Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Factors: Andre Johnson

One of the NFL's best receivers notched a -2.3% DVOA last year. Does a target-by-target breakdown show he was better than that?

10 Jan 2011

Audibles at the Line: Wild Card Weekend

compiled by Bill Barnwell

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

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site. Please note that we may not discuss every single important event in each game.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Orleans Saints 36 at Seattle Seahawks 41

Bill Barnwell: Boy, what a stupid pass by Matt Hasselbeck on that third-and-1 pick. There's nothing there; Obomanu is basically in Vilma's grasp before the ball is even thrown. Not sure why Williams on the opposite side didn't run any sort of route off the line, but you have to just accept the punt there.

Doug Farrar: Well, the Saints have seen enough of Leon Washington to know that they’re going to squib to the guys upfield. Does anyone know if there’s a rule where a return man has to stay set as the kicker’s running up to kick the ball? Or could Washington just haul ass upfield at that point?

Bill Barnwell: Unsure. But they're being a little ridiculous -- Washington averages 26 yards per return, not 36.

Aaron Schatz: Walter Thurmond just loves Lance Moore and wants to give him a big hug. If that's so wrong, I don't wanna be right!

That John Carlson touchdown was basically an "own goal" by the New Orleans special teams coach.

Tom Gower: On the Saints' TD draw to make it 17-7, Lawyer Milloy had lined up in the box and immediately bailed out at the snap, not recognizing the draw until way too late. If he sees what's going on earlier, Jones may not get the first down, let alone the touchdown. Disappointing play from a veteran.

Vince Verhei: The Julius Jones touchdown draw, meanwhile, was a victory of scheme. Seahawks were completely fooled and the Saints didn't need to win a single one-on-one matchup there.

Bill Barnwell: Seahawks just ran the Wendy's formation -- the Double Stack, two wide receivers stacked on each side.

Vince Verhei: They've done that a few times this season. I think they've run out of it every time.

Did Matt Hasselbeck just throw an eephus pitch to Cameron Morrah?

David Gardner: I can't believe none of us drafted John Carlson in the playoffs fantasy game...

Will Carroll: Getting outrun by Stokley is about the definition of pathetic.

Vince Verhei: Roman Harper gives up his third touchdown of the first half. Safe to assume that Jenkins usually handles the deep routes?

Bill Barnwell: It's interesting to see the reaction to the Seahawks torching Greer in Game 1 -- they're just playing Greer ten yards off the line on most plays. Hasselbeck has five years to Mike Williams whenever he wants.

The Seahawks have had incredible kickoff coverage in the first half. After that blown kickoff and the INT to start the game, the starting points for the Saints: 22, 19, 23, 20-yard lines.

Aaron Schatz: Saints safeties just seem really overaggressive tonight. Earl Thomas is also overaggressive, but we expected that -- the man is a slave to Drew Brees' eyeballs.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks go double-stack again. So the Saints are already thinking run. Then Hasselbeck pump-fakes to Leon Washington (one of the wide receivers) and the Saints bite. Matthew then throws to Obamanu, the "blocker" in front of Washington, for the first down. Great setup, great play design, great execution.

Aaron Schatz: My god, the Saints DBs are just getting killed by the double moves tonight.

And have you ever seen this many lob passes by one quarterback? This is like when we were kids and played "three flies up."

Mike Kurtz: The DBs only get part of the blame. The defensive line is getting absolutely destroyed, and giving up tons of yards to Marshawn Lynch(!) Cats and dogs living together, etc.

Aaron Schatz: Well, just like pass blocking and run blocking are two different things, so are pass rush and run defense. I mean, it certainly seems like they are getting pressure on Hasselbeck. The guy just happens to be very good at diagnosing blitzes and hitting his hot (or, apparently, 40-yard lob passes behind everyone).

Bill Barnwell: Think the Seahawks game plan has been great, too. Had a point they could drill -- take advantage of safeties -- and executed it. Gregg Williams getting out-coordinated.

Again, the most troubling part of that Black Eyed Peas ad is that the announcer says that this will be the Black Eyed Peas' "first Super Bowl appearance". Like they're going to have a residency.

Vince Verhei: Even forgetting the opponent and stakes for a minute, this is the best game all year for Seattle's line, by far. Have either Lynch or Forsett been hit in the backfield even once all day?

The Saints get stuffed on fourth-and-short.

Mike Kurtz: Fourth and a link and you don't run a QB Sneak? What?

Bill Barnwell: Yeah. Remember when they ran the sweep on fourth-and-goal in the Super Bowl last year? I love Sean Payton and I fully agree with the decision to go for it there, but I think he gets cute in very short yardage situations like that one. I would've just snuck, but maybe he's thinking that the Seahawks are thinking sneak and he's trying to stay ahead of them. (I trust that Payton actually thinks that way as opposed to other people.)

Mike Kurtz: I understand that, but this is a run up the middle: right into the defense. Plus, unless you fail spectacularly, you will get a few inches, and that's all they needed.

Bill Barnwell: I agree with you. I'm just trying to come up with some defense of the decision.

Vince Verhei: After the failed fourth-down try, Seattle gets a third-and-long. A deep pass to Obamanu falls incomplete, but it almost seemed like Seattle's plan from the snap was to get a pass interference call -- Obamanu just ran a deep but lazy fade, not even trying to get separation.

Tom Gower: Sean Payton got cute again with that quick hitch on third down inside the five. I'm also not a huge fan of the decision to kick the field goal to go down four.

Bill Barnwell: Think this game shows every side of Earl Thomas -- the guy who gets lost occasionally in coverage, the over-aggressive one who can be taken advantage of, but also the really talented player who can close on anything in a flash. Now all he needs to finish the showing is an INT.

Vince Verhei: That about sums it up -- he's an athletic marvel who plays sloppy and mistake-prone sometimes.

Bill Barnwell: Can the Seahawks put a guy on the back coming out for checkdowns already?

Marshawn Lynch grabs the star and becomes invincible.

Ben Muth: When did the Seahawks sign John Riggins?

Mike Kurtz: That is probably the most pathetic single example of defensive execution I have ever seen. That said, good on Lynch. I always liked him, and that was absolutely hilarious.

Bill Barnwell: Oh my lord. What, seven broken tackles on that play? Incredible.

Aaron Schatz: I counted six broken tackles on the replay. That counts Alex Brown getting his hands on him with a drive around the 10, but not the guy who desperately dives at him at the goal line. Ellis and Shanle at the start, Sharper, Greer, Porter, and then Brown.

Vince Verhei: It took until the postseason, but Beast Mode finally made its Seattle debut.

Tom Gower: That was... wow. Tommie Frazier against Florida-esque.

David Gardner: Easy. Some of us don't talk about that.

Bill Connelly: Not sure I've ever seen a run (and attempts at tackling) like that beyond the high school level.

Tom Gower: One other thought: you think, just maybe, the Saints could've used Jammal Brown today? Stinchcomb and Bushrod have been getting killed. It didn't hurt them too badly in the playoffs last year, but we knew it was a problem from the Ware/Spencer game.

Vince Verhei: Costas suggests this is perhaps the biggest playoff upset since Pats-Rams in 2001.

First of all, Giants-Pats was a much bigger upset than Pats-Rams. Second, as someone who has watched 17 Seattle games now, yes, this is a much bigger upset than either of those. No question.

Keep in mind, even counting this win, the Seahawks are 8-9 and STILL have a losing record.

Aaron Schatz: The reason I don't think this is a bigger upset than Super Bowl XLII is that the Giants weren't the home team in the Super Bowl. Also, New Orleans was 10th in DVOA. Saints weren't exactly dominant this year.

Vince Verhei: 2001: Rams were the better team by 21.2% in DVOA, 10.4% in Weighted DVOA.

2007: Patriots were the better team by 52.0% in DVOA, 41.6% in Weighted DVOA.

2010: Saints were the better team by 34.6% in DVOA, 45.3% in Weighted DVOA.

Taking home field into account, I guess you're right. But it's very close. And either way, it's sure as hell not Rams-Pats.

Doug Farrar: The lesson, as always, is that Bob Costas is an idiot. The Saints flew cross-country on a semi-short week without their two starting running backs, which not only hosed up their run game, but affected their protections. Losing Malcolm Jenkins didn't help, either -- Roman Harper just happened to play the role of Jabari Greer this time. The Saints were a team playing at a sub-par level to 2009 for most of the season, and they were royally banged up. Seattle literally had nobody on its injury report this week, except for Sean Locklear, who was away from the team for a family emergency.

It's an upset, but nowhere near the quality of upset those other games are. You have a completely healthy Saints team and this result happens in the Superdome, then we can talk.

Aaron Schatz: How about an almost completely healthy Chicago team at Soldier Field?

Doug Farrar: Yeah, or a pretty good-looking team at the Georgia Dome.

New York Jets 17 at Indianapolis Colts 16

Tom Gower: That was an incredibly terrible challenge by Jim Caldwell on the alleged punt muff by Holmes.

Aaron Schatz: I keep waiting for the Colts to move Reggie Wayne over to the right side so I can figure out if the Jets are planning to follow him with Revis.

Vince Verhei: It worked out for the Jets, but the decision by the Colts to challenge wasn't nearly as stupid as the decision by Santonio Holmes to do whatever it is he did.

Collinsworth points out that the Jets have their run defenders in on first down, then bring on the pass rushers. Which raises the obvious question: Why don't the Colts just pass on first down?

Bill Barnwell: Good Mark Sanchez: Rocket of a throw to beat Tampa-2 to Edwards, perfectly placed, great power, right in stride. Bad Mark Sanchez: Whatever that flip on third down was as he was falling down. Drew Brees even thinks that's a bad throw.

Aaron Schatz: Ah, but Brett Favre probably admires it a little bit.

Ben Muth: Jay Cutler thinks Mark Sanchez could've squeezed something in down the field on third down.

Vince Verhei: I think we need to go back and test Aaron's theory that Sanchez has the USC gene, where he plays much better against zone coverage than he does against man/blitzing. He's made a couple of nice lasers to Hole in Zone tonight, but he missed earlier (I forget if it was Holmes or Edwards) for a likely touchdown.

Tom Gower: After the early game and Pool's alleged help over the top on the Garcon TD, what do we think of safety play? Is it the defining quality of good teams? Is this just a fluky day? I feel like I should have some brilliant flash of insight here, but instead I'm just rambling out loud and wondering.

Bill Barnwell: From what we actually see in the absence of great safeties (at least anecdotally) great safeties improve run defense far more than they do pass defense. The Jets have had average-or-below safeties for two years and are still a pretty great defense.

Vince Verhei: I've suspected for a long time that safety is the most under-rated position in football, as far as their importance to a team. The thing is, we usually don't see their good plays, so we don't appreciate the good ones. You only appreciate them when you see a guy having a bad game.

Mike Kurtz: It depends on the team and the scheme. The Steelers and the Ravens do, because their schemes require a lot of activity and single coverage from their safeties. The Bears? Not so much.

Ben Muth: Someone once told me, and this is a football guy I respect, that you don't pay for linebackers, running backs, safeties, or guards unless they are really special. The reason being is that there are a lot of decent ones available for cheap. It makes sense that the playoffs are populated by teams that either have star safeties or budget safeties.

Bill Barnwell: After seeing the All-22 replay, oh my word, that's a terrifying angle by Pool. He was going for the pick and came up what, a yard and a half short?

Aaron Schatz: Yay! Mark Sanchez ends their last drive of the first half with three straight overthrows, each of which would have been a touchdown if it had been on target, and the last of which was a pick. Again, remember, Philip Rivers when he entered the NFL had already started more games than Mark Sanchez has between college and the pros combined.

Ned Macey: I get it that Revis is an excellent cornerback, but do we even know how well he's covering Wayne? Nothing even attempted that way, and Manning hasn't even looked that way. It strikes me that you can't just give up half the field and by far your best receiver just because of Revis. If Revis is actually covering him, then you can dump off, but Wayne is the fourth option on every play it seems.

Also, was it my imagination or did the Colts only rush two on the interception? Not sure I've ever seen them do that.

Aaron Schatz: Colts DT Dan Muir is just an awful, awful run defender. Every time I watch the Colts, he's getting pushed around.

I think I may have figured out why SNF games seemed to have fewer Audibles comments from us this year. Unlike most analysts, Cris Collinsworth makes actually relevant comments about strategies and how certain guys are playing. Therefore, we feel less of a need to do the same.

Will Carroll: If the Colts end up losing this game, the old hold the ball against Peyton meme is going to come out strong again. Assuming the Colts do anything about the line and there's even slight regression to mean on injuries, that's going to crush some people.

Vince Verhei: "Hold the ball" is not exactly a Peyton-exclusive strategy. What it really means is "pick up first downs and don't turn the ball over." Last I checked, that's a good idea against anybody.

Will Carroll: Agree, but that's never how it's presented.

Tom Gower: Cornelius Brown did about as good a job as running away from the ballcarrier on that Tomlinson TD to make it 14-10 as Milloy did on Julius Jones earlier.

Aaron Schatz: Did you guys see Reggie Wayne knock a Jets defender down in the background of that last Pierre Garcon catch? I have no idea which defender it was, and Garcon was basically down before Wayne even started throwing the block, but it was a BRUTAL smackdown. So apparently, Wayne is still in this game. As a blocker.

Will Carroll: Field goal? Damn has Caldwell ever taken a risk, ever? I mean in any area of his life? The man probably drives a beige car.

Aaron Schatz: I understand the draw no third-and-7 with the defense back for a pass, but I can't for the life of me understand the sweep on third-and-7.

Will Carroll: It was Pool and he saw it coming. Hope Reggie feels better after having been completely shut down and erased from the mind of Manning.

Tom Gower: I thought Roman Harper had Keep Chopping Wood locked up, but Taj Smith running right into Steve Weatherford? Yeah, that's incredibly dumb.

Will Carroll: Weatherford nearly concussed himself on that flop. Good penalty, but ridiculous flop. And I watch a lot of soccer.

Aaron Schatz: Taj Smith was really going after him though, it was like, he ran into him but then gave him an extra little push for good measure.

I'm curious if Tony Dungy had a heart attack back in the NBC studios when he saw the Colts blitz eight guys on a third-and-5.

Bill Barnwell: I'm pretty sure Jacob Lacey did.

Vince Verhei: The Colts seem to have realized that Sanchez plays best against zones, and are sending the house on passing downs. Even if the Jets win, can you imagine what the Pats or Steelers will do to this kid?

Bill Barnwell: I mean, that's not a poor decision. They got Braylon Edwards two yards past the last defender streaking towards the end zone. Sanchez missed the throw.

Vince Verhei: Right. I'm saying the blitz partly caused the bad throw.

Ben Muth: That's a big kick.

Mike Kurtz: Colts play for the ~50-yard field goal attempt. Caldwell has done everything he can to blow this game. Vinatieri bails him out. (retch)

Tom Gower: A 50-yard kick in perfect conditions is going to get vastly overpraised unless Mark Sanchez plays like he did against the Texans (and Indy's pass D plays like they're the Texans). One thing to note: Vinatieri is showing vastly better leg on field goals this year than he has in the recent past. A 50-yard field goal is a dubious proposition because it's a 50-yard field goal, but not because you're worried about it coming up short.

Aaron Schatz: Now, the question: Will they have the balls to blitz Sanchez here with a minute left, or will they sit back in zone -- which we seem to agree makes it much easier for Sanchez to complete passes?

Vince Verhei: And Sanchez makes a great throw against man coverage to set up the winning field goal. Of course he does.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, I think that was a much better catch than it was a throw.

Mike Kurtz: Colts play for long field goal, end up settling for long field goal and leave time. Jets do not play for long field goal, get short field goal as time expires. The end.

Ned Macey: Did the Colts play for a long field goal by throwing the ball well past the sticks on third down?

The Colts' second half defense was really bad (except for the two stops around the Taj Smith debacle--trying to join Hank Baskett as infamous fifth receivers). But really, the Colts control this game if they play better on third down. At least four misses on third-and-one and under 50 percent overall. Two of their six third down conversions were the runs on third-and-long (which set up the disaster sweep third down Aaron referenced).

Anyway, I don't want to be too repetitive, but if you lined up every available Colts receiver, the gap in quality between Reggie Wayne and everyone else is simply enormous. This isn't ignoring Marvin Harrison against Champ Bailey to throw to Reggie Wayne. They never had him anywhere but left. I only saw one clear play where they looked for him and looked away because he was covered (and on the replay he came open a split second after Manning looked away). It is just an appalling lack of creativity to leave him wide left all game and simply ignore him.

All told, it is hard to get too upset. This wasn't a very good Colts team, and they had to come out with all their previous injuries, and now they were down Diem and Johnson. They should have won this one, but they would have been pretty big underdogs next week in Pittsburgh. Still, it is an interesting off-season for the Colts who need to decide if all they need to return to elite status is good health or if the team needs some serious tweaking for the first time since 2002.

Aaron Schatz: One more note: This game was not Jim Caldwell's crowning glory. The timeouts at odd times, the ridiculous early challenge, absurdly conservative strategy. I'm not a fan. He seems to have all of Dungy's weaknesses without any of his strengths.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Baltimore Ravens 30 at Kansas City Chiefs 7

Bill Barnwell: I'd like to register my argument that leaving Anquan Boldin completely uncovered on a crossing route is a blown coverage.

Aaron Schatz: Two interesting bits from the ESPN Radio pregame show I was listening to on my way to watch today's game. First, Todd Haley read a study that said students do better on exams if they study in the same room where they take the exam, so he moved the Chiefs' practices from their normal practice space to Arrowhead Stadium. Second, Matt Cassel spent some time on the phone with both Tom Brady and Carson Palmer this week, getting tips on playing the Ravens. And Palmer does seem to always do well against the Ravens...

By the way, Todd Haley's shirt today says "Chiefs Will" on the back. Those of us with small children want to know if the t-shirts on the other side say "Chiefs Won't."

Bill Barnwell: Ravens are converting third downs at an unsustainable level. I know quantitatively it's unsustainable, but I'm wondering if Romeo Crennel is ever going to turn down a blitzing opportunity on third down to actually stop the Ravens.

After a couple of missed holding/hands to the face penalties committed upon him, Tamba Hali does what Tamba Hali does, getting just far enough around Michael Oher to knock the ball out of Joe Flacco's hands and force a turnover. And then Jamaal Charles does what Jamaal Charles, busting through a hole for a 41-yard touchdown run. Charles currently has more carries than Thomas Jones. Maybe Todd Haley read the study that said using Thomas Jones is hazardous to your health.

I like what the Ravens are doing offensively, though. They're taking advantage of Heap's height by splitting him out wide and basically throwing him box-outs, and then they're taking advantage of the inexperience of Berry and Arenas by getting Heap and Boldin to work them across the middle of the field. Hali's beating them up, though.

Aaron Schatz: Wow. I'm blown away that the Chiefs are starting Kevin Curtis one week after they signed him. I know Chris Chambers is not good, and he was actually deactivated today, but you would think they would start someone who had been with the team for more than a week. I guess Dexter McCluster is really just a slot guy, and Terrance Copper is a lifetime special teamer, and that leaves the rookie, Verran Tucker. Maybe it isn't so strange. The Chiefs could use a nice receiver in this year's draft.

Vince Verhei: I think part of the Ravens' offensive plan is "let the Chiefs miss a lot of tackles" too.

On the wide receiver issue, if there's one team out there that needs to find out if Randy Moss has anything left, isn't it Kansas City?

Doug Farrar: And there's Terrence Cody, jumping on Jamaal Charles for the forced fumble. That's the most dangerous example of weight distribution I've seen since Tony Siragusa turned Rich Gannon into a pancake.

Bill Barnwell: So now this means more Thomas Jones?

Vince Verhei: CBS showed Cody falling Charles in super-duper slow-mo. Watching the shockwave ripple back and forth across Cody's body reminded me of when the doctor tested Homer Simpson's body fat by slapping his belly and timing how long it took for the jiggle to stop.

Aaron Schatz: Ex-Scramble writer Ian Dembsky made a good point here watching with me, which is that Joe Flacco really doesn't feel the rush well, and you can tell because when he's heavily pressured, he'll glance back to see if anyone is behind him. Guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees never do that -- they're always looking straight ahead to try to find a receiver before they go down.

Doug Farrar: Phil Simms: “The Chiefs are using Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles perfectly.” Do we need any more proof that it’s messed up?

Tom Gower: Yup, and that's what killed the drive after the fumble. He had Boldin, I believe, open over the middle on third down, but looked back and saw Hali and tried to scramble instead of keeping his eyes downfield and throwing the ball. Flacco may aggravate me more than any other QB, especially in the playoffs because it reminds me he did nothing but get lucky and hit two random deep passes against the Titans in 2008 and that was enough to win.

Mike Kurtz: The Chiefs' offensive game plan has really been great beyond the obvious "give the ball to Charles." In particular the fake WR screen in the first quarter ... the Ravens are an aggressive defense, so when they had two defenders in front of a screen with (what appeared) to be two blockers, both defenders fired. Meanwhile, one of the blockers trickled down the middle of the field. A quick pump to Charles pulls Reed over, and Cassel gets a free toss for a first down. Just a gorgeous play.

Aaron Schatz: And then the Chiefs recover when the Ravens try to lateral. It's like the Ravens have some strange OCD where they are compelled to lateral every turnover return.

Vince Verhei: Simms had no idea that the Ravens were trying to lateral on that play. For crying out loud, you couldn't just see Reed clapping for the ball, you could HEAR him.

Bill Barnwell: Doug, was this crew below the league average in offensive holding calls? This is ridiculous.

Doug Farrar: We’ll have the full season totals later this week. But through Week 14, Mike Carey’s crew ranked fourth-lowest in holding calls with 29. Carl Cheffers’ crew ranked first with 52, and Scott Green’s was last with 18. Gotta love that consistency!

Just remember, though – as a football commentator, you are contractually obligated to refer to Carey as “one of the best in the business” no matter what actually happens during the games he calls.

Aaron Schatz: Chiefs seem to have ditched the non-stop man-2 for the second half.

Mike Tanier: Replacing it with uncalled pass interference by Eric Berry against Heap.

Recover a fumble on the ground, and you cannot lateral.

Aaron Schatz: Phil Simms thinks the Chiefs have fumbled twice because their players are too young and aren't used to the playoffs. Oh, come on. They fumbled twice because the Ravens made good defensive plays. Veterans would have fumbled in the same situations. Don't act like fumbling the ball is some sort of demonstration of a lack of moral fiber.

Rob Weintraub: Hmm, I seem to remember a veteran quarterback committing several turnovers in a playoff hammering at the hands of the 49ers, to the tune of 44-3 or so in 1993. Said veteran was of course Phil Simms. Good thing he was used to the playoffs.

Also, I would think guys who get hit by Ray Lewis tend to fumble more, rookie or vet.

Mike Tanier: Koch is having a career day as a holder. The field goal snaps look like Mitch Williams fastballs.

Bill Barnwell: Cassel with an ugly pick over the middle, held onto the ball too long, gave away the throw, Ravens baited him by opening the window just enough to convince Cassel he could fit a throw in and he couldn't. Great blitz pickup by Jamaal Charles on the play, though.

Vince Verhei: Through three quarters, on first down the Chiefs have called six passes (counting one Cassel scramble) and six runs. That's not as pass- wacky as it feels like, but it's still too reliant on Cassel.

Bill Barnwell: Is Dwayne Bowe inactive today?

Mike Tanier: So when did Michael Oher become a WWE wrestler?

Vince Verhei: I was going to say, it's clear these teams are more interested in fighting than playing football at this point. Let's just set up a ring and have a big battle royal.

And now we hear Dan Gable gave the Chiefs a motivational speech. That may have backfired.

Aaron Schatz: Ian demands that I add this to Audibles: Wasn't that Matt Cassel tuck rule play a backwards pass? The ball never went forward, so even if it was a pass, maybe it was technically a fumble due to the incomplete lateral?

(I personally think that doesn't apply because his arm was going forward, like a forward pass, not sideways or backwards, but still, an interesting question.)

Vince Verhei: As I understand it, if it's ruled that his arm is going forward in a passing motion, then it's a forward pass. It's incorrect to say the ball "never went forward" -- it did go forward, he just hadn't released it yet.

Tom Gower: As we know from the performance of one Rex Grossman, so long as the quarterback's arm is going forward when the ball is knocked out, it is incomplete, even if, say, the ball, ends up going 10 yards backwards when knocked out.

Aaron Schatz: On the other hand, the "feel free to throw to Todd Heap as much as you want underneath" man-2 defensive strategy may be a problem.

Vince Verhei: Ravens have a fourth down, up 16, under five minutes to go. Phil Simms then says the Ravens can kick a field goal and go up three scores, or "really put the game away" by picking up a first down. Going up three scores with four minutes and change left isn't putting the game away? Then he says the best way to let the Chiefs back in the game is to get a field goal blocked and returned for a score. Yes, that is a possibility, but if you're that concerned about it, why kick a field goal ever? Seriously, is this his all-time dumbest comment?

Mike Tanier: Well, the ref warning was a great idea.

McGahee touchdown: a big week for former Bills running backs. I think Travis Henry also discovered contraception this weekend.

Tim Gerheim: On that Ravens punt midway through the fourth, that died at the 1-yard line but had an offsides penalty to give the Ravens a first down, Ravens up 23-7, am I insane that I would very seriously consider declining the penalty? If you have the Ravens defense, wouldn't you be thrilled to put yourself in safety-forcing position? It's not like the Chiefs are likely to have time to score at least twice either way, but that seems like it would be a more fun way to win the game.

Best as I can tell, the Chiefs don't have an offensive game plan.

Vince Verhei: "A more fun way to win the game?" What are you, Jerry Glanville?

To be fair, the thought of declining the penalty crossed my mind too, but the realistic worst-case scenario for declining the penalty is killing two minutes of clock and kicking a field goal (unless you're Phil Simms, in which case field-goal attempts spell certain doom). That's significantly better than giving Kansas City the ball at the 1, down two scores, with I believe six minutes to go.

Aaron Schatz: Earlier in the game, maybe. With seven minutes left and the chance to run at least two more minutes off the clock up two scores, no.

Tim Gerheim: I assume you mean the worst-case scenario for accepting the penalty. Given that they were at midfield, I don't think you can say that a field goal is essentially guaranteed. I'd say the realistic worst-case scenario for declining the penalty, the way this game has gone, is a four-minute touchdown drive that forces the Chiefs to pull off an onside kick with time for just one more drive, and needing two-pointers on both of the touchdowns to tie. With the Chiefs at the one, needing to pass all the way, I think a safety is exceedingly likely there, putting the Ravens up three scores even if they do get two-pointers, and giving the Ravens the ball back.

Green Bay Packers 21 at Philadelphia Eagles 16

Bill Barnwell: Andy Reid brings in Jason Peters at fullback on third-and-1. That's novel. Then he motions him out to tight end. That's stupid.

Tim Gerheim: I think it might have worked if Peters had bothered to actually block anybody. Vick wanted to cut back inside him but Peters just stood there watching three defenders square up along the line of scrimmage.

Bill Barnwell: Well, how often does Jason Peters block on the outside for Michael Vick? That's sorta the point -- you don't want to put your players in situations where they have no experience.

Packers have sent five guys at Vick virtually every pass play so far. Remember, the magic number is six.

Tim Gerheim: Does Peters never pull on runs or lead on screens? That's a serious question, but if he does, this assignment doesn't seem like it should stretch him too far.

Bill Barnwell: When you're blocking on a screen, you're either engaging a man or about to engage a man before the ball is thrown. On a run like Vick's with play action and on a bootleg, the timing is totally different.

Aaron Schatz: Motioning Jason Peters to tight end isn't quite as ridiculous as you think. First of all, he actually was originally a tight end before Buffalo switched him to tackle. Second, putting him at tight end isn't really any different from your usual six-offensive lineman set.

Bill Barnwell: Green Bay's using Woodson in the slot virtually every play. When the Eagles go with a tight end, they have Woodson spying Vick. When they go three-wide, Woodson either spies Vick or covers Avant. So that bomb you just saw to Maclin vs. Sam Shields? You're going to see more of those.

Of course, DeSean Jackson also just rolled his ankle. That means the Packers can keep Tramon Williams on Jeremy Maclin across the field and then get Shields versus Riley Cooper on the outside. That's enormous.

Tim Gerheim: That's twice now I've noticed Ernie Sims for the Eagles fail to square for a tackle and as a result allow a first down. He seems to be a little out of control as he closes on the play and gets beaten by the slightest of jukes.

Bill Barnwell: Why didn't Mike McCarthy call a timeout after that third-and-7 stop in the red zone? They let 30 seconds run off the clock before the Eagles kicked the field goal and they had two timeouts.

Aaron Schatz: Funny, we just said the same thing over at Ian's house. Then the Packers ran the first play, so you're thinking, okay, they are content to just run it out into halftime. Except after that run, they went hurry-up to get a pass on second down. Um, huh? They finally take a timeout after a pass to Andrew Quarless gets a first down. You didn't think maybe you should have taken that 60 seconds ago?

Vince Verhei: And then they end up and letting the last 20 seconds tick away with a timeout in their pocket. That was all completely brutal, honestly painful to watch. For both teams -- the Eagles could have run another 20 seconds off before kicking that field goal. What rinky-dink, amateur-hour stuff.

Bill Barnwell: And there's the adjustment from the Eagles to having Woodson in the middle of the field. Eagles touchdown comes when they line up with trips right and force Woodson to get Maclin, the middle receiver of the three. Avant's the inside guy and ends up against Jarrett Bush, and that's the mismatch. Maclin runs a deep curl in the middle to occupy Peprah, the safety, just long enough to keep him from jumping Avant's hitch and go in the middle. Betcha they come out with Maclin/Avant/Jackson all on one side at one point later on.

Vince Verhei: Brandon Jackson did a great job following his blockers on that screen pass touchdown. When he caught that pass, he was near the sideline, while his blockers were back closer to the numbers. A lot of backs would have just sprinted ahead, right into the defenders. Jackson paused and cut back inside his men, getting an easy convoy into the end zone.

Bill Barnwell: It's amazing how bad the Eagles are inside the red zone.

Doug Farrar: People keep using this "Vick can't overthrow DeSean Jackson" quote even though he overthrows Jackson in every game. Might be time to retire that notion.

Aaron Schatz: I think Ed Rendell just had a heart attack after the Eagles punted from the Green Bay 35. Wussification of America, indeed.

Bill Barnwell: If Akers can't hit from that distance, what else do you do?

Aaron Schatz: You go for it. What was it, fourth-and-8? They were able to pin them deep, but you have to expect there's a good chance that ball rolls into the end zone and you get just 15 yards of field position.

Vince Verhei: It didn't even occur to me that they should try the field goal. Punting from there, you should be able to get them inside the 10. And they did.

Bill Barnwell: I don't think your odds of converting fourth-and-8 are great enough (or your odds of punting into the end zone are high enough) to justify that. There were 147 punts this year in-between the 30 and 40-yard lines of the opposition. 42 of them (28.5 percent) resulted in touchbacks. Eagles did it four times and each time, it resulted in a fair catch.

Aaron Schatz: The Eagles just held seven back to block and the Packers rushed three. That was fun.

Winston Justice is getting destroyed by Clay Matthews, so the Eagles pull him out and put in King Dunlap on the next drive. On the first play, Dunlap is promptly pushed to the ground by the guy he's trying to block.

Am I the only one who thinks that Vick has regressed to old habits a little bit tonight? He seems to get mobile as soon as he feels just a little pressure, much less standing in the pocket and going through his reads like during the regular season.

Bill Barnwell: I don't think so. Better coverage yielding more scrambles.

Aaron Schatz: But I think it has affected him as the game has gone along, to where he's moving to scramble much quicker now than he was in the first quarter.

Doug Farrar: Dear Andy Reid:

You have two sub-average right tackles, and both of them are getting destroyed by Clay Matthews. Maybe a little TE help would be good.

Love, The Entire City of Philadelphia

Michael Vick's interception ends the Eagles' season.

Mike Tanier: Well, that was fun. Gonna go see how much Crown Royal I can ingest before death. Peace out.

Aaron Schatz: I don't mind the decision for the Eagles to not spike the ball with 40 seconds left, and instead line up for a play. But I was expecting that to be a deep pass hoping that a streaking DeSean Jackson could beat his man, not a deep pass hoping that Riley Cooper could out-jump *his* man. If you try to hit a streaking Jackson, a failure is likely to be incomplete, not intercepted.

Bill Barnwell: Not to troll Doug, but I don't think you *can* overthrow Jackson (and with him the defensive back) in that situation. There's not enough space for Jackson to really get separation. Cooper's got four inches on Williams -- it's not the worst decision of the game.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, I don’t know if even Jackson could beat Williams downfield in a limited space. I’m thinking the ideal read is to go wherever number 38 isn’t, especially if number 38 is covering Riley Cooper.

Tim Gerheim: Maybe throwing to Cooper wasn't a bad decision, but Cooper did an atrocious job playing the ball. He looked back plenty early, and presumably picked up the ball in the air, but instead of doing anything that might have increased his chances of making the catch, he continued to drift downfield, letting Peprah get position on him so he could jump for the interception in front of him. That interception is definitely on Cooper.

Aaron Schatz: I do think you can overthrow Jackson. You risk the incompletion. If you get an incompletion, the result is the same as spiking the ball except you lose an extra five seconds. Hope he gets separation, throw it past him and out of the end zone if he doesn't.

Bill Barnwell: I don't understand how you can simultaneously throw the ball past Jackson and still give him a chance to catch it without running the risk of an interception, the same risk you have with a jump ball.

Aaron Schatz: You aren't throwing it past him, you're throwing it past the defender. He's trying to outspeed the defender. There aren't a lot of defensive backs who are as fast as Jackson.

Tom Gower: One question, to whose answer I am not certain, is how deep the Packers were playing on that play, and how realistic it was for Vick to throw the ball deep for Jackson. If I'm the Packers, I'm conscious of the possibility and guarding against it.

Bill Barnwell: Sure. I agree Jackson is faster, but he's got 40 yards to travel. In those 40 yards, how much can he gain on that defender? A half-yard? The defender also knows that you're going for the end zone with a five-point lead and 30 seconds left and no timeouts is far more likely to sprint backwards with Jackson and worry about the TD as opposed to falling for a curl. (This also ignores the possibility of having a safety back there and why the Packers were probably comfortable with Williams one-on-one on the lesser receiver.)

If he has 70 yards to go and it's one-on-one, sure, there will be space.

Tim Gerheim: If I understand you right, Aaron, you're saying to throw it to Jackson if he's open behind the defense, but make sure not to underthrow it as the one to Cooper was, and if not, throw it over his head out the back of the end zone. That makes perfect sense to me.

Ned Macey: I fully understand what Aaron's saying, but what I doubt is that Green Bay ever, ever, ever would have failed to have a safety over the top who could have intercepted the ball no matter how it was thrown to Jackson. If the safety is really there, then you have to throw it out of the end zone, and then it is just a completely wasted play.

Aaron Schatz: I figure there wouldn't be a safety too deep because remember, Green Bay thought Philadelphia was going to spike it and only had a couple seconds to adjust after they realized Philadelphia was running an actual play.

Will Carroll: What about something like that Hasselbeck "eephus" throw in the first half yesterday? Just lob it to a point where only Jackson should be able to run to it. It's either an overthrow or an incompletion, if done right. I'd guess the key is getting Jackson off the jam, but Vick should have time to at least see that.

Ned Macey: Not that I'm still stewing about the Colts' loss (and all crucial passes seemingly going to Blair White), but at a certain point, you have to read both the defense and your own offense. There is a reason Cooper is the guy singled in the end zone. If it is Maclin or Jackson, then obviously that's the right read, but if it were Maclin or Jackson, they wouldn't be singled like that in that situation.

Vince Verhei: Now that I've seen the play, I think it was a great decision by Vick -- a one-on-one matchup in the end zone, with a big receiver against a little corner. Really, it was a very low-risk throw. Most likely outcome there is a
clock-stopping incompletion. The ball was maybe slightly underthrown -- another yard deeper in the end zone and a yard closer to the sideline would have been better -- but it was a lousy play by Cooper. You're supposed to go for the ball at its highest point. He didn't. That interception was about five percent Vick's throw, 95 percent Cooper's performance.

Tom Gower: The Packers today were a wonderful example of the fungibility of running backs, at least when it comes to running ability. I don't see James Starks as anything special at all, but he had success against an average or above rush defense. What that says about Brandon Jackson, I'm not so sure.

Since I'm seeing the reminders on Twitter, I'll remind you all that the Houston Texans had Tramon Williams in camp a couple years ago and cut him because they didn't think he was very good.

Tim Gerheim: Williams and the Packers should send the Texans Christmas cards. With Houston's defensive coaching, if he were still there Tramon Williams would still not be very good today.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 10 Jan 2011

181 comments, Last at 13 Jan 2011, 9:50am by nat

Comments

1
by Dorg Classic (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:21am

Winston Justice had three penalties in two plays, that has to be some kind of a record right?

2
by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:24am

When I read the reasons Reid didn't just run the thing up the middle on 4th and 1, you know what I say. "That dog won't hunt."

3
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:36am

The Saints were without their 2 starting RBs, but hey, they have Reggie Bush! Oh, wait...

155
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:34pm

I was surprised as anyone to find out that both Deon Butler and Red Bryant were heathy and active for last Saturday's game. Guess the Seahawks just didn't need their services.

5
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:48am

I just watched that Marshawn Lynch run for the first time minutes ago. Okay, I'm a softie, but it was bringing tears to my eyes to see the whole damn team busting ass so far down field. Hasselbeck throwing a block down around the 15 or something? Lynch giving a stiff-arm that sent the CB flying four yards? That was amazing, and I hate the Seahawks. I've still got willies.

9
by MCS :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:52am

That play, and many others, are an indication of the emotional side of the game. It's not quantifiable and it's not seen on the stat sheet, but it does exist.

It’s not a popular concept on this site, but things like grit, swagger etc. are the media’s poor attempts to capture that emotion as something quantifiable.

There is something to be said about emotion and effort. It can make a difference.

14
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:11pm

For the short term, yes. One play, one game, etc, emotion can play a huge factor. Yes, it's unquantifyable. On the other hand, if a team plays with that level of emotion all year, it will be reflected in their statistics.

21
by Special J :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:21pm

I don't think anyone denies that there is likely something like an "emotional" component to football. It's just that it's so vague and unquantifiable that it's difficult to recognize and impossible to predict, so it's impossible to say anything significant, let along intelligent, about it.

42
by MCS :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:08pm

Agreed. I was just pointing out that it does exist. From some of the discussion on these very boards, many people dismiss the emotional because it is not quantifiable.

99
by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:37pm

Recommended edit, emotion is not easily quantifiable.

Physiological states of arousal could be measured and problems such as anxiety and depression are measured.

116
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:22pm

I think that most people around here dismiss it as something that should be factored into DVOA over the course of an entire season and somehow isn't.

25
by Some_FF-Player_in_nawlins (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:35pm

Of course, there's also a lot to be said for having a really bad defense. The Saints defensive stats may be above average for the year, but look at the teams that they compiled them against. To those of us that watched every game this year, this defense was markedly worse than last year's, though, not quite as bad as the 2008 squad. No one in New Orleans had any real confidence that the Saints were going to be able to do anything against anyone in the divisional round with their list of injuries anyway if they managed a victory in Seattle.

31
by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:45pm

I haven't broken it down, but the Saints defense strikes me as the kind that suffers more than is the norm for playoff tesms, when playing on the road.

88
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:15pm

...things like grit, swagger etc. are the media’s poor attempts to capture that emotion as something quantifiable.

Exactly. Only I wouldn't call it emotion, though emotion may be part of it. Humans are incredibly complex beings.

65
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:48pm

There's something special about seeing a QB (and 2 OL) in the endzone right behind the RB on a run of that length.

Granted, Hasselbeck's "block" almost got Lynch tacked, but the effort was nice.

91
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:20pm

Not just the QB, but half the team escorted Lynch into the endzone, and on a 67-yard run at that. And not only that, the QB was starting out nine yards deep in the backfield because of the play action.

I've seen long runs before by a back, but not by an entire team like that.

Also never seen a stiff arm so strong that the stiff-armer rocked back on his heels after throwing it.

152
by Temo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 9:42pm

That stiff arm was awesome, but there've been a few really good ones, some of which are even better. A pretty good highlight package:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dzhnj9Jy_HM

The on Marion Barber run is still the craziest no-gain run I've ever seen.

4
by MCS :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:46am

What's the matter with Beige?

6
by B :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:48am

It's safe, boring, predictable, dull and uninspiring. Just like Jim Caldwell.

130
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:23pm

Not beige. He's more like "saddle brown".

153
by Ben :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 10:36pm

edit: Mispost

7
by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:50am

Watching Matt Birk absolutely stone the Chiefs' nose guard without any assistance, again and again, made me wish that Brad Childress and the Vikings offensive line coaches could be fired again. They had to be Raiderjoe drunk to think that John Sullivan could be a reasonable facsimile.

When the head ooach can't evaluate talent, and thus can't figure out which professional veterans should not be pointlessly alienated, while the head coach also trades third round picks for whack-jobs out of desperation, a team ends up like the Vikings did this year, while a team like the Ravens plays on.

8
by Joseph :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:50am

Based on the losses by the Saints and Colts being somewhat due to their multiple injuries at the same positions (RB & WR respectively), the Packers having had trouble in certain games due to the same (LB/DB), and the Seahawks performance last year, I would like to make the following suggestion regarding Adjusted Games Lost:
If the starter is ruled out or on IR, count it normally. If his replacement is then out, count it say as 1.5--because now the 3rd stringer is on the field. (Obviously, this normally has bad results--esp. at QB, T, & CB) If the 3rd stringer goes down, then make it say 1.75--and keep going from there.
I say this because, as mentioned in Audibles, the Saints not having Pierre Thomas & Chris Ivory made a HUGE difference in the game Sat. Julius Jones & Reggie Bush are similarly-styled backs, and both are VERY different from the other two mentioned. On the 2 point conversion, they handed the ball to recently re-signed DeShawn Wynn--who would be the SEVENTH!-string back. (PT, Bush, Hamilton [IR'd in camp], Ivory, Ladell Betts, Jones, Wynn) The Colts have lost Collie, Gonzalez, Clark as receivers, & were down a couple of RB's at the same time also. It has been documented in many places their offensive problems because of these injuries. IIRC, the Seahawks had lots of problems in the passing game last year for the same reasons.
Before the complainers reply, I'd like to say that I agree--all teams have multiple injuries at this time of year. The difference is that at some positions, the dropoff to 2nd string is not very noticeable--certain 2nd stringers play a lot of regular snaps (DL, LB, DB, WR, & RB to an extent). However, when a team has multiple injuries at the SAME position, this has a debilitating effect that is rarely able to be overcome.

19
by Purds :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:21pm

As a Colt fan, I hear you, but I would would note the Colts were really thin at safety/CB more than receiver, as they had 7 DB's on IR this year, 7! (Sanders, Bullitt, Powers, Hayden, Silva, King, McCauley) Sure, those last three weren't much, but they were supposed to be the backups to the first 4 on the list.

But, all in all, I felt worse for NO as they lost those RB's mid-week. THAT is bad injury luck. We knew by mid-season the COlts were not making a deep run in the playoffs.

And, I agree, Caldwell is too timid. And, that TO was really, really strange at the end of the game.

37
by jedmarshall :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:57pm

I'd say this is definitely something worth looking into. The Colts D/ST was what lost the game for them in the second half, at least a small part due to Francisco (who was already signed off the street) going down and resorting to their 5th string SS.

I think the effect may be more compounded at positions with more players on the field and in rotation due to chaining. 1st string CB goes down then #2 has to cover WR1, nickel guy covers WR2, bench guy is nickel back and so on. It makes every position a little bit worse, not just one.

107
by roguerouge :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:46pm

That's by the team's design, of course. They've long gone with a Stars and Scrubs model of roster design.

10
by ammek :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:52am

The Packers today were a wonderful example of the fungibility of running backs, at least when it comes to running ability. I don't see James Starks as anything special at all, but he had success against an average or above rush defense. What that says about Brandon Jackson, I'm not so sure.

Starks provides an ability to run between the tackles. Jackson hasn't been trusted to do that: look at the stats, about 75% of his carries are off-tackle or off-end. That's a lot, even by Packers standards. Starks' ratio between the tackles is above 50%: his presence allows more versatility in the playcalling (mixing power- and zone-blocking: the outside runs are almost all zone), and gets the best lineman, Josh Sitton, closer to the point of attack.

I'd say this year's Packers are an illustration of the limits to which RBs are fungible.

156
by tuluse :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:44pm

Yeah that's what I was thinking. Green Bay tries another running back after 15 games, and he performs significantly better, and that proves that running backs are fungible?

11
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:58am

And the AFC West continues the longest current streak of not having a Super Bowl team (Raiders in 2002 season). Way to keep the streak alive, Chiefs...at least the Chargers kept things close and somewhat exciting before choking away home playoff games. Yikes.

56
by Whatev :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:33pm

The funny thing is that in spite of how god-awful the NFC West has been, they've actually sent a team to the Super Bowl three times in the last ten years (though they've lost them all).

89
by Purds :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:15pm

You just ruined my day! I now know how I will have to suffer the winter here in NE as a Colt fan: Brady will be a guy who just wins after beating the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. It's going to kill me...

125
by Dave :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 4:28pm

If the Seahawks got there and beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, would it be the biggest upset in the history of sports? Bigger than the Miracle on Ice?

138
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:55pm

No. Not even close. Even in this era of hyperbole, it wouldn't be anything close to the Miracle on Ice.

If the Maine Bears beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, you would approach that magnitude on the field, but it still would not touch the political and cultural dynamics that were at play in 1980. And dynamics that powerful simply don't exist today. We get sensationalized headlines trying to hype things nowadays. In 1980, you didn't need hype. You had reality and it was stark enough without hype.

141
by Dave :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 6:28pm

Yeah, stupid question. I should've known to frame it in those terms. I've used almost that exact argument before. Guess I'm starting to drop things out the back of my brain.

But wouldn't it maybe be a bit more like the Blue team from the blue-gray game beating the Pats? College vs. Pro is an apt comparison, but it was an assembly of college's best.

Then again, I guess the USSR was a collection of that country's best, kind of like an all-star team that got loads and loads of practice and game time together, so maybe downgrading the Blue to the Bears is a fair analogy.

12
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:06pm

Williams put in time as the dime and then nickle and then spot starter behind Charles Woodson and Al Harris. I don't have proof, but I really do think that can have an effect on a player. Of course we have the example of Jarret Bush to say that doesn't matter(I still can't figure out why he was on the field vs Philly even if he did play well vs Detroit, I had flashbacks to Pitt and Arizona last year seeing him out there) . But to defend the Texans, Williams wasn't very good when the Packers picked him up. While I think the "Admiral Armbar" (while hilarious) title he got last season was unfair because that game was just called really tight and he wasn't the only player getting called for DPI. It does show that he had a ways to go.

I keep hoping that Shields continue to progress the way he has. The man has 4.2 speed in the 40 and actually plays the ball pretty well. For only having played 10 games at corner in college, and even then he admits his coaching was basically, just run with this guy and don't let him catch the ball, he has come a huge distance. He is one of those corners who could run with Jackson on a deep route. If only the Packers could block on kick off returns he might actually be really dangerous there too.

As to James Starks. He hits the hole quick, he runs to contact and because of that he falls forward which can get you an extra yard. Brandon Jackson seems to think he is Barry Sanders. He seems to think he can break a big run on every play and will hesitate and go sideways thinking he will bounce off the tackle. He is also not very good at turning the corner on outside runs. Starks is actually a bit faster than Jackson, something that bodes well on off tackle plays. Like Grant he is pretty decisive in hitting the hole and really only trying to make one cut. That is exactly what McCarthy wants from the running game, it's how his poorly implemented zone blocking scheme is supposed to work.

I'm hoping the fact that McCarthy kept Starks inactive for a few games after his solid debut vs San Fran because he didn't practice well sinks in. No I don't think Starks is a star in the making, but not only is he physically built like Grant (6' 1'' - 6' 2'' 215 - 225 lbs range) he runs like he does. I don't mind having a back-up to Grant who plays the same way, though again, I think Starks has a bit more speed than Grant as well, Grant was a 4.43 at the combine I think Starks was a 4.50 (but I recall hearing he had been clocked at a 4.38 elsewhere) and Jackson was a 4.54. Starks just seems faster to me than either of the other guys. Grant and Starks are both bigger backs than Jackson (taller and heavier), they are both faster, and they both seem to make decisions better and take contact head on, not try to slide off it.

That being said Jackson is a very good receiver, very good at blitz pick-ups too. I do like him as a third down back. Starks reportedly has better hands than Grant did though. I really liked him as a 6th round pick. He was hurt his whole senior year, but a 6th round pick for someone that could turn into a slightly better Ryan Grant seems like a good investment.

13
by DGL :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:07pm

Seeing as how the Audibles contributors frequently call out commentators, I have to point out to Mr. Verhei that for Riley Cooper to go for the ball "at its highest point" he would have had to be about 25 feet tall and standing at the 20 yard line. Really, what's wrong with "go as high as you can for the ball"?

20
by nat :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:21pm

Works for me. Or "Go get the ball" rather than "wait for the ball".

It's not the height that's valuable. It's the "catching the ball before it gets to the other guy" that's important. But since the ball is almost always on its way down when you catch it, your way works too.

29
by B :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:39pm

I think the expression should be to get the ball "at the highest point" instead of "at its highest point." As in the highest point possible.

44
by verifiable (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:11pm

The phrase should be "get the ball at the highest point of your leap"

66
by DGL :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:50pm

Or simply "at your highest point", rather than "at its highest point."

80
by Vince Verhei :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:02pm

You guys are awesome.

"At its highest point" is football cliche for "as high as you possibly can grab it."

Point being, it was supposed to be a jump ball, and Cooper didn't even jump.

92
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:22pm

"Awesome" is an incredibly nice way to put it, Vince.

168
by Tofino :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:47pm

Some commenters do inspire awe in me, sometimes even ranging right up to disbelief.

15
by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:13pm

I agree with Aaron that Joe Flacco's pocket presence isn't ideal at this point, but I do think it has improved over the season. He's been doing a better job stepping up in the pocket when facing pressure off the edge, and while earlier in the year he would sprint out of the pocket or sometimes backpedal when facing pressure up the middle, now he sometimes avoids the hit and completes a throw downfield.

Also, it was good to see him work the middle of the field so effectively yesterday. He's not just throwing outs, bombs, and screens anymore, now he is better at reading LBs and safeties and hitting his WRs and TEs in stride between defenders.

16
by Special J :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:15pm

You know, I accept the fact that no network commentator would ever come close to acknowledging the obvious racial component behind the disproportionate popularity of running backs like Kuhn and Woodhead, but do they have to insult our intelligence by continuously marveling at their "folk hero" status, as if they really don't know what the deal is?

33
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:48pm

They'll stop doing that about the same time they call a white guy "Dynamic"

It cuts both ways.

131
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:29pm

It will stop when announcers aren't fired for discussing obviously racially charged subjects like that. I'm guessing it'll take a couple of generations.

154
by tuluse :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 11:14pm

So you want announcers to just ignore reality? I really don't think "don't discuss racially charged subjects" is an appropriate response.

160
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 3:09am

No of course not. I'm just saying they (announcers) have no choice but to tip-toe around the subject, if they want to stay off the headlines.

165
by MCS :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:42am

Kuhn played D-II ball in college. He's an undrafted fullback that many felt should never have made the team (Johnson is the better blocker and Hall is more effective on special teams). Kuhn was converted to halfback this season when Grant was injured. He's made the most of his opportunity and limited talent to score a few TD's and electrify the crowd.

Green Bay is a blue-collar town. Kuhn is a blue-collar back.

Many Packer fans felt the same way about Samkon Gado many years ago. A limited talent that had a heck of a run.

Is race a factor? Maybe with some, but I like to think that there is more than a little bit of support for the underdog in the fans' motivations.

Side Note:
You know who gets the loudest cheers when the Packer offense is introduced at the beginning of a game? Aaron Rodgers. But Donald Driver is a very close second.

Green Bay loves the underdog.

166
by ammek :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:58am

There was never a bigger 'fan favorite' in Green Bay than William Henderson. But Hendo was a throwback: he played his whole career for the Packers, and was brave enough to live in the area all year round. He was also the ultimate spare-part man: blocker, special teamer, sweet screen receiver, and very occasional short-yardage runner. Fans always love these no-glory guys — unless they get a DUI (hello, Spencer Havner).

That said, expressions such as 'blue-collar' are definitely charged: I've just been looking at a Packer website which has an award for 'Blue-collar player of the year' and the candidates are all white. There's a deep-seated belief that black players can 'get by' on athleticism and 'instinct' while white players, even to get as far as the NFL, must be 'gritty' and 'determined', which is unfair to everyone. The media make it worse by talking out of their asses: for instance, Jordy Nelson continues to be labelled a possession receiver based not on where he lines up or the routes he runs, but on the color of his skin. Sadly there's nothing to be done about this idiocy, except to write to the broadcaster concerned each time, using stats (ProFootballFocus is good for this) to point out that Nelson has run as many deep routes as his team-mates.

167
by MCS :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 12:18pm

I certainly didn't mean to imply anything racial by using the term blue-collar.

17
by ammek :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:17pm

I really don't agree that the Seahawks' win counts as an historic upset. Since realignment, teams with fewer than 10 regular-season wins are 11-6 in the wildcard round. They are 9-4 against teams with more than 10 regular-season wins, and 2-2 against each other, including a road win by 8-8 St Louis, the worst playoff team ever, against 9-7 Seattle in 2004.

That said, since realignment, road teams are 13-15 (0.464) in the wildcard round. Since 2004, they're 11-9 (0.550); and it's four straight seasons now where road wildcards have gone .500 or better. Home-field doesn't seem to matter so much.

Is Seattle's win the opportunity for a radical reform of the playoff system? How about, instead of an 18-game season, we keep the current 16-game, 8-division format, but at the end of the year, every team qualifies for the playoffs? What would happen next is this:

— In round one, third-placed teams take on fourth-placed teams, sorted by record. So for instance, this season, in the NFC we'd have seen Car@TB, Ari@Det, Wash@Dal, and Min@SF.

— The winners then travel to the second-placed teams for round two. Supposing Tampa had beaten Carolina, it would then go to New Orleans. If Arizona had upset Detroit, it would then visit St Louis. Etc.

— Round three would bring in the top seeds, so if Arizona won again, it would go to Atlanta, assuming that we were not already enduring an apocalypse. Thereafter the postseason would become an elimination tournament as at present.

The advantage of this system are:
— winning the division counts;
— late-season 3rd/4th place battles are relevant in terms of getting a home playoff game;
— every team gets at least a 17th game;
— every team except the cellar-dwellers gets at least one extra home game, keeping Jerry happy;
— PK can write about at least one 'epic' upset every season.

22
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:23pm

And since 1983, teams with fewer than 8 wins are undefeated in the playoffs. Look out Chicago!

26
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:35pm

Good thing the Seahawks have eight wins now!

118
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:22pm

Well played, sir!

169
by Tofino :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:50pm

How about "teams entering the playoffs at 7-9 have never failed to win the Super Bowl"?

18
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:18pm

James Jones has to be example 1A of how a coach can develop a substance abuse problem. The guy has it all. Size. Speed. Ability to disengage and get separation on almost anybody.

But TERRIBLE hands. Ohmigosh. Jones has now dropped/fumbled multiple key times during the season.

Ouchimama

28
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:37pm

The other frustrating thing is that he has actually started to actually run routes better. He was awful at that last year, but he has progressed there, which just makes it worse because that means he is getting thrown to more and that means more chances for drops! Sadly there is only so much coaching you can do as far as hands go. It's more coachable / trainable than speed (there is some training you can do to get faster, but not much), mostly in that sometimes it's a concentration issue and you can coach that. So hope is not completely lost, but I'm not seeing progress with Jones on that score.

Of course to be equal with criticism. Greg Jennings has been really bad at catching higher throws the last few weeks. Sure some of those would have been tough catches had he made them, but since the last Detroit game, I've seen a couple a games where the ball hits his hands, head height or above, and he just doesn't catch it. There were a couple of those last night too.

39
by MCS :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:00pm

I have reached the where I am surprised when he holds onto the ball.

23
by Chris Smart (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:29pm

You've hardly filled-out your argument that Costas is an "idiot" - Costas is easy to dislike in a football broadcast, but that that this is at least a decennial-scale upset is beyond dispute and your reaching back to DVOA values of the teams that played in the 2001 Superbowl says more about your anorakness and less about Costas' idiocy.

Given how often Audibles picks on booth announcers (which is fun reading) and how rarely you go after the studio crews, it is bizarre that you single out this one statement - you must really dislike Costas. In my opinion, the booth teams are getting better and better (Millen the exception that proves the rule) while the Studio teams get stupider and stupider.

58
by RickD :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:36pm

What is anorakness? The propensity to wear a certain kind of winter coat?

68
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:53pm

From the OED:

slang (derogatory). A boring, studious, or socially inept young person (caricatured as typically wearing an anorak), esp. one who pursues an unfashionable and solitary interest with obsessive dedication. Also attrib.

69
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:55pm

and, of course, usage of that word says something about its user's anorakness

95
by NotAredskinFanButWow (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:25pm

Yes. It says that they're British.

94
by Paul R :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:23pm

Where's the accent supposed to go? Is it AnORakness, or anorAKness?
I need to know before my next traffic stop.

102
by ammek :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:41pm

ANorakness.

73
by Spielman :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:58pm

Millen could actually be evidence for your thesis... Millen was fairly well regarded as a commentator before leaving to be the worst GM ever, and since he's gotten back he's clearly one of the worst in the game.

Although that may be because now my automatic response to anything that comes out of his mouth is "What the hell do you know? You're the worst GM ever."

148
by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 8:46pm

+10

24
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:33pm

Running backs become much more fungible if you have a decent offensive line and/or a good passing game.

And Starks really reminds me of Ricky Watters, it might just be a body shape thing but they seem very similar to me, I think he's probably a better runner than Ryan Grant, he certainly has more big play potential.

27
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:37pm

"Andy Reid brings in Jason Peters at fullback on third-and-1. That's novel. Then he motions him out to tight end. That's stupid.
"

Wasn't Peters a TE in college?

30
by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:41pm

I'm not a fan or a hater of the Saints or Seahawks, and I like having divisional winners get automatic playoff berths, but I do think that making a team win 8 games to get a home playoff game, assuming that no other playoff team has failed to do so, would be a reasonable way to seed the tournament.

32
by biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:47pm

The problem with this "winning 8 games" rule is, who do they play?
Would Seattle be re-seeded as a #6 seed and play Philadelphia, and if that happens, would the new 4/5 game be Packers At Saints?

35
by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:53pm

Yeah, I'd prefer that a seven game winner be seeded sixth.

86
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:10pm

I generally hate slipperly slope arguments, but I think there's one here that has merit. If you're already acknowledging that division winners aren't inherently worthy of hosting a wild card team, then why shouldn't the Saints be seeded ahead of the Eagles, as well? And, as the tiebreakers would have worked out, the Bears? You have to draw the line somewhere, or nowhere, I would think.

Which is why I like the current system. Wild card teams didn't win their division, which is every team's first goal. However, the best non-winners are given a pardon - the two best still make the playoffs, but have a more difficult path. I like that setup.

105
by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:44pm

Brief Comment: I've been thinking about it, and it seems to me that conceivably a team could go 7-9 and still be decent to borderline good. We're focused on a the NFC West as a historically suck division, what about a division where there are 4 solid to strong teams. I'm thinking of years past where pre-season talk would be that the NFC East could be one by a 9-7 or even an 8-8 team because they were going to beat each other up and then faced another tough division or two (AFC East?). I haven't worked out all the machinations of this, but it seems feasible to me if teams split all their division matchups that would yield 3 losses and against the hypothetical other tough divisions each team lost 3 that would do it. It doesn't seem inconceivable that 7-9 would win out and the team might still be pretty good and even post decent (AVG to slightly above AVG) stats.

40
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:02pm

The only thing that I can add on the subject of losing teams getting home games is that there might be one factor that could be working against teams from the NFC West (and the AFC West) which is the record of west coast teams playing in road games with a 10 am Pacific kick off. All the teams suck in those games, the problem is that the overall records of those teams suck anyway so it's hard to know for sure if there's any real issue here. Several west coast teams have complained about what they regard as a competitive disadvantage to no effect, they don't seem to draw as much water as Polian. However, this isn't the first time an NFC West team has done better in the playoffs than would have been expected from their regular season record. (Mike Sando did a piece on 10 am starts a while back that included some numbers that seemed to suggest that there was something to it.)

64
by K (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:46pm

The most recent stats I saw had the west coast teams collectively at a .270 winning percentage in 10 a.m. games, since the 2002 season. This includes multiple good Seahawks and Chargers teams, and (I believe), the 2002 Superbowl Oakland team.

So, yes, it's a real issue, that goes beyond the innate ineptitude of the Western divisions.

41
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:04pm

I don't think it's that big of a deal. It's rare enough as it is, and it's not like they can earn home-field advantage throughout; if they host the NFC title game, well, several things happened that had nothing to do with Seattle.

They hosted a flawed team and took advantage of enough of those flaws to advance. It happens a lot; sure, this time it was with a 7-9 team, but I'd rather just let the odd season go than act like the BCS and build in rules to address one-off situations.

45
by jedmarshall :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:14pm

"if they host the NFC title game, well, several things happened that had nothing to do with Seattle"

This may not be that unlikely. Both of this weekend's games feature rematches (including same HFA). The Seahawks beat the Bears and the Packers took the Falcons to the wire earlier this year on the road already. I don't think both will happen, but there is a significantly greater than zero chance it does.

129
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:02pm

True ... I'm just saying that it's not like giving Seattle one home game directly led to them hosting the conference championship. Would it really make that much of a difference if they were 8-8 or 9-7?

If none of the other division winners can win a playoff game, I'm not sure why Seattle should have to do that much more ... one win by any of the other three would have put that possibility to rest, and if you can't beat Seattle at home, well, that's just as much of an argument for letting them host a game.

47
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:18pm

I think the only things that need to happen for Seattle to host the NFC title game is that they win at Chicago and the Packers beat Atlanta. Both are less than likely, but certainly not out of the question.

170
by BigCheese :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:13am

The "only" things that need to happen are two results out of two games in the NFC play-offs? The implication being that the AFC games can go either way?

That's kind of like saying that the "only" thing that the Seahawks need to do to win sunday is to score more points than they allow, isn't it?

- Alvaro

177
by MCS :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:04pm

I think that was his point.

34
by BJR :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:49pm

At least we can put to bed any idea that Matt Cassel is an elite Quarterback. No he doesn't have a good set of receivers, but the way he was flailing around back there in the second half was pitiful. The Chiefs haven't played many (any?) teams as good as the Ravens this season, and man were they ruthlessly exposed last night.

36
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:56pm

Thats what great defenses do to quarterbacks.

Cassel didn't play well, but the chief's playcalling as a whole was terrible, and it seemed to me that Cassel was only allowed to throw in situations where the Ravens were able to pin their ears back and rush (IE, 3rd and long)

51
by BJR :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:25pm

The thing is, this probably isn't a 'great' Ravens defence, at least not by their standards. It's good for sure, maybe even very good, but they still have a weakness at the CB position, which good offences and QBs have exploited this season. The Chiefs are not one of those teams.

54
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:29pm

Ummm, did you actually watch the game? The Chiefs came out throwing in the 3rd quarter. Charles got, I believe, 1 carry the entire second half. Their first three possessions of the 2nd half, I believe they ran the ball three times - 1 pitch to Charles, 1 run up the gut to Jones, and one reverse to McCluster. The problem wasn't they were allowing Cassel to throw on 3rd and long, the problem was they were throwing too much in the 2nd half. Charles was gashing that D and they gave him 9 carries in a game that was close until the 4th quarter. Amazing. Charlie Weiss has been a terrible play caller all year. Ask any hardcore Chiefs fan.

Keep up the good work RichC

69
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:55pm

The Chief's first drive of the 2nd half involved 6 runs and 5 passes. Those 6 runs went for a TOTAL of 11 yards. 10 of those 11 yards were one carry by Jones. Charles 2 carries were for -1 and -4 yards. (one of the passes was an INT that was later fumbled)

Thats hardly "gashing" anything.

Charles stopped getting carries in the 2nd half because the Chiefs were down multiple scores, partly because both Charles and McCluster had put the ball on the ground, and partly because the running game wasn't working AT ALL after halftime.

The Chiefs threw so much late in the game because they were losing.

74
by Waverly :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:00pm

Did Haley take over play-calling duties from Weis in the second half?

38
by Mikey :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 12:59pm

I love, love, love the Lynch as Mario video.

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.

43
by jedmarshall :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:08pm

I think the thing most disappointing about the Jets win is I can't listen to any sports talk radio this week without committing vehicular homicide the first time somebody says, "Sanchez just 'wins games'".

He was horrible and was bailed out time and time again by his WR's and running game. If he plays a good game, the Jets win that game comfortably. That's why Caldwell's TO is at least defensible in the end. If the Jets try to pass, there's a very good chance Sanchez airmails his receivers yet again and there is a sliver of time left on the clock for the Colts.

77
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:01pm

Mark Sanchez mentally caused a special teams breakdown that allowed Cromartie that big return.

Just switching QBs in that draft, how much better would the Jets be if they had Freeman instead of Sanchez? A lot of what makes Freeman impressive is his ability to keep it together when things break down and make plays on the move, so I do wonder how he'd perform with, you know, a real offensive line, but he would make the Jets very, very scary considering his performance this year.

81
by scottybsun (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:03pm

I dunno. He was 9 of 12 in the second half, including a dropped pass. 3 for 4 on the final drive. He wasn't great, but did play his best at the end of the game.

3 qbs were in position to have a end-of-ame drive win the game- Brees, Vick and Sanchez. 1 did it.

Listen, I agree Sanchez is a maddeningly inconsistent qb, but you gotta give some credit where it is due

90
by Purds :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:19pm

You make it sound like all situations were alike. Sanchez had to go 20 yards to get a FG. Brees needed 70 yards and at TD to win, Vick needed 66 yards and a TD to tie (though he did have more time).

150
by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 9:03pm

From NYJ 47 to Indy 14...without the last pass, Folk has much greater chance of missing the kick...

(And it was done in less than 30 seconds...Jets let more than 15 seconds click off after Edwards' catch, although you could argue that he was never touched on the ground and rolled out of bounds, which should have stopped the clock...)

149
by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 8:56pm

Absolutely

93
by Purds :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:22pm

Wins = QB value kills me as well.

Are we supposed to believe Tom Brady is a worse QB in the second half of his career compared to his first, because he won 3 SB's in the first half, and hasn't won squat in the second? By the "Wins = QB value" metric, then, he's gotten worse ... which he obviously hasn't.

96
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:27pm

I hated that TO. If nothing else, the Jets could have run it and made it a shorter FG (if the Jets weren't planning on running another play, which is debatable) and they might even have done that anyway had the Braylon throw been incomplete, since they had 1 TO left.

I like Caldwell's defense that he essentially thought the FG was a done deal, because it shows how we tend to bring about the things we believe in. A self-fulfilling prophecy, in other words.

104
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:43pm

Your last point is what gets me, too - coaches treat field goals as guaranteed points, unless the try is especially long.

I said that to the people I was watching with when the Eagles opted to kick from the 16; they should go for it, and Reid should not be treating those three points as automatic.

52
by BJR :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:25pm

The planets really have aligned for Chicago this season. Don't get me wrong, they have played some good football to get where they are (on defence and special teams at least) but they have had some serious luck in avoiding injury, facing opponents 3rd string QBs, their highly talented division rivals being ravaged by injury, and now the seeding system affords them a home game against Seattle after a first round bye.

53
by Jimmy :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:27pm

All true.

87
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:14pm

Yep. The Bears have been lucky and good. And they've done a very good job - credit the coaching staff - of taking advantages of their opportunities.

140
by akn (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 6:20pm

I'm just glad we aren't constantly hearing that "Team of Destiny" nonsense from Lovie.

46
by Yinka Double Dare :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:17pm

End of the first half was classic Mike McCarthy clock mismangement. He was standing opposite the master and managed to do an even better job of mangling the clock than Reid himself could have done in the same situation.

50
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:23pm

The NFL should somehow schedule a Packers-Eagles game on Dec 21, 2012. Between Reid and McCarthy the overabundance of time mismanagement will undoubtably cause any end-of-the-world scenario to turn on itself and life will continue as normal.

123
by Ezra Johnson :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:44pm

I was frustrated that McCarthy let the clock run at the end of the half, too, but I wouldn't characterize it as "mismanagement" as much as it may have been sending a message to the team to forget about the dropped TD and regroup. I think he might have been worried about Rodgers or somebody else making a mistake trying to make up for it. You may still disagree with that decision, especially after they coughed it up to start the second half, but I don't think it was a case where he wasn't aware of his options. Right or wrong, he's big on having his players in the "right mindset," and at that point after the Jones drop they were clearly frustrated.

48
by Anonymus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:22pm

This is the only change acceptable:

"I. Any division, in order to get an AQ in the playoffs to its champion, should be equal or above .375 in interdivisonal matches, including interconference's, during the regular season.

I.(b) A divisional champion can still get an AQ to the playoff even if their division don't get the minimal wins necessary, if it have won .500 or more of their interdivisional matches.

II. If any of the condition above applies, an extra Wild Card berth will be given to the team with best record among its Conference, except those already qualified, in substitution of the divisions and divisional champions under the cut.

II.(b) A divisional champion can still be in the playoffs through a WC spot."

The problem is not the 7-win or 8-win champion, but the lousy division.

Every division has 40 interdivisional matches. Win 15, and it's proven that the division is worth an AQ in the playoffs.

Every team has 10 interdivisional matches. Win 5, and it's proven that the team is worth an AQ in the playoffs as divisional champions.

Still, the best thing is: KEEP THE WAY IT IS! After all, three Wild Card teams have won on the road this weekend.

145
by Dennis :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 7:25pm

And the only division winner that won was the 7-9 team.

49
by Jimmy :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:23pm

Am I the only one who thinks that Vick has regressed to old habits a little bit tonight?

I think this started to happen weeks ago. There was a point this season where Vick looked godlike and no mortal team was going to be able to stop him but then some teams did and gave DCs some cheat sheets on how to do it. I remember watching Vick's first start for Atlanta and after he had completed something like 12 of his first 13 passes at ten yards an attempt I was starting to think he actually was going to change the way the game is played. Not suprisingly (in hindsight) it wasn't sustainable. The Vick I have watched over the last month or so has many of the same issues that the Altanta version had. For example anybody spot any of the following last night; bouncing the ball into open WRs outside the numbers, failing to spot a wide open receiver in the end zone because he isn't tall enough to see over the line, awfully sloppy footwork that leaves him unable to throw to uncovered TE despite extraordinary athleticism, immediately stopping looking downfield as soon as he needs to move at all behind the line of scrimmage. If he regressed any faster he would be amphibious by the time the Superbowl arrives (Boom Boom).

An audibles comment earlier in the year talked about how strange it was seeing Vick stand in the pocket, wait and then deliver the ball. I still don't think I have seen him slide in the pocket like Brady, Manning or Brees would and then deliver a throw. Reid has made far better use of his athleticism than Reeves or Mora ever did, baiting DE and outside contain players on option pitches and so forth but as the season went on it seems to be more about disguising the fact that he still isn't very good at the things that make you a good QB. The guy has been on the Eagles roster for two seasons since his incarceration he should have made more progress in his weak areas than he has. Maybe the Eagles QB situation isn't so rosy after all. I have no idea how you work out what appropriate compensation for Vick is and what you do with Kolb when you have decided.

78
by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:02pm

I am not sure if judging Vick's performance as regressing at this time is fair. Over the past month Vick has been playing hurt/injured behind awful protection with his main offensive weapon also hurt/injured. Consistent pressure by players athletic enough to tackle the QB is an effective game plan against any QB. It is not unique to Michael Vick.

When Vick looked "god-like," he enjoyed good protection and was still healthy. He had a pocket and a health #1 WR in DeSean Jackson. When protection broke down, he scrambled out, looked down field and ran if necessary. Protection broke down 0.5 seconds after the snap this past month.

If examining weaknesses in Vick's game, the absence of Hot Routes is glaringly obvious. I do not know if he cannot make the reads, if timing is off with his WRs or if the WRs do not make the correct reads at the line. Maybe he is not tall enough to use those passing lanes, but A.J. Hawk and CFM beating blockers of the edge and coming free up the middle does not help.

126
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 4:37pm

mistake post.

127
by Jimmy :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 4:39pm

I would be willing to take bets that if Vick is still the Eagles starter next season then he will be injured in some way at this time next season. It will also still affect his production as uncanny athleticism is such a large part of how he plays.

55
by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:32pm

Anyone else think Vick could have put a little more air under that ball?

57
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:35pm

GB gave up some playground plays where things broke down. But Vick only gained 33 yards rushing. And to my tiny brain his really big games are tied to him gaining huge yards on the ground. At least that is my likely flawed impression.

I was surprised to see him finish with 292 yards but again, that was the Packers forcing the EAgles to drive the field. Strange thing for McCarthy to win the field position game. Against Chicago the Packers always seem to be starting from their 15 yard line.

98
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:36pm

Interesting, in that my impression of the Bears/Packers game was that Green Bay somehow won the special teams battle, which was unlikely to occur should the teams meet again.

Looking at the game book...

Packers' punts:
1. CHI 42 to CHI 14, fair caught
2. GB 45 to CHI 16, out of bounds
3. GB 37 to CHI 7, returned 19 yards
4. GB 42 to CHI 11, returned 16 yards
5. midfield to end zone, touchback
6. GB 28 to CHI 24, downed
7. CHI 45 to CHI 3, downed
8. CHI 40 to CHI 2, downed

The last two, in particular, were Mike-Scifres-in-the-playoffs awesome; Masthay had a great day. Punt #3 was an awesome punt, as well, but poor coverage. The Packers were actually above-average in FO's metrics (+4.1) in punting, so this isn't that extraordinary. More importantly, though, they held the Bears #1-ranked punt return units (+26.6) to very little value.

Bears' punts:
1. CHI 21 to GB 26, returned 8 yards
2. CHI 41 to GB 11, out of bounds
3. GB 45 to end zone, touchback
4. CHI 36 to GB 17, out of bounds
5. CHI 33 to GB 15, returned 41 yards
6. CHI 34 to GB 25, returned for no gain
7. CHI 2 to CHI 46, returned for no gain

The Bears punter (Maynard) did a good job of limiting returns, except for the one. His distance hasn't been great all year, and the Bears' punting is only slightly above-averege (+0.6). The Packers' punt returning is a little bit below-average (-1.2), so that one big return is unexpected.

Packers' kickoffs:
1. GB 30 to CHI 20, returned 3 yards
2. GB 30 to CHI 22, returned 28 yards
3. GB 30 to end zone, touchback

The Packers' coverage was better than expected (-5.8), especially considering how good the Bears' return team is (+14.6).

Bears' kickoffs:
1. CHI 30 to GB 7, returned 21 yards
2. CHI 30 to GB 14, returned 26 yards

Gould has never had a huge leg, though the Bears' kickoff team is roughly average (-0.7). The Packers probably did a bit better than expected here, given that their kick return team is awful (-10.8).

So overall, it wasn't drastic, but I'd say the Packers did win the special teams battle. Taking into account how much better the Bears have been at special teams on the whole, it was surprising that the Packers were better, let alone as good, in week 17.

121
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:34pm

Green Bay's punting was actually as low as -4 on punts and -2.1 as recently as week 11. Masthay has been punting like a top 10 (possibly top 5) punter for the last 8 weeks or so. It's really really strange for me since the Packers haven't had a good punter in years. I actually expect the Packers to punt well now and be average on kick-offs (though that has been declining at the end of the season).

Sadly they still have no ability to return anything with any consistency. Some of that is lack of a returner, some of that is just poor play by the blockers. So as a whole, I expect them to lose the overall special teams portion of the game, and am surprised if they don't.

171
by BigCheese :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:24am

Shoudn't it be "that the Packers were as good, let alone better?"

I honestly ask since I've always thought that the phrasing is "they were A, let alone B" where B is greater than A, but I've been earing / reading it the other way a lot lately.

Is this a case of english not being my native tounge and I had it wrong for a long time, or is it a case of "I could care less," another phrase that drives me crazy with it's missuse?

Or as I've just finished typing that, did you mean "were better, let alone as good as they were" and I've just put you in with the other instances where it's reversed?

- Alvaro

174
by tuluse :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 10:42am

Eddo has it right. He was surprised that the Packers managed to be equal to the Bears, which makes it really surprising they were better, thus "let alone."

As for "I could care less," it's just sarcastic.

175
by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:16pm

Actually, no. I could care less is just poor education. The actual phrase is I COULDN'T care less. But much the same as "pre-madonna," "nuke-u-lar," and countless other bastardizations of language, we have become too lazy to even so much as know what it is that we are saying.

178
by nat :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:30pm

The sarcastic form is "I could care less, but I can't be bothered." You can see why in this form it makes perfect sense and shows good education. Shortened to just "I could care less" it's a bit of an "in" joke, where the literal meaning and the commonly understood meaning are opposite, and the meaning understood by those "in" on the joke matches the meaning understood by people who fail to parse the sentence literally. You follow that?

It's an ironic twist on the more literally correct "I couldn't care less." And a way to tweak people who are little bit hard of humor. I'm surprised you didn't know that. All the cool kids do.

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by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:00pm

I'd be quite confident saying that a substantial majority of people who say "I could care less" are not in any way familiar with or aware of that. They simply think it is the correct phraseology.

As with many matters far more important than spelling and grammar, the majority of people are, as Dean states, simply too lazy and/or stupid and/or misinformed to care that what they're saying is wrong.

181
by nat :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 9:50am

The evidence that you are "quite confident" is all the proof I need. You've convinced me.

I could care less.

In fact, now I do care less.

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by tuluse :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:34pm

Only if you think sarcasm doesn't exist, and people don't say the opposite of what they mean in sarcastic manors all the time.

176
by Eddo :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:19pm

To be honest, I've seen it both ways. I'm not sure my phrasing is "right", in that I don't think there's a "right" way.

Actually, thinking about it, I might prefer Alvaro's phrasing.

59
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:41pm

Seattle against Chicago is interesting in that Seattle has solid to good special teams where the Bears typically have a huge advantage against an opponent. Not so here.

And the Bears defense is completely predicated on their front four. Can the Seahawks control Peppers without resorting to multiple guys on him? Hasselbeck is a good qb if upright.

What was not on display was whether the Seahawks can stop a running game. If the Bears/Martz have half a brain Forte will be used early and often.

142
by akn (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 6:30pm

Agreed, especially with freeing Forte, with one more critical point:

The Seahawks destroyed the Bears with outside blitzing, especially our RT Webb. Since the bye, the Bears have gotten significantly better against that tactic, but regressed a bit when facing the Packers in Week 17. With two weeks to patch that up, I'm hoping it doesn't become a problem again. If you give Cutler some time, I don't believe the Seahawks secondary can keep up with our speedy WR's.

172
by BigCheese :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:45am

I'm going togo out on a limb and say that if Martz does not repeat his play-book for the first game which was basically: "Let's run it 12 times in the entire game, go empty back-field 1 third of the time and specially during those plays have the left tackle block air to his right even though there's a blitzing DB lining up just outside his left shoulder, repeatedly," that the Bears will win comfortably.

- Alvaro

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by Marko :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 6:52pm

In the regular season game won by Seattle, the Bears almost stole the game on special teams. Seattle surprisingly dominated the game. Then, in the fourth quarter, Danieal Manning ran a kickoff back 89 yards for an apparent touchdown. It was called back by a dubious holding penalty that, if I recall correctly, was behind the play (and thus didn't affect the return) in addition to being highly questionable. Then, with Seattle ahead 23-13 just before the two minute warning, Devin Hester returned a punt 89 yards for a TD (aided by an awesome blindside block by Earl Bennett on the punter) to pull the Bears within 3. The onside kick then failed, and it was game over.

After almost blowing the game on special teams, we'll see what Seattle does this time when kicking or punting to the Bears.

60
by BJR :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:42pm

There will be some good special teams on show at Soldier Field next Sunday.

Am I doing a good job of selling this game?

61
by RickD :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:42pm


It strikes me that you can't just give up half the field and by far your best receiver just because of Revis. If Revis is actually covering him, then you can dump off, but Wayne is the fourth option on every play it seems.

Agree completely. If you have a Pro Bowl receiver, you have to target him more than once in a playoff game. In the first Pats-Jets matchup this year, the Pats specifically targeted Revis by having Moss try to run past him. It worked! Maybe Moss is faster than Wayne, but still Wayne deserves a chance to try something like this. At the very least, move him around, use the patented "moving pick" with crossing routes, etc. It seemed like the Colts weren't even trying.

75
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:01pm

It Worked?

Brady threw 2 picks, a TD, and about 5 incompletions when targeting Moss that game.

Thats certainly not successfull if you ask me.

101
by B :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:40pm

Wasn't Revis injured in that game? I thought most of those plays came with Cromartie covering Moss. It did seem like most of the plays were designed to take advantage of the fact that for all his skill, Revis is shorter than Moss.

108
by RickD :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:47pm

Revis pulled his hammy trying to keep up with Moss. (Or aggravated a previously-existing hamstring pull).

That is, btw, another benefit of actually making Revis work. If you don't test him, you don't test his hammy.

135
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:44pm

If I know an NFL reciever, and I might not, the second he feels he can beat a guy deep, he's screaming for the ball. If Wayne could beat him one-on-one he would've been thrown the ball.
Now I agree on your point of trying to schematically getting him open.

106
by RickD :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:46pm

"It worked" = Brady threw a long TD pass to Moss.

Join the English language.

111
by RickD :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:57pm

@RichC
The point was about throwing towards Revis. I thought that was obvious. In the second half of the first Pats-Jets game, Revis was out. The fact that Brady kept missing long passes to Moss when Revis was out of the game is hardly relevant to the question of whether it would have made sense for the Colts to target Revis!
You're considering data that doesn't involve any of the relevant variables!!

113
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:09pm

The Patriots kept "Missing" passes because Moss couldn't get away from Revis. Like I said, his targets led to a TD, an INT (and one against Cromartie) and multiple incompletes.

It could be argued that the Patriots lost that game specifically because they went after Revis and it didn't work. In the 2nd game against the Jets, I don't think they threw a single pass at Revis.

114
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:11pm

The Patriots kept "Missing" passes because Moss couldn't get away from Revis. (they missed plenty in the first half, before Revis went out). Like I said, The Moss targets (while being covered by Revis) led to a TD, an INT and multiple incompletes.

It could be argued that the Patriots lost that game specifically because they went after Revis so many times and it didn't work. In the 2nd game against the Jets, I don't think they threw a single pass at Revis.

117
by B :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:22pm

If Moss couldn't get away from Revis, Moss must be worse than I thought, as Revis was sitting on the sidelines.

112
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:06pm

If you mean that play, yeah. If you mean the strategy, not so much.

84
by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:06pm

I do wonder for how long Revis would be effective if he had to defend fly route after fly route. Invest a quarter in making him run 40-60 yard deep routes every down. He has already pulled a hamstring once this season.

109
by RickD :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:49pm

Exactly my point. He pulled the hamstring trying to keep up with Randy Moss.

The Colts just unilaterally shut down their best receiver because they were so terrified of throwing the ball anywhere near Revis. That thinking might be defensible with Clark and Collie on the field, but when your leading receivers are Tamme, White, and Garcon, not so much.

151
by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 9:36pm

In his post-game presser, Manning stated he went through his reads and threw to whoever was open...if Wayne was getting open while being initially low down on the progressions, Wayne would have told Manning and Manning would have moved Wayne up in the order on future progressions...either you guys think that (at a minimum) one of the best quarterbacks who ever lived (and a master in finding the undefended area) really didn't know what he was doing Saturday night, or Wayne really wasn't open very often/very long...the Colts lost because 1) they couldn't beat the Jets on 3rd down and short, 2) the Jets offensive line swallowed the 2nd half, 3) Thomlinson and Greene took advantage of the holes blasted open by the OL, 4) Sanchez threw well in the second half, including and especially the two completions to Keller before the two touchdowns and the 3 throws in the last 53 seconds, 5) the Jets special teams beat the Colts on Cromartie's two second half kickoff returns, and 6) Folk made an under-serious-pressure medium range field goal as time ran out. They did not lose because Manning doesn't know his business. Live with it.

62
by kevinanchi :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:43pm

It’ll be a shootout in the desert. The Falcons will score points because the Cardinals are 0-6 against teams who were in the top 10 in rushing (the Falcons are ranked #2 behind the Giants). Then, after a steady diet of Mike Turner and Jerious Norwood, Matt Ryan will open up the field against Arizona’s 22nd ranked pass D. On the other side, Arizona will take to the air because they are dead last in rushing, and so we’ll see the Kurt Warner show against Atlanta’s very shaky secondary. This game may also get messy with the presence of John Abraham and his 16.5 sacks. Though a lot of things point to an Atlanta win, you cannot count out Captain Kurt at home. He will go down chucking the ball to his talented trio of receivers, and if he misses, well that’s just better field position for the dirty birds. One big stat: the over is 9-1 in Arizona’s last 10 home games.
Patio Umbrella

71
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:55pm

This is interesting, it's clearly a comment copied from some dicussion board and used to sneak past FO's spam filters. But it does seem like a lot of effort to go to to not sell any patio umbrellas.

72
by Spielman :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:55pm

That's the weirdest method of selling patio umbrellas ever.

79
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:02pm

I didn't even realize they were trying to sell patio umbrellas. Just thought they got some teams mixed up. There's enough automated html at various words (like linebacker or Vick) on FO that I block them out.

82
by dbostedo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:06pm

Now that is some quality spam.

83
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:06pm

Best. Spam. Ever.

97
by Paul R :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:27pm

Must. Buy. Patio. Umbrella.

100
by TomC :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:38pm

I am speechless. Well, almost. I just keep repeating: "Patio umbrellas? Really?"

115
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:19pm

I removed the link and banned the poster, but I'm going to keep this one up for being that funny.

120
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:27pm

I didn't see it until after the link was gone and I just figured he was yet another poster overly excited about his capcha phrase (yawn).

136
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:45pm

Am I the only reader who doesn't have the slightest idea what's going on here? How does this person expect to sell patio umbrellas by copying a comment from 2 years ago and signing 'Patio Umbrella' on the bottom?

139
by Dean :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:57pm

Bill edited his post and deleted the spam link, but left the rest of the post intact for entertinment purposes.

157
by Paul R :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 12:27am

I finally figured it out.
This is from a column by the great Irish sportswriter Paddy O'Umbrella.

63
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:46pm

Clay Mathews must be some kind of strong given that he shoved an offensive linemen onto his backside more than once in the game. Those fat guys go what, 330 give or take? Even with leverage that is impressive. He just flat steamrolled'em.

67
by MJK :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:51pm

Wish I had time to dig deep into this, but work calls. But three thoughts:

* Awesome wildcard weekend. Every game was good, except for BAL-KC, and even that was entertaining for a bit.

* Funny...3 of 4 road teams won, and the one home team that did win was the one that no one gave half a chance!

* I commented on this in the discussion thread, but did anyone else find it funny in the SEA-NO game, right after the awesome Lynch run, that the announcers were lauding Hasselbeck for getting downfield to help block, when he almost killed the whole thing by delivering a block in the back. Just as the announcers were lauding him, they showed a replay of him very clearly diving at a would-be tackler's back, and mostly wiffing (he made a little contact, but it would have to be a pretty anal ref to call that).

76
by killabe7 :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:01pm

What have been the biggest playoff upsets of the DVOA era? I remember the Cardinals being a double digit underdog vs Carolia a couple of years ago but I would guess that the bigger upset (by DVOA) that year would be when they beat Philly in the NFC championship.

85
by Vince Verhei :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:08pm

Stay tuned -- we'll be discussing this very topic in Any Given Sunday tomorrow.

110
by 0tarin :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:49pm

So those who pay for ESPN Insider access get to find out!

103
by TomC :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 2:42pm

Once KC's offense started self-destructing this no longer mattered, but I was really struck by Tamba Hali's disappearance in the 2nd half. Play after play, he would try to go wide, and the Ravens' RT would just ride him out of the action. The couple of times I saw him try to cut it back, Baltimore happened to have someone in helping. The final straw came when he got stoned one-on-one by LeRon McClain.

119
by Flounder :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:27pm

I don't understand putting all the blame on the receiver for the Vick INT at the end of the game.

It was a horrible decision, and only marginally better than Cutler's endzone INT the previous week.

The QB has to understand who he's throwing to and who he's throwing against. Cooper in the #4 wideout, and presumably he's the #4 wideout for a reason.

Tramon Williams had 6 INTs in the regular season, was GB's best cover corner all year, and while not tall, has a good vertical leap and good ball skills.

Simply put, it was an atrocious decision to throw the ball in the first place, and the ball was under-thrown on top of it.

I'd place the "blame percentage" as 80% Vick, 20% the receiver.

122
by bubqr :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 3:42pm

I would like to go back the Eagles game, and chart Vick's efficiency each time he stepped up in the pocket to pass. Every time he does that (wa lot less that the amount of opportunities he has to do so), it seems like he is incredibly more accurate than on the run or anything.
Every team is rushing the edges vs him, and when he does step up, he really make them pay. But that's not often enough (I do think he wont be an Eagle next year).

On his INT, lots of blame goes to Cooper, that ran the least credible stop and go ever.

124
by Nick Wyatt (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 4:26pm

Going by the point spread, the Rams-Pats Super Bowl WAS a bigger upset then this game or Super Bowl 42, but I guess if Bob Costas doesn't rank upsets based your pet stat, he's clearly an idiot:(

128
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 4:39pm

Oh, snap.

Or some other cool way of saying I liked your post.

161
by hrm rly (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 3:59am

he could have been referring to the idea that costas completely forgot about xlii, which was a bigger upset than the seahawks game by the point spread and was pretty memorable.

132
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:31pm

It looked to me that on the Holmes catch right after Caldwell's timeout he got his feet down and then went out of bounds. Why did the ref keep the clock going? Probably didn't affect things, but it was a bad call nobody seems to have noticed.

146
by Athelas :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 8:20pm

I couldn't get a good look, but I think the ref ruled his knee came down in bounds and he was down at that instant.

147
by are-tee :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 8:44pm

Assuming you're referring to the Edwards back-shoulder catch, his knees hit the ground after being touched by the defender, so falling out of bounds doesn't stop the clock.

158
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 1:19am

I did mean Edwards. Every replay I've seen makes it look like he hit out of bounds before he was touched. It appears his knees fell directly on the out of bounds line.

163
by Athelas :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 9:14am

Well, that's not how the official saw it.

164
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:31am

Sure---what I'm saying is he blew the call.

133
by T. Diddy :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:36pm

Apparently Marshawn Lynch's TD run was enough to create an earthquake in Seattle:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/nfl/01/10/marshawn-lynch-...

(Well, not technically, but it sounds cooler that way.)

134
by Junior :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:37pm

Another year and Tom Hammond looks a little more like Mrs. Doubtfire. Damn that guy creeps me out.

137
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 5:50pm

Who was the color commentator? I caught only bits and pieces of the telecast, but enough to wonder how on earth this could really be the 2nd best football analyst NBC has at its disposal. I'd rather they'd broken out someone from the booth of Olympic curling or field hockey.

142
by Dave :: Mon, 01/10/2011 - 6:30pm

Mayock, who most of us find to be really good.

Content-wise, anyway. His voice is not the greatest.

159
by Shattenjager :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 1:35am

I'm so glad to hear someone say that. His voice was driving me nuts.

162
by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:26am

When I got to the line about people who get hit by Ray Lewis fumbling more, I had to stop reading and just laugh for two minutes. Thanks, guys.

Also, just so you know, I am not able to watch the NFL on my TV from over here in Hanoi. These Audibles make me feel like I'm watching some of these games, so I've really appreciated them over the years.

173
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:31am

Happy to hear that, Michael.