Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Week 7 DVOA Ratings

Denver: great team, or the greatest team? Would you be satisfied with "one of the ten greatest teams?" Plus: hard times in the NFC South, where defense goes to die.

22 Oct 2007

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

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.

Baltimore Ravens 14 at Buffalo Bills 19

Bill Barnwell: Trent Edwards makes a great throw to Roscoe Parrish against Samari Rolle on a go route that ends up with pass interference. The dropback looked much better. Unfortunately, Marshawn Lynch does his DeShaun Foster impersonation on first down and loses four. Then, on second down, Edwards runs a sweet play fake and makes an even better decision to throw it away when no-one's open. Great throw by Boller against some sort of mutated Cover-2 the Bills ran -- the perfect 20-yard out over some defensive back's outstretched arms.

Stuart Fraser: Yamon Figurs has now muffed, fumbled, or otherwise dropped three straight kickoff returns. Quinn Sypniewski has fumbled. The Ravens' much-injured offensive line keeps getting penalties which really aren't helping drives. Willis McGahee, after a slow start, is actually doing pretty well. Ooh, that was well timed, since he just ran the ball 46 yards for a touchdown, stiff-arming a safety along the way. The play was kind of strange -- you'll probably see a highlight. He seemed to kind of stop near the line of scrimmage and then take off again. Boller threw a block on a chasing linebacker during the run, which Rich Gannon raved over. I'm trying to remember if Gannon ever did something similar.

Something else to note is that I'm pretty impressed with Trent Edwards. The Bills are doing a good job of pass protection (injuries to the Ravens are, of course, helping) but he generally seems to be pretty accurate, isn't forcing throws into tight coverage, and generally looks more like an NFL quarterback than J.P. Losman does.

Bill Barnwell: I've been impressed by Angelo Crowell. He's wrapping up well on tackles without allowing any additional forward movement, and he's getting from sideline-to-sideline pretty quick. The Bills isolate Corey Ivy on Lee Evans and Evans runs a perfect pattern right past him for 30 yards. The Bills pick on Ivy again inside the 10 with a fade pattern by Josh Reed, of all people, and Ivy can't keep up and gets ticked for pass interference. Boy, does he suck.

Mike Tanier: I remain impressed by Edwards, even after an ugly read and throw in the fourth quarter that almost turned the game around. Not only is Edwards smart with the ball, but he was running the no-huddle effectively for much of this game. Most importantly, he made a play or two down the field. I think of young dink-and-dunk quarterbacks like young junkball pitchers in baseball. A quarterback needs to have big-play ability to turn into a great player, otherwise he's Rick Mirer. It was good to see Edwards uncork a few deep balls (one for a long gain to Evans, another to draw pass interference to Parrish) against a good defense.

The Ravens offense without Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox just isn't an offense. They have other major injuries, but they did a real good job covering for losses on the offensive line. But you just can't insert the third and fourth tight ends in an offense that throws to Heap a lot and uses lots of two-TE sets and expect it click. It's a good thing Boller was in for Captain Checkdown, because McNair is such a legendary "tight-end-o-phile" that he probably would try to throw passes to Ozzie Newsome in the owners' box if Mason wasn't open.

Ryan Wilson: I, too, like Trent Edwards. And although he makes a lot of swell decisions most of the time, when he makes a mistake he doesn't get cheated. Twice now he's thrown a potentially back-breaking pick, and both times he's stared a hole through his intended target. Generally speaking, I'm against drafting running backs early in the first round, but I absolutely love the way Marshawn Lynch plays. He only averaged 3.1 yards per carry, but imagine how what he'd have if Dick Jauron wasn't afraid to OK a few pass plays. And unlike, say, Shaun Alexander, it takes two, sometimes three guys to get him down. Pretty awesome to watch.

As long as Brian Billick is calling offensive plays, I will just regurgitate the following statement: The Ravens' defense and special teams need to score 21 points if the team is going to have a chance to win. The team might be better off punting on first down and taking their chances with Ed Reed returning a pick for six.

Kyle Boller, on the other hand, looks like he's matured since he was starting back in '05. His fourth quarter touchdown pass to Derrick Mason was a laser that split three defenders. Perfect pass. Never thought I'd say that about Boller. To me, it seems obvious he should be the team's starter from here on out, but I also think Billick should be relegated to the Joe Gibbs oversight role.

Stuart Fraser: Two early contenders for the Keep Choppin' Wood award. The first is Brian Billick, who, with a third-and-1 at roughly midfield, down 14-19, calls two consecutive passes, because everybody gives Kyle Boller the game to win or lose in that position. The second is the Yahoo/NFL GamePass feed, which has so far managed about 45 minutes of uptime, at least where I'm sitting. Which is a really great thing for your international stream to be doing the week before your much trumpeted international series kicks off, NFL.

Atlanta Falcons 16 at New Orleans Saints 22

Sean McCormick: Atlanta tried to get a little tricky by running a play where Joey Harrington started off in shotgun and walked toward the line as if he was going to change the protection and the ball was direct snapped to Warrick Dunn. The only problem is that the ball was direct snapped to nobody. It went right between Harrington and Dunn, and it ended up being a huge loss.

Vince Verhei: I saw that play. I thought it was supposed to be a regular shotgun play, but whatever Harrington was shouting at his linemen must have sounded an awful lot like "Hike!" So tack it up to poor player preparation, not poor play design.

Anyone who thinks quarterbacks have no impact on the yards their receivers gain after the catch needs to watch Byron Leftwich and Joey Harrington play for the same team in the same game. Harrington can find open receivers and throw accurate passes, but his arm is weak, his passes hang in the air, and defenders have time to close in and make immediate tackles. Leftwich, on the other hand, zips his passes in to receivers before defenders can react, giving them opportunities to make plays. Between that and his willingness to throw a pass more than 15 yards downfield once in a while, he's clearly the better quarterback, despite his very... slow... release and tendency to stare down receivers. Of course, all that's assuming his ankle injury doesn't effect him all season.

Note to Bobby Petrino: Jerious Norwood is a much, much better running back than Warrick Dunn. He has a higher rushing DVOA. He has a higher receiving DVOA. He has a higher success rate. If you don't have faith in advanced stats, well, he's averaging 5.8 yards per carry to Dunn's 3.1. And yet you continue to give Warrick Dunn the majority of the team's carries every single week. This is stupid, Bobby. This is very, very stupid.

And all of that may be moot, because apparently there is a curse on the Falcons' offensive tackles. Renardo Foster, the undrafted rookie who started at left tackle for Wayne Gandy, played OK, all things considered. But he suffered what looked like a very nasty knee injury and was carted off the field. I didn't catch the name of his replacement. He may have been the winner of a halftime field goal kicking contest or something.

The Saints' offensive line gave Drew Brees plenty of time to throw all day, and he generally looked OK, but his interception was bizarre. The Saints were going for it on fourth-and-2 from the Atlanta 34 right before halftime. Brees play faked and rolled out to his right. There was no defender chasing him and he had a wide receiver wide-open, but he threw the ball right into the hands of Demorrio Williams.

Arizona Cardinals 19 at Washington Redskins 21

Bill Barnwell: The Cardinals' passing game is really struggling. Dropped passes, throws into traffic, and then a London Fletcher interception taken to the house. Next series, Warner fumbles a snap. He probably shouldn't be in there, although Will Carroll can speak to the propensity of his injury to heal much better than I can.

I hated this play call from the Cardinals: Fourth-and-2 from the Washington 48. They line up five-wide and send Anquan Boldin in motion. He catches an immediately-thrown screen and attempts to use the two wideouts as blockers, but there are already three guys on that side of the field and once Boldin stalls, the linebackers flood and Boldin's got nowhere to go. On the next play, though, Jason Campbell makes an absolutely abysmal throw on a screen, not getting it over Bertrand Berry, who tips it right to Calvin Pace (who had also snuffed out the screen and might have just picked it off himself). Campbell should've just eaten it. Then, Arizona goes for it on fourth-and-goal from the four-yard line with six seconds left in the half and converts. Never let it be said Ken Whisenhunt doesn't have balls. Of course, the extra point gets blocked, but it was worth it. There's a fracas after the play and I think a ref leg-dived one of the Cardinals linemen.

More strange stuff in the Cardinals passing game. Boldin runs a slant on third-and-1 and Warner hits him in the arms while Boldin's not even looking for the ball. London Fletcher gets some sort of mythical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he hits Fitzgerald on a third-and-10. It looked absolutely fine to me, so I assume it was some kind of taunting or other penalty. Warner looked much better in the second half, throwing with more precision, but he got hit from behind on a straight speed rush by Andre Carter around Levi Brown and was stripped inside the 15. You can't line up Brown versus Carter one-on-one and give him five seconds to get to Warner.

Mike Tanier: Robo-Kurt's accuracy was off by a few degrees in this game. This game reminded me of Cardinals games I would watch two years ago, when Warner would score 14 points for the Cardinals and 17 for the opposition.

Ned Macey: The announcers spent the whole game praising Warner's guts, while he handed the game to Washington. Maybe the injury is a legitimate excuse (and the constant right-handed handoffs were amusing to watch), but he threw two terrible interceptions which set up 14 points for Washington. He also inexplicably took two delay of game penalties inside the Redskins' ten-yard line. The first was the initial play to start the fourth quarter. He didn't even seem to realize that the clock was running down, and was surprised when the ref blew the whistle. Washington neutered their game plan and just tried to nurse the lead. It almost cost them. Mike Sellers was featured more than he has ever been featured in his life in an odd game plan.

Ben Riley: Very interesting series to end the game. Cards down by eight, Tim Rattay enters for the first time in the game. The Redskins stack the line and blitz, Rattay rolls right, Shipp lays a nice block and Rattay hits Leonard Pope in the end zone. The Cards then go for two with Rattay split wide, direct snap to Anquan Boldin, who rolls right and -- throws an interception. Ah well, it was still a good try.

Doug Farrar: Two things you don't often see: A kicker starting a fight -- Neil Rackers going after Carlos Rogers after the aforementioned missed extra point, taking Rogers to the ground (!) by his facemask; and the gadget play that lost the Cardinals the game after they scored late to make it 21-19. Ken Whisenhunt hails back to his Pittsburgh days, runs Boldin out there as quarterback on the two-point conversion, and Boldin throws a pick to LaRon Landry. Mr. Whisenhunt, you're officially in the running for Keep Choppin' Wood, and Neil Rackers couldn't save you.

Stuart Fraser: I'd defend Whisenhunt's call. It's not as if his gadget plays have a history of never working, and Boldin, a converted quarterback, can certainly throw the ball -- just not, apparently, to the right player.

Aaron Schatz: Rackers hooks the field goal slightly to the left, and you can hear the announcers pausing because they expected Joe Gibbs to pull that "last-minute timeout" crap. The kick hooks left... and.... the Redskins ... (timeout?) ... are going ... (timeout?) ... to win (timeout?) ... the game.

San Francisco 49ers 15 at New York Giants 33

Doug Farrar: New York's methodical opening touchdown drive was marked by Eli Manning drawing the 49ers into encroachment twice with hard counts, San Francisco's continued inability to stop the run, and Manning's efficiency -- had Derrick Ward caught the two screens he dropped, Manning would have completed all seven passes he threw. The Giants' line is pushing San Francisco back even when the 49ers bring up extra defenders, and Darryl Johnston wonders if there's some sort of Manning "cadence gene." We need to go back and figure out how many encroachment penalties Archie Manning caused. Eli going play action with screens and dumps -- they're not asking him to do too much, which is very wise.

Meanwhile, the Giants are feeding on the surprisingly horrid 49ers offensive line. On the second play of San Francisco's first drive, Michael Strahan just blew up rookie right tackle Joe Staley for a sack, and the offensive line collapsed on third down. This was the "Four Aces" package written about by Mike Tanier in Two Deep Zone -- Strahan, Osi Umenyiora (who absolutely destroyed fullback Moran Norris on a first-half near-sack), Justin Tuck and Matthias Kiwanuka. They bring six guys total, and Strahan's in the backfield before anyone knows what to do. New York's second drive was stopped by a Derek Smith pick caused by Marques Douglas getting around two Giants and tipping the ball. Douglas is really having a great season.

Bill Barnwell: 49ers have had trouble holding onto the ball. Dilfer fumbled a snap and Gore never grabbed a handoff. The first time, the 49ers recovered and scored; the second time, the Giants recovered. Mike did a good job of covering this in TDZ, but it's amazing to see the difference in the Giants from the preseason and first two games of the year. They look disciplined in their lanes and functional within their positions as opposed to the mix of flailing and overpursuit that marked the earlier games.

Ben Riley: Hilarious series in this game. San Francisco has fourth-and-1 at the 20 and decides to go for it -- Easterbrook, stop scribbling in your notebook -- which prompts Johnston to ask Tony Siragusa if Trent Dilfer should run a sneak. "NO, NO!" shrieks Siragusa. (Gore converts the first, and on the next play Arnaz Battle scores.)

Doug Farrar: The Quote of the Day contest has packed up and left town. Matt Vasgersian: "There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Giants' running game. While Tiki Barber sits on a couch every morning and talks about shoes and handbags with Ann Curry and Al Roker, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns are running wild." Yee-ouch!

I'm starting to come around ever so slightly on Elisha. He threw an exceptional pass to Amani Toomer at the end of the first half. He got the ball off with a defender hitting his throwing arm, but still threw it over Walt Harris's head and right to Toomer on the run. There's evidence of some development in his hard counts, the way he can extend a drive, the minimization of stupid risk throws. He'll still throw a goatball once in while, but this is a better version of a quarterback who has never impressed me before.

Two things I think the Competition Committee has to review in the off-season: Obviously the sneaky time outs/field goal thing is a problem, but the new rule about delay of game penalties on post-play spikes seems a bit ticky-tack. Ashley Lelie brought in an incredible 47-yard bomb from Dilfer at the start of the third quarter, and yes, he did spike the ball, but it really did seem like honest emotion, not just another receiver acting like a jerk. I understand that the NFL wants to keep the games moving, but you can't ask these people to play to the heights of their potential (hey, even Ashley Lelie does it once a year or so!) and then remove all emotion from the game. This should be a judgment call, and I think degree of difficulty in the play itself should be taken into account.

Ben Riley: Agreed, but the penalty for irrationally exuberant spiking is pretty weak (backed up five yards).

Doug Farrar: Of course, Umenyiora gets to Dilfer a couple plays later, causes a fumble, and returns it for a touchdown. New York ran an overload right, blew up the line again, and that was that. This came one play after Strahan took Staley to school again. I've seen offensive lines implode from one year to the next (I live in Seattle), but this is ridiculous. Staley, in particular, is getting mauled from every direction.

Sean McCormick: Is it me, or is the Giants defensive line about as predictable a dominant unit as you'll find? Whenever they go up against an offensive line with some weaknesses, they absolutely demolish it. When they play a team with a good offensive line, they do nothing. I'm not sure if it's a scheme thing or a question of personnel (maybe the lack of a dominant nose tackle). In any event, this 49ers line was made to order for them, and they're tearing through it like wet tissue paper.

Bill Barnwell: I think it's both. I think they can be exploited with misdirection and letting them overpursue, but they're going to make some plays regardless. Even when the defense was terrible the first two weeks, they still made some plays on pure athleticism.

Michael David Smith: Assuming the Giants keep playing this way they'll have won four straight games by more than 10 points. Anyone know the last time they did that?

Aaron Schatz: The answer is... one year ago.

Week 5: 19-3 over Washington
Week 6: 27-14 over Atlanta
Week 7 : 36-22 over Dallas
Week 8: 17-3 over Tampa Bay

Remember, they were in the DVOA top 5 at midseason or something like that, then went into the crapper. However, before 2006, four straight Giants double-digit wins had not happened since 1990. The Giants have fallen apart in the second half for three straight years now. It was less apparent in 2005, because a lot of it was going from big wins to small wins. In 2004, they were 5-2 and ended 6-10.

Mike Tanier: I was impressed by the Giants offensive line in this game. Their backs are pretty good (though they can't catch), but they are consistently able to string out seven-yard gains to the outside because the blocking is so good.

Trent Dilfer is really terrible. He looked like he has never seen a Cover-2 defense before, he doesn't know that linebackers are sitting in underneath zones or that the cornerback is going to drop off of his receiver to cover a guy in the flat. In the second half, the Niners tried an adjustment where they went to seven-man protection and threw deep passes up the sidelines. That's when Dilfer completed that ball to Ashley Lelie, but the strategy didn't work because it was Dilfer throwing to Niners receivers, not a good quarterback throwing to good receivers. Some team is probably going to use that strategy successfully against this defense. It won't happen next week against Miami.

New England Patriots 49 at Miami Dolphins 28

Ben Riley: Twice today, Tom Brady has thrown deep to Randy Moss in double coverage in the end zone, passes that in Logical Football World, no quarterback should throw. Twice today, Randy Moss has made unbelievable grabs to score. Quoth my girlfriend: "It's like Moss has magnets in his hands."

Doug Farrar: I don't usually comment on Patriots games because so many others who know the team better write for FO, but I'll say one thing: This isn't even fair. This is beyond ridiculous. When your quarterback throws a bomb on third-and-18 into double coverage in the end zone and you know it's going to be a touchdown ... when there is no doubt in your mind ... wow. Just wow.

Bill Moore: Those two catches by Moss were insane. They should not have been caught. If anything, they both should have been intercepted. Dan Dierdorf said something pretty funny: "I don't know of any other situation where a quarterback looks down the field, sees double coverage, and says, 'Hey, I think I'll go there.'" I'm not sure that's the exact quote, but I'm too busy throwing up from quoting Dan Dierdorf.

Aaron Schatz: The fact that Norv Turner so discouraged Randy Moss that he went from this to an unspectacular starting wideout may be the best possible evidence that he's the worst head coach in NFL history. Unless it is the best possible evidence that Art Shell is the worst head coach in NFL history.

Mike Tanier: Norv Turner didn't really demoralize Randy Moss. He let Randy be Randy. Let him do whatever he wanted. And Art Shell was even worse. Randy isn't exactly Mr. Work Ethic. It's amazing what a guy can do when he is surrounded by coaches and teammates who won't take any of his crap.

Sean McCormick: I actually have a different read on Moss. I think he, like many great players, is contemptuous of incompetence. He recognized it right away in Oakland and mailed in his performances. When he's played with good quarterbacks, he's played hard and produced. He clearly wants to win -- he's just not stupid.

Mike Tanier: Contemptuous of incompetence? Sounds like an excuse for "lazy." If all Americans were "contemptuous of incompetence," nothing would ever get done. We all have some incompetent co-workers or bosses. I'm a teacher. What am I supposed to do: Figure if my superintendent is a ninny then I can show movies every day? I know a lot of good, hard working players get dragged down by bad teams. Moss helped drag down a bad team. Big difference. Sure he "wants to win." We all do. When you go in the tank in Week 2 because you don't like the situation you are in, then you don't want it that bad.

Sean McCormick: I really don't see it that way. Chad Pennington talked about Moss and said that if you put good players around him, he'll work hard, he'll play hard, and he'll generally be a fantastic teammate, and his pro career more or less backs that up.

Mike Tanier: So if he has a great situation around him he will try. And if he doesn't have an ideal situation he will go out of his way to make the situation worse. Sounds like a model employee to me. I hope Tom Brady doesn't get hurt, because if Matt Cassel comes in Moss will just give up and then go on every radio show complaining about the situation because he's just too good to be saddled with such a bad quarterback.

Aaron Schatz: I'm enjoying this as much as all the rest of the Patriots fans, but running the fake spike play at the end of the second quarter up 35-7 is a bit much. I know you guys aren't happy about all those times Miami beat you in the heat and humidity, but that is really, really bad sportsmanship.

Ben Riley: Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital "C." Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole "fake spike to stop the clock" with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football -- it's a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship.

Vince Verhei: Bill Simmons has written about the "Eff You" touchdown. This was the "Eff You" game.

Aaron Schatz: Meanwhile, let's talk about the Dolphins. First, the good. Beautifully designed play by the Dolphins for their first touchdown. Reagan Mauia, the fullback, goes in motion wide right, and Rodney Harrison has to follow him because the Pats are in man coverage. That leaves the middle wide open behind the defensive line, and Cleo Lemon runs right up the middle for the score. Rookie center Samson Satele looks very good. Nice pick there.

The bad: Is Joey Porter even on the field in this game? Good personnel call there by the Pittsburgh Steelers front office.

Tennessee Titans 38 at Houston Texans 36

Bill Barnwell: Tennessee wins, somehow. That wins my vote for ugly great game of the year. The Titans deserved that one. Amazing. Sage freaking Rosenfels almost won the game. Appalling coverage by Lowry on that play. That was Madden-esque, where the safety just stands there and lets the guy just jump right in front of him for the score.

Sean McCormick:You must mean Madden 2007. In Madden 2008, the safety would run straight through the receiver and pick it.

I think we can expect TMQ to make a note of the ill-advised blitz Houston ran on second-and-10 that left Roydell Williams in single coverage on the streak. Seven men cross the line ... and Houston loses.

Doug Farrar: Second week in a row that Kerry Collins engineered an impressive late drive. And Rob Bironas kicked eight field goals? Good Lord.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 at Detroit Lions 23

Ben Riley: One thing I like about football is that it proves, over and over again, that economists sometimes know what they are talking about. Cause: Earlier this week, the Bucs traded for Michael Bennett. Effect: Earnest Graham is running and catching like a man possessed. (It also helps to face the Lions, whose defensive line should be better than it is.)

Doug Farrar : I think we may have to take the "Captain Checkdown" name from Steve McNair. With 11:29 left in this game, Jeff Garcia has completed 26 of 29 passes for 243 yards.

Sean McCormick: The Bucs just ran the greatest onside kick I've ever seen. They bunched up their coverage team in the middle of the field and kicked it really hard straight at a Lions -- the ball shot right off a Lion and went up in the air, and there were about eight Bucs charging to it.

Tampa Bay built on their first onside kick with their second one. They came out in the same formation with their team bunched in the center. Detroit bunched their cover men in the center in response. The kicker then kicked what was basically a soccer through pass into the space on the right side, giving his return team a chance to get after it running forward at full speed while the cover team had to backpedal. Detroit recovered, but it was a terrific special teams sequence.

New York Jets 31 at Cincinnati Bengals 38

Sean McCormick: The Bengals are doing everything they can to make the Jets defense effective. They are taking a ton of penalties that turn favorable downs and distances into unfavorable ones. Of course, this is the Jets defense we're talking about, so they're promptly giving up big pass plays anyway.

This could be the last game played by Chad Pennington. It's too bad, because this game was a perfect illustration of how low down the quarterback position is on the list of team problems. The Jets offense scored on each of its first five possessions, and they threw the ball successfully at every depth level.

What did the defense do with that performance? They gave up five scoring drives of their own, drives of 78 yards, 76 yards, 76 yards, 57 yards and 50 yards, despite Cincinnati making things harder on themselves by taking repeated penalties on offense. They gave up 130 yards to Kenny Watson on 31 carries. Kenny Watson. Just look at the drive stats for the game -- the Jets' offense averaged 36.1 yards per drive and 2.3 points per drive, which are fantastic numbers. The defense gave up 44.1 yards per drive and 3.4 points per drive, which are about as bad a set of numbers as you can possibly generate. But Pennington threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown while trying to drive the length of the field with no timeouts, so he's going to lose his job. It's absurd.

Bill Barnwell: Pennington sure does make a convenient scapegoat while you're ignoring the flaws of your team, though...

Michael David Smith: Is anyone actually ignoring the flaws of the Jets? I think everyone pretty much agrees that their defense sucks. That doesn't necessarily mean Pennington shouldn't get benched, though.

Bill Barnwell: The New York media is. Well, I mean, they mention it, but they focus on the Pennington thing like it's the difference between the Jets winning or losing when that's not the case whatsoever.

Sean McCormick: Right. The issue is one of proportion. It's not that the offense isn't in any way to blame, or that Pennington's limitations don't play into that in some way. But the defensive numbers are just staggering. The notion that changing quarterbacks or throwing downfield more is going to give a "spark" to a defense that just surrendered 44.1 yards a drive and 3.4 points a possession is just ludicrous. But it's going to be taken perfectly seriously by both fans and the media, who will look at the record and the game-ending interception and lump offensive and defensive performances together.

Chicago Bears 19 at Philadelphia Eagles 16

Vince Verhei: If opponents are going to kick or punt the ball out of bounds, well, there's really not much Devin Hester or the Bears can do about it. But if teams are just going to kick the ball high and short on kickoffs, as the Eagles did all day, don't you coach your guys to pitch back to Hester if at all possible? I saw one ball come down at about the 20, and as the up-man settled under it to make the catch, Hester actually ran by him to throw a block. Is that really the best way to win a game? The Bears should have been prepared for this tactic, and the players should have been able to get the ball into Hester's hands with a minimal risk of turnover.

Mike Tanier: The red zone in Philly has become like the Forbidden Zone from Beneath the Planet of the Apes. When the Eagles venture inside the 20, they find a bunch of guys who were locked in the old Vet Stadium holding pen now worshiping an atomic bomb. This is appropriate, because Andy Reid also worships a bomb. The Eagles red zone problems can only be solved by better play-calling or a cameo by Charlton Heston. I am just so sick of the Eagles dickering around in the red zone, keeping these second rate opponents hanging around. Run more. Make play-action more viable. It has gotten very tiring to watch.

Ben Riley: Bizarre call that I can't believe is right just made by Big Arms Hochuli. The Bears snap sideways past Brian Griese, and the ball is recovered by the Eagles and run back to the 20. But the play is whistled dead, because by rule a ball that is snapped past the quarterback is a false start. If that is the rule, why is that rule?

Doug Farrar: Two notable things about this game: Mushin Muhammad complaining about the hotel room service in the post-game press conference, and a group of birds surrounding Devin Hester as he tried to bring in a deep pass from Griese. The birds distracted him, and flew away. You think Belichick's bad? Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has assembled the forces of nature in Hitchcockian fashion, and he's getting away with it!

Mike Tanier: Yes, but the birds failed. They need to bring the Vet Stadium rats back.

St. Louis Rams 6 at Seattle Seahawks 33

Doug Farrar: Seattle's opening scoring drive was a nice little flashback to 2005 -- Matt Hasselbeck goes five-for-five, throwing to four different receivers, actual blocking is observed, and the run game works with Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris. The Rams answer with a drive in which two straight false starts are called on their offensive line, and Marc Bulger throws a desperation "doink" pass on third-and-22. Between the Rams and 49ers today, I've seen about all the horrible line play I can take. Not wanting to be left out, the Seahawks can't convert a fourth-and-inches, which gives the ball to St. Louis at the Seattle 48-yard line. Rookies Adam Carriker and Cliff Ryan were factors on the inside. Back to 2007 for the Seahawks, and their nonexistent ground game.

Nice sideline-cam shot of Marc Bulger rolling his eyes at Scott Linehan after the Rams can only get three points from their advantageous field position.

Ben Riley: The phrase "coverage sack" has always confused me a little, but three times today, Marc Bulger has stood in the pocket for two seconds two long, resulting in a Darryl Tapp sack. Meanwhile, Matt Hasselbeck is grabbing his ribs and missing on his passes. The era of Seneca Wallace, wide receiver, may end momentarily.

Doug Farrar: I'm pretty much ready for the era of Bill Laveroni, offensive line coach, to end momentarily. I know there's been a great deal of personnel churn on this line, and there's a young center and left guard to account for, but it's been a season and a half without Steve Hutchinson, and it's been the same crap pretty much the entire time -- minimal gaps, sloppy pulls, hurried throws -- plays can't develop with this line, and Mike Holmgren's offense requires plays to develop. There has to be a better way to do this.

For the second straight season, Nate Burleson gets a 90-plus-yard kick return against the Rams. The unsung hero on the play was reserve linebacker Will Herring, who blocked Ronald Bartell all the way downfield, running step-for-step with Nate. Darryl Tapp is having one of those Umenyiora-vs.-Justice games -- four sacks halfway through the third quarter, and that's after having a cast put on his right hand at halftime.

Ben Riley: Shaun Alexander just got stopped at the line, then ran backwards four yards before being stuffed for a big loss. That, in itself, is not worthy of an audible. What made the play unusual is that Matt Hasselbeck literally pointed down the field in the direction that Shaun should have been running, i.e., forward. From MVP to not knowing which direction to run: the 2007 Shaun Alexander!

At least four times today, Matt Hasselbeck has thrown a pass to the streaking fourth- or fifth-string wideout toward the end zone. Luckily for the Seahawks, none have been picked off -- unlike last week, when Hasselbeck threw an interception to the Saints at the worse possible time -- but he needs to remove that page from the playbook.

Aaron Schatz: The play-by-play says that Donnie Jones had an 80-yard punt in this game. Seriously?

Doug Farrar: Yes, and he also had one that went 64. That was a real 64-yarder, as Burleson was back to retrieve it. The one listed as 80 went more like 60, but Burleson misjudged that one in the air, and it went over his head and rolled a bit.

The second half of this game was basically a study in almost cruel domination -- a bit like a large cat playing with a very small mouse. The Rams had no answers for Seattle's defense, and Seattle's offensive liabilities didn't matter. From what I'm seeing here, I can't imagine that Scott Linehan will keep his job through the season. It's bad enough if you're the Dolphins and you lay open your throat to the Patriots -- but they're the Patriots, and there's a great chance you'll get your ass kicked even if you're a really good team. To get pushed around the plate and devoured by the Seahawks, a decent team who themselves would get waxed by the Patriots at this point, is just about inexcusable.

Linehan came in before the 2006 season and wanted to establish a power running game, more consistency, blah, blah, blah. But I think he's superimposed his idea of a team on a team created very differently by other people. This is not a physical team. It's a big-play offense with a noted lack of situational discipline -- the Rams have led the NFL in false starts since at least the day that Alex Barron was drafted -- and you can't just tell a team to "play this way" if it runs counter to their abilities.

I'm also starting to wonder if parity isn't on the way out. We have two 0-7 teams in the Rams and Dolphins, and if the Colts win tomorrow night, there will be a 7-0 and a 6-0 team. My guess is that it's been a while since that happened.

Mike Tanier: I wasn't watching this, but I read the comments and assumed that the Seahawks were involved in some nail-biter because they were enduring such criticism. It is 33-6 Seahawks, right? Somebody besides that defensive end played well, right?

Vince Verhei: This was, without question, the most disheartening 27-point win I've ever seen. The Seattle offense has serious problems that have already been discussed. The Seahawks started four possessions in St. Louis territory, and on those four possessions managed one touchdown, two field goals and an interception. That's against the Rams, not the Steelers. And while the defense couldn't really have played much better, beating a team with a backup tackle and a beat-up quarterback in your home stadium that produces extra false start penalties is not really a great achievement.

Still, the division completely, totally sucks, and the deviant part of my brain hopes the Seahawks win the division at 7-9.

Doug Farrar: The defense played exceptionally well, especially in the second half. Marcus Trufant continued his improvement as a cover corner -- nobody will ever mistake him for Champ Bailey, but he's looking very solid out there. I don't think there's any question that as far as linebackers in a 4-3 scheme go, Seattle's are right up there with the best in their effectiveness and versatility. Backup tight end Will Heller impressed (he really should be playing more, because he can block!) and I liked what I saw from the interior defensive line rotation.

Unlike last week against the Saints, the Seahawks didn't regress against an inferior team. They're back in first place in their division, they've got a bye now, and they'll have some guys coming back healthy in two weeks. The concerns are obvious, but there's also room for guarded optimism.

One more thing: In the second half of this game, I'm thinking of Aaron's recent ESPN.com article about teams who bring on mobile (as in running, not as in pocket presence) quarterbacks, and how their rushing totals increase. I begin to wonder if, in the second half of games like this, when the Seahawks are doing little more than protecting a lead, they wouldn't get Seneca Wallace out there at quarterback and run some spread option plays.

Minnesota Vikings 14 at Dallas Cowboys 24

Aaron Schatz: I think I can feel a research project coming on, because watching this game, I'm just ultra frustrated at the Minnesota Cover-2 defensive schemes. How often can you let the other team's superstar receiver get open easily on the out? How often can you have two defensive backs sitting there while the tight end catches an easy eight-yard pass on first down right in front of them? I understand that the Cover-2 defense works well at times. I'm not talking about the run -- of course the Vikings are awesome stuffing the run. I'm talking about the pass, but Chicago and Tampa Bay have enjoyed some of the best defenses in NFL history over the past few years using this scheme, and defending the pass is certainly not the problem for the Indianapolis Colts.

And yet, I watch Romo here -- with a zillion yards, but losing most of the day because of bad bounces on fumbles -- and I watch Peyton Manning against Tampa two weeks ago, and Dallas when the Cowboys destroyed the Bears 34-10 with Terrell Owens going nuts, and Tom Brady against Minnesota on MNF last year, and Steve Smith in the NFC playoffs two years ago... It just looks too easy.

So it leads to a question, and thus a debate perhaps for now and a research project for later. Is it possible that:

a) When they play against a Tampa-2, are the top quarterbacks less affected by the strength of the defense than average quarterbacks are?*

Or...

b) Is the disparity between the good Tampa-2 defenses and the bad Tampa-2 defenses larger than the disparity between, say, the good 3-4 defenses and the bad 3-4 defenses?

Or...

c) Is the issue not the quality of the quarterback, but the quality of the number one receiver? Brady's big game against Minnesota last year would seem to suggest "no," but the fact that it was Jake Delhomme who destroyed the Bears in the 2005 playoffs would seem to suggest "yes."

* Assuming, of course, that the head coach of the team playing Tampa-2 was not the head coach of the other team the previous year, and did not play the part of the quarterback in practice prior to the game (known as the Jon Gruden Exception).

Doug Farrar: Well, if the idea of the Cover-2 is to allow underneath stuff and avoid the big play, while bringing enough pressure up front to avoid having your opposing quarterback just sit back there and tee off (as the Seattle defenses of 2003-2004 could not do), I'd say that the Vikings are at a severe disadvantage when running that scheme. Because they stop the run so well, and they're going to face minimal rushing attempts and maximum pass attempts, they're almost inviting offenses to carve them up. With that many attempts against a Cover-2 without pass pressure up front, conversions will happen -- over and over again. The Vikings are currently 26th in DVOA against the pass, and they're 27th in defensive Adjusted Sack Rate, and with defenses like that, you have to wonder which hand washes the other.

Mike Tanier: I think Cover-2 is just becoming one of those things like West Coast Offense was 12 years ago. Suddenly, all of these bad teams were running the West Cast Offense, and it didn't work, and people figured that the system stunk, when in fact the personnel was bad and the system didn't matter. When I see a team playing a lot of Cover-2 getting picked apart, I don't necessarily blame the scheme, because I assume that if they switched to more man coverage and started blitzing that would just make things worse.

Ned Macey: I'll take (b) first. Aren't the Jets the single worst defense in football so far this year? Weren't the Texans a terrible defense for years under Capers? Isn't Cleveland the third to worst defense in DVOA this year? I think there have been plenty of crappy 3-4 defenses that have been exploited over the years.

I'll take (a) next. The Cover-2 is not the same everywhere, and a coach can tailor it to stop the run or the pass. Dungy always has his team stronger against the pass than the run. After he left Tampa Bay, Monte Kiffin/Jon Gruden have played the run better at times.

As for (c), I think the Carolina-Chicago game might be skewing your thinking. If I remember correctly, they often left their corners in single coverage on Steve Smith, thus deviating from the traditional Cover-2. The Tampa Bay-San Francisco game referenced above obviously featured T.O. (four catches for 35 yards). Not to mention Tampa Bay's game against St. Louis in 1999 when they held them to 11 points or whatever when they had Isaac Bruce in his prime.

I'd propose two alternate theories:

a) Peyton Manning is a bad example because he and the Colts are designed to kill a Cover-2, just like you can't really say a 3-4 is superior because it makes the Colts struggle. The Cover-2 generally gives away where the rush is coming from, which makes any good quarterback extremely difficult to deal with. It's susceptible to teams that have two outside receivers to force the safeties wide and a great threat up the middle to exploit the opening. Drop to cover, and the running back kills you underneath.

b) You cannot run the Cover-2/Tampa-2 if you can't get pressure with your front four. If so, then a quarterback has all day to wait for someone to come free. Mix in linebackers who struggle in coverage (see Minnesota, at least last year), and it is a recipe for disaster. I will say this: Any defense that shows no variation is no good, so the best teams tweak their defense a bit for the opposition.

Aaron Schatz: Maybe the Tampa-2 just looks worse than other defenses do when you don't have the right players. At least the Jets look like they are trying and they just suck. With the Tampa-2, when two defenders are just standing there while a wide open tight end catches an eight-yard pass in front of them, it looks like they aren't even trying. I realize this is how the scheme works, but it is agonizing, and this is from someone who doesn't even care about whether the Vikings win or lose.

Teams need to start fitting the scheme to the players and stop trying to squeeze players into the wrong scheme.

Sean McCormick: I happen to echo Aaron's feelings on the Tampa-2. I think it's a defense that is already lost its raison d'etre. The funny thing is that it came into vogue to combat the West Coast offenses that were the big thing in the mid 90's, but it had the bad luck to spread right at the time when the Rams were re-introducing the vertical game. At this point you need really good personnel to run it successfully, or you need a really good offense that puts enough pressure on the opposing offense to force it to take chances rather than take its time and pick the very obvious holes in the zone apart. And even a very good defense can be completely dissected by a team with the requisite tools. Yes, the Colts are absolutely ridiculous, but they laid out a blueprint against the Bucs a couple weeks ago that quite a few other teams can follow, just by attacking the MLB high-low with a tight end and a running back, while having receivers good enough to keep the safety spacing wide.

The 3-4 defenses that are failing are at least failing while trying to take an approach that actually disrupts the offenses that teams are currently running.

Bill Barnwell: Minnesota pulls off the fumble/lateral/fumble/recovered by the same player/touchdown return. The booth challenges and it's upheld. That's about ten minutes of Excel work. Romo also appears to attempt to slide-tackle one of the return convoy and comes up lame.

Aaron Schatz: After my rant, the Vikings pass defense is playing far better in the second half. I can't tell why. That's one of the things about watching games live vs. charting -- if I was charting, I would notice the difference. Can anyone tell if the Vikings are doing something different now? They definitely seem to be getting more pass pressure, but I think it is still generally just that front four.

One more note: Tarvaris Jackson is awful, just awful. He's a walking, talking advertisement for the Lewin Career Forecast. No accuracy, awful decision-making, constantly flustered by pressure. Seriously, Dave should get twin tattoos of Jackson and Jason Campbell with the words "LEWIN CAREER FORECAST 4EVER" above them.

Ryan Wilson: There's a very good case to be made that he shouldn't have been a second-round pick. That selection was all on Fran Foley, who traded back into the second round to take him. Dave's system puts the evaluation onus on the scouts, but this was the act of an underqualified executive who was fired soon after.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 at Denver Broncos 31

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, shaky Ben Roethlisberger was not a one-year fluke, and neither was the decline of the Pittsburgh offensive line. He is getting killed out there tonight with the Denver pass rush, which is a little odd because Denver does not actually have a pass rush. He's looking a little jumpy, too. I know one of his strengths is throwing on the run, but he looks like he's starting to scramble almost immediately, and he did a pirouette-and-throw-at-receiver's feet thing on one play that was like his tryout for Alvin Ailey.

Ryan Wilson: I think we should hold off the the "Big Ben is still shaky" talk. The offensive line has always been in doubt -- that they were adequate in the first quarter of the season was the biggest surprise. I'm pretty sure the first pick was on offensive coordinator Bruce Arians -- he's fond of throwing deep, occasionally, no matter the coverage. The second pick was on Hines Ward. It wasn't a great pass, but you expect Ward to catch it. Other than that, I'm not sure why Roethlisberger is "shaky." Because he has 0.4 seconds to throw a pass, or because his wideouts can't get open?

Ben Riley: Remember our "Something called Spaeth just scored" conversation a few weeks ago? Well, he just scored again for the Steelers, prompting Al Michaels to say "Tim Spaeth" three times and John Madden to say it once. Matt Spaeth, fellas, Matt.

Doug Farrar: That was one hell of a game. After it was over, I was surprised to see that Roethlisberger was sacked four times, only because he seems so hard to bring down. As he was in 2005, and as he certainly was against the Seahawks earlier this season. He would complete passes with defensive tackles draped on his back. Kind of a coming-out party for Jay Cutler against this defense as well.

Ryan Wilson: This was the first time all season the Steelers' defense was the liability. As Doug mentioned, Roethlisberger is incredibly tough to bring down, but it's a double-edged sword. Sure, he'll make some big plays, but as a fan, you spend an inordinate amount of time yelling, "THROW THE FREAKING BALL!" ... right before he takes a 10-yard loss. That said, the offensive line managed to keep it together on the last touchdown drive, but anything inside 55 yards for Elam in Denver is just about automatic.

Doug Farrar: I recently interviewed Norm Johnson, who kicked for 18 years in the NFL with the Seahawks, Falcons, Steelers, and Eagles. We discussed the transient nature of his career and how difficult it is for players to find long-term situations that work best for all involved. Jason Elam and Matt Stover were two exceptions that were brought up, and that's what I was thinking about when Elam kicked the game winning field goal as time expired. That's a relationship between player and team that has worked so well for all involved.

Posted by: admin on 22 Oct 2007

339 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2007, 10:11am by Kaveman

Comments

1
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 6:57am

"Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital “C.� Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole “fake spike to stop the clock� with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football — it’s a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship."

Oh dear, here we go again. I was involved last time and see this one come over the horizon feeling nothing but dread.

2
by Nat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 7:16am

1:
Amen, Jimmy.
All I can think is that FO is trying to increase page views by manufacturing idiotic controversies. I hereby withdraw from any discussion of the unsportsmanlike act of running up the score in the first half.

3
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:13am

Tavaras Jackson completed 6 of 19 passes, and 4 of them were to running backs.

Jason Campbell threw for under 100 yards, he completed only 6 passes to receivers, 2 of them were screens, and he threw 1 interception on a screen. Joe Gibbs runs one of the most conservative offenses I have ever seen.

The Cards got screwed on a call on 3rd and 6 when they called somebody for a late hit that extended their drive. Mike Sellers was still motioning forward when I guess it was Calvin Pace dove at him to stop him from getting the 1st. That kept the drive alive and gave the Redskins the 7-0 lead.

We also saw Carlos Rodgers get punked by the kicker, and the kicker barley miss the game winning kick.

Will the 5-2 Giants finally have a higher DVOA than the 2-4 Eagles team they beat? Will the 5-2 Giants finally have a higher DVOA than the Redskins team they beat? The Giants are 5-0 in their last 5 games with an average win margin over 13.... including beating the Eagles and Redskins.

Oh but wait, the Giants are screwed without Tiki Barber, and hate their coach. The outsiders think they will draft Jake Long #1 next year.

4
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:19am

Also, the Cover 2 isn't a great defense... but when you have an allstar cast of players ( like Tampa had) it worked... then again, many other defenses would " work" too with 7 pro bowl players. It is a cookie cutter basic basic scheme.

BUT ( as I have been saying to Will Allen), Tavaras Jackson sucks. He really really sucks. I am glad everybody is finally coming around. How can you only complete 2 passes to receivers for under 100 yards and expect to be called a pro quarterback?

5
by Otis Taylor \'89 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:21am

The best catch by Moss was the "classless" play where he caught it one hand - unbelievable. People actually think they will lose this year?

6
by Vincent (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:22am

“Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital “C.� Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole “fake spike to stop the clock� with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football — it’s a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship.�

Give me a break. It's improbable that the Dolphins could've made up a 28 point deficit in the 2nd half, but it's not impossible. I've never seen anyone say "we're close enough to winning, it's the first half, let's not play hard anymore."

Turns out that the Dolphins score 3 times in the 2nd half. If the Patriots had taken the rest of the game off after being up 35-7 it would've been a 35-28 final margin. Thank god clowns like you guys don't coach the Patriots, otherwise it'd be like Art Shell coaching them.

This is what Belichick had to say:

"But the score was 42-21"
"Yeah, one more turnover and it's a 14-point game in the middle of the fourth quarter. Yeah, I was at the game."

"Is that why you went to the two-minute offense at the end of the first half?"
"It's the first half. It's the first half. Look, we've all seen games -- the Tampa-Indianapolis game a couple of years ago, 21 points in four minutes, whatever it is -- I mean, don't tell me about leads in this league. Until the final gun goes off, it's not a win."

I completely agree.

7
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:27am

Classless? It sure was classless of the NFL to schedule a junior varsity middle school team (Miami) game against an NFL team (NE) on Sunday.

Miami should be relegated to Division I AA.

NE looked great as a team, BB looked paranoid/petty in benching Cassell so quickly. Odd that he didn't put the 3rd string QB in right there to get him experience. But, BB has his schtick, and his players seem motivated by it, so why worry about it?

8
by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:50am

on Wilson's comment that Tarvaris is Fran Foley's fault... that may be, but Foley is gone and the Vikings are still throwing him out there.

If they were a team with no other talent, you could understand them trying to see what he might do, but their defense has a lot of veterans in their prime who probably won't be around, or in their prime when they finally get the offense fixed. That Childress presumably won't be either makes it even more perplexing.

I mean, looking around the league and seeing other quarterbacks that could have been had for next to nothing playing competently, Collins or Rosenfels for example, makes it fairly pathetic. Never mind that the Minnesota front office is now run by the brain trust behind Miami's similar waste of defense, not that they'd have any special insights into someone like Rosenfels...

9
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:50am

So, Roethlisberger is possibly shaky, the Steelers O line was adequate all year, but suddenly wasn't in this game, and similarly the Steelers defense?

Let me add a few other items that might be of interest.

Neither Champ Bailey or Javon Walker played, arguably the Broncos' best players. Tom Nalen is out for the year but the Broncos O line almost didn't miss a beat. The running game was ineffective (3 ypc), but the Broncos often fare poorly against 3-4 defenses.

For the first time yesterday you could actually see Bates' scheme coming together. The rush defense gave up three bad plays: 27, 15, and 24 yards. On the remaining 18 runs, Willie Parker averaged 1.5 yards per carry.

Special teams did great... that didn't look like the 32nd ranked unit. Look forward to seeing its DVOA.

The offense, despite Henry averaging 3 yards per carry with a long of 8 yards, finally put up some points to match the yards. Cutler looks like the franchise QB a lot of teams would love to have.

The Steelers converted 8/12 3rd downs, and it seemed like all of them were to Heath Miller or Willie Parker. There was a big hole in the middle of the Broncos' pass defense... I wonder if a LB actually defensed a pass all game.

I had forgotten how well Roethlisberger moves and how hard he is to tackle. Gah. You just knew that 3rd and 12 was no biggie... he'd avoid a couple pass rushers, sprint out to one side, and complete a 15 yard pass to Heath Miller. Seemed like that happened half a dozen times.

So, hopefully the Broncos have hit bottom and rebounded. Still many things to fix, but clear improvements all around. Phew.

10
by Sam (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:54am

I just wanted to interrupt this ridiculous debate (what does it matter anyway??) to say thank you for getting Audibles up so quickly this morning.

11
by JFP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:55am

#7
"NE looked great as a team, BB looked paranoid/petty in benching Cassell so quickly."

Belichick was just auditioning Cassell for the Dolphins. He'll end up getting Jason Taylor and a late draft pick from them next year for Cassell.

12
by Darrel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:03am

I'm OK with the Pats scoring as much as possible, but the fake spike was kind of silly.

13
by intrepid reader (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:04am

Please, FO, haven't we all had enough so-called insight from second-rate scrub Mike Tanier?

14
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:13am

"The bad: Is Joey Porter even on the field in this game? Good personnel call there by the Pittsburgh Steelers front office."

Oh yes, Joey Porter was on the field. He even managed his 1st sack yesterday. Brady then promptly threw the 35yd TD pass to Moss on 3rd & long.

Beyond the awesomeness of Moss, and the questionable fake spike, the real story yesterday was the complete inability of the Miami defense to tackle. Stallworth beat two "tacklers" for his TD, and Welker beat at least 1 tackler on both of his TDs. Throw in Channing Crowders' ability to cover Kyle Brady (or anyone else) and the spectacular ineptitude of the Miami Kick off coverage team this year, and you explain all but 14 of New Englands points. The remaining 14 are all down to Moss.

On the bright side, the offense did OK, albeit against a soft defense for much of the second half. Much to my suprise, Miami didn't miss Chris Chambers [/sarcasm], and Cam Cameron continues to impress me with his willingness to try and convert 4th down. If Miami don't get 4 wins, Cameron is probably toast, and I think that would be a shame. Purely subjective, but I think he has the makings of a good HC.

15
by sacctown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:15am

Request for Every Play Counts this week: Patriots Offensive Line. We all know that Moss and Brady are amazing but can we get an in-depth look at the guys up front?

16
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:19am

I was watching the Jets/Bengals game yesterday and was wondering if anyone else thought the refs really missed it on the play where the Jets pick of Palmer was ruled as 'dual possession'? The announcers kept mentioning that the Bengals receiver had 'two hands on the ball' so that gives him possession. But merely touching the ball with both hands can't equate to possession. It looked to me like the Jets guy clearly had control of the ball and the Bengal player was just sort of grasping at it trying to take it away.

Wondering if anyone saw it differently.

17
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:20am

Even TMQ has said that no team should be criticised for running up the score in the first half.
I’m also starting to wonder if parity isn’t on the way out. We have two 0-7 teams in the Rams and Dolphins, and if the Colts win tomorrow night, there will be a 7-0 and a 6-0 team. My guess is that it’s been a while since that happened.
It's the increase in salary cap. Good front offices have more margin to play with.

18
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:26am

"To me, it seems obvious [Boller] should be the team’s starter from here on out"

Please no. Boller was jumping backwards and firing inaccurate passes at the end of the 4th quarter without a defender within 3 yards of him. He just gets way too jittery when there's any hint of a pass rush.

The Ravens playoff chances took a major blow considering the remaining schedule. However, after the bye if they beat Pittsburg they'll be tied for 1st in the AFC North, and they typically match up well against the Steelers because fast Willie can't operate in tight spaces.

And it looks like Ogden is back (he played 10 plays in the Buffalo game), him along with Pryce, Heap, McCalister, McNair, and Adam Terry should definitely improve the quality of play for the Ravens. I'm pretty skeptical that this improvement will put the Ravens in the playoffs, though.

19
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:38am

I've been wondering about Tampa Bay (and they're relatively high DVOA ranking) so it was nice to be able to watch them yesterday. They really didn't ask Garcia to do much. He completed lots of passes, but his turnovers killed them (his DPAR this week will be interesting). TB scored only six points prior to 'desperation time' at the end. And this was against a Lions defense that had been absolutely crushed by the two decent offensive teams it had played.

Net, it looks like the defense is going to have to carry this team all season. Hard to see them winng many games where the opposition scores 20+.

20
by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:39am

This is one of the latest times an undefeated team played a winless team.

But it will be surpassed when the Patriots play the Dolphins again in December.

I don't think any member of the '72 Dolphins will even bother to watch.

21
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:51am

Re: 5

Yeah I do think the Pats will lose a game this year. I suspect there will be a game where every break goes against them and about a half dozen questionable calls benefit there opponent. The Pats game winning field goal attempt will sail over the left post and be ruled wide.

This will be later called the NFLs 'Eff You' to the Pats.

22
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:04am

I wonder how much last year's boasting by the Dolphins of having known all of Brady's audibles before their 21-0 shutout of NE was weighing on some Pats' minds yesterday. Despite Belichick's rationalizations, they seemed to clearly want to humiliate the Dolphins, and show the two teams are on different planets right now. While Brady had played down the possible effect of that pre-game information after last year's rout, he seemed definitely irritated by it (and/or by the boasting).

Frankly, this was the first time this year I thought the Pats could have safely kept their foot off the gas in a game, and didn't.

23
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:12am

Lets just hope that Indy can keep playing at the level NE is or this season will be boring. Clearly Dall and Pitt aren't in the same class as NE.

After watching Dallas the last three games and some of the Giants. The Giants seem like a better team to me.

24
by Lou (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:19am

Bizarre call that I can’t believe is right just made by Big Arms Hochuli. The Bears snap sideways past Brian Griese, and the ball is recovered by the Eagles and run back to the 20. But the play is whistled dead, because by rule a ball that is snapped past the quarterback is a false start. If that is the rule, why is that rule?

I'm pretty sure its there so that teams don't direct snap to a RB with the QB under center.

25
by RickD (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:19am

I'm astonished at how many people seem to have completely forgotten last year's AFC championship game. Belichick is less than 12 months from watching a team blow a 18-point lead to the Colts.

There is no upside to easing up. None. This is not a question of "sportsmanship", not when we're talking about plays in the first half. These guys are all pros making 6-figures. We're not talking about a spunky Div II college whose players are just playing for the love of sport.

Jason Taylor has it exactly right. He has no problem facing an offense that is trying to do its best to win a game. Rather than sit and mope about "sportsmanship", Taylor kept playing his heart out and actually made a big play in the second half.

From today's Boston Globe:

"That's what you should do," said Taylor. "You shouldn't be conservative and sit back just because you have a lead. They ran their offense, and they took Tommy out for a while and put him back in because of the interception. But that's what the game is. If you don't want people to run the score up then stop them. I have no problem with it."

26
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:22am

Kaveman... don't get too excited. The Steelers' offensive line is really, really, really bad at pass blocking. They're probably as bad as the 49ers and Rams; Roethlisberger's Houdini-esque escapability is the reason why most people don't notice as much.

27
by TracingError (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:27am

Re Moss: isn't it a pretty big exaggeration to say he'll only try hard in the perfect situation? Is that how you describe the Minnesota teams of Dennis Green and Mike Tice? I mean those were fairly talented teams, but I don't think anyone thinks too much of the coaching decisions or atmosphere put in place by those two.

28
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:29am

Re: 9

My take, too. I felt a heck of a lot better to actually see some defense played. Stopping a 3rd-and-anything still needs work, but it's a lot more improvement than I expected, even for a bye week.

29
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:35am

"Teams need to start fitting the scheme to the players and stop trying to squeeze players into the wrong scheme."

Ladies and Gentlemen, your New York Jets!

30
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:36am

Regarding T. Jackson and Lewin's forecast. It seems my own early positive misinformed biased observations on Jackson were wrong and that Lewin's forecast is dead on.

I don't know if I've ever seen a QB play so badly when given such a comfortable situation to throw from. The Vikings OL in the last two games has been tremendous, both in run and pass blocking. The the QB and the Receivers have been horrible.

31
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:40am

One other Viking comment - having Bobby Wade return punts when you have Mewelde Moore is nuts. Wade has been horrible and yesterday he cost them big - he let a punt bounce at the 30 with no Cowboy within 10 yards of the ball and it rolled to the 9. Pedersen fumbled the next play. He also fair caught a ball at the six.

32
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:42am

Re: Broncos/Steelers

I didn't see the second half and was wondering what happened to bring the Steelers offense to life? In the first half, the Broncos defense was attacking the LOS with eight defenders routinely - especially on first and second down. Did they continue that in the second half (and the Steelers adjusted) or did the Broncos try something different that didn't work as well?

33
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:43am

" I’m enjoying this as much as all the rest of the Patriots fans, but running the fake spike play at the end of the second quarter up 35-7 is a bit much. I know you guys aren’t happy about all those times Miami beat you in the heat and humidity, but that is really, really bad sportsmanship."

They asked Bill Bellichick about that in the press conference. His answer:

"It's the first half"

I agree with him. In the first half you score as many points as you can.

34
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:45am

And just to expand, if the Patriots were bad sports, and Classless, this game would have been 84-14.

I expect better from you guys.

35
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:46am

mawbrew,
The same thing happened last week at WAS-GB. Even though Green Bay homers and Washington haters on this site convinced me it wasn't a dual possession, when I saw the replay it was clear the Washington had enough of the ball to make an argument for a dual catch.

I'm guessing the NFL has made it a "point of emphasis" that there are no dual catches, and when the officiating crew makes the call they are do to it swiftly with confidence and standby the call. That's exactly what happened to Washington, and I think dual-catches are not reviewable.

36
by bledderag (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:47am

I have not purchased access to the premium database (although I might for a random project or two), but Washington has to be among the teams with the worst differential in offensive DVOA between the first and second half. I live in virginia, so I get Washington games every week, and the difference has been ridiculous. In both of their two losses, they have built two touchdown leads and gave them up. In the second half, they are going into "protect the lead" mode, even though it is only the middle of the third quarter. They call low yardage plays on first and second down, then on third and long, they call plays that have a low chance of picking up another first down. It has killed them in their two losses, and nearly beat them against the Cardinals.

37
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:51am

24

Thanks for the explanation. I had no idea why the rule would be written that way, although I'm not complaining about the result.

38
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:51am

#24:
I'm not sure that's a rule.
According to the NFL rulebook:
A muffed hand-to-hand snap from center is treated as a fumble.

Now I haven't found anything about a long snap. But it makes no sense that a long snap to the QB is a dead ball, because it isn't when it's to a punter, who is essentially in the QB position. And as far as I know, you CAN snap directly to an RB. I've never seen a rule that says you can't. I think I've seen it done...though that may be in college.

39
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:51am

Re: WAS-ARI
Washington has serious o-line problems, and I think the Cardinals probably have a defensive line that is under-rated. I only watched from the time that Fox switched over NYG-SF.

Even though the Redskins had been doing their Run-Run-Incomplete pass offense us fans really hate, they did something very strange on their final drive when they got the ball with 3 minutes. They ended up going run-incomplete pass-run. The pass was actually a good attempt to go to Thrash to end the game (he didn't end up with it)... but I'd still have preferred them to run-run-run. Incidentally on their 3rd down run Portis not only ran out of bounds but Samuels was called for holding... U-G-L-Y!

Rocky McIntosh cannot cover at all... and I think neither can London Baker Fletcher. I think their middle has been pretty bad (provided the QB is accurate enough to not get picked by Sean Taylor).

Seriously that was the worst onside kick defense I had ever seen. Perfectly executed by Arizona, but I like how the onside kick as evolved into "let's have our front line mash the all hands team"... which seems to be working.

40
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:53am

And just to expand, if the Patriots were bad sports, and Classless, this game would have been 84-14.

I expect better from you guys.

If it's any consolation, Rich, that's exactly what I expected from you.

41
by AndyE (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:53am

I was going to follow #1 and #2's advice, but when my captcha is "doofus", how can I not respond?

While a couple of other posters have already addressed it, I found it amusing that the Audibles call the Patriots Classless in the first half, and then go completely silent for the 21 points Miami scores in the second half.

Look folks, I know it is the in thing that commentators have this month, to call the Pats classless. It's already old.

42
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:54am

Justin Zeth, #26: Kaveman… don’t get too excited. The Steelers’ offensive line is really, really, really bad at pass blocking.

Huh? Which part of my post in #9 suggests that I'm excited about the Broncos pass rush?

Incidentally, Roethlisberger's stats for the second half? 13/14 for 141 yards and 3 TDs. I don't think his pass protection was all that bad.

But hey, I'll admit that I am a bit excited that the almost written off Broncos put up 31 points on a team that was giving up 9.4 points per game.

43
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:55am

re:30

"I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a QB play so badly when given such a comfortable situation to throw from. The Vikings OL in the last two games has been tremendous, both in run and pass blocking. The the QB and the Receivers have been horrible.""

I only watched maybe 30 snaps of that game, but it seemed to me, like Will was saying, that the WRs are WAY more of a problem than Jackson. I think in 30 snaps (15 by dallas) there were about 6 dropped balls by Minny WRs, and one by Peterson.

44
by Boston Media Machine (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:56am

Man, what, do the Patriots send legions of annoying Boston fans to any website where they dare to be questioned immediately? Jesus Christ people, calm the eff down. OH NO SOMEBODY SAID SOMETHING AGAINST THE PATRIOTS I MUST DEFEND THEIR HONOR IMMEDIATELY AND ACT AS IF A PRIEST WAS JUST SHOT!

45
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:56am

Ben Riley: Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital “C.� Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole “fake spike to stop the clock� with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football — it’s a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship.

And that's why you're an arm chair QB analyzing games and Belichick is coaching championship teams.

The Dolphins outscored the Pats 21-7 in the second half.

The Hou/Ten game proved why you don't just mail it in once you get a huge lead.

These guys are all men, all professionals, being paid millions of dollars to play the game. These aren't high school games. As Jason Taylor said, if you don't want the other team to 'run up the score', "stop them."

There's absolutely no reason, especially after the leads that are blown in the NFL every single year -- including the lead blown by the Patriots last year to the Colts -- for any team in the NFL not to continue to put up as many points as they can until the final whistle blows.

Tell ya what, though. If you can get the other teams to say, "yep, you got us... we're going to quit trying and playing", then, and only then, will I agree -- and not think you're the one acting classless -- that the Pats should stop trying to score.

46
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:01am

Re: #24

A muffed long snap to a shotgun QB is a fumble. I think the thing yesterday (just going from press reports -- didn't see it) wasn't a muffed hand-to-hand to the QB under center -- it was a snap that went through the QB's legs (as opposed to hitting the QBs hands and being dropped).

47
by dbt (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:01am

I have to go back and re-read the rest of the discussion, but on the Tampa on-side kick thing, that's always been one of the things Gruden (or the Bucs under Gruden) have always done really well.

One of my favorites from a couple of years ago was they lined up 8 left and 2 right. The team they were playing (escapes my recall... I think it was in 2003) lined up 9 left and 2 right. So the kicker just knocked it 10 yards straight ahead and fell on it himself.

48
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:04am

As smart as the people at this site think they are... " It was the first half". The stats are great, but calling the Pats "Classless" for doing their job is way off.

The stats are great, but the scouting and commentary can be real spotty.

49
by Dan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:05am

32, I think Denver went into a prevent mentality in the 2nd half after going up by 2 TDs. I don't know the defensive schemes well enough by looking at the screen, but Madden and Michaels kept talking about the tampa2 which I believe is a passing prevention defense. I have no idea why teams get into the prevent mentality when it seems that offenses are able to easliy march down the field and score on mid-range passing plays... You can't go into prevent early in the 3rd becaues there are too many scoring opportunities (drives) left in the game. I believe if denver would have kept pressing like they did earlier in the game they would have kept the steelers to fewer points. The steelers recievers seemed to have lots of room in the flat and on short crossing routes over the middle late in the game.

49
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:05am

35- The Packers defensive Back had both hands on the ball, and the ball cradled in his stomach. The Redskins was touching the ball, but didn't have nearly the same claim to the ball.

51
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:09am

Re: 24

The only thing I can find along those lines is the following:

A.R. 7.27 Third-and-10 on A30. Offensive quarterback A1 places his hands on side of snapper. Ball goes through A1’s legs to Back A2 who completes a pass to the A40.
Ruling: False start. Five-yard penalty. Snap must go to quarterback A1. A’s ball third and-15 on A25. Blow whistle immediately.

I have to admit, I'm not even exactly sure what that ruling is about. I didn't see the play in question, but I don't think it applies though. It sounds like a bad call to me...

52
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:10am

To follow up to my own post. I think a shotgun snap is effectively considered just a backwards pass, and as such should be a live ball.

53
by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:11am

"And that’s why you’re an arm chair QB analyzing games and Belichick is coaching championship teams."

Oh, there's plenty of other reason. That probably doesn't even make the list. What a silly comment.

There's plenty of people who critize public figures' decision that aren't qualified to do their actual job. Does that mean one shouldn't comment at all?

54
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:11am

Re #45:

Dare I say it, just to stir the pot (and incur the wrath of Rich)?

Stat Boy Brady was just piling on the TD passes so he could break Manning's record. Needless points scored in the 4th quarter. What was Brady in there for? If it were the Colts, Manning would have been on the bench, victory secured.

(Of course, I don't really believe that, but as a Colt fan, I enjoy flipping the past NE fan arguments around, now that Manning is the reigning SB MVP and Brady is the two-time playoff choker filling up the record books!)

55
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:12am

45- Exactly.

That same arm chair Ben Riley would call the Patriots idiots if the Dolphins came back and won. Crunching stats and coaching are two different things.

56
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:13am

#32: I didn’t see the second half and was wondering what happened to bring the Steelers offense to life?

One short drive, due to a Cutler INT. Shorter, higher percentage passes; a lot of alley screens. A couple of Roethlisberger scrambles. And him evading pressure all over the place.

Ben Riley: Quoth my girlfriend: “It’s like Moss has magnets in his hands.�

:-O

That's exactly what my wife said!

57
by dbt (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:14am

Regarding the tampa-2 "steve smith" exception. Go ahead and name some players who were playing in the Bears secondary that game. By the third quarter it was Peanut Tillman and 3 guys who might as well have been in charge of carrying the K balls.

58
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:17am

"After my rant, the Vikings pass defense is playing far better in the second half. I can’t tell why. That’s one of the things about watching games live vs. charting — if I was charting, I would notice the difference. Can anyone tell if the Vikings are doing something different now? They definitely seem to be getting more pass pressure, but I think it is still generally just that front four."

Romo couldn't push off his bad hammy for throws. Thus he dink and dunked in those final minutes before the half and I think attempted one pass to a WR in the second half. Mickey Spagnola at dallascowboys.com noted all this and said Romo had some trouble climbing the podium for the press after the game and had Andre Gurode drive him out to his ride after the game.
Hopefully he'll be alright after the bye week.

59
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:18am

#57,

Yeah, but Smith beat Peanut for two of his big plays.

60
by nat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:19am

41: "I was going to follow #1 and #2’s advice, but when my captcha is “doofus�, how can I not respond?"

AndyE, no! Don't give into the dark side!

There is so much more to talk about, even if you limit yourself to the Pats/Fins game:

Has throwing deep to Moss replaced the RB dump-off as the outlet pass when everyone is covered?

Should the fake spike be outlawed - not because the Patriots did it, but because it is intended to confuse players about the end of a play and is thus dangerous/unfair?

Would a fake-fake spike be a good way to induce a penalty? If you spike it backwards, is it a fumble, and can it be advanced?

Would the Vikings like Matt Cassel for Tarvaris Jackson? Would it matter to either team if they traded?

61
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:19am

People here and Washington have been critical of the Wisenhunt 2 point conversion play in the Arizona game.

The Cards had Rattay split left, and Boldin in the gun. The ball was snapped to Quan and the entire O-Line pulled right. Boldin ran out in what was designed to be a run play, with an optional pass.

I know that because none of the lineman crossed the LOS. If they did, it was a 100 percent run play, but they didn't cross the line.

Once Quan realized he couldn't run in the 2 pointer, he decided to throw to a wide open Fitz, but it was a low throw that was picked off. In his defense, he was running nearly pretty fast, and it wasn't an easy throw to make for the former FSU quarterback.

Fans were critical of this play, but I'd say most of the time Quan could just run it in. The times he can't run it in is because everybody runs at him, and he just simply throws it in. It was good defense by the Skins on what isn't a bad play design. I actually like the play, it just didn't happen to work.

62
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:20am

Kaveman (#56 )--
Ben Riley: Quoth my girlfriend: “It’s like Moss has magnets in his hands.�
:-O
That’s exactly what my wife said!
Does that mean that your wife is Ben Riley's girlfriend? ;-)

63
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:20am

I hate to argue for censorship, but can the purely abusive posts be removed?

As for football, I didn't see many Vikings games prior to 05, so I always assumed Culpepper was a good QB, but watching Moss bail out Brady so many times this season, I wonder how good he really was.

64
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:21am

First, there is no such thing as running up the score, or needlessly humiliating an opponent in the first half, especially in the NFL. A player or coach who would complain about an opponent humiliating him in the first half should be fired. Yesterday.

Moss' performance is more dependent on his surrounding players than any other HOF-level talent I've ever seen. This is not a compliment to Randy Moss, but it does suggest that the Patriots are going to be extremely difficult to beat, because Moss is more talented than any receiver I've ever seen.

Also, insinuations above to the contrary, I've never really defended Tavaris Jackson. I've said he shouldn't have been taken in the 2nd round (and as much as I'd like to blame this entirely on Fran Foley, I don't know if that is accurate), and that somebody like Tony Romo probably would have sucked if he had been starting as soon as Jackson was. Not for the for the first time, I'll note that when you are new to the head coaching profession, and you place all your qb chips on a bet named Tavaris Jackson, you may not become old to the head coaching profession. If I hear another Viking fan complain about play-calling, or the amount of touches Adran Peterson gets, instead of about the fact that they only completed 6 passes, I think I'll start laughing hysterically.

Finally, I do think the advanced and conventional stats are missing something about the Vikings pass defense; it is not as bad as some are saying. Yesterday, on the road, against a good passing offense, on a day when the Vikings offense only ran about 40 plays, the Vikings defense only yielded one touchdown drive of any length, and it has only had about 1 very sub-par quarter out of 24 this year, in terms of yielding touchdowns.

65
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:21am

As for the Patriots being classless, I think we've known this for a few weeks now (despite what some pats fans here would say), and I'm fine with it. The NFL isn't about being merciful. But if you want to point out where they were especially unmerciful, I would take a look at them opening up the second half in shotgun running WR screens and complaining about flags while up 42-7.

66
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:23am

To be more serious, this season (Indy won the SB, Brady's piling up TD's) just keeps reminding me how much we are all homers, allowing "my guy" to do anything and supporting it. My current top 5 list of "my guy" guys in sports:

5) Pete Rose (an oldie but goodie) -- needlessly crushes a catcher in a trivial All-Star game, and Cincy fans say "My guy was just playing hard."
4) Allen Iverson -- takes practice non-participation to a new level (publicly), and fans say "My guy is just saving himself for the games."
3) Michael Vick -- says he was innocent, until he says he wasn't, and Atlanta fans say (initially) "My guy is being picked on, it's his upbringing, it's not that big a deal."
2) Manny Ramirez -- showboats like he won the World Series after hitting a meaningless home run in game 4, and Boston fans say "My guy was just Manny being Manny."
1) Bill Bellichick -- gets caught cheating, and NE fans say "everyone does it, it didn't help that much, and he can do anything now and it's just him saying F-U to those who criticized him."

Now, if the fans of the above swapped the guys they hate into those situations, those same fans would shift 180 degree in their reaction:
5) Munson
4) Jordan
3) Manning
2) A-Rod
1) Dungy

67
by Keith (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:25am

Tavaras Jackson is not ready to QB an NFL team at present, However, not many QBs are much prepared in what is essentially his rookie season. Yet I take issue with the commentator"s comparison of Jackson vis a vis J. Campbell; J. Campbell clearly only needs more experience and consistency to flourish at the NFL level. Once more...with whom is the commentator comparing Jason Campbell with? I question the credentials of the commentator.

68
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:27am

Re: 50
It doesn't matter. In a case of dual possession a tie-up goes to the offense... think of it like a basketball jump-ball. I watched the replay about 5 times and they both fell to the ground with their arms around the ball... it was a dual-catch. To put it another way, when Woodsen came down with the ball ARE was still hanging onto the ball as well. Even after going to the ground he couldn't rip the ball away.

I'm sorry we have to disagree and I don't want to get in a 100 post back and forth with you about the play from last week.

I do think the Giants will get a nice bump in DVOA... considering the strength of the Redskins and Eagles will drop a bit as well (I can't see how the Redskins improve on offense, defense, or special teams... maybe defense).

69
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:28am

Purds- Brian Dawkins/Roy Williams would be somewhere on that list, I'm sure :)

70
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:28am

"2) Manny Ramirez — showboats like he won the World Series after hitting a meaningless home run in game 4, and Boston fans say “My guy was just Manny being Manny.�"

If you want to bitch about that, you should take a look at Victor Martinez's homerun. Manny scored before Martinez even rounded 3rd.

71
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:29am

Is there a Level of Losing for "your defense gets dissected by Brian Griese"?

72
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:30am

#59

Tillman was the guy who got beaten, but he was playing with an injured shoulder. On the two plays Smith beat him on, once he got overpowered trying to hand-fight and fell down and the second he had the angle to make the pick but wasn't able to stop Smith from pulling the ball away from him because his arm wasn't working properly. Smith is a great player but he was able to treat Tillman like a rag doll, and when healthy Tillman is one of the most physical corners in the league. In that game Smith actually torched 3 scrubs and a guy trying to play with one arm.

73
by SuperBears (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:30am

I have suffered through a number of Bears losses the last few years and the easiest way to see the flaws of the cover 2 is the Carolina playoff game.

I think the problem with the cover 2 is that it doesn't take into account a stud #1 WR. They treat every WR the same, where another defensive strategy would roll a safety over and double team the stud.

With Steve Smith they just let him steak down the feel and passed coverage off instead of double teaming him. With TO this year they let him do slants across the defense and ended up with a LB trying to stay with him. Another defense would have kept the CB on him and hopefully had a S/LB covering on crosses.

On a side note, the Steelers offensive line is so poor that on a number of passing situations they motioned Ward over to help pass protect.

74
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:31am

I was dogging Tavaras Jackson from day one, and people were saying that was "unfair". Now is it unfair? Same thing with Mike Vick. I don't need DVOA to tell me the guy completing 6 passes ( 4 of them to running backs) sucks beyond all belief.

75
by Kneel Before Zod! (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:34am

There's No Crying In Football!
(but keep it up anyway - jealous, whiny tears are part of the fun).
The Pats have looked suspect against the run and the short passing game, their running game seems weak compared to what a dominant passing game should allow. A good running game to keep Brady on the bench plus a defense that can bring a lot of pressure to put him there plus a few breaks on special teams and they could look very mortal.
I'm looking forward to seeing Indy tonight. They've been ignored by the talking heads but their winning streak is pretty impressive and includes a Lombardi. I'm worried about them.
Also teams usually look better than then are when they win and worse than they are when they lose. Often there is a cascade effect where a relative strength/weakness in one area puts pressure on other areas causing a chain of collapses.
I'm hoping for another superbowl, not expecting 19-0 ,but it's still fun to hear from people who think the Pats should treat their opponents like little league teams.

76
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:34am

68- We can agree to disagree, but the impartial 3rd party ref agreed with me as well, and that is all that matters. The ball was in Woodsons chest! Sure ARE was touching the ball, but it was in Woodsons chest.

77
by centrifuge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:35am

Regarding the whole snap in CHI/PHI, I think a similar thing happened in the Saints-Steelers game last year. The rule is, once the QB (or any player) lines up under center, that player must be the one to receive the snap. I'm pretty sure you're allowed to receive it from the shotgun after an audible, but if it touches another player before it touches the QB, it's an illegal snap. (Although I think the penalty is actually called Illegal Snap, not False Start.) I didn't see this game, but is that approximately what happened?

78
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:37am

Chris, don't sprain your shoulder patting yourself on the back. Any qb taken at the end of the 2nd round has a good chance to suck, so your accomplishment is less significant than calling a coin flip correctly. If one merely predicts with every qb taken after the first round that they will suck, one will be right most of the time. Whoop-dee-do.

79
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:37am

Anybody else think the Jags win tonight?

Grass field, home dog, dog on national TV, Jags killed the Colts in Jax last year, good running team and defense against the Colts suspect run D, and coaching advantage with Del Rio :)

80
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:38am

re: 53
What a silly comment.

No sillier than any comment made by Aaron or Ben Riley.

There’s plenty of people who critize public figures’ decision that aren’t qualified to do their actual job. Does that mean one shouldn’t comment at all?

Did I say he shouldn't comment? Please show me where I said he shouldn't comment.

He's allowed to comment, and I'm allowed to comment on how idiotic and moronic his comment was, given the situation, and the nature of the NFL.

I love how people love to turn criticism into, "he isn't allowed to comment?" It's hysterical. In the same vein, apparently I'm not allowed to comment on his comment.

81
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:38am

What price does a team pay to keep the ball out of Hester's hands? The Eagles forced the ball out of bounds or in the end zone the whole game. Below are the punting stats for the weekend.

punts Gross Net
Dallas 4 53.25 50.50
NE 3 54.00 47.33
Den 3 51.67 46.33
miami 4 48.00 45.75
Buff 5 45.80 45.60
Oak 9 51.22 45.44
SF 5 52.60 45.40
Minn 7 46.00 43.29
KC 8 46.38 43.00
STL 6 52.33 42.50
Detroit 2 46.00 42.00
Seattle 5 45.80 41.80
Houston 5 45.00 40.60
chicago 2 42.00 39.00
NYJ 2 39.00 38.00
Pit 2 38.00 38.00
Tenn 4 37.75 36.50
NYG 3 37.33 36.00
Atlanta 6 44.17 35.00
balt 6 50.83 34.67
Wash 6 35.50 32.67
NO 5 38.80 31.40
Ariz 5 42.80 30.80
Cinci 2 40.50 30.50
Phil 4 33.00 28.00
TB 1 47.00 27.00

For the year the eagle's have averaged 38 net yards per punt so they were content giving away 10 yards to avoid the threat of Hester returning a kick.

Being a Bears fan I would rather see Hester attempting returns, but I think the Eagle's are making the right decision.

82
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:39am

Will Allen- If it was such an easy call, they why was everybody bashing me for talking about how bad Jackson was? It is yet another case of hindsight being 20/20. I do remember people talking about his "mobility","upside", and "small sample size".

83
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:41am

Anyone else hear the commentator of the Giants game burn Tiki? something along the lines of:

"spending all his time gossiping with his girlfriends on The View about shoes and handbags"

it was pretty harsh... and I totally agreed. All this "OMG, THE GIANTS SUXOR WITHOUT TIKI" was just silly. RBs are fungible.

84
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:42am

"2) Manny Ramirez — showboats like he won the World Series after hitting a meaningless home run in game 4, and Boston fans say “My guy was just Manny being Manny.��
If you want to bitch about that, you should take a look at Victor Martinez’s homerun. Manny scored before Martinez even rounded 3rd.
:: Rich Conley — 10/22/2007 @ 10:28 am"

It's too easy. Too easy. easy. The irony is stupendous.

85
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:43am

83- Running backs (average) are fungible, but Brandon Jacobs is good, the Giants O-line and QB too.

86
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:45am

"And that’s why you’re an arm chair QB analyzing games and Belichick is coaching championship teams."

He puts his pants on just like us, one leg at a time. Only once he does, he coaches championship teams.

And he's got to have more cowbell.

87
by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:45am

Are there similarity scores for coaches? You know, taking into account the record of the teams they inherited. In other words, is it historically possible for Cam Cameron to turn out to be a good Head Coach in this league? Or is it a giveaway that he should be fired at the end of the year?

88
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:45am

Purds:

Rich is right on this.

1) Manny was wrong. Being down the way he was, I was disappointed that he didn't just put his head down and run the bases. I would have been fine if the Indians pitchers decided to drill him in the ribs.

2) Martinez was JUST as wrong, yet he doesn't get blasted in the media the way Manny did. Manny was in the dugout and sitting down before Martinez even crossed home plate.

There was definitely a double standard in coverage of those two events.

Both were wrong... but one was hammered harder by the media than the other. And, interestingly enough, the situations weren't all that different. Martinez's home run made it a 3 run game, Ramirez's a 4 run game.

89
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:45am

84.

Yeah, it is easy. Cleveland fans/ boston haters are complaining about Manny when their player is MUCH worse. You just unintentionally made your own point, by pointing out one player when "your guy" is much worse. Nice job.

They put the two next to each other on the screen in the game last night. Manny scored before Martinez rounded third... so much for Manny showboating.

90
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:46am

Chris, get over yourself. Really. Predicting that any qb taken at the end of the 2nd round will suck will be right most of the time, so the fact that Jackson looks like he will suck doesn't make you a shrewd evaluator of qb performance. Now, when you make a few accurate predictions, and fewer mistakes, anout guys who will be good in a similar situation, that will be worthy of recognition.

Sheesh.

91
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:48am

Starshatterer, #62: Does that mean that your wife is Ben Riley’s girlfriend? ;-)

Actually, I suspect that legions of good-humored women around America, patiently enduring football Sunday, simultaneously came up with that comment... magnets in his hands for chrissakes.

92
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:48am

Rich, way to prove purd's point.

And #80: You dismissed the comment made in audibles based on the commenter not being qualified to judge Belichick. Which is exactly what #53 pointed out.

93
by Digit (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:50am

re: 75

I agree with that. The Patriots seem vulnerable to rushing to where Jarvis Green is. I'd like to see Richard Seymour back, badly. Hopefully he makes it back by week 10.

94
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:51am

Having watched my first Minnesota game, I have to say that Will is dead on. Put even an average QB on Minny and they win that game going away.

That team is really, really good, with an albatross at the most important position.

95
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:51am

Two interesting things about CHI/PHI:

1) PHI kept the ball away from Hester all game, and they surrendered so much field position the Bears average starting position was . . . their own 25. Oops.

As for the pitch-back, if the ball's only going to the 20, it's going be pretty darn high, which means the coverage team would be pretty darn close. In the time it would take the guy to catch the ball, locate Hester, and pitch the ball back, the coverage likely would already be at the 20, giving Hester about 2 seconds and 5 yards to work with. Plus, Hester has fumbling issues, and a somewhat unpredictable backward toss on a kickoff is probably not the best way to compensate for that problem.

2) Hoculi's usually excellent crew robbed us of a good game at the end, by completely ignoring the DE being ridiculously held on every single play of the final drive. They called it once, but really, it was that bad. Now I am annoyed, because I want to know if the Bears could've pulled it out without facing an illegally-slowed pass rush. Ending the game like that just leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

96
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:55am

Hochali (sp?) and crew called a terrible game. Missed a holding on Jaquia Thomas and called two terrible ones on the Eagles. But, apparently, they were right on the snap. If a ball doesn't leave the ground and rolls past the QB, it's a false start by rule, apparently related to concerns over bad field conditions. Baldinger was discussing that on the Fox coverage.

97
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:56am

Temo

And #80: You dismissed the comment made in audibles based on the commenter not being qualified to judge Belichick. Which is exactly what #53 pointed out.

I didn't dismiss anything. I made the comment.

His comment was idiotic and the Dolphins outscoring the Patriots 21-7 in the second half is proof positive of that.

He criticized Belichick and his play calling and, in the end, Belichick did the right thing. It was a dumb comment and thankfully Bill Belichick is a coach who does what is necessary to win.

Apparently Ben Reily thinks these guys are playing Pop Warner football out there.

98
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:56am

Well, Oswiek, the Vikings' receivers stink for the most part as well.

99
by scurvy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:56am

So, was the undefeated Dolphin's team classless? It's not like they needed to win those last few games. Are the Yankees classless because they keep trying to win the World Series? They already have way more rings than any other team.

Come on people, we all know that you play to win the game, plain and simple.

100
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:57am

I remember that play in the Saints game, but I thought the Saints ended up scoring a TD...

It sounds like what happened is that the ball was rolled between Griese's leg... ie. the snap didn't get high enough. Which I agree would be an illegal snap.

I saw NYG-SF and the Giants were gashing SF for 6+ yards a run... their defensive line is scary as well... and I miss Antonio Pierce.

101
by PHn (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:57am

I recently interviewed Norm Johnson...

I was two years behind Norm Johnson in high school. He was the prototypical SoCal three-sport athlete: football, soccer, baseball. Very talented. I thought it was normal for high school football teams to attempt (and make) 40-yard field goals. Silly me.

102
by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:01pm

70, 88:
You realize by arguing either way on one of Purds's points, you're proving his point, right?

103
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:01pm

I can't believe how much the Viking's pass offense sucks. It's pathetic and embarrasing. Bobby Wade got into an argument with Jackson after the underthrown pass that Roy Williams batted away (Wade would have had a TD or stopped inside the 5). But Bobby Wade isn't the kind of receiver that should be criticizing any QB as he drops plenty of perfectly thrown balls. But you can just feel this team starting to fight each other due to the terrible pass offense.

104
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:02pm

33: I find it a little weird to be agreeing with anything Rich Conley says about the Pats but he's right here, in the first half you can't be guilty of running up the score. My critisicm of the play would be that they should have saved it for a game where they might have needed it. RickD has an interesting take as well but Cleo Lemon is not exactly in Manning's league.

On the Tampa-2 debate: It's a scheme that totally fails if you can't get pressure. Look at Minnesota's ends, that's why their pass defense stinks (however, look at their DTs, that's why their run defense is excellent) Am I the only person that thinks Minnesota have the wrong personnel for a Cover-2, as the LBs and DEs are too big.

I don;t think that the success of Steve Smith and Tom Brady vs the Tampa-2 is actually not unrelated. The Pats spread the zone with 5 recievers and Brady was good enough to find his receivers quickly and Smith-types stretch the zone deep. Smith isn't actually the best example of this as the Bears tried to cover him with Tillman; a very good example is when Marvin Harrison lit up the Bucs in a thrilling comeback a few years back. My point is that the Tampa-2 likes to drop the CBs and The LBs deep to compress the space between them and the safeties, speed and spread offenses prevent this.

I seems that the better Tampa-2 teams play more than just the cover two, just like everyone else they run all the plays, the difference is in how they run them.

105
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:03pm

102.

Don't need to prove his point, he already did it. He proved very clearly that hes guilty of ragging on players when there are worse being ignored.

106
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:04pm

53: I'm not qualified to do Ben's job, but I'm still allowed to criticize him, right?

107
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:04pm

You realize by arguing either way on one of Purds’s points, you’re proving his point, right?

Uh, no, I'm not. I'm not giving 'my guy' a pass. I said he was wrong... and even went so far as to say that he deserved a fastball in the ribs for it.

I simply stated both were wrong, but the coverage off both incidents as entirely different. Not much of a peep about Martinez, but Ramirez's actions were in almost every article about the game.

108
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:04pm

More comments on WAS-ARI (second hand):
Jason Campbell saved the game with an 8 yard run on third down to continue a TD drive. The called play was a shovel pass to Portis, which the Cardinals easily snuffed out, so he put the ball down and ran for the first.

The penalty on Fletcher, post-game he replied that he wasn't taunting but was trying to get the crowd fired up... so I guess the NFL doesn't allow players to yell acknowledge the fans? I suppose if they don't like crowd noise we'll see similar penalties in the future.

Their o-line status: RT not playing at 100%, back-up center. They are all unsure how available they will be for the Patriots.

Offensive playcalling was definately trying to protect Campbell, but they still had problems on pass protection and couldn't run the ball... so I'm glad their defense is good enough to set up a bunch of easy drives, as well as Rock Cartwright. If they hit that FG the game is probably not as close...

I'm still amazed Gregg Williams is playing no-blitz defense. I wonder if they learned any lessons from last year...

109
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:05pm

Karl (re104)

"My critisicm of the play would be that they should have saved it for a game where they might have needed it."

They've run it 3 or 4 times already this year. It seems to still work.

110
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:06pm

77: That's how I've heard it explained. If it goes past the QB under center, it's considered a false start, as opposed to a snap that hits the QBs hands and is just muffed. The rule doesn't apply at all when the QB is not under center.

It is a weird rule, but given the example in the rulebook, it's obvious that it's intended to prevent a direct snap to the side of the QB or between the QBs legs to a running back or receiver in motion.

Of course, I had no idea about the rule. I imagine almost no one did.

On the fake spike, it's a dick move, but there's a solution to a team running up the score on you: play better. You're professionals. Or to say it another way, IT'S NFL FOOTBALL! IT'S THE AFC EAST! THIS ISN'T INTRAMURALS!

111
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:07pm

Speaking of the Vikings passing troubles, why isn't Kelly Holcumb starting? I know he's not the long-term solution, but clearly Jackson isn't qualified to be a starter in the NFL.

112
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:08pm

Wow seems like yesterday the Patriots were the good guys of the league. Clean cut hard working overachievers. Now their QB has an illegitimate child, their head coach was caught cheating, their starting safety uses performance enhancing drugs and now they are considered poor sports for pointlessly running up the score on teams. To me I just don’t get putting Brady back into a game like that. I have visions of Martin and McMahon in my head. It only takes one pissed off steroid driven lineman to cheap shot your QB and your dynasty is over. Why take the risk? I just don’t get it. As for the Dolphins? Who knows maybe they can get Ray Handley to coach the team. I'm happy to say I didn't watch the Patriots-Dolphins and boy am I glad I missed it.

113
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:08pm

Washington has played a decent amount of Cover-2 recently. The striking characteristic is that a TE or slot-WR will catch a pass going deeo over the middle and he's being trailed by the MLB... Lemar Marshall was great at this... if they are calling it more I hope Sean Taylor has adjusted to this because I suspect there's a lot of adjustment to be made on timing of deep pass coverage (ie when you can leave your side of the field).

I really hate it since it seems like Washington can't cover the middle well enough with their LBs...

114
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:09pm

Manny has a history of "being manny", and Boston fans routinely give their pardon because he produces so much for them. That was his only point. What other players do is besides the point.
By the, way this is not unique to Boston. He's given other examples of this behavior and so have I (Dawkins, Roy Williams, TO- and I'm a cowboys fan).

115
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:10pm

"Why take the risk?"

Read post 6.

"This is what Belichick had to say:

"But the score was 42-21″
"Yeah, one more turnover and it’s a 14-point game in the middle of the fourth quarter. Yeah, I was at the game."

116
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:10pm

I echo post number 25.

117
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:11pm

Yeah, Jin, and people should recognize that playcalling has little to do with it. Bevell and Childress call plenty of well designed plays that get guys open, often well downfield. Unfortunately, the roster is filled with qbs who don't throw the ball accurately, and receivers who don't catch it when it is. What makes things tough, in terms of getting better, is that if the qb situation doesn't dramatically improve, attracting good free agent receivers, or even making a trade for a good receiver, gets really hard.

118
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:12pm

#107: This is, of course, because New England sports fans infuriate the rest of us with their insufferable smugness.

And I live in Boston nowadays... woe is me. ;)

119
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:12pm

"Manny has a history of “being manny�, and Boston fans routinely give their pardon because he produces so much for them. That was his only point"

Manny is ragged on and vocally abused more than any player in baseball who hits .315 and 35 homeruns every year (except maybe barry bonds and A-rod).

Have you ever been to Boston? The fans have been trying to run this guy out of town for the last 3 years.

120
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:12pm

70, 88:
You realize by arguing either way on one of Purds’s points, you’re proving his point, right?

Seriously. Effin homers.

121
by John Kim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:12pm

Patriots classless?

I wish the Titans were as classless as the Patriots, or else they wouldn't have gave up a 25 point lead in the 4th quarter.

122
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:14pm

I also saw the Atlanta miscue, and like Vince, I don't believe it was a trick play at all. Maybe on a silent count, the QB stomps his left foot for the snap and is supposed to step right foot first if he needs to change something, and Joey got them backward. Anyway, it looked to me much more like a regular shotgun snap, except that the QB wasn't asking for it yet.

Arizona-Washington: IIRC, Gibbs has already declined to participate in timeout chicanery once this year, calling the standard ice-the-kicker timeout instead of the BS after-the-snap-oops-I-mean-just-before-the-snap timeout. Glad to see at least one coach (apparently) will do the right thing.

I suppose the two-point play was supposed to work off the earlier Boldin end-around play, but since that one didn't work, why bother with the sequel?

My friends and I heard Vasgersian's comment. Ordinarily, we assume Andrew Siciliano will have the best lines of the day, and I personally think Vasgersian's one of the worst announcers in NFL history, but wow, that was one great way to redeem himself ...

I didn't watch too much of the Lions game (I was afraid to), but it was on the eight-game channel whose name I forget. I don't know that you can blame Garcia for checking down unless the Lions secondary was as bad as usual and I just missed it. It's possible that the safeties actually played the Tampa 2 correctly (the LBs still bite on play fakes too much) and that there really wasn't anything deep. If so, Detroit worked it perfectly: make them nibble their way down the field and wait for mistakes.

The Lions seem to have improved, but I don't think they're quite in contention yet.

I agree with the general thoughts (I think) on Cover-2 variants. The Cover-2 doesn't suck because the Lions don't play it well: the Lions don't play it well (for the most part) because they suck. (Well, because they don't have enough talent across all positions. Some players aren't too bad, but the D as a whole, well ...)

I would like to thank Tom Brady for keeping one of my fantasy teams unbeaten through seven weeks. That is all.

123
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:14pm

121.

Didn't the bears give up like 30+ in the 4th quarter to the lions two or three weeks ago?

124
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:14pm

For the fake snap, does that play ever work? I know Marino pulled it off once, but other than that, I've never seen a team get anything more than incompletion out of it.

125
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:17pm

Holcombe overthrew more than a few wide open receivers in his starts, doesn't have the velocity to put the ball in a small window, and is a statue in the pocket, which makes him really easy to stunt against. I wish the prospect of benching Jackson provided hope, but it simply is not the case.

126
by AndyE (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:18pm

Nat 60 - since you asked
"Has throwing deep to Moss replaced the RB dump-off as the outlet pass when everyone is covered?"

No, I think that's the pass to Welker underneath, also replacing the pass to Troy Brown. I think the deep ball to Moss has become the "why the heck shouldn't we do it?" I think that the early "I can't overthrow Moss" has come back to bite Brady; he's now struggling to get back the right distance.

"Should the fake spike be outlawed - not because the Patriots did it, but because it is intended to confuse players about the end of a play and is thus dangerous/unfair?"

Well, we see the danger - now we know why Vrabel was playing to the whistle last week - he'd seen this trick play in practice. I think confusing the players shouldn't be outlawed, but players that stand around during a formulaic play and don't play the game create the danger. If Brady gets fined for not buckling his chin strap, shouldn't offensive lineman who don't protect their quarterback on a spike be fined for lollygagging?

"Would a fake-fake spike be a good way to induce a penalty? If you spike it backwards, is it a fumble, and can it be advanced?"

Well, I'd think a fumble; but it would have to be backwards on the throw, not the bounce.

"Would the Vikings like Matt Cassel for Tarvaris Jackson? Would it matter to either team if they traded?"

Cassel usually looks better than he did yesterday. And Gutierrez doesn't look as good as his stat line from this week; the 15 yards on his pass was entirely Stallworth YAC on a screen.

127
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:19pm

For the fake snap, does that play ever work? I know Marino pulled it off once, but other than that, I’ve never seen a team get anything more than incompletion out of it.

From memory only -- which, admittedly, can be very faulty -- I don't think it does work all that often.

That being said, had Brady not over thrown the ball a little, that would have been a TD, as Moss had his guy beat.

128
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:20pm

#111: Because Kelly Holcomb sucks too. He cost us the Chiefs game by over throwing a wide open Robert Ferguson in the end zone, and then over threw Sidney Rice twice in the Packers game.

129
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:21pm

Thanks, Temo, you see my point more clearly than others.

Rich, others: I didn't see the Martinez home run, or the game last night, so I didn't use that example. I would have if I had seen it. But, look at your quick reactions to defend "your guy." Are we so hopelessly homers that we can't even think objectively about any sports figures?

Rich, your argument is that someone else was a worse showboater? That someone else did something worse, so that lessen's "my guy's" actions? How pathetic of a response is that?

("Hey, officer, that Manson guy orchestrated the murder of several people. All I did was kill one. What's the big deal?")

My point: We're all rediculous homers. If Manning had killed dogs, Atlanta fans would have been all over that "southern hick." If A-Rod did what Manny did after A-Rod hit his one (meaningless) homer in the post season this year, Boston fans would be all over "that loser." If Dungy had cheated, NE fans would be all over "that hypocrit."

130
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:21pm

126: Collins tried the backwards spike last week. He was in the process of being sacked when he tried it, and the play was whistled dead because he was "in the grasp" Otherwise, it would have been a fumble.

131
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:22pm

"Marcus Trufant continued his improvement as a cover corner — nobody will ever mistake him for Champ Bailey, but he’s looking very solid out there."

Especially solid, given that whenever he's played the Rams in the past Torry Holt has average about 1,300* yards and 14 TDs** against him!

On the other hand, that could have something to do with the Rams just being utterly utterly awful this year. Maybe this'll be the week that we finally get that 32nd in DVOA which we so deserve!

Another thing, I didn't see any of the Cowboys-Vikings game, but just going from the box score, how impressive was Marion Barber's performance? 19 carries, nearly 100 yards on that defense seems pretty good to me. Plus, did he get more carries cos Julius Jones was injured or something, or has Phillips realised he's better?

*This is an exaggeration.
**So is this.

132
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:25pm

The Vikings defensive ends yesterday played reasonably well. Again, both the advanced and conventional stats are overstating the deficiencies in the Vikings pass defense.

133
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:26pm

If Dungy had cheated, NE fans would be all over “that hypocrit.�

Almost. We know how to spell "hypocrite". :-) :-)

134
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:26pm

Purds,

Is it really surprising though that all fans are somewhat 'homers'? What type of fan would we be if we could enjoy the highs and lows of sports, without investing any bit of emotional attachment to the players that produce those emotions?

I don't think you're a 'real' fan if you don't want to protect 'your' guy at least a little bit. If the first thing you do is believe the story, and not immediately try to think the best... well you're a better person than I.

135
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:26pm

Hey Chris,
I also possess the mind-boggling ability to predict which QBs will suck in the NFL. My lock for the next draft is Sam Hunt of UAB. I already know that he's never going to make it in the NFL. Trust me on this one.

136
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:26pm

Well PFT is saying that a league source says the Vikes will explore all options to find a new QB. You know what that means Will, time to go to Eagles message boards and instigate hate on McNabb.

137
by Erithtotl (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:26pm

I like most others here have no problem with scoring as much as possible in the first half. But of all the plays NE ran in the 2nd half before Gutierrez was put in for the final series, NE threw on 9 of 12 offensive plays.

Whether this is running up the score or just bad game strategy I'm not sure. To me it seems to increase, not decrease, the chance of the other team coming back, it makes your QB vulnerable to injury and increases the chance of a fight breaking out between the teams (how many times have we seen something break out when one team is putting the beatdown on the other).

138
by b-man (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:27pm

104: Is Lemon in Frank Reich's league?

139
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:30pm

Podge, a big chunk of Barber's yards came on the Cowboys last possession, when the Vikings defense knew that the odds of the Vikings offense getting two score were one in a thousand. Barber played well for the most part, but when the game was still in doubt, the Cowboys didn't run all that well.

140
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:34pm

Well, some people actually thought the " mobile duel threat" TJ might not be so bad... they were wrong. Sorry Vikings fans. Hindsight is 20/20.

141
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:34pm

re: 83. 85

RBs are fungible? Did you see Jacobs try and catch the ball out of the backfield? Those types of deficiencies may not hurt the G-men vs San Fran, but could very well come back to bite them against a quality team. People love to bash Tiki, but he was still one of the best all around backs in the the league. Jacobs is obviously a great runner, but good defensive teams will probably be able to expose his inadaquacies, which are greater and more obvious than Tikis's.

142
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:35pm

#124: True, but if it works, you have the potential for a big gain, even if the probability for such is low. If it doesn't work, you've only wasted a few seconds.

143
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:37pm

To me it seems to increase, not decrease, the chance of the other team coming back,

Normally, I'd agree with you 100%. However, with Morris and Maroney basically out (I say "basically", because Maroney wsn't going to play in the second half), and the manner in which the Patriots could move the ball through the air, I think their best bet of maintaining possession and running the clock was throwing the ball.

When you're up by that much, you want to keep collecting first downs and running down the clock. Considering Brady only had 4 incomplete passes on the day, I'd say that the best way to continue to run down the clock and maintain possession of the ball was by throwing it.

If you were talking about last year, or even a few years ago, then I'd agree... run, run, and run some more.

This year, the Patriots are just on a different level with their passing attack.

144
by John Kim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:37pm

123

IIRC, I think the Bears-Lions game was actually pretty close until the 4th quarter.

The Titans game this week was a major meltdown. We rotated in our 2nd unit D-Line I believe, and Schwartz called a lot of prevent defense (which I partially don't mind), and the rest of the defense took the 2nd half off.
The defensive call wasn't all that bad. What killed us was the complacent/conservative playcalling on offense. We were happy to run twice, throw a screen/flat route and punt it away.
We were killed on First Downs in the 4th quarter. Houston gained 10 First Downs in the 4th quarter against our prevent defense, and we only gained 2 First downs, both of them coming in the Final drive.

Just goes to show that you can't ever get complacent or too conservative in your playcalling at any point in the game (Okay... maybe not when you're up by like 21+ with a minute or two to go), because any NFL team (perhaps, minus the Dolphins) can come back from any lead, in a very short amount of time.

145
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:40pm

#94

Way I remember it an albatross was a ship's team's good luck charm til some idiot killed it.

Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.

146
by John Kim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:40pm

And as a note, I meant the Dolphins as a joke.

ANY NFL team can come back from a deficit at any point in the game. Even a team as bad as the Dolphins.

147
by Fisher (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:41pm

Sweet! A fantastic weekend of football with a number of games decided in the last 30 seconds and we're talking about the Patsies drubbing of another team.

"Classless" - was a comment in the Audibles section. I assume the writers on FO are allowed personal commentary in this section of the site. Why is this an issue invoking such wrath? The rest of the site is essentially devoted to hard statistical fact. NE fans must unwad the panties a bit and realize the sheer dominance of these wins may cause a bit of resentment/backlash. To argue that there isn't a hint of "eff you" (as referenced by Simmons) seems a bit disingenuous.

As I said in the last "run up the score" thread - go ahead and do it. The Patriots have (presumably) 19 games to play. Sunday is the chance to run the playbook. The team they stomp today may be the reason they win the gut tomorrow. I wish my team (Oakland) played with half the success of NE as we already take twice the crap.

Anyone enjoy the other games this weekend?

148
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:42pm

Scouts Inc. Jeremy Green just said in the ESPN chat that he thinks McNabb will be in Minnesota next year. Save us Mac-5, you are our only hope.

149
by Not The Great Babe Laufenberg (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:43pm

All's fair in war, but...a couple of Dolphin defenders diving at Brady's knees in the rematch ought to send the needed message. That's how it's handled in some other sports, anyway: If you steal bases up 10-1, don't act all shocked and self-righteous when the next pitch you see is a purpose pitch. And it's certainly not like the Patriots wouldn't do the same if the situations were reversed.

150
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:44pm

Aaron Schatz: I’m enjoying this as much as all the rest of the Patriots fans, but running the fake spike play at the end of the second quarter up 35-7 is a bit much.

Why?!? What's with all this talk about "running up the score" in games that aren't even halfway over? They had a 28 point lead. There have been second half comebacks of more than 28 points, so the outcome of the game was still in doubt. 4 TDs could be scored in one quarter, for that matter. Why would they stop trying to score? They turned a 28 point lead into a 35 point lead. I'd call that a smart decision. Hardly classless or bad sportsmanship.

It's only running up the score when the outcome of the game is completely decided. For instance, if there's under 2 minutes on the clock, the other team has no timeouts, and you have the ball on 1st down, you kneel until the game's over, because that guarantees you victory. Scoring again in that situation might count as bad sportsmanship.

151
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:46pm

129.

"But, look at your quick reactions to defend “your guy.� Are we so hopelessly homers that we can’t even think objectively about any sports figures?"

Purds, I wasn't defending "my guy". Manny pisses me off when he does that. I was pointing out the irony of you lambasting people for defending "my guy" when you were unintentionally doing the same thing.

152
by Digit (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:51pm

re: 150

To be fair to Aaron, I think the way he wrote that indicate that he found the -play call- itself (the fake spike) classless, not the scoring.

Not that I'm broken up about it, actually, since I remember the time the Patriots were leading in the fourth quarter by two-scores and yet Miami scored twice by whacking Brady in the last minute or so in the 4th quarter to win the game. It was stunningly quick, fast, and devastating. The Dolphins just don't give up.

153
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:53pm

Well, if I'm going to dream of next year, I wonder how much McNabb will command in a trade?

154
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:53pm

OK has it now gotten to the point where we need an irrational 'Purds point' thread?

155
by Frick (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 12:58pm

I think the classless comment was about the fake spike play, more than trying to score. Yes the Pats should have tried to punch it in there, did they have any timeouts left, why not simply use one? If not either run a play or spike the ball, the fake spike probably wasn't needed there, and could have been saved for a better situation.

I also think there might be a slight difference between the Cleo Lemon led Dolphins and the Peyton Manning led Colts from last year. Also a 28 point lead is a bit larger than 18.

156
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:01pm

Re: 35

(Wow, go excersice for a few hours and you're a hundred posts behind.)

I saw the Wash/GB play as well and thought it was much closer to a dual possession (though it wasn't ruled that way) than the play yesterday.

By the way, they did review the play (the Jets challenged), but the wording used to describe the challenge was bizarre. The ref said that the Jets were 'challenging the ruling on the field that the pass was not clearly intercepted'. Weird. So it's possible (I suppose) that dual possession isn't reviewable (otherwise, why not just say the Jets were challenging the dual possession ruling?) and the Jets were just hoping that when the ref saw how clearly their guy had the better of it, he would do 'the right thing'.

157
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:01pm

When it gets to the point that "class points" are awarded or deducted based upon how a team tries to score a touchdown, people are getting way too critical.

158
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:05pm

Hey, I'll defend Manny no matter what. JD Drew, on the other hand, F*** that guy. What's he done for me lately? Besides hit a grand slam in game four, that is.

159
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:10pm

Following up on the Tiki commentary, did anyone else catch the awkward moment on the NBC pre-game before the Broncos and Steelers? Tiki was talking about some QB (Chad Pennington maybe?) and mentioning how his leadership and intangibles contribute so much to his team's performance when Collinsworth interupted with, "So he's the anti-Eli?". Yow!

160
by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:11pm

RE: Tanier's rant about Randy Moss's work effort at Oakland:

Not that I'm a huge admirer of Moss's past laziness, but there is one mitigating difference between NFL players and us normal work-a-day folks: we have just a bit more freedom to actually *choose* our employers than they do!

161
by EagleFanDown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:12pm

Continue to defend Belichik's class regarding yesterday's game, but what about the TD against Dallas with 19 seconds left up 41-27. Game still in the balance?

Unlike in amateur sports, I don't have a problem running it up in the pros. Much like what J Taylor said - if you don't like it, just stop it, pro. And I have to admit I did love seeing it happen against the Cowboys.

But.... they're playing with fire to a degree. Keep antagonizing teams and someone is going to take a cheap shot at Brady or Moss. Just don't expect any sympathy, Pats fans.

162
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:14pm

I'm now (since the cheating stuff this year) an avowed Pats hater and I can't complain about anything they've done with regard to running up the score. There's nothing to it as far as I'm concerned.

163
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:15pm

Our 2nd round pick (it's going to be a pretty high 2nd)? 2nd and a 4th for McNabb?

164
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:22pm

Look, nobody was more harsh than I regarding how the Pats taping misdeeds should have been handled, but some of this criticism regarding how the Pats score touchdowns is crazy. Again, as was said last week, if Wade Phillips is going to call timeouts, then the Pats should keep scoring touchdowns.

I do wonder, assuming the Pats and Colts end up with the best AFC records, if the Colts will be better served by having faced much better divisional competition.

165
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:29pm

But…. they’re playing with fire to a degree. Keep antagonizing teams and someone is going to take a cheap shot at Brady or Moss. Just don’t expect any sympathy, Pats fans.

This is when you know Patriot hating has got out of control.

Patriots play the game until the final whistle and they're called 'classless'.

However, if someone goes out of their way to injure one of their players... that's OK, and don't expect any sympathy.

Unreal.

Some people need to get their heads examined.

166
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:35pm

Aaron, did you not read my long explanations of the cover 2 a few years ago here? I used to post it about every week.

The Cover 2 doesn't look worse than other defenses without the players. It looks like a DIFFERENT KIND of worse.

Case in point.

Man to Man, you have a terrible CB, let's say Mike Rumph. He will be burned for 3-4 TDs, but the rest of the defense may look fine.

Is that worse than

Cover 2, QB sits back all day and hits guys in long drives.

In example 1, it took 1 play, score. In example 2 it took 10.

Does a 10 play drive hold more weight to you than a 1 play drive? If so, then you may think a Cover-2 looks worse at ALL times.

The POINT OF THE COVER 2 is to cause as many plays as possible to get to the endzone.

The thinking here is, if you force a team to run 15 plays to get to the end zone instead of 5-10, you have more opportunities for TURNOVERS.

I've played the Cover-2 as a base defense in online football for many years. My goal is to cause turnovers, and stop for as small of gains as possible.

I give up first down, first down, first down, first down, INT.

Next series. First down, first down, first down, SACK which causes long yardage which is REALLY HARD TO GET in a Cover 2.

This is the whole point. People always think they are doing really well against me. People think I suck at online football but I win most games. Why?

Because by forcing the other player to run more plays, I give them more opportunities to fail.

QB's like Manning/Brady etc Will fail less often. So 15 plays vs. 10 is not a big deal when zones are open.

ANY QB WORSE THAN THAT, or RB that fumbles, Or line that can't avoid the sack will be beaten.

So, to repeat from years ago on FO..

The point of the Cover 2 is to make you use more and more plays making turnovers and mistakes more likely.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. That's one reason the defense can be considered Great one week, and Bad another.

You're allowing them to cut through you, giving up the yards for a first down on 3 plays.

You give them the yards to make a first down on three plays as long as they make no mistakes.

And you try to force that mistake.

167
by SoulardX (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:35pm

Was Trufant on Holt when Holt dropped the sure TD? What about when Bruce got behind the coverage, had nothing but grass in front of him and Bruce just fell down.

168
by SGT Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:36pm

Cleveland Fan here -

1st - Manny looked dumb with his homerun. V. Martinez...even worse. Manny has years of "big hits" behind him...
2nd - Great series to Boston...I told my friends that if we could contain the rest of Boston (other than your "Big 4, 2 pitchers, 2 hitter" we'd take the series. We failed, the better team won.

3rd - Cleveland Browns have gone two straight weeks without a loss! (I'll take the highlights where I can get them, especially after this weekend!)

4th - Ohio State may not deserve to be #1 through merit...but who does?

5th - Penn State is only our 2nd test of the season we'll face (Washington was our first...and only because it was at Washington)

6th - If they don't sign Andy and Sasha, the Cavaliers won't smell the playoffs.

7th (and to rest after this) - Right now, Boston teams are the CLASS of sports. I hate the Patriots, can't stand Belicheat, really can't stand Manny and the Sox...and have NEVER been a fan of the Celtics. That being said, name another city with a better collection of talent/potential to win it all.

Do I like the Patriots stomping the Dolphins? Nope. Did I think BB was wrong for pulling Casell? Yup. Yes, he threw an interception...but give him one more chance. If he screws that up, then you throw Brady back in. Was he classless? Maybe...but I'm not terribly offended by businessmen promoting their own business. As much as we like to see what they do as a game, the NFL is a business...and each team is it's own little corporation that needs to make a stand while they have a chance to do so. The Window for success closes very quickly...and NE is one Brady injury away from being 3rd rate (at best) in the AFC, let alone in the NFL.

I say this as a Sports fan and a Cleveland fan.

169
by muddy waters (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:47pm

Seems to me the Vikings D played well enough in holding the Cowboys offense to 17 points.

More importantly, the cover 2 did more or less what it's supposed to in the first half: though the Cowboys moved the ball with relative ease, there weren't any big plays; and sure enough, Romo and Crayton made mistakes, and the Vikings got the turnovers.

If the Vikings had a quaterback, they almost certainly would have won yesterday. In fact, give them a quaterback and they'd be one of the top three or four teams in the NFC.

170
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:52pm

Michael David Smith: Is anyone actually ignoring the flaws of the Jets? I think everyone pretty much agrees that their defense sucks. That doesn’t necessarily mean Pennington shouldn’t get benched, though.

Benched in favor of whom?! Did I miss something? Did they sneak in a trade for Peyton Manning before the deadline? Their only option other than Pennington is Clemens. Sorry, but an inexperienced QB saddled with a pathetic defense leaving him in hopeless situations trying to overcome ridiculous deficits doesn't exactly sound like a recipe for success to me. What's the point of throwing Clemens to the dogs now?

And let's keep in mind that Pennington had them up 23-10 in the third quarter, then the defense blew it by allowing three straight 50+ yard TD drives! Unless Clemens can tackle runners and cover receivers, he's not going to make the Jets win.

To put things another way, how good do you think the Jets offense should be, if they had a QB more to your liking? How do they compare to, say, the Colts? Are Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery as good as Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne? Is Leon Washington as good as Joseph Addai? Is the Jets O-line as good as the Colts O-line? Because having the Colts offense is the only way the Jets would be a good team with their defense the way it is. If Pennington were the best QB in the league, the Jets might be competitive.

So, yeah, Pennington is not Peyton Manning. But neither is Kellen Clemens.

Oh, and to those that shift the focus away from the defense and towards the QB by saying, "Look, they could bench Pennington and put Clemens out there, but they can't very well bench the entire defense," I disagree. If you benched the entire defense and put up cardboard cut-outs of NFL defenders, I don't think you'd notice any difference in performance. Opposing offenses certainly wouldn't. ;)

171
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:55pm

Hell, 10 of the 17 points the Vikings defense yielded came after the Cowboys gained possession on the Vikings 36 and the Vikings 12. The key to cover 2 is excellent red zone play, forcing the opponent to settle for field goals, even if they happen to string enough successful plays together to get to the red zone, or happen to gain possession in or near the red zone.

172
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:56pm

"RBs are fungible."

I'll give you Cedric Benson for the Viking's Adrian Peterson. Hell, I'll throw in a 3rd rounder.

173
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:57pm

158.

The picking on Drew is a pet peave of mine....

Yeah, hes been bad this year, but I'd rather pay $14M a year for a .270 BA .375 OBP guy than $9 for Julio DP Lugo hitting a wonderful .225/.265

174
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:59pm

I’ll give you Cedric Benson for the Viking’s Adrian Peterson. Hell, I’ll throw in a 3rd rounder
Wouldn't that give the Bears two Adrian Petersons? As if the announcers don't screw up enough now...

175
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:01pm

I haven't done this in awhile, let's just go crazy.

The Cover 2 defense explained.

COVER 2 / TAMPA 2

This is the first variation. The difference is the Linebacker zone.

COVER 2 stops the run better. The Linebacker Zone is closer.

TAMPA 2 stops the pass better. The Linebacker Zone is farther away.

So that's your first choice when picking your Cover 2.

Next choice is CB ZONES. These work for Cover 2 and Tampa 2.

Your choices are

CB close zone (better to stop the run, throws to the backs in the flat.)

CB far zone (better to stop the pass, gives up some reaction time in the run)

And finally

SS or FS in the Box.

Giving you a total of 6 basic defenses, 3 of which a team uses.

So the Colts use Tampa 2 with CB close, CB far, and SS or FS in the box.

If you think it's a run, or short yardage you do CB close. If you can't stop the run in your base defense AT ALL you go SS or FS in the box.

If they run to the outside alot, or have a scrambling outside QB you might do CB close as well.

Long passing, or passing team you do CB far.

So that's the basic calling scheme.

Your goal is to force the pass in a Tampa 2. Passes have more chances of mistakes than runs do. The whole point of this defense is to cause mistakes.

You give up certain areas of the field, but what people don't often talk about is that you make mistakes in those areas become more likely for picks.

The whole point is to make the offense run a perfect drive. If they can't do that, in more plays, TO and you get the ball back.

Let's look at the players you want in a Cover 2 / Tampa 2 in order of importance of skills.

CB -

Run Stopping/Tackling
Zone Coverage player.

This means you don't need star players to run the defense, although a perfect player would be Rhonde Barber.

LB -

Coverage
Tackling

Again, you don't need star players. You just need guys with good hands, who can tackle. You're not trying to stop them cold most of the time, you're trying to stop them as soon as you can. And get picks.

LINE

Pass Rushing.

This is where the money is spent. Ideally you'd like 3 Pass Rushers that are amazing, and 1 run stopper.

CB/SS

Coverage (picks)
Tackling.

These guys have to be good as well, but the defense is made in a way that their jobs become less problematic than most defenses.

Obviously better players, better it is run like all defenses, but you can GET BY with players that aren't so good as long as they can do the things listed, like CATCH.

So, Let's look at this from the offense side.

1st Down - Run for 4 yards.
2nd Down - Run for 4 yards.
3rd Down - Out for 4 yards.

Okay. This is working pretty easily.

Again the first down.
Again the first down.

I'm slicing through this defense!
Just sitting here wait for the zone to open, fire.

Now, either of these things happen.

1. Sack - Puts the Offense into long yardage which the cover 2 is great against, Tampa 2 better at. Increases chance at change of downs or INT. Can't run as much which is good because we aren't setup to stop the run.

2. INT - Change of downs.

3. Incompletion.

4. Because you have to get yards in small plays over and over again, If you need a 3rd and 3, and can't get it, fine. Change of downs.

You make them use as many plays as possible just looking for a mistake. To the QB it FEELS easy. Until you throw the INT, miss the WR, or get the Sack and have to throw long.

It lulls you into a sense of comfort. But mistakes happen often in football. Can you sustain that drive?

Does any of this make sense?

You can run the defense without stars except on the line. It isn't a defense that over powers you, it allows you to make plays in the hopes of a big play.

The hardest part playing the Cover 2 is patience. It doesn't work as well if you change it around.

You have to run it every time, and accept the failures.

Accept the failures. Just keep at it. The Turnover will come.

Most people don't use the Cover 2 because they don't have the patience to allow the Offense to keep making plays.

But the TO will come.

176
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:07pm

I wonder if even the advanced stats are capturing the full value of the cover/tampa two when it is executed competently.

177
by Matt H (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:11pm

Forget the Pats/Dolphins - where can I read Doug Farrar's interview of Norm Johnson?

178
by roomservicetaco (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:12pm

I was at the Fins-Pats game, so few comments on that game:

-If the Pats keep winning, Moss has to be the MVP. Besides the unbelievable catches, about 3/4 of the passes to other receivers went to areas where Moss had vacated and drawn 1 or 2 defenders.

-The Fins looked like they had decided after the kickoff TD runback (21-7) that they were in awe of the Pats and were not trying to win, rather happy to be on the field with a superior team. Couldn't believe they were not running no-huddle from mid 2Q onward. The opening drive of the 3Q was nice, but took 7+ mins off the clock.

-Pats putting Brady in for the final TD drive was a combination of Eff You and Alcoa's Fantastic Moments in Gambling History to preserve the 17-point cover.

-I had lower section end zone seats right behind the goal posts and two PAT's went over the net and were caught by fans. I thought in the NFL, fans had to give them back, but they were allowed to keep them. Was that once the rule? If so, when did it change?

179
by centrifuge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:15pm

#100: I think they did score a TD. As I remember, it turned out to be legal because the ball had bounced of Brees's leg before whoever it was picked it up.

I actually only mentioned it because it was the play that got me to learn the rule.

180
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:16pm

Wlll Allen, My guess has always been no.

If a team goes for 7 first downs, and a TO is that equal to a team going 1 first down, and a punt that equals the same yardage?

181
by admin :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:18pm

I just wanted to point something about above. Neither Ben nor I criticize the Patriots for trying to score points. We only criticize the Patriots for using the "fake spike" play, a play designed to make the other team feel like idiots. They easily could have scored using standard plays. In fact, they did score using standard plays -- on the next play.

You will read criticism all over the Web today that the Patriots were rubbing it in by bringing Brady back in when the game got closer. You won't read that here. A 21-point lead is not a safe lead, and no team is supposed to stop trying to score before the first half is even over. The only criticism is the specific play call on that one specific play.

It points to a general problem about the psychosis people have regarding the Patriots -- both Patriots fans and Patriots haters. You simply cannot make a basic statement about some small part of a Patriots game without people thinking you are making a much larger statement, which then spawns a colossal argument about something nobody ever said to begin with. That's why there won't be an Every Play Counts about the Patriots' offensive line. Nobody will be able to discuss it rationally.

182
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:21pm

One more note on the Cover 2. (if I can stop myself, I can do this for many more pages)

You want to blitz RARELY in a cover 2. Blitzes are MORE EFFECTIVE in a cover 2 because they come VERY RARELY.

You allow the other team 20-30 plays with no blitz. They aren't thinking about it AT ALL. They know about how much time they have depending on when the DE's get there.

Then, when you really need a change up stop. 3rd and 7 or something. You throw the BLITZ in and chaos ensues.

You can only do it one or twice in a game for full effect. But it's pretty much an automatic stop unless the QB is very aware.

You line up exactly like a Cover 2, maybe with the SS or FS up, and blitz 1 or 2 extra. Don't go crazy.

but the unexpected nature makes the plays much more deadly with weaker players.

The Line isn't expecting it. The QB isn't expecting it. The play calling isn't expecting it.

Etc.

183
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:22pm

Nathan, just observing the Vikings this year, there is no way the Vikings pass defense is actually one of the five or six worst, in terms of preventing it's team from winning games.

184
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:24pm

Oh, you also can Strong Zone, Weak Zone the CB and SS in a Cover 2. That's for which hash mark you are on, and to shade a really good wideout. You don't want to over use this either though.

Or if you're in base package, and they are in 3 wide. (shade the extra wideout side), or a really good tight end. Or whatever.

I've ran this defense as my only defense/base defense since 2001. ;)

185
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:24pm

re: 176

I've always wondered how DVOA liked cover 2 teams. I think DVOA discounts big plays to a point (anything over 40 yards doesn't matter, I think). DVOA also likes long, 'successful' drives. The cover 2 will give up a lot of short 'successful' plays, in the hopes that the offense will eventually get impatient/screw up and then be put at a disadvantage. Certainly forcing the other team to go three and out on every drive is best, but is giving up a score on a 5 play, 80 yard drive better or worse then a 12 play, 80 yard drive?

186
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:25pm

#175: Nice write-up Nathan.

A point though. The moment you put a safety in the box, you no longer have a 2 deep zone. This leaves one receiver in single coverage which leaves you vulnerable to the deep pass. And that seems to violate the entire idea of the Cover 2 as you describe it.

This bend-but-don't-break approach clearly requires some well-conditioned athletes on your defense. This suggests that there aren't a lot of 350 pounders on the line, or 260 pounder LBs, on good Cover 2 teams. This true?

187
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:25pm

Aaron, I guess it just never occurred to me to consider another team's feelings when trying to score a touchdown. Until Oprah starts doing analyst work, I'd rather just stick to whether a play works or not.

188
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:26pm

That meant FS or SS, not CB and SS. I'm so excited to talk about this defense, heh.

189
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:28pm

kaveman, dvoa still like the Vikings defense pretty well, and Pat Williams isn't exactly slender.

190
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:29pm

Re: 147

It was a great weekend of football. The Broncos fan that I am naturally loved the Sunday night game, but I was most entertained by the Houston-Tennessee game. Overall, though, there were a lot of last-minute endings and a lot of onside kicks to enjoy. A dog or two existed, but that's to be expected.

I think a lot of the bile going around is partly due to he shaking out of preseason hopes. With 6 or 7 games in the books, a lot of teams are beginning to be effectively out of the playoff picture, and that has to hurt a bit. Additionally, this many weeks of solid "Pats-Colts" banter from the idiot box does wear on most fans of other teams after a while, so some testiness is going to happen. Rather than get worked up about it all, I've found it far more entertaining to sit back and lob an occasional irritating comment, just to stir the muck a little. I don't do it often, for fear of getting everybody really annoyed at me, but once in a while it makes for great entertainment. It's a lot easier to chuckle at it all than to get anything changed.

But overall, this was a great weekend of football.

191
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:30pm

"A point though. The moment you put a safety in the box, you no longer have a 2 deep zone."

Wrong. The SS or FS in the box is still in a 2 deep zone. They drop back on assignment.

"This bend-but-don’t-break approach clearly requires some well-conditioned athletes on your defense. This suggests that there aren’t a lot of 350 pounders on the line, or 260 pounder LBs, on good Cover 2 teams. This true? "

Yes. You'd like a 1 BIG guy on the line, preferably a guy you'd rotate out on third down.

192
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:31pm

#176: To amplify, I would think that the advanced stats on this site would penalize the Cover 2 and its variants, if one were to accept Nathan's interpretation of how it's supposed to work. Since DVOA values successful plays on offense - and therefore values preventing successful plays on defense - a defense that is designed to allow a large number of small plays that DVOA deems "successful" in exchange for maximizing the opportunity of a play that DVOA would deem "extremely unsuccessful" (INT, sack, fumble) would tend to have a poor DVOA even when working as designed.

This is similar to the tortoise-and-the-hare argument on the offensive side about "boom-or-bust" offenses vs. consistent gaining offenses. The Cover 2 would seem to be the defensive equivalent of a "boom-or-bust" offense -- a boom-or-bust offense is willing to take some number of three-and-outs (offensive failures) because it's playing for the 70-yard TD; a Cover 2 is willing to take some number of long, sustained drives (defensive failures) because it's playing for the opposition mistake.

It would also seem that the success of such a strategy is highly dependent on how mistake-prone the opposition is.

193
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:31pm

Pat Williams being an excellent example of the 1 big guy you'd rotate out (depending on conditioning, he may play 3rd down)

You want 1 BIG DT and 1 Pass rushing DT

2 Pass rushing DES.

194
by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:34pm

Re 170:
A lot of people are bringing up this point, but who's to say anyone even cares how the Jets do this year. There's something to be said for knowing your team is outmatched and working on winning with younger players to get them reps. Not completely giving up per se, but getting a guy you think has talent an opportunity instead of playing for a close loss.

195
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:35pm

"It would also seem that the success of such a strategy is highly dependent on how mistake-prone the opposition is."

Remember that it's not just fumble/int/sack.

If the mistake is drop on that 3rd and short, it works just as well. You want mistakes of any kind.

I know, a dropped ball stops no matter what the defense is, but that's the point.

If I make you run as many plays as possible, and make you get as many first downs as possible, then a chance for even a drop, or a screwed up route will help me get off the field.

I want to maximize the plays you have to use waiting for a mistake, any mistake that will stop the drive.

196
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:36pm

We only criticize the Patriots for using the “fake spike� play, a play designed to make the other team feel like idiots.

So, the "fake spike" play is designed to make other team feel like idiots? That's why it's there? Interesting. I thought it was designed to take advantage of another team not paying attention and scoring a quick TD because of it.

I didn't realize that [scoring a quick TD] was secondary to just making them feel like idiots.

The play is a gadget play, not unlike a reverse, or a flea flicker. It's designed to take advantage of the mistakes of opposing defenses. Intent on making them look like 'idiots' has never been part of the equation.

Again, if they don't want to look like idiots, make sure Brady does indeed spike the ball and play to the whistle.

If that play had happened in the second half, I 'may' have some sympathy for your perspective. In the first half, not even close. If your the Patriots, you put up as many points as possible, in any manner (within the rules) you see fit.

People keep mentioning about how leaving Brady in leaves him open to the possibility of getting injured in a supposedly meaningless situation. Yet, what coach in their right mind would take out a starting QB before the start of the 4th quarter?

Furthermore, if you want to protect Brady and get him out early, isn't it important that you put up as many points as possible, without concern for the opposing teams feelings, so that the improbable becomes the impossible? And, in doing so, if the 'fake spike' helps you do that because the other team isn't paying attention, isn't that the path of least resistance, rather than running another play where you're guaranteed full contact (since, on fake spikes, the defensive line often doesn't charge hard forward)?

197
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:38pm

Damn -- whatever happened to Ronnie Brown's knee, there is enough damage that he's gone for the season (so says the Miami Herald). :(

While I'll shed no tears if the Phish go 0-16, I hate to see a promising young player get an injury like that.

198
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:38pm

"I just wanted to point something about above. Neither Ben nor I criticize the Patriots for trying to score points. We only criticize the Patriots for using the “fake spike� play, a play designed to make the other team feel like idiots."

How is that any different than any other "gadget" play? Its meant to fool the opposition to open up a player... like LT throwing passes, or play action, etc. Its simple misdirection.

A quick pass play like that where its either a TD or an incomplete seems like a MUCH better use of a down than spiking the ball.

199
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:41pm

Re: me

"...if one were to accept Nathan’s interpretation of how it’s supposed to work..." was not meant to be snarky; merely pointing out that I don't know that every advocate of the Cover 2 would claim that it's designed to allow for long drives with therefore a higher probability of opposition mistakes.

A better wording would have been, "taking as given Nathan's interpretation of how it's supposed to work."

200
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:43pm

and to further point out (i'll stop soon, really)

This is another scenario that happens often against a cover 2.

1. Run for 4 yards.
2. Incomplete Pass for any number of reasons.

Now you're in 3rd and 6 which goes to the Cover 2's strengths.

You want mistakes to put you in the situation to defend the pass with the maximum rush without having to worry about stopping the run.

But will still stop the run before 6 yards.

Yes. All defenses want longer yardage situations, but in a Cover 2, you are waiting for the situations where it pays off. You let them move down the field waiting for those moments where they have to attack your strengths.

Getting ahead on the score board with your offense is a huge help to the Cover 2 as well. ;)

Make them pass. Make them pass. Then punish them.

Hope they don't eat you up with the run (like the Jags did last year to the Colts)

If you can't stop the run, the whole Cover 2 is dead in the water, and you might as well do whatever it takes to get out of this situation.

---

And!

Draws work well against the Tampa 2 because the Linebacker drops so far back, it allows a running blocking start for the O-Line against Linebackers down field if you can get the play off before the outside rush comes.

Tight Ends also absolutely kill the Cover 2. Big Strong Tight ends are the bane of a Cover 2's existence.

It becomes the Middle Linebackers job to pick off one of those balls to dissuade the offense from continuing the attack.

201
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:45pm

RE: DGL.

I was fine with your first wording.

If you have better players, ideally you'd like the turnovers and sacks to come way before you give the offense 15 plays to score.

That being said, you can run the defense acceptably without the best players, and it ends up being as I described.

The better the players, the better it gets and then you're not even going to see what I described because the offense won't even get that far ;)

202
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:46pm

Funny how these comments about the Pats being Classless and showing bad sportsmanship comes from a site that everyone knows is a bunch of Pats fanboys and homers.

Oh, wait, that was last week. Never mind.

203
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:47pm

The Pats are great. It was a gadget play, they are trying to score, who cares.

Stop them if it bothers you.

204
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:48pm

197: I heard some sort of ACL injury. I don't know if it was the terrible triad or not.

205
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:51pm

#24 and others - with regard to the NFL rulebook and the snap between the QB legs. I'm not sure who makes the call as an illegal snap or false start. The only rule regarding it is if the snap goes to the RB. All other rulings that I've seen on it (and I've looked, but maybe I'm missing one) don't mention this particular scenario or rule it a fumble (a hand snap that is not made properly IS a fumble).

As such, regardless of what any commentator on TV says, it would appear that Hochuli is in error. Like I said, I could have missed the rule, but the only ruling that comes close to calling it an illegal snap says the ball has to go to another player other than the QB.

If the ruling exists because of foul weather, then that's pretty stupid. After all, doesn't weather cause fumbles (Grossman?) all the time?

With regard to the Patriots - I don't care which play they used - fake pass or not - it's all legal. I hate the Pats, but there's no such thing as running up the score in the NFL. Points count as tiebreakers, and points count in determining some of these guys salaries. I'm all for it. This isn't college ball where the Sisters of Mercy are being crushed by USC. These guys are all professionals and should learn to deal with all situations.

Classless has nothing to do with it. If Belichick had his players deliberately crack-backing the Dolphins when they had a 30 point lead, THAT is classless. But the fake spike is just another play, and has to be accounted for. You can't take a nap in the pros.

206
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:53pm

197

I'm not 100% sure what happened, but he got hurt on the Randal Gay pick in the endzone. Asante Samuel got called for a block in the back on that play, but I don't think he was blocking Ronnie Brown.

207
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:55pm

Nathan: “A point though. The moment you put a safety in the box, you no longer have a 2 deep zone.�

Wrong. The SS or FS in the box is still in a 2 deep zone. They drop back on assignment.

I don't buy this, sorry. Deep zone, by definition, means not in the box. If you can't stop the run with 7 in the box, you aren't running a cover 2 but a cover 1 which can clearly give up a big play.

Which is not to dispute your other points though. :)

208
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:55pm

Nathan, you're right that the idea of a Cover2 is to prevent big plays but the same principle of not allowing big plays is true for 2-over man defense or any other defense that concentrates on eliminating the big play. You haven't articulated that the Tampa-2 teams drop deeper than other sides when playing a cover 2 zone. Additionally, most Tampa 2 sides drop the middle linebacker to fill the hole between the safeties. This is one of the reasons that their linebackers tend to be smaller.

209
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:58pm

RE: Kaveman

"I don’t buy this, sorry. Deep zone, by definition, means not in the box. If you can’t stop the run with 7 in the box, you aren’t running a cover 2 but a cover 1 which can clearly give up a big play."

You don't have to buy it, it's what the play is.

The SS or FS starts in the box. If it's a run, they attack.

If it's a PA, they may bite and it would be a Cover 1 / Blown Coverage.

If it's a normal dropback they keep peddling backwards into their deep zone as the WR's run too.

That's the play.

210
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:58pm

207: Or you could be running a cover three, similar to the play where Romo threw a pick six against Buffalo.

211
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:58pm

Re: False Start Snap

Former ref Jerry Markbreit does a column Thursdays(?) on chicagosports.com addressing officiating questions. I'm sure he'll address this one, so maybe we'll get something definitive. He tries to avoid saying the refs screwed up, but he makes it clear in a diplomatic way when it's an obvious blown call.

212
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 2:59pm

RE: "You haven’t articulated that the Tampa-2 teams drop deeper than other sides when playing a cover 2 zone. Additionally, most Tampa 2 sides drop the middle linebacker to fill the hole between the safeties. This is one of the reasons that their linebackers tend to be smaller."

I did say that, but obviously I didn't get the point well enough across. Thanks.

213
by Miles (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:04pm

The Bears snap sideways past Brian Griese, and the ball is recovered by the Eagles and run back to the 20. But the play is whistled dead, because by rule a ball that is snapped past the quarterback is a false start. If that is the rule, why is that rule? So what about the Romo play v the Rams a few weeks back (where he recovered the ball ~25 yrds down the field, and eventually ran for about 4 yards)?

214
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:09pm

206: Ronnie Brown wasn't touched when he went down with the injury. Gay juked him and he awkwardly twisted his knee while going for the tackle.

215
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:15pm

213: The aborted snap rule only applies when the QB is under center. Romo was in shotgun in that play.

216
by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:16pm

There is a guy in my fantasy league who took all patriots, he even has Kyle Brady as his TE (didn't get Coates... and he didn't have Maroney either but that actually worked out for him as he now has Faulk and Morris.

We'll get him bye week. But right now it looks like he's going to with the championship. Heck even the pursuit of 16-0 works in his favor, the Patriots will likely play their starters in week 17.,

217
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:16pm

213: Shotgun snap. Rule only applies to QB under center.

218
by gmc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:17pm

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm not a Patriots fan, if anything I tend to root for the Colts (and occasionally the Cardinals, for old-times-Edge sake), but this is the NFL. An NFL team should do their damnedest to win, and "running up the score" is college crap, full stop.

Saying that the Patriots shouldn't have tried to score a touchdown in the FIRST HALF because it was "bad sportsmanship" is straight up silly. You don't go in with a twenty point lead when you can make it twenty seven.

That said, Tom Brady is NOT this good, and as good as Randy Moss is, he can't make Tom Brady look good by catching sure picks in the endzone forever. And even if he could, Wes Welker sure as hell isn't going to. Brady will probably throw 40 TD's, because he has the best offensive line since Seattle's SB team a couple of years ago and a real #1 wideout for the first time in his career. But he's no Peyton Manning, and in at least one game this year there is going to be an opposing coach who can say:

"I know Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning is my friend. Peyton Manning is my starting quarterback. And you, sir, are no Peyton Manning."

Colts over Patriots, Brady 2+ INTs. You heard it here first.

219
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:24pm

Really? I'm a Colts fan and expect we get torched unless Manning goes blow to blow with Brady which is possible.

We don't have the talent on defense to compete with them. I just don't see how we do it.

Hopefully Maroney isn't around. That would be a big help.

220
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:25pm

Honestly, I don't think that the Patriots were running up the score this week (two weeks ago throwing to Vrabel? That's another story) but the fact is that other players are going to start feeling that way. And that's probably going to prove a bit dangerous to Brady or Moss.

221
by karl (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:29pm

inre: beautiful play design/bad personnel decision for the Dolphins

that's the dilemma we face. as a dolphin fan, watching these games, I know that cam cameron is getting the absolute most that this offense can produce. wrs are open. the line is providing decent enough blocking for ronnie and our qbs (although neither green nor lemon could hit a barn from 10 yards away).

but i watch trent green and cleo lemon and the ninth pick in the 2007 nfl draft ted ginn wr ohio state and our ancient defense and i have to ask: what the hell are these guys thinking when they do talent evaluation? how can they look at a team that ended up with the 9th pick in the draft and think we are a couple of bad/aging veterans away from being a playoff competitor?

and oh yea - will someone tell joey porter to shut the fu-- up. we're winless. no one wants to hear his silly a-- grandstanding. especially not when we know kellen winslow and company will be embarrassing him come sunday. loudmouthed, overpaid, and generally annoying. what a douche.

222
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:29pm

Re: #219

I expect it'll be a hard-fought game and that if the Pats are going to win they'll have to (cliche, cliche, cliche) outscore Indy.

I think the Pats have been soft against the run and intermediate over-the-middle passing. If the Pats don't get it together in two weeks, Addai and Dallas Clark are going to have big, big days.

That said, this year the Pats finally have the (heh) horses to play the "we can't stop you so we'll just have to keep scoring" game and so certainly can win even though they are going to get torn up on the other side of the ball.

223
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:32pm

So the point of the fake spike play was to make the Fins look like idiots? REALLY?

Why do you guys think if the SS is up in the box that he can't drop back and play deep 1/2? Ever heard of cover 3 or cover 4? The defensive backs can drop back into the deep zones, just as the recivers who start at the LOS can run into those zones.

224
by JD (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:36pm

RE #3:
But the Giants can't win without Petigout!

225
by MP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:45pm

What's wrong with being a homer? I'm a Bostonian, and I personally find Manny's weird behavior really funny. (By the way, I think it was pretty obvious that Victor Martinez was running the bases so slowly specifically to make a point about Manny. Funnier than starting a fight about it, I thought.)

Sure, the Patriots broke the rules. They're still my team. I've been rooting for them since I was five years old, I'm not going to stop now just because they did something sketchy. What's wrong about that?

226
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:45pm

re: 222

It's certainly the event I've been most looking forward to all year. That won't change at all even if the Colts lose to the Jags tonight.

227
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:48pm

The problem with the fake-spike play this past Sunday, is the same problem with the kneel-and-run-up-to-the-line play the Colts ran a couple of years ago (against Tennessee?): the Patriots (Colts) were beating the Dolphins (Titans) handily.

That kind of trick play would be more useful held in reserve, then sprung on an unsuspecting, playoff-caliber opponent later. Preferably in the playoffs.

Either that, or Belichick was lobbying to have Mike Vrabel's fine overturned. ;-)

228
by gmc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:49pm

Colts over Patriots, The Explanation.

New England has thrived so far because (a) They have yet to play a team with a good rather than poor-to-mediocre defense (b) They have never been behind. New England is a passing team. They don't really have much of a run game right now, due to injuries, but they've been fortunate that ONLY the RB position has been hit. RB is the most interchangeable position in the game (Tomlinson and Ronnie Brown aside). If New England gets into a situation where they HAVE TO pass, suddenly Brady is throwing into coverage, and we all know what happens then (See Patriots-Colts 2006).

Now, the Colts are a decent (not great, but decent) Tampa 2 defense with a good outside pass rush and good safety help, but mediocre corners and vulnerability to a power running game.

Actually, this sets up well against New England; I confidently expect at least one highlight reel touchdown from Moss, but Brady will have less time and worse options than against (e.g.) Dallas, which has massive vulnerabilities in coverage (especially at the safety position) and only one real pass rushing threat (Ware).

229
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:52pm

Really, any scenario is possible with these teams.

Manning or Brady or both could throw 3 ints. Nothing would surprise me. 6 TDS a piece?

It can't come soon enough ;)

230
by Drew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:53pm

In 1993, the Oilers blew a 32 point lead in the third quarter -- in a playoff game. So trying to score up 28 just before half is smart.

NE is classless for spying, not for running up the score.

231
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:53pm

That kind of trick play would be more useful held in reserve, then sprung on an unsuspecting, playoff-caliber opponent later. Preferably in the playoffs.

I disagree. A "playoff-caliber opponent" is exactly the type of team that wouldn't fall for that play. Therefore, it would be a waste of a play and you'd be better off just spiking it (rather than risking interception) or running a hurry up and a straight up play.

By the very nature of being a playoff-caliber team, it's more likely you're going to play to the whistle and you're coached not to take anything for granted.

I think the Patriots deployed that play against the perfect team. I certainly think it has a much better chance of working against the Dolphins than it does against the Colts or some other top notch team.

232
by vanya (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:56pm

Aaron, you're only diggin a bigger hole for yourself - "We only criticize the Patriots for using the “fake spike� play, a play designed to make the other team feel like idiots." . We'll ignore the gratuitous use of the word "classless", which is basically waving a red flag on purpose to stir up controversy, and the FO guys have to know that by this point. Criticizing the "fake spike" is silly on any number of levels - as many have pointed out, a play is a play, particularly in the first half. But also anyone who follows the Patriots knows that Belichick often does things in games with a larger strategic purpose, and if opponents now have game film of the Pats calling a new trick play, that's just one more thing the opponents will have to prepare for, making the 'Skins', Colts', Steelers' etc. life that much more difficult. I don't think BB did it just to make the Dolphins look bad - he's thinking down the road even when he says he's not.

233
by Dr. Tobias Funke (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 3:57pm

My wife said almost the same thing..

"It's like you have magnets in your pants"

234
by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:00pm

My issue with the fake spike is that it feels to me like the spike rule in and of itself is a 'specialty' rule, so taking advantage of it seems cheap.

Why isn't spiking considered intentional grounding? I don't know but I assume it is because the league decided that they would allow a special type of play that could be used to stop the clock. Kind of a gift to the offense. So to use that gift and turn it into a bit or trickery seems cheap.

But ultimately, I don't really care.

235
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:00pm

My memory may be off, but I remember the first fake spike the Colts did. The referees screwed it up, and called it spiked even thought it wasn't.

The majority of posters here were calling it incredibly rude, etc.

I was on the defense of it. Eh.

236
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:01pm

Whole bunch to comment on here. Let's see...

The fake spike. First, I have no problem at all with them trying to score. Heck, I have no problem with them putting Brady back in late to score another TD (just like I had no problem with Manning throwing a bunch of TD's a few years ago when morons were bitching about it). I wouldn't have had a problem if they'd decided to go for a hundred - I would've found it rather amusing, actually.

My (potential) problem is with the call itself. At that point in the game, they were averaging roughly 38 yards per play (it's a rough estimate, but I'm confident it's pretty close). Why even screw around with a play with a historical success rate of about 4%? (I've seen it maybe 25 times, and it's worked twice - once was Marino's. The other was Manning in a playoff game against Tennesse (in 99?) - but it worked too well, and the ref blew the play dead.) Why not just go with a conventional pass, or run it up the middle for 12 yards yet again? All I can think is, they knew they could score at will, and just wanted to do it in a way that rubs it in.

And I have no problem with that. I'd just like them to be honest about it. During the press conference, instead of getting defensive, Penisface (my new, subtle nickname for their coach) could have just said "We know we're a thousand times better, and we could score at any time, but we just hate Miami. Scoring yet another easy TD wasn't enough - we wanted to expose them to ridicule and scorn, and make their fans cry, especially if they're little girls." And I would appreciate that a whole lot more than pretending they needed a trick play to pad their lead so the awexome Dolphins couldn't come back. Come on.

Aside from it not working, the biggest problem with a fake spike is a potential safety concern. To sell it, your linemen probably have to act like the ball was actually spiked and the play's dead. That puts them in a bad, bad position to block. An alert defender (not a douche like Vrabel, who was trying to injure opponents after the play was clearly over) seeing the ball not spiked could potentially injure a lineman who isn't properly braced, or heaven forbid, could get at the QB easier. And it exposes you later to Vrabel-like attempts to injure - after all, last time they "spiked" it, it was a fake, so I was just playing to the whistle (or in Vrabel's case, about four seconds after it, and at knee level). Is the eff-you TD really worth having a no-name scrub diving at Brady's knees, hoping to inflict an injury Vrabel-style?

The cover-2. Now, I'm no expert here. But it seems like the cover-2 is designed to make you run dozens of plays in order to put together a scoring drive. All it takes is one mistake - a holding penalty, an incomplete on 2nd and 7, a well-read screen, a sack - and the drive is likely to stall. Not many offenses are good, and patient, enough to take the 4 and 5 yards that are there every play. When you get one that is - say, Manning's Colts - it's death by a thousand paper cuts.

Ah, I'm out. Stoopid long thread where I can't remember what I wanted to say.

237
by John Kim (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:04pm

228.

I think if the Titans have showed one thing this season, it's that Indy's Offense can definitely be contained. Actually, IIRC, the Titans used a lot of Cover 2 (Corner close, MLB close to LOS as opposed to Tampa 2, Chris Hope in the box more often than not, and fantastic LOS work by Vanden Bosch and Haynesworht) to stop Addai and Keith, prevent the big play to Harrison and Wayne (except for that one play where Harper messed up badly on the coverage), and essentially let Dallas Clark roam free around the middle, as long as he didn't get YAC.

Of course the Titans were also aided by an uncharacteristic Adam Vinateri (who missed a FG and a XP), but still, this game was really close.

However, I think New England will find a way to, at the very least, contain Indy's Offense.

I don't think the same thing can be said for Indy's Defense against New England's Offense.

238
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:05pm

re:228

"Colts over Patriots, The Explanation.

New England has thrived so far because (a) They have yet to play a team with a good rather than poor-to-mediocre defense"

And that won't change playing Indy. Dallas's Defense is, get this, better than Indys.

" (b) They have never been behind. "

The have, and theres a very good reason they've only been behind for like 3:00.

"New England is a passing team. They don’t really have much of a run game right now, due to injuries, but they’ve been fortunate that ONLY the RB position has been hit."

You mean, other than TE and DE, right?

"If New England gets into a situation where they HAVE TO pass, suddenly Brady is throwing into coverage, and we all know what happens then (See Patriots-Colts 2006)."

Theres a really big difference between 2006 and 2007 with the Patriots. Covering Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney does not even begin to suggest you can cover Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, and Wes Welker. They have been in situations where they "HAD TO" pass with good coverage. They score.

"I confidently expect at least one highlight reel touchdown from Moss, but Brady will have less time and worse options than against (e.g.) Dallas, which has massive vulnerabilities in coverage (especially at the safety position) and only one real pass rushing threat (Ware). "

He may have less time, but Dallas's corners are better than Indy's. He played a pretty decent game against Indy last year with replacement level receivers. I can only see him playing better, now that he has possibly the best receiving corps in football.

239
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:05pm

New England has thrived so far because (a) They have yet to play a team with a good rather than poor-to-mediocre defense

Since Dallas has been better than Indy on defense this year, I guess you'll have to agree that they won't play against a 'good' defense when they play the Colts on Nov. 4?

hey have never been behind.

Incorrect. They were behind in the Dallas game as late as mid-way through the 3rd quarter. They were also behind in the second quarter of the Bills game.

New England is a passing team. They don’t really have much of a run game right now,

If I'm reading it right, they're 4th in DVOA for rushing offense. How does that qualify as "not much of a run game"?

They've averaged 133.4 yards per game on the ground. They're run a total of 224 times compared with 232 pass attempts.

Where were you going with this logic again?

If New England gets into a situation where they HAVE TO pass, suddenly Brady is throwing into coverage, and we all know what happens then (See Patriots-Colts 2006).

So you think it's appropriate to compare the Patriots receiving core of 2006 (Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney, and Troy Brown) with that of 2007 (Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, and Wes Welker)?

The biggest problem the Patriots had against the Colts last year was their inability to stretch the field. They didn't have a single receiver that either of the Indy safeties, but particularly Bob Sanders, had to be concerned with going deep. Due to this, Sanders was regularly flying up into the box and not even thinking twice about a receiver going deep.

If Sanders is healthy, there's no way he can play with that type of reckless abandon against this NE receiving core. That defense will get absolutely shredded by Moss, Welker, and Stallworth.

In fact, I think the Patriots set up much better against that defense precisely because they now have the deep threats to keep the Colts safeties from coming hard up to the line of scrimmage.

Honestly, I don't see the Colts holding the Patriots under 38 points. Of course, the way the Patriots are playing defense, I also don't see them holding the Colts under 30 points.

I think you're probably going to see a 40-36 game, or something absurd.

However, I don't see any way in which the Colts defense matches up with the Patriots offense. Everything the Colts had going for them in previous meetings has been negated by the additions the Patriots made at WR.

240
by AndyE (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:13pm

What I think a lot of people are ignoring about the fake spike is the effect it may have in a future week. One of the keys to the two minute offense is keeping the defense from getting a breather.

The Patriots just served notice that no, you have to play defense even on obvious spike plays.

And for everyone making comments about the obviousness of Vrabel TD plays, you aren't paying enough attention. Vrabel is in the goal-line offense a lot (three times this week alone); he is just another possibility at open receiver.

241
by Slinky (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:17pm

From Tanier: Contemptuous of incompetence? Sounds like an excuse for “lazy.� If all Americans were “contemptuous of incompetence,� nothing would ever get done. We all have some incompetent co-workers or bosses. I’m a teacher. What am I supposed to do: Figure if my superintendent is a ninny then I can show movies every day? I know a lot of good, hard working players get dragged down by bad teams. Moss helped drag down a bad team. Big difference. Sure he “wants to win.� We all do. When you go in the tank in Week 2 because you don’t like the situation you are in, then you don’t want it that bad.

MT, i think its a little different when gross incompetence of those around you can lead to your own professionally induced bodily harm. I'm surprised more football players on bad teams don't mail it in. Who would want to risk injury for a lost cause? There's a fine line between pride and stupidity, no? I mean, Art Shell's team was so bad, as bad as we've seen. That's tough to stomach, especially when your production is dependent on the QB throwing your way, which is dependent on the QB staying upright, which is dependent on the O linemen actually being coached. none of which were happening. mind you, it wasn't exactly his choice to be in Oakland. Willful employment doesn't exist in the NFL

242
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:24pm

"I’m surprised more football players on bad teams don’t mail it in. "

I'm sure a LOT of the Raiders did mail it in last year, its just easier to see with Moss because his highs were so much higher than anyone elses.

243
by Don Booza (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:33pm

Wow, are we really starting the pre-game discussion for Colts vs. Pats now? The Super Bowl gets 2 weeks of hype, and Colts/Pats figures to be considerably more interesting than any Super Bowl, so maybe we should start the dicussion now. In the immortal words of Mills Lane "Let's get it on!"

244
by azibuck (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:34pm

Raison d'etre? Et tu Sean McCormack? If you're going to drop "raison d'etre" you might as well make the rest of the sentence Gramatica correct, even if this is just unedited e-mails. Get over yourself, football experts. You guys are so Outside, you've created a new Inside.

245
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:35pm

"Not that I’m a huge admirer of Moss’s past laziness, but there is one mitigating difference between NFL players and us normal work-a-day folks: we have just a bit more freedom to actually *choose* our employers than they do!"

Not to nitpick, but Moss has just as much choice as us. One of his choices happens to be playing a sport for millions of dollars and tremendous fame (with the associated physical risk). He is every bit as free as me or you or Jim Brown or Barry Sanders to change career fields whenever he wants. There are limitations on which team he plays for within that profession, of course. But he's perfectly free to choose his employer/field subject to the free market like all of us.

246
by MP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:36pm

234 -- The rule on intentional grounding says that a ball is only intentionally grounded if it is thrown with no realistic chance of reception "when facing imminent loss of yardage due to pressure from the defense." When you spike the ball you're not facing imminent loss of yardage because the defense hasn't crossed the line of scrimmage yet. I believe the rule was written that way specifically so spiking the ball wouldn't be against the rules.

247
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 4:57pm

When defending the run the aim of a Tampa 2 isn't to restrict the opponent to four yards. The aim is to get penetration with a front seven player into the backfield and stop the play for a loss. Each player has a gap and it is his job to win it and head downhill. The second responsibility is to pursue any back once your own gap is won. This is why you don't see big 330+lbs NTs on many Tampa2 defences (personally I am a long way from beleiving that Minnesota play a defense based upon a tampa2) the big guys are too slow through their gaps and can't pursue effectively. The whole scheme is so reliant on the combination of penetration and pursuit that it compromises the scheme to too great a degree to accomodate a plugger type nose guard. 9 times out of 10 a stop behind the line of scrimmage will stop a drive just like a sack.

In pass defense the smaller pass rush type defensive line is supposed to ensure quick pressure on the QB to make him throw the ball early. The pass rush also helps the SS cheat up near the box - although not usually as close as he would in a man cover scheme. This obviously helps with the run defense and should ensure that the defenders face more third and longs. The corners will also bump their receivers when the safety has cheated up, this helps to give the SS time to get back to his zone. Also as the MLB drops deeper than in a standard cover two helping to reduce the responsiblity on the safeties to cover the deep middle. If a reciever catches the ball in front of the zones the smaller pursuit style players are better equipped to swarm to the ball and make the tackle. This includes all four defensive linemen, the receiver shouldn't have anywhere to go.

What lets a guy like Steve Smith kill this scheme is that they can run a corner route sufficiently quickly that the QB can hit it off a 3 step drop. This means the defense has to gamble, SS in the box to stop the run or back to stop the flanker getting behind the corner. It is quick smaller guys that cause all the problems for tampa2 defenses, the bigger guys just don't split the zones as quickly and their routes won't be as crisp making it easier for the defenders to keep track of them. Also the smaller guys will do better after the catch, the bigger guys just get swamped by the pursuit. It is a common fallacy that a big TE is the correct way to attack a zone defense, TEs work better against man defenses when the QB can see where the covering defender is and place the ball in such a way as to allow the TE to shield the ball from the defender with his body. You might be able to hit an inside seam route to your TE, but it doesn't present a problem for the scheme and will probably get your player laid out, furthetmore it will take an awful lot of ten yard seam routes to win a game, and it gives you nothing in the red zone.

Lastly there isn't a defense in the NFL that is designed to let the opponent run a lot of plays. I read somewhere that after about the 50th snap defenses fall off a cliff as all the players are knackered. I don't know how to get DVOA or other data to back that one up, but I heard that defensive coordinators get very worried about when their defense stays on the field too long too often. Well everyone knows defenses get tired. There are some things that work better in computer games than in the NFL. Zone schemes are more successful closer to the endzone as the DBs have less space to cover and the zones compress, but this isn't particular to Tampa2 teams, it applies to everyone.

248
by vanya (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:02pm

But Trogdor - if I'm a consultant, and i-banker, a lawyer, an engineer, teacher, etc. and I don't like my boss or workmates, I don't have to change careers. I can go next door to the competitor, and, if I'm any good, they'll snap me up and I keep on doing what I want to do. Moss did not have that option - changing careers entirely is very different from just changing employers.

249
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:10pm

So, are we really now going to give excuses why it's okay that Randy Moss didn't play hard last year? How come none of you defended him last year when he was on the Raiders?

(And, if you say "Because we're all homers!" I am going to laugh, but then wonder why we comment at all on this board)

250
by Randy S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:10pm

Here's my take on this whole "eff-you" debate: can we please replace the boring and lame "eff-you" with "FU". FU is shorter, quicker to type, capitalized, and it had the added bonus of being an abbreviation of internet shorthand (the "U" part being shorthand).

I think everyone can agree that "FU" is better than "eff-you". If you disagree, then you either have no class or are a whiner. Or both.

251
by Don Booza (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:15pm

Hey Randy - FU!

:)

252
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:15pm

Re: 248

I don't believe that non-competition clauses are anything new in the entertainment industry. They're not just limited to the NFL or to sports in general, for that matter.

253
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:15pm

145
You are right at first, but Podge, AFTER the ancient mariner kills the albatross he is forced to wear it around his neck as a reminder/punishment/sign that he is cursed (IIRC). That is the use that is most often remembered for that phrase.

229
Nathan, Yup.

235 Nathan, Manning has done this on a few occasions. The first he faked out the refs who blew their whistles and stopped the play, costing Indy a down even though the QB was standing in the backfield with the ball in his hand and looiing mighty peeved. They were forced to kick a FG then. (Didn't even get the "inadvertent whistle" call and a do-over down) That was probably 1999 or 2000. Once or twice since then he's tried it with little or no success IIRC.

254
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:20pm

"When defending the run the aim of a Tampa 2 isn’t to restrict the opponent to four yards. The aim is to get penetration with a front seven player into the backfield and stop the play for a loss. Each player has a gap and it is his job to win it and head downhill. The second responsibility is to pursue any back once your own gap is won."

Both are aims. You're not always going to get that penetration. I was going to elaborate on this point, but decided I had written way too much. Thank you for making it.

Dungy said this much many times last season in response to Freeney's over pursuit, and Dungy said, He's doing exactly what we want him to do.

"The whole scheme is so reliant on the combination of penetration and pursuit that it compromises the scheme to too great a degree to accomodate a plugger type nose guard. 9 times out of 10 a stop behind the line of scrimmage will stop a drive just like a sack."

One DT is supposed to be the Nose Tackle type guy. The other is supposed to rush hard. If there's 4 rushers, it's because of injuries, or salary cap. The concept is there needs to be one DT that can take on 2 to allow maximum rush.

"In pass defense the smaller pass rush type defensive line is supposed to ensure quick pressure on the QB to make him throw the ball early. The pass rush also helps the SS cheat up near the box - although not usually as close as he would in a man cover scheme."

Very good point.

"It is a common fallacy that a big TE is the correct way to attack a zone defense, TEs work better against man defenses when the QB can see where the covering defender is and place the ball in such a way as to allow the TE to shield the ball from the defender with his body. You might be able to hit an inside seam route to your TE, but it doesn’t present a problem for the scheme and will probably get your player laid out, furthetmore it will take an awful lot of ten yard seam routes to win a game, and it gives you nothing in the red zone."

A big strong Tight End can catch the ball, and break a tackle from the smaller defenders in this scheme. There's also the post outside which is an open part of the zone with the correct WR calls.

Also, with the MLB back, the Tight End can hit the inside seem cleanly.

You say it isn't going to win you the game, well no one play is. You need several options and ways to go, and that is definitely one of them which will get you a first down.

We disagree.

"Lastly there isn’t a defense in the NFL that is designed to let the opponent run a lot of plays. I read somewhere that after about the 50th snap defenses fall off a cliff as all the players are knackered. I don’t know how to get DVOA or other data to back that one up, but I heard that defensive coordinators get very worried about when their defense stays on the field too long too often. Well everyone knows defenses get tired. There are some things that work better in computer games than in the NFL."

Which is one of the reasons the Colts replace their entire line as often as possible on drives. To keep the pass rush fresh, and to keep guys from wearing down.

The idea is, if I can only spend a minority of my cap on defense, how can I get the most out of them?

We disagree on this point as well. Are you saying it just happens to work out that way, and it isn't planned, or are you saying it doesn't actually work that way?

Do the Colts allow more plays per drive that isn't ended in a turnover, or not?

How does this compare to other teams?

How does this compare to other teams based on their Defensive ranking?

It could just work out that way. It's been that way when I watch the Colts D I've seen the majority of games over the Manning span.

It works that way when I play online.

I don't see any difference between the two. And Zones are awesome in the redzone about the same way as real life as online.

The Tight End/WR to the Corner of the Endzone is the way you attack it in both as well.

255
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:24pm

The reason Manning is able to destroy Tampa2 defenses is due to his mind meld with Harrison and ridiculously quick release together with his uncanny awareness of the defense's gap control alignment. This means that the defense is constantly getting torn between trying to crowd the box against the run and desperately trying to stop Manning. The defense struggles to pressure Manning because of his vision and quick release this forces the safety out of the box. This leaves them susceptible to the run and like a robot Manning audibles to a play that the defense can't defend. The only way for a defense to avoid this conundrum is to get to the QB with the front four and this requires a top notch defensive line. (Why did Harris have to be out for the Superbowl.)

256
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:25pm

249: Well, because we didn't know if Randy lack of production was caused by him not playing hard or him being washed up.

257
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:25pm

Not to suggest there's one way to attack zones in the red zone. I'm pointing out issues. Several people have indicated I haven't explained the whole story by not bringing up an issue. There are a lot of points I haven't brought up.

To properly explain any scheme it's going to take pages and pages.

You could explain the CB's run assignments much better than we've done here. What it means for the team. Against different offenses, etc.

There are a lot of points we just have to gloss over unless we want to open up a wikipage and try to collaboratively get the whole thing down.

258
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 5:27pm

And his mind meld with Harrison is just a if than relationship. If they see X, do Y. If they see A, do B.

Which is why you'll see Manning and Harrison make many more mistakes than other duos, flat out misreads. Because they have their own read system.

If one reads the situation one way, and the other the other way, the Ball goes completely away from Harrison.

I don't see QB/WR teams have as many weird reads as they do. Maybe fans of other teams can chime in.

259
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 6:49pm

258: Actually, the COlts have said that Harrison never changes his route. (I really don't know if I buy this, if I was Harrison I'd want other teams to think that I never changed my route)

As for that Wikipedia page, someone has beaten you to it, kink in my name. (though I disagree that the SS doesn't have to be able to tackle)

260
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 7:09pm

Hrm, I thought Manning once openly talked about it. Then again, I don't have anything to cite, so I'll go with that. I don't really buy it either. eh.

261
by gmc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 7:15pm

Well, I can hardly respond to the deluge in toto (damn, you really shouldn't say anything against the Pats around here, should ye?), but here is a start on the more interesting points:

1. On the Patriots receivers: Moss +Stallworth+Welker+Watson is a very good receiver group. It isn't absurd, and probably isn't top 3 in the league (though it may well be top 5). Arizona has better 2nd and 3rd receivers, Dallas would be as good or better if Terry Glenn was playing, Indy is at least as talented at those positions, the Giants lack a real 3rd receiver but Toomer and Burress are every bit as good as Moss and Welker (unfortunately Eli Manning will need a few more years before he does a convincing Tom Brady impression!).

2. On the NE running game. NE's run DVOA is so high because they hardly ever run. Philadelphia is the same way; if the defense assumes pass on every play, your run DVOA looks absurdly high even if you don't actually have a great run game. I don't think NE has a terrible running game, but I'd be interested to see New England vs. Denver or New England vs. Oakland to see if Belichick would still sell out on passing.

3.

262
by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 7:57pm

An unlikely scenario I know, but if the Pats Colts game was to end in a tie then it's entirely possible that both teams could end the season undefeated. If this was the case, home field advantage would obviously be decided by tie breaks.

The first four wouldn't apply as they would have equal records head to head, in common games and within both division and conference.

The next tie-break is net points. Scoring as many points as you can would then look really smart.

In addition to that, I totally agree with Jason Taylor's comment quoted in #25. That's the attitude I'd want my players to have.

263
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:07pm

#238, #239: That's awesome. Do you guys rehearse? ;)

Jimmy, #247: Thanks for the clarifications. This in particular made sense to me:

The pass rush also helps the SS cheat up near the box - although not usually as close as he would in a man cover scheme. ... The corners will also bump their receivers when the safety has cheated up, this helps to give the SS time to get back to his zone.

Because safeties aren't usually faster than receivers or CBs, it made no sense to me that they could cover a deep zone despite being near the line of scrimmage at the snap.

On DT size: looks like Chartric Darby started next to Sapp when Tampa won the Super Bowl. Both are about 300 lbs.

Currently, the Colts heaviest DT is 299 lbs. Doesn't seem like a heavy run-stopper is part of Dungy's version of the scheme at least.

Currently, Tampa's heaviest DT is 315 lbs. The Vikings' Pat Williams is 317 lbs, or is NFL.com full of it? Well, anyway, based on this criterion at least, Minnesota could certainly be running a Tampa 2.

264
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:23pm

Sorry to go back to the Patriots are classless discussion, but I have to bring up one point. Despite what Herm Edwards would have you believe, football players aren't playing to win, they are playing to entertain me. If they aren't entertaining, then it doesn't matter how much winning they do, I won't watch, and they won't make money. No one is entertained by 49-28 victories, so Belichick is doing a disservice to the league and all it's fans by trying to score as many points as possible.

265
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:36pm

Tom, that's the first time I've ever read someone assert that the product is more entertaining when teams aren't giving full effort to score points. I hope that was sarcasm. It was, wasn't it?

266
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:44pm

Kaveman

Regarding Pat Williams and the Vikings: As far as I can tell the Vikings play a lot more man coverage than the rest of the tampa2 teams. Or at least they did last year, or so it seemed to me. The only decent pass rusher on their defensive line is Kevin Williams, they just don't get enough pressure from their ends to sit in a zone very often. They are able to shut down the run with their front seven though, so their defense as a whole isn't too bad.

When Tampa won the Superbowl their tackles were McFarland and Sapp who both listed at 299 or 300, but when Booger went down with injury they played Darby one of the smallest DTs in the modern era - and the Raiders never tried to run the ball. Chicago have typicaly used Harris (at around 295) and either Scott, Johnson or Dvoracek (all 305-310). Indy use the smallest defensive line I have ever seen an NFL team use. Most NFL teams use DTs that weigh at least 650 between them, tampa2 teams tend to go with guys that average out at about 600.

The scheme does demand a NT who is stout enough to hold the point, but as it also demands that they are quick enough to penetrate and pursue. This is clearly very difficult for one player to do all game long, they tend to get worn down very quickly which is why all the teams that use this scheme use a strong rotation. The Bears need to spend a first and a second day pick on this type of player next draft.

267
by Marko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:44pm

"As such, regardless of what any commentator on TV says, it would appear that Hochuli is in error. Like I said, I could have missed the rule, but the only ruling that comes close to calling it an illegal snap says the ball has to go to another player other than the QB."

Actually, Hochuli's ruling was entirely correct. Click on my name for a link to a story that includes an explanation from assistant supervisor of officials Art McNally, who was in the press box during the game.

268
by Waverly (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 8:56pm

Employment (in America) is "at will" unless there is a contract governing the terms. I believe all NFL players are employed under contracts.

There are lots of people (not just professional athletes or entertainers) that sign contracts that limit their services to only a single employer for a certain period.

NFL players may have additional constraints on their NFL-playing freedoms after their contracts expire, but they really are just as "free" (or not) as many professionals most of the time.

269
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:07pm

Rich Conley, Al 45, although I agree with you that "running up the score" is not an issue in the first half, I just want to ask: is there anything, anything at all, that the Patriots could do such that you wouldn't immediately rush to the barricades in their defense? (BTW, I'd ask the same thing of those who criticize every single thing the Patriots do, except they aren't as noticable or perhaps as prolific in posting as you guys.) I'm not being a jerk, I'm asking seriously. Where do you draw the line? Can you imagine a scenario? Belichick sacrificing a virgin before each game? Kraft drinking the blood of the victim? (well, maybe in those cases, I'm not asking so seriously...I hope.) Again, I'm perfectly OK with the fact that you feel a line hasn't been crossed yet, and that much of your defensiveness stems from the attacks of others. But, geez, maybe for the sake of your own peace of mind you ought to just let an unfair negative observation go once in awhile.

270
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:16pm

This website's stats are a tool used to measure effectiveness. If the Pats want to be great, and are using stats from this website or similar ones that not only measure against this years teams but also traverse history,they HAVE to use the fake spike and score as much as possible.
If it hurts your feelings, stop using this website. Hypocrites.

RE: 64. I'd have to say Will Allen effectively ended this argument, since he was one of the D-Backs burned by Moss's deep throws into double coverage.

271
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:18pm

Mike Tanier and a number of posters on other threads seem to have remarkable psychological insight into the mind and personality of Randy Moss. My assumption is that they have gained this insight through their personal acquaintance with Moss, their counseling and therapeutic sessions with him, and their extensive interviews with Moss, his current and former teammates and coaches, and his childhood friends. I have confidence in so assuming, because I know that people, including fellow teachers like Tanier, would never jump to conclusions based on half-baked journalism or rumor, would never let bias, prejudice, or stereotypical thinking (whether their own or others) influence their opinions, and would not substitute glib and facile snap judgements for careful, considered analysis.

272
by Brian (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:19pm

and I do find it fascinating that the Pats are using the high octane methods of Colts past, while the Colts are more ball controlling, ala Patriots of recent past.
(from previous, I realize it was Brady throwing to Moss being double-covered)

273
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:28pm

You don't need any insight regarding Moss to know that he wasn't trying the last couple of years. A television sufficed.

274
by Thad (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:43pm

His comment was idiotic and the Dolphins outscoring the Patriots 21-7 in the second half is proof positive of that.

He criticized Belichick and his play calling and, in the end, Belichick did the right thing. It was a dumb comment and thankfully Bill Belichick is a coach who does what is necessary to win.

Idiotic huh?
In the history of the NFL one team has come back from a 28 point deficit.
Montana did this one time.
No one else ever has.
If you think a team that's 0-6 is going to come back from 28 down and beat a 6-0 team then you should spend more time watching games and less time on message boards.
I can think of two reasons to run up the score
1. Set the record.
If the Pat's want to set the all time record for points(556?...98 Vikings?)
or pts/game(51 Rams?) then they should totally go for it. More power to them.
2. If they want to try all sorts of crazy plays so future opponents have to study film more(I am thinking the Colts here) then that is probably a really good long term plan.
Hey if they can get dungy or some other Coach to spend an extra 15 minutes looking at formations the fake spike is run from that may help them, who knows?
But spare me the game was in doubt crap.
That is just either really stupid or dishonest.
The odds were astronomical that the dolphins were coming back.

275
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 10:53pm

Can I just say how hilarious I find it that Chris apparently thinks that saying Tavaris Jackson sucks is some sort of original insight.

"BUT ( as I have been saying to Will Allen), Tavaras Jackson sucks. He really really sucks. I am glad everybody is finally coming around." Chris, has anyone ever claimed otherwise? Seriously, give me one quote from someone, anyone, a journalist, someone on this website, a deranged yahoo on the official Vikings website, who has ever said that Tavaris Jackson will be good. I have literally never seen or heard such an opinion. I think Will Allen might have hoped he could reach "replacement level" and that's about the nicest thing I've heard. Therefore saying he sucks and will suck does not mean that you were right and "everybody was wrong".

276
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:20pm

Thad:

In the history of the NFL one team has come back from a 28 point deficit.

Thanks for making my point. The Pats were only up by 21 after the pick-six. So, the Patriots brought in Brady to put it back to 28, and then took him out again.

So, by what you just said, they did what they needed to do to make it basically impossible to lose the game and that's it, since Gutierrez was brought in immediately after it went to 28 points.

Thanks for making my point, Thad.

Good on ya.

277
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:25pm

re: 261/gmc

NE’s run DVOA is so high because they hardly ever run.

That's just factually incorrect. They've thrown the ball 232 times this year and run the ball 224 times. That's nearly a perfect 50/50 split between running and passing plays.

I'm not sure where people are getting this ridiculous idea that they don't run the ball that often. The facts just don't agree with you.

278
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:28pm

re: 269

When people stop making outrageously stupid comments about how 'classless' the Patriots are because of some ridiculous notion of 'running up the score', I'll stop coming in and posting in defense.

By the way, if you had actually read, I said that had the Patriots run the 'fake spike' play in the second half, I would have had a different view of it. Hence, your question was answered if you had cared to read close enough.

Cheers.

279
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:33pm

We only criticize the Patriots for using the “fake spike� play, a play designed to make the other team feel like idiots.

I don't buy that. The play is designed to score touchdowns against defenses that aren't prepared for it. Much the same could be said of play-action passes, which are intended to fool the entire defense, and often result in big gains. And while the defenders may feel like idiots after biting on play-action, or getting caught unprepared by a fake spike, that's kind of their own fault for not doing their jobs. A fake spike is a perfectly legitimate play call for a team that wants to score, and thinks that the defense will be caught by surprise.

It's not a matter of whether he could've scored with more conventional plays, either. He shouldn't have to take the chance that those other plays would fail, however low that chance might be. If Belichick thought that a fake spike gave him a better chance at scoring, while also having a lower risk of a turnover, than the other plays in consideration, then he had a perfectly good reason to call that play.

Rich Conley, Al 45, although I agree with you that “running up the score� is not an issue in the first half, I just want to ask: is there anything, anything at all, that the Patriots could do such that you wouldn’t immediately rush to the barricades in their defense?

Well, I don't know about Pats fans, or the lengths they might go to defend their team, but I absolutely hate the Patriots, and especially Bill Belichick, but I still don't get what all the fuss is wrt "running up the score." This is the third time I've had to defend Belichick against accusations of "running up the score" on this site this season, and it's causing some mixed emotions. I guess I feel like a vegan who is defending a butcher...except that I don't just eat vegetables, and Belichick presumably doesn't use large, sharp blades to tear through animal flesh while he's at work, although I wouldn't put it past him. ;)

More to the point, the outcome of the game was still very much in doubt (there were 30+ minutes left in regulation, after all). Therefore, the playbook is completely open for both teams. Any play call is ok (within the rules of the game, anyway). This goes for any team, in any professional sport.

There's no "oh, but that's bad sportsmanship" when the other team could still make a comeback and win the game. Imagine this hypothetical scenario:

The Patriots, instead of doing the fake spike, pass a few times from the shotgun, no shenanigans, Miami's defense just barely stops them, and the half ends with the Patriots up 28 points. Then, in the second half, Brady gets knocked out of the game on a sack, fumbles as he's sacked, and a Miami defender takes it to the house. Now the Patriots are up by 21, get the ball back, and Cassel throws a pick-six to Jason Taylor. Patriots up by 14. Then, say Cassel strings together a decent drive, 30 yards or so, and then they punt, and it's returned to the 35. Then, Miami drives 65 yards for a TD, and now it's a 7 point game. All of this could've happened in 10 minutes of game time, so there'd still be 20 minutes left for Miami to overcome a 7 point deficit, with Tom Brady on the sideline.

Don't you think, if you were the coach, you would wish you had gotten another TD before the half, with whatever play you felt would work best? Wouldn't it seem kind of silly, in retrospect, to have called off the play you thought was your best bet, because it seemed mean to use a trick play to get a TD when you were already up by 28? Wouldn't that be a stupid reason to lose a game?

While this course of events is unlikely, none of the events that comprise it are absurd or implausible. One of the events even happened (well, almost). The game was far from over, so aggressive play calling was perfectly justified if the coach thought that it would help his chances of winning. Now, it might not actually increase his chances of winning, but in that case, he's made a stupid decision, not an unsportsmanlike one.

If Belichick thought that the fake spike was his best chance at scoring another touchdown and putting the game further out of reach, then he had every reason to call that play. Once you tell a coach that he can't call certain plays (in games that aren't yet decided) because it would be embarrassing to his opponent, you put him at an unfair advantage. After all, nobody would suggest that a fake spike TD pass would be unacceptable for Miami to use in making a comeback, would they? How ironic would it be if, after eschewing the fake spike TD, the Patriots lost when Miami ran that very play to get the winning points? What would you say to the Patriots then?

Btw, I think the main reason football is so prone to accusations of running up the score is simply that the numbers are so big. Leading by 28 points sounds a lot more impressive, and insurmountable, than, say, being ahead by 4 runs in baseball, or even 4 goals in hockey. But when one play can get a team 7 points, that's basically what it amounts to. Points can be scored in such large bunches in football that seemingly impossible deficits can be overcome in only a few plays. That's why building up a very, very large lead is a perfectly reasonable precaution against the possibility of a few flukey plays costing you a win. It might look like bad sportsmanship to win by 35+ points, but winning by 5 in another sport wouldn't attract so much scorn.

280
by Thad (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 11:50pm

re 276
Are you for real?
Up by 28 meant up by 28 at any time. The Dolphins were not coming back, pick 6 or not.
I am pretty sure Ben was saying the game was over.

281
by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:08am

While Tarvaris generally is not good, he did seem better on that first drive that the VIkings scored on. Not sure when it happened, but apparently Tarvaris broke his finger during that game...

282
by miami (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:14am

2. On the NE running game. NE’s run DVOA is so high because they hardly ever run. Philadelphia is the same way; if the defense assumes pass on every play, your run DVOA looks absurdly high"

Westbrook is 4th in the NFL in rush yds per game. I think PHL has a running game.

241/248 - you are wrong. Moss did have a choice. He signed a contract that allowed his employer to trade him to Oakland. Billy Volek had one in his contract, Moss could have had one as well. So stop pulling that 'he had no choice' nonsense.

And it's not like the NFL is the only football league. It's the only league that will pay Moss that much, but again, that is *Moss's* choice. You can't have it both ways, he could go play in the CFL or AFL any time he wanted.

Moss did have a choice when he signed his contract w/o a No-Trade clause, he signed it anyway in return for more money/more years.
Moss does have a choice of employers, he chose the NFL. He can go work elsewhere if he doesn't like how mean ol' coaches and QBs treat him.

As for Pats fans, they've proven time and time again they will back NWE and Belicheat whether or not he blatantly violates NFL rules against videotaping for multiple years, or signs starters on HGH/steroids, or NWE players make illegal hits on the other team's QB and get fined by the NFL for it.
And they'll whine and whine week after week when someone calls them on it.

And they'll go absolutely beserk when someone pulls a Wilfork on Brady's knee on the second play of a game...and not see their own hypocrisy, for They and Coach Belicheat are Perfect.

283
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:17am

In the history of the NFL one team has come back from a 28 point deficit.
Montana did this one time.
No one else ever has.

Not true. You're forgetting the January 3rd, 1993 AFC wildcard game, where the Bills, led by their backup QB, overcame a 32 point deficit in the second half to beat the Oilers.

The odds were astronomical that the dolphins were coming back.

The odds weren't zero. That's the relevant distinction here.

And honestly, I don't see why Belichick is obligated to take the chance that his opponent will set a new record comeback against him. Before the MNF game between Arizona and Chicago last year, no team had ever come back from a 20 point deficit without scoring a TD on offense. Ask a Cardinals fan how much that helped.

284
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:27am

278: "By the way, if you had actually read, I said that had the Patriots run the ‘fake spike’ play in the second half, I would have had a different view of it. Hence, your question was answered if you had cared to read close enough."

196: "If that play had happened in the second half, I ‘may’ have some sympathy for your perspective."

Al, why should I care to read your comments close enough when you evidently don't read them closely yourself? Or do you not thing there is a difference between "would have" and "'may' have (and you yourself added the quotation marks around 'may')"? I'm not trying to get into a logic chopping or sentence parsing contest here. But take a look at the leitmotiv of your comments in this thread:

45: And that’s why you’re an arm chair QB analyzing games and Belichick is coaching championship teams.
80: I’m allowed to comment on how idiotic and moronic his comment was
97: His comment was idiotic...Apparently Ben Reily thinks these guys are playing Pop Warner football out there.
165: Some people need to get their heads examined.
196: So, the “fake spike� play is designed to make other team feel like idiots? That’s why it’s there? Interesting. I thought it was designed to take advantage of another team not paying attention and scoring a quick TD because of it.

You're obviously a smart guy with a considerable understanding of football (posts 143, 239, and 277 make good points.) And I know that snark is a major aspect of an internet discussion thread. But you are one angry guy.

Close enough reading for you this time?

(See, I can't resist that condescending tone, either!)

285
by miami (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:28am

Wilfork hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3POT8n2Qk3g

I like how he sticks his elbow out right at the end, directly into Losman's knee, long after the ball is gone and Losman is defenseless.

If Losman has any friends in the Buffalo locker room, the Pats O-Line better make sure no one gets within 2 yards of Brady after he throws the ball. $12.5k seems like a bargain to play against Cassel.

286
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:32am

re: Thad

Are you for real?
Up by 28 meant up by 28 at any time. The Dolphins were not coming back, pick 6 or not.
I am pretty sure Ben was saying the game was over.

Uh, Brady was taken out of the game when they were up by 28. He was then brought back in when they were up by 21. He was then taken out when they were up by 28.

Try again, Thad.

287
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 12:35am

’m not trying to get into a logic chopping or sentence parsing contest here.

It's always funny when someone says, "I'm not trying to do..." and then go on to do precisely what they say they're not trying to do.

If you'd like to argue the parsed sentences, in the context of how they were stated, I'd be more than happy to appease you. If you're more than content to just chop up sentences -- oh wait, you just said you're not going to do that -- then I'll leave you to yourself.

Cheers.

288
by Thad (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 1:03am

Alex
You are correct about the Bills.
Good catch.
But still, 2 games in decades?
The Dolphins ain't coming back.
If they want to beak the scoring record, hey, go for it.
If they want to put stuff out there for other teams to study, that's a fine plan.
I have no problem with that.
But the Dolphins are not gonna win down 35-7, and to argue they are is kind of stupid.

Al 45
I have never said this about anyone, but you are worse than stan, seriously.

289
by Buddy Toledo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 1:27am

282 and everybody else expounding about Moss' freedom of choice:

You're right, Moss had a choice if he didn't want to play for Oakland. He could quit the NFL or play poorly and ask to be traded.

He chose not to quit the NFL. I think that looks like the good choice now. What looks like a bad choice now is whatever fourth round pick every team other than the Patriots got instead of Moss.

290
by Jeremiah (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 2:04am

re: 262
An unlikely scenario I know, but if the Pats Colts game was to end in a tie then it’s entirely possible that both teams could end the season undefeated. If this was the case, home field advantage would obviously be decided by tie breaks.

The first four wouldn’t apply as they would have equal records head to head, in common games and within both division and conference.

The next tie-break is net points. Scoring as many points as you can would then look really smart.

Except for the fact that the steps actually are these:

1-2-3) H2H, W-L-T records
4) Strength of Victory
5) Strength of Schedule
6) Conference ranking of points scored/allowed
7) League ranking of the same
8) Net points in conference games
9) Net points in all games
10) Net touchdowns in all games
11) Coin flip

Since SoV is a measure of the winning percentage of teams that a team has beat, I think the Colts have a definite edge in this one. The number of points the Patriots score is irrelevant.

291
by Brady slayed your GF (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 2:52am

When people are arguing about you being classless for running up the score all year, that is a wonderful sign.

anyway, stop your bitching you emotional women. this ain't pop warner, people's feelings aren't to be spared. i respect jason taylor for understanding that.

292
by Paul (London,UK) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 4:54am

#290 My apologies, I took the list from the NFL Record & Fact Book 2000 but now discover that the order was changed in March 2002.

I stand corrected and should probably buy a new book.

293
by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 5:44am

#253 - to be honest, I was just quoting Serenity, but point taken. Although would a replacement level QB wearing Tavaris Jackson round their neck be any worse than Jackson?

294
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 7:48am

re 287: It’s always funny when someone says, “I’m not trying to do…� and then go on to do precisely what they say they’re not trying to do.

It's a rhetorical device--the next sentence starts with "but," suggesting something like "you leave me no other choice." However, leave that aside. I'm just glad to bring a little amusement into your life.

Sounds like you need it.

295
by panthersnbraves (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:57am

But everyone is failing to focus on what is really important. The Panthers managed to move into first place by not playing.

Which will be the first division to send a 7-9 team to the playoffs the NFC South or the NFC West?

296
by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 8:59am

Foxboro, October 28

Accusations of poor sportsmanship continue to rain down on the New England Patriots, following their 34-17 win over the Washington Redskins this afternoon.

Front and center was the Patriots, up 14-0 in the final minute of the first quarter, attempted a 53 yard field goal instead of punting. "That was a slap in the face," Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh exclaimed. "Bush league stuff. Fourteen points is more than enough cushion to head into the second quarter with, but no, they chose to rub our faces in it. They should have been punting. We'll remember this next time we see them."

Safety Sean Taylor agreed with his teammate's assessment. "Yeah, that was pretty bad. What really grinds my gears, though, is that play in the third quarter. That's stuff I'd expect from Rutgers, not an NFL team. And a great NFL team, there's no need for them to run those kinds of plays."

Taylor was referring to a third-and-six play when the score was 28-10, when New England quarterback Tom Brady executed a play-action pass, faking the ball to running back Heath Evans before hitting Jabbar Gaffney for an 8 yard gain. Several Redskins defenders bit on the fake, allowing Gaffney an open spot in which to catch the first down pass. "That's okay," said Taylor. "They won, and I tip my hat to them. But they proved yet again what a classless team they are, that winning is more important to them than anything else."

1. A fake spike is a legitimite play that's in every team's playbook. Why is it any worse than a play-action pass, end around, or trap play?

2. I know many of us like to pile on Belichick, but Brady called the fake spike. It was obvious to me sitting at home, I'd like to think somebody on the Dolphins saw it. Jogging to the line signaling for a spike, he stared directily at Moss and tugged on his face mask. Moss signaled acknowledgement. Please direct the classlessness comments to the responsible party.

3. I realized that everybody in the broadcast booth said it often, but Moss was not double covered on the first TD pass. The defender in front of him peeled off his man (Gaffney, I believe) after the ball was thrown. In effect, there were two defenders in the area to defend the pass, but Brady didn't throw into double coverage. On that play, anyway.

297
by fontaine (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:08am

Sunday Night Football and it's the Broncos pulling off a huge upset to beat the Steelers in a thrilling game.

You dedicate 11 sentences to Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger in your audibles from the game.

Denver players combined were mentioned in two (Elam/Cutler).

Even though it was a huge upset I doubt you dedicate it as the "Upset of the Week" to focus on. While you guys do good statistical analysis it's pretty clear you tend on focus in on big name, favorite teams and so on.

298
by Hemlock (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 9:59am

Just doing my part so somebody can say "300th"

Statisticians and BBS/Blogger types commenting on sports. I could get a psych PHD for writing about this stuff. Thanks for keeping me entertained, boys.

299
by Al 45 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 10:00am

Just wondering if the classless-brigade is going to come out and say the same about Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy, and the rest of the Colts.

I mean, they were up by 15, with about 4 minutes left to play and Manning throws a deep 35 yard pass to Clark.

With Garrard and Jones-Drew out, and the Jaguars clearly reeling, that was just a classless play and the Colts are a classless bunch for doing it. Unreal. [/sarcasm]

300
by nat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/23/2007 - 10:08am

re: 1, 2

Well, Jimmy, that didn't work.