An erratic but improving offensive line played a big part in Denver's championship win.
17 Oct 2006
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing.
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.
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?
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!â€? 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:
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.
104 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2006, 2:24pm by Doug