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

Audibles at the Line: Week 11

compiled by Doug Farrar

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 2008. 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.

Miami Dolphins 7 at Philadelphia Eagles 17

Mike Tanier: Great news! I now own a hi-def television. Bad news! I have to watch Eagles football on it.

Philly talk radio will be particularly poisonous this week. If you didn't see it, Donovan McNabb played like garbage for about a half, and then hurt his ankle. A.J. Feeley came in and played badly at first, but then came around and led some scoring drives. McNabb isn't seriously hurt and should be healthy for next week. I can't wait to hear the Feeley bandwagon pull up alongside the Kevin Kolb bandwagon and start revving its engines.

Michael David Smith: I have long insisted that the Dolphins are not going 0-16, that they're really not a horrible team, just a bad team that has had bad breaks. But now I actually could see it happening. John Beck looked like he's definitely not ready to play this season. Maybe he'll be good some day, but I doubt that day will be in 2007. I thought the team just looked really sluggish. The Eagles were giving them opportunities to win and the Dolphins weren't taking those opportunities. And the two teams on their schedule I thought they had the best opportunities to beat -- the Jets and Ravens -- both showed signs of life today. If I had to guess, yes or no, I'd guess the Dolphins will win a game this year. But it's not a sure thing at all.

Oakland Raiders 22 at Minnesota Vikings 29

Bill Barnwell: I watched the Oakland Raiders play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. I was, admittedly, very hung over when I watched this game, and about halfway through, I decided the best thing to cure the hangover, the heartburn, and discomfort that this game caused was to start sniffing $20 bills in the hopes that one of them would have enough cocaine fibers to get me high, and therefore, awake.

The things I saw: Jumping pump fakes. Blocks made of jazz hands. Passes off back feet. Leg whip. Throws five yards deep into the sideline. Piles on wheels. Features on Lane Kiffin's high school yearbook. Wes Welker-Tim Dwight metaphor. Fumbled snaps. Fumbled otherwise-game-ending-interception returns. Unabation. Blown tackles -- not even blown good tackles, blown tackles that wouldn't even have worked. Like blown ankle tackles. What's the opposite of improvisation? Deprovisation? Declinisation? I saw that. Waggles that didn't waggle. Illegal procedure doesn't cover it -- downright offensive, grotesque procedure.

This game should be recorded and shown as part of deprogramming techniques and interventions. It was an embarrassment to the NFL and NFLPA, an affront to my personal values, and every advertiser whose product was featured during the commercials of this game has my pity but not my business, since their sponsorship of this debacle meant that it had to remain on television. This was a waste of three hours of my life that I could've spent in a stupor staring at the wall. I'm too young for this.

Sean McCormick: Welcome to Bay Area football! The 49ers are up next!

Mike Tanier: Kiffin graduated from high school?

I got to see the shine off Brad Childress' head in high-definition. It was a religious experience. And while we make fun of the Vikings, their offensive line is clearly great and they have an excellent and a good running back. The defense isn't bad. Next year, with Donovan McNabb at quarterback...

Doug Farrar: In the meantime, it seems that Minnesota's best quarterback is rookie receiver Sidney Rice. Glad we got that settled. And that line is outstanding. Chester Taylor isn't too bad, either -- he looked like he was crowd-surfing on one of his rushing touchdowns.

San Diego Chargers 17 at Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Aaron Schatz: This game began with one of the most frightening visuals in the history of NFL broadcasts: a 300-pound woman with her face painted like a jaguar and what looked like a crown of eucalyptus. Oh, man. Not good.

Doug Farrar: The Jaguars absolutely dominated San Diego's defense on the ground in the first half. Jacksonville's offensive line won the physical battle over and over. People tend to think of San Diego's front seven in positive terms because of their linebackers, but they came into this game ranked 28th, 32nd and 30th in Defensive Adjusted Line Yards to the left end, left tackle and mid-guard areas. They can be run around. They can be driven back.

David Garrard got things going a bit more in the second quarter as the Chargers adjusted to the run, but they were able to run out the clock at the end of the first half on the ground. And I hope nobody blames Antonio Cromartie for the second-quarter touchdown to Reggie Williams; Cromartie led him inside and Marlon McCree was about five days late with the safety help.

I haven't watched every Chargers game this season, but I've seen several short passes where the offense just seems out of sync, especially screens or swing passes. Either Philip Rivers is letting the ball go too quickly, or there's some miscommunication about the number of steps or yards the receiver is supposed to go. San Diego used to be a great screen team; certainly L.T. was one of the best at catching the ball out of the backfield. I don't know if Norv's offenses traditionally have issues with these plays, but L.T. finished sixth in DPAR among receiving running backs last year. This year, he's 20th. They can run the simple stuff, like inside slants and skinny posts, but on anything else, it seems harder that it should.

Third-quarter note to Jacksonville's defense: You cannot cover Antonio Gates with a linebacker. You will lose. On the other hand, San Diego has no answer for David Garrard on the third-quarter touchdown drive where he went four-for-four for 85 yards. Believe it or not, Jones-Drew knocked Shawne Merriman flat on the one-yard touchdown pass. Just demolished him on a play-action. He's Pocket Hercules, all right.

Jeez, Norv. You go for it on fourth-and-2 at the start of the fourth quarter, down two touchdowns, from the Jacksonville 37. OK, I'm with you so far. But you call a counter pitch far right to Tomlinson? On the play before, L.T. went up the middle and just avoided getting stuffed, as the Jags got great penetration up the middle, So, yeah, great, call something that takes even more time when you need short yardage. Jacksonville had about five defenders on him right away, and that actually might have been a halfback option, because L.T. stopped for a second as if to throw. What in the name of Rich Kotite were you thinking?

Aaron Schatz: That fourth-and-2 play was definitely meant to be a halfback option. What a weird play call. And L.T., the rule that a running back should never throw if the man isn't wide-open does not really count when it is fourth down. Don't run out of bounds without getting to the sticks. Throw the ball.

Speaking of fourth downs, let's give Mr. Del Rio credit for having the balls to run at the goal line on second-and-short, third-and-short, and fourth-and-short, rather than running some kind of fancy pass or weird counter-draw. Pound the rock. If you can't get one yard in three tries, you deserve to go without a score.

Mike Tanier: From what I saw of Rivers -- which was only the last few minutes -- his delivery is worse than usual (it was never exactly a clinic). He was shot-putting short passes, throwing with all arm and not a lot of legs or body. That will lead to all kinds of errant throws.

With all Norv's flaws, I thought quarterback and receiver mechanics were the things he was going to fix. Maybe he looked at Rivers' wacky delivery, said "this guy is no Troy Aikman or Trent Green," and didn't even try to make alterations. Or, he is trying to turn Rivers into Aikman instead of finding a way to deal with that elbows-and-knees style of his.

Aaron Schatz: The folks I was watching with, the feeling we got watching Rivers was that when he could set his feet and throw, he was getting the ball to the right place. That was primarily seam and in routes. But he can't throw on the run at all, and he seems to have serious problems throwing passes to the outside. Man, what happened to this guy?

Sean McCormick: Rivers seems to be very sensitive to the pass rush. He makes a lot of throws while falling backwards.

Doug Farrar: The final score shows a closer game than actually happened. San Diego's fourth-quarter touchdown was the result of Jacksonville playing a soft zone, and an inexplicable unnecessary roughness penalty by Larry Nemmers' crew on Reggie Nelson. Apparently, you can't lead with your shoulder on a receiver going over the middle anymore.

Vince Verhei: That David Garrard drive in the third quarter was a thing of beauty to behold: A quarterback standing tall in the pocket, making strong throws DOWNFIELD into very small windows in the coverage. If you'll forgive me a moment of play-by-play: 22 yards to Dennis Northcutt! Deep post to George Wrighster for 36! Deep post to Reggie Williams for 26! And at the goal line, a play fake and an easy lob to a wide-open Marcedes Lewis for the score. Just awesome. As long as he's healthy, I'm with Aaron, this team's going to beat Indianapolis and win the division.

Kansas City Chiefs 10 at Indianapolis Colts 13

Aaron Schatz: Earth to Priest Holmes: Stop trying to bust everything outside. You are not 27 anymore. Trying to bust a third-and-1 carry outside is a bad move. Trying to bust a draw play outside is a bad move. The whole point of a draw play is that you WANT the outside defenders to come into the backfield! When you try to bust that outside and run right into one of those defenders, it is not a surprise.

It seems that Brodie Croyle seems to throw a lot of balls just slightly too much out of bounds. And we can talk about all the injuries as an excuse, but Peyton Manning was just plain off today. He was completely missing guys and looked awful.

Michael David Smith: I love the loud cheer Colts fans gave Adam Vinatieri after he made a 27-yarder. They sounded like they were surprised he made it. No team has ever spent more for less on kickers than the Colts in the last few years.

Aaron Schatz: After Vinatieri missed those two field goals, all I could think about was just how nasty the third MDS "Seriously, do people understand that Vinatieri just isn't that good anymore?" Fanhouse post was going to be. It's us against the world, Mike. Us against the world.

Ned Macey: These past few Colts games are funny as a fan. It is like a flashback to pre-2003 Colts where Manning is mortal, and they only have one very good receiver. The book on Manning used to be pressure him. The Colts got so good at picking up pressure and finding hot reads that teams moved into passive defense. Down Marvin Harrison and a left tackle, suddenly pressure appears to be in vogue again.

The Chiefs blitzed Manning a lot and almost always from the offense's left side. Addai actually did a great job of picking up the blitz, taking Allen one-on-one on multiple occasions (when the tackle had shifted in for the blitzing linebacker). But if Addai is pass-blocking, he's not in routes. Clark had a pretty bad game, dropped a couple of balls. Wayne generally had two guys on him which left Moorehead/Thorpe in single coverage. That's not a winning combo. Also, Manning has no confidence in his protection, and he always gets rid of the ball so quickly, but these receivers aren't good enough to get open that quickly.

Croyle looked reasonably good for a rookie. I believe he attempted at least a half dozen quick hitches which had some success to Dwayne Bowe. Of course, as the color commentator (Steve Tasker?) pointed out, the Chiefs never ran a hitch-and-go, which they definitely had set up. Their one offensive touchdown was just a great throw and catch to Bowe picking on the Colts No. 5 cornerback, T.J. Rushing, who had good coverage.

The Colts defense covers well. They've got seven really fast people back there at all times. But on a late field goal drive, it became clear what will happen against better offenses without Dwight Freeney. Croyle was getting time in the pocket and found some holes in the zone. The pass rush was noticeably less consistent against a mediocre line. Simeon Rice never pressured the opposing quarterback, but did make a nice play to foul up a screen pass.

If you're looking for AFC linebackers for your Pro Bowl ballot, you could do a lot worse than Derrick Johnson. I'm charting a number of Chiefs games this year, and he's everywhere. He's a great blitzer, very good in run defense, and a pretty good cover linebacker. No basis for this statement, but I feel that outside linebackers in 4-3 defenses sometimes take a few years to emerge, but Johnson is definitely one of the better ones now.

Michael David Smith: Derrick Johnson is an incredibly talented linebacker, extremely fast. I sometimes look at him and think he relies too much on his speed, sometimes running around plays when he needs to run through them, but I have always liked him.

Aaron Schatz:Honestly, you could do a lot worse than Gary Brackett, too. He had another very impressive game today for the Colts.

New York Giants 16 at Detroit Lions 10

Stuart Fraser: The best joke of the weekend was managed by the referee who called Michael Strahan for "unabated to the quarterback." The Lions didn't abate Strahan all game. Kitna seemed to be scrambling away from pressure as soon as he took the snap.

Calvin Johnson is going to be good. Right now he's mostly just showing flashes. The Lions' touchdown was one such moment. Johnson beat his man deep, then when Jon Kitna underthrew the ball, Calvin turned around and grabbed it from behind the defensive back. Reminded me of one of those ridiculous Brady-to-Moss bombs against Miami where the ball was thrown in the general direction of Randy and he somehow comes up with it.

Speaking of which, on the Lions' subsequent drive, Kitna was intercepted in the end zone having somewhat underthrown a deep ball to Shaun McDonald. Yes. You have Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson available, and you throw your would-be go ahead Hail Mary pass to Shaun freaking McDonald. The announcers blamed Kitna, I'm not sure if this is Kitna's fault or Martz's, but somebody is getting KCW-nominated over the play. (The Lions actually got the ball back after a three-and-out, and Kitna again went to McDonald -- who batted the ball up in the air for another interception).

Reuben Droughns is a lousy running back. I realize this isn't exactly the sort of cutting-edge analysis you can only get from Football Outsiders, but it was really noticeable that after Brandon Jacobs went out (hamstring, no idea about future games), suddenly the Giants running game wasn't a threat. I don't know if Droughns waits longer than Jacobs does for holes to develop, but I do know they weren't there for him.

Is it me, or is there nothing at all remarkable about the Giants' offense as it normally is? There just doesn't seem to be anything in particular to say about it. Oh, except that I'm sure somebody called a quarterback scramble for Eli. Or maybe it was a rollout. The play call certainly seemed to rely on Eli Manning's mobility, whatever it was.

Ben Riley: During a break, there was a commercial featuring Eli Manning, an "Echo Citizen" watch, and the tagline "Unstoppable!" Which prompted my girlfriend to say "Uh, stoppable."

Cleveland Browns 33 at Baltimore Ravens 30

Bill Moore: Derek Anderson is really making things difficult for Phil Savage. Although his stats today were good, not great, he orchestrated both the game-tying drive with a great under-pressure throw to Braylon Edwards and then made a great throw on the game-winning drive to Kellen Winslow. All this against arch-enemy Baltimore.

However, Cleveland signed Brady Quinn, their first-round pick (albeit their second first-round pick), for 5 years and $20 million. Clearly, Quinn is supposed to be the Cleveland quarterback of the future. David Lewin's system loves him, but there's a decent chance he won't play at all this year. Anderson is a restricted Free Agent following this season. I expect Cleveland will make a top tender offer, but I can't imagine they can afford top dollar. Does anyone give up a first-rounder for him?

Doug Farrar: Depends on how Cleveland tags him. As much as Anderson's proven, and as dismal as the quarterback situation is for so many NFL teams, I'd think there will be more than one team with interest.

Sean McCormick: No one is giving up two No. 1s for Anderson, and it's unlikely that any team with a top ten pick will be willing to give it up for him. So you're looking at a midlevel or upper-level team with a dubious quarterback situation and no recent draft pick on the bench. There aren't that many teams that qualify.

Mike Tanier: Anderson could get interest the way Matt Schaub generated interest: second-round pick territory. Or the Browns could keep Anderson around the way the Bengals kept Jon Kitna for an extra year when Carson Palmer was coming up.

Vince Verhei: This is a league with one team that has to play Vinny Testaverde, Matt Moore or David Carr, and another team that has to choose between Byron Leftwich and Joey Harrington. There are plenty of teams desperate to acquire a good quarterback. I think the state of Minnesota would be happy if the Vikings pulled a Ricky-Williams style trade for Anderson.

Ben Riley: I'm not sure that Derek Anderson isn't worth two first-rounders. If Tim Ruskell can spend a first round pick to get Deion Branch, it's not hard to imagine someone paying the steep price to get Anderson, who should go to the Pro Bowl this year.

Mike Tanier: Any general manager who gives up two number one picks for Anderson should be fired immediately. He would make Matt Millen look like Einstein.

Ned Macey: I hate to be Mr. Negativity, but Derek Anderson was below replacement level last season and 41st out of 45 eligible quarterbacks. The only worse quarterbacks played for Oakland or Tampa Bay. This year, he is completing only around 57 percent of his passes. Braylon Edwards has 10 touchdowns and is averaging 17.5 yards per completion. If I could have a healthy Edwards and Anderson, I'd gladly give up a first-rounder.

Also, Anderson is just killing bad pass defenses but has been pretty rotten against good ones. Anderson has played five top-10 DVOA pass defenses this season: Pittsburgh twice, New England, Seattle, and Oakland. In those five games, he has thrown seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, and only completed more than 51.2 percent of his passes against Seattle. In other games, he has thrown 13 touchdowns and three interceptions, only below 60 once -- when he completed 55.6 percent against Baltimore and averaged more than 20 yards per completion. I suspect there are more than 20 quarterbacks in this league who could kill weak defenses with weapons such as Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.

Stuart Fraser: In terms of supporting cast, Anderson has Edwards, Winslow, and a Cleveland offensive line that's fifth in pass protection and eighth in run blocking (a combined rank beaten only by the Colts and Patriots). He has a solid possession reciever in Jurevicius. Realistically, if he's an average to above-average quarterback, he should be lighting things up - how many other teams have Cleveland's mix of offensive talent?

It feels really weird to have typed that. But seriously, New England, Dallas, Indianapolis (when they aren't all injured), then who? Arizona, maybe, except that everyone is underperforming. Pittsburgh and Cincy have good skill position players but porous lines.

Bill Moore: I'm not suggesting that Anderson is a great quarterback, but rather that his good play this year has put the organization in a a tough spot financially. Clearly he's not worth two number ones, but Cleveland needs to submit a tender to him worthy of two number ones. (anyone know the tender levels and their respective compensation?) Savage has to find a delicate balance of making Anderson an offer that sets the bar too high for someone else to take him, while managing the cap impact of paying what may well be your backup quarterback.

Sean McCormick: This is a deep quarterback class; Andre Woodson, Brian Brohm, Matt Ryan and Colt Brennan all figure to be first-rounders. I think most teams would rather take a crack at one of those guys than spend two first-rounders to get Anderson, who, as it was noted, is completing less than 60 percent of his passes with a terrific supporting cast of receivers. There will also be options like Chad Pennington or perhaps McNabb, who will be available as short-term veterans to mentor a younger player and who will be much cheaper to acquire. And there is the very legitimate possibility that Brady Quinn beats out Anderson in camp.

Ben Riley: Who in the world is Devard Darling? Seriously, I thought I knew every skill position player in the NFL, and this guy caught me totally unaware.

Aaron Schatz: Devard Darling is the player about whom we joked in last year's book, "The back of his jersey reads, 'RAW BUT GREAT UPSIDE.'" He was a third-round pick in 2004, and he had as many receptions today as he had in his first three-and-a-half seasons.

Sean McCormick: Wow, we're about to get a replay on a field goal. I don't think I've ever seen that before. I thought Phil Dawson's kick hit the back section of the post, which means it should be good.

Bill Moore: Crazy non-ending here. Dawson kicks a 51-yard tying field goal; it hits the left post, bounces through, hits the back of the goalpost, and bounces OUT! The refs in the end zone rule it no good. The announcers say that their NFL official claims it's not reviewable, but then the ref on the field says, "We will review it." He comes out of review, and says "After discussion on the field ... the field goal is good." I presume you can't review whether a field goal is good or not. This was more a question of what is the actual ruling based on what occurred.

Russell Levine: That one falls under the rare category of "things I have never seen occur in a football game before." Unbelievable. I don't know if Pete Morelli actually went under the hood, but at least they got the call right. Should be fun to see Mike Pereira explain that one on NFL Network this week.

Doug Farrar: Pereira's going to be a busy man this Wednesday.

Mike Tanier: The CBS guys talked a lot about that. Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason were confused by the call. It sounds like the ref said, "Screw the rulebook, I want to make the right call." And good for him. Let's officiate the GAME, not the RULEBOOK.

Russell Levine: Do we know for a fact a field goal is not reviewable? The TV announcers clearly thought so, but that doesn't make it so. The more I think about it, I believe I have seen a made field goal challenged before -- you know, one of those ones that went right over the post.

Bill Moore: I don't know the answer to your actual question, but just for clarification, it wasn't the announcers' opinion, but rather their network's league official liaison who said it wasn't reviewable.

Michael David Smith: Field goals are not reviewable, that is definitely in the rule book. Morelli claims he didn't actually review it, just "discussed" it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 at Atlanta Falcons 7

Russell Levine: Weird, weird sequence in this game. First Tampa Bay appears to have recovered a Warrick Dunn catch-and-fumble. Atlanta challenges, and the call is overturned as Dunn's second foot had not hit the ground before fumbling. Close call, but looked correct. (The Bucs earlier lost the same challenge on a Michael Pittman drop/catch-and-fumble play).

On the next snap, Atlanta completes another pass, runner is hit, fumbles, Brian Kelly picks it up for the Bucs. As he's being tackled, he pitches it to Cato June. As June is being tackled, he hits the ground and the ball comes out. Atlanta recovers in the scrum. Now, Jon Gruden throws the challenge flag. And here's where it gets weird. Once the ref goes under the hood, isn't he supposed to be able to review every reviewable aspect of the play?

Ben Riley: Actually, it's not clear that he can. I blogged about this earlier this year after a weird Vernon Davis play, and according to what the NFL told me, the referee is supposed to just look at the specific aspect of the play that the coach is challenging. But I'm not sure all the officials know this is the rule.

Russell Levine: On replay, it is quickly evident that there are three dicey aspects of this call. One, the receiver may or may not have had possession. Two, Kelly may or may not have been down when he pitched the ball. Three, June may or may not have been down by contact when he fumbled. Part one looked too close to overturn. Part two was also too close to call, but part three was obvious. Roddy White tripped June with his foot, June hit the turf and the turf caused the fumble. Now, if he's not down by contact, that's a live ball. But since he was tripped, it's not a fumble. Yet, after a quick review, Walt Coleman rules that "No. 25 was not down by contact before he pitched the ball." The announcement made it sound like he wasn't even looking at the most important part of the play. And to raise a point I know Michael David Smith loves, why, if they're reviewing everything, can't Coleman call the tripping penalty on White?

A titanically stupid play by Kelly, but still, an awful misuse of replay. The Falcons, given this immense break, promptly punted back to Tampa Bay four plays later. Oh, and on an entirely separate note, can't somebody teach Byron Leftwich to pitch from the stretch? He has the slowest release in the history of football. The crowd actually cheered when they showed Joey Harrington looking for his helmet on the sidelines, but alas, he wasn't coming in.

Michael David Smith: The crowd in Atlanta is obviously a lot smarter than the crowds in Detroit, then.

(After throwing an interception to defensive tackle Chris Hovan halfway through the third quarter, Leftwich is indeed pulled in favor of Harrington.)

Sean McCormick: I see that the Byron Leftwich experiment has come to a speedy conclusion.

Mike Tanier: Russ, Byron Leftwich's numbers look pretty awful. Was it as bad as it looked?

Russell Levine: It was, but he didn't have much help. The pass rush got to him, the receivers dropped passes, and they fell behind so had to abandon the run. His greatest sin was standing in the pocket forever, combined with that incredibly slow windup.

Aaron Schatz: I don't think Leftwich's performance was all his fault. It seemed like every time I looked at that game, Leftwich was throwing a perfectly fine pass which was either dropped by a receiver or caught and then fumbled away by a receiver. On the other hand, he had another couple sack-and-fumbles which definitely seemed related to his loooooonnnnnngggggg windup.

Vince Verhei: I was in a sports bar watching this game on one television, and the Jacksonville game on the television right next to it. This meant I got to watch Byron Leftwich and David Garrard at the same time. OK, it's time to admit this: Jacksonville chose the right quarterback. Now, this was a team loss in every sense of the word, and it was not Byron's fault. But he looked confused and flustered the entire game, he often hung on to the ball WAY too long, and the one attribute I liked about him -- an ability and willingness to throw passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air -- disappeared. As noted, Harrington got a standing ovation when he entered the game. He promptly went three-and-out.

Let's take a moment to examine the Falcons' quarterback rotation:

  • Harrington starts the first five games.
  • Leftwich takes over late in a winnable game against Tennessee.
  • Harrington starts the next week against the Giants
  • Leftwich starts the next week against New Orleans.
  • Harrington enters the game against New Orleans and starts the next two games (both wins).
  • Leftwich starts against the Bucs.
  • Harrington finishes against the Bucs.

Yes, they have made a change at quarterback seven times in 10 games.

Jerious Norwood only got two carries in this game. I am convinced that Bobby Petrino was concerned that the Falcons' two-game winning streak was ruining their draft position in 2008, and he had to try and climb back up the board.

Pittsburgh Steelers 16 at New York Jets 19

Sean McCormick: The change in the quality of the Jets defense since David Harris took over for Jonathan Vilma is palpable. He is able to hold his ground against a guard in the run game, which provides much less room for runners to bounce outside. He's been a force on the pass rush as well -- he sacked Ben Roethlisberger to end Pittsburgh's first series, and he nearly had a second sack on the following series. Ben got free, but the play had broken down and he ended up chucking the ball downfield for an incompletion.

Speaking of guys who have gotten better, Thomas Jones seems to have found a style that suits the Jets' offensive line. For the past few games, he's aggressively come up to the line, paused and then made a single cut. He's finding a lot of open space with those cutbacks and breaking off runs of eight to 12 yards, which is something he was completely unable to do early on in the season.

Pittsburgh did something nice formation-wise. They wanted to run a deep play-action play (which they've been doing a lot of on early downs), so they brought in tackle Max Starks as an extra tight end. Not only did it help sell the run, but Starks stonewalled his man, allowing Roethlisberger to throw about 60 yards downfield on the money (where the play was well defensed).

Stuart Fraser: The Steelers are using Starks as their third tight end because they only have two tight ends -- Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth -- on the active roster, Jerame Tuman having been put on injured reserve.

Sean McCormick: Strange offensive game plan for the Steelers so far. They seem to have assumed that they could run at will and that the Jets would be so concerned about the run that they could go play action over and over with ease. The problem is that the Jets have stoned the run so far, and they're not having any problems generating pressure while maintaining coverage against two-wide receiver sets. Pittsburgh's only big offensive plays have come either from Roethlisberger making something out of absolutely nothing or when they have gone shotgun and spread the field. The Jets defend against the deep pass very well, but they've been killed all year by long drives sustained by short, efficient passes. I would expect Pittsburgh to come out in a lot more spread formations and try to let Roethlisberger make some rhythm throws.

Pittsburgh is pooching all their kickoffs to avoid Leon Washington. It's certainly worked better for them than kicking to Joshua Cribbs.

Ryan Wilson: As my buddy just said to me: "That's embarrassing." It's like running a gimmick defense in basketball, basically admitting: "Yeah, we suck, but this is our best chance." I was actually thinking the Steelers should give serious consideration to drafting a kickoff specialist. Sure, it's a waste of a roster spot, but it's pretty clear they have no idea what special teams coverage is all about.

(And in ooooooooovertime…)

Sean McCormick: You can't hide from Leon Washington forever.

Stuart Fraser: So being stuck without my Sunday Ticket feed, I obviously didn't see the game, but this seems to be something of a pattern for Pittsburgh. All three losses this year have come against road teams to which they are (on paper and in terms of Week 10 DVOA) clearly superior in every phase not called Special Teams. In particular the Steelers have totally failed to manifest a ground game against the horrible run defenses of the Broncos and Jets. I'm guessing we'll get an Any Given Sunday on this, which I'm looking forward to.

I was willing to write off the Arizona game as a result of fluke circumstances. After the Denver game, things were a bit more worrying, and three times isn't a coincidence. It's hard to point to a specific weakness in personnel -- I mean, there's the offensive line, but the offensive line is lousy every week and they're comfortably above average in both facets of offensive production on the full season. Which obviously leaves coaching.

Mike Shanahan is a veteran and one of the best coaches in the league. Ken Whisenhunt obviously had a superb knowledge of the Pittsburgh offense since he ran it until last year. Mangini has at least a very good reputation as a game-planner. I'm not going to say Mike Tomlin is bad at planning and making adjustments for opponents, but I'm beginning to think that way. Overall I think he's a good coach and will probably have a long and successful career in Pittsburgh, and he doesn't do any of the really obviously clueless things that cause various people here to tear their hair out (I have no comment to make on the allegations that I am looking at Seahawks fans Doug and Ben at the moment). However, if you keep losing to teams you're obviously better than in fairly similar ways...

Chicago Bears 23 at Seattle Seahawks 30

Doug Farrar: The Seahawks would have appreciated it if the Bears had brought the Cedric Benson who has been sucking just about every week, as opposed to the guy who gashed their defensive line in the first quarter. And I don't know why teams don't run misdirection plays on Seattle all the time. If you have a counter, or a reverse, or anything where you're zigging and then you zag, you'll have an open area as 11 defenders bite on the fake and go the other way. The Bears had scored 10 points total in every first quarter of the season, and they put up 10 in this first quarter. Benson had been averaging 60 yards per game, and he put up 66 in this first quarter.

I have to say, though, this pass-all-the-time thing is working for Seattle's offense. Matt Hasselbeck is efficient enough to make it work as he zings short passes all over the place, and with Deion Branch back in the lineup, he's got all his weapons. Wonderful work by 543-year-old right guard Chris Gray on Tommie Harris on the touchdown pass to D.J. Hackett. Blocked him right out of the play. Hasselbeck seems to be far more comfortable with this system, and with running back Maurice Morris in it. For those who haven't seen Morris, think "Brian Westbrook Lite," though he actually bears a striking physical resemblance to the guy who played Carlton in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

I don't want to try and read anyone's thoughts, or try to put words in anyone's mouth, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a slight sense of relief in Shaun Alexander's inability to play due to injury. He's not anywhere near the player he used to be, he doesn't fit this new offensive game plan as well as Morris does, and Seattle would have a lot of 'splaining to do if he were healthy and on the bench. This is what happens when you have a superstar on a very steep decline.

Ben Riley: Let me be more blunt: The Seahawks offense is vastly improved with Shaun Alexander on the bench. Maurice Morris is more Brian Westbrook near beer, but it's amazing how much easier it is to convert third-and-5s instead of third-and-11s. Also, fullback Leonard Weaver can actually catch passes in the flat, which is something Shaun forgot how to do three years ago. Oh, and D.J. Hackett is what KUBIAK thought he was: really good.

Doug Farrar: Just to recap: I've seen Maurice Jones-Drew knock Shawne Merriman right on his ass and Josh Brown tackle Devin Hester on a kickoff return. Definitely an interesting Sunday.

Vince Verhei: I think Brown tackling Hester and performing a "Holy crap! I just tackled Devin Hester!" celebration was my favorite non-Kevin Everett moment of the weekend.

Doug Farrar: For a brief moment, he was Spartacus.

After the early debacles with Benson, Seattle's defense impressed me. I think the secondary is one piece away from real greatness. Second-year cornerback Kelly Jennings has really come along, Marcus Trufant is having a Pro Bowl season, and strong safety Deon Grant is the proverbial wily veteran this backfield has needed for a while. Not as impressed with Brian Russell (I tend to shy away from safeties who can't tackle), but it's looking pretty good back there. And it was nice of Patrick Kerney to finally show up. Tackle Fred Miller is going to have Kerney tattooed on him all week.

Ben Riley: I'm convinced that Rex Grossman's DVOA against the Seahawks must be two standard deviations above his mean DVOA performance. Consequently, I think I am the only person in the world who actually fears a Rex-Grossman led team. He played well today, and made a couple of deep passes and critical moments that kept his team in the game.

Vince Verhei: I've been saying for weeks that Seattle should go all short pass, all the time, and I still feel that way, but I did notice one flaw in that strategy today: It leads to a LOT of third downs. Fortunately, the game plan used a lot of play action and bootlegs to get guys open on third downs, Hasselbeck made good throws on third downs, and the receivers made catches on third downs. But when it basically takes two completions to pick up a first down, it forces the offense to execute over and over and over...

But as long as they do execute, it's going to be tough to beat. The Seahawks' radio guys were talking after the game about how teams had to be afraid to blitz Seattle, because Hasselbeck will read the defense, find the open receiver and make an accurate throw. Meanwhile, you can't just rush four and sit back in a soft zone, because the receivers know how to find the seams, and Hasselbeck has the arm strength to pick zones apart. Teams that can get pressure with four rushers will give them a hard time, but everyone else will be in trouble.

Stuart Fraser: The problem with this is that Pittsburgh did just rush four (or even three) and sit back in a soft zone, and they shut the Seahawks out.

Ned Macey: Just to avoid potential accusations of anti-homerism from our various Seahawks fans, I'll point out that a) they were down D.J. Hackett that game (Branch got hurt as well); b) they were still in their Shaun Alexander offense at the time; and c) Pittsburgh can get pressure with four rushers. The Seahawks' ability to go with four good to very good wideouts is what makes that offensive scheme dangerous.

Doug Farrar: The Steelers game was a big reason they shelved the 50/50 run-pass ratio in the first place. And even with the new scheme, I could see them having a problem with a team like Pittsburgh with fast outside linebackers because they now throw those quick outs all the time. But who do they have left on their schedule? The Rams, Eagles, Cards, Panthers, Ravens and Falcons. The Ravens could make it interesting (short passes won't reveal the secondary liabilities as much), but I like their chances elsewhere. It's a good system for the rest of their season, however long it lasts.

Washington Redskins 23 at Dallas Cowboys 28

Stuart Fraser: Andre Gurode cannot execute a shotgun snap. Two snaps have flown over Tony Romo's head, others have forced him to make adjustments, one came while Romo was audibling (Romo is just so clutch that the ball bounced off his helmet straight to Jones -- strangest handoff I've ever seen). Isn't a basic skill for an NFL starting center the ability to snap the ball from any offensive formation? Romo seems surprised now to get a shotgun snap to his hands.

Aaron Schatz: Shawn Springs has been one of the biggest differences between a good Washington defense and a bad Washington defense over the last couple of years, but man, he is just getting killed out there today. When T.O. isn't getting open against him, Patrick Crayton is.

Stuart Fraser: Speaking of T.O., his third touchdown was just embarrassing. It's hard to be sure, but it looked like the Redskins were in a fairly normal two-deep zone, which means the primary job for the safeties is to keep the play in front of them. Naturally, Owens streaks between both of them as they kind of look at each other and say "he was so your assignment." I'm just guessing that if Sean Taylor was in, that probably wouldn't have happened.

Mike Tanier: Last year, teams used a lot of straight coverage schemes, like basic Cover-2, against the Cowboys, even when they had both T.O. and Terry Glenn. I know the Eagles did very little in terms of "special" coverage against those guys, and the Seahawks (with that off-the-street secondary they used in the playoffs) played a lot of 2-Man-Under and Cover-2. Things were different last year. Bledsoe was out there in the first half of the season waiting for guys to get open by 30 yards, and Romo hit that late-season wall where he was trying to force everything and fumbling a lot.

Times have changed. You can't just go vanilla and wait for Romo to screw up. You can't expect T.O. to drop every third pass. Someone has to rewrite the book on beating the Cowboys, and it has to start with having a special cornerback available to cover T.O. Who has that special cornerback? The Patriots have Asante Samuel. Al Harris isn't that guy anymore in Green Bay. Who has that guy in the NFC? Is it Ronde Barber coming underneath with a safety deep, jumping the route? We are sure now that it is not Lito Sheppard or Shawn Springs.

Aaron Schatz: Al Harris could be that guy, I suppose, if he had safety help deep. The Packers generally only play with one deep safety, though, and depend on Charles Woodson and Harris to play man. They probably play more man coverage than any defense in the league, but that might be the best strategy against these Cowboys, especially if you double T.O. For crying out loud, people, don't let T.O. beat you. At least force Sam Hurd to beat you.

Stuart Fraser: So, you're down 23-28, 3:45 to go, facing a Dallas offense that you have not had much success stopping all day. Joe Gibbs kicked deep. Wade Phillips would, apparently, have kicked onside -- he had the hands team out.

I'm with Phillips. Washington's defense stepped up and got a three-and-out, but was it really the right call?

Aaron Schatz: The Lewin Career Forecast loved Jason Campbell because of his accuracy, but man, he was constantly throwing it behind guys today, ahead of them, one foot too high, whatever. That last drive, he had Santana Moss open in the end zone and overthrew him. Then he had wide-open space in front of him on third-and-10 -- dude, SCRAMBLE and set up the fourth-and-short -- and instead he throws slightly behind Antwaan Randle El instead of slightly in front of Antwaan Randle El. Terrence Newman, of course, was also slightly behind Randle El.

St. Louis Rams 13 at San Francisco 49ers 9

Aaron Schatz: What the hell is Mike Nolan doing with two minutes left, kicking a field goal on fourth-and-10 from the 28? You have to get the touchdown anyway!!!! You really think your horrible offense, which barely managed to score field goals against one of the worst defenses in the league, is going to get a shot at this again?

(Strangely enough, they actually DID get a shot again, and Trent Dilfer threw a pick.)

Doug Farrar: After the game, Nolan said that he was concerned that the Rams would bring the house on fourth-and-10, and he didn't like his offense's chances in that case. He was looking at the team's success rate on onside kicks as well (I don't have the number, but it must be pretty good), and he had all three timeouts. I don't know that it was so crazy except for the fact that his receivers couldn't catch a ball all day, and his running back was going nowhere.

Ned Macey: Poor Frank Gore is starting to dance in the backfield because the holes aren't there, and the 49ers are desperate for a big play. Obviously, it is not working. The 49ers are trying everything to get him the ball "in space" which works as well as that plan ever does. The 49ers have not scored an offensive touchdown in over two games which is just embarrassing. As for the fourth-and-10 call, I was against it when Nolan made it, but maybe he was right. First, as mentioned, they ended up back inside the 20 with a chance to win. More importantly, what are the odds Trent Dilfer could have completed a fourth-and-10? I don't think it was a bad call. All in all, the lesson of this game is that the franchise is a disaster.

New England Patriots 56 at Buffalo Bills 10

Doug Farrar: Oh, goodness. They just had a pre-game video message from Kevin Everett at Ralph Wilson Stadium. I don't care who you're rooting for, that's just completely freakin' awesome.

Aaron Schatz: There's really nothing to say about this Pats-Bills game, is there? We all expected the Pats to destroy the Bills, and they are. I guess the only thing I might say is that John DiGiorgio seems to be doing some things and when Paul Posluszny comes back next year, the Bills should find room to use both of them.

Ned Macey: Do we really think NBC is making wise decisions by taking all these Patriots games? I love the Eagles, but considering their weakness is pass defense, won't next week's game be just as ugly? Imagine if it features a hobbled McNabb or Feeley or Kolb? I feel like they're hoping they get the 1985 Monday Night Football game between Chicago and Miami, but more likely they're getting two blowouts. The wins to go to 10-0 and 11-0 aren't that interesting. I could see if they took the Week 16 game to see if they go to 15-0 if the Pats make it that far.

Doug Farrar: All I know is that the Seattle-Chicago game they "flexed" was one hell of a lot more competitive than this one.

Aaron Schatz: In NBC's defense, FOX protected the Redskins-Cowboys game, and next week's Eagles-Patriots game is the originally planned Sunday night game, not a "flex" game.

Russell Levine: This is like watching Florida play Furman. The 2007 New England Patriots: Turning the rest of the NFL into Division I-AA.

Ned Macey: To make matters worse, the three presumptive "challengers" to New England all struggled today. Eking out a 13-10 win over Kansas City? Losing to the Jets? Winning by five against Washington? What's the biggest gap ever between No. 1 and No. 2 in DVOA? The Patriots have to be getting there awfully soon.

Doug Farrar: I was trying to think of something -- anything -- to write about this team at this point. One thing that occurred to me is how truly amazing New England's offensive line is. Over and over, I'm watching Brady drop back, scan left, scan right, scan left again, order a pizza, do his taxes, etc. The last quarterback I've seen with this much time consistently through a season was Ken Stabler of the 1970s Oakland Raiders. He could do a read on every eligible receiver and then scan the stands for the lady he'd be taking to dinner that evening. Back then, Oakland probably had the best offensive line in NFL history -- four Hall-of-Famers in the starting five from 1972 to 1974. As great as Brady is, I think we may be looking at a line of similar quality.

Mike Tanier: We are also looking at a lot of opponents terrified to blitz.

Comments

230 comments, Last at 21 Nov 2007, 7:21pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

If you can't lead with your shoulder on a hit, and you obviously can't lead with your head, what do you lead with? I guess you can go chest to chest, or go for the legs, but if the guy is leaning forward - which is often going to be the case - what do you do?

It's sad when referees not only miss a call, but do so in such a way that indicates they don't even understand the point of the rules, or the inevitabilities of the game. Like getting hit.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Didn't see a lot of the games this weekend. The season's over and I had other stuff to do. But I did notice two things 1) It sure feels like returns for TDs are way up this year. Are too many teams are working on returning and not enough are working on stopping returns? Maybe it's due to the shorten drafts where special teamers went in rounds 7-12. In a 7 round draft maybe you can only focus on gunners or returners but not both and teams aren’t working the free agent pool for special teamers like they should? Second thing I noticed was that spiking the ball at the end of the play seems to have gone. Players have gone to a more flipping motion and frankly Refs appear to not have it in them to ruin a great 30-40 yrd play by throwing a spiking flag. My guess is this rule gets a major tweak in the offseason.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Stuart Frasier wins, everyone else fails.

Sean Taylor was having a defensive player of the year type of season. In fact I'd say his injury not only cost them this Dallas game but also last week's too. Part of that is Washington having jack diddly poo on the bench (Reed Doughty?! He should've been cut this offseason and the position upgraded, how hard is that to do?).

Back to Taylor, I bet his metrics from game charting improve, as he's been very under control on run support. So instead of him running up wildly to make a big hit or tackle around the LoS he's just been running up under control and just solidly burying the runner. I swear the tape bears this out... allright that's enough.

The Carlos Rogers injury also hurts... he only has stone hands but this season he's been putting himself in much better position and I think he's got more passes defensed.

Either way, the offense needed to score TDs and close out those long drives they had. Just thinking about the lost points due to the Campbell fumble (stop it already), the Campbell interception, and the long FG that Gibbs should've gone for it (with a deep throw).

Anyways, to complain about Campbell's accuracy when he throws for 300+ yards seems a little silly (even if he did it on 55 attempts). Alex Smith can only dream of throwing the ball 1 or 2 feet in front of or behind his receivers.

Here's to the coaching staff adjusting the offense a bit... offense still has a bit of executing to work on.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Is it me, or is there nothing at all remarkable about the Giants’ offense as it normally is? There just doesn’t seem to be anything in particular to say about it. Oh, except that I’m sure somebody called a quarterback scramble for Eli. Or maybe it was a rollout. The play call certainly seemed to rely on Eli Manning’s mobility, whatever it was.

Yeah, I think the Giants might have actually called a "naked boot" on first and 10 trying to run out the clock. I don't know what they could have possibly expected to happen, other than what happened.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

As an Eagles fan, I'm not quite sure how to approach this weeks sacrificial offering to the Pats. I maintain no illusions that the game will be close. Here's hoping for a moral victory of the game not being over by the end of the first quarter. Go moral victories!

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I don’t think Leftwich’s performance was all his fault.

Wow. Spoken like a true KUBIAK apologist. Wow. I can't find anyone else who liked Leftwich into 2008 except KUBIAK, which slotted the guy 8th. Perhaps it's the same bug that liked Tarvaris Jackson (11th) and didn't buy Tony Romo (18th). Randy Moss, not a cog, eh? KUBIAK for all my opponents in 2008.

I'll probably get tackled by 117 people now, or this comment will get deleted, but it's gotta be said - how can you possibly be defending Leftwich here?

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I for one am glad they're getting the eagles game on national TV. Someone about seeing the Eagles beaten to a pulp on national TV highly appeals to me.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

6. You know, going over what they had to look at going into this season, I don't know that anyone could have predicted the year Romo is having.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The Leftwich projection in KUBIAK was based in large part on team-based variables. As soon as Leftwich switches teams, that projection goes adios amigos. Different line, different receivers, different coaching style, different coaching experience, different schedule, different defense determining where drives begin. Garrard's projection was almost as strong as Leftwich's projection.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

8. You know, going over what they had to look at going into this season, I don’t know that anyone could have predicted the year Romo is having.

That's probably true, but I'm pretty sure *just about everyone else* in the biz had Romo higher. I'll check the Fantasy Football Index when I get back home, which has 26 listings in it.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The Leftwich projection in KUBIAK was based in large part on team-based variables.

So how did Tarvaris Jackson get to 11? (I'm pretty sure that's the right slot, if not it's off by just 1). And why didn't Moss get more of a hit from Brady?

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

10. That's probably true. I don't do KUBIAK though (as much as I love my PFP 2006, KUBIAK is not a favorite of mine) and I don't read any other publications either so I can't be sure. I know I didn't take the Romo/TO team when it was available (when Palmer/TJ instead) even being a cowboys fan because I didn't figure on the year those two would have. Still #2 in the league though.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

It was mentioned on another website but i was wondering, has Peyton manning had a worse run over 10 quarters then he is currently enduring?

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

11:

Good line, good running game, good defense to give good field position, plays the lions twice a year? *shrug*

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Yeah, that pretty much nails Vikings/Raiders, although I'd say that once in a while you see Jackson throw an out pattern which indicates why he was drafted, if one forgets that he was taken in the 2nd round. Also, if Kleinsasser doesn't make the Pro Bowl, then a blocking tight end should never be selected. He is simply destroying defensive ends, some of them good ones, one on one.

Anyways, it's always good to play the Raiders on a day when five fumbles are lost! Raiderjoe, where art thou?

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Aaron Schatz: After Vinatieri missed those two field goals, all I could think about was just how nasty the third MDS “Seriously, do people understand that Vinatieri just isn’t that good anymore?� Fanhouse post was going to be. It’s us against the world, Mike. Us against the world.

The FO attitude in a nutshell. We're smarter than everyone else, no one else notices what we do. I know I'm taking your comments literally when they're not intended, but still, you're not the only alert, intelligent people watching football. Quit acting like you are.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I saw more games yesterday than I have seen in one day all season, and one question comes to mind: are NFL safeties now required to take the field in a state of inebriation?

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Serious fans prefer competitive games. But casual fans love dominating frontrunners, and that's why NBC is playing the Pats as much as possible. Remember the Jordan Bulls? Every NBA game on TV those years involved the Bulls. Every single one.

OK, I'm exaggerating a wee bit. Point is that the Pats' season is a story that brings in more fans who aren't always into football.

And once the blowout starts, it's kind of like watching the Hindenburg burn in the sky. It's freakish to watch a team go up by 40 points by the end of the 3rd quarter pretty much every week.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

It's going to be so great to watch the Patriots go undefeated, get to the Super Bowl, and lose to the Packers.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Kitna-Schmitna, Martz-Schmartz, Norv-Scnorv. I nominate Carolina’s kicker Kasey (plus maybe their long snapper) and the Carolina coaching staff for KCW this week.

It’s one thing to pooch punt from FG formation when you have the element of surprise on your hand.

When the other team drops a player deep to potentially return the kick, at the best of times it’s time to think about changing the play, or burning a timeout and bringing on the punt team. The other team is saying ‘Hey, we’ve watched the film, we know what’s coming here’. They basically are putting up a neon sign saying it and the element of surprise is clearly gone. When you (a) have mainly linemen on the field (because this is supposed to be the FG unit) and (b) only have 10 players on the field as the Panthers did for the play (JSOnline back me up on this too), it’s time to think ‘Hey, you know what? We might have trouble covering this punt’. To go ahead and punt the ball anyway is a retarded decision. When said punt is then returned 94 yards for a touchdown, that’s the kind of decision that should win awards for stupidity.

There was nothing especially clever about what Green Bay did. They had just seen the tape, adjusted accordingly in the most obvious way imaginable and the Panthers walked right into a very simple trap. That sort of stupid and avoidable mistake simply shouldn’t happen at a pro level.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re 17: Looks, the large majority of the mainstream sports press still fawns over AV and pretends (which has always been ludicrous in my opinion) that he's a legitimate hall-of-fame candidate. FO recognized the ridiculousness of all this before anyone else, and most still don't recognize it.

Personally, I don't see the attitude you want to attribute to FO being present.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re: 17

Oh, puh-lease.

Was there or was there not endless coverage last week about how mind-boggling it was for AV to miss a clutch field goal?

And yes, the people at FO do pay more attention to the details than most sporstcasters do. If it offends you that they point this out, perhaps this isn't the website for you to spend your time visiting.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re: 23

AV is a legitimate HoF candidate. He's just not a great kicker any more. He's average, at best.

If Vinatieri doesn't make the Hall, then they should just cut kicking out of football altogether.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Brodie passes going slightly out of bounds...sounds about right from his collegiate play as well. Though he is not a rookie.

I thought Norwood was still recovering from an ankle sprain, that is what I hope is the reason for only 2 carries.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

AaronN, that's my dream scenario, even though I'm not anti-Pats, nor a crazy Favre-o-fan. It simply would be one of the most drmatic storylines in NFL history.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

#25

I do believe it is a Jack Del Rio thing-he placed a tree stump with an ax in it as a motivation tool. Punter Chris Hanson (who moonlights as a pedophile catcher) decided to chop some wood...missed the stump and cut his leg with the ax, putting him out for the season.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The Pats are on TV all the time because the media loves a story any moron can understand, and they quickly assume the public does too. Also, Tom Brady is a dreamboat, and women are just as shallow as men, and will watch football if a cute guy is playing. Oh, wait, they’re not, and they won’t.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re: 29
Ah, an argument from "this other guy didn't make it, so he shouldn't". Let's be positive instead of negative.

I have no problem with Ray Guy being in the Hall, too. Instead of the endless parade of RBs, QBs, and WRs, I'd like to see much more positional variety than we currently have.

Adam Vinatieri is the most famous placekicker in NFL history and made more of the most clutch, last-second kicks than any other kicker in recent memory.

Oh, and Morten Anderson should go in, too.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The only way the Browns get two 1st rounders for Anderson is if they Franchise (non-exclusive) him And somebody else signs him. They aren't going to Franchise him. If they can't get a contract extension both sides are happy with, they give him the highest restricted tender which would require anybody that signs him to give the Browns a 1st and a 3rd. I could see that happening (if he continues to play at/near this level).

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Regarding Tarvaris Jackson, KUBIAK is not a player performance projection system. It is a FANTASY FOOTBALL projection system. In most fantasy leagues, rushing yards are worth twice as many points as passing yards. If he was healthy, Tarvaris Jackson would likely be rushing for a lot of yards, in large part because he sucks as a passer and would end up giving up on pass plays too early. This is part of what made Michael Vick a fantasy football force for years despite being a poor quarterback. Fantasy football is not actual football.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

33. The hall of fame is all about precedent, since it's very purpose is to enshrine the greatest players of different eras. And I'm using that logic to say that since the hall has already been reluctant to admit a special teams player on the caliber of Ray Guy, then I don't see the need to enshrine Vinatieri either.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"Consequently, I think I am the only person in the world who actually fears a Rex-Grossman led team"

No, there are plenty of those people, they're called Bears fans;)

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The issue with Al Harris early was that he was fighting a back injury. He really should have sat out a few games, but Harris wants to play and given the Packers options at backup nobody was complaining. Harris now healthy and up until yesterday was playing nearer to form. But Al clearly had no respect for receiver Drew Carter and let the Panthers back into the game by free lancing instead of playing his guy.

Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has made a deal with the devil so to speak. He has given Woodson/Harris carte-blanche on the field in return for both guys showing up every Sunday and playing hard. I know that latter part may read as odd but nobody to my reckoning gets Woodson to do ANYTHING Charles doesn't want to do. So the Packers let CW sit out practices and ignore the defensive playcall every so often as long as he generates results. Well, once Charles got to sit out practices Harris had to as well.

It's clearly a perilous agreement. Because at any moment one or both players might decide that playing hard on Sunday doesn't matter EITHER.

But so far it's working. Woodson not only covers he TACKLES. Harris is still mean as a snake though his speed continues to erode. Both guys are egregious in their use of hands and could easily be penalized on 2 out of 3 plays. I shake my head at the stuff Harris gets by the ref and think of how Ahmad Carroll would get a flag for casting his shadow on a receiver.

Thursday will be interesting. I wonder if the officials will be willing to throw a half dozen flags on national TV late in the season in the first half alone? Because Harris and Woodson are betting on refs NOT doing that very thing.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

And yes, the people at FO do pay more attention to the details than most sporstcasters do. If it offends you that they point this out, perhaps this isn’t the website for you to spend your time visiting.

When I go to Outback Steakhouse, they don't tell me 15 times "you know, we make a better steak than Appleby's." No worries, I expected to get tackled by a few of the sycophants here. I am positive I am far from the only person put off by the constant self-promotion machine in-house (see the comments after Jason Campbell singed the Lions).

I do like the work of 3-4 of the staff writers, which is why I come here. But it's not without some frustration, too.

Off to buy some Byron Leftwich and Tarvaris Jackson memorbilia on E-Bay, and celebrate the liberation of Michigan Football.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re:13 It's been a long time, certainly.

I know everyone talks about the Colts missing receivers, but the O-Line is just abysmal now. What was a strength at the beginning of the year is a huge weakness. I The Colts had more negative rushing plays then I'd seen in a long time. There were numerous plays where there unblocked Chiefs, both on rushing and passing downs.

Charlie Johnson seemed like a serviceable backup last season when Tarik Glenn went down for a few games, but he's been awful this year.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

#13. Probably, but not in recent memory. There was a 3-game losing stretch in 02 and IIRC a 4-game stretch in 01 (the year Edge was hurt) and of course his rookie 3-13 campaign.

Amazing how important tackles and a security blanket WR are. Marving Harrison sometimes gets abused in print for being soft or having only a 12.5 YPC, but you know what, that consists of a bunch of 30 yard catches downfield and a lot of 6 yarders pulling the team's fat out of the fire. Which ones are more valuable? Right now, one might surmise the 6 yarders on 3rd and 5.

That being said, he faced two top DLs in NE and KC, and a SD 3-4 system that has caused him problems in the past. Defensively, this might have been Indy's toughest 3-game stretch all year anyway, so it may be a bad confluence of injuries, Manning brain farts, and strong opponents. I don't expect Atlanta to fare as well as KC and even the Jags, missing Mike Pete and possibly Rahean Mathis, won't be bringing Jared Allen pressure on every play or tying up his one WR option like KC did.

It's been ugly, though, no doubt about it. Might not even be a topic of discussion, though, if ST could cover kicks or AV didn't miss the last FG against SD. They'd be 9-1 and we'd be thinking "'twas a mere speed bump on the way to the AFCCG."

Now with so many ugly aspects to their play, everything seems suspect, including #18. Everything except maybe Wayne, Addai, and their CBs.... I'd hate to see what #18 looks like with Wayne or Addai taken out of the equation (although Kenton Keith did fine replacement duty at RB vs Tampa).

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

35:

So the media never makes mistakes? MNF tried how many broadcasting teams?

Don't you think the vast majority of people watching SNF are football fans who are going to watch no matter who is playing? What do you think the ratings were for the second half last night?

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Voters for the Hall have long had the attitude that kickers aren't real football players. I don't agree with that distinction, and I feel that AV should get voted in on a Terry Bradshaw like exception. While he's not the best kicker, he's the kicker most famous for his accomplishments, not for his failures (like Norwood or Vanderjet are).

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re: 33

The Hall is about precedent, so it's important to neglect positions that have been neglected in the past?

I think you should read some of the columns about the Hall written by some of the voters.

The Hall rewards a few things:

1) players who excel for a long time
2) players who perform well on the biggest stage
3) players who have great PR

Viniatieri isn't the top placekicker at #1 but he is way ahead on #2 and #3.

I just don't see "well, Ray Guy isn't in" as anything other than argument by envy. Or argument by sulking. So, the precedent is that the Hall has screwed over Ray Guy, so let's screw over somebody else, too!

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I had a conversation with a buddy of mine this past weekend that I wish was broadcast over the web. It would have been on of the few times that I have actually looked intelligent. Too bad.

Anyway, the gist was something like this. He was babbling about how NE might have a tough time with Buffalo because of this, that or the other thing; even going as far as to quote Vic Carucci. My response? "This is the result of an attetion deficit disorder in the media and the public. People have forgotten just how good the Patriots are. The last time was saw them, they were barely squeaking out a win and then they disappeared completely for a week. People have forgotten how great this team is and NE will remind them on Sunday."

On to the thoughts:

* The continued rash of Maroney threads made me actually take note of his runs. The results, of course, left much to be desired from a statistical standpoint, but Laurence actually ran quite well. Here is the breakdown:

1) A nice delayed handoff with the middle opening up completely for the easiest TD of Maroney's career. Just about any capable RB would have scored on that play.

2) A run off LT with poor blocking. Maroney didn't do himself or the team any favors by turtling up. Easily the worst run of the game that I saw.

3) A two yard run that looks bad on the stat sheet, but Laurence had to break three tackles just to get those yards, including one in the backfield.

4) Solid 9 yard run off RT with a blow delivered by him at the end of it.

5) Missed due to bathroom break. The PBP says it was a 4 yarder.

6) No gain through no fault of Maroney. The worst blocked run of his game.

I still stand by what I said before. With the passing offense that NE has, Maroney would have to be on a Brown/Payton type level to warrant equal time, particularly when you consider just how awesome the pass blocking was last night. NE is working him in spots and keeping him fresh for when the really need him. He most certainly wasn't benched and I have no doubt that he would have been available had NE needed him. Also, it should be noted that the run blocking in the second half was much better than it was in the first half.

* On the KO review, why didn't anyone mention that forward progress had stopped and the whistle had blown? Recoveries can happen after the whistle if it is proven the ball came out before the play was really over, but a whistle blowing a play dead due to foward progress stopping trumps this. It should never have been reviewable in the first place.

* This is going to sound a little strange, but it seemed to me that the refs were doing some subtle things to try and keep the game close early on. Losman was given an extra half yard on his sneak and there was another play with a generous first down spot that wasn't measured. Brady's IG call was ridiculous because not only are you allowed to do what he did (it happens at least once per week and I've never seen it called before), but he absolutely was outside both the hashmarks and NBC's red dotted line. The catch that clearly wasn't a live speed that NE had to reivew is another example. I also recall feeling the same about another couple things that are escaping me right now.

* The OL was outstanding in pass protection. Only on a haldful of plays were Buffalo defenders anywhere near Brady. The certainly deserved all the credit Brady was tossing their way.

A side tangent on this. Despite how great they played, Brady himself needs to get some props on this one. He really had his spidey-sense going yesterday. Despite how well the OL played, I would be willing to bet that a QB like Warner or Bledsoe would have been sacked 3-4 times yesterday.

* While typing this last paragraph I recalled a strange little item. NBC showed a replay of Light blocking a Buffalo defender (I don't think it was Schobel). On the play the defender clearly grabbed Brady by the shoulder pads and slammed him to the ground long after the ball was released. Frankly, the ball was gone before the defender even touched Brady. I just found it funny that this wasn't commented on at all.

* A streak that many will find surprising ended yesterday. At 7:59 in the second quarter, Kevin Faulk caught a pass and then fumbled for the first time since the Denver game of 2005. Considering how much grief he has gotten (and still gets in some circles) I thought it was important to note just how far he has come in this area. And the fumble certainly came reasonably enough. I think I might be 6 feet under right now if I took that hit.

* Anyone have any info on why Vrabel was a bit player yesterday?

* AD certainly looks more comfortable on the outside, but I still don't question the move to ILB. While he is at his best outside, the drop from Vrabel's OLB to ILB is bigger than AD's IMHO. I expect him to actually become an excelling ILB by next year.

* Losman is the king of the "completely botch something up, run around like a madman and somehow turn a broken play into positive yardage" play. If he weren't so terrible in just about every other situation it would be completely infuriating. It is easire to swallow when you can take those plays (and the subsequent TD on a bad pass) in stride knowing that he will shoot himself in the foot enough to balance it off.

[U]Non-NE Thoughts:[/U]

* That Cribbs KO just before the tying FG might be the most impressive one I have witnessed. Sure it didn't go for a TD, but with very little time remainging, the guy literally dragged 7 players over the final 10 yards (:eek: ) to set up Cleveland within 20 yards of FG position. If you haven't seen that play, do yourself a favor and check out one of the 15 or so NFL highlight shows ESPN has on this afternoon. Truly a remarkable play.

(Side note) When I see guys like Cribbs, Washington (Jets) and even McGee terrorize the league with their returns after doing virtually nothing against NE, it gives me a real appreciation for the Pats' coverage teams.

* On to the Colts. I have several things on them today. First, what is happening with that offense? I understand they are going through some turmoil, but that does not explain just how poorly they have performed in the past two games. Earlier this year, that offense looked just as good as NE's, even without Marvin Harrison. And even Addai against TB, whose defense is just about on the same level as SD and KC.

So what is it? Is it Manning? Is Wayne the problem? He clearly isn't Marv's equal (Marv's earlier days, of course), and their is no shame in that, but is he really just a little better than Deion Branch? Is Addai as good as he has looked or is more a product of the guys around him? Is it a combination of all of them or some of them? If one of the combos in Manning, is it time to rethink how great he is? Please don't misunderstand that last question. I phrased it purposely to convey that Manning being a great QB should not be quesitoned. I ask it because common wisdom seems to have taken the stance that once Manning breaks the records now that he has a SB win, that he will/should be considered the best QB of all time. I am just wondering out loud how whether that thought process should be challenged.

An easy fall-guy is the OL. They clearly did not have their best day yesterday, but I thought that they held up fine against SD. Even if we agree that the OL played poorly against KC, I don't think I am alone in saying that I have seen them play that bad while Manning throws for 300+ yards and 3+ TDs. I don't think we can pin this all on them. but I have no doubt that some of the culpability lies with the big uglies.

I guess that my main point can be best phrased in this run-on question: How can an offense with possibly the best QB of all time playing with a WR who most think of as one of the best 5 in the league and a RB who most think is top 5 with passable OL play perform so poorly against two straight good but not great defenses? I will grant you that this could just be a two week funk that the team breaks out of, making me look silly in the process. Of course that is a possibility. But I just find their performance surprising enough to be noteworthy.

* I was one of the ones who preached that Freeney was overrated when they signed him but I have been completely proven wrong on this one. Seeing Freeney beating Light consistently and then completely destroying McNeil (seriously, every rush he had was either a pressure, a sack or he was held) and then watching Indy give KC all day is more than enough proof for me. And this was against the same OL that let Denver's DL overwhelm them just one week prior. I didn't pay enough attention to who Indy trotted out there or what alternated schemes they may have run, but what ever it was, they need to do something else. If they faced a team with even a halfway decent passing offense, they would have lost that game handily.

* I have to say that I was very impressed with Priest Holmes. Surprisingly so.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re: 35 I'm curious as to what the ratings were for last nights game. I'll watch most football games, but I turned off last nights game mid way through the second quarter. It was just wholly uninteresting to me to watch another blow out. I certainly would have watched more of the Bears-Seahawks game if that had stayed the Sunday-nighter.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Regarding Tarvaris Jackson, KUBIAK is not a player performance projection system. It is a FANTASY FOOTBALL projection system. In most fantasy leagues, rushing yards are worth twice as many points as passing yards. If he was healthy, Tarvaris Jackson would likely be rushing for a lot of yards, in large part because he sucks as a passer and would end up giving up on pass plays too early. This is part of what made Michael Vick a fantasy football force for years despite being a poor quarterback. Fantasy football is not actual football.

Of course FF isn't real football. I'm just wondering how you can continue to support a poor selection like this when there isn't ANYONE ELSE in the fantasy community who was on your side before the season started. You're not the first guy to figure out how a running QB can be a fantasy bonanza, but every intelligent fantasy source was off Jackson before the year. Just once I'd love to read, "yeah, KUBIAK botched that" or "yeah, the formula has a lot of fixing needed." Instead, it's "Tarvaris Jackson was a great but unlucky pick, you lunkhead."

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Was anyone else (without Sunday Ticket) flummoxed by CBS' dead silence from the studio crew while the most amazing ending of the season went down in Baltimore? They clearly aren't radio experts (does Boomer do some games on Westwood One though?) because there was no narration. So having had the game ripped from my television because of "league rules" I was unable to find out what was going on in that game until their replays several seconds later, punctuated by random, occassional grimaces and mono-syllabic "whoas!" from Marino. Very annoying.

Put the game on. Don't put the game on. Narrate it or don't narrate it. But don't almost narrate it and sit there quietly with three million people trying to see the reflection of the game on your monitor while trying to read your expressions to see what happened.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"Let’s officiate the GAME, not the RULEBOOK"

In theory I agree with that. I would have liked for the officials to have reviewed the bogus PI on Heap vs. Cincy that cost the Ravens a chance to go to OT in week 1. So the question is, when is it OK for the officials to disregard the rulebook and look at replay on non-reviewable calls?

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

43. I don't about you, but I watched every minute last night, I was so entranced by that offense. Maybe that's just me though.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re 41, 42

Thanks for that. I know the o-line is busted up some what but he isn't gatting sacked an awful lot more. I didn't the whole of the last two games. Is he under a lot more pressure from rushers at the mo?

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

45. Envy? Why would I be envious about another team's kicker? Are you serious?

Whatever, I don't want to start with a long argument about the HoF credentials of a guy playing a position that voters have continuously demonstrated is inferior to all other positions.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

#46 --

According to the Boston Globe, Vrabel was used sparingly because he has a minor shoulder injury.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The announcing crew in Baltimore did a terrible job of setting the scene after the Dawson play. Good announcers can think on their feet and get answers quickly on unusual plays, or at least raise the questions any intelligent person is thinking (Al Michaels is generally outstanding with this). I'm pretty sure (not positive) the team was Eagle and Wilcots, and they did not handle the spot well at all.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

As if anyone cares, here's some comments about ARI @ CIN (it was a good game to miss):
-- Palmer's 4 picks were either bad throws or bad decisions. A couple were forced passes to TJHoush and the bad passes looked like bad overthrows
-- Palmer has become dependent on TJHoush and Henry (even though just 2nd game back). I'm starting to think that there is some injury to Chad Johnson
-- Henry has intermittent stone hands disease
-- ARI secondary has some coverage assignment issues.
-- ARI defense seems a bit confused sometimes -- one play there were not lined up when Palmer snapped the ball.
-- Kurt Warner's big plus is that he seemed to simply not make the big mistake -- that was the difference in the game.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re: 46 I'm not going to cover your whole tome, but I thought the intentional grounding call was good. Brady was out of the pocket, but you also have to either get it past the line of scrimmage, or near a receiver. I know it was a screen play, but it didn't look like the RB was anywhere close to where the ball was thrown.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: Moss's projection

There is no variable that can account for the psychology of a receiver. There is no way to predict that an injury-prone receiver will stay healthy for an entire season.

Tavaris Jackson was a whiff. Leftwich's numbers would likely have been fine in Jacksonville. Atlanta is truly horrid.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The NE-BUF fumbled kickoff was ridiculous. Did Buffalo end up with the ball or not? Why weren't their players jumping up and down acting like they had forced and recovered the fumble? Kind've like the CAL-ORE onside kick last year.

NBC didn't show any angles from after the pile anyway... they just showed the ball out and clearly not possessed by the returner when he went down. Foward progress doesn't matter, numerous strips occur after progress has been stopped and this has been the rule forforever.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

By the way, anyone care to explain what's up with Julius Peppers? He flashed early getting a sack and blocking a kick but from about mid-second quarter on was pretty invisible. He came into the game with 1 1/2 sacks. Is there a theory as to why this guy isn't producing? Scheme change? Injury? Unhappy? Alien abduction?

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The Colts got to Brady a lot in the first 3 quarters until they assumedly got tired in the 4th. I maintain my stance from earlier in the year that getting through that line consistently is the only way to beat the Pats. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers can do much in that area.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"Mike Tanier: We are also looking at a lot of opponents terrified to blitz."

IMO it's time for defenses to try everything under the sun against the Pats. Clearly, sitting back in cover-2 or even dropping 8 isnt going to work, double-covering Moss doesnt work, the only thing I've seen slow this offense down is to get to Brady. Now, with a "normal" offense I think the risk/reward ratio isnt good when you blitz 6 or 7 (as TMQ often points out), but when NE is scoring 40-50 points anyway, what exactly is the downside? You give up a big-play TD? That's likely going to happen anyway!! Send 6 or 7 guys, more than half the time, and don't be afraid to take a roughing-the-passer penalty or 2. Brady CAN be rattled, and IMO he MUST be rattled or they will never lose.

My gameplan: ball-control offense, hyper-agressive defense. Worst-case, NE hits a couple big plays early, but the NE defense won't get much time to rest. Best-case: you force a turnover or at least a punt or two, and give your team a fighting chance.

I'm not saying there's a great chance for success here, but if the alternative is what I saw last night (and against the Redskins, and the Jets, and everyone but the Colts), don't you have to TRY?

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

43:

Of course the media makes mistakes. It's not fair to criticize an entire philosophy based on one decision, though. Of course, there's money to think about too.

You said that in general the media likes completely obvious and easy-to-follow storylines. If this is truly their philosophy, they will continue to operate under that philosophy as long as people continue to watch and it provides these companies with the most money. All hail capitalism.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

46: On Maroney, wasn't he injured? The announcers said he was probable with a foot injury, which could mean just about anything. As for the Colts offense, it's a combination of things. First the O-line isn't giving Peyton any time. Combine that with the new receivers running routes poorly and Wayne and Clark dropping passes, and it's Manning is starting to press. He's forcing passes into bad spots, and throwing off balance (cause he's on the run or has to hurry his passes) and these lead to interceptions.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The Lewin Career Forecast loved Jason Campbell because of his accuracy, but man, he was constantly throwing it behind guys today, ahead of them, one foot too high, whatever. That last drive, he had Santana Moss open in the end zone and overthrew him.

Well, I'm a big FO fan, but this is just stupid. Your idea of accuracy must be completely warped by watching Tom Brady make a ham sandwich and then hit any one of his wide open guys. Or perhaps Peyton Manning when he has a healthy offense.

If Jason Campbell repeats yesterday's performance for the next several years, the Redskins will have quarterbacking in the top quartile in the NFL. Will he be a HOF-er in the running for greatest of all time like Brady and Manning? Of course not, but that's not right standard.

He had no running game, half his starting OLine missing, constant pressure/collapsing pocket. To say he was "all over the place" inaccurate is just absurd. Get your head of your Pats loving @ss and do some simple arithmetic on how many QBs in the NFL could throw better than that in those circumstances.

The pass to Moss is a touchdown if Moss is one of the 6'1" or 6'3" recievers most other teams have. Does that make Campbell's missing him by a step "acceptable"? No. But it does suggest that you've completely lost your marbles to say he was innaccurate. Hello, NFL receivers are paid to catch the occasional ball that is behind, too far in front, too high or too low.

The Redskins lost b/c Gibbs kept playing for field goals when it was obvious TDs would be needed. He should have gone for it instead of that stupid long field goal in the first half. And in the 2d half, Joe, if you're going to run on 3rd and 3 deep in Boys territory, then you better be planning to go for it on 4th, too. "Conservative" is not supposed to mean "stupid."

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Watching teams like Buffalo go into a game against NE and play the game exactly as they would as if they played any other teams strikes me as poor strategy. Given that a standard strategy will likely lead to the 56-10 drubbing they took, why on earth don't you try something bizarre like going on 4th down every series, bizarre defensive schemes, onside kick every time you get the ball. Why worry about field position when you know they are going to score anyway?

The lie down and die approach I've watched so many teams take is frustrating to me.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

#23 and #24, you completely miss the point. FO can be right all it wants, it just brags about it incessantly, annoyingly, and often, condescendingly. And that sucks to read repeatedly, over and over, redundantly.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

No thanks, Aaron N. And we're not buying your bridge, either.
It would be a better game than most would think, Packers pass protection will match up against the Pats D-Line as well as any team could...the same goes with their pass rush against the Pats O-Line...but in good weather at a Super Bowl stadium, Patriots still pass for 400 yards against that defense (assuming they put reserves in with 13 minutes to go in the 4th again)

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I'm glad a FO writer finally commented on just how good the Vikings OLine is. They have been playing superbly since the Chicago game. They are averaging almost 6 yards a carry against teams who have no fear of their passing game.

What seems clear to me is that the Vikings are very close to being a very strong offensive team. Everyone can laugh and note the lack of QB and WR competency, but this team is putting up 500 yard per game performances with that handicap, where might they be if they add a competent starter and a decent receiver?

I'm sticking by my prediction I made 3 weeks back that Minn will finish ahead of Det. I think they match up well against NYG next week as well.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Keep Choppin' Wood – Weekly award given by our column Scramble for the Ball to the player who is most detrimental to his team through his poor play. Named for the Jacksonville Jaguars motivational slogan that caused punter Chris Hanson to hack his leg with an axe, thus going out for the year.

From Wikipedia: During the 2003 season Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio placed a wooden stump and axe in the Jaguars locker room as a symbol of his theme advising players to "keep choppin' wood". After his teammates had been taking swings at the wood with the axe, Hanson followed and ended up seriously wounding his non-kicking foot. He missed the remainder of the 2003 season.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Yeah, The Disappearance of Julius Peppers is worthy of a Federal Investigation. I have no idea what has happened there.

There is a real problem in general with trying to evaluate passing performance based upon what one sees on t.v.. My impression is that Campbell played very well yesterday, up until the last interception. I also think the Vikings receivers were likely considerably worse than Tavaris Jackson yesterday. Pacifist Viking, who was in the Metrodome, commented on his blog that the Vikings receivers were hardly ever getting any seperation yesterday, which meant that Jackson's completions mostly came when he was throwing the ball pretty well into very small windows. My impression of Grossman yesterday is that he played better than the norm for him, but also that he was greatly aided by the Bears' receivers making some tremendous catches. It simply is extremely difficult to get a handle on player interdependence in the passing game, especially based on what can be seen on television.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Herm:

Have you actualy watched the Packers play? Because the "good pass protection" consists of two veteran tackles playing well and Favre buying enough time to compensate for an interior line that stinks. Not average. Not subpar. Stinks. It has been rotating guards the entire season as the coaching staff tries to find a combo that can both run block and keep Favre from getting squashed. Daryn Colledge almost got Number 4 decapitated against KC and there have been a number of other instances that if not for Favre's ability to slide this way and that the play would have been destroyed thanks to an interior O-lineman's ineptitude.

As for the defense, the Packers front four is regularly touted as one of the best in the league primarily due to the fact that the D-line goes 7-8 deep in capable players. Johnny Jolly would be starting for a good many teams in the league as one quick example.

Look, I have no illusions about Green Bay keeping up with New England. They will likely be another in a line of teams pushed aside like yesterday's garbage.

But at least get the facts straight.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

67:

I agree. When the Pats are scoring TDs every drive against you, regardless of where they start with the ball, you simply have to try to keep them from getting the ball. Go for it on 4th down a lot more than normal, and onsides kick a lot of the time.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

re: 63

They DID try this all last year. It worked because the receivers weren't quick enough to get separation for the quick reads Brady was trying to make.

This year's corps of receivers, otoh, can get open really quickly. The spread offense also means you have to put out lesser defensive backs or such, and they may not be able to deal OR blitz effectively from those positions.

Also, continuously blitzing means the Patriots run a no-huddle, which means they can't rotate defensive players in and out, which means the defense gets worn out really quickly... and THEN Brady goes to town.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

jimm, in order for the Vikings to match up decently with the Giants, the Vikings desperately need Winfield at full strength, so I hope that hammy is o.k.. When it gets to the point that Sharper is being outfought on the deep jump balls, there isn't much point to having Sharper on the field, and the rest of the secondary has big problems as well.

I think the Vikings offense is such that they can look o.k. against bad or poorly coached defenses, but against well coached defenses that have talent, they are simply too easy to scheme for, especially on the road, for them to be competitive. We'll see, but I find it hard to be optimistic regarding their odds in the Meadowlands. Maybe the Giants will blow it, like they did in '05.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

". Clark had a pretty bad game, dropped a couple of balls."

I've watched a lot of Manning, and it seems like he usually makes a point of throwing to where his receivers can get the ball and turn upfield before getting hit. In what I saw of the KC game (about half) it looked like he was hanging them out to dry.

One of the drops that Clark made was a ball where he was coming across the middle, and had to jump about as high as he could to get the ball. He got drilled in the back coming down and dropped the ball. The DB got a "hitting a defensless WR " call, but they picked up the flag.

It seemed like there were a lot of "defenseless receivers". Peyton would normally hit these guys in stride. Seeing that pass, I'm not surprised they were dropping balls.

As to the patriots game, what the hell was with all the Jabar Gaffney? I know Welker missed some practice, were they just spotting him?

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

64: "You said that in general the media likes completely obvious and easy-to-follow storylines. If this is truly their philosophy, they will continue to operate under that philosophy as long as people continue to watch and it provides these companies with the most money. All hail capitalism."

I don't want to go on forever about this but I think this raises an interesting point. I agree with everything you said, I'm a libertarian, free-marketer, etc. I also don't want to go too far down the road patting myself and FOers in general on the back about how much more sophisticated we are than the general public, and it’s so infuriating to put up with broadcasters and shows aimed at those idiots, etc.

But.

Let's remember economic models assume rational actors. Not lazy, stupid ones, like many of the people who run media companies. They can be wrong over and over and often are. So first, clearly in media there is a rush to the bottom. Media outlets in general move toward the proverbial lowest common denominator; this is how we get every news channel going all Britney and Laci Peterson on us 24-7, with the occasional update on the war. Noone seeks the small fraction of viewers interested in substance, because it truly is a very small audience, so at best we get a few channels splitting the difference. Network news shows are known to be prestige-based loss leaders, for instance. Additionally, in sports, the audience is relatively inelastic, right? We’re going to watch ESPN no matter now obnoxious the analysts get. We’re going to watch the game even if Phil Simms is assigned to it. Most of us are going to watch the game regardless of who is playing. Media people do know this at least, so to expand their audience they need either a good game against good teams, or some external storyline. I submit that habit, and an insulary mindset (I think X because everyone around me thinks X, and I also assume everyone thinks X) makes them tend toward the latter when they should be tending toward the former.

You might counter that if this doesn’t work, they’d do something different, but again, this assumes a level of rationality and a quantity of useful data that doesn’t necessarily exist. Do we know what the counterfactual instance would tell us? What would the ratings for Sea-Chi have been? We don’t know, and in the absence of data (even in the presence of it) people will tend to believe what they want to believe. And if they are trained to go for some ‘story’ angle, they probably will next time, too.

Maybe I’m wrong in this case. Maybe NBC will profitably ride NE all season long. If so, I stand corrected. But I think it is wrong to assume rationality on the part of those-who-control-the-networks.

Enough. I've gone on too long. Looking forward to a good game tonight with the only relevant storyline being about playoff chances.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

6
I have plenty of issues with KUBIAK, and I don't really plan on using it next year, but to pick on Leftwich is just weird. They predicted him to do well in Jacksonville, he was released, they predicted Garrard to almost exactly the same, and he has performed well. Obviously in this case it was the team around them that defined the prediction.

At some point I think there needs to be a thread where we can all bitch about KUBIAK, one of the outsiders can look at its performance against ESPN and others projections to see if it was actually worse, and they can see where they went wrong and how they'll make it better.

I was able pick up Favre and Garrard late because of KUBIAK and they've worked out well, and it also obviously hit on Alexander and LJ. But, It also predicted big years for Vince Young, McNabb, Grossman, Benson, Betts, no doubt there are others. It also didnt help that MJD and Lee Evans started slow. I'm in 2 random ESPN fantasy leagues I joined hoping I could crush a bunch of guys who rely on "common knowledge", the type of people who post on the FOX and AOL message boards. I drafted almost exclusively on KUBIAK, and I'm barely above .500. And some of my opponents have stopped playing. So I'm guessing KUBIAK did worse than ESPN. I'm also in 2 very competitive fantasy leagues where I used KUBIAK but not exclusively and I'm around .500 there also.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The Lions must be pleased with yesterday's improvement. They rushed for 25 yards. That's 43 more than last week.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

jeffreyd:

What's to day? Post 22 pointed out the Panthers foolishness and the Packers dodged a bullet when the refs couldn't determine that the Panthers recovered a fumble. Carolina's safeties couldn't decide who to cover so Donald Lee caught two easy TD passes. Al Harris got sloppy late and with Foster running hard when asked the Panthers pulled within 11 late. So GB sighed, grabbed the onside kick, burned some time and kicked a field goal. Vinny threw some balls around and then it was over.

GB got up 28-3 and then puttered around. That was the game.

What's there to really write about?

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

46:

I think that B in 65 pretty much nails it. The Colts' receiver play the past few weeks has really been abysmal - not just drops, either (although there have been plenty), but it has been pretty apparent that the receivers have not been where Peyton expected them to be on numerous occasions. This, plus an apparent unease with the quality of his weakside protection, has caused him to press a little bit. When he presses, he makes mistakes.

Really, I think that people overestimate Peyton's physical prowess and underestimate just how much of his success is based on the sheer amount of preparation and work that he and his guys put in, combined with his confidence that his unique role in dynamically controlling the playbook gives him an edge that he can exploit. Yeah, I know that it gets talked about; but I don't think that people really appreciate just how much it helps that Peyton not only has had some pretty outstanding toys to work with, but also and especially that he knows *exactly* what they are capable of doing, and has a pretty good idea that his little ad-hoc cues and tics at the line are going to be be correctly interpreted by his skill guys. Well, I think that it's pretty safe to say that he really doesn't have that kind of connection with Craphonso Thorpe or Aaron Morehead (actually, in the latter case, I suspect that he is all too cognizant of what Aaron is capable of).

This is why IMO these theoretical arguments about how he's just mediocre if you put Gaffney and Caldwell on the team miss the boat - it's not just about the skill of his cast, it's about continuity, and how well the whole unit works together situationally to execute the play. Since the second half of the NE game, the execution has just not been there on the offensive side, but it's certainly not all on Peyton (or even mostly).

PS regarding Addai, yes, he really is that good. Even though his stats were pretty pedestrian yesterday, that includes the fact that he lost something like 18 yards in totally blown plays, where KC had guys in the backfield as he was getting the ball. He made a few runs that were just sick, making something out of nothing. Given what he had to work with all day, I'd say that he had an outstanding day rushing the ball, stats be damned.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

79: GB dominated. They did everythig they wanted to offensively. Then they let up and Car got a couple meaningless TDs. Also, the referees were barely paying attention, with many stunningly bad calls or non-calls. Testaverde can't throw a short pass or touch pass to save his life. His attempts at screens were high comedy. The Pooch-punt return, as was mentioned above, was another example of a special team ill-equipped to cover a return (too many OLs). Finally, more wacky formations from GB. The direct snap to Driver was not the only one.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The Baltimore refeering crew was one of the worst i've seen in a long time. Props to them for getting the call right but throughout the game they whiffed on a lot of calls. For example, the first Browns play, Anderson to Edwards for a first down and promptly Edwards fumbles. In the ensuing melee Joe Thomas ends up on the ground with Ngata standing over him. Ngata punches Thomas in the head with the ref looking at it. Instead of an automatic ejection, Ngata just draws an unnecessary roughness penalty of 15 yards. Joke.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Badger
There are no game notes from Aaron, Mike ect. Just thought it was odd that the only comment about GB was about Harris in the Dallas section. Not very intersting I agree, however Pats vs Buffalo got nine or ten comments.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"* Anyone have any info on why Vrabel was a bit player yesterday?"

He missed practice a couple days this week with a shoulder injury. They probably just didn't want to aggravate it.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

81

I forgot that they only comment on games that they have watched. Comments every week before this I got spoiled.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I am trying to decide which ref call this season was more pathetic.

The non-call in the KC game where the receiver both blatantly pushed off AND had only one foot in bounds but the catch was ruled good before being overturned on replay

OR

the receiver running out of bounds after bumping into the defensive back then re-entering the field of play to try and catch a pass for which he was now ineligible and getting a PI call where no contact took place. And instead of placing the ball at the 18 where contact DID take place, though no mention of this as being a foul, the refs placed the ball at the 5 where NO contact took place. None.

I will let others decide.

I just want guys under the age of 50 who are in shape and have better than 20-60 vision. Please?

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: Steelers

The O-line has been the team's weak link for the past few years. And it's been a while since the front office drafted high to add depth and youth to the O-line. This seems to be the one area where the team can't find gems in the lower rounds. And Faneca will leave after this season. Clearly, this is an area of need for the team.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Yeah, the Colts this year are a great study in player interdependence in the passing game, and that is not a rip of Manning. So are the Pats this year, for that matter, and that is not a rip of Brady.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

If I had to guess, yes or no, I’d guess the Dolphins will win a game this year. But it’s not a sure thing at all.

Betting an 0-10 team will win one of their last six games is never a sure thing.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I have absolutely no malice toward any Ravens fans, so I am sympathetic to their tough loss yesterday.

That said, the image of a reluctant Ray Lewis (It's over! We won!) being forced to return to the field and realizing that when it was really over, they didn't win, warms my heart. Does this make me a terrible person?

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: 48

How come people like you only remember the times when the FO staff pats themselves on the back, but for some reason have some kind of blackout whenever they mention when they were wrong? I've seen them mention multiple times about how they were wrong to question Del Rio's decision to go with Garrard. I've seen Aaron come out and say point-blank that KUBIAK is much better at recognizing who to avoid rather than who to go after. I've seen Aaron joking about what a mistake it was to put Moss on the PFP07 cover but he's still glad they did because he loves Moss's afro.

But you're right, they're all just a bunch of self-congratulatory douche bags that are incapable of admitting to mistakes. Since it seems that someone like you starts bitching and moaning about the tenor of this site every goddamned week, I must be imagining all of that.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

On the Dolphins winning a game, they have games against the Jets, Bengals and Ravens all at home, and DVOA + home field favors them against both the Jets and the Ravens. I think the Dolphins can win at least one of those games.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

" I’m not going to say Mike Tomlin is bad at planning and making adjustments for opponents, but I’m beginning to think that way."

OK, I say it. Mike Tomlin is bad at planning and making adjustments for oppents. Furthermore, he has been quoted by numerous sources as saying opponents will not dictate to the Steelers what they do. Is that a comment that he does not believe in planning and making adjustments?

If he does not begin to believe that he needs to adjust to the team he is playing, his will be a pre-1969 Steeler head coach tenure.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"Because the “good pass protection� consists of two veteran tackles playing well and Favre buying enough time to compensate for an interior line that stinks. Not average. Not subpar. Stinks. It has been rotating guards the entire season as the coaching staff tries to find a combo that can both run block and keep Favre from getting squashed."

Yeah, Vince Wilfork/Ty Warren/Richard Seymour against the interior of that line is bad news. Vrable/Colvin will keep the tackles busy, so the guards and center will have to handle those 3, and thats not gonna happen.

I have to agree with people who thought Campbell looked great.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

BadgerT,
ha, point taken - I've only watched the Pack sparingly a couple of times, so I was simply reading into their adjusted line yards and sack rates. Something maybe not accounted for is that maybe Favre can make his O-Line look "good enough" - they are #2 in adjusted sack rate, but maybe that's not a good view of their overall pass protection (or interior deficiencies as you mention). This site shows that their line is atrocious in the running game, which is probably why their big day against Minnesota was worthy of an article last week.
I always got the feeling Packer fans were always upbeat on their teams, from the Lambeau years, through some lost years up to now. Are you living proof that we East Coasters are not the only ones who can take a top team and find something wrong with it? Do you know how mad I was when Donte Stallworth dropped a potential TD pass last night?

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

64, 77: The problem with the media is that they know that die-hard fans like you are going to watch the game anyway. They are trying to entice the group of people that are less interested and that group will be more easily reached with an obvious storyline. It's the same problem that causes the networks to only show the quarterback and the pocket on passing plays, I'd rather see the coverage and the receivers too but if you know little about the game you'd prefer to see the action up close.

This is a problem with 'rational' actor models, they fail to account for idiots.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Herm:

"Are you living proof that we East Coasters are not the only ones who can take a top team and find something wrong with it?"

I am delighted with the play of the receiving corps, the bulk of the defense and have spoken glowingly of how Nick Barnett is playing like a man possessed.

But the facts are facts. Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge have taken turns trying to get Favre killed. Junius Coston has shown flashes but has nagging injuries that keep him from playing. Tony Moll sounds tough but plays like he's made of cotton. Scott Wells got sick, lost 20 pounds and is just now regaining his strength.

Look, I know speaking well of Favre is despised and deplored but the guy's ability avoid the rush remains good to extraordinary. Keep the rush ends at bay so that he can focus on the tackles which doesn't require him taking his eyes off the receivers downfield and he will save a play 8 times out of 10. Clifton and Tauscher give Favre that luxury. When THOSE TWO foul up things get ugly, and fast.

I know there are more than a few fans around here who are waiting in the weeds for when Favre finally has a game that costs Green Bay so they can finally release the Favre taunts that have been building up for most of the season. It will be interesting to see if the originality has improved. Given that they have several months to prepare and all.

My guess is no.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

46 oswlek:
(Side note) When I see guys like Cribbs, Washington (Jets) and even McGee terrorize the league with their returns after doing virtually nothing against NE, it gives me a real appreciation for the Pats’ coverage teams.

The Pats are amazing at holding their lanes on coverage. Kelley Washington had two great tackles/assists on McGee, both times staying nicely in his lane, and being their for the cut.

63 DG: The Bills blitzed a few teams - the O-Line + RB/TE actually held a pocket longer than most teams hold a pocket against a three man rush. It was scary last night.

The game was over by the start of the second quarter. The Patriots slowed their offense down to not embarrass the Bills (too much), but it was still fascinating to watch, kind of like watching a predator feed on National Geographic channel.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"The Pats are amazing at holding their lanes on coverage. Kelley Washington had two great tackles/assists on McGee, both times staying nicely in his lane, and being their for the cut."

Yeah, how many times in the last month have we seen the pats stop a kick returner inside the 20? Here's a tip: If Gostkowski puts the ball in the back of the end zone, kneel it out.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"The problem with the media is that they know that die-hard fans like you are going to watch the game anyway. They are trying to entice the group of people that are less interested and that group will be more easily reached with an obvious storyline."

I fail to see how that's a "problem with the media." Is it a "problem with getting optimal game presentation for hard-core fans?" I guess so. But you guys are speaking as if it is evidence that the guys running the networks are "idiots" or "lazy [and] stupid." I don't see that at all. Mike W's comments, for example, took the position that the people who run media companies are not "rational actors," and that they're "lazy, stupid" while, at the same time, correctly noting that the audience is "relatively inelastic." Well it is. Hard-core football fans are going to watch football, almost regardless of what the networks do to the game presentation. Given that, how is it at all irrational to program in a manner that attempts to bring in the non-hardcore football fans?

This seems to have started with complaints that NBC took the Patriots game last night and it turned into a blow-out, whereas the Chicago-Seattle game was competitive. But if you're not a fan of any one of those four teams, which game would you prefer to watch? Certainly, there was more "competition" and suspense in the Chicago-Seattle game. On the other hand, the Patriots game featured a far higher level of play, as the Patriots are playing at a "you'll want to tell your grandchildren that you saw them do that" level. Which would neutral fans prefer to see? I'm not going to claim to know the answer, but I presume that NBC has some experience and research suggesting to them that they'd do better with New England-Buffalo than Chicago-Seattle, and I don't have any evidence that they're wrong.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Will - Regarding Jackson, most of his bad throws seem to be when he's making little touch passes, when he needs to throw a ball with some velocity he seems to be a good deal more accurate. I wouldn't exactly rave about his performance on the whole yesterday but I sure thought he threw a bunch of really good passes into tight coverage.

Wondering what you thought of Childress not going for it on 4th and 1 late in the game? I thought that was a very poor decision to punt. The likely gain was 20-25 yards of field positions vs and .80 liklihood or more of ending the game right there.

One other pet peeve, players who intercept or recover a ball late in a game who run with it when simply going down ends the game. I see it very often and it drives me bonkers.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

94. How come people like you only remember the times when the FO staff pats themselves on the back, but for some reason have some kind of blackout whenever they mention when they were wrong?

Because the back pats far outnumber the "my bads." It's not even remotely close.

And a fantasy football projection system that can only find some potholes, but not many of the risers, that's mediocre at the end of the day.

As for Tony Romo's rank in the Fantasy Football Index by 26 other fantasy minds, here it is: 7, 9, 7, 10, 11, 8, 12, 20, 8, 10, 12, 10, 7, 13, 8, 17, 16, 10, 8, 9, 14, 9, 11, 8, 9, 6. KUBIAK says: 18. That's one FO got wrong, whether or not HQ will accept it. There are several others.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

107.

"As for Tony Romo’s rank in the Fantasy Football Index by 26 other fantasy minds, here it is: 7, 9, 7, 10, 11, 8, 12, 20, 8, 10, 12, 10, 7, 13, 8, 17, 16, 10, 8, 9, 14, 9, 11, 8, 9, 6. KUBIAK says: 18. That’s one FO got wrong, whether or not HQ will accept it. There are several others."

Where are you getting those numbers? I don't remember Romo being ranked NEARLY that high at the beginning of the season.

Yahoo has Adrian Peterson as Projected:6, Actual:6, when he clearly wasn't projected as 6th in the league during the draft.

Yahoo's "Projected Ranking" changes every week, as do most other fantasy sites. Kubiak is from preseason, and IIRC, 18 is a LOT higher than most people had him at the beginning of the year.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: 103

Unless you want to go through everything the FO writers put out and put together an actual ratio of "my bads":"back pats", I'm going to assume you'll forgive me for taking your hyperbole as selective memory.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Yeah, jimm, I would have gone for it. Coaches just punt way too often, and I can't wait for the first good NFL head coach who radically departs from tradition.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

This is inconsequential, because this post is so far down the list nobody will read it, but I completely disagree with almost everything said about the Seahawks-Bears game. Which is unusual; I usually agree with most of the "Audibles" I read, and this definitely doesn't mean they don't know what they're talking about, but I see it pretty differently so I'll lay it out here, pretty much just for my health.

Benson: Two big runs. The misdirection did appear to make some difference on the TD run, but I think it was due to a poor defensive call. Deon Grant crept in as a 4th linebacker, and the 4 of them stood, all in a line, between the tackles, 2 yards off the line. I remember thinking, hmm, never seen that before, before I repeated the statement immediately in my mind as I saw Cedric Benson run fast in open space. Brian Russell did make a pretty bad angle, coming up from center field; perhaps that is due to misdirection, but the call for that play had the defenders out of position much more than mis-direction did. One good block on the edge kept all the LBs out of the play.

The second run I am more baffled on; there was no mis-direction, but some good blocking by the C & RG right up the gut, and I chalked it up to coaching & a bad call because there was nobody in the middle of the field. No linebackers, no safeties, it was pretty weird. Two other plays in the first half, there was plenty of confusion among the linebackers, one of which made for a big gain for the Bears. The announcers caught that one. And the Bears' offense has been struggling, so if there was some sort of complex defensive gameplan or an increase in calls that the team wasn't terribly familiar with, I questioned the need for all that, defending the likes of Chicago, so overall I blame the coaches.

We have seen mis-direction fool all 11 guys, though, and it's painfully embarrassing, really. I would be surprised if other teams were fooled like that even occassionally, but to suggest that even with the Seahawks it's frequent at all, or that the success rate of mis-direction plays against them has a success rate even nearing 40%, you're not giving them nearly enough credit.

Alexander/Morris: I don't think we've been equipped with enough yet to say that the results have been the replacement of Alexander with Morris. The switch to the pass-heavy approach has changed so much of that offense, you just can't be sure right now at all.

Morris has always been able to get you the yards that were there, if there were any, and Alexander never much cared for that. Morris isn't so good at making cuts; he can stretch, or cut up at the edge, a little, but it's nothing special. He's mostly a straight ahead runner and once he gets to the 2nd level there's nothing in his skill set to take that run and get a big gain out of it because he doesn't have the vision that Alexander has. When Alexander is healthy again he could produce as much as Morris is now, but has not the speed, burst, nor patience to be an elite back anymore, much less give you any more than those 30 additional yards. And his reluctance to punch it in is dropping his yardage by 30 yards or so. Morris can give you those 30 yards that Alexander can't, and not too much more, and that's the sum of the difference in what either can give you on the ground, so don't think he's a long-term solution. (He can, of course, block and catch the ball, and enables them to do more when they split him wide, which they do a couple times a game, and that is very helpful).

Brian Russell is actually the wily veteran, and the one who's made the difference on that team. He does miss some tackles, but he's a better downfield tackler, better at run support in general, better at getting in position, not getting out of position, comunicating, and reading offenses. For as much as FO loved Brian Williams a couple years ago, with the Vikings, they missed the boat on Brian Russell, who shares more with him than just a first name.

Completely agree about Grossman, and I was worried about him all week. Of course, if I were rooting for a different team, like the Cowboys, I probably wouldn't care which Qb the Bears fielded, but for the likes of Seattle, I knew Grossman could either turn the ball over a lot, or blow them out with several deep passes to Berrian. He's not the answer for Chicago, but for one game he has what it takes to beat Seattle.

I think yesterday was exactly the way Seattle should continue to play. When they face teams who use less Tampa 2 on 3rd downs, they'll pass it deep more. And it will work allright. The short game alone is not good enough when the running game can be effectively only in spot duty like today (Holmgren had a fine playcalling game).

They didn't face nearly as many 3rd downs as they have been. 3rd & longs, especially. Morris did a lot to help there.

The Steelers used a great strategy against them, for when the Seahawks were trying to stay balanced. It worked, but the Steelers got almost no pressure on Hasselbeck all day, so their ability to generate pressure with 4 isn't what worked. Nobody was open, and Hasselbeck stayed within the system, and the system was blind to where the zone seams were, not being terribly familiar with that opponent.

They had always thrown plenty of quick outs -- maybe less so now that Darrell Jackson is gone -- so I don't think that's a big key to defending the new 2007 Seahawks. If you need fast linebackers, and that wasn't the answer for Chicago, it sounds like a pretty formidable passing game, and it's not quite that, yet. Yeah, the remaining opponents aren't formidable in that regard, but the biggest difference I've noticed in these two games, aside from the run-pass ratio, is there's much more 5-step drop passes, and fewer 3-step drop passes. Dunno if that will keep up, but it doesn't suggest short passing and quick linebackers to be the keys here.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

BAL-CLE

Late in the game the Browns faced IIRC 2nd down on a late drive. Anderson was called for intentional grounding as he tried to flip the ball to a RB while about to go down. I've always been confused by when they call grounding and when they don't. I've heard all of the following:

-If the QB is outside the pocket it's ok to throw it away.
-If the QB gets the ball to the line of scrimmage it's ok.
-If a receiver is in the area it's ok.

In this case, Anderson was obviously still inside the pocket so number 1 doesn't apply. He obviously didn't get it to the line of scrimmage since it was batted by a D Lineman.

However there was a RB just in front of the play and had the pass not been batted it appears he would have at least had a shot at making the catch. The pass appeared like it still may have been slightly low.

What defines grounding? If the pass doesn't get batted and the RB gets his hands on it but it lands at his feet is that ok? Or is it still grounding since it was incomplete and wouldn't have made the LOS anyway?

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re 45:
Huh, I never heard that William "The Refrigerator" Perry made the HoF. What year was it?

What's with calling it a Hall anyway? They've got a bunch of rooms in there.

BTW, Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson have the only legit resumes as kickers (both have insanely high point totals, great accuracy, lots of touchbacks, and made a lot of 50+ yard FGs). I'm not so sure they deserve to get in, but if you're going to vote a kicker in it has to be one of them.

Re 99:
You bring this up every week. You have some kind of persecution complex for Favre. You're right, we're all out to get him! We hate old guys who regain their form after sucking!

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Actually, I think the best opportunity for some opponent to beat the Pats in the playoffs would be to have a coach who had the guts to pretty much abandon the punt, and successfully play four down football for most of the game, thus keeping the Pats offense off the field.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

More KUBIAK vs. 26 fantasy experts from the FFI:

- Tarvaris Jackson: KUBIAK 8th; no expert went Top 20. Maybe none of the 26 experts realize rushing yards are more valuable than passing yards, or maybe none of them had delusions about Tarvaris Jackson being good, in the fantasy world or in the real world.

- Byron Leftwich: KUBIAK 8th; no expert went Top 20 (last I checked "job security" was part of the downside of any fantasy player).

Make what you want of it.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Yeah, jimm, I would have gone for it. Coaches just punt way too often, and I can’t wait for the first good NFL head coach who radically departs from tradition

Both Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy have their teams go for it fairly often on fourth down.

Not Gregg-Easterbrook-"never punt" radical, but they go for it, and succeed, and it adds to their reputation for coaching accumen. (To be fair to other coaches, the decision to go for it becomes easier when it's Brady or Manning who are making the decision to run the play, audible, or call time after they see the defense.)

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

One last KUBIAK comment for now from me: If a thread gets established to discuss the pros and cons of K-2007, I'll be happy to paricipate and be fair, give credit where credit is due. But from what I've looked at so far (many more examples than I've cited here), it doesn't look like a good year for the program at all. In short, anyone who used KUBIAK and is doing well is doing so probably in spite of KUBIAK'S poor year, that's my assertion.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

While I don't think the Bills/Patriots was the best game to put on a national stage, anything is better than Rex Grossman in prime-time.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Yeah, Belichik and Dungy punt less frequently, but I wouldn't call it radical, especially given their personnel. Hell, I bet the Patriots would be a better team if they had used the roster spot they have for a punter on another position.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

101:
Lyford, the question is whether a large percantage of the smaller (non-hard core football fan) audience will be convinced to watch a good game, vs whether a small percentage of the much larger general audience will be convinced to watch a story play out. It certainly could be the latter, but my original point, all those many posts ago, was that the 'general audience' pretty much reduces to the casual football fan. Non fans aren't going to watch because Tom Brady's cute, or because the Pats are going 16-0, or because Dennis Miller is doing the game, or because Fox tosses in a lot of zippy graphics and sound effects. Again, maybe that's wrong, but the point is that the powers that be have been trying to get the non-fan FOREVER, and have almost universally failed.

Games that are over in the second quarter are going to have poor numbers. Now, if the Pats were to get into a close game, that would bring a big audience. I imagine NBC thought there was a decent chance this would happen Sunday night. It's unlikely they're hip to DVOA.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Since we're talking about the Keep Chopping Wood award and the Patriots lack of punting, did anybody else realize that the Patriots punter is the same Chris Hanson that originated the award? I just figured it out today.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

114.

"Actually, I think the best opportunity for some opponent to beat the Pats in the playoffs would be to have a coach who had the guts to pretty much abandon the punt, and successfully play four down football for most of the game, thus keeping the Pats offense off the field."

Will, you could win the game that way. Its possible. You could also (just as likely) end the first quarter down 30 points after giving the pats a bunch of really short fields.

Remember, the Patriots defense is very good.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: 106

I think most of the comments regarding Morris being a better fit for the new pass, pass, pass some more Seattle offense is that Morris is showing signs that he's a much better reciever than Alexander is or was.

Alexander's receiving stats for the past 5 years:

2007: -3.4 DPAR; -40.4% DVOA
2006: -6.2 DPAR; -81.8% DVOA
2005: -1.4 DPAR; -19.7% DVOA
2004: 1.4 DPAR; -3.2% DVOA
2003: -1.0 DPAR; -14.0% DVOA

He's never really been what you'd call a threat out in a passing patern. So what good would he really be in Seattles current offense?

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Correction on 110: Tarvaris Jackson was 11th, Leftwich 8th per the KUBIAK QB ranks in the book. I initially listed them both as 8th.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"If a thread gets established to discuss the pros and cons of K-2007, I’ll be happy to paricipate and be fair, give credit where credit is due."

You can actually do that. From the front page, go to the "Open Fantasy Football Discussion" section, and start a KUBIAK thread. There may even be one or more there already that you can browse and maybe bump to the front page. Also, if you want a thread like this instead of the discussion board, the Scramble for the Ball threads tend to be better for fantasy.

Or, heck, write something up and submit it as a guest article. Just doing the research might point to some unforseen patterns, that it typically overvalues certain types of players, overpenalizes for past knee injuries, etc. If you do find something like that, I can guarantee it will be incorporated as soon as it can be quantified.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

smart move by NBC...

and i just heard a rumor that all Sunday night games are being flexed to Patriot games...

clearly, watching 2 bad teams play a competitive football game is not nearly as entertaining as watching the Patriots run up the score to embarrassing levels...

I mean, the Patriots have TOM BRADY and RANDY MOSS, why would anyone not want to watch them run up the score on an inferior opponent?

I'm boycotting next sunday's game...

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

mawbrew, I think you pretty much summed up the opinion of a lot of non-Ravens fans, including me.
You have to cut him some slack, he hasn't murdered anyone in, like, 10 years.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Lots of similarities between yesterday's CHI/SEA game and last year's playoff matchup, perhaps the most interesting of which was the key 4th down plays. Last year the Seahawks are driving for a go-ahead score late in the 4th quarter, go for it on 4th-and-2 at the Bears' 44, call a handoff to Alexander, and Briggs makes a great play to blow it up. This year, driving for the go-ahead TD in the 3rd quarter, they go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Bears' 40, call a waggle pass to the TE, get 20 yards, and score four plays later.

Meanwhile, the Bears go for it two drives later on 4th-and-1 from the Seattle 25 (after a successful SEA challenge takes away the initial 1st-down spot), but they try a painfully slow-developing handoff to Benson, and it never has a prayer. A successful quick QB sneak in the 4th quarter demonstrates what they should have done the first time around.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

116 B: Just caught that too.

I nominate Chris Hanson for the Keep Chooping Wood award for this week. His average net punt for the week, including penalties pre and post kick, was -4 yards.

Okay, so it was one punt in garbage time. But -4 yards?

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Will Allen (#114 )--

Branching out from that thought:

1. It's a copycat league. It's not reasonable to expect other teams to copy the cornerstones of the Colts' and Patriots' recent success (Peytom Branning), but copying one of the details (going for it on fourth down) should be expected. My observation from watching ~4 games a week, tells me that teams go for it on fourth down more often than they did, say, five years ago.

2. The problem with radical strategies is: it's tough to make them work consistently unless you have personnel that makes them unneccesary. Remember that Titans-Colts game a few years ago, where Jeff Fisher called for about three onside kicks in the first quarter? Radical, daring, brilliant -- and the Titans got blown out anyway. Back when the Rams were the Greatest Show on Turf, Mike Martz would call the surprise onside, and it worked, but who cared? His team was supposed to win anyway.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

116: Not only is he the KCW Chris Hanson, but he is also the same Chris Hanson from the NBC "To catch a predator" series. It makes for some interesting sideline questioning when Hanson pops out and asks the reporter what they think they are doing there.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re ARI-CIN
I actually watched almost all of this game, primarily because the Bengals are playing the Titans next week. The comments above in #57 are spot-on, but I thought I'd chime in as well. Note I hadn't paid close attention to either team in any game this year, so I can't preclude the possibility some of these were the result of a fluky game.

1. Carson Palmer reminds me of Brett Favre c. 2002. He's normally a very good, accurate QB, but several times a game he'll have an absolute vapor-lock moment and throw a terrible interception.
2. One of Rolle's INTs was a good play to undercut an out route, but he was able to do that because he had outside help. The Bengals returned to the same play later in the game, but ran the out shallower and the SE deeper, allowing for a completion.
3. I don't know if something is physically wrong with #85, but Palmer seemed to have been looking for Housh and Henry both before him. From the box score, I see each WR had 8 catches, and his DPAR and DVOA are both fine, but my feeling watching him was that he's close to hitting the wall where WRs drop off a cliff (he's 29, for the record).
4. The Bengals almost never had fewer than 3 WRs on the field.
5. Kenny Watson was generally more productive than Rudi Johnson, perhaps for the same reasons Morris has been more productive than Alexander.
6. 3 INTs notwithstanding, I didn't see anything that tells me Antrel Rolle is a particularly good CB. He seemed to mostly play the slot, while Eric Green and Rod Hood played outside. Hood struck me as probably the best of the 3.
7. I thought Kurt Warner was finished when he was with the Giants, and again early last year, but he looks like an average to above-average NFL QB. He's not hugely mobile, but he's able to keep his head despite being pressured, which is a hugely valuable asset for a QB.
8. In case you hadn't noticed (I hadn't), Fitzgerald has clearly passed Boldin in where Warner looks to go with the ball. This was obvious watching the game, and it's supported by the target stats (Fitzgerald 97, Boldin 59 before yesterday).

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Lots of similarities between yesterday’s CHI/SEA game and last year’s playoff matchup, perhaps the most interesting of which was the key 4th down plays. Last year the Seahawks are driving for a go-ahead score late in the 4th quarter, go for it on 4th-and-2 at the Bears’ 44, call a handoff to Alexander, and Briggs makes a great play to blow it up. This year, driving for the go-ahead TD in the 3rd quarter, they go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Bears’ 40, call a waggle pass to the TE, get 20 yards, and score four plays later.

This is an excellent observation, and I can't believe I didn't think of it yesterday.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: #50

"("Let’s officiate the GAME, not the RULEBOOK�)

In theory I agree with that. I would have liked for the officials to have reviewed the bogus PI on Heap vs. Cincy that cost the Ravens a chance to go to OT in week 1. So the question is, when is it OK for the officials to disregard the rulebook and look at replay on non-reviewable calls?"

Here's my proposition for the fair line to draw: It's OK for officials to disregard the rulebook in search of the correct call when it is not a judgment call but a matter of fact. Flags such as PI are judgment calls, no matter how much this Pats fan may disgree with the application of those calls. The ball bouncing behind the crossbar is a matter of fact and can be determined conclusively.

Just like how you wouldn't want instant replay in baseball being used for balls/strikes, you don't want something like Holding being reviewable because there are nuances and you shouldn't be second-guessing officials all game long who have to make split-second decisions.

So I'd say if there's a rule against them ruling FG / non-FG, or whether the ball crossed the plane before the player went OOB at the pylon, or the spot of the ball after a play for a 1st down measurement - then let 'em review it. Just not on penalties.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Colts fans(myself included), should feel the same way about this game that Chargers fans should have last week. Yeah we won, but dear god was it ugly. Injuries are no excuse. This was basically the same lineup (minus Freeney) who went toe-to-toe with the 'Greatest Team of All Time-EVAR' a couple of weeks ago. Apparently B.B. doesn't just steal your signals, he steals your Mojo too.
Our O-Line hasn't looked this bad since the Pittsburgh playoff game in the 05-06 divisional round. I have no earthly idea why in holy hell Charlie 'Turnstyle' Johnson is still in there at LT. Especially after the way Toudouze played last week. He is a season-ending injury to Peyton waiting to happen.
Addai could barely get a block long enough to even get going (but damn can he make some plays once he gets going).
The defense played well but generated no pressure. I think our offense will find it's form again but the lack of defensive pressure will most likely be our doom come January.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

This is an excellent observation, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it yesterday.

Whoo-hoo! Thanks Vince! Now I'm going to be insufferable all week!

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

How is it the entire league has forgotten how to cover Moss?

Do the Packers remember?

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Given the 49er's QB situation/draft situation next year (they have Indy's number 1 pick and massive QB issues), would they consider grabbing Derek Anderson? Or should they just take whatever they can get at the 27th spot?

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

How is it the entire league has forgotten how to cover Moss?

Do the Packers remember?

Hmm, OK, I'll bite. How do you cover Moss?

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Well, nobody has ever really learned how to cover Moss when he has had good players around him, and he has been motivated to excel. That said, and I stated above, it was remarkable to me just how awful the safety play was in all the games I watched yesterday. Good grief, it was one screw up after another, in nearly every game I saw.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

128: So your solution is to make field goals reviewable? That works for me, as you pointed out, the field goal is a matter of fact, not subjectivity. However, I think the real issue here is the refs somehow blew the call in the first place, despite it being obvious to anybody watching the game live that the ball went over the crossbar and only bounced back after hitting the support beam.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

What kills me in the Chi-Sea game is the announcers making the big deal about how Benson has gotten as many yards in the first quarter as he has avg/game, several times I might add.

I was watching the game and saying, "Yeah, but since the first two rushes, what has he done?" Finally in the fourth quarter they acknowledged that he hadn't run nearly as well all game. He had 63 yards in two plays (very good) with nine plays for 26 yards (not so good).

I think Shaun will have a comeback year next year, and though he will never match any of his "Alexander the Great" years, he will do well. He needs to be confident that he can run well, and then he will. When he lacks the confidence in himself or others, he gets light-footed. That confidence should return assuming the entire O-line returns and WJ doesn't retire.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Hmm, OK, I’ll bite. How do you cover Moss?

Some combination of bumping him at the line and rolling coverage toward him.

The first problem with this strategy is: the guys bumping and doubling Moss aren't rushing Brady, playing the run, or covering Welker, Stallworth, Faulk, Gaffney, or Watson. The second problem is: it hasn't actually stopped Moss, only slowed him down.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

111 Starshatterer, I believe you are dead wrong about how often Indy goes for it on 4th. (Since you credited Dungy, it might have applied to Tampa... but I doubt that too.)

As a Colt fan I am generally frustrated by this, as I wish they would go for it at least 2 times a game and have thought so for years, especially since teams seem to do it against them (usually out of desperation, and agaiunst their undersized D, it works more than I like).

FTR, Manning has made 1 pass attempt on 4th this year, in 2006 it was 3, and in 2005 it was 2. Their RBs have totaled 2 rushes in 07, 1 in 06, and 5 times in 05. Extrapolating this year's total of 3, that's an average of 5.3 a year since 2005 started. (This does not include trick plays or Sorgi--I only looked up individual attempts from Manning and their top 2 RBs, and I don't THINK it includes playoffs.)

Surely that's not a lot. My impression is that it's below the league average; typically because the traditional model is if you're winning and hit 4th down, you punt.

Now they may not punt much as Will points out, but that's because they usually lead the league in 3rd down efficiency. In light of that, maybe their RATE of going for it on 4th is normal or high, but they have fewer 4th downs to deal with. Not sure there and no time to rsch it.

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

- Byron Leftwich: KUBIAK 8th; no expert went Top 20 (last I checked “job security� was part of the downside of any fantasy player).

Why is this a miss? KUBIAK said "QB JAX will have an above average year". "QB JAX" turned out to be Garrard, not Leftwich, but he's certainly having an above average year.

If you expect KUBIAK to take into account 1) the possibility that a QB might be released from the team, and 2) what team that QB might go to, that's just ludicrous. That's something that a fantasy owner has to figure out for themselves.

I don't see Jackson being that big a miss either. He's a second-year player. There's no data on him whatsoever. There was an obvious giant red flag on that prediction in any case.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

144.

"FTR, Manning has made 1 pass attempt on 4th this year, in 2006 it was 3, and in 2005 it was 2. Their RBs have totaled 2 rushes in 07, 1 in 06, and 5 times in 05. Extrapolating this year’s total of 3, that’s an average of 5.3 a year since 2005 started. (This does not include trick plays or Sorgi–I only looked up individual attempts from Manning and their top 2 RBs, and I don’t THINK it includes playoffs.)"

Bobman, where are you getting this data? Is it in the premium database? I'd like to take a look at it for a bunch of teams.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Everyone make sure you're sitting down before you read this. OK, good. Now...

I actually have a small shred of empathy for the despicable basta.... er, Ravens.

Why, you may ask? Well, if the officials actually broke the rules to get the call right (and at this point, it's not entirely clear that they did), they did the same thing to Cleveland back in 01, and I remember how furious I was. I'm sure we all remember it somewhat, but let me refresh anyway.

Cleveland was trailing Jacksonville late in the 4th quarter. On 4th down, Couch threw a very nice pass (no, really) to Quincy Morgan, who utilized his 'hands' to very nearly catch it. The officials screwed up, called it a catch at first, and awarded the first down. Needing to stop the clock, and perhaps also realizing the break they'd gotten, rush to the line and spike the ball.

And then all hell broke loose.

While the Browns were huddling, the officials conferred and decided to review the 4th down play. The announcers are as confused as everyone else who has heard all this time that there's only one unbreakable rule regarding replay - you can't review once another play has been run. A replay is shown of the spike, showing in order: snap, spike, the umpire jumping in shock as if the buzzer he wears just went off. Conclusion? They wanted to signal for a review, but the next play had already been run, it's too late. Except these are the Browns. The call is incorrectly overturned to the correct call, ugliness ensues, and even more ugliness follows as coverage/opinion is completely exaggerated at best and outright lies at worst.

So yes, having been on the receiving end of a screw job before, I actually have a very, very, very small bit of empathy for the fecalheads and their fans. Not much, mind you. And even that is tempered because it's still unclear whether they broke the rules to get the call right. We know the play wasn't reviewable. We know the ref put on the headphones and talked with someone, presumably the extra/replay official. We don't have any video of him looking under the hood, nor do we know if the replay guy looked at it, nor do we know what was talked about. We hear that the two FG officials disagreed - the one on the right ruled it no good, the other has been named as the dissenter who won the argument. So what possibly happened?

1) The ref looked at a replay. We don't have any direct evidence of this, for what it's worth.

2) The officials saw a replay on the big screens, saw the mistake, and corrected it. I definitely wouldn't discount this one. If true, it sucks for the Ravens (their scoreboard guy might get the axe for it, although could he have realized the mistake?), but I don't know that it's illegal. It sure would stretch the rule, though.

3) The booth official looked at it, told the ref it was good, they huddled and changed the call. Possible. This would be a good time to find out who else is in the booth with him (and what they saw), or how much the home stadium knows about what goes on in there. If he did illegally look at it, and the Ravens know, it will get leaked at some point.

4) The only communication with the booth was to confirm that the play was not reviewable. There was disagreement among the officials, and after discussion, they decided it was good, presumably without seeing any replays. This is the official story; it's plausible, but I don't know.

I'd say of these four, the most likely was a combo of 2 and 4 - there definitely appeared to be confusion among the two FG officials, and probably they saw a replay on the big screen and realized they'd messed up. I don't see them overturning it based only on discussion (the one clearly wasn't convinced enough to signal it good immediately, even though he may have suspected), but I don't know that they had to break the rules so blatantly to do so either. So it really sucks to be the Ravens.

Good.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

TomC/Will:

The only way to cover Moss is beat him up at the line of scrimmage and make sure the corner has help. You take your chances with the other receivers.

But the cornerback better be REALLY physical. Because there were a FEW games between GB/MN where Moss didn't "kill" the Packers and the belief on the GB side was that Moss got tired of the handchecking. And when the refs didn't call stuff he quit running routes as hard.

I doubt Moss would slack off playing for the Pats and a big contract this offseason. But at minimum you might disrupt the timing between him and the QB and maybe, MAYBE, give the pass rush an extra second.

But if you miss you are scr*wed.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

gotta take exception w Mush's KUBIAK-ripping comments here. Posting "KUBIAK was wrong with T. Jackson, Leftwich, and Romo. There are many more, but I'm not going to list them" four times on the same message board isn't good debating for. It kind of invalidates your "there are many more" point when you list the same three players in each post.

Broader point on KUBIAK- of course it's only a tool, to be used with your own opinion. You aren't supposed to blindly follow the ESPN.com projections either. Hell, in the preseason projections they included a "players KUBIAK over/underrates" section. I used KUBIAK as a tool with my drafting and I'm the total points leader in each of my four 10-man leagues.

There are many other examples that I'm not going to list here.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

B,

I have heard that Maroney was hurt, but I don't think it was all that bad. I just think that there was no need to beat him up in a game that was essentially over. I have no doubt that he would have been in there in a closer game.

Here are a few observations that I forgot to get to last time (really).

* {In response to some commenting about Maroney tip-toing}

Maroney wasn't tip-toing at all, unless he did on that 4 yarder. He actually ran with authority, it was that guys were rather inconveniently in his way.

What I will acknowledge is that the run blocking seems to degrade when Maroney rushes. This could be for a number of reasons. Maybe the team has been too predictible about how they run (formations) or when they run (down, distance, frequency) with Maroney in the game. I have heard that there is some speculation that Maroney gives a tell and that could be so, but it seems that guys bite really, really hard on play fakes to him. That would seem to indicate that there isn't a tip, just that Maroney draws attention.

Further evidence of this is the fact that when Maroney runs out of the power formation, there is rarely any room whatsoever. Obviously defenses are keying on him is certain situations despite the prolific passing offense.

Yesterday they did keep him on the field for the most amount of passing plays that I have seen, and considering the blocking, I have to say it was successful. Maybe this is the first step towards mixing up the calls when Laurence is in there.

******Warning: TMQ mode**********

* When Buffalo trotted out the punt unit late in the 2nd quarter down 28-7 I asked my wife what they were thinking. How could they be so blind as to not see that the time for conventional play was over. That said, they were involved in the greatest comback in NFL history, so I'll forgive that one.

But why were they punting down 42-7 in the 3rd? That was really bizzare.

******Close TMQ Mode: Thank God*******

* I found it kind of humorous that all of the big three receivers had drops early in the game. Humorous in a kind of way.

* I agree that Sanders had a very nice game. His run stuff on the run blitz was a thing of beauty. That couldn't have been played any better.

* Since when is Losman a guy who shrugs rushers off. It seemed that a few times NE had him dead to rights and he wriggled his way out of it.