Audibles at the Line
Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2007. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

Tennessee Titans 13 at Indianapolis Colts 14

Ned Macey: Nice start for the Colts defense, giving up an 88-yard drive exclusively on the ground. And yes, the crowd was definitely booing (they seem to really not like giving up plays on the draw). Vince Young gets the rushing touchdown, eluding Freeney and then going in untouched for 19-yard touchdown.

Aaron Schatz: What the hell is going on in Indianapolis? I'm not talking about the Titans running on the Colts, that makes sense. Why haven't the Colts been able to score on the Tennessee defense???

Michael David Smith: Titans have basically been playing a prevent defense all day, and the Colts haven't been taking advantage of all the room that allows to run and throw short passes. As I write this, they look like their halftime adjustments were to do exactly that, and they're driving down the field.

Will Carroll: The Colts run defense is abysmal. Inside, they're just getting bulled. I guess Corey Simon would help. Hell, Tony Siragusa would help.

Do we have any numbers on Freeney vs. a mobile QB? It's like he doesn't know where to aim and his rush is screwed. They are covering him with the TE/FB, but usually that opens up Mathis, and it's not happening.

And Travis Henry just re-injured his toe.

Ned Macey: Yikes was that a bad game by the Colts. Basically, Tennessee played their safeties deep and on the outside. Manning almost never looked down the field, so given camera angles it was hard to see exactly what they were doing. Announcers failed to notice, but Pac-Man Jones played great on Harrison. Jones goes out for one play on an injury and Manning immediately goes after Woolfolk and hits a TD to Harrison. Jones came back and Harrison made one more catch the rest of the day.

The Colts worked better in the second half going to Stokley in single-coverage underneath. But then Stokley got hurt again. Manning threw a pick inside the five on a ball that bounced off Wayne's hands, or at least the Colts would have gotten 20. In the first half, the Colts were 0-for-6 on third down.

As for the defense, this does seem to be opposite year. Last year they gave up big pass plays early before settling down. This year they are getting gashed early before holding their own late.

Vince Young did not look good. He's jittery in the pocket and inaccurate -- i.e., a rookie. He did make one beautiful downfield pass that Bobby Wade let go right through his hands.

Buffalo Bills 7 at Chicago Bears 40

Doug Farrar: Dick Jauron calls a fake punt with 3:20 elapsed in the first quarter, after a false start penalty on fullback Daimon Shelton turned fourth-and-1 into fourth-and-6. The snap on the punt was bad, and the Bears' excellent special teams capitalized and picked up the ball on their own 40. The Bears would pick up an easy 3 on the drive. Dick, when you're playing against the best defense in the NFL, field position is more important than razzle-dazzle ... especially early on, and especially when your own guy puts you five yards further in the hole.

It's rare that you see a defense playing this well and this much in sync. Things can change through a season, but I don't see how any offense could hold up against Chicago's D right now -- certainly not an offense run by J.P. Losman. One week after making Matt Hasselbeck look like the 2002 "Help!" version of himself, they've drilled into Losman's brain and have him rattled to death. The pick he threw straight to Briggs on third-and-9 with 11:24 left in the second quarter was just plain goofy -- there wasn't a Bill within five yards of Briggs.

Miami Dolphins 10 at New England Patriots 20

Ian Dembsky: The intro music for today's game: "Smack My Bitch Up," by Prodigy. Excellent selection.

Will Joey Harrington spark an offense that's been terrible, or will the Pats eat him alive? Discuss.

Bill Moore: Harrington has done nothing spectacular, but has been efficient. But for a holding call, he would have driven the dolphins to the 1 yard line with a nice 20+ yard pass to Booker. One Ronnie Brown fumble and one Orlando Mare blocked field goal is the difference in this game. Brady on the other hand still seems to be taking his time to get a rhythm.

Aaron Schatz: It seems to me that the Patriots are playing a good deal of zone defense, and Harrington is doing an excellent job of finding the holes in there, especially when Wes Welker is the guy sitting in the hole. Also, the Miami offensive line is doing a good job of picking up the pass rush, although they really suck at run blocking.

The Patriots are making up for the lack of wide receivers by motioning out all kinds of weird people. Heath Evans made a first-down catch as a wide receiver. Heath Evans???

Bill Moore: New England pulled in their second interception off a rushed Harrington pass. We'll see how the game progresses for Harrington, but I don't think it was a totally stupid throw by him. Asante Samuel dropped off the outside streaking receiver (passing him off to the safety) and stepped under Harrington's pass. Frankly, it was a perfectly timed (coincidentally timed?) play by the defense. Harrington was hurried -- looking left -- and saw an opening in the slot right. Without much time to set, he threw a pretty good pass. I'm not even sure Samuel had broken his coverage at this point or not. Even in the replay, Samuel doesn't enter the picture until the last minute.

Brady, on the other hand, has picked up the rhythm that I referred to earlier. Troy Brown has gotten much more involved in the offensive game plan.

Aaron Schatz: Near the end of the third quarter, the Patriots switched their offense. Brady went into shotgun and started audibling and changing every play at the line depending on what he saw from the defense. That finally put their offense into gear. As for the running game, I'm curious why the Patriots have spent so much time running straight up into the middle, right at Big Daddy Dan Wilkinson and Robert Traylor, instead of trying stuff around the edges, or counters. They're not getting a lot of yardage that way.

Twice now, the Patriots have earned 15-yard facemask penalties to extend Miami drives. Ellis Hobbs yanked Ronnie Brown's helmet backwards as he was riding him out of bounds. You've already got the guy out of bounds, what the hell are you grabbing onto his helmet for? Then Jarvis Green had an awesome sack on Harrington, but grabbed the face mask when Harrington was, I don't know, three inches away from the ground? Guys, you have to control yourselves. When the tackle is assured, stay away from the damn face mask.

The CBS guys said Wes Welker reminds them of Brandon Stokely. Later in the evening on ESPN, Tom Jackson said Welker reminds him of Tim Dwight. For crying out loud, is it somehow against the law to compare Wes Welker to a black man? It's so bloody obvious from today's game, Wes Welker is Miami's version of Troy Brown. I mean, Troy Brown is one of the smartest players in the NFL and he has deceptive speed! You know if the Patriots suddenly needed an emergency kicker, Brown would do it. I bet if the Dolphins needed an emergency defensive back, Welker would do that.

Doug Farrar: Good point. For example, were I to compare anyone to Pat Robertson with his 700 Club booth mannerisms, it would be Deion Sanders.

Washington Redskins 3 at New York Giants 19

Al Bogdan: I guess I'm the only one watching this exciting 9-3 Giants/Redskins game. New York's offensive line is having its best game of the year. The Redskins have been trying to rush the passer with only their front four and it hasn't been working. The running game has been outstanding, with the line opening huge holes for Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs to run through. Eli's having a nice game. He's throwing the ball deep well -- that is, when he knows which routes his receivers are running.

I've been very surprised that Washington hasn't tried to do more downfield. Corey Webster has been on Santana Moss a lot, leaving Sam Madison on Brandon Lloyd. Why they haven't picked on Madison, I don't know. Gibril Wilson has done a good job on Chris Cooley thus far. Cooley has done a good job containing Michael Strahan when blocking in the first half. Strahan's only sack came when Christian Fauria was lined up against him, and Fauria decided he didn't need to block the future Hall of Famer.

These officials are really inconsistent today. They're making a lot of ticky tack calls, like the helmet-to-helmet hit on Mark Brunell, but missing anything done by either offensive line. Both lines are holding to their hearts' content.

Ryan Wilson: Shawn Springs might be the most important player on Washington's defense. Without him, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams admitted that he doesn't like to blitz, leaving Carlos Rogers all by himself to give up big play after big play.

Also suffering is the Redskins' run defense, which was on the field for the first eight minutes of the second half which ended in a TD pass from Manning to Burress. Other than those two glaring issues, this team looks exactly like last year's version.

Al Bogdan: Plus, they have to leave Kenny Wright in on every play. Eli has been picking on Wright all day, leading to another nice day from Amani Toomer.

Bill Barnwell: I've been traveling all day but the goofiest thing I saw all day was the Giants throwing a bubble screen to a split-out Brandon Jacobs. I thought I was hallucinating.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 at New Orleans Saints 24

Will Carroll: For the first time this season, Deuce McAllister is starting to look like a real back. He was fine numbers-wise through the first four weeks, but I hadn't seen him make a cut. On his TD run today, he wasn't Barry Sanders, but he was moving. That's a massive positive.

Detroit Lions 17 at Minnesota Vikings 26

Ned Macey: Flipped over to this game in time to see Pat Williams storm in untouched to force a game-changing fumble by Kitna. Good to see Martz was up to his old tricks. 10 rushes for Jones (admittedly ineffective), 42 attempts plus 5 sacks for Kitna.

I charted last week's Minnesota game which was admittedly a loss, but Brad Johnson is just afraid to throw the ball down the field. He's so nervous the second he sees any pressure. 7.7 yards per completion against a team that was scorched by Favre and Bulger isn't going to get it done. Fortunately, they got two defensive touchdowns.

St. Louis Rams 23 at Green Bay Packers 20

Ned Macey: Favre-haters are going to be emboldened by this one. Fumbling in the last minute when in field goal range? Is he Kurt Warner? I don't know how hampered Driver was, but Favre looked often to Jennings who was running free all game.

Al Harris and Charles Woodson did a good job. Holt and Bruce combined for 5 catches for 63 yards. The rest of the Rams offense had 12 catches for 157 yards unfortunately.

After a one game plus one half aberration, it was nice to have order restored with the Rams stalling three times inside the 15-yard line in the second half. According to Yahoo Fantasy Sports, Jeff Wilkins is the third-highest "Key to Success" in fantasy football.

By the way, my wife may have a fight on her hands for Marc Bulger's affection. Brian Baldinger loves the guy in a Peter King-Brett Favre kind of way. And, who the hell is Rich Baldinger, and why was I subjected to multiple Baldingers on the same day?

Dallas Cowboys 24 at Philadelphia Eagles 38

Bill Moore:Lots o' turnovers is making this a pretty exciting game living up to its big game billing. Philly is blitzing the crap out of Bledsoe. In the first half, he's been hit in motion at least three times, two of which were ducks. One was to T.O. and intercepted, and one was intercepted by Sheppard -- Oh wait, no it wasn't. Sheppard dropped the easiest INT he'll have all year. T.O. has seen tight man coverage by Brown, and has only seen the one ball (INT) thrown his direction. Glenn, as many fantasy guys expected, is seeing a good amount of action.

On the flip side, McNabb has been hit -- including one that resulted in fumble/INT TD -- but for the most part has had time to make throws. His receivers aren't exactly doing him justice. A bunch of dumpoffs/screens to Westbrook and one long wide-open pass to Smith make up 2/3 of his yards.

Holy cow, check Bledsoe's blood vessels, he ran a 10-yard bootleg TD taking a three defender hit.

Something to watch: Dallas is having a problem with the long snap. Twice McBriar has mishandled L.P. LaDouceur's snap, one resulting in a fumble. LaDouceur, who was signed to fix Dallas' snapping problems last year, has been snapping the ball pretty high.

Ryan Wilson: On Bledsoe's first half TD, all I could think was, "Bring on Romo," because Tom Brady got his start on a eerily similar hit. Of course I have no idea what I was talking about because Bledsoe stayed in the game, but it didn't look good at the time.

I also noticed McNabb loves throwing the ball as hard as possible, no matter the distance between him and his receivers. That, coupled with L.J. Smith going catch-optional, makes for a lot of incompletions.

Bill Moore: I agree. McNabb is making some throws like my kids. They get as close to me as possible and throw as hard as they can. Twice, maybe three times, Smith has had the ball ricochet off his equipment, including once on a play action, wide-open goal line throw. Um, Donovan, get your therapeutic throws out during practice.

However, Smith has made up for it with two nice long receptions.

Also, is there any sillier-sounding penalty in football than "group celebration?"

Aaron Schatz: Is there any sillier penalty in football than "group celebration," period?

Al Bogdan: I know Dallas is only down 24-21 at this point, but they have to consider bringing in Tony Romo. The Dallas line can't handle Philly's blitzes, and Bledsoe is useless if he's pressured at all.

Bill Moore: Now there's a picture. Mike Vanderjagt counseling a frustrated T.O. on the sideline. I can hear the conversation now:

"Hey, I know what its like to have a quarterback who can't win the big game. Trust me. We'll have a drink later..."

Aaron Schatz: You know, I swear I read an article somewhere about what great decisions Bledsoe makes. Does anyone else remember that one?

At what point does Owens completely throw Bledsoe under the bus during a press conference? Tonight after the game? Next week? A couple more weeks?

They showed Pat Watkins on the sideline, and he was quite emotional after giving up both of the big touchdowns. Well, the first one was a cornerback blitz, which left Watkins one-on-one with Hank Baskett. The second one had Watkins one-on-one with Reggie Brown, although on that one Roy Williams was providing deep zone coverage and took a crappy angle in his attempt to help in the end zone. Anyway, Watkins did not play well but isn't this in large part the fault of the coaching staff for putting him in a position that didn't play to his strengths? You have to know that if you leave a rookie safety in man coverage on a wide receiver, you are taking a risk. If Watkins was good playing man coverage on wide receivers, he would be a cornerback.

Trent Cole is awesome. Darren Howard is awesome. I don't know who those guys were in the first few games but this is the Dallas offensive line we all expected. By the way, props to Lito Sheppard for looking much better than I expected today (despite the dropped interception) -- and Joselio Hanson, for crying out loud, was on Terrell Owens for much of the day and did a great job (helped by the pass rush, of course).

Ryan Wilson: Watkins is 6'5" and ran a 4.42-forty at the combine. I think he's a little too tall to play CB (see Mike Rumph) although with his size and speed he should be able to stay with Baskett. Plus, Baskett's a rookie too, and he was undrafted, although that's starting to look like a mistake.

Anyway, the Baskett TD showed why 40 times are so overrated. Baskett ran a 4.5-forty at the combine and part of the reason he went undrafted was because he was slow. Yeah, he didn't look so slow on the TD.

Bill Moore: It was very interesting to see that Bledsoe immediately threw to Owens after his interception tirade. One problem: Owens wasn't open.

Ned Macey: My question is why did Dallas seemingly abandon the run? By all accounts, Parcells has no faith in Bledsoe, and then he calls almost 50 pass plays compared with 33 handoffs. 38 seconds isn't a lot with no timeouts, but what about a draw down at the end of the game? After the Eagles took the 3-point lead in the third, Dallas threw on 8 of the next 10 plays. They go five passes, four runs and tie the game on a field goal. The Eagles score again, and starting a drive with 9 minutes left, they throw on four of five downs. Even the final drive started with 4:26, and they ran one time (successfully for 6 yards on 2nd-and-10). Terrible offensive play calling.

As for the Eagles, McNabb does make a handful of no-touch/inaccurate throws each game, but he's definitely playing at a high level. In all the hubbub of the T.O. leaving, nobody noticed that the Eagles have much better receivers than the Thrash/Pinkston/Mitchell era. In the playoffs, we will not see a repeat of the NFC Championship vs. Carolina from the 2003 season.

Doug Farrar: Always been a big Jim Johnson fan, but I have to give him special kudos today. He called a host of creative blitzes -- especially up the middle -- frustrating Bledsoe all day. The positioning of the blitzes gave the quarterback less time to read without pressure, and the Eagles came away with seven sacks. While Dallas' offensive line has been a liability all season and Bledsoe is well-known as a quarterback who will fold and throw dead ducks under pressure, coaches have played the Cowboys honest due to all the weapons -- Owens, Terry Glenn, Jason Witten, the two-headed rushing attack of Julius Jones and Marion Barber. Johnson threw out the “book� and went straight after Bledsoe with everything he had. He banked on the ability of his injury-depleted secondary to cover Owens and Glenn straight up with the pressure as the primary factor, and it worked like a charm. He directed his defense to get in Bledsoe's grill until it didn't work, and it never stopped working. That's the kind of coaching performance, and faith in his players, that could define a season.

Mike Tanier: OK, Eagles notes:

1) The pregame atmosphere in the parking lots before the game was electric but not insane. I checked out the Holiday Inn lot, the Citizens Bank lot, the Linc lot, and about 3 other lots within 10 blocks of the stadium. Only saw about five Cowboys jerseys, zero fights, very little drunken insanity. Lots of great tailgating. I love my fellow fans.

2) The early game came down to Demarcus Ware vs. Darren Howard. Neither player could be blocked. Ware was just too quick for William Thomas III. The Cowboys line looked stunned every time Howard and Darwin Walker executed a simple stunt.

3) The snap to Mat McBriar wasn't that bad. The kid had the yips I think.

4) The Cowboys went to an empty backfield a few times and got burned. Twice, they split Jason Witten as the widest receiver to the right. I think they were trying to isolate Toastolio Hanson against T.O. or Glenn. The Eagles shifted like mad before the plays to get the matchups they wanted. I think all of the empty backfield plays in the first half became sacks or turnovers, so we didn't see it again.

5) Drew Bledsoe spent the first half feeling a very dangerous pass rush. He spent the second half feeling a largely imaginary pass rush, at least until the last two drives. Bledsoe was short arming passes, throwing off his back foot, and hurrying throws.

6) Someone asked why the Cowboys abandoned the run. I want to know why they are so devoted to it? This is the flip side of the frustration Eagles fans feel when Andy Reid throws the ball 55 times. You have two of the best WRs in the NFL, one of the three or four best tight ends. Why not come out guns a-blazing more? Granted, their empty backfield formations didn't work, but there is a happy medium between an empty backfield and "let's just line up in the I and give it to Julius."

7) The Cowboys had their best pass rush when Todd Herremans was hurt in the second quarter. When Herremans came back, they had a harder time getting to McNabb.

8) That Watkins kid had a hand in three Eagles TDs. 1) He was clearly out of position when L.J. Smith went right up the seam on the catch that led to the McNabb sneak. 2) He bit badly on a hitch-and-go to Baskett when there was a cornerback blitz. Always keep that play in front of you, kid. 3) Bit pretty hard on the flea-flicker handoff, then did a poor job of ball location when Reggie Brown had a half step on him. All told, Parcells is going to slay that secondary: if you factor all of the drops in, look at the game this bunch of #2 and #3 receivers had on them.

9) Toastolio actually had a good game.

10) There is no more rapturous sound in this world than a hundred Eagles fans at a bar reacting at once to an interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Schatz: I'm going to write more about this in the Dallas comment for the DVOA ratings, but in his GM Jr. scouting guide, our friend Russ Lande specifically called Watkins a tweener between linebacker and safety and said that "he could be a good safety who usually lines up closer to the line of scrimmage and doesn't have as many coverage responsibilities." To me, that sounds like the coaches aren't using him right. (It also sounds like he has the same skill set as Roy Williams, which might be part of the problem.)

New York Jets 0 at Jacksonville Jaguars 41

Ned Macey: Token Jet comment: someone's going to have to explain to me why Chad Pennington was in until the last drive of the game. The Jets were down 34. 34!

Kansas City Chiefs 23 at Arizona Cardinals 20

Michael David Smith: Seeing that horrible facemasking penalty that injured Larry Johnson, I've never understood why the league doesn't levy more fines for facemasking. I think I'm on record as taking the potential for head injuries as seriously as anyone, but based on my experience playing in high school, I can say I would much rather have someone drill me with a helmet-to-helmet hit than drag me down by my facemask. But the league seems to take helmet-to-helmet hits much more seriously.

Ned Macey: I agree that facemasks are super dangerous, but the purpose of the head-to-head fines is, I think in part, to change the way people play. Nobody ever intentionally goes for the facemask, and with the 5-yarder, they stay away from the head in general. Don't a lot more people in a given year get hurt on head-to-head hits than facemasks?

That being said, KC almost lost the game because of the play because they brought Dee Brown (minus the Reebok pumps) in and he fumbled inside the 5-yard line. KC recovered and got the field goal.

From what I saw, Leinart looked much more ready than Young, but he did take a costly sack late that ended up knocking them out of field goal range.

Will Carroll: Several years ago, there was discussion of a breakaway facemask. You had to tug it pretty hard, but in a situation like that, it's perfect. I get on baseball for a lack of research, but the NFL -- well, besides reacting to injuries and death -- is no better. Michael Lewis nailed the culture in his new book: everyone and every thing but the QB is disposable in the NFL.

Pittsburgh Steelers 13 at San Diego Chargers 23

Aaron Schatz: Man, it really is ridiculous -- if you can somehow protect your quarterback from their pass rush, you can pass on that San Diego secondary until the cows come home.

Doug Farrar: As Steve McNair found out on the final drive last week, no?

It's when I know I've at least temporarily separated my "Seahawks fan" self from my "Guy who watches football and is expected to produce somewhat intelligent commentary based on what he sees" self when I can look at Pittsburgh's defense and really appreciate when I'm seeing. Like Chicago's defense, it really is a treat to watch when they're not doing what they're doing to your team. That run defense is absolutely claustrophobic.

Aaron Schatz: The Steelers are really having a problem tonight getting their blockers out in front of their screens.

Ned Macey: It seemed like LeBeau decided he was going to blitz the crap out of Rivers. For one quarter it worked perfectly, but now they are getting killed and he's not calling off the dogs. I'm very happy to see Eric Parker and Jamal Williams getting their due. Both are good players (very good in Williams' case) who nobody ever talks about.

Where does Roethlisberger rank in those bad decision rankings? It is only one game, and Rivers is short a Super Bowl ring, but doesn't he look like the better quarterback tonight? Both are facing excellent defenses applying all sorts of pressure, and Rivers looks more confident and more capable.

By the way, what happened to all of Marty's quotes that he'd do the same thing this week if they had the lead?

Mike Tanier: Roethlisberger will make some bad decisions here and there. He's a guy who will force some passes. Some people think that every forced pass is a big mistake; but show me a quarterback who never tries to throw into a tight spot and I will show you Joey Harrington. Great QBs sometimes force passes; the trick is learning when to pick the right spots. This is Roethlisberger's first run of on-field adversity. I think he bounces back in the next few weeks.

I saw Philip Rivers scramble. I think I'm blind. He has made strides in his overall mechanics, but he still runs like Joe Namath circa 1974.

Coming This Week:

Any Given Sunday: Colts survive Titans
Every Play Counts: Miami offensive line
Too Deep Zone: Special "The Game Charters Speak" Edition

Comments

217 comments, Last at 12 Oct 2006, 12:47am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I was at the Pats/Miami game. What a snoozefest.

I'd love to know what Dillon injured this week -- he must've injured something, since he was averaging almost 5yd/carry but sat out the entire second half.

Kraft has got to get that field fixed (even if it means overruling BB). I can't see how that sandbox helps the Pats, anyways. Do you really want to play games with the head of your rookie kicker? Do you want a quick start/quick cut back like Maroney to have to run on that crap?

Man, Brady made some horrible throws. The "new receivers" thing is no excuse. At least no INTs, though. I wonder if he's hurt. He got a lot more rest in preseason than he's ever had.

Troy Brown is only five catches away from tying Stanley Morgan's team career record of 534 catches. Speaking of Morgan, 534 career catches with a career average of 19.8 yards per catch. Too bad he played for the 70s-80s Pats, or he would have been in the Hall of Fame.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Freeney in general has problems with being tasked to do anything other than a straight up speed rush. He only has one move. Yes, it's one really good move, but it often puts him out of position to react to what's actually going on during the play. Against a mobile QB, all that speed rush does is open the way for a scramble to the empty space. Oh, first!

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Has anyone noticed that the terrible Packers with their terrible offensive line have been running the ball quite well this year? Did anyone notice how many poor throws Favre made yesterday? He was very accurate last week, but was awful against the Rams. And while the announcers were shrieking "Is Favre going to do it again?" (speaking of another comeback, like all the others he's been responsible for the last few years), when the fumble came, was anyone surprised?

The Tony Romo watch is ON. Bledsoe will look good against a poor pass rush, but after this week, why any defensive coordinator wouldn't rush Bledsoe with whatever it took to get pressure is unfathomable.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Was I the only Eagles fan screaming for Lito Sheppard to drop to the ground at some point during his 102-yard INT return? No reason to take the risk of a fumble there, even while I was having flashbacks to James Willis's INT/lateral to Troy Vincent from a decade ago against the Cowboys.

It was an electric but well-behaved Eagles crowd. Only twice were there loud "O.D., O.D., O.D., O.D. . . !" sing-a-longs, and the worst signs/t-shirts were of the "If I played for Dallas, I'd kill myself too" and "Dallas Sucks // T.O. Swallows . . . Pills" variety.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Pat Williams is the Vikings' best player. He makes everything work on defense--he's a dominant run stopper (no team has run terribly well on the Vikes) and an underrated pass rusher. I don't know where the Vikings would be without him.

Isn't Pittsburgh's D a little like SD? They get good pressure, but if you give the QB a little time, WRs have a good chance to get open.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Adam: Nothing wrong with going for it, but I couldn't believe it when he started showboating with a Cowboy still chasing him. Thank God for the Jumbotron, or it probably would have ended with the same judgment call as New England/Denver last year. And we all know everybody was satisfied with how that ended!

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Did anyone notice that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman never referred to T.O. as anything but "Terrell Owens"? They never called him "Owens" and very rarely used a pronoun. To me, it was maddening.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re 6:
I was yelling, "Leon Lett!"

As a non-partisan, that would have been very funny.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

hey did you guys notice that there were 30 passes defensed listed in the gamebook for the Cowboys Eagles game?
Guess the stat guys at the linc didn't read that chapter in the book.
In general, the average is 10 a game.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

#7

The one thing I did notice was how biased against T.O. Buck and Aikman are. Aikman attempted to blame everything under the sun on T.O. including Drew Bledsoe's underthrown by five yards passes. Plus, they said he's ruining the team. I guess they missed the shots of Terry Glenn on the sidelines when he was clearly unhappy. I guess it's T.O.'s fault Pat Watkins was nearly driven to tears by Parcells. I expected Aikman to say it was T.O.'s fault Roy Williams has no clue how to cover. I'm a Giants fan and I thought they were way over the top in criticizing him.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

PatsFan,

According to something the announcers said, even Belichick made comments this week about being unhappy about the field. Both Belichick and Brady have said in the past that they perfer a slow field because it slows down the pass rush, but yesterday was ridiculous. And I suspect that the current iteration of the Pats, at least their defense, would be much better on a good field since they have a strong front 7 protecting a somewhat suspect secondary.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Speaking of Pats-Miami, did anyone see/hear Saban's post-game press conference? Apparently, he pretty much went off wild about the PI call (so he's probably going to get fined), and also went a little crazy talking about QB selection.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

What was up with the Fox commentary on Randy Moss's 100th TD catch? They just make stuff up in order to get their laughs on Randy? It was like ripping on Moss gave them a break from ripping on Owens. Can't Moss get some credit where it's due? With his 100th regular season TD reception (he also has a regular season punt return for TD and 9 postseason TD receptions) it should be clear he's one of the great WRs of all-time (even if he never achieves even mediocrity again).

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I noted Baskett in another thread but it is apt here as well. I'd love to hear what the Vikings director of college scouting, Scott Studwell, said when he heard the Childress was trading Baskett for Billy McMullen. I understand the desire for a coach to get guys he is familiar with, especially when just starting out. When your scouting and personnel guys manage to get a free agent rookie with a good possibility to contribute into camp, before some other team scoops him up, however, and the coach trades the guy away almost immediately for a somebody who has been in the league for few years without doing much, that's gotta drive the scouts abosolutely crazy. Gee whiz, the Vikings couldn't use a big receiver with ball skills who gets seperation, could they? Oh, no, they wouldn't want that.....

The Vikings have accomplished their most critical task for their most difficult part of the schedule, the first seven games; they have won at least three. Yesterday's nine point win, however, was pretty damned unusual (as the gamblers certainly noted), and as about as unimpressive as a victory of that margin can be. It would have been nice if they could have played just a little better at the end of the Bears' game, or if they hadn't dropped about a hundred yards worth of passes against the Bills, thus having at least four wins right now, cuz' I'll be damed surprised if they manage to win one of their next two games, at Seattle and the Patriots in Minny. Given the rest of their schedule, however, 3-4 doesn't put them in too bad of a position to get nine wins.

The biggest problem with Johnson is not his fear of throwing deep. Avoiding sacks is a good thing, especially when your completion percentage is still high. Johnson's biggest issue is that he has no fastball left, so he can't squeeze a ball into a small space (he can still throw a lofted deep ball fairly adequately, as long as it ain't fifty yards downfield), and thus his receivers need a ton of seperation to have much success. The Vikings receivers aren't good enough to get a ton of seperation very often, and when they do, they drop way too many passes. Well, at least they ran better yesterday....

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

#3, the Packers' offensive line is better than anybody could have predicted right now, given their inexperience and lack of pedigree.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

6

Heh, yeah. I said the same thing. You can see at the 10 yard line where he finally realized "Crap, I'm being chased by someone".

If someone came up to me and said "Make a 10 minute video that summarizes Drew Bledsoe's career", that last drive would be it. 1st and 10 - *waits nearly 10 full seconds, sacked* 2nd and 18 *gets sacked pretty quickly* 3rd and 26 *throws an underneath pass for 8 yards* 4th and 18 *45 yard DPI, first and goal from the eagles 3*

First and goal - Incomplete
Second and Goal - 102 yard Interception return for a TD.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Redskin fans in full mutiny today. They better draft a top-tier CB in the 1st round. I'm back to hoping they lose against a poor AFC South team (again), so we can see the Campbell era at the bye. This season is perilously close to being lost... and the offense is pretty much the same as last season.

Re: 6
You're right on the jumbo-tron. That had Don Beebe-Leon Lett written all over it. It kind've sucks that players can look at the jumbotron and it's like playing Madden.

I agree that facemasks are super dangerous, but the purpose of the head-to-head fines is, I think in part, to change the way people play.

I didn't read Michael Lewis book, but the league does nothing about players leading with the helmet. I'm not talking about the ones with safeties launching themselves at others, but hits where players lower their head and hit with the crown of the helmet. Didn't that used to be spearing? Aren't players taught to look at what they are tackling?

The closest example I can give is a hit Joey Porter put on Eric Parker last night, Porter is running at full speed and then instead of doing a tackle he puts his head down and hits Parker on the helmet. It happened sometime in the 3rd quarter I think, or early 4th.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

#2: I yelled: 'Lie down!!' to Lito after the last pick. Wife who for once was watching parts of the game with me asked 'why, he's running, he'll score' and Sheppard indeed scored before I had time to explain...

#6: Yes, that showboating was uncalled for, another unnecesarry risk. Again the whole thing happened too quick to start agonizing...

I'll say it first. Sheppard is overrated. The 2 INTs are due to Bledsoe throwing ducks rather than his amazing coverage skills. However, I am willing to cut him some slack since it's his first game back after an injury. As long as the pass rush is good and the QB is hit throwing, you can have subpar corners. But I have concern for the Iggles secondary down the road.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Dick, when you’re playing against the best defense in the NFL, field position is more important than razzle-dazzle … especially early on, and especially when your own guy puts you five yards further in the hole.

I think it was a good call. Faking on 4th and 6 rather than 4th and one caught the Bears completely off guard, and if the snap had been good, the punter would have had an easy first down.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

The thing that surprised me the most about the Colts offense yesterday is how concerned they seemed to be about being "balanced." Time was, when they found a weakness they could exploit, they'd just hammer on it--think Reggie Wayne eating Roc Alexander alive in the playoffs. I thought for sure they'd do just that against Reynaldo Hill.

I thought Young did a pretty good job of decision-making and making Freeney look like Frostee Rucker did in the Rose Bowl. I'll have to look at the tape, but I felt like he played a lot better than 3 YPA.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I noticed the same thing Aaron mentioned about the Patriots playing soft on Miami's pass game. The DB's were pretty much were lining up 7-8 yards deep on every play and giving the recievers free 6-10 yard outs and crossing patters. The pass rush was mounting decent pressure, but not enought to stop the 6-10 yard outs and crossing patterns. So Harrington was perfectly content to take them, and that's how the Dolphins moved up and down the field. Notice that they didn't punt until the second half. I wonder if the Patriots went in intending to play a soft defense that would not give up the big play that has been hurting the pass and that forced Miami to move the ball in little chunks, and then hope for a Joey Harrington mistake. If that was their plan, it worked, but it looked to me more like Miami had gameplanned well and found an offensive strategy that worked.

I'm not sure what changed on the two INT plays and late in the game. Anyone get a read on this?

On the surface, the Pats win over MIA seems very similar to the Bronco's win over the Pats. In both games, the winning team shut down the losing team's running game and had just enough offense to win, while the losing team had a lot of impressive passing stats and moved the ball through the air, but failed to score enough points. In both games the winning team won by 10. So why did the Devner win feel like Denver dominating the Pats, while the Pats win over Miami feels like they squeaked one out? Is it just because I'm a Pats fan and losing hurts more? Is it because the Pats needed turnovers to win and Denver didn't? But isn't the ability to cause turnovers a good thing?

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I was really looking forward to hearing from MDS on the Lions/Viking game, but ah well. :)

That Larry Johnson facemask made me a little nauseous to watch.

I'm almost positive that the FOX producers are more to blame, but the T.O. coverage during the game was rage inducing. I hope there's some kind of backlash to them doing that (also, had to love when they interviewed McNabb afterwards and said something along the lines of "You may not have considered it a McNabb vs T.O. game, but America did. How blah blah blah". That pissed me off to no end.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I am wondering if IND is trying to save some things for the playoffs this year actually.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Sheppard's not overrated. With a pass rush, he's perfect for Philly. Great in coverage for about 5 seconds, but doesn't really have the speed or anticipation to keep with receivers on routes - especially deeper routes. He's very good at reading a quarterback's intentions. Sheppard's a really good zone coverage corner, much less so in man coverage on deeper routes.

It's kindof amazing how accurate scouting reports are some times: out of college, here was the scouting report on Sheppard:

Is not that physical. Will try to bait the quarterback if he is being ignored and sometimes goes too far. Tends to rely too much on ability and get sloppy about technique and attention to detail. May not have great deep make-up speed.

Pretty much sums him up accurately, I think.

The 2 INTs are due to Bledsoe throwing ducks rather than his amazing coverage skills.

A WR makes the catch that Sheppard made on the first interception, and it'd make the highlight reel. I don't know why you're not giving him credit for the second interception - he read where the throw was going to be, and got the ball in stride. That's good coverage.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Is it time for a defensive coordinator change in Detroit? Maybe a QB change as well. I thought Kitna had good stats, but not after looking at them. I'm not sure why Martz went with the peaked out veteran instead of potential for improvement youngster. It seems like now is the time to switch.

What was TBs special teams doing on the punt return? Once the gunner was wiped out by 2 guys, it was clear sailing for Reggie. Seemed like the play was to pin Reggie in to the right, but the punter didn't do a good job and the coverage team got all bottled in on one side. Not sure if that should all go on the punter.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

The presence of Josh McCown in the NFC North is just a depressing reminder to Viking fans of a particular game that sent Purple Nation into a long, long melancholic mood. He should get to start for Detroit soon, but dammit, I'd hate to see him against the Vikings.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

If someone came up to me and said “Make a 10 minute video that summarizes Drew Bledsoe’s career�, that last drive would be it.

That's not really fair. Bledsoe is definitely on his decline, but he had a lot of good years for the Pats. For years he kept Pats teams with bad defenses and no runnung game competitive. The problems with him now are:
1). He has always tended to rely on his very good physical talents, so now that he's getting old and those talents are fading, he can't adapt as well as someone who was maybe less talented physically and so had to work harder throughout their career.
2). Like all QB's, he has weaknesses, and unfortunately for him, Belichick demonstrated for the entire world what those were and how to exploit them. He hasn't been the same since.

But give the guy some credit. For at least a number of years back with the Pats he was a top 10 QB.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I'm going to repeat my comments here about Dallas stopping running.

Dallas didn’t stop running the ball. They stopped running the ball effectively.

Runs by Quarter:
1st - 9, 28 yards, 1 TD, 2 plays for negative yardage, 1 play for 0 yards
2nd - 10, 44 yards, 2 plays for 0 yards, 2 for 1 yard
3rd - 7, 18 yards, 1 play for negative yardage, 2 plays for 0 yards
4th - 8, 33 yards (11 on the last play of the game), 2 for 1 yard (excluding the Drew Bledsoe sneak, which was a successful play).

Note the 12 rushes (out of 34) that were essentially equivalent to an incomplete pass or a sack.

Note the increasing percent of negative/really unsuccessful rushing plays by quarter - 33%, then 40%, then 43%.

You just can’t win football games running the ball this way in a shootout.

The one successful drive Dallas had in the 1st Quarter with this running strategy was against the 2nd string Eagles defensive line. After coughing up the points, they didn’t see the field very much the rest of the game.

Dallas’ running game essentially ran the clock out for the Eagles, while the Eagles concentrated on 6 play or less/3 minute or less drives for touchdowns. In the end, the Eagles had 4 touchdowns on offense and Dallas had 2. Eagles win every time with that ratio of scoring.

Pass to get a lead, run to grind the clock.

In this case, the Dallas game plan seemed to be let the Eagles pass to get the lead and then the Cowboys would grind out the clock for the Eagles.

You also have to keep in mind that the Eagles willingly surrendered the rushing yards in order to shut down the Cowboys passing game by playing 2 safeties deep and just 7 men in the box. Dallas tried to run against it, and had some success, but just not enough.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Pacifist, absent a renewal, I certainly don't think Randy Moss has guaranteed HOF status. He had some really, really, terrific years, but there are enough, "yeah, but...." assertions to be made right now to keep him out of the Hall.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

16: Like I said in the chat, that may well be my favorite drive of all time. If it hadn't turned out so hilariously, I'd be depressed that the Eagles let the Cowboys get so close to forcing overtime...but how can I argue with that play-by-play?

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

A WR makes the catch that Sheppard made on the first interception, and it’d make the highlight reel

Yes, but if that ball goes where it's supposed to, Sheppard has no chance to do anything about it. Good catch, but it's no credit to Lito that he was in position to make it.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Bill Barnwell: I’ve been traveling all day but the goofiest thing I saw all day was the Giants throwing a bubble screen to a split-out Brandon Jacobs. I thought I was hallucinating.

Yet, if I recall correctly, the play did gain 9 yards. It's not as dumb as when they run the same play to Burress (which they did at least twice yesterday)-- at least Jacobs has a chance to muscle through a tackle or two. Plax's game is speed, size, and route-running, none of which help you much on a screen. I don't know exactly how many tackles he's broken in his NFL career, but I'd be willing to bet that he can count them on his fingers.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Pacifist, I can't think of Josh McCown without cursing Red McCombs. If that tightwad opens up the purse strings, and the Vikings sign Dre Bly instead of the Lions, then the Vikings don't have as many dbs stumbling around the end zone like Koren Robinson out of rehab, and the Vikings make the playoffs in 2003. Given how well they were running the ball that year, and how poor the Eagles' run defense was that year, there's a reasonable chance the Vikings could have gashed the Eagles in the first playoff game, and ended up with a damned respectable year. Of course, maybe Tice and his outmanned staff would have lasted longer in that case, so maybe it was all for the best.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

mjk #27:

For years he kept Pats teams with bad defenses and no runnung game competitive.

Did Curtis Martin not run for the Pats from 95 to 97? Did Robert Edwards not run respectably in 98 (1450 yards from scrimmage, 12 TD's)? Did Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinnest, Larry Izzo, etc. and others not play D for the Pats during or throughout the late 90's?

This sounds like a lot of excuses.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

#2 The statement that Freeney only has one move is false. Perhaps that was true when he broke in, but it is no longer accurate. His best move is still the speed rush, and he's below average against the run, but he does have a bull rush that he uses occasionally, and he does it well. Two prominent examples from this year:

Jax at Indy, near the goal line, Kyle Brady is pushed back into Fred Taylor by Freeney, blowing up the running play. Jax eventually settles for a field goal attempt.

Indy at Jets, again near the goal line, Freeney bull rushes and plants himself right in the path of Cedric Houston, who plants his left foot and runs right into Freeney, injuring himself. I don't recall who the lineman was assigned to block Freeney here, but I have the game on tape to chart. I'm not sure, but I think this might have been the series that led to the Pennington 4th down interception in the end zone. By the way, Houston did not return, and has not played since. There was nothing dirty about the play, Freeney just dove in and put himself between the runner and the hole.

Again, I'm not saying Freeney is good against the run, but he's not completely useless either.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Oh, and "goofiest play I've ever seen": the option play to Randle El by the Redskins.

Option passes only work in college if the quarterback's a running threat. Brunell's not immobile, but he could hardly be classified as a running threat. Defenders almost completely ignore Brunell, and Randle El gets swarmed for a loss.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I also don't think Moss is a guaranteed HOFer (though if he were a more likeable person, the selectors might get him through--because of his reputation, he needs to achieve a higher standard than most to get into the Hall).

However, there are only 7 WRs to catch 100 regular season TDs. Of the 9 players tied or in front of him, only Rice has more post-season TD receptions. Moss has 9 TDs in 8 playoff games; compare that to Harrison, a sure HOFer, who has 2 in 10 games.

So even if he doesn't get into the HOF, you'll have a hard time convincing me he isn't one of the all-time great WRs.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Yes, but if that ball goes where it’s supposed to, Sheppard has no chance to do anything about it. Good catch, but it’s no credit to Lito that he was in position to make it.

I think that was zone coverage, and I don't think that area was Sheppard's zone, which is why Owens was running there, of course.

Besides, it's tough to say what could've happened. You don't know that Sheppard didn't get to that position because he saw that the ball was going to be underthrown.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

RE: the Chargers, am I the only one who thought they looked like a Superbowl team last night? I know the Front 7 has been covering for the secondary for the last couple years, but they shut out the Steelers in the 2nd half.

If they can get pressure on the QB, they are going to win, but if they don't, I don't think they are a toast secondary, they are pretty much like all but 2-3 teams in the NFL... guys get open when they have time. Seriously, if you don't have 1-2 shut down corners (and who does, there are only like 5 of them in the whole league), isn't any secondary going to look bad if the QB has time? Has FO looked into this? Any way to measure pressure on QB from the game charting?

Also, when are the Chargers going to the permanent throwbacks? At least the helmets, which I can't get enough of.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Regarding the Patriots' field: Does anyone else remember the reported feud between Belichick and the head groundskeeper back in 2003. The guy apparently quit because he got fed up with Belichick - I can't remember if it was over fertilizer or practice time on the field. At the time, some of the writers on the local anti-Belichick beat claimed that the groundskeeper was one of the best there ever was.

Maybe if Bill apologized and sent him some flowers or something, the guy would come back.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Dick, when you’re playing against the best defense in the NFL, field position is more important than razzle-dazzle … especially early on, and especially when your own guy puts you five yards further in the hole.

And when you're playing against one of the best offenses in the NFL, points are more important than field position...especially as I believe FO has shown the importance of scoring early.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re: 36

And iirc, ARE was closer to the defenders than Brunell was when he shoveled him the ball. I've never seen anyone run an option where the QB was further away from the defence.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

#36:

Not only that, but it wasn't even a proper option. Brunell was running wide, with El inside of him and downfield. The pitch to El (which was really a forward pass) actually moved the ball closer to the pursuit. Just a dumb play all around.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

And just in case nobody here has heard it yet, spelling defense with a "c" is all the rage nowadays. And just in case nobody here has heard it yet, spelling defense with a "c" is all the rage nowadays.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Will Allen #29:

I certainly don’t think Randy Moss has guaranteed HOF status

I agree. Its the Hall of FAME, not the Hall of BIG STATS.

What has Randy Moss or T.O. ever done consistently to help win the game in a game that really mattered? Look at their playoff records vs. years in the league. Why, despite all that talent at wideout, were Minnesota and Frisco never able to get the job done if these guys really made such a big difference?

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

And all the cool people type everything twice, too.

Good God I suck at this internet thing today.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Hmmm Moss not making the hall seems semi rediculous to me. He is basically Terrel Davis but with 6 or 7 years of being the best in the league instead of 2 or 3.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

45: I would say that with 35 receptions, 723 yards, and 9 TDs in 8 playoff games, Moss has done his share to help his team win big games. Among other things, the Vikings had pretty awful defenses when Moss was there--and if Gary Anderson, who hadn't missed a kick all season, makes a playoff chip shot, then the Vikings with Moss would have made at least one Super Bowl.

If you're going to hold playoff numbers against Moss and Owens, why are people like Warren Moon in the HOF?

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

#45 heh, if it truly was the hallf of FAME, then Moss would make it in for sure. He was one fo the most popular players in the league for several years.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

pacifist viking #37:

Harrison, a sure HOFer

Why is Harrison a sure HOFer? Peyton is the reason Indy wins, not Harrison.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

At 1-3 you'd think perhaps the Dolphins might try to get a first down on 4-6 from the Pats 35. They're already losing the game and the season. I really hate the new Dolphins offense. The new dink and dunk down the field didn't work for the Bills and isn't working that well for the Dolphins. I'm convinced that 1 reverse every game does not make you a risk taking wide open offensive coordinator, if you mix that with 30 calls for 1-3 yrd passes.

The hardest part for the Pats will be staying focus given they've won the division in week 5 of the season.The Pats really didn't impress in this game. Yet they won. Which really isn't a new or interesting thing.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

50: I will be SHOCKED if Harrison doesn't make the HOF.

Dr. Z, who writes about the selection process and knows the selectors, seems to think Harrison is a sure HOFer. The numbers alone suggest he will--he's only 28 TD receptions from passing Cris Carter for second all-time. The yards, receptions, touchdowns, and pro bowls are so high I will be shocked if he's not in the HOF. He's right now 3rd in TD receptions, 4th in receptions, and 9th in receiving yards, and still going strong.

(I keep pro-football-reference open in another browser when I'm reading FO)

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Just looking at more of Harrison's numbers. He's twice led the league in yards, twice in receptions (including a single season record 143), and once tied for lead in TD receptions. He had four straight 100 reception years, 7 straight seasons with 10+ TDs (5 of those with 12 or more), and 7 straight seasons with 1,100+ yards. He's got yardage highs of 1,722 and 1,663. I don't see any way that he's not a HOFer, and a deserving HOFer.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

You know, I swear I read an article somewhere about what great decisions Bledsoe makes. Does anyone else remember that one?

Aaron, that was an article by K.C. Joyner.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

When has Donovan McNabb done anything to win a game that mattered? He has a constant fishbone in his throat. Players and teams should only be judged by the number of Super Bowl rings and playoff wins they have.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Just looking at more of Harrison's numbers. He's twice led the league in yards, twice in receptions (including a single season record 143), and once tied for lead in TD receptions. He had four straight 100 reception years, 7 straight seasons with 10+ TDs (5 of those with 12 or more), and 7 straight seasons with 1,100+ yards. He's got yardage highs of 1,722 and 1,663. I don't see any way that he's not a HOFer, and a deserving HOFer.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

pacifist viking #48:

I would say that with 35 receptions, 723 yards, and 9 TDs in 8 playoff games, Moss has done his share to help his team win big games.

Most of those stats were in games against the 8-8 99 Cowboys, the 10-6 00 Aints and the 99 Rams (his one really good post-season game).

If a tall guy catching jump ball TD's is worthy of the HOF, Harold Carmichael should be in.

If you’re going to hold playoff numbers against Moss and Owens, why are people like Warren Moon in the HOF?

Moon was a trailblazer, and a damn good one at that. Moss is just another successful big wideout stat accumulator who never put his team over the top.

The HOF is about players who changed the game, were winners, or were just head and shoulders above the rest of their peers. Moon changed the game, Moss didn't, and he plays in an era of hyperactive passing.

I'd much rather see marginal candidates like Terrell Davis, Adam Vinateri, and Brian Mitchell get in than someone like Moss.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Well, ya' can't hold it against Moss that he only played with even a mediocre defense for just one season with the Vikings, which is the biggest reason that didn't have tremendous post-season success (and two NFC Championship games doesn't suck). Also, if Randall Cunnningham doesn't undertrhow a wide-open Moss in OT, the Vikings very, very, likely make the Super Bowl, and Moss' big game record look much different, which indicates how problematic it is to evaluate careers via "big game" performance.

Having said that, the guy just loafed a helluva lot on the football field, which harms his chances a lot, along with the fact that he has been a jerk on so many occasions.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Andrew, do you really think Moss didn't change the game? Or wasn't above his peers? For about seven years, he was the most feared WR in the game. For many years, teams were looking for players with Moss's combination of size and skills in WRs.

If you don't like Moss, fine, but I don't see any standards by which he's not one of the all-time great WRs. Unless you want to suggest that NO statistics be used in measuring worthiness of the HOF. I mean, if you want a guy who is above his peers, how about two seasons of 17 TD receptions? Between 1998 and 2006, Moss was the only receiver to do it at all, and he did it twice.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re all the comments about Lito and the INT: I was screaming SCORE! SCORE! Since I have the Eagles D and they had given up so many points, I needed the defensive score to improve my fantasy team scoring! ;-P

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Was anyone else wondering why Cleveland waited until there were 10 seconds left to kick the short FG when they were trailing by 11 points late at Carolina? They had a chance to kick the FG with around 20 seconds left and instead tried to run two more plays, unsuccessfully. Even stranger than that was hearing CBS's Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon praise Romeo Crennel for kicking with 10 seconds left when he had a chance to do so with 20 seconds remaining on the clock.
Even Mike Nolan got this call right in week 1 against Arizona. When trailing by 9-11 points late, you should take the FG as soon as you possibly can, then go for the TD after the onside kick.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Moss is definitely a good candidate, but he would look a lot better if he would get healthy and play well for another couple of years. Even if he just gets Keyshawn Johnson production it will help his case.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

pacifist:

Dr. Z, who writes about the selection process and knows the selectors, seems to think Harrison is a sure HOFer. The numbers alone suggest he will–he’s only 28 TD receptions from passing Cris Carter for second all-time.

Look, I like Harrison for the HOF. But isn't there some suspicion that a number of guys could have had those numbers had they the good fortune to play with Manning almost their whole career?

In my mind, its more impressive for guys like Owens and Moss to succeed with a variety of QB's and teams than to succeed with one.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Look, I'm not a huge Moss supporter, but to say that Vinateri and Mitchell belong in the HOF converastion prior to Moss, or even with Moss, is really, really pushing it, and Carmichael never change defensive game planing the way Moss did; it isn't even close. The biggest argument I will make for Moss is that teams had to adjust their defensive game plans to account for him more than any other receiver of his era of dominance, and he still put up huge numbers. Ask any defensive coordinator of the era to explain how Moss changed things, and it'll be illuminating.

Having said that, I think the guy has enough demerits, especially outside on the road, to make it difficult for him right now.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

loved the comment about welker and troy brown. i believe, in their vein, Rod Smith is the 3rd QB for the Broncos, or was for a long time, because he can step in anywhere.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Becephalus #47:

And against being perhaps the top wideout for a number of year (definitely in his favor), is that Moss was an ASS on the field (squirting the ref, the fake moon in Green Bay, etc.).

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re: Harrison not a HoF'r
Because the pro Art Monk lobby will go apedong over the fact that the HoF constantly dogs Monk for having a low YPC, and Harrison's YPC is less than Monk. Add in the fact that Harrison didn't really excel until Peyton Manning comes along, and it's a recipe for a closer vote than it should be.

It's the same thing that kept Irvin from induction last year. The pro-Monk people are fed up with perceived anti-Monk bias and are trying to block WR induction until Monk gets in.

Monk also has great postseason stats, and Super Bowl rings. I think the only thing keeping him out is that the shift in offense in the NFL has made his numbers moot... and WRs that put up yards are more sexy than WRs that consistently catch the ball, are healthy, and team players.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

65: But how do you argue correlation? This is the basic problem in analyzing individual players in a team sport: couldn't you just as easily argue that Harrison's greatness was responsible for much of Manning's success? That's a shaky argument to keep a guy out of the Hall.

Re Moss: most people with some analytical abilities of the game who have watched teh Vikings a lot over the years understand what happens to the defenses that face him. Will Allen is right: there was no single WR who forced coverages to adapt to him as Moss. It opened up everthing for everybody else. With the Vikings, Moss had success with other good WRs around him, with no other good WRs around him, and with a variety of QBs.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

66:

"And against being perhaps the top wideout for a number of year (definitely in his favor), is that Moss was an ASS on the field (squirting the ref, the fake moon in Green Bay, etc.)."

So is your real argument against Moss's HOF validity that he was an ass?

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

BTW: regarding Moss's fake moon:

I'm convinced that he was mimicking taking a dump and wiping his ass on the goal post. I think Moss hated the Packers and their fans as much as any Viking, and it was his way of saying, "screw you, Lambeau Field." Hence after the game with his "They better talk about that W we just laid on Lambeau Field" talk.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Andrew it has bcome appereant that you are Joe Buck using a pseudonym and completely irrational on this issue. Conversation over.

The Hall of Fame is ABOVE ALL THINGS a place to showcase the very best players in the sport. Moss is one of those players. He has made a strong case for being considered the 2nd best reciever all-time, and I think if you polled players/coach/writers/eskimos all of them would include him in at least the top 10. I personally never liked Moss either, but I am constantly forced to defend him because people just love the schadenfreud.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

58: If a tall guy catching jump ball TD’s is worthy of the HOF, Harold Carmichael should be in.

You should read Dr. Z's column about that last week...

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

72: The fake moon was in response to those "classy" Packers fans who moon the opposing team as they enter GB.

You know what, I think I'm just going to stop caring and start criticizing everything that the sports media hold sacred and glorifying all that they demonize. This could be fun.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

If tall guys catching jump ball TDs is so easy, why aren't there more WRs with 100 TDs? Why doesn't every team have an 80% red zone scoring rate because they all have 6'6" guys to lob it to? That's silly.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Pacifist Vike, you left out two more key "credentials" for Harrison (as if he needs our help pimping him for Canton).

His team is the winningest in football over a span of seven years and has anyone ever seen him spike a ball? When his stiffest competition is known at least as well for being dysfunctional (TO/Moss), Harrison is a good example of what might be called a solid citizen. Quiet, consistent, respectful, always there (except for, gulp, playoffs against teams that play below 5,000 ft), and never makes trouble (in fact I cheered but was shocked when he had his facemask penalty vs Pitt during last year's regular season game--he never loses his cool; maybe sometimes he should).

I think the selectors, especially the guys like Z who are older newspaper-background guys (as opposed to the new breed of sports "journalists" spawned by ESPN) like that.

And regarding #70, clearly Jerry Rice is not HOF-worthy, you fool, with two HOF QB's throwing to him, *anybody* could have done what he did. A true HOF WR is one who puts up those numbers with Joey Harrington throwing to him behind David Carr's OL with no RB or 2nd WR to take off the pressure. Rice had all the advantages, much like Harrison (except for the 2nd WR for his first 6 years or so...). They're both dogs, really.

Okay, back to planet earth now.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Is it me or is Lito Sheppard morphing into Bobby Taylor version 2.0? The shaky tackling. The carefree man-to-man coverage. The ability to make absolutely devastating interceptions/returns late in the game. And he even has a Troy Vincent-style dependable everyman sidekick in Sheldon Brown.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I don't know about Moss changing defenses. Maybe he was the first different deep threat in the new passing rules era.

One of the things I found fascinating when looking at Art Monk's stats is that I compared him to peers who started in the league within 3 years of him. Over their careers, peers of Art Monk seemed to have a greater YPC than WRs of today. These are the people who kept him from t getting more than 3 Pro Bowls (the NFC guys at least).

Stanley Morgon - 19.2 YPC
Wesley Walker - 19.0 YPC
Lofton - 18.3 YPC
Mike Quick - 17.8 YPC
Mark Duper - 17.4 YPC
Henry Ellard - 16.9 YPC
Louis Lipps - 16.8 YPC
Tony Hill - 16.7 YPC
Jefferson - 16.3 YPC
Charlie Brown - 16.1 YPC
Collingsworth - 16.1 YPC
Largent - 16.0 YPC
Wes Chandler - 16.0 YPC
Randy Moss - 15.9 YPC
Drew Hill - 15.5 YPC
Jerry Rice - 14.8 YPC
Art Monk - 13.5 YPC
Dwight Clark - 13.3 YPC
Marvin Harrison - 13.3 YPC

Todd Christensen - 12.7 YPC
Kellon Winslow - 12.5 YPC
Ozzie Newsome - 12.1 YPC

One of the conclusions from looking at the "career stats averaged into 1 16 game season" was that even though YPC was high, TDs seemed low for WR peers of Monk. Of the 19 players, they averaged about 6 TDs per season.

One other conclusion I had was that one could make the argument that Monk helped usher in the era of low YPC possession WRs. I wouldn't go so far as to call him the first, because I haven't looked that far in history. I would wager he's the first that ever made a Pro Bowl.

A final conclusion I made is that, it's harder than we think to have a long and distinguished career like Monk. By far the best WR peer of Monk was Mike Quick (after Largent and Lofton of course).

As far as impact, I still think the pro-Monk lobby has overstated the impact of having more catches over YPC (just look at DPAR stats for WRs), but I think they have under-stated his role in ushering in the era of "possession WR".

I still have no clue why his peers scored less TDs yet had way more YPC... except that maybe I should actually be looking at the TD:Reception ratio to get a better picture.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Will Allen #66:

Look, I’m not a huge Moss supporter, but to say that Vinateri and Mitchell belong in the HOF converastion prior to Moss, or even with Moss, is really, really pushing it

Vinateri won 2 Super Bowls (and innumerable other games)with his foot at the close of regulation. I think he's a shoe in (no pun intended).

Brian Mitchell ran more yards on a football field than anyone but Jerry Rice, and is certainly the greatest return man ever in the game.

Randy Moss has not won key games on his own, and he certainly isn't the greatest receiver ever. He's put up big numbers in an era where more and more wideouts are now putting up what were once thought of as huge numbers (10,000+ yards, 80+ TD's). When we look back in 10 years, I don't think we'll think he really looks quite as remarkable.

Considering that the HOF generally allows in only 6 guys per year, was Moss one of the 6 most important players from the 1998 draft?

Just glancing through, 98 produced: Peyton Manning, Tra Thomas, Randy Moss, Alan Faneca, Patrick Surtain, Jeremiah Trotter, Hines Ward, Matt Hasselbeck

Thinking about those, honestly, I'd vote for Ward before Moss, because Ward was more key for Pittsburgh than Moss was for Minnesota, and Ward is a better person and teammate. Characterwise, Ward represents what I think the HOF is about, and Moss doesn't.

I'm not saying Moss doesn't belong in the HOF based on his on field production, because he is a HOF caliber player. But there are other people from his year I'd vote for before him if my opinion mattered, which it doesn't.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Matthew Furtek,

Come on, "Harrison didn’t really excel until Peyton Manning comes along"? His first two seasons he caught 64 and 73 balls for 836 and 866 yards, respectively. For a rookie and sophomore, that's good. Maybe not great, but many teams would take that from their #1 guy, rookie or not. You can't punish him for having Jim Harbaugh slinging the ball to him. Remember Indy was a defensive team that made the playoffs in 1995 and 1996 (his rookie year). What were their playoff scores against KC and SD in 1995... something like 10-7 and 9-6? And that was with Marshall Faulk in the backfield. Does that sound like a team that is focused on gaining 4,000 yards through the air? I'm sure they were ecstatic with that production.

They only became the offensive juggernaut once Edge came along and Manning matured. Yes Harrison benefited from that, but then again, anyone would. Kind of like the "rising tide lifts all boats" argument--you can't blame him for benefitting from the situation around him, and you can't quite expect him to float above the waterline before the tide comes in (i.e. when Indy was QB-challenged and a defensive team.) And even in Manning's rookie year you can't really blame him for low numbers because he had a rookie QB throwing 28 INTs and he missed four games with an injury. Before the injury in game 12, he was on track for his first 1,000 yd/10 TD season. Oh well....

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

"Randy Moss has not won key games on his own."

Barring the fact that no player in the history of the league has won key games on his own, did you watch the Vikings while Moss was there? There were NUMEROUS games in which Moss was the best player on the field and gave the best performance of anybody on the field in keying the Vikings to victory.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Hey look,
another wr in the hall debate!
I think Moss and Harrison have been fantastic players but don't you all think they should really start putting in more o-line guys?
I see the wr's on Super bowl teams and they just don't seem THAT great.
I watch the Cowboys yesterday and what do they need, an all pro lineman or TO?
OK maybe a few all pro lineman but you get my point.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

83:

http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/positions.html

There are 17 modern era WRs in the HOF and 30 modern era offensive linemen.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

most of the dallas-philly comments i see here are pretty simplistic. dallas - read: parcells - prefers to run to control the clock and at least in his head control the game. this supports the base 3-4 defense he throws out there that doesn't take chances or give up big plays. except they blitzed a corner and bit on a flea flicker and gave up two big plays. i don't quite understand that after they had the lead, and why did they start the game with five trying to block six? but as for the comments questioning why dallas would even want to run it that much, did you see the performance by bledsoe? you shouldn't even need to go play by play to list the number of plays bledsoe makes worse. if you have to take the sack, take the sack. but he makes a bad but minor play so much worse. and it builds. he doesn't step and gets sacked when they target a point. he steps up too much and right into a blocked defender. there was a play in the 4th qtr where he barely got tapped and dude started stumbling, looking to go down, waiting for the next hit to come that didn't. aikman/buck gladly jumped on the way the 4th qtr played out to rip on owens, but how many different wrs do you have to misread before it's on the qb? is three enough? the claim was bledsoe was getting pressured too quickly, but then he held it forever and took a sack like rookie. he's horrible on 3rd and long. if somebody wants to bother totaling the performance of dallas' runs on first down vrs the passes on first down, i'd love to see that. my impression, though, was julius jones was getting good yardage, setting up 2nd and short situations, thru-out the game, and not just vrs one set of defenders. where the running game failed, expectedly, was on 3rd and short. philly blitzed, and dallas isn't a short-yardage, power running team. they have some big wrs for that sort of thing i would think. bledsoe underthrew owens twice on deep throws - not the first time he's done that this year - and at least one other time he lead him right into a killshot from michael lewis. i guess the difference betwix keyshawn and terrell is key would've caught that pass and then ripped into bledsoe.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

most of the dallas-philly comments i see here are pretty simplistic. dallas - read: parcells - prefers to run to control the clock and at least in his head control the game. this supports the base 3-4 defense he throws out there that doesn't take chances or give up big plays. except they blitzed a corner and bit on a flea flicker and gave up two big plays. i don't quite understand that after they had the lead, and why did they start the game with five trying to block six? but as for the comments questioning why dallas would even want to run it that much, did you see the performance by bledsoe? you shouldn't even need to go play by play to list the number of plays bledsoe makes worse. if you have to take the sack, take the sack. but he makes a bad but minor play so much worse. and it builds. he doesn't step and gets sacked when they target a point. he steps up too much and right into a blocked defender. there was a play in the 4th qtr where he barely got tapped and dude started stumbling, looking to go down, waiting for the next hit to come that didn't. aikman/buck gladly jumped on the way the 4th qtr played out to rip on owens, but how many different wrs do you have to misread before it's on the qb? is three enough? the claim was bledsoe was getting pressured too quickly, but then he held it forever and took a sack like rookie. he's horrible on 3rd and long. if somebody wants to bother totaling the performance of dallas' runs on first down vrs the passes on first down, i'd love to see that. my impression, though, was julius jones was getting good yardage, setting up 2nd and short situations, thru-out the game, and not just vrs one set of defenders. where the running game failed, expectedly, was on 3rd and short. philly blitzed, and dallas isn't a short-yardage, power running team. they have some big wrs for that sort of thing i would think. bledsoe underthrew owens twice on deep throws - not the first time he's done that this year - and at least one other time he lead him right into a killshot from michael lewis. i guess the difference betwix keyshawn and terrell is key would've caught that pass and then ripped into bledsoe.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Also, is there any sillier-sounding penalty in football than “group celebration?�

Illegal Touching

Al Harris and Charles Woodson did a good job. Holt and Bruce combined for 5 catches for 63 yards.

Except they each dropped easy interception that could have been the difference in the game.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

While they might cause heart-burns off the field, i do believe that TO, RM belong to the HoF as much as MH does.

Also, a case in point for all anti-TO & anti-RM people, look at their production when they had a good QB (basically, i consider DC good during his vikings time!). TO & DM had fun in Philly as long as it lasted.

MH has been lucky (as much as that he has been great!) that he has someone like PM to throw as well as the fact that their team goes and spends money on the second WR so that double coverage of MH will lead PM to throw to the other WR.

Can someone recall who was Philly's 2nd WR during the TO days or who the 2nd receiver in 2002 Vikings team ?

Bottomline, the HoF either have to admit that off-the-field incidents affect getting into HoF or decide the cases of TO & RM based on their merits

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re: 78

I thought that the past 2 years, but I'm starting to worry about Sheldon this year. I have absolutely nothing to base this on except my perception after watching the games. I guess it could have been because he was playing across from Joselio Hanson and maybe they were rolling the saftey help Hanson's direction, but it seems like Brown has been beat on a number of big plays this year. Has anyone really isolated on Brown's play thus far? And if so, can you please tell me I'm wrong.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re: #2

Freeney has a the speed move to the outside, the spin move back to the inside, and an underrated bull rush. I think he uses #1 way too often and uses #2 in the wrong situations and uses #3 too little. But to say he only has one move is totally false.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Packer fan here. I remember when the Packers were unbeatable at Lambeau and had a streak of around 25 consecutive wins there. Then Moss came in and single handedly destroyed the Pack. Ron Wolf responded by spending his top 3 picks in the following draft on corners. Moss terrified me when he was with the Vikings. More than any of his contemporaries in the league.

I hate him, but I have to admit that I think he belongs in the Hall. I'm just glad that he usually didn't fully apply himself - if he actually tried, he would have been unstoppable. As it was, we couldn't keep him in check most of the time.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Can someone recall who was Philly’s 2nd WR during the TO days or who the 2nd receiver in 2002 Vikings team ?

Todd Pinkston (led the NFL in long completions) for the Eagles, and nobody for the Vikings since they were still looking for a replacement for Cris Carter.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Jim Johnson called a smart game, but the Dallas offensive playcalling was definitely not smart. Johnson punished Bledsoe because the offensive coaches stubbornly refused to attack the blitz on obvious ways, such as throwing quick slants or screens. Dallas' receivers can make defenders pay for one-on-one coverage, but if your quarterback is under center and takes a seven step drop every time, the defense can tee off on him.

The Eagles defense played magnificent, and Johnson kept hammering at the Dallas weak spot, but if the Dallas coaching staff were to have made any adjustments in the passing game, I don't think Bledsoe would have looked quite so awful.

Side note: If a team is outgained by 60 plus yards and has a three-turnover deficit, as was Dallas, they would normally lose by more than 20 points. It's amazing they were even in the game at the end.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Kalyan:

Ripping your QB and egregious on the field penalties are not "off-the-field incidents".

As to who did they have on the field with them, Moss had Cris Carter for 4 years to start his career, arguably the 2nd or 3rd best wideout in NFL history. And Owens had Rice for 4 of his first 5 years, and Westbrook in Philly.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I framed my last post around the Art Monk argument, but I think Moss needs 1 or 2 more decent seasons to be a lock. Even 2 more seasons with similar stats to 2005 should get him in.

Re: Harrison v. Moss
Can't we just do a simple DPAR comparison between Harrison and Moss?
2000: Moss
2001: Harrison
2002: Harrison
2003: Moss
2004: Harrison
2005: Harrison

Most surely 1999 would go to Harrison and 1998 would go to Moss. I'm a little surprised by the results, but not really. This is a perfect example of the YPC vs. receptions trade-off when evaluating WR performance.

2000 is a good example in looking at the value tradoff of yards and receptions.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

RE: Moss

Defenses often went to extraordinary lengths to roll coverage to his side. At his best, he made an impact on defensive strategy the way that Lawrence Taylor caused havoc with pass pro schemes. Not saying that Moss was as good as LT, merely that defensive coaches did stuff that they didn't do against anyone else because Moss was that good.

I've made the same argument for Manning. Teams do all kinds of crazy stuff when they face the Colts that they don't bother with against anyone else. And not just on defense, they change their offensive decisions and kicking decisions, too (go for TD rather than FG, onside kicks). Even the Steelers kicked onside in a year they won the Super Bowl on the strength of a great defense.

My point is that stats are nice, but there is a huge difference between a guy who gets his numbers as just another cog in the system (even a very, very good cog) and the player who forces opponents to try all sorts of new tactics in an effort to deal with him.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Side note: If a team is outgained by 60 plus yards and has a three-turnover deficit, as was Dallas, they would normally lose by more than 20 points. It’s amazing they were even in the game at the end.

No that amazing, given what was going on on the other side's offense. If a team goes 2/12 on third down and kicks on all of the failed attempts (except the one where the QB fumbles and it's returned for a touchdown), they would normally not have 31 points or a seven-point lead in the game's final minute.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

96: Cris Carter is arguably the second best WR in history? Which receiver you would put in third place, Jerry Rice, or Don Hutson?

Carter would probably make my top ten list of all time, but no way he's even third. I'd take Hutson, Rice, Tim Brown, Raymond Berry, Don Maynard, Paul Warfield and maybe Harold Jackson, James Lofton or Lance Alworth over him. There's probably a few others I'd forgotten, as well.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

If I had a vote on the Hall of Fame, I think I put in Michael Irvin, then Cris Carter (maybe), then Monk (maybe). I would then get lynched by all the Redskin fans.

Monk and Carter are nearly identical statwise EXCEPT TDs. They both were able to set up other WRs, and both seemed to keep their production up... Carter a little better.

In order for me to put Monk ahead, he would need a significant "changed the way the game was played" bump... but I can't justify that at this point unless I can show he pioneered in the greater number of receptions to WRs. I can't do that at this point, although that seems like it is true.

Thinking about all this made me think that the NFL should push out the illegal contact penalty to 10 yards instead of 15. I think this penalty has done a lot in making WR patterns shorter... although if WRs ran longer routes, I don't think there are 32 competent QBs in America who could get them the ball, maybe 24... (at least not 32 competent QBs plus 160 competent offensive linemen).

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

OK …. so what is a “bubble screen�?

A couple of receivers line up on the same side. One takes a couple of steps behind the line while the others go out to screen the defensive backs. The pass goes to the one that stayed back.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

99: My regression studies show a team that gains 380 yards and has two turnovers should have scored 26 points. The Eagles before the Sheppard interception had 31. The model prediction there was fine. It was Dallas' points that were out of whack, since 320 yards and five turnovers would predict two points, whereas they scored 24.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

101: The strength of the Redskins offense in their dynastic years was the Hogs, and they changed the game, since 300+ pound linemen were virtually unheard of before them. Other team copied that approach and got massive offensive linemen after that. I say put a moratorium on WRs in the Hall until Joe Jacoby and Russ Grimm get in.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

The yards-turnovers-points correlation works fine; I'm just saying that a team that faces third down 12 times and ends their posession through punting or turnover after all but two of those downs would ordinarily not put up that number of yards or points. In part, that's because all the punting gives the opposing offense more chances at successful drives, even when they keep turning the ball over. Each side's haplessness helped the other.

Also, remember that the Dallas offense only scored 17 points, unless the model incorporates takeaways (like the McNabb interception/fumble TD) as well as turnovers committed.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

First, Drew Bledsoe has to start sharing the ball before the defense comes to take it... PSL and you know who you are throwing to before the ball is snapped, well most QBs... Balls thrown into two deep coverage should never be underthrown... I hate Dallas but I hate poor execution more... Second, Is there anything worse than a Steeler fan? OK Raiders lock it up, but a close second would be the bumble bee outfits I tire of seeing...GO Chargers! thanks for showing everyone that the Steelers are not having a down year, they are a bad team! One mafai hit on Palmer and a tripped shoelace put them in a Bowl game against another marginal team. Tip to Rothburger, audible to the opposite side first of the receiver you intend to throw to...

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

105: I may not be explaining things well today. Regardless of the third down conversion rate, a team that racks up 380 yards and has two turnovers would expect to score 26 points. So empirically, the model largely explains the performance of the Eagles offense. It doesn't care what the third down conversion rate is, because it's not needed. DVOA places weight on third down peformance, but my model ignores it, and generally works fine.

It works best for a single game when one takes it as a yards and turnovers differential, rather than trying to account for only one side of the ledger (otherwise, the model will predict negative offensive points in some games). I was trying to explain I disagree with your assertion that a 2 for 12 performance (given the yards and turnovers) by the Eagles would generally not lead to a team scoring 31 points, offered the model results as evidence.

Hopefully this makes it a little clearer.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

105: I may not be explaining things well today. Regardless of the third down conversion rate, a team that racks up 380 yards and has two turnovers would expect to score 26 points. So empirically, the model largely explains the performance of the Eagles offense. It doesn't care what the third down conversion rate is, because it's not needed. DVOA places weight on third down peformance, but my model ignores it, and generally works fine.

It works best for a single game when one takes it as a yards and turnovers differential, rather than trying to account for only one side of the ledger (otherwise, the model will predict negative offensive points in some games). I was trying to explain I disagree with your assertion that a 2 for 12 performance (given the yards and turnovers) by the Eagles would generally not lead to a team scoring 31 points, offered the model results as evidence.

Hopefully this makes it a little clearer.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Several thoughts from the games and the posts here:

It's too bad Dallas Philly, a truly entertaining contest, it just came in small chunks in between replays of TO running onto the field, shots of TO on the sideline, TO being pointed out on the field with his own graphic pointer (a nice tool, actually, if, say, you could put it on the blitzing backer)a report on extra security for TO, fans with TO shirts in the stands, fans with signs about TO, graphics about TO, recaps of TO. TO on TO. Replays of TO when TO got the ball and replays of TO when, say, TO didn't get the ball.

And all the while Buck and Aikman bemoaning what a terrible influence TO is and how he gets way too much attention for his antics and so forth. I was waiting for the throw-over when Buck had to say, "What a tired act this is. Now down to Pam Oliver who has a report on TO's facial expressions so far in the game.

Re: Brady and accuracy. First off, he's clearly not "Brady". Having said that, I think the effect is mistakenly amplified by how many times Brady has had to throw the ball away--which could be considered a "Good Incomplete." He definitely was throwing it away lots in the first couple of games but even through yesterday, Brady's doing a lot of scanning the field, finding nothing and tossing it down in the ground or over the bench. Evidence of good incompletes can also be found in his low number of interceptions relative to his low completion percentage. Unlike, say, Ben R. who's had some very bad incompletes indeed. Anyway, I'd love to hear from someone who's charted his passes to know what percent are "Good Incompletes."

Finally, probably the most underrated, important development for the Patriots--who haven't yet played at the elite level but show the potential to--is that, no matter their RBs Yards Per or QBs completion percentage, they've ended three of their five games with clock-killing drives of FIVE MINUTES or more. This is a handy skill to have.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Maybe TO was out of line with his yapping, maybe not. I am totally sick of Joe Buck playing Javert with Owens. But let's remember one thing - "TO Learns to Share" doesn't come out until November!

The Jets did some weird things, resting Coles but keeping Pennington in until the bitter end. Makes no sense. The flags against Vilma and Barton looked ridiculous to me.

Anyone else miss the old version of Point After, the NFL Network Sunday Night show from last year and before that showed something from every team's press conference? It was the perfect wrap to the week, and now it's gone. The show they're airing now has too much knee-jerk filler garbage in it.

The Pats field reminds me of the catbox the Cardinals used to play in.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Tim: No, you're explaining things fine. I'm just not being clear, I guess. I'm saying that a 2 for 12 performance would ordinarily lead to a team not gaining 380 yards, and thus not scoring 30+ points. Obviously, the Eagles offense was more than able to score without third-down success, but it was, I think, a major factor in the Cowboys' being able to stay in the game despite being turnover-happy.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

All this talk about a Harrison as a hall of famer and no mention of me!?! I'm feeling the need to dish out some punishment against all those disrepesting me! Arghhh!!

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

112: I agree if one considers third downs as a weighted variable, 2 for 12 would not be considered successful, and would not normally (I suppose) lead to a team gaining 380 yards. But since my model ignores third down performance, and does pretty good without it, it's not an intermediate variable I concern myself with.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Oh, I'm not criticizing the model. Just trying to offer an explanation for the outlier.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Cris Carter is second all-time in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. Certainly you have to account for era, but even in his own era he was statistically better than everybody except Rice.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

wow,117th. Has anybody else noted how good a season Wes Welker is having for the fins? I know that no one will ever read all the way down here but such a real (Troy Brown-esque) football player deserves some credit. He is having a career season.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

A simple DPAR comparison:

2000 Holt 42.0 Moss 47.8 Owens 40.4
2001 Holt 34.4 Moss 22.2 Owens 36.8
2002 Holt 28.1 Moss 17.9 Owens 28.6
2003 Holt 45.2 Moss 48.0 Owens 12.4
2004 Holt 34.9 Moss 23.1 Owens 31.9
2005 Holt 21.7 Moss 16.2 Owens 13.2
2006 Holt 05.6 Moss 00.5 Owens -1.2

Holt 211.9 Moss 175.7 Owens 162.1

Let's just stop talking in cliches for a moment. Let's stop talking about who's a "dominant presence," or who's "all over the field," or who "forces defenses to plan games around him." The fact is that there are people who are just flat-out better than the receivers the media fixates on.

Forget about who's the better teammate, or the better human being, or any of that. Holt's just the better football player. He gets 1300 yards every year. And not just when he has Warner, and Bruce on the other side, and not just when he's healthy, and not just when he's on a good team. The 2005 Rams, had Bulger get injured, then Jamie Martin play 8 games before he got injured, and they had Ryan Fitzpatrick play for four. Isaac Bruce disappeared, and they rolled to a 6-10 record in the NFL's worst division. Holt missed two games. And he still got 1300 yards. Moss hasn't done it since 2003 and Owens hasn't done since 2002. Holt, of course, had more than either of them in both of those seasons.

And let's stop hedging our bets with Owens and Moss, saying that if ____, then they'd be great. The fact is that even when they're behaving, not on terrible teams, and not injured, they aren't necessarily the game's best receiver.

The Hall of Fame should take Harrison and Holt, and then think about Bruce, Moss, and Owens.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

But since my model ignores third down performance, and does pretty good without it, it’s not an intermediate variable I concern myself with.

It has to do with not considering punts as turnovers - if you look at the "never punt" article talking about "actual turnover ratio" that's where it would come in.

Of course a model would do fine not including third down performance - it just ups the variance, since you'll have teams with better third down performance, and teams with worse third down performance, and you just average over them.

You can imagine a game with a team that always starts deep in their own territory, drives to about midfield, and then punts. You'd rack up yardage, never have turnovers, and not score points.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Since he's gotten to Miami, I've been calling him the White Dante Hall. (In light of his primary role being ST.)

But when he's called upon to be the Primary/Slot Receiver -- which seems to happen in NE and when he , subsequently, gets a blip of national commentator attention -- he reminds me of Wayne Chrebet. Who is, just coincidentally, white. I think.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Yaguar,

Torry Holt is certainly in the discussion, but the years you give ignore 1998 (great year for rookie Moss) and 1999 (very good year for Moss, great year for Harrison).

Torry Holt belongs in the discussion, but those numbers aren't enough to convince me that Torry Holt's career, thus far, is better than Moss's. It's a flawed argument to talk about what Moss hasn't done since 2003 when you're not giving him credit for what he did in 98 and 99.

And of course, Torry Holt came into an offense that was pass-happy and perfectly suited to his skills. I think Holt is in the middle of a HOF career, too, but I'd still take Moss's prime years over Holt's.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

It's not my fault DPAR for WRs goes back only to 2000.

Holt's one year behind Moss, of course, although he's actually older. Everything looks to me like Holt has much more left in the tank, though.

Here's a way of putting it: which would you rather have? A random year of Torry Holt, or a random year of Randy Moss?

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

While most everyone watched PHI-DAL, I watched KC-ARI (I'm a Chiefs fan). My take on Leinart. He dfinitely looks like an NFL qb. His mobility kept the Chiefs to 4 sacks (Warner would have taken about twice as many). But he's a rookie and will be inconsistent, especially now that teams have a full game of tape of him. Case in point: today, 1st 9 minutes: 4-4, 75 yds, 2 tds. Middle 49 minutes: 12-21, 120 yds, 1 int, and 4 sacks (including the bad one mentioned in the article when he had plenty of time to throw it away). Last 2 minutes: 5-6 (not counting spikes), 58 yds with no timeouts to the edge of game-tying FG range. He put his team ahead, and gave it a chance to tie. His mediocre play in the mid-game allowed the Chiefs to get back into it.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

No, that's not your fault, but you are the one using the data from 2000 without considering previous data, so it's still a flawed argument you are making.

And which "random year" you'd want doesn't have much to do with who had a better career. Let's say player A fluctuated between 500 yards and 1,700 yards receiving in his career, and player B always had 1,1000 yards. Well, I'd probably play the percentages and take the sure 1,100 yards. It doesn't mean either player A or player B has had hte better career, just that one has been more consistent (and I realize this hypothetical doesn't apply to Moss/Holt, I'm just using it to show the problem of the question).

Also, unless I'm mistaken, DPAR doesn't care much for TDs. Well, I do. Moss has 4 seasons with more TDs than Holt's career high of 12: 17, 15, 17, and 13. Moss has six seasons with 10+ TDs; Holt has two.

Maybe that's why with one more year, Moss has 100 TDs and Holt has 58. Even if you subtract Moss's rookie year, he's got way more TDs than Holt. So it's not like the numbers show a clear superiority from Holt--unless you don't care about TDs.

So even if I can take a random year, I like WRs who can score TDs. I'll take Moss.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

And so Holt has a run of six straight 1,300 yard seasons. Moss had a run of five of six (and in the other year had 1,200 yards).

With Moss's superior TD totals (100 to 58) and consistency at scoring TDs (six 10+ seasons to two) I'll take Holt.

Not only does Moss have four seasons with more TDs than Holt's career high, Holt has three seasons below Moss's career low for TDs.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re #36 - From 5 years of watching him OCing the Chiefs, Al Saunders calls at least one goofy play a week. It may be in his contract.

The scenario goes like this. Saunders' team has a strength running the ball. Run a few times. Get a 1st down. Opponent seems to have a weakness (NYG secondary in 1st several games). Attempt to exploit (deep pass to Thrash?!). On third and 8, don't go back at opponent weakness. Run a goofy play for over-rated multi-purpose threat (ARE in Dante Hall) role.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

grr...I meant I'll take Moss.

The more I look at it, the more convinced I am.

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Sure, it's good in fantasy football. But touchdowns are indicative of how the team chooses to move the ball in the red zone, not how good each of the players are.

Redskins H-Back Mike Sellers had seven touchdown receptions last year. Colts WR Reggie Wayne had five. What does that mean in terms of who's actually more valuable to their team's passing game? Joe Jurevicius had ten touchdowns, one more than Chad Johnson. Do I really care? No, and I don't think you should either.

I'll take Holt.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

80.

Those were only clutch kicks because vinateri had missed kicks earlier in the game. If he'd kicked his career average in those games, none of them would have come down to that.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Texans fans,

What's the take on Jabar Gaffney? The Pats just signed him. Is he just another incarnation of Inanimate Carbon Rod?

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Is Brian Mitchell really being put forward for the Hall before Randy Moss? He was a below average running back who returned a lot of kicks. His total yardage is prob the ultimate "stat that means nothing"- give anyone 4-5 kick returns a game and they'll have 1500 all purpose yard seasons.

I think the relevant question with Moss is whether or not he'll ever become a dominant reciever again.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

#132: Gaffney couldn't break the roster for Philly, where he was signed in the offseason. It took him a long time to adapt to the new system there, and the rookies picked it up much faster and outdid him. Then again, so far those receivers (except Avant, and they weren't going to cut a 4th round pick) have done pretty freaking well, so, who knows.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Moss is one of those players. He has made a strong case for being considered the 2nd best reciever all-time,

Interesting question. I'd put Largent before Moss. And before Harrison and Owens, while we're at it.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Pacifist and Yaguar:

Holt also helped get his team to two Super Bowls and helped win one by his play. Moss has not and will not. Holt appears to make the most of his talent on the field while Moss doesn't. Has anyone ever accused Holt of taking plays off?

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

"Character" shouldn't have anything to do with HOF. It should be production only.

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Touchdowns aren't always a measure of how a teams acts in the red zone. Randy Moss has 56 40+ yard receptions, Holt has 33 of them. I would bet that accounts for about 20 touchdowns of their 42 touchdown differential. And those are probably mostly a factor of the skill of the receiver. They certainly have nothing to do with differences in red zone behavior.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

What a great weekend of football. Too bad it had to be overshadowed by pandering dopes at the Robots Playing Football Network and the Back-back-back-Booyah Network, who somehow think that misfits like Owens are more interesting than the billion dollar sport being played on the field.

Does any one else have the feeling that the defensive points allowed for a season record is likly to fall this year? I the Bears and Ravens both look good enough on D to do it. Appropriate since those are the last two teams to set the record.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

130: that's a fine argument to make for RBs, but I'm pretty sure WRs have to earn all of their TD receptions. Mike Sellars isn't even a reasonable argument; Moss's other numbers are very similar to Holt's, and he has superior touchdown numbers.

136: I hate to mention the name again, but I will: Gary Anderson. It's hard to hold Moss's lack of Super Bowls against him.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Re #133
I'd take Mel Gray for the Hall of Fame before I'd take Brian Mitchell, unless we're limited to players who played for at least 3 NFC East teams.

Marvin Harrison is a dead-certain lock for the Hall of Fame in my book. Maybe I'd have to think about it if he hadn't played so long with Peyton. But maybe Peyton's been as good as he has because of Marvin.

The problem with Randy Moss is probably that his 5 Hall of Fame quality years of playing came over 8 seasons of games for which he dressed. For the impact he's had on games, he probably deserves to be in if he retired today, but I could see him not making it for a few years.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Becephalus #73:

Moss is one of those players. He has made a strong case for being considered the 2nd best reciever all-time

Tommy McDonald was way better than Moss. 6 time pro-bowler. 84 TD's in the 12 and 14 games per year eon of the NFL. A TD every 5 to 6 receptions. Championship season in 1960 where he played a key, key role.

http://www.profootballreference.com/players/McDoTo00.htm

Putting Jerry Rice as #1, Tommy McDonald certainly comes before Moss as a candidate for #2.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

People have such a visceral hatred to Moss that I feel the numbers are the only reasonable way to examine his career. If you look at his numbers as "Player A" rather than the bottle-squirting, fake-mooning rascal you've come to hate, what do you think of his career?

Player A: 129 games, 646 receptions, 10,283 yards, 100 TDs.

Postseason: 8 games, 35 receptions, 723 yards, 9 TDs.

And Player B: 115 games, 648 receptions, 9,859 yards, 58 TDs.

Postseason: 10 games, 47 receptions, 630 yards, 4 TDs.

I'd say that thus far, Player A has had a better regular season and postseason career. When evaluating their all-time status, both look pretty good so far, but I'd still take the guy with 100 TDs.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

How about this crazy comparison.. What would you rather have on your team, 2 Torry Holt's, 2 Randy Moss', 2 Marvin Harrison's, 2 Terrell Owen's or 2 Cris Carter's?

I think most people would put Holt/Moss/Owens in different categories than Harrison and even Marvin above Carter as to the type of WR you are getting.

I'd like to know how a receiver like Cris Carter did matched up against Deion Sanders, Aeneas Williams, or Eric Allen. Off the top of my head I'd rather have Michael Irvin than Cris Carter based on Irvin torching Eric Allen and Darrell Green. I am just assuming Irvin torched Allen, but I know the match-up of Irvin against Green was a nightmare...

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Disco Stu #133:

Is Brian Mitchell really being put forward for the Hall before Randy Moss? He was a below average running back who returned a lot of kicks. His total yardage is prob the ultimate “stat that means nothing�- give anyone 4-5 kick returns a game and they’ll have 1500 all purpose yard seasons.

Yes, Brian Mitchell will be put forward for the Hall of Fame in a couple of years, which will possibly put him in before Randy Moss.

As far as your objections go, what Mitchell did, he did for 15 years. And almost every one of those returns ends with a crunching collision head on with some insane special teams gunner. And he never missed a game. And he has the all time lead in kick return TD's with 13.

Bottom line, Mitchell is to date right now the best kick returner ever to play in the NFL (its possible Dante Hall may surpass him). Considering how important field position is to the game, I don't see how you can overlook such a contribution and say its nothing and anyone could have done it.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Just another point: It's not like every offense is so good that it gets to "choose" which of its players it will utilize in the red zone. This isn't Madden. Some players are better at scoring than others.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

It's clearly Rice and Hutson at the top. Nobody else is close. Linked in my name are the receiving stats for the 1942 season.

Hutson caught for 1200 yards in 11 games, in an era where 500 yards for a receiver was exceptional. He had literally three times the numbers of the second best player in every meaningful statistical category. He had nearly twice as much receiving yardage as all of the New York Giants combined.

I wouldn't even argue if someone said he was the best ever.

Re 140: It's just as true for receivers. If you look at a list of receivers in order of yardage gained in a season, you'll get a reasonable ranking of how well they played, more often than not. If you rank them by touchdowns, you'll see all sorts of flukey things. Keenan McCardell over Anquan Boldin. Joe Jurevicius over Chad Johnson. Chris Henry over Reggie Wayne. Amani Toomer over Rod Smith.

All it means is that if we were to quantify the "good-ness" of receivers, there would be a much higher correlation to yardage than to touchdowns.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Look, I'm not a big proponent of Moss for the HOF yet, and given his career trajectory, it is unlikely I will ever be. When it gest to the point, however, where the first 30 yards of a kick off return are being compared to a 30 yard reception, or even two fifteen yard receptions, and a handful of "big game" kicks (see PFP 2006 to dispell some myths about Vinateri) gets a guy into the HOF ahead of a guy with 100 tds, well, it's time to take a deep breath. Like I said above, I think Moss loafed on too many playes to be in the HOF based on production so far, but let's not get crazy here.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

148: I completely disagree with the assumption that TDs are meaningless in helping us assess individual players. Some players are better at scoring than others. Randy Moss, for example, is tall, quick, with good jumping ability and great hands (for ability in great catches, not necessarily consistency). That makes him a great red zone threat.

Years of watching the Vikings succeed in the red zone, and now watching them suck miserably in the red zone are part of the evidence.

Again, it's not like teams just choose which players they'd rather use in the red zone. Some players prove to be more successful at scoring TDs than others. To pretend that the TDs don't tell us anything is silly.

I'm much more impressed with Don Hutson's 17 TDs in 11 games than the 1,200 yards (though they happened in the same season; they're both impressive).