Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

05 Nov 2007

Audibles at the Line: Week 9

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.

Just a quick note: You'll be able to find a separate Audibles at the Line about the Patriots-Colts game elsewhere on the main page. Please keep all comments relating to that game, any of its characters, and anything they may or may not allegedly be doing or saying over there. We want to make sure people have a place to discuss the other games played this week. Thanks.

Washington Redskins 23 at New York Jets 20

Ryan Wilson: I think the Redskins' defense still thinks they're in New England. They're suddenly unable to stop the run, and Kellen Clemens has done a nice job of buying time with his feet and finding the open receiver.

Bill Barnwell: Well, if we thought Eric Mangini was a reader... Jets ran the "Eleven Angry Men" set on third-and-medium, with no down linemen and five rushers standing up. They didn't get to Campbell, natch, but the thought was nice. Jets are up 17-3.

Bill Moore: I haven't seen much of Washington this year, but one early observation/question: Is Jason Campbell too quick to break the pocket? With only a few minutes to go in the half, all of Campbell's completions have been to Chris Cooley and Mike Sellers. Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El have nothing.

Bill Barnwell: I've actually thought Campbell did a good job of staying in the pocket.

Bill Moore: I don't mean just today. However, there were definitely two or three plays today, where he had a pocket established, and broke it too early. One turned into a sack, one a throw-away and one an incomplete.

The Jets are spreading the offense out, but that's not preventing Washington from blitzing Kellen Clemens early. He's countered by playing Pennington-style ball -- short effective passes, but with a little more zip. Washington continued to blitz throughout the half, including on the Jets' final two-minute drive, which proved to be very effective. Clemens was unable to handle the overloads, and once again, forced a pass that could have been an interception.

The Jets' front seven are playing pretty effectively. Clinton Portis is getting nowhere as Jets are filling the gaps. On one play early in the second quarter, the Jets had no-one on the defensive line on third-and-9. All seven defenders were in standing positions a couple of yards off the line. Interestingly, it wasn't a cover heavy package, as all of them ending up rushing Campbell. In wacky style, Washington countered on fourth down with a five-wide package, and ROCK CARTWRIGHT under center. Apparently, they just wanted to see what the Jets would do. They took a delay of game -- best call of the game.

Clemens comes out and makes his worst decision of the game do far. He is so zoned in Brad Smith, he throws into triple coverage. He is lucky the ball is not intercepted. He does run a good drive from that point on, including a good scramble, buying time to complete a 30-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery, and a rollout for a touchdown to make it 17-3.

The Jets are all about trickery. None of it has been very effective. They ran two fake end-arounds in a row. The first was modestly effective, but the second fooled no-one. They have also run real end-arounds (two yards) and a direct snap to the running back (negated by a false start).

Again, tit for tat, the Skins counter with their own trickery, and recover an on-side kick with five minutes to go in the first half. It's like I'm watching one of my own Madden games.

Couple of final notes at the end of the half. Moss finally makes a catch, on a flat pass with the cornerback playing off. Portis (and Ladell Betts) have had some effectiveness running to the outside, as runs up the middle were getting nowhere. Washington is making the drives, but can't get into the end zone. Campbell leaves the pocket early again on third-and-goal, cuts off half the field, and ends up throwing the ball away to settle for another field goal.

Sean McCormick: On third-and-13, Clemens made a throw that Chad Pennington simply couldn't make, rolling left away from pressure, pump-faking the checkdown and then throwing a dart 15 to 20 yards downfield to a wide open Cotchery. The offense has still been fundamentally the same, but Clemens has added the threat of the occasional downfield throw, especially after the protection breaks down.

The Jets' offense is actually building off plays rather than calling a reactive game at the line of scrimmage. They've run several plays off the I-set handoff with a receiver coming into the backfield to threaten the end-around. On two plays, they handed the ball off, on another two they actually ran the reverse, and they also called play action off it. It's the kind of thing Paul Hackett was very good at, showing a defense one look and then using it to attack them in multiple ways. (Of course, Hackett used the fullback counter as his base play, which isn't the most threatening play to attack a defense with, but still.)

Washington responded to the shotgun set with a series of overload blitzes, sending two blitzers to the same side on nearly every snap. Thomas Jones would pick up one blitzer, but the other guy would be coming free, and it forced Clemens into a near-interception and a scramble for minimal gain on third down.

Second half and the overloads continue on any long-yardage pass play. This time, LaRon Landry came free and killed Clemens. By getting those successful overloads, it effectively removes whatever vertical component Clemens would otherwise bring to the offense.

Abram Elam blitzes with force. He gets through the offensive line very well, but what happens after he's in the backfield is anyone's guess, as he doesn't consistently bring down the ball carrier. (As I was typing this, Elam came up the gut on a blitz, hit Campbell and forced an interception.)

I've often wondered why the Jets don't use Leon Washington in a Reggie Bush role. Well, they tried to early in the third quarter, lining him out wide and having him run a hitch-and-go. He was wide-open, but let the ball bounce off his chest. The play would have gone for a touchdown had he made the easy catch.

Doug Farrar: What was the difference between Jonathan Vilma, who amassed 43 tackles in seven games before going on injured reserve, and rookie David Harris, who put up 24 tackles in this game alone? Obviously Vilma is a very good player who had trouble in the new defense and without a big, reliable nose tackle, but... Were the plays just flowing to Harris, or are the Jets making some adjustments?

Michael David Smith: Harris is really good. The only thing I don't get is why on earth he wasn't starting ahead of Vilma anyway. Yeah, Vilma has talent, but in the defense Mangini is running with the Jets, Harris is a much better inside linebacker than Vilma. Of course, on almost every running play the Redskins were blowing the Jets off the ball today, and in some cases Harris was making his tackles pretty far downfield, but he was still extremely impressive for the second straight week.

Bill Barnwell: I've been saying this since the day he was drafted, and I'm guessing Sean will agree with me, but Harris is a guy this defense needed desperately. He plugs up holes and gets to the ballcarrier. Vilma is simply not that guy -- it's not an indictment of his talent, but his skillset within the 3-4. I understand that Mangini relishes the 3-4 because of the ability it provides to throw different looks at the defense, but he simply does not have the personnel for it, and while he got away with it last year, his stubbornness about it this year is going to cost him Vilma. Some team is going to get him for a fraction of his actual value and I could think of, oh, 20 or so teams who could use him.

San Francisco 49ers 16 at Atlanta Falcons 20

Ryan Wilson: You know why the 49ers offense stinks? They're in the red zone, and DeAngelo Hall is favoring a sore right arm (which he hurt on the play before when trying to punch the ball out of Darrell Jackson's hands after Jackson burned him on a crossing pattern) ... and San Francisco runs the ball to the other side of the field. Don't they have coaches paying attention to this stuff?

Vince Verhei: The one good thing about Atlanta is that on the rare occasion when they play a team that is actually worse than they are, they can exploit their opponents' weaknesses. Playing Houston? Hey, look, Harrington goes for 223 yards and two scores! Playing San Francisco? Hey, look, Warrick Dunn has his first 100-yard day in more than a year! And hey, look, the defense notches two sacks and three interceptions! The last two interceptions were just brutal throws, desperate lobs that flew over his receivers' heads and into the Falcons' arms, although the last one was virtually a Hail Mary situation. You've also got to love DeAngelo Hall intercepting the ball and delivering it right into the hands of Arthur Blank, as if to say "I'm sorry I'm such a stupid loudmouth, please don't fine me any more."

When the Seahawks traded Darrell Jackson to San Francisco, nobody in Seattle could understand why you'd give a division rival a chance to fill their biggest hole and get only a fourth-rounder in return. Well, the Seahawks absolutely fleeced the 49ers in that trade. Jackson is over, done, finished, gone. There is nothing left. The Seahawks were wise to get anything for him.

Arizona Cardinals 10 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Bill Barnwell: Two straight low snaps by the Buccaneers center in shotgun formation, which isn't pretty, while the Buccaneers' line is killing the team's chances with penalties. The Buccaneers' scheme so far has been penalty, penalty, Earnest Graham 12-yard run, two incomplete passes. One of the incomplete passes flew through Adrian Wilson's hands to Joey Galloway for a somewhat lucky touchdown.

Russell Levine: The Bucs had 43:07 time of possession today, were plus-two in turnovers, got well over 100 yards from Earnest Graham, and yet were left sweating this game out after Matt Bryant honked a 26-yard field goal with the score 17-3 in the fourth quarter. That came at the end of a 19-play, 86-yard, 11:59 drive. Arizona went right down the field for a touchdown, then got a quick three-and-out, but could do nothing with its final two possessions.

Two weeks ago in the loss to Detroit, Bryant missed a field goal after a 16-play, 58-yard, 9:01 drive.

I've seen nearly every single game this team has played in the last 11 years, and other than 2002 when they blew a lot of people out, they've always been the same. They play with such a small margin of error because of the limited offense. This was nearly three straight losses in games they largely dominated.

The refs really lost control of the game in the final minute. With the Bucs in the victory formation, Arizona nose tackle Gabe Watson swatted the center snap (isn't that illegal?), causing the ball to skid about 15 yards backwards where Joey Galloway was lined up and easily fell on it. So that's why they put that guy back there. It was ruled a false start/illegal snap because it never touched the quarterback's hands. On the next snap, a fight broke out, probably because one of the Tampa Bay linemen was pissed at Watson. Jeremy Trueblood got popped in the head, tried to get back at the player who hit him, bumped an official and was ejected.

Tampa's safety combo of Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson was again responsible for four or five hits over the middle. At least three times, one or the other separated a Cardinal receiver from the football with a big hit, and late in the game, the tight end appeared to alligator-arm yet another deep post.

Green Bay Packers 33 at Kansas City Chiefs 22

Ned Macey: The Chiefs pick off Brett Favre with less than a minute left on a throw affected by excellent pressure from Alfonso Boone. Underrated signing of the off-season, by the way. Then the Chiefs go for it all to Samie Parker in the end zone. Atari Bigby, the pass interference machine, hits him early, then Parker catches it but lands out of bounds.

Isn't it a little weird to have a pass interference when the guy catches it through the end zone, which makes the ball look uncatchable? Is the call that Parker would have been able to catch it in bounds if it weren't for Bigby's hit -- but then isn't that sort of a forceout? The point is moot when Larry Johnson goes in for the score, and the Chiefs lead thanks to one offensive play.

Favre's first interception, by the way, was entirely his fault -- bad throw forced into a tight spot.

Aaron Schatz: Does Bigby think he's playing flag football -- as in, the player with the most flags wins the game? This is two weeks now where he just looks like he doesn't even know what the rules are out there. On top of this, a lot of Tony Gonzalez's big catches today came when Bigby had him in man coverage. Maybe he's better than this and just having a bad month, but it seems like every time something goes wrong for Green Bay on defense, it's him. It's interesting -- Bigby looks awful, Al Harris doesn't look as good as past years, the linebackers aren't completely wowing me -- I think the Packers' defense is really all about that defensive line. It is good, it is deep, and it needs to get more attention.

Priest Holmes honestly doesn't look like he has anything left. He couldn't keep up with A.J. Hawk on the pass Hawk intercepted.

Bill Barnwell: I love what Packers general manager Ted Thompson is doing for the most part, but boy did he miss in the first round. Maybe Justin Harrell will develop into a star, but defensive line was definitely not a need. That may definitely be the case, but SEC defensive tackles with a first-round pedigree are pretty much the most can't-miss you'll find for a defensive position -- Johnathan Sullivan is the only exception.

Mike Tanier: I feel like I know how the Chiefs have been beating teams. Their defensive front four is very good. Tony Gonzalez is still playing at a very high level. They can grind with opponents. But the overall offense isn't good. If L.J. is hurt for any period of time, they are in trouble, because I don't get the impression that Priest Holmes has any interest in a 20-carry load or has the physical tools to deal with it.

Doug Farrar: According to Jared Allen, it's all about the mullet.

The Green Bay Packers would like to thank whoever has been questioning Brett Favre's arm strength. First the killer overtime throw against the Broncos, and two bombs in this game. Both over two Chiefs defenders. You can't throw a football any better than he did on the Donald Driver catch.

Cincinnati Bengals 21 at Buffalo Bills 33

Sean McCormick: I switched over to the Bills game just in time to see J.P. Losman go deep and force a throw in the direction of Lee Evans. Leon Hall was in position and picked it off. Which is to say that everything was back to normal.

Ryan Wilson: Obviously, the Bengals' defense is atrocious. Part of it is injuries, part of it is just not being very good. That said, Cincy moved defensive end Robert Geathers to outside linebacker and he's looked pretty good. That's about the only good thing I can say about this unit.

Aaron Schatz: You can literally tell who is playing quarterback for the Buffalo Bills simply by looking at how many receiving yards Lee Evans has.

Doug Farrar: Poor Marshawn Lynch -- he rushed for 153 yards today, great numbers for a rookie, and nobody's going to know. Adrian Peterson just eclipsed everybody.

Vince Verhei: Glenn Holt's kickoff return for a touchdown was Exhibit A that it's the blockers, not the return man, that matter. Holt wasn't touched as he shot through a gap in the Bills' coverage. He put on a little fake to get past the kicker, but other than that he didn't look any faster or shiftier than your standard NFL kick returner.

Marshawn Lynch's 56-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was one for the all-time highlight reel. Three Bengals hit him in the backfield, but he somehow escaped, slipped out to the right, and then showed unreal explosive ability, going from nearly stopped to full speed in about two strides. There is bad defense, and there is great offense, and this was most definitely the latter.

San Diego Chargers 17 at Minnesota Vikings 35

Doug Farrar: I remember a preseason Audibles in which I advised Tarvaris Jackson to slide when he ran instead of taking the full tackle. Well, he wasn't going to listen to me, but maybe he'll listen to the little birdies flying around his head after getting whacked up by two Chargers in the second quarter. His head had hit the ground and was bouncing back up when Shawne Merriman ran right into him on a descent. Jackson was carted off the field and appeared to be OK after a few scary motionless moments, but whoo, boy -- he's going to need some Advil when the fuzz wears off.

Early entrant for Keep Choppin' Wood: Brad Childress directs Ryan Longwell to kick a 58-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Longwell comes up short, and Antonio Cromartie returns the ball 109 yards for a touchdown. Lotsa booing in the Metrodome, and a 7-7 tie is out the window. Did Childress think he'd get some press if he ran DOWN the score?

Sean McCormick: I wonder if coaches are responding to fans accusing them of being conservative, as there were a number of 54-plus-yard field-goal attempts at the end of the first half. In two of them, the defender fielded a short kick and was able to get a return, and in Cromartie's case, he was able to break it. It just seems like the field goal kicking unit is a bad group to chase down a defensive back in the open field.

Bill Barnwell: Do you think teams train field goal units on that play, though?

Sean McCormick: They certainly should. But if you look at the composition of players on the field goal unit, it just doesn't look like there are a lot of speed guys there. If a few players take a bad angle, as the Minnesota blockers did, they've got no chance of cornering a player like Devin Hester or Cromartie.

Doug Farrar: The player closest to Cromartie when he crossed the goal line was Steve Hutchinson. Safe to say they didn't have the "speed team" out there.

How to help your opponent dig their way out of a hole: The Chargers have the ball on their own five-yard line halfway through the third quarter with a third-and-11. Philip Rivers takes the snap in a shotgun two-back set, the pocket collapses, Rivers is set upon by several Vikings defenders, and he somehow escapes and runs out to the 10-yard line. Pat Williams get a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on, and the Chargers -- oh, wait a minute. The Chargers go three-and-out and return Minnesota's favor. Never mind.

Remember the old highlights of Jim Brown, when he'd be shredding 250-pound defensive tackles and linebackers as big as today's cornerbacks and just generally embarrassing everybody? That's what Adrian Peterson looks like in this game. He's not just elusive; he can bounce off a defender and get outside faster than anyone can catch him, but he can also hit that defender and push the guy back a good couple of yards and be gone in a flash. He has that Walter Payton attitude, and if he can maintain any semblance of durability with that style as Payton did, he's going to mess up a lot of records.

The only thing I wonder about Peterson's day is how much the injury to Luis Castillo affected the ability of San Diego's front seven to stop the run. Castillo was hurt on the second play of the second half, and Peterson ran for only 43 of his 296 yards in the first half.

Vince Verhei: A request for the Minnesota Vikings: Please change Chester Taylor's jersey number. He wears 29, which looks way too similar to Adrian Peterson's 28. When Peterson is chasing the rushing record, and I see a Vikings running back wearing "2X" break a long run, I get excited. Then I see it's just Chester Taylor, and I get bummed. I suggest giving Taylor a number in the 40s, ideally 41 or 47.

Other than that, I don't know what to add. Audibles are supposed to tell the story of the game that's not told in box scores and highlights. Well, wasn't the story of this game told in the box scores and highlights? I guess there's this: Chris Chambers, who the Chargers were all kinds of excited about, was thrown to 10 times. He caught five of them for 59 yards. Yep. He's a gamebreaker.

Aaron Schatz: What's left to say about Adrian Peterson? The only thing I can add is that for all his greatness, we should recognize that he is also the beneficiary of some very good blocking, particularly good tight end blocking by Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe.

What is wrong with Philip Rivers? Wasn't Norv Turner supposed to HELP young quarterbacks?

Denver Broncos 7 at Detroit Lions 44

Michael David Smith: The referee just called "personal foul for running into the coaching staff on the sideline." What? How did CBS not give us a replay of that one?

I just don't even know what to say about this game -- specifically the way the Lions' defensive line is playing right now. I mean, the Millen era has made me so pessimistic that I'm still not really ready to declare the Lions a good team, but this is the best I've seen them play in a really, really long time.

Doug Farrar: All I know is that when Shaun Rogers returns an interception 66 yards for a touchdown at a speed that intimates the presence of a baked ham in the general vicinity of the end zone, that's good fun.

Carolina Panthers 7 at Tennessee Titans 20

Vince Verhei: Tennessee's defense was mediocre last year, and I expected them to fall apart with the loss of Pacman Jones. Instead, they're tops in the league in DVOA. So I paid real close attention to this game to see how they were doing it.

First of all, their defensive line is awesome. Albert Haynesworth is a beast. He had three sacks today, as a tackle, and also blew up several running plays. Kyle Vanden Bosch and Travis LaBoy are also scary pass rushers. Most teams that can generate pressure with a four-man rush will back it up with a zone. Not the Titans. They blitz a LOT. I was really impressed by outside linebacker David Thornton. He also collected a sack, and showed great speed chasing down runners across the field.

You would think a team that blitzed so often would risk leaving corners in single coverage, but it seemed like every time a pass was coming down, the Titans had a safety there to lend a hand. Hard to tell whether that means the safeties are very good, or if their coverage schemes are that effective, but I suspect the answer is "both."

Now, all that was against David Carr and the Panthers, so take that for what it's worth. I should also point out that the Titans backed off and stopped blitzing in the fourth quarter, and that's when the Panthers drove the field and scored their touchdown.

Jones was also a great punt returner, but the guy the Titans have now, Chris Davis, is also pretty good. He didn't break any scores, but he had returns of 15 and 39 yards in the first quarter. He had another 30-plus-yarder later called back on a penalty. (Checking the box score, I see he also fumbled two returns. So he's got that to work on.)

So the Titans have defense, and they have special teams. They do not have any kind of a passing game. Vince Young is way too eager to make a big play, forcing balls to receivers who aren't open. (I also blame his receivers for this, because they're NOT OPEN.) Young ended the day with only 14 completions for 110 yards, and mixed in three sacks and two interceptions.

Jacksonville Jaguars 24 at New Orleans Saints 41

Bill Barnwell: Great comment by the announcers: "Marcus Stroud tested positive for a 'bad' supplement." Like the supplement had been naughty or something.

Saints kickoff coverage on the Maurice Jones-Drew kickoff touchdown was dire. I saw two instances where two players were being blocked by one Jaguar in the wedge.

Ben Riley: Drew Brees has more than 300 yards passing in the first half. Welcome back, Saints 2006 offense.

I like Sean Payton as a coach, but the following sequence baffled me:

1. Olindo Mare misses a 40ish-yard field goal, wide right, with a minute to play.
2. Jacksonville immediately turns the ball over after the kick.
3. Drew Brees marches the Saints down the field -- welcome back from the fantasy dead, Marques Colston! -- but the drive stalls with eight seconds to play.
4. Olindo Mare misses a 50ish-yard field goal, wide right.

Mare is now six-of-12 on the year, I think. Maybe it's time to go in a different direction, Sean.

Aaron Schatz: Yes. I thought Mare's problems last year would be your usual up-and-down field goal kicker inconsistency, but two years of this is a sign that perhaps the career is done. His kickoffs aren't even at the top of the league like they were last year -- they are middle-of-the-pack.

Bill Barnwell: The other thing about Mare missing his kicks were that the two kicks he missed in succession in the second quarter had incredibly similar paths -- they both went straight for a moment and then veered dramatically right. I have no idea about kicker mechanics, and I want to clarify that before I make the next statement, but that seems wholly mechanical to me as opposed to simply bad luck.

Seattle Seahawks 30 at Cleveland Browns 33

Doug Farrar: It's funny -- I really like Matt Hasselbeck as a quarterback, but every time I see him audible, I think to myself, "Oh-oh." He went to another play on a first-and-10 with 11:47 left in the first quarter. Seattle ran the stretch play right with Shaun Alexander, and lost four yards. Two plays later, Hasselbeck throws into tight double-coverage on Bobby Engram, and Sean Jones picks him off. Not only are the Seahawks expecting Hasselbeck to do too much with the lack of a running game, but the repeated use of four-receiver sets with a line that could generously be termed putrid is a mystery to me. You'd think they'd want to run a freakin' max protect once in a while.

And how weird is this? Early on, Seattle's defense bails the team out. That explosive Cleveland offense goes three-and-out right away. I suppose I just have to get used to the fact that Tim Ruskell, having helped build the Super Bowl Buccaneers, is now constructing the West Coast version, and that the great offenses of Seattle's recent past are a memory.

As things settle down, Hasselbeck is showing a good ability to get passes off under pressure. On their first touchdown drive, the Seahawks gained 74 yards through the air and six on the ground. The hilarious part of that drive was that Cleveland bit on play action twice. Twice! Which team have they been watching on film this week?

Nice play by Seattle second-year defensive end Darryl Tapp in the first quarter when he shed his blocker, moved down the line from the right, read Derek Anderson perfectly, and picked off a short pass. All that with a cast on his hand (OK, I'll ask the question: Why can Tapp catch the ball with a cast on his hand, and Shaun Alexander can't?) Tapp had four sacks against the Rams before the bye -- he's a player to watch. However, Browns rookie left tackle Joe Thomas is boxing Tapp out very well as a pass-rusher.

As Commandant Lassard might say, there have been many, many, many, MANY great plays in the NFL today. But Nate Burleson's 94-yard punt return touchdown in the second quarter might be the most impressive. Burleson evaded five defenders and looked to be sunk at least two different times inside his own 10-yard line. I'm not sure how he got out of all that traffic, except to say that Cleveland will be one of several teams working on return coverage this upcoming week.

The Browns went with three straight passes on a goal-line stand late in the first half, and the Seahawks showed just how much their coverage has improved. On first down, Jordan Babineaux kept the ball away from Braylon Edwards. Second down, safety Mike Green got away with a little contact on Kellen Winslow. On third down, Marcus Trufant played Edwards just about perfectly, and the Browns had to kick a field goal. Nine points allowed against this offense at the half is a big win for a defense that is really starting to impress me.

However, as the game went on, the logic behind Seattle's defensive game-planning began to elude me. I don't understand the fake blitzes, or putting Lofa Tatupu on Winslow when you need a safety on that guy. That bend-but-don't-break stuff only works if you put SOME pressure on the quarterback, and Anderson had too much time to make his throws at the end of the game. The two fundamental differences between this defensive strategy and the one that worked against the Bengals in Week 3: Jamal Lewis worked it in the red zone when Cincinnati's backs couldn't, and Seattle's mysterious aversion to pressure. And then, when Cleveland goes for a two-point conversion after their go-ahead touchdown and you'd think you'd want everyone in the end zone, Babineaux goes on a corner blitz. No excuse for it, really. You have all the ingredients of a defense that is working, and you change things around and try to get cute. Why? 48 attempts by Derek Anderson and no sacks? How does that happen?

Keep Choppin' Wood nominee No. 2: Mike Holmgren, for going for it on fourth-and-inches on Seattle's first overtime drive from the Cleveland 43-yard line, when the Seahawks hadn't been able to get any push in short-yardage situations. When you don't have a rushing attack in that situation, you punt. Maurice Morris up the middle, turnover on downs, and a few missed tackles on a screen to Jamal Lewis later, there's your ballgame.

Vince Verhei: Hoo boy, what a game. I don't even know where to start. Last week I applauded Jack Del Rio for abandoning the pass and going run, run, run. This week I'm applauding Mike Holmgren for abandoning the run and going pass, pass, pass. They ran 24 plays in the fourth quarter and overtime, and only seven of those were runs. On their first possession of the quarter, tenuously clinging to a two-point lead and looking to kill the clock, they mixed together seven passes with just one run and kicked a field goal. Obviously, none of that mattered in the long run, but it was better than seeing Shaun Alexander plow into the line three times and punting the ball away.

Now, you can question the timing of those seven runs all you want. The fourth-and-inches in overtime and the draw that set up the tying field goal were mortifying. So I guess I'm saying that Holmgren didn't abandon the run enough.

Continuing that thought, I disagree with Doug that the Seahawks need to go max protect. I've been saying this since last year, but this team plays best when they go four-wide, exploiting mismatches and zone coverage. If teams want to blitz, I think Hasselbeck's heady enough to find the hot receiver. Teams that can generate real pressure without blitzing, like the Giants or Packers, will kill them, however.

They found a different way to create mismatches on their first touchdown. On first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Bobby Engram actually lined up at fullback, then circled out for a swing pass. The linebacker couldn't keep up, and the Seahawks had seven points.

There was a point in this game where they were highlighting the big days by rookies around the league: Adrian Peterson, obviously, but also Marshawn Lynch and Amobi Okoye. And I wanted to scream "WHAT ABOUT JOE THOMAS?! HE'S IN THIS GAME RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF YOU AND DOMINATING!!!" He shut down Darryl Tapp to such a degree that in the fourth quarter, as Cleveland was passing, passing, passing to come back, Tapp gave up on rushing entirely. He'd take one step to engage Thomas, then step back and leap in the air, waving his hands in a feeble attempt to block Derek Anderson's vision. This was not a zone blitz or other unusual coverage, it was Tapp deciding that he simply had no shot of beating Thomas, and trying to find some other way to make an impact.

Also, in last week's Audibles, I took a shot at Braylon Edwards for yanking his helmet off during the game. I wanted to note here that he later said that he thought the third quarter was over. Then he apologized and said it would never happen again. This quote was in an article about Edwards offering to pay for the funeral of a young Browns fan who had passed away. That Braylon Edwards, he's good people.

Finally, a note to Sam Rosen: Going for it on fourth-and-short deep in your opponent's territory is usually a good idea. I can understand questioning the Seahawks' fourth-down play in overtime, because the run-blocking of the Seattle line is so terrible. But when Cleveland went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Seahawks' 15, down eight in the fourth quarter, Rosen was astonished they didn't kick it. I guess he didn't realize that a made field goal wouldn't have been that much better than a failed fourth-down try -- both would have left the Browns needing to get the ball back and score a touchdown.

Aaron Schatz: Cleveland is a surprise, but they are less of a surprise to me than Detroit. Detroit seems to be mostly the same players as last year. They aren't particularly young. I can't figure out how they are doing this. Cleveland has a lot of improving young players, and I thought that they would blossom in 2008. Turns out it is just happening a year early.

Ben Riley: OK, let's start on a positive note: Nate Burleson has quietly developed into the best kick returner in the league not named Devin Hester. D.J. Hackett has really good hands. And Darryl Tapp is having a borderline Pro Bowl season.

All year, I've been lambasting Seattle's do-nothing running back. Well, Shaun Alexander may suck, but the offensive line lost the football game today. On fourth-and-half a yard, in overtime, the offensive line cannot allow penetration into the backfield -- and yet, that is exactly what happened. According to beat reporters who cover the team, Seattle's offensive linemen are embarrassed by their collective performance. And they should be.

Hey, has anyone noticed that Derek Anderson is having a Pro Bowl season? I wasn't blown away by his performance, but he knows that he should throw to Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and Joe Jurevicius, in exactly that order. Of course, it helps when Joe Thomas is stoning the defensive end on your blind side.

Houston Texans 24 at Oakland Raiders 17

Vince Verhei: If there was any thought that Josh McCown might turn into an NFL starter someday, that thought is dead. The Texans' secondary is terrible. They made Joey Harrington and the Falcons receivers look like Dan Fouts and the Air Coryell Chargers. Yet McCown faces that secondary and puts up three interceptions while completing less than half his passes.

And I nominate Lane Kiffin for the Keep Choppin' Wood award. I think his decision to let Sebastian Janikowski try a 64-yard field goal in the second quarter was worse than any of Holmgren's calls. First of all, as we've seen three years in a row now, long field goals that come up short can be returned, sometimes for touchdowns. What made this call particularly galling, though, was that there was still 1:15 to go in the quarter. So when Janikowski hit the upright, Houston took over at the spot of the kick: The Oakland 46. They killed the rest of the quarter gaining a mere 22 yards and kicking a 40-yard field goal to make it 17-0 and effectively end the game. That kick was incredibly high-risk, and incredibly low-reward.

Dallas Cowboys 38 at Philadelphia Eagles 17

Mike Tanier: You need to hear the eerie silence here in the Linc after the Cowboys went up 7-0. It's like church on Good Friday. T.O. caught that pass and you could hear the life sucked out of this crowd. It's so quiet it's like ... a Temple game.

Eagles score on a Brian Westbrook run. Philly fans awaken. Aaron says, "Thank you for not getting funky" to Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. I concur.

The screen game to Brian Westbrook isn't working. The Cowboys are just waiting on them. The Eagles need to use Westbrook as an actual wideout more or stop going to the well on those plays.

Aaron Schatz: I've said this before, but I'll say it again: There were very good reasons why the team projection system did not like the Cowboys, but boy, was it wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

(Oh, and they aren't in this game, but they are in the division, and I know the Giants fans will get pissed if I don't say this too, so I will: Yeah, I was really wrong about the Giants too.)

Ned Macey: What the hell happened to the Philly pass defense? They were pretty below average before today, but receivers are just WIDE-open. You'd think with T.O. in town, they'd try and limit him a little, but he's just running free.

Sadly, other than the horrible interception, McNabb doesn't look that bad. The decision to have drives stall out at midfield rather than in the red zone is maybe not the best strategy.

Who will be the first writer to blame it on Reid's personal problems? I'm sure it will be one of the topics on First-and-Ten on whatever Cold Pizza is called these days, and I'm sure the Pardon the Interruption guys will mention it. I love the amount of info that is out there these days, but the constant need to come up with controversy makes real analysis impossible. Maybe this angle will take some heat off of McNabb, who threw as bad an interception as I've ever seen him throw.

Ben Riley: Jason Witten takes two hard hits, his helmet comes off, and yet he still rumbles for 50 yards before being tackles. NBC shows him recovering on the sidelines with a bloody nose. As a result, John Madden just had an on-air orgasm.

Mike Tanier: I am glad I don't get to hear the on-air orgasm.

Ben Riley: Yes, but you still have to watch the Eagles. SNAP!

By the way, if Apple runs the iPhone commercial that has the "Music is my boyfriend, music is my king-size bed, music is my therapist who I see on Wednesday, music is that weird waxy film on apples" song as often as we heard Ms. Feist singing in support of the iPod, I'm going to murder Steve Jobs with my bare hands.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 05 Nov 2007

169 comments, Last at 07 Nov 2007, 1:34am by mm

Comments

1
by JFP (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:14pm

Doug Farrar: All I know is that when Shaun Rogers returns an interception 66 yards for a touchdown at a speed that intimates the presence of a baked ham in the general vicinity of the end zone, that’s good fun.

Awesome!

2
by Levente, Hungary (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:16pm

Thanks for the loads of read again.

As much as I like GB I can't agree with people (talking heads) saying they are on level with the Cowboys. They do win games, but not convincingly and the possibility of self destruction is always there.

3
by muddy waters (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:21pm

Mangini learned the "milling about the line" defense from Belichick. He used it last year with the Jets. I believe it's new to the Steelers this year (as it's new to the Cowboys).

4
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:22pm

In a week with a lot of big news stories, somehow, we lost the biggest: Glen Holt busted his teeth celebrating his kick return. Really.

http://buffalobills.com/blog/index.jsp?post_id=2276

5
by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:25pm

All things considered, I'm pretty sure the best return man in the NFL not named named Hester is Leon Washington, and not Nate Burleson.

6
by Mike W (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:25pm

Let me be the first to admit that Cedric Benson didn't play poorly this week.

7
by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:26pm

Re #5:

Sorry, I didn't see the notice about the Colts/Pats. Please ignore my statement. (Ed note: deleted)

8
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:37pm

Bigby won the job in camp because he can run with receivers. That he has poor coverage skills was recognized but the coaching staff believes that with his other skills Bigby can improve over time. One has to remember that his predecessor, Marquand Manual, could NOT run and as such wasn't even in the vicinity of most passes to even ATTEMPT to make a play. So while I grimace watching Bigby struggle in pass coverage I try and remember last season. That and Bigby is good in run support and when he tackles people they feel it. He has knocked several receivers out of games with hard hits, legitimate before anyone jumps to conclusions.

Pretty amazing double dip of ineptitude by the sideline ref late when the KC receiver pushed off against Harris AND stepped out of bounds and the ref, standing about 10 feet away, called neither. One of the shortest reviews in recent memory had the play overturned as the guy clearly stepped on the line. I guess what continues to puzzle me is how OLD the refs are as a group. I cannot help but think that in a game played at such a high level the refs need to be in serious shape to keep up. And it is my imagination or are more refs getting clobbered during the action? Is that coincidence, lack of physical aptitude or teams scheming to use refs as some kind of interference?

Kampmann was going crazy in the first half but in the second half with Tony catching everything the coaching staff asked him to chip Gonzalez before rushing. Hence his lack of pressure in the second half. That and getting held on several occasions. But interesting approach by the defense.

I wonder if the Paul Zimmermans or FO posters will ever step forward and admit that they were a bit hasty in dumping dirt on Favre's grave? Look, the guy makes his share of dumb throws. But give him receivers, solid coaching and just a bit of time and the guy will make a lot more good plays than bad. Note I didn't say "Offensive line". This year's offensive line is routinely allowing pressure in Favre's face especially Daryn Colledge who was manhandled by Boone yesterday. This is why I believe that come late November/December if we start to see passes sail it will be because of Number Four's LEGS, not his arm. The combination of constantly having to escape plus the pounding takes its toll on an older qb.

But I understand if Zimmerman never recants. The fact that the announcers keep blathering about Favre gets him too incensed to realize it isn't FAVRE babbling. But somebody has to pay the price.

By the way, Greg Jennings is now averaging 19.7 yards per catch. Wasn't he supposed to be a "possession receiver"? Ha, ha.....

9
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:40pm

I actually like the iPhone song. And music really is my imaginary friend.

10
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:46pm

Regarding the Vikings I think what is most exciting is the fact that their offensive line is starting to play a lot of dominating games. Chic and SD games are kind of obvious, but if you look at the Dallas game closely you can see the OLine played a fantastic game there as well - Jackson was simply horrible or that would have been a very different game.

Also Bollinger is simply playing at a better level than Jackson or Holcomb. You can see the offence pick up immediately when he comes in the game. The pass actually becomes a threat. He's averaging 8.96 per attempt vs 6.2 and 5.45 for Holcomb and Jackson.

I said two weeks ago I expected the Vikings to finish very strong (predicted 10-6). If the Vikings knock off GB next week I think they will make a very decent run.

11
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:51pm

Adrian Peterson was tremendous yesterday, and his ability to take a hit and keep going is uncanny, but he owes his O-line for yesterday. The run blocking was outstanding.

Having seen the Vikes for the first time, I understand the frustration of Will, Pacifist and the rest of the Vikes fans. Average QB play, (which the got yesterday from rooks Bollinger) and this team is dangerous. I also thought Sidney Rice had a good game, and not just because he caught the bomb for a TD.

As for San Diego what happened to their O-line. I know that their starting Center was missing, and I know that nobody runs the ball on Minnesota, but the Chargers were horrid in pass protection. EJ Henderson got pressure up the middle all day, and Marcus McNeill gave up Rivers' blind side the whole game. Seriously, McNeill was awful.

All in all, a Norvellicious day for the Chargers.

12
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 12:59pm

James:

Bollinger is not a rookie. He has been in the league for several years including starting several games for the Jets.

Being a Wisconsin fan, I can tell you that Bollinger is athletic, game smart and tough. But he has an average arm at best and is quick to tuck and run if pressed. And being a bit on the smallish side he will fumble more than his share.

Given a strong running game he can succeed. But if asked to put a ball in a tight spot or play in adverse weather conditions Brooks will struggle. The combo of arm strength and smallish hands typically results in poor play/turnovers.

13
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:03pm

Seriously, I think Chester Taylor could have gone over 200 that game. He was 9 for 60 yards, not far off of AP's pace. And those holes being opened up were huge. Ever since I saw them in the Cowboys game I've been impressed by their talent both on offense and defensive front lines.

14
by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:08pm

Badger,

I know Bollinger isn't a rookie. It was just a typing error, and there should be a 'B' in front of "rooks". My bad. I also remember him playing for the Jets and being the very definition of "replacement". He's no-ones idea of the answer, but he was effective yesterday.

Jackson, by contrast was not, and on 3 or 4 of his passes it was very difficult to tell if the WR or the DB was the intended receiver. Why Childress didn't get him self a serviceable veteran *cough* Garcia *cough* is beyond me.

15
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:13pm

Well, the loss of Castillo was important in Vikings/Chargers, but let us not neglect the contribution of Ted Cottrell, Football Genius. Good grief, what a moron! If the Vikings could face similar fronts the rest of the way, they would have a decent chance at seven more wins.

Apparently, Cottrell ignored the game films of the Vikings playing the Eagles and Cowboys, since he had his own profound insights as to how to defend Adrian Peterson and the Vikings passing attack, even with Castillo out. For instance, whereas the Eagles and Cowboys usually had nine or ten guys close to the line of scrimmage, with at least eight in the box, on Peterson's first long td, Cottrell had eight fairly close, but only SIX (!) in the box!!!! With Adrian Pterson in the backfield, and Bollinger behind center!!!!! Similar instances of defensive brilliance were evident throughout the 2nd half as the Vikings ran the ball with a lead. As a Vikings fan who was made to suffer as Cottrell, Defensive Sage, gave his service to the Vikings, it was a bit of cosmic justice to see him on the opposing sideline yesterday. Too bad he is only allowed to be employed by one franchise at a time.

Regarding the titanic Jackson versus Bollinger debate, keep in mind how much easier it is to look good as a reliever, especially when running the ball down the throat of a defense.

16
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:13pm

James:

Gotcha.

Brooks will have his positive moments. It helps his cause that half the games are inside. And having that offensive line/running game. I could see BB having more success than failure in this setup.

17
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:18pm

James, I obsess enough about what the Vikings record would be with Garcia (I think it likely they would be 6-2 or maybe even 7-1), without you bringing it up, thank you very much.......

18
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:19pm

Pretty amazing double dip of ineptitude by the sideline ref late when the KC receiver pushed off against Harris AND stepped out of bounds and the ref, standing about 10 feet away, called neither. One of the shortest reviews in recent memory had the play overturned as the guy clearly stepped on the line.

The ref making the sideline call was right there, looking at the receiver's (Webb) feet. The only explanations I can come up with were: he's incompetent, he's on the take, tor here was some inexplicable optical illusion affecting the camera or him. Then, several minutes later, in the game that will not be mentioned, TWO refs, in perfect position to spot the WR's feet both make the same wrong call as in the KC game. And the guy behind the receiver had nothing else to look at - he didn't even have to worry about whether or not the reciever was juggling the ctach because he couldn't see it.

A year ago (before GB's late season surge), who would have thought that DET, GB, and MIN would beat DEN, KC, and SD on the same day? NFC North has really improved, AFC West has really declined. If the season ended today, KC would be in the playoffs as the division champ, thanks to the tiebreaker (H2H) with SD. I'm a Chiefs fan, so I'll take it, but it's clearly undeserved.

19
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:23pm

Also, a Packers/Cowboys game is an intriguing match-up of strenghts and weaknesses. The Lions are obviously rapidly improving, as are the Saints. The NFC playoffs may be a lot of fun.

Finally, yes, the AFC is better, but take note of the NFC Central's margin of victory over the AFC West yesterday.

20
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:26pm

As I watched the GB/KC and DEN/DET games on adjacent sports-bar TVs, it struck me that every analysis I'd read about the GB/KC game took the angle of "MNF OT hangover + difficult road venue = avoid GB", but no one seemed to mention the parallel situation for Denver. And while Green Bay came out a bit flat, Denver played like they'd been in an MNF OT game that morning. And while I understand that it's tough when your QB gets hurt, they were looking awful before Cutler went down, and Ramsey wasn't responsible for the 2-play, 95-yard TD drive or any of the rest of the defensive awfulness.

21
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:30pm

Tom C:

GB came out flat? Huh? The defense gave up all of 100 yards in the first half while if not for an ugly interception and a Jennings drop the Pack might have put up 17 in the first half.

By the way, the KC punter was outstanding yesterday. Just lights out. GB was repeatedly having to drive the field because of that guy.....

22
by raffy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:36pm

A little disappointed about the lack of usually insightful FO commentary regarding the Viking win. Hopefully, you make up for it in this week's "Any Given Sunday". For example, no comment regarding that the game plan for SD should not have been running LT up the middle and that an audible or using the shotgun when you have multiple opponents lined up on your back-up center is advisable. Hopefully, a comment or two on the state of the SD coaching staff as well in AGS this week.

23
by witless chum (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:38pm

RE: Lions new players and the difference

New starters: DE Dewayne White (def. their best end), CB Stanley Wilson (the weak side of solid, but doesn't freelance like his predecessor Dre Bly), S Gerald Alexander (not great, but as a rookie seems to get the defense). Keith Smith has contributed as a nickelback. Mostly, it's the so far health of Shaun Rogers and others on the d.

They added RT George Foster in the Bly trade, who didn't start yesterday for second year later rounder Jonathan Scott, but came in late. He's a big, mauling run blocker but he makes Jeff Backus look reliable in pass protection. RG Edwin Mulitalo, who's also a run blocker. Plus Megatron and Shawn MacDonald. Dominic Raiola has been lights out this year at center. He gets dominated by big nose tackles, but he chases people down in the open field so well for a lineman. Calvin Johnson's gamebreaker end around against Tampa was opened up by Raiola getting to the sideline and destroying a DB.

Teh conventional wisdom from Lions beat writers was that the second year in the Tampa Two was the year everyone would get it, but I wonder if it's not the difference between Joe Barry as d. coordinator and Donnie Henderson of last year, who was not a Tampa Two guy.

I'd say it's 1.) lack of injuries (the Lions rarely had a healthy Rogers last year, plus the offensive line was a revolving door of journeymen and youngsters. This year they've only lost two starters long-term S Daniel Bullocks in the first preseason game and TE Dan Campbell, in training camp. 2.) turnovers. The Lions have been getting lucky in forcing so many, but they've also not turned it over as much as they did last year. 3.) Having 4 or 5 recievers who get Martz's offense. Last year was an insane revolving door, except Mike Furrey and Roy Williams. None of the revolvers have stayed around to contribute. With Willaims, Furrey and MacDonald knowing it cold, and Megatron and Troy Walters knowing it pretty well Kitna can trust people to be in the right place, which was reportedly not the case last year.

24
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:42pm

raffy, you are correct; rarely will you see a team with talent as poorly coached as the Chargers were yesterday. Just awful.

Badger, the Vikings game was another one where the value of punting was evident. The Vikings could easily have one by 28 instead of 17 anyways, and if the Chargers' punter had not been so good, and Kluwe for the Vikings not so mediocre, the Vikings may have won by 40.

25
by Mike W (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:42pm

Way more comments for the NE-Ind Audibles than for this one. Wow.

No, wait. We should have expected that.

26
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:46pm

Will:

During the game I referenced how the Packers lost to Buffalo last season due primarily to Brian Moorman kicking out of his mind, and he's already fantastic which shows how good he was THAT day, and turnovers.

So you can see how Edwards is approaching each game. Defense, field position and play it safe. If your defense and punter are good enough I firmly believe you can win 8-10 games in this league with that approach.

The fans will hate it because it's boring as h*ll. But you can win.

27
by Flounder (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:48pm

Re: 21 yes, I think the effects of Monday night didn't show until the 2nd half, especially after Corey Williams got hurt. The defensive tackles were just worn out again. Fortunately, having KGB almost strictly as a pass rusher helps in the 4th quarter.

28
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:53pm

Flounder:

Agreed on all points. And again, Kampmann was being asked to play a bit of linebacker by hassling Tony G to keep him from getting a free release. The combo of all those things impacted the rush.

Though I do believe the ref decided at some point to stop calling holding against AK. Aaron got manhandled, and I do mean manhandled, several times in the second half and no call. For a crew that was throwing flags at Charles Woodson for coughing in the vicinity of receivers it was somewhat odd.

Harris and Woodson are clearly paying the price for last season's grab and clutch success. My guess is that teams have sent film to the league office to highlight both guys' "aggressive play". I continue to be amazed at Woodson's level of play. He's not the greatest or anything but the guy is WAY more physical than what I saw in Oakland. And he is d*mn smart. Charles knows all the tricks of the trade.

29
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:56pm

#24 - Scifres also slowed down Moore on a punt return he was taking all the way back enough for him to be caught up from behind. Didn't matter much cos IIRC Peterson took it the other 45 or so yards a play or so later, but Scifres played really well.

Still, he's not as mental much fun as Moorman.

30
by register_allocation (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:58pm

#19:Finally, yes, the AFC is better

Once you get past the two teams Not To Be Mentioned On This Thread, I think the AFC looks very, very, ordinary. Including, BTW, having their fair share of teams showing up at the bottom of most power ranking lists...

31
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:58pm

Is it a foregone conclusion that Reid will be gone after the season? I mean it seems like this season is pretty much lost... not much in-season changes you can make, but it would be a shocking turn of events if he left.

Looking ahead it's a shame Campbell can't get the Redskins passing game going... next weeks PHI-WAS game could go either way. Campbell's got about 12 more games to convince me he's the long term answer, and every week that number gets lower and lower. I think both teams seem to be classic 8-8 teams, so I'd be Philly can pay back the home loss... just looks like their pass defense is a weakness Washington won't be able to exploit.

It was nice to see the team comeback from 17-3 though... shocking actually...

32
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:04pm

The worst thing about the iPhone/iPod Touch commercial (I can't even remember which one it's for) is that I used to like that song. (It's "Music is my Hot Hot Sex" by CSS, by the by)

33
by DCD12 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:06pm

Once you get past the two teams Not To Be Mentioned On This Thread, I think the AFC looks very, very, ordinary. Including, BTW, having their fair share of teams showing up at the bottom of most power ranking lists…

I think this is true. Pittsburgh would probably be the best team in the NFC if they were in the conference, but it wouldn't be by much. Otherwise, I think the conferences are pretty equal; I don't think this is like the AL/NL of baseball.

34
by pbmax (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:18pm

I always thought Zimmerman was railing against coverage of Favre and the excusing of his mistakes/bad throws. Add all the talk of gunslinger and having fun, it could be painful to listen.

After the 4-12 season of 29 picks, most started to bury him, though I don't recall the doctor sticking a fork in him.

As for the end of first half interception, I believe Favre got hit on the arm during the throw and that may have had something to do with the pick. But with the pressure Boone was applying, it still may have been a better decision to loft it out of bounds.

And was there an explanation of why Herm went for two to get a six point lead? Was he really thinking about two field goals? Kudos also to the ever generous Packer penalty machine give the Chefs three shots at those two points.

35
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:28pm

"I always thought Zimmerman was railing against coverage of Favre and the excusing of his mistakes/bad throws. Add all the talk of gunslinger and having fun, it could be painful to listen.

After the 4-12 season of 29 picks, most started to bury him, though I don’t recall the doctor sticking a fork in him."

There were a LOT of folks declaring Favre washed up. Popular media including Bill Simmons and the aforementioned Zimmerman. Around these parts a good many posters. I won't name names as that will just lead to useless bickering.

My contention remains the same, Favre is something of an idiot savant at qb who when coached properly and given a modicum of supporting talent will be one of the five best qbs in football until his legs go. Sherman refused to hold Favre accountable so his game got sloppy. Favre also got a bit chubby in the early "aughts".

Before the 2005 season Favre got himself in serious shape but his coach decided to tank the season with a helping hand from a GM who let the interior offensive line walk.

McCarthy does two things that Sherman did not. He yells at Favre for stupid mistakes. He coaches Favre about risk/reward though as one can tell it's a work in progress. Favre responds to both because that is how he was handled by his father and then Mike Holmgren. Favre understands "tough love". If you coddle him he gets lazy.

The Packers are 7-1 and I think folks would be hard-pressed to make a case that anyone on the offense is a better player than Favre. And the guy is 38 years old. On defense the list begins and ends with Kampman.

I find that astonishing. Though I am sure Paul Zimmerman would disagree.

36
by register_allocation (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:31pm

And was there an explanation of why Herm went for two to get a six point lead? Was he really thinking about two field goals?

I didn't see any of the game until the very end, but the Chiefs were doing a pretty good job of holding the Packers to FGs when they got to the red zone (the Packers were 4/5 on FG attempts). In that case, I think a 6pt lead is definitely better than a 5pt lead, moreso than 5pts is better than 4...

37
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:35pm

Re #34
It's a generally sensible decision if you have a reasonable likelihood of success-the difference between a 4 point lead and a 5 point lead is fairly slight. Krasker's model says you should go for it if you think your chances of making it are roughly 49% or more. It's not nearly as automatic as, say, going for 2 up by 1 with less than 6 to play, but nor is it a clearly wrong decision.

38
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:37pm

GB came out flat? Huh? The defense gave up all of 100 yards in the first half while if not for an ugly interception and a Jennings drop the Pack might have put up 17 in the first half.

Wow, sensitive much? The entire point of my post was to say that GB didn't show the signs of Monday Night Hangover, or at least not anywhere near as badly as Denver did. And I would never have thought that calling a half in which Favre had FIVE potential turnovers (2 picks, 2 GB-recovered fumbles, and the 10-minute booth-review play) "a bit flat" would be construed as fightin' words.

39
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:37pm

The Chiefs weren't holding the Packers to field goals. Mike McCarthy was holding the Packers to field goals. The writers keep scoffing at the fans comments about McCarthy being conservative but once GB gets inside a team's 30 yard line McCarthy routinely runs until the team gets into a 3rd and long. And yesterday it happened multiple times with a run, run and then a 3rd and whatever.

I know defenses change once you get closer to the goal line and I know he is trying to keep Favre from gacking away a drive but throwing every so often on first down would help.

Geez.....

40
by cat rodriguez (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:39pm

Hey, has anyone noticed that Derek Anderson is having a Pro Bowl season?

No, Ben, you're the first guy who noticed Anderson is playing really well. Congrats! Got anything on that No. 17 fellow?

Actually, Anderson's Pro Bowl ticket comes down to if Brady feels like going, and if Big Ben continues to play as well as he has. Otherwise, it's an open path.

41
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:39pm

Tom:

I didn't curse. I didn't call you names. I just thought the word choice was odd.

Fighting words? I will leave that to Eagles fans...............

42
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:46pm

Re #35
Entering the 2006 season, the Packers had an aging QB with a tendency to sometimes not take very good care of the ball and to force it into tight spaces that might not exist. Said aging QB might be reasonably expected to lose speed on his passes and thus rapidly lose his effectiveness. To fix this problem, the Packers brought in as head coach the man who the previous year had been offensive coordinator for the worst offense in DVOA history (pass DVOA -63.1(!!!)), and probably one of the worst in NFL history. Pardon me (and others) for showing the slightest bit of skepticism at the time.

Favre still has the lamentable tendency to as times throw what I like to refer to as the Brett Favre Dying Quail Special, or BFDQS, but his interception rate has declined to very reasonable levels and he still shows very good timing on slants and other quick passes. Not, of course, that we condone wagering round these parts, but if I wanted to, I could have made a lot of money around the office with a bet that the Packers and not the Bears would win the NFC North this year.

43
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:48pm

BadgerT -

I agree, you did nothing impolite or untoward. But I did want to take you to task for ignoring the larger sense of my statement (which at least backhandedly praised your team) and magnifying a throwaway phrase into a perceived slight.

Anyway, no one else in the thread gives a hoot about this, so I promise not to take up any more space on the subject.

What I am still interested in is what I should take away from the DEN/DET game. Are the Broncos done? Are the Lions a legitimately solid team? Or was that game just a fluke?

44
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:49pm

News:

Zimmerman's and others words date back to 2004. I am not referencing 2006 specifically.

Feel free to "Google" if you believe I am not describing the timeline accurately.

45
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:52pm

NTT, I'll pat myself on the back by noting I picked the Packers in the NFC North last January, wavered a bit when they made the draft picks they did, but got back on board this summer. Of course, I didn't have the guts to put my money where my mouth was, which is why I have to settle for patting myself on the back. Then again, the Lions are not out of the picture by any means, as amazing as that phrase feels to write.

46
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:52pm

I heard on Kare 11 last night that Childress still says that if Jackson is healthy, he starts next week. Goodness, I don't know what to say. Brooks Bollinger is no world-beater, but he's so much better for this team than Jackson or Holcomb. There's been every excuse this season to abandon Jackson entirely, and Childress just won't do it. I understand Holcomb can't work because he gets sacked at a ridiculous rate, but Bollinger has shown some mobility. He has to get a chance to start going forward if this team is going to try inch toward 9 wins.

E.J. Hendrson should be a Pro Bowler this year. He is dominating at middle linebacker for the Vikes. Admittedly, KW and PW make it easy for a middle linebacker, but Henderson is all over the field making plays, and in the backfield making plays.

My Metrodome seats (really high up, behind an end zone) give me interesting angles on Peterson's running. He really does an excellent job in the open field using his blockers, taking the angles that allow his blockers to seal off defenders. Some combination of intelligence and instinct at work.

47
by doctor dre (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:53pm

For a good laugh, look up Aaron's pre-draft comments on Marion Barber III (still in the ESPN files). I don't think they'll be showing up on the FO self-promotion tour anytime soon.

48
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:55pm

How bad is Cutler hurt? Cutler's not great (yet) but he can sure wing the ball in a fashion that makes the Broncos competitive, whereas Patrick Ramsey makes them much easier to scheme for.

49
by doctor dre (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:56pm

Okay, I'll spare you the Barber 3/Aaron search. Link is at my name. More proof that the draft is an inexact science, but I'd argue this also suggests to us that a guy isn't necessarily a stiff just because his school is in the 'wrong' conference:

SCHATZ: As for the Big Ten, there aren't any first-round prospects to be wary of this season, but general managers should stay away from Anthony Davis of Wisconsin, Noah Herron of Northwestern and especially Marion Barber of Minnesota, who as described by the guys at Scouts Inc. sounds like the prototype for the Big Ten bust: "needs to do a better job of allowing his blocks to develop ... is a little bit too straight-line ... runs hard but seems to lack a bit of explosiveness."

50
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:56pm

"And was there an explanation of why Herm went for two to get a six point lead? Was he really thinking about two field goals?"

I don't recall how late in the game that was. But I think the main reason to go for 2 is so that if you allow a touchdown, you could still force OT with a blocked/missed XP. A five-point lead gains you almost nothing over 4 (you'd still tie with the FG/safety combo, significantly less likely than a missed extra point), whereas a 6-point lead buys you an advantage that comes into play about 1% of the time. Not much, true, but better than nothing.

51
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:57pm

Re: 20

I didn't think Denver looked that terrible before Cutler got hurt. They were only trailing 6-0 and had missed their own makable field goal. The wheels came off quickly when Ramsey entered the game.

Side note - I've got to believe that somebody is going to burn the Lions with a fake field goal this year. The Lions frequently (I'm not sure if they do it every time) play an unsound alignment that results in terrific pressure or blocks on FGs. They line up about 8 guys on the offensive right side.

52
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:59pm

Pacifist:

If Brooks were ever to succeed this is the scenario that fits his skill set. It's identical to what he had at the University of Wisconsin. He will make enough throws to keep a defense honest, he plays smart and he's tough as snot. I reiterate that last and earlier point because while he is undersized Bollinger took some h*llacious hits at Wisconsin and kept playing. He once got through a game where Ohio State sacked him 9 (!) times. I think on the last two they karate chopped him.

But if it's raining or windy or cold expect turnovers. He just can't grip the ball.

53
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:02pm

PV, I think people forget why Holcomb was brought in in late summer. Bollinger looked so bad it could barely be comprehended. Playing in relief, in the manner Bollinger did yesterday, can in no way be compared to being schemed for as a starter.. No, I'm not in the Tavaris Revolutionary Group, but I don't think it is clear-cut at all that Bollinger should be starting. Actually, I've suggested that the Vikings should randomly select Jackson or Bollinger on each series, just to make them more difficult to scheme against. Goofy? Sure, but when the quarterbacking has been this bad, goofiness is called for.

54
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:06pm

Fine, you want criticism from 2004? See the J-S game story (linked in name)-forget the 4&26 conversion, Favre lost that game with a stupid interception. And Favre that year threw LOTS of interceptions, one every 22.4 attempts. The Packers that year were a very good team with a good quarterback who was, unfortunately for the team, a turnover machine. Any and all criticism of Brett Favre for turning the ball over way too much in 2003 and 2005 is, in my mind, absolutely justified.

55
by egwilson (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:07pm

Is the disparity of consistent play more pronounced this year than all previous NFL years ?
Forsaking table money momentarily, is the grand philosophy generating inconsistency originally designed to produce quality across small markets, but inadvertently producing insecurity, and poor play due to a lack of team loyalty ?
In 40 years of analyzing NFL game play, I have never seen teams play with such highs, and lows. Would like to hear logical reasons why..

56
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:11pm

Detroit clearly has the Halloween costume karma going on.

57
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:11pm

News:

Look, you are conflating related points that are NOT what I am discussing.

One has to do with folks declaring Favre "washed up". A point I disagreed with THEN and do so now.

The second has to do with folks criticizing the quality of Favre's play. Which to me is a separate issue. Folks were VALID to criticize. But saying the guy was playing stupid is NOT the same as saying he isn't capable of playing in the NFL.

Zimmerman was writing several years ago that Favre was done. Finished. Didn't have what it takes.

And he looks to be incorrect.

No?

58
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:12pm

Re: 45

The Lions are having a storybook season. A crazy number of turnovers have gone their way. I can't believe Kitna is still in one piece, but he doesn't seem the worse for wear yet.

I still think Kitna will get hurt and miss some time this season (and the Lions will struggle without him). Of course, every game that goes by where it doesn't happen, reduces the risk that it ultimately will.

59
by Carl H. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:15pm

Why should the Vikings start a QB at all?

Just line up 9 linemen, with Peterson and Taylor split and direct snap it to AP 80% of the time and Taylor the rest.

Play a QB when they get tired.

60
by Ryan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:17pm

I don't understand how the decision to attempt a 64 yard FG is a bad one if the kicker is hitting the upright. If the kicker clearly doesn't have the leg, I think it's a dubious decision, but Janikowski hit 10-15 feet up on the right upright, so you KNOW he has the leg to make it. You can't fault a coach for attempting a field goal that he thinks his kicker can reasonably make.

For those that didn't see it, it's linked in my name. Fast-forward to 1:22 into the video.

61
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:17pm

Not sure if anyone here saw the Seatle/Cleveland game, but every article I've seen on that game has mentioned the replay reversal of the spot on Hasselbeck's thrid down scramble in OT. Holmgren sounded pretty disturbed about it in his postgame remarks. Can anyone here tell me if they thought it was the right call or not.

62
by DB (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:18pm

Ben Riley (or anyone else who might want to know)...that iPhone commercial song is "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex" by Cansei de Ser Sexy. And yes, they'll probably run it into the ground, just like the Feist song.

63
by Trieu (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:19pm

#32 - That Apple commercial is for the iPod Touch.

(For anyone wondering, it's easy to confuse because the iPod Touch is a crippled version of the iPhone -- no phone, no camera.)

64
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:21pm

Re: 60

I think they were pretty clear about why they thought it was a poor choice (the resulting field position it gave Houston). If it had been the last play of the half they wouldn't have criticized it, but with that much time remaining (and the chances that even if he gets it there, it may miss) they felt it was a poor risk.

65
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:23pm

Mawbraw:

Watching it on TV it did look like Hasselback hit and then slid past the first down marker. But it was a tough call either way. I was a bit surprised the ref just didn't let the ruling on the field stand.

Quite a comedown for a Seahawks team that shoved others around at will not be able to get a half yard. That must be really galling for Holmgren who when he was in GB took such situations as a test of manhood.

66
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:26pm

Also, all credit to Leslie Frazier and the Vikings defense yesterday, but I hope that they have no illusions of sticking with that scheme next week. If they try to blitz Favre like they did Phillip Rivers, the Packers will pass for over 400 yards.

67
by Sam Larson (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:33pm

On thing I haven't seen mentioned was Childress' decision (finally) to have Mewelde Moore return punts. It seems small, but he is way better then Bobby Wade. In fact, he has been successful pretty much every time he touches the ball, no matter how he is used... yet he still rarely gets on the field.

Obviously, with AP and Chester splitting time he isn't going to get a lot of carries, but I'm still for any decision that gets the ball into his hands at least a few times a game.

68
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:33pm

Will:

The bane for the Packers offense in the second half of the Chicago game and most of the Washington game was the Cover-2 which forced GB to run the ball better. Once Grant started to gain some positive yards the Packers were able to throw over the top to further try and loosen things up as teams finally began sitting on the slants and curls.

The Packers have three WRs who have shown the ability to get deep: Jennings, James Jones, Ruvell Martin. Jennings is easily the best which is startling because nothing in his scouting report out of college indicated this type of ability. Jones and Ruvell Martin to me are the latter-day version of the good Antonio Freeman before Freeman got chubby. Freeman wasn't "fast" but had great hips and could put enough of a fake on a defensive back that he could create a gap and disengage which he did really well 1997 and 1998. After that big '98 season he gained 10 pounds or so, lost a half step and never got it back.

I am surprised the Packers don't use Ruvell even more. The guy has made some really fine catches. But the team is giving Jones first dibs at the three slot and he hasn't disappointed sans the two hideous fumbles against Chicago.

Oh, and Donald Lee playing great. Talk about a surprise. He dropped everything last year. Drove Packer fans nuts.....

69
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:46pm

Re #57
You're creating an artificial distinction.

The reason people were saying Favre was washed up was BECAUSE he was committing turnovers. Lots and lots of them. When QBs, especially those who are Gunslingers(tm), start committing lots of turnovers, it typically means they are losing their physical abilities and/or becoming less patient. Chucking the ball downfield and hoping your guy comes up with it is generally not a viable strategy, with certain exceptions like the pass "defense" shown by the Raiders on the Favre's Dad MNF game. QBs who start turning the ball over a lot more than they have been in their mid-30's are typically not a good bet to have much of an NFL future. Favre was doing that, but has now stopped and is playing at a very high level for a pretty good team. Full credit to him and Mike McCarthy for reversing a very worrying trend-if not for that, he would be, or at least should have been, out of the NFL by now.

Enjoy your current prosperity while it lasts. Enjoy that your QB has defied the trend lines, and forced critics to eat their words.

70
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:53pm

I think if I'm a Charger fan right now, I'm giving Norv a link to this site as an early Christmas present. Here's what the site's DVOA ranking says:
1. Minnesota's run offense outclasses the SD run defense (although you can say the same for most defenses against that team)
2. SD's pass defense outclasses the MIN pass offense (again, this is dictated more by MIN's inability to pass rather than SD's ability to stop it)
3. MIN's rush defense is 10 ranks better than SD's rush offense
4. SD's pass offense outranks MIN's pass defense by 17 places!

If users of this site had a feature called virtual game-plan, would we all agree that Philip Rivers ends up with numbers like 37 of 60 for 350 yards, mostly to WR#1, WR Other, and a TE (some guy named Gates)?
Then maybe a defensive game-plan that involves 4 D-Linemen and 4 linebackers shadowing the runningback?

71
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:56pm

News:

Last post as we are talking past another.

Nobody that I read was making the cogent argument that you outline in your post. The common refrain was that Favre didn't have the physical skills to compete in the NFL. I tried to find the precise article but the previous passage is almost verbatim from a Zimmerman column. He wrote that with such conviction and ferocity it stuck in my mind. I write "ferocity" as Zimmerman has a proverbial Favre bug up his *ss and on that day was railing at about 2000 rpm with respect to Favre being "done". As did many an FO poster.

And let's be clear. I am not gloating. I am merely glad for Favre. The guy isn't the brightest bulb in the drawer but he IS a hard worker when pointed in the right direction and his teammates, save for Javon Walker, clearly respect him.

72
by Peder (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:56pm

There is one solid argument to having the Vikings continue to start Jackson as often as they can. We need to find out once and for all if he is quarterback material. If he stinks up the joint for the last eight games, then we have an answer. The worst case scenario is one where they go through all of the next off season without a clear answer.

73
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:58pm

67: "Obviously, with AP and Chester splitting time he isn’t going to get a lot of carries, but I’m still for any decision that gets the ball into his hands at least a few times a game."
Well, I'm for any decision that gets the ball out of Tarvaris Jackson's hands a few more times a game.

74
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:58pm

Re: 65

Thanks for the perspective. Nothing surprises me about replay anymore.

75
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:00pm

Re: The Vikings' QBs

It's really too bad (for me) that they decided to cut Shaun Hill, who is now in SF. He's pretty much the polar opposite of T. Jackson- not athletic, average arm, not mobile, but very heady, very good decision maker. (They both struggle with accuracy.) He was a cult hero at Maryland because of his cluchiness.

Anyway, my point is that he'd probably be starting right now and I'd finally get to see whether he could pull off his act at the pro level.

76
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:02pm

63.

"#32 - That Apple commercial is for the iPod Touch.

(For anyone wondering, it’s easy to confuse because the iPod Touch is a crippled version of the iPhone — no phone, no camera.) "

Considering that most of the complaints about the iPhone have been that the reception sucks, thats probably a great idea on Apple's part.

77
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:03pm

How bad is Cutler hurt? Cutler’s not great (yet) but he can sure wing the ball in a fashion that makes the Broncos competitive, whereas Patrick Ramsey makes them much easier to scheme for.

Apparently his fibula is not obviously broken (such that you could see on an X-ray) but hurts enough that Cutler thinks there could still be a hairline fracture. See link in my name for more.

78
by Lions Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:10pm

for those worried about kitna staying healthy, realize he took 25 sacks in the first 5 games, but only 8 since the bye. One big factor: Kevin Jones has been healthy and allows the Lions the threat of a run game...and one that's looking pretty good these days too.

Also note that Kitna fumbled 8 times those first 5 games, but hasn't in the 3 since the bye. He also threw 6 picks, and zero since.

To say this team is improving is an understatement. Early in the season they were squeaking out wins or getting crushed. Now they're playing much better football. They beat a solid Bucs team, and then dominated games against chicago and denver (even if the chicago score looked fairly close...the game was anything but)

79
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:13pm

Re #72
Last post from me as well on this issue.

Yes, the arguments made at the time weren't particularly cogent-sports journalism at work, but the impression I got from Z at the time was Favre was making stupid low-percentage plays. As physical skills degrade, to be expected from a player of Favre's age, low-percentage plays become no-percentage plays, and that's a recipe for a quick end to an NFL career. Obviously, that hasn't happened.

I think part of Z's ire at Favre came from the excessive hype sent his way by others. Since I mentioned it already, the Favre's Dad MNF game is a great example of this-Oakland's secondary didn't appear to be even trying to prevent completions, so throws into double coverage ended up as TDs rather than INTs, resulting in effusive praise rather than brickbats. I'm glad to see Favre do well, because he makes the game interesting, but c. 2001 critical analysis of his game stopped in most media circles, and as a fan of a team other than the Packers, that's really friggin' annoying.

80
by Flounder (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:16pm

Re: 62 I don't know if you can really call it running into the ground. What apple does with their commercials is run them in heavy rotation for 2 to sometimes 4 weeks. Then they are typically never seen again. For example, the Feist commercial I think lasted 3 weeks. Hardly Oooouuuurrrr Cooouuunnnntttrrryyyy.

Plus, the commercial was made by a fan who posted it on youtube and Apple liked it so much they made it into their own commercial, which is pretty cool, I think.

81
by jay (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:18pm

As a lifelong Bolts fan, this is as bad as I feared it would be. Rarely can you see a such a controlled experiment for coaching skill. 14-2 to 6-10 or 7-9. If you are the GM and not in denial, who do you start to plan to bring in? Save my Bolts! Fire Turntrell immediately.

The players making up stuff in the huddles would have to better than these boneheads.

82
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:21pm

TEN's Defense
Just to respond to Vince's comments on the Tennessee's defense, first round pick Michael Griffin was inserted into the starting lineup at safety with last week's game against the Raiders, replacing Calvin Lowry. After drafting him, the Titans made plans to shift Griffin to CB, but those have apparently been shelved. It's difficult to judge positioning and ball skills from the TV broadcast, but early returns on Griffin look very good-he hasn't been noticeably out of place, there don't seem to have been many plays where the secondary is talking it over amongst themselves about who was responsible for what, and he had a very nice play yesterday to abandon his man and come over the top to break up what would otherwise have been a TD pass from Carr to Smith.

Davis is a good punt returner, certainly better than what the Titans had pre-Pacman. After watching a guy like Pac who could do special things returning, though, it's difficult as a fan to watch somebody dance around and try to change direction and pick up 7 yards. There's just not the same feeling of hope and anticipation that with a little luck this play could be a TD.

83
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:22pm

Once again Dallas dominates a Sunday night opponent and FO Audibles has more commentary on how badly the opponent played and few thoughts on what Dallas did well? Kudos for at least acknowledging again that the forecasts were wrong on Dallas, but this Dallas homer would appreciate some additional analysis of Dallas' play.

Also, after the Chicago game, I seem to recall an Iggles fan or two saying how Romo wouldn't look so great facing the Phillie defense, which was healthy and full strength for the game last night. So Iggles fans, what happened?

84
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:26pm

Hey everyone, don't be a jerk and make personal attacks on people. Alright? Thanks.

85
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:28pm

Bill:

Understood. And my apologies to FO.

86
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:30pm

Re: 81

Those are really good points. The Lions have been much more comitted to running the ball in the past three games (all very solid wins), which helps Kitna a bunch. On the other hand, I'm not convinced that sort of discipline will be there if they fall behind in a game. If Jones gets stopped a few times and the Lions get down by more than one score (even early), I expect it will be 80%+ passing.

87
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:35pm

Oops. #86 was supposed to be Re: 78.

88
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:35pm

81: Totally. How often did you see Marty Schottenheimer teams give up 200+ yard rushing games?

Maybe Schottenheimer makes some frustrating calls, and he hasn't yet won a Super Bowl, and he's not a brilliant in-game strategist. But he's damn good at actually coaching how to play football. The Chargers under Schottenheimer could run the same play (HB off tackle) with two running backs for an entire game and remain unstoppable, so it didn't really matter that he wasn't a great in-game strategist.

Obviously, I credit the Chargers' awesome personnel more than I credit Schottenheimer for the 14-2 record, but it's obvious that players simply play better for Schottenheimer than they do for Turner.

89
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:40pm

Re: Vince: Well, wasn’t the story of this game told in the box scores and highlights? I guess there’s this: Chris Chambers, who the Chargers were all kinds of excited about, was thrown to 10 times. He caught five of them for 59 yards. Yep. He’s a gamebreaker.

Chambers had a couple very nice catches negated by unrelated penalties, and he made a tremendous diving catch that was knocked away by the DB at the last second after he had hit the ground. I know that Chambers-bashing is fashionable around these parts, but he had a very good game, much better than what the box score and play-by-play suggest. He certainly deserves no derision based on what he did yesterday. (That one's for you, BadgerT1000).

90
by Black Squirrel (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:43pm

What does everyone make of the Saints' game plan against the Jags? According to FO, Jax is 8th in DVOA against the pass but 27th against the rush, yet New Orleans was throwing almost every down in the first half!

A lot of people, including myself, may have kicked dirt on the Saints too soon. They should beat the Rams next week to tie Tampa for first place, then the rest of their schedule is favorable.

91
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:46pm

Jeff #83:

So Iggles fans, what happened?

1) Kearse and Howard are playing bad, allowing Cole to be overwhelmed.

2) Spikes has been just okay for the money he's getting paid. I suspect he may look better than reality because of playing between Trent Cole and Sheldon Brown on the defensive right. The linebackers in general are not making tackles for a loss, and are making no big plays.

3) Sheppard out with a knee injury midway through the game.

4) Will James not as good as advertised - definitely a downgrade from Rod Hood.

5) No pass rushing D-tackle. Montae Reagor is a huge downgrade in production from what Darwin Walker used to give the Eagles.

6) The 11 man defense is mostly technically sound, but has only one guy making plays (sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, tackles for a loss) on a consistent basis - Trent Cole.

7) Hidden factors - Eagles Special teams, especially kickoff returns and coverage are bleeding hhidden yards to the Eagles opponents. Also, McNabb is not playing nearly good enough which is making the receivers and O-line look bad. He is indecisive and not releasing the ball on time, causing sacks and incompletions. A sputtering offense puts the defense in a worse position in subsequent possessions.

92
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:46pm

CA:

Chambers had a "hands issue" rep dating back to Wisconsin. I still grouse about Sherman taking Robert Ferguson over Chambers. I think given a solid QB Chambers rep would be very different.

Thanks.

93
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:52pm

"Kearse and Howard are playing bad, allowing Cole to be overwhelmed."

I don't know if Kearse or Howard had anything to do with Cole getting overwhelmed. He was pretty much 1 on 1 with Flozell Adams all day, and Adams manhandled him.

Cole is 6'3, 270. Adams is 6'7, 350lbs. Adams looked just as fast as Cole, so that was a HUGE mismatch.

94
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 4:53pm

Did anyone else LOVE watching Shaun Rogers stiff arm a DB at about the 5 yard line?

95
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:04pm

T. Jackson looks completely bewildered in all the games he's started. He is holding the ball too long, forcing it into places he shouldn't and making very inaccurate and often the wrong type of throw (touch pass when a hard throw is required, etc).

I agree Bollinger looked awful in the pre-season. He simply can't handle any kind of rush. But he does throw the ball decently under ideal situations and he is making quick decisive decisions in the three games he's come on in relief. In 3 of the last 4 games the Vikings QB has been under very little pressure due to the focus on Peterson and play-action passes.

I'm not kidding myself thinking that Bollinger is some great find all of a sudden, but I think at this point throwing Jackson out there is giving up on the season and until the Vikings have lost game 7 I don't think they should do that.

I think Childress is laying a good foundation of toughness. The focus on the line and pounding the other team into submission is clearly making gains. Some of his personnel decisions really frustrate me. He seems to eventually come to a seemingly obvious conclusion (McMahon can't play, Peterson should start, Moore should return punts not Wade, etc). I think it is very obvious now that Jackson is a mess and clearly the worst of three weak choices.

To Will's point about not blitzing Favre, I'm torn. I think the lay back a wait for a mistake may well be a better approach, but I find it exasperating to watch the team give up 350 yards through the air. I'd certainly like to see a number of blitz packages that include EJ Henderson - he seems particularly destructive as he often blows up the RB trying to make the block.

I was nice to see the secondary make some actual pass defences. I thought Griffin played well. McCauley was burned a few times, but all in all they held up very well.

96
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:09pm

jimm:

Yesterday's long pass to Jennings was initiated on a nod between Favre and Jennings who both saw the safeties playing wide with the middle being handled by Donnie Edwards. Jennings was in the "TE slot", saw the coverage, looked at Favre, Favre nodded and the next thing you know Jennings is waltzing into the end zone.

So now Favre has two receivers with whom he is "in synch" per se.

And it's needed because the interior line is getting crushed by opposing tackles. And Jared Allen was a half-second late about six times. I think he left his facemask permanently imprinted on Favre's chest.

97
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:14pm

70: The game planning was bad. The Chargers MIGHT have had a chance to run on the Vikings, but not up the middle! Most of their running plays were right into Pat Williams and E.J. Henderson; if they tried to hit the corners they might have got Tomlinson running around Chad Greenway. But they didn't. The Chargers also seemed to run gimmicky screens that didn't work, and it seemed too easy for the Vikes to eliminate Gates from the game (though I'm not sure what they were doing to do it).

However, the passing game was bad anyway. The pass protection was really bad, and Rivers was uncomfortably running around or throwing too quickly. When he did get time to throw, his passes were often badly inaccurate. When his passes were accurate, the receivers dropped passes. I don't know what the Chargers could have done yesterday, other than perhaps max protect and try get Gates open somewhere downfield.

98
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:14pm

So where are all the people preaching " Sample size" for Tavaras Jackson now? The people that pointed out Elway, Aikman, Manning and all the others with a lack of early career success?

Jackson is hurt and ineffective. The guy is beyond crap. If only the Vikings brought in the old boring Jeff Garcia they'd be a solid team. Instead they are wasting their time developing a dumb wannabe mobile quarterback.

99
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:18pm

jimm,
I'd add something that bothers me about Tarvaris Jackson--when it's a running play, the way he holds the ball completely gives away where the run is going. He holds it out a long time, and though I'm no expert on the fundamentals of a proper handoff, it somehow looks bad to me and I suspect linebackers get an edge seeing it.

Will,
I know Bollinger was bad in the preseason/training camp, but the same logic had Derek Anderson backing up Charlie Frye game one. I've also got no illusions about Bollinger being, wel, good; however, he throws quickly and can move around, making him the best QB on the team right now. I could be completely wrong if he starts a few games.

Your idea of switching QBs for possessions (or quarters?) might seem gimmicky when talking about a regular NFL team; for this Viking team, it actually sounds reasonable.

100
by FullmoonoverTulsa (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:26pm

#88 - Maybe Wade Phillips had a hand in the success of the D as well.

101
by zerlesen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:27pm

94: "Did anyone else LOVE watching Shaun Rogers stiff arm a DB at about the 5 yard line?"

Don't quote me on this, but I think that was Selvin Young. (Although he may yet find himself playing free safety, the way this season is going.)

I probably would have loved it, had I not been so busy weeping.

102
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:30pm

Chris, once and for all, stop writing as if a prediction that Tavaris Jackson would be bad required any acumen, or that anyone predicted that Jackson would be good. If you predict that any qb taken in the 2nd round will be bad, you'll be right more than half the time, and I recall no person in these threads predicting that Jackson would be good.

103
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:33pm

Chambers caught 5 of 10, but he was open most of the day and was badly underthrown constantly. Rivers had a bad game.

104
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:37pm

Hey, give Millen some credit. For his third coaching hire, he recognized that he had underperforming talent on the defensive line, and hired the best head coaching candidate to rectify that, and while I wouldn't want Martz as my o-coordinator for a team with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady on the roster, if the qb is somebody you don't mind getting pounded on most Sundays, Martz will usually figue out a way to score points.

105
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:37pm

FYI... Chicago @ Seattle on 18 November has been moved back to 4:15pm, since NBC has chosen to take Pats/Bills for SNF instead.

106
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:40pm

98: I'm not sure what you want. You saw one game and saw that Tarvaris Jackson was bad. Many of us saw the same game and essentially said, "Yep, that's bad, but we'd like to see a few more games before we abandon him completely." Now we've seen more games, and some are ready to abandon him completely. Do you feel like you proved anybody wrong?

107
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:42pm

How did Rogers stiff arm a defensive back when he was returning an interception for a TD? Did he stiff arm his own guy?

108
by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:45pm

Don't know why I'm thinking about this, but I am; and I'm also too lazy and pressed for time to look it up myself, so I'll ask all of you.

How many teams in modern NFL history have duplicated the feat that the Jets look set to accomplish during a four-year span (in this case, 2004-2007): playoffs one year; top-5 pick the next; playoffs the following year; and top-5 pick again at the end of the four-season arc?

Has anyone else even gotten close to that kind of inconsistency?

109
by Son of Brock Landers (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:49pm

re:91

The Eagles are not good. Dallas punted twice all night, and one of those punts was in the final 5 mins with Brad Johnson handing the ball off to Double J. The Iggles had a solid, reliabel defense that could get stops when they needed it. Not anymore.

I find the Iggles to be one of the most interesting teams on the field and with their team narrative in the NFL in the last 10 years. A book on the Reid-McNabb Iggles squad, rise, peak and descent would be a good read. If Michael Strahan can put out a book, someone in the Iggles can get onedone.

110
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:50pm

Jimm, the Vikings are going to have a difficult time beating the Packers under any circumstances. Ted Cottrell doesn't coach on that staff, and I fully expect the Packers to more closely emulate the Eagles approach, especially given the quality of the Packers' corners.

The Vikings best chance is to force Favre to string together a long series of successful plays, then play soundly in the red zone, and force the Packers to kick a handful of field goals, while hopefully the Vikings manage to score a couple of touchdowns and a few field goals. The Vikings are going to have to have some success downfield to get the Packers to play them honestly. Until then, don't expect to see any of the six or seven in the box fronts that the Vikings were fortunate to see frequently yesterday.

111
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:54pm

106- You are right, but in NFL handicapping the early bird gets the worm.

I understand that Norv isn't doing a very good job in San Diego, but why isn't any of the blame passed onto Ted Cottrell? San Diegos defense was a sick top 5 defense last year and now they give up 35 points to a one dimensonal Vikings team?

112
by CoreyG (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:54pm

91:

1)Sheppard was horrible in coverage last night anyway
2) Reagor was listed as inactive for the game according to the stadium screens

Unrelated:
I can't recall McNabb throwing to his right at all during the game. Not once. Of course it was my first live NFL game and I was a bit overwhelmed and annoyed, but a few other fans (that's a whole other story) commented on the same.

113
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:55pm

"How did Rogers stiff arm a defensive back when he was returning an interception for a TD? Did he stiff arm his own guy? "

It was most likely a WR or possibly a smaller running back. I saw a 5 second highlight.

Way to get all over me for a meaningless typo. Whats your issue Badger?

114
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:57pm

Will:

Starting safety Nick Collins is out which means rookie Aaron Rouse will be starting Sunday. If MN were to ever have success going deep it would be against Bigby who struggles in pass coverage and a rookie making his first NFL start.

But I think you are correct in that GB will approach the game the same way they approached the Bears when John Shoop was calling plays. Everyone within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and dare the opposing team to get them to back off.

It does help GB that Kampmann is healthy. After a slow start due to a rib injury AK is getting to the qb constantly with 7 sacks his last three games and just as many qb hurries. And KGB's shoulder dip is having a lot more success late in games when he comes in fairly fresh. He literally ran around the KC right tackle yesterday. It was comical.

115
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 5:58pm

By the way, this is pretty pleasant. I'd started avoiding the Audibles comments, as the moral meaning of the Patriots seemed to take over the conversation (and I found all sides equally annoying). Right now, the Audibles comment section makes me feel like Elaine driving down Kramer's highway when he widened the lanes; it's roomy and luxurious.

116
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:00pm

Post 113:

I was responding to this post:

"Don’t quote me on this, but I think that was Selvin Young. (Although he may yet find himself playing free safety, the way this season is going.)"

I did not realize that your post was the origin of his response. I legitimately thought the circumstances were curious.

117
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:04pm

116.

My bad Badger, I'm just chippy because of our earlier exchange.

It was pretty funny to see, if you can find it, watch it. It looked like Rogers picked him up by the face. Not facemask, but entire face.

118
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:06pm

102 - Will - regarding the two QB system. In the CFL it is far more common to make QB changes - it's not nearly as big a deal. If a QB isn't moving the team they yank him and put in the backup. Warren Moon to split time with a backups you've never heard of and his team won 5 Grey Cups in a row.

I think the NFL sometimes get a little to regimented and too terrified of making mistakes. I think Childress suffers from that in a big way. Since he's been the coach the only time a QB has looked good is when they have entered the game in relief. Even Jackson looked miles better in relief last year against the Jets and Bears. The same can be said for Bollinger this year.

I think your idea likely has real merit for any team that doesn't have an obviously superior starter.

119
by Son of Brock Landers (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:08pm

re: 112
Dallas uses Newman on one side of the field and henry/reeves on the other. McNabb may not have been throwing tot he right side because it was newman's side. newman = good, reeves = not good

re: pacifist viking

you are dead on. i have not posted at FO all year until this week's audibles because the pats lovers and haters have really damaged the commenting here.

120
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:10pm

I almost wish there were some way for me to have direct contact with the GB coaching staff. Having watched Bollinger's entire collegiate and pro career (as a faithful alum) I am fairly confident I can provide insight not available from what is sure to be limited game film from Brooks work in Minnesota.

Though I am sure if I somehow came up with Bob Sanders direct line he would listen for five seconds followed by a "click".

But I'm telling you Bob, I KNOW Brooks Bollinger's game! Honest! Really!!

Ah, to dream.....

121
by witless chum (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:10pm

94: Yup Selvin Young was the victim, although he was only there because Jared DeVries, evidently trusting to Shaun's breakaway speed, made a half-ass block attempt. My wife made me rewind it several times so I could identify the guilty party.

115: Segregating the Patroits commentary from everyone else might be a good idea. People not flipping out about the Evil Empire so much might be a better one.

122
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:13pm

Well, Badger, if Childress has no fear of being mercilessly mocked if it doesn't work, he ought to consider having his qb come out like a mad bomber on Sunday, if the Packers play as we expect. Play action to Peterson on the first or second play of the game, with Rice and Williamson running go routes, and Shiancoe down the middle might be something to consider. Get the lead with a long pass or two, and then turn Peterson loose.

123
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:18pm

it seemed too easy for the Vikes to eliminate Gates from the game (though I’m not sure what they were doing to do it).

My impression from watching a lot of Tony Gonzalez over the years is that a TE is the easiest offensive receiver/back to take out of a game. Sometimes it's done by having a very strong LB muscle him at the line (the Chiefs had some success one year against Sharpe this way). Sometimes it's put a top CB on him (DEN does this vs KC and SD with Bailey). Sometimes it's an indirect approach that forces the TE to have to block/chip a DE/LB who is overwhelming an OT. I think Badger pointed out the Packers started using Kampman to chip Gonzo yestrerday to slow him down. And sometimes, it's just have an LB hold him until the refs start calling it - or get tired of throwing flags. I don't know what MIN specifically did yesterday, and it would be interesting to know if there is more game-to-game variation in TE DPAR/DVOA than among WRs or RBs, but those are my thoughts.

123
by Son of Brock Landers (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:18pm

re:124

I am chuckling at that comment. sopt on

For those of you at the Iggles game last night, were the fans talking about putting Kolb in whent he game was out fo reach? well, if the fans were still there?

125
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:19pm

#91... You honestly believe that it's McNabb making the receivers look bad? While McNabb has certainly held onto the ball too long this year, it seems to me the Philly WRs just don't get open enough. In the Minnesota game, most of the big passing plays came on great catches/throws to receivers that were covered very well. Regardless of how good a QB is, they all need a big-time WR who can defeat coverage and make plays even when covered. I would just recommend the Eagles choose one this time who isn't psychotic.

America, wake up! The Saints are marching again. A quick look at their schedule reveals they play 1 good team the rest of the season and that Tampa at home.

126
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:19pm

#91... You honestly believe that it's McNabb making the receivers look bad? While McNabb has certainly held onto the ball too long this year, it seems to me the Philly WRs just don't get open enough. In the Minnesota game, most of the big passing plays came on great catches/throws to receivers that were covered very well. Regardless of how good a QB is, they all need a big-time WR who can defeat coverage and make plays even when covered. I would just recommend the Eagles choose one this time who isn't psychotic.

America, wake up! The Saints are marching again. A quick look at their schedule reveals they play 1 good team the rest of the season and that Tampa at home.

127
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:21pm

#90 Black Squirrel
The most glaring thing you'd notice on DVOA is that Quinn Gray can look like a pro-bowler against that defense...but your question is "Did New Orleans simply impose their will on Jacksonville?" On the defense DVOA page, you'd think that New Orleans couldn't use their #1 WR much, but had a big passing mismatch with their #2 WR (# is subjective on this site and I am guessing Colston is the #1), but what a game Colston had : 10 catches, 159 yards. That left 286 passing yards for the #2's, others, and RB's.
Colston is #45 on the receiver DPAR rank (and rising) so when using this site to predict, he probably had no business doing what he did against Jacksonville .
Because he did, you'd have to say NO is going to continue creeping up the DVOA rankings (on offense) and make some noise in the playoff hunt.

128
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:24pm

Well, Badger, if Childress has no fear of being mercilessly mocked if it doesn’t work, he ought to consider having his qb come out like a mad bomber on Sunday, if the Packers play as we expect. Play action to Peterson on the first or second play of the game, with Rice and Williamson running go routes, and Shiancoe down the middle might be something to consider. Get the lead with a long pass or two, and then turn Peterson loose.

This was a standard Martyball call in the early '90s. I was surprised at how often it worked. KC has opened several games this way too (yes, I think Herm = Martyball II) but less effectively. It doesn't help that Eddie Drummond and/or the Chiefs KR blocking as terrible. If Drummond makes it beyond the 20, I consider it a good return for him. I used to consider getting the ball beyond the 30 to be a good return. Thus, 20 = the new 30.

129
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:24pm

Will:

Considering that Atari Bigby allowed a KC wide receiver to run past him with 10 seconds left in the first half with the Chiefs on their own 30 is testimony that the Packer safeties can be a bit "challenged" in pass coverage.

GB is going to be focussed on AP. Play-action down the middle would be a chance worth taking. The catch is that Brooks can heave it maybe 40 yards in an arcing rainbow that can be timed in minutes. It will almost certainly be a jump ball unless the defensive back(s) fall down or just get completely fooled beyond belief.

That's the issue there. A good WR will get past the coverage and then have to wait. We saw that a good bit at Wisco.

130
by raffy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:27pm

regarding #70 aka Herm? Well said. Bravo.

This was the type of commentary I was expecting from FO during Audibles (see #22). Looking forward to Herm? type comments during Any Given Sunday, with my respects to Pacifist Viking's sentiments.

131
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:31pm

I'd like to see the Vikes do something with Taylor and Peterson on the field at the same time. Put them both in the backfield then send Peterson in motion wide, and watch Taylor churn out yards in the middle.

The Vikes also have to find a way to get Peterson on the field for 3rd and long. I understand Taylor is a better blocker and receiver, but if Peterson is somewhere in the formation, the defense is going to be covering him close, opening things up all around.

132
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:31pm

Isn't what you're proposing, essentially the Steelers game plan? Come out, throw a couple bombs early, then force the other team to deal with your running game?

133
by Son of Brock Landers (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:37pm

re:132

i've often wondered this with San Diego the last few years. Why not use LT and Michael Turner at the same time? Two very different running styles, one great receiving back, and yet both are tough match ups for LBs to cover if SD chooses to pass. You can run or pass out of the formation, and the SD receivers have been bad enough.

134
by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:37pm

132 - Roethlisberger has some flaws to be sure, and he's still shaking off the cobwebs of last year to some extent, but looking at his passing efficiency numbers (both FO-based and traditional stats) it's unfair to say the Steelers heave-ho a few prayers early on and then just grind the clock.

135
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:41pm

134.

Theres a EPC, or AGS about the steelers over the last couple of years. Typically they throw A LOT in the first quarter, and then cut back. Teams generally play the run early against them, so its a huge mismatch.

136
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:42pm

For anyone curious:

Green Bay - The Green Bay Packers and tight end Donald Lee agreed a four-year contract extension on Monday that will pay him just under $12 million, a source said.

Lee, 27, is tied with James Jones for second on the team with 29 receptions and Lee is fourth in yards (382).

Lee's current contract, which was set to expire after this season, paid him a total of $1.475 million in base pay the past three years with Green Bay since being picked up from the Miami Dolphins, the team that drafted him out of Mississippi State in the fifth round of the 2003 draft.

137
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:42pm

131. Pacifist - A few weeks ago everyone was worried that Peterson was not getting enough touches. Now I think one has to be a little concerned that Childress doesn't over use Peterson. He's had 50 carries in two games since he was made the starter. If the offence wasn't so horribly inefficient early in the Phlly game I fear he would have seen 30+ in that game as well.

I think the Vikings should be very meticulous about limiting the number of carries Peterson averages. I also think they should try to increase the pct of passes/runs to him because it should limit some of the pounding and additionally he is so devastating in space.

138
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:43pm

Heck, maybe the Vikings should work hard on the no huddle offense this week, with the idea of being pass happy on the first two series. It has worked well for the Steelers in the past, as Rich notes. As with all offensive schemes, however, it is titanically easier to execute with a good qb.

139
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:46pm

137: Pretty much all game long I'm yelling "Why don't they THROW it to Peterson!" for those very reasons.

140
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:47pm

Re #134
A pronounced trend of the early BenR years (2005, but especially 2004) was that he came out hot and executed the gameplan early, including several deep passes, and then didn't do much with the passing game the rest of the day as the rushers took over. When he did throw after the early game, he wasn't nearly as productive when he did throw. Pity the Premium Database wasn't available back then, as then I might have finished that little project.

141
by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:49pm

135 - Rich, I am pretty well aware of what the Steelers do on a week to week basis. It's true that they have followed the game plan you describe with great success, and also true that they've lost some games when Ben had superficially good numbers (lots of yards, but coupled with interceptions, no running game, etc.).

All I was trying to say is that the meme that says "Roethlisberger is a game manager; he can't win games, he can only lose them" etc. is overplayed, at best.

More to the point, even if you were not repeating that particular meme, to compare Roethlisberger to Brooks Bollinger by saying "why doesn't Minnesota just do what the Steelers do?" is unfair to Roethlisberger based on the numbers Ben has put up and the success he's had.

142
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:51pm

jimm, the type of fronts Peterson is facing is important also, in terms of wear and tear. When a defense lays back, as the Chargers often did, giving Peterson 25-30 carries is less of a concern. Pounding him into eight, nine, and sometimes even ten man fronts 30 times is far more problematic.

143
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:55pm

Regarding Aaron's old Marion Barber comments: in his defense, that description of him in college is exactly what someone who really hated Barber today would use to deride him.
In other words, those very attributes are the ones that ARE his "weaknesses" (well, besides the one about not following blocks), it's just that his weaknesses are not nearly as bad as that scout would have you believe, and his strengths (running hard, basically) are greater.

144
by Jim (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:55pm

re:115
You're right, it is more pleasant here without the great Patriots debates.
re:109
"Dallas punted twice all night, and one of those punts was in the final 5 mins with Brad Johnson handing the ball off to Double J."

Oh dear. Why was Brad Johnson in the game - did Romo get hurt? And why was he handing off, when the passing game was working so well?
*ducks and covers*

145
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:55pm

141. Where did I say Roethlisburger was a game manager? Where did I compare him to Bollinger?

Roethlisburger's ability to throw the deep ball is WHY the steelers have been so good. Hes been devastating early, and then been a game manager in the 2nd half. Its what most good QBs do - establish a lead, and then sit on it.

A very clear example of just how important R-Burger is to the Steelers, is their 8-8 record last year. Without good play from him, they seriously regressed.

146
by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:55pm

140 -- yes, yes. Se my response at 141. All I'm saying in sum, as Will hints, is that Brooks B. is not yet in the same class as Ben R. That's not to say that Ben is objectively as good as [fill in name] or that Brooks is chopped liver (though BadgerT1000 seems to think that he is).

About the only quibble I have with what you added is that saying Ben "wasn’t nearly as productive when he did throw" after the early game is pretty vague.

147
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 6:57pm

146.

Right, but Brooks Bollinger is a lot more likely to be facing 9 and even 10 men in the box than Roethlisburger ever is. He doesn't have to be as good because the task is significantly easier.

Again, all its going to take is ONE pass behind the coverage, and the safeties go back, and Peterson starts having room underneath.

148
by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:01pm

Jeez Rich -- you certainly do wind up in a lot of spats here. It must be everyone else. I'm not accusing you of saying Roethlisberger is a game manager, but that's what lots of people say. I still think it's fair to say you implicitly compared him to Bollinger/Tarvaris because the discussion was about what the Vikings should do in their game planning, and upon hearing the throw a few bombs early suggestion you asked if that wasn't essentially the Steelers game plan.

149
by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:04pm

Now we're just cross-talking. Suffice it to say I don't think there's much of a disagreement here. You cited Roethlisberger's importance to the Steelers and I agree, but a lot of the mainstream commentary about him (at least from detractors in the division) is that he just manages games and doesn't do much well, and I think the numbers suggest otherwise -- and not just in the first quarter.

150
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:04pm

Matt:

All I did was list Brooks strengths and weaknesses. And as a college qb Bollinger was highly effective.

But this is one of those obvious instances where the college success does not translate well to the NFL. And arm strength matters in a game where things happen so quickly.

My intent was not to badmouth Brooks. Merely provide some level of insight.

151
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:06pm

I asked this question last week, but it seems appropriate to ask it again - Is Losman now the Bills starter (again)? Hard to believe they would start Edwards in the next game.

152
by pete (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:08pm

i was at the jets game, and the play of the day was the jet bobbling the atrocious onside kick by suisham. it went about nine yards and a jet played hot potato with it. the jet defense never recovered from being on the field, effectively, for the last 10 minutes of the first half.

the jet run defense is simply abysmal. the over/under on the yards barber/jones get on TG has got to be 300

153
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:13pm

every once in a great while, even I am proven correct. Last year I wrote:

As for Cottrell, all I know about him is he took EJ Henderson, who was an all-world college linebacker (and big, not one of these guys “too small� for the NFL) and made him look absolutely lost in the NFL. Then Cottrell leaves, and, whammo, suddenly EJ is an above average NFL LB.

Now I just need to amend that to EJ finally looking like a pro bowl LB... and fellow Terp Merriman looking like half the player he was (queue the 'roids comments...)

linked

154
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:21pm

Amen Jeff, Amen. Lets hear some analysis about Dallas. They haven't been talked about much all year, except for the D-ware article. Maybe we could hear how Dallas has already beaten the projection. But yeah, I mean the only close win that the 'Boys have was against the Bills, and that was only because of Romo's awful game. And they stuck with the Pats for three quarters even without a few guys and coming off a tough MNF game.

I think they should get more props. But you read the comments and you still have some guy saying the Steelers would be the best team in the NFC. Just give the Cowboys some credit, even if you hate them.

155
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:30pm

#154... Not to nitpick, but the Giants-Cowboys game was a 3 point game with 4 minutes left when the Cowboys got a 52 yard TD pass on 3rd and 7. That qualifies as a close game.

Speaking of the Giants-Cowboys...

156
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 7:37pm

As I stated above, I'm really looking forward to Cowboys/Packers. The Packers might be able to exploit the Cowboys defensive weaknesses downfield, and the Cowboys can exploit the Packers defensive weaknesses with Whitten. I think the key will be how big a game Barber has.

157
by Joerg Bochow (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 8:36pm

Regarding Adrian Peterson / Vikings

I don't want to question the talent of Adrian Peterson but his huge performance was definitely helped by the injury of the Chargers DE Luis Castillo at the start of the 3rd quarter.

While watching the game in the 1st half I thought that the Chargers did a good job of containing Peterson.

Peterson ran 13 times for only 43 yards. He had only 1 run over 10 yards but 8 runs for 2 yards or less. This is hardly record breaking stuff.

Then in the 2nd play of the 3rd quarter Catsillo gets hurt. The next running play the Vikings call is directed against the substitute for Castillo (don't know who was supposed to do his job) and Peterson runs for 64 yards to level the score.

From that point on the Chargers could'nt handle the Vikongs O-Line for the rest of the game. Sure Bollinger looked more comfortable passing the ball but the Chargers could'nt stop the run after that even if they knew it was coming.

158
by vis (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 10:21pm

#59 Great point. I don't know why more teams don't do this. The Falcons had a lot of success lining up Vick & Dunn like that.

159
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 11:15pm

Geez, actual football discussion instead of KKK rallies, homophobic coaches, runners up of the score, etc. etc. Have I stumbled into an FO time machine?

re: 19, 30, 33 (sorry to be late, actually doing my job at work!) You can't say, aside from NE and Ind, the AFC isn't that much stronger than the NFC, because you can't discount those two top teams. Back when everyone was convinced that the NFC was far superior because it was winning every Super Bowl, the actual results of interconference games often were even, and some years the AFC came out on top. The "superiority" resided in the 49ers and Cowboys, and later in the 49ers and Giants. It IS interesting that the same pattern of the two exceptional teams being in the same conference is taking place, but the whole point of current AFC superiority is the dominance of those two top teams.

160
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/05/2007 - 11:24pm

Awful warm in here. Someone must have left the heat on.

The problem with estimating the Lions' current strength is that they keep playing teams that don't appear to be that good either: Tampa Bay has been the only recent exception, and I don't know how much DAVE/DVOA would change with Cadillac removed from the equation.

This game was different only because it was a Stomp. The Broncos and Lions essentially reversed the roles that conventional wisdom would have assigned to them in August.

I agree that Kitna is essential to the Lions' success, not that that makes Detroit any different than six or eight other teams in the league, including you-know-who and you-know-who. I think Jones' juvenation has also been a key. Bell was adequate and perhaps not a great fit for the offense, and Duckett seems to be a goal-line back at best, but Jones fits in very well with the offense as it's running now, and I'm not just saying that so I can wear my #34 jersey in public again without ducking my head. It has been a while since I could watch a Detroit RB moving upfield around tacklers. (Yeah, it was Denver's run defense, but still ...)

If the people charting the second half of Detroit-Denver don't put Rogers in the WOW column, well, you know. (I would have done the first half, but my DVR ate it.) That was an incredible play. Well, also a terrible pass. Ramsey is not replacement-level, I fear, at least not against a team that can bring pressure.

By Thanksgiving night, we'll have a better idea of Detroit's ability. If they beat Arizona on the road, they'll be 7-2 heading into games at home against what could be a 7-2 Giants team and a 9-1 Packers team. A 7-4 record after that wouldn't be shameful unless the two losses look like the two they've already got.

But never mind that. That is the future, and today, we speak of the present, the day that a Lions game was bumped for another one because they were winning by so much. (I was staying with some friends outside Richmond, VA: surprise #1 was that the Lions were the local game, although I still watched SuperCast, and surprise #2 was that the CBS station broke away to show us the SD-Min game. Something about some Peterson guy or something.)

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by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 12:31am

Speaking of remaining schedules, Dallas has just one game against a team with a losing record on its remaining schedule. Yet, the last DVOA ranked the remaining schedule something like 18th.

Also, is Dallas' DVOA benefiting from the improved play of Buffalo and Minnesota?

162
by mm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 12:57am

90, 127--on the Saints:

Early in the season the offensive line wasn't pass blocking particularly well (perhaps Jamal Brown wasn't fully over his pre-season injury and that threw off the line), Devery Henderson was the 2 receiver (getting open but rarely actually catching the ball when it was thrown to him), and Drew Brees looked 'off' even when he was getting time.

Now the offensive line is playing much better in pass protection, David Patten is the #2 receiver (actually catching what is thrown to him), and Drew Brees is playing very sharp.

The result is a passing offense that's taken off recently. When Deuce McAllister went down, they tried to stay a balanced offense, but they've given that up to become a pass-first attack, which leads to some nice runs from Bush when they do run (because defenses aren't expecting it).

The Saints attacked through the air because they were playing to their strengths, not necessarily because they picked something up on the tapes of Jacksonville.

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by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 1:50am

155,
You're right that was a close game. I guess I was just aying every win but the Buffalo game was double-digits. Thats probably not fair thoug, because I thought the Pats game was close even though some would say otherwise and the final score didn't show it.

I'm not trying to sell the Giants short in any way (as it looks like you're a fan by your name), I think the G-Men are very good. I just think the 'Boys are a little better, especially with the defense finally on the field together (this will be the first game) and once we get Glenn back.

Also 156,

I think the downfield pass defense might not be as weak as it seems. The two starting corners, Newman and Henry, have yet to start a whole game together. I think next game will be the first. I'm not saying its a strength but it may not be such a weakness anymore.

164
by BC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 2:54am

mm
I didn't see the game, but you would have to say that any QB that passes for 400 yards is imposing his will (maybe even anger or wrath) upon the opponent. I'd think after some threshold the gameplan went out the window and the fun began.
Again, I didn't see the game, but you have to believe that New Orleans will beat a lot of above average teams and make a run at the playoffs through that offense...but a QB not named Quinn Gray will probably come in and disppoint them by not throwing 3 picks. They need to shore up that pass D to be taken seriously.
BTW, Devery Henderson has to be the biggest #2 WR bust this year. It's maddening to read his thrown to/catches/drops stats this year.
On the other hand, you have to be happy for David Patten. Did you know a few years back he saved a Superbowl run, while unconscious, with the ball (kinda), while a play was going? He's a rabbit's foot.

165
by mshray (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 4:09am

Anybody else notice that the NFC & AFC Western Divisions went a combined 0-7 yesterday? The 0-8 Rams were the only team not to lose, because they had a bye. Neither division has a team with a winning record now, halfway through the season. Weird. Before the season started, if you looked at the games for Nov. 4th, would anyone have picked the Lions, Vikings & Packers to go 3-0 against the Broncos, Chargers & Chiefs?

That's what I thought.

166
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 10:50am

165. mshray - taken a step further - would you have thought the combined score in the Minn/SD, GB/KC, Det/Den would be 112-46

167
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 11:49am

Corey G #112:

Sheppard was horrible in coverage last night anyway

Like in 2005, when he played with a bum knee before going on IR.

Reagor was listed as inactive for the game according to the stadium screens

And he is supposedly their best pass rushing D-tackle. The gameplans in the Dallas games last year were predicated on pressure up the middle from Darwin Walker and Jeremiah Trotter blitzing. Walker had 4 of his 6 sacks in those two games.

I can’t recall McNabb throwing to his right at all during the game. Not once.

The right is the normal strongside of the Eagles formation, where Reggie Brown and LJ Smith line up. McNabb seems alergic to throwing there this season. OTOH, much of his passing game is going to Curtis on his left, and Westbrook on swing passes, screens, and wheel routes to his left.

Intersting tidbit about this. Brown does much better without McNabb.

McNabb to Brown, first 9 games 2005 - 17 of 32 for 217 yards (53% completion, 6.8 yards per attempt)
McMahon/Detmer to Brown, last 7 games 2005 - 26 of 45 for 354 yards (58% completion, 7.9 yards per attempt)
McNabb to Brown, first 9 games 2006 - 27 of 54 for 520 yards (50% completion, 9.6 yards per attempt)
Garcia to Brown, last 8 games 2006 - 27 of 43 for 414 yards (62% completion, 9.6 yards per attempt)
McNabb to Brown, first 8 games 2007 -27 of 56 for 374 yards (48% completion, 6.7 yards per attempt)

As a comparison:
McNabb to Stallworth, first 9 games 2006 - 21 of 42 for 443 yards (50% completion, 10.5 yards per attempt)
Garcia to Stallworth, last 8 games 2006 - 19 of 37 for 348 yards (51% completion, 9.4 yards per attempt)

Reggie Brown plays much more like a stud when McNabb is not the QB. OTOH, Stallworth played nearly idenitcally when the QB's changed.

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by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/06/2007 - 12:04pm

KevinNYC #126:

You honestly believe that it’s McNabb making the receivers look bad? While McNabb has certainly held onto the ball too long this year, it seems to me the Philly WRs just don’t get open enough.

McNabb has always held on to the ball too long. He takes many more sacks than he should.

In the Minnesota game, most of the big passing plays came on great catches/throws to receivers that were covered very well.

And they made plays! Imagine that, throwing the ball on time to let the widdeouts make plays.

Regardless of how good a QB is, they all need a big-time WR who can defeat coverage and make plays even when covered.

Brown and Curtis and Baskett can do that. Curtis, when given a chance to start or have significant playing time with a healthy QB in St. Louis from Week 16 in 2004 through Week 13 in 2005 produced 71 catches for 1116 yards and 8 touchdowns in 16 games. Brown, from Week 16 in 2005 as a rookie to Week 15 in 2006 produced 56 catches for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns. The problem is not the wideouts.

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by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/07/2007 - 1:34am

164-

"Again, I didn’t see the game, but you have to believe that New Orleans will beat a lot of above average teams and make a run at the playoffs through that offense"

Fortunately the Saints don't have to beat many above average teams...DVOA gives them the 28th ranked schedule remaining, and Tampa is the only team they have left who currently has a winning record. Unfortunately Tampa has the 31st ranked schedule remaining, but that may be the difference between the Saints having to play Tampa (who's 6th in weighted DVOA) and Tampa having to play the Saints (who's currently 17th, but has been rapidly rising). Since the Saints already lost once to Tampa, the rematch will be key if they want to win the division.

And Patten is playing well. I think Colston's resurgence pretty much started when defenses had to start paying attention to him.