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!