Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

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

10 Dec 2012

Audibles at the Line: Week 14

compiled by Rivers McCown

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

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

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 49ers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Sunday, December 9

Chicago Bears 14 at Minnesota Vikings 21

Mike Kurtz: Robbie Gould strained a muscle in his plant leg, and is not kicking off, but will kick field goals and extra points. On the first play from scrimmage, Adrian Peterson breaks three tackles, outruns every single Bears player and generally makes Chicago look stupid for a 52-yard gain. They get their act together on the next set of downs, with two runs gaining only two yards.

Chicago is really missing Brian Urlacher. Minnesota came out with an unbalanced line, Chicago didn't adjust, and with some good blocking and a kick outside, Peterson takes it to the 2. Next play, he runs it up the gut for a touchdown. You have to think that Urlacher would have adjusted the defense to counter the unbalanced line.

Jay Cutler throws a skinny post where the receiver fell over on contact with Josh Robinson, it's an easy interception with a great return which was ruled a touchdown, but Smith was down at the five-yard line after hurdling a defender. Overturned. Still, Minnesota is now around Chicago's 5 and goes up 14-0 within the first six minutes of the game. This is not great for the Bears, who get sloppy on offense when they play aggressive.

Andy Benoit: You have to worry about the Bears on the road against a four-man Vikings rush playing in pass-only situations. The Bears offensive line and passing game, in case you live under a rock, are not equipped to thrive under those circumstances.

Harrison Smith's pick-six was a bad throw by Cutler. He threw to Brandon Marshall in coverage, which is fine, but he was flat-footed and consequently his ball sailed. Good runback by Smith.

Mike Kurtz: One of the fun things about this game has been punt coverage, where each team had an acrobatic tip and down of a punt within their opponent's five-yard line.

Tennessee Titans 24 at Indianapolis Colts 27

Vince Verhei: Hope Tom's cell service (he's at the game) is good enough to catch Robert Mathis' dreadful attempt to tackle Jake Locker on a scramble to the sideline. Mathis overran the play by several yards. Locker didn't even have to make a juke, he just turned left and ran into the gaping hole where Mathis should have been.

Tom Gower: Bruce Arians just challenged an eight-yard gain on first-and-20 on the first drive of the game. No words, no words.

Locker finishes off the first drive with a nice seam pass to Jared Cook for an 18-yard score. The middle of the field was open, and Locker took advantage.

Mike Munchak goes for the field goal on fourth-and-4 at the 39. The 57-yarder, unsurprisingly, is missed.

Ben Muth: Just saw the Colts first touchdown. Samson Satele was in the end zone by the time Reggie Wayne caught the ball. Ineligible receiver downfield is such a vague rule: how far downfield are linemen allowed to go? Five yards seems a bit much, especially with all the package/read plays in college now. I'd love to see refs start cracking down on it though, linemen being able be to actually block non-blitzing linebackers on pass plays makes it too tough on the defense.

Vince Verhei: Is that an offensive lineman calling for extra rules for offensive linemen?

Ben Muth: I know, I felt dirty. But it had to be said.

Andy Benoit: Andrew Luck's pick-six to Will Witherspoon was reckless. He was going to the ground as he threw it.

Tom Gower: I thought Luck was probably down before the throw, but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn it. That's probably one of the five worst interceptions all year.

The Titans probably threw the ball at Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn at least 10 times in the first half, and the only non-completions came on inaccurate passes. Add in a smattering of other completions, the free points courtesy of Mr. Luck, and Mr. Luck throwing high down the field early, and the Titans have a surprising 20-7 halftime lead.

Boy, Locker matches Luck's dreadful pick with one of his own, throwing it right to Vaughn. The first half's pigeon has about a 3-yard return for the score. If Locker pumps that instead, it's 99 yards for the Titans.

Baltimore Ravens 28 at Washington Redskins 31 (OT)

Andy Benoit: Pierre Garcon had a tremendous catch-and-run during the first series on a wideout screen. He has great strength running after catch, and a good feel for lateral angles. The Redskins are gouging the Ravens on their first drive with off-tackle zone runs.

Madieu Williams got frozen on the hash of the field when he was supposed to help DeAngelo Hall over the top. There was no reason for it, because the Ravens had no receiver threat in that lane. Hall was on crutches all week, and looks very limited, hesitant to put weight on ankle. Change of direction is an issue, we saw that on the Anquan Boldin touchdown.

The Ravens are having issues with play-action and immediate crossing patterns by the Redskins. Four plays of 20 yards or more on their first two drives.

Joe Flacco showed good rhythm and clarity in the first half. The reason: Baltimore has avoided third-and-long, so Flacco us getting opportunities to throw on earlier downs. The confusion looks of the Redskins defense have not been as much of an issue.

Robert Griffin’s throw at the 1:45 mark was an incompletion, but it may have been the best downfield throw I’ve seen all season. Incredible arm strength being displayed on the run. What really stands out is how quickly the ball gets off his hand, how high the trajectory is, yet how quickly the ball also gets back down to earth. Griffin’s deep ball gets as much zip as anyone in the game and, more importantly, maintains that zip.

Paul Kruger is very strong, and has quick hands.

The Ravens' interior line -- Marshal Yanda, Jah Reid, and Matt Birk -- are doing a solid job. Consistent inside running is available for the Redskins. Ray Rice hit the 100-yard mark with 6:30 in the third quarter, it took 13 carries for him to get there.

London Fletcher's pick was a bad play by Flacco. He had an empty set, and held the ball drifting back. It was man-to-man coverage, there were five blockers to handle six Redskins. Flacco needs to know he doesn’t have that kind of time to make a throw. Ryan Kerrigan came off the edge unblocked, and hit him as he threw.

Matt Waldman: Alfred Morris (who is having a very good game) is a student of running backs. Studying him at FAU, he was always a hard runner. One thing noted about him on broadcasts was his love of old school running backs from the 50s and 60s.

Vince Verhei: More fourth-down weirdness. Baltimore has a fourth-and-3 at the Washington 40, up 21-20 in the fourth quarter. This is ideal too-close-to-punt, too-far-for-a-field-goal territory: the perfect place to go for it. Instead, they line up in a wildcat set, try to get Washington to jump, and when it fails, they call timeout. Then they punt anyway. Why in the world would you call that timeout? How is that better than taking a five-yard penalty and then punting anyway? There are still ten minutes left, it's highly likely you'll want that back. On the plus side, it's a good punt that is fair caught inside the ten, but that's still turning down a fourth-and-3 play to pick up a little more than 30 yards of field position.

Aaron Schatz: Griffin injured. Hyperextended knee? Comes back after a couple snaps of Kirk Cousins. At what point do the linemen start carrying him downfield, Byron Leftwich-style?

And after a dropped snap, he throws it out the back of the end zone (grounding) and then is on the field clearly in pain. He comes off, Cousins will have to come back from the 28-20 deficit and be the hero.

Rivers McCown: Jim Miller was on to something in the preseason! Cousins quarterback controversy!

Or not.

Andy Benoit: Cousins' two-point conversion was a quarterback draw out of a spread 3x2 set. The Ravens needed to be more aware of that possibility, even if it wasn’t Griffin in backfield. The Redskins predominantly pass out of condensed formations. If they spread, it’s an indicator that something a little different is on the horizon.

Atlanta Falcons 20 at Carolina Panthers 30

Matt Waldman: Beautiful throw-and-catch up the seam from Cam Newton to Greg Olson for a touchdown at the end line. Olsen works from the slot, gets behind Thomas DeCoud, and makes a spinning catch on a ball placed over the top of the safety. Gorgeous ending to a drive where the Panthers run the ball successfully with DeAngelo Williams, mixing passes, reverses, and screens into the drive.

Carolina has 104 yards rushing with a minute left in the first quarter, but calling a pitch play for Mike Tolbert is a questionable choice. On the other hand, a screen to Tolbert for seven on the next play isn't bad.

Newton converts on a Steve McNair-like scramble where he spins away from the grasp of a defender and weaves from the flat to the middle of the field for a first down to get into the red zone. But they go three-and-out with a draw that Williams was close to breaking and two passes to the left corner that are throw-aways due to coverage and pressure. They settle for a field goal. Let's see if the Falcons offensive line can keep Matt Ryan clean for a drive.

Newton got terrific blocks from Olsen early and Steve Smith late on a zone-read for a 72-yard touchdown run that he punctuates with a flip into the end zone ala Reggie Bush.

The talk of improved arm strength for Ryan continues to prove mostly false. The Falcons finally discover late in third quarter that he can dink and dunk with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez in the slot. However, once Ryan has to make a short (but more powerful) off-balance throw to the flat, he short-hops two balls to force a fourth-and-4 middle screen to barely get the first down in the red zone. Falcons still down 23-0.

Aaron Schatz: At least Mike Smith goes for it here instead of kicking a field goal to be down ... 23-3. It's not as bad as kicking a field goal down 30, but still, it's time to start going for it. And they did.

Falcons finally score a touchdown with a red-zone pass to White. 23-7 with 20 minutes left. If Carolina can't run this out and go home with a win, especially given how they have spent their financial resources, just fire everyone. Including the owner.

Rob Weintraub: Being down here in Atlanta, I would note that the talk (here at least) was mostly of Ryan's increased physical strength and stamina, not necessarily his arm strength. The two are connected, of course -- it was felt that Ryan wore down from the pounding and lost velocity as a result.

Matt Waldman: 50 miles isn't much of a difference -- I'm in Athens. The talk I hear every week from the broadcast crews nationally is increased arm strength. I don't doubt the more nuanced discussion locally. I've heard that, too. However, nationally, they simplify it and mention it with almost every deep pass he attempts. Most of them he hits are still in the range of 35-40 yards. What Ryan has done better as a deep thrower is anticipate. He used to wait too long and then try to loft a ball downfield in the range of 45-50 yards. He lacks the strength to muscle the ball with velocity in these situations. In previous years, Ryan would also frequently throw the ball too early and overshoot the target.

Speaking of which, Ryan almost hits White 35 yards down field but White trips. Good anticipation. Improved from previous years.

Nice backside smash screen to Julio Jones for a score after he drops an out in the red zone to lead off the fourth quarter. Falcons going for two.

Fourth-and-4 for the Falcons after Ryan is sacked two plays earlier by Greg Hardy. Panthers pressure forces Ryan outside and he tries to make one of those off-balanced, power throws on the move to the short flat while fading way. Carolina cuts off the pass over the top and makes the interception.

Panthers hit Williams on a screen to the right flat and Williams does a nice job pressing outside and then cutting back inside as his blocks work to the flat. He scores 53 yards later. Excellent use of his blocks, and he leaps over a wrap attempt at his ankle and sprints up the hash for the score.

Dallas Cowboys 20 at Cincinnati Bengals 19

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys march down the field fairly easily on their first drive, almost all runs. They get to third-and-1 on the 19. Seems pretty easy, right? Either run the ball, or -- if you are feeling "sabermetrical" -- go play-action pass on third down and if you don't get it, run on fourth. Well, the Cowboys do go play-action, loading up with 22-personnel and running a play-action boot. But Tony Romo waits too long to throw the ball and instead ends up throwing back across his body, a terrible pass that almost gets intercepted. Oh, and then they kick the stupid field goal instead of going for it on fourth down.

One other note: The announcers pointed out during that drive that only two teams have yet to allow a touchdown on their opening drive this season: Chicago and Cincinnati. That's one of those stats that sounds a lot more important than it really is. It's just another data point showing that Chicago is an excellent defensive team, but Cincinnati isn't great. It just so happens they give up points on later drives and haven't given up any touchdowns on the first one. No big deal.

Rob Weintraub: The Bengals gash the Cowboys, who were ultra-aggressive with run blitzes on their first drive. End around to Marvin Jones gets about 35 yards, and an inside shovel pass to Andrew Hawkins puts it in the end zone. Andrew Whitworth lined up at tight end on the right side for the touchdown.

Andy Benoit: Andy Dalton's interception to Brandon Carr was a case of Carr doing a better job at the end of the route than A.J. Green. Green rounded out his break (a Cover-3 beater concept) and did not work back to the ball. Dalton was also too late with the throw, but Green has to make a stronger effort to cross Carr’s face late in the route there.

Rob Weintraub: I think Green thought he had Carr in a bit more of a backpedal or across his hips than he actually did.

Terence Newman drops a sure pick that would have blown the collective mind of the Dallas Metroplex.

Aaron Schatz: Hawkins definitely gives the Bengals a very good "Wes Welker type." He's expert at making guys miss him with quickness in a tight space.

Rob Weintraub: Dropping like flies in Cincy. Leon Hall, Rey Maualuga, and Michael Johnson for Cincy have been in and out, while DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne have gone out on the opening drive of the third quarter. Rob Ryan was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for coming onto the field and cursing Andre Smith up and down.

Brian Moorman is having a terrible game punting for Dallas.

Aaron Schatz: Dalton is pretty spry in in the pocket. Not fast, but mobile,
like Trent Green.

Matt Waldman: Jones makes a beautiful catch at end of third quarter, extending for the ball and parallel to the ground just under the safety on a pass over the middle. Jones rarely has a problem if he can see the contact is imminent. When he can't see it, but has to know it is looming, he still tends to drop the ball too often.

Rob Weintraub: First play of the fourth quarter, and Cincy is now out of timeouts. Substitution screwups, and it's just more of the same ineptitude on this day from the Bengals.

ANOTHER dropped pick by Newman. I mean...

That is why the Bengals will forever be the Bengals. Saw it coming for about 90 minutes of torture.

San Diego Chargers 34 at Pittsburgh Steelers 24

J.J. Cooper: Figuring out what replacement level is in baseball is a bigger deal than football, but today in the Chargers-Steelers game we are getting to see what replacement level at offensive tackle actually looks like. Both Chargers tackles are recently signed street free agents who haven't started games ever (Kevin Haslam) or in years (Reggie Wells). On the first series, replacement level looks pretty awful. The Chargers called a pair of screen passes which the Steelers sniffed out, so Philip Rivers spiked a pair of passes at his receivers feet.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, it's a pretty big deal in football too. It's just harder to figure out a way to measure the exact level of replacement level, especially for non-"skill" positions.

Ben Muth: Chargers get a 51-yard field goal to open up the scoring. Pittsburgh's defense helped the Chargers out by jumping offsides twice in a row on third-and-10. Also, worth noting that Rivers looks petrified behind this version of the Chargers offensive line. Rolling out at the first sign of pressure and throwing it away a lot early.

Andy Benoit: Plaxico Burress' first catch as a second-time Steelers wideout was an over-the-middle snag where he elevated a bit in traffic. Classic possession target. He got a warm reception from the Pittsburgh crowd, too. (Apparently they’ve forgotten why the Steelers got rid of him the first time round.)

Danario Alexander had a windmill dunk on his touchdown celebration. Don't see that often. Fourth corner Curtis Brown bit hard on some sort of fake and Alexander ran right by him. It was single-high safety, so single coverage. Can’t make that mistake.

Rob Weintraub: The dunk was Dominique-esque.

Ben Muth: Hitch-and-go by Alexander. Good call by Norv to take a shot there. I hope/assume/pray he was gonna go for it on fourth down if he didn't get it, so it was a perfect time to try and score in an otherwise horrible offensive game.

Vince Verhei: I was more impressed with the stutter-step he used to get open. Pittsburgh's cornerback completely bit, lunging forward to cover a hook route, and Alexander zipped right by him.

Andy Benoit: The Chargers are getting consistent pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger is breaking down his pocket mechanics a bit early, too. (Which is fine given his strengths and style of play, but not ideal.)

Rivers continues to struggle with his accuracy on tough throws outside the numbers.

Ben Muth: Roethlisberger's wideout screen off the tight end's butt is ruled a fumble and touchdown for the Chargers. 27-3 San Diego. If I was Charlie Batch, this is the game that would make me cry.

Vince Verhei: The Jets have the butt-fumble, the Steelers have the butt-pass.

Andy Benoit: Norv Turner made a really ballsy fake punt call backed up in his own territory.

Vince Verhei: Rivers hits Alexander for a touchdown to put San Diego up 34-10. Think it's a conicidence they're playing their best game of the year just after it's announced that Norv will be leaving?

Aaron Schatz: Well, not announced. It's been reported that sources *say* he'll be leaving.

Vince Verhei: It's enough to give them hope, that's all I'm saying.

Aaron Schatz: Reader just tweeted me that Mike Tomlin made a dumb move punting, down 17 with 4:00 left. I responded that this is not called "dumb," this is called "obviously giving up." Although I don't know if you really want your head coach giving up that blatantly. Seventeen points in 4:00 sounds crazy, but it wouldn't be impossible.

Oh wait, on the next drive, San Diego tries to run out the clock and Pittsburgh takes timeouts. Why are you taking your timeouts when you just blatantly gave up?

As long as I'm confused about when Mike Tomlin either did or did not give up on winning today's game ... the Steelers were down 17, in fact, because they scored a touchdown down 24 with 6:17 left. Finally, a chance to try the "three touchdowns and three two-point conversions to make up a 24-point deficit" plan! No, sorry, Tomlin kicked the extra point to make it 34-17 instead of maybe 34-18.

J.J. Cooper: I've climbed out from under the weight of dismay that comes from watching the Steelers get blown out at home to the Chargers. There are many things that puzzled me from that game -- Mike Tomin's decision to not go for two when down by 18 after scoring a touchdown is high up on the list. Tomlin explained it as they didn't want to show their two-point plays in a game that was likely out of hand, but that doesn't prevent you from running a normal play on the two-point conversion -- the Steelers added Burress to the roster, they could call a fade pattern for him at least.

But the lesson I'll probably take from this game more than anything else is how the Steelers' front seven just can't rush the passer anymore. Facing a pair of street free agents playing offensive tackle for the Chargers, Pittsburgh's pass rush generated four quarterback hurries and one sack in 42 pass plays.

Kansas City Chiefs 7 at Cleveland Browns 30

Vince Verhei: Kansas City, down 20-7 about ten minutes into the second half, has a fourth-and-1 from their own 40. So they punt. Of course they do.

Coming into today, the Chiefs' offense was 17th in POWER situations at 63 percent. Browns' defense was 28th at 76 percent. How many chances, exactly, does Romeo Crennel expect his offense to get?

Follow-up on that: four snaps later, the Browns have a first down at the Kansas City 41. Almost exactly where they would have been had the Chiefs gone for it and failed, so they got zero benefit out of punting.

Philadelphia Eagles 23 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21

Rivers McCown: Nick Foles' final drive to attempt to win the game had been decidedly less than impressive. Dropped pick, at least three throws nowhere near an Eagles receiver. Then he finds Jeremy Maclin in a hole in the zone, and with two seconds left from the three, finds him in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Football turns quickly.

New Orleans Saints 27 at New York Giants 52

Aaron Schatz: David Wilson returns a kickoff for a touchdown to even things up 7-7. I thought this was really funny, but at the end of the run, Justin Tryon of the Giants had a totally unnecessary block in the back on the Saints' Johnny Patrick at the 1-yard line. I'm trying to imagine the uproar in New York if the refs had actually thrown a flag on that one.

Andy Benoit: The Giants are using the big nickel package with Will Hill as the third safety. Beat by Jimmy Graham on a third down early. Antrel Rolle playing the slot. Jacquian Williams is back in the lineup after missing six weeks with a knee injury. That brings more speed to the front seven, which is critical for this game due to matchups with Graham and Darren Sproles.

Aaron Schatz: Giants-Saints is turning into quite the penalty-fest. Not questionable penalties either, pretty obvious ones.

Andy Benoit: Ramses Barden's offensive pass interference was a great example of inexperienced or unaware players in action and how they do little things wrong that can be costly. Barden started blocking downfield way too early on a wheel route to Wilson. He likely assumed that a pass to the running back would be thrown quickly. He has to know that on that type of route, his job is to be primarily a clear-out guy, the ball can come at any time.

Vince Verhei: What I thought was funny was FOX's graphic letting us know there had been 14 points in 13 seconds. Couldn't you put that up any time a touchdown is followed by a score on a kickoff return?

Andy Benoit: Kregg Lumpkin continued to get the backup third down snaps. Wilson’s offensive snaps came limited on first and second down. Patrick Robinson had some good coverage on Hakeem Nicks in the red zone. Eli Manning had another slight underthrow, but Nicks couldn’t win cleanly enough off the line of scrimmage.

Aikman says Mark Ingram is a guy who needs a lot of touches. In that case, he needs to be on a different team, because the Saints simply don’t have a lot of touches available for him. At this point, it’s fair to say that the Saints made a mistake drafting him in the first round. Sproles' very quick steps make him look even faster than he is. The quick feet help his change of direction and shiftiness.

What do you guys think: would it be worthwhile for Giants to groom Wilson as a punt returner too? Try to make him their Devin Hester?

Drew Brees' early fourth-quarter interception to Stevie Brown was a throw down the middle against two-deep zone coverage. Graham didn’t expect Brown getting to the ball over the top, Brees wasn’t able to freeze him or make him guess something wrong.

Aaron Schatz: I'm a little bit amazed how much Brees and Manning have thrown to covered receivers today. Manning just had one on the next drive where both Johnny Patrick and Abdul-Quddus were right on the receiver, but they dropped the pick.

Miami Dolphins 13 at San Francisco 49ers 27

Danny Tuccitto: On the Dolphins first drive, the 49ers stayed in their base 3-4 even when Miami went three wide. Aldon Smith dropped into coverage a couple of times, and on one play he was lined up over Davone Bess in the slot. You have to wonder why Vic Fangio would even bother toying around with zone blitzes and the like when Miami's playing without Jake Long.

And ... perfect timing. First play of the second quarter, Aldon Smith absolutely destroys Jonathan Martin on a bull rush for the sack.

Took 14 weeks, but we finally have a LaMichael James sighting in San Francisco! Two outside runs for 14 yards. One thing I'm noticing a lot more of with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback is San Francisco having to burn timeouts (or worse, eat delay of game penalties) because the offense isn't as quick getting into and out of the huddle. It's understandable, and to be expected, but still really annoying to watch as a fan.

Rivers McCown: I think some column on our site brought that up this week!

Vince Verhei: I've always wanted to look at that. Do certain quarterbacks or coaches have a significantly higher or lower rate of early timeouts or delays of game penalties? Is it consistent from year to year? Is there a growth pattern? Maybe throw other procedural stuff like illegal formation in there too.

Aaron Schatz: Well, for quarterbacks at least, I don't think you can toss illegal formation or 12 men in the same category. It's not the quarterback's fault if the wide receiver has a brain fart and covers up the tight end or something. It is a curious question about delay of game or timeouts, though,

Kaepernick is 12-of-15 with no turnovers. How are the 49ers only beating Miami 6-3? Is it just about his inability to convert third downs?

Danny Tuccitto: One reason this game is close on the scoreboard is because Miami has had a few epic drives. They've been moving the ball pretty well against the 49ers defense, but their methodical drives keep stalling somewhere on San Francisco's side of the field.

Matt Waldman: He's been sacked a few times on third down. He's been hesitant with his first read and either pulled the ball down or tried to escape the pocket.

Vince Verhei: The 49ers just got a touchdown to make it 13-3, but yes, they are 0-for-5 on third downs.

Danny Tuccitto: Since we're talking celebration dances today, Jared Odrick just did the Pee Wee Herman after a sack.

Aaron Schatz: San Francisco just had a flea flicker with a) the longest pitchback I've ever seen ... Frank Gore must have been eight or nine yards away from Kaepernick when he pitched it, and b) a horrible missed defensive pass interference on Reshad Jones from Miami.

I wonder if Reshad Jones ever gets mistaken for Rashida Jones.

Rivers McCown: Gore just caught a screen and made roughly half the Dolphins defense miss tackles on it.

Matt Waldman: And that's about 85 percent of the college Gore in terms of physical skill...

Danny Tuccitto: I have no idea what Kevin Burnett was doing on Anthony Dixon's one-yard touchdown. He's an outside linebacker on a goal-line play. The run is going right at his gap responsibility (off-tackle). What does he do? He leaps as if he's a middle linebacker going for a goal-line mid-air collision, and Dixon runs underneath him.

Harbaugh loses a challenge (that was obviously not worth it), so now San Francisco's out of timeouts with almost the entire fourth quarter to play. Oh by the way, Miami just scored to make it 20-13.

Aaron Schatz: Greg Gumbel: What do you think makes Kaepernick so special?

Dan Dierdorf: Well, number one, he takes care of the football.

So wait ... he's Alex Smith?

Then Kaepernick runs down the field with a huge scramble on third-and-5 for a touchdown from midfield. Dan, THAT is what makes Kaepernick different from Smith. Not avoiding interceptions.

Danny Tuccitto: Actually, that was a read option, not a scramble. They've run that play (from that diamond formation) a bunch of times today, but Kaepernick's been either making the wrong read or it's been going for a minimal gain by the back.

So my friend that I watch all the 49ers game with was going on and on about how the team basically lit money on fire when they extended Ahmad Brooks through 2017 for $37 million. Basically, he was just annoyed at the fact that, despite Miami starting waiver wire fodder Nate Garner at right tackle, Brooks was non-existent in pass rush. I didn't really have a cogent argument in response except to say that it's probably the case that his assignment on most passing plays isn't to sell out rushing the quarterback.

Since the game ended, I've been trying to think of base 3-4 defenses that had two sack mavens at outside linebacker, and could only come up with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in Pittsburgh. Next thought, and here's my question since I don't have a good handle on defensive strategies and tactics: Is it the case that 3-4 defenses, or more specifically 2-4-5 nickel defenses like what the 49ers play on passing downs, design it so that one of the outside linebackers is more of a contain guy than a rusher? Seems like Brooks' primary responsibility might be simply preventing the quarterback from escaping the pocket, thereby allowing the Smiths to corral him from the other side.

Aaron Schatz: Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are both mostly pass rushers, although both do drop into coverage sometimes.

Danny Tuccitto: Right, right. Forgot about the Redskins duo. Orakpo's out-of-sight, out-of-mind these days.

Arizona Cardinals 0 at Seattle Seahawks 58

Ben Muth: Seahawks fail to get a first down with great field position off a Cardinals pick, they have to settle for three. Seattle had a third-and-2 and threw it from an empty set. Cardinals brought five rushers and Seattle didn't pick up Quentin Groves coming off the edge. Can't tell if it was the right guard or right tackle that was responsible for Groves, but both blocked the defensive end. It definitely wasn't full slide (unless the guard really messed up), so the sack was not on Russell Wilson.

The Cardinals blow a coverage and Anthony McCoy is wide open for 66-yard gain. Marshawn Lynch scores on the very next play to make it 17-0 Seattle at the beginning of the second. I don't think Arizona can score 17 points without a defensive or special teams touchdown. This game may be over already.

In the second quarter, the Cardinals convert a third down, their first in 19 tries going back to the Rams game.

John Skelton tries to throw a back-shoulder stop route to Larry Fitzgerald, but Richard Sherman is all over it. Pick-six Seattle. 24-0. Skelton was beat out by Max Hall when they were both rookies. Hall is currently a grad assistant at BYU.

Vince Verhei: Sherman gets a pick-six (followed by a hyperactive celebration that can only be described as "the Adderall") to make it 24-0. On the ensuing drive, Arizona's center gets rolled up on and leaves the game. The next snap is fumbled, though Arizona recovers. Seattle may get 80 points before this is done.

Rivers McCown: The Cardinals should just sign a CFL quarterback. They have nothing to lose.

Vince Verhei: Skelton just threw his second interception to go with two fumbles (one on the bad snap, one on a Bruce Irvin sack-fumble-recovery). It's the middle of the second quarter.

Ben Muth: Patrick Peterson muffs a punt, Seahawks recover in the end zone for a touchdown. 31-0. The 31 points is the most Seattle has scored all year. If the Seahawks want to score 100, they should just spike it three times in a row and give it back to Arizona every time.

Aaron Schatz: That's a really, really rare play. There's only about 15-to-20 muffed punts every year recovered by the punting team (as opposed to fumbled punts) and it is very rare for one to be returned for any actual yardage by the punting team. I went and checked. The last time I have a punt marked "ML" (muffed lost) and turned into a touchdown in our database is Week 4 of 2009. The punt returner was Quincy Butler of St. Louis. The punt from San Francisco hit him on the leg, then he kicked it accidentally into the end zone and Scott McKillop recovered for a touchdown.

Vince Verhei: Wilson just threw his first interception in more than a month. He rolled to his right, had forever and a day to find a guy, and forced it to Golden Tate. Peterson came over the top to make the pick. There was contact, but nothing you don't see on every play.

Ben Muth: Watching the Cardinals this year has been like watching a sports movie in rewind.

Vince Verhei: Third pick for Skelton, second for Sherman. This time Sherman and Kam Chancellor break into a Temptations-style sashay together. That's a team dance, which is an automatic 15-yard penalty. Sherman just gives the refs a thumb's up and goes to celebrate on the sideline, never stops smiling. That's awesome. He doesn't even care about the 15 yards at this point. I think that's their third conduct penalty on the day, counting a pair of late hits. They're still up 31-0.

Oh, and the Seahawks punt after that, and Peterson fumbles again, and the Seahawks have it again with 19 seconds left in the half. It leads to a Wilson-to-Zach Miller touchdown to make it 38-0. Wilson is the ninth rookie ever to throw 20 touchdowns in a season.

Ben Muth: The 2011 Bucs think this meltdown is shameful.

Vince Verhei: The Seahawks take the second-half kickoff and score on a 33-yard Lynch run, his third score of the day. It's now 45-0. So, uh, I can't believe I'm asking this, but at what point do they pull Wilson to protect him and let Matt Flynn finish running out the clock?

Aaron Schatz: Man, what a way to display him for trade. "Hey Arizona, let us show you for 30 minutes this quarterback who can be yours for a couple of draft picks..."

Andy Benoit: When is the last time we saw a quarterbacking situation as deplorable as Arizona's?

Sean McCormick: About three hours ago in New York?

Vince Verhei: There were some Oakland and New Orleans teams that come to mind.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure anything is as bad as the 1992 Seahawks with Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer, and Dan McGwire. Gelbaugh and Stouffer finished last and second-to-last in QB DYAR.

Ben Muth: Does the Derek Anderson/John Skelton/Max Hall era count?

Skelton throws his fourth pick. It's really not even worth describing at this point.

Vince Verhei: Flynn is in the game with about ten minutes left in the third. The next 25 minutes could be very important for April's draft.

Well, I don't know if Flynn showed anything in limited action today to change anyone's mind about him either way. Most of his stuff came in long-yardage (fourth-and-23!) or was basic swing pass/screen plays. He did have one nice play where he avoided a sack and hit his receiver on the run. On another play it looked like a good throw might have resulted in a big play downfield to Evan Moore, but the ball hung in the air and it turned into an offensive pass interference. He looked capable of running an offense and making accurate throws to open receivers, which makes him better than anyone in Arizona, Jacksonville, and a few other teams.

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

Aaron Schatz: Finally, Jim. Jim Schwartz has the Lions go for it on fourth-and-inches from the 4, and the Lions run a beautiful bootleg. Matthew Stafford's handoff to Mikel LeShoure fakes everyone, and Stafford walks in with the ball on his hip.

Mike Kurtz: Stafford is blocking on half of these running plays, even if the play is away from him. This is really stupid, but kind of awesome.

Aaron Schatz: Kind of a surprise how Joique Bell has made a place for himself in Detroit this year. He's got roughly 20% rushing DVOA and 35% receiving DVOA this year after bouncing around the league for two seasons. I went to Wikipedia to find out how to pronounce his first name (Joik? Joi-kay? Jacques?) and it doesn't say, but it does mention he won the Harlon Hill Trophy. Makes him one of three current NFL running backs who have won the Harlon Hill Trophy, along with Bernard Scott and Danny Woodhead.

Matt Waldman: I've studied a lot of Bell. He's a regular recommendation on our waiver wire reports that publish at FBGs and my deep dynasty league teams. His name rhymes with Shaggy's exclamation "Zoique." I compare him to Marion Barber in terms of style.

Tom Gower: Just FYI, it's "Joik."

Matt Waldman: Or more accurately, "Zoik" or rhymes with "Boink," which he tends to do when he makes contact with the first hitter.

Danny Tuccitto: File this under, "Did I miss something?"

Anyone else notice that, after playing 100 percent of the teams 89 offensive snaps last week, Brandon Pettigrew has been almost entirely absent in the first half?

(That observation has nothing to do with my fantasy football prospects this week. Nothing at all.)

Aaron Schatz: Wow. I had noticed. He's active ... are we sure he hasn't played, even if he hasn't been targeted?

Danny Tuccitto: I've been monitoring it. (Again, not at all because he's on my fantasy team.) He played a few snaps in the first quarter, but it's been Tony Scheffler in all one-tight-end sets since then. No news of an injury.

Aaron Schatz: Aha, from Tim Twentyman from the Lions website on Twitter: Pettigrew has an ankle injury and is questionable.

Danny Tuccitto: Yep, just saw it on the Twitter. #FML #firstworldproblems

Aaron Schatz: The Packers really have no pass rush with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry out. They're sending guys from all kinds of different directions and the Lions pick up pretty much all of them.

For having such a strong arm, Stafford sure does seem to underthrow a lot of balls right at people's feet.

The Packers aren't getting near Stafford and he's still inaccurate. Apparently Tramon Williams is blanketing Calvin Johnson and Stafford can't hit anyone else.

So, with the Lions down 10 and trying to desperately come back with less than 3:00, the announcers said that on a second-and-10, Calvin Johnson was not on the field. WTF?

Danny Tuccitto: Of note: Johnson played 96 percent of snaps through Week 13 (865 of 897). Odd time for a rare breather.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 10 Dec 2012

129 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2013, 11:54pm by Pandora Sterling Silver S Clips & Locks

Comments

1
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:00am

Where's Giants/Saints?

2
by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:04am

Whoops, Rivers must have misplaced those e-mails. We'll get those up in the morning. There are some Giants-Saints comments to be posted.

4
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:21am

While the Jets-Jaguars game appropriately passed unremarked.

25
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 9:50am

I can't believe no one watched Rams @ Bills. Or if they did, they found nothing to comment on.

Actually, both are very likely.

110
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:21pm

I always liked Mecha-Godzilla more than Jets-Jaguars.

116
by JIPanick :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:20pm

+1

118
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:50pm

I was thinking of that exact same bad Japanese monster movie reference whenever they showed Jets and Jaguars on the scoreboard, and knew I couldn't have been the only person thinking of that. The MST3K gang did a good riff of that movie in the 90's

47
by Sophandros :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:59am

I, for one, would be fine if my day didn't include reliving yesterday's Saints game.

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

105
by random_saints_fan_in_nola (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:18pm

That's ok. After Brees' 5 int debacle last week, I've chosen not to live any of their games for the rest of the season. So, there's no worry about reliving something you avoided in the first place. Saints are done and are now just playing for better draft picks. Given the size of Brees' contract, that's about all they're going to be able to afford going forward, so better make them good!

Of course, this being the Saints, they'll have Brees playing in the last game of the season against a team that has an important must-win game and will loose him to a career shortening injury. Like with Aaron Brooks, they'll play him the next few seasons, swearing that he's fine and that it's just other teams making adjustments to their system that's causing all the problems. This will result in the Saints getting high draft picks for several seasons in a row with which to ruin the careers of several promising rookies...

3
by wr (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:12am

I can see why Roethisberger didn't like Whiz. The man has no clue how to
handle young quarterbacks. I started to suspect it when the end of Leinart's
time went the way it did. I became sure this year.

5
by Israel P. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:22am

Tomlin gave up so didn't go for two, but he kept Ben in the game, hoping maybe he wouldn't get hurt.

Turner's fake punt was playing with the house money he won on the Jammer TD. Worst case, he gives that back. Best case, he gets to use more clock. Seems eminently sensible to me.

6
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:28am

That was a hell of a way to spend the afternoon. The last time I saw something like that Cardinals game it was the Titans getting stomped in NE; even that I only saw in highlights. I guess for any game I saw in its entirety, it would be Marino's retirement party.

7
by Tanner (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:29am

2nd week in a row with no Bills game comments. Although, that's probably for the best, I don't want to relive that game again.

Also, Aaron, last week Justin Rogers of Bills muffed a punt against Jacksonville that went into the endzone and the Jaguars scored, but it was in garbage time at that point.

102
by bstar :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:02pm

Tanner, did you think the Bills eschewing the 50-51 yd. FG which would have put them up by 8 was as bad a decision as I thought? I didn't see the game and there could have been wind issues, but the Bills lost by the margin of that unkicked FG.

126
by Tanner (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 1:04pm

Yeah, that was horrid. The phantom block in the back call on Gilmore's INT was also agonizing, he should been awarded a touchdown. Finally, Freddie fumbles in the red zone AGAIN. Bills were better than the Rams, the score should have been something like 21-13 if it weren't for that ridiculous call and Gailey's cowardice

127
by Tanner (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 1:05pm

The wind didn't pick up until later in the game so conditions should have been just mediocre, but no excuse. Lindell (the kicker) was visibly outraged he didn't get a shot to kick it

8
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:41am

Leaf/Whelihan in '98 was several circles of hell worse than the Cards' current QB predicament. Outside of that, the '05 49ers with Smith/Rattay/Dorsey/Pickett can probably match the '12 Cards QBs suck for suck. Those Niners and Chargers teams didn't have a Hall of Fame talent at receiver, of course.

9
by greybeard :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:45am

Also '05 niners team had Kwame Harris. That alone should excuse the QBs.
Tim Rattay was not a bad QB either. He was injury prone though.

11
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:09am

Rattay wasn't a good QB when he was playing injured, which was most of the time.

20
by dbt :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 8:35am

Man there are so many great years to choose from in the last 20 years of Bears football, but I think I'll nominate 2004:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/chi/2004.htm

Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn, Rex Grossman. Team ANY/A of 3.1, and most of that was Rex's 5.1 pulling the rest of the team up. Quinn had an ANY/A of 1.7 and started 3 games. Ye gods. DVOA sez: -50.6% for passing offense. '98 Chargers had a team passing DVOA of -35.7%, although they "win" out on ANY/A.

This feels like an offseason content filler exercise. Pick your favorite worst passing offense of the modern era!

81
by TomKelso :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:13pm

I give you the 1999 Ravens -- any QB rotation that includes Stoney Case and Tony Banks deserves its own circle in the Inferno.

90
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:08pm

I see your Tony Banks/Stoney Case and raise you the 2008 Lions: Dan Orlovsky/washed up Daunte Culpepper/Drew Henson/rookie Drew Stanton.

Keep in mind they had Megatron to throw to, and still couldn't manage to compile a league-average perfromance.

95
by Skin Patrol (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:18pm

Redskins 2002: Shane Matthews/Patrick Ramsey (rookie)/Danny Wuerffel

10
by theslothook :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:05am

Aside from that long run, Kap reminds me a lot of Alex Smith actually. So many passes short of the first down marker and taking a lot of sacks- the Alex Smith trademark. This really comes down to - Kap's scrambling ability versus Smith's superior audibles. I honestly think the team would be better served in the short run to play Smith. Aside from the bears game, in every other game Kap has started, the offense has been pretty sluggish overall. Sure, they've won and there have been some notable drops in the end zone in the last two games, but bear in mind- the first rams game featured a fumbled kickoff to setup a td. This game featured a fumbled punt at the 10 that led to a td. In all these games, they've been flirting with danger, especially worrisome given the inferiority of their opponents. Say what you want about Smith, but their offense was really quite successful prior to his injury.

And to you Karl, My binky showed you who's boss today!

48
by Independent George :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:06pm

On the one hand, you have Kurt Warner being benched for Eli Manning - bad decision in the short term, but it worked out better for both in the long term.

On the other hand, you have Rob Johnson/Doug Flutie.

Until we have further evidence, I'll withhold judgement and leave it at "Harbaugh knows better than me".

72
by greybeard :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:33pm

Were the Giants on a superball run when they benched Kurt for Eli? Not a rhetorical question, I don't remember. Also I thought they benched Kurt for not playing well (especially for fumbling a lot and loosing games due to that). That sounds like a good reason to bench a guy when your #1 overall pick is at the bench. I do not think the situations are that similar.

78
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:57pm

The 2004 Giants started 5-2, but they lost two games in a row where Warner did not look good. They turned to Eli with a 5-4 record. Manning was comedically ineffective, finishing behind such luminaries as Kyle Boller, Josh McCown, and David Carr in both DYAR and DVOA. The Giants lost 6 of their last 7 to finish 6-10.

It took while, but obviously that move worked out in the end for the Giants (But you're right that the current situation with the 49ers is totally different).

64
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:00pm

Spam blocker got my response; short version is that I think Smith is the superior QB pre-snap and Kaepernick is the superior QB post-snap. However, Kaepernick can learn to get the team in and out of the huddle promptly and make better adjustments, while Smith can't learn to be a freak athlete with a cannon for an arm. It is vital to the 49ers playoff prospects that Kap clean up the game management aspects of his play in the next few weeks.

70
by greybeard :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:27pm

Right now, there are only two things that Kaepernick can do better than Alex Smith. He can throw the ball faster, he can run faster. He is much worse at pre-snap, from getting to the LOS in time to audibling to another play. He is much worse in decision making. He is less accurate on shorter throws and but more accurate on longer ones. He fumbles the ball more, he is as prone if not more than Alex Smith to taking a sack. He does not go through his progressions as fast and the coaches usually give him one read plays limiting what the offense can do. He also makes OL look worse than they are by dropping too deep on 7 step drops and allowing rushers to run around the tackles to create pressure.

In the long term, Kaep my turn out to be a better QB than Alex Smith. Nothing is guaranteed though. There are ton of QBs that played at NFL with strong arm and good running ability that at the end did not become good QBs. Nate Davis had stronger arm than Kaep, Troy Smith had as strong arm and was almost as good a runner. Kaep is said to be better than them on the mental aspect of the game but I have yet to see that it is really true.

49ers were on a good path to superball with Alex Smith as their QB. Playing Kaep makes it less likely that they will win it this year IMO. I hope the next two weeks prove me wrong, but I expect the 49ers to 1-2 from this point on, and loose the division to Seahawks.

75
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:43pm

I don't really understand when Smith became the all knowing master of presnap. Didn't Mike Sando put a list up last week showing that Smith has been pretty poor at avoiding delay of game penalties? I don't really get what's been wrong with Kaepernick's decision making, he's been pretty solid for a guy who's played less than a month and have you forgotten the Giants game? Kaepernick has been accurate too with a 67.4% completion percentage.

I don't think niner fans should fall into the trap of assuming that we would have won the Superbowl with Smith, we're in a tough divsion in a tough conference. All you can really hope for is to make the playoffs healthy and then you have a shot, we have that shot with either quarterback.

77
by greybeard :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:56pm

"I don't really understand when Smith became the all knowing master of presnap."
The last two years in an observable way.

"he's been pretty solid for a guy who's played less than a month"
I agree with that. But let us separate how good Kaep will be from how good he is right now. For this year only how good he is right now matters.

I have not forgotten Giants game. But I am looking at the body of work. Not one game. 8.30 games of Smith versus 4.7 games of Kaep.

Noone thinks we were guaranteed to win Superbowl with Smih. I think he gave us a much better chance. I think even you know that. Otherwise you would not have talked about having shots. You would have came out and say that Kaep gives us a better chance.

83
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:36pm

I do think Kaep gives us a better chance but I can appreciate the other opinion. I just think that it's really hard to win a superbowl and having chanced upon someone who could be pretty special I think you have to make that switch. I think it's likely that when people look back on this from the future the shock will be that it was even a discussion.

Someone earlier compared the situation to the Giants with Warner and Manning, I think that is false not just because the niners have a shot at the Superbowl but also because Smith's no Warner. Without anointing the kid as his equal I think it's more like Montana taking over for DeBerg, which is a much better comparison for Smith at least (I'd like to add here that I think Steve DeBerg is underrated he had the misfortune to be the mentor for quite an impressive list of qbs but was a serviceable starter).

As for the presnap adjustments, apart from some issues with delay of game penalties I find it hard to see how you can have such a firm conviction that CK is doing such a bad job. He's been in this system for as long as Smith, he watched and learned all through last year and seems to me to have done OK.

84
by greybeard :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:43pm

You got to be kidding about per snap reads. Rams were giving 7-10 yards cushion to WRs and Kaep "rolled with" the run to eight man box.
Watch the Monday night game where Gruden points to Alex Smith's per snap adjustments and then Rams game where even the announcers were upset that how much Rams were leaving open space for wide receivers.

85
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:54pm

But it's impossible for you to know whether or not Kapernick had a pass to go to, he it could be that they called two runs in the huddle. While we're talking about the 'call two plays' system, that they always call two plays in the huddle is probably why they have had so many delay penalties over the past two years and having the inbuilt audible does reduce the time for the qb to call another 'true' audible.

92
by greybeard :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:16pm

I don't think those audibles are part of roll/kill. If you watch it most of the time the WRs turn to Kaep to get the ball. In that case he does not need to tell anybody. All he needs to do is to take the snap, one step drop and throw it go the receivers.
Either way, I have seen too many off let's roll/ kill / let's roll within five seconds and whenever he killed something we never got anything significant out of it.

98
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:28pm

I do not see Kaepernick making worse decisions than Smith post-snap. I do not see him as less accurate on short throws -- I can recall several short throws where he’s led receivers perfectly for YAC. He's averaging 8 Y/A; you don't do that by making bad decisions and inaccurate throws. I do not think he’s fumbled an inordinate amount so far. His deficits relative to Smith have all been pre-snap, in my opinion (and yes, some of that bad pre-snap play has led to sacks). I guess we’re not observing the same things.

71
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:32pm

My take is that the offense was plodding, the quarterback took too many sacks and they were rubbish on third down under Smith and it's plodding, with too many sacks and is poor on third down under Kaepernick. Harbaugh is going to keep his quarterback buttoned down whoever it is.

94
by theslothook :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:18pm

Karl,

I agree with Grey, we need to first set up this question about Kap now versus Smith now, not long term. This situation is nothing like the giants were in. The 49ers are in a win now mode as they are loaded with talent across the team. It ultimately comes down to who helps you win now.

Imo, Kap does so many things that are worse than smith that go unnoticed. He takes sacks just like Smith, he misses reads, he takes too long to get the snap off leading to burned time outs. It was mentioned in the game, but he also incorrectly audibled a few times. Smith i think was clearly better presnap, even if he isn't peyton manning. Smith also had decent mobility, lets not paint him as a statue. Its not as if smith is a massive upgrade, i never said he was. But hes an upgrade and for a team thats in the sb hunt, you play your best chance to win.

125
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 12:07pm

Disagree -- the 49ers are not a team in "win-now" mode. Their talent is for the most part locked up long-term. Once Alex Smith goes next year,they'll be paying their starting quarterback about $1 million a year, which gives them a $19 million cap "advantage" over NE or Denver, say.

The big exception is Dashon Goldson, and I hope they make him happy this off-season, but if not and they want to be cold, he's only a free safety, so they could franchise him until he's 30.

This is a team with a lot of faith in their scouting, and given the talent they've found lately, particularly in the 2011 draft, that may be a well-placed faith.

And the front office hasn't changed much in a long time. Even when they were a crappy team with crappy talent they planned ahead, locking up such luminaries as Kevan Barlow and Ahmed Plummer to long-term deals well before their contracts expired.

In short, this is not a goal-oriented team; it's a process-oriented one. They're not in "win-now" mode any more than New England has ever been in "win-now" mode. They're in "win-forever" mode.

12
by theslothook :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:09am

Oh and to Danny- since time immemorial, the steelers have featured quality bookends. Think Kevin Green and Chad Brown, then there was hardi nickerson and levon kirkland. Then there was jason gildon and Joey Porter. That led to Harrison and Woodley.

Other teams that have had it include - The Redskins, Chargers-Philips and Merrimen(didn't last long admittedly), and this year's chiefs - with houston and Hali.

Seriously though, the Ahmad brooks signing, coupled with the extension to Bowman now leaves the 49ers in a precarious situation. Not next year necessarily, but what do they do about people like Crabtree, Culliver, Goldson, and then Boone and Iupatti? They certainly can't afford to keep them all. Thats why even my 49er friends felt Brooks shouldn't have been resigned.

14
by that man (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:39am

The 49ers will not have Alex Smith next season. That means they will be paying their QB about a million dollars. That is a lot of money left over to pay other guys now. Especially compared to teams like the broncos, saints, pats, etc that are paying 20 mil to their QB. That makes it much more difficult to keep their other talent.
The 49ers aren't really in big FA trouble. Crabtree, Culliver, Iupati aren't free agents until after the 2014 season. Boone and Smith are signed through 2015. After this season the only big FA is Goldson, who will likely be franchised if they can't do a deal. 2013 will bring a few big decisions . Justin Smith, Whitner, Goodwin, and Brown are FA's, though they will probably be willing to take a discount to stay on the Back to Back Super Bowl Champion 49ers.

23
by abc123 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 9:11am

Only Nickerson and Kirkland were ILB's in their 34 and had about as many career sacks as Aldon Smith did against Chicago.

101
by DRohan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:55pm

Greg Lloyd was on the opposite side of Greene. Chad Brown was primarily inside, and moved outside when Greene left, if I recall.

13
by Nathan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:26am

What really stands out is... how high the trajectory is, yet how quickly the ball also gets back down to earth.

It is not physically possible for someone to be better at this than someone else.

16
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:09am

you don't spit in front of Mike Carey, and you don't doubt RG3.

17
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:26am

Not a physicist, and I'm not disagreeing with you, but

In soccer there's definetely some players who can get the ball over the freekick-wall and under the crossbar much faster than others. I guess the spin of a round ball can help a bit, but the same could be theorized about a spinning oval ball.

22
by Sander :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 8:54am

The dipping of the ball in soccer is all about spin, yes. You can see the same thing in tennis, too.

I don't know if you can get the same effect with an oval ball that only spins along one axis, though.

51
by andrew :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:20pm

Until some visionary quarterback masters the horizontal spiral... By holding the football sideways he could put topspin or slice on the ball. He'd just have to have one Heck of an arm to do this with velocity....

"I was corrupt before I had power!" - Random

40
by Brent :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:17am

Studies of baseball have demonstrated that one can do this with a round ball. You have to spin the hell out of it though, and the way a football spirals, it clearly doesn't have topspin, so I don't think it's really dropping quickly. The perception that it doesn't hang probably means that his timing is nice, and/or that he's throwing with less height and more velocity.

58
by andrew :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 1:00pm

When I used to punt in high school sometimes when we had a short field I would intentionally kick the end of the ball to make it spin forward on purpose... The idea being to kick it short of the returner then have it bounce forward.. as added benefit also being harder to field cleanly. The danger of a shank was too great most of the time and it was more of a catch them off guard thing.

I definitely see punters doing a backspin on punts they are hoping to land inside the twenty. Both of these are more akin to affecting the bounce than trajectory though... More in common with golf than baseball...

107
by DRohan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:22pm

The spin effect you're describing is all about how it bounces when it lands on the ground. The spin talked about regarding the round balls (baseball, tennis, soccer) is about how the spin impacts the flight as it travels through the air. The golf ball, too.

53
by Independent George :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:33pm

Topspin is what causes a round ball to dip faster - the ball is spinning forward along the x-axis. A football spins along the z-axis to stabilize its trajectory like an artillery shell. A QB that tried to throw the ball with topspin... would probably be named the starter of the Arizona Cardinals.

18
by skeptic1 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:53am

It is physically possible to throw a horizontally curving baseball. Are you sure a kicker couldn't add some clever combination of spin and tumbling that would, via air resistance, give a football some extra downward curvature, beyond and above that due to gravity?

112
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:27pm

Considering kickers do occasionally noticeable hook or slice a FG, it's obviously possible.

Now whether it's desirable...

I once so badly butchered a throw that I threw a knuckle ball.

19
by PirateFreedom :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:58am

If you think he's good at football, well he is, but he's even better at Angry Birds.

30
by Tballgame (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 10:53am

Forward progress of the football is a function of initial horizontal velocity diminishing as a function of wind resistance. Vertical movement is a function of initial upward velocity impacted by wind resistance and gravity. Gravity is 9.8 m/sec2. If a ball peaks at 100 feet, whether thrown by RGIII or by Skelton, it will take the same amount of time to reach the Earth. Sir Isaac Newton was on the Fox pre-game explaining this immutable law.

Visual perception could be impacted by a receiver waiting for the ball as opposed to trying to catch up to it or catching it in stride (the former seeming like it hung up there).

52
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:33pm

There is also the pitch angle of the ball in flight. (the ball travels nose-up or nose-down.) How does that affect the ball's trajectory?

128
by Gomer_rs (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 4:04am

Isn't V1 the velocity of the ball going up nearly equal to V2 the velocity of the ball going down, since V1 is decayed by gravity and V2 is accelerated by gravity over the same distance?

Wouldn't it then follow that a QB with a strong enough arm that threw a more V shaped pass rather than a U shaped pass could actually have a faster vertical velocity when it reached the QB?

39
by RickD :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:16am

I suspect a tighter spiral would present a smaller profile and would thus face less air resistance.

A wobbly football should run into more air resistance and might then...hmmm, no, it would seem to be drifting, but that would be more because it was losing horizontal velocity than because it was falling faster or slower.

104
by bstar :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:11pm

Which would make Billy "Wounded Duck" Kilmer of Redskins fame the all-time leader at hang-time on passes.

15
by Jerry :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:08am

I wonder how much playing each other twice in three weeks took out of the Ravens and Steelers.

21
by Israel P. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 8:43am

The standard is the standard.

117
by Jerry :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:43pm

I don't think anyone in either locker room will use it as an excuse, but I just wonder if these two teams are feeling the effect of beating up on each other twice in three weeks.

103
by DRohan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:05pm

I suppose Pittsburgh could have been looking ahead to the Ravens games when they laid eggs against the Raiders, Titans, and Chiefs?

24
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 9:42am

I thought the Packers were getting an pass rush up the middle in the second half but Stafford threw the ball away every time even at the risk of getting intercepted which almost happened 2-4 times depending on your defintion of 'almost'.

Agreed that outside pressure was nonexistent most of the night.

Kind of amazing that Don Barclay's name was only mentioned when the announcers were introducing him. The Packers gave him some help sometimes but other times he was one on one with Suh and the gang. He certainly was WAY better than Dietrich Smith who Mike McCarthy cannot bench soon enough. Once Lang comes back it's presumed the Packers put him back at left guard which is his preferred spot. Barclay looks to be a solid run blocker. All of the Packers big runs came to his side.

If Shields stays healthy I doubt Davon House gets back on the field the rest of the year.

Mike McCarthy's affection for crazy long field goal attempts knows no bounds. 53 yards in the snow/wind? Really Mike?

Crosby did hit his other two attempts so maybe the slump is over.

41
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:20am

I didn't really mind the long FG attempt. If AR hadn't been sacked for about 8 yards the previous play, it would have been a reasonable 45 yd attempt. If Crosby makes it, great. That he didn't helps remind AR that he can't afford to take stupid sacks. Also Crosby at least has the leg to get it that far. When Hanson tried a 50+ yd FG, it may have been on target but he no longer has the leg to get it that far. He's become Al Del Greco.

I did find it interesting that Jason Hanson has never won in Green Bay, even though the Lions play in GB every year. The last time Detroit won in GB, Eddie Murray was the Lions kicker.

45
by Peregrine :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:37am

McCarthy's decision to try the long field goal wasn't great, but it was better than Schwartz's.

Looking at the gamebook, both kicks were taken from the 33 yard line and measured 51 yards, but I believe both were kicked into the wind (with Detroit's attempt being the second play of the 4th quarter). But the Packers faced a 4th and 17, and the Lions faced a 4th and 4. Considering Hanson's range, the cold, and the wind, I'd say the kick had at most a 30% chance of being good... and that's before he actually kicks it and comes up a yard short. I would think Detroit's best play there is to simply go for it.

55
by BJR :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:43pm

How close is Schwartz to being fired? Each week seems to bring another string of dumb decisions and undisciplined behaviour from his players (yesterday they were flagged for a group celebration which is simply pathetic after all this time). I assume he's still got some post Millen/0-16 goodwill there, but that must be running out after this shambles of a season.

57
by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:53pm

They definitely are a poorly coached team, but being bad at your job tends not harm the earning prospects for employees of the Ford family.

88
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:01pm

I'd think his seat would be getting pretty hot, but with the Lions it's hard to tell.

They're never going to reach their potential with Schwartz. Total lack of discipline across the board. Schwartz seems to equate having an attitude to letting guys do whatever the heck they want all the time.

93
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:17pm

The only hope for Lions fans is that Bill Ford Jr. is calling the shots instead of the old man, but who knows? Schwartz deserves to be latest member of the "Jauron Club".

46
by Ryan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:57am

Loved him in "Pluto Nash."

56
by Independent George :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:45pm

He was a great player for the Orioles for many years, and had one of the all-time great mustaches.

49
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:11pm

House will still see the field, they still play 2-3-6 coverages at times. But yes, Shields and Hayward are both better. House is currently playing at the level of a passable nickle or dime back, makes some good plays, looks bad on others, he's fine for the #4 or 5 corner. I still have hope for him going forward though, he is still playing with a shoulder harness and a bit of nerve damage (like Williams did all of last year). The New York game and the difference last night with Shields taking over for him in the 2nd or 3rd series are clear markers of where he is at, and I think will be heeded.

I just love having Shields speed back on the field, and while I still have concerns about him handing off and picking up correctly in zone coverage he seems to be even better at playing man this year (too bad he hardly got to last year), and this D does a lot of outside man / inside zone. Hayward is excellent in zone, and it's what Woodson is still good at too when it comes to coverage. So you can have Williams and Shields outside and Hayward and Woodson (when he gets back) in the slot (or Woodson at safety on Shields side of the field). House can still cover TE/RB/#3-4 WR if you want a lot of coverage guys, and if Woodson and Matthews are healthy then you still have some guys who can play the run on the field.

I also appear to have under appreciated what Wilson brings to the run D, I always just thought of him as just a guy, but he really does make more plays in the run game than Worthy. Neal is really just a guy in both phases, but you want rotation at that position and he did give that.

Brad Jones is starting to show some of the issues I expected when he moved from the outside to the middle, but when Matthews comes back I think some of that will be masked again and he has shown more on inside blitzes than Hawk, Smith, or Bishop ever showed, but he still can be stiff, and still doesn't change direction well, but since it's pretty safe to say that Barnett was the best MLB the team had since 2000, we can live with the just a guy level we've had there for years.

Games have been ugly, most of the schedule recently has been soft to middling but I'll take 6 of the last 7. They've done more than just hang on through the injuries, they've actually made up ground. Of course they have Rodgers which should give them a punchers chance in any game regardless what the rest of the team does.

61
by Flounder :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 1:22pm

Yes, I assume, health permitting, it's going to be Lang at his proper position, Barclay manning right tackle, and Dietrich Smith (please, please, please) on the bench.

28
by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 10:49am

Stafford rarely impresses me as much as his statistics suggest he might. I don't know what it is about the guy; maybe the less than careful mechanics, but he just doesn't wow me the way upper echelon qbs do, and that is with the league's best receiver.

(edit) Oh, and Cutler was almost Ponderous yesterday. If he doesn't turn that around, the Packers will clinch in a blowout next Sunday. When the Bears defense isn't scoring, and Cutler is giving up points, that's a bad football team, which is why they can be beaten with a running back, alhough, admittedly, and really great running back.

29
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 10:50am

Spot on. His mechanics regressed big time this year. He's like circa 2005-2006 Eli Manning at this point. (It remains to be seen if his career takes the same path as Eli Manning, or Jeff George, or somewhere in between).

50
by Independent George :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:13pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this about Stafford. He's got a really strong arm and makes some tremendous throws, but whenever I actually watch him play, he just never seems as good as his numbers. Then again, he's only 24; you can teach decision-making and mechanics, but you can't teach arm strength.

54
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:38pm

Unfortunately, you also can't teach hand size.

80
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:01pm

I assume you're talking about that fumble. Fumbling hasn't really been a recurring problem with him, a la Dave Krieg/Dan Fouts.

79
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:59pm

I don't know if having a dedicated QB coach actually makes a difference (the Lions don't have one), but there's definitely enough raw material there to work with.

89
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:03pm

I find that strange. I'd think with a young QB a dedicated coach would be a must.

38
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:14am

I've thought both the Packers and Bears looked very mediocre of late in their games against the Vikings. The Packers could very easily have been beaten at home back to back by the Vikings and Lions, it took some really bad QB mistakes to keep them in those games. Rodgers and the offence are still quite good, but vulnerable to good pass rush teams and the defence with Matthews is toothless. The Bears still have a good defence, but I never bought into the DVOA rating them as one of the best of all time. They were living on pick sixes and other weird plays.

44
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:36am

jimm

It's under reported but CJ Wilson has been out the past 2 weeks for Green Bay and he is their best run linemen. That and Mike Neal has been playing hurt before finally sitting last night when Green Bay played the game wiht only 4 down linemen meaning lots of 2/4/5 sets. Hence Detroit running the ball so well in the first half.

87
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:01pm

the Packers sure have been dealing with a lot of injuries the last few years. Amazingly they won a Super Bowl and tossed in a 15-1 season and aren't doing all that badly this year.

Since 2006 when Thompson hired McCarthy the Packers are tied for 2nd in wins with 72 (tied with Indy - 13 behind NE). The next closest NFC team is NO with 67 wins.

99
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:32pm

jimm

One thing that McCarthy does is sit key guys for extended periods to try and make sure that they come back completely healed.

If yesterday was a playoff game clay mathews plays. But it wasn't so he didn't.

124
by BJR :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 8:38am

That seems like a luxury that can be afforded when you an MVP-calibre QB on your roster.

27
by Paul R :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 10:49am

Titans over Colts 20-7 at halftime. Final score: Colts 27, Titans 24?

Edit: Just checked. Titans actually scored 23. I was confused there for a while.

(P.S. My typing fingers keep trying to abbreviate "Titans" as "Tits." If this should slip through in a future post, no offense was intended.)

68
by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:23pm

That might mean you're typing "tits" too often?

82
by Bobman :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:32pm

Or he has really awesome spell checking software.

96
by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:22pm

ha! indeed. far fewer men are interested in Titans.

121
by Paul R :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:56pm

And I've really jinxed myself now. Can't think of the...Tennessee football team by their proper name any more. Good thing their season's almost over.
Hey, only $8 to see Jaguars Tits in Nashville! Good seats still available.

26
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 10:44am

"The Packers aren't getting near Stafford and he's still inaccurate."

I don't know if this actually helps, but maybe the Lions need to look into hiring a QB coach for next year. Stafford was very accurate when he started the game 12/14, but then as the Packers took the lead, he stopped stepping into his throws and threw a lot while fading backwards and finished the game 15/31.

Also, it looks like Joique Bell should be the primary back: higher YPC and much more value in the passing game than LeShoure.

31
by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:02am

The masochist in me just loves a Vikings team that can't pass well enough to compete in the Sun Belt Conference, yet still has a chance to be in the mix for the tourney when the ball is kicked off in week 17. I don't think they can go on the road and win (the defense is a lot better at home), so I expect the dream to die in St. Louis next Sunday, but there is something enjoyable about a team that says "We can't do much, but we can block, and we have a guy who runs ike hell, so for the next three hours, we're gonna pretend it's 1973.".

33
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:06am

I think most Packer fans would agree with me that Green Bay wants nothing more than seeding on the line the last game of the season with the Vikes. Sure Minnesota is flawed but if they are playing for a spot in the postseason it's but certain that Peterson and the defense play out of their minds.

42
by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:25am

I don't think they'll get there, but if they are still in contention at the next game time in Minneapolis, I expect they'll win, because their secondary is improving anyways, and Cook is scheduled to return, and a loud Metrodome really helps the pass rush. And number 28 is number 28, of course.

Shame that they blew the game in Indianapolis, and laid an egg in the Thursday Night home game against the Bucs.

32
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:03am

Past 7 games for the Vikings:

6.51 per rush,
4.17 per pass (that is per pass - adjusted for ints ay/a

At this point when it seems the game plan is simply to ask Ponder not to screw up and pass only when necessary - wouldn't it make sense to play Webb?

If it's about developing Ponder then you have to run a real 21st century offence, if you've given up on that and realize you have one horse to ride and it's Peterson, then bring in Webb and have him do what Ponder is doing because he will at least create havoc running when teams man up on the receivers.

It seems remarkable to me that the Vikings have a winning record and that they actually won 3 of their last seven with such a putrid passing game.

34
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:10am

So Peterson is averaging 6 yds/attempt for the season. That's crazy good

113
by DRohan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:29pm

Last 7 weeks

37
by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:13am

The only thing I can come up with is that Webb has a tough time running the huddle, and getting the team ready for the snap, but if that was the case I don't know why they would still be trying to have him be a quarterback. I wish I had time to go back and watch the last 7 games on the coach's tape; is anybody at all ever getting open, and Ponder can't get it there, or is there any reason at all to have any hope whatsoever in the potential of The Ponderous Purple One of The Gridiron?

69
by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:26pm

I've read that people are getting open and Ponder's not seeing them (namely that he tends to lock on to half of the field and ignores the other side), but I'm not sure how often that's playing. It's hard to blam a QB for not seeing an open receiver when it only happens once every ten passing plays.

73
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:33pm

even when I re-watch from the PVR with the TV feed you can see all sorts of situations where he's not seeing the field, or holding the ball too long, tosses up lobs like he's praying the ball gets there.

I have also never seen a QB so bad in the pocket, it seems he makes the wrong choice every time.

Jimmy Johnson called him the worst QB in the NFL (Peter King's column today)

74
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:42pm

from memory of Webb's start...it didn't seem like the the Tarvaris Jackson type games where he didn't seem to have control over the game, it was his lack of accuracy...some of his throws were just awful.

But he wasn't Tebow inaccurate - his career comp rate is 58%. He also won two games on the road (at Philly and Wash) and had almost had Det beat on the road as well (coming back from 20 or so pts as I recall). His two loses at home were to the Bears.

I've seen enough of Ponder to be confident that he'll never be any good. Sure he has some sub standard receivers, but he has the best running game in the league, he had Harvin as well for much of the season. He's got a good pass receiving TE and decent offensive line...yet he's playing as badly as any QB in the league over the last 7 games.

35
by RickD :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:10am

"Follow-up on that: four snaps later, the Browns have a first down at the Kansas City 41. Almost exactly where they would have been had the Chiefs gone for it and failed, so they got zero benefit out of punting."

I hate stupid punting as much as anybody. But there's a logic fail here. If the Chiefs had gone for it and failed, the Browns drive would have started at the KC 41, so those plays that they executed to get to that point would have been enough to get them a TD.

Or something like that.

59
by mrh :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 1:04pm

I felt there was nothing to lose by going for it. The Chiefs were 2-10. They were behind 20-7 and hadn't shown a pulse in this game since their 2nd possession of the game.

The Chiefs offense is terrible, worse without Bowe. They need to capitalize on every opportunity because they won't get many. This was a rare opportunity.

The Chiefs were highly successful on 4th-and-1 last week, a major factor in winning their 2nd game. This offense was supposed to be built on a strong running game. Not going for it in this situation (and except for the Panthers game this has been true all year) seems like an admission that the team cannot do what it was built to do.

63
by RickD :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 1:42pm

Oh, I agree that the Chiefs should have gone for it.

I just find bad logic more annoying.

114
by DRohan :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:33pm

That's the biggest thing that bugs me. The extremely conservative (read: conventional) decisions by teams that are going nowhere fast.

36
by johonny32 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:12am

Lot of Dolphins comments this week but no one mention the truly odd play of the game when Miami grabs the punt on the 49ners 3 yrd line. A great punt that pins the 49ners deep. Then the Dolphins player slowly and stupidly walks into the endzone with the ball for a touch back. Resulting in the most heated exchange between the punter and said player. The best moment is as they just hit the goal line something in their head says stop... but it was too late. It's possible his momentum carried him into the endzone but he must of had the slowest momentum in football. Yes a downed punt was the most exciting play of the 49ner-Dolphins game.

115
by Deelron :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:13pm

I don't know, the flea flicker, the good inside runs by Gore, the muffed punt, the long kick reuturn after the muffed punt, the hit Wills had to pop the ball up into the air and Kaepernick's long touchdown run all seem more exciting then the downed punt.

122
by johonny32 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 12:11am

those are all pretty standard NFL plays. But how often do you see a punting team totally control a punt and trap a team inside the twenty and completely blow it by walking into the endzone. The only thing that keeps us Dolfans going is those rare total fail Zakety sax moments this team does so well. The moment was the punter who was so angry this week of course total failed last week to get a punt off.

43
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:32am

I'm not surprised Danario Alexander is looking good in San Diego. He looked good in St Louis. The problem was he could never stay healthy longer than about five games. The Rams just got tired of dealing with his injuries. I expect Alexander to play one more game before he suffers some strange injury during a weekday practice and misses the rest of the season.

66
by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:21pm

...sounds exactly like Danny Amendola. There is only Rams WR!

60
by zenbitz :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 1:20pm

They've run that play (from that diamond formation) a bunch of times today, but Kaepernick's been either making the wrong read or it's been going for a minimal gain by the back.

"Diamond" formation is that

Yeah, that was clearly the LaMichael James option special, although when they did break one, it was 2 TEs flanking and Gore behind. I guess you gotta find a way to get Celek on the field? Or maybe that's supposed to be one of the DT/TEs but they were dinged up. Vernon Davis was also in the game.

My suspicion is that they ran all the vanilla read options out of it... but have a whole host of wackyness they are saving for New England/Seattle/Playoffs. "Fullback" dive to Delanie Walker any one? (No thanks, I'm stuffed).

Or maybe they just spent the whole game setting up a single Kapernick 50 yard run to ice the game. In which case, kudos.

62
by zenbitz :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 1:31pm

is that... what you call it. It's almost a flexbone although no motion.

65
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:13pm

As far as I know, yeah. It's a nod to the Pistol:

http://smartfootball.com/offense/the-diamond-formation-and-other-multi-b...

For the unaware, I just posted a screencap on Twitter here:

http://twitter.com/FO_DTuccitto/status/278203927852367875

67
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:22pm

Re: niners D staying in base versus 11 personnel

They've been doing this for about three weeks now and it's getting annoying. I could vaguely see the point if they were disguising their coverage so that the offensive line was still accounting for Aldon Smith but what they're doing is lining one of the most promising pass rushers in the game up in man coverage on a slot receiver. It's fooling noone and I dread to think what Belichick will do, Smith is probably going to spend most of that game lining up over Hernandez or Welker near the sideline.

As for Ahmad Brooks, I think his deal allows the niners to walk away after three years with very little dead money. I don't think he's that bad, he plays the run well and is pretty decent in pass coverage. Plus we'll get some money from not paying Alex Smith and we'll be rid of Brandon Jacobs as fast as you can spell 'cut'.

76
by jimbohead :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 2:45pm

Jacob's deal is only for 1 year, so no need to even cut him. Brooks is one helluva force defender on the strong side, though, and has had a couple decent games from a pass-rush standpoint this year. I really have no complaints with him.

The niners seem to have been pretty pro-active in getting their guys signed early, to long, cap-friendly, extensions. Every team has a window, and the niners' window may close in a few years (unless Kaep is the second coming of Young or something), but I doubt it will be because of cap management.

86
by zenbitz :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:00pm

for what it's worth Ahmad Brooks leads all 49ers LBs in WPA and EPA. If you take away the pick 6 vs. the Saints, he falls below Bowman in WPA and Aldon Smith and Willis in EPA (to about where Bowman is)

Not saying WPA/EPA is an awesome way to grade linebackers. But clearly he's contributing.

106
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:21pm

Just to clarify, I'm not Brooks bashing in general. This is what I was trying to say in Audibles:

(A) My friend was speaking only about Brooks' lack of contribution as a pass rusher in the context of being a 3-4 OLB and lining up across from "Warm Body X." I think we can all agree that being on the strong side of a unit ranked #1 in run defense DVOA (and 0.4% behind #1 last year) implies Brooks is contributing plenty in the run game.
(B) Given (A), I simply wonder if his lack of pass rush productivity is more a reflection of the defensive scheme/philosophy than a reflection of Brooks' ability. I wonder if they specifically coach him to just make sure the QB doesn't break contain. As an analogy, maybe his role is akin to a 3-4 NT having an anonymous two-gapping assignment while the ILBs get all the play-making glory.
(C) Since I'm unfamiliar with the nuances of defensive strategies/tactics, was hoping someone could let me know if my musings in (B) are possibly true.

111
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:25pm

B & C : It's hard to make any general point about 3-4s, the are quite a few different ways to run the defense. With the 49ers in particular I think I've noticed (that is to say that I am not certain and so am willing to be countermanded on this) that the niners give a lot of respect to the run game, the front seven defends the run by building a wall at the line of scrimmage, not shooting gaps and when they see run they all look to stack and shed rather than heading upfield like Dwight Freeney. They also usually have good discipline in maintaining their rush lanes, which reduces the opportunity for rapid pressure.

You also queried 3-4s with two rush linebackers: Lloyd & Greene, Gildon & Porter, Woodley & Harrison, Lathon & Greene are all from the LeBeau or Capers schools, the most relevant example to the 49ers would probably be Lord Fangio's Dome Patrol with Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling.

91
by casey (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:16pm

An internet search of "pronounce joique bell" gets you where you want to go.

Of course, it's Week 14 and the Lions have played on TV before. So it's not really a new thing, this name.

97
by theslothook :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:23pm

This week, the interesting question that popped into my mind was how quickly do you move on from first qbs. Now I didn't watch Ponder or Sanchez, but I did see Locker and while there were flashes, his overall performance would have me pretty worried as a titans fan. At what point do you feel like its never going to happen for a qb? Ponder, Gabbert, and Locker are all in their 2nd years - is that really a sufficient enough time to call it quits?

100
by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:41pm

It differs from guy to guy. What is troublesome about a guy like Ponder is that he never, or nearly never, demonstrates anything phenomenal, to counterbalance the big steaming piles of pigs**t he occasionally leaves on the turf. There just doesn't seem to be any upside tp speak of.

109
by dcp (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:10pm

I'm a 49er fan and thought Ponder made several very nice plays in that game, chief among them the TD throw with Dashon Goldson all up in his face. I guess he must have regressed a bunch since then, but I thought he played a really good game that day.

119
by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 8:44pm

Oh, he started this year in a non-revolting way, but as the season has progressed, opposing coordinators have just squeezed him to the point now where he is completely non-productive. True enough, this has happened in conjunction with the one wideout who belongs on an NFL roster, Harvin, being more and more banged up, and now on IR, but there is the small matter of 28 providing breathing room, a pretty decent tight end, and decent blocking.

120
by Nick Kelly (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:05pm

One actually intelligent analysis comment during the Redskins-Ravens game from the booth. The teams were successful or not based on the yards gained on first down. In the first half, the Skins were killing Baltimore on first down with runs by Morris, and Baltimore was returning the favor with Ray Rice.

In the second half, when the 1st down runs were gaining a yard or two, the play, or play calling, was resulting in long 3rd downs and a lot of three-and-outs.

Glad to hear RG3 isn't done for the year or worse. Washington is so much more interesting with him as a topic of discussion. The Wizards are awful. The Caps are all playing overseas, and the Nats don't start the Strausburg media circus for another couple months.

123
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