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This week: Josh Shaw lies, Steve Smith intimidates, Le'Veon Bell relaxes, Matt Simms dances, and Clint Trickett kisses and tells.

17 Oct 2006

Audibles Special: Arizona Shocks, Arizona Chokes

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.

Each Monday, the FO staff generally does not send around e-mails to each other during Monday Night Football. But this week proved to be a little different. Remember that we don't normally do Audibles for Monday Night Football, so people weren't necessarily sitting at their computers making comments all game. As always with Audibles, the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited.

THE FIRST HALF

Mike Tanier: WTF is going on in this Monday night game?

Aaron Schatz: I just called Michael David Smith once my DVR caught up with the game and literally, those were my first three words. WHAT THE ****?

The serious answers:

1) The Bears played the first quarter or so like they didn't care at all.

2) The Bears' offensive tackles look horrible. HORRIBLE.

3) Matt Leinart rules all zone coverage. Oh, hello -- a hole in the zone. Ping. First down. Oh, look, a hole in the zone. Ping. Touchdown.

4) Rex Grossman has no idea what he's doing. I mean, on that last interception, #54 was standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. How did he not see that guy?

By the way, notice that there's one thing on Arizona that's not clicking. Edge is still getting two yards per carry.

Question: If Arizona wins, and wins by a significant margin, is this the biggest regular-season upset in NFL history?

P.S. Can we have Charles Barkley in the booth permanently? For all sports?

Tim Gerheim: I just saw one of the greatest things ever during this game. It wasn't something one of the teams did; it was on the crawl at the bottom. The Texans cut Philip Buchanon! Huzzah!

Doug Farrar: Arizona's defense is playing out of its collective mind. Eric Green thinks he's Ronnie Lott or something...

What I'm seeing from Leinart is a lot of quick drop-and-throws, play action rollouts, shotgun formation -- it's as if, for the first time, Dennis Green is actually planning around the fact that his offensive line just blows, unlike a certain Seahawks coach who thought he could get away with four-wide sets against this defense. Watching Leinart in the preseason was absolutely painful; I said in the staff predictions article that he might lead the team in rushing, and I wasn't kidding. His only offensive option was to find a seam and run like hell as everything collapsed around him.

Now, he seems to be controlling things, knowing full well that if he doesn't play to that internal clock, he's gonna die. Perhaps it took the idea of this front four against that offensive line to scare the entire Cardinals franchise out of entropy?

THE SECOND HALF

Aaron Schatz: Ned isn't going to have time, so I need somebody to volunteer to write an Any Given Monday special, unless the Bears actually manage to come back in this thing.

I went through my 1983-2005 game scores sheet, trying to find the biggest regular-season upsets. Here's what I have:

2004 Week 14: 2-11 Miami over 12-1 New England
1998 Week 15: 6-8 Giants over 14-0 Denver
1997 Week 8: 2-4 Raiders over 6-0 Denver
1997 Week 12: 0-10 Indianapolis over 8-2 Green Bay
1992 Week 8: 1-6 Phoenix over 6-1 San Francisco
1986 Week 7: 0-6 Green Bay over 4-2 Cleveland

Anyone remember some before 1983?

Doug Farrar: Oh, yawn ... there's Mike Brown with another defensive touchdown. Oliver Ross looking for UFOs again.

Tim Gerheim: It could have been anybody returning that fumble all of, what, seven yards. Why is it always Mike Brown?

Ned Macey: It is pretty well established that James is producing almost nothing as a running back. My question is why is he going out on third down -- isn't one of his strengths as a receiver/blocker? Was he in on the sack/fumble/touchdown?

Aaron Schatz: Hey, I remember that guy, that's the guy who always played against the Patriots in an Indianapolis uniform.

Seriously, Edge is now at 30 carries, 56 yards. Is he even going to reach 1,000 yards this season?

Bill Barnwell: Call off the Any Given Monday special.

Ned Macey: Edgerrin James' problems in a nutshell: When asked why he suddenly started dominating, Urlacher replies with "First of all, they weren't blocking me." Good lord, what a disaster.

Bill Barnwell: I think we have to give Neil Rackers the "Keep Choppin' Wood" award at this point.

Jason Beattie: Loser League Rackers is back, baby!

I'm just glad the Bears pulled that out at the end. I convinced my wife to pick Arizona over Oakland in a Loser Survivor pool this week, and apparently it was going to be solely my fault if Arizona won. Phew...

Aaron Schatz: I vote for Edge and the entire Arizona offensive line for Keep Choppin' Wood. 36 carries, 55 yards, and a lost fumble. I'm sorry for Rackers, but come on. He never should have been in that position.

Honestly, they cannot run the ball and Leinart was killing the zone coverage. Dennis Green should be fired tomorrow for his offensive play calling.

Doug Farrar: Why wait until tomorrow? I couldn't believe he called those running plays at the end.

Vin Gauri: Definitely a head-scratcher. Just taking what the defense gave him, Leinart was 5 of 6 on that final drive before the two gives to Edge.

Bill Barnwell: In all fairness, Joe Theismann was saying "They should NOT run the ball here" right before Green ran the two rushing plays in a row. If you're going to build an offensive philosophy around doing the opposite of what Joe Theismann says, I don't think it's really too awful of an idea.

Ian Dembsky: It kills me... KILLS me that Arizona went into a run-down-the-clock nutshell to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt. Whether or not they'd get that first down is irrelevant - the only difference would have been the lack of a Grossman kneel-down if they got the first down.

You're moving the ball up the field without a problem! Keep moving the ball! Set up a 25-yard field goal! Argh! I'm so sincerely upset at the way they handled that. Pathetic, embarrassing and depressing. Oh well.

Rackers may have missed the 40-yard figgie, but there's no way Edge isn't winning KCW. How does his contract look now?

Aaron Schatz: For those playing our home game, Edge is now averaging 2.7 yards per carry, or less than either Marcel Shipp or J.J. Arrington last year.

Patrick Laverty: I was rooting so hard for the Cardinals. That would have knocked out 3/4 of the competition in my King of the Hill game. Ugh. If you haven't heard it yet, you gotta hear Denny Green's press conference after the game, "If you wanna crown their ass, crown 'em!� among other gems (an Extra Point on that is here).

Michael David Smith: The more I think about it, I really think Edgerrin James deserves more of the blame than any other person. I'm sorry, but when you're complaining about not getting the ball enough, you can't set a new NFL record for fewest yards on most carries, and you can't fumble in the last minutes.

Ned Macey: I know I'm the President of the Edgerrin James' fan club, and everyone else is rational and disagreeing with me, so I'm probably wrong. But the story is definitely one of the importance of offensive line. Look at Larry Johnson's DPAR. Are you kidding me? -6.2 DPAR from the guy we all thought was becoming the best back in football.

Meanwhile, the two guys replacing James in Indy have combined for a DPAR of 5.0 with negative DVOAs in an offense with no other changes from a year ago. Edgerrin James is at most, say, two percent of the problem in Arizona. I would argue that no current running back could have a positive DVOA behind that line.

The fumble, of course, was his fault, but it was his first fumble of the season, and we all agree returns for touchdown are luck.

Aaron Schatz: Let me end with a couple of comments I made in the MNF game discussion thread. (By the way, if you haven't read that thread, you owe it to yourself to read the 18 comments that came in within one minute of the Devin Hester touchdown.)

Here's the total DVOA for this game:
ARI: 58.7%
CHI: -50.1%

I'm not sure, but I think that's the biggest spread ever where the team where the higher DVOA for the game lost.

This is also pretty shocking:

ARI OFF pass: 48.0%
ARI OFF rush: -51.5%

Any reporter who blames this loss on Matt Leinart should have his sportswriting license revoked.

I'll have more analysis of this game later today, either on the FOX blog or in the DVOA commentary.

Posted by: admin on 17 Oct 2006

104 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2006, 2:24pm by Doug

Comments

1
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:32pm

I can't remember the last time I was so disgusted with the outcome of a football game that I went into without any rooting interest. Chicago was dominated on both sides of the ball. Their defense was outplayed by both Arizona's offense and defense, and their offense played one of the worst games we will witness all year. Only their special teams actually played pretty well, but even that allowed two long KO returns at the end of the game. If I was a Cardinals fan I would be ripsh;t right now, because Chicago deserved to win that game as much as the Jets deserved to win the AFCE last year. Just a few thoughts on that game:

* The officiating was overall very good, but the James fumble never should have happened. He ran into the line and was stopped by two defenders. They stopped his progress completely for a second before a third defender came in and started pushing the pile backwards. Finally a fourth defender came in without any concern about going for the tackle and just two-handed ripped the ball out of James' hands as he was falling down backwards. James was either stopped or moving backwards for more than 3 full seconds. If that isn't halted forward progress, I don't know what is. That was clearly a case of an officiating crew siding with a team that is getting killed in order to make the rest of the game more competitive.

* Me thinks that this was not the real Rex Grossman, but he certainly isn't the one that was throwing 4 TDs a game either. By season's end, no one will be talking about how great the Bears' O is. Footballoutsiders had a few good notes prior to this game about how the Grossman-Berrian connection was largely caused by defenses botching the coverage scheme here.

* Does anyone really think that Steve Smith would have any problem getting open on that secondary right now?

* When are NFL coaches going to realize that a 40 yard FG is not a gimme? Every year on national TV, often times in the playoffs, teams get to the 25 yard line late in the game, and then shut down their offense. Yes, the Bears had gotten a few TOs, but Arizona had just driven from the 18 to the 25 yard line pretty easily. Not only that, but there was a minute left in the game! Way too much time to think that these are going to be the final points scored. If your not inside the 20 at least, keep driving. It really isn't that hard.

* I would also like to add the idiocy of punting to the middle of the field with less than 3 minutes remaining. Chicago's offense has been putrid! Kick the ball out of bounds even if you shank it and give it to them at the 40! They need a TD to win so they still would need their best drive of the game to get it! Just don't give them a returnable kick!

* All that said, the biggest bone-head move of the game, and the one that likely cost Arizona the most, was Arrington's taunting penalty after the KO return. Hey, kid, you just got your team out beyond the 40 yard line to start their drive. Get the hell off the field as fast as you can. Don't spike the ball and certainly don't go and get back into the guys face after the refs look the other way when the spiked ball should have brought a flag anyway. Just unbelievably stupid. Mindblowingly so. Easily the dumbest thing I have seen so far this season.

I am now convinced more than ever that Chicago won't even make it to the SB, let alone win it. I realize the faultiness of reading too much into one game, but I was on this train of thought before the game.

2
by G (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:34pm

Thanks for the special edition audibles guys

3
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:35pm

Sorry for the double post, but I am an idiot. I copied this post from another board and forgot to remove the footballoutsiders plug. I would have to assume that you are aware of a discussion on your own site.

4
by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:38pm

There's two easy conclusion to take from this game. Rex Grossman is an excellant game manager, and Matt Leinart is simply a glory boy only concerned about stats.

5
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:49pm

That Forward Progress ruling is a by-product of them holding off on blowing whistles.... but why wasn't that changed to a reviewable play when they allowed "down by contact fumbles" to be challeneged this year?

Since it's hard to judge, I think there should be a .5 yard or 1 yard window where defenses can push a player back and strip the ball. Not sure if that fumble applied.

It's not the first time a player had his FP stopped and fumbled, although most of the time it's when they are "fighting for yards".

What an awesome game! There's so many different entertaining aspects... when is the last time a team scored 3 non-offensive TDs in one half?!

The punt return TD is why I would train my QB up in the whole "quick kick" thing.

Didn't Denny Green learn not to trust the kicker after the 1998 debacle?

6
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:49pm

Aaron:

Last year:

Eagles-Rams Week 15 game from 05 (Eagles -69.8%, Rams 46.3%), Eagles win 17-16

Some other notable choke jobs:

Seahawks-Giants Week 12 from 05 (Seahawks -23.2%, Giants 54.7%), Seahawks win 24-21

Cowboys-Eagles Week 10 game from 05 (Eagles 40.4%, Cowboys -41.4%), Cowboys win 21-20

7
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:53pm

#5 Matthew,

It’s not the first time a player had his FP stopped and fumbled, although most of the time it’s when they are “fighting for yards�.

Yes. You are correct, and I should have said that in my post, but it was going to be a little long. I don't feel bad when a players is stopped by one guy, is wrestling with him to get a little further and loses the ball to another guy in the process.

But when a player fumbles the ball nearly 3 yards from where their forward progress had been stopped I take issue with it.

8
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:53pm

Matthew Furtek #5:

What an awesome game! There’s so many different entertaining aspects… when is the last time a team scored 3 non-offensive TDs in one half?!

You are a Redskins fan and don't remember the Vikings-Giants game from last year? The Vikings scored on an interception return in the 2nd quarter, and a kick and punt return in the 3rd quarter. Two quarters, three non-offensive scores.

9
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:54pm

I'm assuming the conversation is going to shift from the Extra Points section to here, so a few words:

-This wasn't Denny Green's fault, nor was it particularly bad playcalling. My one major complaint would be that the Cardinals didn't try a quarterback sneak on 3rd and 1, as I didn't think James would make it back to the line of scrimmage. That said, seeing as Rackers hooked the kick left, it really wouldn't have made that much of a difference.

-The Cardinals had a good gameplan for attacking that defense, but it clearly had an expiration date. The Cardinals spread the defense horizontally and attacked it short, and it worked very well for a quarter. After that, they really had nowhere to go. They couldn't run the ball, they couldn't run play action and they couldn't attack vertically because their blocking wouldn't hold up. Chicago adjusted and started trying to tip the ball at the line of scrimmage rather than sacking Leinart, and they batted down a good five or six balls.

-What happened to the Cardinals the last two weeks will happen to any team that has such a poor ground game. It's happened to the Jets three times this year, although the team hung on in each case. You need to be able to run down the clock, but every called run has virtually no chance of success, and it puts you in 2nd and 3rd and long, with the choice of either calling draw plays to eat up clock or throwing low percentage passes that stop the clock. If anything, I actually would have called a few more runs on 3rd and 9 just to keep the clock moving (and my name is not Marty).

-That Bears offensive performance was not a fluke. The problems were clearly visible for several games- there were tons of comments in the DVOA thread and a hefty portion of the game charting article dedicated to predicting this. Grossman earned every one of his turnovers. Is he going to give the ball up six times every week? No, of course not. But he's got the ability to implode at any given moment, and it's more likely to happen when the team isn't playing downhill. That doesn't bode well for the playoffs.

10
by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:57pm

Dennis Green should be fired tomorrow for his offensive play calling.

Potentially related news: Jim Fassel is stepping down as Ravens OC today (link below). Could he be going back to the desert?

11
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:58pm

#4, I'm going to hope that's sarcasm, otherwise, I have no idea what game you watched. Rex gave the worst performance by a QB that I can recall in a long time (and I started him in my fantasy league over Hasselbeck AND Phillip Rivers, that was a bad move), and Leinhart was just great. He had one WR to work with that was good and he used him to his full advantage. He almost gave it away on an INT when he should have thrown it away better, and there is no possible way to blame him for his fumble (he called an audible and the lineman got the protection way, way wrong).

I honestly don't care much about either team in this game, but to watch someone blow a game like that was awful. Dennis Green's play calling in the last minute reminded me of any college game in OT where the first team doesn't score. The 2nd team is always content to come out, run it up the middle 2-3 times for almost no gain, and then assume it's a gimme FG. They always, always miss it, of course, and blow their best chance to win the game. Arizona got far too passive in the red zone when they got a turnover. I believe they wound up with 4 drives inside the 30 where they had 2 FG's and 2 missed FG's since they became afraid to turn it over. Even if they throw 1 INT and score 1 TD instead of one of the FG's, or on the two missed FG's, they still win the game in that case.

This was almost a case of Martyball, where Green became afraid to throw it once he thought he was sure to score 3 points, and it cost them the game.

12
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:59pm

"If you’re going to build an offensive philosophy around doing the opposite of what Joe Theismann says, I don’t think it’s really too awful of an idea."

Great line, Bill.

I have nothing more of substance to contribute to this discussion. I think I'm still too amazed by the whole thing.

13
by Dan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 12:59pm

That was an incredible fluke, but I think that you guys are exaggerating some of it. First of all, when looking at undeserving wins, you should be comparing VOA (or VOA corrected for randomness but not opponent), not DVOA. The fact that the Bears were so dominant for the first five weeks makes the DVOA spread a lot wider than it otherwise would be.

Second of all, the Bears defense played incredibly after that first ugly drive. For the rest of the game, they gave up only 179 yards on 17 drives (if we count the roughing the kicker penalty as a special teams play that starts a new drive), which is just over 10.5 yards per possession. Despite Arizona starting four of the seventeen drives in field goal range, they gave up only 16 more points and scored 14. The only scoring chances they allowed were a 25-yard touchdown drive and field goal attempts after drives of -5, 10, 22, 29, and 39 yards. On seventeen possessions. Seventeen.

Grossman, on the other hand, was terrible (probably the worst QB game of the year). Orton would've been a big improvement - they could've used his game management skills.

14
by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:00pm

"Forward progress stopped" in that situation isn't reviewable because it's a judgment call, and judgment calls aren't reviewable. It's the same reason that uncatchablity or whether a receiver was pushed out isn't reviewable. Replay is meant for things that are black/white, and 90% of the time forward progress isn't that clear. Last night, that looked pretty clear though. Still, Edge needs to put both hands on that ball. He's better than that.

15
by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:05pm

Anyone think that this hurts the Bears in the long run? That all the lessons that Lovie Smith was going to drill into them over the next two weeks about not taking teams lightly is gonna fall on deaf ears now that they have proof they don't have to work hard to win?

16
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:06pm

Since it’s hard to judge, I think there should be a .5 yard or 1 yard window where defenses can push a player back and strip the ball. Not sure if that fumble applied.

I think that might be a bit much. It's simply impossible for anyone to hang onto a ball with three people clawing at it. I really wish I could see a replay, because I thought it looked like basically the Bears had one person pulling his left arm off of the ball while someone else went after the ball on the right side.

But I have to say that while I think it's absolutely true that Arizona choked the game away, forward progress should definitely be reviewable somehow.

17
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:07pm

Dan #13,

The Bear's defensive certainly improved in the second half, but much of the credit for that has to go to the Cardinals for turtling up.

From what I saw, Leinart was able to move the team when the playcalling was opened up.

18
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:09pm

Second of all, the Bears defense played incredibly after that first ugly drive.

In what world is "incredible" allowing a 39 yard drive into easy field goal range in under 2 minutes when you're only up by 1 point?

19
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:14pm

I absolutely do not get the Denny Green hating that's going on all over the internet right now.

1) He had his team ready to play, and the coaching staff obviously put together a great gameplan -- Arizona thoroughly dominated a far superior Bears team, which most people felt was the best in the league.

2) Arizona's running game is disgustingly awful, so when they have to take time off the clock there really is no right answer for them. Whatever they do, the play-calling will be criticized if they fail to hold a lead. Not fair.

3) Green and the coaching staff got their team in position for a relatively easy (especially for their All-Pro Kicker) FG to take the lead. If they decide to keep throwing passes and they're incomplete, they'll be heavily criticized for leaving too much time on the clock for Chicago. If, God forbid, their rookie QB throws an interception or fumbles (which is not, like, inconceivable against the Bears defense), the sports media would firebomb their homes. Again, any play-calling that was unsuccessful would be sharply critized -- just the usual reults-oriented thinking from sports journalists.

4) Green did a fantastic job this week: his team dominated a far more talented team. The Cardinals lost because of terrible execution (and some bad luck) on four plays -- in no way is that Denny Green's fault.

Lay off the guy.

20
by dbt (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:15pm

Enh. FP shouldn't be reviewable. Ignoring the judgement call angle, if edge spins out of the tackle (poor tackling was going on in that game at various times) it's not like the Bears would have been able to challenge and say his forward progress was stopped. It's the right call when a back is being pushed back into the backfield, it's the right call when spotting the ball when someone's pushed back during a tackle, but when a running back hit the back of the pile and his legs are still going forward no ref should call him down by loss of forward progress.

21
by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:15pm

Also, I find it interesting how well Leinart flipped the script about rookie QBs and moved the ball against zone coverage. Most young QBs generally get confused by zones- they showed a good replay on the broadcast of Leinart looking off receivers to move the defenders, and leave a receiver open in the middle. You can tell this guy is polished. Maybe he's near his ceiling already (and I have no idea if that's true or not, but people smarter than I am have suggested it), but he certainly looks like he'll be a solid QB at the very least, assuming the Cardinals O-line doesn't get him killed and his left arm doesn't fall off from all the passes he'll have to make.

Also, if you've got a franchise left-handed QB/savior, wouldn't you want a slightly better RT than Oliver Ross? The Cards are a mortal lock to draft a RT with their Top 10 pick, unless they throw big money at someone this offseason.

22
by centrifuge (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:17pm

"That was an incredible fluke, but I think that you guys are exaggerating some of it. First of all, when looking at undeserving wins, you should be comparing VOA (or VOA corrected for randomness but not opponent), not DVOA. The fact that the Bears were so dominant for the first five weeks makes the DVOA spread a lot wider than it otherwise would be."

Totally disagree. The fact that the Bears were so dominant for five weeks makes this more impressive. The Cards beating up on the Bears is a very different animal than the Cards beating up on the Raiders.

23
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:17pm

#20,

Everything you said is correct, except that the "legs are still going forward" part does not apply to this situation.

I am not saying that FP should be reviewable, I am saying that it should have been an easy call.

24
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:22pm

I wish MNF was on at a reasonable hour. I think I missed a good 'un.

25
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:32pm

As I stated during a rambling and (way too long) IRC discussion last night that most weren't party to, forward progress is probably the candidate for LEAST judgment call in the entire rule book. It consists of:

Guy no longer moving forward.

Forward is a direction. No longer moving means... not going in that direction. I could see people thinking that it's a "judgment" call in that it's often not whistled until the guy is obviously mobbed and going backwards, but it's a pretty clear rule.

Football move? Mutual control of the ball? How are any of these less judgment calls than "guy stopped moving forward?" Both are reviewable.

What we need (and will never happen) is to get rid of replay so we don't even HAVE this discussion. Proceeding directly to redoing the rules to get rid of this ridiculous drive to make the rules perfectly clinical and remove any human element. Both have their uses, but have spawned so many special rules and ridiculous tests and exceptions and exceptions to exceptions that it's confusing to fans, commentators, and occassionally even the refs.

26
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:33pm

I don't expect something like this on a regular basis, but thanks for putting this up. I was hoping you'd say something about last night's game.

My thoughts...

Hmm... for second-half Loser League, Edge looks like a mortal lock for nearly any team.

Hey, that's the Arizona team that got picked as sleepers by half the prognosticators in the league! Followed quickly by the Arizona team that actually has played the last several years!

I'm beginning to think that the Titans made a classic draft blunder with Young over Leinart. Just that nobody will remember it with the same draft class having Mario Williams at #1.

Aaron is right - Charles Barkley needs to announce every single game ever. I'd love to see him on the same announcing team as either Tony Kornheiser or Chris Berman, just so we could get an over/under on combover jokes per game.

Is it just me, or does Tony Kornheiser really drop and add guys who are playing on Monday night just so he can talk about his fantasy team?

27
by Trevor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:35pm

Man, there is no way that James should have been called for a fumble. Why have forward progress, then? This is almost as bad as that Leak tipped ball in the Auburn game. It looked like the Bears had stood him up, and then played for the fumble. Isn't intentional grounding a judgement call, don't the officals have to figure out who the QB was throwing to. Get the heck out of here with that. 2. That loss hurt and I'm a panthers fan who just has cards season tix. If that was the Panthers, i couldn't have driven home last night. I was in shock listening to sports radio during the 1.5 hour trip home..

28
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:39pm

Fnor,

The judgement comes into play where the offensive player no longer has any hope of freeing himself from the tackle. That isn't always so cut and dry as we see guys that look like they are stopped work themselves free for big gains nearly every week.

In this game, though, that was not an issue. If anything, the Bears were the ones holding James up.

Have I made it clear yet how I feel on this issue? And no one else thinks that Arrington's taunting penalty was the pinnacle (or nadir, based on your perspective) of idiocy?

29
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 1:40pm

#20: Why couldn't they stop the play and call Edge down there? Because it would be "wrong?" That's the point of the rule- it stops defenders from essentially mugging the ball carrier, and it protects defences from freak accidents when they have the guy completely stopped and something goofy happens (either they let up or they slip or some other strange circumstance).

30
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:36pm

Some pre-1983 upsets (ignoring games like SEA-GB last year, where one team had already clinched):
1962 Week 14: 0-13 Oakland over 9-3-1 Boston Patriots
1963 Week 6: 0-5 San Francisco over 5-0 Chicago (Chicago finished 11-1-2, SF 2-12)
1975 Week 10: 0-9 Cleveland over 8-1 Cincinnati
1979 Week 7: 0-6 Cincinnati over 5-1 Pittsburgh
1980 Week 10: 1-8 Giants over 7-2 Dallas

Oh, and if you guessed that TMQ would argue that Arizona should have simply run the ball in the 4th quarter, you win.

31
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:44pm

That’s the point of the rule- it stops defenders from essentially mugging the ball carrier,

Exactly. Two hands on the ball? You aren't keeping two hands on the ball with four defenders grabbing at you. One person attempting to strip the ball is one thing. Multiple people is just silly.

32
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:47pm

I'm not sure you officiate based on what "could" happen, especially when it is black and white where FP is stopped. The defense just has to play to the whistle, which the Bears did, no fault of their own.

I don't think "running back breaking free" instance and "running back getting pushed back, gang tackled, and ball ripped out of his hand" are conflicting. The officials are the ones who decide when FP is stopped, but if James falls down instead of fumbles, the ball wouldn't have been spotted where he fumbled but a couple yards ahead.

Also, we had another instance of a player getting inadvertently "touched" down... on the Dockett interception return. That was great hustle by the Cardinals defense too...

33
by admin :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:49pm

Some numbers and thoughts on Edge's night are now posted on the FOX blog. Click link on my name. By the way, discussion of this game is so heavy that we just had to tweak our server, because most people weren't able to get on the site. Seriously.

34
by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:55pm

"Isn’t intentional grounding a judgement call, don’t the officals have to figure out who the QB was throwing to. Get the heck out of here with that."

Um, it is a judgment call, and I'm pretty sure it's non-reviewable. The rulebook seems to be written in pencil these days but I feel confident about that. Forward Progress, PI, in the grasp- all stuff that is mostly judgment call that isn't reviewed.

29- Agreed, the refs missed it. He wasn't going anywhere and the play should have been dead.

30- I'd like to bag on TMQ for that, but there were about 70,000 possible strategies the Cards could have used to win, including kneel-downs on every play in the 4th quarter, or never punting and going for it on every 4th down. Somehow they chose a strategy that failed miserably.

35
by Tim (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:57pm

Thank God somebody agrees with me. The play calling in this game was unfathomably stupid.

All the commentary I've been reading today on the web is how Neil Rackers blew the game. Rackers was inept for the Bengals for a while, so i have no love for him. But he should not have been put in that position. Apparently, Dennis Green should not have been put in the head coach's position, either. Hopefully the Arizona front office will rectify that.

36
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 2:59pm

Transactions
ESPN: trades Joe Theismann and cash to TNT for Charles Barkley.

That would be awesome.

I didn't see much of the game, but I did see the part in the second quarter when it was 14-0 and Barkley said that Arizona needed to score a touchdown or it would be a momentum shift ... it didn't happen exactly like that, but I think the Cardinals could certainly have used a few more points.

I also saw the interception Aaron mentions in his 4), and I totally agree. If Grossman had been intending to hit the linebacker, it was a great pass.

Looks like Arizona will have to adopt Detroit's early-90s method for protecting a lead. What was it, you ask? Well, among other things, it couldn't hold a 21-point fourth-quarter lead against Washington ... when you can't run the ball, you pretty much have to try to move the ball in the air and take your chances, or simply run clock and hope your defense steps up ...

37
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:00pm

Aaron: Yeah, I was wondering about that. I anxiously await DVOA this week, and the Bears FOMBC that I'm suspicious might rear its ugly head....

38
by M (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:01pm

VarlosZ - Dennis Green is an excellent coach from the time the last game ends to the time the game starts. He sucks in three aspects: Bad at making in-game adjustments, awful at identifying defensive talent, and lastly, has a penchant for taking ALL of the credit when the team wins and NONE when the team loses. I have seen many game plans that blew open the weakness of an opponent. But if that opponent figures out how to adjust mid-game, his teams were usually screwed.

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:05pm

Um, it is a judgment call, and I’m pretty sure it’s non-reviewable.

Isn't intentional grounding if there's no eligible receiver within 5 yards of the pass? That's not a judgement call.

It isn't reviewable, though.

40
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:06pm

Matthew Furtek:

Also, we had another instance of a player getting inadvertently “touched� down… on the Dockett interception return. That was great hustle by the Cardinals defense too…

Sadly, not inadvertent. Dockett, already in clear possession, was cut down by the tackler, Cooper, who took out his legs, landed on top of the tackler, and in the process of rolling off and attempting to regain his feet, put his knee on the ground - down by contact. Being cut down at the legs and ending up with the knee on the ground is a tackle.

41
by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:07pm

Re: Edgerrin James / Forward Progress

The first thing I thought when I viewed that play live was that James' forward progress had stopped. I have a DVR, and I rewound and replayed the best angle slow motion replay multiple times in even slower motion and frame by frame. I have to say that, one, it was a much closer call than some of you think; two, there is no way that would have been overturned even if forward progress were reviewable because the evidence that his forward progress had stop was by no means indisputable; and, three, I think the officials probably actually made the right call, believe it or not. James appeared to be going ever-so-slightly forward as the ball was being ripped out. If anyone recorded the game on a DVR, I encourage you to take a careful look at the play, and I suspect that you'll come to the same conclusion, at least on the first two points.

42
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:09pm

Guys, as i posted on the MNF thread - i was absolutely furious that the cardinals lost a straight game that i was puffing thru the entire day in office (i am based in india!)

since i could not watch the game (ESPN India is giving american football a break to cover the baseball playoffs), i have no idea of how much contribution (or lack of it) was seen from the arizona o-line in run blocking? Why is that the team has spent more than $10 million this year on the line and they can't open a crease for more than 2 yds for their star (supposedly!) RB.

I am unable to believe that Edge has turned old in the desert heat that he forgot how to run or is that the case?

i agree with aaron - one of the few cards player who can find some positive is Matt Lienert and i am interested in seeing how the media is going to blame him for the loss (at current count, most of them seem to have laid off of Lienert - maybe the threat of being banished from FO did send shivers down the spines of PK & the likes)

43
by Jay (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:09pm

Is there a place on FO where we can see game-specific DPAR numbers for individual players? It'd be really useful and I'm retarded ATM

44
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:16pm

i got a very radical idea. i think the cardinals should send their 2nd round pick (conditional) to the patriots for their asst head coach/offensive line coach.

If the running game passes 4 yds/carry - the pick will turn into a first round pick! it is worth the investment, because the Cardinals would have won atleast the chiefs and the bears game if they had the RB doing 4 yds/carry.

i am not sure if this is really going to happen, but you get the idea? - the cardinals needs a good offensive line coach and they should probably spend a draft pick because nothing is more important to them than fixing their o-line

45
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:32pm

On keeping Barkley in the booth. Kornheiser told him before halftime that if the Bears come back and win, Barkley can have his job for the rst of the year.

46
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:42pm

And the Cardinals have joined the Ravens today in replacing their offensive coordinators.

47
by Dan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:42pm

Oswlek (#17) & Pat (#18), after the first drive, the Cardinals ran 31 rushing plays, which went for a grand total of 35 yards, 1 first down, and 1 fumble. That is ugly. They ran 38 passing plays for a net total of 174 yards, with 19 completions, 10 first downs, one touchdown, and a sack and a fumble. That seems below average. Their drive success rate (if I'm calculating this correctly) was .429, which is much worse than any offense has averaged on the season (and much better than any defense has averaged). Yes, that last drive was not good for the Bears D, but it was just one possession. After the Cardinals went up 14-0, they got the ball back 15 more times, four of them in Chicago territory, yet they were only able to get five FG attempts and 9 points out of all of those possessions.

Centrifuge (#22), the stat you should use depends on what point you're trying to make. If you want to talk about how impressive the Cardinals' game was, then you should use DVOA with opponent adjustments, for just the reason you give. If you want to talk about the most undeserving wins, though, then you shouldn't use opponent adjustments, since who deserves to win a particular game depends on how the teams play during that game, not on how they play during the rest of the season.

48
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 3:57pm

Dan: The passing stats don't look that great because they were running short routes to replace their nonexistant running game. Yes, the Bears stopped them a lot in the second half, but a huge part of that was a very bad running team trying to run on 1st and 2d down and leaving themselves in 3d and long. A lot of the credit for that goes to ARI's playcalling and Edge's stupid decisions.

49
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:01pm

They ran 38 passing plays for a net total of 174 yards, with 19 completions, 10 first downs, one touchdown, and a sack and a fumble. That seems below average.

Really? That seems about average to me. Not good, but certainly not bad - the 10 first downs give that away. Certainly not "incredible" defense, which was the only point I was making. You could try to claim that "after the first half, the defense woke up and realized it had to stop the Cardinals for the Bears to win" or some crap like that, except for the fact that the time that the Bears most needed to stop the Cardinals (that last possession) they couldn't.

I can't see how the "great Bears defense" in the second half can be viewed as anything other than a product of poor Cardinals playcalling.

50
by Charlie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:10pm

The criticism of the Cards playcalling ignores, to an extent, the fact that what had been working in the first half - the dink and dunk stuff against the zone - was failing in the second. Leinart started racking up the incompletions as the Bears brought more pressure (which the Cards o-line couldn't deal with at all) and the Cards stopped moving the chains. That being said, the Cards did seem reluctant to try and bring any sort of variation or aggression to their playcalling - some screens or something to James out of the backfield, maybe a few more draws (considering the inordinate time spent in the shotgun), a couple of gadget plays perhaps or even play-action (I know they weren't running effectively but it is fair to say that Chicago were still playing the run quite a lot, with 9 men in the box sometimes). In the end they just stayed pretty conservative, re-using the same old stuff that worked for a while in the first half (the shotgun w/ 4-wide etc) over and over. It appeared that when Leinart did begin moving the ball again in that last drive the Bears had retreated into a more passive zone, eschewing the tactics that had been successful for a majority of the game.

I also can't blame Edge too much for those historically bad numbers. On that first Cards drive, he looked pretty much like the same player we watched in Indy, picking holes in the Bears defence for gains of 5, 8, 5, 6 and 6 yards. So he also had attempts of -1 and 2 yards, but the latter did get a first down which would give him 6 reasonably effective plays out of 7 on that series. As the Bears got more aggressive, he was increasingly met by defenders either at or behind the LOS and had absolutely nowhere to go. It was hardly his fault that the Cards kept sending him into waves of defenders.

51
by Jason (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:13pm

Agreed about James. He stated he wanted to be the man carrying the ball, but to be honest, it didn't look like he even hit holes with any determination. I cannot believe they went back to him each drive during the 4th quarter, and same results each time. From what I saw on TV also, it looked like there were holes to hit, but James failed to recognize.

52
by Dave (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:16pm

19: I agree with points 1 and 4 in abstract, but

2) Arizona’s running game is disgustingly awful, so when they have to take time off the clock there really is no right answer for them. Whatever they do, the play-calling will be criticized if they fail to hold a lead. Not fair.

Nonsense. Moving the ball will not be criticized. AZ had shown the ability to move the ball on their last drive with the short pass.

3) Green and the coaching staff got their team in position for a relatively easy (especially for their All-Pro Kicker) FG to take the lead. If they decide to keep throwing passes and they’re incomplete, they’ll be heavily criticized for leaving too much time on the clock for Chicago. If, God forbid, their rookie QB throws an interception or fumbles (which is not, like, inconceivable against the Bears defense), the sports media would firebomb their homes. Again, any play-calling that was unsuccessful would be sharply critized — just the usual reults-oriented thinking from sports journalists.

Leinart wasn't the QB playing like a rookie in this game. He was playing great, making good decisions, and keeping the team moving. OTOH, the running game was awful, and Rakers hasn't been automatic this year. Two straight running plays when only two yards need to be gained for a first down was a pathetic instance of risk-averse thinking. Yes, a 40-yard FG should be made, but it's not the same thing as a 30 or 25-yard FG, and there's simply no reason to expect with the way Leinart was moving the offense that they couldn't have had that instead.

It's a credit to Green and his staff that the Cards came so close to winning, but the known factor was Edge producing zilch on the ground at this point in the game. Giving him the ball anyway was ridiculous.

53
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:16pm

a couple of gadget plays perhaps or even play-action

I kept thinking "now would be a great time for a flea-flicker for a touchdown, to really shove a dagger in the Bears' throats" after Edge's long run at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Of course, that implied that Edge would've been able to turn around before being tackled.

54
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:18pm

Excellent post, Charlie. As I said earlier, once the Bears adapted to the quick throws, there wasn't really anywhere for Arizona to go with their playcalling.

55
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:24pm

Re: 41
That's part of the reason why there's not a whole lot of outrage. I don't think the camera angles were good, and it didn't seem like he got pushed back 3 yards...

Re: Andrew
I haven't reviewed the video, but I don't remember seeing the whole play except live... so it's more likely I am mistaken.

When they were doing the replay it looked like the tackler was oblivious to touching Dockett down though, as he was lying on the ground face down... and then Dockett's knee hit.... although it did seem like someone had thrown Dockett down.

Green should fire himself instead of blaming his OC... #38 seems to have nailed it.

Did it seem to everyone else they were just running straight up the middle every time? No pitches, end-arounds, reverses, and minimal play action?

56
by Goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:33pm

Although Leinart is the obvious choice for the most impressive Cards player, the defensive coverage was just absurdly good. I came in from my hockey game halfway thru the 3rd. My 1st thought on seeing the score was "waaaa...????" Then as I watched it was clear. Fabulous out of their heads play by the defense, and Grossman completely flustered.

Funny, as we were changing after the game I told the guys in the locer room that we should all go home to watch Leinart lighting up da Bears.

57
by Jericho (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 4:38pm

Also remember that many of the pass plays were third and long (due to inept running). Odds of success in such situations are much less than in other situations. If you look at when the passes were called, it makes the efficiency look better.

58
by Mannie Fresh (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:01pm

24:

You might be right, u might have missed a good one...all i had in my dorm building was a bunch of chicago bears fans running down the hallways and shaking the foundation of the building with every great move the Bears D / Speacial Teams did.

General:
People, Grossman is still the guy who lit up the other teams. Dont forget that. I'll be the first to tell you he had a HORRIBLE day. that goes without saying. not horrible...the worst perfomance i've seen from a Bears QB since Steve Hutchinson...a player who is chicago changed the name of an interception to "a Hutchinson". But as we can observe, he isn't hot on the road. and that WILL change with experience. Just give the kid some time. And PLEASE...OH PLEASE stop the comparison to the '85 Bears. Please dont put Singletary to shame...he has too much of that being on San Fransico's coaching staff...

59
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:02pm

the worst perfomance i’ve seen from a Bears QB since Steve Hutchinson…a player who is chicago changed the name of an interception to “a Hutchinson�.

Man. That would be a bad QB, considering Steve Hutchinson's a guard. You're thinking of Chad Hutchinson.

60
by Bencoder (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:05pm

#27

I somewhat agree. If you wanted to call that a fumble, then just get rid of the rule. I expect you might see other teams trying to do what Urlacher did in similar situations in the future. Of course, there's no guarantee NFL refs will ever enforce the rules CONSISTENTLY.

61
by Mannie Fresh (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:14pm

see....thats how bad it got in the Windy City

62
by Mannie Fresh (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:16pm

man you trying memorizing the 20 qb's we had startin in the last few years.

63
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:24pm

#58

My only problem is that this is what the Vikings game probably should have been, had the Vikes' DBs actually held on to the ball.

Or the Lions game, had Berrian not had such an astoundingly good game and the Lions D not been so very, very bad.

He did the same things last night he's done in the other games: overthrown receivers, made bad decisions, forced into coverage. While I will agree this was a very bad game for him, it's just a highlight to problems that were present in other games that he was lucky enough to avoid paying for.

64
by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:26pm

A friend of mine who's a Cowboys fan created the term "Chutching the pocket" for Chad's uncanny ability to hold the ball for as long as necessary to take a sack. For some reason, he enjoyed watching Hutch with the Bears a lot more than he did with the Cowboys. Not sure why.

65
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:27pm

58: Most of the lighting up came against bad teams or at least bad secondaries. No one in the NFC outside of Carolina or Philly really has all that great of a secondary anyway, but lighting up the Packers, Lions and Bills doesn't really do much to inspire confidence. Yes, he played well against the Seahawks, but he also played poorly against the Vikings and got shredded by the Cardinals, of all teams. More evidence points to Grossman being replacement-level than points to him being great.

66
by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:30pm

"Transactions
ESPN: trades Joe Theismann and cash to TNT for Charles Barkley."

Any chance that Chris Berman could be a throw-in on the deal?

67
by Mannie Fresh (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:41pm

63:

I agree with you on what u just said. He has to learn not to take chunks off the field, but take little pieces at a time. I remember a situation that had me VERY pissed. It was 3rd and 2, and he aired it deep. Thomas Jones is there for a reason. And i think people are forgetting a gem on the Bears' roster: Adrian Peterson. He a very physical running back who averaged a bunch of yards per carry. We gotta utilize our RBs.

Let me say something. What i saw in Urlacher in the final minutes of the game was LEGENDARY. no joke. the poise and aura around him in the game's final minutes was nothing short of spectacular. With him and Lance Briggs coming into his own player- and not Urlacher's shadow, i think these Line Backers are one to be remembered. Only if they weren't in a Cover-2 scheme, maybe Urlacher might be able to put up numbers so those who don't actually watch the Bears play can see the impact he can make on a game. When is patrols the middle in the current scheme, he doesnt get a lot of action, limiting his numbers. You can see when Urlacher is allowed to put pressure on the line, like the last few minutes of the game, he can become a force not to be messed with.

68
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:53pm

Re #50: This theory doesn't account for the fact that the Cards final drive was all dink and dunks, although I guess it's likely that the Chicago defense lost it's aggressiveness because they were afraid of giving up a big play.

69
by Moridin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:56pm

Aaron, thanks for doing the Audibles special. This was certainly a game where comments as the game went on were getting better and better :)

70
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 5:59pm

Under similar conditions, on the road, trailing badly in the 1st qtr:

Grossman - 14/37 148 yds 0 TD 4 INT

Huard - 26/37 210 yds 2 TD 0 INT

(and that's not counting the 78-yd screen to Johnson since I didn't want to skew the numbers to Huard based on a play that Johnson pretty much made himself).

Anyone can have a bad day - Huard looked awful when he came in against CIN and pretty bad against PIT. But no one thinks Huard is a championship qb.

71
by Scorpious (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:00pm

To the people who say that Chicago's defense wasn't incredible, I only have two things to say about that. First of all, if Grossman plays like 2005 Orton instead of a freshman highschool QB, the Bears blow this game open. Those four picks and 2 fumbles led to all but seven of the Cardinals 23 points. That's 16 points from turnovers. If Grossman hits Berrian in stride on the first pass of the game, the Bears are up 7-0 and go on to win in huge fashion, no doubt about it. As it was, Grossman would have been better off going home after that first incompletion and letting Griese take over. (Everyone seems to forget about Griese for some reason... maybe because Grossman's been playing like Peyton Manning up until this week?) But regardless of what Grossman did or didn't do, the Bears defense TOOK THE GAME from Arizona in the fourth quarter. Just when everybody thought the Cardinals were going to shock the football world with a win, Mark Anderson gave Leinart the shot heard 'round the stadium and started what ended up being 21 unanswered points, all of which were scored by taking advantage of Arizona mistakes. They only really made three mistakes all game: the blown line coverage on the Leinart fumble, James not doing the only smart thing he could have done in the situation and falling down instead of fighting for yards, and the complete lack of coverage on the Hester punt return. But the great teams win with their backs against the wall and the chips down. The great teams find ways to pull out wins. And the best teams find ways to capitalize on the mistakes made by their opponents. Granted, the Bears had luck on their side(personally it looked like they had every Irish person ever born sitting on their sidelines holding 4 leaf clovers after that Hester return), but they still had to force the issue. And second, maybe it's just me, and maybe the playcalling was really bad on Arizona's part, but when you stop a team from getting a first on second and short, and then again on third and short, knowing they need the first to seal the deal, and you keep them out in longer field goal range, that's all you can ask. That right there was the nail in the coffin. A lesser defense would have allowed the first down.

72
by Mannie Fresh (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:06pm

And for the record, my player of the game choice is without question Mark Anderson. If it wasn't for his spine rattling hit he put on the rook, who in turn fumbled the ball, this whole momentum change would have never happened. Keep double-teaming Tommie Harris folks, cause either Brown or Mark Anderson is gonna bite you.

73
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:06pm

#71: I'm going to skim over the cliches and the winner-worship and go to the really gnawing question: How can you have a nail in the coffin when the actual reason the team lost was because their kicker mis-hit a high-percentage FG? It seems to me that Rackers' kick was both the coffin and the ENTIRE set of nails, analogy-wise.

74
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:07pm

A lesser defense would have allowed the first down.

True. But an incredible defense wouldn't've even let them get there.

75
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:09pm

Keep double-teaming Tommie Harris folks, cause either Brown or Mark Anderson is gonna bite you.

You... do realize that Anderson was unblocked on that play, right? A blind-side hit, unblocked, is almost guaranteed to cause a fumble.

Not saying Mark Anderson isn't a super-mega-ultra player or whatever, but that's not a massively impressive play from him. Just a complete screwup by the Arizona offensive line.

76
by Mannie Fresh (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:17pm

Re: 75
exactly my point. who was the offensive-linemen worrying about? Harris.

We need some coach who has the balls to play 46 Defense. What are the flaws of the 46 defense in today's type of offenses?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6uoNwDHh3Mc

77
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:21pm

exactly my point. who was the offensive-linemen worrying about? Harris.

That, uh, isn't the reason for the mistake on that play. No one leaves a blind-side DE unblocked. It was just a mistake. It wasn't because it was Harris. It was because the line calls got crossed. It wouldn't've mattered who was lined up elsewhere.

78
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:34pm

Regarding the "if any journalist tried to blame Leinart they should be shot" thing. Clayton doesn't lay it exactly on ML, but he does say something like their first mistake was Leinart calling an audible on the play where he got sacked and fumbled. He called it Leinart's mistake.

I would say that's the coaching staff's fault for even having an audible where the right tackle turns away from the edge rusher and stares at the line of scrimmage.

79
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:44pm

Bill:

That audible's only supposed to be used when Warner's in at QB.

80
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:45pm

and... the funny thing about that, is that was supposed to be a joke, but in a perverted sense, it could actually make sense, given the handedness difference between Warner and Leinart.

81
by Goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 6:53pm

All hail da Bears defense that allowed a rookie QB behind a pathetic O line drive for a (shoulda been) game winning FG at the end of the 4th qtr. Put me down on the list of people that expected the D to shut down Leinart at the end, and instead watched them give him open receivers to stroll down the field.

82
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 7:14pm

IIRC, the last time Edge faced the Bears, he ran for 209 yards and had the best DPAR game of the season for a RB.

83
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 8:29pm

All the Bears fans in here who are trying to act like they were anything other than incredibly lucky last night are really asking for some FOMBC...

84
by Nick (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 8:33pm

On UK TV Mike Carlson called the sack-fumble perfectly.
Leinart saw the corner lined up about 10 yards of the left WR and audibled to an instant throw to him. While he audibled the corner came up close to the WR and when Leinart turned to throw the guy was tightly covered. The play would only require about 1 second of blocking by the OL so they left the left DE alone as he shouldn't have reched Leinart before the pass was away.

I don't know if you could blame Leinart for the audible like that journalist did, it was just luck or great trickery by the bears cornerback.

85
by Jeremiah (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 8:33pm

re: 82

Urlacher was out with an injury for that game. He made a ridiculous amount of tackles last night - without him, the Bears defense is still good but much less fearsome.
Plus, they were more worried about the pass, and not loading up the line with 8-9 guys all night like they did against Arizona.

86
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 8:44pm

Aaron, FWIW, in 2003 the 6-1 Panthers lost to the 2-5 Texans (without Carr starting! Tny Banks filled in for the W.). That was Carolina's SB year and Houston finished 5-11. Perhaps not epic, but two weeks after Carolina beat the 5-0 Colts, it shocked the hell out of me.

87
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 9:45pm

49: How is 4.6 yards per pass and a completion rate of 50% average? The bears defense couldn't tackle on the first drive and was initially a bit soft on the last drive but apart from that they were pretty darned great considering that their offense was constantly giving the cards great field position.

88
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 10:11pm

Sorry for posting twice but I can't believe that Boldin hasn't been getting more love. Huge game from him and how many massive hits did he take? Why didn't the niners take him instead of Rashuan Woods? (wait a minute, I know this one, its on the tip of my tongue. . . . Terry Donahue isn't it? yes that's the fellow! Utter moron wasn't he)

89
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/17/2006 - 11:25pm

The Quan fell in the draft because of an injured knee.

90
by Michael B. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 12:06am

The Bears defense was a bit softer on the last drive, and that might be attributable to the 2-to-1 time of possession. For a number of plays, neither Tommy Harris nor Tank Johnson were in at tackle. The Bears were getting no push whatsoever, and were forced to blitz. This was another hidden cost of Grossman's offensive ineptitude.

91
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 1:54am

49: How is 4.6 yards per pass and a completion rate of 50% average?

The 10 first downs give it away. Those passes were frequently coming on 3rd down, when Chicago should've been working its hardest to keep them from gaining it.

92
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 5:06am

83: As a Cards fan living in Chicago who has been trying unsuccessfully to convince his friends that last night's game was more about the Bears being lucky and the Cards coaching staff misplacing their brains than the Bears playing well, you have no idea how hard I'm rooting for the FOMBC to rear its head. Unfortunately, they still look like the best team in the NFC according to DVOA, unlike the Falcons of last year.

93
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 9:45am

49: How is gaining a first down on one out of every 3 1/2 passes average? Arizona could not move the ball at all after the first two drives and I think that only scoring 23 points when given 6 turnovers is a pretty good showing for the Bears defense.

94
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 11:29am

49: How is gaining a first down on one out of every 3 1/2 passes average?

Because if it was a first down on one out of every 3 passes, you'd be scoring a touchdown on basically every drive.

95
by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 2:33pm

I flew out from to Chicago to go to the game. A few thoughts:

1) The stadium was 25%-35% Bears fans. A lot of Bears fans made the trip out there, but a lot live there, too.

2) There was a surprising amount of animosity between the Cardinals and Bears fans. I saw 3 fights during the game and one outside afterwards. A mix of jerks from both sides from what I could tell.

3) It was clear that the Cardinals' running game is really Anquan Boldin. They kept throwing to him short and relied on his physicality to beat the first Bears DB and gain extra yardage. Classic Bill Walsh.

4) After starting out loud and proud the section of Bears fans I sat with in the upper deck were disconsolate for most of the game. People were screaming at Grossman. He was throwing off balance, throwing at Cardinals, throwing to open receivers too late. It was brutal.

5) Leinart looked fantastic. He did not look like a rookie QB making his second start against the #1 Defense in the NFL.

6) Green had a masterful gameplan. The local sports call in shows after the game were all calling for his head, saying he didn't get the Cardinals motivated. Ridiculous.

7) I laughed along with everyone else while watching Green's freakout at the post game press conference. After the laughter died down, though, I said, "He's right, though." Green showed how to beat the Bears.

8) The Bears had no business winning that game, I hope Lovie uses the bye week to address Grossman's deficiencies.

96
by Trevor (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 2:40pm

#95, it was probably due to talk during the presason game. A lot of the local Bears fans were talking pure tee shit in the stands, saying "we'll whup them in the regular season". People talking about the Arizona game as a nice lil' golf trip and such. Folks didn't take too kindly to it, I guess. oh well, easy come easy go.

97
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 2:53pm

94: No you wouldn't, even if it was one first down out of every three passes, it still wouldn't mean that. that's simply not how averages work. Last season there were three teams in the NFL (bears, niners, texans) who averaged less than 4.6 yards per pass, so clearly 4.6 yard per pass is well below average.

98
by thad (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 9:31pm

Not saying Mark Anderson isn’t a super-mega-ultra player or whatever,

Great line.

Last year teams got a first down on 31% of pass plays. 33% not counting sacks.

Andrew, I think Dallas has a good secondary too, not that you could tell from the Eagles game.

99
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/18/2006 - 11:16pm

Last season there were three teams in the NFL (bears, niners, texans) who averaged less than 4.6 yards per pass, so clearly 4.6 yard per pass is well below average.

Sigh. You can't judge passes that way. You're taking the passes completely out of context. Gaining 10 yards on 3rd and 14 is not 5 times better than gaining 2 yards on 3rd and 1. If we really want to find out whether or not Arizona's passing offense was below average, that's a question to ask Aaron, because you're asking about the passing VOA after the first drive.

100
by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 10/19/2006 - 12:15am

C'mon Pat.
yards per attempt is one of the best basic stats out there.
4.6 ypa sucks.

101
by LucklessPedestrian (not verified) :: Thu, 10/19/2006 - 12:57am

Two wins by Dallas at RFK during the first Bush presidency should probably be added to the list of biggest upsets (See link for game recaps):

1989 - DAL(0-8) 13, WAS(4-4) 3, Cowboys would finish 1-15.

1991 - DAL(7-6) 24, WAS(11-0) 21

102
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 10/19/2006 - 10:24am

yards per attempt is one of the best basic stats out there.

No, it's not. It's in the FAQ. It's better than yards. It's worse than points. It's worse than DVOA. And this is exactly one of the situations where it's a poor stat.

103
by Doug (not verified) :: Thu, 10/19/2006 - 2:20pm

Three things:

First, why is it that defensive yards on returns are considered cheap, but offensive yards are considered earned? Let's play hypothetical here. Let's say the three TDs aren't scored, but rather the Bears just return the ball inside the 10 yard line each time. Let's say the Bears scored their TDs on a flair pass, a slant that Muhsin somehow manages to hold onto, and a run. It's the same thing -- practically -- but now it's no longer quite as cheap. Why is that?

Second, these games are much closer than they appear. Look at it this way; if Grossman gets that first pass to Berrian and Leinart throws that pass to Vasher 2 inches higher and Briggs and Urlacher don't miss open-field tackles, how do we know the Bears don't take the Cardinals apart? 'Zona was hardly playing their usual game.

104
by Doug (not verified) :: Thu, 10/19/2006 - 2:24pm

Third, I'm pretty sure we've all seen Favre play this bad. If the comparisons are germane when Rex is playing well, why not make them when he's playing poorly? High risk force-it-in QBs can win Super Bowls... or lose them.