Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Nov 2007

Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Compiled by Doug Farrar

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 2008. 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.

Buffalo Bills 13 at Miami Dolphins 10

Mike Tanier: I am Cleo Lemon, standing in the end zone, watching Chris Kelsay come unblocked.

Chris Kelsay is still unblocked. He is coming to get me.

He is still coming, Maybe I should throw.

Oh my, here he comes.

Dumbest safety I have seen in a long time.

I am still undecided on J.P. Losman vs. Trent Edwards, and I know Losman brings the long bomb factor. But with Losman, it seems like the Bills have no drive capability. There's no sequence to their offense, just a few bombs punctuated by punts. Today, they played down to the Dolphins and nearly lost. I feel like if Edwards were in there, they would have scored about 22 points on drives into field goal range.

Denver Broncos 27 at Kansas City Chiefs 11

Doug Farrar: I think it's safe to say that the Broncos are mistake-prone. In the first quarter, they put up 119 yards in total offense, but they also had six penalties for 35 yards. The second quarter began with a blocked Todd Sauerbrun punt that went out of the Denver end zone for a safety. Rockies lead the Royals, 5-3, with Brian Fuentes warming up in the bullpen. It's a nice ValuPak of penalties, as well -- no boring hold-after-hold. We have ineligible downfield pass, illegal block above the waist, offensive holding (on a punt return), offensive holding (on a kickoff return), encroachment, and illegal formation.

So far, my impression of Jay Cutler has been that this is a guy who's going to have to be talked out his love of the deep ball in favor of work on shorter passes. He overthrew Brandon Marshall horribly in the second quarter, and Marshall didn't have a Kansas City defender within 10 yards of him. He's already had two balls batted down on shorter passes halfway through the second quarter. What I do like about him is his pocket presence -- he doesn't get happy feet, and he'll run out of pressure. He can then throw accurately across his body, and that's where the arm strength is valuable.

Mike Tanier: Cutler tends to overthrow some guys. I've seen him do a good job of checking down and taking what he's given in other games.

Doug Farrar: People are going to look at his stats and wonder what I'm smoking when I say what I'm about to say, but ... Priest Holmes has great burst and wonderful escapability. He's making some incredible cuts, making Denver defenders miss badly. He's not going to put together world-beating numbers behind this line (dead last in Adjusted Line Yards by a sizeable margin), but it's nice to see him looking that good for his first start in two years. Many of his three- or four-yard runs really should have been stuffs or losses.

Jared Allen is messing up Matt Lepsis' day. On a third-and-8 from the Kansas City 45 near the half, Allen beat Lepsis so badly off the edge that Lepsis could have been called for holding on two different occasions. Cutler threw incomplete, and Allen went cleanly to the back of Cutler's legs. Didn't look deliberate at all. Fortunately, Cutler didn't have his feet planted, or he wouldn't have been walking off the field at halftime.

After Selvin Young's third-quarter touchdown makes this one of the better battles between undrafted running backs, Damon Huard comes back on the field to a rousing chorus of boos. On K.C.'s first play from scrimmage, Elvis Dumervil clowns Chris Terry and causes a Huard fumble which is returned by Denver's Nate Webster for a touchdown. There is perhaps no better indicator that your quarterback situation is a major problem than when your fans are chanting "Bro-die! Bro-die!"

Croyle comes in due to a Huard injury, but all involved would be better off if either Huard or Croyle could block. Croyle throws sideline dinks and little screens and takes the Chiefs downfield. On this drive, Holmes runs left and pulls off an incredible cut -- he juked right for a second and cut left so quickly that John Engelberger and Hamza Abdullah collided in the empty space where Holmes had been a second before. He's really a pleasure to watch. The Chiefs have to settle for another field goal on this drive, but I'm sure that the Brodie Croyle stalled drives are much more dynamic than the Damon Huard stalled drives. Or so Herm will surely tell us in The Week in Quotes.

Vince Verhei: The Chiefs need to go to Croyle full-time now. He seems to throw much better under pressure, and that's an important skill in Kansas City. I saw a number of plays where completed passes sidearm, falling down, on one foot. He gives the team their best chance to win now, whatever that's worth, and more importantly, the Chiefs need to spend the rest of 2007 deciding to go with the guy they've got or entering the Derek Anderson bidding war.

Ned Macey: I didn't watch this game, but I was surprised to read the positive comments about Priest. He averaged 3.3 against one of the worst run defenses in football. Did he actually look good despite the poor overall stats?

Bill Moore: I only saw one Priest Holmes run. It was third-and-2 from the 5, and he ran to the left end, mistakenly tried to cut back across the opposite side and then couldn't get free. He lost 13 yards. It was a case of Holmes not being Holmes of a few years ago. Otherwise, looking at the PBP, it was lots of three- and four-yard runs. There were only three runs greater than six years, and two greater than 10 (both 11).

Doug Farrar: Yeah, he did. It was sporadic, and he had to do a lot himself because that line is so bad, but his burst and his ability to cut were surprising given the long layoff. There were times when he'd go into a mess of Denver defenders with nowhere to go, but he'd pull out a few extra yards with his own effort. Some of those three- or four-yard runs Bill was talking about should have been stuffs or losses.

Michael David Smith: I agree about Holmes. Other than that terrible play where he ran backwards, he was surprisingly good when you consider that the Chiefs' offensive line is a disgrace.

Doug Farrar: The AFC West seems like the NFC West this year: filled with teams that seem to want to give the division to each other. Kansas City has major issues with its offensive line and some strange defensive game-planning (I really loved the "11-in-the-box" strategy that led to Cutler's final touchdown pass to Daniel Graham, and Denver's receivers were wiiiiiiiiide-open far too often), while Denver has the obvious run defense problem that the Chiefs' horrid line couldn't exploit. Neither team is yet close to the kind of quarterback situation that would lead to reliable success, though Denver's is obviously more settled and Cutler does have a great deal of potential. The Raiders are the Raiders, and San Diego's problems are so obvious, they're barely worth taking about anymore. They can't always count on beating Peyton Manning with half a team around him and an injured Dwight Freeney. One game is not a panacea, though it's fascinating to see how long they'll get these kinds of results out of their special teams. You put any of these teams in the AFC South, they'd be 3-6 or 2-7 right now. Except for the Raiders, who are currently 2-7 and would probably have a negative Pythagorean win projection.

Minnesota Vikings 0 at Green Bay Packers 34

Doug Farrar: The current strategy for stopping Adrian Peterson seems to be that you have to attack and hope for the best, because he's so fast with his cuts that he'll freeze you if you stand there and wait to make a tackle. I saw one highlight of his record performance against San Diego in which he simply ran by both safeties, and there was another play where four defenders had him in a box at the second level, but because of hesitation and poor angles, nobody could make the stop.

On the first series for the Vikings in this game, Green Bay took the more aggressive approach -- Brady Poppinga came off the left side with great speed and stopped Peterson on the edge of the line on third down. The Vikings went three-and-out. They did a lot of that -- Minnesota's offense didn't convert a third down in this game -- and proved again that if your passing attack is a joke, all you can do when you're down by a couple of scores is hope that your starters don't get hurt. Unfortunately, even that didn't go too well -- in the third quarter, Peterson suffered what has initially been diagnosed as a sprained right knee.

Bill Barnwell: Brady Poppinga is the Hunter Hillenmeyer of the Packers.

Doug Farrar: On Green Bay's corresponding opening drive, their supposedly non-existent rushing attack put up 49 yards on Minnesota's defense by running outside. Ryan Grant gets good yardage up the middle by way of a play-action draw on the second drive. They're doing very well with little delays, getting a center and a guard on either the left or right Williams "brother" and bouncing off the edge. Green Bay with an integrated run game has to scare the rest of the NFC. Ryan Grant seems to fit the idea perfectly. The Vikings have averaged 70.4 rushing yards allowed per game, and Grant has 81 yards on 10 carries in the first quarter.

Bill Barnwell: Kevin Williams is so good. Who makes a play five yards downfield on a screen pass? Kevin Williams! Not, say, a safety or a corner. Kevin Williams!

I love the way Favre uses the pump fake to set up defenders. There was a deep slant that Favre set up not only with his eyes but with two pump fakes, creating three yards of separation for Jennings who, unfortunately, dropped the easy touchdown. Probably too much heat on the throw, too.

Favre's not fast, but he still has great motion within the pocket. He knows exactly where to move and improvises well with his head up, allowing him to still progress through his reads while, say, Henderson has come free on a blitz and is around Favre's ankle.

Packers are actually running all kinds of really weird formations -- a shotgun two-back formation with a fullback pretty much a yard behind the offensive linemen is strange to me, at least. Before that, they motioned into a full house backfield and then ran off-tackle to the weak side for nine yards. It's weird -- the Packers aren't throwing at all on the outside, only on the interior to Donald Lee and Jennings, strange considering Winfield is out.

Aaron Schatz: They actually use that one a lot. They also have a formation where the running back is not exactly a slot receiver but ends up sort of on the side right behind the linemen. I think the Packers have more unique formations than any other offense.

The general theme of this game, I think, is that Green Bay showed how to run against the Vikings. They were running all kinds of draws, delays, misdirections, screen passes, and so forth. Those were successful. The regular runs were generally unsuccessful, except for a couple where the Packers had two double teams on the two Williamses, and one where the wide receivers were all really tight so Grant ended up running behind a whole host of blockers. Watching the first half of this game, I got the feeling that the Vikings linebackers may not be as good as they look in the numbers. If Grant could get past the defensive line, the linebackers weren't so successful at taking on blocks and getting to Grant.

On the other side of the ball, the Packers showed what you can do to the Vikings if you have enough confidence in your cornerbacks to leave them in man one-on-one. I made fun of Atari Bigby last week and someone pointed out in the comments that he is known to be a much better run defender. Well, he was basically stapled to the line of scrimmage today, they were eight in the box pretty much anytime Adrian Peterson was in the game. The Vikings passing game is so impotent that there's really no reason for any other strategy.

Atlanta Falcons 20 at Carolina Panthers 13

Vince Verhei: Note to all teams playing Atlanta in the future: In all passing situations, drop your team into deep coverage. Joey Harrington will always throw underneath the zone. He had FIVE completions on third downs today that failed to pick up first downs. So knowing this, in the game's final seconds, with the Falcons in position to kick a winning field goal, the Panthers rush seven. Alge Crumpler gets separation, Harrington finds him, and Crumpler scores the winning touchdown.

The Steve Smith-DeAngelo Hall matchup is always entertaining. Both guys have that little-man chip-on-the-shoulder thing going, and they each desperately want to prove they're superior. It looked like Smith was going to win the matchup today. The only time the Panthers offense came close to scoring an offensive touchdown was in the first quarter, when Smith beat Hall on fourth down and looked to take the ball into the end zone. Hall never gave up on the play though, and at the last second forced a fumble that went into the end zone and out of bounds for a touchback. The Panthers never reached the Falcons' 10-yard line for the rest of the game. Smith finished with just five catches on 61 yards, for a team that threw 29 passes on the day.

Aaron Schatz: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Harrington was the king of the pointless third-down checkdown in Detroit.

St. Louis Rams 37 at New Orleans Saints 29

Vince Verhei: Here's my theory on the collapse of the Saints: Last year, Reggie Bush was an unknown commodity, and teams were scared to death of him. So they always devoted their attention to him, leaving Colston and Henderson and company relatively unnoticed. Now, with a year's worth of film, teams have realized that Bush is good, but he ain't THAT good. They've also realized that the Saints running game went down with Deuce McAllister, and that if you cover the short routes, the offensive line can't give Drew Brees enough time to find receivers deep downfield. I can't explain why Brees is good for a handful of poor throws to open receivers, though.

Also, the Saints defensive backs are very, very bad.

Bill Barnwell: So, since the Rams won and the Dolphins lost, what do the 1976 Buccaneers do when Miami DOES win? Go to the corner store, bust out $1.99, and drink 40s to celebrate their place alone at the bottom of the NFL history barrel? Boone's Farm?

Aaron Schatz: The 1976 Bucs always celebrate the last team to get a win with a big bottle of Cold Duck.

Philadelphia Eagles 33 at Washington Redskins 25

Bill Barnwell: Daryl Johnston criticized Philly's decision to go for two with the score 15-13 and three minutes left in the third quarter. Now:

A) That seems like a pretty decent decision to me.
B) Don't the Eagles have people on staff who do way more research into this sort of thing than, say, Moose has by playing in a few hundred games?

There was a Chris Cooley catch that got erased by a defensive penalty where he dragged two Eagles defenders three yards to the one-inch line. Chris Cooley rules. The Eagles follow it with a great defensive stand, though, pushing Clinton Portis back on both first down and second down, and before third down (with Campbell lining up in the shotgun, ugh), Cooley false starts. Maybe he doesn't rule so much. The Eagles jump the snap count on third down perfectly, with both defensive ends getting a huge jump, but the Redskins run a draw and get it back to the 3 for a Suisham field goal.

Eagles score on an awesome screen that the Redskins sell out almost their entire front seven on. Great block by Andrews to spring it, but there were four guys within one step of McNabb, he took one perfect step backwards to avoid the rush for the half-second he needed, and the ball was out to Westbrook before he took his second step. Just perfect execution.

On the other hand, the Redskins run these obvious screens that the Eagles have two guys sprinting towards before the ball's even released.

The irony is Johnston saying that the Redskins have respect for the Eagles defense because they're running screens, and teams run screens against good defenses. No they don't. The Redskins run screens against EVERY defense.

Mike Tanier: The Eagles decision to go for two is certainly arguable. Like you say, the Eagles have their stats department, and they drill down to the best odds on plays like that. I would have been happier getting the extra point there, because I think in terms of things like "two Redskins field goals make this a seven-point game."

This was a pessimistic Eagles victory. The run defense gave up eight yards on every cutback. The pass defense was only effective when the Redskins had to throw. The front four did not play well. The whole defense looked pretty weak.

Aaron Schatz: See, this ties in to what I was saying about the Eagles last week. They won -- they beat a team with a winning record, a division rival, on the road. That's a good win. I think those of us who are fans of winning teams tend to mentally move our definition of "average."

There's no doubt that Packers fans have had this problem in recent years, for example, constantly bitching about Brett Favre when Favre has been an above average quarterback. Seriously, who can name a dozen teams that are definitely better than Philadelphia? After watching them today, would anyone say the Vikings or Browns are better than Philadelphia? How about the Saints, who lost to the winless Rams, and the Bills, who nearly lost to the winless Dolphins? The Eagles are probably still a top-12 team, weird as that sounds.

Mike Tanier: Run the DVOA on the Eagles-Redskins and I bet the Redskins come out on top. The Eagles really didn't look good for most of the game. You asked me last week who would win Eagles-Browns, and I said Eagles. After today, I say Browns. When you watch the Shortcuts of this game, count the number of seven- and eight-yard runs Portis has on cutbacks. I will bet the DVOA special teams edge is big too, except for that missed extra point. The Eagles never get the ball after a kickoff past the 30 yard line, but opponents always seem to be at the 34 or something.

Ned Macey: The Eagles defense is bad. For those who have watched them on a regular basis for the whole Reid era, it is painful to watch at time. Receivers are running free in the middle of the field. Potentially excusable when it was Cowboys players, not so much when it is James Thrash.

That said, I still insist Donovan McNabb looks better each and every week. He still holds the ball too long and makes errant throws, but he is moving much better in the pocket. Washington is down some injured players, but that's still a good defense, and they moved the ball decently. McNabb, by the way, is near the top 10 in DPAR with NO quality receivers, yet somehow he's the problem. The defense, meanwhile is one of the ten worst in football. The arc on McNabb is perfect for how quarterback-focused people are since he was second in the MVP voting when he was not as good as he is now, when people think he should be benched.

In college, people talk about winning with another team's recruits. The early success of the McNabb era was largely fueled by a great defense. In Ray Rhodes' last season, the Eagles had Brian Dawkins, Hugh Douglas, Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, Al Harris and Trotter. In the nine years under Reid, they just haven't found that kind of defensive talent: Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, and then who, Trent Cole or Corey Simon?

It should be no surprise that a defense that ranked in the DVOA top 10 every year from 1999 to 2002 (including first in 2001) has not been in the top 10 since 2002? Ironically (hope that's not an Alanis Morissette use), their offense was never in the top 10 until 2003 and then has been every year since except 2005. The Eagles need to improve their defensive talent acquisition skills or Kevin Kolb will also never win a Super Bowl.

Aaron Schatz: By the way, DVOA for the game: Philadelphia 5.5%, Washington -6.2%.

Jacksonville Jaguars 28 at Tennessee Titans 13

Vince Verhei: Take away Albert Haynesworth, and the Titans' defense goes from historically great to above-average. Haynesworth sat out with a hamstring injury, and as a result, Jacksonville center Brad Meester and guards Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams dominated the middle of the field. Maurice Jones-Drew ran up the gut for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter and wasn't touched on the play. The Jags spent most of the second half nursing a two-score lead, and the rushing average suffered as a result (3.9 for the game), but you can still see their production in 10 rushing first downs and three touchdowns on the ground.

Tennessee was behind the entire game, and as a result ran only 19 times with 45 pass plays. This is a bad thing when your quarterback is Vince Young. Their only touchdown came in the fourth quarter when Young threw into double coverage in the end zone. The ball was tipped straight up and fell into the hands of Justin Gage, who was lying on his back at the time. That fluke play was all that separated the Titans' offense from the Raiders' today.

Bill Barnwell: It's weird. We define offensive players by how great they are when they perform on the field, but it's almost as if we define great defensive players by how their teams do when they're not around (Bob Sanders being the first example that comes to mind). There's something very strange about that.

Vince Verhei: That's an interesting observation. At one point today I thought to myself, "I guess this locks up the defensive player of the year award for Haynesworth." It is weird that a guy's standing would increase because he missed a game.

Cleveland Browns 28 at Pittsburgh Steelers 31

Michael David Smith: One thing I've noticed about Kellen Winslow is that he has definitely mastered the art of pushing off just enough to get an advantage but not enough to get called for offensive pass interference. He's a smart player, almost as if he's had a Hall of Fame tight end as a personal tutor for his entire life.

Aaron Schatz: I switched over from GB-MIN at halftime and it is impossible to believe that this game was 21-9 Cleveland. The Browns offense is having a hard time getting people open, and the Browns fans must be sick and tired of watching dumpoff passes bounce off Jamal Lewis's hands. Was Pittsburgh's offense having problems in the first half?

In the second half, Pittsburgh is getting guys open fairly frequently. Of course, there's also Ben Roethlisberger's habit of trying to hit the smallest passing windows imaginable. The touchdown to Heath Miller to go ahead 31-28 was a good example, I think Wimbley had great, great coverage on that one and he still got it right ahead of Miller for the catch.

I think Roethlisberger's habit of throwing to tiny windows is a good reason why every so often he has those horrible, interception-filled games. If you play with fire, you may become the most successful fire-eater in the history of the circus, but you are still occasionally going to get burned.

Ryan Wilson: I thought the Steelers would come out with their Matt Hasselbeck game plan. Namely, rush three and four guys all day and make the quarterback force throws. As Doug pointed out in EPC, the Browns are great pass blockers, and Derek Anderson takes short drops and gets rid of the ball. He's also known as the Anti-Frye around Berea.

Pittsburgh blitzed on a handful of plays in the first half with little success. Anderson was methodical, and killed the Steelers on third down. Worsening special teams play set up the second Browns touchdown, and a bad Roethlisberger pick deep in Pittsburgh's zone made it 21-6 before the half. After the break, the Steelers dropped everybody into coverage, and when Anderson's first read didn't come open, he got happy feet, which seemed to result in some inaccurate throws, most of the shortish variety.

Roethlisberger looked like he was having a pity party in the first half, maybe because of his sore hip, but he got it together in the second half, including a 30-yard touchdown run that wouldn't have happened 10 years ago. Since nobody can touch the quarterback, it looked like several Browns defenders let up as Ben made his way for six.

The touchdown to Heath Miller was a great throw. Roethlisberger has this habit of looking defenders off with his head during his drop, while eye-balling his intended target. It was a tough throw, but only Miller could make the catch. And other than Hines Ward, probably the only guy on the team that hauls it in. Still, it doesn't matter what the offense/defense does, the special teams is atrocious. Absolutely awful. Josh Cribbs is a top-five returner and he was facing what I can only imagine a 32nd special teams unit looks like. Take a guess how that worked out.

Doug Farrar: Strange day around the league for time management issues and weird challenges. Apparently, Romeo Crennel burned a timeout in the fourth quarter to decide whether he'd challenge Heath Miller's two-yard TD catch. He then challenged it and lost, burning another timeout. That may be a first.

That said, there's such a thing as a loss to build on. When you've been a truly abysmal team for a number of years, and you're suddenly flush with success, however one-sided it may be, and you get waxed by a team that's obviously more well-rounded than you, that's one thing. But Cleveland was absolutely destroyed by the Steelers in the season opener, made some necessary changes, and lost a very close game in Pittsburgh this time. They were decisively ahead early on, withstood what was probably an inevitable comeback, and found themselves a missed field goal away from overtime. For the second straight week, Cleveland's offensive line kept Derek Anderson's jersey clean against a sack-happy team, and the Browns' special teams are very solid. Pundits seem to be fooled by one team per year that appears to be a few players away from real legitimacy (hello, San Francisco), but this Cleveland team has some good things in place. They just ran into a team that has more and better things in place.

Cincinnati Bengals 21 at Baltimore Ravens 7

Vince Verhei: The Cincinnati Bengals have a very bad defense. They came into today 29th in defensive DVOA, 26th against the run, 26th against the pass. They are mediocre in ALY (14th), but the big runs they give up are BIG runs; they're next-to-last in 10-plus yards. They're 25th in Adjusted Sack Rate. They can't cover wide receivers. They can't cover tight ends. They're actually pretty good covering running backs (inexplicably, given the decrepit state of their linebacker corps), but other than that, they are bad at everything.

Against that defense, the Baltimore offense turned the ball over six times and scored just seven points, and those came in garbage time. Their quarterback is 34. Their leading receiver is 33. Their coach has been trying to establish a consistent offense for literally his entire tenure with the team. It's time to blow this up and start over.

Detroit Lions 21 at Arizona Cardinals 31

Vince Verhei: In the third quarter I saw a graphic that said the Lions had negative rushing yards. I started watching, trying to see what the Cards were doing. It turns out, the answer is: Nothing. I never saw the Lions run. The Lions ran four times in the first half, all Kevin Jones, for a total of -4 yards. Jones did not get a carry in the second half, but four players got one apiece: Aveion Cason (1 yard), T.J. Duckett (0 yards), Jon Kitna (0 yards) and Shaun McDonald (-15 yards). So more than anything else, it looks like the Cardinals were successful on a small number of plays, and then the Lions just gave up. As a result, the Cards were free to tee off on Jon Kitna, collecting four sacks, nine quarterback hits and forcing Kitna to fumble three times.

Aaron Schatz: The Lions are who we thought they were.

Chicago Bears 17 at Oakland Raiders 6

Bill Barnwell: Great play fake by Josh McCown and he runs for 20-plus yards on a naked bootleg. He follows this with the most awkward emphatic first down signal you'll see. That poor other Adrian Peterson had a screen pass for no gain on third-and-19.

I'm not impressed with the Bears' game plan against a Raiders defense with obvious flaws. Smoke passes to Hester: not a great idea. Just give the ball to Cedric Benson and let your line push Warren Sapp into the opposing end zone. Yes, I know that Benson refuses to hit a hole without tapping his toes four times, but it's bound to work at least once or twice. I promise.

Vince Verhei: Remember earlier in the year when the Raiders were alone in first place and it looked like they were on their way? Ancient history. The passing attack of McCown to Porter/Curry/Williams, etc., produced a total of 14 completions, and four of those were on the Raiders' final drive when the game was over.

The Raiders were the first team in, well, maybe ever to kick to Devin Hester and not regret it. He had one 60-plus-yard return called back on a holding penalty (committed while the punt was still in the air), and other than that, nothing. The Raiders' coverage teams were great, never allowing Hester any air. He even had two returns for negative yardage.

Mike Tanier: Aaron and I were going over the "Squib Kick Away from Hester" strategy and while I don't think he has all the data worked out, it looks like a bad strategy overall. My gut tells me that you are giving away the chance of a fumble, a holding penalty, and an ordinary return out of fear of a big return, and that the trade-off isn't worth it when you hand the Bears about 12 yards of field position every kickoff. Aaron's preliminary work says the same thing.

My theory is this: If you are afraid of Hester, why not put extra starters on your kick coverage team that week? Sure, some teams have full-time gunners who are better at kick coverage than the starting defenders, but there are always one or two backup running backs and wide receivers out there who can't possibly be better than your starting free safety or weakside linebacker at kick coverage. Put them out there all week in practice and you probably decrease the chance of a long return by several percentage points.

Aaron Schatz: Yep, did the Hester research. I'll stick it in tomorrow's DVOA article. It's also going in the next issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Dallas Cowboys 31 at New York Giants 20

Bill Barnwell: Dallas' first touchdown is a throw from Tony Romo where he is at least a full yard, maybe two ahead of the line of scrimmage. Coughlin does not challenge.

Aaron Schatz: I can't help but think that the Giants are getting screwed with all these delay of game calls on Eli Manning. Last year they changed delay of game -- if the offense called the play right after the clock went to zero, the officials were supposed to keep the flag in their pocket to keep the game moving. They've been doing that this year too -- until this game, where suddenly if Eli Manning snaps the ball one second late, it is a penalty. It seems off.

Mike Tanier: Overall, there were about 100 sloppy penalties in this game. At the end, they called a personal foul facemask on Mathias Kiwanuka on a third-and-20-something when the Cowboys were trying to sit on the clock. Smart football.

Stuart Fraser: For a Steelers fan with Roethlisberger as his comparison for quarterback play, it was interesting to watch Romo tonight (first time I've seen Dallas this year). The Romo vs. Roethlisberger debate could well be a lively one in the coming years. It did seem to me very much like watching a Steelers performance on occasions -- Romo and the Dallas receivers do less ad-libbing on what I will call "undesigned scrambles" than I'm used to as a Pittsburgh fan, but it's definitely there.

Romo made some really ugly throws -- almost certainly the worst looking touchdown pass this season (as well as being thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage) which only worked because the wide receiver was more open than anybody should ever be in the end zone (I think the flanker and slot receiver crossed over and the corner followed the flanker inside leaving the slot guy alone, though the replay was kind of lousy). Of course there was also the interception, which was A) forced into double coverage and B) severely underthrown. Which, come to think of it, is another similarity he shares with Roethlisberger (though actually when Ben forces a deep ball into double coverage he more commonly picks out the deep safety, I think).

Romo is more conventionally mobile than Roethlisberger. He evaded pass rushers on several plays tonight, but it was evasion -- stepping up, scrambling outside, not Roethlisberger's frequent brute-strength approach to avoiding a sack. If nothing else this should extend Romo's career in comparison.

Eli did make some very good throws. One in particular to Plaxico Burress which he dropped over a linebacker who was sitting halfway down the route, and then fit the ball between the safety and the corner, actually caused me to sit up and applaud, but it did seem to be another not-quite-consistent-enough Eli night.

Ned Macey: Last week, my theme was the defensive line is important. This week it is wide receiver. Terrell Owens first became a high quality wide receiver in 1997. Starting then, his quarterback has made the Pro Bowl every year except 1999, 2003, and 2005. That includes four separate quarterbacks under (counting this year) five different coaches. Randy Moss isn't quite as impressive, but Brady will be his third different quarterback and fifth Pro Bowl selection in 10 years. Kerry Collins throwing to Moss ranked 11th in DPAR in 2005. What Brady is doing this year is obviously the clearest example.

The thing is that wide receivers were devalued by smart analysts because the model franchises earlier this decade were New England and Philadelphia, both of whom devalued it. It seems to me that the offensive experience of those teams and their exceptional quarterbacks shows that they undervalued wide receiver.

Stuart Fraser: In non-quarterback-related thoughts, the Giants kept trying to jam Owens at the line of scrimmage. It never seemed to work (of course we don't get so many replays of the times when it did work), and on both of his touchdowns Owens just blew by the cornerback trying to jam him. On the first the cornerback was in man and that was that. On the second, bizarrely the safety came up and jammed too, almost running into the cornerback -- I've never seen so weird a pass coverage scheme.

In All-Rookie related thoughts, Aaron Ross made an incredible play in diving to tip a ball away from Owens on a slant route which caused a Cowboys punt (a rarity in this game). I don't recall seeing much more of him than that, which is normally a good thing for a cornerback as it means he isn't identifiably being torched (and I'm guessing the weird jamming T.O. thing they were all doing was a coaching decision, and a lousy one much of the time).

Indianapolis Colts 21 at San Diego Chargers 23

Aaron Schatz: MY GOD. Aaron Moorehead has stolen Reche Caldwell's eyeballs.

Michael David Smith: Does Reggie Wayne lead the league in pass interference yards? It sure seems like it.

Doug Farrar: According to the FO database (info through Week 8), the Colts have drawn one pass interference penalty -- Week 5 against the Bucs on Ronde Barber. Wayne was the receiver. Through Week 8, the Ravens (!) and the Broncos have drawn the most PI penalties with five each. Yeah, go figure.

Bill Barnwell: I've done some research for a future article, and pass interference for specific quarterbacks and receivers seems to be completely random from year to year.

Aaron Schatz: Wow. Peyton Manning is melting down out there tonight. There seems to be a feeling among a lot of Colts fans that it doesn't matter how many players they lose, as long as they have Manning you can plug in anybody and have success. Tonight would seem to be a piece of evidence that this is not the case. And yet ... the only major difference between this week and last week is Dallas Clark. Remember, last year, the Colts were 1-3 without Clark and 15-1 with him. Maybe he's the exception to the rule about only noticing defensive players when they are missing.

Ned Macey: I love Dallas Clark, but I'm a little skeptical about Clark's uber-importance to the team. First, last season's 1-3 stretch featured four games with offensive DVOAs of 24.8%, 32.4%, 38.2%, and 41.9%. I don't think they missed Clark too much other than in the "Vince Young just wins" way.

They also started last game with Anthony Gonzalez, who they don't have here. In the second half, once it was clearly only Moorehead over there, the Colts got more than one first down on a drive only once (the short-field touchdown drive). Plus, the fact they're huddling this game takes away some of Manning's ability to change the play.

I'd also say that the seemingly questionable pick of Gonzalez seems inspired now considering the defense is playing at a top 10 level, but they appear short of offensive weapons. Too bad he got injured too, but that one is hard to predict. I will say that losing Harrison is much less of a big deal if Clark is healthy and vice versa.

Stuart Fraser: I think it's a timescale thing. Indianapolis can pretty much replace anybody (maybe except Clark) if you given them long enough, but a spate of injuries over a short time is going to bite because they start having to simplify the offense and take away some of Manning's audibles just because half the team no longer understands them.

In short, "it doesn't matter who lines up with Manning, provided they stay healthy."

One might also point out that Manning vs. the 3-4 has never been a good matchup, and his only notable successes have come from using Clark underneath (and that was the New England 3-4, where more of the rush comes from the defensive line than it does in the Pittsburgh or San Diego 3-4).

Doug Farrar: Will Quick Reads explode if Peyton Manning is the least valuable quarterback? I mean, will the DVOA database literally blow up?

Great series of calls by Gene Steratore's crew on the Clint Session interception. Tip interception, inadvertent (stupid) whistle, spot, touchback. Precisely. I don't know WHAT Norv was challenging there.

Vince Verhei: Great series of calls, sure, but they still blew it (the call) by blowing it (the whistle) in the first place.

Aaron Schatz: Yes. The Colts were monumentally screwed by that call. In the long run, it sure doesn't look like it makes much of a difference.

Ned Macey: We never got the visual on who blew the whistle, but the ref actually on the play got it right and threw the beanbag or whatever. If they hadn't blown the whistle, I doubt Session would have gotten that big a return.

Michael David Smith: It's impossible to know how long a return he would have gotten if it hadn't been blown dead, but from the replay angles I saw it didn't look like the Chargers had anyone in position to tackle him. That was a really boneheaded whistle by whichever official blew it dead, since, as Ned says, the official right on top of the play clearly threw his beanbag to signal that it was an interception, not an incompletion.

Doug Farrar: I think that's why they finally made down by contact challengeable - one dumb whistle and the recovering team used to be even more screwed by not getting the ball at all.

Michael David Smith: I don't get how it's possible for the Colts' special teams to be this bad, year after year. It just makes no sense. They're a smart franchise in player evaluation in almost every other respect, but they're totally incapable of finding a few guys who can fly down the field and hit somebody on kickoffs and punts.

Mike Tanier: They've never cultivated any full-time gunners. That comes with the idea that you don't pay bench players more than the minimum, so you don't get or keep a Gary Stills or Ike Reese type. The Greatest Show Rams also started having lousy coverage teams as time went on. They rarely kept receivers, backs, or tight ends around who were top special-teamers. They always wanted guys they could plug right in on offense. I wonder how the Colts choose their back-of-the-roster guys at those positions.

Bill Barnwell: They choose their back of their roster guys with the idea that they're going to be the starters in a couple of years (especially at outside linebacker/cornerback), so their guys are the ones suited to the Cover-2 and the Manning offensive scheme, not necessarily guys who are special teams guys.

Ryan Wilson: If the Colts and Steelers played this year, the score would be 450-443, all touchdowns via kick returns. The team with the ball last, wins.

(However, all was not lost for the Colts. Down 23-14 early in the fourth quarter, Indianapolis' defense found San Diego pinned deep in their own end zone...)

Doug Farrar: That sequence reminded me of the goal-line stand against the Chiefs that caused me to give Norv the Keep Choppin' Wood when I did that guest turn at Scramble. Wet ball, Freeney is beating Marcus McNeill like John Bonham on a 26-inch bass drum, and they go pass-pass-pass. The fumble recovery touchdown, or some other catastrophe, was almost inevitable. Good Lord.

Ned Macey: Did TMQ say that Manning was always throwing out of shotgun and running out of traditional? I saw the formation on the two-point conversion, saw the fake audible, and I knew it was a run up the middle. Sadly for me, so did the Chargers.

(Actually, everything WAS lost for the Colts. Instead of taking an easy field goal -- well, MAYBE an easy field goal under the circumstances -- Manning and Dungy tried to draw the Chargers offside from the San Diego 7-yard line, Ben Utecht was called for a very odd "simulating a snap" false start, and Vinatieri subsequently missed a gimme 29-yard field goal.)

Sean McCormick: Sacre bleu!

Ned Macey: Dungy certainly could have used the timeout he burned to argue the Utecht penalty. That is a Keep Choppin' Wood-level mistake which may have cost the Colts the game.

Michael Tanier: Well, shut my mouth. What a way to go down.

Aaron Schatz: I seem to remember reading an article by Michael Lewis where some guy talked about how Vinatieri's clutch field goal history was not an indicator of whether he would hit clutch field goals in the future...

Michael David Smith: Is Vinatieri ever going to stop getting universal praise in the mainstream football media? He has to make that kick before halftime. He's a below-average kicker getting paid as the best kicker in the NFL.

Aaron Schatz: I know this sounds insane, but with the Colts losing tonight and the Jaguars winning, I'm wondering if my predictions of a Jaguars division title might actually come to pass. The Colts are just decimated by injuries right now. I feel like we're living through my Indianapolis chapter from PFP 2007. I talked about how guys like Harrison and Freeney had never been injured. Now Harrison is injured, Freeney is injured -- who knows how badly? -- the guy they drafted in case Harrison got injured is also injured, Clark again, all the linebackers, defensive linemen... I said that nobody wants to build a team like the Colts because if you don't have Peyton Manning, you end up with the Redskins. This is starting to look worse than last year's Redskins, except that when you have Peyton Manning you can be down to having no backup offensive or defensive linemen left and still almost win. Even when Manning has a bad game. I mean, despite the injuries, he was completely missing guys at times, which you almost never see.

Seriously, if Freeney is out for significant time, and David Garrard is back next week, Jacksonville is actually going to win this division. There are only so many injuries you can take.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 12 Nov 2007

259 comments, Last at 15 Nov 2007, 4:25pm by thestar5

Comments

1
by the K (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:32pm

I am Cleo Lemon, standing in the end zone, watching Chris Kelsay come unblocked.

Chris Kelsay is still unblocked. He is coming to get me.

He is still coming, Maybe I should throw.

Oh my, here he comes.

Mike, you forgot to add:

I will pump fake now.

2
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:32pm

The 1976 Bucs always celebrate the last team to get a win with a 6 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Official drink of the 1976 Bucs.

3
by doktarr (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:45pm

Assuming it is a bad strategy in general, the squib-kick-to-Hester strategy presumably reaches a break-even point if your coverage team is bad enough. I wonder where that point is. I'm guessing it's somewhat better than the Colts' coverage team right now.

4
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:47pm

Ned Macey: "In Ray Rhodes’ last season, the Eagles had Brian Dawkins, Hugh Douglas, Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, Al Harris and Trotter."

And what did Rhodes ever do with those guys? Go 3-13? Not a single one was recognized as anything special until they went into Jim Johnson and Andy Reid's schemes. Rhodes last two years of defensive DVOA were 15th and 26th rankings. Your comment about the defense not being top 10 since 2002. Well, it was in 2004 until they sat the starters and it was #11 in 2006 (a convenient use of cutoffs by you to make a point - why not say top 12 to encompass the playoff slots?).

The biggest recent problems with defense since 2004 have been really bad special teams causing bad field position.

5
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:47pm

Romo makes a play that pretty much no other starter in the NFL makes (the scramble TD to Curtis) and the comments are about "ugly passes" and "should've been challenged," the latter ignoring that the Giants doubtless had a multi-angle replay to view, with not "rush to the line to beat the challenge flag" situation, and declined to challenge.

I really think there's something about the Boys that just blinds certain people (friend and foe) to objectivity. Romo is freaking good, people.

6
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:47pm

While the media goes into red level "Eli sucks, Romo is GOD" mode, it needs to be said that the biggest difference in the game was the play of the offensive lines. The Dallas offensive line DOMINATED in pass protection in the second half. The Giants offensive line varied between mediocre and downright awful.

A day after, I'm apparently one of the 3 people in America who thinks Eli played well. On a day where (according to the last FOX statistic they showed) he was hurried 15 times, hit 10 times, and sacked 5 times, Eli and Shockey were the only guys who did anything on the Giants.

The 2 holding penalties were painful. The kickoff holding penalty looked like a bad call. The Snee penalty could've gone either way.

Coughlin HAS to challenge that first TD. FOX didn't show a replay at all.

7
by Lou (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:49pm

I'm very excited about the Hester article. My guess would be handing a league average offense 12 yards of field position every kick would be a bad thing. But its worth the trade off if you're facing the Bears offense.

8
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:51pm

#5... People saying the play had to be challenged doesn't say anything positive or negative about Romo. It just means that he was OBVIOUSLY over the LOS when he released the ball.

9
by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:52pm

The only strange thing about the delay of game penalties and Eli was that he kept taking them. I saw nothing to suggest that the Giants were "getting screwed" on a call that has a pretty objective standard.

10
by pete (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:55pm

With 3 and change to play, the colts had the first down at the 15. i dont know for the life of me why manning did not try at least one play fake to throw for a touchdown. Am i crazy for thinking that on a slippery, wet field that Jesus himself would have trouble kicking even a 25-30 yarder. Theres just too much that can go wrong, especially when your offense is tearing up the field in the second half.

On 4th and inches i agree you probably have to kick, but on 2nd or 3rd a pass wouldve negated the need for vinatieri. Even if you throw a pick you have 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning

11
by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:55pm

#8 - look at the overall analysis - Giants got the shaft from the refs, TD pass bogus, Romo made ugly throws, including worst looking TD pass of the season.

12
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:56pm

The simulating the snap penalty was completely uncalled for. They changed the formation at the line of scrimmage like most teams do, but because they did it in a situation that is generally used for getting the defense offsides, the referees were too harsh, and it was a penalty.

The next drive up the field, the Chargers did the exact same thing, and of course there was no call.

13
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:56pm

Eli gets the delay penalties because he's confused pre-snap. The tradeoff to the penalties is a time out or running a play with very little chance of success. Obviously, he should opt for the former, but he was confused.

As for the Oline comparisons: as FO has repeatedly demonstrated, QB's have a lot to do with our perception of line play. Has Dallas' Oline just played better for Romo than Bledsoe, or is Romo elusive with a quick release and (mostly) good decision-making? On at least 3 of those sacks, Eli could've stepped up/away and thrown an incompletion. The two lines are about equal. Romo is just better. A lot better.

14
by Kimble (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:59pm

Vince Young's DVOA, DPAR, passer rating, etc. all speak for themselves -- and quite accurately -- but I think he's getting a bum rap here on the TD pass to Gage. Gage was single-covered by Mathis while Nelson was playing deep. The ball wasn't tipped -- Gage caught the ball cleanly. The ball didn't come out until Gage's elbow hit the ground -- sure it was a fluke that Gage caught it again, but I think you can say that Young did his job well on that play. It's linked under my name.

15
by aih (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:59pm

The ball was intercepted by a linebacker who dove on the ground, then got up and ran to the back of the end zone, then all the way across to the sideline before turning upfield -- yet there were no Chargers anywhere to be seen. I think that is because the play was blown dead several seconds before. If there had been no whistle, my guess is that he stays in the endzone for a touchback. On another point, can Vinateiri kick a 49-yard field goal. If he can, then Peyton made a mistake before the half by throwing the ball inbounds for a short gain and forcing the fire-drill field goal. That could have affected Vinateiri's aim.

16
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 4:59pm

All due respect Aaron, but there is no way anybody but the Colts wins the AFC South. Nobody's injury is season-long, as far as we know. Manning played a poor game--even the great ones do so occasionally. Vinateri missed two field goals, which pisses me off badly, but even the greats do so occasionally. But our defense was as wicked as in any other game this year--they only allowed 10 offensive points! And once Manning started playing well in the second half, he brought them back to a should-have-been victory despite having a decimated offense.

This was a brain fart, not an indicator of a downhill trend.

17
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:00pm

The Lions never had the ball yesterday to run it. They had 18 plays in the 1st half, Arizona had over 40. Detroit on 1st down was getting stuffed, so Martz had to throw it.

Detroit just sucks on the road.

18
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:00pm

I put my Vikings comments in the MMQ thread, but to reiterate the obvious, you can't compete consistently in the NFL with zero passing threat, which makes some blowout defeats inevitable. The fourth down conversion attempt the Packers had just before half time, near midfield, said everything that needs to be known. McCarthy had zero fear that the Vikings could do anything with great field position if the attempt failed, so he had nothing to lose by going for it. In a situation which results in a punt 95% or more of the time, Favre and Co. get another bite at the apple, due to the opposition's complete incompetence in the passing game.

I love the upcoming Packers Cowboys game; it really is an intiuguing match-up of personnel, for those of us with the NFL Network, of course.

19
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:00pm

I put my Vikings comments in the MMQ thread, but to reiterate the obvious, you can't compete consistently in the NFL with zero passing threat, which makes some blowout defeats inevitable. The fourth down conversion attempt the Packers had just before half time, near midfield, said everything that needs to be known. McCarthy had zero fear that the Vikings could do anything with great field position if the attempt failed, so he had nothing to lose by going for it. In a situation which results in a punt 95% or more of the time, Favre and Co. get another bite at the apple, due to the opposition's complete incompetence in the passing game.

I love the upcoming Packers Cowboys game; it really is an intiuguing match-up of personnel, for those of us with the NFL Network, of course.

20
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:00pm

The Lions never had the ball yesterday to run it. They had 18 plays in the 1st half, Arizona had over 40. Detroit on 1st down was getting stuffed, so Martz had to throw it.

Detroit just sucks on the road.

21
by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:00pm

And Frank Booth.

22
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:04pm

#13... I would normally agree with you, but in the second half Romo wasn't avoiding anything. The Giants never got close to him.

I also realize Romo is better than Eli. Where is that even being debated?

23
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:05pm

Re: #12

They didn't "change it like most teams do". Utecht rocketed upright out of his stance when he went to shift -- just like you would on the snap -- clearly designed to simulate the snap to try to draw the defense off. Players coming out of a stance to shift hardly ever stand up that abruptly.

Here's the (unofficial) version of the rule from the NFL Digest of Rules at NFL.com:
No player of offensive team may charge or move abruptly, after assuming set position, in such manner as to lead defense to believe snap has started. No player of the defensive team within one yard of the line of scrimmage may make an abrupt movement in an attempt to cause the offense to false start.

I think that's exactly what Utecht did (and by design, of course).

I'm not going to claim I'm not biased about this, though :)

24
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:05pm

Ned Macey:

"In the nine years under Reid, they just haven’t found that kind of defensive talent: Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, and then who, Trent Cole or Corey Simon?"

And Carlos Emmons, Rod Hood, Darwin Walker, Mike Patterson.

25
by billsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:06pm

A week or two ago, I'm pretty sure I saw the Packers in a shotgun T-formation, or something similarly absurd, at the goal line. At this point, if they lined up in a single wing and ran the power sweep all day, I wouldn't be that surprised.

26
by angus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:07pm

5: Um, what are you talking about? That comment came in the middle of a bunch of effusive praise for Romo's scrambling and elusiveness. The whole point was to speculate on Romo v. Roethlisberger as the next melodramatic "Best QB" debate. Seriously, the dude's currently 5th in DVOA and 6th in DPAR. I think it's pretty widely acknowledged on FO that he's "freaking good".

27
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:08pm

"Since nobody can touch the quarterback, it looked like several Browns defenders let up as Ben made his way for six."

Quite possible the most retarded thing that I have ever read. Once a QB gets out of the pocket...defenders foam at the mouth to get a hit on them.

If any defended did shy away (and I didnt see any) it was probably caused by the fact that they were DB's...and there was a 250lb QB coming at them full speed.

28
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:09pm

Question to Colts observers: Did Vinatieri’s honked kicks come out of nowhere, or has he had a bunch of close calls this year?

The year (2004, I think) that he had a not-so-stellar year with the Pats, you could see he was off all year, even when he was making figgies (turned out he had a back injury).

29
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:09pm

#15:
"On another point, can Vinateiri kick a 49-yard field goal. If he can, then Peyton made a mistake before the half by throwing the ball inbounds for a short gain and forcing the fire-drill field goal. That could have affected Vinateiri’s aim."
I think the rush kick miss definitely couldn't be blamed on Vinatieri. However, he hasn't reliably kicked long ones in years. Last week he missed a 50 y in the dome at home. I suspect 49 yards in the rain yesterday would have been less than a 20% chance from him.

30
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:09pm

Colts will have the worst special teams DVOA of the year after this game, but I bet overall they score higher than the Chargers.

That game didn't say much to me about the Colts except losing 10 starters makes it tough to win (and the obligatory "So that's what Manning would look like with Brady's WRs"). But it showed me a lot about the Chargers (defense is getting better, but offensive is horrible and Rivers is not in Eli Manning's class, and certainly not Drew Brees'). Maybe the Chargers will hold on and win that miserable division, but they are going to get destroyed in the playoffs. I think either of the wild cards (both from the AFC South right now) would beat the Chargers in San Diego even. There should be some sort of special EPC for the difference between the 06 and 07 Chargers. Is it really as simple as Rivers not being as good? Did you see the quotes in Michael Silver's article this morning about the Chrgers? That team is falling apart -- after a win!

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:10pm

Yeah, stick Bledsoe back behind center and we will see how much of an offensive genius Jason Garrett is, and how good their offensive line is. Perhaps the biggest mistake Parcells made as a head coach anywhere was thinking that Bledsoe could still be effective, and perhaps one of the best things, albeit also lucky, things Parcells did as head coach was to sign and bring along Romo. Of course, if Quincy Carter doesn't get high or intoxicated, Romo may not have stuck with the Cowboys, which is an interesting what-if.

32
by Cosmos (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:10pm

Bring on the f'ing Quick Reads!!!! Lets see the Giants-Cowboys game performances in DPAR bitches!
(gurgle...gurgle as i choke on my mouse cord while being consumed by Romo mania....)

33
by bluehandbluedork (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:10pm

The kickoff holding penalty looked like a bad call. The Snee penalty could’ve gone either way.

I watched both of those repeatedly on Tivo. On the kickoff hold, Giants #89 pulled the Cowboys player to the ground -- grabbed the jersey and tackled him -- not at the point of attack but close to it. Easy call.

On the Snee hold, he was standing behind Roy Williams (I think) with his left arm wrapped around Williams' collar. You might get away with that if the ref doesn't see it, but it's a hold for sure.

34
by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:11pm

Wow, I mispelled almost everything in my previous post. That is impressive.

35
by Colts ST Coach (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:13pm

Is it possible that the Colts just put up the worst Special Teams game in history? 2 returns for TDs. 0/2 FG including the potential game winner from less than 30 yds. I really hope they don't get any credit for SD fumbling the snap on an extra point. (Well, I guess it's good they didn't let them run it in for 2.)

Once DVOA come out for this game, can somebody do a quick query to put this in the historical perspective?

36
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:16pm

#6:

You're right about the OL play. That seems to be the Giants' M.O. this season: If your team has a suspect OL, they're going to clobber you. But if you have an above-average, healthy OL with at least a competent QB, they're going to give up a lot of points.

37
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:16pm

The Audiblers forgot to mention that the Colts got screwed on the non-call of DPI on the Chargers on that incompletion to Moorehead. He was clearly interfered with. The defender got arm and jersey well before the ball got there.

38
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:18pm

Commercial wise: I don’t think I want to be driving around people turned on by their car. I’m already dealing with drunk drivers, cell phone talkers, people putting on make up… let alone people turned on by their car. I thought the point of the flex schedule was to flex to a MORE competitive game? Pats vs. the Bills, what are the odds the game isn't over by half time? Dolphins got two more scare games Jets at home and the Ravens. The Jets always seem to squeak out games against the Dolphins, but the Ravens worry me. I don't think Aarons right about the Giants. Clearly they don't have the corners to go 1 on 1 with Randy Moss and rush Tom Brady. The Giants only hope is a few early turnovers and the Pats simply not willing to risk starters in the 4th quarter to comeback on the Giants. Still most of these guys have won the super bowl already. You have to think they are going all out for 16-0. I'm not sure the Colts are making it back to Pats/Colts II. There 1 more injury from starts Fred Banks at wr.

39
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:18pm

Re: #35

If the hold is botched on a PAT try, can the trying team try to run/pass it in to get one point? Or is the rule that if you line up in kick formation for the try, you either kick it through for one point or get no points no matter what else happens?

40
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:21pm

Yeah, this notion that the kickoff return hold for the Giants was "away from the play" is silly. The guy pulled Keith Davis, the Cowboys' special teams ace, out of the play. Sure, he wasn't in the hole, but had he not been pulled backwards he would have gotten off that block and at least slowed down the returner.

Giants fans are acting like it was some ticky tacky call that reversed a near TD. It was an obvious call that, had the guy not held, would've resulted in field position at the 40 or so.

I have to hand it to Osi and Shockey. Both of them gave credit to the Cowboys for just being good. Giants' penalties weren't responsible for 31 Cowboys points. If I told you before the game that Dallas would score 31, what would you say the likelihood of a Giants victory would be? 10%, tops.

41
by Nick Pomazak (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:21pm

"I am still undecided on J.P. Losman vs. Trent Edwards, and I know Losman brings the long bomb factor. But with Losman, it seems like the Bills have no drive capability."

I think JP Losman and Rex Grossman are almost exactly the same quarterback.

42
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:21pm

I agree with #7... kicking away from Hester seems like buying insurance, maybe from a pure expected returns standpoint not worth it, but you will pay it to avoida high-risk situation

43
by flounder (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:22pm

Re: 27 I didn't see the play, but I read a comment by Roethlesberger where he said he though a couple Cleveland players may have let up because they thought he was going to slide.

44
by Bionicman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:24pm

I know this sounds insane, but with the Colts losing tonight and the Jaguars winning, I’m wondering if my predictions of a Jaguars division title might actually come to pass... Seriously, if Freeney is out for significant time, and David Garrard is back next week, Jacksonville is actually going to win this division. There are only so many injuries you can take.
Aaron, you know how some other people have commented that it gets annoying when you toot your horn after you seem to get a prediction right ('Jason Campbell will be a great QB') but don't say anything when those predictions don't look so good next week? I think you fell into that trap here. For the record, Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark did light practice this week and could have played; the Colts injured outside linebackers (Keiaho and Hagler) and two of the three injured offensive linemen (Ugoh, Diem) aren't badly hurt (and besides, last night's performance shows that they are somewhat fungible). Unless Freeney has suffered a season ending injury, the Colts should be at full strength in time for their remaining division games. Besides, they have the Falcons, the Raiders, the Chiefs, the Ravens, and the Texans left on the schedule.

45
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:24pm

#39:
I think a botched PAT that is run/thrown into the EZ counts as a 2-point conversion. Or am I wrong?

46
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:24pm

#39: Any time you run/pass it in is considered a 2-point conversion, no matter what formation you lined up in. Dropping the snap, then trying to run or pass it, is considered to be the same thing as a fake kick.

47
by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:25pm

Hmm, Eagles defensive talent under Andy Reid. Rod Hood, Patterson is a solid starter and Juqua Thomas looks like he'll be at least that, Mikell has been a pleasant surprise and Gaither could be a star. Bunkley makes big plays but he misses a lot of little ones. The problem is they've missed on a lot of first-day LBs and, excepting Mikell, haven't found a DB who's contibuted a thing in since Brown and Sheppard. Yes, that includes Consindine who may have been the worst starting SS in the league before his injury.

48
by billsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:30pm

38:
There's always the chance that the Monday-Night-vs.-the-Cowboys Bills team will show up instead of the one that usually does, and a driving lake-effect snowstorm will take away the Pats vertical passing game. Also keep in mind that this Bills team is two seconds away from being 7-2. Ah, who am I kidding; it's going to be ugly.

49
by Speedegg (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:32pm

In response to Stuart Fraser on the Patriots 3-4 compared to San Deigo or Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense, I thought San Diego (and now Dallas with the arrival of Wade Phillips) was more dependent on attacking with their defensive line. I thought the rest of the league follows the Bill Parcell's model of the D-Line blocking for the linebackers, letting the LB's rush the ball carrier.

San Diego usually goes after the D-lineman with more speed because they have to rush the QB/RB. Phillips use to throw in the OLB from the left or right to confuse the O-line and drop the other 3 LB's into coverage. That makes a little more sense when SD's inside linebackers are usually undersized, so they have trouble with the inside run, but can cover the pass.

Now, it's hard for me to tell what is going on with San Diego's defense because Cottrell is very conservative and his play calling is questionable. Cottrell might have the same 'system' as Phillips, but their philosophies and tendencies are very different.

As for the rest of the league, I don't watch Pittsburg, New England, NY Jets, or the Browns closely enough to see if they attack with their D-Line or LB's. I know Pittsburg is famous for their crazy LaBeu zone blitzes, NE is infamous for Belichik's mad blitzes (truly art in motion), and NY/Cleveland doesn't have the personnel to execute.

Am I talking out of my lack of sport's knowledge or should I TiVo more of NFL match-up?

50
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:32pm

#40... Your assertion that the held player would've made the tackle or affected the play is just as ridiculous as the "claims" you think are being made.

I didn't like the calls (the kickoff more so than the Snee hold), but I've clearly stated the difference in the game was one team's offensive line performance and the other's lack of performance. Nearly all the Giants fans I've talked to haven't blamed the calls for the loss. Most of them are blaming Eli!

The Cowboys are a good team. That's why I haven't criticized the Giants defense at all. I never expected them to shut down the Cowboys. I did expect the o-line to perform better and I expected the Giants to score more points.

51
by hwc (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:33pm

Re: #23

The abrupt movement by Utecht was accompanied by an abrupt head bob by the center Jeff Saturday -- the same head bob he makes when he snaps the ball. I believe that head bob is a penalty on the center, all by itself unless the ball is snapped.

I don't think there's much argument: the Colts' offense was clearly attempting to "simulate a snap" in that situation. That was the whole point.

So there's not much legitimate complaint when they are flagged for simulating a snap.

I actually the Colts regularly get away with murder. Their O-linemen are flinching and head bobbing all over the place when Peyton is flapping his arms and barking signals behind center.

52
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:36pm

Fair enough, Kevin. I think Giants fans are silly to "blame" Eli. He is what he is: an average NFL starter who could be a several time pro bowler under the right conditions. Kerry Collins got the Giants to the big game, and Eli is definitely on par with Collins at his peak.

But Eli ain't Romo, and he never will be. And Giants fans who expect him to suddenly outplay Romo (not that your'e on of those people) are like Cowboys fans of 2004 wondering why Bledsoe couldn't outplay McNabb. Because McNabb was just better.

53
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:39pm

GROOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!

>:|

54
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:39pm

Just heard Adrian Peterson has a 2nd degree tear of the lcl, which will not require surgery. I'd say that if he out more than three weeks, it'll likely be pointless to play him at all the rest of the season, if there is any question of him being less than completely, totally, recovered. Also, this is the third consecutive season in whch he has lost significant time to injury, so the Vikings will be extremely unwise if they plan for the future as if he is going to be around consistently. I think the Vikings may still have significant cap room available this year; is it past the deadline for using it? If not, would it make sense advance some of Peterson's money now, to make his future cap number lower?

55
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:43pm

Will commented early on that the Vikings lack of competent QB and WR play was the major shortcoming of this team. That has become very obvious as the season wears on.

I thought the offensive line actually played pretty well. Peterson had 45 yards on 9 carries in the first half running and Bollinger was under no duress to speak of when he did have to pass.

Watching Manning struggle so badly with 3 of the top 4 receivers and some key OLinemen out seems to highlight how it requires all aspects of the team to have a decent passing attack. Even the best QB of all time will struggle if he has awful receivers or a bad line.

56
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:46pm

Re: Eli, I said something similar to the following on yesterday's gameday thread.

What I find maddening about him is that he does some things that average QBs simply cannot do. The throw mentioned above in Audibles was an example-- there are not many QBs in the league who ever make that throw. He has shown the ability to do absolutely astoundingly great things.

But then he makes bad throws that you simply do not see above average quarterbacks make.

I know there is hyperbole in both statements there. Occasionally other mediocre QBs will make the astoundingly great throw. Occasionally above average QBs will make unbelievably bad throws. But Eli seems to do both more often-- make great throws that average QBs rarely made, and crap throws that above-average QBs rarely make. He teases with his potential and washes it down with boneheadedness.

Very frustrating.

As for Romo, he was very good, once again. The Cowboys O-line protected him well enough. The Cowboys D-line was in Eli's face all game. The Cowboys were plain and simple better over the course of the game.

57
by Lou (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:47pm

49
should I TiVo more of NFL match-up?

the answer to that question is always YES.

58
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:48pm

I'm not sure it's accurate to say this is what Manning would look like with Brady's receivers. Sure, Gaffney and Caldwell were no Harrison and Wayne, but Brady knew they were the receivers going into the season and they were part of the game plan from day 1.

On the other hand, Manning had one week to take a guy off the practice squad(Thorpe) and make him a integral part of the offense. I was tremendously impressed that Manning was able to somehow 'right the ship' and start tearing up the field in the 2nd half. Given enough time, I think Manning would look pretty much the same as Brady did when he was saddled with sub-par receivers.
Peyton basically managed to engineer a comeback that should have gone on his Canton highlight reel, but instead, Adam Vinatieri robbed him of what should been one of the finest moments of Manning's career.

Damn, idiot kickers! :-)

59
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:48pm

Has Football Outsiders done any studies on "injury prone" players? It certainly seems that some players tend to be injury prone, but has anyone seen a study that suggests that once a player has been injured and misses x games, that he is more likely to miss more games in the future to injury?

Tiki Barber noted that Peterson is special in that most running backs keep their head on a swivel but Peterson keeps his eye on the prize (end zone). I certainly see what he means, but I would also think that would make him more vulnerable to injury because he lacks the ability to react and safe himself from injury.

Not a very good day to be a Viking fan.

60
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:49pm

PatsFan,

#23 I'm pretty sure I've seen the "simulating the snap" call before-probably on the team I root for (Colts). It was a dumb strategy move by Dungy; one he made worse by wasting a timeout to argue with the official about it.

#37 True, but the Colts got away with one earlier on a third down pass to Gates that Marlin Jackson interfered on but was not called. Essentially, as a fan, I've given up on trying to guess when pass interference is going to be called.

I'm giving Manning more of a pass on this one than Dungy and Vinatieri. So much of the offense's success is based on timing and reads, and it was clear on several plays that he was not on the same as his backup wideouts. I'm not letting him off the hook; just saying that probably only 2-3 of the 5 meaningful INT's were Manning's fault. (Although would it hurt Wayne to play a little defense on at least one of the forced passes?)

Dungy got outcoached by Norv Turner. That's really bad. Really, really bad. I know Turner had the questionable challenges, but who did more to hurt his team? Dungy-by losing his cool and calling a timeout to no good purpose. And I'm not accepting the argument of "Yeah, but EVERYONE expected Vinatieri to make that kick." Even if he did, the Colts had to kickoff again. They may have needed all three of those timeouts on offense. A coach should be considering strategic elements like this, and Dungy blew it last night. To his credit, he took responsibility after the loss.

61
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:51pm

I thought the point of the flex schedule was to flex to a MORE competitive game?
The point is to draw viewers.

Between bandwagoners and haters, the Patriots are going to draw viewers. And if the versus-Cowboys Bills team plays, those viewers will stay to watch the whole game. That seems a reasonable chance to take for NBC, as opposed to hoping that the Bears and Seahwaks will both suck sufficiently equally to keep the game competitive.

62
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:53pm

If there was ever a game that neither team deserved to win, it was the Colts/Bolts game. Indy was by a wide margin the better team - despite their numerous injuries - but they made just enough stupid plays and SD made their big plays count enough to pull off the upset.

* That SD team is almost unwatchable. They were completely discumbobulated. They had absolutely no cohesion on offense and their defense (other than an emotion fueled fast start) was nearly uselss. Their pass rush was nonexistant and I saw numerous plays where it appeared as if guys were interfering with each others' rushing lanes. Just a really strange game that a defense that played so poorly for much of the game could pick Manning 6 times.

* More stupid play - what was Cromartie thinking running that int out of the EZ? SD had Indy on its heals at that point and the 14 yards of field position was huge. I hate to repeat myself, but that team just looks so uncoordinated it is silly.

* And what happened to Phillip Rivers? Wasn't he a promisiing young QB just one season ago? He was dreadful in that game. He has no idea when to use touch and when to fire it in and his throws were just sprayed all over the field. What the hell was he thinking on that grounding toss just before halftime? Franlkly, it was to the point that I was almost beginning to feel sorry for him he was so terrible.

* Was it me, or was Freeney being held out there constantly? I found it humorous when they showed a close up replay on McNeil's blocking technique and it was blatant holding, with Madden/Michaels talking about the great form.

* Can someone explain to me how the Gates play at the end wasn't PI? The defender never once looks back and he runs right into Gates and keeps him from coming back on the ball. Wasn't he playing the receiver instead of the ball? I don't get it.

* Before anyone gets too crazy about Manning's "heroric" performance, I just wanted to point out that the playmakers for Indy yesterday were significantly better than who NE was trotting out there all last year and just as good as who NE had out there in 2005 as well. Manning is entitled to having a bad game - he is human after all - without people talking about him being overrated. But that offense wasn't anywhere near as neutered as people would have you believe.

(Side note: Had Indy's OL reshuffling caused any noticable drop in pass protection, I would agree with it. But SD was hardly anywhere near Manning and I thought the OL performed admirably. I would also agree that the 2001 NE offense was probably the least tallented of the bunch, but I want to compare the offenses at their peak QB performance.)

* I was thinking this weekend before the games about how I wanted Indy/Pitt to be some combination of 2/3. They are clearly the biggest two threats to NE and having them have to go through each other first is a huge help to the Pats' SB chances. Check and check. Despite Indy's recent struggles, I don't see how TN or Jax threaten Indy and Pitt as almost as assured of a division title as NE is. Obviously I would rather neither even make it, but without that possibility, I like what is happening.

* Which brings us to Pitt. They are who they have always been. If they can get pressure, their defense looks awesome. Without it, they are average at best. I know that a pass rush is crucial for all good defenses, but I liken Pitt to Dallas; they go from being incredible to mediocre/poor very quickly if the QB has time. Frankly, I am not all that worried about them at all, now that I saw them play a good offense with a decent OL.

* Even more so, had Cleveland had a single plus player on the DL or in the OLBs, they win that game handily. From what I saw, not one standard pass rusher for the Browns is even average at that task. And they ranged from average to terrible at stopping the run as well. Pitt was allowed to convert far too many long third downs because of the absence of any pressure.

* Something I noticed in both the Pitt and Indy games was just how consistently receivers were left uncovered at the sticks on third down. It seemed that both the Cleveland and SD defenses would just keep dropping guys back to the point that one or two receivers had plenty of space to catch the ball for the first down. Multiple times I saw receivers catch the ball at the line and the MLB comes running in from 5 yards deeper to make the tackle. What is the point of this coverage? Isn't the goal to stop the first down? Sure you need to limit big plays, but the surest way to give up points is the have your closest coverage guys 5 yards beyond the marker. Just really strange. Even making things worse was the fact that it wasn't like some unknown FB was making these catches. I saw similar type coverage on Wayne and Ward first downs.

* BTW, McGinnest is done; just complete toast. He gest nowhere near the QB, he doesn't set the edge well anymore and he was beaten to the outside repeatedly yesterday - even by Davenport. If RAC doesn't just load up on DL and OLB next year I will be very surprised.

One more thing: When did Quinn Gray become a halfway decent QB? He was embarrassingly awful in the Indy game, but he has been alright since then.

63
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:57pm

Movement by offensive linemen is acceptable as long as they have not assumed or simulated a three-point stance. If that is what you are referring to, then it is not a penalty. See Jerry Markbreit's column (linked) for an explanation.

I do not know what restrictions apply to a tight end on the line. Without a clearer explanation (where's Mike Carey when you need him?), I assumed that the penalty was for popping up quickly from his stance. Had Utecht risen slowly and shifted, that would have been acceptable.

I partially agree with lionsbob. The Cardinals took away the run early in the game; the Lions abandoned it first because it wasn't working and then because they were falling far behind. Naturally, Boselli kept explaining that the key to the offense was balance. And here I thought the key was to move the ball downfield ...

I don't believe it's because they suck on the road. That varies from year to year. They certainly have crapped the bed on the road this year, though. Can't blame this game on playing outdoors, or playing a good team, or, well, the usual suspects. I mean, the Fugitive is playing QB for the other team, and yet the offense can't do much to help out. (Well, the Keystone Kops were filling in on special teams, so that didn't help any.)

I think it's pass protection. Kitna didn't get good protection against PHI, WAS, or ARI, and all three turned out to be bad losses.

64
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 5:57pm

steelberger1, read MMQB. I read him with a grain of salt because you never learn much from him...but he quotes Roethlisberger himself as saying that he thinks some of the defensive backs let up, thinking he would slide.
Not trying to take credit from him, he played a great game...But just remember next time he's out of the pocket, that no one will make that mistake again. At least he'll be wearing a helmet for that accident.

65
by DavidH (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:01pm

Just a note on the play where Priest Holmes lost 13 yards ... keep in mind that it was 3rd & 2 from the 5. If there's ever a situation where it's OK to try a risky play that loses 13 yards, it's that. There's no way Herm is gonna go for it on 4th down, so any gain short of a first down is worthless. And all his lost yardage did was turn a 21-yd FG into a 34-yd FG, or something like that. Yeah, it's tougher, but what is the decline in expected points for that, 0.5? Whereas if he had somehow gotten around the end he might have gained them 4 points.

Of course, I don't know if he was actually thinking "It's 3rd down, might as well try something crazy to pick it up"

66
by Darrel (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:02pm

Re: Saints running game -

The Saints only ran 10 designed runs against the rams. They combined for 43 yards. One was an ill-advised draw play that lost 6 yards, as Bush was hit immediately in the backfield.

The running game isn't stellar, but really, how can that be the collapse of the Saints when Marc Bulger completed 27 of 33 passes? The Rams converted 8 of 13 third downs, including two 3rd and 15 or more.

The problem for the Saints is almost entirely pass defense.

67
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:03pm

I do think Romo is an effective NFL starter, but I wonder how much of his production is down to being a very good fit within the scheme and (especially) with Terrell Owens. Romo often gets compared to Favre, to me this is wide of the mark, the QB who he most reminds me of is Garcia in San Fran when Owens was still there (Garcia went to three Pro Bowls when he was throwing at Owens). They have a very similar skill set; both are very good at moving in the pocket and throwing on the run, both are accurate on short to medium routes but lack laser-rocket-arms, maybe most importantly both are very good at keeping a play alive and finding TO when the original play doesn't work. Both QBs are also an ideal match for TO; while an amazing WR he doesn't always get enough seperation on his routes but is fantastic with the ball in his hands, so if he has the time to work back to the QB and get the ball on plays where the initial coverage is strong, he will excel (and not moan).

Romo is very productive in Dallas' scheme and with the players it has in it, but it took Garcia a while to learn to play without Owens. Also other SF players benefited from Owens' presence (here I am mainly thinking of Kevan Barlow's three straight seasons with positive DPAR), which causes me to be sceptical about some of the other Cowboys currently looking very good (not Witten though as as far as I can tell that guy is a beast).

I guess what I am saying is that the Cowboys have just invested $30m in a QB who has always had a HOF WR (in talent if not mentality) to throw to. While TO may play for a few more years do we have any idea how well Romo would cope without him?

68
by Digit (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:06pm

re: 58

Actually, Gaffney was picked up mid-season. Doug Gabriel started the season, but was cut midway.

Basically, if I recall this right, Caldwell and Brown were basically the only WRs who started the season and ended the season with Brady. I want to say Bam Childress also did, but I think he may have come off the practice squad at one time or another too.

69
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:07pm

#58: Gaffney joined the Patriots on October 9 last year after the Eagles cut him during the final training camp cutdown, so it's not like him and Brady were working on their timing all summer. Also, Brady's third WR for much of last year, Doug Gabriel, came via trade with the Raiders on September 2. That was probably as much of a reason for his "struggles" as the overall lack of WR talent. I agree with your larger point, though - Manning would look pretty good no matter what receivers he had.

#62: I agree that the Chargers look disorganized and unmotivated, but it's not really fair to blame Cromartie for taking that interception out of the end zone. He caught it while around the 1 or the goal line as his momentum took him into the end zone. In that situation, at game speed, it's fairly reasonable for him to think that he took the ball into the end zone himself, so being tackled would result in a safety.

70
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:08pm

See, it was only a matter of time before someone came in with a "Romo isn't that good" line (comparing him to Garcia). It's always either the OL or the WR that are carrying him.

Garcia can ONLY work in a dink and dunk, catch-and-run offense. He's a pure system QB, and in his older years, a solid game manager.

Romo has a far far better arm than Garcia. He throws deep/intermediate routes a lot better, and his scrambling buys time for plays up the field. So Romo is kind of a rich-man's Jeff Garcia. Garcia at his peak is nowhere near as good as Romo at his.

71
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:09pm

RE:60

While I agree that the timeout was a poor choice by Dungy, to say he was " outcoached " by Turner might be pushing it quite a bit. Quite frankly, Turner seemed to be content to let his offense slog away once they got the big lead. Then when they were backed up on their own goaline they became " adventuresome "
which resulted in a fumble/ recovery in the endzone by Indy. Honestly, Turner just sat there and watched the Colts shoot themselves in the foot. What great strategies did Turner employ?

The timeout by Dungy was silly. But it was not the REASON they lost. AV missed two easy field goals. Don't see that coming often. A couple of interesting ref whistles, dropped passes, Manning ints. A replay overturning a first down.
For all that, the Colts still should have won that game. Even with the injuries.

72
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:09pm

jimm, to be completely pessimistic, yesterday's game could be the catalyst to even more grim days for Vikings fans. There is no way now the Vikings sell out the game with the Raiders next Sunday, so the 10 year sell out streak ends, and they will have a tough time selling out the rest of the season. Next year, there's a good chance a new coach is in place, and who knows how that hire works out, although trying to sell tickets next year with Childress is likely more of a laughable idea. There will be zero public fervor leading to legislative momentum for Vikings stadium subsidies, the Metrodome lease expires in a few years, and Wilf has no ties to Minnesota.

I really despise the notion of taxpayer subsidies to billionaires, but yesterday's game may be looked back upon with a certain grim nostalgia by pro football fans in Minnesota in a few years time.

73
by Speedegg (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:13pm

RE 60, Dungy got outcoached by Norv Turner

WHAT? Are you high?

74
by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:15pm

#50 - that was a hold on Davis, plain and simple. I don't know how it doesn't get called.

75
by Flux (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:20pm

Amazingly clear example of how bad SD's coaching is. Last week SD continually tries to run into a stacked line, fails to protect the QB, and fails to scheme on defense to stop the other team's one weapon, who gains 300 yards in an easy win. This week Green Bay stacks the line and forces Minn to throw, and waltzes to a 34-0 win.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, the Chargers take an unprecedented 6 INTs off the 2nd best qb in the league, score on 2 return TDs, take possession in Indy territory 3 other times, and still only manage 23 points; enough that they should have lost on a late, short field goal.

I'm sure that at some point in history, an NFL team has scored on 2 returns, forced 6 turn overs, and still lost at home to an injury-decimated opponent... but I certainly can't think of an example.

76
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:20pm

#73 No. He hurt his team last night with his strategic decisions more than Turner did.

77
by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:20pm

"* Which brings us to Pitt. They are who they have always been. If they can get pressure, their defense looks awesome. Without it, they are average at best. I know that a pass rush is crucial for all good defenses, but I liken Pitt to Dallas; they go from being incredible to mediocre/poor very quickly if the QB has time. Frankly, I am not all that worried about them at all, now that I saw them play a good offense with a decent OL."

The Browns had 163 yards total in that game- 71 of which came on the first drive of the game. The Steeler defense pretty much handled the Browns, despite Simms and Nantz coronating Derek Anderson in the first half.

78
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:20pm

re:28

He's honked several kicks, and had many near misses close. I was quite aware during the game that a 5 yard difference could potentially be huge.

The beginning of the season (although it had gotten better) he was barely hitting extra points, to the left or right.

It's been an issue all year to those that have watched each game.

78
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:20pm

Vince,

If you're waiting for the blow-up , expect it after the Colts visit Baltimore -- unless something miraculous happens, that's gonna be ugly -- and Bisciotti won't sit around much after the debacle.

Me? I was brought up on the Baltimore Catechism -- I'm lighting every candle I can find...

80
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:21pm

70: How can you be so sure, you've never seen Romo without Owens and Witten. We never really got to see Garcia in his prime because of the time he spent in Canada and his production whilst playing with Owens is similar to Romo's.

81
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:23pm

Watching the Colts move everyone around in the crazy formation last night (that led to the "simulating the snap" call), it made me wonder why teams even run something like that. LSU tried to run the exact same type of thing on 4th and 1 last week against Alabama, and was called for a false start (probably incorrectly).

Yes, the play is very tricky, and it meant to catch the defense jumping or out of position, but it's so tricky that it seems to backfire. Someone jumps and points, everyone else starts, and it's blown dead, and since the officials seem confused by the play, they seem to always call it on the offense. Maybe if Dungy went to the refs and said "Hey, we're going to run this, so watch because it's not illegal" so they aren't caught off guard, maybe it would work.

It just seems to me that you're better off lining up and running it, or doing a QB sneak, then running the clever play that outsmarts the refs as well (or, as TMQ would put it, "The football gods didn't smile on their trickiness, letting Alabama running back the resulting punt for a touchdown, and causing Indy to shank a gimmie FG as well as burning a needed timeout").

82
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:25pm

re:62

"Can someone explain to me how the Gates play at the end wasn’t PI? The defender never once looks back and he runs right into Gates and keeps him from coming back on the ball. Wasn’t he playing the receiver instead of the ball? I don’t get it."

He was faceguarding Gates, which I understand used to be a penalty, but now isn't. Someone correct me if that's wrong.

83
by Viva Pedro (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:27pm

Roethlisberger's test will come against the Patriots in Week 13. He's been superb this season (thanks for updating that QB database after his 5 TD monday night miracle. I'm sure that wouldn't boost his DVOA at all). For some reason everyone thinks that Big Ben is the guy we saw last year who was trying to overcome a near death accident, an apendectomy, and a huge concussion that knocked him out in Atlanta. Healthy this guy is a top 5 QB. Barnwell's allusions to "Evil Ben" or Schatz's suggestion that he's living on the edge of a 6 INT outing is absurd. As Steve Young pointed out, Ben has dedicated himself to the game and is in top physical shape. He's winning games in the second half because of his conditioning and because of film study during the week. Ken Anderson has been a huge help as the new QB coach. Once he learns to run through his progressions, he will be lethal.

I mean, he's on pace for 39 TDs and has clocked 66% of his throws. Enough already guys.

84
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:28pm

#71

As I said Garcia went to several Pro Bowls in SF and the Niners offense was one of the best in the league. Niners offense Garcia/Owens era; 5th 2000, 2nd 2001, 3rd 2002, 9th 2003 - I think things started to go a bit wrong in 2003. Garcia's DPAR over the period is also very good (in 2000 it was 97.8). During this period, Garcia's arm was at least as strong as Romo's (maybe stronger), he was a very effective QB, if a little short. As for scrambling about, Garcia used to do this all the time in SF, and then throw the ball to Owens who had worked back to him. Sound at all familiar?

85
by Miles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:28pm

Boomer E. said today on some show that for a QB to be over the line of scrimmage, the entire body has to be over -- which, if true, makes the non-call not so clearly bad.

85
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:28pm

re:63

"I do not know what restrictions apply to a tight end on the line. Without a clearer explanation (where’s Mike Carey when you need him?), I assumed that the penalty was for popping up quickly from his stance. Had Utecht risen slowly and shifted, that would have been acceptable."

What is too quickly? I didn't think it was all that quick. He looked exactly like teams look when they make that move.

I think the critical difference is that he went back into a stance instead of changing into a slot position. The direct backward motion had the penalty called, but if he would have went another direction I doubt it would have been called.

Someone said Saturday moved. I didn't see that. It was called on the Tight end, and I believe that 100/100 times if that play wasn't in a likely false start situation, it would not have been called.

Maybe I'm wrong. It happens fairly regularly that teams change formation without issue, including the TE going backwards. The TE going backwards, and then into motion. Etc.

87
by flounder (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:30pm

Re: 82 As far as I know, face-guarding is still a penalty. I think GB has been called for it two or three times this year.

88
by Len (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:30pm

Hah.

It used to be, Owens is a QB killer. Now, he's a QB maker.

89
by Darrel (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:32pm

By the way, here are the Saints run plays:

FIRST QUARTER
1-10-NO 27 (14:56) 27-A.Stecker right tackle to NO 40 for 13 yards (51-W.Witherspoon, 21-O.Atogwe).
1-7-STL 7 (12:52) 25-R.Bush right guard for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
1-10-NO 29 (11:03) 25-R.Bush right guard to NO 30 for 1 yard (90-A.Carriker, 51-W.Witherspoon).

SECOND QUARTER
1-10-NO 37 (4:51) 27-A.Stecker right tackle to NO 48 for 11 yards (93-T.Johnson).
1-10-STL 42 (3:39) 25-R.Bush left tackle to STL 35 for 7 yards (21-O.Atogwe).
2-3-STL 35 (3:01) 25-R.Bush up the middle to STL 41 for -6 yards (54-B.Chillar, 96-J.Hall).

THIRD QUARTER
3-3-NO 46 (8:14) 25-R.Bush left end to NO 48 for 2 yards (97-L.Glover).
4-1-NO 48 (7:34) 25-R.Bush right tackle to NO 47 for -1 yards (50-P.Tinoisamoa).

FOURTH QUARTER
2-8-STL 8 (12:05) 25-R.Bush right end ran ob at STL 1 for 7 yards (26-T.Hill).
2-2-STL 2 (4:45) 27-A.Stecker left guard for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Also note that the plays that didn't work were cutesy, slow developing plays - a toss left, a slow draw play, a stretch play to the right (the 4th down play). When the Saints ran right atr the defense, they did well.

The biggest problem was that the Saints D couldn't get off the field so once they did, Payton felt the need to pass every down. Haslett blitzed the first 3 quarters before he let his defense rest and sit back in prevent.

90
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:35pm

Re: 87. If face guarding is still a penalty, he should have been penalized for it. He was not watching the ball, did not touch the receiver, but did stick his hand in his face which caused the miss.

91
by Boots Day (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:35pm

I haven't heard anyone say anything about this, but did the Skins let the Eagles score at the end of their game? The situation was Eagles up by one with the ball on the ten, and about 2:20 to go. The Redskins had no timeouts left. The Eagles could have run out the clock, ending the game, but if they score quickly and kick the PAT, they're up by 8 and the Skins get the ball back with two minutes left.

Nobody touched Westbrook as he went into the end zone. I assume they had been told not to.

92
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:36pm

#88

Don't get me wrong, if Owens is unhappy and wants out he will find a way to do it. I am sure no one needs the list of how he does it. He is however a dominant player who distorts how defenses have to play against his team, he may drop a few too many balls, but so did Jerry Rice.

93
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:36pm

Oswlek, stop making sense! You're a Pats fan, for God's sakes! You're giving the rest of those NE yahoos a bad name.

From a Colt fan's perspective: Not too worried about much from last night other than if the injuries are long term. The Colts didn't make plays yesterday; thus, they lost.

People are overvaluing the Colts lining up on 4th down. I said it in another thread, but will repeat here: I think they just wanted to see if SD was dumb enough to NOT stack over the center. Manning's learned that QB sneak thing from Brady, and as much as every defense playing NE or Indy ought to know better, they still sometimes don't pack the middle on 4th and short. If Manning sees that he can sneak, they snap. If not, they shift and hope for a call (got the one they didn't want). In either case, AV has to make that kick.

As for why the Colts did not throw when 1st and goal on the 15 with 3 minutes: they were hoping to win with nothing left on the clock. They wanted to run the clock down to nothing. If you can't have confidence in a kicker from 30 yards out, well...

I'd have to look back to 2005, but are NE fans really comparing last night's injuries to the Pats in 2005? Did NE really play without: WR#1, WR#3, TE#1, LT#1, LT#2, RG#1, DT#1 (McFarland), DT #2 (Raegor), SLB #1 (Morris), SLB#2, WLB#1 in 2005? And now possibly DE#1 and DT#4?

Finally, I do think Manning needs time with the new receivers. It's not just that he has Caldwell and Garbiel (okay, Moorehead and Thorpe) back there with him, but that he's had no preseason or practice time with them, other than this week. There was one pass in particular in the first half where Manning led Thorpe on a 20-yard seam route, and Manning put it about a full stride in front of Thorpe. I think Marvin's just a bit faster than Crapo.

But, for all that, the Colts lost a game they deserved to lose. They played poorly, had a chance, and failed. Move on to the next game.

94
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:37pm

Nathan,

"He was faceguarding Gates, which I understand used to be a penalty, but now isn’t. Someone correct me if that’s wrong."

I agree that he was attampting to faceguard, but when Gates stopped to come back to the ball, he collided with him. Making significant contact with a receiver who is going for the catch when you are not is PI. My request was purely rhetorical; there is no way that that wasn't PI.

95
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:37pm

re:91

If that's true, the Redskins are smart.

I do this in Video Game football all of the time.

96
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:38pm

re:94

I missed the contact then.

96
by GBS too (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:38pm

Re: 82.

No, faceguarding means that the player shielded but did not touch the receiver.

In this case, the Colt's Dback clearly contacted and pushed Gates, so it isn't face-guarding. It's just another adventure in NFL referees interpreting pass interference in ways not accounted for in the rules.

Cheers

98
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:38pm

Will - I certainly understand the pessimism. I'm from Toronto (well Greater Toronto Area), but the notion of the Vikings being anywhere but Minnesota just wouldn't be the same.

Without Peterson I think this team is a bottom 10 team. The rest of the schedule is very weak, so there is a glimmer of hope. I fear like you do that Childress may be losing the team, which isn't good when it is only marginally talented to begin with.

99
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:39pm

Dback? I was watching the Linebacker who was doing the faceguarding. Was it a Dback or a linebacker that did the contact?

100
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:42pm

This isn't one of those, I'm a Colts fan, I didn't see the contact. I have Gates on my fantasy team, and was hoping for the TD (as odd as that sounds saying it outloud.)

101
by DCD12 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:42pm

91: I think you are correct. The middle of the field opened up with a GIGANTIC hole.

Good job by the Skins there.

102
by nat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:43pm

63: From the rules digest -
"No player of offensive team may charge or move abruptly, after assuming set position, in such manner as to lead defense to believe snap has started."

Dungy seems to have thought he had found a loophole in the rule. By orchestrating a coordinated set of movements, each of which by itself might not trigger a false start penalty, he may have thought he could draw the defense offside without being flagged for a false start by the refs.

It was clear that the whole point of the play was to convince a defender that the ball had been snapped, without triggering a false start penalty. But the rules are designed to penalize all attempts to convince a defender that the ball has been snapped (as well as inadvertent false starts). It's not too surprising that the Colts were flagged.

What's sad for the Colts is that they wasted practice time on a play designed to fool the refs. They could have used that time practicing the fieldgoal firedrill to better effect.

103
by sam (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:46pm

The Titans performance today makes what Jacksonville did last year and this past Sunday all the more impressive, IMO. For a huge chunk of last season, they played without Stroud, Peterson, Darius or Hayward and while there was a drop-off it was nowhere near what the Titans experienced today.

And while Haynesworth's absence was important, let's not forget that his replacement was going up against a guy who has never played guard until this year - he's a backup right tackle.

104
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:46pm

On the Garcia comparison: I think the better comp for Romo is "cross between Garcia and Kurt Warner." Dallas is not a WCO team, and Romo has do do more than throw slants, hitches, and the occasional seam pass, like Garcia did in his prime. This is the Air Coryell offense, and you have to have a QB who can challenge the defense at all levels of the field. Some journeymen have been good in this offense for a short while (Rypien, Brad Johnson with the Skins, Trent Green with KC and StL), but it's just not comparable to a WCO. At all. Now, I say that Kurt Warner was a great QB before he hurt his hand and couldn't avoid fumbles. Also, Warner played for Martz, who grinds up QB's with his protection schems. Romo almost never takes a big hit.

So, I think we're going to see the production of Warner in his prime, except for 8 years rather than 3.

105
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:47pm

re:102

With the other players moving at the same time, I don't believe it breaks the rule. I understand what you are saying. It could be construed as a snap.

Just as it could on any other play it's legally used. No one on SD jumped, and it was a legal play. What is the problem?

If someone on SD actually jumped at it, and it was called. Ok. Now we look at the rule, it says it's construed. Someone has to be given a penalty, okay, it's on the offense.

But if no one jumped, what's the problem? Inadvertent whistle (this time one that doesn't take away 75 yards), and start the play over.

I didn't see any players move until the whistle. It was a formation change with defenders pointing at the tight end.

I could be wrong.

106
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:50pm

#93

Well done Purds. You made the made the point I tried (poorly)to make. I knew there was a reason I normally just read and don't post.

107
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:52pm

nat:

What was so special about that play that it took special practice time? The Colts went from a bunch formation to a spread formation. Everyone has that play in the playbook.

Let's not get out of control here, all you Chicken Littles. The Colts have lost two games by a total of 6 points. Last year, they lost a game by 27, giving up more than 350 yards rushing, landed in the 3rd playoff seed, didn't get a bye, and ...... wait for it ..... be patient...... won the SB.

I'm not saying they're going to win the SB again. But, the sky's not really falling.

108
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:52pm

The Colts loss doesn't bother me as much without the penalty. That penalty kills me, because it's a normally legal move.

If you're going to call a legal move as a penalty on situations that are likely purely offsides calls, then tell the coaches before the season.

109
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:53pm

Is somebody cooking? Because it smells like burnt meat...Oh wait its just Brad Childress's seat got switched with an oven coil.

Will and jimm,Who are at the top of your wish list for HC? Mine are Marty and the Titans DC (Jim Schwartz is it?). Bill Cowher is not on the list because he wouldn't come to Minny.

110
by nat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:53pm

81:
"Maybe if Dungy went to the refs and said “Hey, we’re going to run this, so watch because it’s not illegal� so they aren’t caught off guard, maybe it would work."

Well, that's the point isn't it. If Dungy said that he was going to try to draw the defense offside, the refs would tell him to expect a flag. He would have to say:

"We're going to do some really weird and abrupt formation changes that look kinda like the play is starting on a play that we won't even run, but we're not trying to make the defense think the ball has been snapped.

Honest."

And the refs would have to believe him.

111
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:54pm

91: Articles on the game say that yes, they did. And Westbrook responded to that (in an Inquirer or Daily News article I can't find at the moment) by saying that if he'd realized what they were doing he'd have taken a knee at the one.

112
by sam (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:55pm

62:

Quinn Gray has been a decent backup. He was thrust into the Indy game down two TDs, against a defense that is predicated on rushing the passer while ahead by at least 2 TDs.

I'm guessing Gray's DPAR is at or around 0 for his three starts. To me, for a formerly-undrafted backup QB, that's about what you'd expect. That his 0 DPAR would put him ahead of starting QBs is obviously very bad for other teams. I think he is well worth the $1 Million or so that his RFA tender paid him.

113
by billsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:55pm

ust heard Adrian Peterson has a 2nd degree tear of the lcl, which will not require surgery. I’d say that if he out more than three weeks, it’ll likely be pointless to play him at all the rest of the season,

Obviously, he's not on your fantasy team.

114
by iapetus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:56pm

Spare a thought for Fred Taylor, who broke through the 10,000 yard rushing barrier - the 21st player to do so, and the only one to do so without ever being selected to a pro bowl. The only player in the top forty-nine career rushers to never receive that honour, in fact. :D

115
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:56pm

re:110

There is nothing really weird about a formation change. The tight end can legally move backwards, and then change position. Stay in position, go into motion.

The Pats ran this play against the Colts like crazy with those cut blocks using a TE.

There's nothing wrong with the change of formation except that it happened in a likely draw offsides situation.

And if you're going to call it like that, then tell people.

Or don't let any other teams do that. No Tight end can get up, and fall back.

116
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:58pm

re:114

Fred Taylor is a really good, consistent player that had a lot of groin pulls.

If fantasy football had not existed, I think it's likely he'd be considered a better player. Everyone has lost him for the season in fantasy football.

117
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 6:58pm

"So, I think we’re going to see the production of Warner in his prime, except for 8 years rather than 3."

I think Romo is fantastic, but even I think that is a bit much. For three years Warner was just ungodly good.
I hope you are right but that seems to be setting the bar very high

118
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:01pm

Purds, with regard to the injury discussion, I agree with you that Indy lost far more than NE has lost on the offensive side, my contention is that Indy had such a sizable advantage in talent that despite the losses they still grade out better. Here is a response post from another board touching on the same subject:

I consider Moorehead to be on par with Caldwell/Gafney with Brown grading out slightly ahead when healthy early in the year and about the same later. The Oak WR (name gone from my mind) was equal with Thorpe or whatever random TE you want to compare. Watson missed 4 games last year as did Maroney, who was still hurt when he returned it now seems. I still stand by my comments 2006. I think that we have Brady to thank for even thinking it is a discussion.

As for 2005, you forget that Dillon was hurt most of the year, and Faulk/Pass both missed most of the year as well. The run game was nonexistant. I don't think that Wayne is all that close to Branch and I think that time has proven that Givens was a NE creation. I'm willing to conceed that Brady had more time with these guys that gives him an advantage, but I still don't believe the *talent* disparity to be all that far off.

My main point is that Manning just had a bad game. No reason to glorify it on either side, good or bad. I have no doubt that Indy would still look competent to excellent even if they had to play without Clark/Harrison/Ugoh etc all year.

I still view Indy as the primary threat to NE. I don't think people are talking enough about Indy's defense in that game. You want to call anyone in that game "heroric" that is the unit to look first, IMHO.

119
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:01pm

There is nothing really weird about a formation change. The tight end can legally move backwards, and then change position. Stay in position, go into motion.

Absolutely. He just cannot do it in a manner to cause the defense to believe the ball has been snapped.

At least from the unofficial description of the rule, it looks like the prohibition on simulating a snap can turn any otherwise legal move into a penalty if that technically legal move was done to deceive the defense into thinking the ball was snapped.

120
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:06pm

Sam,

Gray was in that game during Jax's third drive when it was still 0-0 (or maybe 7-0 but certainly no more than that). I agree that Indy's defense deserves much of the credit for Gray's poor performance, but he was otherworldly terrible in that game. Even when given plenty of time with WRs open by 3+ yards, he was still missing them by a wide margin. It was seriously one of the worst QB performances that I have ever seen.

I have no idea what my point is, but I will never cease to be amazed that the Quinn Gray that I saw against Indy could even be bad, let alone decent. Don't try to undersell just how bad he was against Indy.

121
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:09pm

RE:118

You regard Moorehead to be on par with Caldwell or Gaffney?

Caldwell and Gaffney can at least catch. This isn't defending Manning, this is purely from watching Moorehead.

I don't even care about the Pats consideration. Take another possible starting, but not very good wideout, and I think he's better than Moorehead.

I think Craphonso off the practice squad is better than Moorehead.

Fletcher isn't a bad pass catching TE. He isn't Clark, but he can do the job.

But Moorehead truly sucks.

122
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:10pm

jimm, According to PFT, the players started turning on Childress after the T-Will thing, when I read that I thought to myself "we will see this Sunday". I'd say the verdict is loud and clear. Another house cleaning seems to be in order.

As for Peterson, if it were up to me I wouldn't let him step back on the field for the rest of the year.

123
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:11pm

re: 119

I understand what you're saying. I can see why Dungy thought it would be okay. And that's the problem I have.

Make it explicitly clear what legal moves are illegal in 4th and 1 situations, or whatever.

I know I've seen large formation changes on 3rd and 1, 4th and 1 before. I've never actually seen the defense bite on a formation change though. And they didn't bite in this case.

124
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:13pm

121: Then why is he even on the team? He can't catch, he can't play special teams apparently. I'm sure the Colts could sign Cardwell for the veteran's minimum, so the colts would still fill their alien symbiot position.

124
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:13pm

Rocco,

The Browns had 163 yards total in that game- 71 of which came on the first drive of the game. The Steeler defense pretty much handled the Browns, despite Simms and Nantz coronating Derek Anderson in the first half.

I must admit that I judge things by the opportunities that I see were there, not necessarily those capitalized on. While I am off at times (I completely underestimated Indy's defense based on the Jax and (one other) games, but I knew that NE was going to slap at least a 40-spot on Dallas.

I just don't see Pitt holding NE under 30 points from what I saw today.

One other thing, Pitt did a great job in the second half, but looking at yardage only does artificially lower the number due to the short fields Cleveland was given and the KO TD. BTW, if it helps any, I was absolutely sure that Pitt was going to win that game even when they went down 21-6. Cleveland just had nothing on the DL and it was just a matter of time before Pitt took it to them.

126
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:14pm

So, I think we’re going to see the production of Warner in his prime, except for 8 years rather than 3.

Erm......are you for real?

Those three years by Warner are some of the most incredible of any QB ever, and the offense as a whole was quite a lot more talented than the Cowboys offense. Bruce and Holt were perenial Pro Bowlers, Faulk and Pace are HOF players and some argue that a couple of other players on the line should get in as well. The Cowboys have Owens in that class and he is already the wrong side of thirty -maybe Witten aswell, maybe.

If by the comparison you meant that his supporting caste made the QB look better than he really was then I might agree with you, otherwise I stuggle to see any relevant comparison. Warner was an immobile, pocket passer, who was very accurate when throwing to a spot, had a lightning fast release and was fairly fearless when throwing deep. None of that really applies to Romo. He is a scrambler who has a decent release and is accurate enough whilst not exactly threading the needle on every other play.

127
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:16pm

to me, all the debate about the Indy false start/simulating the snap penalty is missing the point. They shouldn't have been trying it in the first place. It was fourth down and inches. Kick the field goal, take the lead, and trust your defense to stop a team that hadn't shown a pulse on offense the entire evening. The downsides of lining up to run a play in that situation are many--you can sneak and fail to get it or you can run your cute "draw them offsides" play and fail to do so, then have to burn a time out or take a five yard penalty before kicking...or you can fake out the officials into believing that your play acting is actually running the play, and calling a penalty when the ball isn't actually snapped. The upsides are that you pick up the first down and burn the rest of the clock before kicking your field goal. If you are so afraid that SD is going to suddenly come to life with 60-80 seconds to play, no time outs, and having shown next to nothing offensively all night, you're overthinking. Kick the field goal, win the game. If I were into amateur psychologizing, I'd even speculate that the turmoil--controversial play, time out to argue it, etc.--may have adversely affected AV's kick. That is utter speculation (although kicking does have a "mind game" aspect to it, like putting in golf), so leave it aside. I still think that if you go for the field goal on fourth and inches, you don't put the game in the hands of the officials, you put it in the hands of your defense against an offense that was very unlikely to get the job done.

128
by Led (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:19pm

Manning through some crappy passes and played as bad a first half as you can possibly imagine, but I don't think I once saw a Colts receiver fight for a contested pass. Do they not coach that all? At least three of Manning's picks could've easily been broken up if the receiver made any effort at all. That's not even counting the tipped screen pass where the receiver seemed to run away from the ball after it was tipped.

129
by nat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:19pm

115:
It sounds like you're taking the position that it is okay to simulate a snap, so long as you do so with movement that is otherwise legal. (Dungy seems to have agreed enough to waste a time out arguing the point.)

130
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:19pm

re: 124 "Then why is he even on the team?"

I have no idea! I've wanted them to put more passes to the guy on the practice squad, Standleford because he was tall, and could at least catch. He's also kind of slow, but he can catch.

I am completely in the cut him immediately group. I don't think there's a team in the league that would pick him up if we did.

Does anyone else who has seen him agree with me?

Then again, I also think Johnson should play LT if there's anyone else available at all.

131
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:21pm

Hell. I'd rather us play Fletcher at WR than Moorehead!

132
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:22pm

Oswlek:

I just don't know how you're able to judge the guys who played for the Colts last night, as they've never seen any real NFL experience. Thorp had never caught a ball in a game. How do you know how good or bad he is? Moorehead, including last night, has 31 career receptions in 5 years. Thorp now has the first five receptions of his 4-year career.

Caldwell had 75 catches in 4 years before going to NE. Gabriel had 71 in 3 years before joining NE. Gaffney had 171 catched in 4 years before going to NE.

Now, I know catches don't mean much, but at least NE's old receivers had been in life NFL games.

And, what about any other position besides WR? NE's linebackers were as bad as Indy's now, with only 1 of the top 4 playing? The NE line was as bad as the injured Colts one right now, with both starting DT's and one backup DT out?

These situations are not even remotely similar. Now, I hope for Manning it's a temporary thing. And, I make no excuses for the losses. The Colts on the field coulud have won, but they didn't make plays. But, I can't see the comparison to NE (and, do you mean 2006 or 2005? The post was split.)

133
by sam (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:22pm

115:

Good officials shouldn't hesitate to make the call as it's written in the rulebook just because some officials don't call it some of the time.

120:

It was 7-0 when Garrard got hurt, Jacksonville driving. Gray comes in and for some inexplicable reason they go pass-pass-pass - he throws a deep INT on 3rd and long (not an egregious mistake, although he was obviously not sharp on that series).

By the time he touched the ball again, though, it was 14-0. I am going to repeat that it was a terrible situation to have a relatively untested guy come into.

He has more or less improved with each game and we saw some of this potential last year in the KC game. He's also a better runner than folks give him credit for... but when your next option is Todd Bouman, your coaches don't let you run very much.

134
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:24pm

Nathan,

Are we about to start another Morehead/Caldwell thread? Don't you know how quickly those debates spiral out of control taken the rest of the comments with it? ;-)

Maybe Moorehead is worse, you see him every day. But Caldwell was so highly thought of that the leading receiver on the 2006 Pats was cut in PS and doesn't even have a catch yet for the Redskins. Gafney has done virtually nothing for NE this year either, which is a mild surprise. Sure the team upgraded the talent level, but you would think that Jabar being the only WR on the team who played with NE prior to this season might have been a factor.

135
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:26pm

re: 129

"It sounds like you’re taking the position that it is okay to simulate a snap, so long as you do so with movement that is otherwise legal. (Dungy seems to have agreed enough to waste a time out arguing the point.)"

I don't think it's simulating a snap. It's doing legal movement. If that legal movement causes the defense to jump, that's their fault.

They need to be mentally prepared for a change of formation. If you jump on that, it's your fault.

Just as they are on every other play in the game.

I think Dungy was wrong to try it, because it never works. Not because it's illegal.

Does that make sense?

When have you ever seen a team jump on a change of formation?

The only way it would happen is if the defense ignored their normal progression of waiting because the few yards needed to make a first down.

And in that case, if you jump, I do think it's the defenses fault.

That's how I FEEL though.

If the NFL wants to make it a rule that you can't change formation on 4th and 1, that's fine. Just make it explicit so mistakes like this don't occur.

136
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:26pm

couldn't disagree more about the two-point conversion. i think it was boneheaded to go for the two pointer that early in the game.

as the game played out, the skins scored again to go up 22-13. an eagles td w/ xp brought it to 22-20. skins fg, 25-20. eagles scored another td to go up 26-25. they attempt the conversion to go up by a fg, but fail. had they kicked the xp both times, they would have been up 28-25 with four minutes left.

in the end, of course, it doesn't matter because the eagles won. and i have no idea what the eagles' stats team has to say about the situation. still, experientially, it seems to me that teams benefit from going for 2 only when they have to...teams play very differently when nursing a two-score lead than they do when grasping on to a one score lead.

137
by billsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:26pm

119: "Absolutely. He just cannot do it in a manner to cause the defense to believe the ball has been snapped.
So that's why not a single SD player, other than the gut who pointed at the offense, moved at all?

138
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:27pm

127:

The Chargers did not really need alot of yards to get into field goal range. Remember, the Colts kickoff coverage had been very poor. If they get a decent kickoff return plus a completion or two
they are dack smab in FG range. Once the ball got respotted it changed the whole perspective of the play. Not saying the Colts should have not just simply kicked the FG but like Purds stated it was worth the lining up and either a) seeing
if you could draw the Chargers off sides
or b) if the Chargers left the center uncovered going for the QB sneak. Worse case scenario is a penalty that changes a 24 yard chip shot into a 29 yard chip shot.

139
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:28pm

Young C:

I don't think they had any idea of going for it unless SD didn't defend the sneak. The shifted, expecting nothing or a defensive penalty. If SD doesn't jump, Indy planned to milk the clock down to under 1 minute, call the time out, kick the game winner, and give SD about 40 seconds left on the clock.

To me, it was an obvious and good decision. And, even if they are penalized, so what? If you're kicker is going to miss, he's going to miss.

140
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:29pm

re: 134

"Are we about to start another Morehead/Caldwell thread? Don’t you know how quickly those debates spiral out of control taken the rest of the comments with it? ;-)"

;)

"Maybe Moorehead is worse, you see him every day."

I actually don't, since he rarely plays. But when he is on the field, I cringe every time. Even when the ball doesn't go to him (it usually doesn't)

"But Caldwell was so highly thought of that the leading receiver on the 2006 Pats was cut in PS and doesn’t even have a catch yet for the Redskins. Gafney has done virtually nothing for NE this year either, which is a mild surprise."

Their other options are better for Gafney. I think Gafney is better than Caldwell.

"Sure the team upgraded the talent level, but you would think that Jabar being the only WR on the team who played with NE prior to this season might have been a factor."

Talent is better. I don't think that means much when we are talking about sub par wideouts vs. Stallworth / Moss / Welker.

I hated Caldwell with San Diego. I hated Caldwell with the Pats.

I hate Moorehead more. ;)

141
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:30pm

127: While that sounds good in theory, it neglects to mention San Diego's only offensive play that worked all night - the kick return. I don't think the effort showed a lack of faith in the Indy defense or a fear of the San Diego 'offense', so much as a mortal dread of the Indy kick coverage teams. And I'm only being half-sarcastic.

142
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:31pm

Before they blew the whistle, I knew they were going to call the Utecht penalty. It was kind of nit-picky, but he did use a jerky motion to shift out of his stance. I would equate it with the head-bobbing penalties that Marino used to get called for. In both cases, the moves are clearly done to make the defense jump offside in a 3rd and less than 5 situation.
Couple that with the Manning illegal motion from last week, and you have to feel bad for them. They can't seem to walk that line of legal and illegal. It's like watching a nun try to swear. Fix your special teams and leave the rule breaking to the Pats.

143
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:31pm

Purds,

The OL was pretty bad, but I touched on that in my first post. I really didn't see that much of a dropoff even as guys were shuffling in and out. That is a testament to their coaching and abilities, of course.

With regard to the total injuries, I hate to do it, but I have to point to the AFCCG last year. NE had total injuries that were just as bad as Indy's, but did so from a lower total talent position. They just had to misfortune of doing it against a very good team instead of a mediocre one.

I am not saying that Indy's injuries shouldn't be considered. I am the first guy to point out that injuries matter. I hate the "injuries are no excuse" crowd, as if losing a guy like Marv doesn't impact a game.

In my italicized post above, the first paragraph was about 2006, the second about 2005, FYI. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

144
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:32pm

re:137

Exactly. No one even jumped on the Chargers.

The ref was keyed in on movement because of the situation. Called it because of the situation, and didn't change it because the rule book is sufficiently vague that a legal move can be considered illegal if you want it to.

145
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:34pm

re: 142. You thought it was jerky? I didn't. It looked exactly how it always looks when the TE changes formation to that position.

He didn't look any more or less active than the situation always looks.

The TE has to stand up, and in doing so moves his head from the current position to up.

146
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:36pm

check the down above...I apologize, it was 4th last night, but that is inconsequential. It was still intentionally done to draw the team offside and achieve a 1st down.

147
by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:38pm

Jimmy, Warner's 1999-2001 stats in YPA, completion %, and Touchdown-INT ratio are very similar. I'm saying it's a good comp because they do it in the same offensive system, the Sid Gilman offense that is really down-the-field. Compared to the WCO, QB's in this offense will have higher YPA and TD's, but also higher INT numbers. Sure, Romo and 99-2001 Warner do things slightly differently, but their numbers are actually quite similar, and Romo's DPAR for this year projects to almost exactly where Warner was in 2001. Of course, Romo is 27, and Warner was 30 at the time.

Your point about the Rams superior firepower proves my point, which is that Romo is a comparable player. This year's Cowboys are going to score more than the 1999 and 2001 Rams, which had superior firepower in the same offensive scheme. Romo and Warner put up similar numbers, with a slightly different mix of gifts. But their outcomes are similar. Seriously...just compare the numbers.

148
by Marcumzilla (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:40pm

RE #60 "Although would it hurt Wayne to play a little defense on at least one of the forced passes?"

We were going nuts in the first half at how poorly Wayne was coming back to try to make the catch or knock the ball away.

149
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:42pm

Oh, and if I must get on the simulated snap thing:

It was definitely a penalty. The way one player jumped up out of his stance, the intent was clearly to act like he was blocking. They may have gotten away with it in other situations, but on a 4th and 1 with so little time left - an obvious 'try to draw them offsides' situation - the officials are going to be looking for that sort of thing, head bobs, or any other borderline legal movement. It probably doesn't get called on a 2nd and 2 in the 2nd quarter, it will get called on 4th down about any time. Them's just the breaks.

I don't have a big problem with them trying to draw on offsides (or even taking the delay penalty instead of burning a TO if it didn't work); the highest-paid kicker in the game just has to kick a 29-yarder instead of a 24-yarder. Wasting the TO to argue about it was a horrible decision, though. I'm having a tough time deciding between that, spending *two* timeouts on one late 4th quarter challenge, or calling timeout while the opponent is punting when they should be going for it and giving them time to change their mind, as the worst timeout of the weekend. I'd say this comes in third, if only because at that point there was such a slim chance the Colts would need all three TO's - I mean, what are the odds that the highest-paid kicker in football misses a 29-yard field goal?

150
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:43pm

I am not arguing that a legal move was intentionally done in the hopes it could draw the team offside.

I agree that it was.

I just do not feel that a legal move should become illegal only in critical situations unless it's explicit.

If you explicitly say, ok. On 4th and 1, no formation changes, no TE motion. Once you're in your stance, you can't change.

Ok. Then no issue. Colts are obviously in the wrong.

However, when legal moves become illegal based on no explicit criteria, that's a problem.

Because I don't believe it was "simulating a snap".

I believe it was "doing a legal move that has a potential to draw the team offsides."

I understand there's not a huge amount of difference between those, but enough difference that a reasonable person could think it would be legal to do it.

Just be clear.

To point out the lack of clarity...

Is it okay to do formation shifts on 3rd and 1?

Is it okay to do them on 4th and 1 in the first quarter?

Is it okay to do them on 3rd and 1 in the 4th quarter?

I really have no idea. I know I've seen them on third and 1 with no issue (Saints).

But I don't know what the criteria is. I haven't a clue, except now, This.

151
by nat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:44pm

142: "It’s like watching a nun try to swear"

We may have a winner for this thread.

And a new nickname for the Colts.

Go Swearing Nuns!

152
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:44pm

"They may have gotten away with it in other situations, but on a 4th and 1 with so little time left - an obvious ‘try to draw them offsides’ situation - the officials are going to be looking for that sort of thing, head bobs, or any other borderline legal movement. It probably doesn’t get called on a 2nd and 2 in the 2nd quarter, it will get called on 4th down about any time. Them’s just the breaks."

I'm absolutely fine if that's the case. Just say that in the rule book. Or as a note to teams so they don't bother trying.

153
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:46pm

At the end of the Cowboys-Giants game, Jack Buck said "Pam Oliver is ready to go down there on the field." Except instead of saying it "Pam Oliver is ready to go, down there on the field," it sure sounded to me (and maybe my friend Beavis) like he put the comma after the word down." Now there is a postgame show that might draw an interested audience!

154
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:47pm

Jin. I don't know enough about the coaching ranks to say. But in general I would like to see a young rising star type who is probably considered to young for the job yet. I like what the Steelers do - identify a guy in his 30's like Noll, Cowher and Tomlin.

155
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:55pm

Jeff, Purds, Trogdor, Nathan (re my 127) I think the fact that we're debating just how much movement is permissible, etc. reinforces my point that you kick the field goal and don't put your chance of victory in the hands of an official interpreting a rule. I'm not going to resort to the silly argument that the way things played out proves I'm correct, but I will maintain that the way things played out proves that there were a number of downsides to the strategy, and a simpler, more straightforward, kick the field goal approach had a greater chance of success (and, as Nathan pointed out on the game discussion thread, AV's kick would have been good from five yards closer.)

156
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:57pm

I'm against any rule which allows a zebra to engage in mind reading in deciding when to throw a flag. A movement should either be legal or illegal.

Jin, I don't think anybody from a distance, and that most certainly includes PFT, knows whether the whole Troy Williamson brouhaha had any effect on the Vikings play. I think the fact that the Vikings can't throw downfield is a far more likely culprit. I do have to say that if the reports are true that Williamson didn't contact the team for 10 days to let them know what was going on, the response by the Vikings does not seem unwarranted. Yes, grieving is a highly personal issue. Professionalism is not, and picking up the phone is not too much to be expected.

As to candidates to succeed Childress, I really don't have an opinion on it yet, other than to note that I wanted Tomlin instead of Childress by about the 2nd game last year.

157
by Drew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:59pm

In regards to Doug Farrar's comment: "Romeo Crennel burned a timeout in the fourth quarter to decide whether he’d challenge Heath Miller’s two-yard TD catch. He then challenged it and lost, burning another timeout. That may be a first."

It's not a first. Mike Mcarthy did the same thing earlier this year. To his credit, he admitted after the game that calling the time out was a bonehead move. One of the things that makes me think he will be a good coach in the long run is that he is willing to admit mistakes.

158
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:00pm

re: 155

I think that lining up for a potential QB sneak wasn't a bad idea. I don't think I've ever seen Manning do the "tell the center through secret butt pats" for a qb sneak, and it failed.

I obviously would have rather them not done the motion now. But I wouldn't have thought it would have been a penalty either to change the formation.

It's a horrible mistake now. At the time, it was basically useless playing around.

When the motion started, I actually thought we might pass for the first down. I know that's crazy, but I wasn't thinking about the drawing off sides for the motion, as much as finding a WR open from the movement, and saying screw it, we can get the yard.

I doubt Dungy was on the same page I was after all that's been said, but I thought it was a reasonable move. A risk to be sure, but a calculated one since you could just wait and call a timeout.

159
by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:03pm

Nathan - I don't know what you're talking about; Morehead stikes me as a fundamentally sound, high-motor guy who runs good routes and has deceptive speed. He's unselfish, willing to make blocks, and shows good awareness.

160
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:08pm

Re:159

Maybe I'm wrong. Is he in the football outsiders database? I don't have access, but how many drops does he have (if that's there)

From my recollection, he's dropped passes we've needed, and I've never liked the guy. That could be irrational random subsets of information or what have you.

It could be an irrational comparison to our other wideouts. It could be that he's missed critical third downs that drove me crazy, when even people like Harrison does, but it's less meaningful because he has more chances to be great (and does a lot with them, obviously).

I've just never liked him. Then again, in basketball I've never liked Jammal Tinsley, but he's certainly a high motor guy with deceptive speed.

It's just hard to compare. As a fan who watches the games, I've never been happy we had Moorehead. I have been wanting us to get rid of him for a long time, so maybe he's even "Redeemed" himself from past mistakes.

It's hard to tell without some sort of objective stats, like those that may be in the database.

161
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:08pm

re: Ravens
"It’s time to blow this up and start over."

I dunno, I'll admit they stink right now, but their roster only needs a few tweaks IMO in order to be competitive. But if you mean by blowing this up to fire Billick, I might agree. Their front 7 is still great, but they need young talent at CB badly. They have a lot of quality young OL and WRs also, but QB is obviously an issue. I'm hoping that they have a draft position that can land them Brohm/Ryan/Woodson. I'm trying to figure out which crappy teams would likely draft a QB (ones which haven't recently either invested $ or high draft pick in a QB)

Miami (0-9): maybe (Beck)
St. Louis (1-8): probably no (Bulger)
NYJ (1-8): maybe (Clemens)
Oakland (2-7): no (Russell)
NE/SF (2-6): no (Brady)
Cin (3-6): no (Palmer)
Atl (3-6): yes
Min (3-6): yes
Hou (4-5): maybe (Schaub)
KC (4-5): probably yes (Croyle)
Denver (4-5): no (Cutler)
Philly (4-5): probably no (McNabb/Kolb)
Chicago (4-5): yes
Carolina (4-5): yes
NO (4-5): no (Brees)
Arizona (4-5): no (Leinert)

162
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:08pm

Can you list the NE injuries in the AFCC game 2007 for me? I honestly can't find them, other than on defense most of the regulars seemed to have tackles on record (Wilfolk, Seymor, Warre, Vrabel, Bruschi, Colvin, Banta-Cain, Alexander, Samuel, Hobbs. So, two backup safeties.) On offense, the starting crew looks pretty normal: Gaffney, Caldwell, Watson, Dillion, Graham, Light, Mankins, Koppin, and two questionable lineman.

I know some got sick, but that doesn't seem the same as the Colts last night. By the end of the game, Indy was missing 5 offensive starters (and 1 back up), and 6 defensive starters (and 1 back up).

163
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:11pm

Tim

It may be the case that if you surround Romo with all world talent he would produce at an all world level. Currently playing with TO he is producing like Garcia did with TO, and doing it is remarkably similar fashion. I really don't buy that the Cowboys are running a Coyrell derived system either, it might have some similarities, but so do most offenses these days. Then again the Mariucci 49ers didn't run a traditional WCO.

You seem to think I am slagging Romo off with the Garcia comparison, look at his stats when Mariucci was the coach, he was very productive.

164
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:12pm

151 (and 142) yessss!

Sister Craphoso Thorpe sounds just like a nun swearing, then trying to cover it up with a made-up name. except.....

Think we can get TMQ to call them the Swearing Nuns? They certainly are not the Lucky Charms anymore.

165
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:13pm

You could also argue Charles Johnson isn't anywhere as bad as I think he is. He's atrocious to me, and I was happy when he was replaced.

His replacement did a much better job to me as well. Unless we have some sort of objective line yards for both halves, left side runs, etc. All I have is, Manning looked much less pressured.

Is he really as bad as I think he is? No idea.

166
by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:14pm

160: Post #159 was sarcastic - those are the standard conventions for describing white players.
However, the joke doesn't really work when used to describe Moorehead, who is not white (he's the son of former Bears TE Emery Moorehead).

167
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:15pm

Bobman, what's your take on Johnson and Moorehead?

168
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:18pm

Purds, these guys missed all or most of the 2nd half:

Colvin
Harrison
Sanders
Wilson
Hawkins
Seymour - I recall him having played about 50% of the snaps but some have told me he barely played. Regardless, he was battling significant knee and elbow injuries
Gay
Seau
Wright - Wilfork's primary backup
Faulk - a huge loss.
Dillon
Maroney

In addition, Vrabel was battling severe back pain while playing the middle and Bruschi was on the SS where he isn't nearly as effective (not that he is all that great any more, but he was poor on the SS at the end of last year.). Wilfork was battling the flu.

Really, on defense, only three positions had healthy starters, RCB/LCB and LDE. On offense, once it was the Heath Evans show at HB, NE had nothing but Brady and Brown left.

I think that these are comparable to Indy's losses. I just think that the 2007 Colts are a lot better than the 2006 Pats.

169
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:19pm

RE:166

Oh, I would have gotten it if he was white.

170
by Len (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:22pm

Jimmy,

Yes the Cowboys are running the same basic offense as Coryell. The Cowboys' OC is a disciple. It as all over the Dallas media this past spring. Tim is right, and he's also right about the Warner comparisons. Not to mention both rose up from the street so to speak. The exception being that the Cowboys don't leave Romo exposed as much as Martz left Warner exposed.

171
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:27pm

Oswlek:

That's a list! Strange, looking back on that game. Certainly, the defensive losses played out as expected (Indy's O went nuts). But offensively, only a few losses, but I guess at all the same spot (RB).

I'm not going to try to argue which team was more decimated. Those sucked for both! The one difference, I thought but must stand corrected, is that the NE guys were gassed, and being spelled, but not out (as in injury). I didn't think all those were gone for the rest of the game, as happened to the Colt players last night.

172
by Dny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:35pm

Moorehead is on the team because he has been around a while and knows the system. He's fairly athletic and tends to jump when going for a catch. This makes it hard for him to come down in bounds as when the play was challenged last week in the New England game. Harrison and Wayne rarely jump up for a catch. Moorehead rarely doesn't jump up for a catch. His jumping does give him one advantage: he makes some nice looking catches in the preseason and training camp. In the preseason a few years ago he had one of the best catches I can remember: full extension, diving forward. He also seems to do well with Sorgi since they practice together so frequently. Nathan, don't give up on him yet, at least until next year, when Roy Hall can be a bigger, athletic, back-up receiver who also has value for special teams.

173
by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:39pm

My dad's response to the Lions' stellar rushing total for the game.

"Barry who?"

174
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:40pm

re: 172

Is John Standleford gone for good?

175
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:44pm
176
by Dny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:45pm

I don't have too much of a clue where Standeford is. It seems like he's regularly in the preseason mix, but is always cut by opening day. He always gets good press when he's around, though.

177
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:47pm

I was surprised that Craphonso took the role. And then more surprised that we didn't bring him up for last night's game considering how few wideouts we had.

178
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:48pm

#170

Just because Warner and Romo were both undrafted does't mean they are at all similar. For what that comparison is worth Garcia was undrafted as well, it seems like Romo, Garcia and Warner are identical twins.

As for the Coyrell disciple stuff, his basic idiology might be similar, but Vermeil took the same approach to St Louis and Kansas City and came out with varying results. It doesn't mean that Romo and Warner are similar players, they are in fact very, very different if you can't see that I am left wondering what you watch on Sundays.

179
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:55pm

I've replayed that Romo TD to curtis about 50 times now and I can't see how it's past the LOS. The LOS is the 15 yard line. Romo runs up to the 17, ducks to avoid a hit that never comes, strides to toe the 15 yard line, then flips the ball side armed (hence the duck throw) while hopping up and past the 15 yard line. The ball is already in the air right before he leaves the ground at the 15 yard line. He lands at the 14 yard line and gets sandwiched between two defenders.
And I fail to see how side arming the ball to avoid defenders counts as the "worst TD pass of the season." If Favre throws that we're talking about what a great improviser he is! (And no, I am not one of those cowboys fans who compares Romo to Favre, far from it).
Click my name for a screenshot. It's not the best one... the program I used for it is really skippy and couldn't take an accurate screen shot right after the ball had left his hand, but just take it on word that I saw the ball leave his hand while his foot was still behind the 15 yard line. In the linked pic you can see him in the air just passing the marker with the ball clearly out of his hand.

180
by Len (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:56pm

Jimmy,

On Warner and Romo, the question is not about style but about productivity. Numbers. This is a numbers website in case you didn't notice. But with your snarky comment about twind I can see you'd rather just bait people here then actually engage in an interesting discussion.

181
by sam (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:00pm

Interesting note on the simulated snap - and i will note that it's not necessarily that it simply "becomes" illegal in certain situations, but becomes something the refs key in on MORE in certain situations. There are certain things you have to pay more attention to late in a game.

--

Scott from Houghton, MI: I can't help but wonder, did the refs give the Jags and Titans a gift with that simulating the snap call on the Colts during Sunday night’s game?
Vic: They did not. It was absolutely the right call, or at least it was absolutely the same call I saw made 21 years ago. I’ve told the story in “Ask Vic� before but I’ll tell it again. It was a game in Chicago. On a third-and-one play in the first half, Steelers coach Chuck Noll ordered the same play with the same re-set motion, for the obvious purpose of drawing the Bears offside, which it did. The Steelers, however, were penalized five yards. In the same situation in the second half, the Steelers did it again and got flagged again. The next day, I asked Noll about it and he explained that the officials ruled that the Steelers were attempting to simulate a play. I then asked Noll why he tried it again in the second half and he uttered one of the funniest lines I have ever heard: “Why do people remarry?� Noll said. Anyhow, do you know who the Steelers’ offensive and defensive coordinators were for that game? Tom Moore and Tony Dungy. It didn’t work then and it didn’t work now.
--from jaguars.com

182
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:00pm

Romo and Warner are not very similar. Neither are Garcia and Romo, if you ask me. Also, using Owens to describe Romo's ability is not fair. Every QB needs weapons to put up the kind of numbers he has put up, the passing game is reliant on both parties to perform well.

183
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:01pm

Not to cause a debate, just to respond to Purds' question:

I’d have to look back to 2005, but are NE fans really comparing last night’s injuries to the Pats in 2005? Did NE really play without: WR#1, WR#3, TE#1, LT#1, LT#2, RG#1, DT#1 (McFarland), DT #2 (Raegor), SLB #1 (Morris), SLB#2, WLB#1 in 2005? And now possibly DE#1 and DT#4?

FWIW, I'm pretty sure the 2005 Pats played Miami while missing the following starters: C/LT/RT (Koppen, Light, Ashworth), #2 WR (Givens), RB (Dillon), S (Harrison), CB (Poole), #2 TE (Graham), and Dillon’s backups Faulk and Pass. And I think Seymour, Green, Gay, Bruschi and Colvin had just returned from injury, IIRC. (I picked the Miami game because I know it's when the offensive injuries were at their worst, but the defensive injuries got worse later in the season, so other games could be chosen.)

Basically, we can argue semantics, but as you say in 171, they both suck.

If anything, the fact that the Colts almost beat a team that was 14-2 last year despite 5 INTs (ignoring the 6th), those injuries, and crappy special teams doesn't really tell me anything I didn't already know: that the Colts are a very dangerous team, and the gap between Colts/Pats/(sometimes)Stillers and the rest of the AFC is pretty large.

184
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:01pm

#180. In terms of numbers, sure they are pretty similar. I thought we were talking about playing style though.

185
by sam (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:04pm

179:
I believe this was addressed earlier in the thread, but I believe the rules is that the ENTIRE body must be beyond the LOS. From that screenshot it's at least plausbile that he had a foot or a toe or something on the proper side of the line as he threw the pass.

186
by QB (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:06pm

It was obviously a very jerky movement by no means an ordinary TE shift. Watch it as many times as you need to, because the refs got it right.

Also, pretty much every player on SD's D pointed at Utecht before a whistle was even blown.

187
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:09pm

Yea, Sam, I know... I was attempting to prove that it was a legal pass. It's pretty frustrating because in window media player I can freeze to a frame where his toe is touching the 15 yard line and the ball is in the air. But I can't take a screenshot in media player. VLC, which I used to take the cap, keeps skipping over that frame try as I might to get it to show.

188
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:16pm

re:186 Happen to have a youtube link?

189
by Chakri (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:23pm

Are people blind or just don't know the rules of football?

Your entire body must cross the Line of Scrimmage for it to be an illegal forward pass. The line was at the 15 yard line. Romo's back foot was still behind the 15 yard line.

It was a legal pass. Couglin stated in his press conference today that Romo was not beyond the line of scrimmage.

190
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:25pm

180

Then why are you telling me that Romo is like Warner because he was undrafted.

One of my initial points of discussion with Tim was that Romo is producing at a similar level to Garcia when he had TO. I beleive that to be a more pertinent comparison than Warner as Garcia's style of play at the time was very similar to Romo at the moment. Warner was a classic pocket passer, Romo is a scrambler like Garcia. Both of them perfectly complement and are perfectly complimented by Owens.

My point in the first place was that the Cowboys have invested an awful lot of money in a player who has only ever player with TO on his team. A QB of a very similar style who had enjoyed very smilar levels of success with TO subsequently struggled when he tried to play without him. Also Owens is 33 and consequently won't last that much longer (although there may not be a better conditioned player in the league).

My final point about any comparison between Warner and Romo is that the Greatest Show on Turf kept a blocking TE on the field, but then used five and seven step drops and Warner had to stay in the pocket to deliver the ball to a spot deep down the field. The Cowboys don't do that, if they tried to I suspect Romo would start to scramble about anyway, besides which it would be a waste of his talents.

191
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:32pm

Jimmy, the Cowboys had Witten stay in to block all day yesterday, and while that isn't common for them, they do have either Barber or Julius Jones look to block first before they release into patterns.
Beyond scrambling, Garcia and Romo do not have much in common. Even TO before the Eagles game said that his most common route before he got to Dallas was the slant and that this year he's run almost no slants which was very strange to him. Then in the Eagles game, against a team that is known for blitzing, they used the slant to spring him free on a couple plays.
Does TO help Romo? OBVIOUSLY. In other news, Randy Moss helps Brady and Hines Ward helps Big Ben and I hear Reggie Wayne is good to Peyton Manning! As for overpaying Romo because he's only been good with one HoF reciever... ask any Bears, Vikes, Falcons, or Panthers fan how much Romo would have gotten on the open market.

192
by Len (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:33pm

#184:

Oh that's interesting Temo. I thought the discussion was numbers. And therein lies the problem with discussion boards instead of actual human interaction!

Thanks for your chilled response.

193
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:51pm

I don't get why (what I am assuming are) Cowboys fans are so pissed at me when I compare Romo to Garcia. Before the 49ers whole team fell to pieces Garcia was a very good QB. He was accurate, read the game well and had a quick release, he also kept plays alive just like Romo, and Owens has always been one of the best in the league at working back to the QB. If Garcia was four inches taller as far as I can tell the comparison would be uncanny.

It stands to reason that Owens will produce at a higher level if his QB can scramble about and find him after his first route. Is it not similarly reasonable that a scrambling QB will get a similar boost from playing with Owens?

194
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:12pm

First of all, Romo and Garcia are the same height.
And secondly, other than scrambling ability, which I don't doubt, I've yet to find you give another way in which the two are similar.
So no, I don't think any of us are pissed at the comparison. More so at you insinuating that Romo's accomplishments are diminished because he had an elite receiver to throw to, noting that all good QBs have good recievers.

195
by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:15pm

How 'bout these numbers? After 9 games, 38-year old Favre now leads the NFL in passing yards, even more than Brady. What is considered the best season by the oldest QB in league history? Aaron commented on the Packer run game against the Vikings. The Packers got outside the tackle a little quicker, including Grant's 30-yd TD run, by utilizing quick pitches. Last season and early this year, the zone blocking run attack meant everyone runs left, with Favre stretching to hand off, or everyone runs right. The plays take a long time to develop. The Packers racked up 100 plus rush yards in the first half against the Bears by running from the I formation between the tackles and letting the fullback push Urlacher out of the hole (a relatively easy task.) The more the Packers move away from the zone blocking, the better the running game will be.

196
by evilinc (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:21pm

The argument that Romo is putting up similar numbers to Garcia is in error. Romo's numbers are far more impressive.
Garcia had 2 excellent years with S.F. where he had Qb ratings over 90. His best was 2000 when he threw for 4278 yards (97.6 rtg), while the next year he threw for 3538 (94.8 rtg) however, closer examination reveals the difference from Romo.

1st, Garcia completed 63.3 and 62.7 percent of his passes. Romo completes over 65% both this year and last.

Of even greater distinction, however, is the nature of their completions. Garcia was a typical West Coast passer with short completions. His yds/att for 00 and 01 were 7.6 and 7.0. Romo averages 8.6 and 8.8.

And since yds/att is skewed by completion percentage, compare the yds/completion. For Garcia it was 12.0 in 00 (his best) and 11.2 in 01. Romo, by comparison, averages better than 13 yards/completion, this year averaging 13.4 yds. On top of that, Garcia's best TD year was 01, when he threw 32. Romo is on pace to throw 41 this year.

Romo is clearly, from a statistical standpoint, superior to Garcia at any time in Garcia's NFL career.

As for Romo having a HOF receiver, as has been pointed out, having quality receivers is true of most great QBs, particularly where there numbers are concerned. Tom Brady didn't suddenly become a better QB this year--he has better receivers. Montana had Rice, Aikman, Irvin, Manning, Harrison and now Wayne, and so on. Even Favre has had excellent receivers threw most of his career, from Sterling Sharpe, to Ferguson, to Walker, to Donald Driver. With the exception of Sharpe, none were as good as the others, but all were still excellent, and productive receivers.

And while we don't know how Romo does without Owens, we do know how the team does with Owens, but without Romo. We saw that with Bledsoe last year. And while Bledsoe gets heavy criticism, he wasn't a bum. He was a quality QB on the end of his run who could throw a nice ball but had no escapability.

Not only did the Cowboys not risk much with Romo's contract, they appear to have gotten him rather cheaply, all things considered.

197
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:22pm

For instance, Jimmy: Romo has a solidly higher yards per attempt (by more than yard), a better TD% (by over 2%), a much higher INT%, and many more 20+ yard passing plays than Garcia.

It's intuitively obvious to most cowboys fans who have been watching this team that Romo is much more involved in the vertical passing game and relys less on yards after the catch than Garcia.

After all, it's no coincidence that Terry Glenn (and not Terrel Owens) was considered the Cowboys #1 reciever last season. Their games are not alike except in the fact that they are both scramblers (and even there, Garcia is faster and better at picking up yards on the run than Romo).

The vertical passing numbers are what made the previous person comment on the Warner comparison, more so than actual playing style (on that metric, he's nothing like Warner).

198
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:25pm

Evilinc stole my post!

But to Packer Pete... wow those numbers just made me look at GB's DVOA stuff again. They're up and coming, and tbh scarier than the Giants were to me.

199
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:46pm

Anyone else think the Colts defensive TD should have been an incomplete pass? It looked (on TV, to me) like the ball went almost straight up, came down, and bounced backwards. He was definitely trying to throw, and the arm was coming forward...

I also thought Marlin Jackson should have been called for PI on one of the passes to Gates. Rivers just threw the ball up on the right side line, and way underthrew Gates. Gates turned around and tried to come back for the ball, but jackson just ran him over. Jackson was moving away from, and clearly had no idea where the ball was. No call.

200
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:47pm

To answer some questions re: Aaron Moorhead -

1. Yes, he's always this bad.
2. No, I have no idea why they like to keep him on the roster.

201
by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:50pm

#195: Warren Moon's last good year was in 1997 with Seattle. 59.3 completion %, 7.0 yards per attempt, 3678 yards, 25 TDS, 16 picks. He was 41, three years older than Brett Favre is right now.

202
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:51pm

#199. Live, it looked like the ball came out before his arm started going forward. But now you got me thinking, I want to see that again.

203
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:12pm

199

It was a fumble. He started to throw the football and it simply slipped out of his hand. I believe it was reviewed as well.

204
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:34pm

I thought Schatz pulled his prediction of the Jags winning the NFC South once they cut leftwhich? Now it was his call? Maybe when you have 2 sets of predictions you can get more right than the other guys? So what is it?

205
by ernie cohen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:36pm

re 189:
Your entire body must cross the Line of Scrimmage for it to be an illegal forward pass. The line was at the 15 yard line. Romo’s back foot was still behind the 15 yard line.

I didn't see the play, but as I recall the rule was changed several years ago so that it is the ball, not the passer's body that matters. The pass has to leave the passer's hand before any part of the ball has passed the line of scrimmage. I remember the head of officials talking about how beautifully this rule works.

206
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:46pm

Temo, evilinc

OK I just had a long post gobbled so here is the short version.

I have no reason to doubt those statistics, but maybe a little historical context is required.

Between 2000-2003 there were five 100+ dpar seasons in four years (1.2/yr).

Between 2004-2006 there were eleven 100+ dpar seasons in three years (3.66/yr). Furthermore there are currently no less than eight QBs with a dpar of over fifty for the season (it is week nine and I don't know who has had a bye), say four of those guys make it, it would be 15/4 or 3.75/yr.

That seems to me (and I am rubbish at statistics) to be a fairly big increase that would indicate a big jump in passer production, at least among the league's better passing games. Personally I blame Polian and his new coverage rules. The 03/04 split seems too convenient to be otherwise.

207
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:53pm

Aaron Moorehead is terrible, he must just be a "dungy" guy that he likes. The NY Giants had a guy Anothony Mix on their practice squad ( on the real team this year) that is miles ahead of Moorhead. There are plenty of guys more talented than wide eyes. Where is Mike Hass right about now?

208
by panthersnbraves (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:54pm

re: faceguarding - one of the commentators said a few weeks ago that it is no longer illegal to faceguard, just so long as you do not make contact -making it pass interference.

Of course, if you manage to touch the ball, anything can happen - unless it was thrown by Mr. B. Favre - in which case it will gently float into the hands of the waiting receiver.....

209
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:08am

Jimmy, I don't know about all that... you could be right. All I can say is that I've seen Jeff Garcia play, and I've seen Tony Romo play. Romo doesn't use slants and hitches and all that as much as Garcia did, and his game is much more vertical. If you want to put it in a league-wide context, well the cowboys are 1st in yards/play and 2nd in yards/pass.

That, and I really only had a problem about you questioning Romo's success based on having a star receiver.

210
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:16am

205- Unfortunately, I couldn't find a 2007 playbook. But last year's Supplemental Note (3) to Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1 of the 2006 Official NFL Rulebook states:

(3) The penalty for a forward pass beyond the line is to be enforced from the spot where the ball is released when the passer’s entire body and the ball are beyond the line of scrimmage. This includes either when the passer is airborne or touching the ground.

211
by Nathan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:17am

Yay! I'm not the only one that thinks Moorehead is absolutely terrible!

212
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:27am

Temo

It is nothing personal against Romo, I have a pet theory that there are a few receivers in the league who have such a huge effect on how defenses try to play their team that they can make an average offense into a top one. Eg Moss, in Minnesota helped them to be a perrenial powerhouse, leaves and they turn out to be very ordinary without him. Then he goes to NE and makes a pretty good offense awesome. You can't blitz very often without telegraphing your coverage, and generally can only have seven in the box.

There was a lot of comment around here last year that Glenn was a better player than Owens, I alway thought that was complete bunk. Owens is a freak (complete tosser, but amazing player) and he is the guy defensive coordinators worry about at night.

213
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:32am

Jimmy, last comment, I promise. I'm sure others are getting tired of this convo going around in circles.

I agree with you on TO, he is a difference maker. But no more so than Moss in NE or Wayne/Harrison in Indy, and Romo is putting up competitive numbers. So I don't see where we have to single out Romo for having a star receiver and call his contract a risk.

214
by ernie cohen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:09am

re: 125
(1) I didn't get to see PIT-CLE, but the yards per rush/pass attempt for both teams were close to the numbers from the 34-7 blowout earlier in the year (PIT just about doubling up CLE in each). So while the short CLE fields might have effected their total yardage, I don't see why everyon thinks they are close to making this a real rivalry. The difference in the two games came down to 4 fewer CLE turnovers and the two kick returns. PIT is still 8-10 points ahead of CLE.

(2) I agree that NE is a terrible matchup for PIT, because (a) PIT is heavily invested in pressuring the QB, (b) the PIT secondary has struggled against physical WRs like Moss, (c) the fragile PIT OL, and (d) the PIT kick coverage. But I also didn't like the matchup with IND in the 2005 playoffs, and PIT handled that pretty well... Overall, I'd say that PIT has around a 20% chance of beating NE.

215
by Ch V Kalyan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:14am

Some random thoughts:

1. As a contrary view, i think opponents have lesser chance against the Colts. Inspite of 6 INTs and missing key starters, he was one shanked FG from winning and the media going "All Manning does is win!" .. How many teams can force 6 Colts TOs?

2. As a pats fan, i was majorly disappointed that Brett Favre & the Packers did not receive any flak in the name of "running up the score". They were 27-0 up against the offensively challenged Vikings in the 4th quarter and Favre passed for 16, 10, 37 (deep pass) and 17TD. If this isn't running up the score, Pats are justified in what they do ..

3. After SB41.25 (v/ Cowboys), SB41.5 (v/ Colts), get ready for SB41.75 against the steelers. This match would live up to it's hype and i think that the chances of Steelers win isn't any less than the Pats. One of these 2 teams (colts, steelers) are the single biggest challenge standing between Pats and SB win.

4. Wonder whether the Pat's chances of 16-0 increases after this weekend? I think it should reduce with the way the Steelers are playing ....

216
by Dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:06am

#125

The Steelers are givingup a league low 4.9 net yards per pass. This is the lowest the steelers have given up since 1974. While I don't expect them to shut down the Pats, you can't be typing that their weak link is their pass defense. not this year. Football outsiders made the smae mistake in 2005 but the steelers were only giving up 5.3 net yards per pass on the road! Their secondary was very good.

by the way the Benglas defense might be a little bit better if Carson palmer was 2nd to last in the3rd down passing. When your defense is on the field as much as the bengals D has been this yr, you really are asking to much. Palmer failed miserably this season. He's one of the most overated players in pro football.

To Aaron, do you ever have anything nice to say about Ben Roethlisberger? dude you should change the website name to the newenglandoutsiders com.

217
by Todd M. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:18am

Interesting debate between Romo and Garcia. I see both sides. Romo does have an uncanny ability to make plays and avoid the rush. In that respect, he's definitely a dead ringer for Garcia. I think Cowboys fans are too quick to think the Garcia comment is a knock on Romo.
On the other hand, he does have a better arm than Garcia, and he throws more vertical routes since he plays in a completely different offense.

I disagree with the TO carrying him argument. I recognize that yes, it is possible, but in all the Cowboys games I've seen, Romo works through his progression and hits the open guys. Sure TO opens up the field, but that should be true of any top wideout. Romo's numbers might go down without TO, but not like Garcia without TO.

218
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:42am

Harris #47:

The problem is they’ve missed on a lot of first-day LBs and, excepting Mikell, haven’t found a DB who’s contibuted a thing in since Brown and Sheppard. Yes, that includes Consindine who may have been the worst starting SS in the league before his injury.

Mikell and Hood were in the same 2003 undrafted free agent class. Other DB's have not contributed because Mikell and Hood ended up beating them off the team (Ware, Wynn, Gaddis), or they got themselves injured (Reed). As to Considine, I don't understand the Considine hate. The notion that he is the worst SS in the league seems ridiculous. Worse than Archuleta? Terrence Kiel? Erik Coleman?

While Micheal Lewis was busy giving up 6 touchdowns in 6 games last year, Considine gave up 4 in 12. I think Considine had given up just 3 in 8 games before getting hurt this year. The Eagles were certainly defending the Tight End very well this year until Considine got hurt. Isn't that the primary coverage responsibility of the strong safety?

219
by Dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:47am

Ron Jaworski just said

"This is the 1st yr I have seen Ben Roethlisberger be an efficient QB"

my Gosh, did the guy even look at his yards per pass average the 1st two seasons?

I just can't listen to MNF any longer. It wouldn't surprise me if Jaws And aaron schatz weren't friends. they are made for each other.

220
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:30am

203

"It was a fumble. He started to throw the football and it simply slipped out of his hand. I believe it was reviewed as well. "

No, it wasn't reviewed. I'm pretty sure that once you "start to throw" its a throw.

221
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:39am

"The Steelers are givingup a league low 4.9 net yards per pass. This is the lowest the steelers have given up since 1974. While I don’t expect them to shut down the Pats, you can’t be typing that their weak link is their pass defense. not this year"

The Redskin's pass defense (befored they played NE) was better than Pittsburgh's is now.

Lot of good that did them.

222
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:39am

Tim #70:

Garcia at his peak is nowhere near as good as Romo at his.

Garcia at his peak in 2000-2001 was a more accurate passer, equaled Romo for touchdown and yardage, had half the interceptions, and was a much, much better runner.

So Romo right now is not as good as Garcia then.

I think many of us are curious to see Romo without T.O. Romo has only had one good game with T.O. in a limited role - Week 4 at St. Louis this year. OTOH, every bad game he's had T.O. has been mostly invisible.

223
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:26am

Jimmy #126:

Bruce and Holt were perenial Pro Bowlers, Faulk and Pace are HOF players and some argue that a couple of other players on the line should get in as well. The Cowboys have Owens in that class and he is already the wrong side of thirty -maybe Witten aswell, maybe.

The words "Witten" and "Hall of Fame" do not belong together. HOF Tight Ends are guys like Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez. Jason Witten is a really good player, but he does not belong in the Hall of Fame, and he has not done anything yet to merit such talk.

224
by anotherpatsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:00am

Meant to post this earlier when Nathan was arguing with several about the snap simulation call, but I didn't have time, so I'll do it now and at least make myself feel better. I'm a Pats fan, a real one, grew up with it (probably one of the few reading this site that has seen the Pats play in Fenway Park). Key issue positions: I think Manning will wind up the best QB ever, but I'm fine with our guy, and wouldn't trade him for Manning even up. Think Belichek is sort of freak/jerk, but he's our freak/jerk, and I'm fine with that. When I read the spectrum of Colts fan comments (from the relatively reasonable Nathan, through Purds, past Bobman, down to Stan, who still wants to argue that Brady sucks), it just seems to me we see the same things differently. Maybe if we expected to see these things differently, we wouldn't drag these threads into the mud.

Nathan sees nothing odd about the TE's movements on the 4th and 1 play. I see something that at the time made me say WTF? Dude jumped straight up out of his stance and then straight back with both feet, much quicker than that move ordinarily happens, like he was trying to get the jump on bloocking a rush end. It was pretty striking looking, and the penalty under the circumstances didn't surprise me. There is obviously no end to the different interpretations of the Pats and Colts fans on this site over the same things -- most recently, Hobbs PI, etc., and don't get me started on the Moss PI. Running up the score? Don't care -- non-issue other than the injury risk. We're just never going to agree. For example, it is funny that in this thread y'all want to argue (and Pats fans respond) as to who had worse injuries. Then there is a change in the straw man to: Peyton's receivers last night were worse than Brady's old ones. The straw man used to be that the old Pats receivers were good in an effort to avoid giving Brady any credit. Haven't heard any of you say that this is the first year in the Wayne-Marvin era that the Pats have a receiver that could start for the Colts, but that is really what's going on.

It is hard to resist joining the battle.

Some of the Colts fans were upset when people "made fun" after the loss last night. Jumping on here solely for that purpose is beyond the pale, and I don't think people should do that. Of course, piling on the Pats is a favorite on this site. I guess we can agree criticism of our teams bothers us.

Don't get me wrong however, I laughed my ass off when our ex-kicker missed that kick. It was a fun moment for a real Pats fan. Because real Pats fans hate the Colts. I want the Colts to lose the rest of their games (no, I don't want people to get injured), and I most certainly don't want the rematch of last week's game in the playoffs. Anyone that says differently and claims to be a Pats fan is lying -- they may be a football fan, but they are not a Pats fan. Why do I hate the Colts? Because they have been really frigging good for the last several years, and they have gotten the best of my team too many times for my taste. I don't want to see them in the playoffs because they are the only team I see that can beat the Pats this year in the playoffs, absent injuries. I feel almost as strongly about the Colts as I do the Yankees; that probably runs deeper, but it is a similar situation. I sense some similar Pat hatred from the Colt side ;) -- however we want to try to dress it all up and make it some morality play, if our teams hadn't lost those games to each other, we wouldn't have the hate fest we wind up with.

I get all this way and it's certainly coming off like a "why can't we just get along" vibe. Not happening (nor do I want it to), given the strong feelings; it does get in the way of the site sometimes.

Go Pats!

225
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:17am

I see the respect for the Cowboys has not grown.

"gaints screwed on penalties"
"worst td pass of the year" (and that was an awesome play btw)
Romo makes ugly throws"
"Romo doesn't read well downfield"
"colts/steelers biggest challenges for a pats SB win"
"Romo is dependent on Owens"
"GB will scare the rest of the NFC"

This hate saddens me. Can the Cowboys ever get some support (other than from us Cowboy fans)? Especially after all the love Green Bay gets.

And Romo, can you all just admit he is a top QB (#3 in the league IMO)? You say he has TO, well Payton has Harrison/Wayne/Clark/Edge/Addai, Brady has Moss/Welker/Stallworth, Palmer has Johnson/TJ, Brees has/had Bush/McAllister/Colston/LT/Gates, Warner has/had Holt/Bruce/Hakim/Faulk/Boldin/Fitz/Edge. Thats not even mentioning QB's like Eli (Burress/Shockey/Tiki/Toomer) and Rivers (LT/Gates) who have weapons but still aren't good. Can't Romo have weapons too?
Its not like Romo just waits all day for Romo to get open and then makes an easy throw or lobs it up to him. He makes a LOT of good throws. And I really hope the people who criticize Romo are not the same people who compliment Trent Edwards because Romo is just on a different world in terms of talent. Bottomline, there was no wway the Cowboys could not lock Romo up. They've waited ten years for a QB, you can't let the one you finally get leave. And yeas I am an angry Cowboys fan, lol.

Also regarding the Colts, I think everyone is missing the point. It was a no brainer to try to draw SD offsides, because an Illegal shift/delay of game penalty didn't really matter at that point. Is a 29 yarder really much harder than a 24 yarder? No, they tried it but it didn't work. The only thing that hurt out of that sequence wa sDungy using a timeout. That cost them 40 seconds and maybe the game. I don't know what he thought arguing would do.

226
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:32am

by the way the Benglas defense might be a little bit better if Carson palmer was 2nd to last in the3rd down passing.

I don't know where people keep getting the idea that Carson Palmer is bad on 3rd down. The Bengals are 6th in the NFL on 3rd/4th down passing, with a 35.8% DVOA. Palmer isn't bad on 3rd down, he's excellent on 3rd down.

The defense might be better if someone taught them how to tackle. And that's not Carson Palmer's job.

227
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:58am

222:
If it will help...
Cowboys - best team in the NFC. Have a realistic chance of beating the Patriots if they meet in the Superbowl. Could be favored if they meet someone else there.
Romo - in the running for 3rd best QB in the league. Unlike Favre, will still be a good QB 4 years from now. Not as cute, though, despite the difference in age.

Re: Dungy's timeout.
"I don’t know what he thought arguing would do."

He was asking for a "do-over".

228
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:26pm

#218 Tight end coverage depends on the call on the field. And I can't speak to those other safties because I haven't seen them whiffing on tackles or getting trucked by ballcarriers or bouncing off of Heath Miller.

That a pair of undrafted free agents beat out several high draft picks (Ware, for instance, was a #2; Reed was a #4) either says that the team is great at finding rookie FAs or that they're terrible at evaluating draft picks.

229
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:39pm

Jeff Garcia

2000 DPAR: 97.8
2001 DPAR: 67.2

Tony Romo

2006 DPAR: 51.3 (10 games - 82.08 pace)
2007 DPAR: 55.7 (9 games - 99.02 pace)

Romo is better. Romo also might not be fully developed.

230
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:46pm

That a pair of undrafted free agents beat out several high draft picks (Ware, for instance, was a #2; Reed was a #4) either says that the team is great at finding rookie FAs or that they’re terrible at evaluating draft picks.

Ware was a #3. He's been just okay for the Eagles and Cardinals and is turning into a career special teamer. That isn't uncommon for a 3rd round pick. Reed was a very promising #4 who injured a nerve in his leg on a barbed wire fence between in his first and second year. He can't walk without a limp but somehow has returned to at least being a good back-up in the NFL thanks to some magic leg brace.

The Colts and Patriots also drafted some DB's around that time in the draft in 2004. Guss Scott and Dexter Reid for the Patriots, Jason David for the Colts. They were all beat out by undrafted free agents as well - Randall Gay on the Patriots, Josh Thomas on the Colts. It happens. Ask Adrian Klemm (#2) and Damien Woody (#1) about Steve Neal (UFA) on the Patriots.

IMHO, 1st and 2nd rounders are the guys you need to reliably hit upon. OTOH, the talent difference between 3rd through 7th rounders and undrafted free agents is really not that great, so its hardly a surprise when a drafted guy from those rounds is beat by an undrafted guy. Further, for less pricey positions where guys in later rounds often start (Center, Guard, Linebacker, Fullback, Safety), it pays to troll for talent beyond the draft because the talent is there.

The Eagles 2003 class of undrafted free agents was pretty amazing. 5 of the 8 guys are still in the league, 3 as starters. There's nothing to be ashamed about finding such an abundance of talent outside of the draft. The only shame is on the drafted guys who got beat.

231
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:52pm

Andrew I have no idea where you're getting those numbers. We've already gone over their prime-year stats. Romo is 2% more accurate, passed for 1 yard and 1.8 yards more per completion, and 1 yard and 2.2 yards more per completion. Romo also has a higher TD rate and is on pace to beat Garcia's best year by almost 10 TDs. And if you want to argue the Owens factor... well Garcia played with a younger Owens too.

As for saying that Romo hasn't had a good game in which Owens has dissappeared (the STL game nonwithstanding)... well that's an error of assumption of causality. Does Owens playing well cause Romo to have good numbers or does Romo playing well cause Owens to catch more balls? I'd wager it's somewhere in between, if not more tilted to Romo because I have seen him play well without Owens having a great well.

And no, I wouldn't like to see Romo play without Owens, he'd probably not play as well. After all if manning can have the game he had yesterday without Clark and Harrison, I can only imagine what would happen if we had Romo throwing to Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd. He'd probably be a little worse than Brady last season throwing to Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney.

232
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:55pm

Oh yea, but Romo does get more INTs, but that comes with the gunslinger mentality, and I don't think (unfortunately) that that is going to change. It's something we'll have to live with, he won't ever be more mistake free than say a Manning or Brady. I'm willing to live with that if he can keep throwing for almost 9 yards a completion.

233
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:26pm

Can the Cowboys ever get some support (other than from us Cowboy fans)?

No.

234
by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:18pm

It has to be still too early to say whether or not Romo or Roethlisberger are going to be "gunslingers" or efficient quarterbacks. They're going to have to make their mistakes before they learn from them. It must be frustrating for fans of both teams, considering they have excellent receiving personnel and qb's who haven't realized their own potential in time to utilize those guys. I'd honestly say it's scary to think of how much better those teams could be if their qb's had 2-3 more seasons of progressed experience under their belts.

235
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:29pm

Temo:

Andrew I have no idea where you’re getting those numbers. We’ve already gone over their prime-year stats. Romo is 2% more accurate, passed for 1 yard and 1.8 yards more per completion, and 1 yard and 2.2 yards more per completion. Romo also has a higher TD rate and is on pace to beat Garcia’s best year by almost 10 TDs.

I keep running 16 game tallies of QB stats for QB's of interest including playoff games. Romo, of course has not yet played a single complete season, so his 16 game tally must include games from both 2006 and 2007.

Romo's current numbers for his past 16 games are 324 of 507, 4297 yards, 35 TD, 19 INT, 34 rushes for 145 yards (including kneeling), 2 TD. Romo has been above 63% passing, 400 yards, and 30 TD passing/rushing for 6 of his 7 games since completing a full season worth of games.

Garica hit a 16 game peak in late 2000 with 363 of 555, 4465 yards, 32 TD, 9 INT, 76 rushes for 476 yards, 5 TD. He sustained production over 63% passing for 19 games, over 4000 yards for 18 games, 30 TD passing/rushing for 33 games before starting to decline in 2002.

Romo has not yet matched Garcia's peak, although he obviously has not played as many games either.

Right now, looking at Romo as an Eagles fan, I'd say his greatest strengths are his amazing yards per attempt (sustained over 8.4) and yards per completion (sustained over 13.2). They are almost as good as Peyton Manning's 2004-2005 peak. (Touchdown scoring is more a function of offensive philosophy - throwing vs. running in the redzone.) His greatest weakness is his interception ratio, which he has sustained at 1 interception for every 30.3 passes or worse his entire career so far, with the ratio actually sinking as he plays more. This is down on the level of Eli Manning and Ben Rothelisberger, both of whom are turnover machines. By way of contrast, McNabb has never been below a 1 interception to 31.3 passes in his career, Brady briefly hit a career low of 1 to 28.5 after the Week 9 Indy game last year but otherwise has never been below 1 to 31.6. He's had 5 multiple interception games in just 22 outings. Brady has had 22 in 119 outings, McNabb 16 in 123 outings, Garcia 18 in 113 outings.

Honestly, I think the best comparison is Kurt Warner 1999-2001. oout of nowhere to lead a very prolific down the field offense, lots of yards, TD's, and INT's, very high yards per pass and yards per attempt. Seeing as Warner went to 2 Super Bowls in 3 years with that attack, I can't say its a bad thing for Romo to emulate.

236
by Tim (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:49pm

Thank you. Warner is the best comp. Not through playing style (though I think they're similar in the pocket...Warner more accurate, Tony slightly quicker release), but through results in a very similar offensive system. And again, Warner was terrific for 3 seasons, and the reason he got un-terrific was his multiple hand injuries, which robbed him of both zip and made him a chronic fumbler. Also, he lost a certain amount of courage (starting to look at the rush rather than down the field) after playing in Martz's QB Meat Grinder. Romo's results are comparable, and I think his results are more sustainable because he's just not taking big hits.

237
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:03pm

Ok, Andrew I see where you got the statistics, and your conclusion based on those statistics is fair enough. However, I've long since railed against statistics that use portions of different seasons to make a judgement. I've said before how I hate when people start saying "stretching back to the last 8 games of last year" because so much changes from year to year in the NFL with the long offseason, coaching changes, personnel changes, etc. It's not just for this particular instance, I've said as much for several different situation. I think it is statistical misuse to attempt to draw a causality between periods of time that far apart. So instead I used his full season data from last year and then for this year. Which are both significantly better than Garcia's prime.

And your comparison to Warner is noted, and this is only what we were trying to establish from the start. Jimmy said that Romo plays a lot like Garcia where in fact the two do play in very different offenses and lack in comparison apart from scrambling ability.

238
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:06pm

Warner's peak performance had a DVOA of around 30%, which is right where Romo is now, so I feel the comparison is good. However, Romo, do to his age, has a better chance of sustaining that level of performance than Warner was able to. Interestingly, Warner's performance in 2001 would rank him 4th this year, behind Derek Anderson. I'm not sure what this means, but I think we don't have enough data on Anderson to fully evaluate him yet.

239
by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:25pm

"After all if manning can have the game he had yesterday without Clark and Harrison, I can only imagine what would happen if we had Romo throwing to Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd. He’d probably be a little worse than Brady last season throwing to Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney."

"It’s something we’ll have to live with, he won’t ever be more mistake free than say a Manning or Brady."

I understand that Romo deserves respect, but you guys are just over the top.

240
by Jin (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:29pm

Ugh, jimm why did you have to bring up Tomlin? I was of the opinion that if he was a serious HC candidate I would have fired Childress and made Tomlin the HC.

Also an article on the St. Paul Pioneer Press with an orthopedic specialist says the Vikings should follow my plan with Adrian Peterson, shut him down for the rest of the year. The concern of course is that Childress will play him in an attempt to save his job.

241
by Cyrus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:35pm

"There were only three runs greater than six years"

Thats a long run.

(I didn't read the 100+ comments before this, I doubt but really hope that I am the first :)

242
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:03pm

Temo #237:

However, I’ve long since railed against statistics that use portions of different seasons to make a judgement. I’ve said before how I hate when people start saying “stretching back to the last 8 games of last year� because so much changes from year to year in the NFL with the long offseason, coaching changes, personnel changes, etc.

I don't disagree given the way most sportswriters do this (which is to cherry pick data series to make an invalid point), however there is usually a fair amount of continuity season to season, and looking at a rolling 16 game average allows you to see the growth and declines of QB's (or other players) without the distortions of simply looking game by game, and gives you a constant actual season's worth of data to compare.

So instead I used his full season data from last year and then for this year. Which are both significantly better than Garcia’s prime.

However this comparison is also unfair. Garcia's data is a for a full season of games, while each of Romo's "years" is for about 10 games so far. Who's to say Romo would have done the same in 2006 had he started the year? He might have done the same, better, or worse - we simply don't know. Had he played longer in 2006, he might have been more worn down by the end of the season and not played as well as he did. Or Maybe Dallas would have won 1 or 2 more games, and he would have sat at the end of the season, having clinched the division.

And your comparison to Warner is noted, and this is only what we were trying to establish from the start. Jimmy said that Romo plays a lot like Garcia where in fact the two do play in very different offenses and lack in comparison apart from scrambling ability.

I think Jimmy was making a note of production at the position and coming into the league in a different way than drafted out of college. In that sense, Warner and Garcia are two good comparables to Romo.

243
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:53pm

I understand where you're coming from Andrew, and it's a fair point. But I would still say that Romo's games this season, being under a different offensive program with different coaches, should be weighted more than his performance last year. But I do agree that until he gets a full season under him, it is illogical to say that Romo has already surpassed Garcia's best season. I admit my (and other poster's) mistake in this part.

As for Jimmy, he specifically discounted draft status as a variable, and went on to specifically say that Garcia and Romo have similar playing styles. He then took this (which I take to be a false observation) to mean that since Garcia couldn't play without TO, neither can Romo. So that much, I know for sure, was the original genesis of this argument.

244
by rick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:49pm

I think Romo is a fair to middling QB with a great offensive line and great receivers. I believe his last 5 games last season show more about who he really is than this season does, and I doubt the Cowboys will make the Super Bowl with him. Ever.

My real suspicion is that TO is going to have one bad game, and that he will suddenly go into implosion mode, just like he did in Pittsburgh 3 years ago. That will eventually happen for several reasons. 1. Nobody's really talking about him, and he can't stand that. 2. When Glenn comes back (whenever that is), he will get fewer looks, and he'll bitch about it. 3. He's TO and he is the destroyer of his own teams.

Romo ain't all he's cracked up to be, but he's on a roll right now. I doubt he'll last in the NFL.

I've been wrong before, I'm willing to admit it. I don't think I am here.

245
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:10pm

He then took this (which I take to be a false observation) to mean that since Garcia couldn’t play without TO, neither can Romo.

It seems old Garcia is playing fine the past 2 years without TO.

As to Owens, with Romo throwing him the ball, his numbers are similar to when he had McNabb, peak-Garcia, and Young throwing to him (15+ yards per pass, 1 TD every 5-7 receptions). Owens low points in his career were mid to late 1999, 2003, and early 2006 - injured/ineffective Garcia and Bledsoe.

As Owens is pretty consistent with any good QB, its worth noting that the McNabb and Garcia, once he left them, dropped in accuracy and touchdowns thrown because he was replaced by lesser receivers. OTOH, their yards per completion and attempt and interception ratio stayed pretty constant. So I'd guess Romo with Crayton and someone else would probably be a 60% passer throwing 25 TD's per year instead of a 65% passer throwing 35 TD's per year.

246
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:49pm

227, Yeaas I actually do appreciate it.

233, Well at least you're honest. ;)

239, Yes, it may be over the top, but then read these comments:

"It has to be still too early to say whether or not Romo or Roethlisberger are going to be “gunslingers� or efficient quarterbacks. They’re going to have to make their mistakes before they learn from them. It must be frustrating for fans of both teams, considering they have excellent receiving personnel and qb’s who haven’t realized their own potential in time to utilize those guys. I’d honestly say it’s scary to think of how much better those teams could be if their qb’s had 2-3 more seasons of progressed experience under their belts"

Yes, were really frustrated. Romo really needs to start living up to his potential. *shakes head*

"I think Romo is a fair to middling QB with a great offensive line and great receivers. I believe his last 5 games last season show more about who he really is than this season does, and I doubt the Cowboys will make the Super Bowl with him. Ever.

My real suspicion is that TO is going to have one bad game, and that he will suddenly go into implosion mode, just like he did in Pittsburgh 3 years ago. That will eventually happen for several reasons. 1. Nobody’s really talking about him, and he can’t stand that. 2. When Glenn comes back (whenever that is), he will get fewer looks, and he’ll bitch about it. 3. He’s TO and he is the destroyer of his own teams.

Romo ain’t all he’s cracked up to be, but he’s on a roll right now. I doubt he’ll last in the NFL."

No comment

And it makes you kinda want to defend the franchise QB. After you stop wondering what these guys are smoking of course.

247
by Temo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:29pm

239. I'm sorry, what's over the top about saying that Romo would have worse stats than Brady throwing to better recievers? (Gaffney+Caldwell is worse than Crayton+Hurd).

245. Yea, I basically agree with that! That's about the drop off one would expect losing a HoF receiver... and nothing of extraordinary circumstance that would call into question giving Romo 67 million, as Jimmy first said.

248
by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:11pm

Rick, Bledsoe would get destroyed by that line. Romo is very good.

249
by FullmoonoverTulsa (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:44pm

#244 - Romo "won't last" in a league in which Josh McCown, Brooks Bollinger and Chris Redman all played on Sunday?

250
by evilinc (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:25pm

"I think Romo is a fair to middlin QB"?

Really? What tipped you off? The 65% completion percentage? The 13.3 yds/comp? Perhaps the 42 TDs in 19 career starts? Maybe the 23 in just 9 starts this year? Perhaps the 14-5 record?

Query: When you type such nonsense, do you realize it's absurd and count on getting a rise or do you really believe it?

Sheesh.

As an aside, I think we need to wait a couple more years just to be sure, but in my opinion, that guy Favre might just turn out to be a decent QB.

251
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:29pm

NONE OF YOU KNOW WHAT JIMMY THINKS!!!!!

Seriously though, some good data being thrown at this one (better than my half hearted efforts).

Part of my thinking (and I probably should have said this earlier) on the new Romo deal is that the truly elite WRs are possibly even rarer than franchise QBs. For what it is worth I don't think the Romo deal is too big anyway, just that I wouldn't expect him to be as productive without Owens. Similarly if Moss leaves the Pats after this year I wouldn't expect Brady to put up similar numbers without him.

I guess whether you think he compares better to Warner or Garcia depends on if you prefer stats or the eyeball test to provide the answer.

Andrew

On the Witten HOF thing, I thought I had couched the statement in enough caveats to indicate that I didn't think he was particularly likely to end up in the hall, just that he is pretty good.

Also do your stats have any indication of a jump in stats around the league for QBs after the Polian rule change?

252
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:00am

Also do your stats have any indication of a jump in stats around the league for QBs after the Polian rule change?

First of all, the rule wasn't changed, it was reemphasized. The 5 yard rule was always there.

Second, while 2004 was one of the greatest QB years on record, QB's around the league qucikly came back down to earth in 2005 and 2006.

253
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 10:36am

First of all, the rule wasn’t changed, it was reemphasized. The 5 yard rule was always there.

Changed/reemphasized. Geez you are hitting me hard on the semantics today. ;)

Second, while 2004 was one of the greatest QB years on record, QB’s around the league qucikly came back down to earth in 2005 and 2006.

Just to be clear, is that whatyour stats indicate? As a quick perusal of QB dpars over the period seems to have 3 times the number of QBs acheiving 100+ dpar for the season after the rule change reemphasis. I guess what I am ham-fistedly trying to get across is that maybe top end passing attacks are better placed to exploit any advantage the changes offered.

254
by Sunil (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 11:11am

Vince Verhei, Justin Gage was not in double coverage - VY read the man coverage correctly (check out the video again). The safety was 15 yards away and closed in on Gage after the throw was made.VY made some good reads down the field - he sorely needs speedy receivers now.

255
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 1:27pm

Jimmy #253:

Passing attacks have been constantly improving ever since 1978.

The biggest improvement has been a drop in the interception ratio league-wide. Tolerance for turnovers is way down, and fewer turnovers means more yards, completions, and scoring. All these trends continue.

However, as to 2004, almost all the premier QB's in the league were making major strides throughout 2003 as that season progressed (Brady, Manning, McNabb, Green, Culpepper, Garcia, Plummer, Favre), and these strides were sustained at the final high level and carried over into the offensive explosion in 2004, which also saw the debut of Palmer and Rothelisberger. Only a handful of QB's regressed or were uneven from 2002 to 2003 to 2004 - Brooks, Hasselbeck, McNair, Brees, Bulger, and some of them still improved 2003 to 2004.

256
by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:02pm

OK thestar5, if you're not realizing Romo's limits AND potential, shame on you. The only point I was trying to make is that if he had 2 or 3 more years of improvement under his belt, it'd be scary because he'd be much better and his team could be a SB favorite.
Having watched him, you have to love his accuracy...and his big snap over-the-head turned into a 17 yard first-down conversion is a top NFL hi-lite this year.
The fact is, he's played a pop-warner schedule, he's still only played a handful of games, and he still has the 2006 season on his shoulders/conscience (I'd personally blame Terry Glenn, but I'm not that wrapped in it; I'm not even a Cowboys fan)
For someone who probably watched the Emmit/Aikman/Irvin years, don't you want to see him win some big games before we crown him?

257
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:41pm

For someone who probably watched the Emmit/Aikman/Irvin years, don’t you want to see him win some big games before we crown him?

Denny Green? Is that you?

258
by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 11:56pm

Herm - think of those of us who saw the Aikman years, and the Certer/Hutchinson/Henson/Leaf era of QBs. We are more than willing to crown Romo, as we are experts at spotting useless QBs.

259
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/15/2007 - 4:25pm

Herm?, well I guess its my bad then, I kind of misunderstood you. Its just weird to put it as being frustrated with Romo, because I am incredibly happy we have him.I kind of put frustrated more as a word for Alex Smith/Grossman, not someone who has already been really successful. But you're right, he could get even better. I'm certainly happy with his play no though.