Short-yardage passing had a good year, except at the end of the Super Bowl. We look at the return of quarterback runs, the rise in pass-happy strategy, and 2014 success rates for offense and defense.
21 Sep 2009
compiled by Bill Barnwell
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, which means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Raiders fan, not so much.)
David Gardner: Another late-game meltdown by Delhomme. He just got baited bad by Chris Houston on an interception at the 8-yard line with 2:30 left in the game.
Doug Farrar: Earlier in the game, he threw a stupid little shovel pass as he was being sacked that was almost picked off. When you’re trying to find your way out of Chuck Knoblauch Disease, that’s not the time to be Brett Favre.
Discussion question: Why did the Falcons wear their throwbacks against a team that has no throwbacks?
David Gardner: There was also a pretty great Hail Mary attempt at the end o the Panthers game. Delhomme launched a 60-yard pass that was tipped in the end zone by Falcons' wide receiver Brian Finneran -- playing safety at the time -- and nearly caught by Jarrett of the Panthers.
Vince Verhei: Detroit’s rushing DVOA for this game should be awesome. They ran four straight times in the second quarter, picking up 13, 8, 12, and 7 yards. The drive ended in a touchdown. They weren’t so hot early, but when we factor in opponent adjustments, the game should rate highly. On defense, they’re not dominating, but they are picking up big plays (two sacks, a force fumble, a handful of stuffed runs) and not allowing any (only one Vikings play has gained more than 14 yards).
Each team has had two possessions in the second half. Detroit has five plays, -11 yards, one punt and one fumble; Minnesota has five plays, 115 yards, one field goal and one touchdown. This was looking like a slam-dunk for Any Given Sunday; now, not so much. The Vikings now have three plays of 14 or more yards, and they’re all Adrian Peterson runs. He’s pretty good.
Ned Macey: After watching roughly six quarters of Lions football, I think they made a mistake starting Stafford. The guy's downfield ability is what makes him interesting, but each mistake he makes for a winless team is going to make him pull back. Stafford throwing dumpoffs is just a waste. If they don't win this week (hosting Washington), I think they'll be 0-6 going into the bye. I just think coming off the disaster that was last season that this is a lot of pressure to put on the QB, particularly one who the last thing you want is for him to play scared.
The Lions ability to run the ball in the first half was very weird to watch. I didn't watch a lot of Minnesota the last two years, but I wonder if their linebackers aren't very good. I like E.J. Henderson in coverage, but when Kevin Smith could get through the line, he kept making big gains. Smith only averaged 3.5 per carry, but it certainly felt like he was doing better.
Larry Foote by the way is still great at playing the run, and he even picked up a sack today. The Lions really hurt the Vikings by blitzing, and Minnesota had to switch to all 3-step drops in the second half. Favre was out of rhythm on anything down the field, and when the Lions were hitting him in the first half he threw up a complete duck that the Lions should have intercepted near the goal line.
Doug Farrar: Not sure what might make Bears fans feel worse about last week’s game – the fact that the Bengals drove for a touchdown against Green Bay on their first drive, or that Cedric Benson (showing recent signs of life) rushed for 40 yards on four carries.
Elias Holman: I don't see a lot of Bengals games, so I am enjoying the novelty of commentators saying things like "You just don't expect that kind of thing from a veteran player like Ochocinco".
Vince Verhei: Chad Ochocinco catches a go-ahead touchdown, but flags are down. Chad jumps up and shows no emotion, checking with the refs to ensure the play will stand. The refs confer and flag Green Bay for offsides. Only then does Chad scan the end zone crowd, eventually finding a pocket of Bengals fans and doing the Lambeau Leap into their midst. Football is so fun when he’s doing well.
Bill Barnwell: God, the Packers can't tackle worth a damn.
One thing I was concerned about with the Packers heading into this week was the offensive line, and while the running game's been acceptable, they have serious pass blocking issues. Antwan Odom's got five sacks in Cincy.
Robert Weintraub: That makes two straight games that Cincy has dominated the line of scrimmage. Antwan Odom was wrecking Clifton even before he got hurt, and he toyed with his replacement. Benson had at least half a dozen runs he turned from zero or negative yards into 3-5. And the special teams were strong. If it weren't for a pair of terrible reads by Palmer, resulting in INTs that handed GB 14 points, it would have been an easier win. As it was, the Pack got to Cincy's 14 with no TOs left, but the clock ran out before they could take a shot at the end zone.
Of course, all I can think about is that if weren't for the BS at PBS last Sunday, we'd be 2-0 with Pitt at home next Sunday.
Doug Farrar: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie successfully defended a first-quarter short pass to Mike Sims-Walker. Maurice Jones-Drew later responded by stiff-arming Rodgers-Cromartie. That’s enough hyphens for today.
Vince Verhei: I noted in Any Given Sunday that Beanie Wells needs to be Arizona’s primary rusher starting immediately. So far today he has four carries for 40 yards – and two fumbles. Perhaps I was wrong.
On the other hand, reports of Kurt Warner’s demise were greatly exaggerated. At halftime, he’s 18 of 19 for 173 yards and a score. He was under constant pressure last week from Parys Haralson. The Jaguars are really missing Reggie Hayward though; their backup ends are getting no pressure against the Cardinals’ tackles.
Doug Farrar: We’ve got a couple of completion monsters today. Near the end of the third quarter the third quarter, Kurt Warner is 24 of 26 for 243 yard and two scored. Matt Ryan, meanwhile, is 21 of 25 for 225 yards and three TDs.
Bill Barnwell: JaMarcus Russell isn't having the best day. JaMarcus 3-16 says that you wasted your first overall pick.
Bill Moore: Jets named third-string QB, and former Patriots backup, Kevin O’Connell, the offensive captain today. Say what?
Aaron Schatz: Jets are bringing some great pressure early on, lots of six-man blitzes, overload stuff. It's really flustering the Patriots. The Pats got a fumble recovery inside the Jets' 20 and then got two straight holding penalties to end up with second-and-30. (Eventually, Stephen Gostkowski did drill the field goal.)
Jets are also the clear early leader in obnoxious attempts to goad officials into throwing flags. I think I've seen at least one Jets player -- usually more -- making that up and down "throw the flag" motion with their arms after every single play. Guys, your pressure is enough to get the Pats to make plenty of penalties. You don't need to go whining to the refs on top of that.
Doug Farrar: Well, the Texans are lighting the Titans up like the proverbial Christmas tree, and the Pats are without a touchdown today. I’m ready to call the Jets’ defense a success.
Bill Moore: Jets have done an excellent job in their man-to-man coverage (lots of pressure on Brady). Particularly, Revis has been all over Randy Moss including pulling in an INT early. The Patriots, on the other hand, have played a lot of zone – and not done it well. Lots of holes. Jonathan Wilhite has started in place of Shawn Springs. Not sure what’s up with that.
Just now, Larry Izzo tackled punt returner Leonhard. Did he forget what uniform he was wearing?
Doug Farrar: Good man coverage + formation diversity = bad day for opposing offenses. Revis is playing out of his mind. Ryan likes that linebacker twist blitz with David Harris and Bart Scott, and he’ll overload from anywhere. If I remember correctly, he overloaded left with three defensive backs last week against the Texans.
Bill Barnwell: Brady's mechanics are all out of whack. Throwing off his back foot, not stepping into throws when there's pressure ... he looks bad.
Aaron Schatz: The receivers' timing was all off, too. Two years ago, when teams pressured Brady, he easily found the hot read. Today, the Jets pressured him relentlessly, but when Brady found the hot read, the hot read bobbled the ball, or the pass was two feet over the hot read's head. Julian Edelman may turn into Wes Welker part II but he is still a rookie and he's still getting used to the receiver position, and Joey Galloway just looks completely out of sorts.
This loss was all about pressure. The Jets were getting great pass pressure on the Patriots, and to be honest, the Patriots weren't getting much pressure on Mark Sanchez at all.
Bill Barnwell: That's not the receivers, that's Brady. Look at his footwork.
Aaron Schatz: Well, Edelman bobbling away a ball right in his breadbox isn't Brady. Also, some of it was the Jets playing good coverage. It's interesting -- we can say that the new head coach helped design the improved pass pressure, but can Ryan design better man coverage too? Or is that the players playing better - in which case, why weren't they playing that well last year? (Yes, yes, Darrelle Revis, but I'm talking about guys like Dwight Lowery...)
Bill Barnwell: That's one pass. Brady also threw about 12 passes behind people, at people's feet...it was Brady. And we know improved pass pressure helps the coverage; guys don't have to give as much of a cushion, can play more aggressively... And Lowery's a second-year guy who showed some promise last year. Not unreasonable to think he'd improve regardless of what happened elsewhere.
Mike Tanier: Brady played poorly. He missed Welker and Faulk out there, but he still played poorly. He missed a few throws he normally makes in his sleep, and while he couldn't step into his passes on many occasions, he also just looked rattled on a few.
That overload kept working and working: forcing Brady to throw on the move. The other impressive thing about the Jets defense is that they allowed so few YAC. They shut down all of those "hot route" passes over the middle for really short gains.
Bill Barnwell: I also know I'm the only one on this bandwagon, but when I make the point about it being relatively easy to find a Welker-type player, Julian Edelman's performance today in Welker's role was a great example. Yes, he dropped a pass. (Welker dropped several last week.) What was he, 85 percent of the player Welker is? 90 percent? He did that for about an Acura today.
Mike Tanier: So, a game in which Welker doesn't play and the Patriots fail to score a touchdown is somehow an indicator that Welker ISN'T good? Interesting.
Bill Barnwell: Welker's absence wasn't the reason Tom Brady was one-hopping passes.
Mike Tanier: Welker catches 75 percent of his passes. Edelmen was 8-of-16 today on passes thrown to him. Brady was having a bad day, but these are usually short passes. I will go out on a limb and say Brady missed Welker.
Bill Barnwell: Welker catches 75 percent of his passes from quarterbacks that aren't wildly erratic like Brady was today.
Sean McCormick: I had great seats up high and behind the end zone, basically the same view you'd get from the All-22 tape, and what was most striking was the lack of safety help Revis was getting against Moss. The Jets basically played Cover-1 all game and let Revis shadow Moss all over the field, and he turned in a positively Asomugha-like performance for the second week in a row.
I was also surprised to see the Pats be unable to take advantage of Drew Coleman. The Jets lost two corners in the course of the game and Coleman was out there for most of the second half, but the Pats were never able to isolate him in coverage.
Doug Farrar: Drew Brees on the opening drive against the Eagles: 5-for-5, 53 yards, touchdown. Someone’s elbowing his way into the ubiquitous Quarterback Debate That Shall Not Be Named.
Kevin Kolb is looking pretty good at the end of the first half, making stick throws with Saints defenders in his face. More than once in this game, they’ve split Kolb out wide and shotgun-snapped to DeSean Jackson.
Same drive, Kolb throws a low ball that is tipped by Anthony Hargrove, volleyball-style, but Hargrove flubs two chances at the pick. On a subsequent field goal attempt, Tracy Porter gets flagged for running into David Akers’ right big toe on an attempted block. Akers jumps up as if he’s been bitten by a Black Mamba and executes a perfect dive. Sheesh.
Bill Barnwell: Kevin Kolb looked alright -- couple of bad mistakes -- but he can sure throw 95+ yard pick-sixes with the best of them.
Doug Farrar: Apparently, starting your first NFL game as a quarterback against Darren Sharper is a very bad idea.
Mike Tanier: There's only so much junk you can run to protect a quarterback you don't trust to throw deep. There's only so much Wildcat, so many reverses and screens. The Eagles ran some kind of A-11 formation at one point, with only three linemen in front of DeSean Jackson. Eventually, the quarterback must throw downfield. Kolb did it once successfully in the 1st quarter, then got exposed.
The Eagles could have helped their cause if: a) Andy Reid ran out the clock at the end of the second quarter instead of calling a third down pass deep in Eagles territory; b) Ellis Hobbs (thanks Pattiots) could hold onto a kickoff return. The Saints went on a 14-3 run between the two minute warning and the first 3 minutes of the third quarter, and it soon became a 21-3 run, and that was it for a team that hoped to use junk to keep the game close.
Kolb isn't an NFL quarterback. If he was, Reid would have used the kind of game plan he used for Feeley against the Patriots a few years ago, or for Koy Detmer when he would stumble in to start. The Michael Vick signing now makes much more sense than it did a few weeks ago.
Bill Barnwell: I think you're being a little harsh on Kolb, Mike. This was what essentially amounts to his first NFL start.
Mike Tanier: Two full seasons on an NFL bench should prepare you a little more for that first start. He cannot throw the out. He cannot thread the ball into tight spots. And his response to any pass rush is to run backwards 10 yards. The Eagles gave him a game plan to run today similar to the one Mark Sanchez ran last week. Sanchez ran it well.
Bill Barnwell: If he couldn't throw an out, the Eagles wouldn't have drafted him.
Aaron Schatz: If I can try to thread the needle here... My biggest problem with the anti-Kolb sentiment prior to this game is that everybody was judging him before he ever actually got to start an NFL game. Now, we've seen a start, so it is easier to get an idea of how good he is. I think that an average performance against the New Orleans defense is a better indicator that Kolb has problems than a poor performance coming in at halftime against the Baltimore defense. I also think the fact that the Philadelphia coaching staff felt it had to play so much Wildcat today is a better indicator that Kolb has problems than either his actual performance today or his performance last year.
Mike Tanier: As for Kolb's day, 169 of his passing yards came in a 21-point game in the fourth quarter. It was a bad day with one truly good throw.
Sean McCormick: Kolb has looked very shaky in preseason for two years running. I think you have to factor that in as well.
Bill Barnwell: OK. So what percentage of a quarterback's stats in a losing game normally come in garbage time? 43 percent of Kolb's numbers today came during that garbage time. Will be interested to see what his DVOA is.
Mike Tanier: Let me try to clarify here: what did you think of Kolb's game, Bill?
Bill Barnwell: I thought it was middling. I don't think it should be the final say that he's not a viable NFL quarterback, which is what you said.
I don't think we can infer yet that he can't thrown an out (although I agree the one that Shanle picked off wasn't good). If there's one thing -- any one individual thing -- I believe NFL scouts can figure out during the scouting process, it's whether a quarterback can throw the out or not.
Mike Tanier: There have been many QBs in the NFL who lack the arm to effectively throw the out.
Kevin Kolb is currently on the same roster as Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Jeff Garcia. His three regular season performances consist of an ugly mop-up performance against a great defense, an ugly mop-up performance against a beaten-down defense, and a three-interception blowout loss to a pretty darn bad defense. In that game, the head coach who drafted him three years ago used the Wildcat several times in the first half, and of course that same head coach signed a controversial ex-con quarterback after training camp started. This represents a pretty large bit of corroborating evidence that Kevin Kolb isn't the prospect many of us thought he was.
Bill Barnwell: I suspect that there are far fewer of them now. I also don't think the Eagles would've drafted Kolb if they watched him play and worked him out and didn't think he could thrown a out pattern.
That's excessively harsh, Mike. His ugly mop-up performance was almost exactly the same level of performance that the starter -- a Pro Bowl quarterback -- put up in the same game with no preparation. The three-interception blowout loss came because his defense gave up 41 points; to pin the nature of the loss on him because the Eagles couldn't cover Marques Colston is unfair.
The flip side of that logic is that they're going to run the Wildcat with Vick next week and going forward, and they probably would've put a few Wildcat plays in if McNabb had played. There was no reason to put them in last week when the team was up 25+ points. The fact that he's on the roster with Vick (totally different sort of player) and Garcia (veteran fodder) is irrelevant; none of those players are replacements for Kolb.
Aaron Schatz: Just to make sure I'm following, this argument is about whether it is too early to give up on Kolb, right? I assume we're not arguing that he's actually played well so far in his NFL career, because he hasn't.
Bill Barnwell: Yes. Mike's suggesting that Kolb's not a viable NFL QB. I'm saying that he might or might not be, but we don't know enough yet and that nothing that happened today is conclusive permanent evidence.
Mike Tanier: There is so much wrong with your various efforts to explain away my airtight argument that I just won't bother. Go Kevin Kolb!
Doug Farrar: Andre Johnson tips a pass to himself for a first-quarter touchdown, and Gus Johnson is there to freak out over it. Lucky guy! Jeff Fisher is barking at the refs about Houston’s center exchange? Anyone else watching that game? Is the center going early?
Vince Verhei: Houston's snap count is definitely flustering the Titans. On one play they got all four linemen to jump offsides.
Andre Johnson scored a "I'm The Best Wide Receiver In The League, Dammit" touchdown, being interfered with by Nick Harper, but muscling through it, getting behind him, and making a juggling, fingertip grab for the score.
Once a week, Houston's defense will forget to cover someone and give up a long passing touchdown. Last week it was Chansi Stuckey; this week it was Chris Johnson. Johnson now has a 57-yard touchdown run and a 69-yard touchdown catch.
Houston’s receivers are starting to take over this game. Johnson added a 72-yard touchdown – he was so open, I can’t tell who was supposed to cover him – and Jacoby Jones made a great catch against tight coverage for a 29-yard score. It was a great recovery; one play earlier, he had been wide-open but dropped the ball.
Chris Johnson takes a shotgun draw, slips a couple of tackles, gets some great downfield blocking and goes 91 yard for a score. He now has three touchdowns, averaging 72 yards apiece. The Texans’ first three touchdowns averaged 40 yards each, so expect to see this game all over SportsCenter.
Mike Tanier: The number of defensive lapses on both sides of the ball had me scratching my head. Everyone saw the Chris Johnson touchdowns; both were the result of just awful play and assignment errors. The Texans had a few shockingly open receivers themselves. The Titans safeties seem to be biting on every fake, every play-action pass, and just leaving big swatches of field open.
Tom Gower: I can't decide which was worst: the 80 minute delay on the flight home, the hour drive home through the rain, or doing it all after watching the worst performance by the Titans secondary since everybody knew to point the finger at Lamont Thompson when a safety was supposed to be there but wasn't. This time, most people thought it was Nick Harper's very visible failures, and he did have his flaws, but I'm pretty sure Michael Griffin had about as bad a game as the refs, who were awful and indecisive from start to finish. I'd say more, but I've had 6 hours to stew in my own juices and would start writing very nasty things.
And in the second quarter, Sean Locklear leaves the field with a leg injury, leaving Brandon Frye as Seattle's left tackle. Run, Matthew, run!!!
Finally, I would like to propose that the name on Deion Branch's jersey be changed to "INACTIVE".
Vince Verhei: Hasselbeck takes a shot to the back late in the first half. Seneca Wallace comes in and throws a touchdown pass, and now has opened the second half. I say it again: Matt Hasselbeck will never play 16 games in a season again.
Meanwhile, Frank Gore runs up the middle for an 80-yard score. The longest two runs of his career have come in this game. He's got 12 carries for 206 yards and two scores, with nearly a full half to go. He may top Chris Johnson before all is said and done. In related news, Lofa Tatupu is also out.
Vince Verhei: 49ers put together a 16-play, 67-yard, nine-plus-minute field-goal drive. They converted three third downs on the drive, including a facemask penalty on Ken Lucas. The Seahawks are behind because of two long runs, but they're going to lose because they couldn't stop the little plays.
Ned Macey: What part of our STL prediction was that the NFC West is awful and somebody has to win it? For those people who own Edgerrin James in both their fantasy league (ok, that's just me), Julius Jones has one 62-yard touchdown and 66 yards on his other 26 carries. Jones, by the way, was below replacement level last season, while James was league average.
Bill Barnwell: Arizona had a passing game, though. Seattle didn't.
David Gardner: Thanks to a couple of turnovers by the Bills, the Bucs have begun to crawl out of their 17-0 first-quarter hole. Kellen Winslow has been the star of the passing game -- or, alternatively, the soldier of it -- but Cadillac Williams has been really disappointing.
Bill Barnwell: Bills are really suffering from the loss of Posluszny. It's his job to handle most tight end routes in their scheme, and after he broke his arm, the Pats threw two TD passes on seam routes to Watson. Guessing Winslow's doing more of the same.
Aaron Schatz: Random fact: Today was the first time in the 34-year history of the Tampa Bay franchise that the Buccaneers played in Buffalo.
Doug Farrar: Ron Jaworski’s notes on Jay Cutler, from this morning’s NFL Matchup:
Poor mechanics; Flat-footed throws; Off-balance throws; Reckless with the football; Bad decisions; Perceived pressure - running out of the pocket; Inaccurate with his throws; All-arm throws; No hip flex; Missed sight adjustments; Eyeballing the receivers...
And that was just in the first half. On SIRIUS last Friday with Adam Caplan, Greg Cosell said that he and Jaws were almost angry at how badly Cutler played in the first half. You don’t hear THAT too often.
Add the unconscionably stupid roughing the passer call on James Harrison to the unconscionably stupid roughing the passer call on Vince Wilfork. Evidently, tackling the quarterback ABOVE the knees is now verboten, as well.
Bill Barnwell: The Bears have a safety on their team named Awful Waffle?
Mike Kurtz: Mendenhall's ball control issues are not fixed. He's still holding the ball low, with only two points of contact, compared to proper carrying, which is high against the side or chest, with three points of contact. They're either not drilling control into his head, or he's not listening. Considering the hope that Mendenhall will become Pittsburgh's feature back, this is a big problem.
Aaron Schatz: OK, this Johnny Knox kid for Chicago is a player. We were flippant in our "Going Deep" comment this year, deriding him as just another track star who needed development as a receiver, but he seems to have taken over the third spot in the Chicago lineup and he's not just running go routes. He just scored a touchdown to tie up Pittsburgh 14-14 on an honest to goodness real life professional slant where he went forward for two or three steps with determination, enough to make Steelers safety Tyrone Carter hesitate a little bit, before he slanted in for the catch. That first two or three steps kept Carter from jumping in front of him for a pass defense or pick. Good stuff.
Bill Barnwell: We're flippant (and by we, I think me, since I probably wrote that comment) about these sort of guys because one out of every 15 or so turn into something.
Cutler played better today. He wasn't perfect, but he seemed far more sure of himself setting up in the pocket and getting the ball out. Everything else probably requires a closer study.
Mike Tanier: To avoid the spread of H1N1, health officials recommend you wash your hands for the length of time it takes a Browns blitz to reach the quarterback.
Vince Verhei: Can I just say that no team should ever be allowed to wear socks that are the exact same color as their pants? The Chargers look like they're wearing dark blue leggings out there.
Willis McGahee runs up the gut for an easy touchdown. Welcome to the post-Jamal Williams era, Chargers fans.
Mike Tanier: Ray Lewis, huge stuff to end the game! Ravens in first place!
Mike Kurtz: I'm going to go find a dark place to hide.
Bill Barnwell: What a glorious job by Norv Turner over the last four minutes of that game.
Mike Tanier: I only saw the last minute or so. I know the Chargers threw an interception and the Ravens kicked a field goal. What other blunders were there?
Bill Barnwell: Turner sweetly let the clock run for the 40 seconds before the Ravens field goal despite having two timeouts in his holster.
Doug Farrar: The Chargers had drives that stopped at the Baltimore 4 (field goal), the Baltimore 5 (field goal), the Baltimore 7 (field goal) and the Baltimore 15 (downs). Isn’t this kind of a Norv trademark?
Bill Barnwell: That also happened, but I blame that more on the lack of a center and right guard and the quality of Baltimore's defensive line than Turner.
Aaron Schatz: Turner's hallmark is blowing fourth-quarter leads, which he didn't have a chance to do today.
Mike Tanier: Ray Lewis said he read the run on fourth down at the end of the game because he saw the line was slanted. I was wondering if something tipped him: he ran right through a hole vacated by a pulling interior lineman.
David Gardner: Steve Smith is blowing up this game. Since when is he a deep threat?
Bill Barnwell: When Eli Manning gets six seconds to throw.
Mike Tanier: The Giants need to get some first down stops on defense. The Cowboys either got a big play or an 8-yard gain on most of the first downs on their first quarter touchdown drive.
I want to know what Pierce saw and called on that Romo Pick-Six...The safeties drop back into what looks like 2-deep zone. They were probably in Man before that. Whatever it was, it was a bad decision with the ball.
Aaron Schatz: Yeah, Collinsworth was making such a big deal out of the audible by the Giants but it looked to me like he still had Roy Williams open on the slant. The problem wasn't the coverage, it's that he threw the ball two feet over Williams' head and into the arms of a Giant.
Mike Tanier: Giants are having some Eagles-2008 red zone adventures.
Aaron Schatz: Quick stat check: After the Cowboys stuffed Brandon Jacobs on a run around right end near the goal line, Cris Collinsworth talked about how hard it is to run wide against the Dallas Cowboys. Is it? I went to check. Last year, the Cowboys ranked third in ALY against runs left end, but they were 28th against runs right end. The year before, those ranks were fifth and 16th. So despite the fact that the Cowboys stuffed the Giants on that one play, it seems like it isn't really that hard to run wide against the Cowboys. Just wide left -- a fact which says nice things about DeMarcus Ware as an all-around football player.
Mike Tanier: And the crowd looks at the 500 zillion dollar scoreboard and goes totally silent as the ball bounces off Witten's foot to Kenny Phillips.
Bill Barnwell: I'm guessing Jason Witten would be a mean hackysack player.
Mike Tanier: The Giants have rediscovered the run.
Doug Farrar: Oh, dear. And there’s Ken Hamlin in the first half, overshooting the free outside lane with an undisciplined, “cat on a linoleum tile floor” blitz attempt, as Ahmad Bradshaw bounces outside for a 19-yard gain. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I’m confused by the third-quarter PI call on Terence Newman. He’s tied up with Steve Smith, about equivalent contact on both sides, and Newman turns to play the ball, which is what he’s supposed to do. In doing so, he impedes Smith’s path to the ball, but if he doesn’t turn around and Smith bumps into him with a catchable ball, Newman probably gets flagged for that. If Newman doesn’t have his head turned, even enough to read Smith’s eyes, how can he possibly know that the ball’s coming and when to interfere? Newman’s in a lose-lose there – no matter what he does, he’s hosed. That can’t be right.
Mike Kurtz: He stopped, well short of where the ball was. You can't just stop and pick the WR like that, they'll call it PI every time. If you're going to turn around and stop to make a play on the ball, you'd better be damn sure that you're actually in position to do it. If not, of course it's a lose-lose.
Mike Tanier: The Giants have been overpursuing and not handling backside gaps in this game. In the Cowboys third quarter drive it really killed them.
Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure if he qualifies since he was a third-round pick instead of a first or second, but Mario Manningham is looking like a great pick for the FO "John Elway Award" (for hyped prospects who play badly as rookies and blossom as sophomores). He has made some big plays these first two weeks, and barely could get on the field last year.
Mike Tanier: Smith just faked one dude out of the stadium to get open for that touchdown.
Bill Barnwell: If this were an And1 game, Orlando Scandrick would've been ejected.
Mike Tanier: David Tyree is rushing to the stadium, rubbing glue on the helmet.
Doug Farrar: So much for your icing, Wade. The Competition Committee really needs to do something about this – maybe if you call a time out one second or sooner before the snap, it’s a five-yard penalty. If Goodell is so concerned about moving the games along that guys get nabbed for spiking the ball after a play, how can this be good for the NFL?
Mike Tanier: I agree. No harm, no foul in this game. It's just a silly loophole in the rules.
Bill Barnwell: Jeff Feagles did an amazing job on that high snap for the first field goal. An absolute work of art.
167 comments, Last at 30 Sep 2009, 4:43am by bubqr