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» Scramble for the Ball: The DVOA Schism

Mike and Tom try to figure out what kind of secret sauce Arizona is feeding the media to sit at the top of the power rankings and in the middle of our DVOA rankings.

01 Nov 2006

Scramble for the Ball: Field Day for the Sundays

by Bill Barnwell & Ian Dembsky

Ian: Greetings Rotohead Nation! Welcome to another edition of Scramble for the Ball. This week, I want to start off talking about short-yardage situations. Third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 are such a strange situation in the football world. When they arise, it's as if the game that had been going on stops entirely, and two new units need to come on to the field to determine not which is the better football team, but which is the better rugby team. It's about time we started referring to offense, defense, special teams, and short-yardage as a team's four main units.

How many times have we seen a team moving the ball efficiently up the field, gaining yards in chunks of 4-7 yards, well on their way to a scoring drive, when suddenly a second down play leaves the offense with a third-and-short? We all know what's coming. Remove those oh-so-skilled wide receivers, and don't bother making the defense cover the entire field behind them. Instead, bring in your extra tight ends, your extra offensive linemen, and in some cases a defensive linemen to help show the other team that while you can gain about five yards a play with normal offense, that's not nearly as important as proving your big men can push the other team's big men backwards one yard. Of course, with about 18 big football men stuffed close together, it's not terribly uncommon for the running back to find nowhere to go, and instead go down for a one- or two-yard loss. Now, instead of the well-oiled machine that was moving the ball quite consistently, you now bring on the field goal kicker or the punter, and your offense heads for the sidelines.

I wish teams would not do this. I wish they'd leave the same offensive package on the field that gained five and four yards on the previous plays, and gain another five yards. It's a lot easier to do when the defense has to cover the whole field, as opposed to simply plugging the line of scrimmage with everybody. If you've got a Brandon Jacobs on your team, who pretty much can't be stopped by anyone, then by all means pound away; otherwise leave your skill players on the field and just keep doing what got you to third-and-1 in the first place.

Bill: It's so surreal to see Brandon Jacobs in the sentence above when he was doing his best impersonation of Ron Dayne and Matt Cassel last season. I agree with Ian here, though -- short-yardage is full of too much chicanery right now. I've been watching a lot of Jets games since I'm writing that chapter in the book, and they do some really, really maddening things on offense. They will line up in a tight, bunched formation and then shift guys into five-wide. Why? So we can see Chris Baker run an out and Chad Pennington do his David Eckstein impersonation? That's not using your talent well. Another play they run was covered in this week's Audibles; Bill Moore saw the Jets had Chad Pennington motion out of the backfield and split out wide so that Brad Smith could take the snap. He had the same thought about it I had two weeks ago -- what's the point? It's not as if Pennington is Michael Vick out there. The commentators talk about how "confusing" it must be for the defense, but if anything, it leaves you one guy less to worry about as a receiver, assuming the opponents realize that putting Chad Pennington in the open field is about as ill-advised a personnel move as possible.

Ian: Another thing I want to talk about is the much debated non-touchdown pass to Baker at the end of the Jets-Browns game. With the Jets down seven at the end of the game and facing fourth down, Pennington evaded the rush nicely and lofted a pass to Baker in the corner of the end zone. Cleveland defensive back Brodney Pool nailed Baker before he could come down with the ball inbounds, and Baker was ruled out of bounds -- no catch. This was not a reviewable play, because officials can't "speculate" on whether or not Baker would have come down in bounds; they can only review what actually happened, much to the dismay of Jets fans everywhere.

Here's what I think: Yes, he would have come down inbounds; no, the rules should not be changed to allow for such speculation. However, the rules should, in fact, be changed. Why does the rule exist that if a receiver would have caught a pass in bounds, yet is pushed out, the official can rule that he would have caught it and therefore it's a catch? Here's a crazy idea: Make the receiver get his feet in bounds. That's right, I want to abolish the "force-out" rule. Think about what that rule is saying: If a player would have caught the ball, if not for the defense playing defense, then it should be ruled a catch." How about we remove the confusion, and allow the defense to, well, play defense? If a receiver can't catch the ball and get two feet in (or a knee, butt-cheek, etc.), then he doesn't deserve the catch. End of story.

Bill: I don't know, Ian. I mean, you keep going down this trail, soon every team will be bringing the Nasty Audibles into their playbook again. And what then, I ask? Will you say that the penalties for Ref Bashing should be abolished and that the refs should all look like Ed Hochuli?

Ian: Fans in Dallas have to be in a good mood following Tony Romo's performance in Carolina. Could things have gone any better? He avoided the rush and ran in some key spots. Jason Witten went from an afterthought (and many fantasy waiver wires) to a key target in the offense, and a lucky find for anyone who pounced when someone else dropped him. Then there's Terrell Owens. It's unbelievable that T.O. hadn't gone over 100 yards so far this season with Drew Bledsoe at the helm. Tony is looking to T.O., and looking to him often. Bledsoe was spending too much time looking at the defensive tackles laying on top of him. With the defense paying well, the running game working, and the passing game now on track, Dallas is going to be a serious team to reckon with from here on out.

Bill: I think Drew is probably looking on the bright side right about now. This time, no internal bleeding!

Ian: One team that's already a force to be reckoned with is the San Diego Chargers, and Philip Rivers is a big reason why. Way back in our preview column for the AFC Over-Unders, I had this to say about the Chargers' chances of hitting the over: "The good news is the schedule. The Chargers open with a game at Oakland, then a home game against Tennessee, then a bye week. That should give Philip plenty of time to get his feet wet while the Bolts jump out to a 2-0 record." Things couldn't have gone any more to plan. The Chargers dominated early by leaning on the running game, and now that Rivers is accustomed to the speed of the NFL, he's confident reading the field when it's time to air it out. It certainly doesn't hurt to have defenses focusing so much on Tomlinson, but it's clear that he's developed into a franchise quarterback that should be leading the Bolts for seasons to come.

Bill: Hey, if we're gonna start patting ourselves on the back for what we said about the Chargers in the preview, I believe the words "mortal lock for ten wins" appeared somewhere in there. While the Chargers are doing very well for themselves, I'm a little worried about their front seven. Granted, one of the huge plusses of this team was its depth there, but we've got a linebacker shot and out for the season, a linebacker on steroid suspension, and the Other Ukraine Freight Train on the defensive line out for a month. I'm not worried about those guys who are playing, necessarily, but they're all going to have to see more snaps and be in situations they're not as ideal for -- so expect some degradation of their numbers against the run and against the tight end over the next few weeks. In particular, they're not a particularly good matchup against Kellen Winslow this week.

Ian: One quarterback whose franchise status is on hold is Matt Leinart. What happened? After an incredible debut in which he picked the vaunted Bears defense apart, he's had two miserable outings in a row. This is a prime example of throwing a young passer into the fire to soon. When he lined up against Chicago, the Bears had no idea what to expect, and he surprised them with his quick releases and accurate throws. In the two weeks following his coming out party, opponents have learned to shut down this quick passing game by dropping more linebackers into coverage, since game-planning to stop the run isn't needed to stop the weak ground game headed by Edge. Leinart is having trouble finding open receivers, and then the pocket is breaking down. He'll probably get better down the road, but young quarterbacks often struggle when asked to put the team on their shoulders so early in their careers.

Bill: I think it's just the process of film adjustments. Defenses have adjusted and are double-covering Anquan Boldin (eight catches in two games), which will be alleviated when Larry Fitzgerald returns. In addition, if everyone didn't know the Cardinals offensive line was useless before the Bears game, well, they did afterwards. I'm pretty sure you could stop Edgerrin James with a two- or three-man front at this point, which means there are simply going to be too many bodies in the secondary. I have faith that things will turn around, though. I mean, he's looked bad, but it's not like he's been Alex Smith out there.

Ian: Of course, sometimes veterans have their bad days as well. Brad Johnson was simply awful against New England. I predicted that Minnesota would win the NFC North thanks to "the only consistent quarterback play in the division." Monday night was not consistent quarterback play. The early interception Johnson threw at the Patriots goal line was simply atrocious, a play I've come not to expect from him. It was all downhill from there. He's going to have to play smarter if the Vikings are to compete for a wild card, as the division title is almost certainly out of reach.

Bill:: In all fairness, Ian, I don't see how you could say Brett Favre isn't consistent considering he's on his ninth day with Teamocil. Or Prilosec. Whichever it is.

Ian:It was interesting to note how both the Vikings and Patriots came out with the same game plan. They knew the other team was solid at stopping the run, so they didn't bother with it. It was pass, pass, pass from both offenses. Of course, in a game like that, it's no surprise that the Tom Brady-led Patriots came out victorious.

Some other quick hits from around the league: Just ask Brett Favre how helpful a good ground game is. He's got a 4-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his past three games ... The Eagles are once again giving up on the run game too easily. McNabb can't do everything, every week ... As good as Peyton Manning was, let's give credit to Reggie Wayne. That was just a route-running clinic he put on against Denver ... Houston just needs to be rid of David Carr and headed in a new direction. He has talent, but they're not going anywhere with him at the helm. Now Vince Young, there's a winner ... Seneca Wallace's performance on the road in Kansas City deserves far more praise than he's getting credit for ... (Shhh... The Oakland defense is really good...)

Scramble for the Mailbag

Eli: Trying to avoid playing Frank Gore against Minnesota's #2 run defense according to DVOA -- should I go with Corey Dillon against the Colts (30) or Brandon Jacobs against the Texans? Am I overplaying matchups and should I just stick with Gore?

Bill: I don't think you're overplaying matchups at all. The Patriots are going to try and keep the Colts offense off the field this week -- that means a steady dose of Dillon and Laurence Maroney. Two notes of caution, though: first, watch the pre-game shows on Sunday (the only time I'll ever urge you to do so, I promise) to see if the Patriots offensive line will be at 100 percent. Second, the Colts' troubles with establishing a pass rush and the likelihood that this will be a close game mean that Dillon won't be used as much as a pass blocker, meaning his propensity to get a few receptions as the hot read isn't as likely to appear this week.


Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.

Keep Choppin' Wood Award

Ian: So many people turned in worthy efforts for the award this week. David Carr took a solid ground game and ruined it in a loss to the Titans. Maurice Hicks fumbled away Chicago's first kickoff, setting the tone for an awful day for his team. Tampa Bay's offensive line didn't give their offense a chance, and their receivers dropped numerous well-thrown balls that would have been huge plays. Carolina's receivers also soiled the bed, with virtually everyone getting in on the action. Brad Johnson certainly did his best to give away the game to New England. Stephen Davis' triumphant return became a quick Exit Stage Left when he coughed up a key fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

All of that paled in comparison, however, to the incredible effort by Ben Roethlisberger to deflate his team's chances at victory. You've heard it before, but it bears repeating: Oakland completed five passes for 51 yards. They only rushed for 81 yards. And yet they won by scoring 20 points, thanks in large part to two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Maybe Ben shouldn't have been playing due to the concussion he'd suffered the previous week, but the fact that he convinced his coaching staff to let him play makes him merit this even more. Congratulations Ben Roethlisberger, you're this week's Keep Choppin' Wood Award winner!

Best Bets

Bill: (3-0 last week, 15-8-1 overall)

If I keep this up, Scramble's going to start costing $40 a week and you're going to have to call a 900 number to hear it.

JACKSONVILLE (-9.0) over Tennessee

Do you know which Jacksonville is going to show up? That makes one of us. Doesn't matter, though; I think Bad Jacksonville (sadly this isn't Philadelphia or I could talk about Bad Andy) could beat Vince Young by ten at home. Good pizza?

New Orleans (-1.5) over TAMPA BAY

OK, New Orleans had a bad game at home last week. And maybe Reggie Bush is out. Those things are bad. On the other hand, they're playing the Buccaneers. In the swirling Meadowlands on Sunday, they trusted Cadillac Williams enough to ... run the ball eight times for 20 yards. I am saying the Saints bounce back, maybe by double digits. Or maybe Matt Bryant will kick a field goal from the parking lot. Who knows?

Cleveland (+12.5) over SAN DIEGO

This is a total hunch. Sorry. I couldn't pull the trigger on the Patriots at home against the Colts. It's like 65 in Boston today. If it were snowing, totally different story. I don't know, Kellen Winslow goes for 140 yards, the Browns defense keeps LT in check, Michael Turner runs for a long late TD to give the Chargers a slim victory. Why not?

Wor... No, More Best Bets!

Ian: (3-0 last week, 9-12-3 overall)

Ahhh, it's good to be off the schneid. After a season of disappointing picks, I finally pulled off a 3-0. Not only did I get all three picks right, but the thought behind them was dead on -- The Bears certainly pounded San Francisco into submission, Tony Romo started and was excellent in a high-scoring affair, and Laurence Maroney had a big game while Bill Belichick made Brad Johnson beat the Pats, which he couldn't do. I've got my mojo back, and thankfully I have some more confident picks on the way.

Dallas (-3) over WASHINGTON

Get on the bandwagon everyone, there's room for all of you! Dallas killed Washington early in the season, and they've only gotten better since. Meanwhile, the Redskins have lost three games in a row, including a demoralizing loss to the Titans. These are teams headed in opposite directions, and that's going to continue on Sunday.

CHICAGO (-13.5) over Miami

Someone explain this one to me. A week after covering a 16.5 point spread by nearly double, now they're only 13.5 point favorites against the floundering fish in windy, cold Chicago? Does anyone thing Joey Harrington will come in and lead the Dolphins to a near-upset of the Bears? Chicago will cover this one, easy.

Green Bay (+3) over BUFFALO

In case you hadn't noticed, the Green Bay offense is on fire. They actually had two 100-yard rushers this past Sunday, and it took them only a combined 32 rushes to get there. Favre's not turning the ball over, and the defense has really come together and is performing well. Buffalo, meanwhile, is struggling to find an identity, and they're going to struggle against the Pack this weekend.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell & Ian Dembsky on 01 Nov 2006

124 comments, Last at 09 Nov 2006, 2:48pm by Sid

Comments

1
by ZS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:19pm

I made this comment in last week's open discussion, but no one noticed, so I'm repeating:

Does anyone else now have someone on both their fantasy and loser league teams? For me, it's Bernard Berrian.

2
by ZS (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:23pm

Oh, and fantasy question -

My RBs are Chester "What's a Monday?" Taylor, Tatum Bell, and Shaun Alexander. Should I cut any of them for Jacobs? It's a ten-team league, and I'm in first.

3
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:31pm

Bill: At least we know that Favre isn't having hallucinations. I can't imagine his wife is happy, though.

4
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:32pm

Also: I'm considering selling R Smith and R Brown to someone for an upgrade at RB. I just can't figure out which fish I'm going after. Any suggestions?

5
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:45pm

"One quarterback whose franchise status is on hold is Matt Leinart. What happened? After an incredible debut in which he picked the vaunted Bears defense apart, he’s had two miserable outings in a row. This is a prime example of throwing a young passer into the fire to soon. When he lined up against Chicago, the Bears had no idea what to expect, and he surprised them with his quick releases and accurate throws."

I disagree. The Bears knew (or should have known) what to expect from Leinart because the Bears played the Cardinals in the third preseason game. Leinart played much of that preseason game and looked very good, using the same type of quick, short passes that he used so successfully early in the regular season game. The Bears starting defense played much of the time against Leinart in the preseason game (although they were missing a few starters due to injury).

As I've said several times before, the way that the teams played in the preseason game was strikingly similar to the way the teams played in the first 44 minutes and 50 seconds of the regular season game on both sides of the ball. This fact largely explains Dennis Green's post-game tirade.

6
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:46pm

I always thought the forceout rule was to protect WR's. If a DB can prevent a catch by hitting a jumping WR so hard that he flies out of bounds, they will do this. More, they will practice it and focus on it more than they do. They already hit WR's hard whenever they have the chance--imagine if the rules favored roqueting them out of bounds.

Also, if you get rid of the rule, what's to stop two DB's double covering a jumping WR who catches the ball near the sidelines from catching him, carrying him out of bounds, and putting him down -- incomplete pass.

7
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 7:52pm

Who do I start this week

Vick or Brady?

And 2 of:

Mgahee vs GB
Gore vs Minny
Taylor vs SF
R.Johnson vs Baltimore

8
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 8:05pm

#5: Are you suggesting the third preseason game isn't bull***t?

9
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 8:07pm

I'm stuck with some bad choices at RB this week due to byes. Do I start Lamont Jordan or Mike Bell? Neither is a sure thing to do anything, I'm leaning towards Bell, but who knows whether Shanahan gives him any carries.

10
by Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 8:24pm

In a flex league, I'm deciding between Maroney, Wali Lundy, and Chris Chambers for the last spot. Plax, Furrey, and Mark Clayton are starting at WR with Portis and Parker at RB. Any thoughts?

11
by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 8:36pm

And I scored a 66 in the Loser League.

When does the second half begin?

12
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 8:37pm

10: I like Maroney for your flex spot, should have chance to run against Colts D

13
by Marko (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 8:46pm

Josh: Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting. Who the hell treats it like it is?

14
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 8:59pm

This fact largely explains Dennis Green’s post-game tirade.

I agree, and I felt super-smart after that game. I hadn't even realized it was a rematch.

Then Chicago beat the crap out of San Francisco, becoming one of the biggest outliers in the preseason-regular season correlation graph.

15
by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:04pm

importance of preseason linked here

16
by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:11pm

I didn't get it.
Is the rule now "if a player would have been in, it's in."?
(see super bowl tampa vs jerry rice?)
I hate that rule. "He woulda shoulda so he mighta coulda."

I think, if you don't catch it inbounds and didn't land both feet in -ncaa: 1 feet in- you didn't make a TD. That's the rule, na?

17
by Nate (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:15pm

"How about we remove the confusion, and allow the defense to, well, play defense?"

Sure. Let's also allow the defense to tackle anybody they want at any time, regardless of whether they have the ball. Just let them play defense!

End of story (because I say so).

18
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:20pm

The Belichick/Polian/Dungy gamesmanship has picked up. First we had the Patriots asking the NFL to guarantee Pats' employees's physical security vs. Polian. Now the initial injury reports are out and each team has listed 17 players as questionable.

19
by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:22pm

Re 6 MJK:
You've clearly never played football. That's ok, but let me tell you, no one ever 'hitting a jumping WR so hard that he flies out of bounds'.
You practice to hit them hard/properly (so they stop running), to hit them at the right time (so you dont make PI) and to make them fumble (helmet at the ball, so the damn ball pops out).
I've never heard of, seen or done a practice where DB's would practice hitting a WR out of bounds, or practicing picking up a ball carrier with 2 guys to get him out of bounds before he lands.
Remember; this rule only happens 2ce or 3ce a year in the NFL, in 1000 football snaps per team a year.
In my opinion, if you didn't get 2 feet in, you didn't make a TD.

20
by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:23pm

That should read:
...no one ever practices ‘hitting a jumping WR so hard that he flies out of bounds’...

21
by Greenwell (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:29pm

I have Rudi (@Ravens), Lundy (@NYG), Maroney (vs. Indy), and Jacobs (vs. Houston), start 2. Am I crazy to think about benching Rudi (who's been very lackluster of late) in favor of Lundy and Maroney?

22
by fyo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 9:52pm

Could someone explain the Favre joke(s) for those of us (ok, so it's just me) who don't get it???

23
by Paul (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 10:14pm

Well I just saw Pereira on NFL Total Access. The two plays covered were of course the Baker TD and the Wiggins fumble. Both were very bad mistakes by the refs and Pereira defended his refs completely. Which means to me that his word can no longer be trusted (See President, current). I can understand the call on the field being incomplete for the Wiggins catch and fumble, but it was called that solely because Belicheck was in the ref's ear immediately. That alone gives me pause about how good the refs were. Watch the play again, the closest ref immediately calls it a catch. Now I don't agree with Theisman but about 10% of the time at most, but he was absolutely correct about the instant replay that it was obvious. OBVIOUS. that it was a catch and subsequent fumble in slo-mo. Pereira said that if there's any doubt he wants his refs to call the incompletion. There should have been no doubt on this one. In the interview, he had his tap dancing shoes on and moving at high speed, but it was utter BS.
For the Baker TD, it was clear on replay that it met all the criteria of a push out. Eisen kept leading Pereira to say it, but Pereira wouldn't bite because it meant his refs screwed the Jets. Which they did. In addition, it was obvious in this play that it was a push out at full speed.
There are a lot of plays and the refs get most of them right. But they are fallible. The NFL expects players to own up when they did something wrong, but it refuses to admit their own mistakes. When they don't, the conspiracy theories flourish. Refs are in the Pats pockets. See also, recent slap on the wrist to Polian for his recent activities. (can't think of any for the Browns, and against the Jets...that one really just seems to be incompetence) To fix this, all the NFL has to do is be consistent in their actions on the field and in punishing and admit when their refs sucks (See most of 2005, particularly playoffs) Openness would help a lot. Having a new commissioner has not helped much. end rant

24
by Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 10:29pm

Love your stuff, Bill, but the forceout rule is a natural progression from the other rules about not going out of bounds and coming back into play - out of bounds isn't supposed to be your friend, offensively or defensively. It still -can- be, but the rules rather specifically treat it as something you're not supposed to use for your advantage.

You can't go out on purpose to advance, then come back and catch a pass - unless you're pushed, in whichcase it's not you abusing the area outside the field but the opponent, etc.

These rules make total sense to me ;)

25
by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 10:30pm

Mike - with all due respect, Ian was the one who discussed the forceout rule.

I just make goofy references.

26
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/01/2006 - 11:58pm

Is there a transcript of that segment with Pereira anyplace?

27
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 12:55am

Given it'a against the Texans, I would go with Jacobs and Maroney, especially if your league rewards scoring as well as yards.

28
by Towwb (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:20am

Hurray bye-week signings! Move Owen Daniels while he's hot and keep Cooley, or is Daniels real?

29
by J (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:29am

#23: The lesson we can learn from the Wiggins fumble/incompletion call is that many fans and TV commentators don't know the rules as well as they think they do. The rules of the NFL are rather complicated and at times, with a number of specific definitions and conditions that can be a bit esoteric.

In this case, there is a specific ruling governing when a pass becomes completion if the receiver is in the process of being tackled when he makes possession. The rule is that if a receiver is being tackled while establishing possession, if he does not maintain possession until he he is downed, it is an incompletion. Wiggins was clearly being taken down as he made the catch, and the ball came out before his knee hit -- therefore, it's an incomplete pass.

This is one of a number of football designed to promote passing, actually, as it greatly reduced the number of fumbles by receivers who are tackled as they catch the ball.

30
by Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:39am

The Edge is sucking and Joe Do Addai has a high success rate? Who would've thought?

31
by Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:42am

Bill, I still don't know if The Jar-Jar Binks is my team. The nice man at the email address doesn't write back.

re #1:

I do. Mushsin Muhammad. Call it a rookie mistake, but I wanted someone who I knew would get looks and not racked up no-catch penalties. That's it, though.

32
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:47am

Important question.

When do we get to sign up for the new Loser League? I've been dying to since my team was lost in the server crash, and I couldn't remember which losers I put on... even though I swear I had Cadillac and Brunell.

33
by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:00am

30 - Me!

31 - Pat Laverty is a busy man but I'm sure if you'd e-mail him again, he'd do his best to respond.

32 - Soon!

34
by J.R. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:02am

Which fantasy back is my best bet this weekend? Corey Dillon against Indy, Ahman Green at Buffalo or Ronnie Brown at Chicago? I really have no idea.

35
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:07am

#32: I've been dying to ever since my Loser League team... uh... sucked. Horribly. I mean, ungodly horribly. I only have two more guys to beat before I'm the loser of the loser league!

I had one player under the penalty level last week. One.

36
by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:09am

Here comes an Uber-response.

#1 - I have 4 fantasy teams, so it's no surprise that I have some players on both teams. Chester Taylor is one of my loser backs and is on one of my teams, so is Muhsin Muhammad.

#2 - Heck, no!

#4 - I don't know nearly enough about the rest of your team or the league to give a good response.

#5 - I'll concede that it's an interesting point, but that was a loooong time ago.

#6 - There are rules in place to protect receivers from getting killed unnecessarily. If they get hit a little harder trying to use the sideline as a friend though, that's too bad. Don't tell me that a receiver would be caught in mid-air and carried out of bounds; that would never happen.

#7 - Tough call! I'd go with Vick, as I expect the Pats to lean on the run which is the Colts weakness. Also, even on a bad day Vick has a good day because of his running ability. Willis McGahhe and Chester Taylor would be my RB choices.

#9 - Mike Bell looks like a nice play this week. Unless anything changes in Tatum's direction, I'd go with Mike.

#10 - First off, Chambers should replace Mark Clayton. Clayton's only good game came with Boller at the helm. As for flex, I'd go Maroney. Again, look for the Pats to run har dagainst the Colts.

#11 - Sometime next week - We'll be writing a separate article about it.

#17 - Umm... That's quite a leap you made there. Certainly a terrible projection of where I was going.

#18 - I love the retarded Questionable status. Love how Belichick abuses it. If other coaches want to, then go ahead.

#19 - Amen, brother.

#21 - Yes; Lundy is in for a bad game in the Meadowlands. No reason for him to do better than Cadillac last week.

#23 - No surprise that the refs stick together. Did you expect him to publicly humiliate his fellow ref? I ndon't get NFL Network; has anyone seen a past instance of a ref saying that the on-the-field ref screwed up?

#24 - I simply think that the more black-and-white the rule, the less a team can get screwed by the results. That, and the football puritan in me says that you should have to get feet in bounds to get credit.

#28 - Sell high!

#29 - Thanks for the rule info; good stuff.

#32 - Again, next week. Look for a separate article by Bill and myself on the topic.

37
by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:11am

#34 - Ahman Green would be my choice, then Corey, then Ronnie.

38
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:13am

Re: 29
I would buy that explanation if it was called on the field like that. In fact I have noticed most of the time they will rule plays an incomplete which I believe is a fumble, so that is consistent.

The problem with the Wiggins play is that Wiggins already had possession/control and 2 steps, thus he had made the catch and then was tackled. Taken to the extreme, a player could be in the process of being tackled for a ton of steps and then have the ball stripped.

I've heard of the rule about "going to the ground in the process of a catch"... but he clearly had possession and then steps.

39
by jdb (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:15am

#34-do you really want to start Ronnie Brown against the Bears defense? Think about that for a minute. Especially when the quarterback is JOEY HARRINGTON, and thus the running game will most likely have little help.

40
by J (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:00am

#38: The number of steps he took is pretty much irrelevent to this rule. If a tackle is initiated before the player possesses the ball and make a football move, the receiver must maintain possession of the ball all the way to the ground before it is a completion, so long as the tackle is finished by the original defender.

Wiggins went up for the ball, and the Patriot defender initiated the tackle while he was in the air. Yes, Wiggins did come down, and take a few steps with the defender on his back before falling -- and having the ball stripped before his knee touched.

That makes it an incomplete pass. Theoretically, Wiggins could have dragged the defender 20 yards before losing the ball, and it still would be an incompletion. Obviously, this scenario is unlikely.

41
by David Ferrier (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:34am

Re: #36 "Don’t tell me that a receiver would be caught in mid-air and carried out of bounds; that would never happen."

Interestingly it actually did happen in the USC Trojans vs. Oregon SU Beavers last saturday. It was ruled an incomplete pass, because his foot touched the out of bounds before his elbow touched the in bounds. It didn't seem to matter to the refs, or the announcers for that matter that he was carried about 2 yards.

42
by Eli Sprecher (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 4:18am

Thanks for the advice Bill, will go with Corey, but who would you (or anyone else) go with in the flex spot of:
Gore vs. Minny (#2 D in DVOA), Ronnie against Chicago (#4 and will likely be playing from behind all game) or Deion Branch in the flex spot?

43
by Jake (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 4:38am

I'm trying to figure out whether to use LoMo or Ronnie Brown. Chicago is going to eat up Brown's recieving yards, and I doubt he runs well. On the other hand, he gets the ball, whereas Lo has to share the ball with Time-Consuming Corey Dillon.

44
by Stillio (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 4:44am

I don't know about the rest of you, but if I were NFL Commish one of the last words I would want fans to use to describe my rules is 'esoteric'. Bottom line on the pushout is that the refs are allowed to make a judgement call at full speed but not allowed to make the same judgement call in the replay booth. Replay is supposed to fix mistakes on the field...if it can't be used to fix a mistake on the field that determined the outcome of the game, then why do we have it?

45
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 4:48am

Ian: I never projected anything. You presented one argument against the pushout rule: that it prevents the defense from playing defense. Well, the same reasoning can be applied equally well to argue that the defense should be allowed to tackle anybody on the field at will.

Tackling somebody who doesn't have the ball is against the rules for the same reason receivers are granted a catch on a pushout: because, on balance, the game would be worse off if those weren't the rules.

Maybe you disagree that the game would be worse without the pushout rule, but "let the defense play defense" is an empty platitude that completely sidesteps the issue. If you actually have a cogent argument up your sleeve somewhere, you might want to present it instead of sloganeering.

46
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 6:38am

Wouldn't eliminating the pushout rule inevitably lead to defense players attempting to carry offensive players out of bounds? I am guessing this would lead to injury.

47
by Boston Dan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 9:32am

I have to pick 2 WR, 1 Rb, 1 TE and 1 Flex RB or WR among Ocho-Cinco, Mushin, Colston, Thomas Jones, Ahman Green, Desmond Clark and Chris Cooley. Suggestions anyone? The worst part is starting Peyton (first round pick) against my Pats on Sunday night.

In addition, it was obvious in this play that it was a push out at full speed.

I concur completely.

48
by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 9:49am

#47: At WR, leave out Mushin. At TE leave out Cooley. I guess you can start Colston at TE and start Mushin, but I honestly think that Clark will get more points against Miami than Muhammed will.

#45: The pushout rule puts the judgment more in the hands of the referree and makes it less objective as a whole. Getting two feet inbounds is as objective as you can get in football terms. Deciding that a player would have come inbounds with possession with two feet because of the trajectory before contact is absolutely not.

#43: I think Maroney is a must-start this week. He's likely going to have a day like he did against Cinci. Dillon will have a good day too, but Maroney will be great. Him over Brown vs Chi? Not even a contest.

49
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 9:55am

RE: #29, #40

Rulebook citation?

50
by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 10:31am

#40, I believe that's not how it works - a tackle happens when the player stops making steps. Otherwise it's just down by contact, and down by contact has very different rules for establishing possession. So no, Wiggins can not walk 40 yards with a CB on his back and then lose the ball when he takes a knee; he has established possession as soon as he takes that third step with control of the ball, and is 'in the act of tackling' when he's finally going to the ground.

51
by bryan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 10:58am

Any opinions on a trade of Addai for McGahee? Sitting at 4-4 in a 12 team league that is pretty competitive, with one team at 7-1, one at 1-7 and pretty much everyone else within a game or two of each other and a lot of division matchups coming up. I have LJ and Addai to compliment C. Benson (spot duty pickup against SF, and haven't dropped him yet). I also have a decent WR corps, so I tried to trade off some of them for McGahee, but then the owner came back with a straight up McGahee for Addai trade.

This seems like a no-brainer. What am I missing?

52
by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 11:12am

#51: that over the last few weeks, Addai has been getting the majority of the carries, yards, and TDs for the Colts running attack and is looking good against teams like Denver. Put it this way - would you trade Edge from 2004 for McGahee?

53
by bryan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 11:24am

#52:

Well, I keep hearing that he is taking the carries, but that only happened against Denver (against WAS, he had 11 to 13 Rhodes), previously it was a bye, then it was 13/20 in favor of Rhodes against Tenn. If this was a keeper league, I would in no way do the trade, but with this being a redraft, I'm wondering if an established 1 isn't the way to go. I'm also worried about the Colts locking up home field and benching everyone around playoff time.

54
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 11:42am

With regards to the "would he be inbounds" question, it's momentum and dealt with in other areas, specifically safties (11-4-1, exception). If a defender takes possession of a loose ball and his original momentum carries him into his own end zone, where the play is called dead, the defence receives the ball at the spot where the interception occurred.

8-1, supplemental notes:
A pass is completed or intercepted, or a loose ball recovered, if the player inbounds would have landed inbounds with both feet but is carried or pushed out of bounds while in possession of the ball in the air or before the second foot touches the ground inbounds by an opponent. The player must maintain possession of the ball when he lands out of bounds.

There are really only two helpful mentions of possession for when a player is being hit as he gains possession. 3-2-7 says that if you lose the ball, even if you have two feet down, it's an incomplete if the touch and possession were simultaneous or there was a chance they were simultaneous. This (and other rules) come into play because there is a preference for incomplete passes (8-1-5, note), since "if there is any question by the covering official if a pass is complete, incomplete or an interception, it is to be ruled incomplete."

I would like to note that there are a lot of interpretive guidelines (football move, anyone?) that are not part of the rulebook. These are, I believe, put out by the competition committee. "Football move" is a way to dismiss doubt regarding a completion to defeat the preference for an incompletion. The rulebook needs to be recodified and have all of these guidelines incorporated as soon as possible, because the way everything is set up right now is an absolute mess.

I'm a bit lost as to what actually happened on the play. If he was forced out and hit two feet down before losing possession, it's a completion. If his feet went down while he was losing control, it's incomplete. If his original momentum took him out of bounds, it's an incomplete.

55
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 11:43am

I'm not sure Belichik made Johnson try to beat the Pats; for some reason, that was Childress.

40:

"Theoretically, Wiggins could have dragged the defender 20 yards before losing the ball, and it still would be an incompletion."

I'm looking around NFL.com's rulebook, and here's what I see: "A forward pass is complete when a receiver clearly possesses the pass and touches the ground with both feet inbounds while in possession of the ball." Where is the rule about catching while being tackled listed? I'm sincerely asking--I want to read it myself (my print rulebook isn't here with me at work).

I have one basic question about this rule: Would getting tackled "while" catching the ball count as a "judgment call" (since it is clearly close to pass interference--it's the judgment call that pass interference didn't occur if the player is getting tackled while receiving), and then wouldn't be reviewable?

56
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 11:53am

Back to my fantasy question, I want to trade with the commish (LT, M Jones-Drew, J Addai and L Maroney), who is in second, for one of the non-LT RBs. I suppose my questions are: are any of them an upgrade over R Brown (I think so, things are only going to get worse), and which of the 3 is going to serve me best as the season goes on? I think I could get one of those guys for R Smith and R Brown (and maybe D BUF).

I'm leaning towards Addai.

57
by John (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 12:05pm

I'd hesitate on Ahman Green. There new fullback, who's been playing very well, probably won't play because of an elbow injury, so it'll be either a broken down william henderson or a tight end providing the lead blocking.

58
by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 12:11pm

#56: As pointed out rightly by #53, the chances of Addai getting useful carries towards the end of the season are small. Same with Maroney. I'm not that big on MJD, but if you can get him for a lots for little kind of trade, good on ya.

59
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 12:13pm

Re: PV
If that was part of the rules, it would be reviewable. So far the one loophole I've found to "judgement calls" is the question of "when does a receiver have possession/control?". I guess this also applies to "fumble recovery while going out of bounds."

Take for example the juggling, catching while falling out of bounds interception by Chris Gamble last Sunday night. Of course you can see black and white when his feet touch, but possession/control is a judgement call. Does it happen when the ball first hits his hands? Does it happen after the ball is tucked? If a player is tucking the ball while going to the ground is that possession/control?

Another example of this is the Marcus Pollard TD catch Week 3, 2005. The official on the field ruled he had possession/control when the ball was in his hands, but on replay they overturned the call because referee didn't think possession/control occurred because he tucked it and it slightly moved in the process of tucking the ball.

60
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:01pm

Personally, I'd rather see the force-out rule removed, and require receivers to get both feet down inbounds with possession. If a defensive player thinks that the best way to stop a completion is by picking up a receiver and carrying him out of bounds, let him try it.

I'd also rather see replay used only to reverse obviously-incorrect calls, not to review calls that could go either way, so you can see in what world I live ...

Note from the SD/KC game: apparently Matt Bryant's field goal was a career-long kick (they broke in near the end of the game to mention it). You think so? Who comes up with these gems, and how can we get hired to replace them?

Fnor, I agree, I would lean toward Addai. Rhodes isn't contributing as much as Dillon is, so Addai probably is a greater part of the Colts' offense. The two teams have four opponents in common: in the five remaining games, New England's schedule is somewhat friendlier for rushing teams, although they do have the Bears remaining, and Rogers may be back when they play the Lions. The Colts face Dallas and the Patriots, but have Buffalo and Cincinnati too.

I don't think you'll go wrong with either, though. I have one of them on each of my teams.

61
by jimnabby (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:34pm

More RB problems. Which 2 do I start? Rudi Johnson @BAL (#1 rush defense); Frank Gore vs. MIN (#2 rush defense); Dominic Rhodes @NE (#3 rush defense) (yeah, I know, he's just here for completeness); Willie Parker vs. DEN (#7 rush defense). Ugh.

62
by wr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:37pm

I have to disagree with the KCW award this week. I think it should go to Cowher for being stupid enough to play someone who just had a concussion the week before, and then too stupid to recognize the fact that Ben wasn't right, and putting in Batch.

63
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 1:58pm

Don’t tell me that a receiver would be caught in mid-air and carried out of bounds; that would never happen.

The same way that players would never give other players a leg up to vault into the air to block FG's (if there wasn't a rule preventing it)? The same way that wedge blockers would never link arms to mow down opponent special teams tacklers (if there wasn't a rule against it)? The same way that defenders gang tackling a RB would never pick him up before he goes to the ground and carry him backwards to make him lose yardage (if there wasn't a forward progress rule preventing it)? The same way that teams would never intentionally fumble to ball forward as a means of making a deceptive handoff (if there wasn't a rule against it)?

I'm not talking about an unlikely, Herculean effort here. Imagine I'm a DB and a wide reciever jumps up into the air to make a catch two yards from the sideline. Under current rules, I try to hit him hard to make him drop the ball, because he's almost certainly going to come down in bounds. But if all I had to do to defense the pass is to get him to land out out bounds, I aim to get under him and wrap him up to keep him from hitting the ground till he's out of bounds. It's true that I've never played football, but I did used to compete in both Judo and wrestling, and I was perfectly capable of picking up and driving a person of a similar size six feet without him hitting the ground. If the person wasn't resisting, but was rather jumping up in the air to catch a pass, it would be even easier. If I had a teammate in the vicinity with whom we had practiced it, it would be even easier. Now maybe it would be harder in pads, and with the more difficult timing, but certainly not "would never happen".

I'm not saying it would be an every play occurrence--maybe no more than once per game--but it certainly could happen, the same way a RB could be picked up and carried backwards if there wasn't a forward progress rule. Now if you want to see that kind of play, fine (I've always thought it would be kind of fun if players could vault off each other to try to block a FG), but it would change the game.

My compromise on the issue would be to eliminate the forceout rule, but to switch to NCAA rules or something similar (i.e. just get any part of your body to touch in bounds before any other part touches out of bounds) when a defender is in contact with the WR. So if you are open, you still have to get both feet down, but if you're being pushed (or carried) you only have to get something to touch in bounds. Very clear cut. Nice compromise.

64
by LarryLegend (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:00pm

Another brutal fantasy question, pick one out of these two RB's..JoJo Addai vs the Pats, or Will Parker vs Den...Thanks for the anticipated help...

65
by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:03pm

Re 62,

I agree. Few athletes not named Manny Ramirez are ever going to say "take me out--I'm not going to play well right now". If Cowher tells Ben to play, he'll play. He'll do his best. I'm sure he didn't go out there intending to suck, or even do anything that defied common sense (like chopping his foot with an axe or freezing himself). If he sucks, he'll want to stay out there to fix the problems he caused. It's the coaches job to just say no to his athletes and put in whoever is best to win the game. To use a baseball analogy, was it Pedro's fault, or Grady Little's fault, that Pedro got left in in the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees and ended up losing the series? I think the KCW this week has to be on Cowher.

66
by doktarr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:11pm

Flex spot choice (assuming Kennison and Antonio Bryant take my WR spots): Ronnie Brown, Maurice Morris, Mike Furrey, or Nate Washington?

67
by Jody (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:12pm

RB question. Do I start Gore vs MIN, R Brown vs CHI, or Maroney who will split carries vs IND's porous run defense? My other running back is S Jackson. Yes I have a RB factory. There are no bonuses for 100 yd games, long runs, etc. Thnaks

68
by doktarr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:12pm

RE: 64,

Assuming the weather stays nice in both places, Addai probably has a better chance of reaching the end zone this week than Parker.

69
by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:29pm

Leftwich vs Ten or Huard vs StL?

70
by Rick (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 2:38pm

Re: 65
Few athletes named Manny Ramirez are ever going to say “take me out–I’m not going to play well right now�. Take a look at his career stats. He has consistently played 150+ games per year (six times in his career) and has never missed more than 45 games in any season. I'll put Manny's durability and work ethic against anybody's. The guy has 470 career HRs and 1516 career RBIs!

Rule of thumb: if you find yourself agreeing with Dan Shaughnessy about anything negative related to a Boston athlete, you're probably in the wrong. (Actually, I'm tempted to say that the rule generalizes to "if you agree with Shaughnessy about anything, you're in the wrong, but he might be right about things such as "it's raining today" from time to time.)

(Incidentally, I'm looking forward to a spate of articles from Dr. Shaughnessy and the rest of the media pundits explaining to us how Curtis Martin should really be playing right now. Or is there a double standard involved when an athlete stops talking to the press? Heaven forbid!)

71
by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:00pm

Re #23 and #29 - did Pereira use the explanation provided in #29? If that's the rule that applies, you'd think he would.

This discussion just reinforces one of my pet beefs: the entire NFL rule book, interpetive guidelines, signing statements, etc. should be publicly available.

72
by doktarr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:04pm

67: I'd go with Maroney.
69: I think Huard is the more reliable play.

73
by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:13pm

On Seneca Wallace: as a Chiefs fan having watched many games over the years, I was salivating at the prospect of an inexperienced QB getting his 1st start at Arrowhead with mad scientist Gunther Cunningham brewing up some tricky blitz packages and coverages.

So I was very surprised at how well Wallace played IN THE FIRST HALF. The problem was he stunk in the second half.

1st half: 9/13; 98 yds; 2 tds
2nd half: 6/17; 100 yds; 1 td; 2 int

Note that his 2nd half stats include 1 49-yd TD pass where the cb (Law) tripped over his own feet. Granted Wallace pump-faked him but it's not like Law falls down on every pump fake he sees. And that was just after (2 plays) Law had dropped a pass that hit him in the chest.

And 40 more yds of his total came after Jared Allen kept-chopping-wood by running with an INT instead of getting down, allowing it to be stripped by Deion Branch.

Wallace could esily have been 2/11; 11 yds; 0 TDs; 3 int in the 2nd half.

I thought he played astoundingly well in the 1st half. If he can play close to that level the Seahawks will be ok until Hass comes back. But if the 2nd half is a truer measure of his ability, then start the Raiders D this week.

74
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:14pm

I would buy that explanation if it was called on the field like that.

My understanding is that one official called it a catch (the one seen on TV) and another called it an incompletion. After consultation, they called it an incompletion.

I’m looking around NFL.com’s rulebook, and here’s what I see:

NFL.com's rulebook is useless. First, it's only a summary. Second, it doesn't include the referee's guidelines for interpretation, which have the same force as the actual rules.

75
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:15pm

To all you bettors out there:

It's time to start using THE SYSTEM. And don't forget about Oakland and the NFC West at home and on the road!

76
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:24pm

63 - One of USC's receivers got carried a yard and a half or so out of bounds in the game last week (or at his foot was - his elbow almost dropped inbounds before the foot). It definitely cane happen.

77
by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:26pm

Sorry for the double-post, but here's a few more:
Rod Smith vs Pit or Reggie Williams vs Ten?
Parker vs Den, Addai vs NE, or Gore vs Min?

78
by fyo (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:35pm

"In all fairness, Ian, I don’t see how you could say Brett Favre isn’t consistent considering he’s on his ninth day with Teamocil. Or Prilosec. Whichever it is."

What does the above mean?

79
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:40pm

I used to have a full official 2002 rulebook that somebody on the Chiefs left behind at training camp. I might have lost it in a move. If I knew how hard it was to access rules, I never would have allowed it to be lost.

80
by NoJo (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:44pm

I need to pick 2:

C. Taylor (vs SF), Gore (vs MN), M Jones-Drew (vs TEN).

I got burned last week for assuming that Gore wouldn't do well against a good defense (and started a RB not listed here who did poorly). I'm afraid of Jones-Drew's low # of carries, but he scores a lot of TDs. Leaning toward Taylor and Gore. Thoughts?

81
by Blair (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:46pm

Was that a Mutant League Football reference I read in the article?

Time for me to fish the Sega Genesis out of the closet.

82
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 3:53pm

#22: Teamocil was a fake drug in the show Arrested Development, designed to heighten feelings of teamwork. It had a lengthy list of side effects, one of which was loss of sex drive. At one point a character took it purely for that side effect. Later on, she thinks she sees her father (who was on the lam) and says "wait, I think hallucinations are one of the side effects of teamocil" immediately after which, the narrator cuts in with "it was not."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you ruin a joke through explanation.

83
by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 4:23pm

"If you actually have a cogent argument up your sleeve somewhere, you might want to present it instead of sloganeering."Awesome. I've always wanted to be accused of 'sloganeering'.

84
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 4:37pm

oh, and a much easier explanation for Leinart's struggles are the home/road splits. Watch him play well against Dallas

By the way, I'm not a fan of Ian's picks this week. Look for another 1-2 there.

This isn't a pick you'll hear often, but I like Washington this week. Yes, the Cowboys and Redskins are headed in opposite directions. Just don't expect to see Dallas destroy Washington. I can't say exactly what will happen, but don't be surprised to see a Washington win here.

85
by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 5:03pm

The Washington home game isn't north enough to count in The SYSTEM, is it?

86
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 5:35pm

Dallas-Washington is actually a SYSTEM game, yes.

87
by bryan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 6:08pm

Is a Kevin Jones for Leinart / SA / D Rhodes a legit trade or is it throwing in the towel by the SA owner? Also, he traded Andre Johnson, J Delhomme, and Wali Lundy for Isaac Bruce, and Ronnie Brown yesterday.

Should I get irritated or am I overreacting here? Money league, of course.

88
by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 6:12pm

re 60:

Amen. I was watching the Viqueens and Seachickens a few weeks ago; Minnesota has the ball on their own five yard line, and hands the ball to Chester Taylor (go Rockets!) who runs 95 yards for the TD. The meatpuppet couldn't stop saying how he believed that was probably Taylor's longest carry of the season. Huh? You think?? You were hired for exactly this sort of expertise commentary that you bring to our telecast??? I would have thought Taylor might have dozens of runs longer than that this season...

I swear, I've had ex's who didn't watch football at all that have more basic football knowlege than this Rainmen they continually inflict on us.

Seriously, couldn't someone do a study on this or something? Couldn't they experiment with commentators who perhaps never played the game in the NFL, but in fact do love and watch football, and have some background in journalism or public speaking, and are actually capable of watching the same game we are while the commentate?? How hard should this be??

89
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 6:15pm

Man, I've been looking forward to THE SYSTEM all year. At least I've got something to get me through the rest of the season.

90
by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 6:58pm

#87, it's totally not a legit trade. SA is by himself better than Kevin Jones, and certainly worth more even with Seattle's woes. And what, they're throwing in Rhodes and Leinart just cause Jones comandeers such awesomeness?

The other trade is a bit closer, in that Brown isn't horrible in most FFLs (he's not great, but not horrible) and it's closer, but I suspect it's still crap.

91
by Ian Dembsky (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 7:15pm

#80 - Stick with the guaranteed starters

#86 - Crap; I'm screwed. Oh well.

#87 - I disagree, it's not a bad trade. Kevin Jones has been excellent lately if you hadn't noticed, now that the Lions' offense is clicking. Leinart and Rhodes are basically worthless. And who knows how Alexander will perform when he comes back? It's a very fair deal. The other one is also fair; it's giving up Andre J. to buy low on Ronnie Brown. Nothing wrong with that.

92
by Andy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 7:31pm

I've got 4 RBs and can only start 2:

Maroney vs Indy
Ronnie Brown vs Bears
Rudi Johnson vs Baltimore
Thomas Jones vs Miami

I'm leaning towards starting Maroney & Jones.

Any imput would be appreciated. Thanks.

93
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 9:06pm

Of course you can see black and white when his feet touch, but possession/control is a judgement call. Does it happen when the ball first hits his hands? Does it happen after the ball is tucked? If a player is tucking the ball while going to the ground is that possession/control?

We think it's a judgement call, but officials do not. There are very likely pretty good standards as to what constitutes "control". The main reason we think it's ambiguous is because we don't know what the official's definition of 'control' is.

94
by gmc (not verified) :: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 9:11pm

#92

Maroney and Jones. No ? in my mind.

95
by i am a very mean person (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 12:13am

re 86
what do you mean by a system game?

96
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 1:26am

Pat,
I respectfully disagree.

If time of possession/control is not a judgement call, I don't know what is. I've seen some players get the benefit of the doubt when making sideline catches (Reggie Wayne) and they appear to lose control of the ball when tucking it, making it look like a bobbled catch. This call is definately judgement.

97
by slimsanghvi (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 1:41am

Here's a fun one for you all...

Due to quite a bit of flexibility in my league I must choose three of the following, with at least 1 being a RB, and at least 1 being a WR/TE.

J. Shockey vs. HOU
J. Lewis vs. CIN
C. Williams vs. NO
R. Brown vs. CHI
T. Bell vs. PIT
M. Jenkins vs. DET
C. Henry vs. BAL
J. Galloway vs. NO
T. Glenn vs. WAS

10 yds = 1 pt, TD = 6, no pts for receptions.

Thoughts?

98
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 1:41am

RE: 95

Click my name.

Of course, all of what I said about that game depends on the health of Santana Moss.

99
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 1:50am

#96: Exactly. You don't know what the officials are looking for. They very likely do, however. I'm sure there are very straightforward guidelines as to what "possession" means. Whether or not they apply them properly is another thing, but that's true of all the rules.

100
by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 10:44am

#97 - I like Williams as the RB there. Jamal Lewis is also a decent idea, as Cinci's run defense stinks and it appears he'll be getting the ball more.

I think shockey's a no-brainer for the WR/TE. You might consider Glenn, but I think Shockey's going to do better vs Houston.

101
by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 11:14am

What's the story on Maroney? I have to start him or R. Brown vs Chicago.

Thanks.

102
by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 11:32am

Re #99 - You don’t know what the officials are looking for. They very likely do, however. I’m sure there are very straightforward guidelines as to what “possession� means. Whether or not they apply them properly is another thing, but that’s true of all the rules.

It is completely ridiculous that an informed fan does not have access to the guidelines on possession. Sometimes I think the officials might as well be figure skating judges for all the transparency involved in how they make decisions.

103
by calig23 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 1:23pm

So, with Santana Moss possibly not playing this week, who would be a better replacement: Muhammad against Miami, or Rod Smith against the Steelers?

I'm leaning towards Muhammad, but any input would be helpful.

I could also pick up someone like Isaac Bruce (KC) or Doug Gabriel(Indy).

104
by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 2:08pm

get gabriel

105
by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 5:32pm

#2WR ??
Have penciled in Colston @ TB, but I am considering (50:50) Furrey vs ATL. I am also considering (25:75) Berrian vs MIA as a second alternate choice. HELP.

My #1WR is Burress vs HOU as Smith has the week off.

Thanks in advance

106
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 5:41pm

Isaac Bruce sounds like a good bet. Surprised he's available.

By the way, Moss has ruled himself out for Week 9, according to Yahoo!

107
by dbt (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 5:43pm

If the rule is, in fact, that the WR cannot fumble if he is hit while making the catch and doesn't keep the ball going down to the ground, that requires further explanation than just, "Upon review, the call stands. STFU." You just wasted two minute under the hood, give us 5 seconds of explanation please.

108
by slimsanghvi (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 5:45pm

Re: #97,100

Thanks, Kal. I was thinking the same thing for Cadillac and Jamal Lewis, but was wondering if WRs should be generally thought of as a class above TEs, and so maybe go with Glenn or even a wildcard like Henry (who seems to do great any Sunday he's not in jail) over Shockey. Shockey's been awfully inconsistent this year.

In general, is it the standard wisdom that flex positions should be filled by RBs when possible? Weekly lists rarely combine RBs and WRs and so I have a tough time comparing across the two.

Any other thoughts about my situation (in #97)?

Re: #101 Look above for a lot of thoughts on this. I think everyone agrees that Maroney is a better play.

109
by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 6:30pm

#2RB, Dunn or Jones-Drew??
Have penciled in Dunn @ CIN. But Vick has been pass crazy (for Vick anyway) these last 2 weeks. So this new combination of Vick as a passer and well as the running QB we all know him to be can't help but negatively impact on Dunn's touches. And I can't forget about two other items: 1) Dunn is 31, and 2) the news releases last week that stated that Norwood will be getting a increase in his touches. Also can't forget that Dunn isn't really known as a TD machine either.

I am considering Jones-Drew vs TEN as my #2RB since Gerrard, if he actually starts will probably not throw that much. This should translate into 30-35 carries by the JAC RBs, way too many carries for any one back, especially for Fragile Freddy...so Jones-Drew will/should get a decent number of touches...and all the while J-D has been known to catch passes when he comes out the back field...but I can't forget that he is still the JAC back-up RB.

Please respond with your thoughts and insights. Many thanks.

110
by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 11/03/2006 - 7:57pm

Re: 105

Burress now listed as questionable with back spasms...again.

Double HELP

111
by Big J (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 1:06pm

so since it looks like Burress is not playing I have to decide on three WRs, and 1 WR/TE from: M Jenkins, M Muhammed, G Jennings, D Branch and B Watson

first off Jennings is listed as questionable so not sure if he will play,
Jenkins had a solid game last week and is playing Detroit one of the worst Ds in terms of pass yards this year

thoughts?

also for RB I need to pick 3 out of Cadillac, Droughns, McGahee, R Brown and M Bell (anyone know if he is gonna be the primary guy for Denver again this week?)

112
by ABW (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 4:06pm

Re: 109

I'd go Jones-Drew because I think Jax is going to be running a lot too, but it's hard to bench a starter for a backup. Tough call.

Re: 111

If Jennings plays he has a very good matchup on Terrence McGee. I would try and play him if you can, but I don't know if he's going to play either. I would definitely play Watson, Pats-Colts is going to be high scoring I think. I think Branch is probably the weakest play of those.

OK, now I need help. I have a TE and WR/TE flex spot, and B Berrian, Kellen Winslow, Chris Cooley, and Doug Gabriel. With Santana Moss out I feel like Cooley is a must-start, and K2 has been solid all year. Berrian has tailed off after a hot start, and the only reason I would even consider Gabriel is because I think Pats-Colts is a shootout. Right now I'm going with both the TEs.

Also, I'm playing Damon Huard ahead of Alex Smith(stupid H-beck injury) and Maroney ahead of Frank Gore, but I feel pretty good about those.

113
by Cristian (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 4:39pm

#112

Do you really think Branch is has a bad matchup? If you consider him still as a no.2 on Seattle (D.Jackson obviously the no.1) than he's facing an Oakland team whose one weakness on defense is their DVOA allowed to No.2 recievers (38.6%, 29th in the league).

Can I get some oppinions on starting two of these three guys: Kennison at Stl, Moss v. Sea, and Branch v. Oakland. I'm leaning toward Branch and Moss, even though Kennison has a better DVOA matchup against Stl., because Moss has been thrown to almost exclusively and is racking up 10+ targets in two of the last three games (Walter threw the ball like only 10 times last week).

114
by Cristian (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 4:42pm

#112

I think you have to go with Berrian, Miami isn't very good against no.2 WRs. Cooley and Winslow is a toss up for the TE position. I think you're going to be good either way, but becuase you noted Moss will be out, it may boost Cooley's targets.

115
by Terry (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 7:01pm

Would you trade Barlow for M. Bell straight up?

116
by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 10:29pm

115:

Depends on how many carries each will get for the rest of the season. If Bell is likely to get as many or more carries than Barlow, definitely. I have no idea who will get more carries in the future, but keep in mind that before the Indianapolis game Mike Bell was pretty far inside Shanahan's doghouse, as demonstrated by who did and did not get carries in the game vs. the Ravens.

117
by Peter (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 10:35pm

Chester Taylor vs. SF or Lawrence Maroney vs. IND? 1 point per 20 yds, 6 points per TD,

118
by Cristian (not verified) :: Sat, 11/04/2006 - 11:01pm

117

Really? Seems pretty cut and dry to go with Taylor. What makes you think it Maroney is would be better?

119
by hector (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 2:00am

I want to vomit when teams get all macho on short yardage, toss their playbook in the ocean and go with the jumbo package (where you have just a few options, which even the 5-year-old fans can recite). I've never understood it and I don't think I ever will. Good piece.

120
by ABW (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 6:52am

Re: 113

I don't think Branch has a particularly bad matchup, I just don't think he's as good a play as Jenkins, Muhammad, or Watson. As you note, Branch is a #2 or so, and Jenkins and Muhammad are #1s against weak defenses and Watson is probably getting targeted more than anyone on the Patriots right now. I admit it's close with Jenkins though. FWIW, I would play Kennison ahead of Branch.

Thanks 114.

121
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 11/06/2006 - 5:23pm

Wow. Bill goes 3-0, once again, and Ian goes 0-3, once again. Yikes. Even the crazy Cleveland over SD pick.

Sorry, Ian.

122
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 11/06/2006 - 9:04pm

RE: 84

By the way, I’m not a fan of Ian’s picks this week.

Looks like I was right. 0-3

123
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 11/06/2006 - 10:51pm

You know, Sid, I remember you telling me that the Jets were going to cover against the Browns last week, and you didn't post in the thread to say you were wrong...

124
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 2:48pm

Did I? I don't remember. But if I did, I still say the Jets should have covered that game. Even with their poor play, they managed to tie it at 20.