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

Audibles at the Line: Week 2

compiled by Doug Farrar

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2008. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

Buffalo Bills 3 at Pittsburgh Steelers 26

Stuart Fraser: First thought: These Steelers throwbacks are hideous, or possibly worse than that. 75th anniversary or not, can we please stick to the 1970s unis if you want to go throwback?

I wonder if TMQ will mention that the Bills just went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Steelers' 45-yard line or so. Losman threw incomplete. Roethlisberger then threw a 2006 special to Holmes and was intercepted, so the net result is that the Bills continue their drive, but lose 30 yards of field position. Note to teams playing the Steelers: Twice after a turnover now, the Steelers have gone deep to Santonio Holmes.

Buffalo's pass rush seems to have gone to sleep. Roethlisberger had to throw away several passes on the Steelers' first drive; this drive, he has forever. What the Bills are doing is preventing the Steelers from striking deep (Roethlisberger has about six yards per attempt, which is kinda low for him), but I don't know if this is that great a plan; it's looking rather a lot like Super Bowl XLI with Pittsburgh in Indy's role at the moment.

Bill Barnwell: Just switched to this game for the first time. Why are giant bumblebees playing the Bills?

Stuart Fraser: The Bills need to figure out an answer to Pittsburgh's outside running plays. Hines Ward is better at run blocking than the Buffalo cornerbacks are at run support, and the result is that if the Steelers can seal the line, Parker goes for 10 or more.

Pittsburgh's defense may well be for real. Of course, Buffalo's offense was nothing special last week, either. Speaking of which, Buffalo does not care for your DVOA. They've had an eight-yard gain on third-and-15 and a 15-yard gain on third-and-17 ...

Bill Moore: If you have Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed on your fantasy team, you are stylin'. Four field goals in the first half.

Stuart Fraser: At some point I am sure Roethlisberger will not underthrow his receiver, or telegraph the pass to Hines Ward, but Jabari Greer can cover a pass. Two passes defensed against Hines Ward in a row there -- diving tip and a jumped route. Maybe the Steelers will actually come up with a running play in the red zone at some point. It does look somewhat Martz-ian in the red zone at the moment (I can forgive that for a two-minute offense).

First half time of possession: Pittsburgh 21:35, Buffalo 8:25. If the Steelers had a red zone offense, this would be looking like the Cleveland game.

Lynch goes for eight yards on a first-and-10 play with 10 seconds left in the half. Buffalo's definitely racking up the yardage in chunks of total irrelevance.

Addendum: CBS has just reported James Harrison went down on the last play of the half, and they showed him stretchered off. This is big, because Harrison has been great in one-and-a-half games so far and his backup is probably LaMarr Woodley, who the Steelers like but is still a second-round defensive end conversion project. CBS haven't said what's wrong with him, but how often does a player get stretchered off and come back?

Vince Verhei: Something called "Spaeth" just scored for Pittsburgh.

Ben Riley: That'd be Matt Spaeth, who I was hoping to fall to the Seahawks in the second round of the draft. Though the Marcus Pollard Experience has been more exciting than I would have thought.

Stuart Fraser: Spaeth now has three career catches -- two touchdowns and a first down. His VOA must be pretty good right now.

He was a third round pick for the Steelers, so he did fall to the Seahawks in round two ... and beyond them. It was considered kind of a weird pick at the time as people thought the Steelers would grab an O-lineman. Seems to be working so far.

Mike Tanier: That's Spaeth's second touchdown this year. He is the rookie from Minnesota. The Steelers run a ton of two-tight end sets. Spaeth is good.

Stuart Fraser: In other news, the Steelers haven't punted yet. Despite this, they've scored just 19 points. This may be something of a record. Buffalo's offense is doing a little better on this drive, faster release from Losman is helping ... and as I say that he hangs on too long, is sacked, fumbles (OK, that might theoretically count as a pass ...). Bills recover but it was fourth down, so nothing doing.

Ben Riley: When I said, "I wanted Matt Spaeth to fall to the Seahawks," I meant, "I blacked out the Seahawks' draft after they picked another small cornerback with our second-round pick."

Doug Farrar: As I told Aaron when he was recently in Seattle, I'm convinced that it's Tim Ruskell's goal to create, and win with, a miniature team. At first, I thought it was more about value over size, but now I'm not sure WHAT to think.

Stuart Fraser: Aaand ... here comes Charlie Batch. Right, when do the Steelers actually play a competent offense, so we can see what this defense does against one? No, Cleveland does not count, despite the shootout going on in Ohio at the moment. *reads schedule* Ah. We could be waiting a while. Cincinnati in Week 8, probably ...

Mike Tanier: As far as I can tell, after watching several offensive series for the Bills, opponents are just doubling Lee Evans with a safety deep, rushing Losman from the edge, and asking the Bills what else they have. The Bills will win some games if Marshawn. Peerless, Roscoe or someone else steps up as the legit No. 2 target. Until then, Losman will drop back, look deep, shrug his shoulders and wish he was in some warmer city.

Lynch, by the way, didn't impress me in preseason but looked pretty good in this game. One problem I did see what lots of drives where Lynch gained 6 or 7 yards on first down and the Bills couldn't keep the chains moving,

Doug Farrar: Paul Posluszny with 12 tackles in this game, tying Antonio Pierce for the lead in the early games. Judging from the numbers, the DROY watch continues.

Stuart Fraser: Poz was doing a lot of cleaning up after other players, though -- there were a lot of missed tackles on Parker, and I don't know how much credit you can give any player on a Buffalo defense that didn't force a punt until well into the fourth quarter. Which isn't to say he didn't play well, just that he's got a lot to learn, especially about shedding blockers -- on one of the Steeler touchdowns he got knocked backwards easily by (I think) Faneca, and Parker rolled into the end zone untouched through where Poz was supposed to have been.

That said, both of these teams picked linebackers in the first round and only one was making significant contributions on the field. Timmons may have been about potential, but Posluszny is contributing now.

Willie Parker, by the way, has 50 carries on the first two weeks, which puts him on pace for 400. Something to keep an eye on.

Houston Texans 34 at Carolina Panthers 21

Ben Riley: Jake Delhomme just forced a throw to a blanketed Steve Smith, which bounced straight up off the cornerback's back and into Smith's loving arms. I'm waiting for Smith to change the diaper on the ball.

Vince Verhei: Andre Johnson just ran a pretty slant-stop-and-go for a game-tying touchdown. That's two scores apiece for Johnson and Steve Smith, and there are still seven minutes to go until halftime.

That Houston defense we expected to be great in 2009 may have arrived early. Their front four is slicing through the Panthers' blockers, and it's not just Amobi Okoye and Mario Williams; I saw Anthony Weaver putting pressure on Delhomme too.

Bill Moore: The Texans have now scored the most points in their history.

Steve Smith has had some crazy touchdowns today. He just somehow skirted out of a gang tackle to break a 74-yard score.

New Orleans Saints 14 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31

Russell Levine: Joey Galloway is the bionic man. Dude is almost 36 years old, with two rebuilt knees, and he still might be the fastest straight-line runner in the NFL. He just caught a little 10-yard slant a half-step clear of the defender and ended up jogging to the end zone on a 69-yard touchdown. OK, so the victim was Jason David.

Michael Clayton may have barely made the team this year, but he threw a huge block on the Galloway TD. At least he does that well.

Barrett Ruud has caused three fumbles in the first half. He looks like a player. I think the decision to let Shelton Quarles go was a wise one. Ruud just ran down Reggie Bush trying to get outside. Speaking of, Bush seems to have reverted to bad habits, bouncing everything to the outside. He really needs to re-learn that a three-yard gain is not a bad thing, something he seemed to have figured out over the second half of last season.

Bill Barnwell: Galloway OWNS the Saints.

Ryan Wilson: I'm just watching the halftime highlights, but man, the Saints' 2007 defense looks like the Saints 2006 defense ... without the offense. Was last season just a blip, or is the slow start due to something else?

Bill Moore: New Orleans' loss to Indy is starting to look a little less fluky. They are getting killed by Tampa Bay -- and Joey Galloway. Galloway has 94 yards on three receptions. Cadillac Williams scored his first rushing touchdown in 1,745 carries (or seemingly that many), which, prior to today, was second worst in the league. Brees is seven of 14 for 56 yards and two sacks. The Saints have fumbled twice.

Vince Verhei: Last week, Seattle beat up Jeff Garcia like a side of beef. This week the Saints can't get within eyesight of him. They can't cover his receivers, either. Besides that, everything's great.

Brees has also been horrible, underthrowing wide-open guys in the flat with no pressure.

Will Carroll: Does it look like he's lost some arm strength? This seems counterintuitive, but let's assume he didn't work out this off-season like he had when he was rehabbing ...

Vince Verhei: I don't know if it was arm strength, it just looked either a complete lack of accuracy, or a complete lack of communication with his receivers, but a lot of his passes missed receivers by five yards.

The last three teams to beat New Orleans -- Tampa Bay and Indianapolis this year, and Chicago in last year's NFC Championship game -- all run variations of the Tampa-2. There may be something about that defense that confuses the team. Or it may just be coincidence.

(This game will be covered further in Any Given Sunday.)

Atlanta Falcons 7 at Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Vince Verhei: The Jaguars started a drive deep in their own territory. They converted a second-and-15 and a second-and-14 on the drive, because Atlanta was rushing four and couldn't get pressure. The Jags eventually kicked a field goal on the drive.

Ben Riley: Rashean Mathis will take risks, and sometimes they pay off. He blanketed Joe Horn on a 15-yard out, but decided to play the interception instead of knocking the ball away. He missed, Horn caught the ball, first down. So ... sometimes it doesn't pay off.

Vince Verhei: DeAngelo Hall is giving up nine inches to Matt Jones, but is doing a good job against him. Jags go for it on fourth-and-6 and throw it to Maurice Jones-Drew, but John Abraham is with him step-for-step and breaks it up.

Ben Riley: Who is the Atlanta kicker? Seriously, I have no idea who "Prater" is -- and I play a lot of fantasy football. Two things I do know: He just shanked a short field goal in a close game, and a kicker with small arms and arm tattoos looks silly.

John Henderson and Marcus Stroud still look dominant up front. But the loss of Grant and Darius in the secondary, plus Rashean Mathis and his gamblin' lovin' heart, is resulting in some big gains in the passing game. On the other side of the ball, Maurice Jones-Drew isn't getting the ball. At all. Fred Taylor doesn't look bad, but he's really a clock-controlling running back, which only works when you have the lead.

Bill Moore: Jacksonville is throwing away from DeAngelo Hall, and often against former Texans/Browns defensive back Lewis Sanders. However, Garrard is not throwing only at the corner. Nine different receivers have catches.

Benjy Rose: The Falcons let this one get away. Despite the seven sacks, their O-line held up really well. I'm surprised the Falcons didn't run more -- or at least run more draws. They should have won this game. Matt Prater (undrafted rookie signed the last day of camp, and given the starting job the day before the season started) honked two attempts, but that shouldn't have mattered -- they had too many good drives that stalled out. Harrington looked great when he wasn't under pressure, which wasn't as often as I would have expected.

Vince Verhei: Joey Harrington on Atlanta's side of the field: Nine-for-14 for 172 yards, three sacks.

Joey Harrington on Jacksonville's side of the field: Three-for-six for 28 yards, four sacks.

Cincinnati Bengals 45 at Cleveland Browns 51

Ben Riley: Derek Anderson rolled to his right, saw a wide-open Joe Jurevicius in the end zone, and decided to sail the ball 10 yards over his head, toward an attractive woman sitting in the front row of the end zone. The over/under on Brady Quinn's first appearance in the NFL just moved to "the third quarter."

Bill Moore:And that was after fumbling the ball on the same play! Anderson is now (end of one quarter) three-for-11, I think. Two of those were sure interceptions.

Bill Barnwell: Ben -- you sure that wasn't Brady Quinn that Anderson was throwing at?

Bill Moore: Since my last message, when Anderson was three-for-11, he has been on fire - something like seven-for-nine with three touchdown passes. Not all the passes have been brilliant -- Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards have made some nice plays.

Vince Verhei: Derek Anderson just threw his third touchdown in the first half. Prepare to meet thy doom. The end of the world is nigh.

Chad Johnson just scored and jumped into the Dawg Pound. I think he's my favorite NFL player.

Michael David Smith: OK, seriously, the Browns' offense is insane. Jamal Lewis has about as many yards today as I thought he'd have all season.

Vince Verhei: At the start of the fourth quarter, Carson Palmer has more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four).

Benjy Rose: Holy crap, what a catch by Chad Johnson. Over the middle, 30 yards downfield, in between two Browns defenders ...

... followed by an even more amazing diving catch by Leigh Bodden. Good night.

Stuart Fraser: It seemed to me (in the whole nine minutes I watched) that Palmer was once again forcing throws and overthrowing receivers a significant amount of the time, including on the Bodden pick. Obviously it's a bit unfair to pick on him when the Bengals scored 44, but he was doing the same against the Ravens.

Sean McCormick: Stuart, I thought the same thing. The ball is continuing to sail on Palmer a bit. Obviously, it's not showing up in his stats, but he doesn't look physically comfortable when he sets and releases.

David Lewin: Carson Palmer's in a really tough spot here, having to drive about 90 yards with a minute to go. Browns are covering the sidelines pretty tightly. This might be a good time for my favorite crazy idea: Throw a 20-yard crossing route to a wide-open guy in the middle of the field and then have him throw it straight out of bounds to stop the clock. Kind of risky, and of course it has to be a lateral, but I think it could be useful in the right situation ... and the drive ends a pick. Valiant effort by Palmer today, but the Bengals just couldn't get a stop.

Pretty strange call by the Bengals not to challenge on the Edwards catch and first down here late in the fourth trailing by six. They can't challenge the fumble because forward progress was called, but he was definitely short of the first down if the ball was spotted correctly, and you can challenge that.

I've always thought Derek Anderson could be a Kerry Collins-type player; he's got a great size, a big arm and had a pretty nice career at Oregon State.

Doug Farrar: There's obviously some kind of offensive curse connected with Charlie Frye. He gets traded from the Browns to the Seahawks last week, and the Browns practically equal their 2006 point total, while the Seahawks barf all over themselves offensively in the first half of their loss to the Cardinals. Scary!

San Francisco 49ers 17 at St. Louis Rams 16

Ben Riley: The Rams ran an end-around from second-and-goal at the 8-yard line, which was stuffed for a loss. Old habits die hard for Scott Linehan. Torry Holt scored on the next play, saving Linehan from himself.

Little indicators of good coaching: Niners gain 17 yards on third-and-18 at midfield. The team goes into hurry-up and lines up to snap it on fourth-and-1, Rams are forced to call the timeout. If the suit makes Mike Nolan smarter, why doesn't it work for Jack Del Rio?

Bill Moore: Jeff Wilkins just missed what would have been a game-winning 56-yarder. Came up just short.

Mike Tanier: Patrick Willis is everywhere. He just flies around the field. He makes a lot of plays, but he also had a lot of near-sacks, near-tackles, near-interceptions that will be big plays in a month or so when he gets his legs under him. Brian Leonard caught a screen, the blocks formed, and this body flew in, blew up a blocker, and reached out to almost tackle Leonard. Sure enough, it was Willis, who already dropped an interception in the end zone and wrapped up Bulger a split-second after a pass. He's a Pro Bowler in 2008.

The Niners are creative on defense with all manner of corner blitzes and 3-4, twisty-stunty defenses. On offense, they are Frank Gore handoffs, a few rollouts and a lot of blah. Granted, when Gore is in full swing, he doesn't need much creativity around him, but there seems to be an "excitement gap" between the two units.

My new favorite special teamer is Marcus Hudson of the Niners, who recovered a fumble late, but more importantly, hemmed in a return man early in the game. Dante Hall pushed every button on the game controller, cutting and juking, and Hudson just stayed in position in front of him and waited. Great stuff.

Ned Macey: Is there a worse 2-0 team than San Francisco? Oh wait, the Lions-Vikings game isn't over yet. What an ugly game. One score by each team after the other team muffs a punt. Dante Hall was generally awful for St. Louis.

Isaac Bruce ABUSED Walt Harris throughout the game. Harris, of course, is only two years younger than Bruce and certainly made the Reverend look quick again.

The over/under on Bulger's major injury is Week 6. He is getting pummeled, and with teams gearing up for Jackson, he's forced to throw a bunch of passes. He got up looking hurt a half-dozen times.

Mike Tanier: Let me just concur on the Ike Bruce point. A couple of times, though, Walt Harris had pretty good position. But Bulger-to-Bruce is a great combination, and Bulger just put the ball right where Bruce could go over Harris to make a play. Fun to watch.

Ned Macey: Frank Gore had a crappy game. He had one great run but the rest was garbage. Not really his fault, but the holes were not there, and he didn't make any other amazing individual plays. If you struggle running on the Rams ...

Finally, maybe not Keep Choppin' Wood material, but the Rams butchered the end of game. With more than a minute left, they waste a down with a spike across midfield. Take the extra five seconds to call a play. Then after another sack, they complete to a fourth-and-2 at the 38. We have, I believe 50 seconds remaining. Timeout taken by San Francisco. Rather than go for it at that point, they try and make Wilkins hit a 56-yarder. Those odds couldn't have been higher than the odds of converting and moving it down for a closer field goal.

Green Bay Packers 35 at New York Giants 13

Bill Barnwell: I cannot express my disappointment that Eli Manning's starting over Jared Lorenzen today without using many vulgarities, some of which have not even been invented yet.

Plaxico Burress nails A.J. Hawk at the end of a play with a Sapp Special. Brady Poppinga takes umbrage and pushes Burress down. Well, sorta. Burress gets a 6.5 from the Russian judge and I christen him ... Burressinho.

Both teams trade missed field goals to start after driving deep into opposition territory. The Giants use Derrick Ward and some good run-blocking against the Packers defensive line, taking advantage of the Packers' ends propensity to pass-rush and running through the holes they've created. The Packers, meanwhile, are using Donald Lee (poor, poor Kiwanuka. Kavika Mitchell has less of an excuse) and rushing inside the tackles to move the ball.

On the other hand, the Giants offensive line doesn't look good in pass protection -- the only real pass plays that have allowed Manning the time to throw are screens and smoke plays; anytime he drops back, there's pressure. On one play, David Diehl got pushed straight back into Manning (on a seven-step drop!) and Manning was still able to complete the pass.

Gibril Wilson gets called for roughing the punter, giving the Packers a first down inside the Giants 30, and then Favre throws a duck to Driver that gets tipped by Aaron Ross, hits off Driver's shoulder pads and gets picked by ... Gibril Wilson.

The Packers comically screw up a protection when they run DeShawn Wynn behind left tackle and the whole left side of the line thinks it's a screen and lets the right side of the Giants line through. Oops.

Next play? James Jones runs a go RIGHT past Corey Webster and Favre throws a perfect lob off his back foot for 46 yards. Webster later bails on a leg tackle and the Packers pick up 15 yards on a screen, and Wynn scores two plays later on a draw.

Giants score on two plays. Toomer running an out where Charles Woodson slips, then Toomer runs him over en route to about 45 yards, and then Burress runs a slant (right over Shockey's slant, which makes me think someone ran the wrong route) and outruns Al Harris for the touchdown. Eli Manning looks good.

Ben Riley: Bizarre officiating (though not necessarily wrong). Green Bay jumps offside, Manning throws for a 15-yard gain to Shockey -- who, like the overexuberant child he is, punches the ball into the ground, resulting in another penalty. The offside and spiking penalties "offset," resulting in a replayed down. Weird.

Bill Barnwell: OK, so the Packers jump offside as Manning snaps the ball, so it's a free play. He hits Shockey for 15 over the middle. Shockey spikes the ball after he gets tackled. That's a penalty. Somehow, the penalties offset and they replay the down? That seems odd.

Giants' offense looks good, too, against a real secondary this week. Manning looks much improved over the previous model, all the way down to not making his patented back foot lob.

Well, until I typed that. He throws a back-foot lob while on the run to Shockey, who's wide-open when Manning throws it, but not so much by the time it gets there. Shockey bobbles it and no one picks it off. Lawrence Tynes hits a field goal on the next play, and the difference between the two teams has been that Gibril Wilson was there to catch Driver's bobble (which was inside the 10), while no one was there to catch Shockey's.

What do the Giants linebackers do well? They can't cover guys man to man. They have no awareness within their zones. They overpursue regularly. In this game, they've been abysmal tacklers, with fullbacks and third-string running backs and tight ends sneaking out of tackles with simple ducks.

Kiwanuka is so out of sorts. Packers have second-and-goal from the seven, and the Giants blitz seven. Kiwanuka comes off the left side untouched, has a direct path to Favre and then ... just stops two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Favre throws towards Ruvell Martin, who gets his feet tangled up with Madison and gets called for pass interference. The Packers score two plays later. Kiwanuka is infuriating.

Fourth quarter: Antonio Pierce gets a pass defensed. I cheer from my living room.

Eli Manning ran outside the pocket and tried to throw the ball away by shoveling it to the ground. Unfortunately, a Packers defensive lineman caught it. A few plays later, DeShawn Wynn juked out about two-thirds of the Giants team on the way to a touchdown. Let's go, Jake Long!

Poor Jared Lorenzen got in and then sprained his ankle after two plays and had to come out.

Indianapolis Colts 22 at Tennessee Titans 20

Ben Riley: Dan Dierdorf says, "Bob Sanders is controlled ... recklessness." And Dierdorf is incoherent ... nonsense.

Michael David Smith: The Colts just aren't getting enough pressure on Vince Young. He had a big run to pick up a first down and has had all day to pass.

Ben Riley: I know it's only the second week -- National Still Too Early to Jump to Conclusions Week, But Certain Trends May Be Emerging Week -- but the Titans line looks awesome. They manhandled Jacksonville, and they are manhandling the Colts.

Michael David Smith: I'm a big Vince Young fan, but he has just got to grow up. He just got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that turned a third-and-3 into a third-and-18.

Will Carroll: This just in: Peyton Manning is really accurate.

What's that offense where the QB is really more running back ... Wing T? Notre Dame Box? Would Jeff Fisher consider that?

Michael David Smith: Single Wing is what you're thinking of.

David Lewin: I hope this game dispels Vince Young's "He just wins games" reputation. He's a great runner and an OK passer, but last year he was more lucky than good. Peyton Manning on the other hand ... that guy's just plain good.

Mike Tanier: I watched the whole game but have so little to comment on because everything just seemed to be chalk. I mean, I expected the Titans to lose but cover. I expected the Colts to look a little flat but win. The Titans could use a better receiver, though Roydell played well. No surprise there. And as usual, Adam Vinatieri needed to be hypnotized and told it was the fourth quarter of a tied Super Bowl game so he would play well.

Ned Macey: I agree with Tanier that this game was mostly chalk. The Colts were better but not great, but the Titans tighten in the red zone to keep it close. Of note, Nick Harper held up a lot better than Jason David, but in David's defense, Harper almost always had a safety deep. Opposing defenses that don't have great corners should mimic the Tennessee game plan against the Colts every time.

This week in particular, the Titans seemed to be a little feisty. They were pummeling receivers who went to the ground. Not sure what the rule on that is. Courtland Finnegan in particular was taking some shots. Kyle Vanden Bosch was yelling a lot, but he wasn't making many plays.

By the end of the game, the Colts, who never blitz, were blitzing Young on every play. Add a B+ receiver to the Titans, and I'd be worried about them in the AFC South. For now, the team just lacks firepower.

Minnesota Vikings 17 at Detroit Lions 20 (OT)

Vince Verhei: On third-and-1, Tarvaris Jackson rolls right, then throws back across his body, into traffic, one yard past the line of scrimmage. The pass is tipped and intercepted. That play sucked in design, timing and execution.

David Lewin: Detroit is throwing every down in the early going here and Kitna is looking great ... until they get into the red zone. Without the ability to threaten the field vertically, as is the case in the red zone, there's not much room to work. This is especially true when the linebackers are dropping deep because they don't have to respect the run.

Vince Verhei: To his credit, Jackson just made an accurate throw to a wide-open receiver on second down, only to see the receiver drop the pass. Then on third down, Jackson made a great throw under pressure to pick up the first. Jackson would end the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

Will Carroll: Kitna concussion. Looks like he's out. At least the Lions aren't giving him the ammonia-sniffer and a pat on the butt.

Vince Verhei: Another interception for Tarvaris, this time a deep lob into double coverage that's an easy pop fly for the outfielder -- er, safety. I think that's his third pick today.

Vikings force a fumble and return it for a score. Kevin Williams knifed through the line and busted up a handoff. For all of Jackson's mistakes, they're still tied here in the third quarter. Lions drive down and threaten to score, but J.T. O'Sullivan throws a red zone pick to Dwight Smith.

Another pop fly pick for Tarvaris. You have to see these to understand how bad they are. Defensive backs are catching these with no receiver within five yards.

Jon Kitna is back in for Detroit. Seriously. He's got the team driving, but Roy Williams just fumbled the ball back to the Vikings.

Michael David Smith: And Kitna, playing with a concussion, runs and doesn't slide, ending up with Kevin Williams drilling him.

Russell Levine: I'm sure he's completely recovered from his concussion. The concussion policy is a joke.

Will Carroll: It's official. No one is listening about concussions.

Vince Verhei: I came home trying to figure out how Minnesota stayed in this game despite five turnovers from their quarterbacks (including a Brooks Bollinger fumble). Turns out, the Lions quarterbacks had four turnovers of their own, most of which escaped my attention. This is what happens when you're trying to watch six games at once in a crowded sports bar.

Regardless, this game was the exact opposite of Cleveland-Cincinnati.

Seattle Seahawks 20 at Arizona Cardinals 23

Doug Farrar: Anatomy of a Bad Drive: Seattle starts strong with three straight short passes. Then, Chris Gray and Mack Strong get nailed for false starts on consecutive plays. Then, Mike Holmgren calls running plays to Shaun Alexander on first-and-20 and second-and-18. Matt Hasselbeck can't find anyone open in a deep zone on third-and-15 (gosh, what a surprise) and runs for six yards.

Punt. Blech.

The Seahawks' defense looked good at the line on Arizona's first drive. They'd bring several players up, but half of those players would peel back into coverage at the snap, leaving Leinart with different looks. Either Jim Mora's creativity is rubbing off, or Seattle's coaching staff has been watching some old Clancy Pendergast game tape.

Adrian Wilson is absolutely controlling the tempo on Seattle's second drive -- it's as if he's got Video Matt Hasselbeck on a joystick. Made Hasselbeck change the play on second down -- incomplete to Deion Branch. A little floober to Leonard Weaver on third-and-12 as Arizona goes vanilla.

Punt again. Blech again.

Seattle's offensive line is getting dominated. Blocked punt and an easy field goal for the Cardinals. Once again, Seattle's defense is far outplaying his offense. Holmgren must be wondering what wormhole he's crawled through.

Hey, here's an idea: When Adrian Wilson is covering your 35-year-old tight end, go somewhere else with the ball.

You can see why Pendergast was pretty much the only coach under Dennis Green that Whisenhunt kept on staff (I think they kept an assistant secondary coach as well). This is a clinic in how to confuse a quarterback.

Great play by Lofa Tatupu at the start of the second quarter, sniffing out a draw to James. Then, old USC teammates Tatupu and Deuce Lutui share some good-natured smack. Good times. Of course, on the next play, Leinart play-fakes the entire Seahawks defense out of their collective shorts, leaving Leonard Pope as wide-open for a touchdown as it is possible to be.

What was that Ben and I were saying about short corners? With 11 minutes left in the second quarter, Leinart throws up a jump ball deep, Kelly Jennings covers Larry Fitzgerald as well as he can, but when your cornerback is literally a head shorter, that doesn't work.

Stuart Fraser: For what it's worth, I don't think Matt Spaeth would be able to cover Larry Fitzgerald.

Doug Farrar: Equally distressing is the fact that Seattle's defense is starting to lose the ability to pressure as the focus has to turned to Arizona's passing game.

On Arizona's subsequent punt, safety Oliver Celestin downs the ball at Seattle's one-yard line. Celestin, of course, used to be a Seahawk.

Wonderful move by Nate Burleson near the end of the first half, picking up a high pass from Hasselbeck and fighting off Eric Green for the touchdown.

Hey, a Brian Russell sighting! One of Seattle's two free-agent starting safeties, he had been most notable for missed tackles so far in his Seattle tenure, until a nice safety blitz unnerved Leinart early in the third quarter. Leinart completes a pass for another first down on the next play, though. For a second-year quarterback, he's showing impressive ability to throw off not only last week's pathetic performance, but early pressure.

Lofa Tatupu's third-quarter pick of Leinart underscores the most underrated aspect of his game: Tatupu can cover very well for a middle linebacker built like a brick outhouse. He's as fast as he needs to be and very adept at reading where a quarterback will go. This allows Seattle to put Tampa-2 looks out there when they need to.

Ben Riley: Seattle's special teams seem to have taken a step back from last year's improvement. To wit: a blocked punt (they didn't give up any last year), and returns regularly brought out to the 30 or worse.

Matt Leinart played poorly last week, but they seemed like first-week jitters. This week, Seattle's getting decent pressure -- though Kevin Bentley is no Leroy Hill -- but Leinart's finding the open receiver in the flat to convert on third downs. Edge James continues his pesky habit of falling forward for important four- to five-yard gains.

Ned Macey: Color me unimpressed with Matt Leinart. He was getting numbers early, but he looks a little shaky in the pocket, and he lacks arm strength. I feel that his passes often look a half-second late, whether that is late recognition or the lack of a fastball or both is still unclear to me.

Mike Tanier: Leinart lacks arm strength? I didn't see this game but he always seemed to have plenty of arm to me.

Doug Farrar: He had good arm strength when he didn't have a defender in his face. The Seahawks got decent pressure, but sacks were hard to come by. That says something about Leinart.

Hasselbeck and Holmgren may have been hot about that third-quarter intentional grounding call -- and maybe Burleson was coming back for the ball in the general vicinity -- but when your offensive line displays little to no pass protection, you're not going to get those calls. It's a bit like a batter with no concept of the strike zone. The close ones won't be in your neighborhood.

And now, Terry Donahue is giving Mike Holmgren coaching advice from the broadcast booth, which is the only place that Terry Donahue should be doing anything having to do with professional football. And we're not so sure about the broadcast booth, either.

Left guard Rob Sims had a great pull on the Alexander touchdown run. The second-year man from Ohio State sealed off the edge and made it happen as Walter Jones occupied his man. Brought Steve Hutchinson to mind.

Ben Riley: Well, it took 45 minutes and some promises from my girlfriend that aren't suitable for a PG-13 rated website, but I decided not to jump after the Seahawks managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Mike Tanier: I for one will be really disappointed if we hear from Ben for the rest of the night.

Ben Riley: Where to start? Holmgren managed to mismanage the clock again, but ... the Seahawks losing on a botched handoff between Hasselbeck and Alexander? How many times has #8 handed to #37? Two-thousand? Early explanation is that it was a run to Shaun, but he thought he heard Hasselbeck call an audible, then decide to pass block when he saw Gerald Hayes charging. Put another way, Alexander blew it. Tough loss for the Hawks.

The real hero for the game may have been Lyle Sendlein, a rookie who was called into action to play center and did so admirably. The Cardinals line opened up holes in the running game and, though Seattle did get some pressure, Leinart didn't get hit that often. This Russ Grimm, offensive line coach thing might work out for the Cardinals.

The NFC West is what everyone thought it was: A bunch of mediocre teams that will all end up +/- 1 game from 8-8. Well, except for the Rams.

Doug Farrar: I'm calling it: The "Keep Choppin' Wood" winner for Week Two is Mike Holmgren, whose refusal to call one of his two remaining timeouts as the Cardinals moved down the field with the score tied at 20 left his team with one second left to answer Neil Rackers' late field goal. Even if you have no faith in your offense's ability to get back downfield for your kicker, who won four games for you in 2006, the least you could do is try and ice THEIR kicker.

Timeouts aren't like cell phone minutes, Mike. They don't roll over to Week 3.

Russell Levine: I believe that's one from the Lloyd Carr School, circa 2005 Rose Bowl vs. Texas.

New York Jets 13 at Baltimore Ravens 20

Sean McCormick: Not a good start for Kellen Clemens. On second down he finds Jerricho Cotchery matched up on a linebacker but badly overthrows him, and on third down he tries to go to the corner with Laveranues Coles, but Coles gets knocked down and Ed Reed glides over to make the pick.

Bill Barnwell: Coles' play looked like pass interference. McNair, Pennington and Ogden are all out.

Sean McCormick: I've discovered that Darrelle Revis facing the wrong way is still better than David Barrett facing the right way.

The Jets have become very adept at catching the defense making substitutions. They consistently go to the quick snap to draw the penalty. They did it twice last week, and they caught Baltimore substituting just now.

Corey Ivy just pulled a "Kiwanuka." He had Kellen Clemens in his grasp and inexplicably pulled up, allowing Clemens to scramble away ... and make a terrible throw that was nearly intercepted.

Bill Moore: Wait. Randy Cross just said, "No huddle, nothing against it, teams like to do it, but you have to give the defense opportunity to substitute." Huh?

Sean McCormick: It didn't make any difference on that series, but Clemens looks like he's settling in a little. During the first few offensive series, he was bouncing on the balls of his feet and looking to pull the ball down almost as soon as he completed his drop. Now he's setting his feet and not looking at the rush. That's either going to result in his becoming more effective or in his getting killed.

I'm not sure why the Ravens aren't just lining up and firing off the ball on every snap. The Jets are weak at the point of attack, and by running straight ahead it would keep Baltimore's young line from getting confused by the defensive motion. True, McGahee hasn't broken anything on the inside yet, but this game plan is keeping the Jets defense competitive.

Ravens have third-and-1 from the Jets 6 with 24 seconds left, and McGahee gets the first down. Does he run back to the line so they can snap the ball? Nope. He stops and makes the "first down" signal before he runs back. Could've cost them a couple seconds.

Stuart Fraser: A four-play series for you here. First down: Jones stuffed, Ngata bull-rushes Ferguson several yards backwards and blows the play up. Second down: Landry blitzes, isn't picked up, and sacks Clemens. Third down: The Ravens blitz a safety from the other side, who isn't picked up (not enough blockers) and sacks Clemens. Fourth down: Ed Reed returns the resulting punt for about 40. The return is called back for a block in the back, admittedly, but the futility of the Jets' efforts is still fairly apparent.

Clock Management 101: Jets TD to make it 13-20. Mangini correctly kicks onside. Jets almost recover but Brad Smith misses the ball. Billick then predictably throws on first down. The pass goes incomplete and Demetrius Williams hurts his shoulder on the play. Run the ball to kill the clock! Billick does run on second down and picks up about 4, then throws incomplete *again* (Boller is chased across the field and throws it away), and the Ravens punt into the end zone. Brian Billick, offensive genius.

The next thing I'm going to nag Billick -- and, in this case, Rex Ryan -- on is that Baltimore got a lot of hurt from Cincinnati on quick six- or seven-yard outs, sideline fades, and the occasional interior deep route when wide receivers are matched up against Baltimore's safeties. This is exactly the same set of plays the Jets have been using on this comeback. Nice film study by Brian Schottenheimer, but Ravens, you might want to fix that.

OK, so Ray Lewis gets the end zone pick to kill the game. But it should never have been that close.

Bill Barnwell: Not only should it not have been so close, but the Jets were a Justin McCareins drop or a Laveranues Coles pass being six inches higher away from tying the game.

Sean McCormick: It's easy to see why the Jets coaching staff would like to play Kellen Clemens. In the course of that fourth quarter rally, he made at least six throws that Chad Pennington is completely incapable of making.

Baltimore was bringing heavy pressure and playing tight man coverage, usually with just one safety playing in coverage. The way to beat that defense is to go vertical against it. Clemens can do it, Pennington can't. Miami has a lot more to prepare for next week simply by virtue of Clemens being the possible starter.

Oakland Raiders 20 at Denver Broncos 23 (OT)

Bill Moore: Memo to Josh McCown: Three receivers in pattern, third down on your own one-yard line ... throw to the guys NOT covered by Champ Bailey!

Mike Tanier: I haven't seen any of the game, but halfway through the third quarter, McCown is five-of-eight for 12 yards and two picks. I can't wait to find out how you complete five passes for 12 yards.

Ryan Wilson: I will say this about Oakland: Lane Kiffin was upbeat after Shanahan called the timeout, and he was seemingly trying to change the culture of losing right at that moment. He then implored his team to play hard after Janikowski missed after the timeout. Last year, somebody would've had to poke Art Shell awake to let him know what was going on. It doesn't make up for losing, but it's a start.

Mike Tanier: You know, Sebastian Janikowski hit an 83-yard field goal into a stiff wind during practice, or something like that. He also probably drank nine shots of Jagermeister and set a new high score in Pole Position, but the guy isn't driving me home. I hate the Raiders play calls leading up to the kick. Incomplete on a rollout pass, so they run twice and figure they'll kick a 52-yarder on the road. Sure, the pass offense is weak and Janikowski has a big (but scattershot) leg, but attack a little more.

Dallas Cowboys 37 at Miami Dolphins 20

Vince Verhei: The Dolphins only had one sack, but they were harrassing Tony Romo all day. Every time I looked up, Romo was scrambling around and running for his life. You can see the effect in his passing numbers -- just 14-for-29 -- but Romo did manage 36 yards rushing and a pair of passing scores, with no turnovers.

Trent Green's touchdown pass in the second quarter to Marty Booker was a thing of beauty, a rainbow of a pass that hit Booker perfectly on a fade pattern. Unfortunately for Miami, it was the exception on the day. A lot of Green's passes were way overthrown, leading to his four interceptions.

San Diego Chargers 14 at New England Patriots 38

Stuart Fraser: Um, hello? San Diego? The game has started now, your secondary is supposed to be covering receivers. Jeez. Seven plays. Six complete passes and a very strange play I'm going to call unintentional grounding. I can buy having trouble covering Randy Moss, but completely losing track of the tight end in a goal-to-go?

Rivers picked him out so directly that I actually thought Roosevelt Colvin was on the Chargers, before I realized San Diego was wearing white.

Bill Barnwell: Great blitz pickup by Kevin Faulk on a stunt right up the middle. The Patriots are using Watson to slot in behind the linebackers when they blitz, and using Welker in matchups against them when they don't. Welker's going to be moving around all game to try and ascertain who's staying and who's coming. The Chargers are going to have to do a better job of hiding their blitzes.

Rivers looks very unsteady in the pocket to begin the game. Did I just see Larry Izzo on the field on second-and-12? Did he get lost or something?

Michael David Smith: This whole "spiking the ball is a penalty" thing needs to get sorted out. What Wes Welker just did was more of a spike than what Jeremy Shockey did earlier today, but Welker didn't get a penalty and Shockey did. That no-call really hurts the Chargers, if the enforcement on Shockey was correct, because that means Welker's gain should have been wiped out, in addition to losing five yards on the penalty.

Doug Farrar: No, really, the more judgment calls you give to the officials, the better the game will be. See how well it works with pass interference?

Stuart Fraser: I think whenever you have Merriman trying to cover Welker, the result should probably not be an incomplete pass. Still, this is better a better matchup for the defense than Antonio Gates on "hole in zone."

(after NBC shows an image of a wristband on Ted Cottrell) NBC is focusing a camera on San Diego's defensive signals! John Madden should be suspended!

Nice offensive pass interference by Moss on a curl route for the first down there. Announcers comment "you'd expect Moss to go deep there" which is true, but less to do with his separation than the uncalled push-off.

I think Wes Welker is pretty clearly New England's No. 2 receiver now. Also, that's the second uncalled penalty (spike) on a Patriots receiver this drive. MDS, as I understand it, spiking is a dead-ball foul, which means it gets added on after the play rather than wiping the gain out. Nonetheless ...

Bill Barnwell: Merriman's getting caught in the trash so far. He's not coming clean to the line.

Cilnton Hart was way too slow to pick up Moss on the second Patriots touchdown. He has to be able to read the offense better than that, or the Chargers have no hope.

Rivers still looks weird. I'm by no means an expert on quarterback mechanics, but his release point is really low. I noticed it on the completion to Jackson and then, on the next play, he had the ball knocked out of his hands and fumbled.

Stuart Fraser: On any play, no matter what it is, how can you not block Shawne Merriman? In general, the Patriots are really struggling in the run game, mostly because they keep trying to run straight at Jamal Williams (aforementioned non-blocking doesn't help).

Michael David Smith: Has anyone ever charted how often Merriman gets down into a three-point stance? Seems like he's done it more tonight than I had seen before.

Mike Tanier: Merriman lines up in the two-point quite a bit. Basically, the Chargers run a 5-2 defense, or at least they did last year.

Sean McCormick: Now we know who's the loser in New England's wide receiver derby: Donte' Stallworth. When Jabar Gaffney is getting targeted ahead of you, it's safe to say that your future on the team is not assured. I guess he's the deep threat insurance for Moss' inevitable hamstring pull.

Bill Barnwell: Patriots ran a really strange kickoff after the Thomas touchdown and I have no idea why.

Laugh-out-loud moment of the game was when the Chargers split Lorenzo Neal out wide. Of course! He motioned back inside, natch.

New England is getting away with all kinds of offensive pass interference. In between the Cromartie defensive pass interference (weak, by the way) and the Brady interception, they threw a go to Stallworth where he absolutely shoved Cromartie away, and it wasn't called.

Ned Macey: Very few people think that Norv Turner is a good head coach. Some people think Turner is still a viable offensive mind. Most people think Turner is a great teacher of young quarterbacks. If so, he is definitely taking the "three steps back to take four steps forward" approach with Rivers. Yikes.

Mike Tanier: Drayton Florence on Randy Moss one-on-one. Duh. Patriots in a three-tight end set, Moss is the only receiver. There's a safety in two-deep. Florence lets Moss get behind him on an outside release. None of this makes any sense to me defensively. There's about a dozen things that seem wrong, but the basics are this: 1) If you are over Randy Moss as the corner in a Cover-2, jam him and ride him good; 2) If you are the safety in the two-deep to his side, maybe you should roll to his side, especially in a three-tight end look when there aren't many other deep threats on your side of the field.

Neal splits wide a lot, then motions in. I mentioned it in a Play of the Day a while back. That is very old school Norv. Moose Johnston split wide and sometimes motioned in. There's a legitimate reason for that "fullback from the slot to the backfield" motion. It's a simple way to change weak side to strong and change a passing formation to a rushing one. Leave the fullback in the slot, and he's a great blocker on a sweep. But ideally, the fullback is someone who can run something besides a flat route in the passing game. Neal isn't going to threaten a safety on a seam route or worry a linebacker on a cross.

Bill Barnwell: That can be shifted just as easily by lining up Neal in the backfield on the weak side and shifting him to the strong side, saving time. It's not as if the defense is going to reveal themselves based upon what Neal is doing if he's split out wide, right?

Doug Farrar: San Diego led the NFL in first-half scoring in 2006. They haven't scored a single first-half point in 2007. As the last vestiges of Norv's reputation begin to melt away, a man named Schottenheimer allows himself the luxury of a quiet chuckle.


188 comments, Last at 20 Sep 2007, 4:36pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Something called “Spaeth� just scored for Pittsburgh.

I like it...

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Great job Gentlemen.

I’m convinced that it’s Tim Ruskell’s goal to create, and win with, a miniature team.

With a Miniature Holmgren too, or is Holmgren full-size?

Michael Clayton may have barely made the team this year, but he threw a huge block on the Galloway TD. At least he does that well.

He's also apparently being portrayed by George Clooney is some upcoming motion picture.

and I christen him … Burressinho.

Nice. Philip Rivers had a gorgeous flop on San Diego's penultimate possession.

He also probably drank nine shots of Jagermeister and set a new high score in Pole Position, but the guy isn’t driving me home.

Poetry. And likely true.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Just one thought from Sunday: If you're drunk at a sportsbar, don't remind a bunch of Broncos fans that their Superbowls are tainted for circumventing the salary cap. They REALLY don't like that.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Something I heard on the radio (followed the game via Sirius) and was covered in the paper this morning is that the Packer/Giant game was filled with lots of clashes between players. I am somewhat surprised Bill didn't comment more on this as the Giants TWICE hurt their field position with some dumb penalties. Aaron Kampmann may play with great intensity but as a guy he barely says "boo" and he was HOT after the game. Supposedly he had to be restrained from punching the Giant center. I know Nick Barnett has turned up the "emotional" center which has helped his play but also pushes him toward the edge of getting nailed for unsportsmanlike.

Daryn Colledge of the Packers offensive line had a terrible day. I don't know if McCarthy will go to Moll or not as Colledge was pretty solid last season. But in the first two games it's like he has completely forgotten the fundamentals of line play. He's just reaching for people.

Tramon Williams had two big retruns today. One got called back on a flag that took 35 minutes to be thrown but the one coming out of halftime was great to see. Packer special teams had really fallen off at the end of the Sherman regime and McCarthy/Thompson have made it a mission to improve that area of the team. So far through 2 games that's 3 forced turnovers and much improved kickoff returns. Punt returns are still a work in progress but progress is being made. Crosby has a big leg so those popups on kickoffs must have been planned.

Giants linebackers must be pretty said when Bubba Franks is getting open. The guy has been warmed over hash for three years. Donald Lee is ok as a blocker but his route running consists of run to point X, turn around and if ball comes to him catch it and fall down.

And still no running game. Sigh......

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


Favre played great, not a single silly forced throw, and the INT was Driver's fault more than anything. Very accurate, and he *gulp* managed the offense well.

Cedric Benson ran through holes, so the media will say he played better, but he didn't make any yardage. He's just not fast, and there's a slight hesitation in recognition and decision-making. On the other hand, he doesn't plow anyone over or run physically in any meaningful sense.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The vaunted Cincinnati 'defense' completely destroyed my loser league team - Jamal Lewis & Joe Jurevicius looked like such locks after week 1.

Also, my decisions to gamble on Ted Ginn is not looking so hot right now, either.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think what we're all forgetting here is that it's nice that both the Browns and the Bengals have improved their defense after last year's ridiculously offensive 58-48 debacle.

Baby steps, people, baby steps. At this rate, they will have games with scores of 23-17 in 2011.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

All Spaeth does is catch touchdowns.
Might as well start putting his name on the OROY award now and save time later.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Texans front 7 looks great after two games, with Danny Clark and Anthony Maddox pleasant surprises, Morlon Greenwood much improved, Okoye and Williams justifying their draft status, Anthony Weaver healthy, and DeMeco Ryans continuing to be DeMeco Ryans. Unfortunately, the non-Dunta Robinson members of the secondary are still terrible, and teams with more than one viable receiving option are going to make them pay. Steve Smith destroyed Faggins in the first quarter, which is how long it took Richard Smith to figure out that maybe he should just have Robinson man up on him for the rest of the game. After that, Smith's only play of note was the one Bill Moore describes above, an underneath completion against a prevent defense, on which he broke the initial tackle, got wrapped up by about four guys, and somehow slipped out from under them and ran for a score.

All that said, this may be hopeless homerism, but I think it's possible that Houston has a real live football team. Andre Johnson is getting an MRI on a sprained PCL, which is obviously a big concern, and I don't expect us to beat Indy next weekend, but the schedule looks pretty soft, with the Colts (twice) and Chargers the only opponents of real quality all season. It's not impossible the Texans could challenge for a wild card.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Is it just me, or did Goodell put on a "I'm a tough guy... GRR!" act for his interview yesterday? It seemed strange.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think it says a LOT about Glenn Mason's coaching that the University of Minnesota has offensive weapons all over the NFL right now (Barber, Maroney, Spaeth) and the Gophers did squat with it.

I will miss the guy as nobody could coach his team to a loss better. But if I were a Minnesota fan I would be watching these guys in the pros and be wondering "what if we had had a REAL coach?"

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

During one game (Bears/Chiefs, I think) there was a kickoff that was caught by the returner (Hester, I think) who had one foot out of bounds. The officials penalized the Chiefs for a kickoff out of bounds. This can't be the right call, can it? If the ball never lands out of bounds, how can they penalize the kicking team?

I mean, any time there is a kick near the sideline the returning team could just stretch one foot onto the white for an easy penalty.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I mean, any time there is a kick near the sideline the returning team could just stretch one foot onto the white for an easy penalty.

If one foot is out of bounds, you are out of bounds, and so therefore is the ball.

The field looks a lot narrower on TV than it really is, so getting a kick close enough to the sideline that somebody could catch it and step out with the second foot is practically putting it out anyway.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: 10

Yeah, I was pretty unimpressed with that Goodell interview.

1. Costas never asked him if he knows how long the cheating has been going on or if he even intends to find out.

2. When Costas asks about whether the Pats will really turn over any other incriminating tape or info, the commish responds that, of course they will. I can't believe Costas didn't blurt out, 'Well, they're cheaters. Why would you expect them to be honest now?'. I gotta believe most of the audience was thinking that.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#11 - yes, but would all those players actually commit to MN if he were gone? That he could get them to go there despite his... achievements indicates to me that he's obviously got some serious schmoozing skills, and an eye for talent. I think what you need are better coordinators, one of whom will eventually betray him in a bloody coup d'etat several years down the road.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Glad to see I'm not the only one who noticed Welker's two spikes. Guess he has a better reputation than Shockey.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: 13

You must be right. That was the call and there wasn't any controversy about it. It still just seems wrong to me. Sorta analogous to a tennis player hitting a volley while one foot is off the court and the ball being call out (against his opponent) as a result.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I felt like Tarvaris Jackson was under constant pressure, and a lot of his wild INTs were the result of a pass rush and his own inexperience/inability to deal with a rush (either make a quick read, feel the pocket, plant his feet and make a deep or accurate throw while getting hit, etc.). The Lions constantly pressed back on the Minnesota offensive line--with no real fear that Jackson or any of the WRs were capable of beating them, they were able to constantly get pressure (it felt like a lot of blitzing, but I could be deceived--the front four just may have outplayed the Viking offensive line). Yes, Jackson was horrible, and he had no real legitimate WRs making any threat of a play out there. I'm afraid this is what we'll see now: not eight man fronts just to stop the run, but constant blitzing and pressure because opponents know that (right now, at least) Jackson can't handle it and even if he could there aren't any WRs to make them pay anyway.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: 19

As good as the Vikes defense is, how much longer will they let Jackson play like this?

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Pittsburgh’s defense may well be for real.

No shit Sherlock.
I liked the unis. But again, I like everything about the Steelers that's not named Steely McBeam.

Before the game started the guy doing play by play said the Steelers passed early and switched to the run to seal the win.
Might be a reader??

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't remember the spikes in question, but I thought the issue was not spiking the ball in itself, but to spike it at the feet of an opposing player (or near enough, according to the ref's subjective judgment), as this constitutes taunting (just like a player is allowed do a stupid dance, but not in another player's face). Once again, though, I don't recall if any other players were around Welker's spikes, and I haven't seen Shockley's.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I've been that play before, and Glazius' interpretation is correct. James Thrash did it his first year back with the Redskins (2004?). It's a weird rule, but if you are out of bounds than you become out of bounds. Kind've makes sense, but I'm not sure why it's still legal to receive the ball while out of bounds.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


Well, most of the Badgers drafted under McClain were overrated. I am sure the Steeler fans here would be delighted to tell everyone about the "greatness" of Daryl Sims.

The best player under DM was Tim Krumrie, and he was drafted in the 10th(!) round by the Bengals. Tim ended up in the Pro Bowl but had his career cut short by the broken leg in the Super Bowl. Either Krumrie or Paul Gruber for best player from that era.

Don't get me started on Krumrie. Guy is playing in Green Bay's backyard and Bart Starr drafts a d*mn basketball player ahead of Krumrie.


25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Badger, to be an observer of Minnesota Gopher football (I want to avoid being institutionalized by calling myself a "Gopher fan"), is to go decades without seeing even average defensive play. The Gophers have not fielded a good defense in literally thirty years. This year's team, after having their two best defensive players kicked off the squad for sexual assault, may be as bad the club in the early '80s which gave up 84 points to Nebraska.

As to Spaeth, he's going to be quite good, and perfect for what Pittsburgh wants to do. Having two tight ends who can block, run, and catch really is unusual, and allows an offensive ccordinator to exploit match ups. The Packers would have doen well to get Spaeth.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

20: In the very brief time Bollinger was in, he looked just as bad (though it's certainly a hard spot to come in). In a couple of weeks, they might be obligated to go to Kelly Holcomb. If they don't, it's evidence they're more concerned for the future than now (and I don't know for sure that's the wrong decision: a lot of the very good defensive players are in their 20s, so it's not like it's now or never with the defense. But I always think a team should try to win as many games as possible now).

If I wake up in a cold sweat with the name "Byron Leftwich" on my lips, don't blame me.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't root for either NE or SD, so last night's game was only of academic interest to me -- but watching Brady, Moss, and Welker run amok was great fun. Not as much fun, perhaps, as watching USC's backfield average 45 yards per carry against the Cornhuskers, but still... Welker's jukes and Moss' speed just brought a smile to my face.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Obviously it didn't make a huge difference thanks to Billick, but I'm not at all sure that the onside kick was the right move for the Jets, given that there were over 3 minutes to play and they had at least 2 timeouts left.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


For some bizarre reason no matter the coaches/GMs the Packers have been almost pathological about NOT taking players from WI or MN. This despite some success with guys like Mark Tauscher. But time and time and time again a guy is available (Chris Chambers being an obvious example) and GB goes after someone else. In Chambers case the Pack took Robert Ferguson. I could list a dozen Badgers/Gophers who have had solid to good NFL careers who fit GB's needs but were not taken in the draft. I don't understand it, and nobody around the team can provide a good explanation.

Well, that's not really true. Bob McGinn's explanation is that the team has been stupid. His word, not mine.

But this goes back 20 years. Talk about institutional blind spot.........

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

10: Yes, Goodell was putting on a tough-guy act. Just like he did when he bowed to ignorant media and fan pressure and gave the Pats an unfairly harsh penalty for illegal use of a camera. I'll put money on Goodell being viewed as a grandstanding weenie within three years, because that's how long it'll take everyone else to realize it.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


Wasn't the four-first-rounders team one of McClain's? They were underachieving tems. I remember them pushing around Kentucky in a minr bowl one year and losing.

Krumrie 'lived' in the dorm room next to mine. I use scare quotes because he actually lived at his girlfriend's and just came by to pick up his mail. Too bad. He was a rare non-asshat football player.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I owe everyone an 'a' and an 'o' from the previous post.

Proofread? Hah.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

A few observations.

The Vikings offense was inept in every way that can be imagined, although it can be a little tough to evaluate an offensive line when the defense has absolutely no fear, due to the qb and receivers, of a pass being completed 30 yards downfield. Until Jackson and his receivers can so show any ability to go downfield, defensive coordinators can look at the Vikings as a bye week.

Having said that, there are few things more frustrating for a fan to have his team's loss turn in large part on extremely marginal defensive penalties. The Lions 2nd touchdown was the result of a roughing the passer penalty on third down where the pass rusher would have had to have superhuman body control to avoid contact. Toss in the fact that Calvin Johnson's td reception came on a blatant push-off, right in front of the zebra, and it made for a pretty frustrating day, although, don't get me wrong, when an offense is a brutally bad as the Vikings' offense was, there is little cause for complaint. By the way, Kevin Williams is really, really, really, good.

Hey, Pats fans? If you haven't grasped it yet, your are in for a special treat, hamstring or ankle injuries notwithstanding. A healthy and motivated Randy Moss affects a defense more than any other non-quarterback I've ever seen. Barring injury, the Pats have not reached peak offensive efficiency yet. As defensive coordinators get more and more paranoid about Moss exploding for 100+ yards and couple t.d.s each week, everything else will open up, and the Pats certainly have the multiple weapons to expolit the situation. I don't know whether Watson's wide open t.d. was the result of it, but expect to see more of that, as three and even four guys are sometimes drawn to Moss like iron filings to a magnet.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


In 1985 it was Toon, Richard Johnson and Darryl Sims drafted in the first round.

Yeah, they lost to Kentucky on a fumbled snap on a field goal attempt.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I was channel-surfing on Field Pass during the late games and the Cardinals' announcers said several times that the Cardinals are finally learning to play "Steeler football," as though that has been on their agenda for years.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

A Steeler fan living undercover in Charm City. Everyday is a battle on these mean streets. BELIEVE it.

AFC North Week 2 Observations:

Steelers - Ah, this is what we should have looked like last year if Bill Cowher wasn't mentally retired and Big Ben, spelled Roethlisberger, was healthy. Mike Tomlin does a great job of preparing his team and it's translating on the field and his cool sideline demeanor is more Noll than Chin; more mettle than spittle. They won't win the Super Bowl though, jinx, unless Ben finds a way to raise him completion percentage - 57.9% won't cut it. If he can get it to 65%, maybe. They've done an awesome job keeping the D off the field and winning TOP. Lots of long drives. 12-4 and division champs. PS – we’re still playing our preseason schedule.

Ravens - The Ravenette fans of this team will provide them with an endless supply of fire plug nose tackles for years to come - they are large and in charge. This is an a** town (also a cankle town). The fact that they couldn't run against the Bengals is disquieting though. MacGhee has never run for over 4.0 YPC and is sitting on 3.9 after facing two soft defenses = not a good sign. The fact that the Jets nearly tied this game = telling. That I'm seeing Kyle Boller and he looks better than McNair = apocalypse near. Overrated and full of bluster. Enjoy chest thumping your way to 8-8.

Bengals - Perhaps advances in gene therapy can solve the riddle of their inept tackling, because coaching doesn't work apparently. How do you give up over 200 yards, and counting, to Jamal Lewis? Do they realize this game isn't two-hand touch? The offense is great though and Ocho Cinco = my favoritist player. I hope when he scores against the Steelers that he pulls a train with pornscot Steely McBeam and then proposes marriage. Their headed to 9-7. Palmer is going to throw for a Kitna (50 TDs).

Browns - Great win. Proves their toughness. Also proves they have no defense. Quinn will get thrown to the dogs after the bye week and they do have, on paper anyway, some guys who should be good on the offensive line. Jamal Lewis found football botox and turned the clock back to run for a boatload of yards. Perhaps is a few years, if Crennel sticks around to coach the D and they find a head coach who doesn't flip a coin to decide starters, they'll contend. Alas, I feel the team is jinxed somehow by Art Modell from beyond the grave.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The picking up of a kickoff while standing out of bounds is really a heads-up play by the returner. More coaches ought to drill this into their returners heads.

I don't know about the spiking. Obviously, if it's at a player, it's taunting. Terrell Owens did it yesterday, and it counted as a delay of game penalty. I also saw Welker do it twice last night uncalled. Either there's an uneven application of the rules, or possibly it depends on what happens to the ball, i.e. it leaves the playing field or rolls twenty yards away from the LOS.

I absolutely loved the Lane Kiffin call for an on-side kick in Denver.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I just read that the Packers have the longest regular season winning streak in the NFL dating back to last season at six games.

It means little. But it still jars the senses to see it or hear it.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

related, is there a shakier 3-0 team than the badgers? I really don't know what to think, other than "Thank God for halftime adjustments."

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Can anyone (Viva?) in the Baltimore area clue us in as to the local feeling for Billick? The man's play calling is truly stunning. Inexplicable. Embarrassing. Laughable. I can't believe he gets a free pass for his offensive ineptitude. I guess a Super Bowl and a lot of credit for the crazy Minnesota offense one year trumps everything, forever.

He also killed me in my confidence pool last week.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Also, for a guy who loves to flex his drill sargent persona, Tom Coughlin runs some damned undisciplined teams...Eli nonwithstanding, the Giants took themselves out of the game with some inexcusable me-firsting.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The last three teams to beat New Orleans — Tampa Bay and Indianapolis this year, and Chicago in last year’s NFC Championship game — all run variations of the Tampa-2. There may be something about that defense that confuses the team. Or it may just be coincidence.

The Panthers also beat the Saints twice last year running their vanilla Cover 2.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Some game I was watching yesterday had a call where the refs first ruled delay of game for the spiking of the football then changed it to taunting because a defender was "in the vicinity". So I'm pretty sure it's two separate penalties.

Of course, when I go to the website of the four major sports leagues (giving hockey the benefit of the doubt) I can link to the official rulebook of three of them, but the NFL only provides a digest not a full rulebook. I guess the NFL rules are so complicated that an amateur can't understand them, which is why the NFL alone of the four major sports has amateur referees. That way the fans and the refs are on equal footing.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#11 (Badger),

Except the problem with the Gophers has always been their defense. No Minnesota defensive player has been selected before the 5th round since 2001.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

My (inexpert) analysis of the San Diego-New England game:

New England dominated for the two reasons that FO had been saying San Diego might struggle this year: coaching and injuries.

On the coaching front, I counted at least two, and probably 3 or 4, 4th and extremely short near midfield when Turner punted, at least one of which happened after San Diego was down big. You just can't do that. Not saying Schottenheimer wouldn't have done the same, but it's dumb. Also, San Diego never adjusted to cover the short stuff--the Patriots were shredding their secondary with slants and comebacks. The Patriots only tried to go deep three times, and all three were well into the game.

Injuries: The Patriots were missing Stephen Neal, but knew that before the game and so could gameplan around it. The Chargers lost 3 (?) starters over the course of the game, and I thought I saw Shaun Phillips limping out once as well? But the big losses were the RT and the NT (Williams?). Rosie Colvin was camped out in their backfield every other play, always coming over the right. Later in the game it looked like the compensated a little somehow (probably by rolling pass protection towards him?), but then Vrabel started to get penetration on the other side. I suspect losing your RT (and didn't Michaels mention that their backup RT was also injured?) had a lot to do with that. On defense, the Chargers were completely shutting down the Pats running game, except for some gadget plays like end arounds, until Williams got hurt. Then all of a sudden the running game opened up and it was all over for the Chargers.

I'm not predicting dire things for the Chargers--remember, New England is a pretty good team right now, and the Chargers were playing an away game across the country right after a tough game against Chicago--but their chances for a 1st round bye this year just took a real big hit.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Pretty strange call by the Bengals not to challenge on the Edwards catch and first down here late in the fourth trailing by six. They can’t challenge the fumble because forward progress was called, but he was definitely short of the first down if the ball was spotted correctly, and you can challenge that."

I'm pretty sure they didn't have a timeout, and couldn't challenge.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Post 41:

Agreed. Either Coughlin is putting on a facade for the media or the players are simply ignoring him. This team has been highly penalized and mistake-prone for how long?

When Mike Holmgren still knew how to coach (apparently he has gotten dumb in the last year or so) he would flat out cut guys who had talent but either repeatedly made mistakes and/or turned the ball over. The only reason Ahman Green comes to GB is that Holmgren couldn't get past the fumbles.

So if Coughlin really WERE the holy terror he is made out to be one would think one would see a difference. But from this distance that team still looks like a collection of talented malcontents.

But as I wrote earlier, the surprise to me was that the Giants were taking cheap shots. Look, I am sure the Packers did their share of BS, but it wasn't a Packer blindsiding AJ Hawk at the end of a play. It wasn't a Packer nailing Cullen Jenkins late. Yes, the guy managed to draw tne retaliation flag but over time that stuff will catch up to you around the league.

What say the Giants fans? Is this commonplace with this squad?

If so, I feel for you. I hated the Forrest Gregg Packers because they were constantly being *ssholes. It made for tough watching.........

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"New England dominated for the two reasons that FO had been saying San Diego might struggle this year: coaching and injuries."

I agree the injuries and coaching sealed the game, but San Diego was already being dominated by that point. San Diego struggled because their Corners aren't nearly good enough to cover NE's WRs.

I like Marcus Mcneil, but he was getting abused. By both Colvin and Vrabel (they were switching sides). One of Colvin's strip-sacks was on McNeil. Vrable's sack was also on McNeil, IIRC.

I hear people giving up on the Chargers at this point, saying 9-7, but it seems premature. They've played a good team in Chicago, and great team in NE, and are 1-1. I still think they're going to be a GREAT team, but they really need to get pressure on the QB, because that secondary sucks.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Let me see if I understand this: two of your writers say that Carson Palmer forced the ball and threw high. At the start of the fourth quarter he had 5 TDs and 4 incompletions (as another says). He made a few bad passes when under duress at the end and now you've concluded he's a wild thrower. He threw brilliantly for 3 quarters and then almost brought the m back. He has no defense. You are criticizing HIM?

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"So if Coughlin really WERE the holy terror he is made out to be one would think one would see a difference. But from this distance that team still looks like a collection of talented malcontents."

I'm of the opinion that coughlin is like so many others so-called-disciplinarians: He likes to scream a lot.

Negative reinforcement doesn't work without positive reinforcement, and I really doubt Coughlin ever says "good job".

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Well the Dolphins showed like the Giants you can pass all day on the Cowboys. Too bad 90 % of Greens passes were 5 foot higher than his recievers. The result was a laugher in what could have been a much closer contest. Miami is showing that changing all 5 o-line positions is a nice way to produce happy feet in a QB, don't see Miami putting a young QB in there until the O-line settles down.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#47 - My apologies for the dreaded armchair psychoanalysis, but I think the problem is that Coughlin is not a disciplinarian, but a bully. It's a fine line between the two, but the behavior of the team reflects that difference. A disciplinarian coach yells at you to let you know precisely when, where, and how you screwed up; a bullying coach yells at you to assert his dominance, regardless of how you screwed up. It becomes impossible to tell the difference between the two; instead of focusing on your mistakes, you focus on the explosion. Overbearing, unrestrained aggression is becomes the norm; it's the difference between, I'm going to flatten guy on my next block (good) vs. I'm going to flatten this guy (bad).

When your team is led by a bully, the players act like bullies - and it gets reflected in the penalties.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

FWIW, haven't watched football for 2 weeks, but there was a new spiking rule instituted this year. I suppose we could call it the "Vincent Jackson Rule", but it was supposed to impose a delay of game penalty to players who spike the ball, and I think players who delay it in getting back to the official. I'm not sure if spinning the ball is okay, or not... but I also think throwing it downfield away from an official is also not okay.

Although its still okay to spike the ball after you score a TD.

As far as Goodell goes, I don't get his explanation about Wade Wilson (read via MDS' great blog). If coaches are supposed to be held to a higher level, why wasn't Belichek suspended for cheating? I don't even think Wilson was prosecuted for illegally obtaining HGH. If the law doesn't care about something that's non-football related, why does Goodell have any right to care? Since when are Quarterback coaches role models?

And in that sense, why is Goodell not-suspended the coach involved in something that's not illegal, but is very illegal to the NFL?

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

MJK, I've previously written that Ted Cottrell is the worst coaching hire I've ever seen, but to be fair to him, as Rich noted, the Chargers' corners aren't good enough to take away the short stuff from the Pats' receivers, unless they want to get torched deep every five plays or so. If Moss and the rest of the offense stays healthy, he may have his best year ever, given he's never played with a qb as good as Brady, and Brady has multiple options with which to exploit match-ups.

Yes, it's still early, which can cause one to leap to premature conclusions, but I think this offense may be every bit as difficult to defend as the Colts', and they already have better defensive personnel than Indianapolis', so if they get Harrison back, and much more importantly, Seymour, the Pats are going to extremely formidable.

It's funny how sentiment swings. I was pretty confident that the Pats were the best team before Aug. 1, depending on health. Then, when Moss had the hamstring issue, and Seymour went on PUP, I lost a lot of confidence in that analysis. Now, since Moss is obviously quite healthy (I almost wonder if and Belichik were sandbagging in the preseason, at least a little), and the defense seems to be able to cover for the loss of Seymour for now, if they do get Seymour back, gosh, it seems like they are really going to be tough to beat. It's a long way until January, however, so my penetrating insight is we'll see what happens.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"is there a shakier 3-0 team than the badgers?"


"Can anyone (Viva?) in the Baltimore area clue us in as to the local feeling for Billick?"

i live slightly north of baltimore, but i can tell you that the feeling around here is one of frustration and anxiety. lots of people upset about his playcalling.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Kind've random but funny from this week. ESPN had their "fantasy expert" on talking about how people should trade Randy Moss since Brady likes to spread the ball around or whatever. After that segment the anchors, Van Pelt and Everett had an exchange kind've like, "I don't agree with that, would you trade Randy Moss off your fantasy team? Not to go against the expert, but we say don't trade Randy Moss".

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

On the penalties thing:

I believe the rule was changed this year so that spiking the ball AT ALL is a "delay of game" (5 yards), the thinking being it makes it harder for the officials to re-spot it, and spiking it at a defensive player is "taunting" (15 yards?). In which case, it may be up to the refs discretion whether or not to call a spike a penalty--if it's not at a defender or an obvious effort to taunt, and it doesn't bounce very far, what's to differentiate a "spike" from "dropping the ball kind of hard". I think it's kind of a dumb rule, but I think they wanted to crack down on players spiking the ball at all.

I think Welker's uncalled spikes, which were certainly spikes, although not very big ones, were largely a function of (1) Welker having a much better reputation than Shockey, and (2) Hochuli not being prone to calling a lot of penalties. The NE-SD game had a lot of things that could have been called but werent--especially holding on San Diego's part, and OPI on NE's.

What I don't understand is why a spike, either as a "taunt" or a "delay of game" would offset with an offsides, and if that is what was called, I think the ref made a mistake (but of course, he's paid more than me to know the rulebook, so what do I know). But either type of penalty happens BETWEEN playes and is not considered to be a part of the preceding play, as I understand it... Imagine if there had been no spike, but the Giants had instead let the playclock run down to zero, or right before the next snap Shockey had turned around and mooned the opposing defense. Neither of those cases would have offset against the offsides...

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Now, perhaps I'm biased as an Eagles fan but having watched a ton of Giants games I'd say: yes it is commonplace. I've always felt the Giants (under Coughlin) and the Ravens are the biggest cheap shot artists in the league. Look at how many times the players need to be separated during those games.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


I agree that people are too far down on the Chargers, however the reasons for the pessimism are there. Rivers has looked awful, and very frustrated, but that's what the Bears and Pats do to QBs. The O-line hasn't been anywhere near its form from last year, and the next couple weeks will show if they can revert to their dominant form. The biggest concern for a Chargers fan has to be the health of Jamal Williams. Merriman gets the highlights, but Williams might be the most important D-lineman to a defense in the league.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Fergasun, I haven't done anything with fantasy football in 20 years, so I'm no "expert", but any "expert" who would advise trading any talented player on the Patriots this year, with the possible exception of Donte Stallworth, is a complte moron. The Pats have a lot of players who are going to rack up big numbers this year.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

", and the defense seems to be able to cover for the loss of Seymour for now, if they do get Seymour back, gosh, it seems like they are really going to be tough to beat"

Will, like I've been saying, Seymour isn't the loss that everyone thinks he is. Yes, hes elite, but Jarvis Green is good. The patriots have an extremely deep line. Wilfork is the one they can least afford to lose right now.

Seymour coming back will improve the line, but not by a huge amount. IMO, having Harrison back will do more. Harrison is a much bigger upgrade over Sanders than Seymour is over Green.

As to the patriots aquisitions, it looks like Stallworth may be a bit of a flop. Welker and Moss are definitely the 1+2, and it seems to be Gaffney and Stallworth fighting for 3. Kelly Washington is MIA.

Sammy Morris looks pretty good..honestly, hes looked better than Maroney, who looks a lot like Reggie Bush right now: A dancer.

Thomas: Last week I said "If Thomas could catch, he would have had about 5 interceptions"... I wonder if they put him through catching drills with all the balls bouncing off of him against the jets.

Asante Samuel watch: Hes still getting burned. Its pretty clear Hobbs is better right now, and Gay may also be better. Maybe just not in shape yet?

As to the PI calls, yeah, that call against the chargers was bull, but so was the 40 yard or so call against Hobbs.... although I'm still not sure I understand PI. It seems to be so random.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Apparently Hester and the Bears' special teams blockers still have it. He ran a second one back that was nullified by a hold (which probably wasn't necessary), and returned another punt for about 30 yards after he made the initial tackler miss near the sidelines and he completely reversed field.

The Bears offense still stunk. Rex is for the most part making better decisions than last year, but his mechanics still suck -- he's still throwing off of his back foot far too often, and that's leading to picks. His decisions started deteriorating in the second half as his frustration increased.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yeah, Rich, but as Bill Walsh once said, the most important element to winning NFL games, at least for matches between two good teams, is the fourth quarter pass rush. Having a deep rotation of excellent defensive lineman really helps ensure that result. If Seymour comes back healthy, the Pats will be loaded for some fourth quarter bear.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yinka, I'm liking my pick of the Packers in the NFC North more with each passing week. I didn't see the Bears yesterday, but if you are correct and Grossman's mechanics still suck, they aren't going to improve much during the season; that the sort of thing that happens in May, not November.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yinka, I saw it the other way with Rex. I haven't seen him run backwards this year except on screens, he's stepping up to avoid pressure, but he still makes horribly inaccurate throws and doesn't recognize that linebackers are actually capable of catching the ball when you put it in their chest. In short, he's the same guy as last year but looks better while making a terrible decision.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


Plaxico Burress takes borderline runs at defenders as running plays end. I believe he got flagged during a Dallas game last year on a similar play. As for the rest of the Giants, I haven't seen constant cheap shots. Most of the time, it's just yammering after the play and, yes, that does make games less enjoyable to watch.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I certainly think the Raiders are better this year, for offensive coaching if nothing else, but I gotta' say, I'm hoping for the first Raiders victory to come in November, just to read raiderjoe.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

66: What I've seen from Rex is in general, taking the short route that's given to him instead of winging it into triple coverage down field, and accepting a sack on occasion instead of making a dumb throw. Both of these are big improvements over last year in his decision-making under pressure. I think his inaccuracy and throwing it into linebackers is a direct result of his poor mechanics on a good half of his throws. He still isn't stepping into a lot of his throws, even when he was the space to do so, so they float over the head of guys or end up nowhere near the receiver.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't think the Lions used an inordinate amount of blitzing (I'll have more information later this week when I chart the first half). It seemed to be more of a product of front-four pressure. Translation: Shaun Rogers is playing hard. (Actually, the whole line has done pretty well with respect to pass rushing.)

Now, when Bollinger came in, it was a different story. They definitely sent more blitzes at him.

I wonder if anyone on the Vikings staff has reminded Jackson that Randy Moss is still not on the Vikings? That's the only reason I could find for him constantly chucking balls deep downfield into heavy "coverage" (technically, for it to be coverage, there might have to be a receiver in the area to be covered).

The run-and-shoot offense has returned. The Lions can't run up the middle against good tackles. Also, O'Sullivan isn't ready to run the offense. (When he was good, he was much like Kitna, but when he was bad, he was Jackson.) If Kitna suffers aftereffects from the injury (is it really a concussion? I sure thought so), the Eagles will crush the Lions.

Credit where credit is due: it is only two games in, but so far, Calvin Johnson's justifying his selection. That's two high draft picks that Millen hasn't screwed up. (Well, Ernie Sims isn't too bad either, but I don't think he's showing first-round-caliber play yet.) Also, McDonald is fitting into the offense (and my fantasy lineups) quite well.

But it's still the run-and-shoot.

And Vasgersian and Pearson are still the worst announcing team in football.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


yes, Will, depth (and keeping people fresh) is definitely nice.

Did you happen to see the play in the 4th quarter where the patriots had either 5 or 6 D-lineman on the field, and the Chargers ran at it?

It was a 4 man front, IIRC with Green, Wilfork, LeKevin Smith, Ty Warren, and Santonio Thomas (3rd string DE,6'4, 305) playing OLB. I'm not sure who was playing OLB on the other side.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The problem with generic trade advice is that all trades take place in context, so it's impossible to know if trading Randy Moss makes sense or not.

A fantasy owner who drafted Moss in Round 5 might have drafted something like LT/CJ/AJ/AGreen and might prefer to trade Moss for a better 2nd RB (assuming AJ is healthy). There's a risk/reward calculation there.

Similarly, I drafted APeterson in my dynasty league rookie draft this year and traded him. A possible moron move, in the long run. But my rbs were Gore/FWP/MJD/Julius Jones/Marion Barber (start 2) and I traded Peterson and Shockey for Gates and Deangelo Williams. Peterson wouldn't have started for me yet and Gates so far has well-outscored Shockey as my starter, so in that context, I'm happy.

An owner who traded Moss for Grossman would be a complete moron.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Maybe I am missing something on Holmgren's timeout usage.

You could question the decision to not call a timeout on 2nd & 4, but after Arizona picked up a first down on the following play, calling timeouts was pointless. Your last timeout would have been used after first down, giving Arizona two plays to run the clock down.

You would have forced Arizona to run one additional play, which might have been a fumble, and it would have been fourth down instead of third down, but with only :04 on the clock, it's unlikely Arizona could have blown the snap and tried another attempt anyway.

So maybe there was some value to using a timeout (I can't remember the results of the icing study) - and, yes, no value to keeping them - but that hardly seems to rise to anywhere near Keep Chopping Wood status.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Stuart Fraser: First thought: These Steelers throwbacks are hideous, or possibly worse than that. 75th anniversary or not, can we please stick to the 1970s unis if you want to go throwback?

When they showed highlights of the game, that was my first thought as well.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Well, Rich, that the other thing I love about having a healthy Seymour; his ability to play inside or outside makes it harder for the playcaller to make decisions based on personnel packages. Don't get me wrong; it's pretty evident that they can be pretty darned good without him, but he's a unique player even among elite defensive linemen.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#52: If we're doing the armchair psychoanalysis, I'd say that the Giants are so messed up in the head that nobody could make a disciplined team out of them.

#63: Why do people always assume that holds on returns don't affect the return? Not you in particular, but that's always seemed to be some sort of assumption. As for that hold, it was very important to the run.

#66: Yes.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Something from the Steelers game that's pretty reflective:

3-2-PIT46 (8:37) W.Parker left guard to BUF 38 for 16 yards (D.Whitner).
3-4-BUF32 (6:35) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short right to S.Holmes pushed ob at BUF 5 for 27 yards (D.Whitner).

both on the same drive.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

i am sick--positively sick--of these patriots pass interference non-calls. on both sides of the ball. it almost makes me wonder whether all this "tapegate" stuff is a cover for kraft buying off nfl refs. yes, i'm a colts fan, but this is ridiculous.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That said, both of these teams picked linebackers in the first round and only one was making significant contributions on the field. Timmons may have been about potential, but Posluszny is contributing now.

Huh? Poz was a 2nd round pick.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

When will other teams in the NFL catch up to the Colts regarding the forcing officials to call defensive encroachment? If a defensive lineman comes across the line of scrimage, the Colts o-line will feign being drawn into movement, resulting in an easy five yards. I first noticed this last year during the playoffs and saw it again yesterday. It's actually sorta funny because it's obvious from the delay between the defensive movement and the o-line reaction that the Colt lineman are faking it, but it keeps working. This occurs at least as frequently as the 'let's catch 'em with 12 men on the field' strategy that many teams use, but I haven't seen anybody but the Colts use this one.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

David Lewin: ... This might be a good time for my favorite crazy idea: Throw a 20-yard crossing route to a wide-open guy in the middle of the field and then have him throw it straight out of bounds to stop the clock. Kind of risky, and of course it has to be a lateral, but I think it could be useful in the right situation … and the drive ends a pick.

A good idea, but the NFL has a rule against it. Inside of one minute, "throwing a backward pass out of bounds with the intent to conserve time" is punishable by a 5-yard penalty plus a 10-second runoff, and the clock restarts upon the ready-for-play signal. (Rule 4, Section 1, Article 10).

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

79 - fine, I can't remember which rounds players were selected in. Edit to "both teams spent *second* round picks on linebackers" except that LaMarr Woodley did actually get on the field this game (though only because Harrison was injured).

Also, I am shocked that it took 79 posts for somebody to call me on that. Board nitpicking clearly isn't in midseason form yet.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"What say the Giants fans? Is this commonplace with this squad?"

Sadly, yes.

"If so, I feel for you."

Thanks for the sympathy.

"I hated the Forrest Gregg Packers because they were constantly being *ssholes. It made for tough watching……… "

Yes, it does.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

# 78:
i am sick–positively sick–of these patriots pass interference non-calls. on both sides of the ball. it almost makes me wonder whether all this “tapegate� stuff is a cover for kraft buying off nfl refs. yes, i’m a colts fan, but this is ridiculous.

I feel for you man... I totally expect Polian to make it a point of emphasis next year that the refs are making it way too easy for pass-happy, offensive teams like the Pats, and should allow defenses to be muscular. What's wrong with a little bumping of receivers off their routs, with a little pushing and shoving down the field, anyway? Is this supposed to be football, or some kind of sissy game? Am I right?

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I wonder if Bill Simmons caught any of the Packers/Giants game. Every so often the old dude can recapture the magic and yesterday was a classic example. I know the Giants defense is bad, but those passes to Jones and Donald Lee were perfectly placed. And that laser to Driver was fun to see though it's still only 85% of him in his heyday.

You see this stuff and you can understand McCarthy crossing his fingers that Old Man River can stay upright one more year. Because there is no other qb in the division who has that breadth of skills. Not even close. Kitna can do the touch passing and Grossman can throw his bombs. But nobody can muscle one into tight coverage. And as for Jackson, well, I think Childress blew it and leave it at that. Kid's trying hard but he's clearly confused by what is going on around him. It's not fair to him and it's not fair to the rest of the offense.

Favre is no brainiac but he had sufficient instincts that three years before Holmgren beat into his head what to do he could make more good plays than bad most days. I don't see that in Jackson. He's just flipping through the notecard he has been told to memorize and if things don't match what he has been told to do he freaks.

Getting back to GB the O-line better get its you know what together or Number 4 will become a smudge on the stadium grass.........

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

regarding Gaffney and Stallworth, here are the participation stats from last night, courtesy of Mike Reiss.

WR Randy Moss -- 50 of 64
WR Donte' Stallworth -- 39 of 64
WR Wes Welker -- 37 of 64
WR Jabar Gaffney -- 6 of 64
WR Kelley Washington -- 5 of 64

Stallworth actually played more snaps than Welker, and Gaffney barely played at all.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: Giants lack of discipline -- I brought up the Shockey play. The Toomer incident I did not, and the late-game incident with O'Hara, well, the game was on ice by then. I was really disappointed that Toomer, of all people, couldn't set a better example for the rest of the team.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Mawbrew, this is just another area where offcials are asked to employ too much subjective judgement. I've long thought that this area of the rules should be modified so that any defensive player crossing the line of scrimmage results in a penalty, period. I'm not a huge fan of the rule changes designed to aid offense, but this is one that seems eminently reasonable; it really isn't asking too much of a defensive player to not cross into the neutral zone prior to the snap of the ball, especially if the slightest early movement by a offensive player results in a penalty.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: 80
GB tried to do it in week one, but did such a terrible job they were called for a false start. They stopped trying after that.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


I know you mentioned some of the action hence, "surprised Bill didn’t comment more".

It's just that even though the O'Hara thing happened late I think it's pretty telling about the team when the offensive line is punching the opposition in the crotch for the sole purpose of getting revenge. I am sure Lorenzen was thrilled to see the Packer D-line playing at a fever pitch thanks to the Giants offensive line's BS.

If this were someone on GB like Corey Williams or Al Harris or Nick Barnett mouthing off I would dismiss it as more hot air. But Kampmann is a quiet guy. For something to get him visibly ticked it has to be way over the line.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Badger (and others), I'm concerned about the Packers' run defense. The pass rush has been great and the secondary, other than one or two bad plays by Woodson each game, has been fine (Bigby>>>Manuel), but they've been getting gashed by the run. I see LDT being very happy next week. Maybe Sanders won't send his DEs up the field, Freeney-style against a less pass-happy team than Phila or NYG. I hope.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


Actually, there were plenty of guys running free in the Packer secondary yesterday. But because of the rush Manning typically had to make a quick decision.

Run defense is ultimately about effort. The GB effort is there. I think over time it will be fine. I don't see this being a reprise of the 2004 season when opponents could just steamroll the Packer line. Particularly now that KGB isn't at end giving the opposition an easy 4-5 yards whenever needed.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: 89

Yeah, I'm with you on this one. The offsides/encroachment rule should be changed as you outline. But until they do, the Colts are going to have an advantage, unless the other 31 teams wise up.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

David Lewin: I hope this game dispels Vince Young’s “He just wins games� reputation.

Certainly, the Titan's (and VY) lost this game. However, Young played very well towards the end of the game. My interpretation of the 'He just wins games' meme is that he plays well when the need is great. Nothing about his performance against the Colt's dispels that notion. Were it not for a dropped third down pass, we may have been deluged by a fresh crop of 'He just wins games' parroting.

As an aside, strange play calling on 3rd and 4th and short by Chow. You gotta believe that Young could get those yards. Heck even a straight ahead QB sneak would've done the trick.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Dear Rod Marinelli and Matt Millen,

Thank you for bringing the Silver Stretch back. If nothing else, you have made Lions games fun to watch again.

A Fan

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I've been on this site a few times suggesting that the QB projection system will be wrong about Tavaris Jackson. After watching 4 games as starter it appears to me now that Jackson has major accuracy issues. To be fair the Viking receivers are awful and he has been under incredible duress in 3 of the 4 games, but when he has time he is missing receivers.

I'm a big believer in the kind of work that Lewin has done. My Viking fan eyes made me fall for a guy who just looked nice throwing the ball.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Agreed on the Giants' chippiness. It makes the team harder to root for. Toomer in particular seems to have gotten more chippy the past few years. I know he's been going through a messy divorce (thank you NY Post), so he might just be a bitter guy. In any case, it's tough to watch, cuz this used to be a classy organization. Hopefully Cowher will bring some of that back next year.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

One of the big things I noticed about the Chargers last night is that they seemed to think they were a very good team (particularly the defensive players) and spent a lot of time trying to display that. There was more badass-style chest bumping, dancing, and screaming than in any game I've seen in the recent past by a team that was getting blown out. They looked like one of the Dennis Erickson Oregon State teams.

I'm inclined to blame that on Norv. Say what you will about Marty's strategy and in-game decisions, but he would have kept his team focused on the game. Norv has a rep as a player's coach, and I can't see him yelling at (e.g.) Shawn Merriman to put him back in his place.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

70: To me, the problem wasn't the announcers themselves. the problem was they were a low-rated crew, thus got low-rated camera production (and I'm guessing low-rated spotters and producers). A lot of horrible angles and missed replays.

I really couldn't care less about the quality of announcers, but it drives me bonkers when I'm watching a game with horrible camera work.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

And before anyone mentions 'clutchiness' - when the Titan's are losing and time is a factor, they typically put Young in the shotgun. According to FO stats, Young is most effective from the shotgun. So whether he (or anyone) is actually 'clutch' or not, he will be perceived as such until the Titan's use the shotgun more throughout the game.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

33. Will - That roughing the passer penalty and the missed push off were exasperating, but that kind of made up for the horrible call on the one hopper on third down the Vikings had. Jackson was real heads up to get up to the line and spike the ball on the next play. I think that was the same drive that the offence scored on.

It drove me a little nuts when the Vikes went to the pass on 3 and 1 a couple of times. I know you can't run every play, but with this team I'm not sure I'd ever pass 3 and 1. I'm not sure I'd ever pass 3rd and 3 or less.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Oh, and if Kitna's NOT out for the Eagles game, he'll be out shortly afterwards. Martz could run that kind of offense behind Pace and Timmerman, but the Lions' line is brutal. Frankly, 2-0 start notwithstanding, I don't think JT O'Sullivan is going to take a team to the playoffs.

Will Allen, I'm the opposite from you: a Packer fan who picked the Vikings to win the division. I still think they're the biggest threat, because they have two good lines and a star RB. But Jackson is the unknown quantity. I thought he could come in and be JP Losman: 2006 model. But he panics and doesn't seem to know where his receivers should be, let alone where they are. Bevell and Childress don't have much time to get it fixed, but remind me, why didn't they bring in a veteran in case he got hurt and/or lost the plot? Bollinger looked comparatively good yesterday, but see my JT O'Sullivan remark.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

99: Further to that point there was all sorts of trash talk media crap this week with the Chargers and Bears, originating from the Chargers' end. Um, guys, you already played the Bears, and rumor has it that your next opponent the Patriots might be pretty good this year -- maybe, just maybe, you want to focus on the game you're actually playing rather than one that you already won?

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I am a big Wisconsin Badger fan and have nothing but appreciation for what Bollinger did for the Badgers as their qb. But in the pros if Brooks Bollinger is the answer then your coaching staff is asking some pretty bizarre questions.

I remain stunned that he is on an NFL roster..........

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Can we see the Chargers beginning to unravel already? Yeah, I guess we can. I wish the Packers were playing them late in the year instead of next week.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#46 (Rich) Re: Bengals non-challenge
"I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a timeout, and couldn’t challenge."

Actually, when the play ended, the Bengals had a single timeout, and used it instead of challenging. That's the part I thought was inexplicable... If you've got 1 challenge, and 1 timeout that you're planning to use anyway, why not challenge? Where's the downside?

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

What makes me suspicious that Childress has made a horrible investment in time in Tavaris Jackson is that Childress' has made pretty darned bad decisions regarding backup qbs in Mike McMahon last year, and keeping Bollinger on the roster in the off-season. Bollinger was HORRIBLE in preseason.

I've said previously that Jackson may be bad, but the receivers are worse, but if yesterday is any indicator, it's a tie.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm still really shocked that the Vikings haven't picked up Leftwich. Hes a huge immediate upgrade over Jackson. So, it takes him 3 or 4 weeks to get up to speed, but if you can stay close in those 3 or 4 weeks, you may be able to make a run at the playoffs.

With Leftwich, opponents would atleast have to respect the passing game a little.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: 107

Does the clock start again after a replay challenge is resolved? That is, if they had upheld the first down, would the clock have started again after the ball had been readied for play, but prior to Cleveland actually snapping the ball? If that's the case, then the Bengals would have lost another 40 seconds or so off the clock. That was the only reason I could imagine for not challenging that play (though I'm obviously not certain of the rule).

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re: 50 Negative reinforcement doesn’t work without positive reinforcement, and I really doubt Coughlin ever says “good job�.

How often do you think Belichick says "good job"? Not very often is my guess. You always hear those guys talking about what they did wrong, even in wins like the last two weeks.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Re 101 - I'm reminded of young Elway, who would play so-so until the end of many games. Then either his concentration would go up or - more likely - the play-calling would loosen up while the defense had less time between plays (especially a factor in DEN) and he'd move the ball.

At the other end of the offensive competency scale, the Chiefs moved the ball effectively only twice yesterday, both times in a hurry-up. I know the Bears were playing soft in the 2nd half, but the one decent drive the Chiefs had before that was in the 2-minute offense in the 1st half. When it's not going right, I don't understand why coaches don't try changing the tempo more.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I also want to see the Vikings sign Leftwich. However, I share Will Allen's concerns about the Viking WRs: I'm not sure Leftwich would make a lot of plays with these WRs. The thing he could do, however, is make fewer dumb errors, but I assume Kelly Holcomb could do the same thing. I'm not entirely sure the Vikes shouldn't go to Holcomb right now--they could even cop out and blame Tarvaris Jackson's groin injury. With Holcomb playing the mostly average football he's played in his career, the Vikes should be able to beat the Chiefs and have a chance against the Packers in the Metrodome. Crap. I just jumped on the Kelly Holcomb train. I don't know where this train goes, but I guess I probably don't want to go there.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Any other Colt fans conflicted while watching the Brady-to-Moss show last night? Fun to watch. Good football. Scary.

Then again, like last week, Brady had enough time to crochet a baby blanket back there (trademark registration for that phrase pending, courtesy of Aaron Schatz). It looked a lot like 7 on 7 drills. I think Brady just sent out text messages to all his former receivers saying "I used to think you were okay, but just discovered how much you suck. My next kid, boy or girl, will be named Randy."

Either Harrison was giving a lot more than just HGH to the NE OL, or SD's D is not what we thought they were.... and yes, the secondary is still their weakest link. When the Colts play them, I hope Manning puts it up 60 times.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

How often do you think Belichick says “good job�? Not very often is my guess. You always hear those guys talking about what they did wrong, even in wins like the last two weeks.

Actually, quite a lot if you watch the players when they come back to the sidelines after a score or a defensive stop or a good special teams play. Don't confuse Press Conference Bill (There were some things we did well, there are others we need to be better on) with Off-camera Bill.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


"How often do you think Belichick says “good job�? Not very often is my guess. You always hear those guys talking about what they did wrong, even in wins like the last two weeks."

No idea, but he patted Mike Vrabel on the butt on his way off the field, which makes me think he gives a whole lot more complements than Coughlin

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


"What kind of offense do the Vikes run?"

One thats really, really, bad? Leftwich may not be a perfect fit, but he'd still be an upgrade over Jackson at this point

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

How often do you think Belichick says “good job�?

Quite a bit, actually. It's not the sort of thing they highlight on SportsCenter, and he's not a hugely demonstrative guy by any standard, but Belichick hands out the attaboys and minor perks for good plays and practice, as well.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think Childress has placed too much emphasis on athleticism at QB - hence his drafting of Jackson and Thigpen, and interest in backups like McMahon and Bollinger. But I think Childress has shown an ability to change and learn from his mistakes. I don't know much about Kelly Holcomb, but he's completed about 65% of his passes and he's run 43 times for 30 yards in his career so I presume he's not much of an athlete.

I'm thinking now Jackson is a mistake. Any thoughts from those in the know about Holcomb?

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

PV, trust me, they grow on you like mold on pizza - you can't figure out where it comes from and it spoils the whole thing, even if you kind of knew it was on the edge in the first place.

There were several plays where Vasgersian must have been playing Madden 08 in the booth instead of watching the action:

(Sharper has the ball, steps out of bounds, the official signals first down Vikings)
V: "And the pass is broken up, incomplete ... blah blah blah ..."
(realizes Vikings have ball, immediately breaks out Gus Johnson impersonation)
V: "wait - it's INTERCEPTED!"

Um, yeah, those of us actually watching the game already knew that.

Pearson was dutifully sticking to the below-average-color-guy script: blah blah run, blah blah obvious, blah blah whatever the producer wants to discuss next.

It was better than last week, though. They had a lot of problems showing snaps - I missed at least two in the first half. boo producers.

I know it's asking a lot for Fox to find ten quality PBP teams, but if my team gets the tenth-best duo, then yeah, that's what I want. :)

By the way, it seems that Kitna really did have a concussion, and that the symptoms really did disappear, which, of course, means that he won't have any complications from it.


It's not worth the win. Let him rest. A brain is more important than a win.

even a divisional win.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I love that somehow people enjoy football less because of "chippiness". This is football folks, not chess. It happens ALL the time in EVERY game. It's even more laughable that an Eagles fan would comment on cheapshots with Brian Dawkins on that team for a decade.

I wasn't very impressed with this "improving" GB defense. The Giants moved the ball DEEP into GB territory on 5 of their first 6 drives. BTW, the final play of the game was the Ahmad Bradshaw fumble on the kickoff... well, that was the last play the Giants showed any effort. That more than ANYTHING is a black eye for Coughlin. Your team won't always win. They won't always play well, but there's no excuse for lack of effort. No one even tried to tackle Wynn on that final touchdown.

Re: the Shockey "spike", it seems to me the Packers got something for jumping offsides. If there going to call something as meaningless as what Shockey did, I expect to see it called everywhere/everytime. I was more concerned with his drops, which killed the team.

Bill Barnwell (MEA CULPA!)... You were right and I was wrong. This Giants defense is literally the WORST I have ever seen. My friends who were complaining about the Aaron Ross pick all preseason now think he should start on Sunday. If I never see Corey Webster, Kawika Mitchell, and Kiwi (playing LB) again, I'll be a very happy man.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

re: Coughlin/Belichick

While I'm not sure I've seen Belichick give demonstrative compliments during a game, I'm also not sure I've ever seen him get into a player's face and just start screaming in rage. Coughlin does that fairly frequently--he seems to be yelling for the sake of yelling. Belichick seems to take care of the negative and positive reinforcement in ways that don't show up on camera. Coughlin appears to show up his players by visibly screaming at them fairly frequently. I wouldn't compare Coughlin's style to Belichick's style at all.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Don’t confuse Press Conference Bill (There were some things we did well, there are others we need to be better on) with Off-camera Bill.

Anybody want to take a shot at this?

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Viking fans:

Childress was a big fan of mobile quarterbacks while at Wisconsin and obviously working with Donovan McNabb likely reinforced that developed prejudice.

Exception was that Bevell was Wisconsin QB for a season under Childress. But from 1996-1998 the starter was Mike Samuel who put the "L" in limited when it came to passing ability. Samuel compensated by being smart, tough, mobile and capable of throwing downfield when needed. But touch passes? Deep outs? Screen passes? No way.

Anyway, if you are wondering as to the origins of this stuff.............

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


There is a difference between the rough and tumble of gamesmanship and blatant cheap shots. I had to watch Ken Stills back in the late 80's repeatedly give the opposition an extra series of downs for no other reason than his need to come in late with a forearm or try take out someone's knee.

THAT'S the stuff I was referencing. I don't know what O'Hara did but if Aaron Kampann is upset I pay attention. Because in all his years with the Packers I haven't witnessed anything CLOSE to the reaction I saw in the game or in interviews afterward.

Do you want to see a Giant player lose a game(s) to injury because an Eagle or Cowboy or Redskin got in a cheap shot?

Not trying to pick a fight here. Just trying to be clear about what I found disappointing about the Giants as a team.

I found their defense to be most pleasing. Ha, ha......

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2


I wish I was wrong. That being said, you've been more right than I have about the offense so far. It looked good for most of the Green Bay game, and that's a better defense than Dallas.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#122, 126 - I'm with Badger re: the cheapshots. If it were just one game, I could justify it as the players just letting their emotions get the better of them. The problem is that this has been a regular occurance during Coughlin's tenure (remember David Akers last season?). I'm always going to be a Giants' fan, but I despise all the crap that they've been pulling.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Vikings run a classic Walshian system, which I'm sure makes them hesitant to pick up somebody like Leftwich; no mobility, slow decision making, and likely 4-8 games to pick it up well enough to get on the field. Holcomb has some familiarity with it, and he has a track record of accuracy, so they may as well stick with him, if they decided to pull the plug on Jackson for the year.

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Giants fans:

Bob McGinn of the Journal-Sentinel does a writeup of the opposition before each game that includes an assessment of the starting units on offense/defense/special teams. When discussing the Giants secondary here is a one phrase summary of Webster, "afraid to tackle".

Based on that Wynne run and some other plays that seems quite accurate.

How can a guy like that be in the lineup?

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Dawkins is chippy? Really? Maybe. I dunno.

I actually think Jon Runyan is the chippiest guy in Philly right now. I also think Logan Mankins has to be picking up a reputation for chippy play in NE. It seemed like he was trying to flop down on top of a chargers D-lineman after every whistle last night.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Did anyone else think it was a little bit odd crazy that Norv Turner called a play-action pass on 3rd-and-30, while trailing by 17+ points in the fourth quarter?! What defense is going to be worried about the run in that situation? Did he just figure, "they'll never expect it"? Not only that, but he called a pass to a fullback on 4th-and-goal from the 1. I don't even care that it worked, he didn't know it would. You've got the best RB in football, who just set the TD record last year, and you throw a pass at the goal line to a fullback?! I guess he figured the Patriots would never expect that, either.

And don't get me started on the two times he punted on 4th-and-2 (or less), while down 17+ points, or the time he decided to call a pass on 3rd-and-1 that gets picked off and taken to the house.

Seriously, firing Marty Schottenheimer and then hiring Norv Turner and Ted Cottrell has got to be the worst decision the Chargers have made since they drafted Ryan Leaf, and maybe even before then. At least Leaf only screwed up an already crappy team. "Norvilicious" is ruining a championship caliber team. I hope AJ Smith gets fired after the Chargers go 4-12. Maybe then they can hire Parcells and get a ring.

Joey Harrington on Atlanta’s side of the field: Nine-for-14 for 172 yards, three sacks.

Joey Harrington on Jacksonville’s side of the field: Three-for-six for 28 yards, four sacks.

How on earth did Harrington get sacked that much, even on Atlanta's side of the field? This is two straight games where Joey's been sacked 6+ times. Over his career, he's been one of the least sackable QB's in the NFL, yet two games into the season he's been sacked 13 times.

Is it Atlanta's undersized O-line not being able to give him any time at all? The receivers never getting open? Or do you think that Petrino's been coaching him to hold onto the ball longer to let plays develop? Not that this is news, but this is going to be a very long year for the Falcons.

Also, for those confused about the spiking/spinning the ball rule, there was a new rule added in the offseason that went something like this:

Players can still spike the ball when out of bounds, or in the endzone, but if they spike it on the playing field, it's a penalty (can't remember what penalty, or how many yards, but it's a penalty). When they're still on the field, they can spin the ball after a play without being penalized.

Obviously, if they spike a ball and hit an opponent's foot with it, it's a taunting penalty even if it's out of bounds or in the end zone.

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Oakland at Denver... well, there's another 440 yards of offense that resulted in... 23 points. Cutler had better learn how to sustain drives soon. These squeakers are going to have Broncos fans keeling over from heart attacks. :-p

I'm really curious to see Denver's special teams VOA this week. Elam missed another field goal, and I think we started on the 2 yard line three times. And I know FO doesn't think much of Travis Henry, but he's looked pretty good to me, the last two games. Lots of first downs.

Mike Tanier: I hate the Raiders play calls leading up to the kick. Incomplete on a rollout pass, so they run twice and figure they’ll kick a 52-yarder on the road. Sure, the pass offense is weak and Janikowski has a big (but scattershot) leg, but attack a little more.

Oakland had 53 yards passing (official box score), not counting penalties. Of those, 46 came on one play, where Bly bit on an a pump-fake and was beaten by Porter for a TD. They had 3 first downs through the air.

It is overtime. Your passing game isn't going to suddenly get better than it has been for four quarters.

On the other hand, they had 5.7 yards per play, rushing the ball. Fargas didn't look so good, so check out Lamont Jordan's PAR this week.

I think Kiffin made the right calls. And it was just luck that he didn't beat the Broncos at home.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"You’ve got the best RB in football, who just set the TD record last year, and you throw a pass at the goal line to a fullback?"

Alex, generally I'd agree, but they were having no problem whatsoever stopping Tomlinson at that point. He was going for what, 1.7ypc at that point?

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

What do the Giants linebackers do well?

Ah, Steve Spagnuolo.

I did warn Giants fans, you know.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

129: On the upside, Leftwich is used to playing with a lousy set of receivers.

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Going to the O-line conversation earlier... when does the O-line have to 'freeze'? Because when Manning is doing the chickendance, all of them turn back and listen. Then they freeze up as Manning drops back.

So when exactly does the Oline have to be still?

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#130... Because the other guy who could start got burned by someone named Sam Hurd last week. T.O., I can understand. Sam Hurd? You can't start anymore. Honestly, neither one of them should be starting, backing up, or employed.

#128... Do you remember how the David Akers thing started? He THREW himself into the Giants sideline for some unknown reason, hitting a staffmember (Charles Way) who works with the team. Gotta remember the entire story...

#126... I'm certainly not defending what happened to Kampman, but it seems to happen a lot in football. For example, Plaxico Burress (it might've been Toomer) dove for a catch and ended up on the ground. All anyone had to do was tap him to end the play. Some Packers' DB drilled him with his forearm. Maybe it was retaliation of some sort, but it was clearly unnecessary. I just don't think the Giants are a DIRTY team... STUPID, certainly, very STUPID, but not dirty.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"#128… Do you remember how the David Akers thing started? He THREW himself into the Giants sideline for some unknown reason, hitting a staffmember (Charles Way) who works with the team. Gotta remember the entire story…"

yeah, you do. He didnt THROW himself, it was a kickoff, and he went to tackle the returner, and was knocked out of bounds, by a giants player, into the giants bench.

Yeah, that David Akers, hes such a trouble maker.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Alex, generally I’d agree, but they were having no problem whatsoever stopping Tomlinson at that point. He was going for what, 1.7ypc at that point?

True, but all they needed was 1 yard, and Rivers wasn't exactly lighting up the world, either. I'm not saying a run would've been a guaranteed TD, but there's just no way that it had a lower probability of success than a pass to a FB. In any case, it's only one of the many mistakes Norvilicious made, so even if he gets a little slack on that particular play, the overall playcalling was still atrocious.

Seriously, a play-action pass on 3rd-and-30, trailing by three scores? I would've fired him on the spot after that.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#135... I remember telling you about players being what they are and how no amount of coaching can change that. 80 points allowed doesn't speak well for Spags, but I can't blame him for THIS.

Kawika Mitchell couldn't tackle anyone when he was in Kansas City (I should've remembered the Tiki 200 yard game in '05). Kiwi is not a LB, certainly not a 4-3 LB. Pierce fell off last season and hasn't shown anything this year. Buddy Ryan couldn't do anything with them. You can't make chicken(bleep) into chicken soup. At least when Gerris Wilkinson comes back, Kiwi will no longer be starting.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#131: Runyan is easily the chippiest guy in Philly. By far. A lot of his ability is knowing how to get away with holds such that officials can't see it.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

#139... No, Akers left his feet for no reason at all. A player doesn't get pushed (which he did), run for a few steps, then all of a sudden fly into the air.

Click the link. You have to love youtube.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Akers launched himself at the Giants sideline, like a WWF body-block type of move... I'm pretty sure he wasn't blocked into the sideline.

That being said, the players on the sideline had no business throwing him down (I believe Pierce and someone else did this?).

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"#139… No, Akers left his feet for no reason at all. A player doesn’t get pushed (which he did), run for a few steps, then all of a sudden fly into the air"

Yeah, its called tripping. When you get hit from behind, sometimes you lose your balance.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Speaking of Runyan the Packers have a slew of silly shows where the players come on to talk about the game. Runyan's name came up on one of them after the Eagles game because of his rep and the D-lineman on the show (Cullen Jenkins?) just laughed and said yeah, the guy gets in his shots but they still respected him because he's a good player who doesn't try to hurt people. Just looks to antagonize to maybe draw a penalty from the opposition.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Well, I know Pat's going to jump into the discussion any time now to defend Akers. Just read the DVOA Week 3 comments from last year, this is probably going to end up in a similar manner.

I think the whole point of this was that the Giants have a history of playing dirty... they still gang-beat Akers when he ended up on their sideline.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

LnGrrR, #137, As I recall, the OL must freeze when their hands go down. Which is why Indy's guys (and a lot more OLs than I recall from the 1980s, for example) all hold 2 point stances, so they can look around at D stunting, fakes, blitz giveaways, etc, until the last second.

They have less "low power" then, but I see a lot of OTs facing outward about 45 degrees in a 2-pt stance at a speed rushing end from a 2 pt stance because they need speed and quickness more than low power. Takes too long to get up out of your low stance in that case.

Now a Center... I'd assume his 3-pt stance starts once his hand is down on the ball, but I know Jeff Saturday does a ton of pointing and line calls with one hand on the ball and the other gesturing. Not sure what the call is on that.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Okay, I will comment.

It's simple. Do you want to believe Akers did it on purpose or not? If you do, you can easily find a dozen reasons to justify it in that video. If you don't, you can find a dozen reasons to justify that.

It's ambiguous, and even if I didn't have an Eagles bias (and in this case, I honestly don't care - he got fined in any case) I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. This isn't like Haynesworth stepping on some guy's face, or Trent Cole kicking a guy in the groin. It's ambiguous, and it is a lot safer to give a jerk the benefit of a doubt one time (he'll act like a jerk again anyway) than it is to declare a decent guy a jerk.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Ok, I'm a Pats homer, and therefore, don't care about the Giants or Eagles one way or another.

Watching the YouTube, it's pretty ridiculous that anyone would think that Akers didn't jump at the end. There's no way that jump is natural or a result of the push he received from behind.