots. And it happens on this site (though to a much lesser degree than other places. Still, when was the last Quick Reads where Tom Brady didn't get a specific comment? Still, FO is significantly less biased than other sources and you rarely see their writers trying to justify bad play or spend time just revelling in good play)

That said, I don't think it's really fair to fault the FO staff for writing about the teams they watch, especially given the nature of this column, where it's emails sent to each other while watching their favorite teams. FO staff are fans first, they're going to want to watch the teams they root for, and considering how much people pay to read FO (nothing), they have 0 Obligation to even write this column at all, if they didn't want to. If you don't especially like reading about the Patriots in this column every week, the games are pretty clearly labeled. Just skip that section.

75
by morganja (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 6:32pm

Perhaps it is the comments concerning games that they clearly did not see. Maybe just skip over those games. Box Scores don't really tell you what is going on. The Panthers-Falcons game was a fun hard-nosed game, with one team using a formation hardly ever seen in the NFL with dramatic sucess. The game brought up many points that are worth talking about and considering, especially how they effect DVOA. It was by far the most interesting game of the week from a football fan's perspective.

76
by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 6:42pm

66:

My worry about Tomlinson is that he'll pass 390 carries including the playoffs. He is only a little younger than Shaun Alexander when he passed 390 carries, so its is not inconceivable that it will affect him. If LT just passes 390 and his decline next year is just an average post-career-year decline, he could play into his mid- or late-30s at a starter-quality level if his work load is kept low (unlike Dickerson's), which would probably get him up near the top of the all-time rushing list and guarantee a spot in the Hall of Fame for him.

77
by chris clark (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 6:51pm

74: I don't think the complaint was so much about NE coverage, as a request for more other teams coverage. I live in the Boston area, so I certainly get as much Pats coverage as I need/want, especially as a non-fan (former fan). And, I certainly don't expect the FO writers to change which teams they are fans of just to fulfill my needs.

However, if FO were to actively recruit some writers who were fans of other teams, it could easily be a positive. The TEN/BUF game mentioned is just a good example of a pair of teams I would (also) like to know more about, because I do expect that at least one of them is a potential playoff team in the next few years, and I'd like to know more about them before that happens, rather then just in retrospect.

78
by Mike (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 7:25pm

#26-- By my count (I went back and checked the year-by-year standings) the Patriots actually reached .500 (for the first time since September '69) on October 30 this year when they beat the Vikings, which brought their all-time regular-season record to 343-343-9. As of today, their all-time regular-season record is 348-346-9; their all-time playoff record is 17-11. Has Accuscore got something against New England? What is Accuscore anyway?

79
by joeymeyer (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 7:41pm

The great thing about the internet is that you can scroll right past the voluminous Patriots commentary if you wish. That's what I do.

"Could somebody at FO at least pretend that the Bills and Titans played an interesting game this week? Maybe take one guy off of the Patriots beat?"

See this? It's the world's smallest violin ...

80
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 8:30pm

Not sure if this is the place for commenting but how about someone giving the New York Jets Offensive line and offensive coordinator some love and their defense too.

It's all about Pennington and the Man"geniu", but their offensive line is the reason Pennington is able to have time, and it seems like they have the ability to send out 4 receivers on most plays... so even if the two that run beyond 20 yards are decoys, they take some defensive players with them underneath.

Although truthfully if it weren't for spurious field conditions I don't think the Jets put up the ridiculous YAC circa-1980s 49ers...

Maybe it's because I only saw the ESPN love-fest aftermath today, but I think the Jets are your prototypical "one and done" team in the playoffs... and again, when I think of those matchups I think "They beat the Pats and came close to beating the Colts".

I'm sick of all the media folks saying they love parity as well. The reason you love it is because it keeps the ratings good... but comon... there aren't enough QBs to start for all the teams...

81
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 8:55pm

... what was funny about Bills-Titans was the blatent PI on Losman's intercepted ball.

It looks like the Titans CB just about tackled the WR waiting for the ball to come down. Granted I only saw it on the bottom park of the screen maybe the 3rd time I saw the highlights...

82
by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 12/26/2006 - 9:17pm

However, if FO were to actively recruit some writers who were fans of other teams, it could easily be a positive....

If FO wants to change Audibles from highlights of internal conversations to a game-by-game look at Sunday, then your proposal makes sense. I prefer the idea of just eavesdropping on the internal conversations.

83
by Grizzled Old Scout (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 12:02am

I shudder at the thought of Chuck Norris one day using Accuscore.

84
by Bill (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:16am

I can say with some confidence that none of the authors read box scores and offers a pithy token comment about a game. Instead, if one of us sees highlights of a game, bonus coverage of a game, or part of a game out of the corner of our eye at a bar, we might offer up a comment or two. I know I have enough respect for the readers that I wouldn't pretend to watch a game and comment on it -- instead, I'd rather just say nothing about it.

The Jets offensive line was pretty solid last week outside of the times that D'Brickashaw Ferguson was handling Jason Taylor one on one. That's more a schematic complaint than a performance-related one, though.

85
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:20pm

Aaron, Maybe you should put the "Games are chosen..." sentence in bold and all caps or something? Or maybe put it under each and every single one of the game headings? Since we have to read the same exact complaint every single god-forsaken week, it's pretty obvious that some people just don't understand the impetus behind the Audibles articles.

I blame you for not making it more excruciatingly obvious. [/sarcasm]

86
by Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 2:57pm

57

I haven't seen a lot of the Patriots this year, but couldn't what is wrong with Tom Brady be his receivers? His top target at wideout is Reche Caldwell. Yes, the same Reche Caldwell that never quite made it into a prominent role despite being part of a sub-par Chargers receiving core. That could be affecting his deep passing game. Maybe there is something wrong with him too, but no Deion Branch and no David Givens isn't helping any.

87
by Joel_in_NOLA (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 3:12pm

#12 and yet, he (Delhome) was still miles better than Aaron Brooks when he was the Saints Backup and Haslett still wouldn't yank Aaron, even when he had an obvious shoulder injury weeks before the end of the season.

(Smacks Head)

88
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 4:46pm

86

That might be the case, except hes missing Faulk, Troy Brown, and pretty much everyone else too. Hes just not accurate.

It really seems like his timing is way off on simple crossing routes. He almost always throws WAY behind the reciever... its amazing he hasnt been picked off on more of those. As much as people Reche-Hate, hes been doing a pretty damn good job catching all the crap brady has been throwing at his feet/behind him/2 yards out of bounds/3 feet over him/etc.

89
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 5:10pm

Well, Brady is still 6th in the league in DPAR. Yes, he's way off last year's pace, but the distribution of DPAR across the league this year is very different than last year (more in the middle, fewer at the ends).

90
by bowman (not verified) :: Wed, 12/27/2006 - 6:07pm

Attached is an article claiming that Brady wants a fine on Jag's Ingram (rookie LB) for a hit on him while diving for a first down. Nevermind that Brady was diving (not sliding), that Ingram should have an opportunity to stop the forward progress of the dive (to prevent the 1st down), and that Brady apparently "faked" a slide earlier in the game in order to pick up more yards.

Perhaps Brady was offended by not getting an ejection from Ingram's previous late hit?

91
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 4:42pm

Re: 90

While a quarterback diving (as opposed to sliding) is allowed to be tackled, and the defense has the right to try to stop his forward progress, it doesn't mean the defender can do a cheap-shot spear like Ingram did. Brady is perfuctly justified in wanting the league to nail Ingram for that.

92
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 7:00pm

"As mentioned above, Colts had only six possessions — 3 TDs, 1 FG, 1 punt, 1 fumble."

Hate to nitpick, but the Colts technically had 7 possessions: 3 TDs, 1 FG, 1 punt, 1 fumble, and 1 eight second kneel-down to end the first half. Yeah, those eight seconds aren't likely to help much, but they could've attempted a Hail Mary pass instead of taking a knee.

93
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/28/2006 - 7:28pm

Looks like Ingram's cheapshotting is taught right from the top:

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio took the matter one step further,
suggesting on the website that Brady got what he deserved for not
sliding in the first half, when defenders backed off because they
thought he would slide.

"They should have speared him then," Del Rio said. "You go face-first
and you're a runner."

Screw you, Del Rio. I'm glad it was the Patriots who pretty much knocked your skanky ass out of the playoffs.

94
by bowman (not verified) :: Fri, 12/29/2006 - 12:14pm

90,91,93 The league didn't issue a fine. Apparently it's OK to hit a QB when he's diving. If Brady wants to draw the personal foul, he needs to slide.

95
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Sat, 12/30/2006 - 1:33pm

Re: Titans-Bills Comment in Post 81
I just re-watched Losman's hail-mary and it is hilarious.

Chris Hope just wipes Josh Reed out of the play completely, while the ball is in the air. You can't get any more blatent than he was, and the official just let it go. Even though there were 5 Titans and 2 Bill WRs who had a chance, I just don't know why it wasn't called.

96
by AccuScore (not verified) :: Sat, 01/13/2007 - 9:39pm

I about shot beer out of my nose. That was some seriously funny stuff there! My favorite is: "I shudder at the thought of Chuck Norris one day using Accuscore."

Best of luck to you guys and make fun of us anytime, we love it!

~The AccuScore Guys

By the way, were you aware that AccuScore is the leading cause of impotence in male Orangutans?