Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Jan 2006

2006 Wild Card Weekend Rundown

In the Wild Card Weekend rundown: The Unknown Jacksonville Jaguars, cooking ideas for the Bengals, Tampa and Washington search for a second receiver, and the Giants and Panthers in "Battle of the Cutback Runners."

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 04 Jan 2006

24 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2006, 11:26pm by thad

Comments

1
by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:00am

...every silly thing Flutie does is news, making him a lot like Paris Hilton, only older (and shorter).

Cuter, too, according to my wife.

2
by Kevo (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:13am

With my Eagles out of the playoffs, I'm eagerly awaiting Ron Mexico season.

3
by Pio (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:23am

"Just 12 Bengals players have postseason experience, and Marv Lewis didn't want his team to sleepwalk through two games after clinching the AFC West."

Clinching the AFC North rather.

4
by MdM (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:29am

That column had me cracking up. Well done. The RM was great...the Bellichek joke had me spitting up water.

Nice!

5
by zerlesen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:14am

re 3:

Goddammit, the Broncos get no respect!

6
by DJ Any Reason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:23am

If the Bucs are the 2nd best team in the NFC, are the Redskins number 2a?

7
by cjm (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:38am

Getting thrown under a bus by a Mormon is like being pushed off a cliff by a Mennonite.

Sweet! First FO Mennonite reference, and I'm the first Mennonite here to applaud it!

8
by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:08am

Hey, I was at the dump looking for some good trash and I didn't see Belichick "shopping" for a new sweatshirt! I think he scored a good pair of espadrilles, though.

That trashpicking line may have been the best FO joke ever. Every week I see that man and wonder if strangers invite him in for some soup, a shower, and clean clothes.... Even better, I am sure he gives a rat's rump what anybody thinks.

9
by peachy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:12am

As Bebe Glazer said - "When there's dirty work to be done, you can't go wrong with a Mormon." (One of the very best lines from Frasier, which never lacked for wit.)

10
by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:51am

Brian Billick earned a reprieve in Baltimore, much to the delight of fans in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

It's not the best joke in the article, but it's so, so true.

11
by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 7:54am

Just out of curiosity... does Fox Sports have a copy editor, or proofreader (whose name *isn't* MSWord) that goes over your articles?

12
by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 10:07am

I guess I'm the only one who feels that if the Steelers were seeded 5 and Jacksonville 6, the Patriots would have played the Dolphins the exact same way.

13
by MikeT (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 10:22am

11: Fox does little copy editing. We have our own FO process, but unlike a newspaper, there's no full-time comma jockey on staff.

My Top 5 most common Rundown mistakes this season have been 1) Getting home and road mixed up; 2) Getting Titans and Texans mixed up; 3) Using wrong first name for an obscure player; 4) Misspelling Ayanbadego; 5) Mixing up the year or week in which something happened. At least I know what to work on in the offseason :)

14
by DNL (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:04am

To #11:

When I wrote for Fox, they didn't edit my stuff at all. I still can't remember if it's Kerry Holcomb or Kelly Holcomb and mix up the Jags and the Panthers (two teal expansion teams in the same year!). Those mistakes ran often.

To make matters worse, Fox used to throw the articles through some weird thingamabob that'd add links to player's names. Of course, no one told me that if you put a player's name inside a hyperlink (say, you linked the phrase "Bills QB Kelly Holcomb eats pasta"), the thingamabob would choke, roll over, and die, and take about 50% of the article with it!

This was years ago, though.

15
by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:18am

Nice Dropkick Murphys reference.

16
by wrmjr (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 12:21pm

I think one major difference between the 'skins and TB is at TE. Cooley is a top-five TE and is effectively their 2nd wide-out. The same can't be said for any of the Bucs TEs.

Of course, Cooley really stunk it up at Philly, so that may not bode very well...

17
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:52pm

Dryheat,

I agree with you. While I do think Pitt is a bit more formidable at this point, most people are ignoring the biggest reason to choose the Jags. Preparation. Going into week 17, the #3 could have played Pitt or KC but it was definitely the Jags for the #4. I have a feeling that the Pats had every Jags play of the season broken down by mid week and possibly even had a practice related to them.

Also, just to vent, but people are way off regarding their "proof" that the Pats laid down.

Drop Kick - this was probably Fluties last regular season game and the last year one was made has some significance to BB. 1941 is the only year that his father, Steve, who died this year, played in the NFL.

Bam Childress - I hear a lot of people saying it was shady to have a PS WR playing CB. But I have to ask, who else is available? The Pats didn't have enough cap room to sign another player, even for just one game. And the Pats have no true backups in the secondary. Their #1 SS played the entire second half as the backup CB. What happens if there are a few more injuries in the playoffs? They needed a contingnecy plan.

Matt Cassell - Why did he play over Flutie I've heard people ask. My response is why not? Does Flutie really need to work more than Cassell? It was 100% the right move to let Cassell get some work because otherwise the Pats would go into next offseason a little uninformed as to what he can do.

Sorry about the long post, it just amazes me when people refuse to look deeper into things.

18
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:55pm

wrmjr,

Cooley is too inconsistent to be considered a top 5 TE. When he is on he is great, but he can really be terrible as well.

19
by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:26pm

Well, we don't exactly agree. The Patriots did, after all, try to win with the personnel they had in the game. Which pretty much nullifies the "preparation for Jacksonville" angle. Unless one thinks BB ordered Cassell to throw the would-be tieing pass incomplete.

Rather, I think the idea was purely one of healing nagging injuries and protecting new ones to Brady, Wilfork, Wilson, or Vrabel, which pretty much would have ended the Pats' season. Also remember this year is different because they have no bye week before their first playoff game.

I just can't see the argument that they were ducking Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh were the 5 seed, they would have played the game exactly the same.

20
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:47pm

Oswlek, dryheat --

I agree with dryheat, even to the extent that the Patrots were trying to win that game with their second/third/fifth-stringers in.

Another point leads me to believe that the Patriots were not deliberately tanking to host Jacksonville: they usually perform better against a team, the second time they play in a season. Whatever planning, scheming, and preparation they do, seems to go better the second time 'round.

No amount of film study can change the fact that they haven't faced the Jaguars in a meaningful game, since 2003. Pittsburgh, for all their strengths, is a known quantity. The Jaguars have many of the same strengths, plus are a relatively new problem for the Patriots' brain-trust.

To put it in economics terms, the marginal gain (getting to host the Steelers) was not worth the marginal risk (injury to a player whose backup is significantly worse).

21
by stereochemistry (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:12pm

RE: 16

Well, Cooley certainly has been more productive as the #2 target in the receiving game; but oddly enough, TE Alex Smith is #2 on the Bucs in receptions (41), TDs (2), and is 5 yards behind Clayton for 2nd in receiving yards.

However, it's really hard to say who's the #2 for the Bucs: Removing Galloway, the Bucs have 6 players with 20 or more receptions, 3 with 35 or more.

22
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:39pm

I do wonder what Belichick may or may not have told Cassel right before that 2-point attempt, but only because it was such a horrible pass thrown with very little pressure over the head of a very open Bam Childress. But overall, I agree with dryheat and Starshatterer--the Pats who were on the field at least were really trying to win the game.

I would bet that Belichick knows that either the Steelers or the Jags would be a tough test, and would need healthy starters to play either of them, so hence he rested his starters rather than try to pick one opponent or the other and go in with a major injury.

I love the idea of testing out Childress at different positions. Not only is it a contingency for the postseason, but it also allows more informed personnell decisions over the offseason. If he can be a decent emergency backup CB AND a decent special teamer and backup WR, then you need to spend less effort making sure you have backup depth at CB in the offseason and can concentrate on getting real, starting quality players.

23
by Jeff J. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:47pm

I was fairly sure that I read at Redskins.com that Carlos Rogers would indeed return against the Bucs. That'll be so much better than a gimpy Springs and so-so Walt Harris.

As for the Bucs pick, the Skins have been on a bigger, stronger win streak, and they've shut down their last 5 opponents in the 2nd half (18 total points, 7 on a garbage-time Dallas TD). I like the D's adjustments to whatever happens in the 1st half.

Great read!

24
by thad (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:26pm

The jags sacks were mentioned in the preview.
for those who are interested
here are the evrage numbers
dl 22.7 sacks
lb 9.8 sacks
db 3.6 sacks
total 36.1

top 6 in dl sacks
1. Colts 40
2. Miami 35
3. Giants 34.5
4. Titans 32
5. Seahawks 32
6. Jags 31.5

As a percentage it works out to
dl 63%
lb 27%
db 10%