Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

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

11 Oct 2010

Audibles at the Line: Week 5

compiled by Bill Barnwell

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, which means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Chicago Bears 23 at Carolina Panthers 6

Mike Kurtz: This game is going to be all run, all the time. Both teams have scored on drives that were either mostly (Bears) or entirely (Panthers) running plays. Carolina's offensive line is getting good push against the Bears defensive line and opening up some nice holes.

Two drives in, Matt Forte has 101 yards and two touchdowns. The second came on the first play of the second drive for 68 yards.

And how do you follow that big run up? Why, and end-around to Hester, a run up the middle by Chester Taylor, a broken pass play and a way-too-short quick slant. Awesome.

A series by the goal line ends with Todd Collins with an ugly interception in the end zone. Moral of the story: Forte.

Well, this is interesting. After OPI, they run it into the line for a loss of one, with holding. The Bears decline the penalty, which would've left the Panthers with first-and-30 at their own 5-yard line. The next play, Clausen's handoff flies out of his hands, down to the Carolina 2. Can't help but think there's some chance that could've ended with a safety had they accepted.

Vince Verhei: After a 17-3 halftime lead, Chicago's first three drives consist of three Matt Forte runs, six Todd Collins pass plays, and zero first downs. Bad Mike Martz! No biscuit!

Doug Farrar: Mike Martz: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

Mike Kurtz: It's that kind of game -- Matt Moore comes in, immediately throws a pass that bounces off the receiver's thigh, right into Urlacher's hands.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 at Cincinnati Bengals 21

David Gardner: And here's the first evidence of the Bucs without Tanard Jackson -- a 43-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens. Owens was wide open, with Sabby Piscitelli wandering aimlessly around in the secondary.

Doug Farrar: Awe. Some. If you told me that Brian Russell was the Bucs’ secondary coach, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

David Gardner: Cody Grimm just had a nice pick for a score for the Bucs. It looks like they were running Cover-3 with Talib dropping back in deep coverage and Grimm cutting the route underneath.

Doug Farrar: Note to Josh Freeman: This is a learning experience. When you’re dealing with Johnathan Joseph in the opposing secondary, don’t throw to a zone and hope it works out for the best. Bad idea, pick, 60-yard run by Earnest Graham (!) wasted.

Bill Barnwell: Out of the fullback slot, too! Earnest Graham is a really nifty football player. Made Chris Crocker look like ... the other Chris Crocker.

David Gardner: Graham is definitely under-used as well. But he'll get more of a presence in the offense now -- it seems like they are reducing Cadillac Williams' role.

Bill Barnwell: Now, are they also specifically scripting plays where Josh Freeman scrambles for his life and taps the "pass" button on his controller as lightly as possible?

David Gardner: And now Sabby is trying to start fights after the end of plays.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, there’s something wrong with Carson Palmer, Near the end of the second half, the Bengals run a red zone route combo on the defensive right side in which Sabby has solo coverage on T.O. in the end zone for about half a second.

David Gardner: Here's something you aren't used to seeing from the Bucs -- a methodical, 5:30 touchdown drive that moves more than 70 yards down the field.

Bill Barnwell: That drive gets to the one with ... Josh Freeman throwing a jump pass off of his back feet that gets called as a DPI in the end zone.

Very questionable overturn on that fumbled kickoff. Looked like it was far from conclusive.

David Gardner: Piscitelli just managed to let Jermaine Gresham get behind him when the Bengals were on the 1-yard-line. He never even looked back for the ball.

Bill Barnwell: In all fairness, he had an entire field to look at. There was probably something in the distance distracting him.

David Gardner: Bucs go for it on fourth-and-7 from the Bengals' 40-yard line. The pass falls incomplete, but Morris had called a timeout just before the play. It was late-game field goal esque. On try two, they punted and pinned the Bengals at the 5.

Bill Barnwell: Benson promptly dragged Sabby Piscitelli for five yards on first down.

And then for three yards on third-and-1.

David Gardner: Benson is bullying the Bucs. He's averaging 6.8 yards a carry.

On third-and-13, the Bengals decide to throw instead of forcing the Bucs to call their final timeout. Palmer throws it to Owens, but Talib jumps it and hands the Bucs the ball in Bengals' territory.

Mike Williams is officially one of the draft's biggest steals. He elevated on that touchdown catch.

Bill Barnwell: Bengals go right after Sabby Piscitelli to begin the two-minute drill.

Sabby Piscitelli picks off a tipped pass.

Ben Muth: Sabby Piscitelli!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

David Gardner: Piscitelli just lucked into the interception of his career.

Bill Barnwell: And the Bengals drive downfield, take an offensive pass interference penalty, and a tipped pass falls into the hands of ... Sabby Piscitelli. Now, here's where you can tell which members of the media paid close attention: If anyone says Sabby Piscitelli had a good game, they weren't paying close attention.

Doug Farrar: Are you kidding? He’s a white guy with limited physical skills and an attitude. They’ll be nominating him for Defensive Player of the Week.

Ben Muth: Connor Barth's mustache gives me a lot of confidence for this kick.

Bill Barnwell: David Akers was way worse with his mustache, though.

David Gardner: Ben, that is word for word the e-mail I was about to send out.

Ben Muth: Great minds...

Vince Verhei: Unsung special teams hero of the day: Tampa Bay's holder. There was a bad snap on the winning field goal, but the holder did a great job to reach out for the ball and get it into position.

Rob Weintraub: The Bengals had me considering not watching football any more, I was that disgusted. However, I realized that in terms of horrific, unspeakable losses the Bengals have inflicted on me and my fellow fans, this one likely doesn't crack the top ten.

St. Louis Rams 6 at Detroit Lions 44

Doug Farrar: Suh-WEET coverage by O.J. Atogwe on a second quarter deep ball to Calvin Johnson in the end zone. Johnson was screaming for a flag, but Atogwe was playing the ball and didn’t appear to interfere. He had to flip his hips and catch up to Megatron downfield, and that was a really good play.

Bill Barnwell: I actually thought there was a bit of an armbar there. But I don't think it was enough to call a penalty, so I guess I agree.

Doug Farrar: If his head wasn’t turned, they probably would have called it, but I think that was an example of the crew giving the defender latitude because he wasn’t facing the receiver and it wasn’t blatant.

Jahvid Best is making the Rams’ defense look absolutely silly with his ridiculous cuts. I haven’t seen this many bad things happen to this many ankles since the House of Blue Leaves scene in the first "Kill Bill."

Vince Verhei: Calvin Johnson scores a goal-line jump ball touchdown for Detroit. Can't even call it a route, he just kind of ambled half speed into the corner, jumped and caught the ball. I think it was Doug that mentioned this last week, but as bad as Detroit is, you can see them creeping further and further out of the pit they were buried in under the cruel reign of Millen.

Speaking of, did anyone else catch Millen doing commentary for the Michigan-Michigan State game? Was that done intentionally to infuriate the fanbases of both teams?

Doug Farrar: Yep, that was Megatron getting his own back on the same drive. Think that was James Butler getting abused on the touchdown. Over the last two seasons, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a franchise with better consecutive drafts than the Lions. (Note: This is less an empirical statement and more a discussion-starter).

This weekend, Matt Millen, Phil Simms, and Jim Mora will have done football on television. Meanwhile, Tony Boselli remains on the radio. I protest!

Vince Verhei: Lions score again on a pass to Brandon Pettigrew. Rams rushed four against five blockers, and Shaun Hill had more time in the pocket that play than Matthew Stafford did his entire rookie season.

Doug Farrar: Hey, Scramble guys: If you ever choose to add a “Lane Kiffin Award” for the best non-use of timeouts still in the bag, I nominate the Rams, who had two timeouts evaporate at the end of the first half while Daniel Fells bulled his way upfield for about 30 yards from the 50 on a swing pass from Sam Bradford with eight seconds left. It was a very impressive Csonka-esque run, but a total Awareness Fail, as the clock ran out. Best part: Fells went from the right sideline to the right hash to get more yardage. D’oh!

Ned Macey: I fear jinxing it, but the Lions are on their way to winning their first game that was shown on local TV since 2007. (I knew that, but the Detroit Free Press was kind enough to point out that it was a December road game in Kansas City.) Needless to say going more than two years without watching your team win a game is a little difficult for a fan.

Odd start to this game with a surprise onside kick by the Rams -- the attempt itself is not what is really weird, but Josh Brown tried to quick kick the Lions and fake them out that way, but once he did something weird, everyone was aware that something was up, so nobody could get caught retreating early. Lions turned that into a quick field goal.

Lions added their first TD on a great Stefan Logan 100+ yard kickoff return. I heard Schwartz talking on radio earlier this week saying that they were real close to breaking one, so he was apparently right about that. Logan strikes me as a great player to have--can both return explosively and cover kicks. Why did Pittsburgh give up on him?

As for the Rams, they look terrible. Mark Clayton went out early with a knee injury, which if serious is too bad because he was obviously helping Bradford develop. This is the first time I've seen Bradford, but after one half of sort of watching him, he seems solid on executing plays but that he has trouble if his first option isn't there, and he tends to panic and throw it away early.

Burleson just scored to make it 31-6, so this does appear to be all but over. The Lions are among the most improved teams in the league this year, and they'll still probably only win about 5 games. The most interesting thing from here on out is seeing how good Stafford is. With five games with Hill, we have a good view of how good this offense is with roughly the 30-40th best quarterback in the league. So, we should have a better idea if Stafford is any good by the end of the year.

Mike Kurtz: Pittsburgh got rid of Logan because he didn't really produce any value during his time there. It was much more likely the rest of the Pittsburgh special teams was to blame, though.

Doug Farrar: Bradford’s bumping into some rookie traps, most notably trusting that amazing arm of his on some really dumb throws. Chris Houston should have had a pick on a rollout/throw Bradford did into triple coverage in the first half.

New York Giants 34 at Houston Texans 10

Aaron Schatz: Hakeem Nicks is absolutely killing Kareem Jackson the same way that Roy Williams did two weeks ago. Play your number-two receivers against the Texans all year.

Tim Gerheim: Eli Manning has the easiest job in the league today. Sometimes he hands off. Other times, Hakeem Nicks is open, and he can throw it to him if he wants. The Texans corners are playing so far off the receivers that it looks like they don't expect any safety help at all, on any play. Nicks already has two touchdowns a minute into the second quarter, and I think he'd have three if they'd challenged the spot on his catch before the Brandon Jacobs score.

Matt Schaub also seems to throw a bonehead interception every week. I don't know the charting but I think most of them are directed at Andre Johnson. He may rely on Johnson's freakishness a little too much.

Tom Gower: Early on, it was one of those days for the Texans like FOA 2010 thought might happen. The running game wasn't consistently effective, too many of Schaub's passes were going to Giants defenders, and, as noted, Hakeem Nicks was making Kareem Jackson extraordinarily crispy to the point where he was benched for fellow rookie Brice McCain, I believe.

Aaron Schatz: Tony Siragusa: "The Texans aren't covering anybody." Meanwhile, FOX is showing a replay that shows Glover Quin running step for step with Steve Smith at the bottom of the shot while Nicks is toasting Jackson down the sideline. Tony, the Texans are covering somebody. That somebody is just not Hakeem Nicks.

Bill Barnwell: Bad throw by Eli Manning on a play where Brian Cushing was hurrying him. Manning did a full 180 before throwing a pass off his back foot that was picked off.

Tim Gerheim: Texans got an interception against Hakeem Nicks, which was doubly surprising. Kareem Jackson, who's been victimized all season, got it, but it's because he was playing underneath Nicks with safety help nearby over the top. Nicks has been shut out in the second half (just got a catch as I was typing that), and I'm pretty sure they've been consistently doubling him like that, and I think Glover Quin has been mostly handling Steve Smith on his own.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, I believe that interception was on a pass to Mario Manningham, not Jackson. It looks like the Giants tried to move things around after that pick -- on their last scoring drive, Nicks caught two balls with Quin covering him, and I believe that Steve Smith caught his touchdown against Jackson.

Going back to the Texans offense for a moment, man, did it seem discombobulated. Did Schaub throw to Kevin Walter at all? Apparently he did five times, but lord knows it was never when I was watching, because it hardly seemed like Walter was on the field. David Anderson was the third receiver with Jacoby Jones injured, and was targeted twice with one catch for zero yards. I don't know, I figure if you are trying to come back from being down three touchdowns, it probably makes sense to spread it around a little more.

Tim Gerheim: I don't know if I've ever seen the modern Texans offense look that terrible. I don't remember any passes to Owen Daniels, and Walter didn't do much, as you mentioned. Maybe Andre Johnson's injury caused some of the terrible throws to him, because he couldn't get to the spots Schaub would usually expect him in. The Giants may have in turn realized they didn't have to roll coverage to him as much as usual, and that caused a cascade where nobody else could get open like usual. But Schaub just seemed off all day, which may have simply been the pass rush.

Denver Broncos 17 at Baltimore Ravens 31

Bill Barnwell: Alleged goal line back Willis McGahee is stuffed twice from the one-yard line, and then the Ravens go play-action on fourth down and the Broncos get a megasack.

Doug Farrar: It appears that the new Ravens game plan is to sacrifice Joe Flacco for short gains in and out of the red zone. On their first two drives, Baltimore has called at least four quarterback sneaks/draws, and it was Flacco who scored the first rushing touchdown near the end of the first quarter. He’s putting his shoulder down on all these plays. Cam Cameron is making Josh McDaniels’ decision to defer the opening kickoff look pretty good.

Bill Barnwell: They appear to have given up on using McGahee as the goal-line back, which is nice of them considering I just traded for Ray Rice in my other fantasy league.

Doug Farrar: I've noticed that a lot of broadcasters call Josh McDaniels "McDaniel". I think this is because Phil Simms stole that "s" for strategic Asante Samuel purposes.

Atlanta Falcons 20 at Cleveland Browns 10

Ben Muth: Peyton Hillis just caught a touchdown, but came off the field limping. Cleveland can't get a break.

Doug Farrar: It was a ridiculous one-hander off a Seneca Wallace rainbow, and he’s scored a touchdown in every game this season. When you think of Denver’s horsecrap running game, remember that Josh McDaniels traded this guy for Brady Quinn.

Aaron Schatz: In defense of McDaniels, offensive lines do matter to the running game, plus Knowshon Moreno has been injured.

Bill Barnwell: Your Roddy White deep out update: He just ran a triple-move against Eric Wright on second-and-short. An out-and-up-and-out.

Doug Farrar: Joe Thomas is learning that if you come up out of your stance late against John Abraham, bad things happen. Even if you're Joe Thomas.

Oh my God ... that's Jake Delhomme's music!

/out-of-tune banjo is played

And Jake Delhomme lets the clock run out at the half instead of throwing a Hail Mary. What did they pay him again?

Ben Muth: Jake Delhomme is trying to throw a pick in the redzone, but the Falcons defense is not cooperating. So Jake takes matters into his own hands and pitches the ball to Hillis on a dive. The Falcons refuse to recover.

Bill Barnwell: Falcons finally get Roddy White open deep with play-action for a 45-yard touchdown to take the lead. Safety help nowhere to be found.

Ben Muth: Great special teams play by Joe Haden to down a punt at the one yard line. Also, Jake Delhomme continues to struggle.

Epic struggle to see who can turn in the worse performance. Delhomme at quarterback or Charles Davis on commentary.

Kroy Biermann just tipped a pass at the line and made the diving pick. Then took it all the way to the house. Really great play.

Also, has Jake Delhomme thrown more pick-sixes than anyone else in history?

Doug Farrar: Kyle Boller threw four just last year, I believe.

Ben Muth: I should know better than to discount a Golden Bear when it comes to incompetence.

Joe Thomas got bull rushed by John Abraham right into Jake's lap. It caused the game's clinching pick.

Kansas City Chiefs 9 at Indianapolis Colts 19

Bill Barnwell: Colts can't hold contain against the Chiefs. One long run was saved by a great Jerraud Powers tackle on Jamaal Charles, but Charles was able to pick up a first down a couple of plays later when Dwight Freeney spun inside and was totally out of position.

And then Jerraud Powers just saved a touchdown by nearly stripping Jamaal Charles on a sweep. Charles was able to hold onto the ball, but had to slow down and got tackled.

Vince Verhei: Chiefs are running all over the Colts early, driving to a fourth-and-2 inside the ten. So of course, Matt Cassel throws incomplete into triple coverage. Colts defenders were shouting at each other for blown assignments on the drive, and the camera caught Peyton Manning on the sidelines with his funniest face ever, looking like he had given up here in the first quarter. There is no good reason to ever throw against the Colts unless it's third-and-6 or more, or you're behind late in the fourth.

Doug Farrar: Brandon Flowers continues to earn his reputation as one of the game's best cover corners. Third-and-6 with 9:24 left in the first half, and the Colts have the ball at the Kansas City 6. Manning tried to get Pierre Garcon at the back of the end zone, but Flowers has him boxed out, and Manning has to throw it away. Flowers might not be at the Revis/Nnamdi level, but I believe he will be -- and soon.

Bill Barnwell: And then Colts get stuffed on fourth-and-2 when they audible into a draw. Now I give up.

Tom Gower: Jamaal Charles may now be spending more time on the bench, though it's not really his fault. Robert Mathis got his arm in there, and then Antoine Bethea came in and blast him with a very solid (and clean) hit, forcing a fumble the Colts came up with. The Colts get stuffed, though, on another inside run, this one on fourth-and-2, so it doesn't result in points the other way.

Bill Barnwell: Tamba Hali basically just punched Ryan Diem aside and strip-sacked Peyton Manning. Colts recovered, though. Big play on the drive was the Colts isolating Joseph Addai on a swing route versus Derrick Johnson, with Manning throwing to the back shoulder for an easy first down. Touchdown pass was knocked away because Manning was hit in his motion and the pass was short by a foot. Chiefs are staying in it, even if they're necessarily being outplayed.

Chiefs get to the red zone and run a pitch to Thomas Jones. Against the Colts. What the what? At least Eric Foster did the Bushwhackers celebration after the play.

Dwayne Bowe just dropped a pass in the end zone. Hit him in the hands. One of the worst drops you'll see all year. And then he just dropped the pass on second down, to. On third down, Cassel gets out his anger by throwing a screen to Dexter McCluster at about 95 MPH.

The Colts convert a third down with a pass to Pierre Garcon. They rush to the line so that Todd Haley can't look at any replays... so Todd Haley just throws the flag without looking at a replay.

Tom Gower: Peyton was obviously and immediately rushing the Colts up to the line to run another play, so Haley assumed Peyton saw something that required him to run a play quickly. Watching the replay, Peyton was right and Haley wins his challenge.

Peyton needs to do that on a close play where he's confident the ball is right to get a coach to burn a challenge trusting Peyton, because right now he's giving the opposing team valuable information when he does that.

Bill Barnwell: I mean...it's the Colts. That could happen on a third down play that wasn't a close catch at all or a third down play that was close that Manning also thought was a catch. I don't think that's great information.

Tom Gower: Peyton has looked a little uncomfortable and off all day, but part of this is probably that Kansas City has a pretty good pair of young corners in Carr and Flowers, who just made a great tip to break up a likely touchdown pass to Garcon.

After the Chiefs, down 19-9, miss a 51-yard field goal and the Colts kneel the clock out, Dan Dierdorf expounds on how important it is for teams that want to win on the road to score touchdowns. Because, frankly, if you're playing at home, scoring touchdowns isn't the least bit important apparently.

Jacksonville Jaguars 36 at Buffalo Bills 26

Bill Barnwell: Awesome football alert: Ryan Fitzpatrick one-hops a bubble screen to Roscoe Parrish. Parrish realizes it's a backwards throw and so he recovers it and starts running, and a surprised Jaguars cornerback promptly facemasks him to give the Bills first-and-goal.

Doug Farrar: Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing with his wedding ring on. Is this as cool as Reggie Roby punting while wearing a watch?

Ben Muth: Nothing will ever be as cool as Mr. Roby.

Vince Verhei: I think it moves him ahead of Doug Christie on the list of most whipped athletes.

Green Bay Packers 13 at Washington Redskins 16

Bill Barnwell: Packers-Redskins has started ugly. The Packers returned a kickoff to the eight-yard line, and then Donald Lee fumbled two plays later. Jermichael Finley appeared to blow out his knee on the tackle and got carted off. The Redskins promptly ran twice for no gain and then the snap on third down went five yards over Donovan McNabb's head, knocking the Redskins out of field goal range. Professionals!

And then Brandon Jackson promptly runs for 71 yards, infuriating everyone who gave up on him in fantasy before this week.

Ben Muth: After pumping Jammal Brown's tires in my column all year, he all of a sudden cannot block Clay Matthews.

Bill Barnwell: In all fairness, if you're going to struggle blocking anyone...

Ben Muth: Santana Moss just dropped a touchdown pass, on a nice throw on a rollout from McNabb.

Doug Farrar: McNabb made up for it by overthrowing Anthony Armstrong and Moss on consecutive plays, though. That was nice of him.

After the long touchdown from McNabb to Anthony Armstrong, the use of Charlie Peprah as the Packers' deep safety has been abolished.

Bill Barnwell: Packers are able to get pressure on the Redskins with three. So how do the Redskins convert? They throw a checkdown to Williams that gets dropped and tipped over A.J. Hawk's head and into the arms of Anthony Armstrong for a first down.

The Redskins are running a nice little two-minute drive to get in field goal range. Of course, the Packers are down to Charles Woodson and the scout team on defense, and McNabb is playing with what appears to be a leg injury. Drive stalls on what amounts to the Packers' eighth borderline DPI of the day, and Graham Gano barely gets a 45-yarder between the uprights to tie it.

The Packers move up the field quickly when Aaron Rodgers scrambles for a first down and then a Redskins a big blitz enables Quarless to get 20 on a quick slant of DeAngelo Hall (of DeAngelo Hall's defense). That sets up the Packers for a game-winning field goal attempt that bounces off of the upright -- and Mike Shanahan doesn't bother to ice the kick attempt. The Redskins then decide to attempt a Hail Mary from about midfield that gets picked off...and Tramon Williams returns it 75 yards or so before falling down.

Ben Muth: Troy Aikman: "It's a good kick, other than the fact that it didn't go in."

Bill Barnwell: Oh, and it looks like Trent Williams busted up his knee on the return. If anyone should know the low upside/high downside of running a play at the end of the game, it's the Redskins.

Redskins-Packers is going to come down to one big play. Neither of these teams can sustain a steady drive because they can't go more than a few plays without taking a sack.

And that big play just came on defense -- Aaron Rodgers just threw a pick and LaRon Landry makes a great play to pick it off. Landry's turnaround has been remarkable this year; he was terrible last season, overrunning plays left and right, and he's been just awesome this year. Best player on the roster.

Two straight makeup calls for the Redskins on pass plays get them first downs. Both were, um, questionable.

The Redskins pick up the win when Graham Gano chips a field goal through. The amazing thing is that they're 3-2 and could, honestly, be 0-5 without having played materially different.

New Orleans Saints 20 at Arizona Cardinals 30

Ben Muth: Max Hall is limping, still no Derek Anderson.

Bill Barnwell: I might prefer Max Hall with his leg amputated below the kneecap.

Cardinals then score when Max Hall fumbles on a scramble and Levi Brown recovers it into the endzone. Hall appears to be out cold on his feet.

Doug Farrar: Brown now has more points than blown blocks for the season, a stat that should stand about two weeks.

Anderson actually does come out for Arizona’s next drive. Cards run a draw and walk off the field at the end of the first half. Between Delhomme and Anderson, that’s twice today I’ve seen coaches seem to say, “Screw it – I don’t even want to chance it with you“ at the end of the half, when high-risk, low-reward plays are generally the standard.

Oh wow. The Saints just had a third-and-1 run against the Cardinals and their offensive line just blew EVERYONE off of the line of scrimmage. Chris Ivory wasn't touched for four yards, and he ran straight forward.

Ben Muth: Carney misses a chip shot field goal. The Saints might become the first team to go for it every time they get inside the 50.

Bill Barnwell: Veteran kickers miss field goals, too.

Cardinals have recovered four of the five fumbles in the game against the Saints. That accounts for about 95 percent of the score line, which is currently Cards up by ten with the ball and five minutes left.

The Cardinals subsequently make an inspired play call on their final drive...

A quote from our old friend MDS: "Ken Whisenhunt just made the worst play call in NFL history. How do you call a pass in that situation?" The situation was a pass on third down with the Saints having no timeouts. Ben Patrick fumbled, and the Cardinals were forced to punt.

And then, in stupid player tricks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picks off Drew Brees's pass to the sideline. With a three-point lead, no timeouts for the opposition, and 20 seconds left, Rodgers-Cromartie runs horizontally across the field to score a touchdown. The Nate Clements play literally happened a week ago. Why are you running?!?!?

Ben Muth: I was screaming at the television for him to get down.

Tennessee Titans 34 at Dallas Cowboys 27

Tom Gower: Apparently the Cowboys' pass defense consists of interference; in the Titans' touchdown drive to open the game, Mike Jenkins was flagged twice for grabbing a hold of Kenny Britt's jersey and never letting go, and Orlando Scandrick was flagged for running into Nate Washington in the end zone. Never you mind, though, as Washington did a great job of maintaining concentration and balance to haul in the ball.

Titans end the first quarter with the ball and up 10-3. Fernando Velasco, starting at left guard for Leroy Harris, has picked up two holding penalties already. Tony Romo, sacked once in the first three games, has gone down twice already. The Cowboys haven't been flagged for pass interference since the opening drive, but there have been a couple times they probably could have been flagged. Chris Johnson seems to be running pretty decisively thus far and not dancing.

Doug Farrar: Ben, I don’t know if you’re planning to return to Dallas for this week’s article, but if so, you’re going to have fertile ground for your comedic talents.

Tom Gower: Count: Five sacks for Tony Romo thus far today, one on the year entering the game. The Titans are solid on the defensive line, and better than I thought they'd be, but I think it's primarily really awful pass protection.

Bill Barnwell: Leonard Davis has been, according to Tim MacMahon, benched in Dallas. Think you're going to get your wish for Word of Muth this week, Doug.

Ben Muth: Yeah, Levi Brown's lack of celebration on the TD sealed it, writing about the Boys this week.

Bill Barnwell: Think the Cowboys got away with one. Roy Williams catches a fade for 20 yards that puts Dallas inside the five, but it appears that he steps out of bounds on the route before catching the pass. Jeff Fisher rightly calls a timeout so the booth can get enough time to look at it to call an official review, but they don't overturn it, and Williams blows over a cornerback for a touchdown on the next play.

Tom Gower: I thought Williams probably stepped out, but there just wasn't enough there to overturn the call that I could see. Naturally, with Jeff Triplette, the review took forever and didn't change anything.

The rule of thumb against the Titans defense is once again the same: if you can keep your QB upright and he's not terrible, he can make plays against the Titans' secondary. Even on one of Romo's sacks, there was a busted coverage and Austin was running free over the short middle.

Bill Barnwell: Vince Young just missed a wide-open Kenny Britt on a deep post. In fact, he missed him by so much that Young hit Mike Jenkins in stride, but Jenkins dropped the pick.

Tom Gower: Whee, the Titans' 17-3 lead is gone by the wayside, as the Cowboys score late in the second quarter and take the first possession of the second half to the end zone thanks to a 68 yard catch-and-run by Miles Austin against Ryan Mouton (bad) when Austin beats Mouton and then out-jumps Griffin for the ball when Griffin goes for the pick instead of playing the man.

Bill Barnwell: I can't imagine Finnegan would be a good matchup for Austin, though, either.

Tom Gower: Mouton is the fourth corner, and playing because number-two guy Jason McCourty is out and number-three Alterraun Verner was playing on the other side. Normally when they go nickel, safety Vinny Fuller is the nickelback playing slot. They tried something interesting in personnel terms and it burned them. Now they go three-and-out again after Vince Young passes up a scramble opportunity and airmails an open Washington. The game is slipping away from the Titans.

Bill Barnwell: Having seen the replay now, I think Griffin's more at fault there than anything else. He has to make a play on that ball.

And then there's a big gain for Felix Jones when Verner just seems to choose not to make a tackle in the alley.

Aaron Schatz: Jeff Fisher does something really stupid, challenging field position on Michael Griffin's interception return. Griffin picked a pass off in the end zone, got off the ground, and ran to the 15. Fisher is challenging that Griffin was touched in the end zone, which would give him the ball on the 20. Five yards are not worth a challenge (although Fisher does win it).

Then Young hits Kenny Britt deep for an 80-yard touchdown. But no! Mike Jenkins actually grabbed Britt's jersey as he was falling to the ground, making him down by contact at the Dallas 28. Wade Phillips throws the red hanky. See, this is a good challenge. Five yards? Bad challenge. Take away a touchdown and 28 yards? Good challenge.

Bill Barnwell: Cowboys have second-and-goal from the 3-yard line, but the previously-benched Leonard Davis (back in after Montrae Holland suffered an eye injury) whiffs on a block and Stephen Tulloch blows up Felix Jones. Then Doug Free takes a false start. And then a checkdown to Felix Jones gets stuffed.

Aaron Schatz: The Titans defensive improvement this year is for real. That pass rush is for real. Jason Jones in particular is for real, playing very well again today. The Titans were overpowering the Cowboys blockers constantly in the first half. The Cowboys solved the problem in the second half, for the most part, by bringing in third tight end Scot Chandler (number 86 in your program) for nearly every play. They had some three tight end sets, then they used Chandler at fullback with Witten in, and then they had a few two-tight end sets without Chandler, just Witten and Bennett. But Jason Garrett started leaving more blockers back there, and that kept Romo safe. Then one time they don't, they toss five guys into a pattern, and that's when Romo got rushed and threw the pick to Verner in the fourth quarter, on a pass intended for Bennett but tipped by Dave Ball.

There is massive depression in Dallas, where they are 1-3 in a season that was supposed to end in the Super Bowl. But that's three close losses, including one where they totally outplayed the other team and lost on a couple fluky weird plays and one fluky stupid play. If people start discounting the Cowboys, they're not paying attention.

San Diego Chargers 27 at Oakland Raiders 35

Vince Verhei: Chargers special teams strike again -- they get a punt blocked for a safety against Oakland.

Raiders block a Chargers punt for a touchdown. This is not a correction of an earlier e-mail -- Chargers have allowed two blocked punts in the first quarter.

Bill Barnwell: They also had a kickoff out of bounds.

Chargers just fumbled on the one-yard line and the Raiders recovered. They are living a Madden no-way game.

...and after a 55-yard completion, Matt Shaughnessy beats up Brandyn Dombrowski and strip-sacks Rivers, with the Raiders recovering. Oh lord.

Sean: All of which explains how the Chargers can be first in net yards per drive by a good five yards, first in points per drive, and yet on their way to 2-3.

Bill Barnwell: OK, this is now ridiculous. The Chargers strip-sack Gradkowski, but the refs (rightly) reverse the call and say it's an incomplete pass. Gradkowski is injured on the play and taken out, with Jason Campbell coming in.

Doug Farrar: At this point, I think it’s entirely appropriate to credit every blown block by Dombrowski to A.J. Smith.

Ben Muth: On the other hand, I think Rivers-to-Gates is the best passing combo in the NFL right now.

Tom Gower: The San Diego Chargers successfully punted the ball. Of course, on the play the Raiders roughed Mike Scifres so it won't end up in the box score as such, and Scifres was also injured on the play.

Vince Verhei: Campbell is hit and fumbles, and Daniel Loper falls on the ball several yards short of the first down. Then he realizes nobody's around him and LOG ROLLS for a five-yard gain. It's Loper's Roly-Poly Holy Roller!

The play sets up a fourth-and-1. Raiders go for it and Michael Bush picks up the first down.

Bill Barnwell: Philip Rivers is at 278 yards with 35 seconds left before halftime. Malcom Floyd is at five for 153. Rivers even just had Patrick Crayton open in the end zone but missed him on a blown coverage.

Chargers end up kicking a field goal and the announcers note that the Raiders defense "did their job." Really?

Ben Muth: Philip Rivers gets hit as he's throwing, it's ruled a fumble and the Raiders return it for a touchdown. Raiders up eight with 55 seconds left ... This game is unreal.

Mike Tanier: The ending of the Chargers game was very Charger-esque. They were in field-goal range and appeared to just be running the clock and setting up the hashmarks with running plays. But Antonio Gates held, taking them out of easy field-goal range, and then the Raiders started blitzing. Next thing you know, strip-sack (it looked like an incomplete pass to me, but I have given up making sense of that rule) and touchdown.

I don't think Chargers-Raiders was "about" what happened on that last drive. It was "about" all the things that made the game close in the first place: blocked punts, safeties, and other early-game mistakes that kept the Raiders in the game.

Bill Barnwell: I don't understand how you call that anything but an incomplete pass on the field. I can understand not being able to overturn it.

Mike Tanier: Yeah, my thought is that if the ball goes about ten yards forward, you call an incomplete pass, then look at the tape. But I guess they don't want to whistle it dead. Or wait, they do, don't they, to prevent injuries?

Philadelphia Eagles 27 at San Francisco 49ers 24

Bill Barnwell: I went and charted the second half of the Eagles game last week and paid pretty close attention to Kolb's throws. I charted a hurry for almost every pass play before the final two drives. It was insane. Kolb was holding onto the ball too long at times, but there were also a fair amount of plays where he just had no hope. In that sense, Vick's a better fit because he can make crazy escapes from pressure, whereas Kolb either takes a sack or throws an ugly-looking checkdown.

There were three drives where Kolb got decent protection, and they ended with a McCoy fumble in the red zone, a touchdown, and the Hail Mary pass that hit a Eagles receiver in the hands. (Kolb also threw an ugly should-be interception before that.) So far tonight, he's had pretty good protection outside of the touchdown pass and the sack, and he looks good, making easy throws downfield to open receivers. He still forces more throws than I might like, but the "unable to throw downfield" stuff is pass protection, not his skill or style.

Mike Kurtz: Is it just the runs I've seen, or does McCoy have AWFUL ball security? He's popping the ball back and forth, holding it away from his chest, just all sorts of bad habits.

Mike Tanier: Yeah, McCoy's ball security is a problem. He gets too cute with it in the open field.

Sean McCormick: He's also wearing a flak jacket, which can't help matters.

Bill Barnwell: Bad sack for Kolb to take there -- not great protection, but he had a touchdown with the open receiver right in front of him about 15 yards downfield. Not sure why Andy Reid didn't take a timeout post-sack to encourage the replay booth to take a look.

Doug Farrar: And Andy Reid opens the fourth quarter by making a wind-based decision … in Candlestick Park. Of course.

Bill Barnwell: I'm pretty sure kicking a field goal is the worst decision of the three possibilities there, so that's what Reid does.

49ers end up making up for Reid's largesse with an Alex Smith drop-six (it's the new pick-six!) and a three-and-out that leads the 49ers fans into a LOUD "We Want Carr!" chant. No you don't.

Mike Tanier: Nobody loves Milhouse. And nobody loves David Carr.

Bill Barnwell: Impressive closing speed by Todd Herremans to fall on that LeSean McCoy fumble. Seriously! Beat Nate Clements to the ball. That's a few pay grades ahead of him.

Tim Gerheim: I never, ever, imagined I would ever hear "WE WANT CARR!" It's not like he's the worst quarterback ever, but especially in a game against an active pass rush, the last thing you want is David Carr.

Mike Tanier: Tim, that might have been me screaming as Frank Gore waltzed in for a touchdown at the two-minute warning. Nice block by Josh Morgan on that play.

Bill Barnwell: Thank you, Trevard Lindley, for falling down with your game-winning interception.

Mike Tanier: Hey, Trevor Laws made that hit on Alex Smith. He was the "other" guy the Eagles drafted in the second round with Kevin Kolb. After the draft, the Eagles sent both of them to the podium so Laws could stand there while the press asked Kolb a million questions. Laws has been about that visible since. Nice play, though.

Bill Barnwell: It just occurred to me that Niners fans should really be chanting "WE WANT LUCK". In more ways than one.

Watch 60 Minutes

Bill Barnwell: 60 Minutes voiceover: "If you have money in the stock market, you can't afford to miss "60 Minutes"." 60 Minutes graphic: Picture of Eminem. Huh?

Mike Kurtz: Eminem to be appointed new head of SEC.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 11 Oct 2010

205 comments, Last at 16 Oct 2010, 8:11pm by Shattenjager

Comments

1
by Yuri (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:38am

Bad Tanier! Beers cloud his Eagles history memories....

78
by bubqr :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:45pm

Yup ! Abiamiri, not Laws

+ LeSean McCoy was taught how to carry the ball by LJ Smith apparently.

+ That overtime DPI on Woodson should be called 12 times out of ten. That was textboot DPI. The tantrum Woodson threw just after is more revealing of how he is used to get away with those kind of fouls than anything else.

88
by Dean :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:24pm

Can you blame him for trying to forget Victor Abiamiri? Can you blame him for succeeding?

2
by RickD :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:43am

The DPI on Woodson was not questionable. He grabbed the receiver by the neck/shoulder and pulled.

I don't care if it's overtime. The rules are still in effect.

10
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:14am

Yeah, but after they didn't call him the first 50 times he mugged a receiver, took their money, stuffed it in his pants, and kicked them as he walked away, it seems a little much that they'd dare to call him in OT.

Seriously, Woodson DPI's on virtually every play. He's the Defensive Player of the Year though, so it doesn't get called much. Most undeserving DPOY candidate in a long time.

27
by CoachDave :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:03pm

You let ME cover like they let Woodson cover and I might be the DPOY.

3
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:46am

I stated yesterday and will reiterate that while Aaron Rodgers has a lot of good things in his game his abject refusal to check down on 3rd and short is both counterproductive and weird.

But more importantly Mike McCarthy refusing to run the ball when Washington routinely had 7 in the box is far more strange and far more counterproductive. The Packers were getting good yardage even setting aside the big run. It's pretty clear that the Packer linemen save for Clifton are good run blockers. That looks to be Colledge's only real plus as a guard. Coming from Iowa Belaga has to be far better at run blocking than pass blocking. To go pass happy defies explanation.

McCarthy is a fine qb coach. Maybe offensive coordinator. But with a head coach who will tell him to 'run the d*** ball'. As head coach he is getting in the way of this team.

32
by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:18pm

But you also need to remember that GB has that magic no-regression-on-good-third-downs going as well. Weird maybe, but it is working for them for now.

38
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:25pm

GB was horrible on 3rd downs yesterday, and has not been good all season.

The FOX broadcast even showed a comparison of Rodgers 3rd down passer rating last year vs. this year, and it's way down.

45
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:30pm

He needs to stop calling empty set pass plays on 3rd and longer than 5 yards.

It's fine to spread the D out and pick up easy short yardage on slants and hitches, but I was ready to scream at the TV when I saw GB line up empty set on 3rd and 12 after Bulaga's false start on the first drive of overtime.

Even on 3rd and 7 it's dicey because all the defense has to do is bring someone unblocked (and basically unblockable) off the edge and force Rodgers to throw before any WRs can work more than 5 yards downfield. It doesn't even require a real blitz, just overloading either side and leaving the guards or center with no one to block. This was also a big problem against the Bears, as the Bears could not stop the short stuff on standard downs but were able to contain GB's offense once they backed themselves up with a penalty.

Just put Jackson in the backfield more often in obvious passing situations so the WRs have time to run decent routes.

4
by ammek :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:52am

Kevin Harlan: "Gates has six targets so far, five catches."
Solomon Wilcots: "That's, what, 99 per cent?"

170
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:50pm

There's some part of my brain that's screaming "PLEASE TELL ME YOU'RE LYING AND THAT WAS NOT SPOKEN!"

Then there's the rational part that knows; yes, these are profes... um, paid broadcasters. On national TV. It was probably said.

5
by Chase (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:02am

Observations from Titans at Boys:

- Both teams played very well. The narrative will be "Cowboys are terrible" but Cowboys outplayed the Titans, they just managed to sabotage themselves repeatedly.
- Titans' offense played unexpectedly well...VY came out throwing deep in the first half, which successfully opened some holes for CJ.
- Titans DL was ridiculous in the second quarter...you started to feel bad for Romo (much like Cutler last week).
- Boys made some excellent halftime adjustments down 17-3. They mostly stopped looking downfield (Austin's TD was a poor-decision throw into double coverage) and started going for underneath stuff, along with playing max-protect. Titans don't have elite cover corners or safeties (Finnegan's good, but not great).
- Romo played extremely well. 2 of his 3 INT's were tipped, and his accuracy was Peytonesque.
- Aaron: Fisher's challenge on the INT runback to the 15 was because he was indisputably touched down in the endzone...clearest replay overturn I've ever seen.
- Excessive celebration penalty on Dallas was lame. "Let's chest bump, but since I accidentally fall down, I'm going to the ground and thus celebrating excessively."
- Erm, Titans D? Stephen Tulloch (LB) covering Austin on 4th-and-2? And, for that matter, Tulloch continued the "let's run back the INT when going down wins the game" idiocy on Romo's 3rd interception.

18
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:36am

Yeah, I agree with this and the Audibles comment that the Cowboys are MUCH better than their record - and a real threat to go on a tear and get back into control of the NFC East. Romo and Austin are enough for that team to be in every game they play till the final whistle. Romo does have a real knack for flukey interceptions, though...

43
by ChrisInCT (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:27pm

A lot of parallels between DAL/TEN and NYG/TEN. Both the Giants and Cowboys outplayed the Titans statistically, but a few key turnovers and the Titans manage to win.

Are the Cowboys better than their record? Probably - there's just too much talent there. However, they're in a BIG hole at the moment and I could just as easily see them implode as explode.

53
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:58pm

I was thinking the same thing. The Titans somehow managed road wins over both the Cowboys and Giants despite being considerably outplayed in both games. They beat the Cowboys with two big turnovers and a big special teams play, and beat the Giants with two big turnovers and by goading them into a ridiculous number of personal fouls. Neither team had any real trouble moving the ball against them (though Romo took a lot of hits) and the Giants even shut down Chris Johnson until a big run in garbage time.

87
by narticus :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:20pm

The Cowboys had 190 more yards of offense than the Titans with a 400-yard passer, 100-yard receiver, and 100-yard rusher. That sure looks good on paper. Dallas got 80 yards on a 75-yard touchdown drive (i.e. the drive started on the Cowboys 25, but because of an offensive penalty, they had to pick up 80 yards of offense to move 75 yards to the endzone), 75 yards on a 75-yard drive, and 70 yards on a 60-yard drive. By comparison the Titans had touchdown drives of: 32 yard of offense on an 80 yard drive, 72 yards on a 67 yard drive, 1 yard on a 1 yard drive, and 5 yards on a 5 yards drive. How the hell was the Titans' offense supposed to rack up as many yards as Dallas when they scored four touchdowns with just 110 yards of offense on those drives? Did our offense get outplayed? I don't think so.

The Titans forced three more turnovers, hit the quarterback six more times, committed 8 fewer penalties for 93 fewer yards, averaged 15 more yards per kick return, scored in 100% of red zone trips and goal-to-go situations versus 50% by Dallas, and the Titans scored more points. But the Titans touchdowns only took 27.5 yards per drive instead of 75 yards per drive. The Titans outscored the Giants & Cowboys 63-37 in games in which the Titans were outplayed. I hope we get outplayed like that the rest of the season.

186
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:49pm

Are the Cowboys better than their record? Probably - there's just too much talent there.

Too much talent there except for one, minor position - the entire offensive line.

I don't know how people can look at the Cowboys and keep saying "so much talent!" when the offensive line is so, so questionable (*). I mean, I expected FO's prediction on the Cowboys struggling due to the line to have some validity, but this is really absurd.

Heck, I'm not sure that Romo will survive two games against the Giants this season.

(*: I kindof feel bad saying that there because there's clearly talent there, but at 32+, you go from "talent" to "former talent" really fast.)

52
by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:57pm

Not unlike how the Niners are not necessarily out in the West--not necessarily because they're better than their record (even though they are), it's because nobody else in their respective divisions is someone you believe can rip off eight or nine wins in a row to seal the deal. Though the Niners are in worse trouble because their non-division schedule includes only one cakewalk (Carolina) and one maybe (Oakland)...depending on how much credit you give Denver.

89
by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:26pm

"...they just managed to sabotage themselves repeatedly."

You will pardon me if I put this in the terrible column. But seriously, with Roy E. Williams and Romo on the page, how is DAL 1-3?

96
by Jonadan :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:56pm

This Lions fan wants to point out that counting Roy Williams, WR, as an asset is misguided at best, and may explain part of the problem.

(I don't know, maybe he's playing better this year. I refuse to believe he really helps anything.)

6
by Led :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:07am

You might ask yourself, how does Phil Rivers throw for 17,000 yards and the Chargers still lose the game? You would tell yourself six fumbles in the game all recovered by Oakland and two blocked kicks. But you wouldn't feel any better about it.

50
by BJR :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:53pm

At half time Rivers had thrown for 290 yards, the Raiders had about 60 yards of total offence, and the score was 17-15. Insane.

Then Jason Campbell came in and Oakland drove the length of the field for touchdowns on consecutive drives and I thought hell must have frozen over. Or perhaps the Chargers defence isn't actually as good as it has looked against the miserable offences they had faced until that point.

137
by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:10pm

The Chargers defense is going to have a lot of problems going forward because of the state of the linebackers. They only had two completely healthy linebackers yesterday (Burnett and Phillips) and those two were the only backers that made any sort of impact on the game. Merriman was pressed into service even though his calf hasn't healed yet (and didn't do anything), and Siler was out with a foot injury. Both Cooper and Applewhite also have had leg/foot injuries, and Tucker is already out for the year with a torn pectoral. They didn't get any pressure on Campbell even though the Raiders o-line isn't all that good in pass protection. Expect more of the same next week.

I thought the Rivers play was obviously a fumble in review, but I was surprised they called it a fumble on the field. Blame McMichael for not immediately falling on it.

I think Norv is going to have to improve his red zone play calling. He keeps calling these inside handoffs to Sproles that never go anywhere. And then he'll run Tolbert into a big pile in the middle and it's not surprising that defenders are just trying to rip the ball away from him. I thought Mathews looked great yesterday and should have gotten more touches over Tolbert, who couldn't do anything.

Does Crosby get fired for this special teams disaster? Does firing a coordinator like that actually help turnaround a unit? Obviously, something has got to change. I keep expecting some regression to the mean and I'm wondering now if the special teams are just THAT bad. Worst in history bad...

152
by mrh :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:37pm

Does firing a coordinator like that actually help turnaround a unit?

I guess we can compare MIA vs. SD ST the rest of the way.

7
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:08am

I'm pretty sure Todd Collins isn't that bad; the final score of that game suggests a very carefully staged Jordan tribute. This Bears team is doing everything they want out there.

11
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:17am

He was worse than his final stats indicate.

He has no accuracy past 7 yards beyond the LOS, he has no arm strength. He has no idea where the receivers are beyond his first read and he frequently looked confused by the defense.

He has no business being on an NFL team. I really wonder what he was doing in practice that lead to him starting over Hanie.

13
by Mac32 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:26am

Standard Bears' inability to put the right talent on the field. Has been this way throughout the Lovie era. They paid him a bunch to be the "veteran backup" (as if his veteran-ness" will somehow win games), and are too prideful to admit that it was a mistake.

This, along with Lovie making decisions that have nothing to do with football, and more to do with wishful thinking(explanation for why Collins was in for the second half: "we wanted him to end on a high note")explains why Hanie wasn't in there from the start.

15
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:32am

I figured it was Martz sticking with "his guy" or something. Like when he played O'Sullivan in San Francisco.

30
by Basilicus :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:09pm

That's not Lovie. That's McCaskey. It's been this way since the McCaskey era began. I realize McCaskey doesn't have the power he used to in the organization, but the attitude ever since he made his first HC hire in Wannstedt has been that we play the players we pay the most.

I'm sure some of it is Lovie's decision, but it's been a hallmark of the Bears for a decade-and-a-half now.

73
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:38pm

I'm fairly certain McCaskey no longer has any power in personnel decisions any longer. The buck stops with Angelo, except for monetary approval, doesn't it?

74
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:40pm

Which goes to Ted Phillips, and if they really need to go above him probably straight to Virginia. From what I understand she totally removed Michael from the decision making process.

185
by Big Frank :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:21pm

Give me a break. McCaskey has nothing to do with it anymore. It's all Lovie and Jerry.

14
by Joe T. :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:30am

He was replaced by Rex Grossman on the Washington roster, if that tells you anything.

I went to Skins camp 2 years ago and noticed that his arm strength had atrophied considerably. He might could be a serviceable backup in the NFL, but not in a Martz offense.

16
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:34am

I would have rather had Grossman on the team yesterday, although I would have just preferred Hanie play to both options.

I think you have to have the ability to complete passes on the opposite side of the LOS in any offense, so I doubt he has any value on the field to any team.

8
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:08am

Rivers had an empty hand when his arm came forward, since when is that not a fumble Mr. Barnwell? Enlighten us, please.

17
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:34am

Yeah, the replays showed that fumble was really cut and dried. It was close in real time, sure, but there was no doubt that was a fumble. I'm more surprised no one is out-raged that Chargers WR didn't dive onto the ball, but instead tried to pick it up and run with it.

22
by Travis :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:43am

That was TE Randy McMichael. What makes it worse is that he couldn't even have advanced the fumble even if he had recovered, seeing how it took place within the last two minutes of the half.

29
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:04pm

Their collective denial of that being a fumble is almost Simmons-ian. It was a clear empty hand play, with the ball coming out before his arm did.

9
by PerlStalker :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:11am

Whoever was calling the offensive plays for Denver should have realized sometime before the second quarter that running the ball wasn't working and maybe trying to run on 2nd and long was a bad idea.

Also, WTF is happening with the Denver o-line? They can pass block very well but can't run block at all.

183
by cjfarls :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:03pm

My guess on Denver's runblocking woes: Denver has 2 tackles coming off leg injuries which sap their drive power (Clady Harris), a rookie Center, and the super weak Russ Hochstein... and only now are they getting semi-healthy. Plus, they haven't started the same 5 guys yet, so their is no coordination. They've also been playing good dlines in Ten and Balt since they've been more healthy, so any improvement(?) in coordination/health has likely been masked by the increasingly difficult opponents. Pretty understandable that the run game would suck (though the suckitude has truly been epic).

In regards to playcalling, if the opposing defense is playing pass, you have to at least attempt to run occassionally. While the run game is awful, giving up without even trying makes it too easy for the DEF to tee-off on you. One quarter of attempting to be semi-balanced doesn't strike me as excessive.

12
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:26am

Matt Forte was really underused this week. Which sounds odd given that he got 22 carries, but check these stats:

Forte 22 for 166
Taylor 18 for 43
Collins 16 for 32 and 4 picks

Even if you take out Forte's 68 yard TD, he has 21 for 98, still leaving Taylor in the dust. Taylor did convert some short yardage situations which the Bears have really struggled with, so there's that. I'm still not sure why they signed him. He does everything Forte does, but worse. Kahlil Bell would probably be a better chance of pace back because he actually runs different. Then they could have used the money on OJ Atogwe or traded for Jammal Brown.

24
by TomC :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:50am

I think Taylor was more an insurance policy for Forte than a complement to him, despite what the coaches said when he was acquired. If it turned out that Forte was still not 100% (or was just bad), Martz needed a guy he knew could play that role. You could argue that they vastly overpaid, but getting Taylor and Manumaleuna (who's also getting way more money than he should) might have been part of Martz's conditions for signing.

68
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:31pm

I don't mind the lack of usage. The outcome of the game was never really in doubt after halftime, so no sense riding Forte into the ground.

Collins specifically getting 32 attempts was ridiculous, though. The Bears should have been giving those plays to Taylor, or even RB roster fodder like Garrett Wolfe.

70
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:34pm

I see I wrote the stats confusingly. He only got 16 attempts for 32 yards.

75
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:41pm

I actually knew that, tuluse - when Hanie came in, we looked up Collins's line.

The clarification doesn't undermine the point, though; 16 attempts was too many for Collins.

19
by andrew :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:40am

Eminem? I had my money with Wutang Financial...

23
by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:44am

You gotta diversify your bonds.

26
by Mike W :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:57am

Protect ya neck, with Wutang Financial!

35
by ChrisInCT (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:24pm

I initially thought the Asians reached when they took The Wu in the first round of the racial draft, but boy have they proved me wrong.

83
by Independent George :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:59pm

Yes, especially since everyone was certain that Tiger going #1 was a sure thing.

84
by CoachDave :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:09pm

Please...at least the Asians got a whole clan in the first round. The Jews only got Lenny Kravitz with. the. second. pick. in. the. entire. draft.

And he only plays THREE cords. Three.

/I plead the fif
//Really, really miss that show

20
by jonah_jamison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:41am

Anyone know the whereabouts of a first week smack talker named DrewBrees4MVP? That guy has about a dozen pair of shoes to eat. Claimed no one could keep the Saint below 30. Here we are, 5 weeks in, and EVERYONE has held them under 30.

Let me repeat that Gary Oldman style from The Professional - EVERYONE!!!

25
by Led :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:52am

Drew Brees got FOMBC'd.

100
by BucNasty :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:09pm

It has no mercy, not even on newcomers.

138
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:10pm

If he came back, he'd be the first in the history of the site, after being so scornful. Someday, somebody will do it. I'll tip my hat to the guy.

62
by Bobman :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:19pm

What's not to like about that movie? Gary Oldman. Jean Reno. Natalie Portman making me go to jail in my mind. And a paint-ball assasination.

Oh, great post as well. Must have ben sprayed with some trollaway.

77
by Led :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:41pm

I DON'T HAVE TIIIIME FOR THIS MICKEY MOUSE BUUUULLLS*IT!

97
by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:57pm

Is that movie called 'Leon' outside of the US?

103
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:20pm

Yes.

92
by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:31pm

I thought I was the only one. I try searching once a week. Not only was it the smack talk, but exactly what FO predicted is happening to NO. He vanished after week one, when NO pushed. Do bookies honor pushes?

21
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:42am

The end-around to Hester gained 10 yards and a first down, I agree that Forte should have been given the ball more, but sometimes you have to mix it up, and end-arounds were the perfect option in a game when your QB is useless.

Back-to-back passes from Collins is pretty inexcusable though.

28
by troycapitated p... :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:04pm

Re: Pittsburgh and Stefan Logan

It just came down to roster spots and Logan, as a returner only, lost out to RB's Dwyer, Redman and WR's Sanders & Brown. Sanders and Brown have each shown potential as returners, with Brown already owning a return TD on his first play as a pro. Had Holmes not been traded to the Jets and Arnaz Battle and Antwaan Randel-El been brought in, perhaps Logan stays with the Steelers this season.

31
by BD (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:18pm

Rob, I couldn't agree more about the horrific losses the Bengals have given their fans. My friends (fans of other teams) were consoling me yesterday thinking I'd never watch a game again, but I offered exactly the same explanation. I started going through the list for them but they stopped me at Brandon Stokley in the season opener last year. They couldn't listen to any more, and that doesn't even make top 5 I don't think.

33
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:19pm

"Dan Dierdorf expounds on how important it is for teams that want to win on the road to score touchdowns."

I never understand why Dierdorf doesn't get more crap for being an absolutely atrocious announcer. He has been driving me nuts for a decade, more maybe. I know people like to hate on Buck, Simms, et cetera, but I always find Dierdorf just takes the cake for stupid comments that are completely out of touch with the game situation. He tries so hard to make every play hyper-meaningful that he fails to grasp when the plays are actually important, you know for the score and stuff :) .

Tons of "Its important here for the team X to get the first down to establish some confidence and rhythm on offense" When they are on 3rd down at Midfield, down 4 pts with 5 mins left.

Or "They really need to establish the run here to show the other team they can run out the clock." When they its the end of the game and a first down ices the game.

He is always trying to come up with some other reason than winning why X or Y is important. DAN ITS A FREAKING GAME, THE SCORE IS WHATS IMPORTANT. STOP TRYING SO HARD.

Sorry that has been building up for a decade like I said.

36
by ammek :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:24pm

On the Sky Sports (British) feed there was a special exchange which I wanted to dedicate to Bill Barnwell:

Presenter: "What's going wrong down there in New Orleans?"
Super-expert Bradlee Van Pelt (yes, thatBradlee Van Pelt): "I think it's because they lost Reggie Bush."

40
by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:25pm

I always thought Dierdorf was the epitome of the kind of on-air announcer that FO was trying to combat. Always looking for meaning in things that have no meaning, completely glossing over things that actually have some significance, and married to a kind of knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal football that never really existed like he remembers.

He's hardly alone with these traits, but he's the most consistent.

49
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:40pm

Yes, yes, yes! Dierdorf is seriously horrible. People don't focus on that nearly enough when the subject of terrible announcers comes up.

61
by TreeRol (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:19pm

My favorite Dierdorf moment, which I hope I'm remembering correctly but which I very well may not be - Preseason MNF game between Chicago and Green Bay something like 20 years ago. I don't remember the context, but that's OK because the quote needs no context.

"If the Green Bay Packers (pause) score more points (pause) than the Chicago Bears (long pause) IN THIS GAME (pause) they will win."

34
by bingo762 :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:21pm

Do the FO guys do midseason interviews with fansites like they do preseason? Love to read the message board comments from the folks in Dallas, New Orleans,San Fran, and Houston. They basically crucified the FO guys for not drinking the media kool-aid. Whatcha got to say now?

41
by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:26pm

Also, their KC pick is looking pretty good right now.

60
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:17pm

But 6.3 wins for the 49ers is looking a little generous. Jed York says that they'll still win the division though, pity he's a ****ing idiot.

151
by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:35pm

Except I'm pretty sure 7 wins (rounding up) can still win that division.

Seriously, the niners are not going to un away witht he division like most predicted, but I honestly believe they're still not out of it in the west.

- Alvaro

63
by theshadowj :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:22pm

I'm not sure Houston fits in with the rest of those teams. FO certainly got it right when they predicted the secondary to be horrific, but otherwise the team in general is much better than they predicted.

126
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:20pm

I've only seen Houston's last 2 games, but I have not been impressed. They look a little like the mid-decade Panthers in thatl they rely on Andre Johnson to makes everything happen for them and if he's limited (like with the Panthers and Steve Smith) they are extremely unimpressive. I'm not sure Houston can even make the playoffs if Johnson is continually hobbled...

188
by jbrown (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:23pm

But it's not so much about whether they are "impressive" as it is about the 5 win projection, seeing as they already have 3

194
by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:18pm

Yeah, but they seem a little lucky to be 3-2 and I can see them only going 6-10 or 7-9. Neither of those are so crazy. 5 win projections is low, I guess, but they have no defense and their offense isn't exactly all-world out there.

69
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:31pm

I can't speak for the other teams, but the the big 49er fan site, ninersnation, has always been pretty respectful of FO, partly because of the good work of Florida Danny.

http://www.ninersnation.com/2010/7/29/1586203/20-questions-with-football

for instance.

FO and the 49ers front office disagreed about one key thing: the 49ers thought offensive continuity would make a big difference, and FO didn't. Win, FO. FO also predicted some regression from our defense, partly based on an unsustainably high number of turnovers generated last year. That's looking like another win so far.

It seems to me, watching, that the 9ers have also been an unlucky team this year. Yes, we make awful mistakes, but we also have gotten some awful bad bounces &c. Still, DVOA mainly accounts for bad bounces, and the 9ers still have horrible numbers.

Despite all that, the loss to the Eagles last night still feels like the third game against a good team that we should have won. Arrgh.

Any poker players out there? I feel like we've lost three big pots to runner-runner flushes. I have that same feeling of unreality afterwards, like I'm living in some alternate universe and I should have a lot more chips than I do.

37
by Elroy44 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:25pm

the "empty hand" rule is bull. philip rivers arm was going forward, then he was hit and lost the ball, and then he had an empty hand but it doesn't change that his arm was going forward when the ball was knocked out of his hands and landed ten yards forward. the chargers got hosed.

39
by JasonK :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:25pm

This might be a little premature, but consider it a note in the margins for possible future use:

Max Hall just wins.

51
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:53pm

PK apparently thinks so. Hall made the first page of MMQB, though it was PK gloating in typical "I told you so" fashion about what he wrote previously.

54
by BJR :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:59pm

Read the headline and tag-line on NFL.com for that game.....

42
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:27pm

I know this is not a fresh observation, but is there a more dead-ass crowd in a sold-out stadium than what shows up in Dallas? Leonard Davis' problems may include falling asleep while in a three point stance.

56
by DW94 :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:05pm

Yeah, it's really weak. Does anyone know if Dallas fans have always been like this? I'm in my early 20s, so I don't remember the elite 1990s teams really well. I've collected games from that and previous eras, but not enough yet to really comment on the topic of crowd noise.

I've noticed the lack of crowd noise also applies to Dallas Mavericks games, although the "sold out" part hasn't been consistently reflected in attendance since about the '06-'07 season. I don't follow the Rangers or Stars, so I can't comment there.

199
by JIPanick :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:51pm

Reports from the old Texas Stadium days consistently indicated that the stadium was plenty loud in person, but lost more to TV sound than most NFL venues. Don't know if that's still true for JerryWorld.

44
by Elroy44 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:30pm

Also I am outraged that Mongo McMichael didnt dive on the ball. The last time I played a game of tackle football there was a loose ball and I dove onto it and easily recovered it because everyone tries to bend down and pick it up.

46
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:30pm

"Five yards are not worth a challenge (although Fisher does win it)."

I thought this was a statistics and analysis site? The above is frankly ridiculous and obviously wrong. Do the math!

71
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:34pm

Any chance you could do the math? I mean, I don't think the challenge was as cut-and-dried wrong as indicated in Audibles, but there's no way it's ridiculous and obvious that the FO writers are wrong, either.

81
by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:54pm
107
by Mike W :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:40pm

Dudes.

If you're, like, 100% sure you'll win the challenge, as you should be if, I don't know, someone in the booth saw the guy get touched, it's not a use of resources, because you won't use up the resource.

112
by ChrisInCT (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:52pm

We require more minerals!

164
by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 8:55pm

This is true. You always need more minerals.

113
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:52pm

You only get three challenges, even if all are correct, so it absolutely is using up a limited resource.

If the next challenge you need to make is questionable and you lose it, then you're done with challenges. If you don't make the first challenge you get two more regardless of how the next one goes.

Personally I was fine with that challenge, but only because it was so late in the game that the need for two more challenges before the 2 minute warning was very unlikely.

189
by jbrown (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:27pm

But if I'm remembering right he had already used up one challenge, so whether he was right or wrong on this particular challenge he would be preventing himself from calling another on a potentially more valuable play

86
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:14pm

Chance you will need 2 more challenges before the 2 minute warning*Third Challenge Reward

needs to be

>=5 yards of field position.

You really want to make that argument?

Given the time in the game and how infrequently challenges are used that has got to be false. Especially when you take into account that a lot of the challenges in the 4th quarter are fake challenges where there are "smoking them if they got em". Also since coaches fail on a lot of challenges you could even argue there is added value to using them when you are positive you are right as it saves timeouts. I am at work right now so I cannot take the time to find all the math, but I think it is obvious.

Maybe people just have poor institutions about the results of challenges?

47
by TheSlinger :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:31pm

"Over the last two seasons, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a franchise with better consecutive drafts than the Lions. (Note: This is less an empirical statement and more a discussion-starter)."

The Jags could've skipped 2010 and still taken this title.

48
by fek9wnr (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:32pm

Has there ever been a combined passing game as bad as Bears-Panthers? All the QBs combined for 51 attempts, 91 yards, no touchdowns, seven picks, and eight sacks.

55
by ammek :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:59pm

The short answer is no.

This is the closest I could find. Dick Shiner spoiled it by passing for 153 yards. However, there was no running back with comparable numbers to Matt Forte, so if your question had been "had two offenses ever sucked as badly" the answer might be yes.

59
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:15pm

Restricting it to post-merger, I found a few that are comparable. 7 games that had less than 110 passing yard, with at least 4 interceptions. Most of them were in the 70s.

57
by Jonadan :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:08pm

On a related, but opposite, note, has there been a combined passing game that started as well as PHI-SF? 15/15 for a whole bunch of yards and two TDs? I tried to manipulate PFR into giving up the information, but couldn't figure out how.

99
by billsfan :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:05pm

Closest recent game that comes to mind:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/200910180nyj.htm

Fitzpatrick: 10/25, 116, 1/1.
Sanchez: 10/29, 119, 0/5.

Also participating were Trent Edwards (5/5, 43, 0/0)
and Steve Weatherford (0/1, 0, 0/1)

Only three sacks, though, and Thomas Jones ran for 210 yards.

(I also like the Eagles)

104
by Independent George :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:23pm

Who can forget this classic?

Trent Edwards: 16-31-152, 0 TD, 1 INT
Derek Anderson: 2-17-23, 0 TD, 1 INT

125
by billsfan :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:17pm

P-F-R's writeup doesn't do it justice... Cundiff's game-winning field goal was in the last minute of the 4th quarter. They combined for 22 first downs and 16 punts.

I can't find an easy way to search P-F-R for what I consider to be the ultimate in futility, a game in which (Punts + Turnovers) > First Downs. Counting the Bills's two drives that ended in failed conversion attempts on 4th down, that game hits 1:1.

Just look at those first-quarter drive results:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/boxscore?gid=20091011002&page=drives

My personal "single worst game I have ever witnessed" would still be the MIA@PIT collision in 2007, played in a pit of well-churned mud:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/200711260pit.htm

9 sacks. <400 yards of total offense. Miami rushed 23 times for 49 yards, Pittsburgh 29 for 84.

(I also like the Eagles)

130
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:28pm

This game is the worst I've witnessed, in person at least. Henry Burris!

133
by Independent George :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:42pm

My personal "single worst game I have ever witnessed" would still be the MIA@PIT collision in 2007, played in a pit of well-churned mud:

Was that the game where the punt landed in the mud and got stuck?

147
by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:17pm

Yeah, I believe it was. And at least in that one the weather was the obvious reason, as opposed to the general suck-itude of the teams or QBs involved.

154
by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:52pm

Yes it was. I remember watching that game with my wife (a Dolphins fan) on our Honeymoon. And let's not forget there were several missed FGs in there too. U-G-L-Y!

- Alvaro

155
by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:59pm

I don't know if P-F-R tracks number of punts, but how about this game?

11 first downs (1 by the winning team, who attempted 0 passes), and 4 turnovers. I'd gamble that there were at least 8 punts in that game (Cleveland alone must have approached that number, what with their 1 firs down and no turnovers).

- Alvaro

200
by JIPanick :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:55pm

WORST game? That game was awesome! We were what, two minutes away from a 0-0 overtime?

141
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:33pm

All games since 1978 with 150 yards or fewer passing: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/aMuSw

All things considered, the Bears-Panthers game is definitely in the conversation. However, I think it's difficult to vote against the epic Det@TB matchup from 1978: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/197809090tam.htm

Greg Landry (Det): 8/10, 55 yards, 1 TD
Gary Danielson (Det): 1/4, 14 yards
Gary Huff (TB): 4/9, 48 yards, 1 INT
Mike Boryla (TB): 2/5, 15 yards
And what really makes this game so bad: Detroit sacked twice for 22 yards and Tampa sacked 7 times for 94 yards.

In total: 16 net passing yards on 28 attempts, 1 INT, 1 TD.

58
by BJR :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:14pm

From KC/Ind - the Chiefs might just have the most talented secondary in the league. Flowers and Carr are really good. If Eric Berry comes to fruition this secondary is going to be an excellent unit indeed.

Unfortunately, Matt Cassel is awful, and he has some of the worst receivers in the league to throw to. They are going to have to run the ball a lot.

Expect a lot of low scoring, quickly concluded games involving KC in the near future.

111
by Purds :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:49pm

Wait, wait, wait. how did Cassell win 10 games with the Pats? And, if Cassell sucks and still won 10 with the Pats, what does that say about Brady?

(just trying to poke the hornet's nest a few times)

123
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:15pm

I'm going to go ahead and opine that Cassell doesn't suck. I'm also going to steal the stick you're using to poke that nest, in the interests of health and sanity.

127
by Purds :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:21pm

Come on, dad. I was just having fun.

(But, does Cassell suck or not? I have seen only yesterday's game, and his receivers were dropping passes like it was their occupation. Hard to judge him on that day.)

132
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:36pm

I'll throw my two cents in, as someone who has no ties to any AFC team. I've seen much more of Cassell in KC than in NE, but most times I see him, he looks pretty bad.

He doesn't have much around him, but I think much of his struggles are on him. He gets happy feet. He sure doesn't throw a "pretty" ball. He's not particularly accurate.

The 2008 Patriots, according to both DVOA and P-F-R's SRS, played an easier-than-average schedule (though not egregiously so). I'd say I'm of the opinion that the rest of the offense was still riding the peak from a year earlier; Moss was still dominant, Welker fed off that, the line was still one of the best in the league, etc.

In short, Cassell seems to me to be a solidly-below-average QB, but not a disaster. A team probably can win with him, if they have a good defense, special teams, and running game, but they'd be in a position in which a QB improvement would put them over the top. Because he doesn't do anything particularly well, nor particularly poorly, he's a guy who will look disproportionately good when surrounded by lots of talent (2008 NE) and disproportionately bad when surrounded by little talent (2009 KC).

139
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:16pm

Cassell is neither a great nor a terrible quarterback. At this point in time, based on what I've seen of them, he's actually better than both the guys he backed up in college (Palmer and Leinart). He's not, and never going to be, one of the best guys in the league, but I believe he'd be an upgrade for at least 7 teams (Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinatti, Cleveland, Oakland, San Francisco). I also think he's better than Bradford, Freeman, Henne, and Sanchez right now, though it looks like each of those has higher potential and as a result I'd probably play them ahead of Cassell given the choice. That puts him, in my estimation, in roughly the middle third of the league. He is not going to win you games single-handedly, but he's no longer going to lose you games single-handedly either.

For his first few seasons in New England, and the first few games of 2008, Cassell sucked. Now, I don't think that's fair to say. Having refreshed before posting, I very much agree with Eddo's assessment: Because he doesn't do anything particularly well, nor particularly poorly, he's a guy who will look disproportionately good when surrounded by lots of talent (2008 NE) and disproportionately bad when surrounded by little talent (2009 KC).

148
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:33pm

Thanks for the endorsement, Big-Hairy-Andy. I think you're a little more bullish on Cassell than I am; I'm not sure about all seven of those teams you list as having worse options at QB.

There's a chance Max Hall is better, at least long-term. He didn't do anything that great against the Saints, but he didn't look that bad, either. Especially for someone making his first start, just a few months after being undrafted.

Alex Smith, I feel, is a better QB than Cassell. He actually looked quite good, on the whole, against the Eagles and the Saints. He's prone to mistakes, but as bravehoptoad points out later, he seems to learn from them. In some ways, what you quoted me saying about Cassell applies to Smith; he too will appear greatly affected by the team around him, moreso than many other QBs.

Personally, I think Campbell is better in Oakland, but it's close. Gradkowski, I don't know about; I think he's better when there are gaps between his last playing time, for whatever reason.

Palmer looks done, which is so puzzling. He has the team around him. He, at one time, was a top tier QB. Did his knee injury have this kind of long-term effects? Is it just a age-related decline, accelerated for some reason? Is it a combination of the two? I think Cassell would actually do quite well in Cincinnati, for some reason.

Carolina has Clausen, who stinks out loud right now, but is possibly better in the long run.

Buffalo and Cleveland are both in situations worse than Kansas City with regards to quarterback play.

------

Wow, I just essentially called Cassell the fourth- or fifth-worst QB option among current starters. (And I called Palmer the third- or fourth-worst, wow.) That seems harsh, and clearly, the players discussed above are all on the same tier as Cassell in my eyes. I guess the fundamental disagreement we have is if Cassell is a top-of-the-bottom-third or bottom-of-the-middle-third QB. I don't think the two positions are much different.

------

EDIT: Matt Hasselbeck belongs in the discussion these days, too. He's no longer anything resembling a top-third QB, and he certainly looks like a bottom-third at times.

159
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 7:29pm

I swayed on Hasselbeck, myself. My list was almost 8 teams, but I figured if I was swaying then it would rather nullify my "at least" statement. Hall MIGHT be better long-term, but we don't really know either way. That the infamous Derek Anderson started ahead of him until this week surely counts for something. Same for Clausen vs. Matt Moore. I think for a team that wants to be winning soon (the next couple of seasons) Cassell would be a better option than either of those. The difference with the next group (Bradford/Freeman/Henne/Sanchez) is they might surpass what I currently think of Cassell by the end of this year. I don't think that will be true of either Clausen or Hall. I also think Cassell would do more than Smith has done with the talent at the skill positions in SF, though I don't think Smith is a particularly bad QB either.

Ultimately, it's probably a question of semantics? Does "[player] sucks" mean he's mediocre or awful? I'd say awful - Derek Anderson sucks, Jake Delhomme sucks, JaMarcus Russell redefined suction. Matt Cassell is mediocre - an upside in the right system of maybe somebody like Kyle Orton, and a downside in the wrong system of somebody like David Carr. To some, that means he sucks. To me, that means he has a place in the NFL. The reality is there simply aren't 32 excellent - or even good - quarterbacks to enable every team to have one.

On a related note, Palmer is truly mystifying. Is it something to do with lingering mental effects from the knee injury/subsequent injuries? He looked well on his way to being a top tier quarterback, and should now be in his prime but instead is a liability.

168
by Elroy44 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 9:45pm

Palmer had a major arm/elbow injury in 2008 and can no longer throw a ball with velocity.

143
by Dave :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:55pm

I need to watch it again, but it also seemed like they were able to shut down Dallas Clark with linebackers. I guess 47 (whose name escapes me because I had never heard of him before - oh, McGraw) is a safety, but he's the biggest safety I've ever seen. And I wonder if that wasn't the biggest difference between this Chiefs D and other teams that have dropped 8 routinely against Manning.

I knew to be impressed with Flowers, but Carr was great too. Throw in the Clark coverage and Collie not being at 100%, and there were a lot of Colts wearing defenders on the field at times. Manning had to throw a lot of those droppable low and outside or low and behind passes to avoid defenders. It took some great catches at times to keep the chains moving. The Chiefs really made them work for their yards.

I'm very interested in seeing the next KC-SD game, which presumably will have good weather, to see how they defend Gates and Rivers.

I wouldn't call Matt Cassel awful, but aside from some slightly improved DT play and a good game from Powers, nothing really changed about that Colts defense, though that might get glossed over (for now) by the lack of touchdowns allowed. As usual, any team with a good ground game and patient QB can march up and down the field against them. It's getting tiresome. Cassel wasn't all that smart or patient in a few cases, and that's why they lost. I do think he can improve, though. He got a lot better as he and McD started meshing well in 08. Down the stretch he could make that offense at least somewhat useful.

150
by BJR :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:35pm

Good point about Clark - come to think of it I barely noticed him last night. There was still the usual selection of picture-book throws from Peyton into tight windows, but he really had to work hard.

Re. Gates, it goes without saying but did you see his TD catch yesterday? Just unreal. I don't see what you can do to prevent that, short of triple teaming him.

165
by Purds :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 9:05pm

I wouldn't be too hard on Cassell from that game -- as a Colt fan, I found myself repeatedly saing "Oh, no!" when he threw a pass, only to breath in relief as receiver after receiver dropped balls.

166
by Dave :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 9:08pm

Me too, which is why I still fear just about any offense. I worry that that D might get too confident now after holding them out of the end zone, when the reality is that they're still a major liability. If you're patient, you can get 4-5 yards every damn play.

167
by Purds :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 9:36pm

Yeah, that's what always kills me about playing Brady. He's THAT patient! (Damn him!)

64
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:26pm

It's getting pretty tough to be a 49ers fan, more absurd ways to lose games. Alex Smith has a truly remarkable ability to screw up, he looks good for a while but then out of nowhere he'll hand the defense 6 points. And then he has the sodding chutzpah to look really good on the drive after the 'We want Carr' moment Aaaarhrrrrgggh!

72
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:35pm

I can't decide if I'd rather we were just a crappy team that should get blown out every week, or if I like these little reminders every time we play a good team that we could also be a good team.

Sure, it's been a rough...seven? eight?...years. But I can't recall a season that's been this tough as a fan. 2005 was way easier than this.

85
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:12pm

With most teams you get a sense of signature plays, the Cowboys lead draw for example. For the niners that play would be some kind of moronic and preventable turnover, our highlight package is a lowlight package and it seems like it's been that way for nearly a decade.

95
by jimbohead :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:54pm

The frustrating thing about it is, its not just smith! If it was just smith, fire him, draft luck with what will undoubtably be the top pick in '11, and move on. But its also Gore fumbling, Ginn RUNNING BACKWARD 20 YDS ON A PR and picking up TWO illegal blocks, receivers missing routes, more muffed punts, CBs not securing the ball on int returns... the list goes on.

To me, it comes down to attention to detail, details like holding the ball correctly, running precise routes, and how to run a rollout properly. I propose that any new metric for judging the quality of coaching relies heavily on penalties like illegal formation; totally, 100% preventable, and just a lack of guys being coached up to even line up correctly. Anyone want to run correlation on penalties like that to turnovers?

106
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:39pm

V. Davis up the seam?

F. Gore into the middle of the line?

120
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:10pm

F. Gore into the middle of the line?

A snap sailing over the quarterback's head?

F. Gore into the middle of the line, where the defense has 9 defenders waiting?

A cornerback fumbling away a pick against the Falcons?

F. Gore into the middle of the line, Norris fails to move a 200 lbs safety, Gore fumbles?

Dashon Goldson streaking across the field but in the wrong direction?

105
by Thok :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:39pm

This has been an easy season for me. Just remember that every loss means a better chance to fire Singletary, draft Andrew Luck, and improve a lot in the next year or two.

115
by jimbohead :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:58pm

See, my concern is that the bills will end up with a worse record, and take Luck out from under us. That is why I'm rooting for the Bills every week.

118
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:01pm

Isn't Luck going to stay in college? And even if he comes out he'll go one and knowing the niners we'll win the last two or three to drop out of the top five. And who'll be our coach? I can't think of anyone who I really rate who will be available. And I'm sickof waiting for competence, it's been eight years, the Yorks are still in charge and seem to be getting dumber by the day. There is no silver lining, just more clouds.

135
by Kal :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:53pm

It's not clear whether or not Luck will stay in college. If he has the chance to be the #1 draft pick and there's no cap on rookie salaries (and no cap in general) he may be a fool to stay in. He could certainly use a bit more baking time, but he's not said whether or not he'll be there for the duration.

161
by alexbond :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 8:21pm

The 9ers will probably just draft Locker and replace their terrible decision-maker of a QB with a totally new terrible decision-maker at QB.

102
by BucNasty :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:17pm

Out of curiosity, do you want David Carr quarterbacking your team, even if only to finish the season?

108
by Thok :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:40pm

No. If David Carr gets a chance to play, the 49ers might convince themselves that he's the answer at QB.

119
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:03pm

I just don't see how that will help.

173
by greybeard :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:05am

I think Alex Smith played quite well. He did fumbled the ball, but many times in the game he avoided sacks by very good awareness and actually in quite a few of them he turned them into first downs. David Carr would have been sacked five times and quite likely would have fumbled in one of them but the blame would have been on the offensive line. On the play he fumbled Iupati allowed inside pressure which caused Smith to go to his left and he faced two more Eagles because Staley was lying on the ground and Baas was not even running after his guy. Three offensive linemen fail to do their job in one play and Alex Smith gets the entire blame instead of the offensive line because he was initially able to avoid the pressure, had he not avoid the pressure and sacked directly by the player Iupati allowed inside and fumbled there would not be so much anger directed at him.
The two interceptions were both inconsequential and neither was his fault. On the first one it was 2nd and 12 at 47 yard line. The interception gave the ball to Eagles at their 3 yard line. That is better than two incompletions and then a punt. And in my opinion it was not Smith's fault. Ginn looked like he had separation but did not look for the ball until after it was too late. The second interception was a situation he had to throw the ball due to game situation and he did while being hit. It was entirely on Davis and Rachal to do a better job protecting their QB.

The sad thing is Gore fumbled twice and it gets almost no attention. Even worse, apparently Singletary told Johnson during the week that they need to run more and that was why all the predictable runs on first and ten were back in fashion.

49ers are 0-5 and I believe Alex Smith is not the main reason, which is actually much worse than the opposite. If Smith were to be the main reason the solution is not easy but straightforward, replace him with a better QB. Unfortunately there are bigger problems, such the defense's inability to defense screens and outside runs, the terrible run game and terrible offensive and defensive playcalling - though Johnson is much better than Raye-

190
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:45pm

I can't entirely agree with your analysis of the fumble-6. The play was a spacing route designed to go to Vernon Davis off a three step drop. Davis slipped a little as he cut and Smith decided not to let the ball go. I think that he should have thrown the ball anyway but made sure he threw it lower so only Davis had a chance at it, that's what a great qb would have done. Even if he doesn't throw the ball he has to prevent the negative play and as he scrambled he took forever to get his feet around so he could throw it away. Bad footwork has been a constant issue with his game and while this probably hasn't been helped by the coaching turnover or the inadequacy of the offensive coaching staff, it remains a fault in his game. I agree with your assessment of his picks but it wouldn't have been third and ten if he'd managed to get the ball to Gore earlier in the series.

You are entirely right about the absurd restrictions Singletary places on his offense. The Chiefs in particular were lining up 8 or 9 guys inside our tackles and we continued to pound the ball inside. Why would you do that to yourself? The best coaches do the exact opposite.

Rachal has been very poor this year, he looks sluggish and rarely moves anyone off the line. Snyder has looked much better and Anthony Davis seemed more comfortable with him at left guard too. Snyder wouldn't be the first lineman to struggle at tackle and turn out to be a reasonable guard, he deserves a longer look.

One more thing that's really been pissing me off is our special teams (if I see Andy Lee boot another line drive that outkicks his coverage I might just curl up in a ball and weep softly). Over the past few seasons the niners have had pretty good special teams as Al Everest is one of the better ST coaches in the NFL. They didn't have anyone to return punts or kicks last season and the return game suffered but that shouldn't have been laid solely on Everest. Everest goes to Pittsburgh and their special teams have leapt up FO's rankings, the niners have moved in the opposite direction, a self inflicted injury to the team by Singletary. BTW did anyone else notice that Ginn ran out of bounds on every single one of his returns? Not that he's afraid to get hit or anything. . .

191
by greybeard :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:54pm

Sing fired Martz, mainly for being successful, given the circumstances, in a way different than he thinks how success should come, and then Everest, after years of good work, because of mainly not having a good punt returner, which was Sing's fault to begin with because he makes the personnel decisions.
Alex Smith is not a good QB. But Sing is not a good coach either. There are two things I think he did right: not being Mike Nolan, and getting Vernon Davis to be productive. Motivation alone cannot replace good planning, attention to detail, and accountability.

192
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:00pm

I noticed the screen thing last year and I think it's a problem with the way the 49ers run the 3-4. In a 4-3 it's the defensive tackles who sniff out the screen from the inside. In the niners 3-4 that only leaves Aubrayo Franklin, who isn't lined up as wide as a 4-3 tackle. There should be another player on the inside of each pass rush play that should have that responsibilty but that means that it will be a different player each time as different linebackers rush on each play and it doesn't seem to be something that the niners are looking out for. This means that if the offense can either rub off a linebacker or get the screen out in front of them it puts the defense in a very bad position. It isn't as if the pass rush has been scaring anyone this season.

181
by TomC :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:27am

"sodding chutzpah" - Quite a cultural mash-up of a phrase there. Tony Judt would have enjoyed it.

65
by Dan :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:26pm

Well, this is interesting. After OPI, they run it into the line for a loss of one, with holding. The Bears decline the penalty, which would've left the Panthers with first-and-30 at their own 5-yard line.

It would've been first-and-27 at their own 7-yard line (or possibly 28 or 8). Putting them in second-and-21 was the right choice.

66
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:29pm

Watching the game, we were legitimately concerned Max Hall had died on that goal-line play. Obviously, we were then shocked that he came back at all.

The new concussion rules have had a net positive effect, so I don't want to make some claim that no one is heeding them. However, I'd love to hear the explanation as to why Hall was allowed back into the game.

67
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:29pm

The Lions finally turned in a complete game (offense, defense, special teams), and it showed. Granted, it was against the bottom of the league, but remember, over the past couple of years, even that wasn't a guarantee that they'd be in the game. This time, it was pretty clear who the better team was, especially after Clayton's injury.

The Lions' offense actually looks pretty good with everyone healthy: two solid TEs in Pettigrew and Scheffler, receiving help for Megatron in Nate Burleson, and what appears to be two solid RBs in Best and Smith (who looked pretty healthy Sunday with limited touches). The secondary is still a significant question mark, but if the front four can continue to pressure QBs, it won't be as much of a problem as it was last year.

I don't think the Arizona-New Orleans pass call was anywhere near the worst call in history. (Joe Pisarcik appreciates the attempt by MDS to make it so, though.) The game wasn't wrapped up ... it's certainly a high-risk call, and not one that is easy to justify in hindsight (would you not be better off throwing toward Fitzgerald?), but I've read about worse calls.

What I thought was interesting was that the announcers were completely clueless about the game situation. Do they not require basic math skills when they hire? There's no way the Cardinals can burn the rest of the clock, yet the two in the booth are doing everything short of inviting Homer Simpson in to talk about the next Simpsons episode. Obviously clueless announcers are nothing new, but I saw almost exactly the same thing Saturday night in the Purdue-Northwestern game ... not only did the announcers give up on the game even though the team with the lead couldn't run out the clock, but the team with the ball seemed unsure as to how they would get rid of the remaining seconds. (Purdue didn't throw a pass - a good thing given that their passing game was Clausenesque - but did call a sort-of-run to burn a few more seconds ... the QB ran right a bit, knelt down inbounds, and promptly got popped by the nearest Northwestern player: 15 yard penalty, first down, game over.)

It shouldn't be that hard. Subtract the number of time outs remaining from three, multiply by the length of the play clock, add a few seconds per play called. Is that more than the time remaining? If not, focus on the game.

76
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:41pm

No score made me smile more this week than Detroit putting up 44.

It must have been one fun city to go sports-bar hopping yesterday.

80
by Led :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:52pm

I hope you got to enjoy it, zlionsfan. There may not be a more good natured and well-informed example of a long suffering fan on these here sacred internets. I feel like the city of Detroit has been decimated (or maybe semi-decimated) like no other city except New Orleans with Katrina, only in slow motion and without the sexy natural disaster angle. I'd love to see the Lions go on a tear and bring some joy (and dollars) to that city.

94
by RickD :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:52pm

You overthought this:

"Subtract the number of time outs remaining from three, multiply by the length of the play clock, add a few seconds per play called."

So if you have three time outs remaining, that means zero seconds?

98
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:02pm

If the defense can prevent a 1st down, basically. Just the time it takes to run 3 plays.

131
by WC Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:29pm

Unrelated question ... are you the same zlionsfan who spent some time at wifs?

79
by JSA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:50pm

Anyone who watched the Chargers-Raiders game, was Floyd beating Asomugha? Or was Aso covering other receivers?

91
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:28pm

Nnamdi got beat a couple of times, but he wasn't on Floyd the whole game. Rivers didn't seem to fear him all that much though; he threw into coverage by Nnamdi both to get the ball to Floyd and to Gates.

136
by MainerRaider (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:57pm

It was the worst game from Awesome that I can remember, and I've seen almost game he's played in.

82
by Elroy44 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 1:55pm

Floyd beat him for a long pass in the 2nd quarter, and he drew an illegal contact a few plays later from him too.

93
by BJR :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:50pm

Aso was also called for pass interference on that Floyd completion, and was again called for holding in the third quarter. So not his best night's work. However, Rivers still realised it was a better idea to throw towards Stanford Routt's side of the field the majority of the time.

90
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 2:27pm

Schatz: (Nicks killing it) . . . Play your No. 2 receivers against the Texans all year.

Nicks looks like their best receiver to me, or at least 1A. Calling him a No. 2 doesn't ring true to me.

109
by mrh :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:43pm

Depends on your definition of #1. I think most people would consider the #1 wr to be the most dangerous wr on the team, or the one that draws the most interest from the defense in its scheme. However, when doing statistical analysis sometimes it's easier to use a numerical definition, where the #1 wr is the one who sees the most targets or catches the most receptions. By that definition, which I think is the one used on this site breaking down DVOA by receiver-type, Smith is the #1 in NY. While I agree with you that Nicks in the #1 on the Giants by the first definition, I think in this case Aaron was using the 2nd definition. Frankly, I think you can safely start your #1 or #2 receivers against the Texans. (Manningham, however, did nothing - anyone know if he got hurt?)

121
by JasonK :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:11pm

Most Giants opponents so far this season appear to agree with FO-- they have been focusing their coverage towards taking Smith away. The Texans switched that at halftime, giving more help to Nicks' side, and it worked for a little while. The Giants went nowhere on their first few drives of the 2nd half. I suspect that future opponents are going to consider following that pattern, given how well Nicks has been playing.

As for Manningham, I think the Giants' played more 2-TE formations than usual, keeping him on the bench (probably to help their OTs against Mario Williams & co). Manningham is healthy, but he didn't get many snaps yesterday and wasn't getting open when he got the opportunity. He seems to be in the prototypical 'big-play 3rd WR' role this season-- will break out every few games, but can disappear in other ones.

101
by Sander :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:14pm

The jump balls Freeman kept throwing were odd, first time I've seen him throw up floating hopers like that. I think he has a lot of faith in Mike Williams on those balls.

And hey, he has a point. Mike Williams has looked stellar. Best thing he does: use his body to shield the defender and prevent picks. That's probably a big reason Freeman's throwing those floaters out there in the first place.

Plus, Sean Jones appears to be fine, so Sabby won't be playing for now. Rejoicement!

110
by Ajit (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:44pm

Did anyone else feel like alex smith despite the attrocious fumble played a really good game? he was under pressure so many times and yet he was able to find people on roll outs and make some really good medium throws.

116
by Marko :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:00pm

Did anyone else feel that despite what happened to her husband, Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play?

171
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:34am

Probably not. Ford's was notorious for stale crumpets and flaccid crudite, and Tom Taylor was no Gilbert (nor Sullivan).

117
by BJR :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:01pm

He made a poor throw in the second quarter into double coverage which got intercepted, but that was at least partially on Ted Ginn who made absolutely no attempt to compete for the ball.

It certainly wasn't Smith's fault that Frank Gore fumbled twice. That was probably what Smith was saying to Singletary on the sideline; "if you're going to bench me for fumbling, then bench him as well".

128
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:22pm

Singletary was -screaming- at Smith on the sideline. I think Smith needs to buy him some anxiety meds. It's not that I think Singletary is a bad coach (though he may be) but Smith isn't a bad quarterback, and even if he looks like he's fifteen he's a veteran now. His arm isn't great, it's true. But he's not a gambler like Cutler or DelHomme, and he is capable of reading coverages. He can succeed, even if his ceiling is probably Jeff Garcia. (Which isn't bad, especially if you're a 49ers fan).

And yeah, screaming at your quarterback after your RB fumbles? What?

134
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:45pm

I for one am sick of the bonehead errors that just happen far too much. That fumble-6 was awful, I know Davis slipped but it's the qb's responsibility to limit the negative play, not to make things worse. Throw it in the dirt, run for the sideline, take the sack, anything, building a small shrine to the celestial teapot would have been preferable to that awful and entirely avoidable play. Without that the niners might well have won yesterday but I'm getting annoyed with retyping a similar sentence to that, it seems like something really dumb happens that costs them the game every week and frankly I can't see anyone with the brains to fix it on our coaching staff.

153
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:46pm

Smith might not be a gambler, but that just makes things worse, since he throws interceptions at a higher rate than Cutler.

129
by WC Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:26pm

I know I yelled at the teevee a few times when the announcers were dogging Smith that the issue was the O-line ......

142
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:53pm

I think he played a good game. That fumble-six was just so atrocious...the guy has less football instinct than just about anyone. He is very smart, though, and learns fast, so he can approximate football instinct if he gets training or he sees the same "surprise" twice. For instance, Philly ran the same blitz that caused the fumble-six two more times, and both times Smith connected for big gains. It makes for a strange QB: he's hard to fool twice, but very easy to fool once. He also plays well when he's adrenalized and hurrying, and not so much when he's got time to think. Really, an odd combo.

Last night he missed a few open receivers, but made some very good throws and at times showed great pocket awareness. His short throws are almost always high; his long throws to the outside are rarely accurate. He seems to throw the deep middle well, and his medium-length throws look good, too. But then, I'm an uneducated observer.

We could be a better team with a better QB, sure. We have a lot of good, non-speedy receivers, so a guy who could lead the receiver on the short stuff, instead of getting it in their general vicinity, would be great for us.

But it's not like he's the big problem. We'd have a decent record if we could improve to average in any single one of these categories: 1) stupid turnovers, 2) our defense giving up long drives to hurry-up offenses, 3) luck, particularly on the turnovers. (Last night, we finally get to keep one of the turnovers we cause...and there's 16 seconds left in the half.)

Also...we have two mystifying blowouts, one to a bad team and one to a team that's still a question mark (KC). That's a lot in a 5-game schedule.

Just my few cents.

156
by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 7:16pm

Smith seems to play much, MUCH better in the two-minute drill (or at least he has the two games I have seen him: NO and PHI). Is it because of adrenaline or is it because he has a lot more controll over the play-calling? I wouldn't be surprised if a mixture of him calling the plays he's most comfortable with along with not getting the HORRIBLE play-calling from the sideline has a lot to do with it.

As a Bears fan I really want Samurai Mike to succeed, but it really looks more and more like he doesn't have it...

- Alvaro

114
by BlackSquirrels (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 3:53pm

Some notes on Giants at Texans:

- The Giants defensive line batted down at least four passes at the line of scrimmage that I can remember, at least two and probably three were intended for Andre Johnson.

- Eli has had some unlucky INTs so far this year, but his two picks in the second half were poor decisions and cannot be blamed on the receivers.

- Perry Fewell and the Giants' defensive staff made up for their poor game plan at Indianapolis a few weeks ago. It seemed like they had the right defense called in almost every situation.

- Has the addition of Clint Sintim had any effect on the Giants defense the last couple of weeks or has the improved play been due to other factors? I honestly don't remember Sintim making many plays the last two games.

122
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:13pm

Goff has looked better than Sintim, IMO - he was all over the field the last 2 games. In fact, that 2008 draft class is starting to look pretty good here in year 3 - Kenny Phillips, Terrel Thomas, Mario Manningham and now Goff seems to have stepped up.

Fewell definitely deserves credit for the improved defense, esp. the last 2 games, but primarily the improvement has been personnel, IMO. Boley, Tuck, and Canty are healthy this year (and let's not forget Osi - knee injuries like that often take 2 years before full recovery - and I think it's showing with him), and the return of Phillips along with the additions of Rolle and Grant have made a huge difference in safety play, which was absolutely terrible last year.

124
by JasonK :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 4:17pm

I think all the Giants LBs are looking better mostly because the DTs are playing out of their minds. Canty and Cofield have looked great, and even Rocky Bernard is showing that last season's miserable performance was a result more of playing injured than of irreversible decline.

Sintim really hasn't been on the field all that much since replacing Bulluck-- he's the first guy to the bench when they go nickel (usually exchanged for Deon Grant who often plays a OLB-S hybrid position), and the Giants have spent the majority of the last few games in nickel or dime. All I really remember about Clint is that he had a nice pressure of Schaub in the first quarter yesterday.

144
by Quincy :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:58pm

Haven't seen much of Sintim and I don't think he's getting many snaps. Mike Garofolo for NJ.com wrote last week that Sintim's only notable play during the Bear game was a missed tackle. I'll second the comment that Goff appears to have played very well the last two weeks, which has been a very welcome surprise.

I think Fewell's game plans have been excellent in every game aside from the Colts disaster. The majority of the points the Giants have given up in their 4 other games are largely the byproduct of short fields created by turnovers/awful special teams. Fewell might even deserve credit for the batted passes you mentioned as one of the Giants d-linemen indicated after the game that swatting passes had been a point of coaching emphasis last week as the staff anticipated how Houston would respond to the film from the Bear game.

I don't know about improvement over the course of this season - I think the Colts game was an anomaly resulting from a poor game plan and poor effort, and otherwise the defense has been good in the other 4 games. Improvement from last season appears largely attributable to improved health along the defensive line, a reduction in blown assignments, and no longer having a gaping hole at middle linebacker and both safety positions (The improvements at safety and reduction in blown assignments are closely related).

140
by Kurt :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 5:24pm

I was going to comment on the link for the other Chris Crocker being screwed up, but it seems more appropriate under the circumstances to leave Bill Barnwell alone.

145
by dianagram :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:02pm

Bears only 3rd team since 1940 to win game despite 4+ INTs and 29 or fewer passing yards.
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/wH9u1

162
by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 8:52pm

Now that is getting back to Bears football.

146
by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:11pm

"I've noticed that a lot of broadcasters call Josh McDaniels "McDaniel". I think this is because Phil Simms stole that "s" for strategic Asante Samuel purposes."

Totally awesome. Slightly embarassing though, in that I had to explain to my wife that I was laughing at NFL broadcaster jokes.

176
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:03am

Just checking to see if there had by any chance been a reply to my utterly content-less post, and I laughed out loud again. "Strategic Asante Samuel Purposes" would be the name of my band if I had a band.

178
by ammek :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:27am

It's payback for all the years that Larry McCarren referred to "Randall McDaniels".

149
by Joseph :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 6:35pm

Regarding the Saints' "decline":

Reggie Bush's absence doesn't help, obviously, but the biggest problem is the O-line not blocking well (I think "the best guard in football" Jahri Evans now has 4 penalties). Which is surprising, because our top 6 linemen are the same as last year--and are playing the same positions, etc. Not to mention that it seems like Bushrod, the obvious weak link last year, seems to be playing better. Injuries to the top 3 RB's (Thomas, Bush, and Hamilton) hasn't helped either. The other thing is dropped passes. From what I know, the Saints are among the league leaders this year, when last year they were one of the best at catching them (iirc, I heard somebody say they had the fewest drops of any team last year.)

157
by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 7:22pm

The problem with the Saints is OBVIOUSLY the addition of Alex Brown. The Bears went 7-9 with him last year and are almost undefeated this year. The Saints won the SB without him and are lucky to have 2 wins this year with him. Alex Brown just loses!

There, now I'm qualified to be an NFL TV comentator, right?

(Note, I actually like Alex Brown. I still think letting him go, specially for nothing, was BY FAR the Bears' worst of-season move)

- Alvaro

182
by TomC :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 11:30am

Imagine how good the Bears defense would look right now with Brown opposite Peppers. Such a penny-wise, pound-foolish decision --- I mean, after you plunk down ~$100M for the luxury car, what's another ~$5M for the rustproofing?

196
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 7:19pm

Idonije is playing pretty well, so there's that.

I read an article that said the Bears were choosing between Tommie Harris and Alex Brown. One of them had to go to pay for Taylor and Manumaleuna.

It's also easy to say why not just pay a bit more, but when you have a budget, you have a budget.

158
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 7:25pm

Anyone else notice Vernon Davis under minute left. He made that really nice grab then as the rest of the team was running to the line to prevent using the last TO, Vernon just danced. Yeah I know it's fun to get first downs, but your behind, your 0-4 and everyone else on the field is in 2 minute mode. If the team hadn't lineup nearly on top of him I don't think he would of realized they were running a two minute drill. Truly a head up your * play.

163
by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 8:54pm

Yes, I did. I couldn't quite believe it. Smith had to shout at him to stop dancing and let them spike the ball to stop the clock. Very bizarre.

172
by greybeard :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:41am

It was indeed bizarre.
On the other hand he has played extremely well the last two games unlike the most of the rest of the team.

160
by Dave OConnell (not verified) :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 7:58pm

I don't have the stats on it, but I'll nominate Tommy Maddox as the king of pick-sixes, at least in recent memory. I know he threw two pick-sixes in one game against Houston in a 2002 game where the Steelers outgained the Texans 422-47 and still lost, 24-6. (He also had a fumble-six as well.)

-Dave

169
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 10/11/2010 - 10:08pm

I would bet that Tommy Maddox didn't play long enough.

I would be shocked if the all-time leader in pick-sixes is not the all-time leader in interceptions, especially since he has thrown almost 17% more interceptions than George Blanda, who is second all time.

If it were someone like Tommy Maddox, who only threw 54 interceptions in his career, that would be perhaps the most surprising thing I've ever heard.

180
by DGL :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:47am

I would guess that someone like Maddox would be the all-time leader in PSOA (a rate stat), while someone like the all-time leader in interceptions would also be the all-time leader in PSAR (a counting stat)...

203
by Shattenjager :: Sat, 10/16/2010 - 4:01am

We should have an answer fairly soon: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=7473

His first look at the question said that my prediction was right, but he now thinks there was a bug in his query.

EDIT: Chase has the final version up now (same link), and it says that Favre is the all-time leader, just above Marino.

Without actually doing the math, it looks to me like the standouts of those listed (Maddox is listed) in pix-sixes/attempt include Frank Tripucka, Joe Kapp, Gary Hogeboom, Lynn Dickey, Babe Parilli, Joey Harrington and Joe Namath. Maddox also has a high rate (7.3 pick-sixes on 1200 attempts). The king appears to be Frank Tripucka (15.6/1745).

I also, out of curiosity, looked to see who had the most career attempts without appearing on Chase's list, and it's Joe Ferguson with 4519 attempts (25th all time).

204
by billsfan :: Sat, 10/16/2010 - 8:41am

But what does it mean?

Harrington's interesting, because he has a pretty low interception rate.

Maybe the Pick-Six per Attempt leaders are the Captains Checkdown, since intercepted short passes occur behind most of the offense?

Or does it just mean nothing, since throwing the ball accurately is a skill, and having your teammates chase down the guy who picked you off isn't? Their non-returned interception rates are all over the place, so it's not like it just comes down to decision-making ability or accuracy. And Ben Roethlisberger is statistically indistinguishable from Joey Harrington on this list.

Then you get down to the bottom of the list: Bledsoe (0.22%), O'Donnelll, Fouts, Culpepepr, Kosar, Esiason, Anderson, McNabb, Hasselbeck, Brady, Montana (0.16%). So maybe there is something to it.

And then you go back to the middle of the list, and see Kurt Warner and Sammy Baugh right next to Jake Delhomme and Trent Dilfer.

(I also like the Eagles)

205
by Shattenjager :: Sat, 10/16/2010 - 8:11pm

My bet is it means nothing.

174
by some guy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:52am

Who is the Colts number one corner right now, Bethea? As of last week they are a ridiculous -72.6% dvoa against number one wide outs.

175
by some guy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:01am

I think it's kelvin hayden, playing out of his mind. I think FO had him pegged as one of the worst corners in football last year.

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by Yaguar :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 3:38am

That's funny. Kelvin Hayden is neither one of the best, nor one of the worst corners in football.

179
by ammek :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:31am

What FO actually said:

"Hayden was in and out of the lineup with assorted injuries, and it’s clear he was never fully healthy. In 2008, he ranked among the top ten corners in Adjusted Yards per Pass; last year, he ranked 71st."

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by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 12:08pm

It turns out he's actually one of the best AND one of the worst CB's in football.

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by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 1:18pm

Hayden is a very good cover 2 cornerback, he fits well in the Colts' system. Of course, eventually they'll let him go, and he'll go to Washington or Cleveland or Tampa Bay and absolutely suck, a la Jason David, the original "hole in zone". Playing #1 corner for the Colts is different from playing for the Jets or Raiders (who play a lot of man coverage). Hayden has Bethea over top and mostly only defends short routes - he has a great YPC average because he only defends against passes less than ten yards downfield except on absolute sell out blitzes (which the Colts do run occasionally now, yes).

That's not a knock on Hayden, but he was never a top ten corner in the league. Top 30? Absolutely, when he's healthy. But he's got limitations.

193
by dmb :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 2:47pm

I know I'm waaaaaaaaaay late to the party, but if anyone's still reading, there's a lot to respond to on the GB/WAS comments:

*A quick clarification: GB returned the opening kickoff to its own eight, not Washington's. And this wasn't due to a penalty or anything. Just a meltdown of a return.

*Moss didn't drop a potential touchdown pass; he flat-out missed it. McNabb had almost perfect timing and placement -- it was about a 20-yard fade -- and Moss turned at the right time, but I think he lost the ball in the sun. He clearly couldn't locate it, because he stretched out his hands at least six inches away from where the ball went.

*The Packers were sometimes getting pressure with three in the first half, but they sent their fair share of blitzes, too. But it didn't really seem to matter how many they sent; McNabb was running for his life on nearly every pass. But in the second half -- and I mean that the change really came AT halftime -- McNabb both time and a clean pocket on every attempt. The change was really startling. At least some of that has to be Matthews' injury, but is he THAT good? It's possible, but I have to wonder if the Redskins also made some sort of adjustment at the break.

*It could be my blatant homerism and lack of TV angles, but I thought that the rash of second-half contact penalties on the Packers were well-earned. There was one call that was clearly wrong, but the refs huddled and picked up the flag on that play.

*Landry's turnaround is pretty simple, actually: he's not being asked to be the deep guy in Cover-1 or -2 shells. Even though he has the speed for those assignments, he's consistently struggled mentally with those assignments. (E.g.: He almost single-handedly lost the NO game last year by biting on nearly identical double-moves as the lone deep safety, resulting in two long and easy touchdowns.) His other major weakness has been a tendency to go for the "kill shot" rather than just make a simple tackle -- an issue with less dire consequences in traffic, where hitting a guy while failing to bring him down can still be somewhat helpful.

So basically, their decision to play Kareem Moore (who has coverage and ball skills, but has been an absolute disaster when it comes to open-field tackling) at FS and move Landry up on most plays is what's making him "better." Yes, he's played fantastic, but he's one of the few players on the defense who is actually being put in a situation where he's most likely to succeed.

*The Redskins absolutely could be 0-5 without having played much differently. They could also just as easily be 4-1; one of those losses was that Texans game where Gano "made the game-winning FG," but it was negated because of Kubiak's timeout. They've definitely had more than their share of good luck in close games thus far, but not all of it. I think what's most noteworthy is simply how close most of their games have been; four of the five have come down to the final play.

195
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 4:42pm

A couple of points on your summary.

First, GB did get two sacks in overtime (according to the play-by-play both were by poppinga, though I had thought someone else had one of those), and I'm pretty sure there were some other decent pressures. Missing Matthew definitely made a difference.

Second, I think the comment about the defensive penalties was more about the overtime sequence where penalties were called on two out of three plays in a row. I don't remember the one of them very well (the plays were DPI and holding, but the players committing the penalties are not listed in the play-by-play), I think one was on Woodson and was probably justified, as it doesn't stand out in my mind as a bad call. However the other one was on Poppinga on what was pretty clearly incidental contact as the players' feet tangled and the receiver tripped. Poppinga did start to put his arm around the receiver at the very beginning of the play, but immediately let go without redirecting the receiver at all, so I think either DPI or defensive holding was a bad call in that case.

Bother penalties occurred on the GB 30, one on 3rd-and-1, the other on 2nd-and-15, so even one of those being a bad call potentially made the winning FG much easier for Washington.

And I doubt it was a make-up call, since whether or not refs make them I don't think they do it in critical overtime situations. However I do think that GB's reputation for physical coverage can actually hurt them. Despite some commenters claiming that Woodson gets away with holding or DPI on nearly every play, and an inane comment by one of the broadcasters that some officials look the other way on Woodson's plays, the facts are that Woodson gets called for probably more penalties than almost any other DB. Justified or not, officials absolutely are not afraid to throw flags his way, and opponents nurture this reputation by calling for flags any time Woodson makes contact on a pass play.

197
by dmb :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 7:21pm

First point -- you're right, I hadn't really been thinking much about overtime. Even so, the difference in protection was HUGE. Some of the pressures in the first half were because McNabb couldn't find anyone open in a timely manner (some plays because there wasn't anyone open, at other times he just couldn't find them) ... but even so, McNabb had to evade at least one rusher and often two on nearly every first-half attempt. There was hardly any of that in the second half.

OT penalties:

*For starters, I do agree with you that they probably weren't actually intentional "make-up" calls. (There was, however, a pretty obvious thrid-down DPI on Woodson that went uncalled earlier in the game.)

*The OT call on Woodson was the one where he was a couple yards behind Anthony Armstrong on an inside route, and dove to pull Armstrong down from behind, arriving before the ball. It may have even been a horse-collar, though I'm unsure of that.

*The Poppinga call was holding -- it didn't have anything to do with the players falling down. I agree that it wasn't something that's going to get called every time, but it didn't strike me as a particularly "soft" call, either. (However, a good replay could change my mind...)

Finally, this is totally unrelated, but do you have any idea why the Packers were so unwilling to run? In addition to his 71-yarder, Jackson also had gains of 7, 15, 7, 9, 6, and 5 among his 10 carries. And yet GB ran 53 pass plays (46 attempts plus 3 scrambles and 4 sacks) to only 14 runs. And I'm pretty sure that Rodgers audibled into one of those runs, too! The Redskins' pass defense has been particularly horrendous this year, but I think that may have been a tad too unbalanced. (The Redskins were similarly pass-happy, but they weren't having the same sort of success on their rare running calls.)

201
by ammek :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 9:13am

do you have any idea why the Packers were so unwilling to run?

Would it be too glib to say, "Because McCarthy's an idiot"?

In his own syntax-mauling words, McCarthy rejected the argument that he abandoned the run as "convenient. My responsibility is to create opportunities. [Washington] played a lot of coverage in the game. I felt we still had good matchups. We did, like we always do, a number of run-pass options at the line of scrimmage that we probably could have taken advantage of a little more. We were very productive on offense as far as moving the ball down the field. Our biggest issues were third down and dropping the football. I think that definitely would have changed our point total if we had been more productive in those two areas."

Decipher that!

You're almost right about Jackson: the overtime rush was for 3 yards, not 5, but your point stands. Six of his 10 runs were "successes", and another (the 3-yarder on first down) was decent. The only possible explanation for McCarthy's calls is that the remaining three runs were all outside zone runs — the staple of the Packer offense — and netted minus-4, zero and 1 yards. Under McCarthy, the Packers have consistently led the league (or been close) in rush attempts outside the tackles, and have consistently not been very good at executing them. Once the rookies Bulaga (tackle) and Crabtree (tight end) became the point of attack, they stopped calling their zone runs to the right side.

198
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 7:33pm

From what I've seen, I think one of: illegal contact, defensive holding, or pass interference could be called on the Packer's secondary just about every play. They are not afraid to hit or hold receivers anywhere on the field. They just hope the refs will miss most of the calls. Charles Woodson is the worse. In the Bears game, every time a receiver beat him, he simply reached out and grabbed him.

202
by Joe_91 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/14/2010 - 5:37am

In what world does Sabby Piscitelli have a limited physical skill set?
6'3 225lbs 4.44 in the 40, benches 375 and had the quickest cone drill at the combine.

Racial stereotypes FTW