Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

26 Nov 2007

Scout's Take On Week 12

Do. Not. Kick. To. Devin. Hester. How's that for a strategy?

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 26 Nov 2007

24 comments, Last at 27 Nov 2007, 6:21pm by david

Comments

1
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 4:03pm

The "Do Not Kick To Hester" stuff bugs me. He fumbles too often to worry about it. Just keep your damn lanes.

How about "Do not have shitty special teams"

And for all the talk of Shanahan being a genius, when Chicago lined up in that Wedge-PuntReturn formation, I can't believe Shanahan didn't run a fake punt. There were only 5 guys within 30 yards of the LOS (compared to 10 broncos + punter), and they only needed 4 yards. You could have had the punter run the ball and probably run for 30.

2
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 4:18pm

I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I really enjoy this column. Nothing is particularly earth-shattering, but it's an enjoyable read and assuming everything is at least close to factually correct (I know it's a big assumption but still...) some of the stuff seems pretty informative especially the stuff on games I didn't get to watch (ie. the bit about Tampa moving more to a cover-3, Antonio Gates's TD, etc).

3
by Justus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 5:33pm

I'd like to see real numbers about what percentage of kicks to the sideline get returned versus kicks to middle before I go convicting anyone of stupidity.

4
by chip (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 5:34pm

#2 I completely agree. One of the better mainstream media articles on the weekend's action with relevant and insightful articles.

5
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 5:35pm

What is a whip route? Is that just a slant-and-go or an out-and-up?

6
by doktarr (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 5:37pm

RE: #1,

I didn't see the game, but when I saw the highlights I was also shocked that they didn't "fake punt" there. I guess they never expected the Bears to do something that crazy, so they had no audible for it.

My guess is that all future Bears opponents will have an audible for when they face that formation with fewer than 15 yards to go for the first down. Something like, "end around to the tight end, everybody nail somebody". With 9 blockers (not counting the punter) versus 6 defenders, that should get the TE to the second level every time.

Considering that it didn't work well at all, and the likelihood of a "fake punt" against the formation, I doubt Lovie Smith will be using that formation again anytime soon. I could imagine him putting two intermediate blockers in the neighborhood, though. That doesn't invite the fake to the same degree.

7
by Will (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 5:53pm

Trouble with faking in that situation is that it would have to be an audible, as the bears didn't give away the trick until lining up as they would normally. Tricky to have the right personnel on-field and making the call. What punter is used to that kind of decision-making?

8
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 6:01pm

"Trouble with faking in that situation is that it would have to be an audible, as the bears didn’t give away the trick until lining up as they would normally. Tricky to have the right personnel on-field and making the call. What punter is used to that kind of decision-making?"

Except the broncos called time out, came back out, and the bears went right to that formation again.

If I was Shanahan, I would have motioned a guy out wide just because it probably would have forced the Bears to call a time out and change formations, even if I had no intent of running a fake.

9
by Boots Day (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 6:45pm

One thing I haven't seen is the extent to which the Broncos' strategy to keep the ball away from Hester contributed to the blocked punt. It looked like Sauerbrun was trying to kick toward the sidelines, which may have made it easer for Tillman to get a hand on the ball. Was their formation any different on that punt in order to get more men down the field?

10
by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 6:50pm

8: On the Tillman punt block, that is a play that ST coach Dave Toub thought up to try to bring someone in unblocked. See the link in my name for more info.

11
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 6:50pm

I really like these articles (probably the best non-FO articles on the 'net).

12
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 6:56pm

Re: 7

IIRC, when Chicago sent guys deep Denver called a timeout, then when they came back out Chicago did the same thing. Somewhere during that timeout Shanahan should have told everyone that if Chicago sends guys deep that they should run the fake, if not just run a normal punt. That way an audible wouldn't have been necessary.

13
by Mike B in VA (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 6:58pm

Another solid column from Bucky, although he missed a key piece on that Gates TD - if LT doesn't make a great block in pass protection, it doesn't happen.

I've gotta say, reading this site has made me even more aware of such things, and it's nice to see the "mainstream" sports world run a column like this that points out the things a casual-but-interested fan might miss.

14
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:06pm

I enjoy these articles, too.

Frankly, I don't know why Sean McCormick thinks linking with the following makes sense:

Do. Not. Kick. To. Devin. Hester. How’s that for a strategy?

When, in fact, the article says this:

The Broncos inexplicably decided to kick the ball to Devin Hester down the middle of the field on both of his return touchdowns. By putting the ball in the middle, the Broncos gave Hester too much space to set up his blocks on the return.

15
by Mark (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:48pm

#5 Whip route, near as I can tell, is a short yardage cut to the inside and then a hard break to the sideline. I confess it's the first time I'd heard the phrase and really looked into it.

16
by Dom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:55pm

#14
I think the point is that the Broncos actually kicked towards Hester, rather than to the sidelines away from where he was standing

17
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 8:47pm

16
"I think the point is that the Broncos actually kicked towards Hester, rather than to the sidelines away from where he was standing"

Is there any evidence that kicking to the sidelines is any more effective than kicking to the middle?

18
by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 9:36pm

On Mike Holmgren's tv show following the Bears - Seahawks game he was talking about the change in punters in the NFL. Apparently the guys coming out of college the last few years are all working on distance, and dropping balls inside the 20 with backspin to pop the punts up and pin teams back. Guys who do directional punts, which is a pretty different skill, and unnatural action to people who don't routinely practice it, are becoming pretty rare. Not only is there the extra movement adjusting the punters angle, but the ball is held differently too.

19
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 10:04pm

"Trouble with faking in that situation is that it would have to be an audible, as the bears didn’t give away the trick until lining up as they would normally. Tricky to have the right personnel on-field and making the call. What punter is used to that kind of decision-making?"

I believe I've seen a few audibles by punting units in the NFL (very rarely). It's the up-back who audibles. (not sure if there's another term for him, the guy who lines up in a halfback type position in punting formation)

I think when it happens, the team practices it in special teams during the week, and the coaches tell the back only make the call if you see a particular formation.

20
by Speedegg (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 12:15am

Not sure what to make of BB's article. His first stuff was fluff. Occasionally something good.

Though if true, WTF is up with the Chargers? It took Ted Cottrell this long to figure out Merriman and Phillips are better bull rushing than stunting or dropping into coverage?

Did he figure this out on his own or did Norv/AJ Smith finally tell him to attack the QB? I know Cottrell was out of football for a year, but is this the reason for the uninspired defense or was he out because he's uninspired?

21
by James (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:05am

I dont like the Chargers even thoiugh blue. More fan of Texans, Big Blue, and Houstons. Me and Ivan watch all the games this week. Good plans by Texans, but didnt win game. Ivan say whip route when guy turn around fast and ball is there

22
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 12:30pm

Re: 21

*summoning my best Chris Tucker impersonation*

What the hell did you just say?!?

23
by iowapatsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:07pm

#5 Whip Route

A short route that involves a short in (1 or 2 yards afther the cut) then a break to the sideline, or vice-versa.

24
by david (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 6:21pm

Yeah, umm... I don't think I've regained to think anything coherent about the Broncos yet. Every time I try, all I can get out of my brain is, 'stupid effin Broncos' I agree with #1 though, maybe we should try not sucking at special teams in general, and then maybe we can start trying to implement 'strategies'