Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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17 Sep 2012

Audibles at the Line: Week 2

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.

Thursday, September 13th

Chicago Bears 10 at Green Bay Packers 23

Peter Koski: I think Randall Cobb needs to watch more Percy Harvin. Carrying the football as a wideout playing running back can be exciting, but getting tackled by linebackers all the time? Not so much.

Aaron Schatz: Except that unlike Harvin, Cobb probably is his team's best option at running back.

Peter Koski: The Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers one-upmanship tug-o-war going on is just as entertaining as the quarterback one that seemed more likely. Well, given the state of the offensive lines, not more likely, but you know where I'm going.

Tom Gower: That fake field goal was pretty cool. I've wondered before why teams don't try that more often with how often teams try to overload one side of the field trying to get a block.

Aaron Schatz: The big question about this game is this: Are we seeing that the Packers may be getting a pass rush back, or that the Bears' offensive line is as awful as always and the Colts just weren't good enough for anyone to notice?

Tom Gower: I'm seeing a lot of bad blocking by the Bears' offensive line. The Colts need both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Freeney went out early, and everybody forgot Jay Cutler started like 0-of-8 with a pick when the Bears put up 41 points.

Rivers McCown: I didn't see a lot of this game at all, but how much of the Bears problems are the offensive line and how much of them are Cutler's reactions to the offensive line?

Sunday, September 16th

Arizona Cardinals 20 at New England Patriots 18

Aaron Schatz: Hi ho! I come to you live from the press box at Gillette, where there are many, many fewer people than the last time I was here. I didn't come to the AFC Championship, so the last time I was here was the playoff game against Denver. That game was packed with national media including people from places like GQ and People. This game I don't think has any national media, unless you count me. It's Arizona media, Boston media, and Larry Fitzgerald's dad; I guess the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder doesn't make him cover Vikings games anymore.

My plan for today, if I can have the self-control to stick to it, is to be on Patrick Peterson watch. Our stats said he had a typically mediocre rookie year, but many people felt that by the end of last season he had already become one of the league's top corners, and Arizona was always using him to shadow the opposition's top receiver. So I'm going to see if I can track where he is and how he does today.

Andy Benoit: When you track Peterson, notice how the safeties to his side of the field (if they are to his side of the field) don't even look at him. It's true Cover-0, shutdown cornerback stuff.

What's the press box saying about THAT Patrick Peterson interception, Aaron?

Aaron Schatz: Heh. It's not a very full press box, so not much. But the thing is, Peterson completely messed up that play originally. He was looking into the backfield, I have no idea at what, but he stuttered and let his guy (Brandon Lloyd, I think) completely go past him. Tom Brady had him totally wide open, but Darnell Dockett made a great play to tip it and then Peterson was really athletic to dive and pick the ball up off the turf. It looks like a great play from Peterson, which it was from an athletic standpoint, but from a coverage standpoint it looked awful.

Kevin Kolb keeps missing by throwing ahead of guys in their routes, and he's not even getting pressured that much.

Andy Benoit: Bad, BAD looking ankle injury for Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Patriots offensive system just changed in a heartbeat.

Ben Muth: Kolb overthrows an open Todd Heap down the seam in the red zone. Cardinals fail to get six off of Peterson's pick.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots did almost nothing but run two drives ago, now on this drive, they've run twice from their own 10 on first and second down. This is weird.

Ben Muth: Cardinals defense shutting down New England in the first half. The Patriots had 59 passing yards. To paraphrase Dennis Green, Kevin Kolb is who we thought he was.

J.J. Cooper: We have a Quentin Groves sighting. The former Jags draft bust just blocked a Patriots punt. Arizona now has the ball at the Pats 2 with a chance to take the lead.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, he had a sack in the second quarter also.

Three quarters down in Foxboro, and the Cardinals lead 13-9, and they are driving in field-goal range. This game is wacko. The Patriots' offense looks very strange. The playcalling has been weird, almost entirely ignoring Gronkowski and running much more than usual and in down-distance situations where the Patriots don't run much. There has been a lot of pressure on Brady, a combination of a good Arizona line and bad Patriots blocking, especially by Donald Thomas at right guard. Then there are the mental mistakes and fluke plays. The Peterson interception on the first Patriots play, a Cardinals blocked punt, and on this drive, two stupid personal fouls, both on the same play.

Meanwhile, Kolb has looked surprisingly spry moving out of the pocket. This has not prevented him from completely overthrowing open receivers.

I still feel like the Patriots are going to pull this out somehow, but man, this does not look good. Even if they win it, there are a lot of things to worry about here, especially the offensive line.

The weirdness continues. The Cardinals score a touchdown when Kolb sneaks up the middle from the 5. Replay seems to show his knee is down at the 2. There is no announcement about the play being reviewed in the booth, and of course the Patriots are not allowed to challenge.

J.J. Cooper: Third-and-1 for the Patriots in Cardinals' territory. Peterson drives a tight end into the backfield, sheds, and tackles Stevan Ridley for a loss. Pretty impressive, physical play for a cornerback.

Could be a costly game for New England. Patriots had already lost Aaron Hernandez to an ankle injury. Now Vince Wilfork limps off.

Aaron Schatz: Questionable incomplete call on a third-and-8 to Fitzgerald. Looked like a catch to me, Arizona challenges, my guess is "insufficient evidence." Pats take the ball back with 5:42 left, on their own 18. Even if they come back and win this, this will be the most depressed home crowd to ever walk out of a fourth-quarter comeback win.

Andy Benoit: Aaron, how much time has Brady spent in the shotgun this game? Obviously they're going shotgun late in fourth in hurry-up. Have they been under center a lot before this?

Aaron Schatz: No, no shotgun most of the game I think. Yeah, though, this last drive looks a lot better than the rest of the game. Patriots offense suddenly clicking like usual.

Related: Patriots seem to have re-discovered Rob Gronkowski.

Andy Benoit: One more question for you Aaron ... how is Peterson being used? I have this game on one of my screens, I've seen rookie Jamell Fleming on Lloyd a lot. Is Peterson shadowing someone else half the time, or is he just playing the right side of the field?

Aaron Schatz: I'm waiting until the end of the game to get into my whole Peterson report, but yeah, they keep their cornerbacks strictly to sides. Even when the Pats have lined up in twins left, Peterson stays on the offensive right.

Andy Benoit: Kerry Rhodes has a good pass breakup to keep the lead. He's a much better cover guy in confined areas rather than open space.

Aaron Schatz: Pats can't stop the Cards run game when it has to. Cardinals make a first down with 1:53 left. I've gotta think that's game, although the Pats may get ball back with a tiny bit of time. Great lead block by Lyle Sendlein on the play that ends it.

Rivers McCown: Simmons is gonna sue you for copyright infringement.

Aaron Schatz: OK, that game was insane. Ryan Williams fumbling? Nuts. Pats lose the touchdown on a holding call? Crazy. Stephen Gostkowski misses the winning field goal? Wacko. The Pats just lost in part because Bill Belichick turned into Norv Turner: he was satisfied with a 40-something-yard field goal and stopped trying to advance ball. Bad, bad decision.

OK, let's see if I can summarize my thoughts on this Patriots loss before I move on to watching the late games. (This won't be the end of the thoughts, of course, I have a feeling this game will show up in Any Given Sunday as well as Word of Muth this week.)

1) This was probably the biggest upset we'll see all year -- the Premium picks formula thought that the line of Pats -13.5 was off by more than 10 points -- but in reality, the loss isn't that big a deal for the Patriots. Nobody ever saw their season killed by a non-conference loss in September. The questions this game brings up about the offensive line, the playcalling, and the Hernandez injury are much bigger issues than the actual "1" in the loss column of the standings.

2) This business of not starting Wes Welker is idiocy. Nobody thinks Julian Edelman is better than Welker, I doubt the Patriots think so. Talking to other reporters, one idea was that the Pats are trying to phase Welker out of the offense. That's stupid. The time to phase Wes Welker out of the offense is July of 2013. If a guy is under contract, you freakin' use the guy. Another idea is that the Pats are trying to figure out what they have in Edelman before deciding if they re-sign him, since he's a free agent also. OK, I guess I buy that, but I still think it is silly. The third idea is that the Pats are just doing this out of spite. I don't like to see Belichick acting that way. I don't mind when Belichick acts like a dick in service of trying to win games. Acting like a dick to be a dick isn't what the fans are looking for.

3) OK, let's talk about Peterson. I am not the kind of person who goes on one game alone, but if I had to decide on one game alone, I am definitely a believer. I am guessing his charting numbers will be much better this season, and his targets will be down. Peterson was in man coverage almost the whole game. Occasionally it was press, occasionally he was giving cushion, usually he was 3-4 yards off. The Cards mostly had single high safety. Sometimes they had no safety. On the last Pats scoring drive to make it 20-18, it looked like they had two safeties. But they are clearly giving him a lot of responsibility. They keep Peterson always on the offensive right, which can be a problem because you can keep away from him by moving your better receivers to the other side. It doesn't seem like putting Peterson on Edelman is the best use of resources, but that's the matchup that we had more than half the time. Otherwise, it was usually Lloyd. Occasionally, the Pats would have no wideouts on the right side and Peterson was sitting over there anyway. A couple times he ended up on Ridley split out. At least later in the game the Cards would move a linebacker out there so Peterson was still on a wideout inside of Ridley.

Not counting plays where Edelman ran a short cross and Peterson came off him and switched with another defender, it looks like the Pats threw only seven passes targeted at Peterson. The first one I mentioned very early on, Peterson seemed to fall for something going on in the backfield, was burned, but when Dockett tipped the pass he got an interception out of it instead of getting burned. From then on, he was mostly stapled to whoever he was covering. Tight coverage all day. The second time they targeted him, it did look like Lloyd had a couple steps, but Brady hung the throw up and Peterson caught up before the pass got there. He was super tight the next two. Lloyd and Edelman each caught a short pass in front of him when he was giving a bit of a cushion, and there was a weird miscommunication between Brady and Lloyd where the pass wasn't really anywhere near Peterson or Lloyd. Overall, I counted him giving up two receptions in seven targets for no first downs. Again, this is just one game, but he looked like a big reason why the Pats' offense was having problems today.

Cleveland Browns 27 at Cincinnati Bengals 34

Rob Weintraub: Announcer in Bengals game -- "Adam Jones has come a long way in his career..." Ah, NFL contract-enforced euphemisms.

Taylor Mays gets beat off the line, takes a poor angle to the throw, and falls down chasing the receiver. His game in a nutshell.

The Browns are feeling Joe Haden's absence. First, Armon Binns makes our man Buster Skrine whiff his jam completely, and beats him for 20 or so. Then, in the red zone, A.J. Green catches a simple out and dekes Dimitri Patterson out of his socks for the touchdown. 14-3 Bengals.

Rivers McCown: Rob, how is washed-up super-bust Brandon Weeden looking?

Rob Weintraub: Weeden looks better than last week, unsurprisingly. Cincinnati does, after all, have a long, proud history of making mediocre quarterbacks look good for a week. Not much pressure on him, which has helped immensely. He's working mostly underneath stuff. One excellent throw with a man in his face. He hasn't hit much on the perimeter, though he hasn't had any howler throws, either. Where they're having success is isolating backs and tight ends (Alex Smith) on linebackers in the middle of the field. Which is what you do when Cincy's only legit cover linebacker is out for the season. 17-10 Bengals at halftime.

Peter Koski: D'Qwell Jackson is doing his best Clay Matthews impression today with three sacks so far.

Rob Weintraub: OK, Brandon Tate was close to being out at the two, but it held up. 24-10 Cincy. Given the cushion Green is getting on one side and the ease that Binns/Tate is beating his man off the line on the other, there's no excuse for the Bengals passing game not to rack up the yards.

The Bengals keep running it to the right side over Kevin Zeitler and Andre Smith, and it keeps getting stuffed.

Almost as promising as Andrew Hawkins' long run after the catch was his instinctive separation while Andy Dalton rolled out, giving Andy a space by inching back toward the middle of the field. Not a move he makes last season, when he was athletic but raw as freshly slaughtered beef.

New Orleans Saints 27 at Carolina Panthers 35

Peter Koski: The Saints first drive looks a lot like the Raiders offense from Monday Night, with completely dissimilar results. Darren Sproles is hard to duplicate. Mark Ingram looks strong carrying the ball up the middle

Vince Verhei: Jimmy Graham has had many touchdowns in his career, but none easier than his latest, which put New Orleans up 7-0. How do you give Jimmy Graham a five-yard cushion on third-and-goal from the 1?

Peter Koski: Drew Brees with a terrible pick-six. Bootleg play-action, covered well by Carolina, but Brees still tried to force it to the tight end two yards downfield. Free Sean Payton!

Andy Benoit: Panthers show why they’re dangerous: empty set, yet it’s a Cam Newton draw. Not in the red zone either ... out closer to the 35-yard-line. Defenses always have to think about Newton running, no matter what formation and situation. That’s a burden.

Vince Verhei: That wasn't even his best run of the drive. Earlier they ran a triple option out of a pistol set, and Newton kept it around the edge for a long gain. They've tried stuff like this before, but after their rushing disaster last week, good to see them taking their best and most unique weapon and getting creative with him.

More Panthers ground-based creativity, as Brandon LaFell takes a Statue of Liberty, of all things, and breaks some tackles for a 20-some-yard gain. They're really stretching the Saints' defense horizontally and forcing them to play the run sideline-to-sideline.

Andy Benoit: What we're seeing with Saints is what everyone forgot about while focusing on the team overcoming Bounty-gate suspensions: this defense does not have enough talent to run Steve Spagnuolo's scheme.

Rivers McCown: I thought Jabari Greer's return would do something to help this defense out. Turns out, nope.

Vince Verhei: That's part of it, absolutely, but the Saints offense looks nothing like the Saints offense either. It's almost all dumpoffs to Sproles or Graham. Brees can hardly find a wide receiver at all.

Baltimore Ravens 23 at Philadelphia Eagles 24

Andy Benoit: Great opening drive, and then Michael Vick throws an interception in end zone. Rolling to his right, he threw across his body. Ravens love to play eight-man coverage in the red zone. Eagles will have to adjust ... can't let Vick be a decision-maker there.

Vince Verhei: After the Eagles and Ravens exchange turnovers, LeSean McCoy runs for a short touchdown to put Philadelphia up 7-0. That was set up by a nice fourth-and-1 conversion inside the 20. Eagles came out in an unbalanced formation with two tight ends to the right. (I think they had an extra lineman to that side too, though I'm not sure.) They just gave it to McCoy on a zone play to that side and let him find a hole for the conversion. The formation almost guaranteed Philadelphia an extra blocker to that direction, because if the Ravens did overcommit to the strong side, Vick could have easily kept the ball on a keeper to the weak side. Ravens were damned if they did, damned if they didn't.

Andy Benoit: Bernard Pollard gets a sack, it was a four-man rush but the Ravens got a two-on-one based on alignment. Vick and the Eagles offensive line didn’t recognize it, and didn't put a slide protection on. Pollard is having a very active game thus far: an interception in the end zone, a few big hits. He's been lining up all over.

Former Eagles special teams coach Harbaugh takes a special teams gamble against his old team, faking a punt and letting former Eagles safety Sean Considine run the ball. Came up short. The running lane was there, Considine just tripped.

Ravens giving Vick a lot of trouble with three-man rushes. Vick still taking hits and throwing into coverage.

Joe Flacco threw an outstanding ball on the touchdown to Jacoby Jones. Read the coverage, patient against the blitz, slid in the pocket just a bit to avoid a blitzing linebacker. It was a touch throw downfield, off balance. Jones beat Nnamdi Asomugha but only because of the amount of time Flacco afforded him -- Asomugha’s physical press coverage won early in the down. The timing of the play was only for early in the down, because the blitz was supposed to get there.

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, it's already time on Twitter to talk about whether Flacco has boosted himself into the ranks of the top five quarterbacks. Man, people are really obsessed with the difference between the fifth- and sixth-best quarterbacks in the league, aren't they?

Vince Verhei: The best thing about that is, if you asked a lot of people (fans and media alike) to name their top five guys, they would probably give you eight or nine names.

Philly's been moving the ball up and down the field all day, and the game is only close because they've turned it over. Meanwhile, the Ravens offense has been rendered inert. I don't know if Flacco is a top-five guy, but based on this game, there's no way you can say he's better than Vick.

Rob Weintraub: Torrey Smith's bomb catch-after-turnover percentage has to be the highest in the NFL.

Andy Benoit: DeMeco Ryans is having another solid game. Very active, got pass-rush pressure, had an interception, a nice play in coverage and, despite a few good Ray Rice interior runs, Ryans has shown up in run defense once or twice.

Is it me, or does it seem like Eagles games always take longer than most games? Do we have any super duper FO stats on that? Could it be because Andy Reid likes to throw the ball (and his challenge flag) so much?

Vince Verhei: Special teams player of the week: Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. Field goals of 56, 51, and now 48 yards to put Ravens ahead 23-17 in the fourth.

Aaron Schatz: I'm seeing a lot of tweets about terrible officiating at the end of the Ravens-Eagles game. Can anyone enlighten me?

Matt Waldman: Vick is in the arms of Haloti Ngata on the waggle play, and he throws it, but officials call it a fumble. It's in replay right now.

Overturned. Vick scores on a keeper. There were some missed calls on pass interference in this game. One illegal contact was assessed against a receiver on a deep pass to the end zone when it was interference, and it should have been spot foul. Instead, the Ravens had to choose between roughing the passer or illegal contact.

Mike Kurtz: The Eagles got two two-minute warnings. As Matt mentioned, pass interference in the end zone was called holding, incorrectly. Vick then threw a ball about five yards downfield that they let run and eventually awarded as a fumble to the Ravens, which was fortunately reversed on replay, except it was very possibly grounding.

Andy Benoit: The game ends with Mychal Kendricks providing great pass coverage in the flats on Ray Rice. That was the case all day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34 at New York Giants 41

Andy Benoit: Giants tackle William Beatty runs a crossing route and leaps for the ball ... to no avail. Fun to watch though.

Vince Verhei: The Giants lost their opener largely because Michael Coe kept giving up big pass plays. Well, it's happening again. Eli Manning throws an interception, not seeing Mason Foster in the short zone, and Vincent Jackson beats Coe in one-on-one coverage for a long touchdown to put Tampa Bay ahead 10-6.

Andy Benoit: Incredible pick-six by Eric Wright. Slot blitz, he knew he couldn’t get there so he pulled up and picked off a quick slant at point blank. Then he went into joystick mode.

Vince Verhei: Yes, the first part of that return may have set a record for most yards running back and forth without really going anywhere. And then he found a crease. Eli's third pick of the day, the biggest reason Bucs are winning.

Andy Benoit: Bucs are getting great use out of Jackson on straight vertical routes near the sidelines. They’re just betting that their big money pickup is more talented than the Giants defenders. So far, they’re right. Four catches, 110 yards, and four touchdowns through 35 minutes.

Vince Verhei: The Giants were trailing big at halftime and looking at 0-2 at home square in the face. And then Eli started hitting big pass after big pass after big pass, and now they're ahead in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay defensive backs tipped away a bunch of balls in the first half, but in the second half the Giants wideouts have gotten separation, and Eli has usually found them.

So this game turned out completely batshit insane. Eli finishes with 510 yards and the Giants scored 25 points in the fourth, and the Bucs still had the ball near miedfield and a chance for a Hail Mary until Josh Freeman was intercepted on the last meaningful play of the game.

Houston Texans 27 at Jacksonville Jaguars 7

Tom Gower: The Texans have started the game very, very screen-heavy on their first two drives. I'm not sure whether that says more about their offensive line, the Jaguars' pass rush, or it's their version of how the Vikings tried to use lead draw to get the Jaguars out of their preferred base formation.

Rivers McCown It took 3/4 of a quarter before Ben Jones took over at right guard for perennial underachiever Antoine Caldwell. Haven't seen much of Blaine Gabbert throwing yet, but he did just pick up an illegal contact flag on a pass at Brian Cushing. J.J. Watt has two pass tips and is working the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag.

Tom Gower: It's 17-0 at halftime in Jacksonville, and that's about how the game has looked. The Texans have played both Caldwell and Jones at right guard. Offensively, the Jaguars are a bit of a mess. It looks a lot like a vintage 2011 performance, with the wide receivers not getting open and the (injury-riddled) offensive line unable to pass protect. J.J. Watt against Guy Whimper is just as bad a mismatch as you'd guess. Gabbert is understandably struggling and not looking very good while doing it.

Rivers McCown: It really said it all that Whimper was replaced in the preseason by UDFA Cameron Bradfield. He's just too slow to be a starter outside. Unfortunately, with three injured starters (Bradfield, Eben Britton, Will Rackley), he's the devil they know.

J.J. Cooper: Whimper versus anybody is bad news for the Jags.

It reminds me of when the 49ers kept ending up with Adam Snyder at right tackle. They knew that wasn't ideal, but everyone they tried to replace him with seemed to get hurt.

And not long after I typed that, Adam Snyder, now with the Cardinals, is flagged for holding.

Peter Koski: I think, if you have to use Guy Whimper, he's best put to work as a decoy tackle-eligible extra lineman on the goal line, a la last week.

Tom Gower: The Jaguars show signs of life, as a bad Texans drive and good punt return set them up inside the 40 and big pass play to Laurent Robinson set up a score. The Texans respond well, though, with a 17-play, 80-yard drive to restore a 17-point lead and take the air out of the stadium. Continuing Right Guard Watch, Jones did a good job of getting out on Russell Allen to let Ben Tate walk into the end zone.

Rivers McCown: Pretty much the only complaint coming out of this game from a Texans perspective is special teams. Three special teams penalties were brutal, but the big issue here is that Trindon Holliday is not providing enough boom to make up for his busts. He had a nice punt return in the first half, but followed that up with a pair of muffs. And he always seems to take it out of the end zone on kicks, even when he's all the way at the back of it.

Oh, and Bradie James is done.

Minnesota Vikings 20 at Indianapolis Colts 23

Rivers McCown: Indianapolis has zero idea how to stop Percy Harvin. On the other hand, Minny came close to sacking Andrew Luck three or four different times on the first drive, but has nothing to show for it. He really has outstanding pocket instincts, and picked up a pair of scramble first downs. This game is smelling of a shoot out in the first quarter.

Andy Benoit: Anyone watching Luck write the first chapter of his legacy? Great poised downfield completion to Reggie Wayne ... they're near field-goal territory.

Rivers McCown: It feels really weird to say this about a team with as little overall talent as Indy has, but I think I'd take them to finish second in the AFC South today.

Minnesota just couldn't get the run going in this one. They run some really fun Full House formations with Harvin, Kyle Rudolph, and a fullback, and it's interesting to see how teams try to cover that. I'd be even more interested to see it without the fullback.

Oakland Raiders 13 at Miami Dolphins 35

Vince Verhei: Every time I look at this game, Ryan Tannehill is running for his life and I am screaming at him to throw the ball away.

Danny Tuccitto: Oakland's defense is just spectacularly awful. Miami's offense seems really vanilla. They don't use much pre-snap motion, they don't mess around much with personnel, their run-blocking schemes seem really straightforward, they have a rookie quarterback who spends most of the game throwing short routes, and yet ... the Raiders defense has looked totally lost the entire game; like they didn't even watch film this week. It's not so much that they're getting beat physically or talent-wise. They're just perpetually out of position. At least, that's my impression watching in real time.

Vince Verhei: My previous comment is going to look really weird next to the final score, so let me give you three reasons the Dolphins eventually won convincingly: 1) Tannehill didn't have a lot of good plays, but he managed to avoid disaster; 2) The Dolphins ripped off a ton of long runs in the second half (mostly Reggie Bush, but also Lamar Miller); 3) The Raiders offense is just plum awful.

Kansas City Chiefs 17 at Buffalo Bills 35

Vince Verhei: Chiefs neared the goal-line at the end of the half, but Peyton Hillis fumbled the ball away and the Bills are still up 21-0. Meanwhile, Buffalo may have gone to the wishbone. Ryan Fitzpatrick has only 79 passing yards, but he's got 34 yards on four carries, and C.J. Spiller has 92 on 11. Spiller is also the only guy on the team with more than one catch.

Rob Weintraub: The Bills can be the team that trades for Tim Tebow.

Vince Verhei: Midway through the third, Chiefs kick a field goal to make it 21-3. Why? Do you really think you'll get three more chances to score in the next 22 minutes?

Dallas Cowboys 7 at Seattle Seahawks 27

Vince Verhei: In the first five minutes of the game, Seahawks special teams have forced a fumble on a kickoff to set up a field goal, and now blocked a punt for a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead.

A defensive struggle at halftime, pretty much as I expected. Dallas got one good drive, capped off by a touchdown to Miles Austin. Russell Wilson is 9-of-12, but it's almost all short stuff. Still no Bruce Irvin appearances in the stat sheet.

Andy Benoit: Golden Tate delivered what may have been the most violent block I've ever seen. Victim was Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee.

Vince Verhei: Tate just completely crushed him, like a wrecking ball taking out a building. Lee is on the sideline getting looked at. And then Dallas got flagged for a love-tap late hit on the end of the play.

Seahawks have nickel-and-dimed their way to a couple of late scores to pretty much ice this game. Last two drives totaled 20 plays, 178 yards, and two touchdowns. Mostly just pounding away at the Cowboys one run at a time, though Wilson did throw a seam-route touchdown to Anthony McCoy. Seattle up 27-7 with about seven minutes to go.

Rivers McCown: Seattle fourth quarter time of possession: 13:37. Dallas fourth quarter time of possession: 1:23.

Vince Verhei: By the way, Irvin finally showed up on the stat sheet. Jason Jones beat the guard into the backfield for pressure. Irvin looped across the guard's face, right through the same hole, and he split the sack with Jones. Not sure if that was a designed stunt or a reaction play by Irvin, but it was some impressive footspeed.

Washington Redskins 28 at St. Louis Rams 31

Andy Benoit: After his neck injury last week, Rodger Saffold is helped off the field for the Rams again in the first.

Robert Griffin throws a beautiful play-action touchdown to Leonard Hankerson, who got WAY behind the defense. Janoris Jenkins was frozen by the backfield fakes. Hankerson's fast, but he doesn’t have dazzling straight-line speed.

Aaron Schatz: Griffin looks like the 100 percent USA Prime Real Deal, but I still think the jury is out on the rest of the team. Wow, the receivers can burn the Rams secondary? The defense can disrupt the Rams offensive line? Book your flights to New Orleans now.

Mike Kurtz: Griffin has thus far played against two really bad defenses. Let's hold off a bit before we wax lyrical.

Rivers McCown: I dunno, St. Louis played it pretty solid against Detroit. They're not gonna be world-beaters or anything but I think they're probably better than they have been.

Tom Gower: Nine of eleven drives went to Rams territory. Aside from the three interceptions (admittedly a really big aside), I thought they struggled defensively. If Brandon Pettigrew was better at catching, the Lions would have done even better offensively.

Vince Verhei: Danny Amendola's first-half numbers: 13 targets, 12 receptions, 133 yards, one touchdown.

Andy Benoit: Rams rookie back Daryl Richardson showed great burst, speed, and acceleration on his 53-yard run. Ran through would-be tacklers with sheer speed.

Then Sam Bradford just never saw London Fletcher on an end zone interception. Not sure how he didn't see him ... most likely he just forgot about him. Probably reading his receivers, not the defenders.

Vince Verhei: Griffin with play-action and the long bomb. The Rams corner completely misreads the ball, and it hits Aldrick Robinson in the chest, but he drops it. Rams corner then celebrates like he has made a great play.

Aaron Schatz: Man, if it wasn't for the Cardinals ... it's quite a week for upsets if Rams hold on to beat Redskins.

Andy Benoit: Josh Morgan may have just lost the game for his team with a personal foul. Have we ever seen such an impactful (and stupid) personal foul?

Vince Verhei: For detail there, Morgan, upset with whatever, jumped up after a catch and threw the ball at Cortland Finnegan. Following the 15-yard penalty, Billy Cundiff attempted a 62-yard field goal, and pushed it right.

Rivers McCown: Finnegan got under someone's skin? You don't say?

Tom Gower: Even before the penalty, Morgan, who made a third-down catch one yard short of the sticks, tried to turn outside and get out of bounds instead of turning inside and getting the first down. The Redskins had plenty of time, and there were no absolute requirement to get out of bounds, so he'd already screwed up big once. Then he turned a 47-yard field goal into a 62-yarder with the penalty.

Tennessee Titans 10 at San Diego Chargers 38

Andy Benoit: All-white uniforms for the Chargers. I haven't seen that from them in a long, long time.

Tom Gower: The big matchup to watch is end Kamerion Wimbley against rookie UDFA left tackle Mike Harris, who didn't really face any speed rushers last week. On the first drive, the Titans are getting players close to Philip Rivers, but he's standing up firm in the pocket. Also, Norv, you have a good quarterback in Rivers. There's no need for any more of that Wildcat nonsense you just ran.

Rivers is annihilating the Titans secondary early. Malclom Floyd has a couple completions against Jason McCourty, Eddie Royal beat nickelback Ryan Mouton on third down during a drive following a bad Jake Locker interception, and I believe Michael Griffin yielded his second touchdown to Dante Rosario three plays later. Chargers up 14-0 less than 11 minutes in.

Locker's pick early was an airmailed throw, not the first he's had this year. After the Titans drove down field, starting at their own 5, he throws two straight passes intended for players five yards downfield into the dirt. If you could even out those throws, you'd have a good quarterback.

Like the Jaguars' sign of life earlier today, the Titans' sign of life proved short-lived. The Chargers took the ensuing possession for a score, the Titans didn't do anything with their next possession, and now the Chargers are about to score again (third-and-goal at the two-minute warning). The San Diego run game, which was moribund for six quarters, has been powering much of these second half drives. This game hasn't been as bad as the 40-7 laugher in Week 2 of 2006, but given what expectations for the Titans were this year compared to what they were then it feels about as bad.

Rivers McCown: Chris Johnson has 19 carries for 21 yards on the season. This is primarily because I keep drafting him in the first round in fantasy football, I've decided.

New York Jets 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Vince Verhei: Through the first 70 minutes of the Jets' season, Mark Sanchez is the league's most improved player. Just led the Jets on a long touchdown drive, almost all through the air, capping it off with a touchdown to Santonio Holmes. Sanchez opens up 4-of-5 for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Andy Benoit: Jeff Cumblerland had a bad failure to recognize the Steelers’ heavy pressure pre-snap look. He blew a third-and-5 because he didn’t recognize that he had to treat his route as a hot.

Aaron Schatz: On one hand, I know I wrote a couple years ago about how the Ravens' defense doesn't really have any pattern of playing worse when Ed Reed is injured, but the Steelers definitely have a pattern of playing worse when Troy Polamalu is injured.

On the other hand, doesn't it seem like Sanchez has thrown three or four passes where his receiver still had his back turned to the quarterback? There are some serious miscommunication problems going on, or everybody is reading the defense differently, or something.

Vince Verhei: Sanchez went into halftime 4-of-10, but yes, he's been better than that. There have been a couple of miscommunications, a couple of times he's gone after one-on-one coverage on deep balls in the end zone where his receivers have lost the battle. I think he had one throw that just missed a wide-open receiver.

Mike Wallace just hit his first home run of the season. On third-and-long, he gets one-on-one coverage with Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie goes to the back of the end zone, but Wallace stops and goes straight up, taking the ball at its highest point for the score. Steelers up 20-10.

Aaron Schatz: That throw was a bit of a duck, too. Really good play by Wallace.

Andy Benoit: What's interesting about Roethlisberger avoiding the Jets' clean rushers is he's eluding them by stepping up in the pocket, not laterally. That's smart, fearless quarterbacking.

Danny Tuccitto: Wallace: Aggressive. Cromartie: Passive. I think that sums up the Steelers' latest touchdown. Looked like Cromartie thought emphatic incomplete pass signaling would suffice in lieu of actual defense.

Vince Verhei: Jets open their first drive of the second half in the Tebowcat. First two plays produce two first downs, but the third is stopped for a loss. Sanchez comes in with 16 yards to go for a first down, throws a pair of incompletions, and the Jets punt.

Aaron Schatz: This seems like the kind of game that must drive Jets fans absolutely bonkers. The defense has played well except for a couple of big lapses, primarily the Wallace touchdown. They've shut down the run completely. Offense and special teams have just done some stupid little things, like muffed punts and passes with miscommunication and a running back getting stuffed for a big loss when Tebow made the wrong zone read on a Tebowcat play.

Andy Benoit: I'd even argue that the Jets defensive lapses weren't lapses so much as great Steelers plays. They've had blitzers get in clean, the designs have
worked. Ben Roethlisberger has just been Ben Roethlisberger a few times.

Aaron Schatz: Right, and Wallace has been Wallace, or at least was impressive on that touchdown catch.

Vince Verhei: The Steelers force a punt when Sanchez hangs in the pocket on third down, staring down a receiver, and finally throws to a well-covered guy well short of the sticks. Definitely seeing more of the old Sanchez here in the second half, and he's going to finish with some butt-ugly numbers, but I'd still say the biggest problem today has been an inability for receivers to get open. Holmes may as well be wearing a black jersey, he's covered so tightly.

Aaron Schatz: With 6:30 left in the game, Steelers running backs are at 20 carries for 35 yards.

Mike Kurtz: The Steelers backs are having all sorts of issues running because they keep looking for a second cut. None of them are fast enough for this. In fact, almost every defender is faster than Isaac Redman. It's been disastrous. Of course, considering the blocking they're getting and the skill of the Jets' defensive line, I'm not sure what else they could do.

The big difference I saw between the Steelers' defense in the first half to the second half has been the quality of man coverage by the Pittsburgh defensive backs. Almost every throw by Sanchez in the second half had a defensive back arrive right when the ball gets there, usually with their arms in position to bat the ball away. Just good textbook coverage, both in positioning and tackling.

Detroit Lions 19 at San Francisco 49ers 27

Rivers McCown: Turns out they're going to play a football game after that handshake. Well, I guess I can watch that too.

Danny Tuccitto: Well, that was fast. Not sure what John Wendling was doing on the Vernon Davis touchdown. Obviously I need to see the tape, but it looked like he just let Davis run right by him for whatever reason.

Aaron Schatz: In case we didn't learn from the Giants-Patriots game in Week 9 of last year: A great special teams player is not necessarily a good defensive player.

Danny Tuccitto: Return of the wham play! And it works again? Odd that the formation basically telegraphed it, Detroit's film study this week had to have focused on stopping it, and yet they still get burned.

Rivers McCown: Maybe this is a bit of a generalization, but my mental impression is that it seems like San Francisco is a lot more successful against these spread teams than other "good" defenses. Is this all about the skill of the middle linebackers, or is there something else to it? They obviously have four very solid starting defensive backs, and Chris Culliver, but they don't have anyone I'd think of as a star back there.

Tom Gower: Remember the old Bill Walsh quote about offense being about scheme and defense talent? So much of offense is built around finding and destroying the defensive weak point (see John Wendling, throw ball). The Falcons-Chiefs game really drove this home to me last week, as Matt Ryan destroyed Jacques Reeves almost as badly as the Peyton Manning destroyed Roc Alexander in that playoff game a few years ago. Meanwhile, Tony Gonzalez had a pretty quiet game because Eric Berry was healthy. What happened to the Chiefs this week, I'm not sure. The 49ers don't really have that weak point in the same way, and they're able to concentrate on taking away what the Lions like to do because they don't have to worry about covering up a weakness somewhere else in the same way as other teams.

Danny Tuccitto: San Francisco's opening drive of the second half results in a field goal to go up 17-6 despite Leonard Davis getting repeatedly abused by Ndamukong Suh. Not sure why he was in the game in a situation without six offensive linemen (at least I don't remember them using six), but the drop-off from Alex Boone was glaring.

Aaron Schatz: I've always argued that Matthew Stafford has accuracy issues that hold him back from true greatness, but man, they aren't usually as bad as they are tonight.

Peter Koski: Aldon Smith has held his own on the runs that Detroit has targeted him with thus far. I don't know how much the Lions offensive line reveals Smith's actual development, but at least he's been in the proper spots.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 17 Sep 2012

334 comments, Last at 19 Sep 2012, 1:24pm by tuluse

Comments

1
by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:10am

"The Pats just lost in part because Bill Belichick turned into Norv Turner: he was satisfied with a 40-something-yard field goal and stopped trying to advance ball"

I think that kick would have missed from about 20 yards, so I'm not sure I agree.

17
by Ferguson1015 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:16am

I think you're right. That kick was quite a ways from good. 20 yards might have made it in... barely...

Funny that Bill Belichick "turned into Norv Turner" and tried to kick the 40-something-yard field goal, and Norv went for it on 4th down up 31 to 10.

42
by Myran (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:54am

I hate comments like this. Being closer may have changed the kicking style for a shorter distance or the Pats may have scored a touchdown. Just because the kick ended up being poor DOESN'T mean Belichick gets a pass for retreating into a shell.

For one of the most innovative coaches out there, this move lacked any of his usual gumption. You do realize that Brady moved the ball 40 yards in less than 40 seconds in his first Superbowl, right? No reason to take the ball out of his hands with 46 seconds left to go for a 42 yard FG attempt, which likely has a 4 in 5 chance of hitting. You could have gotten 10 extra yards increasing your odds to 9 in 10 or even scored a TD.

125
by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:59pm

I didn't say Bellichcik gets a pass. I was arguing that him being passive had anything to do with losing the game.

It didn't.

And yes, Brady moved the ball 40 yards in 40 seconds in 2001. Brady wasn't doing that today against Arizona's defense. The offense hadn't been able to keep a drive going all day.

They'd turned the ball over, been very sloppy all day, and been heavily penalized on the offensive side of the ball. Brady had been sacked often. Theres a not insignificant chance that "going for it" would have ended up with them trying to hit a 50 yard FG instead of a 40yd fg.

199
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:12pm

Weak.

For starters, you're missing a negation when you state your argument, which makes the comment fairly incoherent.

You seem to not understand that a FG attempt at the 23 is an entirely different play than a FG attempt at the 32. You cannot simply say that a kick at the 42 was wide left, so therefore being 15 yards closer would not have made a different. It's a different play altogether!

Time doesn't work the way you think it works. Situations do not translate through space and time exactly when different paths of history are pursued.

And yes, the chance that "going for it" would have pushed the Pats an extra 10 yards out is insignificant. It certainly pales in comparison to the chance that they would have gotten 10 yards closer, or that they would have found a receiver open in the end zone.

Aaron's argument, which I was agreeing with even before Gostkowski made his FG attempt, was that there's no good reason to settle for a 40-yard FG attempt when you have 41 seconds to move the ball to a better position. You complain about the possibility of turnovers, but really, what is the probability on any given play that the Pats turn over the ball? They ran 78 plays yesterday and had one turnover, and that was on a fluke tipped ball. If you're afraid of penalties, well, the Pats lost 5 yards on a false start on a play when Brady was doing nothing more than taking two steps to the right.

The Pats had a terrible offensive game plan yesterday, and it was particularly bad at the end of the game. Why thy benched a 1st team all-pro WR is beyond me. It smacks of arrogance, to think that they can beat the Cardinals without using their best weapons, or to think that it's a good time to start using running plays all day long, even when Woodhead is gaining less than 1 yard/touch (except for his one ten-yard rush and not counting the holding-abetted TD that was called back).

209
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:27pm

Aaron's argument, which I was agreeing with even before Gostkowski made his FG attempt, was that there's no good reason to settle for a 40-yard FG attempt when you have 41 seconds to move the ball to a better position.

I absolutely hate it when coaches do this while losing. It's bad if it's a tied game, but it really, really annoys me when a missed field goal means you lose.

268
by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:11pm

"And yes, the chance that "going for it" would have pushed the Pats an extra 10 yards out is insignificant. It certainly pales in comparison to the chance that they would have gotten 10 yards closer, or that they would have found a receiver open in the end zone. "

Thats an awfully strong statement to make. Please post evidence.

270
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:22pm

Test post. Spam filter just ate my response.

274
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:40pm

It's not all that strong a statement. The Pats averaged 5 yards/play on offense. They had one turnover, four sacks, and 8 penalties, but they averaged 7.5 yards/penalty (and I'm looking at the gross stats which include penalties on defense). On the other hand, they had 25 first downs yesterday.

We must also remember that one of the penalties happened on a play when the Pats were not "going for it."

Basically, on the whole, having watched one of the best offenses in NFL history over the past few years, I would assert that my estimate is that the probability of going forward at least 10 yards for the Pats on any given drive is much, much higher than the odds of going backwards ten yards.

This is one of those things that mathematicians call "really (expletive deleted) obvious".

If you need more rigor than that, I'll tell you what. Start publishing a journal of sports statistics. Once you've gotten it accepted in university libraries around the country, you can get back to me.

Or, if you want to do the work yourself, here's what you do. You go through every game log over, say, the past five years and find out how many times the Patriots have been forced backwards 10 yards on any drive, from the point of gaining a first down. You can do this by looking for plays where they have been forced to punt on 4th and 20 or more. Put all of those in one column. In the other column, add up all the first downs and touchdowns.

See which of those columns is much longer than the other.

276
by Guest789 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:11pm

Are you always this much of a condescending dick, or are you just mad because your Pats lost?

-----

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

279
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:32pm

There's no need for that. The comment threads are getting nearly as out of hand as a Rams game.

311
by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 10:39am

There's plenty of need for it. Sometimes a condescending dick needs to get called out for being a condescending dick.

He made an assertion. Its his job to back that assertion up. Being a condescending dick is not backing up an argument.

285
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:38pm

Funny comment, given your sig!

Seriously, though, I can understand RickD's exasperation. If you have one of the best offenses in football, try to get as near the goal line as possible. FGs can be missed. The proof is that this FG was missed.

But if you're going to argue against him, you've got to say something like "the chance of making a 40-yard FG is about 85% and the Pats were playing so poorly that the chance of gaining more yardage was lower than that." But I don't buy it.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

289
by t.d. :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:21am

I hate to tell you this, but this isn't 'one of the best offenses in nfl history'. Those Pats turned over approximately 40% of their players (at least) from this team, and just because the guys they turned over weren't ballhandlers (except for Green Ellis and Branch) doesn't negate their importance. Those teams also had the deluxe 2 TE package, and yesterday's team didn't. It also looks to me like the replacement refs have resulted in defenses taking a pre-2004 point-of-emphasis approach to contact, resulting in chippier games league-wide

304
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 9:55am

Btw, it's true that the argument that Gostkowski's kick would have been bad from any distance is a bad one, but more similar even more blatantly wrong arguments are made all the time without much protest. Like when, say, an XP is missed in the 2nd quarter of a 1-point loss.

If the XP is made, who knows how that affects the space-time continuum.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

2
by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:17am

"The Pats just lost in part because Bill Belichick turned into Norv Turner: he was satisfied with a 40-something-yard field goal and stopped trying to advance ball"

I think that kick would have missed from about 20 yards, so I'm not sure I agree.

As to Welker, my guess is he played 75% of the snaps, and this is a whole bunch of bitching about nothing. He's the 2nd WR on a team that plays most of its snaps in 2TE sets.

203
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:16pm

When you make a FG attempt from 20 yards away, you try to make a 20-yard FG attempt.

When you make a FG attempt from 40 yards away, you try to make a 40-yard FG attempt. All sorts of different things are going on.

This really is not an argument that makes sense. FG attempts are not made at a driving range, where you just kick away in the same manner, with the same protection package and the same blocking package, and the same amount of pressure on the kicker, regardless of what the target is.

Seems to me that a kicker is far more likely to shank a kick if the uprights are more than 40 yards away than if they are less than 20 yards away.

221
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:54pm

Exactly.

A great example is Cundiff's 61-yard (62?) attempt at the end of the Redskins-Rams game. Due to the distance, he clearly just kicked it as hard as he could, sacrificing accuracy as a result (not that it mattered, as the kick was still five to ten yards short).

206
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:21pm

Over the course of his career, Gostkowski is 53 for 57 on FG attempts less than 30 yards, while he is 31 for 44 on FG attempts between 40 and 49 yards. This is a huge difference in accuracy.

That's why you make the effort to bring the ball closer to the uprights for the game-winning FG attempt. The increase in success probability from bringing the ball closer is far higher than the probability of a turnover.

312
by RC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 10:43am

Are you really this obtuse?

Seriously?

There was a very simple point here, and you seem to be incapable of understanding it. Ghostkowski didn't miss the kick because he fell in that 15% of missed kicks from 40-45. He missed the kick because his timing was off and he shanked it.

Guys shank extra points. Guys shank 30 yard field goals. It happens. The chances of him shanking a 40 yarder aren't all that different than him shanking a 25 yarder. Both chances are very low, but THEY HAPPEN, and you really can't plan around them.

313
by dryheat :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:26am

Repeating the point doesn't make it any more true. I thought it went without typing, but the way a kicker approaches the ball varies widely depending on the spot -- both in distance from the goal post and laterally on the field.

A kicker attempting a 42 yard field goal has to kick a lower, harder ball than a 25-yarder, and it affects every bit of his mechanics, including the plant. There is a reason that offenses don't stop and kick a field goal every time they reach the 25 yard line in that situation -- it's easier if you get closer. The kick is easier for the kicker, as evidenced by the percentages if you don't believe your own eyes. The tolerance of error is much greater, they don't have to plant as aggressively and kick as powerfully, there's less chance of a block and therefore more time, and there's certainly an increased confidence in the approach.

Or to put it plainly and use your language, a shank is much more likely on a 42 yard field goal than a 30 yarder, or an extra point. Everybody agrees that if, immediately after cleat hit ball, we paused the game and moved the goalposts up 15 yards, the kick still would have missed. What everybody but you also understands is that if the spot of the kick were moved up 15 yards, Gostkowski wouldn't have kicked the ball the same way.

328
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 7:07pm

The chances of him shanking a 40 yarder aren't all that different than him shanking a 25 yarder.

Strongly disagree.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

3
by t.d. :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:24am

i've been thinking the offensive line should be a big concern for the Pats. Their schedule may be 'easy', but it's loaded with quality defenses. Arizona should call Garrard tommorrow- he ain't great, but he's a significant upgrade over Kolb and Skelton, and, with that defense, they'd be dangerous with even a mediocre qb. It's funny, all three historically great offenses (New Orleans and Green Bay being the others) from last year have been rusty to start the season

181
by Paddy Pat :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:42pm

Watching the game, I had the sense that New England was actually afraid of their offensive line more than that it played poorly. The guys up front had some bad plays, but Brady wasn't really running for his life. There was good coverage and bad play calling. Some of those stretches where the Pats would just line up and run over and over seemed like admission of insecurity, as if they were too chicken to dial up the no huddle and let Brady run the show.

208
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:26pm

Everybody in Boston thinks the o-line is a big concern. Matt Light retired. Brian Waters is effectively retired, since he's yet to report. (The rumor is that he wants to play in Houston, but the Pats don't want to let him do that, and that's why they refuse to cut him and he refuses to report or file retirement papers.)
Vollmer has a back issue that seems to be keeping his snap count down. Dan Koppen was cut. Logan Mankins is coming back from knee surgery. Nate Solder seems outmatched at times at left tackle.

Like I said, everybody is worried about the O-line.

253
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 6:38pm

Yes, and that worry had more to do with them losing than the OL itself. Despite the pass pro improving a good deal after the first quarter, Brady was flinching ghosts all game until they finally went spread hurry up. And McDaniel's play calling was positively dreadful, more often than no playing into the defense's hands.

The OL is a work-in-progress, but it was those around them that were most responsible for yesterday.

317
by Paddy Pat :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:08pm

Having gone back and watched some of the film, I'd say this comment is right on. The o-line troubles are more about familiarity and communication than with poor technique/genuine physical difficulty blocking. I saw a few plays where the back went to the wrong place, that kind of thing--stuff they'll be able to figure out. On a number of the plays, Brady had his requisite 3 mississippi and didn't seem to be able to find anybody. I wonder if the gameplan for some reason had just figured on a heavy dose of Hernandez and McDaniels totally panicked when he lost him.

4
by greybeard :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:43am

NFC West 4-0 today. DVOA preseason total win estimate for NFC West was 25.6 wins. The already have 17 guaranteed so far.
They just need to get 9 wins out of 33 games to beat their estimate.

It is going to be though to qualify from NFC West. Despite winning second of their relatively thougher games, I feel like the chances of 49ers making the playoffs as harder relative to what I felt last week.

5
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:53am

It's amazing how much better Alex Smith is, now that he is a getting consistent coaching. And linemen teammates on both sides of the ball who stomp opponents for three hours straight.

9
by t.d. :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:18am

it is remarkable, as is the 49ers' turnover avoidance, which was a huge red flag pointing towards their possible regression. Conventional wisdom is that interceptions are relatively less controllable versus other aspects of quarterback performance, but, not only has smith maintained his low rate, but the only close miss I've seen was a receiver misplay. Smith has been outstanding

11
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:28am

Obviously agree Smith's been outstanding, and his ability to avoid turnovers is really impressive. However, two things: 1) We projected only a small increase in his interception rate this year (from 1.1% to 2.3% w/ league average of 3.1%), and 2) let's hold off on conclusions at least until he plays @NYJ in Week 4.

32
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:39am

Them and Justin Smith. The can play their nickel and dime all game because teams still can't run the ball against those packages. That's largely because J Smith is tanking half the blockers every play.

52
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:07am

Damn, this was supposed to be in response to one of yr other posts.

37
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:47am

If that game against the Jets was being played on the West Coast, I'd say the Jets would not be scoring more than 10 points, so the odds of Smith having to make any dangerous throws would be pretty low. At Met Life, however, at 1 P.M. Eastern, the Jets have a chance of catching the Niners half asleep. It'll be an interesting game.

232
by Nate Bob (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:20pm

Niners are doing their stay-in-ohio routine between the Vikes and Jets games, so time zone issues will not be a factor in the NY game.

133
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:10pm

It's not really that interceptions are less controllable: they're just much more poorly measured. Smith had 5 interceptions in 492 attempts last year. If you assume that the chance of an interception is equally likely on any given pass (note: this is a terrible assumption, but making better assumptions just makes this worse), his measured interception rate is something like 1% (-0.3%,+0.5%). That's a pretty big range: if next year he had 15 interceptions in 492 attempts, that would be 3% (+/- 0.8%), which is completely consistent with the previous year, even though the number of interceptions has tripled.

The problem with projecting Smith is the fact that his interception rate has dropped dramatically under Harbaugh, from historically around ~3% to 1%. You have no idea whether or not this is due to coaching (which it easily could be) or just luck. The counterexample to Smith, of course, is Vick: Vick had 6 interceptions in 503 attempts in 2010, which is massively below his historical average. People of course said "yes, but that wasn't under Andy Reid, and Reid's QBs historically have low interception rates." Which is true. Perfectly good idea.

And so far, that idea looks like total garbage: Vick's interception rate in 2011 was back closer to historical norms, and this year he's virtually guaranteed to also be nowhere near 2010's numbers.

So I don't think it's that interception rates aren't controllable. I think it's obvious that they clearly are - the problem is that the rate is so low it takes years to determine whether a player's interception rate is actually low or it just fluctuated low for some reason.

145
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:39pm

You have no idea whether or not this is due to coaching (which it easily could be) or just luck.

You have no idea if you're looking at a stat sheet. Looking at film might give you some idea, particularly if you're adept at identifying passes that could have been interceptions but weren't, or trends in how the guy has decided to play. From my own casual observations, I think there is something to the idea that Smith is trading interceptions for sacks. It's just a rare thing these days to see him throw a pass in desperation; not too long ago that was a common sight.

210
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:28pm

+1 for not falling into the trap of thinking that statistics are the end-all be-all of knowledge acquisition.

211
by zenbitz :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:30pm

I would think that there is a "desperation" factor in interceptions - and that the INT rate goes up when the QB's team is trailing.

But I have never looked it up. You would also have to control for pass "difficulty".

That being said - Smith clearly is taking sacks and throwing the ball away rather than Rothlesbergering.

220
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:53pm

Alex Smith gave an interview after the Detroit game in which he said, essentially, that he's been told not to worry about offensive success. Go out there, do your job, and if there's a risk, avoid it. We'll punt. I think the phrase "We have one of the best punters in the league." was involved.

It also helps that he almost never throws more than 8 (okay, fine, twelve) yards downfield, and when he does, it is a designed shot play to Vernon Davis in single coverage.

Also, I'm not sure what about the San Francisco defense made Detroit think that the way to advance the football was to run the same Calvin Johnson slot drag over and over. If you're running a slot drag, do you really need an insanely talented receiver who will almost automatically draw additional coverage? I would have had Johnson running fly routes to occupy safeties and hit Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson on seams and comebacks. But I'm not an NFL head coach. So maybe getting my most talented player hit while coming out of making a catch, or trying, by Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman a dozen times a game is a good thing.

222
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:58pm

"That's a pretty big range: if next year he had 15 interceptions in 492 attempts, that would be 3% (+/- 0.8%), which is completely consistent with the previous year, even though the number of interceptions has tripled."

Let's say you are testing a binomial coin flip n times, with a probability p. You expect to see (mean) n * p hits, and your variance is n*p*(1-p) (with a standard deviation that is the square root of that).

So, if your value of n is 492, and you're using p=.01, your mean will be 4.92, your variance will be 4.8708, and your standard deviation will be 2.206.

What kind of statistics are you using when your observed value is 4.5 standard deviations from the value expected by your null hypothesis, but you don't reject your null hypothesis? Excel tells me the probability that this would happen by chance is less than .000051.

If you are talking about sampling probabilities, and one observed probability is three times the other observed probability, then chances are that you are not sampling from the same distribution.

284
by Jovins :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:14pm

I agree with your assertion that Alex Smith's "true" interception rate has decreased, but you're not using statistics correctly. It's unreasonable to assume that p=0.01, because it's EXTREMELY unlikely that Alex Smith has the best "true" interception rate in the history of the NFL. Giving Smith a generous 2% "true" interception rate (which would rank 2nd in NFL history behind Aaron Rodgers), his mean interception total would be 10 (assuming 500 attempts), with a 3.13 standard deviation. That means that about 6% of the time, he'd throw 5 interceptions in a season.

Given 32 quarterbacks, it's more unreasonable to assume that somebody WON'T perform 1.6 standard deviations better than his "true" performance than not.

TL;DR: assuming Alex Smith has a "true" interception rate of P=0.01 is completely unreasonable for historical reasons. Using P=0.02 would be more reasonable, though still historically unlikely.

316
by jebmak :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:06pm

Also, the interception rate depends on the kind of passes you throw. If you are in more 3rd and long situations during a year, you are more likely to throw interceptions. So all 500 attempt seasons are not equal.

68
by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:38am

Easy. The Niners went from the worst head coach in the NFL (Mike Singletary) to one of the best (Harbaugh).

6
by zenbitz :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:55am

The NFL is weird. It's like the 100th Monkey decided to run the ball again, and now they all do it. Green Bay, New England, Detroit - all trying to pound the ball against pretty decent defenses.

Response to replacement refs? Acknowledgement that the NY Giants style of play p0wns pass-happy offenses?

237
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:42pm

I suspect it is simply that defenses are playing the pass even more, so the offenses are tacking back against the run. Lets say last year NE faced a run defense on 10% of downs, a base defense on 30% of downs and a pass defense on 60% of downs.

If this year defenses have adjusted from that 10/30/60, to something like 5/20/75, it makes sense for NE to try to run more.

This a game with two sides not just one. The offense is reacting to the defense, not making decisions in a vacuum.

261
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:36pm

The New York Giants who passed 58.9% of the time last year?

Or the Giants' style of defense, which pretty much no other team can implement because no one else has comparable depth of pass rush talent?

7
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:04am

Didn't see Tom's comment about Morgan at the time, so I'll now note that coming up short of the sticks on third down was Morgan's calling card when he was with San Francisco; to the point that I used to include it in our Niners Nation drinking games. If guys like Cedric Benson are "one yard and a cloud of dust," Morgan is "one yard short and a down of punt."

8
by zenbitz :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:06am

Maybe this is a bit of a generalization, but my mental impression is that it seems like San Francisco is a lot more successful against these spread teams than other "good" defenses. Is this all about the skill of the middle linebackers, or is there something else to it?

I think it has a lot to do with the ILBs. They are both good enough to cover TEs and in a nickel set the can still stop the run, or at least slow it down.

Note that with the 3-4 they don't get many stuffs on run defense, just a very steady 1-3 yards.

Also - what might be a factor is that they don't overly rely on either their pass rush (which is good) or their coverage (which is also good). Perhaps this essentially lowers their variance on passing plays. However, they don't have those Ravens-like games where the offense is held to 93 yards passing with 7 sacks.

10
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:19am

Yeah, this. Having the two best coverage ILBs in the NFL allows them to play nickel/dime the whole game without sacrificing much in run defense. Bowman was picking up Megatron on shallow crosses into his zone tonight, which is pretty ridiculous when you think about it; hence the silly foofaraw about Bowman being the dime LB instead of Willis last week.

53
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:08am

Reposting in the intended place:

Them and Justin Smith. The can play their nickel and dime all game because teams still can't run the ball against those packages. That's largely because J Smith is tanking half the blockers every play.

240
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:50pm

...so, can we expect to start seeing reviews of 49er games with the phrase "nickel and dimed to death?"

12
by greybeard :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:35am

Apparently Jim Schwartz said for the game: "“This felt as if it was a playoff game. … This wasn’t our best game in any of our phases. We lost by one score on the road.”

Is he a little thick? Lions lost by 8. For them to win they needed to have a successful recovery of on-side kick when the opponent is expecting it (less than 20% chance), then score a touchdown, then convert 2 point conversion (let's say 50% chance) and the win at overtime (let's say 50% chance). Even if the TD is given that is 5% chance that you would win. It is not as if they were driving the field and got to 5 yard line and could not score a TD.

13
by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:44am

Not to mention that their score to get within 8 was in garbage time, and thanks to Detroit playing a pick-and-roll offense the entire drive. But, as absurd as the comment was, a coach spinning a loss positively is kind of the expectation (unless he's Mike Singletary wanting winners).

14
by greybeard :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:05am

How hard is it to say: "We lost to a good team. We will learn from our mistakes and will be better for it"?

By dismissing it as 1 score loss in an away game, not only is he loosing the opportunity to emphasize the learning part (the wham play worked 3 times in this game, they should have already figured it out) he also risks being perceived as someone who spins the facts by the players who can see through that. It only works some fans who need an excuse to feel better about the loss.

BTW, I love that 49ers are "physical with an F" now that they are not coached by Singletary but by a former QB.

148
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:41pm

That's quite an out-of-context sentence you're choosing to highlight. Schwartz did say multiple times in his post-game interview that the 49ers were a very good team. The point I think he was making to his players was that were it not for the lack of execution (like Stafford's poor throws) and mistakes (like the penalty that turned a 49ers touchdown into a field goal) the game would have been more even than it was.

He still gave credit to the 49ers, though, essentially saying that the Lions would have had to play near-perfect in all phases to beat a good team like that on the road. That's a lot different than the "we beat ourselves, they didn't beat us" attitude that you seem to be ascribing to the comments.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

263
by greybeard :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:39pm

I did not really care whether he gives 49ers credit or not. NFL gives the 49ers the requisite credit and that is good enough for me.

I think the point he was making was wrong. That is what I explained. They should have figured out how to fix the wham play. They should have figured out how to take advantage of other receivers when Calvin Johnson was double covered.
49ers defensive coordinator said this for their instance of using the running game:

From sacbee:

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he was happy Detroit took that approach.

"Every handoff is one less throw to 81," he said

292
by jimbohead :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:14am

So, pet peeve, I'm not 100% sure I saw the wham play more than once or twice Sunday. What I saw a lot of was the trap play. They're similar in concept, in that they both take advantage of an aggressive DT by leaving him unblocked initially, only to have a guy come in and attack his shoulder to wash him away from the point of attack. However, with the wham, the DT is washed to the inside with the play going outside, while in the trap, the DT is blocked to the outside, with the run directed towards the interior line. I think. Someone more knowledgeable can correct me.

That said, it is utterly absurd that essentially the same run play was used over and over again in these two games, and no one on that d-line adjusted. To me, it speaks of lack of discipline, coaching, and film study. I wonder if it's also a reflection on LB play?

299
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 6:52am

From your comment above:
"How hard is it to say: "We lost to a good team. We will learn from our mistakes and will be better for it"?"

That sounded like you were implying Schwartz didn't give the 49ers enough credit for being a good team.

But I do agree about the wham (or trap). I was exasperated that worked so well, but that's the price the Lions want to pay to generate a good pass rush.

And I can understand why Linehan wanted to run more, but I feel like that's not playing to the strengths of your personnel. The rationale is that they faced a lot of 3rd and 4s and 3rd and 6s instead of 3rd and 10s. The problem is that Stafford has been "meh" at best as a 3rd down passer, while he's usually fantastic on 1st and 2nd down when the defense doesn't know whether to expect a run or a pass (of course the 49ers are not like any other defense). It seemed like every handoff for a 3 yard gain was a wasted down that would have been better used to try to get at least intermediate gains (10-15 yards downfield).

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

30
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:33am

I thought Schwartz was a great hire for the Lions, and still think he is a good coach. Something about Harbaugh, however, turns him into a dummy. Harbaugh's charming personality, no doubt.

Don't get me wrong. I think Harbaugh is great. I don't think I'd want to spend four hours on the golf course with him, however.

33
by gtliles82 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:44am

I don't see much wrong with that comment. The Lions were playing with special teamers in the secondary and were unable to run the ball - and Stafford was shaky and inaccurate throughout the game. Despite all that, if they somehow recover the onside they are a hail mary attempt to Calvin Johnson away from potentially tying it against a top opponent on the road.

40
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:53am

In other words, the Lions got whipped on the line of scrimmage, and Schwartz says the opponent was better prepared mentally to compete.

It'd be hard to for a coach to come up with a more harsh assessment of his own performance.

110
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:20pm

Frustrating how the 49ers clench up when they're ahead late. This is the second week in a row they've won by 8 when it "feels" like they should have won by twice that. Another game where they barely punted until the fourth quarter, and then suddenly had trouble making a first down...had to pull off miracle third-down conversions to Crabtree three times in a row to ice the game.

The way this team calls games, it's like they're trying their hardest to make every one a nail biter.

174
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:25pm

8 points is a one-possession game. You may not like that fact, but that doesn't make it untrue.

1% of the time, a 7-point game is a two-possession game, even with a TD.

259
by greybeard :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:30pm

I was not disputing that it was technically a one possession game .

There are one possession games like you are 2 points behind and miss a 25 yard field goal 4 seconds left in the game and one possession game where you are 8 points behind 1:30 left and the you just scored to get to that 8 point differential.

One is not like the other. Both are one possession games.

15
by NG5 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:10am

I'm surprised nobody mentioned the DPI / non-DPI and the strange failed review process in the NYJ @ PIT game, which were serious errors by the replacement officials.

23
by BJR :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:21am

This game was completely ruined as a spectacle by incompetent officiating, and it should be setting alarm bells ringing in the league's offices. It descended into farce in the third quarter after a flag was thrown in the Steelers' secondary on a perfectly clean play, the refs had a two minute long discussion, then conjured up a DPI call on Ryan Clark - who was on the other side of the field to where the play took place. Does anybody know which game this crew officiated in week 1?

Re. Sanchez, he was badly inaccurate after his first drive, but I can't help feeling that it might have had a little to do with the vicious hit he sustained from Lawrence Timmons at the end of the first quarter. At the time of the play I was surprised that he was able to get up and play the next down, but I would be very surprised if there were not some lingering repercussions from a hit like that.

38
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:50am

The league needs to stop pretending the replacements have been anything but horrible.

The greed of the owners is disgusting. Goodel's tough act really bot helping either. Unfortunately, with his recent "loss" with the Saints player appeals, I think he's even more determined to dig in his heels.

45
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:57am

I'm all for guys getting everything they can negotiate for, but if I'm an owner, negotiating with guys who have the demand that they remain part time employees, there is absolutely no way I'm going to provide a pension for them, even if it means I have to take a year to get adequate new refs trained.

54
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:16am

I think it's a disgrace that the season is being degraded over what amounts to pocket change (around $9 million at stake, from what I have read).

61
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:23am

A person who is allocating vast amounts of capital to an enterprise has to have some principals, as it relates to the business model, that cannot be compromised. I think refusing to provide a pension to people who insist on remaining part time employees would be one of them, if it was my capital. Now, maybe the owners should be trying to sweeten the pot more with cash up front, in an attempt to break the logjam, but I'm not familiar with the details. If it is true, however, that a major sticking point is the refs seeking a pension, I can't really blame the owners for making that nonnegotiable.

78
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:58am

I see your point. On the other hand though the NFL are selling a multibillion dollar product. Fighting this hard over around .1% of your expenditures seems silly, cheap and bit bullish.

Basically, if we can agree that quality referees adds >.1% to the value of the NFLs product, they should go ahead and spend .1% on refereeing. I think we can all agree that good referees clearly add more than .1% of value.

By this calculation the referees are providing a service of immense value to the league, but aren't compensated accordingly.

92
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:21am

The reason you don't compromise on this is that it is hard to quantify the future cost of conceding that a traditional pension is something available to even part time employees. Again, the path to a settlement lies in more money up front. I don't know if either side has indicated a willingness to explore that path.

264
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:40pm

Also, that while satisfactorily replacing the refs in the short term is impossible, satisfactorily replacing them in the long run may not be. If the replacements do this whole season and come back next year, who's to say they won't be competent? I'm honestly not sure the league has to budge at all.

269
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:22pm

Absent a total meltdown, with multiple games on one weekend obviously being determined in the fourth quarter by a hideously wrong and irreversible calls, I think the regular zebras will have their leverage max out no later than about week 8. After that, the owners will very likely commit to permenantly going in another direction. We'll know this when they pull their current offer off the table.

I remember the umpires' labor impasse, and how badly their union president miscalculated their leverage, resulting in a lot of careers destroyed. Obviously, the number of professional minor league umps, and the fact that NFL refs have other jobs, makes this situation different, but I do get the sense that these guys have overestimated their indispensibility. We ain't talkin' 'bout the Manning brothers here.

241
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:52pm

Caring about the marginal $9 million dollars is exactly why the NFL is so financially successful. successful business who is all "it is just $9million dollars, who cares" is very quickly going to their business in ruins.

Just because things are going well doesn't mean everyone gets their slice of the pie. Because invariably there are more people demanding new slices than their are pieces of pie to hand out.

On top of that the difference in officiating, while annoying is not going to decrease revenues for the league at all. No one is going to stop watching football over the bad refs because they only care about the marginal fan, and the marginal fan doesn't know the difference. The hardcore fans are not going anywhere.

243
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 5:10pm

I think the NFL's financial success is more due to unprecedented long term growth, not because they managed their expenses so well.

255
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 6:39pm

Of course, but what will sustain it or doom it in the future is how well they controlled their expenses during that period of growth (exhibit a: auto industry, exhibit b: railroads, exhibit c: airlines, et cetera et cetera)

318
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:20pm

No, successful businesses don't just say "who cares about $9 million"; on the other hand, I would argue that long-term successful businesses don't ignore the quality of their product either. I can't put a dollar amount on the value of the regular officials over the replacements, and it's quite possible that it's much higher or much lower than $9 million, but it seems clear that the replacement officials have resulted in a lower quality product on the field.

I generally agree with your last paragraph and can believe that the NFL has looked at this and come to the conclusion that the replacement officials aren't costing them anything. That said, I wonder if the marginal fan really can't tell the difference. Last night's game was S-L-O-W in large part because of the officials and their ineptness combined with their uncertainty in many situations. As a pretty hardcore fan who was looking forward to the matchup, I was turned off by that (and glad that I had DVR'd the game to at least skip through the commercials). I can certainly envision a marginal fan getting bored and turning off the game altogether.

The marginal fan probably can't tell the difference when it comes to questionable penalties and rulings about whether it's a catch or an incompletion, since those were often questionable even when the regular officials were in the game.

320
by dryheat :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:37pm

Seriously, I think the main differences in officiating is that this year the Jon Grudens, John Maddens, and Ron Jaworkis of the world are loudly telling us how incompetent the officials are, and that the Coaches have decided to attempt to intimidate the referees in a mark of gamesmanship.

I don't remember a time when Monday mornings didn't consist of talk about blown calls. It seems this year the lockout has made a convenient scapegoat. As for coaches and players remarking that the officials have lost control, look in the mirror. At one point in last night's game, over 30 Broncos were on the field (after the Samuel/Beadles flare-up). Look at John Fox berating the officials after making correct calls. Officials haven't lost control -- players, coaches, broadcasters, and Mike Pereirra have decided to show them up.

As soon as the league starts fining teams for abuse of officials, or one of the replacements gets the sack to start dropping laundry and ejecting players and/or coaches, this "loss of control" problem goes away.

325
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:00pm

While there are no metrics for blown calls (that I know of), the difference in quality is much more tangible than that. Whent eh NFL issues a statement saying "it's a learning process" for the new refs, I think that's a pretty good indicator that the vast majority of people involved in the game realize these guyss are doing a poor job.

Also: respect is earned. When you fail to do the most basic things like have the right number of timeouts allocated for each team or enforce the correct yardage on penalties, frankly you don't deserve respect. The replacements are hopelessly outclassed.

55
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:16am

It's not like the original officials didn't blow calls. There are hundreds of guys who with a year's training could call an NFL game as well as the original officials. The guy who did SF-DET was better than Hochuli...

58
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:21am

Sure, they blow calls. But clearly they are still the best men for the job, and it's not close based on what I have seen of the replacements.

69
by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:39am

You think that game was badly reffed? The Rams played the dirtiest game of football I've ever seen, and the replacements had no control over any of it. Pathetic! We need the real refs back! And we need to fire Goodell while we're at it.

16
by jebmak :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:37am

"Man, people are really obsessed with the difference between the fifth- and sixth-best quarterbacks in the league, aren't they?"

This. A thousand times this.

18
by Ferguson1015 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:25am

Probably because you need a Superbowl ring to get considered in the top 5 or you need to be amazing like Manning prior to his ring. Even then, you aren't considered one of the top 3 unless you have at least one ring.

154
by Kal :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:49pm

Well, yes, because of who the top 4 are: Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Peyton.

Being in the top 5 means you get to be mentioned with those guys. That's pretty awesome. Even if it's like ranking, where the top 4 are WAY better than anyone else and being 5th is much closer to 15th than it is 4th.

185
by Paddy Pat :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:53pm

I don't understand the ring qualifier. It never ceases to befuddle me when sportscasters say things like, Brady is 20-2 at home in December. What if I said, the big knock on Takeo Spikes the past few years is he only has a 44 percent win statistic; he just doesn't come up big at big times in big games. Or how about, Justin Blalock is such a choker. He just can't get it done in the playoffs. He has a great regular season win percentage, but he just can't seem to get those Falcons over the hump.

In any case, top 5 quarterbacks? I think there are 3 top quarterbacks, and maybe a 4th, and we don't even need to name names. After that, it's getting very murky. Romo and Rivers are in the conversation. Roethlisberger and Eli probably not as much, assuming you don't care about rings.

202
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:14pm

Eh, until somebody pulls a Peyton, and racks up multiple 12 win seasons behind mediocre to bad o-lines, and uneven, at best, defenses, I think it really is hard to rank the qbs 4-10 with anything close to precision. These guys are all really, really, good, obviously.

188
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:55pm

I think the two guys in 5th or 6th (Rivers, Roethlisberger, in my opinion) are definitely closer to those four than they are to Andy Dalton or Carson Palmer (guys that could be 15th).

244
by Paddy Pat :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 5:11pm

Palmer at 15th? I count something like this:

1-3. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees

4. Peyton Manning

5-8. Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning

9-11. Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub

12-16. Cam Newton, Josh Freeman, Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler

17-21. Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell

22-27. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, Sam Bradford

28+. Kevin Kolb, Skelton, etc.

With the rookies as a bunch of question marks and the rankings of the second year guys as still rather up in the air. I'm not even all that comfortable with Palmer above Fitzpatrick and Sanchez; it's more on his body of past work and his potential to regain form.

245
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 5:48pm

To be honest, I just said those two names because they were the first to pop into my head.

Your list looks fine. Personally, I'm not a huge believer in Freeman, but that would be my only quibble. That said, the comment was the #5 is closer to #15-16 than #4. Disregard Peyton for a minute because we still don't really know what he is (though he looked great last week), I think Rivers/Romo/Roethlisberger/Eli are all closer in talent to the top-3 than Josh Freeman, especially Rivers who I feel is getting really penalized for one bad season that was essentially similar to Brees's 2010 season.

301
by dryheat :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 8:23am

Not a bad list. I think Stafford should certainly be higher than Flacco and Schaub, and Orton and Campbell are a tier too high, but that's as good as a dirty breakdown as I remember seeing.

306
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 9:57am

I'm thinking maybe 9-16 all belong together?

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

19
by ammek :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:46am

Well, if you'd told me that home teams would go 13-2 this week, I'd have expected the Patriots to be one of those winners.

And the only 0-2 team in the NFC is New Orleans? It's not a schedule-related phenomenon either.

Have there ever been as many as 20 teams at 1-1 before? It's hard to see any of the five winless AFC teams improving much. And which is the weakest undefeated team: Arizona, San Diego or Philadelphia?

22
by Thok :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:14am

Arizona. San Diego is legit, and while both Philly and Arizona have offensive problems, Philly's offensive problems seem easier to fix.

20
by wiesengrund (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:51am

Meanwhile, Tony Gonzalez had a pretty quiet game because Eric Berry was healthy.

Gonzalez was second in DYAR and fourth in DVOA last week among TEs. That's a pretty loud quietness. ;)

59
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:22am

This is what you get when you go by what you remember watching, as opposed to looking things up. How about I don't remember any of those completions coming against Berry, and I kind of tried to keep track of that?

21
by Ferguson1015 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 5:11am

The San Diego run game, which was moribund for six quarters, has been powering much of these second half drives.

I would think that Tennessee's fatigue on Defense would have something to do with that. San Diego had 75 offensive plays to Tennessee's 40, or more telling 43:39 compared to just 16:21 minutes of Time of Possession. That might have had something to do with how well the RBs performed in the 2nd half.

266
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:47pm

Jacksonville and Tennessee combined for 33 minutes and 4 seconds of possession on Sunday. I'm a bit concerned that the Universe may implode during one of their meetings this season.

24
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:02am

BTW: According to the brilliant gridironuniforms.com, the Chargers wore all-white as a part of their 50 year anniversary in '09.

25
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:01am

Eli Manning still has his spells when he is cover your eyes awful, but that guy just keeps playing. He might have the shortest memory in the league.

27
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:14am

It's probably his niffty little habbit of turning away from the play as he throws so he never sees the completion or interception.

46
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:59am

I'm going to play Eli apologist a bit here.

Pick #1: Not his fault. The replacement refs missed a defensive hold (announcers made a fairly big to-do of it, a clear pull of the jersey) that prevented Cruz coming out of his break. Eli was throwing to a spot that Cruz suddenly couldn't get to. Result = ball goes to the safety playing over the top.

Pick #2: That one's on Eli all the way. Had a tight window to lob it into, did not get enough air under the ball, picked off by the MLB.

Pick #3: Maybe a a mental mistake by Eli, maybe just a great play by the defender. Eli made the right read on the blitzer, but the defender suddenly broke off the blitz and dropped back, and made a very nice play to get the interception.

So say maybe 1-1.5 of those 3 picks were on him.

50
by JasonK :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:06am

I think you've got picks 1 and 2 reversed.

(And even if the 3rd one was a great play by the defender, getting fooled by a defender pulling out of a blitz is still very much the QB's fault.)

56
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:17am

You're right, I flipped 1 and 2.

26
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:05am

Belichick definitely played that last drive too passively and shouldn't have been content with a long field goal.

I hadn't watched many replays of it, but I think it looked like Gostkowski's rhythm was messed up before the kick.

I think a large part of that has to be the fact that the Cardinals are most likely the best kick-blocking unit in the league. Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson are both dangerous up the middle and around the edge, but they added Justin Bethel this offseason and conceivably got even better.

I'm not a kicker, but I would imagine if I saw Peterson and Bethel flying off the edge and Campbell sticking those arms up in the middle of the line, I might alter where I'd strike the ball.

And the footwork leading up to the kick honestly makes me think he wanted to get the kick off before pressure started creeping in, and just didn't hit the ball cleanly.

28
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:15am

I don't find it morally reprehensible to try to force a fumble from the victory formation.

It doesn't seem so much that it was an unwritten rule as much as it seemed to surprise players that someone would be so brazen as to try to disrupt that play.

To say it's a cheap shot is to say that teams should just give up at some point. I think it sends a message to the Tampa Bay players and the league that they're being coached to not give up.

29
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:31am

I like Coughlin as a coach, but he's just wrong. It was plain to anybody that the Bucs were going to keep playing, and the Giants get paid for the last play as well.

33
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:44am

Just because you weren't expecting it doesn't make it a cheapshot. Just because you haven't seen anybody attempt it doesn't mean it's against some unwritten code

63
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:28am

You know, I initially agreed with this. I thought the Giants complaints were lame (and I'm a Giants fan). The old, "every time a fighter gets hit the ring, it's his own fault" thing. But every analyst, former player, and coach I've seen so far has agreed with Coughlin. And there is a lot to be said for keeping someone from getting pointlessly hurt on a play that has about a 0.000000001% of working (also I think the Giants were already on edge about losing 3 players to injury in the game to that point).

I will be pretty surprised if the Bucs try that again.

66
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:34am

I just heard Golic, Ditka, and Jaworski differ with Coughlin.

They may not try it again. That doesn't mean they were wrong to try it this time. This isn't complicated; if you see the other guy line up, prepared to hit, then you get prepared to hit as well.

73
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:50am

Well, if there are enough opinions of merit on both sides, maybe it is a little bit, if "not complicated," then, well let's say nuanced?

84
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:09am

The ironic thing is that Coughlin's reaction is evidence that the Bucs had a greater chance of success than what is supposed; what the Bucs were attempting depends on the opponent being unprepared to block.

93
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:22am

Good point.

102
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:43am

Jaworski had an interesting story that I'd forgotten. The Miracle at the Meadowlands happened after a kneeldown had resulted in the qb getting hit, because the Giants weren't prepared to block. The Giants o-coordinator got mad, and decided to run a fullback (Larry Csonka) off tackle, rather than do another kneel down. Csonka couldn't believe the stupidity of it; he told Pisarcik (QB) to ignore the playcall, and just kneel down. Pisarcik, who was barely hanging on in the league, was too frightened to ignore his idiot coach, and history ensued, with Giants cleaning house from top to bottom after Herm Edwards ran the ensuing fumble in for a td. Hence began the George Young/Parcells era, which was the start of 30-plus years of competency within the Giants organization.

201
by Willf (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:14pm

Yeah. That play legitimized the kneel down. Also there's very little way to force a fumble on the play because unlike the rest of the time, the play stops automatically after the QB's knee hits the ground. They changed it after that season that the play is blown dead right away.

76
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:56am

First time any team plays the Bucs and Freeman is kneeling down with a lead at the end of the game, I hope the other team tries to time the snap and pull this grade-school stunt. I'm sure then we'll hear from Schiano whine about how unsportsmanlike that was.

85
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:11am

I think it is rather more likely that the Bucs will be prepared to block a kneel down like a goal line play. How much would you like to wager that we won't hear a word from Schiano when an opponent tries what the Bucs did? I don't know much about the guy, but I doubt he is completely nuts.

112
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:25pm

Except I don't think another team will try to do the exact same thing. I fully expect it to be something like a DB anticipating the snap count and jumping the line to get to the QB.

116
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:37pm

Similar to this? I wonder who was the college coach...

http://gifsoup.com/view3/4108050/thompson-leaps-over-los-o.gif

117
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:38pm

If it gets to be a problem, the smart response will be for the competition committee to simply allow an offense to accept a three yard loss in return for a full clock runoff, and to give the offense the option of a double clock runoff, in return for a defensive encroachment.

More than likely, this entire debate is over something that won't be discussed again for five years.

91
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:20am

I've read a lot on both sides of the argument. I've heard both sides. But the central theme is that the Bucs were wrong because the Giants didn't expect it.

The risk of injury shouldn't be any different than any other goal line play. The reason the Giants were complaining is because they didn't expect Tampa to try. If they knew they should still have to block instead of stand there and start shaking hands, the injury risk wouldn't be as big of an issue.

35
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:46am

I'm a Bucs fan, and I thought it was a complete douchebag move to do that. Yes, you have a tiny chance of causing a fumble there, but there's a reason people don't do that. At some point this season Freeman will be doing a kneel-down, and he's going to get clocked. Coughlin had every right to be mad.

I do have to say that, while I would have preferred a victory (obviously), having a team that ended last season on a ten-game losing streak go into the Super Bowl champions home stadium and play that tight, well . . . yeah, moral victories are cheap and all, but I'm calling it a moral victory. If it takes Eli having a record-setting day to bring them back, they played pretty well. I would, however, like to go back in time to the first quarter where I said to my son "Aqib Talib is playing Hakeem Nicks pretty well today" and just slap the holy crap out of myself, though.

Also, second game in a row where Tampa built a lead by successfully throwing the ball down the field. After week one, it was clear the Giants' secondary is not exactly a strong point, and Freeman really took advantage of that in the first half. In the second half, they started running clock, and lots of short passes. Outside of that last TD to Williams, I didn't see the ball going down the field much. Same thing happened last week. Find that somewhat distressing.

44
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:57am

But even at the tiniest of chances, you're still saying there's a chance they cause a fumble. Just the possibility of getting the ball back for a desperation heave is incentive enough to try it.

I'm not a Buccaneers fan, but after you saw your team give up on last season, it has to be a shock that the team won't even give up when the opponents are in the victory formation.

62
by Whatev :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:26am

No, I disagree with that. What's the probability of getting the ball? 0.1%? 0.01%? You literally have to smash through the line faster than the QB can put his knee on the ground. I'm pretty sure you're more likely to injure one of your linemen than you are to get the ball back.

If it's week 17 and this game is the difference between going to the playoffs and not, sure. Diving into the line on a kneeldown for the tiny, tiny chance you have of getting the ball back may be a strategy that maximizes the (miniscule) chances of winning this game, but it's not a strategy that maximizes the chances of eventually having a winning season as of week 2. To make matters worse, the only way this strategy could possibly work is if the QB is COMPLETELY SURPRISED and not holding the ball firmly, because otherwise the push at the line will just put him on the ground, ending the play. Now that the Bucs have tried it, there is no freakin' way it will work on any subsequent attempt.

104
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:57am

Agree 100%. Yes, what they did is legal, but it's a matter of picking your battles. And just to go even further, the 1-in-100 chance (and that's being optimistic IMO) of getting the ball is only one of the things the Bucs needed to happen. From there, they need to score a TD in the next 5 seconds. Then they'd need either a 2 pt conversion or a win in OT. What are the chances of all of that coming together, 1-in-10,000? Whatever it is, it's a lot less than the chances of getting one of your own players hurt. I get that it's a new coach trying to instill an attitude in his team, but it's a fine line between "we never give up" and "we're a bunch of idiots who can't see that the game is obviously over."

And good call pointing out that this surprise tactic has now been completely wasted. Bucs opponents will now know to treat every kneeldown as a full-speed play. Even if no one was injured on this play, if any Bucs defender is injured on a kneeldown play for the rest of the season, it will be because of this pointless play.

106
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:03pm

By that logic, nobody should ever try a surprise play. Nobody knows if the Bucs will have a similar chance against a kneeldown this year, and nobody knows what one more victory will mean to them this year. How many thousands of plays will be run this year without injury?

120
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:49pm

"By that logic, nobody should ever try a surprise play."

I don't follow. People should absolutely try surprise plays. They just shouldn't do stupid things with no chance of success. The odds of success (i.e. winning the game) in that situation were microscopically small. It's impossible to know what the odds were, but considering that the Bucs caught the Giants completely by surprise, and it still failed, I feel comfortable saying that the odds were quite small.

128
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:02pm

No chance is not the same as microscopically small. This is just another football play, and the only reason it is cause for so much discussion is because the Giants didn't want to play it. Really, if having one team trying to force a fumble on a kneeldown is such an issue, then a rule should be instituted that simply allows an offense to trade three to five yards for a clock runoff.

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by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:46pm

"No chance is not the same as microscopically small."

Depends on if you're being literal or practical. There's a non-zero chance that I could be abducted by aliens in the next 15 seconds, but it can be treated as zero for practical purposes.

As for the rule change you're proposing, it wouldn't bother me, I guess. But again, I think everyone knows that the Bucs didn't do anything illegal, so I'm not bothered by it in that respect. I just think it wasn't well thought out.

But yeah, it's a football play, and they can play it full speed if they want to. I guess I'd ask why they didn't play the starters full speed all through the preseason. After all, it's football, and they're allowed to play hard for the whole game. Maybe the coaches took a look at that situation and concluded that playing hard on meaningless plays could needlessly expose their players to additional injury risk...

162
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:03pm

They didn't play the starters at full speed in preseason because no coach's career prospects are altered by preseason game outcomes.

155
by Kal :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:52pm

Will Allen - why is it that no one does this at the end of halves, then?

I understand the vague logic that in a 1-score game you could try it - but if that's the case, everyone should always try it right before a half. But you don't see that, like, ever. Why is that?

161
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:02pm

Because you're overselling your defense and the other team has motivation to just lob the ball over your defenders' heads for an easy touchdown.

163
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:05pm

Exactly.

186
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:54pm

EDIT: Sorry. Double-posted.

111
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:21pm

Read response #91.

The risk of injury would be no different than any other goal to go play. The only reason the Giants talked about the risk of injury is because they took the play off, themselves.

118
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:42pm

I agree completely, which is why I think the Bucs were stupid. The injury risk is roughly equal to what it would be on a goal line play. The payoff, however, is virtually non-existant. Obviously the odds of them getting the ball and winning the game from that point are impossible to know, but they are so small as to be negligible, in my opinion. The odds of getting a player hurt, and negatively impacting the chances of winning future games, are much larger.

121
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:50pm

Given you don't know what the value of one more win will be in early September, even the smallest chance of getting one is worth the injury risk. I also would not be surprised if goal line running plays, especially when the ball carrier is not attempting to advance the ball, has significantly less risk to both the defense and offense, than other plays.

124
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:59pm

The very fact that they feel the game could still be tied supercedes pragmatic logic.

Who knows what positive event could happen if they try, rather than doing nothing for fear of a negative event? The odds are not in favor of this move working, but the mere fact that it could work justifies attempting it.

At a moment where doing nothing assures losing, they chose the riskier play. I don't think that's without merit or class.

142
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:34pm

Yes, but are there no limits that should be applied to that type of thinking? Anything COULD work. Should I spend my life savings on lottery tickets in pursuit of a small chance of something good happening, and ignore the much larger chance of something bad happening? Or should I simply accept reality and not risk further losses in pursuit of a pipe dream?

"I don't think that's without merit or class."

I never said anything about class. I said it was stupid and pointless.

164
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:09pm

The probability of a bad thing happening when you spend all your savings on lottery tickets is in no way akin to the probability of a bad thing happening when you try to force a fumble in the closing seconds of a football game.

173
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:20pm

I agree. But the poster I was responding to was saying things like, if you feel that there's a chance of success, that supercedes logic. Obviously, it does not, which is the point I was making.

175
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:25pm

Agreed.

169
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:18pm

Pundits called it classless. The majority opinion is that it was without class.

I think as long as it's justifiable in winning the game, it's a justifiable playcall.

176
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:28pm

I'm not sure what "justifiable in winning the game" means, as the Bucs did not win the game, and this play had no effect on their chances of winning, positive or negative. It is justifiable though, in the sense that it was a legal play to call.

191
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:57pm

Because there is a possible outcome where the ball could be turned over, and the game could still be won, the playcall was justifiable.

It was worth the shot.

229
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:13pm

In any given situation, there are an infinite number of possible outcomes. Realism has to come into play at some point. My opinion is that it was not realistically possible for the Bucs to win the game from that point. Obviously, that's subjective.

238
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:46pm

Considering Phillip Rivers lost an exchange last year and Brandon Weeden fumbled the year before, they could have recovered and ran a play for the end zone.

179
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:40pm

This would be a more compelling argument if playing through the kneel down hadn't worked before in the NFL.

The problem is, it has.

189
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:56pm

I'd be curious to see some examples. That might change my opinion, actually. I'll confess to not being an encyclopedia of every play in NFL history. I assume you're talking about something other than the Miracle at the Meadowlands, which did not occur on a kneeldown.

194
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:00pm

The Miracle at the Meadowlands only happened because the play before the Eagles played through the kneel-down. I think someone referenced the Jaworski quote about it somewhere in this thread.

The Eagles went for a similar tactic. The Giants didn't fumble but also didn't want to run that play again. They tried to give the ball to Csonka, and the rest is history.

Not to mention, Schiano's Rutgers squads had forced fumbles in this situation before. I just wish I remembered the game. I think it was forced but not recovered.

224
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:04pm

Yes, I read that about the MatM. But in this case there was no "set up" play, in order to goad the Giants into running something other than a kneeldown. The kneeldown was the only play. The tactic had to work on THAT play. If anything, the MatM is an example of someone crashing the kneeldown and having it NOT work. What happened afterwards was the result of bad coaching, and isn't really applicable to this situation.

Now, if Schiano had experience with this working at Rutgers, that might explain why he thought it would work here. Still doesn't make it a good idea, because the NFL isn't the Big lEast, but it would explain where the idea came from.

197
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:06pm

I think the Chargers muffed a center-qb exchange on an attempted kneel down last year, prior to attempting a game winning field goal. Weird stuff happens, and in a one score game, playing hard to the end makes sense.

207
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:21pm

Yeah, against the Chiefs last year.

With how the line attacked and the way the corners snuck in, they would have had a loose ball if it was on the ground. As much as we'd say fumble recovery is random, they'd be much more likely to recover a fumble they were preparing for versus a shellshocked line.

281
by Zieg (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:30pm

Exactly. When I first heard about this as a bucs fan I was disappointed in us. But then I watched a replay of it and there were two defenders on each side of the prone Eli manning. If he had so much as bobbled the ball imagining one them picking it up and taking it to the house is not a stretch at all. And with this a play no one ever tries, the chances for a bobble were pretty high. They will be less so in the future but in this circumstance I think it was a smart and gutsy call.

217
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:43pm

Barry Petchesky over at Deadspin just wrote a nice little article that mentions when this approach resulted in Brandon Weeden fumbling the ball against Troy in 2010.

http://deadspin.com/5943797/why-jump-a-kneeldown-because-it-worked-two-y...

48
by JasonK :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:01am

Yeah, the Bucs' offense impressed me yesterday. They handled the Giants' pass rushers pretty well (with a backup in at RT, no less), and Freeman, Jackson, and Williams all looked sharp.

I will say, about your downfield passing comment: most of the Bucs' big completions came when the Giants took a risk and left one of their CBs in single-coverage. (And they executed it beautifully-- those were some great throws and catches.) I suspect that the lack of deep passing for the middle part of the game was based on Freeman seeing his deeper options double-covered and going elsewhere with the ball (or being hurried enough by the rush that the deeper routes didn't have time to develop).

65
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:33am

They looked pretty good early, although 21 of their points came from turnovers. And that Matt Williams late TD was kinda fluky even if it was a great concentration play catching the ball.

I thought they played way too conservatively once they had a 2-score lead. You just can't do that against an opponent with a good passing offense. 2007 Bill Belichick was right.

83
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:05am

Mike Williams. Not fluky, that's the kind of WR he is; he's not going to power to the spot like T.O. or run routes with Jerry Rice-like precision. He's a guy who's really, really good at adjusting to balls in the air and making the catch.

And yes, too conservatively. The 2011 Eli Manning was ridiculous in the 4th quarter, so there's some precedent there. As the game went on, the Bucs' secondary got torched more and more.

Also, I'm still utterly confused by what a "catch" is. On Freeman's second-to-last pass (before the INT), Mike Williams caught a ball on the deep left (would have been a first down on the 15 or so with 12 seconds left, more than enough time for two throw to the end zone). Williams got two feet down, and then had time to clearly flinch and brace for the hit, which eventually knocked the ball loose as he went out of bounds. I thought the fact he had time to prepare himself for the hit meant it was a catch.

88
by JasonK :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:15am

Regarding that overruled Mike Williams catch, I agree.

219
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:48pm

Leaving the catch aside for the moment, I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Brown scoring with 30 seconds left instead of stopping at the one. I was screaming at the TV when I saw that; I found myself almost wishing Williams would have caught it and scored, just to have a counter-example on what happens when you score too soon.

Also, if Justin Tryon and C.C. Brown played a pickup game, would would happen when they tried to cover each other?

89
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:16am

Well, regardless of how good Williams is, it's still a bit flukey that the ball bounced off the defenders' helmet and into his hands.

Honestly, I have stopped trying to figure out what a catch is or isn't in the NFL.

95
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:24am

I thought it was a catch because he did brace himself for the hit. I've seen shorter football movements be considered enough in plays where they ruled a fumble on field, so I just think the process is entirely too subjective.

204
by omaholic :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:17pm

Agree. That was absolutely a catch. Surprised it hasn't gotten more coverage as a late-game blown call that could have affected the outcome.

326
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 4:06pm

Well, the officiating expert in the booth said technically, it was not a catch (this was while they were reviewing the play). So I don't think it was a blown call - the issue is with the rule. Apparently he had to maintain possession all the way through hitting the ground in that situation.

331
by dbt :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 1:04am

Ugh; that sounds like a mistake to me after rewatching the play (thanks NFL Game Rewind!). He catches the ball in bounds, two feet down, takes a step, and gets popped.

The rule is that you have to show possession for it to be a catch. The two specific rules that come up again and again are that when you are being tackled OR when you are going to the ground in the process of making the catch, you have to maintain possession through hitting the ground.

That's simply not the case here; he's neither going to the ground nor is he being hit when he catches the ball; that happens a step later. I think it's a catch, a fumble out of bounds, and a bad call by the officials.

39
by JasonK :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:52am

I think Coughlin's objection was more about "diving at guys' knees" than it was about "trying hard to force a fumble."

47
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:00am

They ran the same goal line defense they'd run for an expected plunge through the middle. I don't know that the whole offensive line was chopped down, but I do know from seeing old Rutgers games that the goal is to hopefully swat the ball out of Eli's hands right as it's being exchanged. If the Giants were any more complacent, it could have happened.

It's not a move meant to cut the linemen (who had done plenty of cutting of their own that game), it was a move to get low enough to dislodge the ball after the snap.

86
by Ryan D. :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:11am

I didn't see the Bucs trying to blow the Panthers D off the line when they took their final three kneeldowns after the two-minute warning to end the game in week 1. The players stood up, did the token hand bump, and acted like professionals that understood the game situation on all three kneeldown snaps.

So, now it's only good to go hard when it benefits you? If the Bucs/Schiano want to send that tough-guy message for real, they should have knocked the Panthers D on their collective asses on the first kneeldown play last week, and then tried to hold on for the last two to end the game. I guarantee a brawl would have broken out, as those two teams tend to play very intense physical games against one another every season.

113
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:28pm

Anytime I've seen an overzealous defender on a kneel down, it seemed more like the offensive line would treat it like a pass blocking situation and just react to the defender.

98
by Basilicus :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:38am

All you need is a fumbled snap, and not going hard on that last, "inconsequential" play suddenly looks idiotic.

282
by Zieg (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:37pm

Right. Eli loses the handle on the ball as he falls on his butt, one of those two defenders picks it up and scores a td to tie or win, and this isn't a tactless play, it's a brilliant trick play. Watch the replay and tell me this wasn't worth a shot.

296
by Dan :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:26am

There is a kind of gentleman's agreement to not try on kneeldown plays, but it gets broken by the offense with some regularity (multiple times each season, leaguewide). Instead of kneeling down right away, the QB backs up a bit and waits as long as possible before kneeling down, taking advantage of the defense's complacency to run a few more seconds off the clock.

So it's hard to get too upset about a defense that breaks the unwritten rule to try to get an advantage.

298
by Jerry :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:35am

At the point where they're kneeling, those extra seconds don't matter. Even if the offense has to snap the ball once more, the game's still over.

31
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:38am

I must disagree with this , and I'm very tired of hearing announcers/analysts on TV say it

"Mike Wallace just hit his first home run of the season. On third-and-long, he gets one-on-one coverage with Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie goes to the back of the end zone, but Wallace stops and goes straight up, taking the ball at its highest point for the score. Steelers up 20-10. "

The ball's highest point was certainly well before it got anywhere close to the endzone. That's how passing trajectory works. {Yes, maybe in the redzone close to the goal line a rocket armed QB might throw the equivalent of a rising fastball; this is not the case on the play in question}

Wallace made a great play and caught the ball near the highest point of *his leap*.

Semantic, but right up there with "he's out with a knee" etc.

--------------------------------------
Velvet Sky fan

49
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:05am

I think highest CATCHABLE point is implied. Wallace could've kept running towards the corner and caught it without leaving the ground. Instead he made the textbook play by stopping and jumping to get it at the highest catchable point.

Languages are filled with small shortcuts like this - we've agreed on sacrificing some technical precision for the convenience of a shorter sentence and a lower lix-number.

99
by Ben :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:38am

But it's such an easy one to get right though. It's not catching the ball at it's highest point, it's catching it at his highest point. Change the one word, and it makes perfect sense.

132
by verified (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:08pm

Agreed. It is a small point but whenever I hear this phrase I wonder if the person saying it ever listens (or thinks about) to their own words. One second of reflection would tell them thst they mean at "his" highest point. But I guess it is easier to parrot whatever cliche you hear

225
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:04pm

Yes, footballs, like baseballs, tend to travel in parabolic arcs. So undoubtedly Wallace caught the ball at its lowest point (at least, the lowest since shortly after the ball was released.)

332
by Intropy :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 3:34am

I always thought that "its" was referring to the jump not the throw.

334
by tuluse :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 1:24pm

That's what it should mean, and that's what makes sense, but a lot of TV announcers really seem to mean when the ball is at it's highest points, which of course makes no sense.

Holy run-on sentence batman.

36
by Basilicus :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:47am

The officiating was awful this week. I was all on-board to stick it out until the regular officials got back, but the number of blown or ignored calls was ridiculous.

At one point, I switched from the Pats game, where they kept forgetting to reset the play clock. When you have to consistently stop for the refs to get their heads on straight in a close game in the last two minutes, the notion of two-minute offenses are completely negated.

I went to the Ravens game, where they bungled that interference call as illegal contact before calling a fumble that - when it was reversed - was clearly intentional grounding - Vick was inside the tackle-box, threw to no one and didn't make the throw past the line of scrimmage. 4th-and-goal from the one is a lot different than 4th-and-goal from the 16, and the Eagles scored. That was the difference between who won that game.

Also, it appeared the Lions got five downs late in the game yesterday when an offensive pass interference call resulted in a yardage penalty, but no loss of down. I'm not 100% sure on this, but Harbaugh appeared livid and, if it is the case, that could've been a game-changer were the 49ers defense not so oppressively good.

41
by TADontAsk (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:54am

Vick was going down in the process of throwing that ball, which would have altered his throw. Is that ever taken into consideration when calling intentional grounding?

51
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:06am

I believe the rule is that it still has to reach the line of scrimmage (Vick's throw did not). If it doesn't, it's grounding.

60
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:23am

Yes. If you begin throwing the ball and then are hit in the process of throwing, it's not grounding even if the ball does not make it back to the line of scrimmage.

70
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:40am

Yeah, but I though Vick was in the grasp when he threw. He pumped once, pulled it back in, and then actually threw as he was being tackled. Very close, though.

79
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:00am

Does the tuck rule then apply?

226
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:06pm

The tuck rule is to decide whether something is a pass attempt or a fumble. Has anybody argued that Vick fumbled the ball?

297
by Dan :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:28am

They called grounding on Brees this week in a similar situation.

57
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:17am

It wasn't grounding because LeSean McCoy was actually only a few feet from where it landed. He was clearly the intended receiver, but the Ngata hit disrupted the throw.

71
by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:43am

This was said in the other thread, but if every pass that fluttered to the ground in the middle of nowhere after the QB was hit were called intentional grounding, we'd have a half dozen of those calls every game, at least.

324
by tgt2 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:12pm

And its still irrelevant. If you could just toss the ball any old place after you've been hit, then there would never be any sacks.

108
by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:09pm

The refs literally have nothing to do with resetting the play clock. The scoreboard operator does that.

Also, offensive pass interference is never loss of down.

From nfl.com: "The penalty for offensive pass interference is 10 yards from the previous spot." There is no mention of loss of down anywhere.

If you're going to criticize things the refs are doing, atleast criticize where they didn't get the call right. Stop listening to the commenators. They don't know their asses from their ankles.

126
by jimbohead :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:00pm

I think the confusion came from the fact that the referee did not announce the penalty properly. He didn't say "10-yd penalty, repeat 2nd down", only "remains 2nd down", and may not have given Harbaugh the opportunity to decline. Harbaugh appeared to be shouting "3rd down", which may be an indication that he wanted DET to lose the down rather than the distance.

183
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:48pm

I don't put it past a Harbaugh to lie to the official to try to rattle him.

His brother benefited from the ref announcing the reversed fumble as 4th down. The play that started it was a 2nd-and-goal.

43
by TADontAsk (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 9:55am

I'd love to find out some more about what happened around the 2-minute warning of the Eagles-Ravens game. I was in the stands, and it seemed like they stopped the clock a couple of times when they maybe weren't supposed to, and then forgot to start it up. It felt like the Eagles ran 4 plays and only 10 seconds came off the board. It left Baltimore with an awful lot of time left (especially if they get 4 time-outs) and could have been a pretty big screw-up.

This is all I've been about to find on it (http://boards.philadelphiaeagles.com/topic/649902-major-mistake-by-the-r...) but I'd love to get something more official.

The play-by-play data on ESPN doesn't have a time stamp for each play, but I want to say the clock stopped at 2:05 after this play: M.Vick pass short right to C.Harbor to BLT 6 for 19 yards (L.Webb). PENALTY on BLT-A.Jones, Roughing the Passer, 3 yards, enforced at BLT 6.

And then the clock stopped after that play was over because of the penalty? I was expecting it to wind down to the 2-minute warning.

333
by C-Weezy :: Wed, 09/19/2012 - 1:19pm

I watched this on TV, and it appeared after the pass to Harbor, the referees, and possibly TV crew, said "Two-Minute Warning" and went to commercial, even though the clock read 2:05. I thought this ment they were just going to run the last five seconds off. But, they come back from commercial/time out, and the clock STILL reads 2:05. Vick runs the 1st down QB draw play, and then it's the two minute warning again. What is the rule on a personal foul penalty on the defense in that situation? Does the game clock start again as soon as the ref spots the ball? Could the TV crews possibly be to blame for this, as they confused the refs?

I'm in complete agreement with you on this, TADontAsk. In a one point game, in which the Ravens were about to get the ball back with under two minutes left, they somehow got an "extra" timeout because of the second two-minute warning. I was pretty furious about this.

64
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:30am

A question for Quick Reads; is there more quarter by quarter divergence in Eli Manning's numbers than has been seen previously? Who has posted a greater difference between the trough and the peak, within one game?

67
by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:38am

The Rams played the dirtiest game of football I've ever seen professionals play, like playing dirty was the major part of their defensive gameplan. The replacement refs had no control over any of it. I'd like to see Jo-Lonn Dunbar get a fat fine this week for his forearm hit to RGIII in the head after he was down--on a play where GRIFFIN was flagged for grounding!

Shanahan said “never have I been involved in a game like this... The game was a little bit out of control. You don’t like to see that.” Santana Moss said “they were doing a lot of dirty stuff after every play” and the Rams illegal play “ended up being more a part of the game than the game itself.” Even a Rams player was quoted as saying "That was just lawless country out there today."

We all saw Josh Morgan earn a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to knock the team out of field goal range. Morgan threw the football at tackler Cortland Finnegan, who hit him in the jaw on the tackle. Unsportsmanlike? You bet! But subtle enough to not draw a flag until the retaliation. “He’d been doing stuff all game,” Morgan said. “They all were. [You] all saw the game.” Finnegan himself called it "a chippy game" whatever that means.

Still, the Redskins could have won, because RGIII is as real as real deals come. Too bad Danny Amendola destroyed the Redskins zone coverage. I hope that's the last we see of those coverages.

77
by jklps :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:56am

I was about to make the same comment.

The Rams won, congratulations to them. It was obvious from the start that a non-feature matchup for the NFL got a lower level crew who could not control the game. I've seen enough of the replacement refs, let's get the real guys back in.

Also, can't figure out why Jim Haslett won't have somebody press Amendola, or in this game with the lack of discipline, knock him to the ground a few times at the line.

87
by Fobulous (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:12am

The refs lost control of the game from the opening kickoff. It seemed like the players were trying to push it as far as they could. I thought the lineman jumping on Fletcher's legs was dirtier than the forearm to Griffin. Just a complete crapshow by the refs. And the personal fouls they did call were borderline (late hit on Fletcher when the Rams player was in bounds, the late hit on Griffin). The refs need to come back - not for normal blown call reasons but to make sure someone doesn't get hurt.

101
by jklps :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:42am

Yeah I forgot to mention that. Then Fletcher was so pissed he layed out and caused a fumble.

Never a true superstar, but man can that guy play!

115
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:35pm

Fisher's Tennessee teams were also always dirty. I was so NOT happy to see him come to "my" division, the NFC West. Even when his team is crap, every game you're suddenly fighting a completely different battle than that of just trying to win.

I'd rather have Gregg Williams in the division.

200
by Ryan D. :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:13pm

Well, some of Jeff Fisher's games in Tennessee were with Gregg Williams as his DC. Plus, Gregg Williams was supposed to be the DC for this Jeff Fisher Rams team. It sounds like you were going to get your wish either way, if not for the bounty scandal.

234
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:35pm

Weird...why did I completely brain fart on the fact Gregg Williams was Fisher's D.C. of choice? Particularly since those two suit each other so well?

272
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:34pm

Also a notable member of the Fisher coaching tree: Jim Schwartz. Lions do not have a reputation as the NFL's cleanest team since he took over in Detroit.

72
by Paul R :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:50am

Congratulations to Andrew Luck for his first game-winning drive.
He did make a silly mistake with an unnecessary kneel-down on the last series. I hope he's not agonizing over it too much.

100
by Ben :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:42am

Do you mean the spike in the last series? Apparently there was some confusion by the refs, and he was told that the clock would wind as soon as the ball was placed. that's not the case, due to the defensive penalty. Tthat, and they should have accepted the penalty, for the additional 2 yards (not that it mattered).

74
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:51am

I thought the Green Bay secondary played considerably better sans Jarrett Bush. A bunch of Packer fans thought Bush had made some kind of step forward based on his play in training camp. I branded that crazy and given that he was benched after one game I suspect the Packers coaches came to their senses as well.

75
by Jim W. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:52am

If the NFL is truly serious about player safety and helmet-to-helmet hits, then they should consider suspending Golden Tate for a game. He made a dirty blindside block that briefly knocked Sean Lee out of the game. Tate clearly led with his helmet and hit Lee's helmet. To make the incident even worse, Tate celebrated after the play by pointing to his name on the back of his jersey.

80
by Ryan D. :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:02am

That was not a blindside block. He hit the guy right in the chest from dead center in front of him, not from his side. The defender simply wasn't looking ahead, he was looking to his left, without any positional awareness whatsoever. I blame the linebacker for running right into it.

81
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:04am

I only saw it in realtime (RedZone) and I thought he lead with his shoulder and the helmet-contact was unintentional. It was certainly dirty and violent (and illegal: defenseless players can't be cracked back on, I believe), but I didn't find it dirty to the extend of suspension.

97
by Basilicus :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:34am

It looked as clean as any pulling block where the defender gets caught unawares. Vicious, but the hit was a shoulder square in the guy's chest. It wasn't in the back and it wasn't to the head - the defender just wasn't looking.

109
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:19pm

When I saw the replay, it seemed clear to me that he went straight for the head.

ETA: here's an animated GIF. He started low, then drove the top of his helmet into the player's jaw. That looks like a fine & a suspension to me.

114
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:29pm

Even absent contact with the helmet, it isn't legal any longer for a receiver to go upfield, and then peel back to hit a player who is focused on the ball. In this era of concussion awareness (a better era, in other words), that is deemed too dangerous.

122
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:52pm

I'm starting to think the Head Coach should be fined every time one of their players is fined for an illegal hit. A single player can laugh at a few fines per year, but if it keeps happening on one team, the HC is going to fork over a pretty big portion of his salary by the end of the season.

135
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:15pm

I like it. It has some potential entertainment value also, if a coach is really despised by his players. I can hear the conversation in the huddle right now, "O.K., let's bankrupt that stupid miserable sunovabitch who has been screaming at us since July! Everybody draws a flag on this play!"

136
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:20pm

That would be awesome.

157
by Kal :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:57pm

Nah. There's always money.

If you're serious about it, you suspend players. If you're really, really serious about it you go into soccer or hockey-style rules and force a team to play a man down during a game until the other team scores or until a certain time elapses.

Do that and the rules will change pretty fast. Fines aren't nearly the deterrent that losing is.

145
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:39pm

1. for it to be blindside and for Lee to be defenseless he has to be hit from the side or back, Tate hit him straight up in the chest with his shoulder and left forearm.

2. whatever helmet contact there was was at most incidental and the result of Lee's head snapping down onto Tate as his foreward momentum is violently changed. There certainly was no classic reverberating "crack" resulting from helmets striking each other.

3. if it had been a helmet to helmet shot, Lee's head would have violently jerked back over his right shoulder with the body following the head. What happened was Lee's head jerked down and then back as he was launched 2 feet in the air, with the head just following what it was connected to.

4. Lee is a passive-aggressive little puss who talks real big for a guy who relishes hitting smaller men than himself in the back. Tate took him head on, made him an instant classic of an animated gif, and maybe taught him to look where he's running.

5. it was a magnificent block, shoulder to chest. if the NFL wants to take that out of the game, bring out the flags.

158
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:59pm

I'm pretty sure the NFL has taken such a block out for the game. We'll see what the week brings. Receivers aren't allowed to go downfield, and then peel back and hit guys like that any longer, I'm fairly sure, although I'm not a rules expert.

165
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:11pm

http://nflcommunications.com/2011/12/27/definition-of-a-defenseless-play...

Those are the defenseless player rules.

And even then, even though they're defenseless, the hit is still legal if the player is using proper technique which Mike Pereira the Former previously described as shoulder to the chest. Which is exactly what Tate did, even if Pereira now disagrees with himself.

178
by Kal :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:38pm

That's correct. Here's a short article on the Hines Ward Rule.

167
by Independent George :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:13pm

I honestly have no idea how we can be watching the same thing.

1. Tate leads with the crown of his helmet, not his shoulder.
2. He directs force upwards at about a 45 degree angle directly into Lee's facemask, not horizontally into the shoulder

That looks unambiguous to me.

236
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:41pm

If the facemask were the point of initial contact, Lee's head would have snapped back. It doesn't. It snaps forward. Point of initial contact is the chest.

310
by Ben :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 10:15am

Back and to the left, back and to the left...

Clearly the block came from the grassy knoll.

187
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:55pm

Yes it is. You just can't hit him in the legs and below or the neck and above.

"The foul is forcibly hitting the defenseless player's head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, or shoulder, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; and lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead 'hairline' parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player's body."

It comes down to whether or not you regard hitting someone in the numbers as "neck area".

131
by drobviousso :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:06pm

Looks like the Heinz Ward rule to me.

141
by Kurt :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:34pm

I spent a few weeks in the Heinz Ward, but was never able to completely cure my addiction to the stuff.

166
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:11pm

Try the veal, and tip your waitresses!

150
by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:44pm

Tate clearly drove his helmet into Lee's chest; it only comes up to hit Lee in the jaw after the Lee is jarred out of his low stance by the initial impact. There is no way that's headhunting, though it may be an illegal crackback block nonetheless.

152
by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:45pm

"the Lee" should read "Tate," obviously.

168
by Roadspike73 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:18pm

I'm sorry, but when you drive your shoulder into a guy, your head is going to follow. Both in the gif and live, it looked like Tate went shoulder-to-chest, and his helmet happened to hit Lee's helmet.

I don't know the rules on crack-back blocks, so maybe the situation of the hit was illegal, but the hit -itself- certainly looked legal.

82
by nuk :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:05am

Does anyone else think the Lions screwed up by going for one instead of two, after scoring to bring it within 9? If they fail going for it after the next TD, they're screwed. If they went for it on the first TD and failed, they have more time to be desperate.

90
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:18am

You are absolutely not alone. Chase Stuart agrees: http://www.footballperspective.com/trailing-by-15-in-the-middle-of-the-4...

273
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:35pm

I thought maybe he had something, then I read this:

"But it’s not a one-score game. Trailing by 8 isn’t a one-score game if you are going to fail on your two-point try."

That's like arguing that a 3 point deficit in basketball isn't a one-possession game if your foot is on the line when you shoot a 3.

Accordingly, even if you get the early two-point conversion, a 7-point deficit therefore isn't one possession, because you might miss the extra point.

It's just asinine logic. I would hazard that the psychological effect of maintaining a one-possession distance is worth it. (Much like crossing the 10-point deficit line in basketball)

I knew he was wrong when Barnwell started agreeing with him.

288
by greybeard :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:19am

Here is what Chase wrote:

"Trailing by 8 isn’t a one-score game if you are going to fail on your two-point try. And there’s no reason to think your odds of converting a 2-point attempt are higher when trailing by 2 than by 9. Trailing by 8 is a 1.5-possiession game; half the time it is a 1-possession game, and half the time it is a 2-possesion game. To simply put your head in the sand and say “I don’t wanna know!!” may keep hope alive longer but it lowers your odds of winning."

303
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 9:25am

His theory is just as stupid when wrapped in the rest of his ill-considered rant. An 8-point game is still one-possession.

Consider perhaps the most extreme example: A 4-run deficit in baseball can be overcome with one swing. There are many situations in which this will not be the case, but it nevertheless is a one-swing condition.

308
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 10:03am

You're missing the point. If you miss the twp-point conversion it's a two possession game. If you make it, it's a one possession game. He's talking about the strategic considerations to make when calculating whether to go for it or not. You need to know how many possession's you're going to need as soon as possible to optimize your chances of coming back: one if you make it, two if you don't.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

319
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:27pm

A 3 point lead is a 2 possession game if the losing team misses a field goal.

Does that sound silly? Because it's the exact same logic.

321
by greybeard :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:51pm

Yes it does sound silly. But that is not the same logic.

A field goal try is a single atomic event. 8 pts is two parts - the scoring part- which Chase assumes that you are going after regardless of whether you are 7 or 8 points behind- and the extra point part. He is assuming that in one way or another you will make the scoring part happen otherwise there is no argument made: all deficiencies are multiple possession deficiencies in that case.

322
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:58pm

It's pointless commentary. It all boils down to the fact that a team could fail score enough points in possession to tie or take the lead in a "one possession game." Everyone knows that. We call them one possession games because it's *possible* to score enough points to tie or take the lead.

327
by greybeard :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 5:42pm

I know for a fact that being behind by 3 pts, 7 pts and 8 pts are all different things. How much time left in the quarter also matters a lot.

For you, they are all one possession games. No need to discuss the impact of being behind 8, 7 or 3 would have on the strategy. All of that are pointless commentary. And to boot "everyone knows that". I guess except for Chase, I and a few other people who disagree with you. We don't count.

330
by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 9:03pm

I think you're missing the point of the term "one possession game", as is Chase. To, I think, just about everyone, it simply means a game where you could tie the game with one possession. So anything 8 points or lower.

It says nothing about how difficult that is, or whether or not multiple atomic events are needed. It just means that if your team gains possession, you could possibly tie the score without having to give the other team a chance to possess the ball. (I.e., without kicking off.)

If Chase says that not correct, he's changing the definition of "one possession game" to a version that doesn't agree with most peoples' usage.

94
by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:23am

I agree with what they did. I'm of the opinion that you don't go for 2 until you absolutely have to. Keep the game a game for as long as possible. If they miss the 2 pt conversion on the first TD, the game's over right there and even the onside kick is rendered meaningless.

130
by Viliphied (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:05pm

No. Sorry, you're wrong. If you KNOW (as they did) that you have to go for 2 at some point, you go for 2 as soon as you possibly can. It gives you additional information, and more information is always better. The difference between being down one score and being down 2 scores is HUGE, why would you ever delay knowing that?

137
by Anonymous Jones :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:22pm

I can assure you that more information is not always better.

242
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:55pm

Ok, I'll bite. When is more information bad?

302
by Ryan D. :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 8:53am

How would you like to know all the things your mother did in her teens and twenties? How much detail would you like? How about your grandmother? Your daughter?

309
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 10:08am

Ryan D. is right. If you learn all the things your teenage daughter did last Friday night while you're trying to come back from an 8-point deficit, it would definitely hurt your chances. On the other hand, knowing how many possessions you need to come back would be vital information.

------
FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

151
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:44pm

If there are 4 minutes left in the game, yes I agree with you. But with 1:30, it's pretty irrelevant, because you're not going to get two additional possesions anyway.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

252
by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 6:30pm

You are 100% wrong about this. It is better from an ENTERTAINMENT standpoint to go for 1 first. But from a "what gives me the highest chance to win the game" standpoint, you ALWAYS go for two first.

Would you rather they coach to win or coach to make the game interesting for as long as possible? If you prefer the latter you are on the wrong website.

254
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 6:39pm

You're ignoring the psychological factor that players might try harder if they still think there is a chance to win.

257
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 7:07pm

That's certainly hard to quantify, and it can work both ways: there's the possibility they'd try MUCH MUCH harder if they knew absolutely that they were only down 7, rather than 8.

307
by Steve in WI :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 9:59am

Yeah, I think there are all kinds of interesting arguments to be made once you start talking about psychological effects and other stuff that's hard to quantify.

One thing that occurs to me (and I don't know how much this is really the case) is that going for two early and failing gives the trailing team more information, but it also gives the leading team the same information. Particularly if there are only a few minutes left in the 4th quarter, it might change the complexion of the defense into something even more conservative. Obviously whether the lead is 8 or 9, the defense is going to be in a prevent mode and willing to give up small plays that keep the clock moving while being extra careful to protect against big plays; that said, I would imagine that knowing you'll still have the lead if the other team scores a TD and a 2-point conversion might push you even further toward that strategy and make it even tougher for the trailing team to score quickly.

Similarly, you can argue that an 8 point lead affects the confidence of the defense differently than a 9 point lead, although you could probably argue it either way (is it better to be up 9 and more confident, or up 8 and more focused because you know the game can be tied on one TD)?

271
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:28pm

If you delve into the epidemiology, it doesn't really matter much about order. It's arguable that early, there's a slight benefit to going for 2, because even if you fail, you might have time for that 3rd possession. (Teams down 9 late turn out to do better than teams down 8, although no one can really defend a reason why -- it's been hazarded that these tend to occur in high-scoring games and so the situations differ)

Stram once went for 2 twice, and converted both. Then lost because he forgot to play defense after taking the lead.

As a very simple premise: You're down 15; you will score twice; your opponent will not score through regulation; XPs are 99% reliable; 2pt conversions are 50% reliable; overtime is 50% reliable

0: go for one twice -- loss
1: go for two then go for one -- 24.8% chance of win
2: go for one then go for two -- 24.8% chance of win
3: go for two twice -- 25% chance of win

Going for two twice is the interesting possibility. Theoretically, going for two first leaves that one open. However, if you accept that time optimization has utility as well as point optimization (and anyone who defends kneeling the game out absolutely does), then guaranteeing being in tie range at game end has value.

314
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:02pm

Note: I am defining endgame scenarios in this post as <3:00 in the 4th Q.

First--from a pure math standpoint, at ANY point in the game, going for 2 vs. going for 1 is only better if you have a 50% or better conversion rate on 2 point tries. Now, for endgame scenarios, there are times where going for the two point try has obvious mathematical advantages (down 5 after the TD, for example).
Second--talking about 4th Q, but not endgame scenarios: I would agree that going for 2 after a 1st TD, having been down 15, and now 9 points, is a good thing. If you are to have a chance to win, your defense needs to get at least one stop. You may as well know sooner if you need 2 scoring possessions. Your first offensive possession afterward may stall out in FG range, which would leave you down 6, and give you the chance to win with a TD at the end. If you make the 2 pointer, you're down 7; you can still punt, make/miss a FG, or go for it on 4th down, and still have another offensive possession if the D forces another 3-and-out.
Third--in endgame scenarios: If you score a TD, now you're down 9--WHY WOULD YOU GO FOR TWO, GIVING YOU THE CHANCE TO LOSE THE GAME EARLIER??? Depending on the time remaining, you will need to recover at least 1 onside kick which the other team is expecting. Needing to recover 1 (iir the math correctly) is 15% likely--if you missed the 2 point conversion, you surely need to recover TWO onsides, which gives you 2% chance of recovery. This is assuming you are able to score TWICE. Is there a non-zero chance, technically yes. But to convert the two most important plays needed, you have a 2% chance. Plus you have a (very probably) 50+ yd FG attempt in there. You probably need all your TO's too.
However, if you are only down 8, you can choose to kick away and play defense (depending on the time remaining, as well as your timeouts remaining), or, you have to attempt the onside kick. If you have to attempt the onside kick, your win probability is very low to start with. Even after recovering the onside kick, you still need to go ~60 yds and get a two point conversion. However, there is a more-than non-zero chance.
Now, all of these scenarios only get you to overtime. We also are assuming that even converting the first 2-point conversion, we are going to make attempt a kick for our 2nd XP, and we are assuming the conversion of the kick. However, my point is still: WHY WOULD YOU GO FOR TWO, GIVING YOU THE CHANCE TO LOSE THE GAME EARLIER???

96
by drobviousso :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:33am

Bad, but unbias, reffing usually come out in the wash over 16 regular season games. Case in point was the Pittsburgh / Jets game. WTF PI call was offset by the WTF first down placement review.

The problem comes in the playoffs where there aren't 15 other games to balance out a bad call. Hopeful, we'll see some improvement before then.

However, I'm not confident that any replacement crew is going to be up to the task of the Steelers / Ravens games this year. Hope your couple of million is worth it, owners, because I could see either or both team's season derailed by injuries in those games.

103
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 11:53am

The officials are going to get another week of coaching too. It's likely a point of emphasis will be getting on inappropriate conduct, roughness and personal fouls early, and potentially warning teams that if it continues ejections will follow. The flags come out early, the teams will believe it and the players will check themselves. And ultimately the game is completely dependant on that self-governance of the players over themselves anyway.

105
by CoachDave :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:00pm

Whether or not you agree with Schiano's last second tactics...that's your call.

But my Sophomore year I played for a newly hired dickhead coach who (along with his staff) taught and demanded crap like what Schiano is known for and I can tell you, you get a lot more cheap shots, knees to the groin, twisted ankles/fingers and fingers in the eye in the pile as payback when you play for a coach like that.

And that's my point...if Schiano wants his players to pull these stunts, then I can almost guarantee his next opponents are going to look for opps to "get them, before they get us".

107
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:08pm

Why is attempting to force a fumble a "stunt"? For the life of me, I cannot understand the mindset which entails observing the opponent getting down in a stance, prepared to play football, and the response is not simply, "O.K., they still want to play, let's get ready to block people."

140
by verified (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:33pm

Because the 99 times before when we did a kneel down the other team reacted by not trying to cause a fumble and the 99 times prior when other teams knelt we did not try a cause a fumble. The problem is only one team was aware of the change in the expectations of behavior with an increase in the risk of injury.

144
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:37pm

On those 99 other occasions did the defense get down in a stance, and show every indication that they were going to play full tilt? If not, the fault lies in the offense not paying attention, because the situations really aren't the same.

143
by CoachDave :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:36pm

Because it's SOP before the play that the Offensive team tells the Defensive team..."hey we are laying down" or something like that to let them know. I read a quote from a Giants player that they did that and they still bull rushed them...that's terribly bush league.

And look..."getting down in stance for a kneeldown" isn't equivalent to "getting down in stance for a regular" play, so how would they know the difference? This has been SOP in the NFL for years...the response wasn't "ok, they still want to play, let's get ready to block people" because they weren't expecting people to block.

There aren't a lot of times where you can write this and not come across as a football elitist dick...but IMO this is one of those times:

On this topic, if you haven't played competitive football at a pretty high level, you have ZERO idea what you are talking about, stop acting like you do.

156
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:53pm

Apparently, Mike Golic, Mike Ditka, Antonio Pierce, Ron Jaworski, Herman Edwards etc., etc., haven't played competitive football at a pretty high level.

You don't come across as footabll elitist dick. You just come across as another guy who doesn't know what he is talking about, while, ironically, claiming that anybody who differs with you has zero idea of what they are talking about. I have no problem acknowledging that there are people who are more experienced than I with the game, at highest level, who differ with my view. Why do you adopt the conceit that you know more than the people I mention above, or, alternatively, adopt the conceit that you know that they are arguing in bad faith? Are you really so omniscient?

159
by Kal :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:00pm

And yet all of those people weren't coaching yesterday, and Tom Coughlin was.

You could also see the Giants players react; they were visibly pissed off. Should they have just 'accepted' it like you're saying?

There's room to disagree here. Coughlin is about as old school football as they come, and he thought it was cheap as hell. The Giants players thought it was pretty cheap.

172
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:20pm

Sure. As I just posted, I acknowledge that there are people who have more experience with me who differ with my point of view. I don't understand that point of view at all; if it looks like the other guy wants to keep playing, as the Bucs did to me on a television set, then it seems to me that if you are two feet away, you'd see that intent as well, and keep playing. However, unlike CoachDave above, I am not ridiculously claiming that it is self evident that anyone who differs with me has never had any experience with the game at a high level, and has zero idea of what they are talking about.

267
by CoachDave :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:03pm

Here is the difference Will. Ditka, Golic and others actually know what they are talking about and don't say patently absurd comments like:

"For the life of me, I cannot understand the mindset which entails observing the opponent getting down in a stance, prepared to play football, and the response is not simply, "O.K., they still want to play, let's get ready to block people."

Which you did. From a television set. Thinking you can ascertain the "mindset" and "intent" of O & D-lineman who play a sport and a position you have zero first hand knowledge of. Talk about ridiculous claims.

BTW, I'm completely ok with disagreeing with someone on this particular topic who actually has been out there during a kneel down and has a semblance of first hand knowledge of the topic...but an internet-know-it-all who likes to reference things that other people haven't actually said.

No thanks.

290
by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 1:35am

Actually, Coachdave, I heard Golic pretty much say that today. That it was obvious to him, watching it on t.v., that the Bucs had decided to keep playing, that the Giants should have noted it as well, and, well, kept on playing.

Look, you don't know what you are talking about, with the idiotic supposition that you can speak for all the players who have played the game on a high level. You can't, and it is really dumb for you to pretend otherwise.

180
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:41pm

Maybe Giants players are just stupid. It could be all the lead paint and uranium dust from playing in New Jersey clouds the thinking. They are lined up in a formation that exists only to catch an all-out, every man blitz from the defense so they can preserve possession and their quarterback. Maybe, they should line up, like they're expecting an all-out, every man blitz from the other team so they can preserve possession and their quarterback.

There's a reason why games don't end with the winning QB flipping the ball to the ref saying, "I think we're done here" before climbing in a Victoria's Secret supermodel and driving home. If this is too complicated for the people in the Giants organization to understand, perhaps they should look into obtaining work as part of control groups for socilogical experiments on lower primates, or reality television.

182
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:45pm

I think you have to subscribe to Cinemax to see a winning QB climbing in a Victoria's Secret supermodel and driving home.

227
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:10pm

Haven't you heard Victoria's Secret has a new plant in Tennessee where they manufacture SUV's?

283
by Zieg (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 10:47pm

I've never seen a defense try what Schiano did yesterday, but I have seen offenses fake a kneel down then run a play. Seems to me you can't have it both ways. If the play is run to give offense a chance to fake and score, then while the play is run the defense has the right to force a turnover.

286
by Eddo :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 12:06am

When?

I mean, I've seen several fake spike plays, but never a fake kneel. There's never really any incentive to do a fake kneel, anyway; by the time the offense is lining up that way, it's the safer bet than running an actual play.

294
by Travis :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:03am

The quarterback can't fake a kneeldown; simulating dropping to a knee behind the line of scrimmage results in an immediate dead ball (Rule 7-2-1-c). The closest the offense can come would be to line up in a kneeldown formation and then send the receivers out for a pass, as Buddy Ryan's Eagles did against the Cowboys in 1987.

What's funny is that a very similar situation happened to the Giants twenty years ago.

[Up 13 on the Packers' 7 with 1:24 to go], the Giants were content to kneel down and run out the clock. The Giants on the field told the Packers they intended to kneel, and Bart Oates, the Giants' center, said "professional courtesy" dictates that the defense allow that.

Instead, when Hostetler kneeled on first down, Johnny Holland, a Packers inside linebacker, crashed through. "He came underneath," Hostetler said, "and tried to give me a shot under the chin."

In the next huddle, the Giants' offensive linemen were furious.

"If they're going to hit us," Oates told Hostetler, "call a play so we can hit them."

Hostetler called for Hampton to sweep right end, and Hampton raced 8 yards to a touchdown. On the conversion, Oates and Holland started punching each other, and both were ejected from the game.

323
by dbt :: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 2:21pm

Johnny Holland played for Forrest Gregg. What a surprise.

119
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:49pm

Bears-Packers went pretty much as I feared. There is no way at this point in time that the Bears offense will be effective after 4 days off. While the Packers could probably be woken up at 2 AM, driven out to a field and run their offense blindfolded. So, for now I'm just going to chalk it up to the NFL's annoying insistence that games be played on Thursdays.

Also, I think play action is going to be a problem for the Bears this year. Urlacher is slow with his repaired knee, and he has to guess a lot more, and has no recovery ability when he guesses wrong now. He's still good at guessing, so he's still useful, but man it's depressing to watch sometimes.

123
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:54pm

I hate the Thursday games, because of the four days of prep. If they are going to have them, they should wait until the bye weeks start, and have two teams play that had the previous Sunday off.

127
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:02pm

It's just a power move for negotiations with cable companies.

129
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:05pm

I think you're probably right.

134
by tuluse :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:13pm

That would be the best solution, but the NFL doesn't really care about putting forth the best product, just milking it for all the cash they can.

192
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:00pm

I agree with what stephenbawesome said. I can't see this package being on NFL Network in another 5 years. Turner will probably pay a lot to get NFL Football back.

The other reason why Thursday Night games are a benefit is it allows every team to play a prime-time game.

That said, I do hate that the idea of playing Thursday games. They are rarely good games, and usually very sloppy. Some of that may be due to the fact that in general the two teams playing the TNF game aren't all that great to begin with, but clearly that wasn't the case this past Thursday.

196
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:04pm

Thanks.

I don't think it's that the teams are necessarily sloppy. I think they just had like sixth choice in games in previous years for what they'll get to air on Thursdays later in the year. Now that they're year-round, the slate of games on Thursday nights is noticeably better.

I think the general sloppiness/malaise you're referring to is more a function of a very short week and less preparatory time.

215
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:36pm

I don't know how much better the TNF slate is really. Even is past years there was always one or two good TNF games (I remember we had 9-2 Atlanta against 9-2 Baltimore two seasons ago, and they actually played a really good game). The first couple TNF games were good, but pretty soon we are getting the Cardinals @ Rams (admittedly not as bad as it first looked), Steelers @ Titans, Buccaneers @ Vikings, Colts @ Jags, Dolphins @ Bills.

Where the full TNF slate really helped is that the MNF slate got a lot better. Instead of forcing a handful of garbage primetime games on MNF like they've done in recent years (like the two in jacksonvilel last season) they stashed them on the Thursday slate.

The MNF slate this year is really strong, with very few games that look to be bad.

138
by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:26pm

"Aaron Schatz: That throw was a bit of a duck, too. Really good play by Wallace."

Really? It looked like a throw that was right where it needed to be with the defender having absolutely no realistic play on it. Either Wallace catches it or nobody does.

Wallace made a great play to get his foot inbounds, but you make it sound like he made some circus catch to prevent an INT.

139
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:30pm

Also, I look forward to Ben Muth's o-line analysis this week. The Lions have a good physical defensive line, and although I watched the game quickly, not getting to the DVR until 9:30 last night, it seemd to me that the Niners o-line just flat out beat them, very soundly.

147
by Julio (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:40pm

It's not idiocy to limit Welker's snaps.
He played 90% of the offensive snaps last
year, in a year they played three extra games,
and he's getting old.
If I had other good options for receivers,
I would hold Welker back a bit at the beginning
of the year so he has something left at the end.
Now that Hernandez is gone, he's probably going
to play more than they planned.

177
by Eddo :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:33pm

I can't help but read this as a free verse poem.

228
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:13pm

Methinks Julio plays for the Cardinals.

Seriously, Welker was 1st team all-Pro last season. Maybe you don't want him to play 91% of their snaps, but that doesn't mean he should get fewer snaps than Julian freakin' Edelman.

"Getting old" - he's 31 and, again, he was 1st team All-Pro last season.

149
by Julio (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 1:44pm

One other thing: Edelman is a much better
blocker than Welker. If McDaniel's wants
to emphasize the run game, he's the player
to have out there. And it's about time they
got the running game going. The pass pass
pass offense has won 0 superbowls.

230
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:18pm

"If McDaniel's wants
to emphasize the run game"

Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not put an apostrophe in the middle of a person's name just because the name ends ends in an 's'!!!

http://www.angryflower.com/aposter.html

"And it's about time they
got the running game going."

If you call Woodhead making 8 carries for 18 yards "going". I call it idiotic. But I'm sure the Giants are relieved that they didn't have to face this weapon last February.

160
by anderson721 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:02pm

Did they change the roughing the kicker rule? Because in the Giants game, Koenen was hit hard enough to get knocked down, and the idiots in the booth said that it was acting and the refs were not buying it. There was contact, the man was not blocked into him, and no flag. What am I missing?

231
by RickD :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 4:19pm

Well, you noticed that the people in the booth were idiots, so I don't think you're missing anything.

170
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:19pm

"Aaron Schatz: In case we didn't learn from the Giants-Patriots game in Week 9 of last year: A great special teams player is not necessarily a good defensive player."

Wendling is okay as a DB -- he's tolerable in coverage, and tackles respectably well. This makes him perhaps a top-3 SS since Dick LeBeau was still a Lion player.

Detroit badly missed Delmas, Houston, and Bentley. Wendling is okay when he's the second safety, but when he's your #1, you're in trouble.

171
by skibrett15 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:19pm

Re: peterson

Aaron, you mention that you find it to be odd that peterson is always on the right side whether it be edelman, lloyd, or even ridley when split out.

I think what this allows you to do a few things: 1) set the tone for the game and limit the offense's playbook by locking up part of the field. In a sense this makes the cards D the aggressor. 2) devote more resources to covering the other 4 eligible receivers and clog the left side of the field with traffic. If the safety doesn't account for peterson's guy they can use the safeties to disrupt the offense's preferred routes and force checkdowns. 3) It allows peterson to always have the sideline as his ally, whereas if he were moving around and matched up with someone like cruz in the slot that wouldn't be the case.

184
by theslothook :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:53pm

Andy Benoit: What we're seeing with Saints is what everyone forgot about while focusing on the team overcoming Bounty-gate suspensions: this defense does not have enough talent to run Steve Spagnuolo's scheme.

Vince Verhei: That's part of it, absolutely, but the Saints offense looks nothing like the Saints offense either. It's almost all dumpoffs to Sproles or Graham. Brees can hardly find a wide receiver at all.

I can't help but feel a tad vindicated since I predicted this a while back and made it known quite often in the comments section.

It feels obvious now, but the saints defense had looked pretty talent less for a while now. The fact that roman harper led this team in sacks with 8 is a pretty good indicator of how impotent the rest of the roster is at pass rush, combined with the fact that he's abysmal in coverage.

But the bigger story is this: The saints receivers really aren't that great and their receiving options are graham and sproles and a bit of colston. I made this point too, if they aren't allowed to rack up yardage with their leakage plays(screens, end arounds, draws, flare outs), their offense becomes very mediocre.(see 2010). Adding to all of this, they had no first or second round picks this year and replaced nicks with grubs- making them a prime candidate for regression.

190
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 2:56pm

I really haven't watched them this year; have you seen any dropoff in o-line play?

195
by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:02pm

I haven't really seen much of their two games, but it looks like they miss Carl Nicks quite a bit, and Bushrod is not having a good year so far.

205
by Will Allen :: Mon, 09/17/2012 - 3:20pm

I've always thought Brees is more sensitive to poor o-line play, due to his height.