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

Audibles at the Line: Week 17

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

Hmmm, wait. Based on previous Audibles, this doesn't seem to be getting through to people. Let's try this again.

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.

Does that work for everybody?

New York Giants 34 at Washington Redskins 28

Al Bogdan: The NFL Network is showing a program called "Rise and Fall: Story of the 2006 New York Giants" at 4 PM on Saturday. I'm guessing the folks at NFL Films don't like the Giants' chances tonight.

Aaron Schatz: There are people out there who suggested that Tiki Barber wasn't trying his hardest because he plans to retire, and I hope they feel like idiots tonight.

That Tim Carter flop on the PI was pathetic.

Jason Campbell looks really good.

Doug Farrar: I was watching somewhat peripherally, but I started mentally tuning out about the tenth time Collinsworth referred to Eli as "New York Tough" against the 32nd-ranked pass defense, according to DVOA.

Barber looked wonderful, but he was assisted a bit by the Redskins' impersonation of Indianapolis' defense. I haven't seen that many whiffs since Randy Johnson was in his prime.

Aaron Schatz: I also thought Collinsworth was really overplaying the "Kevin Gilbride came in here and fixed things angle." Yeah, it was a combination of Barber looking really good and the Washington defense looking really bad, but Eli looked pretty bad too.

And who the hell throws twice on a must-have drive to David Patten?

Bill Barnwell: Tom Brady?

Aaron Schatz: Sure, in the same way that Brett Favre, five years ago, would have thrown twice on a must-have drive to Antonio Freeman. It still doesn't make it a good idea today. Freeman may be out of the league but he'd probably be better than Patten right now.

Benjy Rose: This was the first NFL Network game I've seen, and I want to agree with just about all that's been said about how terrible Gumbel is. He's just not play-by-play material. On Tiki's third TD, once he broke through the line, Gumbel said "Tiki's gonna score" with about the same sense of excitement as if he said "I have an itch on my elbow."

And then all the accolades put onto the Giants' "awakened" offense; if not for a 55-yard run and a 50-yard run, they may not have won the game. Eli looked awful in the second half.

Campbell looked really good out there.

Al Bogdan: And what does it say about Washington's roster building that the receiver they spent millions of dollars, cap space, and draft picks to replace -- Patten -- is the go to guy on the final drive.

It was also my first NFL Network game. I didn't mind Gumbel so much, but Collinsworth was a bit quick to praise the Giants. The blocks by Shiancoe and Finn that he raved about on Tiki's first two TD's looked like clear holds to me. And I'm with Aaron on Gilbride praise being overblown. With Shockey out, he had a sixth offensive lineman in on every down in the form of Shiancoe. The Giants' most successful plays were when they ran behind the extra blocker, Tiki was patient enough to wait for a sliver of a hole to develop, and then he ran through attempted tackles by Washington's last-string linebackers and defensive backs.

And that praise for Gilbride completely ignores the terrible passing offense. When Ade Jimoh and whoever was behind Ade Jimoh on the depth chart are matched up against Plaxico Burress, you have to figure out a way to get him more than 26 receiving yards. Maybe our game charting stats will show this at the end of the year, but Eli Manning must throw the worst short pass in the league. He seems to have a lot of trouble making accurate throws under five yards. He had one quick pass to Burress to try and take advantage of a one-on-one matchup that sailed a good two feet over his head and one foot to the right.

New York's defense in the second half was atrocious. It was like Tim Lewis hadn't seen any of the Giants' last eight games and thought they'd have no problem holding onto a 21 point lead. In the third quarter, it looked like they went into prevent mode, leaving ridiculously huge cushions on Washington's receivers. I love Mathias Kiwanuka's athleticism as much as Collinsworth does, but instead of praising him for running all over the field making plays, maybe the rest of the defense should be criticized for not making the play that created the need for Kiwanuka to run 12 yards to make a tackle.

Nothing would surprise me about this team going forward. I wouldn't be surprised if the perfect storm of upsets happened and they missed the playoffs. I wouldn't be surprised if they went into Philly next week and lost 47-3. I also wouldn't be surprised if they squeaked out a win against Dallas or Philadelphia next week, won a low scoring game in Chicago the week after, and rode a 300+ yard passing game from Eli to upset the Saints in New Orleans.

New England Patriots 40 at Tennessee Titans 23

Bill Moore: Vince Young just threw a crazy no-look, hook shot throw to the end zone. Randy Cross can't stop fawning over it. "This is why this city is so excited about this guy." If Eli Manning had thrown that pass, people would have been all over him for making a stupid, risky decision. It just goes to show that 'heroic' moves are driven by incoming expectations.

Doug Farrar: I'd like to know why Young didn't even attempt to run in the first half. Were the Pats spying him so much that it opened things up for Travis Henry?

Aaron Schatz: Let it be known that WBCN broadcasters Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti castigated Young for that hook shot throw.

I'm trying to figure out what happened with Henry. Why is he so much better now than he was two and three years ago in Buffalo? I think he always was good at breaking tackles and pushing forward, and he didn't really look any more shifty -- I think it's mostly the difference between bad run blocking and good run blocking. His two big runs this week were through colossal holes.

It's strange when refs call penalties on the wrong guys. I always wonder if that gets fixed afterwards. They called a penalty on 60, Jacob Bell that should have been on 68, Kevin Mawae, and then a penalty on 94, Ty Warren, that should have been on 99, Mike Wright.

Underrated contributor to Tennessee's late-season improvement: rookie nickel back Cortland Finnegan.

Detroit Loins 39 at Dallas Cowboys 31

Michael David Smith: Are the Cowboys under the impression that this game is a 4 p.m. kickoff or something? They're playing like absolute crap. Terrell Owens dropped a pass and got slammed to the ground when Dre Bly drilled him, even though Owens outweighs Bly by 40 pounds. Left tackle Flozell Adams was owned by defensive end Corey Smith on the Cowboys' first series, even though I suspect all of you will admit you have no idea who Corey Smith is. They might be able to play like this early against the Lions and still come back and win, but they better not open a game like this in the playoffs.

Note: I think it says a lot about the way we regard Matt Millen that Mike and Doug can write posts about the worst coaches of the year and not even mention Rod Marinelli, the coach of the worst team in the league. When you're coaching Matt Millen's team, you could go 2-14 and do a pretty good coaching job.

Doug Farrar: Yeah -- in my mind, Marinelli gets the same mulligan that Mariucci did. I knew enough about the job Mooch did in San Francisco to understand that for him to get the results he got in Detroit, there had to be a really horrible, disastrous series of decisions going on upstairs. I wonder if that fact, and the job he's done in Philly this year with the playcalling, will have people re-evaluating Marty Mornhinweg and his Abner Haynes Memorial Coin Toss Brainfart.

Aaron Schatz: We need to hear more about this game. Every time I switched over, the Cowboys were playing an interesting new zone coverage called "Cover-Nobody."

The ironic thing about Detroit upsetting Dallas is that they actually figured out a way to blow the number one pick -- not have the number one pick. Does Brady Quinn now hit the tattoo parlor in preparation for his years in silver and black? MDS, are you upset about this?

Michael David Smith: I'm glad the Lions won't have the top pick. They'd just blow it. And I'm not sold on Quinn, either.

Pat Laverty: Vegas has it set at 2-1 that the Detroit Lions will select, from the University of Southern California, Wide Receiver, Dwayne Jarrett.

Will Carroll: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! There is NO chance of this whatsoever. None. Wait. It is the Lions ... and I'm not sure if you're joking.

Mike Tanier: At PJ's in South Jersey, we counted down the final seconds of Lions-Dallas. Three, two, one, Happy New Year! The Eagles are NFC East Champs! Bring in Feeley. Oh wait, you already did. Way to go, Andy Reid.

I believe that Tony Romo has the potential to be a very good starting quarterback. Heck, I don't mind the Pro Bowl selection, because there weren't a lot of options (remember that Jeff Garcia had some of his best games after voting was closed). But when things go too well too early for a quarterback, he can pick up some awful habits. For example, not gripping the ball tightly, and not protecting it in traffic, and waiting forever for a magic play to develop when you could just dump it to Marion Barber and gain five yards.

No one has commented on the "fumble in the end zone" play. There was a prime example of Fumble Luck. Romo fumbles without being touched in his own end zone. Two defenders converge on it, but the ball bounces back into his hands. He's about to get sacked, but he throws a basketball entry pass to Terrell Owens and gets a first down. Two plays later, the Cowboys score. Sure they had to execute to score that touchdown, but this was a 14-point swing that was almost completely dependent on the luck of the bounce. And the same thing almost happened later in the game. Romo fumbled, and about 15 Lions bobbled the recovery attempt.

Mike Martz made some Good Martz calls in this game: the super-aggressive stuff that goes against percentages but can reap big rewards. The Lions scored with nine seconds left in the half on a pass to Roy Williams singled up on the shorter, older Aaron Glenn. Bold call. They threw the ball on fourth-and-short in a later drive, and Jon Kitna hit Furrey or somebody for a nice gain to set up a score. Bold call. And if they fail, stupid calls in some people's minds, but there is no sense playing it safe when you are 2-13.

Finally, the Cover-Nobody is the Cowboys' base defense right now. Glenn is completely finished. Newman is okay but never turned into a shut down corner. Anthony Henry is a nickel safety pretending to be a cornerback. That Watkins kid had an interception today but is a mess. And Roy Williams is a run stopper/cheap shot artist. The Cowboys have to get pressure to beat opponents. And of course they cannot keep handing the ball over.

Oakland Raiders 3 at New York Jets 23

Al Bogdan: Oakland is called for a five yard penalty for having too many men in the huddle. Aaron Brooks then burns a time out before the next play because the play clock was going to expire. Good stuff.

Doug Farrar: At -34.4%, the 2006 Oakland Raiders would seem to have an outside shot at the Negative Offensive DVOA record, set by the 2005 San Francisco 49ers (-39.8%). Now THAT's something you want on your resume! ("Coordinated record-breaking offense, accourding to Football Outsiders.")

Bill Barwell: The "accourding" there is a good touch because they clearly should be applying to the CFL. Well-played, Doug.

Doug Farrar: Étrangers Du Football?

Aaron Schatz: They didn't get the record, by the way. The Raiders finish at -35.5% on offense.

Benjy Rose: Let me also just say:

J-E-T-S One! And! Done!

This is not a playoff team, but I'll ride the happiness anyway ... plus it gives the young 'uns some playoff experience. I like Little Leon -- gotta root for the short guys. That was a nifty TD run on the shovel pitch.

The D couldn't stop Fargas (who?), and I'm surprised Oakland didn't run even more. Brooks was his normal terrible-with-some-hints-of-goodness. Pennington surprised the world by throwing a successful 15-yard out in the fourth quarter.

All Mike Nugent does is make field goals.

I was in a sports bar with my Dad watching the game, and there was a whole table of Browns fans watching the yuk-fest that was CLE-HOU. Wow. A whole table. Crazy.

Bill Barnwell: The Jets can make any running back look good. If the Jets and Colts defenses collided, the universe would collapse in on itself.

Seattle Seahawks 23 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7

Doug Farrar: Jon Gruden has been watching Seahawks film this week, that's for sure. The Bucs started their first drive with a 32-yard run by Michael Pittman, set up by Chuck Darby's overpursuit up the middle and Julian Peterson's hesitation at the line before getting negated by Mike Alstott. Then, they ran an end around to Maurice Stovall for 18 more yards -- this defense can't handle any manner of misdirection. The second-worst offense in the NFL (according to DVOA) is exploiting all of Seattle's defensive liabilities. With an 8-7 record and coming into this game with a three-game losing streak, is there a team more ill-equipped to handle a playoff run than the Seahawks?

Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys and Giants?

Doug Farrar: D.J. Hackett made a wonderful diving catch on a slant-and-go to sustain Seattle's second drive. I can't say enough about this kid, and he's the reason I questioned the Seahawks giving up their 2007 first-round pick for Deion Branch. Nothing against Branch, but Hackett is just the sort of player that can turn a blowout season into a long-term impact starter's role. In 2005, he was the NFL's leading receiver in DPAR with less than 50 catches. This season, he leads the Seahawks in DPAR after fifteen games. They need to have him involved in the offense all the time, not just when Darrell Jackson's hurt.

Joey Galloway is now tearing up Seattle's secondary. Throw deep on this defense, and you're playing Madden on the "Rookie" setting.

Near the end of the first half, Hackett caught a pass in the end zone that was called incomplete upon review after originally being called a catch. He caught two more passes in the drive, including a second pass in the end zone which was called a TD. The actual touchdown was reviewed by the booth upstairs and upheld. The reason I'm bringing this up is that during the time rookie official Jerome Boger was reviewing the first TD, I was able to cook a gourmet meal, paint my office, give the car a tuneup, and finish Volumes three through seven of Will and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization. Wasn't there supposed to be a sixty-second rule with replays this year?

When all was said and done, the Seahawks avoided the indignity of an 8-8 record, though they're still one of the least impressive teams ever to win a division. And the injuries keep piling up. Seattle is now without both of their starting cornerbacks, Marcus Trufant and Kelly Herndon, due to ankle injuries, and LB Leroy Hill left the game with a concussion. Jimmy Williams, the dime corner who replaced Herndon, then suffered a knee injury. D.J. Hackett may have tweaked something. Walter Jones is the only Seahawks offensive player to play in all sixteen games this year. The thought of facing Dallas' receivers next week in the playoffs with a rookie CB (Kelly Jennings) on one side and a free-agent practice squad fill-in (TBD) on the other ... yikes. That should be interesting.

Mike Tanier: Ugly win for the Seahawks. Tim Rattay doesn't have a NFL arm. Once the Seahawks got an early lead and forced a turnover to stop an early Bucs drive, it was clear that Rattay wouldn't lead any comebacks. The Bucs must run a seven-tight end offense. It only looks that way because Maurice Stovall looks like a skinny tight end, but it seems like their whole game is power, power, sneak Galloway deep.

St. Louis Rams 41 at Minnesota Vikings 21

Mike Tanier: I'm not impressed by this Tarvaris Jackson kid. He's a run around guy who likes to dump the ball to his backs all the time. He's a K-Mart scrambler, like Charlie Frye or Bruce Gradkowski, but not as prepared to play.

The Vikings run defense buckled because Steven Jackson is really good and they were on the field all day. The Rams took an early lead and pounded and pounded. This game never ended, and I was sitting next to the only Rams fan in South Jersey. Can we pretty please change to the Chiefs-Jaguars? The score is 41-14. Nope, sorry.

Pittsburgh Steelers 23 at Cincinnati Bengals 17

Ryan Wilson: The Bengals' first two plays of their first possession were go routes. Both times Ike Taylor -- who's getting his first start in a while -- was in coverage. Both passes were well defended. On Pittsburgh's second possession, Roethlisberger throws into double coverage and Tory James gets the pick, but on the return Alan Faneca strips the ball before James is down. Even though there's a TV timeout to review the play, the Steelers don't challenge. Cue James Taylor: "Carolina in my mind."

For the second straight week, Willie Parker fumbles at the opponent's one-yard line. Three plays later, Palmer hits Chris Henry for a 66-yard TD. I wonder, at what point do you try and make an adjustment when it comes to fumbling? Apparently, Parker's not there yet.

Pat Laverty: Why doesn't Ed Hochuli just quit with the silliness and tailor his ref's jersey to look like the Kluzewski Cincinnati Reds sleeveless? He flexes every time he's on camera. When do we start drug testing the officials?

Bill Barnwell: Where do you think he gets referee's gear in a Boys L?

Pittsburgh's getting some real questionable calls against them, including three in a row (roughing the passer, fumble that was ruled an incomplete pass, pass interference) on Cincinnati's drive to take the lead 17-14.

And now, on their final drive, Cincinnati was called for a delay of game, but then the referees conferred and granted Cincinnati a timeout. Oof.

I predict the Bengals draft a special teams-specific player on Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars 30 at Kansas City Chiefs 35

Doug Farrar: In the third quarter, David Garrard threw a little LOS screen to Ty Law. I'm sure there was a back in a Jaguars uniform behind him, but Garrard threw the ball right to Law. Looked right at him, and threw it anyway. Not surprisingly, Quinn Gray is now in at quarterback. We'll see if Gray can just win ballgames.

Gray ran for two touchdowns, but the Chiefs eked out the win. And with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter, Larry Johnson carried the ball for the 411th time this season, breaking Jamal Anderson's 1998 record for carries in a season. In 1999, Anderson ran 19 times for 59 yards and went down in the second game of the season with a knee injury. He was out of the league two years later. As we've said before at Football Outsiders, this would almost be excusable on Herm Edwards' part if a.) he wasn't so stubborn and defiant about Johnson's carries; and b.) he didn't run Curtin Martin out of the league two years ago.

Bill Barnwell: At least we have the Larry Johnson comment for the book done now.

Aaron Schatz: 416 carries for the season. Man, if only somebody, somewhere had written something about Larry Johnson's carries before Friday, or maybe said something about it on ESPN News, maybe this all could have been avoided.

Was Garrard actually PULLED for Gray? Does that mean that Del Rio has changed his mind about ditching Leftwich and making Garrard the quarterback permanently? They've really burned their bridges with Leftwich.

Doug Farrar: Garrard was indeed pulled. Gray put on his helmet right after Garrard came back to the sideline.

Benjy Rose: So with Gray playing for Jacksonville, is this the first time a team has had three black QBs in a season? I remember it being notable that they had two, but I hadn't heard of Gray. I only saw the last 5 minutes, but he looked pretty solid.

Mike Tanier: If a team has three black QBs, which one is the "heady leader"? And which one is the "athlete who just isn't a winner"? Do they go by skin tone or scrambling ability? And will I rot in hell for suggesting that's how players are evaluated by many fans/media outlets?

Doug Farrar: You'll rot in hell for telling the truth? When did that start? We know one thing for sure -- they will all be said to have more "instincts" than "intangibles," and none of them will be "deceptively fast."

Bill Barnwell: It's OK. We're "stat geeks" who live in "our parents' basements."

Miami Dolphins 22 at Indianapolis Colts 27

Will Carroll: Well that's an absolute first. Booger McFarland just took off his OWN helmet (it'd been knocked up since it wasn't buttoned -- and I don't think he even had a chinstrap) and got the sack. Now, besides the really cool looking replay, isn't that a penalty?

Aaron Schatz: Remember when people thought this last week's game might be Miami trying to defend the legend of the 1972 Dolphins against the 15-0 Colts? Heh.

San Francisco 49ers 26 at Denver Broncos 23

Aaron Schatz: Did anybody just see Ebenezer Ekuban doing a little dance when San Francisco's Adam Snyder was called for a false start? Ebenezer Ekuban: Brining Sexy Back.

I wish I had something constructive to say about this Denver-San Francisco game, but I'm really not noticing anybody playing different from expected, and I have no idea what happened with the refs and that Tatum Bell "fumble." I do say that putting a quarterback back into the game after a head injury MAY NOT BE A GOOD IDEA.

...and the game heads to overtime. And this should be really interesting -- you know how people complain about teams playing "not to lose?" This time, Denver really IS playing "not to lose" because a tie gives them a playoff spot.

Jason Beattie: Turns out the Broncos were trying a new strategy: "Play to not win." I have no idea what happened with that fumble either.

Aaron Schatz: Thanks, Denver. Now we can look forward to:

1) Another week of Mangini-Belichick stories. Kill me now.
2) Indianapolis freaking out at the prospect of playing Larry Johnson.
3) Another 30 and maybe 60 carries for Larry Johnson, which means he is Oompa Loompa dupity screwed.

Mike Tanier: Didn't see the fumble. Saw the Niners execute a long drive in overtime, then punt and pin the Broncos, allow a short drive, and get the ball back with a long return. Saw Karl Paymah lose containment on a reverse, let Gilmore get past him, and saw Alex Smith throw a block on John Lynch. Saw Gilmore catch a deep out pass on third-and-long in front of Abdullah to more-or-less kill the Broncos. Saw Gerard Warren actually stumble backwards off the line on a second-and-short play and I was shocked that Frank Gore didn't run it into that gap and score right then and there. Bottom line: Broncos didn't belong in the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 24

Mike Tanier: All. A. J. Feeley. Does. Is. Win.

Seriously, the Eagles have a good bench and all, but could the Falcons have phoned it in any worse than they did? And will Michael Vick make it to his New Years Party? And does he need liquor or is he already groggy?

Green Bay Packers 26 at Chicago Bears 7

Doug Farrar: At the end of the first half, Rex Grossman's QB rating is 0.0. As it was halfway through the third quarter against the Vikings on December 3rd. Can we officially start calling him "Blutarsky" now?

Aaron Schatz: And the Bears were playing all their defensive starters. The Bears defense has just crumbled over the last month. Remember, all the testing I do says you should count these Week 17 games in DVOA and the Bears aren't lookin' good out there.

Later This Week

Any Given Sunday: Lions over Cowboys
Every Play Counts: Jets offensive line


109 comments, Last at 03 Jan 2007, 5:44pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Left tackle Flozell Adams was owned by defensive end Corey Smith on the Cowboys’ first series, even though I suspect all of you will admit you have no idea who Corey Smith is.


PLayed for the Niners. Was a passrush specialist who never really saw the field but has been our most promising looking passrusher the past couple years in preseason. I think he was a liability in other respects and he didn't fit with the 3-4.

Not a bad player at all though. WOn't be shocked if he gones on to have a solid career as a situational passrusher elsewhere.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

No wonder Detroit won--they girded their loins! (as soon as you fix the typo, this comment won't make any sense.)

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

RE: 3 Black QBs for the Jaguars.
Yes, they were the first team in NFL history to carry 3 African-American quarterbacks on the active roster. Two years ago, actually, I think. Gray's been around for a little while anyway. He's always looked great in the preseason (comfortable, throws strikes that are still catchable). He did a great job of hitting receivers at the right time--Garrard's "pass" to Ty Law was not an abnormality. He just doesn't seem to have the ability to hit receivers at the right time. He scrambled, then waited, then threw a pass into coverage to a guy who had been open earlier in the endzone that should have been intercepted. Gray actually hit his receivers in a way that they didn't have to jump for the ball and get nailed right as they received the pass.

RE: bridges burned with Leftwich. Depends on how things were handled behind the scenes. Because publicly, the team has stuck to the "Leftwich is injured, that's why Garrard is playing. Leftwich is still our guy" line. Leftwich got a second opinion from famed orthopedist (has anybody other orthopedist ever been "famed") James Andrews, who told him he shouldn't even be walking on the ankle, let alone playing.

My only regret is that we didn't trade Garrard before the season, when his value was higher. He really hasn't played well, and he's not getting better. When healthy, the only game Leftwich lost that he should have won was vs. the Redskins, where the defense gave up 36 points and the offense did score 30. Garrard led the Jags to a home loss to the Texans, a loss to the Titans, and the 3 straight losses to end the season. The Jags' best victories were games where they handed off the ball a zillion times (Colts, Jets, Eagles). After 5 preseasons of competition, Garrard did not manage to win the starting job. I really do not understand what all the fans were clamoring about. Potential or not, he is not the Jags' franchise quarterback.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"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. Does that work for everybody?"

No, you're not going to please everybody. But, aren't you supposed to be professional sports writers? Listening to complaints about what you said or didn't say is par for the course. Either admit to being Ray Romano's character or learn to live with it.

That said, my sympathy to Tanier on being forced to watch the STL/MIN game past its relevance. Your pain at least gave us some coverage of a game we might not have otherwise heard about--not that it was high on my list for games to know about either, but maybe it was on somebody's.

On the other hand, did any of you watch even one game you liked? The pervasive negativity in the snippets above is overwhelming. Maybe I just missed the rays of sunshine hiding in there, but my first read was as gloomy as the current NE weather.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: Romo's fumble in the end zone

How was that not the tuck rule, and thus an incomplete pass? He dropped it after pumping.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Nothing puts a hitch in my step like listening to Ed Hochuli explain the results of a challenged play.

I want Ed Hochuli to preside over memorial services when I die.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

About the Tarvaris Jackson's dumpoffs: that's been the Vikings passing attack most of the year, only in the first quarter of the year or so did they take plenty of shots down the field. It seems they have Jackson running the same offense they had for Johnson.

Or haven't you guys seen all the jokes by us Viking fans about our "playbook"?

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

AJ Feeley is like the leprechaun gold from the Harry Potter series. In Philadelphia's hands, he looks like gold. Trade him to Miami, and the gold disappears, leaving Miami wondering what they traded their second-round pick for, exactly. Now that he's back in Philly, he looks like gold again.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Guys, I understand the "viewing preference" thing and don't have a problem with it. I know nobody has much interest in Seattle so Doug shoulders the load. And I know Seattle is pretty bad.

But my suggestion is, Doug, could you provide a bit more insight as to why things are happening as they are? And be a little more objective? Your commentary is always comprised of describing plays that occurred, and then ripping your team to shreds. And I can get plenty of that from anywhere. Although the breakdown of Pittman's run above was good: I didn't notice Chuck Darby overpursuing and had thought he was right where he shoulda been, but watching again I think you're right.

That's good stuff. But just describing plays that anyone who watched the game would have seen plain as day isn't very valuable. Although I suppose your approach stems from the fact that no one else is watching the game... anyway, just a suggestion. I really like what you do, and I would love to see a little more depth in the Seahawks analysis.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

RE: #8
The Eagles coaching staff must be the best in football. They are the reason they have the deepest and most effective quarterbacks position I've ever witnessed.

And speaking of good coaching, I'd also wonder if anyone knows what Belichek did to the Pats running D at halftime? The difference was striking.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Well, I have mixed feelings about that Bronco loss. It put me out of the money in my office pool, dangit, and the Belichick-Mangini stories will be out of control. has a hilarious description by a message board poster about what story lines will be used by the local media in covering the game. But I have to admit, I'm glad the Pats won't be facing their RPS nemesis in the playoffs.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"This is not a playoff team"...

OK, you guys are officially now in denial about the Jets - they're not even the last seed in the AFC, they're the fifth, which would make them equivalent to the 2nd in the NFC.

And about their defense - the Jets allowed the sixth fewest points in the entire NFL (and fewest overall in the last eight games.) They must be doing something right.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 12

Care to provide a linky? Pin me a sucker for punishment...

I don't get why people complain about Audibles. It's a small peek into the private e-mails of the guys in the staff... it's not meant to be analysis, or anything like that. It's just chatter between guys. I dunno, I kinda like the change of pace - I like the site fine as it is, but sometimes you need something a bit less thought out, and more spontaneous. Maybe that's just me.

LJ could conceivably get up to 500 carries this season. If he somehow survives it, and there's no noticeable drop in his performance, do we officially pin him Superman? Robo-Runner?

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Watching Denver piss away their playoff chances yesterday was painful.

Hearing of Darrant Williams being shot to death puts it all in perspective.

RIP, Darrant Williams.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Sergio, the link's in my name. The jokes may not make sense if you're not familiar with the tendencies of the Boston mediots in question...

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: Larry Johnson
Yes, he set the all-time record for rushing attempts, but I think the record that matters is rushes+catches in a season. In that case the record, by far, is James Wilder 407 Carries and 85 Receptions (492 total attempts with the ball). He followed that season with 365 attempts and 53 catchs. That's 418 total attempts and 910 over two seasons - which I'm sure is a record.
LJ has 41 catches for a total of 457 attempts.

That doesn't make Herm any less insane, I just wanted to point that out.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

A game the FO staff didn't give a sh-t about, involving a team nobody will be able to ignore.

Ravens 19, Bills 7

The Ravens reverted to 2000 form. Dull, offensive suckitude and suffocating defense. The Ravens defense allowed two long passing plays, otherwise nothing whatsoever. One of those lapses was another Samari Rolle touchdown allowed--the receiver (Lee Evans, I think) did a double move, put on the afterburners, and was 10 yards in the clear--easy touchdown, the only Bills scoring for the game. Just for good measure, Rolle threw in an illegal contact penalty that was declined. The other long pass was a jump ball between Dawan Landry and Lee Evans--Evans won. The next play, Samari Rolle redeemed his earlier mistake with an interception in the endzone and a 44-yard return.

The Ravens defense scored another touchdown--Chris McAlister with a 31-yard pick-six.

Continuing a very good trend, the Ravens offense continued to hog the ball. TOP more than 36 minutes. The defense allowed only 10 first downs.

For the season, the Ravens led the NFL in defensive DVOA, total DVOA, fewest points allowed, fewest yards allowed, fewest first downs allowed, shortest time of possession allowed, and lowest third-down conversion percentage allowed.

Anything can happen in a single game, but I've never been more optimistic than now for the Ravens' Super Bowl chances.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: Herm Edwards and Larry Johnson

I never wish another's demise, but I can't be bullish on Larry Johnson's future prospects. Tragic to see Herm Edwards use LJ as if he were a Strat-o-Matic card.

The same thing happened to Jamal Lewis a few years back. In 2003, JL carried something like 380 times and will never be the same. And in the case of Larry Johnson, it's an even bigger talent being wasted for short-term success.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 18
The 2006 Ravens might be approaching the 2000 Ravens in terms of quality, but they have a completely different character. The 2000 team had a good running game, awful passing game. 2006 has a pretty bad running game, but a very efficient passing game.
Defensively the 2000 team was obscene against the run, very good against the pass. They simply pounded the offense into submission, they were big strong bullies. They played a 4-3 defense and didn't have to blitz much (Boulware sometimes), they didn't use many different fronts.
The 2006 defense is more of a hybrid 4-3/3-4 (they play both), and up front they aren't nearly as strong as the 2000 defense, nowhere near as good against the run. But what they lack in strength they make up for in speed and versatility, almost their entire front 7 can stop the run, rush the passer, and drop into coverage. They are more vulnerable to big plays than the 2000 defense because they don't rely exclusively on their front four to overpower the offensive line and blitz 5 or 6 on 3rd down pretty frequently.
And don't be overly optimistic- Playing two games in a row vs NE and SD would be a difficult road for anyone. If they draw the Jets or Colts, I would be much happier.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I agree w/everyone that there is a good chance that Herm is shortening LJ's career. However the shelf life of running backs is so short anyway, and chances to make playoff runs are so precious that I don't know what else he should have done. No one is arguing that the Chiefs would be more successful this year w/less LJ. As for the big picture, even 'properly' used RBs go down all the time, and given their division rivals, who knows when KC will get this chance again.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 21

I think the question is whether they could have gotten the same results using LJ less - either with the pass, or another back - maybe at the end of not so close games, for example. (I have seen very little of the Chiefs this year - they very may well have taken him out at the end of blowouts). If they could get the same record without putting an oppressive burden on their star runner, they'd be better off in the future.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 16

Thanks, CaffeineMan. I know a bit. Just a little bit.

re: Larry Johnson

I think the issue is not about THIS particular running back getting the shaft. I think it's more about the fact that Herman Edwards simply shows no regard for his players' long term success. As a head cocach, yes, the job is to win now, but you don't have to be careless about your players' future.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 20

For the most part I agree with the comparisons you draw between the 2000 and 2006 Ravens defenses. However, the 2000 version also was susceptible to the long pass. Recall week 2 against Jacksonville and week 17 against the N.Y. Jets. I think you forget the 2000 version also liked to blitz.

Another thing to consider--the rules in 2000 were much friendlier to defensive backs. After the mugging of receivers perpetrated by the Patriots against the Colts a few years back, a defensive back can't even sniff at a receiver without being flagged. As a result, blitzing is up across the league. Defensive coordinators simply don't have the luxury of letting the QB wait in the pocket.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I hate to complain about FO, but can I this one time? Any chance for an extra Any Given Sunday, or instead of DET DAL, of the Niners Broncos game?

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Honestly, I think the best thing is to just not print Audibles as such anymore, at all.

No matter how finely you slice it or how large you print it, the caveat comes down to "we're gonna ramble on about the teams we like and that's about it," which, for some reason, you don't seem to want to come right out and just say straight up.

The stuff that's coherent enough to make it into an article pretty much does, anyway. All that Audibles really offers are (admittedly, occasionally funny) inside jokes and extemporanea about the Patriots and the Eagles and a couple other teams watched by the less wordy Outsiders... and that's the part that seems to alienate the fans of more than two-thirds of the league.

Don't take me the wrong way, I love the site for the stats and EPC and AGS and, really, pretty much anything Tanier writes, but Audibles is as weak an offering as you guys offer (well, the college football stuff could possibly be awfuller: I've never cared to click that link)... and you end up falling over yourselves every week defending its production.

Just kill it. Have more respect for your readers than to assume they have nothing better to do than read the email a bunch of homers wrote during the games... the rest of your site is written with that kind of respect.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 13
Yes, the Jets are 10-6. They played only four games against teams that finished with winning records, and lost three of them.

I'm not convinced they are better than the Seahawks, and they are definitely weaker than the Bears, Saints and Eagles. (They also have lower DVOAs than the Giants and Cowboys, but those teams bumbled into the playoffs.)

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

As someone who has been reading this website for the last 2 years, I have to say that "Audibles at the Line" is my favorite feature. Others can complain all they want but it gives an insight into the thinking behind the articles that are written during the week. I'm saying this as a Packer fan who's team rarely gets covered. For those that don't enjoy this & only want the numbers, just skip it. I eagerly wait to see it each week.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 26

I don't understand. Even if Audibles is so narrowly aimed at such a particular audience, as you put it... why the need to kill it? Why can't you just... I don't know... *don't* read it?

Does it personally offend you that these guys actually have alliances? Or that they make them public? Is a football writer not allowed to have a favorite team, particularly when not covering just one, but the entire league?

I just don't get it. I don't know what's at work here, because the antipathy towards Audibles has somewhat generalized, but I find incredible that people are basically criticizing something that they could simply skip by and don't read. With all of the content that comes out on Monday (Quick Reads, Manic Monday), why not skip over this one? Where's the harm?

I hate college football, and I simply skip Seventh Day Adventure. I don't go on its thread and bash it just because I don't like the topic at hand, or the writing on it, or whatever.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Count me as one who actually likes the current audibles format. MDS, I don't want Brady Quinn either (I'm a Raiders fan). I understand that David Lewin's system thinks he'll be pretty good, but I'm doubtful. He crumbles everytime he plays a good team and his numbers post Weiss are much better than pre Weiss. I have no idea who I actually do want the Raiders to draft. Calvin Johnson looks pretty good but I think the Randy Moss era shows a star receiver can be rendered irrelevant if the rest of the offense blows goats. Joe Thomas also is apparently pretty good but given the Raiders recent track record of drafting offensive linemen, I'm sure he'll be a disaster in Oakland.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re 26 - have you even read that disclaimer in huge bold type at the top of the page?

I agree with the others - if you don't like it don't read it - its as simple as that.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

The D couldn’t stop Fargas (who?)

C'mon! That's Huggy Bear's kid!

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Aaron and all -- I hereby offer my services next year to watch any random match-up not including my beloved Broncos and provide some hopefully witty/insightful commentary.

Note: Preferrably games televised in HD.

"Big Audibles At The Line Fan"


34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I LOVE AUDIBLES AT THE LINE. It's one of my favorite parts of Please do not change anything about it.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I enjoy reading Audibles- I like seeing things about games that I wasn't able to watch. I learn more about those games from the comments than I often do from the highlights. It would be great if there were a nationwide base of Outsiders to cover every game, but that's not the case. I'd rather go with what they have now as opposed to nothing at all.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Well, I figured it was unnecessary to say this, but since there's so much whining about Audibles, I figured I better speak up, just in case The Outsiders are counting:


It's a great feature. I've always loved the notebook and conversation type of formats in general. I'm actually really stunned that people either fail to understand the disclaimer paragraph or, like Jeff Jewell, basically come across with: "I don't like this kind of a feature, so, so rather than me just opting not to read it, I want you to refrain from writing it." Jesus H. Tapdancin' Christ.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 24 & 20. Give some credit to the Bills, who definitely came to play against the Ravens. Since Nov. 12th the Bills have lost by 1 at IND, by 3 at home to SD, by 1 at home to TEN; beat JAX by 3 at home, NYJ by 18, and MIA by 21. I'd say they're on the verge of being a pretty decent team, much like Tennessee. The Bills' pass defense was, as of last week, the 6th best in DVOA. It was overall another impressive win -- as the Ravens' jump in weighted DVOA to 35.8 amply supports. The lack of a serious ground game (except in the 4th quarter with the lead) is troubling and may yet be the team's downfall against a NE or SD.

More worrisome to me is Samari Rolle's diminished speed this year, which has had him giving 10 yard cushions against speedy receivers. The Ravens have managed to hide him most of the year, mostly with relentless pressure on the QB and with Rex Ryan's complex defensive schemes that tend to conceal what coverage the Ravens are actually in; but there is little chance that NE, SD, IND, or PHI wouldn't try to exploit him. The team I'd most worry about is NE, since I imagine one can almost with certainty count on Belichick devising offensive and defensive schemes that the Ravens haven't seen before (see the NE/MN game).

The best break the Ravens could get would be for Indy to beat KC, so that they would play (and most likely defeat) Indianapolis at home in round two and then meet the winner of NE/SD for the AFC championship.

Anent the subsequent discussion of "Audibles," I, too, enjoy these off-the-cuff discussions and would miss them were they discontinued.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

*Raises Hand*

I love audibles, too. One of the best features aside from the numbers. The whole "viewing preference" thing just made me think about how it's coming across, and then I voiced my observation/request. Didn't mean to complain, don't want to pile on. It's not that big a deal. Lemme cast my lot in with the other side who want to keep it, in some form or another.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

26: I'm going to add my name into the chorus of voices saying to stop reading audibles if you don't like it. You skip SDA, might as well skip this one.

I enjoy Audibles quite a bit and see no reason for them to "kill it" because you don't. Get over yourself.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I think what Mr. Jeff Jewell is trying to say that Audibles weakens FO as a product, not that its a boring article that he doesn't like to read.
FO prides itself on being 'objective analysis', and by revealing the author's homerish tendencies it lends less credence to the analysis. The fact that the authors of this site generally watch more Patriots games than team X's games means that their analysis of the Pats will be more insightful than their analysis of team X. Objective analysis doesn't just mean not saying "VY just wins, baby", but also spending an equal amount of time watching and analyzing each NFL team, or at least the playoff contenders, etc. It is evident through Audibles as well as the DVOA commentary that this isn't the case.
When Aaron off the cuff states that Richard Seymore is one of the 10 best players in the NFL, I have to take it with a grain of salt because I know that Aaron watches tons of Patriot games and also he's a homer, thus inclined to overrate players on his team.
That being said, Audibles is good because its an all purpose forum to talk about the games on Sunday. Maybe there is a way to create this forum w/o the homerism?

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Anyone else catch Marvin Lewis' continuing clock management genius at the end of the Bengals/Steelers game? Play by play.

Pitts tied it with a FG with about a minute left. Cin got the kick off and almost immediately hooked up a 47 yard pass all the way to Pitts' 20. As best I recall the receiver was tackled with about 50 seconds to go. Rather than calling a time out, Cin ran up and spiked it, but they had to run 50 yards, get set, etc, which took at least 25 seconds. They spiked it with 23 seconds left, dithered, and had to call a time out to avoid delay of game before the next play. Then they took a knee, then hurried to spike the ball with about 10 seconds, before missing the field goal and proceeding to lose in overtime.

Let's recap. Last 50 seconds. Cinn spent 25 of them running to the line, spiked it, then called a time out anyway, while narrowily avoiding a delay of game, then took a knee, then spiked it again, settling for a 40 yard field goal into the wind, which they missed.

If they had instead called T.O. after the 47 yard pass, they would have had at least 45 seconds, and first down on the Pittsburgh 20. What are the odds they run successfully to get closer, or throw it into the endzone, or just about anything to get closer than a 40 yard field goal? That being said, little gives me more pleasure than watching an NFL coach blow a game by turtling the final minute away before settling for an overlong field goal, so I was kind of gleeful watching Cinn piss away their playoff dreams.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 37

The Bills actually led the league in strength of schedule (.574) as determined by opponents' record. I found out this morning when looking for their name in the draft order so I can start speculating on which defensive player they might burn this year's first-rounder on.

As for "Audibles," keep it. There's enough boring, formulaic sportswriting out there. This feature and "week in quotes" keep FO different and entertaining.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I read somewhere that LJ didn't get to start until his senior year in both high school and college. Maybe he has more carries left in him than most RBs at this stage in his career.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"Yes, the Jets are 10-6. They played only four games against teams that finished with winning records, and lost three of them."

And the Pats played five games against teams with winning records (CHI, DEN, IND,NYJ twice)and lost three of them.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 37

I didn't slight the Bills at all. I was impressed with how tough they played in a meaningless (for them) game. Wouldn't surprise me if they were a 10-win team next year. Their defense played tough, and it's possible Losman will improve. Hard not to like Lee Evans.

I also share your concern with the lackluster Ravens running game. Bodes ill entering the playoffs. Seems like the only value the Ravens get from running the ball is to chew up clock. They certainly don't get much yardage or very many first downs.

Not sure if Rolle is injured, or if he's just done for his career. In either case, I agree he's a liability in coverage right now. Aaron's statistical breakdown of DBs a few weeks back was sobering. As I recall, Rolle was at the very bottom of the NFL among full-time CBs for stop rate and yards allowed per catch.

Pretty obvious other teams will try to exploit him. What else should they do? Throw at McAlister? Run the ball? I don't think so. The Ravens will need to pressure the QB relentlessly.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

BTW, I forgot to throw my lot with those in favor of Audibles at the Line. Despite the inevitable NE homer tendencies (think about this--FO had to start somewhere, and somewhere just happened to be near Boston), I for one enjoy freewheeling commentary by informed fans.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I'd also like to chime in by saying I thoroughly enjoy reading Audibles every Monday. Great feature; definitely worth keeping.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

26: You don't like it, don't read it. I like it, and don't want it to disappear because you don't like it. I would encourage everyone else who likes it to say the same in case the opinions of those like Jeff Jewell are seen as "voting" by FO staff.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

It's easy for me to love Audibles because I'm a Pats fan but here's a suggestion to those whose teams aren't regularly covered. Make it a habit to give your own random observation and/or analysis of your team's games in comments. In time you might have more fans of your team chiming in, giving their own thoughts, responding to yours etc.

None of the Outsiders are Vikings fans, but commenter Will Allen has been a regular here for years (I think) and almost always has something to say about their games. Eventually he was joined by Pacifist Viking and more recently by one or two others. Even though I'm in New Hampshire, have no natural interest in the team and will only see one or two Vikings games in a down year like this one, I enjoy reading his comments and feel as though I have a sense of where the team is at, where they're headed and so on. If more people took that approach, in time, Audibles and its comments could theoretically "serve" every team.

Be your own Outsider!

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Ed Hochuli=solution to Indy's (lack of) defense.

Was Detroit Loins on purpose? And Ebenezer Ekuban: Bringing Sexy Back. LMAO!

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Pitts tied it with a FG with about a minute left. Cin got the kick off and almost immediately hooked up a 47 yard pass all the way to Pitts’ 20. As best I recall the receiver was tackled with about 50 seconds to go. Rather than calling a time out, Cin ran up and spiked it, but they had to run 50 yards, get set, etc, which took at least 25 seconds. They spiked it with 23 seconds left, dithered, and had to call a time out to avoid delay of game before the next play. Then they took a knee, then hurried to spike the ball with about 10 seconds, before missing the field goal and proceeding to lose in overtime.

You didn't mention the best part: if Lewis hadn't wasted Cincinnati's second timeout with 1:07 left in a lame attempt to ice Reed, the rest of that sequence is avoided; knowing they have a timeout in reserve to set up the field goal, they feel free to call one immediately after the long completion.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

2006 Records Against .500 or Better Teams/Playoff Teams


SD 8-2/2-2
BAL 7-3/3-0
IND 8-3/4-1
NE 6-3/2-2
NYJ 3-4/1-3
KC 5-5/2-2


CHI 5-2/3-1
NO 4-5/3-1
PHI 5-5/3-3
SEA 5-3/1-3
DAL 4-5/2-4
NYG 3-8/2-6

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 53, was the attempt to ice Reed lame? I've seen reference to studies that says that icing is effective. Even if it didn't work this time, it might've been worth the percentages. And when the Steelers iced Graham it did work.

Of course neither of those isolated occurrences proves a damn thing by itself, but the studies I've seen say icing has an effect.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

#37. "The best break the Ravens could get would be for Indy to beat KC, so that they would play (and most likely defeat) Indianapolis at home in round two and then meet the winner of NE/SD for the AFC championship."

The best break for the Ravens would be for the Jets to beat NE...again, and KC to beat Indy and SD, with Larry Johnson getting another 65-70 carries between the two games. They don't really need a break with the NFC playoffs.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

re: 40

Now that's a well thought-out, sound argument. I would award points, but have no power to do so.

Anyway, yes, I thought so at first. But objective analysis doesn't necessarily requiere equal OBSERVATION of all the teams to be effective; DVOA looks at PBP (and lately charting data), not personal opinions. Now, for an EPC, or an AGS, sure, you're bound by what you see. However, I haven't seen anyone scolding MDS or Ned for their alliances.

I hate the Pats as much as the next guy, but I don't see how this site being filled with Pats fans is detrimental to its analysis. It might be perceived that way; then again, Aaron et al have been acussed of being biased against numerous teams, including - wait for it - the mighty Pats.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Add me to the list of people who enjoy Audibles as is! I don't mind the inherent bias. I like reading off-the-cuff remarks about the games, especially for games with remarkable shifts in momentum and you look back at how the comments changed as the nature of the game did as well.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Can I add my name to the list of people who enjoy reading audibles every week (I even read the FOX blog version of it).

The reasons I enjoy it are because a) living in the UK I am lucky to see 2 1/2 games a week and I like to hear what happens in the rest of the games, and b) I genuinely like that all of the FO writers are honest about who they support. It is almost refreshing. We all know that everybody has a favourite NFL team and the fact that all of these guys are honest enough to tell us who they support and then go on to provide (in my opnion) a fairly balanced commentary on the NFL is commendable.

(Although a wee touch more on the Saint Louis Rams would be nice)

I appreciate what you guys do and genuinely enjoy the relatively cliche free analysis of my favourite sport.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Aaron/Benjy: Campbell looked really good out there.

Yeah he did. Not sure what he's good for against a defense that can tackle (witness his scramble for a first down where at least 3 Giants defenders whiffed on him), but when he gets some more decent receivers, he should be a quality quarterback.

I recall the announcers saying something about Kiwanuka's failure to take down Campbell on one play as reminiscent of his botched hit on Vince Young, which is bullshit. On the VY play, nobody came in during the play to block Kiwanuka, as was the case in this game.

I was also skeptical of the announcers' claim that Eli Manning is doing much better. These are the same guys who said 5 minutes before that the 'Skins have the lowest sack total in the NFL. You think maybe Eli's not getting sacked because the Redskins defense sucks? I tried really hard to be open-minded about Eli in this game, and came away with no real conclusion mostly because Tiki Barber ran away with the game. I still have no problem saying that if the Eagles stop Barber, we'll win next week.

Michael David Smith: I’m glad the Lions won’t have the top pick. They’d just blow it. And I’m not sold on Quinn, either.

But I sooo wanted to see them take Calvin Johnson. Agree with you about Quinn, but I'm also not sure there'll be a better QB in the draft. It's a crappy year for QB's, honestly.

I have no idea who's going to win the Seattle-Dallas game. Both of these teams look horrible right now.

On the college football tip, kudos to Boise State for the big win. One hell of a game.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I like audibles, too. Sometimes I think these guys make their best observations when they're not swimming in stats 24/7 (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

My sports bar day ended prematurely, as the half-room of seating was smoked out by some (ahem) hard working women. I guess Michigan will be the last place on earth to get a no-smoking ban in public. Pathetic. I left my lungs and a tip and caught the rest of the early games on satellite radio and in the office (two sets, one computer).

If anyone knows a Michigan SB where you can view *and* breathe freely, please point me to it.

Gumbel seems to lower the bar more and more every week. They don't have any playoff games, right? Right? I should know this already . . .

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

One more thought on Audibles - we'd see more good sportswriting in general if the writers were always free to comment on *what* they wanted to comment on, as opposed to what they were *assigned* to cover. Duwhatulike. It works best IMHO.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Sergio and Alan make excellent points in their comments #29 and 31, but because I don't agree with them, I refuse to read them... d'oh!

Like reading the in-game discussion threads (talk about homers you might not agree with!), I read Audibles because it gives me fresh, minimally-filtered insights into games I did not/could not watch. And the FO staff has a little more pertinent insight to offer than the general FO readership. Maybe that's wrong--better to say I get the same insight value/density in fewer comments.

Audibles rules! (disclaimer: I own Audibles stock. I am also an Indy fan and Audibles usually covers them. Finally, I am a little surprised the Balt/Buf game was NOT covered, as it had both playoff implications and looked to be fairly competitive--tough D struggle for the most part.)

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"Re: Romo’s fumble in the end zone

How was that not the tuck rule, and thus an incomplete pass? He dropped it after pumping."

I had the same thought while watching that game. I was waiting for Detroit to challenge the non-call. Not surprisingly, the Fox announcers didn't even raise the issue of whether or not the tuck rule should have been applied.

Re: Audibles: Like many others, I really enjoy it as is and don't think any changes are necessary. Maybe you should just offer a refund to any readers who have a problem with it.

Also: In the 49ers-Broncos game, I loved Curt Menefee's call of Joe Nedney's game-winning field goal in overtime. He shouted "He missed it!" as the officials raised their hands to signify that the kick was good. The kick was hooking and almost went wide, but it stayed within the uprights. Next time, Curt, look at the officials before decalaring whether or not a kick like that is good or no good.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: Audibles
There's no where else to discuss the aftermath. If you want to see a game discussed, than write about it.

I ended up watching this game today. I was shocked that Miami actually had a chance to win and drove the ball 40 yards downfield until time ran out and Cleo Lemon ran out of space. Did anyone else not pick this up? In my mind KCs chances have improved.

I immediately thought tuck rule... but maybe I'm thinking of the other Romo fumble.

I can't stand the New York Jets. Does anyone think they are wrong for sticking with Pennington? So basically you are a QB with no arm and can dump it off to BJ Askew that proves what? You'll get your team to the playoffs on defense and offensive line play, but what then? The announcers compared Pennington to ELWAY and said the Jets were running the "West Coast Offense" in a manner that would make Bill Walsh proud. Kill me platitudes of Dan Dierdorf! It's impressive they've gotten this far... also Oakland's defense really disappointed me. In the 2nd half the Jets were able to execute an offense that looked somewhat NFL-like, but the first half dink-dunk really turned me on them.

Watching Romo take that last hit, that's what football is all about! Did neither of these teams even try to run the ball?

Re: Jason Campbell
Glad to know he looked really good... by losing he's been under the "He just wins!" radar... DPAR is better than VYs last time I checked.

Re: Tim Rattay
Chad Pennington has got about the same arm... maybe even worse.

Re: NFL This Year
Cut it with the parity garbage, 20 of these teams stink on one side of the ball, at least! Contraction NOW! I'm serious about this... the NFL might have a big problem down the road. If play trends as it has, what's the point in watching the whole season when I can watch the final 3 weeks of the playoffs and get all the quality NFL I need? I'm not kidding about this, and the NFC QB Pro Bowl selections, and S selections demonstrate what I mean...

Re: San Diego vs. Baltimore
How come all the pundits are going with SD? San Diego is no stone cold lock for the Super Bowl... but someone forgot to send that memo to ESPN/FOX/CBS/NBC/HBO...

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Dudes, keep the Audibles. Scr*w the haters. Bunch of lame douchebags sitting around in their boxer shorts rubbing off the Cheeto dust on the couch looking for reasons to complain.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

+1 vote (not that there was any voting opened on the issue) for Audibles.

Compainers are wrong on 2 points.
Why should they watch ALL games LIVE? I am sure they do follow up on it and watch other teams, as well, during the week. Does it really make a difference? The point of this site is not to report on each individual game.
In fact, Aaron specifically mentioned several times earlier the season that he would watch this or that game later the week on NFL Replay to get a better picture of certain teams.

And being professional: as I know Aaron is the only person employed by FO. The others have main jobs to make money. So watching games on Sunday is part work and part pastime for them.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

#49: Great post. I agree completely.

On the Broncos-49ers game, and the end of the Broncos' season, my (many) random thoughts:

- Shanahan seems to have soured on Jake completely. I didn't think that Jake's INT was his fault... Walker tripped over his own feet and left the CB wide open to make the catch. But then, Jake's been having a lot of that kind of thing happen to him this year.

- Anyone notice the closeup of Plummer getting the play call on a 3rd and 11? He headed back for the huddle, then looked back at the sideline and gestured with his hand, as if to say: "What kinda call is that?" I winced... that telegraphed "run", and sure enough. It did get 10 yards, so I guess the Niners didn't see it, but that's a bad move. And I don't like the call either.

- Cutler was clearly woozy and shouldn't have been put back in. His numbers were okay, but that throw which Harris returned for a TD was not even close to the receiver. He's shown enough to make all Broncos fans quite excited about next year though.

- Mike Bell has some pretty damn good moves and runs very hard. Tatum Bell got his 1000 yards, but has proved that he is a 10 carry back.

- Erik Pears did a pretty decent job replacing Matt Lepsis. He'll get better with time, and will hopefully replace George Foster at RT next year.

- Javon Walker has made himself a lot of money. Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler, together with Cutler, make this an awesome draft for the Broncos. The team is high on Brian Clark as a receiver down the road, and Quincy Morgan can also catch the ball; receiver is no longer a priority for the team.

- Gerard Warren got the fat contract, but didn't show much this year; Mike Myers has been a better run stopper. Situational pass rushers like Chukwurah and Dumervil are great, but the D line badly needs a real disruptor.

- What's happened to the Denver linebackers? Seems like everyone has been getting well over 4 YPC on the Broncos in the last five or six games. Both Ian Gold and DJ Williams have vanished. Hopefully some insight will come about this from FO.

- Lynch is still amazing when he's played as a 4th linebacker. I keep thinking that he's a liability too much of the rest of the time, but he makes some tremendous plays at important times. And that secondary really misses Nick Ferguson.

- Good for Champ, to lead the league in INTs, but no real credit to him for this last one: Gore effectively passed it to him. Nice run back for a TD though. Champ was also beaten for an important 1st down late in the game.

- This year's defensive scheme was a failure. "Bend-but-don't-break" is bogus, especially when you have the worst special teams in the league. We probably gave every team we played about 80 yards a game.

So, a strange and disappointing season concludes. Good signs for next year, but man, the AFC West is a tough division to live in.

I guess I'll root for the Saints, the rest of the way.

Darrent Williams. Rest in peace.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Don't people understand that Audibles is basically the Open Game Discussion for them?

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re:41, Yeah, Marvin's done that a few times the last two years. Or maybe he's leaving such decisions up to Breshnahan?
After 4 years, I think it's time to start evaluating Marvin Lewis on a scale a little harsher than "better that Dave Shula". Three 8-8 years out of four would be getting a lot of flak in many cities, but here in Cincy the bar is muuuch lower.

Little mistakes in clock management at the end of games are the kind of things that derail playoff games. Lax discipline off the field is starting to add up to lost games.

Don't get me wrong, "Fire Marvin" is way down on the list of options, but "not extending Marvin's contract any time soon" may be a wise way to point out that slightly better than mediocre is not enough to get by anymore...

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Okay, sorry. I started (or at least helped start) this particular fight about audibles, with my comment about the FO writers professionalism. I too want to keep audibles.

I just want more teams covered. I'm not a BAL fan and will be rooting for SD in the playoffs. However, I'm afraid of BAL and would like to know more about them. Same thing about MIA, TEN, BUF, CIN, PIT, for next year. I presume at least one of those will be a playoff team that gets undercovered next year, and in the conference I care about.

My first point is posting a message that says "we write about what we like" and putting it on the front door is not a way to stop fights. It simply invites more fights. Moreover, this feedback is OUR space and if we don't like what the writers write, we have the right to tell them. Sorry, I have a right to complain, period.

Moreover, I think there is a simple solution, especially if most of the FO writers aren't paid anyway, invite more writers in. Look smashmouth's commentary on the BAL/BUF game was great. In my opinion, it was as good as any of the official audibles comments. Why not invite him to do so regularly. Same for MFurtek's comments. I know at this point, all that is irrelevant for this year, but I would like next year to be better.

So, I may be a douchebag with nothing better to do than complain. However, being defensive about audibles isn't going to make the complaints go away. Listening to the readers honest suggestions and considering them is the solution.

I'll now crawl back in my hole.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"Re: NFL This Year
Cut it with the parity garbage, 20 of these teams stink on one side of the ball, at least! Contraction NOW! I’m serious about this… the NFL might have a big problem down the road. If play trends as it has, what’s the point in watching the whole season when I can watch the final 3 weeks of the playoffs and get all the quality NFL I need? I’m not kidding about this, and the NFC QB Pro Bowl selections, and S selections demonstrate what I mean…"

Whoaaa! lets chill for a sec..
Who exactly are we thinking of axing? Is it even true that 20 teams "stink" on one side of the ball or another? Is it true that the problem is lack of talented players?

Baseball went thru this a couple of years ago and the BP guys pretty well proved that the talent pool available to MLB clubs was actually larger than its ever been and actually reccomneded expanding some more (particularly putting another team in NY, prefreably Brooklyn).

Not to jump down your throat on this, maybe this issue is one the Outsider should address at some point?

The only reason such talk irks me is that at one point or another, just about evry team in the NFL looks bad enuf to kill off. The Bengals were hideous for a decade, if we'd taken your advice 5 years ago, maybe they'd be the one gone? Or how about the lions? Sure they suck, but they're also the second oldest franchise in NFL history.

Heck, I remember some idiot at Sports Illustrated back in the early nineties saying parity was bad for the game cuz there were no more "dynasties" and that the league needed the big city teams (NY, Was, Dallas) to dominate in order to attract a national audience. That kind of crap is why i can't watch college football.

Ok now I'm rambling..
Bring on the mediocre playoff games!

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Damn, one last thing. My complaint this week wasn't really about coverage. It was about tone. However, I'm the only one who seems to have found it overly negative, so that just must be my perspective.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

60: I know it's sort of early for this, but to be honest, I'm a Lions fan and the NFL Draft (oof!) is my favorite part of the year.

The Lions obviously won't take a WR, even though they arguably need one, because of the PR hit. They need a QB and OL help most of all, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them take Quinn (if available) or JaMarcus Russell. My question to the FO world - is Russell going to be an effective NFL QB?

I haven't seen much of him, but all I've seen indicates that he has all the physical and mental tools. I'm just a little worried because usually a college team with a QB of that caliber builds their offense around him, and LSU didn't seem to do that. Does Russell have some hidden flaw that I don't know about?

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"No matter how finely you slice it or how large you print it, the caveat comes down to “we’re gonna ramble on about the teams we like and that’s about it,� which, for some reason, you don’t seem to want to come right out and just say straight up."

And Football Outsiders proves that while you can certainly make something obvious in extra-large bold letters, you can't force people to understand it.

Seriously, look at that bold statement. It very clearly states that the games they watch are based on their favorite teams and what their local networks are carrying. If you're somehow not able to understand this very clear statement, go back to playing with Tinker Toys. Most of us are here to discuss football.

Also, for all the complaints, I find it hilarious that people miss the fact that the FO guys *do* analyze the games and mostly keep the hyperbole in check in these. It's funny - I always end up wondering if the people complaining about Audibles are reading the same piece I read.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I love reading Audibles. My favorite parts are actually the weekly MDS complaint about the Lions game. If not for the other three pro franchises in Detroit, I'd probably pity their fans.

As for the tone of the piece being negative overall... to be honest, I think this has been one of the worst years eve in terms of quality games. I know a few others are with me on this. And Week 17 is the week most likely to have lousy games in any season (as some teams just mail it in because their positions are already set - hey there, Chicago!). So we had the week most likely to produce bad games in one of the worst quality seasons in recent memory - I would have been shocked if there was more than one game worth watching.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Another vote of support for Audibles. It is my primary source of football updates on all the games I don't watch.

As a European viewer I only watch 2 games a week in super quality (I always run my computer with streams of another game simultaneously, but that is another story). This way I am only able to make my own opinions on a total of 4 games per week.

I thoroughly enjoy the humor of these guys combined with their superior NFL knowledge compared to what is available from ESPN, CBS etc. In my opinion it does not take a lot of energy to filter out what is biased and what is an observation. If you read the site once or twice you know that Aaron is Pats-fan, Tanier is Eagles-fan, MDS Lions-fan (or suffering from Lions-"Passion of the Christ-Syndrome") etc etc.

Maybe these preferences could be stated in the summary before each Audibles in order to help new readers?

To sum it up my Top3 of columns is:

1. EPC
2. Audibles
3. Any Given Sunday

Keep up the good work (except for all the Hasselbeck-love... cost me a lot of fantasy leagues! ;-)

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

mactbone: yep.

I like getting realtime impressions of what's going on. I'm sure the AGS and EPC games, when not matching up with personal preferences, are taped for later viewing (or, all hail NFL Replay). It's fun to watch live (unless you were a Bears fan Sunday. Oof.)

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

The Bears Defense might not be looking good now, but they'll have two weeks to get healthy, and thier divisional round opponent will likely be the 23rd ranked pass defense of Dallas or the 18th ranked pass defense of Seattle. I predict we'll see one week of "Good Rex" in the playoffs. Of course, if they end up facing Philly in the NFC championship, it'll be a 4-5 turnover game for him.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17


LJ a bigger talent than Jamal Lewis??!!

Not when they came in the league. Lewis was faster and had much, much, much better cutting ability. His feet are just light years better.

LJ didn't even play when he first came in the league. He is much more dependent on good blocking to be successful.


re: Russell -- the key to QB success in the NFL is decision making under extreme pressure. I've watched him some. I haven't seen him hit hots, etc. He's big, strong, great arm and can run a little, although he doesn't really want to.

If he can read defenses and coverages, he can be really, really good. If not, you get a McNair without the scrambling and that's not very good unless you have great pass pro. And if you have great pass pro, just about anyone will do at QB.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

It's not "we write about what we like", it's "we're e-mailing each other about what we're seeing" and then publishing it. How does that harm their professionalism? Any bias they have, they keep whether they post Audibles or not. The whole point of EPC is that it's written about one game, one player or system, in isolation. That's all it is. It's not breaking down coaching film of a guy from all season.

These guys at FO know a lot about football. They are also football fans. I for one enjoy the peek inside their brains that Audibles gives me on Monday afternoons.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I'd like to thank johnnyblazin, the one guy who actually read my comment and tried to understand what I was saying. Thoughtful and responsive posters like you are what make this site worth reading.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

For the FO awards this year, maybe there can be categories for "Favorite/Least Favorite FO Feature." I can defintitely live without This Week in Quotes and SDA.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

81: You wrote this. "Honestly, I think the best thing is to just not print Audibles as such anymore, at all." I read it. I disagree with it. I said so. What's the problem?

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I actually attended the Ravens - Bills game this week. The first game I got to this year.

Attending is a different experience than watching on TV. You get more wound up in the emotions of the crowd, you see the big picture of the field, but don't see the details of key plays as well.

My thoughts on the Ravens: a typical Ravens game with suffocating defense and just enough offense.

Rolle is the weak link on the defense, and has been all year.

I'm worried about the running game. I don't think Jamal has it anymore. He still has the power, but he has lost a step of speed and doesn't have the burst he once did. His decisionmaking isn't the best either. I think he doesn't make the cuts to the holes the way he once did. The offensive line has been exceptional in protecting McNair, but it is not opening holes the way it used to.

A final thought on Adalius Thomas. If I were AD, I would get as much money as possible from the Ravens, but I would stay put. Nobody will use him the way the Ravens do, and that maximizes his value. Moreover, look at the defensive players who make a name for themselves and then leave the Ravens - Tony Weaver, Sam Adams, Duane Starks, Sharper, inside linebacker whose name I forgot who went to Cleveland, All of them left and didn't play as well.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17


I read your post. It wasn't that hard to understand. And like the previous response I also disagree.

Get over yourself dude. Like your writing is some kind of Wittgenstein tome on the structures of reality.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

It's not what they write about or don't write that harm's their professionalism. It's their defensiveness. A professional does not attempt to defer criticism. A professional accepts it, even when they judge it wrong, and attempts to figure out what they could do to improve by learning from it.

Screaming that it's their toybox and thus their rules is juvenile behavior. I expect more out of them, and mostly I get it.

Look, I'm sorry I brought it up. It isn't about football. And, at this point I'm getting defensive too.

So, if one will excuse a question that is at least tangentially about football, let me ask a question I've had for a long time.... Is it possible that good teams look bad when playing certain other teams, because those "bad" teams are actually better than we think?

I take as my evidence the last 2 games of the DEN and CIN seasons. In it's last 2 games CIN lost to DEN and PIT, games I would have expected them to win. Is it possible that instead of CIN not being "as good as" I thought before, that actually DEN and PIT were better than otherwise thought. Same thing for DENs loss to SF. Is it possible the SF is actually a better team than their record suggests (or at least better than their DVOA record suggests)? I am willing to listen to all evidence, DVOA, records, game watching perspectives--I have Tanier's comments about the DEN/SF OT, where he judged DEN poorly as a result, so I think I have the start of one point of view.

Is there hope that DEN is better than they might appear or have the Broncos turned into a early season team that fades before the playoffs?

If I need to ask this question in a different thread, please redirect me.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

SOW, you ignored the rest of my post that explained why I made the first statement. The problem is that your dismissive "if you don't like it, don't read it" ignores the fact that I like reading Audibles perfectly well.
What I don't like reading are the bullet-headed, small-minded "you guys are homers" posts and the "maybe you idiots can read bold better" responses that Audibles fairly regularly degenerates into.
The irony, of course, is that my trying to explain this to people who don't want to think about it just adds to the non-data and non-football discussion. So this is my last post, here.
I like Audibles, but I think most of the worthwhile content and funny jokes get used elsewhere, and I think the article is a lightning rod for people who "don't get it" to argue over. So in my opinion, killing Audibles loses little of value but avoids quite a bit of junk.
Is that clear enough?

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"What I don’t like reading are the bullet-headed, small-minded you guys are homers posts and the “maybe you idiots can read bold better� responses that Audibles fairly regularly degenerates into."

Jeff, you obviously didnt read audibles last week. Thats in there from a direct reader request. People REALLY need to stop whining about their team not being covered. We ASKED the FO crew to put it in bold this week.

On to real football talk:

Did anyone else that watched NE/Ten see what started all the cheapshots/etc? That game was about the dirtiest game I've seen in a while, from both sides.

Also, what the heck was that unneccessary roughness call on Troy Brown? It looked to me like after the play, the linebacker ran into him, and he fell down with the linebacker on top of him, and then got called for unneccesary roughness?

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

68: Thanks Kaveman. So, you think bend-but-don't-break was a major problem. I think the DVOA stats support that. DEN started the year with "incredible" unsustainable red-zone defensive stats, which they did not sustain through the year. It would also match some of the comments about the DEN/SEA game where the Broncos "let the Seahawks hang around until the seahwaks finally said, ok we'll win it" (not quoting precisely). Do you think a bend-but-don't-break defense depends too much on luck? I.e. if you are lucky, you will make those key plays you need to stop the other team (eventually, perhaps right near the goal line). However, if you aren't lucky, you've surrended a lot of yards in the process.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

#89: I'm certainly no expert, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

From what I've seen, Denver's defense this year was built completely around not giving up the big play. So they ran lots and lots of zones with the safeties deep (until the last couple of games in which Lynch was brought into the box more frequently, and that seemed to be because the D suddenly couldn't stop the run either). The idea seemed to be: we'll make you dink and dunk down the field... we bet we have the talent to force a mistake before you get to the end zone.

I really hope that Larry Coyer and gang weren't counting on luck! :-p

It worked for a while. It would still work, perhaps, if the Broncos had a dangerous and consistent pass rush. But if you give up 30-40 yards of field position per drive, you're making your (sputtering) offense work much harder, and when your special teams are unlikely to get a good return, and quite likely to allow one... that just doesn't sound like a good scheme.

A fascinating thing is... Tom Brady and the Pats are so good at the dink and dunk offense, that they should've been the first team to crack this scheme open, but that was one of the games in which Denver actually had a pass rush.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

And while I'm typing away, let me also shriek loudly about the Tatum Bell fumble... I guess you can force a fumble by grabbing the ball carrier by the facemask, throwing him to the ground, and then patting him on the head. That was such a BS call, it was sickening.

Then they compounded the error with the next BS call... in what universe was that an incomplete pass? Did they feel they couldn't overturn the fumble recovery because they'd so badly f***ed up the last call? Gah.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 87. I don't care why you wrote it. I support you writing it. I. Just. Disagree.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Oh dear. Lock. This. Thread.

This is turning into Atlanta fans/DVOA thread quite quickly. Nobody's listening.

Jeff Jewell, Chris Clark, my e-mail is sab0403 in gmail. I'd really like to talk to you guys (off this thread, for everybody's sanity) in regards to what you think about audibles. The request comes purely from curiosity - I want to better understand your point. If you want to, please send a mail.

re: 65 (MIA-IND)

I found it interesting. MIA shouldn't have had the chance to win that game, by the way they had played.

KC should (at least offensively) eat them alive. If LJ's legs don't vaporize.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: Lou in Cincy
According to DVOA

Playoff teams with below average defenses: Jets, Colts, Chiefs, New Orleans, Seattle

Playoff teams with below average offenses: Seattle

I find it fascinating that as bad as my perception of the Jets and Bears offenses, they are right around average.

The Giants, by DVOA, have the 12th best passing offense... led by the VAUNTED ELI MANNING. And seriously... what the heck happened to everyone's Carolina Panthers?

I mean, I guess it is a little exciting that Detroit can beat playoff bound Dallas... and fans can hold out hope that the Raiders would beat playoff bound Jets (crushed after halftime)... but watching the Jets-Raiders offenses, was it fun? And watching the Lions-Cowboys defenses, was it fun? I bet anyone watching the AFC game thought, "Oh please... can somebody put together a 15+ yard gain!?" and those watching the NFC game thought, "Why the heck can't they cover!?".

Just think of the Bengals, I bet there was something they did horrible all year long that had you screaming your head off. As a Redskin fan, I was aghast at the inability of Adam Archuleta to cover, and wondering why he was considered such a highly sought FA if he had such a fatal flaw...

So basically, in the AFC it comes down to Chargers, Ravens, Patriots. In the NFC it comes down to Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia...

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 79

LJ a bigger talent than Jamal Lewis??!!

Not when they came in the league. Lewis was faster and had much, much, much better cutting ability. His feet are just light years better.

LJ didn’t even play when he first came in the league. He is much more dependent on good blocking to be successful.

Respectfully have to disagree. Maybe my evaluation is clouded by years of frustration about Jamal Lewis's non-existent skills when it comes to pass receiving and blitz pickup. (Remember Chester Taylor?)

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 84

TomG, I know that feeling. My brother-in-law had to work and gave me his Ravens-Steelers ticket some weeks back. Still having an adrenaline rush.

Agree with your analysis. Can't remember a LB going to Cleveland, but I know the Phil Savage connection has been a thorn in the Ravens' side. CB Gary Baxter signed with Cleveland and has been injured ever since. Inside LB Ed Hartwell went to Atlanta and also has had major injury trouble.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 89, 90

As far as I understand, bend-don't-break is premised on a probabilistic argument and a psychological one.

The probabilistic argument is that by forcing the opposing offense to execute a larger number of short-yardage plays to sustain a drive, eventually the opposing offense will self-destruct and fail to execute a critical third down conversion. Should lead to more field goals and fewer touchdowns.

The psychological argument is that well-conditioned, brimming-with-testosterone athletes are by and large an impatient lot, and their attention span wears out in the course of sustaining a plodding, ball-control drive, eventually leading to mistakes. Of course, you have to counteract the exact same tendencies among your defense.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

One other thing about Denver, more like a question to their fans. Did the transplant-the-Cleveland-Browns-defensive line experiment finally break down, or was there some other explanation for the mid-to-late season swoon by your defense?

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

First off, I want to say that I am very much in favor of Audibles. As a product that advertises itself as a during the action commentary by this sites contributors on the games that they actually watch (and are clear about their reasons for watching) I think that its quite well done. As for everyone whineing that their team isn't watched, or that there's some negativity in the comments, well, then do something about it. Watch the games that you want to watch, keep a notebook of your thoughts during the game and then post your thoughts in the forum space here. If your thoughts are consistently insightful and understandable by the others, there's likely a chance that you could join the team for audibles in the future. Criticism of a product for deviating from what it advertises istelf to be is warranted, criticism for something that is by definition beyond that product's scope is useless and just soapboxing by someone that wants a cross to bear.

Now that that's off my chest, on to the rest:

Jamarcus Russel from LSU is as flaky as the Jacksonville Football team. One game, he will show up like John Elway and make magic happen. The next game, he'll turn into Aaron Brooks with lots of raw talent, but very poor decision making and generally questionable throws. My two prime examples from this season are The LSU-Auburn game, which Russel pretty much lost all on his own. And the LSU-Florida game that he was a major contributing factor to the loss. Yet, for those two games, there are at least four games where he was the key to victory, making fabulous passes and doing acurate and quick reads on the defense to easily exploit their holes. I feel that he needs at least one more season to bake in the NCAA. If he doesn't show more improvement next season, then leave him alone. If he does, than he's a good draft prospect since it shows that he is capable of improvement and developing consistency.

My take on the Saints-Carolina game:
While I missed the center third of this game, I can say that it left me feeling relatively good about the future of the team. Their second string managed to put several scores in against the carolina defensive starters. We've got a bit more depth at Receiver than I imagined and a good future prospect at running back as well. Martin is not a bad quarterback. He's not starter material, but, he can manage the offense and not loose you the game. However, I think that if he had to start a game, teams would concentrate more on stopping the run and make him make typical backup quarterback mistakes.

The second string defense is nothing to write home about. They were porouse and had problems in pass coverage. We definitely need at least one more competent corner, one more competent safety and one more decent linebacker in the offseason.

My thoughts on the Saints going into the playoffs. I really hope that the Saints don't have to face the Eagles in their divisional playoff game. The Eagles are much improved over what they were when we beat them earlier in the year. I think that the Saints can probably handle Seattle, especially as poorly as they closed out the season. However, Seattle has the elements for a potent running game, which is a weakness of the Saints defense. The cowboys, well, lets just say that I don't like their chances for a possible next meeting any more than their last meeting. The Saints should be able to beat them at home. I believe that the Giants will have to meet the bears if they win their game.

If they do manage to get through the divisionals, I definitely like their chances against the Bears. I think that the Saints defense is competent enough to keep Rex in check for passing and that the bears running isn't good enough to exploit the Saints weeknesses there. As for the Bears Defense, well, they haven't been playing as well lately, they won't be 100% healthy for that game (and will have been beaten on more in the previous week if we face them). The Saints offense has proven to be able to put up points on most anybody this year (though, the Ravens defense by far proved that there are weaknesses there). I think that the Saints will be able to score enough against the Bears to beat them.

If the Bears loose in the first round, then, the Saints would have to face either the Giants or either Philly/Seattle. Out of all the possibilities, I like New Orleans' chances against Philly the least. I believe that they can beat everyone else on the NFC side.

God forbid that the Saints make it to the Superbowl, which I'm not even holding out hope for, It's likely that they will get steamrolled by SD or get taken apart by the Ravens again like they did in their earlier meeting. The Saints could very well beat Indy if they manage to get there. I don't know enough about the Jets, but suspect that they are suceptible to the Saints Offense and that the Jets Offense isn't exactly awe inspiring. KC should rush well against the Saints and the D isn't bad. NE, well, they aren't the same team that they used to be, but, they are extremely well coached and memory tells me that coaching matters greatly in the playoffs.

My prediction? Saints loose their Divisional to Philly after the Eagles smoke Seattle in the wild card. The Eagles go on to defeat the Bears and loose to either the Ravens or SD in the Superbowl.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re:91 Agree on the weirdness of those two calls. The tatum Bell thing was a legit fumble (though also a facemask) and the refs blew it by not relaizing that during the play. Then a few plays later the ruling of 'incomplete' felt like a punt by the refs. I could see the receiver being down, or I could see it being a fumble recovered by the defense, and downed at hte point of recovery, but not sure how they got to incomplete. They also blew that call by letting the denver player get up and run around. Even before the replays it was clear that he had been touched by the 49er player. I just hope that crew doesn't do any of the post season games.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17


Keep the faith. I sure as hell am. It'll be tough without Dyson, but we can beat New England in Foxboro. We did it once.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

97: A bend-don't-break defense combined with an efficient, move the chains offense will make your defense look better than it really is, and your offense look worse than it really is. Combine this with a struggling QB and a popular rookie sitting on the bench, and suddenly the fan base is clammering for a change at QB. Then you bring in the rookie, he struggles like any rookie will. Now your offense isn't moving the chains, so the defense starts with bad field position, and starts giving up points.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Re: 96

Smashmouth: I think I blended Hartwell and Baxter together in my previous post. Two more data points for the proposition that the Ravens defenders don't do as well when they leave for other teams. "Jelly Roll" makes it 3 more data points.

Having read the new DVOA Rankings and Aaron's intro, I'm wondering whether any other team has gone into the playoffs with the "Super Bowl Trifecta", and if so, how did they do?

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17


Make sure you consider where those players are going.

Generally big name free agents that go to crappy teams dont do all that well in their new homes, and are quickly replaced on their old teams. Is it really surprising that someone didnt succeed in cleveland? Does anyone really succeed in cleveland?

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I find the argument about Audibles very interesting. I like the feature but I understand the critics. I think what at least one or two of them are trying to say is that they are put off by the FO guys' reaction to the criticism. It's one thing for a commenter to blast one of the critics, but it's quite another for Aaron or someone to harsh on critics.

Yeah, there are trolls and such in the comments section. But I think it is the duty of the FO guys to rise above that, to be professionals even in the face of criticism that they deem idiotic. Readers and posters take their lead from the tone set by the FO (paid or not) professionals.

"Hmmm, wait. Based on previous Audibles, this doesn’t seem to be getting through to people. Let’s try this again."

"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.

"Does that work for everybody?"

Actually, no, I find that kind of annoying and off-putting. I get the point, but I think it can be made in a better way.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17


As far as I can tell, the Titans are a dirty playing team this year. I only saw this one of their games, so I can't say first hand, but if you read post-game interviews with the Patriots players, several of them commented that they had heard and been warned by their coaches that the Titans play kind of dirty (we all know about the Haynesworth incident) in hopes of drawing the other team into losing their cool and getting personal fouls and committing mistakes. Part of Fisher's coaching strategy? If so, I have real qualms about him being on the competition committee.

I think what really started things going downhill was the Harrison injury. Whether or not the NFL ruled that Wade's block was legal or not, it was certainly borderline close to a crackback, and it was probably adding insult to injury coming right after the league ruled that the spearing incident on Brady the week before was legal, (a couple of weeks after Wilfork gets a personal foul for getting tripped over).

Anyway, Harrison's injury was what caused Bruschi and Vrabel and Seymour to lose it. They, and Brady and Belichick, have all said that they though the hit was dirty and illegal. The Herald has an unsubstantiated rumor that Belichick and the Patriots accussed the Titans of not only doing it on purpose with the intent to injure, but alos of mocking Harrison on the sideline after he was injured, and actually accused Fisher of being in on it. From the Herald:

On the other side, the Patriots believed Bobby Wade targeted safety Rodney Harrison with a dirty block. The Pats were further incensed when they spotted the receiver mocking their fallen teammate, who will likely miss at least one playoff game as a result.

“That (expletive) is over there laughing about it,� a fuming coach Bill Belichick said to the Boston Globe.

Jeff Fisher, himself the target of the Patriots’ ire because they believed the Titans coach winked and smiled toward the field right after Harrison went down, denied any wrongdoing.

Granted, the Herald is a sensationalistic rag, so I don't know how true this is, but if there's anything to that, it could explain why the game got so dirty.

From what I saw, the Titans kept feeding the fire with cheap shots, and so did the Patriots in response, and it started to spiral out of control. On Brown's personal foul, the Titan that he fell to the ground with grabbed him by the throat (which the refs didn't see) and he angrily batted the offending hand away, which the refs did see and threw the flag over. I think both sides were trying to goad the other into drawing fouls. Later, one of the Titans grabbed a Pats' special Teamer's face mask, and the Patriot shoved back. There the refs saw the first incident (the announcers mentioned it). But all around a dirty game.

I think the Titans' strategy was to come out playing dirty, knowing that the game meant more to them than to the Pats, in hopes that the Patriots would obligingly pull their starters to protect them from injury caused by a dirty team, and give them the easy win. I find that approach crass and unsportsmanlike, and it shredded any positive opinion I had had about Fisher, but that was what I saw. I think they were kind of annoyed that the Patriots didn't oblige and actually tried to win the game. The nerve! Add that to the bad blood between them over the Patriots knocking them out of the playoffs a few years ago, and you get a mess.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I'll start rooting for Indy next year to stomp on the Titans because I'm so annoyed at them and at Fisher right now.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

This probably makes me a jerk, but I laughed when I heard Rodney Harrisson got cheapshot (no I don't care if he'll miss a game). What goes around comes around, you prick.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Some people don't like (fill in the blank) and don't want it on the site. Well, that's the beauty of a website - you can click on the articles you like and skip the ones you don't, without having to resort to steps like tearing pages out of magazines (yes, I've done that before with SI).

If people keep posting the same complaints, over and over again, and ignore the Outsiders' explanations, then yeah, I can understand why they react so.

Nice comment by Doug about the time limit. I think they adjusted the rule to apply the 60-second limit to the time under the hood, so I can only assume that Boger ran out of quarters and had to borrow some from a fellow official. The NCAA replay rule is considerably worse, but the one thing they do seem to do well (at times) is get the review done quickly. The two I saw in (I think) the Orange Bowl took a couple of minutes at most.

I'd comment further, but I clawed my eyes out after Kitna's first-play interception and couldn't repair the damage after the penalty reversed the play - it's too hard to scroll back and have the text reader repeat the whole page again. Hopefully my robo-eyes will be operational by next week.