Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Week 12 DVOA Ratings

Denver remains No. 1 in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings, but New England moves up to No. 2 and has taken over as our Super Bowl favorite.

08 Oct 2007

Audibles at the Line: Week 5

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.

Cleveland Browns 17 at New England Patriots 34

Aaron Schatz: Somebody is going to need to explain the Browns' coverage scheme to me. They came out with rookie Eric Wright on Randy Moss, Dave Holly on Donte' Stallworth, and Leigh Bodden in the slot. Huh? You put a rookie on Moss instead of one of the top 10 corners in the game? I thought it might be an issue of height, but Bodden (6-1) is actually TALLER than Wright (5-11).

Derek Anderson had three interceptions at halftime: two on tipped passes and one when Mike Vrabel hit his arm as he was throwing.

Based on DVOA, the one sort-of weakness of the Pats defense this year is defending tight ends. A lot of that is Antonio Gates, but they also gave up some nice passes to Chris Baker and Reggie Kelly. So why have the Browns only thrown once to Kellen Winslow in the entire first half?

Bill Barnwell: Derek Anderson's first two picks were good examples of why he's not a real NFL prospect. His first was just awful decision-making, a third-and-goal play from inside the 5 where he had to create something on the fly in infested waters. He cost them three points at pretty much the only point in the game where the Browns were in it. The second was your more standard-fare -- he didn't look anyone off the route, and Adalius Thomas read him right to the ball.

Anderson also really doesn't bear down under pressure inside the pocket. What I love about Jason Campbell vis-à-vis Anderson or Trent Edwards is that Campbell looks the same on every play -- comfortable dropback, progresses through his receivers, looks off guys, throws from a good angle even if there are guys in his face. Anderson's throwing the ball while Patriots players are two or three steps away from him, and it's not as if he's making good throws to open receivers, he's just jamming the ball in there.

Brady, on the other hand, is entirely unmolested in the pocket. I didn't see anyone lay a finger on him in the first half. I counted three instances where he had more than five seconds to throw. One of the unreported stories of the Patriots season is how much better the line has been. Last year, Matt Light was erratic and the right side was downright mediocre. This year, they've all been much better.

Aaron Schatz: Tedy Bruschi has the strangest post-sack celebrations. I think he applied for a research grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Give Braylon Edwards some credit. He did not seem to be living up to his draft status in his first couple seasons, and he's had to deal with the unsettled quarterback position in Cleveland, but he definitely seems to be coming into his own this year. He made a sweet, sweet one-handed diving catch in the fourth quarter. It was so sweet that Belichick couldn't actually believe he controlled the ball and challenged. (The play was upheld.)

The Patriots' offense couldn't get anything going in the third quarter, which at this point is just weird. Tom Brady was completely missing guys -- I'm not talking about hurried throws, or good coverage, I mean just plain overthrows, for the first time this year. Once the Browns took it in to make the score 20-10, though, the offense woke up, Brady started completing passes again, and all was normal.

Department of I Don't Understand What Constitutes a Penalty: There was a second-and-4 pass to Randy Moss for a first down near the beginning of the fourth quarter where Kyle Brady was completely holding Antwan Peek coming around the right side of the defensive line. I'm not talking handful of jersey, I'm talking handful of jersey and flesh. No call.

Seattle Seahawks 0 at Pittsburgh Steelers 21

Doug Farrar: So, when all was said and done, the big story wasn't this or that person whining or not whining about what did or didn't happen from an officiating perspective 20 months ago -- the REAL story was that Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, and Casey Hampton were inactive for this game, and Santonio Holmes went out with a hamstring injury in pregame warm-ups, and the Seahawks still couldn't do anything. Mike Holmgren was very critical of his offensive line this week, especially their inability to run-block. Having Hampton out should have been especially huge for Seattle, but this is now a team with enormous problems on the ground. It's becoming difficult to overstate what a concern this is.

Matt Hasselbeck starts the first drive with four straight passes, including two straight with different backs motioning right around Alexander -- Leonard Weaver and Maurice Morris. Hasselbeck was off-target to Nate Burleson on a third down, and Seattle's first drive ends at their own 37. Alexander was handed the ball once. The Steelers are giving Hasselbeck time and covering well. Matt is standing back in the pocket, but looking around for nothing a couple of times early. Halfway through the first quarter. Hasselbeck threw to Deion Branch with Ike Taylor and safety help on him, and Taylor nearly had a pick. I have to wonder if the lack of a solid running game hasn't pushed him over the edge, where he feels that he has to do everything. The Steelers are issuing a challenge to Seattle's offensive line -- they're obviously not taking the rushing attack seriously.

Mike Tanier: I love the Steelers 2-3-6 formation, or whatever you want to call it. "The Prowl" or somesuch. Does it have a name, Ryan or somebody? Anyway, I was impressed to see them run it without Hampton at the nose or Polamalu as the safety who is really a linebacker. The formation is four or five years old and I know the Patriots used it a lot, but the Steelers are really using it to baffle opponents.

Overall, though, I watched the Seahawks offense thinking, "Boy, the league really has this thing figured out."

Aaron Schatz: 2-3-6 or 3-2-6? I'm familiar with the Pats running 3-2-6, three linemen, two linebackers, six defensive backs.

Mike Tanier: I mean 2-3-6. I think. The defense I am seeing, which I saw the Steelers use in the preseason, only has one or two guys playing with their hands in the dirt. Everybody else is a linebacker, DB, or one of those 255-pound defensive ends who are practically linebackers. It's a great 3rd-and-long set because the offensive line has to pick among about seven guys who could blitz, but the defense can also drop into an eight-man coverage scheme without having to rely on some 300-pounder in a hook zone. The Niners did something similar in a few plays that I saw late in that game.

Doug Farrar: Seattle's defense runs a few base 4-3 sets, obviously keying on Willie Parker. Julian Peterson is especially good at trailing Parker on the outside left. Nice coverage by Marcus Trufant on third-and-4 on Cedrick Wilson during Pittsburgh's second drive. Free safety Brian Russell came up out of help on some weird aborted safety blitz, and Trufant shaded Wilson perfectly for the drive-killing incompletion. In previous years, that matchup would have favored the Steelers, but Trufant has really improved in coverage this year.

One play on Seattle's third drive indicated that Alexander's problems aren't just about the line -- he ran into a big wall of Steelers and tried to bounce right, but there just didn't seem to be any real "propulsion" to it. Two years ago, he makes that cut, and the current lack of explosiveness is something I've noticed before this season.

Lofa Tatupu impresses me in a different way seemingly very week. Not only is he outstanding in deep coverage for a middle linebacker, and not only can he stop the run amazingly well, but he's killed at least two pass plays in the first half with fake blitzes. Roethlisberger will think that he has something over the middle at the snap, but Tatupu will know right where to go to take it out of the equation.

Stuart Fraser: Pittsburgh is rushing three on most passing downs and daring Hasselbeck to throw at (usually) blanketed receivers. If Ike Taylor could catch -- today's two dropped interceptions are by no means the first two dropped interceptions of the year -- it would be paying off even better than it is.

The Seahawks massively overpursued on a third-and-long situation and a delay handoff to Davenport picked up big yardage, and then four plays later Miller caught a touchdown on a slant while the Seahawks linebackers are standing around in zones that contained no targets. Buck and Aikman were talking about how bad the Steelers were in the red zone the last two years just prior. This is true, but it amazes me they missed an actually valid chance to bring Jerome Bettis up.

Doug Farrar: On that Davenport run, I counted missed tackles by Tatupu, Deon Grant, Kelly Jennings (his second), Leroy Hill (assisted by a Nate Washington block), and a sort of half-assed out-of-bounds push by Brian Russell. Apparently, someone's taking all those flag football commercials to heart. Pittsburgh ends that drive with a touchdown pass to Heath Miller, but the killer was the Davenport run. Just inexcusable execution on that play.

Hasselbeck finally breaks loose with a long pass to Ben Obomanu late in the second half, and ... gets sacked on the next play. This part of Audibles is brought to you by the Andy Reid Clock Management Institute ... Seattle's letting a LOT of time lapse here. That drive, and the first half, ends with the throw from Hasselbeck to Ike Taylor that Taylor doesn't drop. Seems the officiating's a lot better this time, but Mike Holmgren still can't manage the clock against the Steelers at the end of the first half.

Stuart Fraser: I'm just wondering, did any Seahawks player beat Ike Taylor's three targets from Hasselbeck in that half? The Seahawks need to find an answer to Pittsburgh's rush-three-and-sit-back defense. Draws to Alexander sound like a plan to me.

Doug Farrar: Having a running game at all sounds like a plan to me. This is downright embarrassing. On the other side, Willie Parker is starting to gash the Seahawks early in the second half -- Pittsburgh blocking very aggressively inside. On the third play of Pittsburgh's opening second-half drive, Parker hits a wall of Seahawks and is able to bounce right for a gain in a way Alexander couldn't earlier. Noticeable difference in short-area speed there. Ironically, Pittsburgh gets two big gains negated by very ticky-tack holding calls. I'm very impressed with Roethlisberger's ability to spin out of near-sacks and complete passes -- after this drive's third holding call (!), Big Ben rolls out of a Craig Terrill arm tackle and completes an 11-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson. He completed one earlier with a Seahawks defender practically on his back.

Ben Riley: I'm looking forward to examining the DVOA "splits" for the Seahawks performance in the first half versus the second. This is the fifth game this year where the Seahawks offense has decided to sleepwalk through the first half. That may work against a Trent Dilfer-led 49ers team, but it won't work against the Steelers.

Doug Farrar: Seattle DVOA by half, according to the FO Premium Database:
1st Half: 12.0% Rank: 9
2nd Half: 8.1% Rank: 14

Who woulda thunk it? That really surprises me too, because I've seen the same slow starts you have.

Stuart Fraser: Pittsburgh's current drive is a mixture of big plays and holding penalties, and I have lost all track of how the down and distance is supposed to work on it. Troy Aikman thinks Roethlisberger has figured Seattle's coverage schemes out. He'd better have, because Marvel Smith joined the Steelers injury list, which means the protection will get even worse.

Seattle's pass rush would look a lot more impressive if they could wrap up Roethlisberger, who has 21 dropbacks, three sacks, six hits, and nine hurries, says FOX. Roethlisberger then converts a third-and-forever with, for once, time to throw. We don't need no stinkin' pass protection!

Doug Farrar: The Seahawks allowed Pittsburgh to convert third-and-7, third-and-11, and third-and-17. I have very little left to say about this game right now that could be published on this fine family Web site, except that whatever legitimate disputes the Seahawks may or may not have had the last time these two teams met simply do not exist here. They held their own defensively for a while, but when that broke down, they were absolutely outplayed in every possible fashion.

Mike Tanier: Someone said that Roethlisberger figured out the Seahawks schemes? Um, no. The Seahawks couldn't tackle Big Ben. He must have completed 10 passes after getting nearly sacked in that game. He's like Steve McNair was 40 years ago when no one could ever sack the guy.

Stuart Fraser: The Cardinals couldn't tackle Big Ben, either. The difference: against Arizona, Roethlisberger was scrambling around and throwing the ball away or incomplete, and here he was scrambling around and throwing the ball to Cedrick Wilson. To what extent Aikman's comment about the schemes being figured out was correct I don't know, but something had to be up because I'm fairly certain that any team ought to have a starting cornerback capable of covering Cedrick-freaking-Wilson.

Ben Riley: I'm in Seattle this weekend, and this morning I listened to a radio interview of Mike Holmgren, who described this as a "statement game" that would "reveal where we are as a team." Well, here are some of the statements made today: Shaun Alexander is no longer a viable starting running back; Matt Hasselbeck is still prone to having the occasional "Bad Matt" game, as he did today; and the defense, which is for real, can only do so much when the offense gains a total of one first down in an entire half (with three minutes to go).

Credit where credit is due. The Steelers lose their two starting receivers, one of the top safeties in the NFL, and an outstanding defensive tackle, and they still kick Seattle's ass all over the field. And this time, without any help from the officiating.

Ryan Wilson: Usually, when the Steelers drop into coverage, it's a zone scheme, and most quarterbacks with three, four or five seconds to throw can find an open receiver. Not today. And frankly, I'm stunned. Not only did Pittsburgh have their best coverage game ... ever maybe, they also flustered quarterback Matt Hasselbeck all day. Never expected that.

This game was big for the Steelers. Not so much because of the "must-win" in Week 5 nonsense, but because they were coming off a tough loss in Arizona, and good teams find a way to win without their best players. Roethlisberger has gotten a million times better about getting the ball out of his hands, but he still has a maddening knack of waiting two or three seconds too long. Yeah, he's strong enough to break tackles in the pocket, but he's not afraid to take a bone-crushing hit, either.

Stuart Fraser: My guess is that the lack of a heavy rush and the good defensive back play were the first major scheme contributions of Mike Tomlin (a former secondary coach, after all) as head coach in Pittsburgh. Or at least, like Ryan, I'd never seen anything like it from LeBeau before.

Carolina Panthers 16 at New Orleans Saints 13

Mike Tanier: Saints in a nutshell:

  • The offensive tackles aren't playing well.
  • Everyone is dropping passes.
  • The game plans are really fussy. All of the spread-formation, pick-and-wipe plays put a lot of pressure on Brees and the receivers to execute perfectly.
  • The receivers just aren't that good. We canonized Colston a little early last year.

I got picked apart on a couple of radio shows for putting Sean Payton and Eric Mangini in a 10th place tie for Best Coaching Staff on FOX this summer. I defended myself by saying that the first year is easy: Your scheme is new to opponents; your style is new to the players. The NFL is built for teams to jump out and go 10-6 after a bad year if they have a decent coach and a few good players. Talk to me when you sustain some success. And while I am impressed by both Payton and Mangini, that's where I am at now: Show me how you bounce back, how you stop the bleeding. I expected more from the Saints this week.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know if we quite "canonized" Colston, but I don't think it was too early. He's the only guy on that offense playing well this year. He had 18.3% DVOA and 69% catch rate through the first three games. It's not his fault the offensive line can't block.

Detroit Lions 3 at Washington Redskins 34

Bill Barnwell: The left side of the Washington line is great. It seemed like every play I saw of this game, Washington was running behind it. You would figure that teams would overload that side, no?

Antwaan Randle El looks like a totally different guy from last year. He's actually a useful No. 2 guy, running crisper routes and using his agility to create separation before the catch. I don't know whether he's buying into the offense more, or if he understands the playbook better, but he looks like a serious weapon.

Ned Macey: I think I'm going to start mentioning each week that the best offense Martz has overseen since 2001 was 0.7% in 2004. And again, Rod Marinelli left Kitna in to take hits in a hopeless cause, including a sack on the last play of the game. The fact that the Lions have looked SO bad against Philadelphia and Washington and yet beat the AFC West-leading Raiders makes it pretty clear that the AFC West has seen better days.

New York Jets 24 at New York Giants 35

Sean McCormick: On the first offensive series, the Giants had all 11 men close enough to be visible on screen. They stayed in man coverage on the outside. The Jets passed three times: one knockdown, one incompletion and one pass well short of the marker on third down. The Giants are bringing their strong safety way down, just about at line of scrimmage. The only effective place to run is into the middle of the line. The Jets tried to go deep by throwing a streak to Cotchery, but Madison was step-for-step with him and there was no place to put the ball. The Giants look like they're running a Cover-3 where the free safety is dropping back about 20 yards and the corners are matched up in single coverage.

The Jets defense is actually getting penetration. On the Brandon Jacobs fumble, Dewayne Robertson dove in and forced Jacobs to run laterally, putting himself in position for the strip. On the next series, Bryan Thomas shot the gap and dropped Derrick Ward in the backfield. The Giants aren't spreading that 3-4 out with their formations, and there aren't a lot of running lanes as a result. (Check that-- the Giants opened the defense up by running to the outside, and from then on, they were able to run at will up the gut.)

The two things the Jets offense is unequivocally good at are quick-snapping to draw defensive penalties and quick-snapping to run QB sneaks. They ran a quick snap QB sneak on third-and-3 and were able to get about five yards on it.

The Jets are starting to make the Giants pay for all the single coverage. Coles has made several spectacular deep catches, and the Jets were able to hit Brad Smith for a touchdown when he was matched up in single coverage against Dockery. Pennington just put it up and made it a jump ball situation and Dockery had no chance. It helps that D'Brickashaw Ferguson is keeping Umenyiora very quiet, as it allows them to give help to Anthony Clement on the other side, and that's giving Pennington the time to throw downfield.

Bill Barnwell: I watched one play of this game. Eli Manning threw an Old Eli (TM) interception forcing a ball in the middle of the field. It was enough to make me go back to the Pats game.

Aaron Schatz: Whoops. And you missed your Giants winning. They're now 3-2 and making me feel like an idiot.

Sean McCormick: It was a tale of two halves, but the Giants ultimately won by doing what they should have been doing all along: running to the outside and throwing against single coverage. The perception is that Dewayne Robertson is a bust, but he's by far the best of the defensive linemen. The real weaknesses are the two ends and the outside linebackers, and the Giants were able to repeatedly go off tackle for big gains. Eli was also able to get going in the passing game as he saw primarily man coverage with no linebackers underneath to make the throws more difficult. That's because the Jets were committing the linebackers at the line of scrimmage. In the first half most of Eli's throws were into double coverage, but he saw nothing but single coverage once the run game got going, and when Andre Dyson missed the tackle on Burress, the game was effectively over. Basically, the Jets defense is so overmatched physically at this point that they can't use sound fundamental schemes -- they need to send people to either stop the run or pressure the passer, and it makes them very vulnerable.

Miami Dolphins 19 at Houston Texans 22

Aaron Schatz: Dear Trent Green,

We pray that you are OK. Please, please, please do not attempt to come back from this. Your career is over now. Go enjoy your family.

Signed,

Concerned Football Fans Everywhere

Sean McCormick: I'm just flipping to this game every now and then, but it looks like Cleo Lemon is looking for Ted Ginn a lot more than Trent Green did. Ginn is having his most productive half as a pro (which doesn't say much). Of course, the fact that Chris Chambers is drawing Dunta Robinson may have something to do with it.

Mike Tanier: You know, I am about the same age as Trent Green. I sorta relate to Trent Green, because although he is 20 times more athletically gifted than I can hope to be, his talents don't overwhelm my sensibilities the way Brett Favre's do. So, for the last few years, I would watch Green throw a pass and I would say, "Hey, there is a guy my age throwing that pass."

Today, a guy my age decided to block a 300-pound man on an end-around and wound up sticking his head in front of the huge man's knee as the man was running. I admire Green's toughness, and his team-first attitude. I cringed hard when he got hurt last year. I felt sick for ten minutes when he got hurt today. 37-year-olds can play quarterback in the NFL, no doubt about it. But hey: Offensive coordinators, stop calling any plays that ask them to block in any way. A 10-yard run on a reverse isn't worth a crippled quarterback. That's not rocket science, is it?

Beyond that, the Texans won because their defense played a good game and Kris Brown nailed a bunch of 50-yarders. But beyond that, Matt Schaub, the offensive line, and what's left of the receiving corps played well. If Ahman Green and Andre Johnson come back, these guys really could sneak into the wild card hunt.

Atlanta Falcons 13 at Tennessee Titans 20

Vince Verhei: This was the first time I've sat down on watched Vince Young play an NFL game. I'm sure this wasn't his best day, but boy, was I underwhelmed. On the ground, he's fast and nimble enough to escape a sack or two or create a first down, but nobody's ever going to play the Titans worrying that Young will beat them with his legs. And based on today's play, they're not going to worry about being beaten by his arm either. Just cut down on his big plays, and eventually he'll turn the ball over. He throws to guys who are not open, and that wacky sidearm delivery means he's going to get a lot of passes tipped for a guy his height. Of course, he got no help from LenDale White and Chris Brown, who combined for 59 yards on 22 carries.

Ned Macey: Let's just say that this was not Vince at his best. I've probably watched 40 percent of his NFL games, and he has real potential. He remains extremely raw at times, but he is definitely not the player he was today. And he did beat the Colts with his legs a season ago, and also won that game in overtime against Houston. He doesn't look as fast as he is because of his big, long steps. All that being said, he is far from a finished project and still probably not one of the best 15 quarterbacks in the league.

Vince Verhei: And then there's Atlanta. Good Lord, where to begin here? Their running back duo was also ineffective; Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood had 50 yards on 16 carries, and most of that came on Dunn's 18-yarder in the game's final minutes. Age is obviously a factor for Dunn, but Norwood was second in the league in DVOA in 2006; he was 17th coming into today. The team is having trouble adjusting to Bobby Petrino's power blocking scheme, and we're seeing how good Dunn and Norwood are when defenses don't have to worry about quarterbacks running bootlegs.

And then there's the passing game. Remember last week when Harrington looked great and the whole receiving corps looked unstoppable? Yeah, that was against the Texans. Today, no receiver could get open downfield. Harrington had just one completion longer than 10 yards, a 34-yarder to Roddy White. On his other 30 passes, Harrington completed 15 for a total of 53 yards. Yes, that is less than two yards per attempt. Harrington's struggles on the opponents' side of the field showed again: Atlanta had five field goal attempts today and no touchdowns. (And of course, Morten Andersen and Michael Koenen missed three of those kicks. Yes, they were all from 47 yards or more, but that didn't stop Houston from winning today). After Harrington threw his third pick-six of the year (a horrible pass thrown behind Michael Jenkins), Petrino gave Harrington one more series, then called it good. Apparently, after a little less than five full games, Petrino has already given up on Harrington. So instead he turned to Byron Leftwich.

Now, let's look at the timing of this quarterback switch. Leftwich came in with the ball at the Atlanta 37, down 7, with 10:43 to go. This game was there for the taking, and Petrino decided that Leftwich gave his team a better chance to win than Harrington. And Leftwich made it look like a great decision at first, hitting White for 18 yards, then Norwood for 10. He'd throw six more passes, none of them complete. Most of them sailed yards over the heads of open receivers, including one that missed a wide-open Laurent Robinson in the end zone for what should have been a game-tying score. One pass that wasn't thrown way too high was way too low instead, tipped at the line and intercepted.

For all that, Leftwich found himself with first-and-goal at the one in the game's final minutes after a remarkable sequence. Tennessee had the ball and needed a first down to run out the clock. But they didn't trust Young to protect the ball, choosing instead to run White three times for a total of eight yards. Then on fourth down, nobody blocked Demorrio Williams, who ran up and tackled Craig Hentrich. Hentrich actually made a good play to just eat the ball and take the loss and not risk a punt that would have certainly been blocked.

Then Dunn busted an 18-yarder up the gut, setting Leftwich up with first-and-goal at the one at the two-minute warning, needing a touchdown to tie the game. Here is how the next five plays went:

  • Albert Haynesworth dives over the offensive line and breaks up a pitch to Dunn. The ball hits the ground, and Dunn falls on it for an eight-yard loss.
  • Leftwich sails the ball over Joe Horn's head.
  • Leftwich sails the ball over Alge Crumpler's head, but gets bailed out by a Tennessee offside penalty.
  • Leftwich throws to Crumpler, but the pass is broken up. On the play, left tackle Wayne Gandy is injured.
  • On fourth-and-goal, Kyle Vanden Bosch blows by Gandy's replacement (Renardo Foster, I think) and sacks Leftwich, nearly tearing Leftwich's groin in the process.

So where does Atlanta go from here? Presumably, Petrino has to start Leftwich now, after showing the world that he has no faith in Harrington. I'm willing to give Leftwich the benefit of the doubt for this performance, since it was basically his first preseason game.

Bill Barnwell: Didn't Leftwich play in the preseason?

Vince Verhei: Of course he did, for Jacksonville, you're right. I forgot how screwy that whole deal was. It was his first game action for Atlanta.

Jacksonville Jaguars 17 at Kansas City Chiefs 7

Ned Macey: Don't look now, but the Jaguars are 3-1 and will be 4-1 if they can beat the Texans at home next week. David Garrard just looks so efficient when the Jaguars are in control. I still think he'll struggle when they have to play from behind, but for now, this is a definite playoff contender. For Kansas City, the one bright spot on the season continues to be Dwayne Bowe.

Aaron Schatz: The current score: Jacksonville 3, National Jump to Conclusions Week 1.

Arizona Cardinals 34 at St. Louis Rams 31

Doug Farrar: This game's tied at 10-10 at the half. Edgerrin James fumbles at the Rams' one-yard line, and somewhere far away, Peyton Manning nods knowingly. This time, however, Reggie Wells recovers for Arizona's only touchdown so far as four Rams stand there and watch. Also, Matt Leinart with a broken collarbone, so there's the quarterback controversy out of the way for a while.

I just saw the third different Coors Light commercial starring Dennis Green. All three were first aired after his firing, officially giving Green more facetime after his dismissal than before.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 at Indianapolis Colts 33

Aaron Schatz: Has Peyton Manning ever had trouble with zone coverage? He's just sitting back there against Tampa, playing pitch-and-catch. Hey, there's the hole -- bing. Hey, there's the hole -- bing. Hey, there's the hole -- bing.

Moose Johnston on Jeff Garcia: "His immeasurables are off the charts." Um, if you have charts, doesn't that make them, by definition, "measurables?"

Mike Tanier: A talking head said something ridiculously laudatory about Jeff Garcia? That happens about every 0.0007 seconds in America. Seriously, I need to figure out the infatuation man-crush with short, bad-armed scramblers who played in Canada so I can determine who is next in the Doug Flutie/Jeff Garcia chain of Guys Who Can Do No Wrong.

Michael David Smith:Doug Flutie was a short scrambler who played in Canada and was beloved by the media, but he did not have a bad arm.

Aaron Schatz: It is a bit strange that the Colts have run to the right so much more than they have to left in this game. Tony Ugoh is having a great game, really dominating Gaines Adams on pass plays and blocking well on runs, while on the other side, Ryan Diem is having trouble with Kevin Carter. The Bucs did a good job bottling up Keith and Clifton Dawson for most of the game, which is the only thing that kept this close through the first half. Ugoh is playing much better than the Bucs' left tackle, Donald Penn, a second-year undrafted guy from Utah State. They are really going to miss Luke Petitgout.

Michael David Smith: The Bucs' offense definitely seems to be limited by the loss of Luke Petitgout. On the plays when Penn is getting help from a tight end or fullback, that's one fewer target for Garcia. On the plays when Penn is all alone, Garcia looks like he thinks he needs to release the ball within one second of getting the snap. The Colts have plenty of injuries, and the Bucs have lost their first and second running backs, but the loss of Petitgout is the most significant injury in this game.

I hate the "no respect" card, and I do think the Patriots are better than the Colts right now, but aren't the Colts kind of getting disrespected? I seriously doubt there's ever been a defending Super Bowl champion that started the next season 5-0 that got less recognition as the best team in the league than the Colts are getting right now. Everyone is talking about the Patriots going 16-0; no-one is mentioning the possibility of the Colts going 16-0.

Aaron Schatz: I think there are two reasons for this:

1) The Colts were one Brandon Jones drop away from losing to Tennessee.

2) There is this feeling that the Colts are going to end up having a game where the defense just sucks and someone runs for 200 yards on them. I think people still remember last year, when they had that 1-3 stretch losing to all their division rivals.

That being said, this team is way better than it was at this point a year ago. Way, way, way better. Remember that column I wrote about how the Colts were ninth in DVOA despite being undefeated, and I wasn't going to apologize for it? Yeah, I'm not going to be writing a column like that this season.

Mike Tanier: The problem is that the Colts toy with their opponents while the Patriots blow them away. And the Colts are an old story while the Patriots with Moss and the video angle are a new story.

Actually, I have heard two separate broadcasters float the "Everyone is talking about the Patriots but nobody is mentioning the Colts" storyline. You can set your watch to these storylines. So let me float my "everybody is talking about how everybody is talking about the Patriots and nobody is mentioning the Colts, but nobody is mentioning that nobody is mentioning the Steelers" angle.

Stuart Fraser: People have talked about the possibility of the Colts going 16-0 for several years now; they've got fed up with it. Actually, it was similar last year -- far more people were talking about the possibility of the Bears going 16-0 than the Colts when both teams were undefeated. Besides, the sports media loves talking about the Patriots. Pretty much everybody has a strong opinion about them these days, and the universal creed of mainstream NFL coverage seems to be that any reaction (which heavy Pats coverage is bound to get) is better than none.

Aaron Schatz: The Colts played better than the Patriots did this week, and they did it against a better opponent. I can't speak for the rest of the media, but for Football Outsiders, with the opponent adjustments overall becoming stronger this week, I think the gap between the Patriots and Colts in DVOA is going to shrink substantially. I am guessing that both will rank among the five or six "best teams through five weeks in DVOA history."

Ned Macey: The real key to this game was the activation of Craphonso Thorpe from the practice squad. His presence definitely gives good karma.

I'm willing to accept that Petitgout's injury was a problem, but the Colts just shut them down without Bob Sanders and Freddy Keiaho. Rob Morris, the other explanation for the Colts' run D improvement, is done for the year, and the Colts aren't missing a beat. I think I'm definitively ready to say that last year, the regular season was the aberration, and not the playoffs. Counting this year, the Colts have been an average or better defense for four of the past five seasons.

Still, this was a weakened Tampa Bay on offense. The real story was that the Colts just put up 33 without Addai or Harrison. Kenton Keith -- who the hell knew his name before this preseason? -- just went for 121 yards against the No. 3 defense in early-season DVOA (6th against the run).

My theory about the Colts and the lack of buzz is that they are actually pretty boring right now. It's all checkdowns and runs up the middle. Opposing defenses have taken away the big play (except New Orleans), and the Colts just march methodically up and down the field. Manning hit one pass of 20-plus yards today.

As for the 16-0, I'm now extremely worried about their next game in two weeks against Jacksonville.

Michael David Smith: Ned, you wrote, "The real story was that the Colts just put up 33 without Addai or Harrison." I know I come across as though I'm to Peyton Manning as Peter King is to Brett Favre sometimes, but is it really that big a story? As long as Manning is healthy, I just don't think any amount of offensive output for the Colts is going to surprise me, no matter who's hurt. Sure, Manning would prefer not to lose Harrison and Addai, but I really think Manning plus just about any 10 other offensive players will be a good offense. (Which is why I wasn't crazy about the decision to draft Gonzalez and Ugoh.)

Aaron Schatz: Against man coverage, I agree with Ned. Against zone coverage, I agree with MDS. Honestly, the whole "let's take away the deep throw with the Tampa-2" concept is ridiculous against Manning. OK, says Manning, so I'll march up and down the field with eight-yard throws and six-yard runs. Swell.

Stuart Fraser: It is, but if you're a Tampa-2 team, what do you do? When was the last time a Tampa-2 team beat Indianapolis? I'm not seeing a loss to one of the standard Tampa-2 outfits since Dungy took over in Indy. Of course, most of the real non-Indy teams (Tampa Bay, Chicago) are in the NFC so there is a question of opportunity. Still, the traditional ways to beat Indianapolis don't include the phrase "take away the big play" anywhere in them. It's either "pressure him into bad decisions" or "keep him off the field." Neither of these are really what the Tampa-2 does.

Mike Tanier: No simple, conventional defense is going to stop Manning and the Colts from putting up about 24 points unless it has personnel like the 1985 Bears. The defensive coach has to scheme to show Manning things he doesn't anticipate, all the while realizing that Manning will audible to a running play if he doesn't like the formation he's facing. I think the dink-and-dunk tactics have been popular over the past two years because most opponents believe they can score about 24 points on the Colts defense, so the best bet is to make it a ball control game.

Really, the only stuff that stops Manning is wacky blitz packages from all angles, intense zone blitz type stuff. And it has to be good, not some second rate team noodling with their zone blitz. The Patriots and Steelers have the personnel and the scheme to do it. Most teams lack one or the other.

Aaron Schatz: This is true. It ties into the "Manning reverts from deity to merely superhuman when facing a 3-4" discussion from the Indianapolis chapter of PFP '06. Based on what we've seen this year, Dallas also has the personnel and scheme that might possibly give the Colts problems. What's interesting is that if the Colts want to repeat this year, there's a good chance that they will have to beat all three of these defenses in three straight games.

Stuart Fraser: Of course, Indianapolis is 4-1 in the last two seasons against New England and Pittsburgh, and 6-1 if you add in the Ravens, whose hybrid defense is about the only other grouping which would fit Mike's definitions. I would say that it helps when you have players who can line up in the same place and do different things in order to confuse Manning's pre-snap reads, and I guess this does help the Ravens (who are, or at least have been, the best at this sort of misdirection) to limit the Colts (39 points, two games -- if only their offense had scored more than 13 in both put together).

Aaron Schatz: True, but the Colts weren't toying with those teams the way they did with the Bucs today. The Ravens held the Colts to no touchdowns and lost because Steve McNair went from Captain Checkdown to Captain I Can't Even Complete a Checkdown. The Patriots have definitely lost their Manning-confusing mojo, but both 2006 games between those teams were very close. Dallas beat the Colts last year, of course, and San Diego the year before with Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator.

It's not about who is guaranteed to slow Manning, because nobody is guaranteed to slow Manning. It's about who has a chance to slow Manning. I mean, even when the Colts had those three late losses last year, Manning completed 21-of-27 against Houston with three touchdowns, and 21-of-28 against Tennessee with 351 yards and two touchdowns. The Jacksonville one was really the only one where he played badly. I think all the division rivals use a lot of that 2-man-under strategy. At least that keeps a man on Harrison and Wayne, and it works a little better than the straight zone Tampa-2 stuff.

San Diego Chargers 41 at Denver Broncos 3

Doug Farrar: In the first quarter, the Chargers score two touchdowns in 11 seconds. After a 2-yard touchdown run from Philip Rivers, Denver's Brian Clark fumbles the kickoff on a hit from Carlos Polk, and the ball is taken 23 yards for the score by Brandon Siler. Of course, Norv Turner was upset that Siler didn't go out of bounds at the one-yard line, so that he could direct Rivers to throw four straight incomplete passes over the head of Buster Davis.

Aaron Schatz: Assuming the Chargers can hold a 27-3 lead over Denver, the Oakland Raiders will be in first place in the AFC West, all by themselves at 2-2. How weird is that?

Doug Farrar: Almost as weird as the Arizona Cardinals in first place in the NFC West, by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Seahawks. This just in: Coaching matters.

Some interesting offensive numbers for the Chargers -- Philip Rivers certainly got back on track, Antonio Gates done blowed up with huge numbers, and Michael Turner exploited Denver's abysmal run defense with a 74-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. In that one play, he outgained his battery mate -- some guy by the name of Tomlinson -- by seven yards. LT had 67 yards on 21 carries to that point against the defense ranked 30th in DVOA against the run. I'd really appreciate it if someone could explain THAT to me.

Baltimore Ravens 9 at San Francisco 49ers 7

Doug Farrar: Jonas Jennings is out of this game with an undisclosed personal matter. Not good news for a 49ers line already leaking all over the place this season. Frank Gore gets a couple of decent gains on San Francisco's first drive by bouncing outside -- we'll have to see how that works out for a guy who set the franchise record for rushing yards last year and hasn't topped 100 yards yet this season. Gore getting gummed up late in the quarter, and I have to ask nearly the same question I asked two weeks ago, when he kept running right at Casey Hampton: Frank, why are you now running right at Kelly Gregg?

Aaron Schatz: This week, I had to submit six players for the early mock cover of Pro Football Prospectus 2008, and I didn't put a running back on the cover. There won't be a running back on the cover next year. I don't want to subject the poor Vikings fans to the curse.

Doug Farrar: I have to say that I really, really like what I'm seeing from San Francisco's defense this year. Captain Checkdown can't get much going early, and rookie linebacker Patrick Willis is all over the place yet again. Even their cornerbacks like to tackle, and they tackle well (Note to Seattle team president Tim Ruskell: This is why you may want to rethink your whole "midget cornerbacks will rule the world" idea). Not bad special teams, either -- Andy Lee has punted balls that have landed at the Baltimore one- and two-yard lines. That doesn't, however, mitigate that fact that San Francisco's first three drives all went three-and-out for a total of 15 yards.

I'm a huge Trent Dilfer fan from his time in Seattle -- more as a person than as a player, and he was a decent player -- and I respect the work he's done with young quarterbacks. But I think it's time for Trent to consider coaching or announcing. He doesn't look comfortable in the pocket at all. He's having trouble at times with his footing as he drops back, and he's overthrowing simple screens.

And then ... halfway through the third quarter, with Baltimore up 9-0, and with the 49ers putting up literally zero passing yards in the first half, Dilfer hits Bryan Gilmore for 43 yards and Arnaz Battle for a 23-yard score on successive plays. What in the name of John Brodie happened there?

One more note from this game: We don't talk enough about Baltimore's front office, but this team has three rookie offensive linemen in against a good defense, and they're holding their own. Ben Grubbs, Marshall Yanda and Jared Gaither. That's just amazing.

Chicago Bears 27 at Green Bay Packers 20

Michael David Smith: Two things about the NBC pregame show:

  • Keith Olbermann has made several jokes about players getting hard hits and not remembering what happened. I don't want to be humorless, but doesn't it seem like brain damage on the field is something that probably shouldn't be joked about?
  • Peter King said the Patriots made a grand gesture by guaranteeing Junior Seau's contract. Maybe he means they guaranteed some kind of bonus that he wasn't assured of getting (I couldn't hear part of what he said), but he's a vested veteran. His contract is already guaranteed.

Doug Farrar: The Packers averaged 54.3 yards per game on the ground through the first four games, and rushed for 63 on this opening drive. There was a time when people wouldn't use the Chicago defense to solve their problems on offense, right? That was pretty recently, wasn't it?

Mike Tanier: This game is getting on my nerves. The Bears have no offense. The Packers move the ball until James Jones fumbles. And so on. I'm waiting for some excitement, guys.

Aaron Schatz: Enough about the quarterback change. Have the Bears considered a running back change? How about more Adrian Peterson?

Nickel back Jarrett Bush is the hole in the Green Bay defense, to the point where he has a large neon sign above his head flashing THROW AT ME. His coverage is blah and his tackling is terrible. I watched the Green Bay-Minnesota replay this week and almost every pass was thrown to whichever receiver Bush was covering. Kelly Holcomb even managed to complete some of them! Seriously, the best strategy against the Packers this year may be to bring in three or four receivers, spread the defense, and go at the nickel and dime backs while avoiding Harris and Woodson.

Anybody have any ideas here as to what is going on with the Chicago run defense tonight? I mean, Tommie Harris is playing tonight, and they're still getting blown off the ball by the Green Bay offensive line.

Mike Tanier: I don't know what is wrong with the run defense. I think they were expecting the Packers to throw the ball more, and I do see the linebackers bailing out into pass coverage on some plays.

Aaron Schatz: For all that people are looking to blame Chicago's offensive woes on Rex Grossman, and now Brian Griese, and of course Cedric Benson ... the Chicago offensive line does not look good tonight, either.

Mike Tanier: No, and I don't want to jump on Ron Turner, but I was calling some of his plays tonight, particularly the off-tackle runs on second-and-10. One thing I noticed is that the Bears wide receivers can never get open when split wide, but Turner rarely puts them in any kind of tight or bunch formation where they can work the middle or use wipes to get open. That being said, the Bears are still very much in it, in part because the "Keep away from Hester" strategy is giving them the ball on the 35-yard line on every kickoff.

Aaron Schatz: And, in part, because when Brett Favre is your quarterback, you have to take his strengths with his weaknesses, and the "impossible ridiculous pass that he has no chance to complete which turns into an interception" is his weakness.

After the forced fumble on the punt near the end of the third quarter, this is starting to feel like the Bears are who we thought they were and the Packers may let them off the hook.

Ned Macey: Does anyone know the magic potion taken at halftime first by the Giants against Washington and now tonight by Chicago? The Giants basically saved their season, and the Bears have the chance to do the same.

Aaron Schatz: Whatever the magic potion is, the Bears forgot to give it to the offense. The offense looks pretty much the same as before except for one nice deep pass to Mark Bradley. The entire comeback was defense and special teams.

Sean McCormick: Is it me or are refs calling the push-out with much greater frequency than in years past?

Doug Farrar: I don't know, but your comment is not reviewable. By the way, I like Atari Bigby, the Packers' strong safety. Interesting individual. He has that neat name, he looks like Peter Tosh (born in Jamaica), and in the individual introductions, he listed his college as "Amsterdam Admirals." Central Florida must feel a bit slighted.

Al Michaels just referred to Cedric Benson as a "workhorse." Twenty-five carries for 56 yards when you're already in the DVOA basement is not "workhorse," Al. Those numbers say, "Out to pasture."

Aaron Schatz: I don't think you can fault him there. What Michaels was saying was "Chicago says this is their workhorse, but he's not getting any yardage." He was agreeing with you.

Doug Farrar: Oh, I'm not faulting him. It's just one of those terms that's used to swing evaluations many different ways. Kinda like "gunslinger."

Ned Macey: I thought he was using it slightly tongue-in-cheek because Benson was pulling himself off the ground and looked tired.

That challenge by McCarthy was a poor decision in my mind, but I guess that one is debatable. What isn't debatable is that underneath dumpoffs are not the solution in the two-minute drill.

Doug Farrar: Griese hits Desmond Clark for the go-ahead score with two minutes left, Green Bay gets the ball back, and ... wow. This is not the Brett Favre I know. Speaking of Captain Checkdown, he's throwing underneath, time's elapsing, and a lack of urgency is evident. Favre gets down to the Chicago 32 with 13 seconds left, and throws a Hail Mary interception to Brandon McGowan to end the game. That was a very odd drive, considering the source.

Aaron Schatz: Man, if only Dennis Green was coaching Green Bay right now, we would be in for a great press conference.

Posted by: admin on 08 Oct 2007

230 comments, Last at 12 Oct 2007, 1:43am by Dont worry Im NOT a Giants fan

Comments

1
by iapetus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 10:54am

"Aaron Schatz: The current score: Jacksonville 3, National Jump to Conclusions Week 1."

National Jump to Conclusions Week tends to win in the long run, unfortunately. I'm looking forward to a long week of hearing pundits speculate on what's wrong with LJ, rather than considering the possibility that they should be asking what's right with the Jags defence.

2
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 10:57am

". So why have the Browns only thrown once to Kellen Winslow in the entire first half?"

Because he wasn't open once in the entire first half.

The Patriots TE defense is an artifact. You don't get negative DVOA for completely covering someone, as they never get the ball. Its essentially all Gates.

3
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 10:59am

Pats/Browns. Nice to see that Rodney Harrison didn't forget how to get fined during his suspension. Not sure how the guys on the field missed that forearm to the Winslow's helmet.

4
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:03am

So who said the Giants were going to start the year out 0-5 or 1-4? Eli's threat of the pass sets up their strong run game, and he audibles well when opponenets are so focused on the pass. They haven't missed Tiki and offsides Luke that much.

The Giants are 3-2 with a soft 4 games coming up. Their only 2 losses are against Dallas and Green Bay ( right now the class of the NFC).

5
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:09am

Garrard was the right choice over Byron.

Don't be so shocked last years #1 team in takeaways forced 4 turnovers.

RaiderJoes Raiders actually have a chance.

6
by billsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:09am

They had Eazy-E covering Randy Moss? Man, those jokes write themselves.

7
by tkerwin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:13am

Disclosure, I am a Giant Fan,

That being said, the schedule the Giants face this year is about to get very easy over the next three weeks, Atlanta, SF, and Miami, the Giants could be 6-2 going into the bye and I will still have no faith in them being a good team. I think they have just enough to beat other mediocre teams and not enough to beat any of the top teams.

What I am wondering is if I am right that the Giants have been better at not committing the awful penalty at the wrong time, it seems that the O-line has been much better on the false starts and holdings so far this year.

Also, should I be troubled by the Jets ability to convert the long third downs yesterday?

8
by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:14am

Permit me to jump on the anti Chad bandwagon as a Jet fan, but he is horrible now. The pop up pass downfield was a Rex Grossman-style throw, and the pick6 was even worse.
When the defensive DB says, "They was saying he really float his passes... but he throws a nice ball... It's easy to catch". It's not good.

The defensive just gives up chunks of yards at all times but if the OL is getting better in pass protection (as it seemed the last 2 weeks) , it's time to see if Clemens has any value at all. As it's clear that Pennington does not.

9
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:14am

Tony Ugoh is having a great game, really dominating Gaines Adams on pass plays and blocking well on runs, while on the other side, Ryan Diem is having trouble with Kevin Carter.

After reading Ugoh's EPC, I was a bit dismayed that they kept lining up Adams and Chukwurah (both speed rushers) over him instead of Carter or Spires.

Regarding the Colts' defense, wasn't their big problem last year that they had defenders in position but nobody could tackle? That sounds like an easy problem to fix.

10
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:16am

"Mike Tanier: The problem is that the Colts toy with their opponents while the Patriots blow them away. And the Colts are an old story while the Patriots with Moss and the video angle are a new story."

Have you really been watching the Pats games? The second half is like "Lets run loopy plays that have no chance of success." The pats have been shutting their offense off with like 25 minutes left in the game. They're playing around with their opponents just as much as the colts...which is scary.

11
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:19am

Ugh, the Ravens have reached their critical limit with injuries to the OL. Their top 2 tackles and starting center are down, any more injuries means their long-snapper will have to play. Not good. Not to mention they only had one active TE for the game (Sypn...), it's no wonder McNair was dinking and dunking all game without a TE recieving threat and little blocking experience.

On the flip side of the ball, the big plays vs. the secondary are still disconcerting. They manhandled the 49ers all day, so why did they need to blitz and leave single coverage deep down the field when their front 5 was dominating up front? Sometimes Rex Ryan gets really greedy and wants a sack or INT when a simple incomplete will do just fine.

12
by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:20am

For anyone who watched the Jets game this Sunday a question as I watched in a bar with no sound:

There was a play towards the middle of the 2nd quarter
(3-12-NYJ 29 (7:44) 10-C.Pennington pass deep right to 87-L.Coles pushed ob at NYG 43 for 28 yards (28-G.Wilson). New York Giants challenged the pass completion ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1.) )

The play was ruled a force out, so how come the Giants were able to review the play. I was under the impression that Force outs were unreviewable.

13
by Mike W (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:20am

Only way GB loses that game is to turn the ball over a bunch (check) and refuse to run their offense when they get a lead (check). And the two-minute drill? Lot of head-shaking in Wisconsin last night. Dumbest performance by McCarthy in his tenure so far.

Did everyone see Brady Poppinga's Hokey Pokey behind the LOS during Benson's TD run? Or was it the Electric Slide?

14
by azibuck (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:22am

nobody’s ever going to play the Titans worrying that Young will beat them with his legs.

I realize he admitted this was his first time watching VY play in the NFL, but... wow. Just, wow. I'd say I can get that sort of commentary at the corner bar, but it would have to be the stupidest corner bar in America.

15
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:23am

I like the "Coaching matters" snark by Doug Farrar in reference to a game where Norv Turner beat Shanahan by 38 points.

I hope you were being sarcastic, although I don't think so.

16
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:27am

I seriously think the NFC East could send 3 teams to the playoffs again... depends if they beat each other up. If you just think that they are matched up against the NFC North...

Redskins offense this season has to be scary, and I am getting flashbacks to 2005. Their defense also looks better...I thought this was going to be a good test on their secondary.

Consider that in 2005 when Moss went down their offense couldn't get going, Moss and ARE both get hurt and the passing game doesn't miss too much of a beat. I hope this isn't just a 1 game blip (Detroit looks like a really bad defense) but we'll see... next 2 weeks are crucial to Redskins Wilcard Chances (Green Bay and Arizona). If they win both of those games and get to 5-1...they are the front-runners for the NFC Wild Card. OK OK, I'm jumping ahead, but that loss to the Giants isn't so painful now...

17
by tkerwin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:29am

The play was ruled a force out, so how come the Giants were able to review the play. I was under the impression that Force outs were unreviewable.

I believe you can still review if he had possession, I think they thought he was bobbling the ball regardless of where he landed.

18
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:30am

15.

Vince Young DVOA as a rusher

2006: 0.1%
2007: 7.6%

So, I'd say "vince young isnt going to beat you with his legs" is a pretty accurate assessment. His Pocket presence sucks too.

19
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:37am

Re: #13

You can't challenge the ruling of a forceout (i.e. the ref's judgement that the receiver would have come down in bounds if left unmolested), but you can challenge the other criteria of a completion. For example, you can challenge if the receiver controlled the ball all the way to the ground.

20
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:40am

Well, the Browns played the Pats to a 10-point game (since the final score was a garbage-time fumble return for a TD). Pats better play better next week.

While three of Brady's incompletions were on the receivers (wide open, pass on the numbers or hands, drop) there were stretches where he looked scarily like last year -- despite having all day to throw, and having guys open, being way off on the throw. He was also lucky to not have an INT. On the first drive of the game he forced it into double-coverage at the goal line, but the two defenders essentially interfered with each other and dropped it.

21
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:42am

Re force-out: I think both 17 and 19 describe it correctly. I believe that was playing on the Red Zone Channel at the time, and that's exactly what the announcers said, that he was challenging possession because in/out can't be challenged on a force-out call.

22
by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:45am

#15 - The "snark" (which really wasn't one) actually referred to the jobs that Kiffin and Whisenhunt have done so far, and an slight jab at their ineffective predecessors. Nothing at all to do with Norv.

23
by Unshakable Optimist (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:45am

Mike Tanier: The formation is four or five years old and I know the Patriots used it a lot, but the Steelers are really using it to baffle opponents.

It's a bit older than that. I remember seeing it in one of the old super bowls that the NFL Network replayed at the end of last season. The earliest I could find with google was Super Bowl XXV, where the Parcells/Belichick Giants used two down lineman against the Bills at times. I had thought that the super bowl replay was a bit older than that, but I could be wrong. I could not find any type of nickname for it.

24
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:46am

#8: I feel bad for Chad. He does everything you'd want to see a QB do, but his arm just isn't there - every time he throws a ball that has to travel more than 15 yards in the air, Jets fans hold their breath waiting for a DB to jump the route.

Is the delay of game penalty for spiking the ball being applied in the most ridiculous, legalistic way? Yesterday in the Ravens game, Derrick Mason catches a ball down the middle for a first down, is hit hard, and as he's lying on the ground hurt he puts the ball on the ground hard. It bounces away, and he draws a five-yard delay penalty for spiking the ball. I mean, come on.

25
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:50am

Farrar: LT had 67 yards on 21 carries to that point against the defense ranked 30th in DVOA against the run. I’d really appreciate it if someone could explain THAT to me.

I got rather sick of watching the game {side note: when they switch at the end of the 3rd quarter to the Ravens-Niners game, you know the SD-Den game is a dog} once I realized there was only one team on the field, but I believe the answer would be that the Broncos defense focused almost exclusively on LDT, while leaving the rest of the Chargers offense open. When LDT got the ball, the line reacted quickly. Otherwise, they didn't react much at all. Call it the "everybody spy LDT" system. It's akin to King's mention about the Browns focusing solely on Moss and leaving the rest of the Pats offense to kill them.

The only bright spot in that entire game (for a Broncos fan) was that Cutler looked really sharp. The throws were crisp an accurate, and he didn't ever seem to get confused by the defense like he did last year in a couple of games. The INT throw was a lapse in judgment; he forgot about the deep safety and threw a lazy pass, whereas he could have thrown deep into the end zone and at least avoided the INT. Also, he had one timing throw that showed up a little too early, not allowing the receiver to turn and catch it. That timing throw might have been the fault of the receiver running too slow, but that point is moot.

Prediction: 2 weeks of ball control practice for the offense and Clark. 2 weeks of pain for the defense.

Wilder Prediction: The defense will improve significantly over the year. Right now, all the defenders are trying to play their position without regard to the players around them (e.g. the d-line is playing as 4 players, not 1 line). As they adjust (and if they ever have the same rotation), they'll get more cohesive. The run D will always be a problem. Now, "improve significantly" will certainly not imply the Ravens of 5 years or so ago, but it won't imply this matador defense we have now, either. Bates, due to the improvement of the D over the course of the year, will not be fired because the trend of the defense will be opposite last year's D. However, due to the suckage of the D right now, he is in no danger of getting a head coaching gig next year either.

26
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:51am

One other thing -- the Pats really need to get a real punter. Yeesh!

27
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:54am

Dear Aaron,

While I appreciate the long discussion of the Colts past and present herein, I hope you saw some of Dallas Clark's work yesterday and will consider removing him from the WR list. The man was hit by a truck over the middle, maimed by a jack-hammer, had a bus park on his chest, and just kept going, usually up the gut. He's 6-3 and heaver than some of their DLs (Mathis). He may line up in the slot, he may line up outside, but he DOES block and guts the middle of the field. He even used to line up in the backfield as a FB to block for Edge (haven't seen that much since). He is a TE and one of the best. He is a matchup nightmare. I was skeptical about drafting him 5 yrs ago, and fear the price he'll command on the open market.

28
by Bionicman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:58am

#16: The Raiders and Cardinals are doing fairly well, and the Chargers (even after this game) are not, so I'd say the point holds. Don't forget that last year, the Jaguars blew out the Colts and Jets, and the Steelers annihilated the Chiefs, and yet neither the Jags nor the Steelers made the playoffs. Also, this year's Broncos aren't as good as any of the teams that made the playoffs last year.

29
by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:58am

It didn't get a lot of coverage, but did you know Favre's wife was in the stands? Honest! I don't know why they didn't show her on TV much.

That last pick at the end of the game means Favre has now tied George Blanda's career NFL record of 277 interceptions. That's right, when all is said and done, Brett Favre will have thrown more terrible passes than any other QB in NFL history! Many more than Marino ever did. Do you think they will halt the game next week when he breaks the record after another inevitable, unnecessary forced throw on 2nd and 4 (by my count the 142nd of his career)? What will that ceremony be like? I imagine the giant head of Drew Bledsoe on the video screen saying, "Hey, you have to be pretty good for them to let you hang around long enough to be so bad."

Did I mention that Favre's wife was at the game?

P.S. I still think GB will win the NFC North.

30
by Bionicman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:59am

Gosh darn it, I screwed up the numbering again. It's #15, not #16. Apologies to Fergasun.

31
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:01pm

Aaron Schatz: Tedy Bruschi has the strangest post-sack celebrations. I think he applied for a research grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Do you recall the int TD that essentially ended the 12-0 win over Miami in 2003? Tedy did that same walk over the EZ.

32
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:02pm

Question about the Packers challenge:

When the Packers challenged the play in the 4th quarter, they challenged the spot and whether the play resulted in a 1st down. The spot of the ball was moved, but the play still resulted in a 1st. Since the Packers failed on the second point, they lost the challenge and forfeited a timeout.

Could they have simply challenged the spot of the ball? If so, they would have won the challenge and retained the timeout. I think the officials would have been compelled to re-measure, given the move of the ball.

Or, if they only challenged the position of the ball, could they have requested a measurement after the ball was moved, even if the officials weren't inclined to do so on their own?

It seemed to me that the Packers (correctly) lost the timeout due to a technicality in the way they worded their challenge. Was that unavoidable, or did they just screw it up in the heat of the moment?

Just curious. No snark intended.

33
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:04pm

"While three of Brady’s incompletions were on the receivers (wide open, pass on the numbers or hands, drop) there were stretches where he looked scarily like last year"

Seriously. That pass that stallworth dropped should have been a TD, but he looked like lastyear... overthrowing/underthrowing wide open guys. I hope this has replaced his usual 4 INT game, but I doubt it.

34
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:06pm

22

I know you weren't saying it about Norv, but the fact that the "coaching matters" came IN RESPONSE to Aaron mentioning that the Chargers were beating the Broncos by 24 points in the first half....

Is this like TMQ? Coaching matters...in the case where the good coach won, but not in the case where the bad one did?

35
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:14pm

12- They were challenging if he maintained possession all the way through the catch.

The Jets converted that 3rd and 16 when the Giants rushed 3, and Penny made a decent toss and catch into coverage. If Kiwi would have rushed instead of dropped back, he would have probably been sacked. I think he held onto the ball about 5-6 seconds and the Giants didn't really have a rush up the middle for when he stepped up in the pocket.

The Giants should go 2-1 at worst in their next 3 games... then the bye... then I think they beat Dallas in the meadowlands.

36
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:16pm

Not that I'm complaining, but did Favre's game-ending INT look like a simultaneous catch to anybody elese? As I recall the rule, those belong to the O, which would've resulted in a TD. I was holding my breath waiting for that call.

37
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:20pm

Yeah, I thought it was funny when Dierdorf mentioned that Brady was steamed at the Pats' 3rd quarter offensive problems, because Brady was a major source of them. He's great, but there are periods when he becomes inexplicably inaccurate, seemingly out of nowhere. Maybe yesterday he just got bored.

The Browns used the rookie cb on Moss because they were dedicating safety help, and sometimes more, to covering Moss in a completely undisguised and unrestrained manner. Watson's two touchdown passes came when he was almost ignored, because the Browns were so preoccupied with Moss. This is the dilemma defensive coordinators will face each week gameplanning for the Pats.

38
by chris clark (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:23pm

Can anyone explain what's wrong with the bronco's this year, as in why the front 7 of the defense is such a mess? Is it coaching or personel or both? I read good things about the new defensive coordinator here just last spring, but something is clearly amiss. It's making it hard to be a fan. I haven't had this little confidence since Chris Miller was QB. I miss Joe Collier.

39
by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:25pm

32: When the Packers challenged the play in the 4th quarter, they challenged the spot and whether the play resulted in a 1st down. The spot of the ball was moved, but the play still resulted in a 1st. Since the Packers failed on the second point, they lost the challenge and forfeited a timeout.
They did a terrible job of explaining last night, but I recall times in the past that when the spot of the ball is challenged, in order for the challenging team to "win," the outcome of the play must be changed. Therefore, even if the spot is altered, if the new spot still results in a first down, the challenging team loses the timeout. That's my understanding, unless the rule has since changed.
36: Not that I’m complaining, but did Favre’s game-ending INT look like a simultaneous catch to anybody elese?
It did look like a simultaneous catch at first, but there was a pretty good replay angle that showed McGowan coming down with the ball in both arms clutched against his chest and Driver with the ball in both hands/arms but not against his body. That's probably the reason it was ruled an interception.

40
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:25pm

Re:9 The Colts tackling has been much better this year. The upgrade has been at both Linebacker (I still have visions of Cato June getting run over in that Jax game...) and especially at corner. Jackson is a much more physical presence there.

Some of that may also be attributed to being in better position though too. Last year, a lot of the Colts tackle attempts were the "I'm out of position, so I'll dive at their legs and hope to knock the runner off balance" type. This year, they are coming in more controlled and actually trying to grab the offensive player. Crazy concept...

41
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:29pm

You put a rookie on Moss instead of one of the top 10 corners in the game?

Whatever, the Browns did to shut down Moss, it worked. He was wide open for the first couple of series, to the point where he got open for what could have been a huge play, and then Brady overthrew him. Then they clamped down on him for the rest of the game. The TV angles didn't show the coverages well enough, but given how open Watson (in the center) and Stallworth (on the other side), and how NOT open Welker seemed to be getting, my guess is this. They likely had a LB AND a safety on Welker out of the slot, a CB and the other safety bracketing Moss the whole game, leaving single coverage on Stallworth and just one LB to cover Watson, a mismatch, (with the third LB as a pass rusher/covering the RB).

The result--Brady's two favorite weapons of the year were taken away, mostly, and coupled with Faulk coming out (was he injured?) and Maroney being out, he was left with Watson, Stallworth, Sammy Morris, and Heath Evans as targets in the passing game. With the exception of Watson (and Evans, who isn't really a receiver), these are all players he has been working with for less than a year, and who probably have been getting fewer balls thrown at them in practice than Moss and Welker. Hence it's no surprise to me that he was overthrowing them and in general looking like he did last year, when he was throwing to receivers he had had for less than a year. Also no surprise Watson put up the biggest numbers--he's the one weapon Brady's comfortable with that wasn't taken away.

Indeed, Crennell, a Belichick disciple, followed what Belichick (and many coaches) try to do--take away whatever your opponent is most comfortable doing, and what he's left to do will not be executed as well. Of course, with the Patriots' offense this year, "not executing well" means only putting up 27 points and being productive for 3/4 quarters.

42
by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:30pm

#34 - It wasn't in response to anything but Aaron mentioning that the Raiders could be in first place.

Aaron Schatz: Assuming the Chargers can hold a 27-3 lead over Denver, the Oakland Raiders will be in first place in the AFC West, all by themselves at 2-2. How weird is that?

Doug Farrar: Almost as weird as the Arizona Cardinals in first place in the NFC West, by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Seahawks. This just in: Coaching matters.

43
by Chuck Coleman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:30pm

The Redskins ran the single wing twice yesterday. Portis took the direct snap in a balanced line single wing and ran the tailback sweep. The first time, he went over ten yards for a first down. The second time, he cut the wrong way and was stopped short of a first down.

It looked like the ball was snapped to Portis in an earlier shotgun play, but he didn't expect it, resulting a fumble for a big loss. I have heard nothing about what the 'Skins were trying to do.

44
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:32pm

By the way, could someone explain to me what happened with the challenge at the end of the Green Bay game? Why did the Packers lose a timeout? I'm as confused as Madden about that. They challenged the spot, in hopes that it would overturn a first down. The spot was changed. Not quite enough to overturn the first down (although the concept of the ref guessing from a very fuzzy and confusing replay how to spot the ball, and then measuring to the half inch as to whether it was a first down or not was kind of funny), but it was changed. Hence the Packers coach's contentention that the ball had been mis-spotted was correct. Shouldn't he then have kept his timeout, since the ruling on the field of the ball being spotted where it was did not stand?

45
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:34pm

42

Bolding the second half doesn't make your comment look any more intelligent.

46
by Chuck Coleman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:35pm

#18: Didn't Young bomb the Wonderlic? Two weeks ago, Jaws showed how Young, with plenty of time, didn't throw to an open receiver 20 yards downfield, possibly for a TD. Instead, he rushed ~10 yards for a first down. Lots of physical talent plus no brain equals a QB with a short career, unless he switches to WR.

47
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:36pm

Charles, it looked that way to me also, until I saw the end zone shot, which very clearly showed an INT. The Packers should be sick this morning. Some of the Bears were ready to roll over and die in the first half yesterday. The first td drive by the Pack was an embarrassment to run defense; when an interior defensive lineman gets driven six yards back in the red zone, and ends up flat on his back in the end zone, with the offensive lineman pinning him to the turf, well, I wasn't even rooting for the Bears, and that sight really pissed me off. Finally, I doubt the Bears would have won that game with Grossman starting, and it's a shame for Bears' fans that Lovie didn't make the switch at the end of the regular season last year.

48
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:36pm

Why don't more "big" recievers use their size advantage like Plaxico Burress?

49
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:37pm

Re 32: per the rulebook, instant replay can only review "forward progress with respect to a first down". Under the list of non-reviewable plays is "Forward progress not relating to first down or goal line".

So the only thing challengable is whether the Bears got the first down or not. Since they did, the Packers lost the challenge.

50
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:38pm

#15

With respect to the coaching matters comment being in the Denver-Chargers game:

This just in. Sometimes players matter as well.

51
by sam (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:42pm

45:

The point is not that coaching matters so very much in specific games between specific coaches, but that coaching (roster building, game preparation, adjustments, gameplan execution, etc.) over a season DOES matter. The person you have doing those teams CAN be a big factor in a team's turnaround. Do you believe that everything else being equal, the Raiders and Cardinals woudl be atop their division if they had not made coaching changes?

52
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:43pm

Rich, it reads to me as if Doug is merely saying that Oakland and Arizona being in first place is partly attributable to improved coaching.

Ya', know, it really isn't necessary to adopt an insulting stance towards someone you differ with.

53
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:43pm

#45

Um, yes it does. Unless you think that the Raiders would be 2-2 with Art Shell, and Arizona 3-2 with Dennis Green.

54
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:44pm

Damn, you guys are fast.

55
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:45pm

10: So, who wins, Bellichick, or a hurricane?

56
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:50pm

#41, on Watson's first td, there were actually three defenders around Moss in the back corner of the end zone, which is why Watson was so lonely in the flat. If the qb and other receivers are even a little bit competent, using three to cover one is problematic.

57
by admin :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:51pm

Re: 27. Listing Dallas Clark as a wide receiver is not meant to be a judgment of his skills or size. It is simply a reflection of how he is used in the offense. Clark is split wide three times as often as any other "tight end," and he's not always in the slot, either. There are plenty of wide receivers who are big, strong, catch passes over the middle, and block well on running plays.

And yes, Doug's "coaching matters" comment is a reference to Ken Whisenhunt and Lane Kiffin, not Norv Turner.

58
by chip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:52pm

#47 Will Allen - The Bears were playing a soft cover-2 and giving up the underneath stuff (both run & pass) b/c GB averaged ~50 yards / rushing entering the game last night. Thus they were gouged in the first half. They made adjustments at half-time and gave up 19 yards rushing in the second half (98 yards total).

You're absolutely right, there is no way Grossman wins that game last night. Not a chance. I'm sure Lovie had his doubts at the end of last year, but RG is (was) Jerry Angelo's guy. It's too bad that the front office didn't recognize this in the off-season.

Finally, McCarthy ought to be ashamed of his performance last night. Two bad coaches challenges, a conservative 2nd half game plan, & terrible 2-min. drill play calling in both halves (the end of the first half was as bad as the end of the second). Even Denny Green wouldn't have lost that game last night.

59
by chip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:54pm

#55 DITKA

60
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 12:55pm

The Jets need to make the move to Kellen Clemens immediately. You can only scheme but so much when the QB can't attack all areas of the field. Even Pennington's big plays up the sidelines were 2% Chad, 49% great catches by Coles, and 49% horrible ball recognition from the Giants corners. I thought the Jets had a wonderful gameplan to attack the Giants defense... spread them out with the base offensive package and use a hurry up offense. That allowed the Jets to see the blitzes coming, but more importantly keep the Giants from substituting players in on 2nd and 3rd downs to attack the QB.

I know the Jets defense isn't any good, but how can a Giants fan not be excited about the Jacobs/Ward duo? BTW, I don't know how much DeWayne Robertson did on the fumble considering it was 3rd and 1 and Jacobs had already picked up the first down when he was stripped.

After watching the first half without Aaron Ross and his performance in the second half, it's safe to say he's already their best DB. The Giants have allowed 44 points the past three weeks and the defense is really only responsible for 17 of those points. Ross isn't the only reason, but he's a big part of it.

#7... The long 3rd down conversions by the Jets were problematic, but I thought it was caused by overaggressiveness up front. Guys weren't adhering to any rush lanes, so Pennington moved up in the pocket quite often and found a man open in the middle of the defense. Moving around the pocket was the one thing Pennington did really well yesterday.

61
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:00pm

50.

Exactly my point.

62
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:02pm

chip, I don't care what the coverage is; when a interior defensive lineman in the NFL gets driven more than five yards downfield, which happened more than once, including to Harris (who, to be fair, is injured) and actually ends up being pinned on his back in the end zone, that is an affront to everything I enjoy about football.

I try to be restrained in my crticism of playcalling, because you just don't see enough on tv to get real insight, but I also thought McCarthy had a bad 2nd half.

63
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:03pm

Re: 41

It seemed to me that the Browns defensive game plan was pretty solid. They were undone primarily by the 3 picks and a few lapses of execution (missed tackle on Stallworth TD, LB dropping coverage on first Watson TD, overly aggressive coverage on second Watson TD). I wouldn't be surprised to see other teams try the same approach. Of course, there's not much margin for error, but if your QB takes care of the ball you might have a chance.

64
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:05pm

"And yes, Doug’s “coaching matters� comment is a reference to Ken Whisenhunt and Lane Kiffin, not Norv Turner."

Yes, and he makes it after a comment where a shitty coach beats a good coach. It was straight out of TMQ... "teams that always do this win.... except when they don't"

Also, on Kiffin and Turner, weren't both the cardinals and raiders trending up last year? IIRC, they were both expected to be better, even without coaching changes.

basically, we've got no evidence that Kiffin or Wisenhunt ARE good coaches, and not just riding regression to the mean.

65
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:10pm

63

The problem with that is, the patriots are going to spend a lot of time practicing throwing to stallworth, etc this week. Also, for every "botched execution" play the browns had, the patriots had one: The dropped ball by stallworth coming across the middle with no one between him and the endzone, Brady completely overthrowing a Wide open Randy Moss in the third quarter who had beaten his CB, and had nothing but open field in front of him, 4th and inches and Sammy Morris jumps over the line and has nothing but open field, and falls down...

The Browns played the Pats better than anyone else has this year, but a lot of the reason that game was close was because the Pats played poorly. Brady seems to have a couple games a year where he overthrows everyone, and yesterday was one of them.

66
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:12pm

re:49

"Re 32: per the rulebook, instant replay can only review “forward progress with respect to a first down�. Under the list of non-reviewable plays is “Forward progress not relating to first down or goal line�."

Forward Progress wasn't being challenged. They were challenging where the player went down (his knee was down). Forward progress isn't an issue here.

67
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:14pm

The thing that struck me last night was how much an coverage the packers played on defense. I know they were playing a lot in the past and have two above average corners, but this NFL is a zone league now. The only person the Bears really used well were their tight ends Clark and Olsen. Olsen even had that catch split out wide as a receiver.

I really wouldn't blame that loss on Mike Mccarthy. The reason why the Packers lost last night was turnovers. The Bears were #1 in takeaways last year, and if they didn't fumble twice ( taking away points for themselves, and giving points to the bears) they could have easily won that game. It is hard to win a game when you lose the turnover battle 4-1.

68
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:17pm

Las Vegas made a lot of money last night on a true sucker bet that the public got housed on.

69
by chip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:19pm

#62 Will Allen - The Bears were expecting GB to throw it, throw it and throw it some more. GB has not once this season demonstrated any semblence of a power rushing game. Thus the Bears D-line felt like they could pin their ears back and pass rush all day. To their surprise, they were double teamed at the point of attack and GB's power rushing caught them off guard on the first series in particular. They made adjustments at half-time and gave up 19 yards in the second half on NINE carries. At one point, GB ran on 8 of 9 consecutive running plays early in the second half. Suffice it to say, a pro-bowler getting pancaked on one particular play does not define the game.

70
by jd (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:22pm

Bill Barnwell: You need to shut up already.

71
by pete c (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:25pm

I honestly felt after watching yesterday's jet game that I cared more than the players. How is Dyson allowed to earn a paycheck for yesterday's game? Also after losing to the red-faced Hobgoblin, that man-genious label is stripped forever! I wonder what the percentage is of teams that score two DST td's in the same game, yet lose. It has to be under 10%! Ironically the jets also lost the 04 finale to STL that way.

72
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:25pm

wow- a lot of hostility towards the Outsiders today on the board.

73
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:26pm

Re: 64

I would certainly agree that the Pats had their share of lapses in execution as well. The one thing they didn't have was a QB that threw three picks. Without those picks, I think the Browns had a chance to make it competitive at least in part due to the defensive strategy.

The question is where do you want to take the risk - with Moss and Welker or with Stallworth and Watson?

74
by Jim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:27pm

Actually, I read the "coaching matters" comment as an indictment of Turner more than a compliment of him: does anyone believe the Raiders would be in first place with Art Shell in Oakland OR Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego?

75
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:31pm

re: #68, #62, et al. -

Don't forget that Tommie Harris wasn't even on the field for those first two big runs. For whatever reason, the Bears came out with Walker and Anthony Adams at DT (maybe Tommie couldn't find his helmet). After those two for 56 yards, the Packers were 20-65 for the rest of the game.

76
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:32pm

The feeling I got from the Giants/Jets yest was that the Giants are just better. They spotted the Jets two TDs (on the fumble and the KR), and still overcame it. Once they made adjustments they marched up the field at will in the second half.

On Chad- He's prob the second smartest QB in the league. But he has to play a near perfect game to beat a good team, since the running game is so weak. All in all he's prob the 15th or so best QB in the league.

If I'm Minnesota, I'm offering the Jets a 2nd round pick for Chad in the offseason and seeing if they bite. On that team he'd give you 3-4 pro bowl level seasons.

77
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:46pm

Sure, Manning would prefer not to lose Harrison and Addai, but I really think Manning plus just about any 10 other offensive players will be a good offense. (Which is why I wasn’t crazy about the decision to draft Gonzalez and Ugoh.)

True, but Manning + any 10 other offensive players wouldn't be the best offense in the NFL, and there's a big difference between being a good offense, and being the Colts offense.

And keep in mind, despite all the injuries, he still had 3 first round picks at WR/TE in that game, so it's not like he was playing with a bunch of random guys. Those three players accounted for roughly 70% of his completions/yards, so it remains to be seen what would happen if he didn't have talented receivers. My guess on what would happen? The Colts offense would be in the top 10 in the NFL this season, instead of the top 10 in the DVOA era.

And if the Colts defense collapses back to where it was before last year's playoffs (and the special teams continues to be, umm, special), the difference between the Colts offense being merely "very good" instead of "historically great" would probably mean the difference between easily winning the division and barely sneaking into the playoffs with a WC.

They came out with rookie Eric Wright on Randy Moss, Dave Holly on Donte’ Stallworth, and Leigh Bodden in the slot.

Well, I'd say that indicates that they were focused on shutting down Wes Welker in the slot, leaving Wright to try to keep Moss in check. Those two were the clear #1 and #2 receivers for the Patriots coming into this game, so it would be a logical place to start if you wanted to stop the Patriots passing game. And it's hard to say they failed in shutting Moss and Welker down, when they combined for only 7 receptions and 65 yards. Stallworth had as many yards on only 4 receptions. The real problem with the Browns defense in this game was covering Watson, who had 107 yards and 2 TDs.

And really, how much better could you expect them to do defensively, with their personnel? They "only" gave up 27 points, once you take away the defensive TD the Patriots scored. New England's other opponents gave up 31, 31, 38, and 34 points, respectively, to the Patriots offense. I'd say that whatever the Browns were doing, it worked better than anything anyone else has done so far.

78
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:47pm

Bill Barnwell: You need to shut up already.
-jd

Mmm, the kind of constructive criticism you can only get at FO!

79
by Skel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:48pm

I wonder which of Bill Barnwell's 4 comments pushed #69 over the edge. Maybe "Didn’t Leftwich play in the preseason?"

80
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:57pm

#79

I"m guess it was the gratuitous use of "vis-a-vis"

81
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:57pm

Re: MDS I hate the “no respect� card, and I do think the Patriots are better than the Colts right now, but aren’t the Colts kind of getting disrespected? I seriously doubt there’s ever been a defending Super Bowl champion that started the next season 5-0 that got less recognition as the best team in the league than the Colts are getting right now.

Most years, the media are too slow to acknowledge that the previous season’s champion may not be the best team in the following season, when what they accomplished the previous season should be irrelevant. I for one am happy to see that unfortunate practice abandoned if only for one year. You’re not really complaining that the Colts are underrated but rather that they’re not as overrated as you expected. I wouldn’t call that a problem.

Re: MDS Ned, you wrote, “The real story was that the Colts just put up 33 without Addai or Harrison.� I know I come across as though I’m to Peyton Manning as Peter King is to Brett Favre sometimes, but is it really that big a story? As long as Manning is healthy, I just don’t think any amount of offensive output for the Colts is going to surprise me, no matter who’s hurt. Sure, Manning would prefer not to lose Harrison and Addai, but I really think Manning plus just about any 10 other offensive players will be a good offense. (Which is why I wasn’t crazy about the decision to draft Gonzalez and Ugoh.)

Bingo. There’s only one crucial player on the Colts’ offense. I know everybody here hates the “carries his team� talk, but, honestly, when it comes to Manning (and only Manning) I think it’s apt. Everyone other position in the Colts’ offense is highly fungible.

82
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:59pm

"On Chad- He’s prob the second smartest QB in the league. But he has to play a near perfect game to beat a good team, since the running game is so weak. "

And, more importantly, his defense sucks ass. Putting Clemens in isn't going to win games. To win games they're going to need a defense that isn't last in the league.

83
by Kyle (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:01pm

"Keith Olbermann has made several jokes..."

He made up for this at halftime by labelling Johnson the worst person in the NFL. Then it seemed that Costas and Collinsworth were treating the injury lightly.

In MMQB, King (along with lots of others) is saying that was a legal block. Here's the NFL Rules definition of crackback:

An offensive player who lines up more than two yards outside his own tackle or a player who, at the snap, is in a backfield position and subsequently takes a position more than two yards outside a tackle may not clip an opponent anywhere nor may he contact an opponent below the waist if the blocker is moving toward the ball and if contact is made within an area five yards on either side of the line."

Not to absolve Johnson--his actions and words were deplorable--but couldn't Green's block be considered crackback? He seemed to be 2 yards outside the tackle and at the moment he moved toward Johnson, he was moving toward the ball (in Ginn's hands).

84
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:01pm

79: I think it was the space between the "i" of Eli and the trademark symbol.

85
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:01pm

75: Your D-line is going to rotate. Harris will not be in on every down of every game. The Bears absolutely own all that yardage.

86
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:09pm

"There’s only one crucial player on the Colts’ offense. I know everybody here hates the “carries his team� talk, but, honestly, when it comes to Manning (and only Manning) I think it’s apt. Everyone other position in the Colts’ offense is highly fungible."

I'd be much more likely to believe that if every single skill position player on his offense wasn't a first round pick.

Clark 1.24
Wayne 1.30
Addai 1.30
Harrison 1.19
Gonzalez 1.32

Peyton is a singular talent, yes, but he's got more talent surrounding him than any other QB in the league.

87
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:18pm

How many colts offensive players were busts?

Manning MAKES them work. If Reggie Wayne had Michael Vick throwing to him, it would have been the same old " He has no receivers" argument.

Peyton makes sure his players are in position to succeed. When the safeties are 18 yards deep, they run or throw short passes. When he gets single coverage deep, he attacks. When a team is strong on the right side, they run left and vice versa.

The Colts offense isn't even as much about putting up as many points as possible at this point. They are about being efficient, and keeping their defense rested etc.

If the colts ran riskier plays, and manning did less of "take what the defense gives him" they could score more. They would score more, but give up more.

88
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:19pm

86:
Randy Moss: Round 1.21
Donte Stallworth 1.13
Ben Watson 1.32
Laurence Maroney 1.21
Logan Mankins 1.32

In addition, Wes Welker and Matt Light cost the Patriots 2nd round picks.

89
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:20pm

86- Didn't Mike Vick have 3 first round picks at receiver, crumpler at TE, Dunn at RB etc.

but all we heard about was how he had no talent.

90
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:23pm

"Manning MAKES them work. If Reggie Wayne had Michael Vick throwing to him, it would have been the same old � He has no receivers� argument."

I don't know about that. (well, vick, yeah)... But we all agree Brady is an elite QB, and we've seen how drastically Moss has changed his game. Manning has played his entire career with Elite receivers. Yeah, he does make them look better than they are (they aren't the 1st and 2nd best guys in the league), but he certainly wouldn't be winning MVPs with Caldwell-Gaffney or Williamson-WhoeverelsetheVikesHave.

I just think its absurd to say that Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark, Joe Addai, and Anthony Gonzales, 5 first round picks, are fungible. And if they are? Dungy/Polian is the worst GM/Coach combination in the league for squandering 5 first round picks that could have been used elsewhere.

91
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:25pm

Rich,

I think it is amazing at how often they have 'hit' on their late first-round skill position picks.

I mean, there should not really be *that* much of a difference between the 30th pick in the draft and the 33rd-40th, should there be?

92
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:25pm

86.

Yeah, and Brady is putting up numbers that Manning would be impressed with. You're making my point better than I did.

Chris, if you can find a single example of me saying Vick wasn't surrounded by talent, I'll applaud you. I've ALWAYS said he was the problem.

93
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:27pm

91
"I think it is amazing at how often they have ‘hit’ on their late first-round skill position picks."

As do I.

Calling them Fungible is ridiculous though. If they were fungible, they wouldn't be wasting 1st rounders on them every year.

94
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:33pm

But Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich aren't the solution, apparently...

I won't try to defend the position that those Colts players are fungible (although Keith is making Addai/James seem like they might have been).

I will say that I do believe that if you replace Peyton with Eli, the dropoff would be bigger than if you replace the receiving talent with average starting receivers. But that is just a gut feeling.

95
by H.Tipton (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:37pm

Doug, why were you asking "Frank, why are you now running right at Kelly Gregg?" two weeks ago?

96
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:39pm

chip, on the five yard line nobody is pinning their ears back and ignoring the run. The Bears defensive line played like a flag football team in the first half, and Tillman, along fumble recovery luck, bailed them out. Yes, they played better in the 2nd half, which meant they were no longer making a bad running team look like the 1962 Packers, instead of the 2007 version. Overall, it was still a lousy defensive effort.

97
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:41pm

92: if your point is that Manning would put up slightly worse numbers throwing to your favorite selection of Steve Spurrier alums, then I agree with you. If you are saying that the way Manning is able to integrate new players into the offense and continue to control the game with a CFL refugee at RB and a rookie WR and LT says more about aforementioned players than Manning, I think you're wrong.

To put it another way, if you had said last year; well Manning is good, but take away his #1 receiver, starting running back and starting left tackle, and replace them with rookies and then we'll see how good he is against a good defense...you just did.

As for Brady, he's having an amazing year, but what separates Manning from everyone else is his ability to control the game. No other QB in the NFL can do this like Manning has this year.

98
by Buddy Toledo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:41pm

Brady and Manning both are surrounded by talent. Tell me when Willee Parker, Najeh Davenport, Nate Washington, Cedric Wilson and Heath Miller were drafted?

And tell me how nobody got close to laying a hand on Brady on Sunday again. Tell me how Roethlisberger faced pressure on almost every play, but he escaped it. Oh wait, you already told me that.

Now tell me again how Ben is a game manager and not in the same league as Manning or Brady.

99
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:42pm

"But Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich aren’t the solution, apparently…"

Has Joey Harrington ever been the solution? Leftwich has been on the team for what, a week?

100
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:43pm

Went to the Broncos game.

It sucked. The most miserable football game I have ever been to, thanks to a remarkable confluence of poor weather and incompetent play.

The Broncos suck.

That's pretty much all I've got to say.

101
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:50pm

Rich, I'm going to have to say this carefully to avoid getting into prohibited territory: The Patriots' O-line is better than the Colts' O-line. The running backs are comparable at least. And, oh my goodness, the Patriots have better receivers!

Calling them Fungible is ridiculous though. If they were fungible, they wouldn’t be wasting 1st rounders on them every year.

I think Polian and the Colts do deserve a lot of criticism for wasting early picks and a lot of payroll on offensive skill position players when they could be getting nearly the same level of offensive production with much cheaper talent and when the defense is bad most seasons. The Colts are contenders every year because they got and kept Manning and, to a lesser extent, because they got and kept Dungy. Many of their other personnel moves have been questionable to say the least.

102
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:51pm

38: I'm in the same boat. I just don't see how the failures are happening to that degree. I'm hoping for some Jaworski-type commentary from someone, somewhere. At what point does it stop being players having trouble adjusting to a new scheme, and start being because it's a really bad scheme? A few of those plays the Chargers ran, it looked like there were twice as many Chargers as Broncos. All this talk about "staying in one's gap" starts to sound like ensuring that you're right where you're supposed to be when the other team runs their designed blocks. What happened to penetration?

It seems morale has a lot to do with it - slower reaction time, even makes injuries more likely. But what makes the morale so low? It's like the players know that something just isn't working, but don't have the power to do anything about it. Hearing the little snippets of Champ Baileys reactions in the Denver Post press gives clues, but I know there's got to be more to the story than what we're getting.

103
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:54pm

this is the best football content on the web. Can the readers be a little less hostile?

Re: Jason Campbell, there was a pretty sweet quote about him from (I think) Todd Wade in this morning's WaPo, in particular about how he has quickened his release? Anyone notice that? I don't get to see him much on the West Coast, but he has struck me as being leftwichian in terms of how long it takes to get rid of the ball once he starts his motion.

104
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:56pm

Again, the Browns had a safety nearly entirely preoccupied with helping Wright with Moss on nearly every play, and sometimes a third defender as well. The Browns were certainly not leaving Wright to handle Moss by himself. Crennel said as much in the post game presser. If Brady hadn't had his worst game so far this season, the Pats' offense would've hung 40 on them.

Regarding Pennington, I have the utmost respect for him, but he simply has no fastball left at all, and you can't play above average NFL defenses anymore with that skill set.

105
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:56pm

"I think Polian and the Colts do deserve a lot of criticism for wasting early picks and a lot of payroll on offensive skill position players when they could be getting nearly the same level of offensive production with much cheaper talent and when the defense is bad most seasons"

That they could be getting nearly the same level of offensive production is a huge assumption.

I'm not huge Harrison/Wayne fans (as I don't think either is nearly physical enough), but they ARE open almost all the time. They both catch pretty much everything thrown at them.

I think Moss is better than either one, but I think both Harrison and Wayne are hugely better than Stallworth/Welker/Jabar/etc.

106
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:59pm

104

Will, while I somewhat agree (Penny), I don't think it would be an issue if the Jet's defense wasn't awful.

I don't think Pennington is any worse than last year, hes just having to air it out more because the defense can't stop anyone, and thats not going to work with his skill-set. If the Jet's defense was competent, they'd be playing Ball Control, instead of trying to throw deep, and he'd look great.

107
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:02pm

42: It's still funny when you bold half of the comment you're responding to.

108
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:03pm

I’m not huge Harrison/Wayne fans (as I don’t think either is nearly physical enough),

I used to really hate the way Harrison just falls down or steps out of bounds and basically does anything he can to avoid contact. But now I wonder if that isn't the best strategy for someone of his caliber, and if you're GM/Coach isn't that exactly what you want? Look, I love the "guts" that guys like Santana Moss and Laveraneus Coles show, but they also get themselves hurt quite a bit. I'd rather have S. Moss healthy and have the skins run a few less bubble screens.

109
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:08pm

Yeah, Rich, with the right roster you could hide Pennington somewhat in the regular season, although you'd need pretty good receivers as well, so there would be decent seperation on a consistent basis, obviating the need for the qb to fire at small windows. He wouldn't work well with, for instance, the Vikings.

110
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:08pm

Calling them Fungible is ridiculous though. If they were fungible, they wouldn’t be wasting 1st rounders on them every year.

The thing is - Kenton Keith ran for 2 TDs and over 100 yards against a good defense. This is a guy who no one knew about combined with a rookie at LT and some fairly decent but unspectacular players at OLine.

That right there says to me: fungible. When an unknown RB can run that well against a good team, that tells me that this position is replaceable. When a 1st rounder rookie can come in and do just as well as a veteran, that tells me fungible.

While 1st round talent is big and all, it's quite shocking to see how well the first rounders are playing in their first year. That's the unlikely event.

111
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:09pm

Carlos, I wasn't referring to that. I think its great that Harrison/Wayne fall down. Getting hit for an extra 2 yards isn't worth it when you already have the first down.

I've just seen way too many defensive backs rip the ball out of Harrison or Wayne's hand's.

112
by Glazius (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:10pm

86, 88: In re "average" players on the Pats and Colts, I have a little something which for purposes of pretentiousness I call Quantum Football Theory. It goes like this:

In high school and college you can have truly dominant players, but when you get to the pros it's all odds. Sometimes pretty good odds, but still odds. A play is dependent on the joint probability that everyone on the field executes - teams are multiplicative rather than additive.

Among the potential consequences: even if, individually, players are just a notch above average, taken together there's a definite advantage over a strictly average team. 11 guys at 95% versus 11 guys at 90%, for example, is a nearly 2-to-1 advantage despite the players being less than 10% different from each other.

Whether it's right or not I have no idea, but it might explain how people who look "just above average" can give a team a huge advantage in the long run.

113
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:12pm

It looks to me like the Colts have a very specific type of player they target- quick, shifty WR/smart, good hands RB/ultra-recieving TE. They need a constant supply of them to remain effective, so they try to keep enough on hand. It's not necessarily "fungible", rather having backups w the same skill set as your starters, so you don't need to adjust scheme. And who knows, maybe Sorgi has the same skill set as Manning.

114
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:14pm

"That right there says to me: fungible. When an unknown RB can run that well against a good team, that tells me that this position is replaceable. When a 1st rounder rookie can come in and do just as well as a veteran, that tells me fungible."

Then every single position in the NFL is fungible. Every year 1st round rookies make HUGE contributions to teams.

Sammy Morris ran for 100+ this week. (RB is fungible)

Dwayne Bowe caught 150+yds + 2 TDs (1st round rookie, WR) -Fungible.

If they'd brought in a UDFA rookie at WR and he played well, I'd agree. They didn't. They brought in a first rounder.

115
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:16pm

"Has Joey Harrington ever been the solution? Leftwich has been on the team for what, a week?"

All true.

That said, I think the Falcons are a case in point that not all collections of first round skill position players are equal. Some are definitely more equal than others. Despite the high draft selections, those receivers are brutal. They haven't had good quarterbacking, but they also have had hands of stone.

116
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:16pm

92- Rich, you are probably my favorite poster on this site... no disrespect. I know you know Vick. However people to this day still argue that Vick failed because of a lack of talent. It is flat out not true.

97- Good points.

I felt like I had a minority opinion when I thought the Colts may as well have brought in a receiver ( Gonzalez Bowe) etc. instead of drafting defense. I mean, Manning could MAKE that receiver work, get use out of the guy, and have "the next" receiver instead of throwing passes to fletcher or Utecht.

The Colts offense could be even better ( solving one weakness), while the defense really wouldn't be that improved from 1 guy. Well maybe a little improved, but still not good.

117
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:17pm

115- They would be better with Peyton throwing them passes.

118
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:17pm

75: Your D-line is going to rotate. Harris will not be in on every down of every game. The Bears absolutely own all that yardage.

I wasn't arguing otherwise; I was simply pointing out that when Harris was on the field, the Packers didn't have huge success running the ball.

119
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:19pm

Chris,
What was that sucker bet? While looking for that bet I mosied over to your website.

Above average quarterbacks will carve this lions defense apart, but Jason isn't that guy. He is a boring Trent Dilfer-like quarterback that the "local" fans in DC love. Joe Gibbs will hide jason with an entire offense centered on passes 10 yards and shorter, while he tries to attack with his running backs.

As they say on these Internets pipes... p3wn2D....

Carlos,
Re: Jason Campbell release
Just doing a cursory qualitative comparison of last year highlights and this years, looks like the ball is coming out faster.

Was Kenoy Kennedy called for tripping Mike Sellers after he got trucked? Not that it really matters, but #1 on Jacked Up for sure...

Andre Carter completly embarrased the Lions LT on the safety... that was like a club-swim type of move or something? He just cleared him out with 1 arm...

Pats fans get these type of domination games every week, but mostly Redskin nation has to suffer through close wins due to the decent caliber of QB in the NFC East...

Oh and again... looking at some more comparison definately looks like Campbell has shortened/quickened his release... arm doesn't seem to be going as far back as it did last year.

I think this was the most yardage he has put up in his young career.... I don't know if it's an indication of his skill-set or the Redskins offense.

120
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:19pm

I guess another issue of mine is this:

If the colts were smart (and they are) and the WRs were fungible, they'd be doing what Denver usually does: Drafting them low, and trading them high. They're not. They're drafting them high and paying huge sums of money to retain them.

121
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:21pm

#98, Buddy, I think Roethlisberger has a chnce to be a HOF qb, if he becomes more consistent. He's still pretty young, so there's no reason to be pessimistic.

122
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:26pm

Tom, in the first half I saw Harris driven more than five yards downfield on a couple of occasions. Like I said, however, he should be cut some slack, given he isn't at full strength.

123
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:30pm

Could the Brady/Manning apologists/superfans please take their pointless raising of an old argument to the appropriate thread.

And that includes rehashing it through disussions of who has the best supporting cast too. To everyone who doesn't support the Pats or Colts it is pretty boring.

124
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:31pm

Re: 120 If the colts were smart (and they are)

That's where we disagree, Rich. I don't think the Colts are particularly smart. I do think they have the best player in NFL history at QB, and he covers up a lot of their flaws, both on and off the field.

125
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:32pm

You want to consider what Manning would do for a team with bad receivers? Put him on the Vikings and I guarantee that they would win the division, and have a very good chance to win the conference.

126
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:33pm

123. I dont think anyone is arguing who is better or who has a better supporting cast.

My whole issue is someone calling the Colts offense other than Manning fungible. Its absurd.

127
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:36pm

Expanding my little theory- the Colts have, for lack of a better word, a lot of "slot" receivers. Harrison, Wayne, Gonzalez, Stokely, Troy Walters... they're all the same type of guy. No tall slower Keyshawn-type guys. So they have a particular skill set that they value above all else- kind of like Billy Beane valuing high-OBP guys in baseball... the whole "underappreciated market niche" thing. Wes Welker would have been a great Colts WR.

While other teams are drafting the big, physical, toolsy Mike Williams/Reggie Williams/Roy Williams of the world, the Colts sit back and take their slot guys. And we're impressed because the big toolsy guys have a higher failure rate while the Colts keep spinning gold. But it's a function of the system. Even Detroit, who hit big w Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. If those guys go down, all of a sudden you're throwing to Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald- different body types, different strengths, different routes... it's got to throw your offense off.

Think of the Redskins signing Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd in the same offseason- completely different types of guys! It's a schizo approach. Whereas Indy doesn't care about measureables- if you can run the routes required in that offense, you're in. And there are maybe 2 or 3 available guys a year who can. And they lock up the best of them- Wayne and Harrison- and fill holes w the rest.

So it's a Moneyball thing after all. The Colts are just smarter than everyone. Maybe a little fungible by design, but I don't know. If they've replaced the RB three times already but stuck w the same receivers that should tell you something...

128
by Igor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:37pm

#86-Yeah if only Brady was on Manning's team and vice versa for the past 5 years...

129
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:39pm

Re: 123

I understand your frustration, but this is not an irrational argument. It's not even a Brady v. Manning argument. Rather, it's an (other Colts offensive players) v. (replacement players) argument. Most importantly, it directly follows from the Outsiders' Audibles comments. Until one of the Outsiders jumps in and says otherwise, and as long as we're careful, this is the appropriate place for this discussion.

130
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:47pm

117-"They would be better with Peyton throwing them passes."

Undoubtedly. But I believe they would still be subpar. Manning might squeeze league average performances out of them, but he would not turn them into Harrison, Wayne et al. IMO.

131
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:53pm

My issue is this:

Wide reciever and quarterback play are totally interwoven, and almost impossible to separate. You can't excel at one (atleast statistically) without excelling at the other. Great QBs make wide receivers look better than they are (Brady makes Caldwell look acceptable), but great WRs make QBs look better than they are (Moss making Brady look like he does now, by catching EVERYTHING).

Now, with Brady, we can tell whats going on, because Caldwell was bad elsewhere, and looked decent last year. We've got a pretty clear picture of Brady without Moss, and now we have a picture of him with Moss, and hes clearly better.

We can draw no such conclusions from Manning/Wayne/Harrison because they don't have any separate data.

132
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:54pm

Then every single position in the NFL is fungible. Every year 1st round rookies make HUGE contributions to teams.

In some positions more than others though. For instance, we've seen plenty of 1st round RBs make a difference immediately. We don't tend to see this with 1st round WRs though. We almost never see this with QBs. We do see it with some defensive positions (notably on the line) but not others. We don't tend to see it on the OLine either.

The thing is - on the Colts team, positions that are traditionally not fungible (WR, LT) end up being that way. Now, either you can say that this is because they are drafting great players all the time, or you can say that they're going into a system that makes them good. I'd argue the latter if only because we've seen what happens when they go to other teams. Edge is the best example of this, but people like Stokley or Pollard are good examples too.

The fact is, 1st rounders make good contributions to teams rarely in their first year. (This is really true of all round selections, not just first years). That they tend to do so more often on the Colts says something about the Colts more than it says about the 1st round talent they've drafted.

133
by Justus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:55pm

You want to consider what Manning would do for a team with bad receivers? Put him on the Vikings and I guarantee that they would win the division, and have a very good chance to win the conference.

Will is so selfless. I'm sure he wants to do this simply to satisfy scientific curiosity :)

134
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:14pm

Yes, I'll do anything for the advancement of knowledge!

135
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:23pm

"The thing is - on the Colts team, positions that are traditionally not fungible (WR, LT) end up being that way. "

Since when? They've had to drastically protect Ugoh. Wayne didn't break 1000 yards till his 3rd or 4th year.

136
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:25pm

One other thing about Pats/Browns...

When the Pats final drive of the game stalled out, why not take the figgie to go up by 13, forcing the Browns to need two TDs to win, instead of trying for the TD pass to Eckel on 4th down?

137
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:27pm

Re: CA's comments about the Colts " I don’t think the Colts are particularly smart." I think you were talking about player management.

What is your evidence? And compared to what organization? To me, player management is a long-term proposition. So, I will point out some things unique to the Colts:

1) The Colts are the only team to make the playoffs in each of the past 5 years.
2) They are defending SB champs.
3) In the past 4 years, they have either won the SB or been eliminated in the playoffs by the team that went on to win the SB (Win, Pitt, NE, NE).

Now, they also went into the season in fairly good cap shape, as far as I can figure (and it's a bit of a voodoo situation trying to get the real numbers anywhere).

And, if the camparison is to NE only, then I can see you have an argument, but not a bullet-roof one. (I mean, in regards to NE's WRs, NE has upgraded, but look at the salaries on the books for next year: Moss: no contract, but do you think he'll take more than $8M?; Welker: $3.7M and worth it; Stalworth: $6.3M and not worth it; Washington: $5.7M and not worth it. So, even if your only comparing to NE, I wouldn't say this is a slam-dunk, the Colts are dumb, situation.

So, why are they a team not very smart in player management?

138
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:30pm

136.

Whats a better situation with 57 seconds left

A)
Up by 10, you opponent has the ball on their own goal line

B)
Up by 13, you're kicking off to the best kick returning team in the league.

Kicking the fieldgoal would give the browns a small chance to run the kick back and then kick onside.

Turning it over on downs guarantees they have to march the length of the field in 57 seconds.

139
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:42pm

131: Exactly, and that's part of the problem evaluating the Colts: their amazing, indescribable offensive continuity. The only offensive player of note they've lost has been Edge, and he went to a situation that was nearly impossible to succeed in, although he's having a quietly great bounce back year. He's the only data point, though!

140
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:49pm

139.

Right, I just think the claim that the colts are spending $14M a year on two fungible WRs based on absolutely no data is silly.

141
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:49pm

#131:We can draw no such conclusions from Manning/Wayne/Harrison because they don’t have any separate data.

But we can make those conclusions about the other players on the Colts. Like I said, we've seen what Edge looked like. We've seen what Pollard looked like. We've seen what Kenton Keith looked like in the CFL and how good he did. We've seen Ugoh not do great, but he's done well enough in place of a pro bowl LT. We've seen the Colts replace other linemen without skipping a beat.

What I don't understand is your argument, Rich. You're saying that the Colts organization is dumb because they're spending all this effort on 1st round talent when they could get other players in there that would do just as well, and then you're also saying that those positions aren't replaceable commodities. Which is it? For the record, I do think that the Colts have concentrated too much on offense, but I don't know what other defensive players they've not tried for or missed because they drafted Addai or Gonzalez.

142
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:51pm

Re: 137

Purds, I could write a long list of contracts handed out by the Colts that I believe to be unwise. Instead, I'll just restate my fundamental point: The Colts are good mainly because of Manning (and, to a lesser extent, Dungy). I do not believe they are a particularly strong organization outside of their QB and their coach, but their QB is so good that he makes people mistake the rest of the organization for being good. Bravo to the Colts' brass for drafting and extending Manning and bringing in Dungy. I don't feel the need to praise them beyond those two superb moves because I don't think they've done a particularly good job beyond those two superb moves. Let me put it this way: If the Colts permanently lose Polian, I doubt they miss a beat over the next few years. If they permanently lose Manning, I think they fall apart.

143
by JD (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:53pm

RE 78:

"Bill Barnwell: I watched one play of this game. Eli Manning threw an Old Eli â„¢ interception forcing a ball in the middle of the field. It was enough to make me go back to the Pats game." ----> "Mmm, the kind of constructive criticism you can only get at FO!" - zip

144
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:54pm

Re: Rich #135 "Since when? They’ve had to drastically protect Ugoh."

Rich, are you talking about real games, or Madden games in the basement?

I didn't notice the drastic help for Ugoh yesterday, but as I happened to TiVo the Colts game, I thought I'd check for facts. Here are the Colts first two drives in regards to the "drastic" help given to Ugoh:

1) pass play -- no help
2) run away from Ugoh's side -- no help
3) run away -- no help
4) pass -- no help
5) pass -- no help
6) run away -- no help
7) run away -- no help
8) run middle -- no help
9) pass -- no help
10) pass -- no help, TE lined up on Ugoh's side but did not chip and went out
11) run middle -- no help, but TE lined up on his side
12) pass -- no help, TE his side but no chip
13) run away -- no help, but double TE/goal line situation
14) pass -- no help
15) run middle -- no help, but TE his side blocked LB
16) run middle -- no help, but TE his side blocked LB
17) pass -- TE help!
18) pass -- no help, but double TE set, no chip
19) pass -- no help
20) run middle -- no help, but TE his side blocked LB
21) pass -- no help
22) run his side -- no help, but double TE/goal line situation

I guess I could have kept going, but it was getting boring. 22 plays, only one time was Ugoh given help in the blocking scheme. He did have a TE (excuse me, Clark is a WR) lined up next to him on 3 pass plays, but got no chip help at all. And, he did have a real TE lined up next to him on many run plays up the middle.

Pretty drastic stuff.

145
by Nick (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:56pm

Andy Lee of the 49ers has punted for more than a mile thus far this season. I don't have a point, I just thought it was interesting.

146
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:03pm

Re: #142

In other words, you could give me proof, but adding proof to an idea is unwise? How's this list of first rounders for you? All are starters.

2007: Gonzalez
2006: Addai
2005: Marlin Jackson
2004: no pick
2003: Dallas Clark
2002: Dwight Freeney
2001: Reggie Wayne

Maybe Polian is bad in the second round? Yep, much worse. Only 3 current startes of 7, but two were starters but not deemed important enough to pay in FA.

2007: Tony Ugoh -- starter
2006: Tim Jennings -- on team (bust)
2005: Kelvin Hayden -- starter
2004: Bob Sanders -- starter
2003: Mike Doss -- started, but let go in FA
2002: Larry Tripplett -- started, but let go in FA
2001: Idrees Bashir -- bust

I'd like to see the proof.

147
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:05pm

140; Right, I think we mostly agree.

141;You’re saying that the Colts organization is dumb because they’re spending all this effort on 1st round talent when they could get other players in there that would do just as well, and then you’re also saying that those positions aren’t replaceable commodities.
I don't think Rich is saying that the Colts' organization is dumb for surrounding Manning with high level talent. And they aren't. It's all about the maximization of their best asset.

148
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:18pm

"What I don’t understand is your argument, Rich. You’re saying that the Colts organization is dumb because they’re spending all this effort on 1st round talent when they could get other players in there that would do just as well, and then you’re also saying that those positions aren’t replaceable commodities"

No, I'm saying its one or the other. Either they're wasting a ton of money and high picks on fungible WRs, or the WRs aren't fungible. I think its the latter.

CA, why do you think Dungy is an asset? The only thing he handles with the Colts is the defense, and over his tenure the Defense has been spectacularly awful. He doesn't deal with the offense, and the offense single handedly wins them games. IMO, Dungy is the single most overrated head coach in the league. The only difference between Tony Dungy and Marvin Lewis is that Peyton is better than Carson.

149
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:21pm

I think this echos the discussion when Freeney got his huge payday. I'd note that most of those 2nd rd. guys listed really aren't (weren't) that good, but given Polian's past success with the Bills, you'd have to say he knows how to put a damn fine offense together.

Ravens statistical oddity--the top 5 teams in the NFL in 1st downs per game are:

NE
Indy
Dal
Cin
Balt!!

But they're 21st in points scored, whereas the top 4 teams in points scored are:

Dal
NE
Indy
Cin

150
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:21pm

So Purds, out of 10 running plays, they ran to that side once. You think they're not trying to protect him?

Read the EPC. The colts have changed a lot of their offense to protect Ugoh.

151
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:23pm

I dunno; Dungy seems like a great fit. He's got a bunch of random schmoes on a defense with a couple of role players and they manage to do well enough every season. Two season ago they were a top 5 defense, and this year they're a top 10 - and this is with replacing players every year. That to me is the real measure of how good a coach is - whether they will achieve success with multiple players each year. I don't think Dungy's responsible for the offensive success in any real way, but the defense is all him, and they've been very good at making the Colts a contending team.

152
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:25pm

"I don’t think Dungy’s responsible for the offensive success in any real way, but the defense is all him, and they’ve been very good at making the Colts a contending team."

I'd say the colts contend despite their defense, not because of it.

153
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:25pm

Read the EPC. The colts have changed a lot of their offense to protect Ugoh.

Which...makes him fungible and the system is the important thing?

Really, I'm now confused what anyone's arguing. Rich, are you solely arguing that only the WRs are irreplaceable but the rest of the team is replaceable? If you are, how can you reconcile this with seeing how Stokely and Pollard have done elsewhere? If you're not, how can you explain how great Keith did in replacement yesterday?

154
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:26pm

just to clear things up

I don't think Dungy is a bad coach. I just think hes kind of irrelevant.

155
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:27pm

I’d say the colts contend despite their defense, not because of it.

DVOA would argue with you; while they've not had the best defense in the league, they've been quite good a couple of times and they did amazingly well in the playoffs.

If you're looking for a goat, look to the anemic Colts special teams play. Their defense - especially given what talent they don't have - has been quite good.

156
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:30pm

Rich:

That's my point. The EPC was from the first game. Things have changed dramatically. There were 11 passes, and Ugoh received help on one play. Boy, you're right, he's an awful rookie left tackle, I can tell. Needs help every play, or, I mean, needs help less than 10% of the time.

As for the runs, why go his side when the other side was gashing TB? I should add that the Colts scored on both drives, and the man over Ugoh did not record a single tackle (though he did have one QB pressure).

So, they run it down TB's throat without helping Ugoh. And, they never help Ugoh on passes. But, you're going to stick with this EPC of Ugoh's first game in the NFL as the word of God?

157
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:31pm

"Which…makes him fungible and the system is the important thing?"

No, if LT was fungible, they wouldn't have to alter the scheme to replace him. The fact that they have to alter the scheme proves that LT is not fungible.

"Rich, are you solely arguing that only the WRs are irreplaceable but the rest of the team is replaceable"

No, I'm arguing that the assertion that Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are fungible is pure bullshit.

"If you are, how can you reconcile this with seeing how Stokely and Pollard have done elsewhere? "

Stokely has a better DVOA in Denver than he ever had in Indy. So hes probably pretty good.

Pollard has a +15% DVOA this year in Seattle. He had about +19% in Indy. He was awful in Det last year.

They've both continued to have success, except the one year pollard had in the abyss of suck, detroit.

Which helps my point: Indy's skill position players are good. Peyton makes them look better than they are, yes, but they most certainly are not fungible.

158
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:32pm

Come on, Rich, you can say it ..... "I was .... wr ..... I was... wrong"

159
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:34pm

"Boy, you’re right, he’s an awful rookie left tackle, I can tell. "

Could you point out where I said that?

I said hes a first round talent, and the Colts still have to protect him. I was saying that LT is not fungible. If a first round talent has to be compensated for, its clearly not a fungible position.

160
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:36pm

158

You wan't me to "admit" that two wide recievers who have both been in the top 10 in DVOA in the last 3 years are fungible?

Not a fucking chance Purds.

Peyton Manning is great. But theres no way in hell that Harrison and Wayne are replacement level.

161
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:37pm

No, if LT was fungible, they wouldn’t have to alter the scheme to replace him. The fact that they have to alter the scheme proves that LT is not fungible.

Except they've since gone back to their original schemes and don't appear to be helping him exclusively, especially on pass plays.

Even more than that - and this was my point - if you can alter your scheme to mask the deficiencies of a player so much that they no longer appear to have deficiencies, you don't need to have a great player in that position. If another WR can come in and play as well as Stokely, even if you have to change somewhat how you play, you didn't need that player.

How's Edge's DVOA, by the way? Also, if you can argue that Pollard's DVOA was great except for the times it wasn't, what is that exactly proving? Isn't that like saying that the Patriots beat the Colts all the time, except when they don't?

162
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:38pm

Agreed. I overstated your point. This is your exact statement from #135:"They’ve had to drastically protect Ugoh"

That list shows you're drastically wrong. They protected him on one play in 22.

163
by Josh (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:39pm

The only difference between Tony Dungy and Marvin Lewis is that Peyton is better than Carson.

And the Colts tend to stay out of jail.

164
by Don Booza (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:41pm

Kal, dont spend too much time trying to figure out Rich's point of view. His opinion can basically be summed up as "the opposite of whatever the last person posts". Unless, of course, the last post sings the praises of the Patriots and/or Belichick

165
by Josh (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:41pm

maybe the colts players appear to be fungible because they have very few busts in the draft? If you keep picking studs, then when you lose studs, your new studs step and and play like studs.

166
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:41pm

Re: #160

Rich, I haven't been in the fungaible/WR debate. My comment was intended for your assertion that Ugoh needs drastic protection.

PS: No need to be profane.

167
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:41pm

"Even more than that - and this was my point - if you can alter your scheme to mask the deficiencies of a player so much that they no longer appear to have deficiencies, you don’t need to have a great player in that position. If another WR can come in and play as well as Stokely, even if you have to change somewhat how you play, you didn’t need that player."

Kal, do you know what the word Fungible means? If they have to change the scheme to cover a replacement for a player, that player is not fungible.

If LT was fungible, they never would have had to shift schemes. They never would have had to help Ugoh. They could have dropped a player in and nothing would have changed.

The fact that not even an early second/late first round talent can't initially handle the job is clear evidence that it is NOT fungible.

168
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:43pm

Purds, in my mind, having to shift the whole offensive scheme, is "needing drastic protection".

Do you think LT is fungible on the colts offense Purds?

Can they replace their LT with a street free agent, (IE, readily available player) and not see any drop in performance.

169
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:47pm

"How’s Edge’s DVOA, by the way? Also, if you can argue that Pollard’s DVOA was great except for the times it wasn’t, what is that exactly proving? Isn’t that like saying that the Patriots beat the Colts all the time, except when they don’t?"

Kal, Edge's DVOA is 22.0%. He's 4th in DPAR.

170
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:47pm

"Do you think LT is fungible on the colts offense Purds?"

No, I do not. However, I do think Ugoh has played much better than your inference about needing protection.

And, I agree they ran right quite a bit, but who knows why (was it their personnel, or a weakness in TB's that prompted that shift?)

What I can say, without needing to guess any motive, is that the Colts did not need to protect Ugoh in any way in pass protection.

171
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:52pm

Can they replace their LT with a street free agent, (IE, readily available player) and not see any drop in performance.
#168: Rich, they did this two years ago when Glenn had an injury.

And yes, I do know what fungible is; in this respect, it means 'is this person replaceable in this system'. For the LT position in Indy, the answer is yes. Yes, they have had to change some of the schemes they've run, some of the time - but a lot of that is because Glenn and Ugoh have different strengths. Ugoh's better at run blocking than Glenn was. Fungible does not mean 'will be exactly the same as the prior player'. It means 'can we get rid of this player, take another one, and do as good or better'. Only an idiot would claim that Edge and Addai did the same things last year or this year or played the same way. Only an idiot would claim that they didn't modify the way they called plays to Addai. That's not the point; the point is that they still performed as good as before.

If LT was fungible, they never would have had to shift schemes. They never would have had to help Ugoh. They could have dropped a player in and nothing would have changed.

They had to do this for two games. They've since been fine. They were fine two years ago when an injury forced them to the backup.

Sometimes, it's just the easy answer: it's the quarterback.

172
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:52pm

"I don’t think Dungy is a bad coach. I just think hes kind of irrelevant."

Hey, let's turn this into a discussion on if Dungy is fungible!

(Couldn't resist)

173
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:53pm

#169:
Kal, Edge’s DVOA is 22.0%. He’s 4th in DPAR.

This year. How was he doing last year? Again, are you just going to ignore all the data that doesn't support your ideas?

174
by kaetab (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:56pm

Should I be worried that Brady Quinn couldn't get Derrick Anderson, the grizzled old vet of 7 games, off the field after 3 interceptions? Every play Anderson is on the field is one more play we throw away at getting Quinn ready.

506/2/1

175
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:58pm

Dungy has coached one of the most lopsided teams in the league, in terms of the percentage of salary cap devoted to offense vs. defense, and has benefited from one significant defensive player as a 1st round draft pick. The Colts don't sign a lot of prominent veteran free agents, like Roosevelt Colvin or Adalius Thomas. Dungy has done an extrordinarily good job with his defensive personnel. Yes, he was fortunate to be hired by a team with Peyton Manning on the roster, just as Belichik was fortunate to be coaching a team which tripped over Tom Brady at the bottom of the draft.

176
by Don Booza (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 7:00pm

Yes sir, there is nothing better than reading 53 posts from Rich Conley.

Dude, give it a rest. Please. Make your point and then move along. You are ruining this site for me, and probably a lot of other people with your relentless arguments. And now you've even resorted to name calling and profanity to prove your "points". Sigh...

177
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 7:02pm

172: I believe the term is Dungible.

178
by kachunk (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 7:10pm

sorry to interject with somethin unrelated to the current argument, but the best moment of the weekend for me was in the Steelers game.

At some point in the third quarter, after a running play Cedric Wilson had blocked the man covering him a good ways downfield, and after the play was over he turned and jumped up and down in the guy's face screaming at him and beating on his chest. It was totally bizarre and maybe should have been a taunting penalty, but the weirdness of it all struck me as extremely funny.

179
by dmb (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 7:44pm

I miss the threads that were dominated by Bobman, Will Allen, and James, London . . .

103, 119: I haven't seen enough to know if Campbell's release has improved, but the one thing that I'm excited about is his expanding comfort zone. From what I saw last year, he was very comfortable throwing to certain receivers in certain spots, and when those were taken away, he'd struggle mightily. For much of this game, he was without two of his three usual targets, but was still finding and hitting guys consistently.

"I think this was the most yardage he has put up in his young career…. I don’t know if it’s an indication of his skill-set or the Redskins offense." I think it's as much an indication of the Lions' defense as it is an indication of anything about the Redskins. Campbell looked good yesterday, but then again, Ramsey had a pretty promising game around this time in his career (against a bad Giants' D, I think) . . . so I don't know how much we should read into one game.

Re: most of the posts on this thread: We have three competing explanatory variables for explaining the performance of the Colts' "other" 10 offensive players (individual talent; system/"niches"; Payton Manning). Until Payton Manning changes teams and plays with some of these guys in another scheme (which, of course, would also mean that he'd know longer be the "Payton Manning" we know), or Manning is replaced by a known quantity at QB, there's no good way to separate the system explanation from the Manning explanation, and therefore no way to tell if they're truly fungible, and if so, why. Arguing such impossible-to-determine problems can be fun just for the sake of doing it . . . but in that case, it would be a lot more fun if y'all did it with a little more respect and a little less arrogance.

180
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:01pm

RE: 175

I agree with your assesment about Dungy, Will. To say that Dungy's defenses in Indy have been " spectacularly bad " is pretty false. While his defenses have not been record breaking they have done what they were supposed to do more times than not and
they have been cosidered good as late as 2005. Last year it was bad, partially due to free agent departures and injuries, but they managed to recover in the playoffs last year and are playing well this year. Based on the fact, that the defense will always be subject to massive
turnover every 2 years or so, I would say Dungy is doing just fine. After all like others have stated on this board, the Colts are built around offense in general and Manning in particular. In terms of drafting talent, the Colts are always going to make sure Peyton has the best talent surrounding him available. That means the defense is going to be patched together. Nothing wrong with that, just reality.

181
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:24pm

#143 - I did. And it was. Don't blame me. Blame Eli. God knows I've written enough about him in the past.

182
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:27pm

119- What you failed to mention was that I was 2-0-1 this week. I picked the Redskins to win and cover, what are you complaining about? Campbell throws for under 250 yards against the LIONS of all teams and you are ready to shed that ball control label? The redskins run a horizontal offense with a few random deep balls sprinkled in.

127- Receivers have to be able to come to the line and read coverages. Manning wants his receivers " on the same page". It is hard to do that when you keep bringing guys in and out. I am surprised at how well the Patriots Passing game has looked with literally a whole new cast of wideouts.

148- I agree 100 percent. Dungy defense, Marvin defense, and Billecks offense are all super overrated. Then throw in the EGO factor with Billeck in Baltimore.

183
by DJH (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:43pm

"You are ruining this site for me, and probably a lot of other people with your relentless arguments."

Agreed.

184
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:44pm

Bill Barnwell- Eli could be 6-2 going into the matchup against Dallas in a game that could decide first place in the NFC East.

I would love to hear the media explain that one. Would it still be "all tiki barber" or would Elisha finally get some credit? The Giants run game has been fine with last years 2nd and 3rd string RBs. It is due to the threat of Eli throwing downfield.

and how come the Falcons receivers have "stone hands", while Plax and Shockey drop an awful lot of catch-able balls and you don't hear a lot about those inconsistant Giants receivers.

185
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:49pm

We can draw no such conclusions from Manning/Wayne/Harrison because they don’t have any separate data.

Actually, we do have a little bit. I don't know why people seem to forget, but Harrison was drafted before Manning, and had already been playing well for two seasons by the time he had Peyton throwing him the ball. It really infuriates me when people always seem to attribute all of Harrison's success to the fact that Manning is his QB. Unless Manning was possessing Jim Harbaugh and making him throw perfect strikes to Harrison in 1996, he's not responsible for Harrison playing well in his first two years.

And really, for all the people who seem convinced that Manning would succeed even if he had crappy teammates, what evidence do you have to support that? He's never in his entire NFL career gone a season with fewer than 3 1st round picks in the offense with him, and right now, he's got 5 (although "only" 3 for the Tampa Bay game). Maybe what makes him so great isn't that he'd do well with nothing, but that he can make the most of the great talent around him. If that were the case, it'd make sense to surround him with great talent as much as possible, which is exactly what Bill Polian has done.

Speaking of Polian, those who think that the only reason all of his 1st round picks are hits is that Manning makes them work:

How did Manning make the early 90s Bills into Super Bowl teams 4 years in a row? That talent didn't just materialize out of nowhere, and Manning certainly didn't make them work. The same goes for the mid 90s Panthers, when Polian built them into a contender in no time flat.

Sure, Manning makes Polian's 1st round picks look better than they are, but he doesn't turn bad players into good ones. He makes great players look like HOF players. And that's more than enough to make him the best QB in the league (tied with Tom Brady, of course. Don't want my post deleted).

IMHO, if Manning were forced to throw to bad receivers and hand off to bad RBs, while terrible lineman blocked for him, then he'd be his father. We'd still think he was great, we'd still put him in the Pro Bowl, and deservingly so, but we'd be denied the sight of Manning in the playoffs. Which is why I'm glad he has so much talent around him.

Kal, Edge’s DVOA is 22.0%. He’s 4th in DPAR.

This year. How was he doing last year? Again, are you just going to ignore all the data that doesn’t support your ideas?

Edge was running behind the 2006 Arizona offensive line. Nobody would've done well in those circumstances. When he went from running behind the 1st ranked O-line in ALY to the 23rd, his production suffered. But that says more about the two O-lines than it does about him. Are you just going to ignore all the data that doesn't support your ideas?

186
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 9:02pm

Edge was running behind the 2006 Arizona offensive line. Nobody would’ve done well in those circumstances. When he went from running behind the 1st ranked O-line in ALY to the 23rd, his production suffered. But that says more about the two O-lines than it does about him. Are you just going to ignore all the data that doesn’t support your ideas?

And he's running behind that same OLine this season too for the most part. What changed? The system changed. Which was kind of my point; that the system matters.

I'm not saying that Edge is a bad player; he's a good player that was playing behind a badly-coached line in Arizona that managed to do well later in the season. But at the same time, thanks to Addai, Rhodes, Keith, Pollard, Stokely, Glenn/Ugoh - and even when Harrison/Wayne have been out, we can see that the Colts offense is not dependent on a ton of superstars. It's dependent on one.

Wayne and Harrison would do well elsewhere, I'm sure of it. I'm also sure that the Colts offense would do fine without Wayne and Harrison, because they've played games without them and done just fine. There will be some loss of production, but I don't see how you can look at all the turnover at various positions in Indy, all the non-QB injuries that have happened, and reasonably conclude that it's because the offense is loaded everywhere that they're great. They're good because they've got talent all over the place, but they're great because of Manning.

Either that, or Polian has been just rocking the draft and any backups that they get just kick that much ass...except that doesn't explain Keith or Cato June or Booger McFarland.

187
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 9:12pm

Chris -- go read what else I've written this year. I've said Eli's played like a much better quarterback this year. More than once, I believe. He also fucks up occasionally. He did in the one play I saw of the game this week, which is why I mentioned it.

188
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 9:21pm

My quick two cents on the Colts' primary two receivers:

Obviously, they aren't entirely products of Manning. Look at Aaron Moorhead with his -17.2% DVOA.

Manning helps them a lot, especially DPAR-wise. I don't think he inflates their conventional stats much, if at all. The difference between Harrison/Wayne and stud WRs on bad teams is that Harrison and Wayne get fewer attempts their way but are more efficient and have much better FO stats.

If you look at the DPAR standings for WRs, you'll sometimes see a great WR with an inexplicably low DPAR. TO was nearly league average DVOA in 2003, despite 1100 yards. Same for Holt in 2006. Many stud WRs have those sorts of seasons, but the Colts WRs never do.

Put Reggie Wayne on an offense like, say, San Francisco, and he'd get 1300 yards and a pile of TDs on 170 attempts instead of 130.

Oh, and one other detail: at this point, I think both Colts WRs are basically typical good #1 receivers. That is to say, you could replace one of them with Santana Moss or Lee Evans or Laveranues Coles and the offense would do fine. But Harrison in his prime was a once-in-a-generation type talent. 2001-2002 he had 250 catches, 3250 yards, 28 TDs, 100 DPAR. Not fungible.

Essentially, I think he was a Jerry Rice-level receiver at his peak, but he took much longer to establish himself, and he probably won't have the absurd longevity.

189
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 9:44pm

Eddo (#39), Ben (#49), Rich (#66)

Thanks for the clarification on the Packers challenge. I didn't get a chance to check for responses earlier, or I would have acknowledged it earlier.

190
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 10:12pm

fergason and dmb: thx for the thoughts re JC. Certainly encouraging to see a Gibbs 2.0 QB throw for over 200 yards!

Man, how far my expectations have dropped for Joe Gibbs.

***

I don't think it says much about the owners /publishers/contributors to/of a great website such as this to curse in posts.

191
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 10:33pm

Every quarterback funks up occasionally. Well except Eli's older brother.

192
by jd (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:04pm

What kind of Giants fan watches one play of the giants-jets game? I guess the kind that thinks David Diehl is a back-up guard.

193
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 12:36am

I'm watching the Cowboys at Bills right now, and I think we have our subject for "Any Given Sunday."

Regarding the Colts, as a fan who worships Manning: Yes, he is great, and possible the best ever, but nobody can win football games alone. He can't block for himself. His nearly untouchableness is due to a great line. His receivers are amazing and so are the RBs who add another dimension and make it that much harder to stop them.

Yes, Wayne and especially Marvin both sit down, run out of bounds and avoid contact. That's what they SHOULD be doing. They don't need to risk injury for 2 more yards; the Colts move the ball at will. This is why Harrison is so durable (he'll be pristine again after the bye week) and why he may threaten Jerry Rice's records. I love unselfish, tough-guy blocking and gaining the hard yards, but that's not what the Colts do.

Finally: our defense is not getting the respect it deserves.

194
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 1:08am

Even though the Cowboys won, I still say that's the most crazy-ass game of the week.

A few people have said "this just in: coaching matters." True. And this also just in: special teams and kicking matter.

195
by Carlos (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:01am

Yeah, coaching matters. Jauron blew that game. Going for the stupid long FG in the first half gave the 'boys 3 points, and not just taking the FG w/ 5 minutes left but instead calling the pass play is really why they lost the game. KCW??

196
by Gig (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:28am

Apologize if this was posted

Some people are effectively saying Manning is responsible for one of the best WR ever in Harrison, a current top 10 WR in Wayne, and one of the best offenses ever? They're complementing him without even knowing it.

197
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:06am

Regarding the Colts, as a fan who worships Manning: Yes, he is great, and possible the best ever, but nobody can win football games alone. He can’t block for himself. His nearly untouchableness is due to a great line.

Actually, his nearly untouchableness is due to great pocket presence and a quick release. Joey Harrington was nearly untouchable with the Detroit Lions O-line, so it's not the blocking that makes a QB unsackable. The Colts line isn't bad, and it is very well suited to the way the offense is designed, but it isn't exactly great. It's somewhere around average.

The fact that the WRs get open almost instantaneously, and Manning finds them right away, means that the line only has to be average to keep Manning from getting hit more than once in a blue moon. Still, I'll give the linemen props for being able to keep up with Manning's no huddle. That's not easy for really big guys, and even though the Colts linemen are small for offensive lineman, they're still pretty heavy guys.

198
by emcee fleshy (atl/sd) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:16am

Jonas Jennings is out of this game with an undisclosed personal matter.

Does that make him "Out with a life"?

199
by gmc (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:25am

193 is correct about the colts.

WR's like Steve Smith fight for yards because they are the only thing their offense has going. 6 yards on second and 9 is fine for Marvin Harrison because he trusts Manning, and Manning and Dungy trust the offense, to convert and move on.

That said: the offensive line IS a must. Since 2005, people have been stacking coverage against Manning to stop TD passes. This is, actually, dumb. To stop Manning, you blitz up the middle.

Of course, if you do that, 1 out of ten plays he throws a TD. He'll do that anyway, though, and he'll throw a lot more interceptions, incompletions, and weak dumps if you blitz.

200
by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 5:21am

What kind of Giants fan watches one play of the giants-jets game? I guess the kind that thinks David Diehl is a back-up guard.

That's true. Misspeaking and saying a player was a backup when I meant to say utility and only watching one play on Sunday of the Giants game I'm going to break down play-by-play in midweek means that I'm not much of a Giants fan. Next time, just stick with the ad hominem attack and save yourself the trouble.

201
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 6:01am

I realize he admitted this was his first time watching VY play in the NFL, but… wow. Just, wow. I’d say I can get that sort of commentary at the corner bar, but it would have to be the stupidest corner bar in America.

Vince Young has had three games in his career when he lead the Titans in rushing, all last year:

Week 3: Leads the Titans with a whopping 24 rushing yards in a 40-7 loss to the Chargers.

Week 8: Leads the Titans with 44 yards rushing with a 28-22 win over Houston, but the win had more to do with the five turnovers the Titans' defense forced and Pacman Jones' punt return TD.

Week 12: Leads the Titans with 69 yards rushing in a 24-21 victory over the Giants. This would be the best example of winning a game with his legs -- he ran for 45 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter while leading a furious comeback -- but he actually won it more with his arm (24-35, 249, 2 TD, 0 INT).

So no, as of yet, I don't think he's won a game with his rushing alone. (Though obviously, the Young that played against the Giants was not the same Young that played against the Falcons.)

202
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 7:22am

#197, your point about Manning's pocket presence and quick release are taken, but I still say the Colts' line is way above average. First they commit very few penalties. Second, they make adjustments on the fly on almost every play, at Manning's direction, which is tough to do. Third, as you mentioned, they hold their stances forever while Peyton does his thing, which is tough to do and makes their low penalty rate even more impressive. Fourth, as we have seen, they get down the field to play through the down, especially Saturday and Ugoh. Note that Manning took more sacks, threw more interceptions and felt forced to scramble for more yards (over 100 in years 3, 4 and 5) earlier in his career, even though he had Marvin and Faulk/Edge, because he was trying to force it and do too much on his own. When he calmed down and learned to use the strength of his line and his supporting cast, he began to realize his potential and became a consistent winner, not just a guy who put up big numbers.

As for people saying Dungy is irrelevant, I strongly disagree. He is a big part of the reason why Peyton learned to work better with his supporting cast, trust himself, not try to do too much, and not try to force it. Dungy has been a calming and maturing influence on Peyton, whose career record before Dungy's arrival was 26-26. He has also installed a defense which has not received enough credit. He has instilled the team with a confidence and calmness not found on many other teams, as well as a details-oriented, perfectionist mentality, which is why they commit so few penalties and turnovers and why they don't make dumb mistakes. They cohesiveness and their "next man up" attitude is why they could play so well even without crucial personnel, as we saw against Tampa on Sunday. And even if you don't share his religious beliefs (I don't), his commitment to character and principle have strengthened the team as players and as people. Dungy matters a lot.

203
by Carl H. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 9:32am

Strategy question from last night's Cowboys-Bills game.

Let's revisit the completed pass immediately before the game-winning FG.

It's 3rd-and-6 from the Buffalo 43.

There are :07 seconds left on the clock. Dallas has no timeouts. It is also, just incidentally, 3rd down.

Question: why not rush ONE, at most TWO, pass rushers on this down, if you're Buffalo? Hell, there's an argument for rushing exactly ZERO guys on the QB, and lining the sidelines with defenders.

Dallas needed to complete a pass and have the receiver step out of bounds. Even a completed downfield throw on a long pass to a receiver who steps out of bounds probably couldn't have been accomplished without taking 7 seconds off the clock

Remember, Romo would have had to read the defense before choosing either to haul ass out of bounds himself, gaining however many yards he could, or finding the near sidelines clogged with DBs and throwing it deep.

Romo probably couldn't run to the sideline and get out of bounds and gain more than a 3 yards.

Why did the Bills rush FOUR guys (totally unnecessary) and play what appeared to be a pretty deep zone?

204
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:00am

Re: 203

Nothing is more frustrating than watching your team let the opposition complete a pass and get OOB when you KNOW that's what the opponent has to do.

That said, I'm guessing the situation is just too specialized for teams to spend (valuable) time practicing to defend it. In most cases (even near the end of a game), a short play that stops the clock is preferrable (for a defense) to a longer play that keeps the clock running.

205
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:11am

#203, excellent point. Rushing zero and clogging the near sidelines, with 2-3 guys back, would have been a good strategy. But unless the coaching staff have contemplated it and practiced it, it would be hard to do on the fly. Not many coaches would do something unconventional like that because they play to avoid criticism.

206
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:47am

good point, rushing 4 was a waste. Two outside rushers would be plenty, and that would give you two extra defenders to defend that sideline.

207
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:47am

"I’m not saying that Edge is a bad player; he’s a good player that was playing behind a badly-coached line in Arizona that managed to do well later in the season. But at the same time, thanks to Addai, Rhodes, Keith, Pollard, Stokely, Glenn/Ugoh - and even when Harrison/Wayne have been out, we can see that the Colts offense is not dependent on a ton of superstars. It’s dependent on one."

Okay, so the fact that they have a ton of superstars mean they're not dependant on superstars? What?

Replaceable by a first round pick does not mean fungible.

208
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:48am

How the heck did Dallas lose the turnover battle 6-1, give up 2 DTs and 1 ST TD and win?

209
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 10:51am

208

Buffalo's offense sucks. Abysmally.

210
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 11:03am

#203-205, the Raiders did use pretty much that exact strategy in that situation against the Browns a couple of weeks ago. It didn't work. They rushed one guy, and dropped everyone else back and Derek Anderson still completed a quick sideline pass into field goal range, but the Raiders special teams bailed them out by blocking the kick. Afterwards, the usual gang of idiots second guessed the hell out of this decision, but it was obvious to me that it was much more the execution than the idea that was wrong. If the Raiders find themselves in this situation again, I'd like to see them call the same defense but make sure their defenders do a better job of actually playing the sideline.

211
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 11:10am

#192: Hey, cool. We've got people lambasting the Outsiders because all their Audibles comments are about teams they're fans of, and now we've people lambasting the Outsiders because they don't have Audibles comments about teams they're fans of.

I think this is a sign that you guys have really hit the mainstream.

212
by Carl H. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 11:14am

210: I don't know the exact situation in the Raider game -- but in the Buffalo game, it seems like the Bills, in addition to rushing four guys, really respected the deep ball -- the guy who caught the 8-yard out had no one on him.

And remember: there was ONE second on the clock with that play. Thus, a longer completion to a guy who got out of bounds would not have left Dallas any time for a FG try. So, Buffalo should have totally conceded, say, the 20-yard out.

Rush one, maybe two -- I would have rushed no one at all, putting the offense at a huge disadvantage, since, obviously, by rule, they have five ineligible receivers.

I would have put 2 LBs and 7 DBs on the field. The LBs would line up at DE, just to disguise what I'm doing, so that Romo has to take that extra moment to recognize what's happening.

I would have DBs lined up near the sideline on both sides of the field at the LOS, at 5 yards, and at 10 yards -- that's six guys. The LBs would have dropped off the line and into short coverage in the flats, and just focus on tackling any receiver that caught the ball and tried to head upfield.

That leaves 3 DBs to play a 3-deep zone -- again, two guys defending the deep sideline, and one guy in the deep center, in case Romo recognizes what's happening and tries to make a play into the end zone down the deep middle of the field.

If you do this, I don't see how the offense could possibly complete a pass to any sideline within 15 yards of the LOS -- and anything deeper than that -- which would still likely be well-covered by a DB -- couldn't have gotten a completion and a move out of bounds before time ran out.

213
by MDZ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 11:51am

I noticed the Colts were running right at the beginning of the TB game (unlike the previous 4 games where they primarily ran left behind Ugoh) and I believe the reason is pretty simple, they chose to run at Cato June instead of Derrick Brooks.

214
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 12:00pm

Regarding the Colts O-Line, it looks to me like they are run-blocking a lot better this year than they had in previous years.

215
by Grizzled Old Scout (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 1:30pm

208: Buffalo's offense was simply inept: three points, 148 after-sacks yards passing (4.5 per play), 229 total yards from scrimmage, 14 first downs (to 24 for Dallas). They were outgained by 150 yards. Their quarterback averaged fewer than six yards a throw with no TDs, their top rusher only 3.3 per carry. With a chance to put the game away, they fumbled on the Cowboys' 11. With a chance to kill the clock on their final possession, they went three-and-out, burning fewer than 100 seconds.

216
by langsty (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 1:56pm

Is Vince Verhei a Falcons fan? Cool to see one on the staff now. I was disappointed there was no mention of Michael Boley, who has clearly been the team's best defender for the last season+.

217
by TED F!@#ING GINN!? (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:09pm

"...he listed his college as “Amsterdam Admirals.� Central Florida must feel a bit slighted."

I have friend that worked with the training staff at UCF for Atari Bigby's senior season and the year after. That was the same time the new coach, O'Leary, came to UCF. People seemed to be thinking that Bigby could be drafted, perhaps even 3rd round material, but he had an ankle injury his senior season. While he was working to rehab the ankle, NFL scouts were calling O'Leary, asking about Bigby. Apparently O'Leary was less than enthusiastic about his work ethic and essentially called him a cry-baby who wasn't hurt as bad as he let on. Then, Bigby didn't get drafted. So he may still harbor some animosity for UCF after that happened.

FYI, everyone in Orlando called him The Predator because of the dreadlocks and the fact that he had more than his share of bone-jarring hits.

218
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:26pm

Okay, so the fact that they have a ton of superstars mean they’re not dependant on superstars? What?

No, I'm saying that we know how those other players play on other teams, and we know how successful rookies are in the Colts system in positions that traditionally rookies are not. Kenton Keith is not a superstar by any definition. Tony Ugoh is not a superstar. Pollard isn't a superstar. Stokely isn't a superstar. Ben Utecht or Aaron Moorehead aren't superstars.

We've seen how these other players play on other teams compared to the Colts, and they don't improve. They decline. We can either assume that they all started sucking after they left for whatever reason, or we can see that the one commonality that they all had was that they played well while in the Colts offense.

Clearly, Wayne and Harrison are good players. Harrison is going to be one of the best receivers the game has ever seen. However, he is not why the Colts have such a stellar offense, and we can pretty much prove this by looking at the games where Harrison did not start. Heck, by that token Dallas Clark is more crucial to the Colts offense than Harrison is given the decline in performance last season when Clark was out.

And yes, replacement by a 1st round rookie can mean fungible. 1st rounders are not in any way guaranteed to be as good as a veteran, especially in positions that are traditionally hard to pick up. For RBs, that's not so hard; for WRs/OLine/DT/ILB, it tends to be. Also, Keith and Ugoh? Not first round picks.

My theory is that the Colts have a very specific offensive system that requires certain skillsets but not others. The linemen need to be quicker and more disciplined, but do not need to be the strongest people out there. The RBs need to be speed, not power, and they need to be good in the passing game. The WRs (as mentioned above) need to have a slotback like mentality and skills, running good routes and being disciplined over being fast. The TEs need to be basically like those slot back WRs. These skills do not translate universally to NFL talent as a rule. But they do translate to a talented team on the Colts, and none of that would be remotely possible without Manning.

219
by ND (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:32pm

re: 201

Does a QB have to lead the team in rushing to be considered to have beaten them with his legs? The example that I'm sure will come to mind is the 40 + yard TD run that Young beat the Texans with in overtime. Whilst I don't think coaches need to gameplan as they did when Vick was first in the league, but I think Young has shown that if you don't take keep him contained he'll make you pay, and more so than most of the top tier mobile QB's in recent years, thinking if McNabb and Culpepper back when they had an ounce of knee cartilage between them.

220
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:37pm

219: VY has made plays with his legs, but it seems to me that he has beaten teams with his defense more than he has beaten them with his legs. He's a good QB and an amazing athlete, but he's not running a one man show in Tennessee.

221
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:43pm

Re: #203

FWIW, TMQ agrees with you.

222
by Sergio (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:55pm

The problem with Buffalo's playcalling, IMO, wasn't that third down. It was the constant, unnecessary running on 1st and 2nd down throughout the drive (and throughout the game, for all I know - I just watched the second half), that kept putting the team in 3rd and long situations.

Had they taken advantage of the more than obvious 8-man fronts the Cowboys were putting out there (in the INT drive), they would've probably walked out of the field with 7 more points, clock drained down to about 4.00, and Dallas would've had zero chance of a comeback.

Though loss for the Bills last night. Can't help but smile :)

223
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:39pm

"No, I’m saying that we know how those other players play on other teams, and we know how successful rookies are in the Colts system in positions that traditionally rookies are not."

YES, Those players have been succesful in other systems as shown by DVOA.

1st round rookies typically ARE successful, whether in the colts system or not. You can call the WRs fungible when they start calling up Reche Caldwell

224
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:40pm

"We’ve seen how these other players play on other teams compared to the Colts, and they don’t improve. They decline."

Who does? Pollard, Stokely, and Edge are all doing either better, or within 5% of what they were doing in Indy.

225
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 4:19pm

Who does? Pollard, Stokely, and Edge are all doing either better, or within 5% of what they were doing in Indy.

Except when Edge did badly last season, or Pollard did badly for two seasons. So yes, except for when they sucked, they are doing well. And that still doesn't explain people like Kenton Keith.

v1st round rookies typically ARE successful, whether in the colts system or not.

This is so laughably untrue it's sad. Aside from the amount of actual 1st round busts, you're ignoring the other issue - 1st round players are typically not successful in their rookie year, regardless of whether they're going to be successful in the future.

226
by langsty (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 4:20pm

#

219: VY has made plays with his legs, but it seems to me that he has beaten teams with his defense more than he has beaten them with his legs. He’s a good QB and an amazing athlete, but he’s not running a one man show in Tennessee.

:: B — 10/9/2007 @ 1:37 pm

maybe this year, but not last year (except for that game where pacman had like 2 return TDs or whatever). there were a couple of games that the titans won as a direct result of plays he made. of course it's still not a one-man show and he's certainly an incomplete player, but i just bristle a little when people made it sound like the defense carried last year's team (you could make a better case for the STs really)

227
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 5:31pm

216: I cheered for the Falcons for, oh, about 15 years or so. As I get older, I find myself getting less passionate about cheering for or against particular teams. I still follow the Falcons closely, largely out of habit, and I think I'm more familiar with them than anyone else on the FO staff. So I focus on them. The other team I'm most familiar with is Seattle, and I know Doug's got them more than covered, so I generally leave them alone.

228
by Sebastian the Ibis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:26pm

Re: 55

Commands Hurricaines - Santonio Thomas and Vince Wilfork. Bernie Kosar back with Cleveland.

If you want to compare them head-to-head Belichik did better than Butch Davis with Cleveland.

229
by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:02pm

re 179:
I miss the threads that were dominated by Carl (Prine) and MDS.

Also, I miss the insane DVOA threads that kept cursing teams and helping me understand DVOA better.

Oh well, it's the price of fame that people are finally migrating over from Fox and AOL.

230
by Dont worry Im NOT a Giants fan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/12/2007 - 1:43am

Re: 200 - Bill, so you are going to watch the game this week? Great to hear because you are carrying the flag for the non-Patriots bias faction on FO. Everytime it comes up we hear "Oh but Bill is a Giants fan". Yeah, a Giants fan who would apparently rather watch the Patriots and write the same Eli bashing crap that is oh so common around here. So enjoy your compulsory viewing of the Giants game - I'm guessing it's because you have to chart it right? A true fan would be watching their team live, otherwise you might as well claim to follow any team if you don't care about their fortunes.