Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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Maybe the Bengals are a paper tiger, but are they really that bad in prime time games? Is Peyton Manning struggling in Denver's new offense? We detail the Monday night clash.

24 Dec 2012

Audibles at the Line: Week 16

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.

Saturday, December 22nd

Atlanta Falcons 31 at Detroit Lions 18

Tom Gower: Detroit has made me sad in the second half. They kicked an extra point down 21-12, a decision I'd characterize as sensible, but non-aggressive. They ran a quarterback draw on third-and-goal from the 4 with Matthew Stafford, who's not exactly fleet of foot, and then kicked a field goal down eight on fourth-and-goal from the 2. Speaking one Hoya to another, c'mon, Jim.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know what's happened with Jim and the conservative game decisions, I really don't. I do hope to talk to him about it after the season is over. I don't want to be a jerk about it. It's not about his reputation; I want to see him be aggressive because I think it will help him win.

This game ended with the Lions getting a safety to make it 31-18, which the defense celebrated like they had done something greatly impressive, and then Stefan Logan TOOK A KNEE on the free kick. If it is a punt, you return it. If it is a kickoff, you also return it. In what event do you take a knee at the TWO-YARD LINE with no defenders within 20 yards of you?

Danny Tuccitto: To me, what's odd about the Schwartz Era is how they set up the whole "defensive head coach plus autonomous offensive guru" coaching dynamic, and it's the defense that blows year after year. I know they finished ninth in DVOA last year despite a ton of injuries, but c'mon. In Schwartz's defense (pun intended), part of me wonders if things would be different if their defensive drafts had been worth a crap over the past four years (besides Ndamukong Suh, DeAndre Levy, and Louis Delmas): 15 picks, five starters, two of which are actually glorified backups (Nick Fairley and Sammie Lee Hill).

Tom Gower: Um, why didn't the Falcons just take a knee three times? You can't take a normal kneedown when you take over at the 2, of course, but you can not hand the ball off in the end zone.

Stafford's 443 yards passing breaks Joe Montana's record of 441 for most passing yards in a game without a passing touchdown.

Danny Tuccitto: Two other observations from this game:

  • As FO alum Doug Farrar discussed in his podcast with Greg Cosell this week, Stafford's mechanics continue to be horrible. I'm not going to pretend to be as knowledgeable as those two, but there was one throw he made that was just awful. With 3:50 left in the first quarter, he gets the "no sweat, bro" double-whammy of a free play and no pressure whatsoever from the pass rush; yet he throws a Quisenberry-esque pass off his back foot. It ended up being a completion to Calvin Johnson, but there's just no reason why he should be so cavalier with his mechanics in the most stress-free of situations.
  • Quite a "honey badger" statement from the Falcons, who basically allowed Calvin Johnson to run through -- and find a hole in -- every conceivable zone tonight: "We're confident that we can allow your best player to torch us the entire game, and still win by two scores." Or maybe that's more of a reflection on Detroit than Atlanta?

Aaron Schatz: Well, have fun playing that zone against the Packers.

Danny Tuccitto: Ha! Agreed. That honey badger pass defense will almost certainly meet its match in the playoffs.

Vince Verhei: "Honey badger defense?"

Danny Tuccitto: Yeah, "they didn't give a f***" -- about Johnson getting his yardage.

Sunday, December 23rd

San Diego Chargers 27 at New York Jets 17

Vince Verhei: I'm not feeling well today, so I'm at home instead of the sports bar. That means no Jets on TV. I am sad to miss out on McElroymageddon.

Rivers McCown: All three quarterbacks are active. Actively being bad is a form of activity.

Vince Verhei: McElroy-al flush update: At the end of the third quarter, McElroy has seven completions (four for first downs), seven sacks, and one interception.

Rivers McCown: What's amazing is that there was no outcry about it, because everyone knew trying McElroy was the least-bad of three bad options.

Tim Tebow's reputation as a great teammate has to take a hit with the news that he wouldn't run the wildcat for whatever reason today.

Cincinnati Bengals 13 at Pittsburgh Steelers 10

Andy Benoit: It's early, but the Steelers defense -- the swarming front seven in particular -- is in attack mode. Two sacks on first series. If they are indeed healthy, this is a dangerous team if it gets into the playoffs.

Rob Weintraub: Leon Hall makes a big play -- pick-six, 7-0 Bengals. Hall always covers the slot on third down, and he beat Heath Miller to the spot for an easy pick-and-return.

Andy Benoit: No idea what Ben Roethlisberger was doing on that throw.

Reggie Nelson hit a defenseless Miller low and then pointed at his head to indicate that he couldn’t go high. Miller's not happy, but that’s what the NFL is forcing safeties to do these days.

Vince Verhei: This is going to happen more often as defensive backs go out of their way to avoid headshots, but since brain injuries seem to lead to mental illness and knee injuries don't, I am fine with that.

Rob Weintraub: Huge special teams penalty on the Bengals, running into the punter gives Pitt a fourth-and-short at midfield. Isaac Redman breaks a couple of arm tackles to get it.

Kevin Huber for game MVP? Just put a punt out of bounds on the 2, and had a 64-yarder earlier...

Andy Benoit: Nelson on the line of scrimmage off the edge is a great pre-snap alignment for the Bengals. They do a lot of aggressive, hard-to-identify things out of it.

Rob Weintraub: I'd say Nelson actually blitzes maybe one-third of the time off that look. He's good at showing blitz and getting into coverage quickly.

The Bengals fail to punch it in on offense, settle for three, and Roethlisberger is in the end zone in two plays. 60-yard bomb to Antonio Brown who left Adam Jones in the dust.

Andy Benoit: Cortez Allen's pick to open the second half was great coverage, Troy Polamalu ran under the outside receiver and that allowed Allen to take the inside route. (Cover-2 zone technique, essentially.) Andy Dalton didn’t get enough on the throw. This is a coverage wrinkle the Steelers have used all season, including last time they faced Bengals. Intended target was Andrew Hawkins, not A.J. Green.

Aaron Schatz: As I wrote in Upset Watch, the Steelers have been great against top receivers all year, even with Ike Taylor injured. And they've given up lots of yardage to second and third guys, so aiming for Hawkins a lot isn't a bad idea.

Holy crap. Marvin Lewis just went for it on fourth-and-22 from the 33, and they almost got it, but Green landed with one foot out of bounds. I had Jim Armstrong run early Aggressiveness Index numbers a couple weeks ago and Lewis was sixth this season, but he's gone for it a lot in "long field goal range" (i.e. between the 31 and 37). Fourth-and-22, though, honestly, that's more ballsy than even I could consider. Wow.

Vince Verhei: On replay it looked like he might have gotten that second foot down inside the sideline. Either way, massive balls for Marvin Lewis.

Rob Weintraub: I didn't mind going for it -- any time A.J. is out there you have a shot, as he showed. But Josh Brown is 7-for-7 since taking over for Mike Nugent, and every point in this one is crucial. That whole "game of inches" thing is going to stick badly in my craw when the Bengals lose this one.

Andy Benoit: Roethlisberger is the only quarterback in the league who can consistently do full-fledged pump fakes under serious duress. Steelers red zone offense has been poor today. They’ve been using more downfield routes outside. In the red zone, that gets taken away.

Vince Verhei: Cincinnati lines up a tight end out wide, then motions him into the fullback position. Polamalu follows him inside, then shoots the A-gap at the snap and is all over Dalton before the quarterback can even drop back. Fantastic play, and probably an ad-lib, unless he was going to blitz off the edge from the original set.

I've long felt that pass interference should be a 15-yard penalty and not a spot foul. Some who disagree with me have said that if it was a 15-yard foul, any defensive back who was beaten deep would automatically foul his man and gladly take the penalty instead of surrendering a big play. Well, Green just beat Allen, and Allen, knowing he was beaten, blatantly interfered with him. So at least in one instance the current rule did nothing to prevent a beaten defender committing a blatant foul.

Andy Benoit: Geno Atkins' third sack just involved him beating David DeCastro. Wallace Gilberry also got in on the action from the other side.

Mike Wallace has had only a minimal impact in this game. This is the third time in five weeks that he has been held catchless in the first half. And he hasn’t done much in the second half, either

Aaron Schatz: Do you have any idea what's up with Wallace this year, Andy? I've heard a number of ideas, maybe it has to do with Haley's offensive playcalling, maybe it is because he missed training camp ... he's been much worse, both yards per reception and catch rate are way down.

Andy Benoit: Dalton completes a huge throw to Green to set up a game-winning field-goal attempt. Trips bunch versus zone coverage, and Green elevated to catch a good throw. He had a handful of impact catches late in the second half.

Vince Verhei: Tie game, fourth quarter, Bengals try a 56-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-11. That is diametrically opposed to any logic that would have told you to go for it on fourth-and-22 earlier in the game. Kick is short. I'm so confused.

Rob Weintraub: I'm not confused -- it's the Bengals. Huber is having a great game, defense is dominant, so why not hand Pittsburgh 30 or so yards of field position? There's aggressive, and there's foolish. That was foolish.

Vince Verhei: It's not even that they made a bad decision. It's that they made a decision so completely contrary to their previous decision that makes my head hurt.

Andy Benoit: Roethlisberger throws another game-losing interception, the second week in a row he's done that. Steelers not a playoff team this year because of it. Weird year for Steelers.

Rivers McCown: Andy channeling Peter King there. I don't think it's that weird. The Steelers had a ton of injuries to overcome, and for once, they didn't.

Vince Verhei: Cincinnati's final strange field-goal decision: after Roethlisberger throws an interception, the Bengals have eight seconds and a timeout left at the 26-yard line. They settle for the 43-yard field-goal try rather than running one more play. The kick was good, but 43 yards is no gimme. They could have just run up the middle for two yards and called timeout. In that situation, two yards could have made a difference, couldn't it?

Aaron Schatz: I don't think as much as if they were looking at something in the high 40s or over 50. I am going to do a study on this question in the offseason, it has come up a lot this year.

Rob Weintraub: Color me shocked. One of the most satisfying wins in Bengals history right there. If the Giants pull it out against the Ravens, next week's game is for the AFC North.

How about this unprecedented offseason move: Cincinnati announces Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer to switch roles, with Lewis handling defensive coordinator duties and Zim getting a much-deserved head coach spot. Probably the only way to keep Zim after this season.

Tom Gower: They showed a Marvin Lewis clip on CBS where he was defending his seemingly inconsistent decisions by declaring he believes in his players and plays to win.

Rivers McCown: Ooh, can that get you out of any weird tactical decisions now? I've gotta start using that.

Buffalo Bills 10 at Miami Dolphins 24

Danny Tuccitto: After a touchback on the opening kickoff, the Dolphins' first drive sees Reggie Bush and Anthony Fasano get the first six touches, which move them down to the Bills 34-yard line. From there, they go incomplete pass to Marlon Moore, Bush stuffed on predictable 2nd-and-10 run, and incomplete pass to Brian Hartline. Buffalo blocks the ensuing field goal attempt. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, guys.

Hey, whaddyaknow! After taking over at their own 38-yard line when Steve Johnson lost a fumble, Miami scores a touchdown on a nine-play second drive that features six runs and a a 17-yard touchdown pass to Bush. That's more like it.

This game is making me thankful that I don't get to watch the Bills much. What an awful team in just about every facet of the game -- except C.J. Spiller, of course.

Also, with 12:09 left in the third quarter, Ryan Tannehill gets hit as he attempts a forward pass to a running back in the flat. The ball goes slightly backward, which of course is totally irrelevant to the call, and Buffalo recovers the "lateral." The refs get it right in real time, deeming it an incompletion. Randy Cross thinks it should be a lateral. Chan Gailey challenges it because he thinks it should be a lateral. Both are wrong, and Gailey loses the challenge. I know full well that I don't know the rules as well as I probably could, but it defies belief that people getting paid millions of dollars to win football games (or provide commentary about them on broadcast television) can be so utterly mistaken about a really simple rule.

As stats people, we talk a lot about how teams need analytics departments to make better decisions. How about having an officiating consultant to make better replay challenge decisions? If teams already have one (which it seems like they would), I guess those guys face as much of an uphill battle as analytics departments trying to get the head coach to listen.

Indianapolis Colts 20 at Kansas City Chiefs 13

Andy Benoit: Shannon Sharpe just had a good line on Brady Quinn's pick-six to Darius Butler: "I understand it's the season of giving, but Quinn is taking this a bit too far."

Ben Muth: Branden Albert out again for the Chiefs. My feeling is that they've been looking at Donald Stephenson as much as possible over the last few weeks to see if they can let Albert go. I think they will.

With Bobby Massie's improvement as the season has gone along, I want to nominate the guy that replaced Winston Justice as the Colts right tackle as the worst offensive lineman in football. He's been awful every time I've seen him.

Andy Benoit: Sounds like Mr. Muth is referring to Jeff Linkenbach (whom Cris Collinsworth once referred to as the "weak Linkenbach" on Indy's line).

Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs just ran on third-and-8 from their own 8 with 3:20 left, while losing. (Shakes head.)

Rivers McCown: Brian Daboll, everybody!

Minnesota Vikings 23 at Houston Texans 6

Aaron Schatz: Minnesota's first drive shows they have discovered that if you are going to set the all-time rushing record, you can apparently play-action pass to your tight end. Kyle Rudolph then celebrates the touchdown with what looked like the "I'm revving up an exploding lawnmower, then throwing chalk on myself like LeBron James" dance.

Mike Tanier: Just chipping in as the voice of experience to say that there is nothing funny about an exploding lawnmower.

Aaron Schatz: Minnesota early on looks like Leslie Frazier has decided that making the playoffs is more important than getting Adrian Peterson a rushing record. This is not a bad thing, of course, but they've only had a couple runs and they are running a lot of plays that take advantage of the idea that Houston would be stacking up against Peterson: play-action to Rudolph, end arounds, screen passes, and so forth.

Also, at what point will teams learn that Houston likes to run play-action bootlegs? Do not leave Jasper Brinkley covering Andre Johnson, kiddies.

Rivers McCown: The Texans are doing their best to make Christian Ponder look like a real live quarterback. An ugly display of play-action passes and comeback routes. Even Michael Jenkins is looking alive.

Aaron Schatz: Kevin Walter down at the 1 because his knee falls right before the ball would cross the plane. Texans run three plays and not one of them is a handoff to Arian Foster. That seems like odd play-calling. Matt Schaub sacked on the last one and the Texans kick a field goal, still down 16-6.

Aha. Turns out Foster was injured and not available for that drive.

Rivers McCown: The offensive line has been served an asswhooping by Minnesota's front seven today. The last time Houston was held without a touchdown, the year was 2006. Methinks this Leslie Frazier guy can coach a little bit.

Tennessee Titans 7 at Green Bay Packers 55

Tom Gower: I hope Jake Locker is spending his time on the bench trying to triangulate his passes, because he had consecutive missed throws: a terrible underthrow to a ridiculously wide-open Taylor Thompson followed by an overthrow to Nate Washington. I knew he was a project, but the Titans have looked completely inept on their first three drives. The worst intentional grounding call I've ever seen (busted screen, Chris Johnson came within a foot at most of actually touching the pass) didn't help the third series, but the Titans would need an awful lot of help the other way. Meanwhile, the only reason the Packers have 14 points on their first three drives instead of 21 is that Randall Cobb failed to bring in two catchable passes on the same series. Ho-hum.

Andy Benoit: Fantastic pick by Sam Shields, showing great ball skills. He blanketed Kenny Britt downfield. Britt has been awful against man coverage this season, especially downfield.

A.J. Hawk's sack was a product of Clay Matthews beating the crap out of his man and forcing Johnson to apply help protection there. On the next play, Locker throws a tipped interception to Erik Walden.

Tom Gower: "His man" = right guard Deuce Lutui, whom the Titans found on the street at midseason for a reason. He's good for three incredibly terrible plays a game, minimum. Locker's pick was tipped because he threw badly behind Damian Williams on a short crosser.

Packers take the second half kickoff for a touchdown to make it 27-0. DuJuan Harris finished off the drive on a 7-yard run where the Titans might have been able to bring him down if they weren't playing two-hand touch. If you like passer rating, Locker's in the first half was 0.0. I don't, really, but the idea of equating three completions and two interceptions on 12 passing attempts to zero doesn't bother me.

12:31 to play, Packers lead 48-0 with, I believe, 28 points on four second-half possessions. I should have gone to the playground with my nieces at halftime.

New Orleans Saints 34 at Dallas Cowboys 31 (OT)

Vince Verhei: Tony Romo finds Dez Bryant isolated on Patrick Robinson and hits him for a 58-yard touchdown. Robinson was running step-for-step with Bryant but totally misread the ball. He never went up to get it, and when he tried to cut Bryant off for a tackle, he overshot his target and opened an easy cutback for Bryant into the end zone.

Andy Benoit: Play-action, no safety help at all. Embarrassing.

Bryant’s second touchdown was somehow more impressive than his first. Unbelievable strength and athleticism running after the catch.

Vince Verhei: Robinson is having a very bad day. He stumbled covering Bryant on a quick slant, then failed to wrap up Bryant's feet and let him run free for another 58-yard touchdown.

Andy Benoit: Morris Claiborne is doing a solid job in red zone coverage today.

Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys just had to call a timeout on their own goal line because they had just nine guys on defense. I've seen 10 before, but nine is pretty rare.

Oakland Raiders 6 at Carolina Panthers 17

Vince Verhei: Matt Leinart is in for Oakland and has started 6-of-7 for 53 yards. Think Whisenhunt would take him back in Arizona?

Rivers McCown: Whisenhunt prefers his bad quarterbacks to come into the league with no expectations.

New England Patriots 23 at Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Aaron Schatz: Patriots tie things up with Jacksonville 13-13 right before halftime, but this is still a mostly pathetic display in the first half by Patriots. A couple of bad plays by receivers led to two interceptions for Tom Brady. On the first one, it was more Brady's fault, a little underthrown to Stevan Ridley, it hit a Jaguars defender in the back, but then Ridley had it, bobbled it, and a Jaguars defensive back ended up with it. The second one was by Derek Cox covering Brandon Lloyd and Lloyd just looked lazy, he let Cox get position on him and take the ball without fighting it.

Jason Babin playing very well for Jacksonville, I know why the Eagles cut him but still, big addition for them. Perhaps it will pay dividends in 2013. I wonder if Babin playing so well is why it seems like Hernandez is blocking more, he has only one catch so far.

With Chad Henne having a big game early, all I can think about is the 400+ yards he put up on the Pats in Week 1 of 2011. I'd say he seems to just do well against the Pats, but he didn't in Week 17 of 2010, so there's probably nothing to that idea.

Patriots getting destroyed by the Jaguars defense today. Pass rush is constantly in the backfield, and when Brady does have enough time to throw, all the Pats receivers seem to be covered.

Tom Gower: Apparently we may have gotten a mention in this broadcast for having New England as the league's most efficient offense.

Aaron Schatz: We did! Kevin Harlan also shouted out to Basketball Prospectus earlier this year on an NBA telecast.

Washington Redskins 27 at Philadelphia Eagles 20

Andy Benoit: According to Brian Billick, the Redskins have not run the read-option all game with Robert Griffin. That probably means he’s not 100 percent.

New York Giants 14 at Baltimore Ravens 33

Andy Benoit: Corey Webster was beat by Jacoby Jones for a short area touchdown on a little flat hitch. Webster struggled with confined change of direction on the play.

Then the refs questionably overturned the play. This wouldn’t even be an issue if Jones hadn’t dropped the ball after crossing the goal-line. Drops remain an issue for Jones.

Rivers McCown: Same as it always was.

Andy Benoit: Martellus Bennett had a great playside block on Courtney Upshaw during David Wilson's touchdown run. Wilson showed explosion and acceleration through the hole. Bear Pascoe also had a great seal block from shallow slot.

Haloti Ngata's sack happened because he beat Chris Snee off the snap.

Domenik Hixon's downfield pass interference probably wouldn’t have happened if Eli Manning hadn’t underthrown the deep ball in the first place.

Aaron Schatz: Andy wrote about Hakeem Nicks' injury in Film Room, and he doesn't have a single catch five minutes into the third quarter. Even more surprising, Victor Cruz has just one catch for three yards. Nobody from the Giants seems able to get open.

Andy Benoit: Chykie Brown had a handful of impressive passes defensed on the outside, a lot of them against wideouts inside. Aligned outside, he has done really well.

Jason Pierre-Paul’s name has not been called once today.

Cleveland Browns 12 at Denver Broncos 34

Andy Benoit: Jacob Tamme just got a 33-yard gain by simply out-running safety Usama Young on a cross route. Broncos tight ends are tough to match up against, people don't talk about that enough.

Tom Gower: They seemed like pretty good reasons for Peyton Manning to go to Denver, but I think Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas have had the kind of seasons he would have hoped they'd have. Neither Tamme nor Joel Dreessen is a great player, but they've both been very successful in the past, and I'm not surprised they've been useful players this year. After spending this afternoon watching the Packers and then keeping my eye on this game when I get a chance, I'm just happy to have both of my Super Bowl teams looking like they have a shot.

Chicago Bears 28 at Arizona Cardinals 13

Andy Benoit: I haven't been watching every play of this game but every time I glance over, is seems like Calais Campbell is blowing something up. Also, it's been fun watching Patrick Peterson get emotional about his matchup with Brandon Marshall.

San Francisco 49ers 13 at Seattle Seahawks 42

Aaron Schatz: Looks like the 49ers are having some real trouble stopping the
Seahawks running around the edge. I went to check last week's PBP to see if this might be related to Justin Smith's injury, but in turns out the Patriots didn't have a single run last week marked either left end or right end, either before or after Smith went out.

Rivers McCown: Remember when there was actually talk about benching Russell Wilson earlier in the season?

Welp.

Danny Tuccitto: How many weeks before I can stop worrying whether or not this Colin Kaepernick-led offense is going to actually get the play off on time?

Ben Muth: Kam Chancellor absolutely launched himself on that hit to Vernon Davis. That's a penalty even if he hits him in the chest, right?

Aaron Schatz: It's hard to tell what's legal and what's not anymore. In the replay, it was clear there was no head-to-head contact, but the human eye can't tell, the official just sees the head snap back and that's that, he throws the flag.

Ben Muth: I can't believe how open guys for Seattle are. Both Marshawn Lynch and Anthony McCoy were wide-open on their touchdowns. San Francisco looks like a different team this week.

Aaron Schatz: You really do look at games like this and you scratch your head and say "how on earth does this happen?" How do the 49ers look so good, and then so bad? It can't all be Justin Smith.

Tom Gower: Yeah, that Chancellor call was a tough break for him, and something that I think will be hard for the NFL to avoid, barring what I think is an unlikely relaxation of the defenseless receiver rules.

The thing about the Russell Wilson benching talk is that he went like 36 minutes between completions past the line of scrimmage.

Also, is tonight fodder for the idea that Justin Smith should be a bigger candidate for Defensive Player of the Year?

Aaron Schatz: Now I have a question about the third-quarter play where they handed the ball to Sidney Rice and he attempted a pass. Do you think:

a) It was silly for the Seahawks to "waste" that play on a game they are already winning 28-6, rather than saving it for a game where they really need the surprise,

or

b) It was good for the Seahawks to make teams in the playoffs think that an end around might turn into a passing play, because it gives opponents another thing to think about and it might give their end arounds more space.

Rivers McCown: My Wilson statement was not one of defiance, I'm just kind of amazed at how fast the growth has come. I expected him to take a bit longer to adjust. All of a sudden he's arguably a better Rookie of the Year candidate than either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin.

And Aaron, I'm more in camp B. Either way, I think it's silly to spend so much time agonizing over what happens when the score is out of hand. If I were a coach I'd be running the ball a lot to reduce the chances of injury, but it's not a big deal to me.

Danny Tuccitto: 1) Carlos Rogers continues to be San Francisco's version of the Nnamdi Asomugha perimeter-to-slot cornerback conversion.

2) Ahmad Brooks continues to make zero plays per game.

3) The absence of Justin Smith hurt the run defense. The absence of Justin Smith's defensive holding hurt the pass rush more.

4) I think Alex Smith is too good of a teammate to have gotten a kick out of Kaepernick's epic failure tonight. But I also think that, when Alex Smith goes to sleep tonight, his suppressed unconscious will emerge in a dream.

5) I'm just a guy who writes about football on the internet, so far be it from me to question the 49ers' incoherent game plan, lack of preparation, and overwhelmingly conspicuous malaise.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 24 Dec 2012

54 comments, Last at 26 Dec 2012, 12:58pm by Steve in WI

Comments

1
by Leetom (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:13pm

I don't think it was SF playing poorly as much as GO HAWKS!!! AUGHHHH!!!

2
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:16pm

Yesterday's game was not much of a gauge but one has to acknowledge Mike McCarthy's gumption in benching his starting center with two games left in the season in an effort to improve the running game. I have to think most coaches would not go there for all the obvious reasons.

DE Mike Neal has had several good games in a row. If he can do a Cullen Jenkins late 2010 imitation for the next month that would be quite helpful to the team's cause.

26
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:55pm

I wondered about it because I really didn't like EDS in pass protection in previous games, but centers are much easier to help in the passing game and have different responsibilities. He actually had done some good stuff in the run game. Barclay is a good run blocker too. So yeah they have a bunch of OK pass blockers, and actually have run blockers. Not ideal but Rodgers can cover it up and they have more than one dimension even with whatever running back they find on the street. Though I still think they draft a center and we'll probably see Sherrod and Bulaga back at tackle and Rodgers may not have to cover as much.

Another thing I really hope happens is that Jones continues to embrace his role as an inside linebacker. In his earlier seasons he always thought that he could be a great outside pass rusher, and he just never was. He is bar far the best coverage backer they have in the middle. Unless Hawk takes another pay cut I don't think he's back, even though he is having a decent year and had an excellent game yesterday. I know he's got a couple of years left, but I believe it's structured in a way that the Packers can let him go. Bishop coming back next year will help the run game, but he's really not much of a coverage guy. The Packers have contracts coming due for Rodgers, Matthews, Jennings, and Raji and they are going to start making a few more mid level cap moves, and Hawk fits that mold with two guys just as good or better than him on IR. The rumors are Jennings won't be back either.

Neal is playing like the guy they envisioned when they drafted him. He just has to stay healthy. The thing I like about him is that Matthews has been talking about the chemistry they have developed.

It's really nice to have Matthews back. I believe the Packers lead the league in sacks per drop backs with him on the field and were about 26th without him (though they had one good game with him injured). I still want to see what Perry can do, and hopefully Worthy won't be injured as much next year either. But they have done well to build a more injury resistant pass rush. I think it would have been OK with Matthews injured if Perry, Neal, and Worthy also hadn't been out for all or parts of it too.

I'm not sure Cobb will be playing much special teams next year. Rodgers is lobbying for him to only play offense already. Though he is now just 46 receiving yards from having 1000 receiving and 1000 return yards in a single season. He already has the Packers all purpose yardage record (954 receiving, 132 rushing, 964 kick return, 292 punt return for 2342 total) though the NFL record by Sproles (2696) seems pretty safe.

It was just nice to see them crush a team they were supposed to crush. Too many key injuries and developing players for the other games you expected them to crush the other team. The NFC playoffs should be fun. GB - SF would be fun, GB - Sea would be fun. I'd even like to see GB - WSH (who I think will get in). Heck next week where both teams have something to play for (GB wins and gets #2 seed, Minn wins and they are in the playoffs) is going to be fun.

38
by Mike W :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 3:19pm

Nobody seems to notice because of Seattle coming on, and if people talk about GB it's all Rodgers-is-great-blah-blah, but their D is really rounding into form. In addition to Matthews being back, which helps vs the run almost as much as vs the pass, and Neal playing well, Raji is playing better than at any point last year, though not quite to 2010 levels. The DBs have looked better of late as well, though that suspiciously coincides with the return of Matthews and the pass rush. For the first time this year I feel like GB might be able to beat SF (or Sea) with both teams playing at or near their peak.

46
by LionInAZ :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 6:50pm

The Packers might regret the move if Dietrich-Smith turns out to be a Domenic Raiola clone, with the DL shoving him back into Rodgers off the snap repeatedly.

48
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 7:14pm

Saturday is still on the roster and under contract for next season too. As mentioned I think they will still look for a center in the draft, but part of the reason EDS is the starting center is because Rodgers wanted him there. His issue in pass protection wasn't generally getting pushed back it was usually more with shifting and getting his hands on speed. Now twists and such can still be an issue for a center where the speed can get them. But his issue wasn't in mistaking the pick up it was in sliding over in time to get that person. The center doesn't need to do that as much. He also has shown the ability to pull well from the guard spot and if he can translate that into being able to pull as a center that opens up some plays that other teams don't have, and can be tricky to defend.

Thompson has seemed to learn from the lets kill Rodgers by playing Allen Barbre when he clearly wasn't ready and while I still wonder about Campen as a line coach and some of the lineman evaluations, I do trust them to not put someone out there, baring injuries that will get Rodgers killed like they did in the past.

49
by LionInAZ :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 7:41pm

Well, the question is how the Packers will do in this year's playoffs, amd your comment made it sound as if they were emphasizing run blocking over pass pro at center. I have my doubts because I don't think any of the Packer RBs outweigh the advantage of good pass blocking in the middle of the line.

51
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 9:41pm

Well I think they are putting a higher value on run blocking, and your concern is valid, but it's not like Saturday was some lights out pass blocker either. He was a B in pass blocking this year, at best. EDS is probably a C- at worst as a center. Their weaknesses are the opposite. Saturday was the player you had to worry about getting bull rushed and pushed around, though he would generally be in the right spot, he just wouldn't be able to stop the person. Again with the way the Packer's call pass pro, that is a more worrisome weakness. It's actually easier for Rodgers to react to someone coming clean up the middle than assuming that since his lineman is in place that he will hold the block.

It's also not about the Packers running backs, it's about converting power run, and not getting stuffed. You just want to have a few more 3rd and 4's than 3rd and 7's. Saturday in the run blocking generally graded out around a D. The beat writers say that when a specific offensive lineman was the primary reason for a stuff or loss on a running play that Saturday had more of those dings than any other lineman (I believe Newhouse was the next worse). So I do think that even if EDS is worse in pass pro (and that is not clear) that being better in run blocking will help the pass protection simple by making defenses respect it.

I actually think the Bears game is a good example. Rodgers took 3 sacks (and at least one of those should go against Saturday) but was only hit 4 times, and had decent pockets in part because the Bears were playing run after the first quarter (when the game was still zero zero) and when the Packers got the lead it was even better (Rodgers was pretty much clean in the 2nd half). That despite the Packers having a -21% rushing DVOA in that game, though some of that came after Green was concussed and still in the game and not performing. Better run blocking from EDS vs Saturday may have actually changed some of that.

But the way the Packers have been beat is 2 and 3 deep shells, daring them to run, or take some of the short passes in the seams in zones. Running the ball well, and that just means getting a few 8+ yards runs against that front without taking too many stuffs. With the receivers constantly shuffling who is healthy and Finley being Finley the run game working decently might be really be the key to winning by changing some of that protection and getting Jones, Cobb, Jennings, or Nelson (if healthy) a few more one on one opportunities.

So yeah I think it's a very small risk even this late in the year. Especially after I learned that Rodgers was one of the biggest advocates for making the change. Whatever makes him the most comfortable is really probably what gives them the best chance to win, like you said. :)

3
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:19pm

The old Troy Polamalu showed up for a moment when he shadowed the guy going in motion and then slowed when he got even with the center and then at the snap dashed between center and the guard to sack Dalton

It was a great, cagey play.

4
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:20pm

I believe Sidney has thrown 3 passes this year, 1 completion, 1 pass interference call drawn by Tate, and the near interception last night.

Golden Tate has one such pass, a TD to Rice.

The Seahawks will just throw in the occasional random 'razzel dazzel', flea flickers, wr passes, I would expect there to be a Mike Rob passing option to be in the playbook.

It feels like the Seahawks do it more than most teams, but I don't care, it sure is fun to watch.

5
by Tofino :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:21pm

Regarding the Sidney Rice end around turning into a Sidney Rice pass: the Seahawks have already done this at least once and possibly twice this year.

Here's an example from the Jets game on Nov. 11, only with Golden Tate throwing to Rice: http://youtu.be/KrogFncnJVA (Sorry for the cameraphone video.) In interviews after the game, Rice mocked Tate for having a worse throw than he did in a similar situation earlier in the year, so I assume they did it twice and I somehow missed it. If you go back in ye stats and look for Sidney Rice passes the data should out.

Also, hot damn it's a fun time to be a Seahawks fan. Usually we are the plucky upstarts who do wacky hijinks like winning a division at 7-9.

6
by The Powers That Be :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:22pm

"The Cowboys just had to call a timeout on their own goal line because they had just nine guys on defense. I've seen 10 before, but nine is pretty rare."

You missed the best part, Aaron. The Cowboys didn't call that timeout: the Saints did. The Cowboys were content with 9 guys on the field, but the look confused Brees. Personally, I just figured the Cowboys were down to 9 healthy defenders at that point.

8
by Anger...rising :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:30pm

Also, with 12:09 left in the third quarter, Ryan Tannehill gets hit as he attempts a forward pass to a running back in the flat. The ball goes slightly backward, which of course is totally irrelevant to the call, and Buffalo recovers the "lateral." The refs get it right in real time, deeming it an incompletion. Randy Cross thinks it should be a lateral. Chan Gailey challenges it because he thinks it should be a lateral. Both are wrong, and Gailey loses the challenge. I know full well that I don't know the rules as well as I probably could, but it defies belief that people getting paid millions of dollars to win football games (or provide commentary about them on broadcast television) can be so utterly mistaken about a really simple rule.

This exact call went against Robert Griffin yesterday, so it's apparently not so simple that referees can be expected to consistently get it right.

7
by James Dollinger (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:28pm

Dear Danny Tuccitto, if you want to poke the bear make sure you get your facts correct:

Also, with 12:09 left in the third quarter, Ryan Tannehill gets hit as he attempts a forward pass to a running back in the flat. The ball goes slightly backward, which of course is totally irrelevant to the call, and Buffalo recovers the "lateral." The refs get it right in real time, deeming it an incompletion. Randy Cross thinks it should be a lateral. Chan Gailey challenges it because he thinks it should be a lateral. Both are wrong, and Gailey loses the challenge. I know full well that I don't know the rules as well as I probably could, but it defies belief that people getting paid millions of dollars to win football games (or provide commentary about them on broadcast television) can be so utterly mistaken about a really simple rule.

It is your perogative to call out a head coach and color commentator for perceived errors in their analysis. However if you want to take such a caustic tone it might be reasonable to make a logically consistent argument. How can you state that the pass went backward and that the refs got the call correct ruling it an incompletion? The relevant rule from the NFL website is here: http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/backwardpass

The rule clearly states that "Any pass not forward is regarded as a backward pass." and that "A backward pass that strikes the ground can be recovered and advanced by either team"

So if the pass was backwards it is a fumble which means the refs botched the call on the field and the review. And instead of popping off at the mouth like a jackass you could have taken 30 seconds to check the nfl website and gotten your facts correct.

12
by dbostedo :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:16pm

Perhaps you should ratchet back the criticism of an in-game email comment, and read the entire passing rule section of the rulebook. I think you'll find you're wrong. What you posted is part of the rules digest, not the full rulebook, and is not clear or official. (In fact, it's meant to overly simplify things for most cases, but isn't very good sometimes.)

Here is the link to the passing section of the actual rulebook : http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/11_2012_...

It's extensive and a lot of reading. If you note the rules about a forward pass, it is determined by whether or not the passer's hand starts forward; NOT the direction the ball ultimately travels in. As soon as the QBs hand moves forward, it's a forward pass.

On page 1 of that section, not far from the top it states :

"If the passer is attempting to throw a forward pass, but contact by an opponent materially affects him, causing the ball to go backward, it is a forward pass, regardless of where the ball strikes the ground, a player, an official, or anything else."

15
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:21pm

Ed Hochuli actually explained this, almost verbatim, last Sunday night.

20
by Walshmobile :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:42pm

Which I find funny since I thought RG3's "fumble" was a tuck rule even though the ball went backwards, which Shanny then challenged and lost and Hoculli was the ref.

9
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:33pm

After a shovel pass (i forget which team/player), Phil Simms noted he never, not once, threw a shovel pass in his career. That seems bizarre. He went on to say that under Dan Reeves he had to attempts, but both were covered an he tucked the ball down and scrambled.

14
by Cuenca Guy :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:19pm

Back when Simms was playing, Dave Kreig of the Seahawks used to "throw" a few of those per game. It was interesting to hear. Can someone examine the top from all of Simms' career and tell us if that was a fish story or the actual truth?

43
by Squishy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 4:27pm

I watched 90% of 1980's Giants games growing up and would guess Phil Simms's statement is true. Those Giants didn't win with passing, and always ran the plainest vanilla offense possible.
Simms was slow, and couldn't escape pressure. I can't remember any houdini escape that would prompt him to shuffle pass.
There was also barely any flea-flicker or half-back option from those Giants (McConkey caught a flea-flicker in SB notwithstanding). The highlights usually came from LT and his linebacker buddies.
While I am on the Simms topic, why does he get any mention during HOF nominations? He was an average QB, now a below-average commentator.

18
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:23pm

Between 2002-2005 the Packers would try a shovel pass about once every 5 trips down near the goal line. It worked every so often.

10
by osoviejo :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 12:58pm

We'll know in a few days whether the Kam Chancellor hit should have been flagged. If he gets fined, it was an illegal hit. Otherwise, it was not.

21
by Myk (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:43pm

I support this line of thinking because if you use that logic then no one can ever complain about the Golden Tate TD since the NFzl said it was legitimate.

23
by Walshmobile :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:47pm

I think that's a slightly different case since neither the NFL or NCAA wants to take power out of the hands of the on-field officials in ruling the official result of a game.

I remember the NCAA saying officials got an end of game call wrong but they weren't changing the result of the game (this was 2 years ago I think).

24
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:49pm

This is slightly different because the Giants would have had to still make a field goal, but the NFL admitted that they missed the DPI and wrongly called ineligible downfield at the very end of the 2002 NFC Wild Card Game between the 49ers and Giants.

44
by osoviejo :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 5:51pm

What an odd response. I have no idea what point you're trying to make.

11
by BJR :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:10pm

The decision making at the end of the Dallas/New Orleans game set football back to the stone age. Has there been a more egregiously bad 4th down decision this season than the Saints punting on 4th & 1 from midfield with a 7 point lead and just over a minute left? Bear in mind the relative strengths of the Saints' roster. Just awful.

Then Dallas needed to go for 2 after they scored the final TD. They had all the initiative at that point, and again, bear in mind the relative strength of their opposition. Converting for 2 had to be a better than 50/50 proposition at that point.

Are these coaches delusional? What had they seen in the previous 3 hours (and all season) to think that putting trust in their defence was a good idea?

16
by NYMike :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:22pm

I'm totally with you on the Saints failure to go try to win the game by moving the ball 2 feet upfield. I was very disappointed when it became apparent they were "trying to draw the defense offside," like that happens more than twice a season. Then I was hoping maybe they put a fake on (there was a huge running lane to the right inside the rusher on that side, completely sealed off). But no, let's punt, let's not cover it, and lets give up 21 yards on the next play so that we have run 20 seconds off the clock in exchange for 7 yards of field position.

To be fair, it wasn't midfield; it was the Saints 35-yard-line, but still.

22
by Perfundle :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:46pm

"I'm totally with you on the Saints failure to go try to win the game by moving the ball 2 feet upfield. I was very disappointed when it became apparent they were "trying to draw the defense offside," like that happens more than twice a season."

To be fair, they had succeeded at this earlier on in the game on the Cowboys' 23 yard line. Of course, that could mean that the Cowboys would be extra-vigilant in not letting it happen again.

13
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:18pm

For all the Giants are collapsing talk I will believe NY is out of the playoffs when I have 3 independent confirmations and hear their head coach acknowledge it in a press conference

That will be the equivalent of a Highlander beheading

27
by BJR :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:01pm

They need the not mind-bendingly implausible combination of a win at home to Philly, a Dallas loss at Washington, a Minnesota loss against Green Bay, and a Chicago loss at Detroit. Less likely things have happened.

One good thing about the NFL making week 17 all inter-divisional is that in theory it should help to ensure that teams that are out of contention still play hard against a divisional rival.

28
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:07pm

It's got to be tough for Bears fans this week having to root for a Packer win for Chicago to make the playoffs

29
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:11pm

Well, two of those games the Giants need the more likely outcome to happen (GB over MIN, WAS over DAL). The wild-card is the Detroit/Chicago game. Chicago has a pretty clear path to the playoffs (win and GB over MIN). I can't see them dropping that game, but as you said, less likely things have happened.

30
by BJR :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:21pm

Chicago will clearly be favoured at Detroit, but not by a lot. As I hinted above, you would hope that the Detroit squad would turn up motivated to play in front of their home fans against a divisional foe. And there isn't a lot about Chicago's play in recent weeks that would make you think a win is automatic.

33
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:33pm

I think schedule plays a part with the Bears failing. Their recent losses are to four of the NFL's best teams (vs HOU, @ SF, vs SEA, vs CHI), and the Vikings. The Lions are worse than any of those teams. The fact that it is in Detroit does make it tougher for the Bears, but they should win.

35
by BJR :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:43pm

Good point about the schedule. I don't follow the Bears closely so hadn't taken it into account. That OT loss to Seattle a few weeks ago doesn't look so bad anymore.

54
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 12/26/2012 - 12:58pm

Yeah, it still stings (particularly the circumstance of giving up a 97-yard TD drive near the end of regulation), but given that Seattle has scored 150 points in their last 3 games, I think they're a much better offense than I did at the time.

37
by JIPanick :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 3:17pm

The Bears vs CHI, in particular, was obviously a tossup. I can't blame them for losing that one.

=D

45
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 5:56pm

Touche...

meant to write 'GB'

17
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:23pm

"Danny Tuccitto: To me, what's odd about the Schwartz Era is how they set up the whole "defensive head coach plus autonomous offensive guru" coaching dynamic, and it's the defense that blows year after year."

Hey Danny, you just inadvertently described Wade Phillips' head-coaching tenure in Denver!

25
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:51pm

Or the 2010-2012 Patriots.

/I kid, I kid.

31
by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:24pm

I certainly don't remember any "autonomous offensive gurus" on the Wade Phillips era Broncos. I do, however, seem to remember a game where whoever was in charge of the offense decided to alternate plays with two quarterbacks when Elway was injured.

34
by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:43pm

Well, maybe "guru" is a strong word to use, but 1993 was John Elway's only season passing over 4,000 yds. It's just that Phillips, the DC in Denver the past few years, totally forgot about the D and by the end of his 2 year tenure in 1994 it was just abysmal.

The situation you're referring to with the alternating QBs was in 1992, Dan Reeves' last year as HC. With Elway injured, and having lost on Monday night to the pathetic Seahawks (who, I believe are one of DVOAs all time worst teams) with the immortal Tommy Maddox, Reeves had Maddox and the more mortal Shawn Moore swap plays against Buffalo. No doubt Reeves remembered his days in Dallas watching Tom Landry switch Roger Staubach and Craig Morton. Except he didn't have the equivalent of Staubach to choose from. Or Morton.

47
by LionInAZ :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 7:06pm

I think this is just a harsh lessonin just how hard it is to build even an average defensive secondary. There just isn't enough talent out there. I think the Eagles' experiment with expensive free agents demonstrated that.

50
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 9:32pm

Man, I don't know. The value that the Seahawks seem to be finding is insane. Sherman 5th rounder. Browner UDFA from Canada. Jeremy Lane (singled up on Moss last night) 6th, this year, Walter Thurmond 4th round. Kam "Bam-Bam" Chancellor 5th round. Maybe this is all enabled by Earl Thomas's retarded range, and the way they constructed their front 4, but it is beyond uncanny.

19
by Walshmobile :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 1:41pm

In the Skins game we also had the dreaded "little shovel pass!" call.

The Skins ran a couple times out of the triple option look but I don't think RG3 was ever looking to keep the ball as it went to the first read while DEs crashed the middle each time.

32
by BJR :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:29pm

In 'news that doesn't receive mention because it doesn't fit pre-conceived media narratives' I've barely seen it mentioned how well Tony Romo is playing in recent weeks, particularly at the end of games. Since week 8 he has thrown for 2612 yards with 17 TDs and only 3 INTs. This is behind a sieve of an offensive line and with very little help from his running game. The Dallas defence is in injury ridden tatters, and it is only the play of Romo that has kept them remotely in contention.

39
by JIPanick :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 3:20pm

I don't think that's really news here. Might be to ESPN, though.

Romo is probably the NFC's MVP this year, once you take into account what he has to work with vice Brees and Rodgers.

36
by iceauger (not verified) :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 2:50pm

Kyle Rudolph's TD celebration was an "ice auger" dance.

40
by theslothook :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 3:58pm

A couple Notes:

I watched this game with my 49er friends. They were livid, absolutely livid. But, as i explained to them, I wouldn't read too much into this game. I know these sound like excuses, but their team had been run ragged the week before against NE and to fly across the country to face a red hot seattle team on an ugly rainy night, was going to be a tall order for just about anyone. I remember Baltimore in 07 played the undefeated pats very tough before losing in an ugly gut wrenching way. The next week? Got absolutely annihilated by the Indy colts. So, I think it was just bad timing. Yes the seahawks are awesome, but I still think SF is the better team.

41
by theslothook :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 4:05pm

Watching the colts, I couldn't help but be amazed at how this team is even in the playoffs, let alone having a chance to be 11-5. They clinched the playoffs after giving up over 300 yards rushing to a 2-14 team. Amazing. Its even more unthinkable when you realize its because of fluke turnovers either(they have a negative turnover margin). The truth is, I have no idea how this team has won games this year. I've seen past colts teams that were abysmal on defense, running the ball, and at the o line, but that team had peyton manning to cure all ills. As much as I like luck, he's been spotty too so its not even like they have a great or even consistent passing game. The defense is an eyesore, the o line sports 5 below average starters, and the run game is slightly below average. Put it all together, this team is 5-11 quality masquerading as a playoff team. I guess I'm overall happy about it, but it does pain me to some degree because expectations will be unreal next year and this cost the colts a much needed high draft pick to build on.

52
by Purds :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 11:31pm

I completely agree. Not sure how they are winning.

42
by theslothook :: Mon, 12/24/2012 - 4:06pm

Watching the colts, I couldn't help but be amazed at how this team is even in the playoffs, let alone having a chance to be 11-5. They clinched the playoffs after giving up over 300 yards rushing to a 2-14 team. Amazing. Its even more unthinkable when you realize its because of fluke turnovers either(they have a negative turnover margin). The truth is, I have no idea how this team has won games this year. I've seen past colts teams that were abysmal on defense, running the ball, and at the o line, but that team had peyton manning to cure all ills. As much as I like luck, he's been spotty too so its not even like they have a great or even consistent passing game. The defense is an eyesore, the o line sports 5 below average starters, and the run game is slightly below average. Put it all together, this team is 5-11 quality masquerading as a playoff team. I guess I'm overall happy about it, but it does pain me to some degree because expectations will be unreal next year and this cost the colts a much needed high draft pick to build on.

53
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Wed, 12/26/2012 - 12:32pm

Aaron Schatz: Minnesota's first drive shows they have discovered that if you are going to set the all-time rushing record, you can apparently play-action pass to your tight end.

Successful play-action (or run-action) passing doesn't necessarily require a good rushing game. Ask Cosell, he's always harping on this point.