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17 Jan 2010

Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

compiled by Bill Barnwell

Each weekend, 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, so we might not discuss every aspect of the game to the level we do in our other articles.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Arizona Cardinals 14 at New Orleans Saints 45

Bill Barnwell: Why is Reggie Bush walking around with a baseball bat before the game?

Tom Gower: Well, uh, ok, I admit I'm not one of the people who thought this game's first play from scrimmage would be a long TD run by Tim Hightower.

Bill Barnwell: Wow. I've seen this movie before. The Cardinals recover a fumble on third down on the next series.

Scary thing is that Hightower chose the smaller of the two holes available to him and still scored.

Doug Farrar: That may be the Saints’ preferred method of stopping the run at this point.

Aaron Schatz: Remember what I wrote in our game preview about Sedrick Ellis' poor numbers on run tackles? He got completely destroyed on that 70-yard touchdown, although I don't know if he got blocked out of the play or took himself out because he was so intent on pass-rushing.

Bill Barnwell: So Daryl Johnston is suggesting that football players forget fundamentals and how to get off blocks when they take a week off? Seriously, what the heck? Guys have had bye weeks before. Week 1 games aren't total disasters.

And Jeremy Shockey has a whole lot of swagger, apparently, and that helps the offense. Not his blocking.

Sean McCormick: Reggie Bush looks like Smash Williams out there.

Vince Verhei: I don't think the Cardinals rushed more than four on any play in the Saints' first touchdown drive. Very out of character.

Bill Barnwell: Funny how Johnston notices Darren Sharper on the fumble recovery but not when he's awful in run support on the play before.

How do two offensive penalties and one defensive penalty offset? And considering how penalty-happy these refs are, how did they miss the blatant hold on Sedrick Ellis before Warner got the ball off?

Tom Gower: No idea how they missed that hold.

That's the rule on penalties. So long as both teams have penalties, they offset, even if one team has two and the other one. In terms of personal fouls, that may be something the Competition Committee may want to look at, but for something more normal like, say, illegal formation and offensive holding v. defensive pass interference, it makes sense.

Doug Farrar: The end of that Jerheme Urban fumble wasn't a good as when Warren Sapp got three personal fouls called on him in one game, but it was pretty close.

Bill Barnwell: It reminds me of that Titans-Ravens false start vs. (ridiculous) roughing the passer mix from 2008.

I typed Tony Siragusa into Google and one of the auto-fill options was "tony siragusa man cave". Oh no.

David Gardner: Was that the best run of Reggie Bush's career? Oh, and he's on my fantasy team.

Mike Kurtz: Announces are gushing over Reggie Bush's ability to ... run forward. Yeah.

Tom Gower: Arizona MUST start tackling better. Immediately. The last 3 plays they gave the Saints yardage.

Bill Barnwell: Apparently, the Cardinals failing to wrap up on tackles means that Reggie Bush changed his style.

Mike Taniet: Reggie Bush just did something positive. He does that three times per year, always when I am watching, just to tease me.

The Saints are running 6 OL fronts; that makes 5,008 different formations.

Vince Verhei: Well, in years past, he would have broken tackles and then immediately cut out of bounds. Now he is slipping tackles, seeing the holes, and attacking.

David Gardner: I'm not crazy about calling Darren Sharper's would-have-been interception "spectacular." It was only unlikely because he screwed up an open catch.

Bill Barnwell: Yeah. Sharper misjudged the flight of the ball, it hit him in the helmet, and then he made a nice catch on the rebound.

Vince Verhei: I wrote the Cardinals chapter in the book, so I watched them play a lot last year in preparation, and watched them a lot this year because I was so familiar with them. On the touchdown drive to make it 14-21, they lined up with two tight ends on the right and kept one in to block as Kurt Warner rolled to that side. I don't think I've seen them do anything like that. But that's what they have to do to keep the Saints off him today.

David Gardner: Geez, I didn't know that Chris Petersen of Boise was guest offensive coordinator for the Saints today.

Tom Gower: Just me, or was Henderson less open on that TD than the other deep receiver? That flea-flicker certainly worked.

Mike Tanier: Yeah, the other guy was wide open too. Oh well, Brees seemed to know what he was doing.

So I am going out of Internet range for the evening and half the Cardinals secondary is hurt. How will the Cardinals come back? Because you know they will, if not to win, just to make things insane.

Bill Barnwell: Moose says "Everyone said that we couldn't have two games in a row like that" with regards to this game being high scoring. Huh? Who said that?

And Goose follows by explaining that Darnell Dockett might have cost the Cardinals seven points by taking a personal foul penalty (at the end of a run for a first down) that moved the ball from the three to the two. Forget this. I'm putting the game on mute and listening to The Best Show archives.

Tom Gower: Well, Warner throwing on the sideline makes it seem like he will return, so Arizona is just really sunk instead of incredibly sunk.

Bill Barnwell: Yeah, but Neil Rackers looks like the kid in "Rookie Of The Year" after he broke his arm.

Tom Gower: And thank you, Sean Payton, for not burning a TO and just taking the delay penalty.

Doug Farrar: And a pseudo-spread dink pass on third-and-3 from Brees to Bush (deflected by Adrian Wilson) is described as “aggressive offense”. Moose used to be good, right? I’m not imagining that?

Bert Berry needs to teach Calais Campbell to drive his helmet into the quarterback’s facemask for the no-call. Going below the knee is a bit obvious these days.

Aaron Schatz: Sean Payton's formation roulette is really playing havoc with Karlos Dansby. He doesn't have the quickness to cover Marques Colston's quick cuts, and he doesn't have the speed to cover Reggie Bush. Colston has been awesome this game, he's really using his physicality to either shield his body or out-jump whichever defensive back is covering him, or he's out-quicking Dansby.

The Cards are giving the Saints some of their own formation medicine by moving Larry Fitzgerald into the left slot, but it hasn't done much to get him open. It does have Jabari Greer spending a lot of the game covering Steve Breaston instead of Fitzgerald, although Greer made a great play on that end zone jump ball when Fitzgerald was lined up on the right.

The Cards miss Gerald Hayes. Monty Beisel is a replacement-level player, period. He was in Kansas City, he was in New England, and he is in Arizona. He's apparently a likable guy and a hard worker, but he just doesn't have the athleticism or the instincts to be a valuable piece in the defense.

Doug Farrar: Back in the game in the second half, Warner started off conservatively with a little dink-and-dunk, then threw downfield a few times, but was victimized by drops and some questionable decisions.

Aaron Schatz: OK, Daryl Johnston is saying they may need to go with Matt Leinart because an injured Kurt Warner is having trouble stretching the field vertically. Um, wasn't the whole point of the Warner-Leinart battle a couple years ago that Leinart can't stretch the field vertically?

Doug Farrar: Heh. Reggie Bush takes a punt return back 83 yards with six minutes left in the third quarter. Siragusa: "That just took the air out of the Arizona Cardinals." They were down 38-14 with their best player at half-strength before that, Goose. Safe to say they popped a flat about 14 points ago.

This is the worst game I've ever heard Moose call. He's usually pretty good at worst, even when his Eli man-crush gets out of hand.

I don't think the arm is Warner's problem. I'm seeing him look downfield and check down out of coverage. The Saints are doing a great job of getting their DBs tight on Arizona's receivers.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: As a left tackle, Jeremy Bridges makes a great right guard.

Tom Gower: Very nice move there to double Hightower on the right side-Bobby McCray dropped and took away with immediate look and another player was at the first down marker. Kurt had to look elsewhere, and, well, NO had coverage.

David Gardner: I can't wait to see the final tally of dropped passes for the Cardinals today.

Aaron Schatz: Fascinating in the fourth quarter when they showed the New Orleans Superdome "Wall of Fame" section. The Saints have only two retired numbers, Archie Manning and Rickey Jackson, and then two "Wall of Fame" names, original owner Dave Dixon and one-time GM Jim Finks. The other two Superdome "Wall of Fame" names are Pete Maravich (from the New Orleans Jazz) and Eddie Robinson, the long-time Grambling coach. This brings up some questions:

  • Are there any other historic Saints who deserve their numbers retired?
  • Will Deuce McAllister be the third player up there?
  • Shouldn't they have Pete Maravich's name and number posted wherever the New Orleans Hornets play instead?
  • And... If Eddie Robinson is on the Wall of Fame for Grambling, how about getting Doug Williams up there too?

Doug Farrar: Sam Mills, Jim Mora ... I dunno. George Rogers?

Tom Gower: Pat Swilling.

Vince Verhei: These are the kinds of things you discuss when a team is ahead by 31 in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Schatz: Hey, don't tell me I wouldn't make a swell announcer. I even know what to do in blowouts.

Baltimore Ravens 3 at Indianapolis Colts 20

Doug Farrar: My least-favorite NFL stat: Quarterback wins. My second-least-favorite football stat: “Team A is (insert record here) since (insert cherry-picked year here) against Team B”, as if it makes a difference. Why do I care if the Ravens haven’t beaten the Colts since 2001? Must Elvis Grbac and Qadry Ismail be on the field for a Ravens victory to happen? Did Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams possess come sort of intrinsic Colts-beating power that Haloti Ngata and Jarret Johnson do not have?

Sean McCormick: Generally a worthless stat, but in instances where two teams play every year (as the Colts and Ravens generally do), it has at least a bit of value. A very, very little bit.

Aaron Schatz: I agree that it is a reasonably useful stat when you have two teams that have had a lot of continuity in both scheme and personnel. That's not usually true, but it's definitely true of the Colts and somewhat of the Ravens (well, on defense, anyway).

Where it is REALLY dumb is, say, an AFC-NFC matchup where Team A's 0-5 record goes back to, say, 1986 or something.

Tom Gower: Obviously, the Colts' early field goal means this is another Super Bowl year, as they struggled to score touchdowns against KC and BAL in 2006 and won the Super Bowl.

Five rushers for the Ravens the first drive, Rice the only one with multiple carries. He needs to run forward against the Colts, not laterally -- the front seven is just too fast for that sort of nonsense. The Titans learned that from their first to second game against Indy, has Baltimore? The power stuff leads me to think yes, but if it doesn't sink in on Rice, it's wasted.

David Gardner: The Ravens are doing a good job of keeping the Colts to underneath routes. Peyton Manning looks a little impatient in the pocket, too. But so would I if I saw Suggs on the other side.

Tom Gower: The Ravens might as well have one wideout on the field for as much as Joe Flacco is looking around. He's been vaporlocked onto his first read and making that throw.

Bill Barnwell: I don't know if that's necessarily anything new. I always assume Flacco has two reads: Whoever his first read is, usually Mason, and then Rice. Colts are smothering Rice with linebackers and Flacco's got no one to throw to.

Aaron Schatz: That's sort of interesting because usually the Colts' coverage tries to take away all wideouts and is willing to give up dumpoffs underneath. Perhaps they feel Rice is that much more of a threat, even if he's catching the ball 10 yards closer to the LOS than Mark Clayton would be.

The Colts may be trying to pick on Frank Walker, but Walker is not Roc Alexander tonight. He's doing a reasonable job out there.

Bill Barnwell: Ravens doing a great job defensively so far, though. Reggie Wayne doesn't have a catch, and Walker's holding Garcon to beating him by a half-step so far. Feel like there's a big play from Manning to Garcon coming later in the game.

David Gardner: The spots that Manning is completing these passes into is unbelievable.

Vince Verhei: So far this game is awesome. Baltimore is giving the Colts nothing, but Manning is making impossible throws and picking up just enough yards to get the first down. If he needs six yards, he gets seven; if he needs eight yards, he gets nine. But then the Ravens are right there to make the tackle. Best-played game of the playoffs so far.

Bill Barnwell: Colts rushed three and dropped Raheem Brock into coverage as Ray Rice's shadow. Pretty impressive.

Aaron Schatz: Aha, end of the first half. I knew the Ravens would eventually decide it was time to start committing questionable penalties.

David Gardner: The Colts' two-minute drill is a thing of beauty, and everyone knows it. Was there any doubt in anyone's mind that they would go down and score with 1:33 (or whatever) and two timeouts? Maybe not a touchdown, but they were almost certainly coming away with points.

Tom Gower: Terrible job by Demetrius Williams on the fourth-and-3. Not too surprising, since it's Demetrius Williams. Maybe the Ravens will go after TO again this offseason, since they dearly need another wideout. I'm glad they didn't convert, though, since Oher got away with his second false start of the drive (the first on third-and-6 after Gaither got called for it).

David Gardner: Gary Brackett -- Defensive Player of the Day.

Vince Verhei: The real story of this game is Indianapolis shutting down the Baltimore offense, especially on the ground. We expected them to win the aerial war, but the Ravens have done nothing rushing.

David Gardner: I see Garcon has been watching some Robert Meachem film.

Aaron Schatz: Or Troy Brown. When is Ed Reed going to learn to hold on to the damn football when he is returning a pick? Didn't he make a stupid lateral attempt on a pick return in the first Ravens-Colts game?

Doug Farrar: Boy, how sick am I of Dan Dierdorf’s rhetorical questions?

Having gone back and watched the Week 11 game for Cover-3, and seeing this one, my head has turned around a bit on the cause of Baltimore’s inability to get anything done in the red zone. Yes, teams play out of their optimal games trying to keep up with Indy’s offense. No, the Ravens can’t expect to win consistently when relying too much on Joe Flacco (just yet, at least). But the real story is … well, the Colts’ defense is just really, really good right now. Those extra blitzes and little extra reads and formations have taken a good, fast, somewhat vulnerable defense and turned it into something altogether else. Both the Colts and the Saints have surprised me with elements of their defense today. The Saints with their coverage, and the Colts with the ability to consistently shout down what the Ravens do best. A tendency to undervalue that effort might have people saying that the Ravens didn’t do what would have given the game, when it has been about the Colts taking it away from them.

And there’s your “Okay, we’re screwed” play. Ed Reed picks off a Manning pass with six minutes left in the third quarter, Pierre Garcon chases him down, knocks the ball out, and Dallas Clark recovers. Good night, everybody!

And OF COURSE Ed Reed’s second interception of the day is coming back on a stupid pass interference penalty, with Corey Ivy mugging Dallas Clark up the middle. What else is there?

Aaron Schatz: And then, Ray Rice fumbles. You know, the Colts are outplaying the Ravens tonight, but this game would at least be close if the luck fairy wasn't completely screwing the Ravens at every turn.

David Gardner: Did anyone else hear Manning just say "God dammit, Charles!" as he identified that blitz?

Tom Gower: Ray Rice there did something that annoys me -- he sees defenders, so, rather than fight to break tackles or dive forward for a couple yards, he runs laterally out of bounds. Which seems like a fine idea, with his team down 17 and wanting to conserve time, but there's still 5:26 to go on. The clock restarts outside of 5:00 in the 4th quarter on out of bounds plays, so you really don't save much time. Players should know this stuff, even if coaches have to remind them every second and fourth quarter.

Vince Verhei: Well, last time he tried to break tackles, he fumbled.

Aaron Schatz: One more note. At the end of the game, Dan Dierdorf couldn't shut up about how this win gets the monkey of the Colts' back, now the Jets game doesn't mean anything, resting worked, nobody will talk about resting starters anymore. What the hell are you talking about, Dan? You don't think the Colts fans are going to talk about Weeks 16-17 if the Colts go on to win the Super Bowl, debating whether resting guys mattered or whether they tossed away a shot at 19-0 for no reason? Trust me, it has not gone away.

Doug Farrar: Not a banner day for football broadcasting. And this is just the warmup for Joe Buck and Phil Simms. Ack.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dallas Cowboys 3 at Minnesota Vikings 34

Bill Barnwell: Smart non-challenge by Dallas on that Romo fumble on the opening drive. You're challenging there for the right to punt and probably pick up 20 yards of field position.

Amazing to see a Cowboys blitz that yields an unblocked DeMarcus Ware coming off the edge, no twists or nothing. What was the deal with Chester Taylor on that play, though? He looked over at a rushing Ware and then just decided to hop out into his pattern.

Doug Farrar: Was that the Patented Ryan Grant Bailout Move?

Bill Barnwell: Maybe they were gonna run a screen? I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but even if they're running a screen, you have to abandon it and cut Ware.

David Gardner: That was not a screen setup. The offensive linemen were all at home, dropping back to seal the pocket, and Taylor slipped out in front of them to the middle of the field.

Vince Verhei: On Sidney Rice's touchdown to open the day's scoring, Sensabaugh was in great position, but Brett Favre made a phenomenal throw to drop it in over his shoulder. But as close as Sensabaugh was, it wasn't great coverage -- he never turned his head to see the ball, never reacted when it arrived, and I don't think he knew that Rice even had it until they were both in the end zone.

Aaron Schatz: PERFECTLY dropped in pass on the touchdown to Sidney Rice down the right side. I like that Ragnar the Vikings didn't realize the chest-bump was coming.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, Rice made a great adjustment to get to that ball around Newman, but the throw was just unreal.

Vince Verhei: Favre-to-Rice for another score. This time Rice motioned inside and threw a cut block, and actually ended up on the ground, but recovered and scrambled and found a hole in the Dallas defense. And Favre had a pass rusher in his face, but pump-faked him into the air, ducked underneath him, and found Rice.

We all know that we're going through six months of will-he-or-won't-he with Favre in the offseason, but at this point, why should he retire? There are clearly not 32 quarterbacks superior to him.

Tom Gower: Because playing football kind of sucks, you can get hurt, and it's unpleasant to have to do things like go to training camp, learn a playbook, etc.

Vince Verhei: First down. Jason Witten tries to block Jared Allen one-on-one. Fails. Running back is stuffed for a loss.

Second down. Jason Witten tries to block Jared Allen one-on-one. Fails. Tony Romo is sacked, fumbles, Vikings ball.

Can we please throw all of those Witten-on-Allen plays out of the playbook? Thanks.

Sean McCormick: Aikman: "It looks like Flozell Adams is out of the game."

Watch destruction ensue. Minnesota's defensive line was giving the Cowboys problems to begin with, but from the moment Allen got matched up against backups and tight ends, the line has been completely overwhelmed. Dallas tried to slow things down a bit by running left, but that's not going to cut it, particularly not if they're down 14+ points. They need to get a tight end not named Jason Witten on the left side of the line and simply leave him there, with a back behind him as backup. Otherwise, Romo simply isn't going to have a chance to make a play downfield.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, I'm sorry, Vince, you prefer the Doug Free-on-Jared Allen blocking scheme?

One thought about Favre and retirement: Could he come back to the Vikings in 2010 and get away with not coming to training camp until halfway through the preseason again? Because part of the problem is that he just doesn't want to go through training camp two-a-days when he could be out hunting.

Doug Farrar: I think the world would take that deal. No Brett for training camp in exchange for the end of the offseason tradition of all other football news being held hostage for three months in favor of his "non-unretirements".

Vince Verhei: Cowboys' first drive of the second half is almost exclusively two- tight end, so their tackles are never isolated. It works when they run right at the Vikings, but stalls when they get cute with a pitch.

If the Cowboys go on to lose and Shaun Suisham takes the heat, I'm going to be pissed. He's missing near-50-yarders. Even if he makes those, the offense needs to consider those to be failed drives.

Tom Gower: Worse, they're running the pitch and the outside stuff with Barber, rather than Felix Jones. I think that's called "not playing to your players' strengths," Jason Garrett.

Doug Farrar: Not too good when you're down 14, and your only offensive goal is to give your punter more room in the back of the end zone.

David Gardner: The new E-Trade baby isn't nearly as funny as the old one.

Vince Verhei: Vikings force a punt, but are called for running into the kicker. Cowboys decline the penalty and we go into commercial.

After commercial, Cowboys have changed their minds and opted to re-kick. Joe Buck questions why the VIKINGS changed their minds and opted for the re-kick. He completely forgot what the penalty was, and they had been talking about it in detail before the break, why it was running into the kicker and not roughing. He even noted that McBriar would have more room on the punt! Shouldn't that be a screaming sign that the Cowboys accepted the penalty?

By the time he's corrected and gives the correct info, the Vikings have already gone three-and-out. God, I hate that man.

Doug Farrar: But you can choose any car in the aisle, Vince!

Romo's going to take a ration of crap for that brainfart of an interception at the end of the third quarter, and justifiably so. But he's been running around, ducking pressure, taking sacks, and the line is just absolute horsecrap. It's like they have five Tom Ashworths out there. At what point does "live to fight another day" become a white flag? And I wonder if Crayton was supposed to come back on that route.

Aaron Schatz: I'm blown away by the fact that the three games so far have all been blowouts. I thought these matchups were really close.

Doug Farrar: Between Dierdorf, Moose Johnson, and Joe Buck, the pressure is on Phil Simms to complete the sweep. I have great faith in him.

As I was typing that, Buck was informing me that Bud Grant (who is in the building) is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Prince (who is also in the building) is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Oh, Joe. You irrepressible scamp, with your puns and wordplay and all.

Vince Verhei: This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today.

New York Jets 17 at San Diego Chargers 14

Tom Gower: Pet peeve: "We want to keep opponent's defense on the field and their offense off it." They still get the same damn number of possessions you do, give or take who has the last possession in the first and second halves, and onside kicks. I'd thought IND-MIA this year could've done some damage to it, but apparently not. Will anything, ever?

David Gardner: That one-handed catch by Antonio Gates was amazing. That is all.

Aaron Schatz: I'm really enjoying this game of "create a mismatch." Move Vincent Jackson around so he's away from Darrelle Revis? Check. Jets motion Tony Richardson out wide so that Antonio Cromartie is wasted on a fullback? Check. Jets go pistol on third-and-4? Actually, not a mismatch, it turns out.

The Chargers finally get on the board with a touchdown throw to Kris Wilson. See, that's the problem with one shutdown corner. What do you do when the other team has so many other weapons that they go and toss their first touchdown pass to the third-string tight end? (Or is that backup fullback? Hard to tell.)

Vince Verhei: Chargers go up 7-0 and it feels like game over.

Bill Barnwell: Hey, Mark Sanchez just went over positive yardage! Who knows what could happen next?

Aaron Schatz: I want to know why the Jets are running so much to the outside and not up the gut. Up the gut is where the Chargers have the big Jamal Williams-sized hole, and the Jets ALY numbers this year are MUCH lower on outside runs compared to inside runs.

10:40 left in the second quarter, a pass to Malcom Floyd is originally called a fumble, then overturned and changed to incomplete.

David Gardner: Man, Phil Simms will not admit that he is wrong, nor will he let the subject of that replay reversal die.

Tom Gower: How on earth did Jerome Boger get an incomplete out of that play? Floyd was running, caught the ball, got both feet down, and then Leonhard tackled him. That wasn't going to the ground, he wasn't juggling the ball, no nothing. I didn't think it was a fumble, because I think Floyd's left elbow was down before he lost possession, but getting incomplete out of that play is a real stretch.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, I hate to say it, but Simms is right. The referee completely blew that replay review. How on earth is their indisputable visual evidence that the pass was incomplete? You're only supposed to change the call if it's obvious, and if anything that play looked more like a catch than an incompletion.

Aaron Schatz: Mike Sellers just called, and he agrees with you on "indisputable visual evidence."

Tom Gower: Heads-up move by Tony Richardson to point to Shonn Greene as a dumpoff target for Sanchez with Eric Weddle trying to take him down. Not so heads-up of a move by Richardson was failing to block Weddle's path to Sanchez in the first place.

Aaron Schatz: By the way, I just checked. Five of the first six Jets runs were around end, including the lame third-and-4 option. That's just ridiculous. Eventually, they got two seven-yard runs up the middle, which is more like it if they feel like having a real-life professional offense.

Bill Barnwell: Well, they love pulling guards. Harder to pull guards on run up the middle.

Doug Farrar: I don’t know what was more amazing -– Darrelle Revis’ interception that somehow didn’t hit the ground with 4:23 left in the third quarter, or the fact that Jerome Boger’s crew got the call right on the field.

Bill Barnwell: The more amazing play was breaking up the pass; the interception was just gravy.

Aaron Schatz: When the Jets are stuck letting Sanchez pass, he's trying to fit it into windows he just can't hit. That's where that Quentin Jammer pick comes from.

Tom Gower: Ok, this feels WAY too much like a Vintage Marty Special. He comes in with the superior team, and they're outplaying the opponent, but it's still a close game and just one fluke play the other way, like Chris Hope slipping and failing to get over in time on a double move and Flacco throwing a touchdown pass (/bitter Titans fan), means his team loses when there's no way they shouldn't have.

Bill Barnwell: How about an interception deep in his own territory?

Aaron Schatz: I'm trying to figure out -- where was Rivers trying to throw that ball? Was that an underthrown seam pass to Antonio Gates? Was Gates supposed to turn around on a curl? Was it actually to Vincent Jackson in front of Gates, and he overthrew him? I can't tell if that was miscommunication or just Rivers throwing without even thinking of what the routes were.

Tom Gower: My guess is that Gates was supposed to run a curl.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, Gates never turned around, so I assume Rivers thought he was going to run a curl or corner route or something.

But closing the third quarter with an interception and a stupid personal foul -- Can we say that they're Norving yet?

Bill Barnwell: I'm actually assuming that was a throw to Jackson on the in that Rivers threw ahead/overthrew.

Aaron Schatz: Did I say that Sanchez was trying to fit the ball in tiny holes that he couldn't actually hit? I take it back. He hit a very small hole between Dustin Keller and the ground on the touchdown pass.

Vince Verhei: Eric Weddle misses a tackle and Shonn Greene breaks a long touchdown run to put the Jets up two scores. This sport is so stupid sometimes.

Tom Gower: Yes. Yes, it is.

One thing the about the Chargers is they don't seem to rely as much on separation in the passing game as most other teams, instead going with big receivers and letting Rivers put the ball in the right place. That's normally a good strategy, but (1) it's nice to have somebody who can get separation and (2) the Jets DBs have done an excellent job of fighting the WRs this game to break up passes.

Aaron Schatz: Vince, I'm not sure why you think this game is stupid. I count it as smart that the Jets finally started running up the middle on the Chargers instead of trying to go wide.

Vince Verhei: I guess I say that it's stupid because it felt like this game should have been about 21-0 at halftime instead of 7-0. The Chargers were dominant on the field, but not on the scoreboard.

Sean McCormick: They were dominant on defense, but not really on offense. They moved the ball a bit, but hardly at will.

David Gardner: I like that Shonn Greene mimicked LT's touchdown celebration.

Tom Gower: Nate Kaeding, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Lin Elliott would like to speak with you.

Doug Farrar: Well, so much for the KCW award this week. Vincent Jackson, come on down!

Vince Verhei: One area where the Chargers have definitely played poorly is clock management. They're routinely letting 30 seconds go by between plays, they're wasting timeouts early in both halves. And I think the onside kick was a terrible decision.

Bill Barnwell: Agreed. You're trading 40-50 yards of field position for a 10% chance of converting the onside kick.

Sean McCormick: I was surprised by that, too. Had they faked the onside and kicked deep, they would have pinned the Jets deep with the chance to stop the clock twice. Had they stopped the Jets there, they would have gotten the ball at around the 35 with 1:00 left, needing to kick a field goal to tie. It seems like the higher percentage play. That said, if you don't trust your defense...

Tom Gower: Why should you trust your defense? It kind of sucks, and can be run on successfully. Kicking onside was the right move. SD is who DVOA said they were: a passing team with not much of a running game and a mediocre defense. The Jets had by far the league's best pass defense. I may not like it, and I may not thought it would have come out this way, but this was an utterly unsurprising result.

Bill Barnwell: Well, San Diego had a similar total DVOA and was at home, so the most plausible result would be SD by a field goal or so.

Aaron Schatz: I feel really bad for Nate Kaeding, and everybody knows that I'm the furthest thing from a Norv Turner fan, but... I hate to say... the main person to blame in this loss is Kaeding. Kaeding and the randomness of kicker performance. Yes, the clock management was iffy, some of the penalties suggested an undisciplined team, and the onside kick at the end was probably not the best decision. Yes, you want your offense to get it into the end zone for six, not leave it up to the kicker for three. But they put Kaeding out there three times, for one long field goal that he can't be expected to hit (57) and two very makeable ones that he hits 95 percent of the time (36, 40). He hits one of those, just one, this game is in overtime.

Although, technically, this is another Norv Turner blown fourth-quarter lead to add to the long list of Norv Turner blown fourth-quarter leads.

I think the Colts are happier to be playing the Jets than they would be playing the Chargers team that has beaten them the past two postseasons. But... if they do lose next week -- effectively blowing their Super Bowl shot against a team that wouldn't be in the playoffs if not for the Colts' throwing their Week 16 game -- I can't even imagine how angry the Colts fans will be.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 Jan 2010

282 comments, Last at 19 Jan 2010, 8:38pm by Pat (filler)

Comments

1
by TheGonz (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:33am

Re: Vikings/Cowboys

The better team certainly did show up today. They were the ones stomping a mudhole in the Dallas Cowboys and walking it dry.

18
by Lance :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:13am

Let the hate begin. Or, perhaps, quietly start go go away.

163
by boog :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:38pm

As a Cowboys fan, allow me to say - you are correct, sir! Vikes outplayed them in every phase of the game.

2
by NYCityRat :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:39am

Wow guys, thanks for getting this up so fast. You rock.

Can't wait for the Take Your Curtis Painter and Shove It Bowl.

3
by JoeK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:39am

Please see the most ridiculous and stupid comment of the year below. In a 10 point game maybe, but when a team loses 34-3, in no universe are they the better team. Oh wait, I forgot, the last 7 points didn't count, the Cowboys already quit and nobody told the Vikings:

Vince Verhei: This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today.

16
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:09am

Oh wait, I forgot, the last 7 points didn't count, the Cowboys already quit and nobody told the Vikings.

Keith Brooking told them. Afterwards.

20
by peachy :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:47am

Yeah, I think it's fair to say that if you don't show up in the playoffs, then, by definition, you're not the better team. Things like discipline, poise and execution all matter - perhaps especially in the playoffs, when you'd expect the talent differentials to be narrower than in a random regular season game.

33
by justme_cd :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:22am

I thought your argument was poor, but I agree with you, Joe. Unless of course one gives Vince the benefit of the doubt and mentally inserts "..the better [version of the Dallas] team just didn't show up today."

36
by Broker (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:47am

I think Vince probably meant to say the better DALLAS team didn't show up. I think Vince hinted at something that I don't see discussed much-- if it has been, I've missed it here (apologies). I've seen a bunch of Dallas games this season and the guys in the booth love to talk about Jason Garrett. When he has a game plan and has properly prepared the team, Dallas is on fire. What I think gets overlooked is this: If Dallas has a poor first half (like today), Garrett does NOT adapt his play calling to go with what the defense has shown. He may be a great offensive-minded coach, but it does not seem he can adapt to the needed changes at the half. You can toss this on Wade Phillips, but if Garrett is the offensive "genius", I think he has to take the bullet for not adapting with his play calling in the second half.

None of this dismisses the fact that Dallas played a game full of mistakes today, with the offensive line doing little to help. No doubt the Vikings were well prepared and were the better team by far. They played a great smash-mouth game and their fans should be proud. Sorry, Cowboys fans, but the facts are the facts, and this comes from a Dallas fan.

Next week should be a great game.

181
by Corrections (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:31pm

This. Exactly this. Jason Garrett for some reason just cannot adapt a gameplan in game. So when the quick passing game that worked so well against the Eagles, Skins, and Saints isn't working he doesn't adjust to take advantage of Minny's lousy secondary (although after Flozell went down I think it was a moot point). He also decides to go away from Felix way too much when he is just gashing the Vikings run D. Immensely frustrating game.

46
by Theo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:12am

Said before:
The guy that build the Hindenberg zeppelin was really good at his job, too bad his product went up in flames.

4
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:45am

Early in the Jets-Chargers game, I told my father, "If San Diego winds up losing this game, it will be because they have refused to realize Tomlinson isn't a particularly good running back any more," as they ran him into the line on 2nd-and-10. Sure enough, they kept giving the ball to Tomlinson, putting Rivers in 3rd-and-long situations, which is a big hole to climb out of against a defense like the Jets'.

Is this on Turner? Cameron?

49
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:47am

they dont have cam cameron anymore. he works for the ravens.

btw The charger jet game was extremely frustrating from a charger fan. The only real blame that can go around for the loss is kaeding and dumb luck. although i think kaeding is a great kicker, they simply cant hold onto him for next year cause that would be management telling the team "work hard again all year just so he might screw you again come playoff time". They have to let kaeding and LT go. Its a slap in the face if they dont.

and i will always refer to this game as the V-Jax roughing the flag game.

anyone remember the browns game a long time ago when the ref threw the flag and it temporarily blinded the guy? if i was that guy, i would have roughed the flag on purpose (had he been able to see it)

108
by Harris :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:23am

Nonsense. Kaeding is a very good kicker who had a very bad game. Rivers threw three INTs, should they cut him too?

Hail Hydra!

193
by TBW (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:02pm

Kaeding is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, yet in the playoffs he's just 8 for 15. He's over 70% accurate at 40+ yards in the regular season, yet in the playoffs he's 2 for 8 over 40 yards(and 2 of those 6 he missed were exactly 40 yards).

The Chargers are 3-5 in the playoffs during his career, 2 of those losses against the Jets are both his fault(yesterday, and 2005 when he missed a 40 yarder in OT). He also missed a 54 yarder that could have tied the Patriots playoff game in 2006.

Of the 8 playoff field goals he has made 5 of them were inside 30 yards. It's very hard to argue that he has been a positive force for the Chargers in the playoffs during his career. The success he has had you would expect of ANY professional kicker. Could it all just be bad luck ? Maybe. Can the Chargers afford to find out if it is bad luck or if he is just a choke artist ? Hell no.

233
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:30pm

I hope this is some sort of joke...

252
by TBW (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:15pm

why ?

266
by R O (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 9:47am

I agree, why would that be a joke? Kaeding is the anti-Vinatieri. He is a huge choke artist and the Chargers had better get his a** to a sports psychologist or they will never make the Super Bowl.

237
by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:42pm

15 runs to 45 passes.

I'm sorry, this one is all on the passing game. How can you blame LT on 12 carries, and only 4 in the last 2 quarters?

There was only one pitch out that I could see, which LT took for 7. Why were they not doing this all game? You have a 7-0 lead. Run the ball, take possession. Instead the Jets keyed on the pass, and the Chargers abandoned the run. Result, 2 Rivers picks, and the change in momentum.

LT will be back next year, and hopefully, finally the Chargers can get some beef on the line. Jets DL has 4 first round picks. Chargers OL, has 0.

As for the Chargers defense, they held the jets to 80 yards rushing and 150 yards overall until they finally broke one for the long gain. Can't say the problem was the D here, and Norv's decision not to trust his defense was a bad decision. D had bailed them out all game.

241
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:59pm

1. I wasn't blaming Tomlinson.

2. Those 12 carries went for only 24 yards. That's why the Chargers stopped giving him the ball.

3. My contention is that, had the Chargers run Tomlinson less in the first half, they'd have been able to run him more in the second, with a multi-score lead, running out the clock.

247
by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:19pm

Yeah and how many holes were open? LT had nothing there. You can be Barry Sanders but if there's no holes, you aren't going to get anything. Chargers needed to draft OL last year, and this year hopefully they will finally draft the folks they need. I'm not convinced that LT isn't the answer for another year. Fix the OL and fix the blocking. Sproles did even worse between the tackles.

265
by R O (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 9:43am

Sproles ran 3 times for 33 yards. Not that I think that would have continued.

264
by R O (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 9:41am

As a Chargers fan, I actually think they needed to commit MORE to the run. I haven't looked at the stats yet, but I think they ended up with probably 50% more pass than run plays. And the game was very close. Had they stuck more with the run, possibly with Tolbert or Hester instead of LT as much as it pains me to say it, they could have worn down the Jets D a bit like their own got worn down.

They were moving the ball pretty well, so I can understand it a bit. But they kept stalling, thank in no small part to the completely idiotic unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. I think it could have settled things down, not to mention slowed down the blitz a bit if they had committed more to the run. I can't believe the 2 yards per carry would have continued.

The Jets relentless pressure finally forced Philip Rivers into a bad decision. The Jets played a hell of a game. But the Chargers players immaturity (along with the choke job by the biggest choke artist in history, Kaeding) that cost them the game.

5
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:49am

Did the NFC preview and/or Audibles get posted on a Vikings message board this week? There have been a lot of angry pro-Vikings, anti-Cowboys posts the last few days. Normally, the regular Viking-fan posters are pretty rational, so this is a bit odd.

15
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:08am

It's cold and dark up north (even moreso in Alaska), so we start drinking well before kickoff. By, say, 3 days.

17
by Lance :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:10am

Uh, this board's second biggest crowd (besides Patriots Fans) is Dallas Haters. In fact, I think that fully 50% of the people who post here don't actually have favorite teams. They just root against Dallas.

54
by ammek :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:35am

Brushing aside the hyperbole, I think you're right that Dallas Hate is about the only irrational Fox Sports-like behavior permitted around here. However, if you're going to spend your life as a Cowboys fan, you better get used to it, because it's not about to go away.

Most fans of NFC teams will harbor, if they're old enough, a grudge against Dallas for one reason or another: see Will Allen's comment about the 1975 postseason in this thread. As a Packer fan, I could cite 1982, 1993, 1994, the 1996 regular season, etc ad infinitum. Games against the Cowboys are always big games; and the Cowboys have been successful (mostly) for 50 years — long enough to accumulate a lot of antipathy.

As with Favre (another target of irrational abuse), much of the vitriol stems from media hype: the networks love Dallas; the commentators sometimes forget to talk about the opposition. Also, there is Jerry Jones: everyone loathes an arriviste (yes, even in America), and we are particularly repelled by his alleged attempts to alter the financial set-up of the league (and its spirit, too), in order to make more money for himself and/or buy a championship. Whether there's any basis for our fears is another matter.

Finally, the Cowboys are more than a football team, they're a symbol, in a way that few other NFL franchises are. (The Packers are another; maybe the Bears too, maybe the Raiders.) But what do they symbolize? Well, it varies from person to person, but for starters I'd say: Big Money, greed, the peculiar socio-political position of Texas within the Union, the deep South generally, clean-cut nice guys (if you remember the 70s), ostentation and vulgarity (if you remember the 90s), a certain kind of muckraking establishment, getting too big for your boots, bandwagonism, and resistance to the idea (or imposition) of a national 'America's' team.

65
by Noiro (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:22am

Can't speak for anyone else, but my "irrational" hatred for Dallas has two reasons that seem perfectly rational to me:

1. As a fan of an NFC West team living in NFC North land, I hate the way that Fox, NBC, and ESPN think I want yet another tired NFC East matchup week after week. I'm sick of having the NFC East shoved down my throat. Dallas in particular gets way more than their share of coverage. Yes, I know that the NFC West has sucked for a long time, so I'm not expecting them to show *my* team, but how many times did anyone get to see, say, New Orleans this year? Dallas is *not* "America's team".

2. Jerry Jones wants to destroy the NFL as we know it, which is built on parity and a relatively equal playing field, and turn it into another version of MLB, with Dallas playing the role of the Yankees. If that happens I fearlessly predict that the popularity of the NFL will go the way of the popularity of MLB.

68
by jebmak :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:30am

Who gets to be the Red Sox? The team that is exactly like the Yankeees, but more self-rightous.

Also, I hate the Cowboys for the same reason that I hate every other team/player that I hate, the media.

72
by mrh :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:48am

The Redskins?

The gap between the Yankees' payroll and the Red Sox is big enough that they are not exactly the same, although if you are a fan of a small market team the difference may not seem that great. And I'm not a Red Sox fan - except wwhen they play the Yankees.

276
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 4:19pm

The gap between the Yankees and the Red Sox was $106M in revenue in 2008 - the gap between the Yankees (#1) and Marlins (#30) was $236M. The gap between the Redskins (#1) and Lions (#32) was $137M. If you get rid of the Yankees, MLB looks just like the NFL, with a gap of $130M between the Red Sox and Marlins.

No team is the Yankees in football. The Cowboys, Redskins, Patriots, etc. are more like the Red Sox, Mets, and Dodgers. Not even Jerry Jones's new stadium will change that - it's not going to bring in $200M in revenue over and above what the previous stadium did.

281
by tuluse :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 6:32pm

I think the biggest thing that keeps parity in the NFL is the salary minimum. As long as a team spends a certain amount, they have a chance. You have teams in MLB (Marlins, Royals) where the owners are just there to maximize profits and have tiny pay rolls.

282
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 8:38pm

Practically, yeah, I think more teams are forced to be better than forced to be worse. The public perception will notice the teams trying to buy championships more than the teams trying to leach money, however - because those teams are higher profile (because they succeed). Plus the middle-rung teams like having kids to beat up on.

That's why I've never understood baseball implementing a luxury tax without a poor man's tax. I don't think having a soft or hard cap matters that much - accounting will always make a cap somewhat soft anyway - you've just got to always have both a cap and floor.

88
by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:43am

I've watched some NFC West teams this year. I'd have thought you'd be more appreciative of not having to watch them.

155
by Anger...rising (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:09pm

If that happens I fearlessly predict that the popularity of the NFL will go the way of the popularity of MLB.

This is the six-billion-dollars-in-annual-revenues Major League Baseball you're talking about?

186
by Corrections (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:41pm

Except there is more parity in MLB than there is in football. Baseball is a different game where in theory just spending should be very effective (as it is a very individual sport) but it doesn't work unless you evaluate talent and put the right team together. Baseball teams are rarely as dominant as the best football teams in season and they rarely have sustained runs at the top. In a lot of ways a salary cap can actually create less parity because it is much harder to rebuild a team once it gets on the down slope and if you guess wrong with your drafts and have bad scouting departments you can suck for a long time. I think in football (similar to basketball) maybe a 3rd of the league really understands the cap and knows how to take advantage of it and this allows them to be dominant year after year.

Would this change if the cap went away? Well different teams might be dominant but it doesn't change the fact that there isn't all that much parity as it stands right now. Would the competitiveness of individual games be impaired? Again possibly. However the Steelers have clearly demonstrated that you can build great teams year after year almost entirely through smart drafting and development. I think this is less of an issue than it is made out to be. As a Cowboys fan I think I'd be terrified if Jerry Jones got no cap as he is chronically seduced by big names.

240
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:58pm

Spending is very effective in baseball. $5 million buys you an expected win statistically.

275
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 3:43pm

Except there is more parity in MLB than there is in football.

Except that it's by design in baseball. For two reasons.

1) Number of games. You've got 10 times the number of games in baseball - you expect the variation in win percentage to be ~a factor of three less.

2) Separation between games. Imagine if in the NFL, you couldn't start your starting QB two games in a row. Think that would yank teams closer together? And in baseball, if you rotate the starting pitching lineup, you might have a better chance of winning a few games if you effectively sacrifice some others.

In a lot of ways a salary cap can actually create less parity because it is much harder to rebuild a team once it gets on the down slope and if you guess wrong with your drafts and have bad scouting departments you can suck for a long time.

No way. If your scouting and drafting sucks, it doesn't matter if the league has a salary cap or not. Your team's going to suck. The way the salary cap is structured in the NFL it's essentially impossible for you to structure a team so badly that you can't sacrifice one year to completely overhaul a team (see: the Tennessee Titans).

I could just as easily say that without a salary cap, it's much harder to rebuild a team because you can invest a lot more resources into bad players if you're a bad front office. In truth I think it's just as hard - fundamentally the problem is that if your scouting and personnel department sucks, your team's going to suck. Fundamental rule of sports.

248
by THE Sean C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:54pm

The bandwagonism is what galls me. That, and I'm a Bills fan with a grudge that will never subside.

267
by billsfan :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 11:00am

I find that watching this video helps:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE1G-Dn7nUs

(I also like the Eagles)

271
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 1:58pm

My Dallas hate is much simpler. I hate them simply because they're a team from east-central Texas that wants to call itself "America's Team," as if anywhere outside east-central Texas isn't as American, and anyone who espouses values not common to east-central Texas isn't a real American.

A team with that much hubris and that much desire to force itself on the whole country is a good team to hate.

98
by billsfan :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:12am

In all fairness, that's not exclusive to this site's readers. Part of it is calling yourself "America's Team" when most of America doesn't like you. Part of it is the league/networks deciding that what the citizens of this country want, more than anything, is to watch the Cowboys with insightful commentary by Joe Buck at 4:15 EVERY FREAKIN' SUNDAY! Part of it was when Jimmy Johnson, having done irreparable damage to college football, came and did the same to the NFL. I'm sure that an older generation had reasons to hate them before the '90s, as well.

It was fun, though, when the post-game show was on, and they asked Jimmy if the Vikings should have run up the score. "They're professionals," he said.

(I also like the Eagles)

6
by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:49am

Manning was actually yelling at Donald Brown (and yes, it was hilarious). I watched it about five times and I think Brown was supposed to go out as the check down or something. If you can see it again, Brown throws his hands out like 'What'd I do?' Another reason I love the huge microphones they've got all over the place now: hearing Manning cuss out his rookie RB while running for his life in a southern drawl. Add it to the Manning legend.

21
by Ryan D. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:51am

Watch it while it's still there:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB52kUiHLeU

26
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:18am

That may be my favorite play all year.

129
by Paul R :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:20pm

That's great!
I wish I could change my screen name to "Goddammit, Donald!"

171
by Theo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:01pm

Whaha.
Clearly, Donald Brown wasn't supposed to be part of a triple block.

231
by TomC :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:25pm

Brilliant. Just watched it 15 times. Thanks for posting.

31
by justme_cd :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:18am

I thought perhaps Brown was supposed to help the LT, because when Manning sees Brown running forward he immediately knows there is pressure directly behind him.

74
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:55am

That was just too much fun to listen to. I wish we could get more of Manning cursing people out on the field.

176
by dsouten :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:19pm

I think the "Goddammit" was directed at Brown, but then I could have sworn he yelled "Dallas!" to get Clark's attention as a dumpoff option - but Clark was busy blocking and was unaware Manning was under duress.

I replayed it several times because I couldn't see what Clark had done wrong, then finally realized that rather than "Goddammit, Dallas!" it was more like "Goddammit... Dallas!"

No one else heard it that way?

179
by Justin Zeth :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:25pm

No, Manning is definitely screaming 'GODDAMMIT, DONALD!' at Donald Brown, who pretty obviously is not where he was supposed to be on that play, which judging from the way the line moves was either picking up the blind side rusher or running past him for a dumpoff.

207
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:29pm

Pretty funny. I could never speak AND play all-out at the same time, so this is pretty impressive (calling "I got it" on a fly ball is not doing anything all-out). What it reminds me of most of all is the big fight scene in Die Hard between Bruce Willis and Gudenov--Willis, despite fighting desperately for his life, finds the NYer chutzpah and energy to unleash an almost constant stream of profanity. Gut-busting funny. I'd have saved my breath for fighting, but still, my kind of guy.

If next week we hear, "Donald, block that fat cocksucker," you must all bow down and agree that Manning is the most awesome ever.

7
by Dan M. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:50am

One comment on the final touchdown. Dallas has been a sore spot for Minnesota for a long time. It really started because of the either bind or biased officials that took the game from Minnesota and handed it to Dallas in '75. They made 4th and 20 by having a receiver run out of bounds, and then catch a ball when he wasn't covered when he ran back in bounds because the Vikings figured that an illegal catch would not be counted. Then, Drew Pearson knocks Nate Wright to the ground. But, as America's teams, they always have and always will get those calls (like it's OK to hit the QB on a play wistled dead well after the ball leaves his hand if and only if you are the Dallas Cowboys.

The Coyboys were annointed the winners of the game before they stepped onto the field. Any other team, I'd say, just run the clock out. But, against the Coyboys, throwing a 50 yard bomb with 3 seconds left, up 50 points is a good thing. Jerry Jones is the poster child for welfare capitalism after getting the citiziens of Texas to pay for his billion dollar stadium while leaving children without health care to get enough money to do it. They are the only team that deserves to have their face rubbed in their inability to play anywhere close to their abilities. I thought Minnesota would win a close game. The blowout says a lot about a lazy team who expected a game handed to them.

38
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:59am

I was at that game in '75, and let me note again that worst aspect of the Pearson touchdown was not the lack of a offensive pass interference call. Pearson's push off was subtle, and guys commonly get away with it today. No, what was awful was that defensive tackle Doug Sutherland had successfully bull-rushed his blocker and would have been on a clear, short, route to a sack, if not for his blocker grabbing Sutherland around the waist as he was falling backward, tackling him. The zebra was looking right at it, and swallowed the whistle, as I was screaming "holding!" from my standing room only spot. I saw FOX run a clip of it during today's game, and they began it with Sutherland laying on top of his blocker, the blocker's arms wrapped around him, as Staubach winds up to throw.

The Vikings could beat the Cowboys a dozen times in the playoffs, and that memory will still linger. No, I'm not bitter. Not me.

8
by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:55am

Enough with the "throwing their week 16 game" nonsense...they played everybody who was healthy for 2/3'rds of the game, and made the decision before kickoff that significant first stringers would rest after that, particularly on offense...they hoped that they would be up by a lot by that point, but when that didn't happen, they stuck to their plan...that, along with a similar plan in week 17, was one of the major reasons they were fully healthy, fresh and fast for the Ravens on Saturday...their planning successfully helped move them towards their main goal, as their planning in general has helped them reach a lot of their goals for the last decade (of course, not all of them, by a long shot)... since we'll never know if they would have won their divisional game if they had played things differently in weeks 16-17, gratuitous remarks like Mr. Schatz' are laughable...and yes, many Colts fans may be very angry after next week if they lose...explain to me exactly how that wouldn't be true if they got their first loss of the season in the AFC Championship game to Pittsburgh or Houston or anyone else in an alternate universe?

208
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:34pm

Media fans sparks into flames by predicting that flames will still be there. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

This weekend looked to me, and a SB win would surely be, a validation of the Polian/Caldwell approach, no? Some small % of fans might regret not having a 19-0 record, but the vast majority (and I am thinking 90+%) will look at it and say, well, I guess he was right.

9
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:57am

Reggie Bush just did something positive. He does that three times per year, always when I am watching, just to tease me.

This has been several times when a FO staffer has made a similar comment this year. Every time I point out his rushing DVOA; he finished at 30.6% for the year.

He actually started to 'get it' last year (after another slow start) before getting injured and declining again. However, he ran OK early in the year while coming back from surgery. In recent weeks he's actually ran quite well, but Payton has been limiting his runs in the second half of the year.

The biggest change recently wasn't his running; it was his punt returning. He was horrible most of the year before getting some good returns right at the end of the season. Also, his receiving numbers were mediocre throughout: 2.5% DVOA.

Are there any other historic Saints who deserve their numbers retired

Well, the league frowns on retiring numbers, but their are definitely several that should have their names up there. Morten Anderson, Sam Mills, and Willie Roaf are all guys who have a chance for the NFL hall of fame (along with Rickey Jackson), so they should really already be up there.

Supposedly they were supposed to put Sam Mills name up there during the Katrina year, but it obviously was canceled and never rescheduled. Reporters have said that Payton has discouraged the team from having contact with players from previous eras, which is a shame.

Shouldn't they have Pete Maravich's name and number posted wherever the New Orleans Hornets play instead?

Its actually a recognition of Superdome success; the Jazz played in the Superdome while they were in town.

79
by Lasse Johansen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:17am

Pet peevee:

It's Morten Andersen, not Anderson. He's from Denmark, not Sweden.

Pet peevee rant over :-)

149
by Theo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:53pm

Goddag!

178
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:20pm

Ack! Sorry! I hate when I make that mistake.

188
by morganja :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:50pm

Well, since Sam Mills died a few years ago from cancer, it's best that Payton try to keep his players from having contact with him.

10
by Growler (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:00am

I'll try not to roll my eyes too much at the Jets-Chargers comments ,but that last one by Aaron Schatz really has me shaking my head. If Kaeding had hit 1 of the 2 FG's, how on earth do you know the game would have gone into OT? The Chargers would have kicked away... the Jets would have returned it and the strategy would have been totally different for both teams. Maybe the Jets would have won in regulation or maybe the Chargers might have won! But that's an incredibly short-sighted comment. I found the link to this site in the NY Times FifthDown blog tweets. Uh....... well I'll leave it at that!

37
by RickD :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:56am

Ah yes, the mysteries underlying the Trousers of Time.

Aaron's comment was pretty generic. I think it's justifiable to assign blame to a kicker who missed three field goals, two of which were ordinarily in his range. Kaeding is, after all, the Pro Bowl kicker.

Yes, maybe if Kaeding had made a FG instead of missing it, the Jets would have somehow managed to score more points. But maybe they would have scored fewer. In terms of "presuming the rest of the game would be played similarly", talking about a missed FG really isn't all that bad. Especially when you're talking about a missed FG in the fourth quarter. The Jets probably would have gotten the ball at about the same place, and etc., etc.

If this kind of comment really, really bothers you, well, perhaps there's something odd at your end. I don't think it makes sense to call the comment "short-sighted".

259
by NY Expat 2 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 12:04am

In this case, I think it's clear that the Jets wouldn't have eased off their coverage of the SD recievers on their second TD drive with about 5 minutes remaining had Kaeding made one of his FG attempts, thus making it a one-score game.

If SD were only down by 7 during that drive, there's certainly a chance that they tie the game right there, but I argue that it's a significantly smaller chance than their chance of scoring a TD in the position they were actually in, where the Jets are primarily interested in making SD run off as much clock as possible.

40
by njjetfan12 :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:02am

I agree. If people want to play the randomness card for Nate Kaeding, then you could play the same card with the fact that there were 3 SD fumbles within their own 30, and all 3 were recovered by the Chargers, along with the Floyd non-fumble. If even 1 of those 3 fumbles would have gone to the Jets, you can assume that would have been 3 points, probably canceling out one of the missed kicks

80
by Led :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:25am

I wish I could highlight this comment in red because I guaranty that no one will pay any attention to the fumbles and the story will be about the Jets unbelievable luck. It was very lucky that Kaeding missed two makeable kicks. But it was also extremely luckly that the Chargers recovered all three fumbles deep in their own end.

I actually thought the refs got the Floyd call right.

100
by njjetfan12 :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:13am

I wasn't sure about the Floyd call, but I completely agree with you that all 3 SD fumble recoveries will be completely overlooked

105
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:18am

They will be overlooked but one of them wasn't a fumble fumble in that it was a bad shotgun snap to Rivers and I'd say those are recovered by the QB at least 50% of the time and don't usually happen from pro bowl caliber centers in the first place.

11
by utvikefan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:01am

Go Jets, that would be far, far too funny.

66
by jebmak :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:27am

Effin' A. Effin' Friggin' A.

12
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:03am

First, I'd be remiss to not start with: 'Go f*ckin' Vikes!!!'

Having said that - I thought they had a chance at home against Dallas, assuming the defense looked more like their early-season form (check) and the O-line opened holes for the run (not check). The defense did so well that the utter lack of a run game was surmountable.

I don't expect New Orleans to have the same issue(s) with the Vikings' pass rush, unfortunately. So perhaps I'll either have my expectations met, or be pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Should be good, anyhow (probably Saints by 2-3 possessions).

Colts-Jets, on the other hand...oy vey. Now they get to see what happens when Manning and Company stay in the whole game. Probably not high-scoring, but I can't see how NYJ wins (of course, I didn't think they had a chance in San Diego).

67
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:28am

Minnesota's defence in the Dome has been dominant every game with the exception of two 4th quarters against GB and Balt when they were nursing 17 and 16 pt leads.

GB and Balt are much better teams than Minnesota. I think GB is the second best team in the NFC.

NO had one huge advantage on Arz - 14 days rest vs 6. Minnesota had a similar edge on Dall but it was 14 to 8.

Arizona looked like a tired team to me.

71
by mrh :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:42am

The NFL chose to give the NY team and Dallas eight days rest to get ready for the #2 seeds while giving two small market teams only six days to play the #1 seeds. I wonder what thought process was at work here?

145
by Mystyc :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:46pm

If you have the top-and-bottom-seeds game on Saturday, then you know who the opponents will be AND where the games will be held for the Sunday games. It makes the storylines easier to draw up - who will win the chance to go to New Orleans?

189
by Corrections (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:50pm

And they gave the Cowboys just six days of rest to play the Eagles the previous week and the Jets six to play Cincy and gave small market Arizona, GB, and Baltimore seven days of rest. That's three large market teams with 6 the previous week verses 3 small market with 7. I think it is entirely random.

220
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:17pm

I think the NFL tries to 'reward' the higher-seeded teams with the most beneficial scheduling. Note that, come next Sunday, the #1 seeds will have each had an extra day of rest/prep before hosting the #2/#5 seeds. That is seen as more critical than, say, the difference between 13 days off and 14 days off with the first-round bye.

It's just how the NFL does playoffs.

As for leading into the playoffs, I don't think any extra rest was intentional, since the playoff teams can't be predicted when the season scheds are announced.

226
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:02pm

Unless there was a change this season, the seeds have nothing to do with which teams play which day.

For example, in last year's divisional round, the AFC #1 Titans played the early Saturday game, while the NFC #1 Giants played the late Sunday game.

The year prior, the AFC #1 Patriots played the late Saturday game, while the NFC #1 Cowboys played the late Sunday game.

And the year before that, both #1 seeds (Bears and Chargers) played on Sunday.

My guess is that the schedule is driven primarily by TV ratings.

249
by Milkman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:46pm

Exactly this. More people watch football on Sundays than Saturdays, both because Sunday is the expected football day and because people go out more on Saturdays than Sundays, even during the daytime. A NY team and Dallas are in the divisional rounds? Put them on Sunday to maximize ratings. That's the long and short of the thought process, I think.

You could argue that they should put the bigger draws on the weaker day in order to get the most out of that weaker day, and that having the Jets and Cowboys on Sunday and (presumably) get better ratings is just self-fulfilling prophecy, but that's thinking well beyond the capabilities of television stations. See also: interleague play in baseball. Those games are only played in the warmer months, and the biggest match-ups (the "natural rivalries") are always on weekends. With those two facts in mind, is it that surprising Interleague play shows higher attendance figures than normal games? Wouldn't summer games on the weekend draw more regardless? What happens if that Twins-Pirates match-up was in April rather than June, how would it fair then? (a nod to Joe Sheehan for making this point first).

73
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:52am

I meant to say GB and Balt are much better teams than Dall

13
by t.d. :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:03am

32 quarterbacks better than Favre? Are there even five?

14
by utvikefan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:06am

Verhei's sour grapes? Watch ESPN much? You and them got it...umm, wrong.

19
by bird jam :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:22am

Manning actually screamed "G-D it, Donald!" at Donald Brown on that play. My wife and I watched it over and over, laughing. Brown apparently didn't know what play had been called and it appeared from the replay that Peyton was expecting him to take the handoff but didn't. Rookies.

22
by t.d. :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:55am

This season really seems like an anomoly with so many game-losing misses in high profile situations for kickers.

23
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:08am

I've been wondering all day--does knowing that Prince was here today make up for knowing that [Vikings QB] was here today?

Okay, so I only wondered for about 30 seconds. Then realized that Buck and Simms were also here.

I could have moved to Delaware instead.

25
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:14am

I apparently got my overrated-NFC-East-QB-turned-incredibly-stupid-broadcasters confused. Buck and Aikman were here. Simms would be even worse.

And yes, I know it means I'm the world's biggest moron that I don't have all of the broadcast teams memorized, so no one needs to tell me (though I'm sure some will anyway).

39
by RickD :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:59am

Simms is dumber, but Aikman is more partisan.

And yeah, with all the good football minds in the world, I wonder constantly how those two got the jobs they did.

184
by SOBL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:40pm

You're not a moron. Your comment is very funny considering you mock two announcers for being incredibly stupid, but then in a sarcastic manner try to deflect your ignorance of the no. 1 broadcasting teams. It's an honest flub, which is similar to some flubs they make. These guys have to come up with instant analysis in a live setting for 3 hours. God fobid they make a mistake. I wouldn't say Aikman/Simms are dumb, better phrase is incredibly annoying (Simms moreso than Aikman). Simms was decent Sunday as he wasnt afraid to criticize Rivers/Sanchez which was a 1st for him w/QBs. Mayeb Simms not doing Colts or Pats games is a superior analyst to Pats/Colts games Simms.

Aikman is always accused of being partisan, but does anyone else think Aikman secretly enjoys seeing Romo fail in the postseason even as he 'earns' Dallas passing records?

24
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:13am

"I'm blown away by the fact that the three games so far have all been blowouts. I thought these matchups were really close."

Even if all the matchups were exactly 100% even with such a small sample size three blow outs would be completely normal. I know everyone takes the hyperbole up a notch in the playoffs, but lets not forget that each of these matchups is a sample size of 1.

41
by RickD :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:03am

"...is a sample size of 1".

Actually, it's a sporting competition. It's not a random distribution. So it's not a sample size at all.

(And, FWIW, calling it "a sample size of 1" dismisses the importance of playing 60 minutes of football. It's not like each offense gets exactly one series. When a team goes out and beats another team by several TDs, that's a good sign that the winning team is superior in a significant way.)

245
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:04pm

I just fundamentally disagree with your point. And I have been in a lot of "sporting competitions". One game means next to nothing and is consistent with a wide variety of theories about the quality of the two teams.

274
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 3:05pm

Yes, but football isn't baseball. The fact that there's a game clock and fluid field position means that the individual series are coupled.

When a team goes out and beats another team by several TDs, that's a good sign that the winning team is superior in a significant way

Definitely true, but most people don't realize how much a team needs to win by. A lot of that is just the fact that scores are so much in football - a win by 10 seems like a lot, but really, it's not that much.

27
by Insula (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:26am

"This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today."

Vince, come on man. Dallas gets more credit in beating themselves than Vikings?

A. Field goals were irrelevant. B. No major scores came off "dumb" turnovers. C. Dallas had a whopping 2 penalties from a crew who gave out the most this year (and who's head judge is from Texas). D. The Vikings may have had even worse play calling (see end of half clock management and every unsuccessful 2 yard screen on third and long.) E. And the Viking defenders were not unblocked, they simply outplayed their opponent, like the better team does. And so clearly did here.

But y'know... Dallas did give the Vikings homefield in the first place... so I'll give you that.

28
by andrew :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:52am

"So long as both teams have penalties, they offset"

so... once both teams have personal fouls, go ahead and do anything that doesn't get you ejected, right?

42
by RickD :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:05am

It's worse than that. Once your own team has a personal foul, do whatever you want. Getting 65 personal fouls is not worse than getting one personal foul.

But it's even worse than that.

If you manage to start a fight after your team committed a personal foul, with luck somebody on the other team will retaliate, and you will have succeeded in getting an offsetting penalty called, essentially wiping out your personal foul.

103
by billsfan :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:17am

Unless the Patriots' Perfect Season is on the line. Then the penalties add up.

(I also like the Eagles)

50
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:33am

I was thinking that. Some team should have Bill Romanowski on their roster. Once there's an offsetting penalty just have him run on to the pitch (or across it if you're on offense) and take out the opposing QB at the knees. If he gets ejected, who cares, and its not costing your team yardage is it?

57
by John (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:49am

That would probably fall under the heading of palpably unfair acts. Hard to say what the results would be.

29
by andrew :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:01am

Names I'd consider for a Saints Wall of Fame (not active):

Willie Roaf
Craig Iron Head Heyward

Maybe
Chuck Muncie
Wes Chandler

35
by Marko :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:43am

Hokie Gajan because his name is cool. And Russell Erxleben because of the sheer idiocy of drafting him with the 11th pick of the first round.

94
by displaced_saints_fan :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:56am

Definitely not: Heyward, Muncie, Rogers, Chandler.

More not: Eric Martin, Bobby Hebert, Dalton Hilliard, Tommy Myers, Tom Dempsey, Mel Gray, Wayne Martin, Aaron Brook, Jim Mora, Mike Ditka, Bum Phillips, Hoby Brenner, Frank Warren, Jim Wilks, Dave Waymer, Tony Galbreath, Billy Kilmer, Hokie Gajan.

Yes: Roaf, Andersen, Mills.

Maybe: Swilling, Deuce, Abramowicz, Dombrowski.

The problem is that the Saints haven't had a lot of outstanding career players. Look at who owns a lot of their team career stats. It's not exactly a who's who of NFL greats.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/nor/

30
by Alexander :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:02am

Singling out the Witten vs. Jared Allen matchup seems like a cheap shot on Witten to me. There aren't alot of linemen who can go up against Allen 1v1, unless you were calling out the playcalling, in which case yes, it was retarded.

32
by Jerry :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:19am

The Utah Jazz have Maravich's number 7 hanging. (He did play 17 games for them after they moved.)

34
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:41am

Hey, I expected the Cowboys to win also, although I did say that the Vikings had a chance because the Dallas offensive line could have trouble in a noisy dome. Yeah, they had a chance, all right.

It is ridiculous, however, to say that the Cowboys beat themselves. When you are keeping six guys in to pass block, and the other guys are rushing four, and you are getting your ass handed to you, no, you are not beating yourself. You are simply getting bludgeoned as badly as leased horse-donkey hybrids are ever bludgeoned. As was noted above, what was really odd was that a normally flag happy crew swallowed their whistles, which prevented the Cowboys' offense from looking even more futile. Flozell Adams may have hurt his knee by applying too much torque to it while blatantly holding; he could have been flagged three times in the first quarter alone. I'd say the zebra behavior was suspicious, if it weren't for the fact that they probably should have flagged Sidney Rice on his 2nd touchdown pass, when he initially blocked Ware below the waist. Really strange, and it warrants some questions during the league's mid week discussion of all matters black and white.

I wouldn't be surprised by any team's victory next Sunday, but for the Vikings to win, they need a better performance from their offensive line. The Vikings won't win a track meet on the road, so they need to have some time consuming drives which end in touchdowns, which means forcing the Saints secondary to do what they are bad at, meaning run support. If Ray Edwards is hurt, of course, that will be a significant loss to the Vikings, even though Robison is an effective pass rusher.

Regarding other issues, Joe Buck is certainly a moron. Also, I turned away from the television for a moment, and didn't see the dividing line, and for a millisecond I thought Bud Grant was sharing a box with Prince, therefore Hell had indeed frozen over. Finally, I am going to go nuts, and say something nice about Jerry Jones. It was classy of him to meet The Zombie King at midfield, and offer his congratulations.

51
by Levente from Hungary :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:38am

I agree about the #2 Rice TD. I don't know the line of scrimmage blocking rules, but I felt that it cannot be a legal move.

260
by Jovins :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 1:06am

According to NFL.com, "Ray Edwards has a knee sprain, should be ok."
So, at least the Vikings have that going for them.

43
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:13am

No, the onside kick by the Chargers WAS dumb, because one of the things it does, if the Chargers don't recover, is it allows the Jets to comfortably adopt a four-down strategy. Rex Ryan is one wild and crazy guy, but I guarantee you he ain't going for it on fourth and two from his own 28.

81
by Led :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:28am

Yup. Kicking deep was the obvious play, which even Phim Simms recognized immediately. Glad Norv didn't do it.

44
by Vince Verhei :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:14am

Having had a few hours to calm down, I thought I should more carefully state my opinion of Dallas and Minnesota.

From Week 1 to Week 18, Dallas and Minnesota were both very good teams. I think Dallas was slightly better than Minnesota over that span, but that's just my opinion. Many will agree, many will disagree, including other writers of this site.

From the first week of December to the Wild Card games, I think Dallas was better than Minnesota. That's just my opinion, although I think most impartial observers would agree.

Yesterday, Minnesota was obviously much better than Dallas. Nobody is arguing otherwise. So the question becomes, did Minnesota suddenly start playing better, or did Dallas suddenly start to play worse? The answer is probably "both," but more of the latter, I think. Again, that's just my opinion.

DVOA backs me up on this. Minnesota's DVOA for the game was 75%. That ties the first Green Bay game for their highest DVOA of the year, but they were higher than 60% on two other occasions. Considering the stakes, this was the best they've played this year, but it was not much better than their previous high points.

Dallas' DVOA yesterday was -67%. They only posted one other negative DVOA all year, -26% against Denver back in Week Four. This was the worst the Cowboys played all year, by an enormous margin.

If Dallas had played as well as they were capable of yesterday, maybe they would have won, maybe Minnesota would have won anyway, for sure it would have been more fun to watch. But they didn't, and that frustrated me, and I was venting that frustration.

64
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:16am

DVOA missed the fact that the NFC East top teams couldn't compete against other top teams.

4-12 Negative 158 pts.

FO - your stats are wrong on this front. Philly and Dallas are simply no where near as good as the other top teams.

78
by ammek :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:12am

You're certainly beating this one to death.

If FO's stats are wrong about the NFC East, then so are Brian Burke's ( Philly 4th in the NFL, Dallas 5th, Giants 7th) and Doug Drinen's (Cowboys 4th in NFL).

Almost every competent team in 2009 had some weird losses and a handful of stomps over weak opponents. What DVOA has shown us this year is that the top teams are pretty much all bunched together. So far, home-field advantage and a bye week have made the difference in the playoffs.

90
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:49am

Yes Brian Burke - whoever he is - is even more wrong.

Yes I'm beating it to death because it's so damn obvious. Yes goods teams lost some games by big margins...but they didn't routinely get hammered every time they played another decent team.

110
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:25am

San Diego won in Dallas and has a pretty controlling win over Philly.

Burke is good though. He also had Indy as his #1 team like most people in the free world... Not outside of the top 5 in favor of their favorite team that got pasted by the Ravens @ home.

126
by Joe T. :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:15pm

The supposed "hotness" of the Cowboys though came from consecutive wins against a crippled Eagles team, the Deadskins, and a coasting Saints team that pretty much had things wrapped up (but not clinched). Prior to their 4 game streak were losses to the Chargers and the Giants, who completed the season sweep over Dallas, and both of whom were playing for postseason spots.

162
by Anonymous Jones :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:38pm

I would think it obvious that looking to this season's DVOA of the Cowboys is not very instructive to analyzing this game because of the injury to Flozell. The game was over when that happened.

I think the two teams are relatively even-matched when at full strength. The two long TD passes to Rice were simply perfect throws into quite good coverage and helped swing the game into a blowout. Playing from behind without your starting left tackle is going to be tough and is not necessarily indicative of how you play in a close game with your starting left tackle healthy.

Minnesota won.

The most frustrating thing for me in talking about sports is the idea that winning proves that a team is "better." It proves they won. It proves they scored more points that particular day with that particular roster. That's what it proves. It may also go a long way to "proving" that one team is better, but there's a reason why sports that can have seven game series to determine the winner. If someone had watched the Pistons completely destroy the Spurs in games 3 and 4 of the 2005 NBA Finals (96-79 and 102-71) but no other games in the series, that person would be convinced to his dying day that not only were the Pistons better, but that it wasn't even close. Of course, the Spurs had demolished the Pistons in games 1 and 2. The Spurs also ended up winning two of the last three tight games and taking the championship, and no matter how awful they looked in games 3 and 4, they have the rings now.

I'd rather win than have ammunition for a debate about who's better, but that's just my preference.

174
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:07pm

Well, just my purely anecdotal $0.02: It has seemed this season that this year's NFL games had a tendency to "snowball" - in that two reasonably closely matched teams often wound up in a blowouts after one team jumped out to an early lead. Maybe because of all the offense this year? I dunno, that's just what it seemed like to me. The playoffs so far are bearing that out, with only 2 close games out of 8.

FWIW, I did think going in that the Cowboys and Vikes were close - I thought DAL was a little better but the home field evened things up and it was anyone's game. The Flozell injury was obviously huge, but then I had also been thinking it was fairly improbable that Dallas's humongous, aging OL had stayed this healthy all season thus far.

53
by Paul-London UK :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:56am

Eight playoff games and not one of the teams I wanted to win has managed to do so.

That’s 0-8 then.

Although I’m still praying for the Saints to beat the Jets in the Superbowl, based on my atrocious record so far, we’re fast approaching my doomsday scenario of the Vikings and the Colts both winning next week and causing the media to spontaneously combust for two weeks. It will also place me in the uncomfortable position of wanting the Colts to win a game.

If you’re a betting man I think you can safely bet on the Vikings to win this year which will cap the most disappointing season I can remember in 27 years of watching……possibly made worse by the initial hope generated by a 3-1 start by the 49ers. Probably just me though.

45
by Dave :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:43am

I guess I'm the only one on earth who thinks the first TD pass to Rice was anything but perfectly thrown. I was hoping that someone here might agree with that.

Seems to me that any DB that was actually paying attention not only defends that but easily intercepts it. A perfectly thrown deep ball would not have been so far to the inside. I thought it was an amazing catch by Rice and an even more amazing pre-catch reaction, namely that he didn't widen his eyes or reach his arms or give any other tell. He just ran until it got there, reached around and grabbed it.

It seems like Dallas's DBs are turned away from the ball more than any other team. Almost every time I watch them I end up yelling at Newman for doing it. I think it was earlier this year when a badly underthrown ball (MUCH worse than this case) by Eli Manning was caught anyway for a TD because Newman wasn't paying attention.

I was actually much more impressed by the 2nd Rice TD pass. He was moving forward quite quickly and that's the kind of throw that is super easy to float over a head. Perfect touch there.

Anyway, I know I'm extremely anti-Viking QB and am thus looking somewhat hard this year to find holes in his game (and being constantly thwarted), but I thought the universal gushing over that throw was completely unnecessary. The more impressive part was the fact that he hung in there when he was about to get his face bashed in.

But maybe I'm wrong about that. I do know I'm not wrong to call him an awful selfish primadonna though. After the third TD he was actively and obviously looking around for the cameras to mug to for his happy dance down the field.

118
by Bob P (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:52am

Dave,

Bingo. That pass SHOULD have been intercepted.

157
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:19pm

The defensive back defending Rice on that play was a safety. Safeties usually are not well-schooled in runniang down the sideline one on one with a receiver, like corners do all the time. I can nearly guarantee that Favre recognized the mismatch, which is why he threw the ball there. Given the skill levels of the two players involved, it was a perfect throw. Against a good cornerback, it wouldn't have been, but the defender in that situation was not a good cornerback.

192
by Corrections (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:02pm

I find it very hard to believe Favre did notice that. Pre Snap Newman was lined up on him with Sensebaugh shaded over to his side. After the snap Favre has a guy in his face very quickly so I doubt he would have had time to see who was in coverage. He did make the throw when the receiver was open but coverage got back by the time the ball got there which makes me think he waited a little too long on the throw. I think Rice made it happen though without giving the tell. All things considered I think the throw was probably a good decision given when he released the ball but he could have gotten in trouble with it.

206
by alexbond :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:28pm

Look at the play diagram linked here as an extra point, it's pretty clear to me from that diagram that Farve did in fact recognize the Cover 2 coverage and safety-Rice mismatch from the snap.

225
by Dave :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:00pm

I agree with this even without seeing the diagram. That was an easy read and the route was designed to get him against a safety. There was one camera angle from the backfield that showed Sensabaugh cheating up one step before he released the ball, at which point Rice already had a step on him.

I suppose part of the reason he never turned around or saw the ball was because it was quite an effort for him to even get as close as he did.

47
by bubqr :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:25am

"Aaron Schatz: Or Troy Brown. When is Ed Reed going to learn to hold on to the damn football when he is returning a pick? Didn't he make a stupid lateral attempt on a pick return in the first Ravens-Colts game?

Doug Farrar: Boy, how sick am I of Dan Dierdorf’s rhetorical questions?"

That made me laugh.

Alright, no comment on Phil Simms "Nothing could go wrong with that Kaeding 57 yards attempt except someone returning for a TD" or something like that ? It was quite hilarious.

I still can't understand the "rusty" debate. Every team has a bye week during the season, and I don't think they come back "rusty" from it (I even think A.Reid for example is undefeated after BYE weeks). The Chargers weren't rusty, they didn't turn those first half 220 yards into points, they tried to run for the sake of it too much, they made some mistakes, while the Jets made none and the green archipelago defense (FO IRC rocks) played lights out.

Vikings : I loved the DL stunt with R.Edwards looping inside called to stop the Cowboys draw. Great playcalling. I was really, really surprised to see no WR screen called for the Cowboys, as it worked great recently (WR screen/draw combo was deadly vs Eagles).

Those last 3 Cowboys game really makes me think that gameplanning was a huge factor in those Cowboys - Eagles games (many Eagles players pointed out that the Cowboys knew their plays).

238
by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:54pm

"The Chargers weren't rusty, they didn't turn those first half 220 yards into points, they tried to run for the sake of it too much."

Again, 15 runs to 45 passes. They did not run the ball enough, which permitted the Jets to key in on their passing offense, particularly as the field shortened.

Chargers need to draft an O-Line to get some rush blockers in there. LT had zero holes.

242
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:00pm

Again, they ran too much early; had they passed more in the first half, especially in second-and-long situations, they could have run more in the second half to bleed the clock.

246
by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:14pm

They ran fewer than 10 carries in the first half. I don't see how you can be successful with single-digit rushes, even the Patriots call more runs.

What the Chargers needed are more successful rushing plays. Play away from the strengths of the Jets, and run draws and off tackle pitch outs. Norv has NEVER done pitch outs in all the years that he was a coach, a bread and butter play under Cam Cameron and Marty. Norv doesn't have the OLine for his power running game, not since Lo Neal left, so it's up to him to go to the front office and get some beef. OL + DL folks and get as much beef as possible.

Oh, and get rid of Sproles. They have a ridiculous 12 million tied up in their run game.

48
by bubqr :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:27am

Oh, and Brian Burke analysis of the onside/kick deep debate : http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/01/end-game-decisions-in-jets-charg...

He fails to take into consideration effectiveness of a deep kick while the Jets were expecting an onside, and both teams strenghts/weaknesses (run game vs run defense), but overall makes the case for kicking deep.

109
by Nall23 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:24am

I strongly disagreed with the on-side kick. This is not as though this was the Green Bay/Steelers game a few weeks ago (where both offenses were just killing it). You cannot be too afraid of the Jets offense. Further, one of the unintended consequences of the on-side kick is that you put them in the position to go for it on fourth down, which they would never have done on their own 30 yard line.

Sure enough, being able to go for (and convert) that fourth down won the game for them.

154
by DoubleB :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:06pm

Do you think the Jets go for it on say 4th and 3 in that situation?

It's not 4-down territory unless the defense (by not stopping the run) put them in 4 down territory by creating a very makeable 4th and 2 feet or so. Turner was right in that his defense couldn't stop the run--hadn't all year, hadn't yesterday, and when they desperately needed a stop gave up 9+ yards on 3 running plays when everyone in the world knew what was coming.

Why automatically put the game in the hands of a defense without giving yourself a chance at the onside kick?

169
by Nall23 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:57pm

No, I do not think that the Jets would have gone for it on fourth down if it was fourth and three. But that is not entirely my point. The point is that if it were fourth and short from their 30 yard line, the Jets would have been forced to punt there. From the San Diego side of the field.....obviously, not so much.

239
by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:56pm

"Turner was right in that his defense couldn't stop the run--hadn't all year, hadn't yesterday, and when they desperately needed a stop gave up 9+ yards on 3 running plays when everyone in the world knew what was coming."

Prior to the long run, the Chargers had given up 80 yards rushing on 25 carries. This statement makes no sense. The FO guys correctly recognised that the Chargers were stuffing the Jets run game very successfully throughout the first 3 quarters.

243
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:01pm

Agreed. The Jets rushing game was mostly ineffective, with the two notable exceptions being Greene's long touchdown and the final four plays of the game.

251
by DoubleB :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:53pm

Well I didn't realize we got to cherry pick our stats because the long run has to count for something. If we remove the failed Wildcat play, the end around to Cotchery, the 4-yard loss off a blitz, and the goalline run that netted a yard, you get 21 carries for 86 yards (based on your stats above).

I certainly didn't feel the Chargers could stop the Jets' "in the box" run game. And when it mattered, they didn't.

258
by DGL :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:43pm

Using FO's and Hidden Game of Football's criteria for a "successful" play (40% of distance to go on first down, 60% on second down, 100% on third down), 16 of 34 Jets rushing plays were successful.

I have no idea if this is good, bad, or indifferent.

52
by Phill (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:42am

Just been rewatching this. The Vikings set up with 2 TEs on the offensive left (Kleinsasser next to McKinnie, Shiancoe outside him), Rice close on the right, AD and Tahi (I assume) in the backfield in I formation.

Kleinsasser and Tahi stay in to block, so there are only 3 receivers, and they run basically a 'flood left' pattern. AD runs into the left flat, Rice cuts left across the field pretty much along the 1st down marker (just beyond it, 'cos he's got more sense than to run short of the 1st down marker on a 4th down attempt ), and Shiancoe runs up the field to the endzone and them cuts to the left corner.

I'd say the design was for Shiancoe to draw the defender out of the short left zone, while Rice occupies the middle as he comes across to the left, leaving AD hopefully open in the flat for the 1st down. Favre seems to look to AD first. They weren't actually planning a shot at the end zone; it just happens that the defense succesfully covered Rice and AD around the 1st down line, but let Shiancoe get open in the end zone.

The Vikings were only going for it on 4th because they didn't care about scoring more points (the FG) - they wanted to burn the clock, and going for it on 4th with the chance of running off another few minutes of clock with another set of downs was worth the possible turnover on downs. So the play call makes sense - flood the short left and go for the 1st down and burn more clock. But the only open guy was in the end zone. Ah well, sometimes you just have to take what the defense gives you :D

91
by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:49am

That was my assessment. They wanted the 1st to run out the clock and it's tough to tell Favre not to get the TD if it's what's open.

96
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:05am

That is complete and utter BS since I have personally seen Favre just slide to the ground in the same exact situation multiple times over his career. I have restrained much comment given that I said my piece yesterday in real time.

123
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:08pm

I can't read anyone's mind, and try to avoid doing so, but generally speaking, when everyone is getting paid a lot of money to do their best, then the entire playbook ought to be available on every snap. If Brees does the same to the Vikings next week, then the Vikings should have avoided being in that situation. I said the same thing when people were getting all bothered by the Patriots hanging 50 on people a couple of years ago. I thought Jimmy Johnson's post game remarks on the topic were about right.

151
by DoubleB :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:57pm

I agreed with Johnson as well and was actually surprised by Bradshaw's take on the situation. I really don't sense most players (especially at the NFL level) worry about late scores that aren't necessary, although I could be wrong.

The Cowboys hadn't waved the white flag on offense (2 efforts at 4th down conversions in their own territory). They had used all of their timeouts on defense to extend the game. As I stated before, if Dallas is running their entire offensive package, why are the Vikings getting criticized for doing something similar?

153
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:06pm

Exactly. If the team that is down wants to surrender, by running dive plays and not using their timeouts, fine. I'd be irritated if I was a fan of that team, but if you want to quit, then quit. Until that happens, the winning team should keep trying to score points.

197
by Corrections (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:06pm

It should. And if the Vikings are running the Cowboys should feel free to bring the house and slam Favre to the ground on every pass play. After all they're just playing the game. I'd like to see more teams do this whenever teams run up the score. No whining about it afterwords just slam their QB to the ground on every play until they stop. Unless they are dumb they'll stop really quick.

213
by TheGonz (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:56pm

It should. And if the Vikings are running the Cowboys should feel free to bring the house and slam Favre to the ground on every pass play. After all they're just playing the game. I'd like to see more teams do this whenever teams run up the score. No whining about it afterwords just slam their QB to the ground on every play until they stop. Unless they are dumb they'll stop really quick.

So, basically, you're advocating cheap shots and potential injury to an opposing player because the people that played defense for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon completely, totally, and utterly sucked at their jobs for three hours? Because they weren't good enough to stop the Viking offense and the Viking offense had the nerve to not stop themselves?

Seriously, are you Keith Brooking?

55
by Felton (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:05am

Aaron:

Dave Dixon was the idea man behind the Superdome. John Mecom was the original Saints owner. We would have done better if anyone else had been the original owner.

56
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:42am

Manning's accuracy was just astounding at points in that game.

How does Ray Lewis not get a rep as a dirty player when he regularly takes shots at the head? And at the worst possible times as earlier this year he helped the Bengals beat the Ravens by assaulting Chad Johnson on a pass across the middle for no good purpose other than to be malicious.

The San Diego punter sure did his part yesterday.

The Jets tackled incredibly well. Just a great job.

Did the Vikings install some sort of harmonic device around the 35 yard line that shook the ball loose from Romo early in the game? That was just weird.

Ray Edwards is better than Allen. Or at least he has been the last 6-8 games.

Was the Cardinals punt coverage planned to be a picket fence approach? I had never seen that before. Because boy does it not work if one guy doesn't make a tackle.

I loved the Saints tossing the kitchen sink at Warner. I wonder if Dom Capers was awake long enough to take notes........

84
by Led :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:33am

Can't comment on other plays by Lewis this year, and he strikes me as an insufferable egomaniac, but I thought the personal foul call in the end zone was ridiculous.

217
by Arkaein :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:07pm

Agreed. The hit was at shoulder level to a WR catching the ball, and no other type of hit could have likely broken up the pass. Defenseless receivers are usually jumping to catch a ball over their heads with their entire torso exposed, not stretched out horizontally 3 feet off the ground.

222
by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:32pm

A blow to the head or a poke in the eye might have broken up the play. Something being the only type of hit that would break of the pass should have no bearing on the legality of the hit.

That being said I think the hit was clean. Just don't agree with the argument.

111
by billsfan :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:27am

Re: Ray Lewis

The guy plead out of a murder charge, making his on-field actions seem pretty tame.

It also helps when his teammates put bounties on opposing players.

(I also like the Eagles)

60
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:58am

Vince Verhei - "This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today."

Vince NFC East have sucked all year. You and many others got all wrapped up in stats accumulated by teams playing each other and presuming those teams were any good (Dall, Phil, NYG, SD, and Den).

The NFC East vs DVOA top 15 other than playing each other:

4-12 and negative 151 pts. 2 of those wins were against Carolina when Carolina was awful.

AFC West against top 15 DVOA teams other than NFC East and each other

1-6 negative 68 points

The top teams NFC East and AFC West top teams were simply not on the same level of the rest of the leagues top teams. I suggested this back in mid December. Yesterday pretty much cemented the case.

279
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 5:00pm

I suggested this back in mid December. Yesterday pretty much cemented the case.

Yeah, politely just ignoring the Cowboys win over the Saints, I guess? They're just... not on the same level. Except when they are. The Saints are clearly on another level. Except when they lose to Tampa Bay. Or the Cowboys. I mean, you could add the Patriots to the AFC West grouping, too (3-5, -30 points).

The Ravens, though. They were a lot closer: 4-5 or so, and positive in point margin, I think. Fat lot of good it did them versus the Colts, and they didn't even end up winning their division because they lost to the 20th ranked Bengals twice. Well, maybe it's wins that matter: the Cardinals were 4-2 against Top 15 teams, though negative in point margin. Yeah, that didn't work out well either.

You can always find groupings like that that seem to make a great case. But it doesn't matter: you've got teams like the Jets who are just great against top teams but then lose to the Bills, Dolphins (twice), Jacksonville, Atlanta. Is it really fair to say that the Jets are "on another level" than the Eagles when they can't beat a team that Philly beat by 27?

The NFC East, in total, would've ranked around 13th-15th. It's not that surprising that, in total, against other top 15 teams they did so weak.

58
by Paul A (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:49am

I was wondering about the Chargers' use of their last timeout. It seems to me that if they called it after first down, the 2 minute warning would have stopped the clock after 2nd down. They let the clock run after first down, and used the To at 1:55. It did not matter, but still, 5 seconds is 5 seconds. Did they Norv it, Or am I missing something?

83
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:32am

Nope. The people I was watching with all agreed the Chargers should have called timeout before the two-minute warning.

139
by mrh :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:32pm
142
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:39pm

I just did, but thanks for the link.

While there's some generic truth to those who say that calling the timeout before the two-minute warning opens up an opponent's playbook, I agree with Posnanski that that wasn't the case here; the timeout could have been called at 2:09, meaning an incomplete pass play would have almost certainly ended before the clock hit 2:00, and the Jets were going to run-run-run, given that's been their identity all year and they were still not 100% confident in their rookie quarterback, as good as he was yesterday.

124
by Anonymous77 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:10pm

Agree. The only argument against is that if the timeout is called too close to the 2 minute warning the offense could call a pass knowing that the clock is going to stop anyway. But, that didn't apply here because a) the first down play was run at 2:12. so the timeout would have been called before the time that the Jets would have been willing to pass, and b) the Jets weren't going to let Sanchez pass there, despite him apparently "coming of age" according to the media.

187
by cormeagles@yahoo.com :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:49pm

I agree that 2:12 left precludes a pass, but I do think at 2:05 you let the clock run down to pretty much make sure they don't pass and catch you with your pants down. If they had run a play-action the pass could easily be WIDE open. If not, Sanchez just has to eat the ball and stay in bounds. It's not very complicated and it's not like Sanchez is an idiot.

59
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:57am

Now wait a minute. Vince and other observers can support that Dallas got in its own way given that this the following happened:

1st Drive: Dallas drives from its 28 to the MN 35 before Ray Edwards happened

2nd drive: Dallas drives from its 30 the MN 30 before the Cowboys fall into the now familiar trap of thinking long field goals in a dome are a gimme and their guy misses. Dallas had run effectively to this point.

MN scores when the Dallas defender shows no ball awareness and Rice/Favre team up perfectly

Dallas takes kickoff from its 18 to the MN 8 before Ray Edwards happens again and get a field goal.

Now that is 3 straight times where Dallas had the ball, moved it against the Vikings in solid fashion featuring the run versus the pass but somehow managed all of 3 points thanks to some odd playcalling at key times plus some great individual effort by one Viking.

This is the foundation for the comments for the Dallas flubbing things mindset. Or so I believe

61
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:04am

In the entire game Dallas had one drive over 40 yards. I understand how someone watching early could have thought Dallas was playing better but anyone watching the whole game and thinking Dallas was anywhere near the team the Vikings are is hard for me to understand.

127
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:16pm

Flozell Adams could have been flagged multiple times for really blatant holding on those first two drives. The Cowboys were getting whipped up front from the beginning, and it was only the generosity of a normally flag happy crew that made it seem otherwise. Seriously, when was the last time you saw an offensive line get that outclassed, and not draw a single holding penalty? It was a weird game in that regard.

269
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 11:53am

Seems like holding a barely a penalty anymore. Especially in the playoffs. It's been driving me crazy all year - with all the rule changes in favor of the offense and to protect the QB, that O-lineman are allowed to do almost whatever they want to a defender.

270
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 11:54am

Seems like holding a barely a penalty anymore. Especially in the playoffs. It's been driving me crazy all year - with all the rule changes in favor of the offense and to protect the QB, that O-lineman are allowed to do almost whatever they want to a defender.

62
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:07am

Some folks are complaining on the Chargers running on first down but what struck me is how after an incomplete first down pass San Diego would run LT into the line to almost intentionally set up 3rd and long.

85
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:36am

I agree (I alluded to this in my comment #4). I told my father at the beginning of the game, "If the Chargers lose, it will be because they haven't realized that Tomlinson is not a partcularly good back any more, and they'll keep giving him the ball and not succeeding."

While the turnovers and missed field goals were worse, in terms of the impact of each play, I really believe the Chargers could have had a bigger lead at halftime if they had thrown the ball and ran Tomlinson less.

244
by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 7:01pm

Sigh, 15 runs to 45 passes. That is not a healthy run/pass ratio.

The Chargers needed to try more pitch outs and runs off the tackle, and draw plays. The problem wasn't the run, the problem was the run plays they did call were ineffective.

63
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:12am

Aaron, Aaron, Aaron, you'd be the dorkiest announcer ever. It wouldn't work. Know who you are. But you would be a fantastic asset to the production team.

Troy Aikman would look as silly as the other announcers if he got the scrutiny. He says plenty of ridiculous things.

69
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:31am

"I think the Colts are happier to be playing the Jets than they would be playing the Chargers team that has beaten them the past two postseasons. But... if they do lose next week -- effectively blowing their Super Bowl shot against a team that wouldn't be in the playoffs if not for the Colts' throwing their Week 16 game -- I can't even imagine how angry the Colts fans will be."

Interesting thought, that the Jets would not even be in the playoffs if not for the Colts letting them win (although I'm not 100% convinced that the Jets couldn't have won that game straight up), and now they're in the position to end the Colts season.

However, speaking as a Colts fan, I will not be any more upset if they lose against the Jets than I would be if they were playing the Bengals or Broncos or whoever. Back when the Colts were tanking the game in Week 16, if you had told me this would set up a chain reaction that would result in a Colts-Jets AFCCG, I would have been enthusiastically in favor of the move. Even right now, I'm very much in favor of playing the Jets instead of the Chargers. Whether or not it works out, it's a situation that (in my opinion) gives the Colts the best chance of winning.

101
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:13am

here here.

121
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:57am

+2

If they had said that by tanking that game they would ensure that the Steelers wouldn't make the playoffs at all and that they wouldn't have to play the Chargers in the playoffs, I guarantee you 95% of Colts fans would have supported that decision!

70
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:32am

The notion that GB is the second best team in the NFC is ridiculous. First Pittsburgh and then Arizona exposed what is clearly a huge weakness. That any team could be second best anything with that degree of soft underbelly means either the NFC is composed of patsies or the assessment is misplaced.

93
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:52am

The assessment is misplaced. GB easy schedule = racking up stats... It's difficult to quantify everything... The rankings come out wrong. People will call you a fool or ask you to "insert boilerplate complaint here" that my team is clearly ranked to low blah blah blah.

97
by The Blow Leprechaun (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:05am

Got it the first time, the NFC sucks.

75
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:59am

Arizona is a team that can play incredible offensive football at times. Pittsburgh is pretty as good as the rest of the top teams but they tanked against the patsies.

GB's defence against good passing teams was their Achilles Heal, and NO may be better but losing in OT to Arz (who are very likely the 5th best team and Pitt by one on a miracle last second throw) does not make them an awful team.

I would accept NO as a better team. But I would have loved to see that game. I think GB would have won.

82
by ammek :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:29am

I think the Cowboys and Packers playoff exits tell us one thing: be wary of backing the team that has not committed many turnovers in the regular season, especially if that team has to go on the road.

Turnovers demonstrate a paradox about DVOA: what exactly does it measure? It is clear that yards-based traditional stats lose credibility because they don't count turnovers; DVOA assigns them a proportional value, and as such is a better reflection of what actually took place in the game. On the other hand, forcing turnovers — and, especially, avoiding them on offense — really isn't a repeatable skill. DVOA's predictive value is thus harmed by its (over-)valuation of turnovers. And of course many people want DVOA to be a predictive tool, since it enables them to win money, or vent their spleen when it is wrong.

87
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:41am

Interesting point, ammek. I think you're right, to a point. It's fairly obvious that offenses have an innate ability to commit turnovers; see Rex Grossman, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, and Adrian Peterson as examples. However, avoiding turnovers, in many cases it seems, is based on uncontrollable factors.

Maybe there's a one-sided dynamic at work, something along the lines of: a team can be expected to commit X turnovers per game. If they commit X+Y (with Y being some threshold number) turnovers per game (over a sample), then they have a propensity to commit more turnovers going forward. If they commit fewer than X+Y turnovers per game, you can expect them to commit X going forward, even if they average less than X up until now.

194
by ammek :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:03pm

Your formula makes good sense to me. I suggest naming it Giveaways Adjusted for Realistic Aspirations and the Roll of Dice, in honor of one if its patrons (GARARD — alright it doesn't quite work but you get the drift!).

200
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:10pm

Haha, excellent!

86
by Led :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:39am

I agree with your general point, but I would think causing turnovers would be less repeatable than avoiding them. Good QBs throw fewer interceptions than bad QBs, right? Fumbles are a wash.

FO's drive stats late in the year strongly suggested that GB's defense was overrated by DOVA due to an an unreasonably high number of take aways. When they run into a good team that doesn't turn it over, they're in trouble.

92
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:50am

GB's schedule was easy.

It meant piling up stats on offense, and getting turnovers from shoddy QB's on defense. Getting turnovers from shoddy QB's is a great way to boost your rankings, but come on... It's easier to rack up stats vs crappy teams, than it is to do well against good teams. Stats are a measurement of success and I don't think they have properly quantified the competition... Ravens blowing out bad teams, but doing so/so vs good teams makes them the best?

What if say the Colts could have blown out the bad teams they faced but they choose not to... for motivational reasons? The NFL isn't the BCS.

107
by Yaguar :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:21am

Here's how I would put it. Obviously, interception-throwing is an innate trait of QBs. But there are relatively few interceptions per season, so there's big luck element as well.

I think we can safely say that the elite level of interception-avoidance is somewhere around what Peyton and Brady do in a typical year. That's 11 or 12 interceptions on 500 attempts.

So if you see a QB throw fewer than 11 or 12 interceptions in a season, you should be very suspicious that he just got lucky. His true level of interception-prone-ness is probably significantly higher, and he is likely to regress to his true mean level.

112
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:29am

but you have to look at risk as well. If you are a putz, and your coach knows you are a putz, he might run plays for putzes ( is that the plural form?) and give you some sort of wrist band of red/yellow/green plays etc or rune constant smoke screens and "coach you up on the sidelines" after every series.

Tom Brady's 2007 was truly remarkable. The low turnover year or David Garrard seemd more lucky, and Jason Campbell just doesn't throw passes over 8 yards.

Taking risk and not getting burned
Taking risk and getting burned
Not taking risk and not getting burned.

173
by ammek :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:05pm

I'd argue that the offense was just as overrated, owing to an unreasonably low number of giveaways. The running backs lost one fumble all year on rushing plays. Rodgers threw 7 picks: an insanely low figure on 600 pass attempts. Did I hear "unsustainable"?

Many of the defensive takeaways came with a big lead (often against terrible quarterbacks, though DVOA accounts for that). Being able to intercept a pass when holding a big lead does seem to me like a repeatable skill. But it's more situational than anything else (see the 2009 Saints). In any case, the Packers never held any kind of lead against Arizona or Minnesota I (and had it very fleetingly against Pittsburgh and Minnesota II).

191
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:01pm

I think what we saw with the offense was legit but they were mainly playing against weak competition. I do believe in Rodgers... I'd fight for Rodgers, and I think he'll have a below average INT total for his career.

The defense yes, that's what it was... They were piling on turnovers ( big positive dvoa plays) against desperate and crappy teams. They blew out crappy teams, and that made their DVOA look better than the REAL Packers. Glad somebody else saw it.

219
by Arkaein :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:15pm

I'm not sure the small number of GB giveaways was unsustainable.

I didn't see too many opponents drop an unreasonable number off potential Rodgers INTs. Rodgers just doesn't give up many INT opportunities.

He did however have at least 3 INTs go off of his own players hands before getting picked: two vs Tampa, the one deep ball to Jennings in a crowd in the end zone that looked like it had just gotten into his hands when one defender tipped it up and another caught it, and the high pass off of Donald Lee's hands at the end of the game, and the pass against Baltimore that hit Driver in the foot and boundced directly into the air.

Now every QB has some bad luck INTs, my point is that Rodgers had his fair share and still only gave up 7. I don't really expect him to have numbers quite that low again, but I can easily see him with year INTs close to 10 on a regular basis.

Chances are GB will have a few more giveaways this year, since their fumble numbers were also excellent. I don't expect it to be a huge problem though.

227
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:06pm

But dropped interceptions are just one form of "good luck", and tipped interceptions are just one form of "bad luck".

The point is that an obscenely low number, even without dropped interceptions, is prone to regression to the mean. Use a perfect game in bowling as an analogy; rolling thirteen strikes in a row isn't necessarily "luck"-driven, but no rational person would expect even the best bowler to follow up one 300 game with a second.

236
by Arkaein :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:31pm

Right, which is why I said that around 10 interceptions is a more likely projection. That's still very good.

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:27pm

I agree, Rodgers is the real deal and I'd expect him to keep a low total through his career. He'd rather take sacks than throw dumb picks.

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by ammek :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 4:45pm

That would be a 1.84% interception rate, which would shatter the NFL record. I think Donovan McNabb is the current holder at about 2.1%.

Rodgers may have a unique talent for avoiding picks: it's still too early to say. But 10 per season, when the guy is dropping back on 600 plays, would be unearthly.

Last year he threw 13 interceptions at a rate of about 2.4% — significantly better than the league average of about 2.9%. But the FO Almanac also recorded eight dropped INTs, second only to Tyler Thigpen, who had nine.

(NB: The FO player page for Rodgers says he threw 22 interceptions in 2008. This is wrong.)

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by Arkaein :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 5:39pm

Considering the increase in overall passing efficiency, I don't think it's terribly unrealistic for Rodgers to break the current NFL INT% mark.

From pro-football-reference, so far in his career (essentially 2 seasons) Rodgers is the NFL's all time leader with an INT% of 1.8% (not sure what their requirement for minimum attempts is). I don't think it's too unrealistic that Rodgers could have several seasons that equal the average of his first two as a starter. But again, I would not at all surprised in a slight uptick from that level.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/RodgAa00.htm

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:46am

I've always argued DVOA overrated turnovers ( in yes, that predictive nature). You could have Johnny the checkdown QB go through the year taking no risk, throwing 10 TD passes and 0 INTs, he'd have no chance to beat any semi decent defense in the playoffs if he ever got there...

Then you have Wert Kurner on Team B, he might throw for 30 TD passes with 20 turnovers. Sometimes he wins games, sometimes he's the reason why his team losses. He might have a similar DVOA as Johnny Checkdowns even though he's a much better player because any chimpanzee could be trained to not do anything.

DVOA also doesn't factor in opponents efficiently enough to add predictive value. Teams left in the playoffs were 6&7 in DVOA, and 8&10... Most conventional stats/power rankings would have had these teams finish higher, and nobody in their right mind had Baltimore #1, the top 4 were a big of a surprise... GB easy schedule #2, Philly #3 ( most people would disagree), and NE #4 with (most people would have them lower).

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by Kal :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:41pm

Ideally turnovers by an offense should be rated about as badly as the combination of not converting a 3rd down and having a particularly bad special teams play (depending on the return of the turnover).

In other words, a 20-yard interception is equivalent to a failed third down conversion and a 20-yard punt.

If those things aren't equally valued in terms of predictive quality, something is likely flawed.

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by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:03pm

I don't think you're understanding predictive value.

An interception 20 yards down the field and a failed third-down conversion plus a 20-yard punt are equivalent in a descriptive way; that is, the outcome is the same for the teams on the field.

However, that doesn't mean the two have the same predictive value. Consider:
1. Teams that throw interceptions 20 yards downfield will throw similar interceptions X% of the time, moving forward.
2. Teams that have failed third-down conversions followed by 20-yard punts will have similar outcomes Y% of the time, moving forward.

If X is equal to Y, then yes, the two events have the same predictive value.

However, I can't imagine that's the case. One reason: interceptions are much more common than 20-yard punts.

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by Kal :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 8:50pm

Sorry; I meant predictive from a performance standpoint in that game. In other words, how much is a punt worth in terms of value for predicting the outcome of THAT game?

Another way to say it is that both an interception that was 20 yards down the field and a stop on 3rd/punt on 4th that goes for a net of 20 yards should result in supplying the same value of DVOA/DPAR for a given game. If they do not, something is being overvalued or undervalued.

Furthermore, you can then use that value to give the predictive value of a given quarterback given their propensity for interceptions by using that derived value (that of the negative value of punts) as the basis for determining what interceptions would likely be worth. Same for a defense.

I don't honestly know whether or not FO does this or something like it. But it's a way to internally check to see whether or not it's consistent and reasonable.

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by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:12am

I didn't write that GB was awful. I just do not believe they are the second best team in the NFC.

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by Joe T. :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:22pm

GB's pass defense seems too reliant on the man-cover CB's - it looks to me like a precipitous fall-off in DB talent after Woodson-Harris.

NO's defense is simply better schemed with less talent.

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by ammek :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:51pm

Nick Collins is a very good safety in a league full of not-very-good safeties. Tramon Williams is an above average nickel back. The Packers basically gave up playing man coverage this year when moving to the 3-4. Other than that, you're right.

Except for the bit about NO's scheme being better. The best thing about NO's defensive scheme is NO's offense. Add a ballhawking safety and get rid of Jason David, and you have a nice situation. Who even cares about defending the run?

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by Joe T. :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:00pm

I was thinking of Collins too, but wasn't he hurt for a good portion of the season?

By having the better scheme, I meant that the defense was built around the available talent to a better degree than in GB (which suffered a lot of injuries). I'm not saying it was a necessarily a better defense for it, just that NO got more with less than GB did.

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by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:04am

If the Colts blow the game against the Jets, it'll be because of a career ending injury to Manning. That's it. He'll have his linemen carry him to the line of scrimmage before he lets Curtis Painter touch a football in the AFC Championship game.

That being said; Revis Island, meet Battleship Manning. The Jets are going to look like Bikini Atoll after this game.

77
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:06am

- I can't believe they let that geek Kenny Alberts call such a big game, the monotone geek who knows nothing about football and adds nothing to the game.
- Joe Buck isn't 1/8th as funny or as insightful as he thinks he is. Even further, the guy never raises his voice when an exciting play happens. All Buck does is tries to stir the pot and assign blame in a negative Collinsworthesque sort of way.
- They need Gus Johnson calling these playoff games with Aikman or Moose.

- I think Vince bought the Cowboys hype that ESPN sold, and he's angry that he (probably) picked Dallas to win, but you'd never know from the game previews here.
- Baltimore played great D, but perfect throws beat great D.

- I wonder what the fumble percentage is for WR's, and then for DB's after interceptions. I don't think it's fair to simply compare the two because picks usually have 11 guys chasing after you from many different directions but not only do most DB's have crappy hands, they are I'd guess at least 10 times more likely to fumble than WR's.

- The ref was wrong in the Phill Simms replay. Speaking of people who won't let it go when they are wrong...

- I do think there was a difference between Tony Fungy and Jim Caldwell today. Dungy teams were known for underachieving in the playoffs and he would run the same dumb cover 2 over and over and over again and "not try anything silly". Caldwell wasn't ultra conservative and blitzed some for success. I just think the Dungy model is dumb for the playoffs. Sitting back mindlessly in cover 2 isn't defense. The Schemes and mixing it up that Bellicheck does is defense. The stunts and constant Rex Ryan blitzes were defense. Greg Williams showed Warner a lot of looks defending the digs/deep hook zones. I was impressed that Caldwell didn't run the same cookie cutter crap that Dung heap would have ran. I'd peg the Colts as favorites to win it all. That would be Dungy teams 2/2 after him being fired or leaving..

The Jets blitzes might not have always got to Rivers but they played great D vs SD. I do blame much of the loss on Nate Kaeting and I hate blaming kickers. It's just that's 3 possessions where you were looking for something and got nothing ( including that last kick).

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by td (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:01am

thank nepotism for Albert, Buck, and Chip Caray

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by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:32am

Interesting points C. Although one could say that playing such a limited offensive team helped the Colts as well. And they get another limited qB next week too. And Manning played one of his better postseason games in the last 5 years.

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:44am

Playing a limited offense did help indeed, and Manning did have one of his best playoff games ever, but the point is that Caldwell isn't Dungy. Dungy would have sat back and asked Flacco to beat that same tired Cover 2 over and over and over against, and asked him to execute over and over and over again. The problem is, that quarterbacks in the playoffs often CAN execute over and over again on a cookie cutter scheme ( but maybe not Rex Grossman). Caldwell went after Flacco some and I like that strategy better. I think Dung heap is tactically one of the worst coaches you could have in the playoffs and that his team once won the super bowl despite him not because of him.

I've been very impressed with Rex Ryan's game plans/execution in the post season thus far but I think it ends next week.

Look at the Jets. They have good players yes ( great probably not), but who else could have crafted a better defense than Rex Ryan? Revis in a cover 2 doesn't get to show off all of his skills, but in a blitzing man/man defense not only does Revis get to show off all of his skills, but his teammates are put into position to make plays as well. I really think Rex Ryan is a good fit do run the Jets D. I doubt any other coach would have had the same results with the same talent. On offense, who knows, but Ryan certainly looked to maximize his defenses value.

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by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:54am

I agree that Rex Ryan did alot of things that was impressive. He is a gambler and I like that he trusts his players to make plays. Many coaches don't. Not sure that I agree that the Colts won " in spite " of Dungy. Always have and always will have tremendous respect for him. Conservative, sure. But I have felt that his teams play sound football. Either they execute or they don't but I am a Dungy adherant.and

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:30pm

Dungy always gets the same thing... "I'll always have respect for him" which basically says, " he's a nice guy" and that you like him... Fine, but that says nothing about his game planning and (playoff) coaching.

It's hard not to have a team playing sound football when they are led by Peyton Manning or 3 or so hall of famers on defense and 7 or so pro bowl caliber players...

Playing not to lose seemed like a pretty big character flaw and fair game when people were describing Martyball or Andy Bleed, but Dungy... He's just a nice guy.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:50pm

People who do not recognize that Schottenheimer and Reid were/are well above average coaches are ignorant. This is not a valid criticism of Dungy.

There has never been, and never will be, an NFL coach with an impressive win/loss record who did not have more terrific players than is the norm. This is not a valid criticism of Dungy.

The most valid criticism of Dungy is his spotty record of hiring assistants, which is similar to a guy like Shanahan, who has a spotty record of hiring defensive assistants.

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:06pm

I never said Marty and Andy Reid were "average". Way to throw out the straw man again.

Also, there is a difference between having " above average players" and a defense with 3 Hall of Fame guys and maybe 4 other pro bowl caliber players. That's a little bit of a stacked roster no? How about having the best quarterback ever?

I could see how it would be difficult for Dungy to pick assistant coaches, when you are only looking at a limited pool of guys. Bill Bellicheck might want to hire anybody... the best guy for the job, where as Dungy was more often than not acting like a politician.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:47pm

I never said that you said that Schottenheimer and Reid were average. Way to throw out the strawman again.

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by DGL :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:53pm

I don't know - playing conservative defense, making your opponents execute, and lengthening the game sounds like a sound strategy when you've got seven or so pro-bowl caliber players. If you're generally the better team on the field, you don't want to play a risky, attacking defense that is liable to give up fluky big plays.

To me, it sounds like Dungy had a coaching style that matched his team, which I think it the most important characteristic a coach can have.

Now if he coached the Browns the same way, I'd agree that he's not a very good coach.

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by Theo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:57pm

You're totally right. But that style of defense shortens the game (not longer).

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:11pm

There is a difference between "playing conservative defense" and running the same frigging Tampa 2 coverage over and over like it's your religion. You sort of take the element of surprise and reading coverages away.

If you are facing Bill Bellicheck you have no idea what he's going to do.
If you are facing Rex Ryan you might face any number of exotic blitzes
If you are facing Lebeau you get the blitzes and exotic coverages

Dungy... You know you are going to get the Tampa 2, so pick your best Tampa 2 breaking play.... You don't see a problem with this? You don't think that has anything to do with his team losing at home as a favorite to the Eagles in the playoffs again and again?

Playing the devils advocate is fine, but I strongly disagree with Dungy. He's in the Brian Billeck category. The funny thing is I've seen people play devils advocate for Dungy and say that he "made the Colts offense good", because he knew so much about defense... absurd. That's like saying Brian Billeck "made the Ravens defense good" because he was such an offensive guru and I haven't seen anybody stupid enough to argue that.

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by DrewTS (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:15pm

"The funny thing is I've seen people play devils advocate for Dungy and say that he "made the Colts offense good", because he knew so much about defense... absurd."

Never in all my days have I once heard someone claim that Tony Dungy made the Colts offense good. His main contribution to the offense was recognizing that he had nothing to add to it, granting it autonomy, and staying the hell out of it. (Note -- I mean that as a compliment.) He absolutely did, however, make the Colts defense better than it was prior to his arrival. DVOA bears this out, as do the on-field results.

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:31pm

One of the smart guys on this site said so. It was another genius playing devils advocate. Mayyyybeee....

No.. No... you are awarded no points.

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by DrewTS (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 4:42pm

OK, so one person, who you can't even name, at some point in the past, that you also can't name. Thank god, for a minute there, I thought you were resorting to a straw man.

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by perly :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:27pm

I love that 10 years later, people can claim with ostensibly straight faces that the fatal flaw in Tony Dungy's Bucs was defensive predictability and not, say, the Shaun King-Mike Alstott-Jacquez Green triplets of 1999.

There's a reason Rich McKay's not a personnel guy anymore.

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by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:37pm

Actually when Dungy was fired in 2001, he had a loaded roster.

Brad Johnson at QB
Mike Allstot at FB
Warrick Dunn at HB
Keyshaun Johnson at WR
and about 3 HOFers and 8 pro bowlers on defense.

Nice try with the Shaun King, Jaquez Green crap. The Bucs fired Fungy and won the Super Bowl after he got shit canned.

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by perly :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 4:31am

Dungy had one year with Brad and two years with Keyshawn. In 2001, with both, that loaded offense was good for 3 FGs vs. 4 INTs in the playoff loss at Philly.

So again, the problem in Tampa wasn't defense, and it's hard to see that it was even Dungy. Adding McCardell and Jurevicius in 2002 made a big difference to that offense. Dungy's Bucs never had even a marginal #2 WR.

102
by ib (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:15am

Vince Verhei: "Eric Weddle misses a tackle and Shonn Greene breaks a long touchdown run to put the Jets up two scores. This sport is so stupid sometimes."

I love how when Adrian Peterson or some other media hyped first round draft pick running back knocks over a defender it's a great powerful run, but when an unknown back on the Jets bowls over a safety, it's a missed tackle. Funny how many "missed tackles" Shonn Greene has created lately.

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by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:36am

I love how fans take offense to knee-jerk, not-thought-out reactions by writers of this site.

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by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:25pm

Agreed. These guys are fans. Folks here get all in a huff in their team is not mentioned during the season and then get in a huff if their team is not properly assessed by the readers' standards.

I give the FO team a lot of credit for posting their thoughts when they know that this drivel will happen. It must become irritating over time.

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by whatyousay :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:25pm

er, you may want to look a bit more into the concept of a missed tackle.

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by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:17am

Re: Aaron's 19-0 comment about the Colts

I won't wonder what could have been. I'm not sure they needed it so much on offense, but their defense looked rejuvenated and healthy. This is the defense that was out there earlier in the year and hadn't really been the same in a while, seemingly due to injuries and being banged up. I don't think you see the defense be that level of dominant without resting players.

106
by DGL :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:19am

The only time that you can accurately say, "If he makes that field goal the game goes into overtime" is a field goal on the last play of regulation with the kicking team behind by three points.

Saying that Kaeding making a field goal with 6:31 left in the first quarter would have resulted in the rest of the game playing out the same - but with the Chargers having three more points - makes no sense.

116
by Arsonist (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:37am

The footballoutsiders only like to make fun of other people's stupid dogmas, they never say anything stupid. They are elitists from Boston. You must be new.

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by NRG :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:31pm

As a fellow Northeastern graduate, all I can do is chuckle at your "elitist" comment. Aaron (and maybe others here) went to the school that average kids who grew up in Boston attend, which is far from elitist. Further, though everyone has blind spots, the FO staff tend to take shots at dogmas of all kinds. They'll even ridicule each other's blind spots and stupid comments. But then you may not be aware of that. You must be new. . .

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by billsfan :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:05pm

Off the top of my head, at least three of the Outsiders went to Ivy League schools, and at even more went to law school. I chortle at your chuckle.

I had no idea average kids from Boston go to Brown.

(I also like the Eagles)

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by Steve J (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:12pm

@DGL

I think if Kaeding hits that FG in the first quarter, that game is FAR different. The Jets were never down by more than one score, which I thought was critical for that sort of team. Sanchez was OK, but the Jets never asked him to do very much.

Hard to prove a counterfactual, but my guess would be that the Chargers win by a couple of scores if Kaeding hits there.

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by DGL :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:44pm

Well, that's kind of my point. You can't say what would happen. Maybe instead of taking over on the 26, the Jets run the ensuing kickoff back for a TD. Maybe the Chargers go up by 10 and Schottenheimer doesn't run as much. Maybe down by ten the Jets are more aggressive on fourth down, going for it instead of kicking a field goal, and close it up. If Aaron had said, "If Kaeding makes one of those FGs it's a different ballgame," I'd agree. But to simply say if Kaeding makes one of the missed FGs the game goes into OT, well, that's pretty shallow.

113
by Temo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:31am

Well, I'll see you guys next August then. Baseball season's coming up, right?

In any case, go Jets!

119
by mrh :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:52am

Re the Vikings scoring at the end of the game. I don't see a problem with scoring in and of itself. Or trying to score. What I see as a problem is the fact that Favre and Peterson were still in the game. They should have been safely sitting on the bench rather than risking injury, starting with the 2nd last Viking possession.

131
by Joe T. :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:25pm

I would have thought they would have sat Favre too, what with the Cowboy's defense obviously getting frustrated and potentially chippy.

136
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:29pm

I was thinking that with 6 minutes to go.

I thought Childress must have a hate on for Dallas. His post game suggests as much and it's not like him at all to run up the score. But back to back weeks now he's left the first team out there to score TD's when the game was decided.

He also showed more aggression than I expected once they were up 20-3. I thought he would just keep running regardless of the effectiveness, but they actually called some passing plays.

229
by Dave :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:21pm

He seems to have had a huge chip on his shoulder since being emasculated by his QB. Like now he's overcompensating and trying to win the team back by being hyper aggressive and giving his team what they want.

I actually like it. Evil Chilly is way more interesting than the old one. And probably also more effective.

122
by Johnny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:01pm

Colt fans are getting really arrogant and overconfident already. Take some advice: be careful what you wish for...especially for a team that has a history of choking in the playoffs more times than not this decade (Manning finally got to a 500 winning percentage in the playoffs..yay! Greatest ever!).

The Colts have it all lined up for them by playing the # 6 and now #5 seeds in the playoffs. But if you think this game is a lock, then you obviously haven't watched football in the past decade. Don't get overconfident.

135
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:26pm

Manning doesn't have the Dungy nuce around his neck ( what was his playoff record?). Hey, firing Dungy worked in Tampa to bring the Lombardi trophy home.

164
by Purds :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:45pm

Johnny: Really? I haven't seen any Colts fans post some type of arrogant boast, like that they should be favorites in the tournament. Maybe you're reading other forums?

In any case, we'll take the nod from Patriots Nation 2007 and not be overconfident. Check. (Because, like, being overconfident has worked for the Colts fan base before?) If you think Colts fans will be overconfident, then you obviously haven't listened to Colts fans in the last decade. Don't create stereotypes.

128
by tgt2 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:17pm

Tom Gower: Heads-up move by Tony Richardson to point to Shonn Greene as a dumpoff target for Sanchez with Eric Weddle trying to take him down. Not so heads-up of a move by Richardson was failing to block Weddle's path to Sanchez in the first place.

I think Richardson was pointing at Shonn Greene because Greene was supposed to block the outside rusher, not cut inside Richardson and flare to the flat. That looked very much like an accusatory point to me.

132
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:25pm

The thoughts expressed by FO is that there were a bunch of closely grouped teams at that were hard to separate. I don't think it was just FO - certainly point rating sites like Sagarin had teams closely bunched. But the playoffs have been anything but for the most part; with only two close games out of eight and the average score in the other six of 32-10.

Hasn't made for the most exciting playoffs ever.

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by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:31pm

I think it's cool that the Jets are in the mix. All the other teams remaining are very much the same...great pass offences - suspect pass defences. The Jets are the exact opposite - they don't pass well but they defend it better than anyone.

I find games with contrasting styles far more interesting.

140
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:36pm

I get what you're saying, but the Saints do have the ninth-ranked pass defense according to DVOA. Their run defense is more suspect.

156
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:18pm

Pass DVOA

Saints -4.1
Jets -34.6

not exactly in the same league. I also much more skeptical of a pass defence DVOA rating that is mostly gained via ints (NO 3rd with 26). GB was listed as top pass defence largely due to their 30 ints - but I think Arz, Pitt and Minn laid waste to the argument that GB plays good pass defence). The Jets were 14th in ints with 17. But net yds per attempt:

NYJ 4.6
the second ranked team 5.4, NO 19th at 6.2

I don't think there is any comparison in the pass defences of these two teams.

165
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:50pm

I didn't say the Saints were similar to the Jets; rather, I pointed that out because you lumped them in with the Colts and Vikings, saying they all had "suspect" pass defenses.

While a -4.1% pass defense DVOA is not great, it's not suspect.

175
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:10pm

I think a lot of their -4.1 rating is based on 26 ints. My belief is that DVOA is giving to much credit to NO for those ints.

Indy averages 5.5 against per attempt versus NO 6.2, but Indy had only 16 ints. I'll take the 5.5 and 16 int defence any day over the 6.2.

185
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:40pm

Actually, the Saints' passing DVOA was around #1 for most of the year, but they were heavily hit by injuries in the second half that brought them down to 9th place. At least 2 of their top 3 corners (Greer, Porter, Gay) were out in just about every game, FS Darren Sharper missed time, and numerous other players on the Defense also missed time. They're as healthy as they've been since the first half now, and it showed.

And it's not just INTs; the good secondary play has lead to sacks (it lets Gregg Williams really go wild with blitzes), incompletions, and a lot of 3rd down completions short of the first down marker (which you saw against Arizona).

Of course, this just reinforces your point; they're strong on pass D, its the run D that can be attacked.

141
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:38pm

It is entirely rational that the Colts are substantial favorites, but I'd give the Jets a better than 30% chance to win.

143
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:39pm

At this time of year, I'd say any remaining team has at least a 30% chance to win a given game. It's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Jets. :P

152
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:57pm

Okay, I'll be precise. I'd say the Jets have a 38.999956856129478% chance of winning, meaning I wouldn't call a Jets trip to Miami in a couple of weeks a huge upset.

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by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:01pm

So this is where you guys go on Mondays. Well, Will, it seems things turned out well for your rooting interests, if not your analysis. You are allowed to have this negativity that fans bring, however, because you are actually knowledgeable, quite a historian, and a long time loyal fan of one of the iconic franchises in the NFL. And that franchise has let it's nation down too many times. Maybe this time will be different. Like I've been saying since around week 6, they are the best team with the most talent in the NFC. I still say they will meet Indy for the whole box of candy, as I also said in week 6, although I was wrong in thinking that someone would knock off New Orleans such that the Championship game would be at Minny. And, as to Indy, oh yes they are now facing a very live dog where an upset would not be a surprise, F.O. articles ridiculing Ryan and the Jets to the contrary. (along with the usual "nattering nabobs of negativism" as some long ago disgraced politician nonetheless accurately called the perennial critics who criticize just because, well, someone has to)

I read some of the earlier posts about the "running up the score" thing and someone before you said he didn't get the idea that the majority of the players give a shit about this in today's game. I can tell you for sure that in years past that was not the case. But, today, those that I'm still in touch with have a decidely different take than the past on most matters of game etiguette and professional courtesy. And since that is the case then no. 4 and company could do whatever they wanted. The spoils go to the victors. Still, as much as I personally dislike Jerry Jones, and I do mean personally, I am sorry for the Dallas nation. They have a fine team with an owner who meddles, it will be hard, if not impossible, to ever get back to the Bowl. At the time of the great Cowboy team led by a serious winner Jimmy Johnson, there was a more humble Mr Jones who hadn't yet elevated himself in his own mind as the person who was responsible for that dynasty. But like so many of these greedy, egomaniac owners, he decided that he had put these elements together and "any one of 500 people" could've coached them to their SB wins. Jerry Jones got surprised yesterday. Too funny. He listened to too much talking head pollution and perhaps read the F.O. year long assessments of the Vikes. You know something is happening here, but you don't know what it is--do you Mr Jones ?...

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:07pm

Is it "negativity" to note that the Vikings offensive line hadn't had a good game against a motivated opponent in two months, and that trends become trends because they usually continue? Yeah, I expected the Cowboys to win, but I also noted that if the Vikings won, it would be due to the Cowboys offensive line getting beat in a noisy dome. I sure didn't have any expectation that their bludgeoning would be as complete as it turned out to be, however. How many predicted that the Vikings would win by four touchdowns?

In any case, the Vikings can beat the Saints, but now it will be time for the offensive line to earn it's pay.

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by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:45pm

Will, you're giving TOO MUCH credit to the noise. Never mind the ridiculous proclamations of F.O., the Vikes are a dominant team over the Cowboys and the NFC East is an over-rated thing. You got down on your team for becoming tired, apparently you forgot, or never understood, their full capacity. If they lose in New Orleans it will be because of Favre's, or Peterson's, or somebody elses, turnovers. It will not resemble what happened in Arizona or Carolina. I do not foresee even the best NFC offensive line, which does belong to N.O., being able to handle Mr J Allen and his brethren on the line. And I don't foresee that Favre will have to win it. This week Mr "Chilly" can have his way and have a big ground game. You just need no.28 to hang onto the ball. Those Saints got one helluva ball hawk. Too bad he's still not on Minny. If he were there would be zero chance for New Orleans and the Vikes would've likely been the ones threatening a perfect season. But he isn't and that is that. Minny had better try to stay out of his neighborhood Sunday...

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:40pm

Rick, I mostly got down on the Vikings because they were not blocking people like they did last year, when they played, yes, exactly the same number of games. I understand their full capacity. The issue is whether they will play to it. Look, if you want to read into the outcome of one game some unifed theory of football analysis, fine. Personally, I think it is likely more accurate to say that they were playing a group of offensive linemen who have been mostly below average pass blockers for many years now, in very noisy road environment, against very good pass rushers, and those offensive linemen reverted to form. If you go back and read the threads from last week, I stated that this was a distinct possibility, and would be the path that most likely would allow the Vikings to win.

If Favre throws interceptions, it will likely be due to Brees and Co. jumpimg out to a lead, and the Vikings offensive line failing to gash the Saints by running. If the Vikings offensive line does do so, and certainly it is easier to do that to the Saints' than the Cowboys' defensive fronts, then it is most unlikely that Favre will put the ball in danger, and Brees just won't have the ball enough. This is a game that Hutchinson and Co. can win.

Having said all that, this is also a game where either team can make huge special teams plays, and have a huge influnce on the outcome. It should be fun to watch.

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by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 6:24pm

Indeed it should be fun. As to the Vikes failure in a mere couple of games--it's a long season brother, and very, very, very hard to force the body in a sport that hurts to play and takes amounts of energy that are hard for the average man to conceive of. The Vikes should be recharged now with plenty of adrenaline flowing.

Obviously, you'er correct about the ST being a big factor here. Reggie Bush looked pretty recharged too. They just need to kick it away from him. They should be kicking plenty of times...

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by mediator12 :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:20pm

I would think you would have to include INDY as a team that can also play the pass well. IF you look solely at the Passing DVOA of this team as being 3.4%, then you are missing the context of what made it that over the last 5 weeks of the season when they rested Freeney, Mathis, and Powers was out with injury. Their Passing DVOA was much higher than that before they started gearing up for the playoffs, and essentially surrendering a lot of garbage stats.

This is the first time their defense has been healthy and ready since before the last BAL game in week 11. What should make people be aware of this INDY team is how different they are with teams past. A lot has been made of the 7 comeback victories, but not much has been made of the 6 games the defense was left to finish off teams in the fourth quarter and INDY called off the Dogs on offense. DVOA is not very kind to them for that. We are talking about JAX in the opener, @ ARI, SEA, @TEN, @STL (the only true AWFUL team they played all year, and SF.

INDY played very different games each week based on the opponent. Some games they won with firepower and Manning alone, that would be the three games against NE, JAX, and MIA. Some they won by scoring 20 or less and with great scoring defense, that would be 4 games against JAX, SF, HOU and @ BAL. However, the other 7 games they won by playing Balanced football. Playing balanced would be with the offense scoring their usual over 24 points and the defense holding teams to 20 or less outside of @ HOU where the defense started terrible and totally finished the game until a late garbage TD.

What you saw from INDY this year was a credible Defense, until they started to pull players late in the year and got injured. That Defense is healthy again, and they can play the pass as good as anyone outside the Jets. For once they have also played the run really well outside the MIA game, and after the JETS were playing against street FA's in the third quarter. Remember, the Jets had 113 yards of offense before the second and third string Defenders entered that game in the third Quarter. INDY also did not play 4 defensive starters at all in that game. Mathis, Session, Bullitt, and Powers never saw a snap. Plus, Freeney had like 8 snaps, yet still had a sack.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that teams do not want to get into a shootout with INDY. INDY's strengths are pass offense AND pass defense. That, coupled with playing the run all year better than in the Dungy era, makes them a lot more capable of winning playoff games than in the past. This is not the same Colts team that Manning has entered the postseason with in the past. It is much more balanced than it used to be.

146
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 12:48pm

Maybe the point here is that you can't trust the last few weeks of a season where the #1 seeds basically have the whole thing wrapped up. Or maybe it's that injuries to your best players matter? Regardless, it seems like the midseason DVOA of these teams was more applicable than the late season version.

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by billsimmonsblows (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:22pm

The Favre hatred by the people who write for this site is obvious. I know that it's a national phenomenon, but it's very pronounced in the northeast corridor. Some of it is because of the whole Mississipi, red state rube thing that Favre has going on, some of it is because of the way he played the Jets, and some of it is because people in the northeast tend to be overly dramatic about things.

159
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:27pm

Honestly, most of it is because we're tired of the media fawning over every time he picks his nose. I was glad to see him do well this year, and have enjoyed watching him play. I still do, with the sound off, because I get tired of the giant sucking sounds coming from the booth crew whenever he does something.

161
by NRG :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:37pm

Favre is a huge drama queen, and we are all subjected to it endlessly and relentlessly for months at a time. It has nothing to do with where he lives, or the inferiority complexes of people who live there. It's not a conspiracy; it's media over-saturation pure and simple. I get sick of anyone whose name is in my face every single day for months, particularly in the off season. I am not alone in that sentiment.

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by billsimmonsblows (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:54pm

You suffer from Favre Derangement Syndrome. Why the hell do you let media coverage of a player effect you one way or the other? Seriously, who cares. No one cares when Peyton Manning or Tom Brady are practically deified. And you know what, they are great players who deserve the hype. So is Brett Favre.

And I am not from the South. I'm actually from Philly. I'm objective enough to be able to observe how the Favre Derangement Syndrome is especially pronounced in the northeast.

182
by ammek :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:32pm

I agree. Although Favre is a cannier exploiter of the media than he is given credit for (that's the farm boy stereotype at work), it's not his fault that he can't throw a pass without one announcer or another sending him a valentine. As for the clichés (gunslinger, velocity of throws, iron man, just having fun, etc), they only seem so tired because he has been playing for two decades, and the announcers haven't thought to find new ones. (Oh, sorry, yes they have: mentioning the 239,427 different NFL starters at QB since he threw his first pass. Gee. He's old.)

Other than that, the hostility mostly comes down to that old chestnut, 'overrated'. And when he throws a pick this weekend, even if Peterson has been ineffective as he was Sunday, you can bet that the dreaded duo of QB W-L playoff record and passer rating will get an airing (with convenient 1997 cutoff date).

That said, I have the advantage of living in Europe, where I can escape the offseason rolling-news overkill. On the other hand, when Lady Diana died, I was in England, and it was f**king unbearable.

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by Jerry :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 6:12am

Ignoring the "offseason rolling-news overkill" when discussing people's reaction to Favre is like ignoring Casablanca when discussing Humphrey Bogart's career.

203
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:19pm

Deify Petyon Manning, Deify Tom Brady, Deify Brett Favre, I just hate to see average players get deified... see Mike Vick. You would have thought he was the best player ever or was on that path they way they talked about him. Some clown that got drafted by the Bengals ( I even forgot his name) to play WR said that the Peyton Mannings and Tom Brady's of the NFL would become dinosaurs. I wish I had that quote and the knucklehead who said it but it's gone into the ash heap of history.

In a couple of years there will be no more Brett Favre the player, only Favre in the booth ( maybe), and you know what... you'll wish he was still playing. Just like Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Steve Young, and Troy Aikman. I never liked Aikman or Young the players, but I wish they were still playing.

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by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:33pm

Very well said. Most of the rational players in the NFL appreciate that kind of thinking coming from fans and wish that all the fans thought this way...

204
by asaltz :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:23pm

No one cares when Peyton Manning or Tom Brady are practically deified.

That's not been my experience in Philadelphia or Baltimore (hardly the northeast).

167
by bubqr :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 1:53pm

Colts/Jets rematch :

Anyone say that the Colts "let" the Jets into the playoffs by playing their backups, implying they would have won with their starters. But, if this is true, why all the fuss about meeting them again ?
If they win sunday, then they gave a team they "knew" they could beat a chance to get into the playoffs, where they could face(and beat) them at some point.
If they lose, then they didn't "let them in" the playoffs : chances are they also would have lost their week 15 matchup.
All in all, no regrets, and no debate.

183
by mediator12 :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:35pm

Almost all of the comments on the Colts letting The Jets Win that game have been based on pulling Manning, Wayne, and Clark with the lead in the third quarter. However, what is interesting is what I posted above in post 178. INDY never played 4 starters on Defense and only played Freeney on 8 third and long plays. Basically, The JETS got 3 points on half of INDY's backups and 113 yards. Then, when INDY had all their backups and even third stringers playing the JETS scored their 19 points. 8 of those were on TO's from Painter, and the other 11 were on the defense.

This is technically a rematch, but lets get real here. INDY was never playing that game with a full team from the outset. So, While I fully believe the Jets have a small chance to beat INDY, its a lot smaller than what Will A. gave them earlier.

180
by Kidneypuncher (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:28pm

Why no talk of Pierre Garcon learning defensive techniques while on special teams last year? Is it wrong I see a connection there?

190
by Jim B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 2:59pm

Boy, if the Jets beat the Colts at home in the AFC Championship game, the s*** is really going to hit the fan for Polian and Caldwell, and it's going to be absolutely hilarious.

Really pulling for a Jets upset. Can't wait to see the media carnage.

201
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:11pm

I don't know; in a way, couldn't a loss to the Jets silence the "Colts let them win" crowd, considering, you know, that the Jets just beat the Colts in a game in which the latter was trying as hard as possible?

205
by Purds :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:27pm

Nope. Conventional wisdom has set the Colts on such a high pedestal this year, that should Indy do anything but win the SB by double digits, the average media guy is going to hammer them. Evidence: rookie head coach goes 14-2, but gets little credit because "all the pieces were in place" and "Manning coaches that team" (defense, too!). Reading the comments in the coach of the year thread, I realized that folks take the Colts greatness for granted, and that any loss, any time or place, is going to be greeting with jeers. Inane stuff like this is written after the Colts win their first playoff game:

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/12796335/methodical-can-beat-ravens-b...

All the other teams are lauded (Saints got their mojo back, the Jets are the Cinderella story, the Farves got their mojo back), but the Colts? Well, if they ever lose again it will show what idiots they are over there.

Sad.

212
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:54pm

Every year there are a lot of badly written and misinformed articles about the NFL. However, that Greg Doyle article is so absurdly bad that he must have been trying to be 1) funny, or 2) polarizing to gain attention.

214
by morganja :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:58pm

The curse of High Expectations. That's why I go out on first dates in dirty clothes, unshowered, and 'forget' my wallet. With low expectations already set, remembering to flush the toilet is cause for congratulations.

221
by Purds :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:30pm

My personal tactic is to overestimate everything when it comes to telling my family how long I'll be gone. "I'm going golfing. It's 10 am. I'll be back at about 5." If I come back at 4 pm, I am a hero, not the putz who took 6 hours to play golf.

230
by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 5:22pm

Yes, it's been tough to be a Colts fan the last ten years. Averaging 11-12 wins (just think what they'd have done if they tried all the time). Best QB in football who is a top 5 all-timer. Won one Super Bowl (after which the redemptive Manning CAN win the big one was the predominant story), and didn't lose any SBs. Yep, rooting for the Colts is quite the cross to bear, particularly when so many people "take the Colts greatness for granted."

You might want to just enjoy the greatness. Lot of stupid stuff written in media and message boards (about the Colts and other teams), as I am sure you've noticed. If Colts lose to the Jets, that may merit some examination, since it would at least arguably be an unexpected result. Some may tie it to Week 16, which does seem pretty weak. You will feel worse about the loss I imagine than anything written about the loss. If Colts win SB, whatever crap is written about "could have been 19-0" shouldn't matter to you -- much better to go 17-2 and win the SB than, oh, say, 18-1 when the "1" is the last one.

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by Purds :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 9:25pm

"You might want to just enjoy the greatness."

See, that's what I am trying to do. I KNOW these are "the good old days." I was there in college when my friends gave me a t-shirt for Christmas that read "I Love A Winner" on the front, and "Go Colts, 1-15" on the back.

But I am getting annoyed with the national analysis of the weekend's games and the ones to come, because the assumption is that if the Colts win, they should have won, and if they lose, they're dumb to have rested/chokers. I just want to hear a commentator or two talk about the good things the Colts did Saturday, like the Colts defense, or the new WR's playing well. Instead, we hear about how if the Colts don't make it to the SB, like 30 other teams, it will be a massive failure for them. Really? In other words, it's almost impossible to enjoy their good role because it's being discounted by so many (the Caldwell as caretaker thing is really bothering me -- I don't have proof that he's great, but he's done things very differently than Dungy and had great results: new DC, new ST coordinator, first-team offense vs. first-team defense in pads with contact for 3 days during the bye week, etc.). Maybe you're right that I ought to ignore the comments from the MSM, but it's amazing to see it even here with posters, who still seem to think "swagger" and "mojo" matter.

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by patriotsgirl :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 6:10am

As a general rule, most of the media doesn't know football, they're lazy, and they have the attention span of a gnat. Plus, they'll turn on you in a second if you do something that goes against "conventional wisdom."

As I recall, the Colts weren't really criticized by a whole heck of a lot of people until Week 16, when they made a controversial decision that enabled media members to go holier-than-thou. Of course, there were principled reasons to disagree with Caldwell's decision, but the media didn't go with those - they just went for the outrage/page hits (kind of like Belichick's 4th and 2 call).

As a fellow follower of a formerly 1-15 team, let me tell you again to enjoy the ride. If they lose to the Jets (which I'm pretty confident they won't), the loss will be much more painful than what any two-bit reporters and message board trolls have to say. (I say this from personal experience.) And if they win, they'll be playing an equally talented team in the Super Bowl, so anyone with any sense should have shut up about it by then, even if they lose.

(Plus, won't it give you the teensiest bit of schadenfreude if the Colts win despite the naysayers? A small part of me will, just because the media was so ridiculously overzealous, and I'm far from a Colts fan.)

195
by morganja :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:03pm

It has become painfully obvious through the years that, for whatever reason, the head ref is incapable of lookng at a replay and applying the 'indisputable visual evidence' rule. Instead they tend to go into 'all white jury at the Rodney King Trial' mode and talk themselves into seeing something that just isn't there. It really is amazing the number of challenges that have resulted in refs coming back out with completely ludicrous decisions.

It's no wonder that coaches challenge things that don't even look close sometimes. It can be a crapshoot.

I wonder if it's not related to the fact that the refs are out running around in one mode and then asked to enter a completely different mode under the hood.

Easy solution is to have someone at NFL headquarters assigned to each game and do the challenges there. Benefits include having people trained exclusively in the one skillset, access to others including league ref officials who can help in difficult calls, more time to actually look at the play instead of runnign on and off the field and handling the other ref duties, and they could hire people who understand what 'indisputable visual evidence' means.

210
by Jetspete :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 3:47pm

On the flip side of Nate Kaeding, you have Jay Feely's key make of a 46 yard field goal that the jets desperately needed to get something on the board. the play was 4th and one and ryan wasted a timeout to think about going for it. had feely missed there, the jets wouldve lost any chance at gaining momentum.

The good thing for the Jets is that all the pressure is on Indy. A loss to the team it "allowed" into the play-offs would be a backbreaker for that organization. On the flip side, if the colts lost to the jets i dont think any 13-0 team would ever again rest its starters, so NFL fans win in that case.

216
by Quality Control (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:03pm

Gardner,
I heard Peyton yell on that sack he took, but I thought at the time it was "GOD DAMMIT DALLAS!" or "GOD DAMMIT DONALD!" He may project the image of a Boy Scout, but I doubt he calls Charlie Johnson "Charles," especially when it would mean he's being chased down by Terrell Suggs.

218
by morganja :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 4:10pm

He might want to be a little careful what he calls him. Worse than being chased down by Terrell Suggs is being chased down by Terrell Suggs and Charlie Johnson.

257
by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Mon, 01/18/2010 - 10:37pm

Pet peeve: "We want to keep opponent's defense on the field and their offense off it." They still get the same damn number of possessions you do, give or take who has the last possession in the first and second halves, and onside kicks.

You do know that there are other metrics besides number of possessions for how long an offense or defense is on the field, right?

268
by Spoon :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 11:14am

You do know that there are other metrics besides number of possessions for how long an offense or defense is on the field, right?

Yes, but the amount of points you score is still limited by number of possessions. Whether a drive lasts two minutes or ten, the best possible outcome is a touchdown. The only point where time of possession matters is when you've already built a lead, and the opponent needs to maximize the amount of possessions remaining to them. Saying before the game that you want to keep Peyton Manning on the sidelines is ridiculous, because teams alternate possessions. Even if you get and keep the ball for the entire first half, the best you could do would be to score one touchdown. Manning would still get the ball to start the second half, with the chance to tie the game at seven-all.

273
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 2:52pm

Really? Which one? Because I don't know of one. Time of possession just measures how long in game time an offense or defense is on the field, and last time I checked, players don't get magically tired just because a clock on the stadium wall is running.

272
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 01/19/2010 - 2:50pm

But... if they do lose next week -- effectively blowing their Super Bowl shot against a team that wouldn't be in the playoffs if not for the Colts' throwing their Week 16 game

Yes, except for the fact that if the Jets win next week, Colts fans can complain, but everyone else can point out that they could've easily lost the Week 16 game if they tried, considering they were trying in the playoffs, and lost.

Really, the Colts FO is in a win-win situation with regards to resting starters in Week 16/17. If they win the Super Bowl, they say "hey, look, we said we're focusing on the Super Bowl, and we were right!" and if they lose, they can say "we didn't focus enough on winning the Super Bowl, there's no way we should've played starters in Week 16/17."