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

Audibles at the Line: Week 3

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.

TV Crimes

Doug Farrar: Go Frankadelphia Yelloweagles! Nice unis!

Mike Tanier:I have my light blue King of Sweden tee-shirt. But I draw the line at a jersey

Ben Riley: Speaking of fashion disasters, I'm watching NFL Countdown right now, and Emmitt Smith is wearing a five-inch tie. There's about a foot of open space between where the silk ends and Emmitt's belt line begins -- hit that hole, tie!

Tim Gerheim: Does he have one of those outrageously large knots like Michael Irvin always used to sport? (God, I miss ESPN in Germany.) Apparently a quadruple-Windsor or something is en vogue among former Triplets, and it takes a lot of tie length to make happen. It looks OK with a jacket, but laughable without one.

Bill Barnwell: Amazingly, Coors Light manages to make "They are who we thought they were!" not funny. This is right up there with Maxim making Melissa Joan Hart unattractive in tragedies of the 21st century.

Doug Farrar: Not to mention what Keith Olbermann's appearances on Football Night in America are doing to my fond memories of his SportsCenter years.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, for crying out loud. I thought that Macintosh's "let's buy time in every single commercial break and run the exact same commercial" strategy was a one-week thing, but no, they want to pound that song into our heads until somebody finally flips, drives to Toronto, and stabs Leslie Feist to death out of frustration.

Bill Barnwell: Right when that e-mail came through, I heard Feist singing from the other room. I'm firmly against this commercial now and demand that Emily Haines have her own by Week 9.

Miami Dolphins 28 at New York Jets 31

Bill Barnwell: Pennington looks OK so far. A little labored in his throws, but it's like typical Pennington: When he has time, he's fine.

When he doesn't cover, Channing Crowder helps. I wrote about this in the book, but he's just an awful cover linebacker, and with Zach Thomas out, Crowder's in the middle. Pennington looked him off and Crowder ran three yards out of his zone, creating a perfect hole for Jerricho Cotchery right behind him. Two plays later, Crowder crowned Pennington after a throw and roughed the passer. Jets scored a few plays later.

Miami drives behind Ronnie Brown, who decimates the Jets run defense like it was 2006. Then came an interesting play where the Dolphins brought in Jason Taylor inside the five. Taylor lined up as a tight end, motioned out right and had a one-on-one matchup against Erik Coleman. He drew a pass interference penalty and the Fins scored two plays later.

Aaron Schatz: The Dolphins did that thing with Taylor last year. I think it was the same thing -- he came in as a tight end in the goal-line set and then motioned wide.

Bill Barnwell: Jets respond with a perfect kickoff return for 98 yards and a touchdown. I don't think Leon Washington was touched once.

Sean McCormick: The genius of Cam Cameron in action: On Miami's first drive, they converted a third-and-3 by getting Marty Booker in the slot against a zone for a five-yard gain. Later in the drive, they are in another third-and-3, so Cameron decides to run the exact same play, only motioning Booker from left to right. This time, Darrelle Revis was on him in man coverage, Trent Green pulled the ball down and ended up getting sacked. You're a genius, Cam.

Jonathan Vilma is playing the best game I've seen from him since the team went to a 3-4. He's sliding off blocks and standing up Ronnie Brown. For the last two years, whenever Vilma has made a tackle, he's gone backwards. Today he's making the ball carrier go backwards.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson is really doing a good job against Jason Taylor. Ferguson has trouble with bull rushers, but speed guys like Taylor are much easier for him to deal with, as he has the feet to rapidly set up and negate the outside rush.

Third week in a row that the Jets offense draws a defensive penalty with a quick snap. In this case, they got Miami with twelve men on the field. It's a nice byproduct of Chad calling much of the game at the line.

Thomas Jones just stiff-armed Travis Daniels twice in the course of one run, with the second one being a knockdown. Daniels isn't going to want to go back to the huddle after that one.

Bill Barnwell: Dolphins just scored to make it 31-19 and then ran the Statue of Liberty play for two. Cam Cameron isn't a genius, but that was pretty nifty.

Sean McCormick: Green faked the fade, held the ball behind his back with his left, and Ronnie Brown took it in for an easy conversion. The Dolphins showed it in preseason, and they ran it to perfection.

Arizona Cardinals 23 at Baltimore Ravens 26

Stuart Fraser: Edgerrin James just broke a 27-yard run. This is not last year's Ravens defense (or last year's Arizona run blocking). On the flip side, while the fullback can run block, he can't catch. Leinart has bounced two passes off his fullback's hands so far.

Um, right. Then we get a delay of game, followed by another delay of game which is re-ruled as an Arizona timeout. I think Leinart needs to speak up.

Bill Barnwell: Baltimore's run defense looked pretty good to me the first two weeks. They have a -56.7% DVOA, too.

Stuart Fraser: Whisenhunt benches Leinart for Warner (who promptly hits Anquan Boldin for 20 yards and Fitzgerald for 10, somehow, since there wasn't much wrong with either coverage). Warner is going no-huddle, which might be why Leinart isn't in, but ... let's just say Matt doesn't look happy.

Baltimore's blitz pickup is FANTASTIC. It's not as if Clancy Pendergast is just rushing the same guys play after play, but Musa Smith and the various linemen and ends are picking up everyone who comes -- McNair never looks hurried. I had a sentence written about how the wide recievers couldn't get open in the red zone, but Mason just caught a TD pass. (Cardinals non-tackling helped.)

According to the FOX sideline reporter, Whisenhunt claims that his offense has a "Kurt Warner" package, which has nothing to do with how Leinart is playing (he's now back in, mostly throwing short passes). It's an interesting idea, presumably based on the idea that the Ravens weren't preparing for Warner, but...

Doug Farrar: Hopefully for Whisenhunt, that Warner Package doesn't have an expiration date.

Stuart Fraser: Next Warner sighting: Cardinals kick a field goal, kick onside and recover. Warner comes out and completes a pass to Fitzgerald, who fumbles and the Ravens recover (and run it in for a touchdown, but it's brought back by a dubious down by contact call).

The Ravens are blocking really well, but they keep insisting on trying McNair on bootlegs, which is kind of weird when he's not getting particularly pressured in the pocket.

FOX just put up a QB comparison graphic on Warner and Leinart, showing Warner has thrown half as many passes for 1.5 times as many yards. Next play, Boldin burns Corey Ivy on a fake slant and Warner hits him for 25 or so. I'd say we now officially have a quarterback controversy in Arizona.

Doug Farrar: Goodness. I don't know that anyone saw that coming.

Aaron Schatz: And then, after Kurt Warner drops the snap four times next week...

Doug Farrar: And throws three picks, and gets booed off the field...

Stuart Fraser: Brian Billick subbed Kyle Boller in because, apparently, the Ravens are still worried about McNair's groin (so why do you keep calling rollouts, Billick?). Ravens go three-and-out, Morey deflects the punt. Warner comes back in, finds Fitzgerald, finds Boldin, touchdown. 20-23. Announcers talking about how there's "nothing fake about what Warner's doing" and how he "has the experience." Some of this might just be the Ravens breaking down late in the third quarter and the fourth, just as they did against the Bengals and Jets. Some of it might be the no-huddle Warner's running. Some of it is that the receivers are getting more separation. Some of it is that Warner is seeing the field better and throwing more accurately than Leinart.

Boller is still in. No word on if McNair is more injured than the Ravens are letting on.

The Cardinals tie the game up at 23, a mixed drive which stalled after Warner started taking shots at the end zone. McNair has "tweaked" his groin, and Billick "is not risking further injury." So. 23-23. You have the ball on your 20 (Rackers kicked a touchback). Kyle Boller is, admittedly, looking much better this year -- just as PFP predicted -- but still, who would you want to lead a game-winning drive?

Indianapolis Colts 30 at Houston Texans 24

Ben Riley: Fourth-and-1 from the Indy 45, Houston lines up to go for it, then calls timeout. Matt Schaub then ends up drawing Indy offside with a hard count. Somewhere, TMQ is smiling.

(That Owen Daniels fumbled on the next play should not detract from Houston's chutzpah.)

You'll all be seeing the highlight of Joseph Addai leaping 17 yards in the air to score from the six-yard line. Great call by whoever is announcing this game: "Houston, we have lift-off."

Ben Riley: Cart out for Houston's defensive tackle, Cedric Killings, injured on a special teams play. Both teams on the field, praying.

Will Carroll: Killings just dropped his head and is getting backboarded off. He's moving his arms, but he was clearly unconscious while still upright. His arms locked out before gravity took over.

Ahman Green looks terrible and I'm not even sure how much that can be blamed on his knee.

The contraption Freddy Keiaho is wearing to HOLD HIS ELBOW IN PLACE is pretty amazing. More amazing that he can or even would play.

Michael David Smith: Colts' rookies are not looking good. On one play, Tony Ugoh lets Mario Williams hit Peyton Manning; on the next, Anthony Gonzalez drops a pass.

Ned Macey: The touchdown return by Mathis came on a second kick, after the Colts were offside. The Colts, worried about kicking again, promptly squib and still give up the touchdown. Have we ever checked to see if there are more big returns after a kicking team penalty?

Do the Texans have a pass play in their playbook that goes more than eight yards? I guess Matt Schaub is "in control," but everything is dink-and-dunk. Looks a lot like David Carr against the Colts last year. Same formula of wasting time to limit Colts' possessions. Of course, Schaub is playing without Andre Johnson.

As for the Colts, the Texans are taking away the outside, so Manning is relying on Clark/Gonzalez/Addai. Gonzalez has dropped two catchable passes. The Texans defensive line is playing well against the run, but I don't think they have the necessary secondary depth to deal with the Colts.

Ben Riley: Reggie Wayne almost -- repeat, almost -- had the early lead on catch of the year, juggling a ball from fingertip to fingertip while falling backwards. Ball came out when he hit the ground, but an amazing effort. (Dunta Robinson blanketed him too -- Robinson's my early Pro Bowl cornerback pick.)

Jacoby Jones just busted off an 8o-yard kick return, which Schaub promptly turned over by forcing a throw into triple coverage. I believe Schaub is a good NFL quarterback, but he has decision-making problems in the red zone.

Ben Riley: With 3:45 to play, Houston down by two touchdowns, the Texans get to first-and-goal on the two after a nice pass by Schaub to Daniels. The Texans then meander around for a while and decide to call timeout after 40 seconds run off the clock. The Texans just scored, but that was horrible clock management by Kubiak.

Tim Gerheim: This comes as perhaps little surprise, but DeMarcus Faggins simply can't cover Marvin Harrison. All I have is the radio to go on -- curse you Germany for your love of fußball and your indifference to good American football -- but it sounds like Manning has thrown to Harrison so much more than to Wayne today. It doesn't come through in the yardage totals because Wayne got one deep ball for most of his yardage, but it seems like every time the Colts really needed a first down, most particularly late when protecting a six-point lead, it went to Harrison.

Mike Tanier: Another typical early-season Colts game. They took a healthy lead, 27-10, then just calmly toyed with the Texans. The guy next to me at the bar had the Colts laying 7.5. I told him it was a bad idea: They are so calm and methodical with a lead that they will just let the Texans come back very slowly. Never take the Colts and lay points in the AFC South, especially on the road. Oh, and their kick coverage teams still look pretty bad.

San Diego Chargers 24 at Green Bay Packers 31

Aaron Schatz: I hope that this game doesn't lead to complete panic in San Diego. Losing a close game on the road to one of the best teams in the other conference is probably the least negative loss a team can have.

The final totals: In three games against the teams that finished 1, 2 and 3 in DVOA vs. tight ends in 2006, Antonio Gates had 297 yards and two touchdowns. Awesome.

Doug Farrar:Not so awesome is the fact that LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers were jawing at each other on the sidelines, and LT2 looks more and more miserable after each game. I'm not saying that Marty Schottenheimer is feeling a tinge of Schadenfreude (because I'm sure he isn't when it concerns the players he coached), but this has to be one hell of a 64th birthday present.

Detroit Lions 21 at Philadelphia Eagles 56

Tim Gerheim: What the hell is going on in Philly? Hasn't their offense looked awful for the first two games? Is MDS on a window ledge somewhere?

Michael David Smith: If, like Donovan McNabb, you're a quarterback planning to say something that's going to get you criticized, be sure it's going to air the week before you play the Lions. Everyone will forget all criticisms after the game.

Aaron Schatz: Attention, media. This is Donovan McNabb. I apologize for that whole race thing and just want to let you know that I don't suck. Thanks.

Bill Barnwell: I had this whole column ready where I was going to blame McNabb shaving his "halfro" for his struggles this year. I just watched tape of the Redskins-Eagles game yesterday and he really wasn't that bad. He aired a couple of throws out, but most of his problems were because his receivers just weren't getting open in tight man coverage. The Lions can't really do tight man coverage.

Ben Riley: Genius move on my part to bench Kevin Curtis this week. He's got 26 points with 11 minutes to play in the second quarter. Did I say 26 points? McNabb just hooked up with him again -- third touchdown of the day. Is Detroit bothering to cover Curtis at all? What is going on?

Michael David Smith: Kevin Curtis has more than 200 yards. Roy Williams has more than 150. It's almost the two-minute warning. Of the first half.

Doug Farrar: Hey Ben, can you trade for Deion Branch and bench him next week?

Ned Macey: Didn't this exact same thing happen to the Lions a couple years ago? Start 2-0, then get destroyed by Philly. I'm shocked, shocked that the Lions secondary can't keep up with the Eagles. I mean, they held Josh McCown to like 300 yards.

David Lewin: Looks like Jon Kitna might get those 5,000 yards he promised today the way things are going.

Mike Tanier: Keith Smith, number 23 for Detroit, was the victim of several of Kevin Curtis' big plays.

The lineman formerly known as Tre' Thomas was hurt in the game. Status unknown. Shawn Andrews left with an eye poke (concussion?) but returned. Winston Justice and Max Giles played a little and didn't look bad. Great win, but the Eagles need Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard back, and soon.

Oh, and MDS said something earlier about everyone forgetting the McNabb criticism and the race controversy. Mike has clearly never set a pinkie toe in the City of Brotherly Love.

St. Louis Rams 3 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24

Ben Riley: Cadillac Williams just plowed into the end zone, shortly after Jeff Garcia hooked up with Galloway on some perfectly timed slants. The PFP Prediction System just called me and said "I told you so."

Ned Macey: Drew Bennett gets held by Brian Kelly in the end zone, but no call. Jeff Wilkins finally hits a field goal after missing his first two. That's two missed field goals and an end zone interception from Bulger and only three points. The Bulger interception was another good play by Buchanon, although it was a pretty bad pass that gave him the chance.

Doug Farrar: Total St. Louis receiving yards today: 116. Total Kevin Curtis receiving yards today: 221. I can give you the name of one athlete who's very happy to be in Philadelphia right now...

Minnesota Vikings 10 at Kansas City Chiefs 13

Ben Riley: Kenechi Udeze just tossed Kyle Turley aside and nailed Larry Johnson about five yards deep in the backfield. L.J. then threw the ball, prompting a five-yard penalty for delay of game. Kansas City is a complete disaster.

Doug Farrar: Conversely, that was a freakish triple headfake that Adrian Peterson put on some poor Chiefs defender for his first-half touchdown.

Vince Verhei: I picked Minnesota to be the worst team in the league, and now that I see them against KC, I realize I was a fool. Herm is running L.J. into an eight-man front for one yard or less on every first down.

Ben Riley: Minnesota has a good defense, and its coach isn't named Herm Edwards. KC is averaging -0.3 yards on first down today.

Doug Farrar: Evidently, those who state publicly that you should not throw your franchise running back into the mouth of the NFL's dominant interior line over and over only do so on those danged Internets.

Vince Verhei: Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Huard finds Dwayne Bowe for a series of first downs, and suddenly Larry Johnson rips a long run down inside the 10. Of course, it's called back for holding. Bowe converts on third down, then L.J. loses a yard on first.

Vikings are about to get the ball back with about 1:30 to go. Kelly Holcomb has gone most of the way at quarterback. He's definitely the most talented passer they have, but there have also been a number of incompletions due to miscommunication.

Ben Riley: The Chiefs were just flagged for 12 men on the field, stopping the clock with 45 seconds (and Minnesota holding no timeouts). "That one was ON ME. I screwed up. IT'S ON ME." Kansas City is still going to win though.

Vince Verhei: Huard finds Bowe for a touchdown! KC leads 13-10! I was right about Minnesota! I am way too excited about this game!

Buffalo Bills 7 at New England Patriots 38

Aaron Schatz: Early on, we are seeing why no game should ever have a line of 16.5. The Bills lost J.P. Losman when he hurt his knee on an Ellis Hobbs corner blitz sack-and-fumble, and they are still up 7-3 after one quarter. Trent Edwards came in and led a drive down the field. He looked very calm and composed, certainly more calm than Losman normally looks. The Pats are playing a very soft zone so Edwards could find all those non-Lee Evans guys, who were all wide-open on nearly every play. (One negative: Edwards' play-fakes are awful.)

Bill Moore: If by play-fakes, you are referring to his constant ball-less bootlegs, he kept screwing with me. I made the trek to Foxboro and watched the game from the end zone (a tough depth perception view). Edwards would fake the bootleg on every handoff. From my "behind the QB" angle, I couldn't tell whether he had the ball or not -- drove me crazy!

Aaron Schatz: No, the opposite. The waving the ball in the general direction of Marshawn Lynch before a drop-back pass play. That fooled nobody.

Lynch really bulldozed his way into the end zone on an eight-yard touchdown run, very impressive. On the other hand, nearly every tackle of Lynch seems to be a defender catching him by the ankle and Lynch can't get loose. I don't know if the Pats are better at ankle-tackling than other defenses, or Lynch is not as good at escaping from ankle tackles, but I'm leaning towards the latter.

Pats offense is a bit off so far today. In the red zone, Brady twice threw to guys who were covered even though Buffalo was in zone. Nice plays by Crowell (on Gaffney) and Whitner (on Moss). Beginning of second quarter, they went for it on fourth-and-long in long field goal range and threw to Kevin Faulk two yards shy of the sticks. Someone needs to tell Brady about the Madden "to the sticks" hot route.

With 9:00 left in the second quarter, Tom Brady has the ball stripped as he's going over the goal line on a quarterback sneak. I thought that the review showed his knee down before he lost the ball, but I'm certainly willing to accept that it was not "indisputable evidence." Two plays later, Trent Edwards barely touches his foot against the back of the end zone as he's rolling away from pressure, no safety. Belichick throws his second challenge. Once again, the ruling on the field stands.

Paul Posluszny has a broken forearm and is now out indefinitely. The Bills are winning this game despite losing Posluzny and Losman. At halftime, they'll be changing into black jerseys and orange helmets featuring a large "S."

Mike Tanier: Sounds like Losman is out for a few weeks. Worse yet, Poz may be out for the year. There goes one of the few Bills I was really excited about.

Bill Moore: I haven't watched too much of Buffalo this year, but probably not coincidentally, the Bills fell apart after Poz went out. The Patriots ran the ball quite easily after the Bills switched middle linebackers.

Sean McCormick: Buffalo fans should be happy about one thing: This is a good upcoming quarterback class, and the J.P. Losman era is likely to come to a merciful end.

Aaron Schatz: Second half report on Patriots-Bills: Buffalo will not be playing the role of the Syracuse Orange today. 24-7 halfway through the third quarter, the Patriots offense is now in gear, and this sucker is pretty much over.

I would like to ask that we please, please, please have a moratorium on "Can the Patriots go 16-0?" talk until after they've gone to Indianapolis Week 9 and to Baltimore Week 13. If they are 12-0 after that, with their last four games either at home or at the Giants, then we can talk.

Sean McCormick: Besides, we all know the Pats are going to lose in Miami.

Aaron Schatz: Wes Welker adds extra yards to a long reception by lateraling the ball to Randy Moss. Really. Then Sammy Morris goes in for a score. 31-7, 3:30 left in the third quarter. We will now take bets on when Matt Gutierrez appears in this game.

Edwards has thrown to Lee Evans only four times and he has no receptions. I can't even tell what they are doing to stop him, since it still looks like the Patriots are playing a soft zone, and of course after the snap everyone runs off the screen.

This just in: We were wrong about Randy Moss.

Bill Barnwell: On the other hand, we were right about the Rams.

Sean McCormick: And the Bucs, despite ourselves.

Bill Barnwell: We were right about Green Bay, too.

Vince Verhei: I personally was very wrong about the Packers.

San Francisco 49ers 16 at Pittsburgh Steelers 37

Doug Farrar: San Francisco's first first down of the day after two ineffective plays was a pass from Alex Smith to Darrell Jackson, which was aided by a desperation Frank Gore block on James Farrior as Smith rolled left. Gore is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry through two games this season after 5.4 last year -- teams are obviously focusing on him. Now, Smith is throwing little screens and quick rollouts to keep that Pittsburgh defense off his back. San Francisco drove down the field, but they were stymied from the Pittsburgh 14 after a Gore run for no gain and two hurried throws into the end zone by Smith. Right now, this offense looks really iffy, and it's all on Smith to make opponents respect the passing game and give Gore some breathing room. Gore faced a lot of "boxes" last year, but the opportunities don't seem to be there now.

Of course, when your offense is problematic, you could do what the Steelers did on the kickoff after the field goal: Allen Rossum for 98 yards the other way.

Tim Gerheim: Is it just me, or have there been a ton of kick return touchdowns this week so far? I just counted one punt and three kickoff return touchdowns, basically through halftime of the early games. That's probably one of TMQ's old statistics that I have absolutely no idea what it means.

Doug Farrar: Right now, I'm suspecting that the best way for Gore to get yardage against this defense is short passes. Maybe he'll get his 100 yards on 10 screens. Steelers' defense looking very strong -- good form, good position, good reads. Troy Polamalu just axed Vernon Davis on a short pass on San Francisco's second drive.

Ryan Wilson: I have no idea what the "hitting the QB below the knee" rule is. The Steelers just tackled Alex Smith low on two different plays -- nothing dirty, just low -- and no flag.

Aaron Schatz: In the Pats-Bills game, Vince Wilfork got called for the "hitting the QB below the knee" rule against Buffalo and I think he sort of rolled into Losman with inertia.

Doug Farrar: Bryant Young wasn't fooled by Roethlisberger's play action in Pittsburgh's second offensive play of the day -- he and Hannibal Navies caused a fumble on the sack, and the 49ers recovered. Of all the recent 3-4 converts, I like this defense the best.

Good Lord -- every time Gore runs the ball, there are eight Steelers on him right away. Maybe let's go away from that idea and run something else until something else works and the defense has more than one play to watch for?

Vernon Davis with three receptions for 43 yards early, but Smith is just awful in the red zone through the first quarter. Nothing doing on the first and third drives, and only a worm-burner to Delanie Walker was even close.

Patrick Willis vaporized Willie Parker on an end run right at the end of the first quarter. Willis shedded the tight end and wrapped Parker up. You could tell that Parker didn't know WHERE that came from.

Okay, seriously -- who's the genius calling for Gore to run right at Casey Hampton all the time? Alex Smith just picked up San Francisco's longest run of the day early in the second quarter when he was flushed out of the pocket.

Doug Farrar: Holy freakin' crap. Pittsburgh just ran an end-around right to Cedrick Wilson, but the 49ers had the right side sealed off, so Wilson had to reverse his field and angle to the middle where there was space -- and Willis shut off the right side, by the way. Out of nowhere -- from what must have been from 25 yards upfield -- Nate Clements shoots right up the pike and nails Wilson for no gain. An unbelievable play. A couple plays later, Clements gets robbed on a holding call on Wilson when he's within five yards. More stupid judgment calls...

Nice direct snap to Hines Ward for a first down play on Pittsburgh's first touchdown drive. The 49ers are starting to get gashed on the run -- the one big vulnerability I saw with this defense in the preseason. Parker has 79 yards on 11 carries in the first half.

That Norv to San Diego thing isn't just tragic for the Chargers. Alex Smith has seriously regressed –- he looks like a first-year Division II player stuck in an NFL uniform by some horrible mistake. After watching one half and brief shots of the first two games, I am officially concerned.

Bill Barnwell: Smith looked bad against the Cardinals in Week 1. Really bad.

Ned Macey: Smith was pretty bad against the Rams as well, but I wonder what he's "regressing" from. He played at replacement level last year, so this isn't that big a decline.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, but Smith played at replacement level in his second year, after posting the single worst QB DPAR in history in his rookie year, with CFL receivers. The receivers have been part of the problem in this game (Lelie looked really bad on one incompletion), though there have been upgrades this year, but he's rushing throws, balking at pressure -- he just doesn't look remotely confident out there. And the red zone performance has been abysmal.

Mike Tanier: Alex Smith is an athlete, not a quarterback. He can't hit receivers in tight spots. He throws behind guys and to the wrong shoulder. Unless he makes some sudden improvement over the next few weeks, I see a guy who is always going to frustrate you because he's always missing receivers by two yards on deep passes and throwing behind them on short passes.

Doug Farrar: Hmmm ... it appears that for the second half, the 49ers are going to run Gore outside once in a while -- and when they run him inside, Larry Allen will help chip Hampton before moving on. Excellent idea!

Smith finally got off a good long throw in the third quarter to Vernon Davis, who was upended by Polamalu at the 10-yard line. Ball came out, but Davis was down. Yeouch, what a hit.

Oh, wait -- then Mike Nolan throws the challenge flag after Ryan Clark returned the "fumble" a number of yards, and Gerry Austin rules after review that the pass was incomplete. I don't understand this at all, because it was clear that Davis had possession until his upper body hit the turf, and the ball never hit the ground. The ball came out of Davis' arm and into the hands of Clark. An incomplete pass is the one thing I don't think it can be -- I think it's either a catch by Davis and the ground caused the fumble, or the ball's still in play and it's a Pittsburgh interception because it never touched the ground. Huh? You'll see that one on "Official Review" this week, no question.

Ryan Wilson: Moose Johnston, in talking about Willie Parker (who's over 100 yards again today) just asked if we should be worried about the Curse of 370. (Raises hand.)

Alex Smith just made a great touchdown pass under pressure to Taylor Jacobs, cutting the Steelers' lead to 30-16 with just over two minutes to go. On the ensuing kickoff, the 49ers go for an onside kick and ... Daniel Sepulveda (a.k.a. ROBO-PUNTER) recovers. That's right, the punter is on the all-hands team.

Doug Farrar: So are the Niners what we thought they were? Pretty much. I still think they have a very good chance to win their division based on a few key improvements (Nate Clements looks like he wants to earn his entire contract in the first season) and a very weak schedule. They're not in Pittsburgh's league right now, but I don't think too many teams are. The Steelers are really on a tear.

Cleveland Browns 24 at Oakland Raiders 26

Stuart Fraser: On the Browns' first drive, after a couple of first downs, the Raiders get to Anderson as he throws, the ball goes backwards out of his arm, and it eventually winds up out of bounds 24 yards behind the snap. Then the Browns get a delay of game, Lewis up the gut for four, followed by a false start. Third-and-40, baby. Oh, at this point the Browns burned a timeout to avoid another delay of game. Was it worth it?

Is it me, or have there been more delay of game penalties this year than last year? We've had two and a burned timeout in CLE-OAK so far, but then again this is CLE-OAK.

Culpepper may be in in Oakland. Or he may not be. He came in for one play on a third-and-13 after McCown scrambled around to no great effect other than getting hit, and threw a five-yard dumpoff to Jordan.

Cleveland just tried a deep direct snap to Josh Cribbs, with Derek Anderson lined up in a trips bunch wideout. He ran up the gut for six, not that it matters, as Anderson was just intercepted. Mostly what I'm learning from this game is that the Bengals' defense is really horrible.

Culpepper is not in, McCown returned after the interception. Though it may not make much difference. Four-play snippet:

Oakland false starts just to make it more awkward and give McCown a third-and-8. Blatant pass interference from Cleveland on the ensuing fade route, and Oakland have first-and-goal from the One. Yay, defense. Jordan goes backwards on an outside run. McCown pass is tipped by an onrushing Antwaan Peek. McCown has forever, finds Williams in the end zone, who is hit by Jones and drops the ball, ruled incomplete. Yay, offense.

Anderson has now thrown behind his receiver and to an Oakland linebacker twice. The Brady Quinn countdown is, I think, resumed. Meanwhile, McCown is hobbling around between plays (and fails to convert the interception return to the 10 into 7). I have no idea who will be starting at quarterback for either of these teams next week.

Ned Macey: At this point, how bad must Culpepper be in practice? McCown is not the long-term answer at quarterback for them, yet he keeps playing despite being pretty bad. This is a must-win for them, so if Culpepper doesn't play the second half, then I'm afraid he's done as an NFL player.

Speaking of which, who the hell is going to win the AFC West? The Broncos defense is being manhandled by the Jaguars, and their one score came after a blown coverage allowed them to complete a 50-yard pass on a third-and-16.

Stuart Fraser: Oakland just put together an 80-yard touchdown drive which included three short pass plays and twelve runs. The Browns are being knocked backwards by the Raiders' offensive line. I can't believe I just wrote a sentence that ended "knocked backwards by the Raiders' offensive line."

Both defenses are getting tired now in Oakland. I can tell because the offenses are looking competent. Kiffin clearly doesn't trust Culpepper, having only let him throw downfield twice (McCown is clearly hobbled) and I'm not entirely surprised given that he and Anderson appear to be having a "who can overthrow more receivers contest," though Culpepper has the lead as Anderson had one of his fits of looking like an actual NFL quarterback on the last drive (helped by a superb jump catch from Edwards).

To be fair to the Raiders, I haven't commented about their touchdown drive, in which McCown looked competent. That said, the drive did end with Cleveland biting very hard on a play-action fake and Curry was extremely open for the long touchdown pass.

Cribbs took the kickoff back 99 yards the other way, and then McCown and Jordan fumbled a handoff. The Browns recovered on Oakland's 30, drove to a first-and-goal on the five, failed to punch it in and kicked the field goal. The Browns do have some offense, mostly Jamal Lewis, but gah. 16-10. Cleveland does not deserve to be in this game. I think we'll be seeing the deep snap to Cribbs again.

Never trust a Matt Millen draft pick. Daunte Culpepper hit Mike Williams on a slant for a first down after Williams' touchdown-dropping antics earlier. Williams ran on for extra yardage, fumbled and Cleveland recovered.

Cincinnati Bengals 21 at Seattle Seahawks 24

Doug Farrar: Rookie cornerback Josh Wilson, who led the NFL in kickoff return yardage in the preseason, goes for 72 on the opening kickoff. OK, Seahawks. You're starting at the Bengals' 24. Let's not go incomplete/one-yard Alexander run/fullback draw on third-and-long here. Please?

OK ... pass to Mack Strong, pass to Alexander, touchdown pass to Bobby Engram. That's more like it.

Tremendous touchdown catch by Houshmandzadeh negated by a holding call on Willie Anderson. T.J. went up on Kelly Jennings and Deon Grant and came down in bounds on the right sideline of the end zone.

Rudi Johnson is having more difficulty that I thought against Seattle's undersized front seven. If they can contain him without bringing their safeties up (and that's mostly on Lofa Tatupu), that'll save their secondary a lot of embarrassment.

Houshmandzadeh got his back for a score on the same drive when he and Ocho Cinco ran a pick on Seattle's secondary, and T.J. was wiiiiiiiiiiiiide-open.

I know that Cincinnati's defense is horrid, but Matt Hasselbeck is looking very sharp to start. He's competed nine of his first 10. Alexander, on the other hand, has done nothing early. Three carries for -4 yards in the first quarter. Maybe he and Larry Johnson should start a support group.

I'm not really sure what the Seahawks are doing in the second quarter -- some sort of man/zone hybrid with little in the way of safety help. Unfortunately, this does nothing to help Kelly Jennings defend the comeback route.

However, Leroy Hill (who played out of his mind in this game) forced a Houshmandzadeh fumble, which Kelly Jennings recovered. Two plays later, rookie Leon Hall picked a tipped Hasselbeck pass intended for Marcus Pollard. As we were saying...

Brian Russell just made his first official non-whiff tackle of the year on Rudi Johnson. Yay!

The Bengals tried to run a little counter to Rudi on a third-and-1 in the second quarter, but Russell sniffed it out and stopped the play. It's nice when the "veteran savvy" the Seahawks paid for from Grant and Russell come through...

... such as the safety help by Grant on the Palmer interception late in the first half. It was a long handoff, but it worked, and Grant was right where he needed to be. We'll take a lot more of THAT, please.

You cannot throw a ball any better than Hasselbeck did to Deion Branch on the 42-yard touchdown right before the two-minute warning in the first half. It's as if he'd been hearing all week how pretty Carson Palmer's throws are and decided to take issue.

For any Seattle fan wondering where the pass rush is, look what happens every time the Seahawks bring extra guys instead of running a pretty straight two-deep zone. It tends to get ugly.

The Seahawks are finally, finally FINALLY handing off from their corners to their safeties, and it really pays off when Houshmandzadeh is stopped from a big third-down play with 12:15 left in the third quarter. Grant broke out after Houshmandzadeh passed Jennings, and both defenders were on point to stop what would have been a touchdown with some really solid coverage.

Lemar Marshall (who the Redskins never should have released, if you ask me) sacks Hasselbeck for an easy safety. I really miss the days when I didn't have to worry about Seattle's blocking on every single play.

Unbelievable over-the-shoulder interception by Russell as Palmer overthrows Ocho Cinco. This secondary is starting to round into some sort of shape, after scaring the heck out of Seahawks observers early in the season.

Ben Riley: Nate Burleson is one of the most enigmatic players in the NFL. He's capable of making huge plays, particularly as a punt returner, and he had the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds today. That will make up for the fact that he had the go-ahead touchdown thrown to him three minutes earlier, as well as a deep bomb in the second quarter, and both should have been caught.

The Bengals' special teams are truly atrocious. Leading by six with three minutes to play, Shayne Graham kicks out of bounds. The Seahawks then drive and score, but the Bengals are only down by three with one minute to play, and they have all three timeouts. But the kick returner manages to cough up the ball and that's all she wrote for the Bengals.

Speaking of special teams, apart from a great kick return to start the game by Josh Wilson, Seattle looked horrible too. On one kick, five Seahawks stood around watching a muffed ball before deciding to dive in and trying to recover it. There were also a lot of uncharacteristic penalties on returns. Bruce DeHaven's alleged magic has yet to be seen.

Walter Jones gave up another sack today. It will be interesting to see what the game charters report, but after three games, it's clear that last year's non-superhuman play by Jones was no aberration.

Just before the two-minute warning, Hasselbeck has a pass batted in the air, which he (appears to catch) and then fumble, with Cincy recovering. But it's ruled an incompletion on the field. Marvin Lewis challenged, and to my elated surprise, the incompletion ruling is upheld. And then for some reason the Bengals don't lose a timeout (Ed Hochuli tried to explain why, but his mic went out). Huh?

Vince Verhei: Hochuli said that for some reason, the play was not reviewable. As such, there was no challenge, and as such, Bengals did not lose a timeout.

Ben Riley: T.J. Houshmandzadeh had another huge game but Carson Palmer is going to kill him. There are only so many hits a wide receiver can take over the middle before he breaks in half.

Doug Farrar: I have nothing to add beyond Mike Holmgren's postgame comment: "My goodness gracious. Wonderful win, great win for us." No kidding, Uncle Mike. Heading to San Francisco and then to Pittsburgh, with a 1-2 record, would not have been pretty for this team.

Jacksonville Jaguars 23 at Denver Broncos 14

Vince Verhei: Brandon Marshall just made a "wow" play, catching a short out and spinning out of two tackles and running down to the one-yard line. Denver scores on the next play to tie the game.

Tim Gerheim: I feel like this Jacksonville-Denver game is exactly the same as the Browns-Raiders game, except it involves a significant number of good football players. It seems really unorganized. Denver's touchdown came as a result of two passes to Brandon Marshall for 80 yards or so, one of which was a deep lob into a blown coverage, and the other was the one where Marshall broke a ton of tackles to pick up 30 yards down to the one. The rest of the drive was short gains and penalties.

Meanwhile, at the end of the half, with 11 seconds to go, Denver is called offside on a second-down pass that got the Jags to the Denver one. Jacksonville declined the penalty (which would have given them second-and-5), but then Garrard spiked the ball on third down, even though they had a timeout, and they kicked a field goal. If an intramural flag football team got to pick in the NFL draft each year, I think its games would look like this.

Michael David Smith: Broncos go for it on fourth-and-1 inside the five. Like the call to go for it, don't like the play call: Cutler quarterback sneak right into the heart of the defense goes nowhere. Jacksonville gets the ball.

Aaron Schatz: Will someone explain to me what the hell happened to Maurice Jones-Drew this year?

New York Giants 24 at Washington Redskins 17

Aaron Schatz: Watching the Giants-Redskins game, I have this uncontrollable craving for pastrami on rye.

Bill Barnwell: One of the things about Antwaan Randle El that make him more valuable than his receiving numbers is his excellent downfield blocking. The Redskins ran several sweeps and tosses behind him and a pulling Pete Kendall.

On the other hand, Corey Webster is absolutely embarrassing on the outside. When there's a tackle to be missed, ignored or feared, Corey Webster is your man.

Kawika Mitchell gets a pass defensed!!! Unfortunately, it's on a lob that goes through his hands and should've been an interception.

Aaron Schatz: The David Diehl Left Tackle Experiment has been a real failure in pass protection, but it does seem to be working well on running plays. Derrick Ward (where the hell did he come from?) is again getting six and seven yards with each carry, mostly on the left side.

Bill Barnwell: Osi Umenyiora's been jumping Jason Campbell's snap count all game. Last time he did it, he did it too well and jumped offside. Also, "get home" is apparently the new piece of lingo Joe Buck's learned this year, since he's mentioned it multiple times each game.

Corey Webster can't play safety, either. He took an awful route to a bomb to Santana Moss that went for 49 yards.

Michael Strahan's not the same player he was the last couple of years. Whether it's because of the holdout or not, he's slowly turning into Simeon Rice. He's been cheating outside on pass plays and ignoring his containment responsibilities when the play runs away from him to try and catch up to it from behind. Clinton Portis just exploited it for a big gain.

Aaron Schatz: In the middle of the second quarter, Clinton Portis made a blitz-pickup block on Antonio Pierce that was just stunning. Troy Aikman called Portis the best pass-blocking back in the league and while we might argue with a lot of things said on a Buck-Aikman broadcast, this was not one of them. If he's not the best, he's close.

With 2:12 left in the second quarter, Jason Campbell got hit in the act of throwing for an incomplete pass. It was the "tuck rule" play. Looking back, it is amazing how controversial that play still is considering that the same thing happens in a random regular-season game at least once a week and nobody says anything. It was pretty simple -- Campbell's arm was going forward, that's an incomplete pass, la la la.

The best thing going for the Giants right now is Jeremy Shockey. You would think that a team that has two safeties chosen in the first handful of draft picks and a huge-money free-agent middle linebacker might be a little better at actually covering the opposing tight end.

And here's Feist again ... STOP IT, APPLE. I HATE YOU.

Bill Barnwell: Eli finally threw his specialty, the back foot interception to no-one in particular. When FOX came back from commercial, Manning, Jared Lorenzen and Kevin Gilbride were looking at a book that said "2006 New York Giants Gameday Pictures." So, either they were looking at old pictures, or they haven't updated their cover sheets. For shame, Giants.

Tim Gerheim: I would just like to say that it is incredibly fun having the Redskins as my fantasy defense this week. When the Giants have the ball, I'm not fearful that they'll score, I'm optimistic that the defense will score for me.

Ironic that the Giants scored immediately after my last comment. When I said that, the NFL GameCenter said that the Giants fumble, recovered by Washington, had been upheld on review. That, it turns out, was erroneous, it was reversed, and the Giants proceeded to score a touchdown to tie the game. So, if you're a Redskins fan, that one was my bad.

Bill Barnwell: Giants defense looks much better in this second half -- the Redskins are struggling, but the Giants are getting pressure on Campbell and containing his checkdowns. Sam Madison has made a number of excellent tackles in run support. Game's now tied as the Giants are moving the ball downfield on the Redskins at will.

Giants finally win by converting 85 percent of their third downs on offense and finally getting pressure with their defensive line on Jason Campbell. Washington ran the totally wrong offense for this game, going with their smoke-and-mirror screen plays and go patterns when they should've noticed the Giants weaknesses (in the middle of the field) and exploited them. The only reason the Redskins stayed close was because of poor coverage units for the Giants.

Aaron Schatz: I watched this whole game and I still can't quite figure out what happened. The Giants defense was completely night and day from the first half to the second half. Jason Campbell looked somewhat uncomfortable as the game went on. Clinton Portis suddenly couldn't hang onto the ball, either on receptions or on a bungled handoff that gave the ball back to the Giants with the game tied. On the other side, Plaxico Burress completely took Carlos Rogers out of his shoes on one play, and on another, Shawn Springs pulled a defensive pass interference because he was two seconds too early to the play and ended up hitting Burress before the ball got there. The Giants passing game is basically two guys, Burress and Shockey. The stats say Amani Toomer caught four balls but I don't remember them.

The Redskins' last drive was just brutal. Penalties, an aborted snap, ugh, it was so sloppy. The Redskins hit a 20-yard pass to Randle El on third-and-13 on the 21, then get up and spike the ball. I don't quite get that. The play before that pass was a spike. Why don't the Redskins call two plays in the huddle? If you know the pass might stop short of the end zone, call a quarterback sneak or a quick pass as a second play, so you get up for the first down and try to get the touchdown instead of blowing a down on a spike. Then the Redskins pass on second down, incomplete, and then they line up in an obvious power running formation and run on third and fourth, and of course, the Giants are expecting a power run from an obvious power running formation on the goal line. They aren't complete morons.

Carolina Panthers 27 at Atlanta Falcons 20

Vince Verhei: The Joey Harrington offense is the polar opposite of the Michael Vick offense. Atlanta is very good at picking up chunks of yards and converting third downs. But with no big play ability, their drives eventually stall before reaching the red zone.

Morten Andersen misses what is, without question, the funniest field goal attempt of his career. Holder Michael Koenen bobbles the snap, and the ball ends up wobbling in front of Mort. So he makes a half- hearted attempt to kick it off the turf. He fails.

Midget wrestling in Atlanta as Steve Smith and DeAngelo Hall are trading shoves. I don't think Smith has caught a pass yet. On the next play, Delhomme hits DeShaun Foster for a touchdown. Keith Brooking was burned in coverage. 10-7 Panthers.

On third-and-1, Harrington play-fakes, scrambles and finds Crumpler, who breaks a tackle and scores. 17-10 Falcons. On the Panthers' next scrimmage play, Smith gets by Hall and draws a pass interference flag. First time he's made an impact today.

Hall is having a complete meltdown. He just drew a 15-yard flag for mouthing off to the ref, then started shouting at the ref, his teammates, his coaches, you, me, everyone. Somehow he stayed in the game. Delhomme hits tight end Jeff King to tie the game on the next play.

Delhomme just threw a pass and went down, untouched, holding his passing elbow. Carr is in.

DeShaun Foster scores his second touchdown to put Carolina ahead. He just ducked in behind his right guard Jeremy Bridges and fullback Brad Hoover and let them knock down anything in their path.

Smith finally makes his first catch on a smoke route, slips a Hall tackle and picks up a first down. Panthers pick up a field goal on the drive. 27-17 Carolina.

The AP story on this game is trying to pin the loss on DeAngelo Hall and his 67 yards of penalties on Carolina's game-tying drive. That's too bad, because other than that drive Hall had a very good game. The biggest reason Carolina won is because in the fourth quarter, nursing a narrow lead, they ran the ball 11 times for 57 yards (not counting kneeldowns), including four first downs and four carries of nine or more yards.

Dallas Cowboys 34 at Chicago Bears 10

Bill Barnwell: John Madden appears to be wearing a tie made of Scrabble tiles.

I love how Madden and Michaels are OK with the Cowboys kicking the ball out of bounds as long as it doesn't go to Hester. Because that makes a lot of sense. What's the record for most kickoffs out of bounds in a game?

You know how players have good first steps? Mark Anderson has a good last step. His acceleration to keep Romo from getting away was fantastic.

Weird Bears defense: Line up on first down in a 4-2-5 with Urlacher and Briggs as the linebackers. Before the snap, a defensive back (I think Tillman, strangely) moved up, basically playing right outside linebacker, with Briggs and Urlacher shifting over.

Mark Bradley is such a useful player. He just pulled off an incredible burst to nearly block a punt.

Andre Gurode is doing a good job on Tommie Harris so far. Unfortunately, the Bears are getting pressure from the outside too frequently.

Did Coors really need to copy the Chevy commercial?

Aaron Schatz: Israel Idonije has a very wrinkly head.

Ben Riley: Patrick Crayton drops a sure touchdown in the end zone on third down. The ensuing field goal is blocked. John Madden: "And that's how the Bears got to the Super Bowl." I must have missed when Patrick Crayton dropped a touchdown pass in the NFC Championship game. (For the record, I love John Madden. Still.)

Bill Barnwell: Another weird Bears defense: Third-and-4 from the Chicago five. Crayton lines up in the slot with Ricky Manning over him. Before the snap, Manning shifts back about eight yards. Crayton runs a curl right to the goal line and was open for a touchdown, although he dropped the pass. That made no sense to me whatsoever.

Aaron Schatz:I would have to go back into the numbers, but I would guess the Cowboys run a draw play much more often than other teams, and it is almost always Marion Barber. At this point, the Cowboys should consider that when they are in shotgun and Barber is in the backfield, the defense might actually be aware that the draw is a possibility.

Hey. Roy Williams just invoked the Roy Williams Rule! Jinx!

Michael David Smith: Was that the first time Roy Williams actually got called for the Roy Williams Rule?

Doug Farrar: According to our penalty databases, your Pro Football Prospectus 2006 article and information we got from the NFL for my Pro Football Prospectus 2007 article, yes.

Bill Barnwell: Madden: "That's the advantage of being a great competitor. You have to be able to throw from different angles ... including on your knees." Madden talking out his ass or Kyle Boller, explained?

Aaron Schatz: T.O. is having a huge night. This is like Steve Smith in the NFC Championship two years ago. For crying out loud, play some man coverage. Even if it is all zone except one man on T.O., put a man on T.O.

And hey, here we are in the fourth quarter, and the Bears have switched to man coverage on T.O. -- and the pass is defensed by Tillman.

Did Rex Grossman just throw to a guy who was draped by a cornerback with two other defenders right next to them? Yes. Yes, he did.

Ned Macey: I think I predicted after watching Rex in the preseason that they would switch to Griese after a loss to Green Bay dropped them to 2-3. With Green Bay off to such a hot start, they need to start thinking about making the change NOW. The Packers play in Minnesota next week, which sounds like a 4-0 start to me. (Chicago's here in Detroit, which sounds like 2-2).

It seems like Urlacher is rushing the passer more this year, and the Bears are blitzing a good deal in general.

Doug Farrar: I'm now living in a Bizarro World in which an entire stadium is chanting "Grie-se! Grie-se!" It's not 1972, the game's not in Miami, Earl Morrall didn't throw that stupid interception, and I'm amazed that it's come to this.

Comments

320 comments, Last at 26 Sep 2007, 3:07pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Notes :

GB-SD: Rivers and Turner worked the Packer safeties like a speed bag.

Suddenly the Packers’ WR corps looks pretty good. I’ll give the media a couple months before they notice.

Empty backfield on a fourth and goal for the first and last time in NFL history. My head hurts. I love McCarthy but WTF?

Last week, as I believe was noted at FO, New England passed on their first 10 plays vs SD, and something like 20 of their first 22. Belichick was lauded by the talking heads for playing to his opponent’s (relative) weakness. This week, Madden mentioned it during the Dal-Chi game and lauded Dallas for junking the run (until late). Schlereth did the same on SportsCenter after the game. Green Bay runs 10 times all game and jeez, their backs are pathetic, they’ll never develop a running game this way, the imbalance is unsustainable, Favre’s arm will fall off. I don’t know, seems like the Packers were kind of successful, doesn’t it? Additionally, the Pack is running something pretty similar to a true, original flavor West Coast Offense, in strategy if not in tactics, with short passes substituting for the running game in part, some short pass/long gain plays thrown in, and some clock-controlling sustained drives the last two weeks. They’ll likely take the same approach next week against the Vikings, unlike the Herminator, who kept running LJ for 1 yard.

The Packer pass rush is very consistent. They rush four almost every play, rarely blitz, they always get some pressure, often get a lot, yet they rarely shake a guy loose for a quick sack. It’s the kind of rush that plays better in real life than in fantasy or in the box score, but it is nice to mix in a drive-stopping sack now and then. I expect we’ll see more in the coming weeks. This was the third week the Packers played a very good offense and acquitted themselves pretty well. I know the media thinks McNabb sucks (at least they did last week – now he’s pretty good again) because Washington played really well last Monday night, and he missed a few guys, but we know Philly is good. And while the Giants kind of suck, their offense is pretty high-octane. So after the Chargers, they finally play a poor offense in Minnesota. I’m looking forward to it.

Classic Ditka on the radio after this game. He took Rivers to task for bad decision making and made it sound like that was likely to keep holding the Chargers back. The interception to Barnett happened because Barnett outworked Tomlinson for the ball, making a nice play. The ball was very catchable by LDT. This is the QB who didn’t miss a receiver until halfway through the 3rd quarter, and kept his team in the game while their rushing attack stagnated. Jeez, why is this jackhole on ESPN? Even here in Chicago most people knows he’s a clown.

Late game: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Cedric Benson is a poor running back. Here’s something you never hear an announcer say: “Wow, Benson really made some yards there on his own.� If Harris’s MRI on his MCL is bad, wow, tough times in Chicago.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

So, Romo still overrated? How many sacks would the Bears have had last night if Bledsoe was still playing?

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

The Brian Brohm to Atlanta Committee would like to thank Michael Koenen and DeAngelo Hall for their efforts this week. Without them and the Falcons run defense, Joey might have actually pulled out a win.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

SF-PIT:

Hines Ward left the game with a bone bruise on his leg. He was in a couple of nasty collisions, but as far as I can remember FOX's guys never said anything about him being injured or leaving the game. At least he caught a little 2-yard pass to keep the streak active.

ROBO-PUNTER was on the hands team to replace him. SF kicked it seemingly right at him - according to Sepulveda he had a little chat with Joe Nedney who said as much - and he just came down with it locked tight. Says Tomlin after the game (paraphrased) "yeah, he was on the hands team. He's got good hands. Your punter needs to have good hands, or you get worried." Maybe remembering that Cleveland goof-up in the first game there?

Given that Sepulveda also holds for Jeff Reed and takes quick long snaps in general, it makes at least a little sense to put him in as a sub. And he played LB in college for a bit, so he can take a hit or two.

Hmm. How many teams have punters who hold for the kicker? And given that a punter takes a lot of long, fast snaps, why not put him on the hands team? Concerns about fragility?

Slightly related: in regards to DVOA, does a team's performance count for less when it's playing with a 20-point lead?

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

before I read, An "expert" on SI (Bucky Brooks)
"The Jaguars' vaunted defense finally showed up in Denver. Pro Bowlers Marcus Stroud and John Henderson controlled the middle as the Jaguars stopped the Broncos' zone running game."

From the jags official site :
Sept. 23 2007 2:47PM
Henderson is inactive. He did not pass the next phase of examination earlier today. Rob Meier will start in Henderson's place.

Don't be surprised if the Pro-bowl is a joke...

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re: Maurice-Jones Drew

I have not been able to see a single play of Jacksonville this year, so I am purely speculating, and therefore most likely wrong. But may I suggest the possibility that he has some sort of tell that allows the defense to know when he gets the ball? It might be a case of teams needing enough footage to figure him out, then finding something that makes it a lot easier to beat him. I have been successful in my pledge to not watch baseball for the last decade or so, but I do remember that new pitchers were once purported to have an advantage because the hitters didn't have a read on them. Once they figured out the new guy, the numbers usually shifted in the batters' favor.

Just a wild speculation - no evidence to back it up.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I'm praying that the Ravens 4th quarter bugaboo is simply a conditioning issue that will go away the more games they play. The D-line, secondary, and O-line all collapsed right around the same time. Also, they miss Pryce, but he shouldn't be out much longer.

The WRs play was exceptional all game long, probably the reason they won the game. And having McGahee makes a huge difference: he's really not that fast, but slithery and versatile. Having a short controlled passing game with a RB who couldn't catch passes or run outside the tackles (with Jamal) was problematic, but now the offense has some real potential. I know it was against the Cards, but the offense was quite effective and methodical throughout the first half (two 70+ yard drives that ended with figgies).

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I was legitimately surprised that Chad Clifton handled Merriman one on one for most of the day. Franks and Lee were regularly out on patterns so except for the chip from the running back every so often Clifton was on an island. Goodness.

Barnett is playing like a man possessed. I have mentioned it several times but it bears repeating. Somebody turned up the intensity dial on Nick and the guy is a whirling dervish out there.

Meanwhile, Hawk is not playing as well as he did in the second half last season. I don't know what it is but he's not fighting through blocks on runs and on pass plays he looks confused.

Last week I wondered about the Giants approach to the game but considering that the Chargers were getting in their late licks I have to wonder if the Green Bay guys are inciting this type of reaction? Multiple unsportsmanlike penalities yesterday. Though folks will point to the McCree hit later in the game Driver got whipped out of bounds with no call. It wasn't an acting job as Driver did not return for some time.

Packer special teams were solid again. Deep kickoffs by Crosby followed up by good kick coverage.

Rivers arm seems pretty ordinary but man his accuracy is something. That first TD pass was outstanding. Harris had great coverage but the pass was dropped in perfectly.

The Packers do need a running game but for the reason of saving Favre's legs. BF's play really dropped off as the season wore on last season because it was clear his legs were spent. He's in good shape but the man is 38 years old. Number 4 only has X amount of energy. McCarthy needs to conserve when possible.

The bye after week 6 will help some. But barring a change in gameplanning about game 10 Favre's play will begin to suffer just like last year as his body runs out of gas.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Dallas punched Chicago in the mouth, no two ways about it. For the 3rd straight week opposing defenses look tired and beat down in 4th quarter against their offense.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

So who flips out on their own team first: Larry Johnson or the Viking's defense?

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Looks like the Vikings will be in mix for the top draft pick. Their next 6 games GB @Chic, @Dall, Phil, SD, @GB. I think there's a good chance they will be 1-8 at that point.

After watching 3 games I find it weird how well the Vikings do in both aspects of the run game and are so horrible in both aspects of the passing game. Is it just lack of talent or is there strategy errors? As well as they defend the run and with 4 decent safeties maybe they should be experimenting with a safety at one of the lb spots.

I've read often that the Viking Offensive Line is good - but it seems to me that the pass protection is very weak. KC was right the Vikings OT's are soft (terrible?).

Defensively they still struggle to get anywhere near the QB and the linebackers never cover any player or zone.

At least Peterson looks like the real deal. It sure is fun to watch him.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

After watching the last 'skins drive during the Giants game, I have a new rant for TMQ: Why are you spiking? The skins spiked the ball twice when they didn't need to, once with about 1:40 left it didn't hurt them since they converted 4th and long, but with 1:00 left from the 1 on 1st down? Just stupid, you just went from 4 chances to score to 3. Think they'd have liked one more shot there at the end?

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#14: I believe the Vikes defense was tied for the league lead in sacks coming into this game.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

BadgerT1000, I'm glad you chimed in, because I've noticed you bring up the Favre late season fatigue thing and I have an alternative theory.

Favre seems to struggle when he tries to carry the team single handedly. Not so much when he has to mass a lot, but when he feels he has to make big plays by himself for a chance at victory, usually when trailing late in a game. I think the same thing might go on on a season long basis. The Packers have gotten off to slow starts, Favre puts more pressure on himself, and he presses more.

I think the 3-0 start (hopefully 4-0 after next week) might do wonders for Favre's season long performance. Maybe you're right and the issue is largely physical, but I think there's a significant mental aspect that a slow or fast start influences as well.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

The Redskins run a boring/conservative check down offense with Jason Campbell. They throw a couple deep balls here and there, but JC was basically throwing to Portis/Betts all day with safe throws.

Up until late in the 4th quarter, Jason Campbell had just 1 completion to a wide receiver.

I also believe the Giants had 13 first downs in the 3rd Q, to the redskins 0 or 1.

Joe Gibbs likes playing that Herman Edwards boring conservative offense.

Against the Giants, you really want to attack the middle of the field. Pierce is to slow to cover, Kiwi is a DE and lost in space, and K.Mitchell has low awareness in covering passes.

The redskins were too conservaive and got beat by Eli

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

14: Dead-on, from my perspective. Holcomb was being pressured when the Chiefs were only rushing 3 because neither tackle is fast enough to handle an outside rush. The linebackers can't seem to do much aside from stop the run. And the coaching appears to be awful: down three, 4th and 7 with just over 2 minutes left on your side of the field and you punt? What the heck?

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

By my count the Bengals now have 5 INTs that have all bounced off a WRs hands and then were picked off. Imagine how bad this defense would be if it hadn't had this incredible string of luck to start the season.

The Steelers have to mentioned along with the Pats as the team to beat right now. Each has 3 stomps, the Pats have a better offense but the Steelers have the better (or the best) defense.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I know fumble recoveries are random, but would it be possible to alter that for plays when the defender essentially forces a handoff from the offensive player? What's the chance one of those is recovered by the offense?

I think it's hilarious how the announcers in the Raven's game were gushing about how physical Larry Fitzgerald is, and then Ivy just rips the ball out of his hands. The announcers than switched to gushing about how physical Anquan Bolden is.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Random notes from teh weekend:

1) Steelers are awesome. Offense, Defense, and special teams each had a touchdown, sweet.

2) CBS showed a pregame clip of Chad Johson (at Seattle) saying "if the game is sold it, it isn't because they came to see the home team" and then CBS cuts to a shot of a fan holding a sign that said "OCHO STINKO" hardy har har.

3) Gus Johnson just makes watching games more enjoyable. I had him for the Seattle-Cincinnati game, which I don't really care about, and he made the game far more interesting. Mostly, it's because he cares so much... I can see him jumping out of his seat in the booth whenever there's a pass attempt of more than 5 yards. Some of his better quotes yesterday:

After a Hasselbeck to Branch easy pass TD: "That's backyard football right there and you love when it happens. You're playing with your brother and the kid across the street and you just win. Branch has pure, raw speed."

Cincy flubs a kickoff out of bound: "Cincinnati has a chance here, and here's the kick, and WAIT, IT GOES OUT OF BOUNDS, THIS IS A NIGHTMARE, MARVIN LEWIS DID NOT WANT TO SEE THIS!!!"

When a fan runs across the field, and CBS decides not to show him, but instead some producer obviously signals to Gus to stall: "Boy, are there some excited fans here at Qwest field today! And the fans are so loud here at Qwest. Qwest field is a masterpiece. Out one end of the stadium, you have a great view of the city, out the other end, the mountains, it's just a beautiful park from the inside looking out and the outside looking in. Ok, back to the game."

4) Obligatory "LOL Pats can't win without cheating, in this case cheap shotting the opposing QB out of the game, tsk tsk."

5) My fantasy team, featuring Bulger and Leinart at QB this week, is atrocious. Ugh.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Arkaein:

While it's true that Number 4 will force the action, the record is pretty clear the past few years that the as the season progresses his performance wanes. And the team was playing pretty well at the end last year while Favre was spraying passes all over the place.

It just seems more plausible to me that one of the oldest players in the league playing a demanding position suffers from fatigure toward the end of the season.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I'm sort of confused by the SD defense. This seems to be one of the biggest disconnect between FO and conventional wisdom ( besides the Packers being legit). FO has consistently had them below average, but the talking heads consistently peg them as one of the best defenses in the league, despite evidence to the contrary.

Everyone talks about how talented they are- and they do have some great players. So what's the problem? Is it a scheme thing? They were mediocre under Phillips. They're mediocre under Cotrell. What gives? Why aren't they better?

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

18 is spot on. I thought Saunders was supposed to bring a downfield-throw to the receivers attack? It's like they need to forget noodle-armed Brunell is the QB.

Seems like they aren't all comfortable with J. Campbell as the QB... or they feel like he needs protecting. All Gibbs/Saunders did with their run-run-sack-punt offense was play to the Giants strength... but then again where were the seam plays to Cooley? Shouldn't they have worked the middle of the field?

Why oh why was Betts out there for the final drive?!

Punts are just as bad as interceptions...

Perhaps its better to go into the bye on a downer... there's no excuse for losing when you go into half up 17-3... at home.

Now maybe its because the 'Skins don't have more than 2 capable WRs... and maybe Cooley was being held for max-protect... and their o-line is a quilt... but... but... argh!

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Boo to Cam Cameron for kicking short (and away from Leon Washington, who went 98 yards on a kickoff return earlier in the half), with 1:36 still to go in the first half after Miami had pulled to within 1. This gave the Jets a short field and plenty of time to march down for a TD which put them up 8 at half.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

16. Jin - Yes the Vikes were tied with 10, but they also had way more pass attempts against and the two teams they played (Atl and Det) are giving up 5 sacks a game. So I presume after this week you'll see that the Vikings adjusted sack rate is average at best. Most of their sacks come when they send six men. There front 4 just doesn't pressure the QB very effectively.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"The Steelers have to mentioned along with the Pats as the team to beat right now. Each has 3 stomps, the Pats have a better offense but the Steelers have the better (or the best) defense."

Theres not enough info to say who has the better offense or defense at this point. Both defenses have been stifling, and both offenses have been great. The pats D (NYJ,SD,BUF) has faced much better offenses than PIT's D (CLE, BUF, SF). They've both faced pretty poor defenses.

The scary thing is, the Pats offense has been pretty much shut down in the 4th quarter of every game. I'm surprised they're not trotting Gutierrez out there. I mean, yeah, you run to kill the clock, but they're running the ball on 4th and 5 in the 4th quarter.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Romo is really, really, good, last year's end of the season plateau notwithstanding, and Madden's not talking out of his ass. To engage in hyperbole, Romo is Tarkentonesque in his ability to sense pressure, buy time, and make accurate throws with all sorts of different arm angles. Combine that with a quick release and good receivers, and the Cowboys really have the ability to negate even a very good defense. I wonder if Sean Peyton going to the Saints last year held back the Cowboys somewhat, and if they hade made the switch to Romo earlier they would have gone deep into the playoffs, even ignoring botched filed goal holds. Parcells is to be criticized for placing a large bet on Bledsoe, but give him some credit for Romo's development. The one thing that prevents me from being completely despondent about Tavaris Jackson's prospects is to think that Romo likely would have stunk if he had been starting games at age 23.

Some other interesting aspects of Cowboy/Bears were that a lot of people who get paid good money to catch balls absolutely stunk, and the officials did as well. The Cowboys would have put the Bears away earlier absent the Bears getting assists from the striped wonders.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Marty-ball looks pretty good now, huh? (well, so long as he had all those other coaches, too)

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Barnwell: .... On the other hand, Corey Webster is absolutely embarrassing on the outside. When there’s a tackle to be missed, ignored or feared, Corey Webster is your man.

Besides telling Burress that he's allowed to actually catch that oblong leather thing Eli keeps throwing to him, the best adjustment the Giants made in the second half was sitting Corey down. The CBs in the second half were Madison, Ross (who made the game-clinching tackle, beating Sellers' block and getting Betts by the ankle), and Kevin Dockery.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"Everyone talks about how talented they are- and they do have some great players. So what’s the problem? Is it a scheme thing? They were mediocre under Phillips. They’re mediocre under Cotrell. What gives? Why aren’t they better?"

They've got a great front 7, but their back 4 aren't very good. Merriman and Phillips are great pass rushers, but neither one is all that good in coverage. (merriman is human toast). When you take 2 bad corners and put them on an island, the results aren't that great. If you're going to send the two OLB'ers ever down, you really need to have decent corners.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I mentioned this after the game last week but in the "scout writeup" provided by the Packers beat Bob McGinn he specifically mentioned "Webster--refuses to tackle".

I continue to be dumbfounded that a player can reach this level of his profession without doing one of the most basic tasks required.........

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Romo looked great
But he does not check down enough
Too many passes downfield
Not enough to rb's
That could bite him later.
Teams may start playing 3 or 4 guys deep just waiting for the pick.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Aaron Schatz: "In the Pats-Bills game, Vince Wilfork got called for the “hitting the QB below the knee� rule against Buffalo and I think he sort of rolled into Losman with inertia."

If "rolled into Losman with inertia" means "sticking your elbow out to hit the QB in the knee as you dive close to him." That honestly looked like intent to injure to me, and I wouldn't have been surprised if the refs had kicked Wilfork out of the game. How would you have felt if the exact same thing had happened to Brady?

BadgerT1000: "Though folks will point to the McCree hit later in the game Driver got whipped out of bounds with no call. It wasn’t an acting job as Driver did not return for some time."

The only problem is, Driver was still in bounds when the tackle was made, so how can this be a penalty? The Chargers DB did whip him around, but Driver didn't step out of bounds until after the DB had thrown him. I remember the exact same play being called a penalty against Donnie Edwards two years ago in a game against the Chiefs, and I thought it was bullcr*p then as well. That kind of tackle always looks far worse near the sidelines because the momentum of the offensive player takes them so far away from the field. If the tackle occurred in the middle of the field, no one would think twice about not calling it a penalty. (Of course, no one would make that kind of tackle in the middle of the field, we hope).

Re: the Chargers

As a Chargers fan, I'm pretty disappointed with the results of this game. However, it was a great game and close pretty much the whole way. A third down conversion by the Chargers on that second-to-last drive and they could have run the clock out and won it. Still, this game just reinforces the perception that the Chargers secondary sucks. Unfortunately, that perception is correct. Any team that has the ability to run the spread offense is going to do it against the Chargers. What I don't understand it, why go to an empty backfield? You can still run effectively out of the spread, and sometimes just the threat of a run can be important.

The Chargers offensive woes are almost completely because of the line. I can't remember a single rush by LT where I thought he should have gotten more yards. The defenders are getting way too much push and he's often getting met at or near the line of scrimmage. Everybody was complaining that the problem was Rivers, but even in this game, with Rivers hitting every single pass, LT still had no room to run.

Rivers looked very accurate for most of the game, but the receivers were bailing him out on a lot of the passes. His footwork still doesn't look great; it looks like he's not stepping into the passes and so he's not getting as much zip on them as he should. It's strange because his footwork and arm strength looked great in the preseason, and you would think an improvement at the personnel level like that would translate into the regular season.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Also, my traditional loathing of all things Jerry Jones is conflicting with my admiration for Romo's and Barber's play, and the fact that it appears as if Wade Phillips is a decent fellow. Darn.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

As a follow up on Merriman, he seemed to give up at times when his first move wasn't successful. I don't know what was said on the TV but the Packer radio guys were pretty critical.

Phillips was giving a much more consistent effort.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re 23: Dare we think about getting a playoff bye week?

By the way, I apologize for just cursing the packers to go 3-10 the rest of the way.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

24: Conventional wisdom says SD defense has Merriman, so they must be awesome, but what it neglects is their secondary is awful. But the real difference in their defense is the Jamal Williams is playing hurt and he's getting pushed around.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I think I mentioned it somewhere else on this site, but the new offensive coordinator may be to blame for the decline of the running game in Jacksonville.

But the center is injured and they have a new right tackle, and I just remembered Kyle Brady aka extra lineman.

They replaced Brady for more receiving tight ends, they even mentioned during the offseason about getting the tight ends involved in the passing games as one of the strengths of the new coordinator.

As a side note at least Garrard gets to audible at the line more, Garrard side he would audible to qb draws when he saw a particular coverage. But having no running game is still scary as a fan of the team.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Regarding the Vikings defense, keep in mind that they have given up 36 points, so they can't have been that bad, although there is no doubt that their run defense is much better than their pass defense. Cedric Griffin appears to get overmatched in the red zone especially by big receivers, so it is a cause for concern. Still, having scored three touchdowns while yielding three ain't a bad track record for a defense through week three.

The Vikings should have scored 21 points in the first half yesterday, and they did not because Holcombe overthrew, while completely unpressured, a completely wide open Robert Ferguson in the end zone, and because another completely wide open receiver in the end zone, Shiancoe, was made to make an extremely difficult catch on an option pass, and it looked like the official blew the call, with no camera angle being good enough to reverse. No, the offensive tackles for the Vikings did not have a great game, but K.C. is a very noisy stadium, and opposing ots there tend to give up some speed rushes. Decent qb play for the Vikings yesterday would have mean a very easy victory, even with the normal trouble Vikings receivers have in gaining seperation. On the bright side, Shiancoe looked o.k..

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"knee� rule against Buffalo and I think he sort of rolled into Losman with inertia.�

If “rolled into Losman with inertia� means “sticking your elbow out to hit the QB in the knee as you dive close to him.� That honestly looked like intent to injure to me, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if the refs had kicked Wilfork out of the game."

Sometimes stuff like that happens when you're pushed from behind. Buffalo's line got absolutely ABUSED that entire game, and that play was no different. The guard was holding Wilfork and the center pushed him from behind (I assume trying to get him to fall away from the play), unfortunately, because the guard was holding him, he just kind of got flung into Losman's leg. The arm (to me atleast) just looked like he was trying to brace himself as he hit the ground, but Losman was between him and the ground.

The Poz injury was strange, he got blocked out of the way by a guard, fought off the block, and then dove at Maroney from behind, and missed. He just came down on his wrists and didnt get back up.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I had a couple of friends over to watch the Red Zone channel again yesterday: we saw the Mike Williams fumble live. I was just about to call out to one of my friends about Williams dragging five guys with him when the sixth and/or seventh forced the fumble. Um, yeah, that was his Detroit career in a nutshell.

I liked Emmitt during the pregame show, when he was trying to explain how everyone can be a leader when you're winning, but a true leader steps up when you're losing, and Keyshawn was trying to stop him from talking, or something like that. Almost as good as Boomer vs. Marino, but not quite.

If the NFL wants to get serious about concussions, now's the time to start: suspend Marlon McCree. Some players get concussions from perfectly legal hits. Others, well ... the play-fair part of me wants McCree suspended for eight games. The realist thinks two is about right.

Also, someone has to be cold and uncaring. Is it about time to have someone go from team to team and instruct special-teams players on proper form? Head != battering ram.

Shaun McDonald is going to be a fantasy monster this season, because if things get any worse, Martz won't even bother with the token run, and Kitna seems to be pretty comfortable throwing to any of the wideouts.

I'm looking forward to the Lions-Chiefs game. No, really.

Yes, it was 2004 when the Lions and Eagles met in week 3 ... I had tickets to the Packers-Colts game at 4:15 and wanted to catch some of the Lions-Eagles game, for some reason. My friend and I sat in a downtown restaurant and watched the embarrassment. But hey, 2-1 is better than the usual 0-3.

The Red Zone channel is still awesome.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Can someone tell me who the color man was in the Den/Jax game? He was outstanding.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Oh, another note from me:

Trent Edwards, most definitely, was out of the back of the end zone.

The Brady fumble was tough to see, and the call on the field was fumble, so thats the way it goes.

Oh, and for the record, that Asante Samuel pick? He got burned on that play. It was a simple cutback route, and the wide receiver fell down right after the ball was thrown.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of FO, but what's up with the absolute lack of commentary on Romo's play. His ability to avoid the rush and make the big pass down field was very impressive. And it had nothing to do with Grossman. C'mon guys, some props for the Boys wont' kill you will they?

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

28 "The pats D (NYJ,SD,BUF) has faced much better offenses than PIT’s D (CLE, BUF, SF)."

This is not true by any measure.
Discounting week 3, which stats aren't available for yet, the Pats faced DVOA offenses #27, #28, and #31. The Steelers have faced #20, #29, and #31.

(On a totally unreliable stat, the Steelers opponents have 159 combined points, the Pats opponents have 134.)

The best comparison, though, is that both Steelers and Pats played the Bills. The steelers held that offense to a field goal... the Pats faced a rookie QB essentially the entire game in his first signifigant playing time and still gave up a TD.

Steelers > Pats

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I have to admit that as the game went on, I grew less and less appalled by the Team Sweden uni's, and I'm actually contemplating getting one of the hats (linked).

Here's the Eagles' remaining schedule. Could someone give me a run-down of who plays man-coverage and who doesn't so that I know what their final record is going to be?

Giants
Cowboys
Redskins
Jets
Bears
Vikings
Dolphins
Patiots
Seahawks
Saints
Bills

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"Discounting week 3, which stats aren’t available for yet, the Pats faced DVOA offenses #27, #28, and #31. The Steelers have faced #20, #29, and #31."

Again, DVOA 3 weeks into the season is a joke. The teams look that bad because theyre getting abused by the Pats and Stealers. DAVE is more accurate at this point.

(IE, the chargers aren't anywhere near the bottom, they've just played NE, CHI, and GB)

You can't use DVOA yet because these teams DVOAs are messed up by playing the steelers and pats.

Pats: -.6 (18), +7.3(7), -12.8 (28)
Pitt: -6.8(22), -12.8(28), -11.6 (27)

Theres no real way you can say that the Pats haven't played tougher offenses. Pitt has played 3 AWFUL offenses. The pats have played one good one, one average one, and one awful one.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

This is what happened:
Vernon Davis ‘catches’ the ball, gets thrown upside down by Polamalu and Clark grabs the ball out of the air.
The refs rule it a fumble, but after the SF red flag, the call is ‘incomplete’.
So... the ball never hit the ground and thus was still live when Clarke grabed it. It should’ve been ruled an interception, not incomplete.
It’s too bad no one but the announcers realized that.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

For anyone watching the Giants game, what happened on the play a little before halftime where Burress had the ball come out, but then grabbed it again? They reviewed it and ruled that it wasn't a catch, but it looked clear to me that it never touched the ground, so I don't get why it wasn't. We had the sound turned off so I never heard an explanation, and it's been bugging me ever since. Thanks.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

44 dryheat:

Announcers: Dick Enberg and Randy Cross

or click my name

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"[Romo's] ability to avoid the rush and make the big pass down field was very impressive."

This Bears fan agrees. It was like watching the early Favre years, where repeatedly throw a strike with the rush closing in on him. Still, if they could've covered TO or Witten, it might not have mattered.

The other thing I noticed was that Dallas' coaching was far superior to our brain trust. They had answers for everything the Bears did to contain the O in the first half, while the Bears are still working on how to stop TO on a crossing route. Ugh.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

51: It touched the ground clearly on one angle (spoken as a Giants fan)

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Looking around the league, it becomes ever more apparent (not that it was a secret) how much a head coach's career is tied up in how he handles the qb position, and how luck combines with the ability to develop qb talent. If Brad Childress goes after the readily avaliable veteran qb who is most suited to run his offense, Jeff Garcia, the Vikings are likely 3-0 right now. Lovie Smith may see his team's window of opportunity slam shut while he stubbornly waits for Grossman to turn into a viable NFL quarterback. The Cowboys luck out in their getting a very talented qb out of college nobody is interested in, and then do a good job in developing him, but only after seeing a lot of games squandered by having placed a large wager on Drew Bledsoe. The Pats' luck with Tom Brady is well documented, and while I greatly admire Tony Dungy, let's just say that being hired to coach a team just as Peyton Manning is entering his prime is a fortuitous turn of events.

A guy like McCarthy should be given great credit, for providing the coaching a certain type of great veteran needs to succeed, in an environment where there has been reluctance to stand up to the veteran.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Oh, one comment. The "one tuck rule per week" that we see isn't really the tuck rule that the infuriated everyone but the pats. If the arm is going forward in the act of throwing, nobody has a problem with it, its when the QB has CLEARLY made a decision not to throw, and his arm is no longer going forward, and he fumbles that gets people riled, and no that doesn't happen once per week (more like once a season).

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"once per week (more like once a season)."

Naw, it definitely happens more often than that. At least once a week.

The Tuck rule is a good rule. Why? Because its not a judgment call. If the arm is coming forward, its an incomplete pass. You don't need to try to decide what the QB was trying to do. If the arm went back, and is coming forward, incomplete. Thats it.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Regarding the Losman injury, even though I am a Pats fan, I think that while Wilfork was pushed, he did seek contact with the QB. Considering that Losman unloaded while Wilfork was already falling, perhaps Vince just went for it because he didn't see the throw, but even giving him the benefit of the doubt on the intent to injure, it was a very careless, dangerous shot he took. He definitely should be fined.

As for who has the best defense between the Pats and the Steelers, I'd also go with Pittsburgh right now (though not because of the Bills' TD - all defenses have problems adjusting to brand new QBs). OTOH, Rodney will be back in 2 games, and Seymour apparently shortly thereafter, so the Pats have a lot of upside, barring the usual injuries.

Offensively, though, it's not even close, and I think the Pats O can take on the Steelers D much more than the reverse. BTW, are there any news on Ward's injury?

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

re:50

Its been one of the biggest complaints about the Bears coaching for some time. They can never seem to make in game adjustments. Sigh.

I hate the "we are down by 10 with lots of time left, we'll never catch up-the game is over" feeling.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Charles, I don't mean to be excessively critical, but I think your post is a good example of how coaching is overrated, or more accurately, some aspects of coaching gets overrated. Terrell Owens is simply a superior talent, and it has not been poor coaching which has allowed him to gain a ton of yards on crossing routes, year, after year, after year. Combine that with a qb who was supernatural in avoiding pressure, while throwing very accurately downfield, and the problem with the Bears defense last night was simply that the opposing offense was better, and it had very little to do with coaching. If Lovie Smith is to be criticized, it is for, at this late stage, still trying to beat good teams with Rex Grossman at quarterback.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Will:

I know you and I have discussed it but it bears repeating that the single biggest contribution by McCarthy to the Packers is showing the franchise that the veteran qb WILL LISTEN.

See, Favre never, EVER, in his career came out against a coach. Never had a public showdown. Never a comment in the press. And yet once Holmgren left town two head coaches treated Favre as if he would pick up his cleats and go home if anyone criticized him.

McCarthy lectured him on the third day of his first training camp and everyone held their breath..........and then nothing. Favre came out last year working diligently to protect the ball. Now later during the losing streak he was ASKED to make plays resulting in more INTs plus he at times reverted to making boneheaded choices. But he DID WHAT HIS COACH ASKED.

All the time folks here were ragging on Favre I wondered why Sherman got a free pass. Sure Favre should be more self-aware. But when has anyone suggested this guy was all that bright? Not any Packer fan I know.

McCarthy recognized the obvious, that you have to set guidelines. You can do X, you can't do Y. And Favre might b*tch but ultimately he does what a coach's son is taught to do, he follows directions.

This is NOT meant as an apology for all of Favre's notorious gaffes. But he is d*mn close to being an idiot savant playing quarterback. So I cut him a bit more slack.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re: 58

Well, we hope Seymour will be back shortly afterwards, anyways. I won't be shocked to see him not come back until the hard deadline (21 days after week 6, I think) and/or end up on IR.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Again, there is very little in the way of coaching that will counter a qb who avoids multiple pass rushers bearing down on him, and then throws a strike 25 yards downfield while very much off balance. Sometimes the opposition is purely to be credited.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

As a Redskins fan I was pretty pissed and confused yesterday. Nursing a 17-3 halftime lead, they went into their patented conservative shell calling 1 yards runs and screens. They attempted something like 4 or 5 passes the entire second half before the very end when they were forced to pass. And of those 4-5 passes, two were miscommunications and thrown to no one. So the team simply avoided burning the Giants terrible secondary.

And then there's the final drive, where someone needs clock management lessons. With nearly a minute left in the game and the ball 4 feet short of the end zone, the team spikes the ball on first down? What? They could huddle, call a play, and still get it off with plenty of time. Then of course they rush the 4th down play with nearly 30 seconds remaining. Horrible, horrible stuff. Keep chopping wood indeed.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Yeah, Badger, Sherman in particular should never again have his named mentioned again in Wisconsin, due to what he did with several years of Favre at quarterback. A real travesty.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I won’t be shocked to see him not come back until the hard deadline (21 days after week 6, I think) and/or end up on IR.

Actually, I believe the hard deadline is actually 21 days after week 12. Week 6 is just the earliest the person can come off the PUP list and play. However, the 21 day clock to play or be put on IR can be started at any time up until week 12, I believe (it may be week 11... not sure).

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

PatsFan, I think Seymour's condition is the issue which will determine just how dominant the Pats will likely be, along with Moss' ankle and hamstring. If Seymour comes back at full strength, the Pats are gojng to able to ge a d-line rotation going which should dominate in the fourth quarter, and if Moss stays healthy, well, as a guy who saw every play Randy Moss was involved in for seven years, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. When Moss is healthy and excited about playing, he gets opposing d-coordinators into such a state of paranoia that it really begins to look way too easy, and that is with qbs who don't come close to matching Brady's skill set.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"Clements gets robbed on a holding call on Wilson when he’s within five yards. More stupid judgment calls…"

Initially, I had the same thought. But when I watched the replay, I saw what the refs saw. It doesnt matter if you are within 5 yards if you have two fistfulls of the receiver's jersey and dont let him go. That is holding, plain and simple.

It wasnt illegal contact, it was holding...no judgement involved really.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Will:

Sherman had his positives. But his two negatives were HUGE. He was a TERRIBLE judge of talent so his drafts were routinely horrible. And he refused to confront Favre. It was really strange.

Sherman can game-plan. He can make adjustments at half-time. He is loyal to his players as demonstrated him confronting Warren Sapp over the Clifton blind side. His in season decision to make Ahman Green the centerpiece of the offense is 2002 was a great move. He and the coaching staff did that over a by week. That Sherman was able to get Pro Bowl seasons out of a rb that Mike Holmgren tossed aside is pretty impressive.

So he's not a terrible coach. Just needs to be given the proper support or be with the right team.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

57: You argument essentially presupposes that penalties adjudicated by a "judgment call" are worse than those that are not.

Not only do you not forward anything to support this position, but there are many (including myself and King Kaufman) who think that whatever problems we have with NFL officiating are because the league keeps taking away from referee discretion with a byzantine set of rules consumed by contextless exceptions. In that case, the tuck rule is actually bad, since it can have the effect of artificially creating an incomplete pass in the name of uniformity/being scared of refs showing independent judgment. There is nothing wrong with judgment calls- the rulebook is full of them.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#41: Will is correct about QB play. Average performance would have resulted in a win. Also, one of the commentators (I refuse to believe it was Vasgersian simply because he can't even get player names right) made the comment that the noise in Arrowhead makes outside tackles play closer to the center and that McKinnie was at a disadvantage to Jared Allen's speed because of that.
It sounded plausible, better than "Allen has purchased MNs vaunted O-line on eBay and now owns it."

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I dunno, Badger, when you are a head coach with a background in offense, and you won't provide coaching to an obviously talented qb, that's a failing that is pretty hard to forgive.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"There is nothing wrong with judgment calls- the rulebook is full of them."

Fnor, could you please explain pass interference to me?

The problem with Judgment calls, is the ref NEVER has a clear full view of the play.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

53:

Romo's ability to injure Lance Briggs, you mean? I'm fairly sure that all those intermediate YAC passes in the second half were the result of losing one of the best coverage linebackers in the league. At that point, the Bears were stuck playing man against big wideouts and the pass rush just wasn't getting there.

I think a solid blitzing team will still give Romo fits. The Eagles seem ideally suited to provide a good test of his for-realness in a few weeks.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#55: Say this for Childress, at least he's a man of his own conviction. His horse is firmly hitched to Tarvaris either way.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Oh, and what was the deal with that Adrian Wilson penalty in the Baltimore game? The announcers seemed okay with it, but I didn't get it. And it may have won Baltimore the game. The scenario: time running out in the fourth, game tied. Boller throws high over the middle to Heap. Heap reaches up, makes the catch, and gets leveled by Wilson. Heap holds (somehow). Wilson is flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver. The added penalty yardage puts Baltimore in FG range and they basically gain few yards before kicking the game winning FG.

My beef? Heap caught the ball, Wilson hit him. That's a legit play. I think the idea was that Heap was stretching out to make a catch and was vulnerable. But if he makes the catch, Wilson is allowed to hit him, is he not? My roommate though it was helmet to helmet, but it looked shoulder to shoulder to me, and since the penalty was not helmet to helmet, I don't think that was the call. Look like complete crap and could have cost the Cards (though I was rooting for the Ravens).

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

The only other tuck-rule call I remember similar to Brady's was Jake Plummer in the 2005 Redskins-Broncos game.

The difference between the Brady play in the snow and the Plummer play in Denver is they both lost the ball after pump-faking. I'm convinced if a QB doesn't want to lose a fumble he should just continously pump-fake the football. The officials are too stupid to differentiate between a pump-fake and an actual pass broken up by a defensive player.

Rich, I'm convinced you and Pat are the same guy... with some type of AFC/NFC fan allegiance split personality...

It's Week 3 out of 17... I think we're still in the "over-reaction period". Call it the over-reaction month and a half. Teams still have time to adjust what they are doing and on-field personnel.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

That is what is so frustrating RichKilling; just average qb play likely means the Vikins win by more than 10 points, and instead they lose by a field goal. Also, if it is said that all opposing ots who give up speed rush sacks in Arrowhead stink, then there are a whole lot of ots in the NFL who stink, and anybody who watched parts of a few games yesterday, especially last night's game, and does not yet fully appreciate how qb mobility affects how offensive line performance is typically viewed, well, they are missing something. I defended Madden above, but what I will criticize is how he said that the Cowboys o-line whipped the Bears front seven. Sure, Barber popped a big run when the game was out of reach, but what saved Dallas' o-line last night was Romo. If Kelly Holcombe plays qb for Dallas last night, the Cowboys' offense more than likely doesn't score a touchdown.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

From all accounts it sounds like NFL officials have been in rare form, screwing up judgement calls, missing feet out of bounds and complete/incomplete passes... PFT talks about an incomplete pass that might've cost the Vikings the game.

Normally there are only a handful of those per week and not caught by most people... but seems like this week is one of those week's where there's a lot to notice...

How can officials miss something like a foot out of bounds?

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

60,
No offense taken. TO is indeed a superior talent, and I'd expect him to make plays against almost anybody. I also give Romo all the credit in the world for his spider-sense-esque evasion of the rush.

However, I didn't see the Bears even try anything different to take Owens away after they saw that he was Romo's primary outlet after buying time in the pocket. Lovie said nothing would change on D with Brigg's injury, and he was as good as his word.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

The only other tuck-rule call I remember similar to Brady’s was Jake Plummer in the 2005 Redskins-Broncos game.

Actually, the tuck rule had been called 'against' the Patriots that season in a game against the Jets. I've seen it called several times since, but haven't found it necessary to catalog each time.

However, I can say it was called yesterday in the Packers/Chargers game... it was on the play where Favre was running near the end zone, attempting to escape the rush... he was pump faking the ball and, as he was attempting to pull the fake in (arm going forward), the ball came out.

Initial ruling was a fumble but, after further review, it was called an incomplete pass.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I had the Redskins game on and was baffled. When Campbell ran up and spiked the ball on 1st and goal from the 1.5 yard line or so I was thinking "What? How could you not have a play called for that eventuality?" Or, how could he not have some sort of audible that he could call?

And why wasn't Portis in? At least, if you're going to go into a very, very obvious power-run set, maybe put in both of them and make the defense wonder which may get the ball - Betts got nowhere. And the absolute rush to get the 4th down play off was inexplicable. If you don't make it, you lose, and there's lots of time left. Use it! Sure, maybe there could be a defensive penalty that gives you new downs, but why are you betting the game on having time remaining for a new set of downs in that case?

Very, very sloppy playcalling. And really, the entire second half was like that. It was almost "playoff Martyball", as one could call it - get the lead, and then just work to preserve it, with lots of short runs, checkdown passes, etc. With the lead, you don't have to try to hit the home run on every play, but at least work to keep the defense honest. The entire second half it seemed clear that the Redskins were simply working to eat up time, and the Giants clearly knew it and set up the defense to prevent it.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Philly Homer, the injuries to the Bears certainly helped Romo, but give credit where it is due. There were a ton of playes where a Bears' lineman had a hand on Romo, and yet he was able to deliver the ball accurately downfield.

What was the deal with the Lions? Were the Eagles doing soemthing unusual, or was the Lions' secondary simply blowing coverages, one after another?

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

re:77

"The only other tuck-rule call I remember similar to Brady’s was Jake Plummer in the 2005 Redskins-Broncos game."

There were atleast 2 or 3 where Brady benefitted from it last year. It happens pretty often.

yeah, if you continuously pump fake, its going to be an incomplete pass, but is that wrong? The whole point of a pump fake is it looks like a pass... how does them up know if you're going to release the ball at the end of the arc?

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re: 73

No question the injuries helped the Cowboys but I thought the coverage was quite good on many of those plays. Romo's throwing accuracy while under pressure again was key. Still, I agree that the Eagles are the next big test and the earlier comment about Romo needed to utilize the short pass to the RB in those situations is a good point.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Will,
Regarding QB development I always find it an interesting topic. I suppose the problem I have with saying "Romo would've gotten killed if he started at 23" is kind've like the quantum physics observation principle. By getting this "experience" Jackson's future development has been changed.

To me it seems like if he does have a bright future it'll be with someone other than Minnesota. I still think there are some decent QBs floating around who deserve a 2nd chance... (Leftwich, Ramsey, Rattay?) and some other young guys who haven't gotten a chance but might next year.

It seems like Leinart, Campbell, and A. Smith all were horrible this week (based on stats, not observation). Cutler seemed okay...

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Must agree about the lack of commentary about Romo. I was hoping to see some mention of FO's (and Jaws's) previous statements calling him comparable to Grossman.

Re 74: Not Romo's ability, but perhaps the Cowboys' ability. They've left each team they've played this season beat up: in game 1, they injured Manning, Jacobs and Umenyiora, in game 2, it was, well, I forget who, but a couple guys, and last night it was half the Bears' defense. Has anyone done a study on the correlation of injuries to opponents played?

Oh, and one last thing - yes, they kicked it out of bounds on the first kickoff, but the Cowboys special teams completely shut down Hester the rest of the way (he had one KO return to the 35, but on another, he was decked at the 8).

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

How can officials miss something like a foot out of bounds?

I'm not sure if this is in reference to the Pats/Bills game but, as a Pats fan, I initially was sure that Edwards stepped out of bounds. The replay, unfortunately, didn't offer indisputable evidence either way.

However, after the replay, and seeing where the official was located (and that he was looking directly at Edwards feet), I believe that the officials did get the call right.

However, in regard to the Sunday night game, I think Dallas got screwed on several plays...

1) TO's interference call. That was a phantom call if I've ever seen one.

2) The block in the back call on Whitten.

3) This wasn't talked about, but a Bears defensive player ran into the kicker and wasn't called. Madden and Michaels maintained that the ball was 'tipped' but, based on the replay they showed, the player actually missed the ball and hit the punter squarely in the thigh with his arm. That should have been a running into the kicker, minimum.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Yeah, the Vikings combine bad luck with bad qb play. Shiancoe really made what appeared to be a fantastic catch in the end zone, but this being a non-premium game for FOX, there weren't a lot of cameras, and no angle could provide definitive evidence to overturn the bad call. The refereeing in last night's game was beyond horrible, and it seemed to mostly go against the Cowboys, so I kind of enjoyed it when the Bears eventually got smoked.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Gotta post this cuz it hasn't been mentioned yet-

Eli looked fantastic yesterday.

As a Giants fan I was in Bill's position going into the season- optimistic about our chances in the Brian Brohm sweepstakes. But to my surprise I've had complete confidence in him. I'm surprised. Shocked. He's looked like the 4th best qb in the league so far, behind Brady, Peyton, and Romo. Amazing.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Yep, AJ, and let's not forget the idiot zebra winding the clock on the last play of the 1st half, when he should have stopped it in time for the Cowboys to have a final play, likely a field goal attempt. With decent officiating, the Cowboys may well have put well more than 40 on the board.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re: 69 You forgot huge negative #3. Going with veteran scrubs who simply don't have it anymore-or never had it to begin with-rather than just throwing a young guy out their so he could get better. Who could forget Michael Hawthorne? I guess when your young option is Ahmad Carol, it does make starting Hawthorne at least arguably reasonable. Although perhaps this relates to being a horrible judge of talent.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Why the sound muted in the Giants/Redskins game? Do you dislike the Joe Buck commentary as much as I do?

Aikman is good though. After Jason Campbell missed Santana Moss badly, holding up 6 fingers, he was talking about how the ran the same offense and the "6 route" was the 12 yard comeback. My college team used a similar passing tree and it looked like Moss ran the "2" non-speed out route or the "4" shorter stop routes.

Eli Manning had honestly over 100 yards of receptions worth of dropped balls, mainly to Plaxy glass.

The Giants are having success with Derrick ward because that RB spot is more fungible than you might think. Eli does a good job of audibling when he has favorable run situations ( 7 in the box), because teams have to honor his down field throwing. It reminds you of Edge/Addai/Rhodes having success in Indy, but to a lesser degree. The Giants aren't " screwed" without Tiki, but the threat of Eli's arm and reads, allow his running backs to have success due to favorable situaions.

The Chiefs D doesn't look like push overs anymore. Jared Allen and Tamba Hali had monster games, DJ, Napleon and Edwards are above average lbs, and Surtain and Law are nothing to complain about at the corner spots. The cheifs weaknesses ( DT and S) are rather fungible on defense. You mix that with the conservative offense and then you have more conservative plays called against that D. I am not saying the chefs D is good, but they are improved from those days when the Colts scored every possession on them.

I think Adrian Peterson looks like an absolute beast at RB.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"but this being a non-premium game for FOX, there weren’t a lot of cameras"

Will, thats my biggest pet-peave with this whole "HD in the review booths, etc"

The problem has never been that the picture isnt clear enough. Theres nowhere near enough cameras. There should be one across the back of the end zone, across the front, and facing down each sideline from the back of the end zone. This is a multi-billion dollar industry... theres no reason to be short on cameras.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#76: The penalty on Wilson wasn't for helmet to helmet contact, it was for "launching", leaving his feet to make a hit on a "defenseless" receiver (i.e. one who was in mid-air). It's one of the many "player safety" penalties they've imposed... and Heap was pretty well rocked on the play. The real problem for Wilson was that it was completely unnecessary, he could have delivered a fantastic and legal hit on Heap without jumping at him and drawing the flag. Boneheaded move that probably cost them the game; I don't think the Ravens could have put it together in OT if Arizona got the ball.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

73: I don't have the rulebook in front of me, but pass interference is:
Interfering with another player's ability to catch the ball in flight where
1. the pass is catchable
2. the contact was the proximate cause of the player's inability to make a play on the ball

I understand that wasn't a real question, just a snarky stab at one of the game's rules, but interference is pretty ably summed up with those 3 parts. Will every PI call be uniform? No! Again, you haven't really shown that uniformity is necessary for the game to be fair. Baseball has been going along with inconsistent yet generally fair every single play for over a hundred years, in a much more important context.

As for the refs not being able to see everything in a play, that cuts in favor of subjective calls. Let's take something like a "football move."

Objective:
the player makes a motion or series of motions consistent with possession and progress.

Subjective:
The player does any of the following-
1. Retains control while keeping both feet in-bounds and falls out of bounds
2. Retains control while taking two steps after a catch
3. Rolls on the ground while in the act of catching the ball
4. Pulls the ball into his hands in an attempt to retain control while staying in-bounds

ad infinitum.

The latter approach is useless and stupid, and leads to "Polamalu" moments (yes, I know football move wasn't the subject of the Polamalu controversy) where the ref has conflicting rules fighting to death in his head in the 3 seconds he has to make a call.

But more on topic, the more specific you make the rules (which is a necessary byproduct of taking subjectivity out of officiating), means that a lack of information must dictate a call. Under a purely objective system, the ref must see the ball at all times while the player is rolling on the ground to make sure that it is secure. Under a subjective system, the ref can see the ball at the beginning of the roll and at the end of the roll and, based on his experience he can infer that control was maintained throughout the roll, since it didn't pop out and he had it at both endpoints.

An absurd example? Yes. But it illustrates that a) purely objective rules are stupid, b) there are no purely objective rules in football and c) allowing subjectivity allows assumptions that we must have for football to be officiated in any sort of rational manner, especially when the official is operating with incomplete information.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

90- There were a lot of people ( myself included) that said that FO and the mass media were both way to pessimistic on Eli.

He made 1 dumb throw yesterday ( that happens when you throw downfield a lot), and he had that sack/fumble.

The sack/fumble on eli wasn't due to holding onto the ball forever, eli had just hit the 5th or 7th step in his drop, when diehl got beat. It wasn't that the Redskins had more rushers than the Giants had blockers, it was just Andrew Carter beating Diehl. That just happens sometimes and Eli still almost got the ball off.

Eli Manning has been running a real " passing offense", he points out the blitz on every play, he calls a lot of pass and run audibles, and he had mixed success early on. That is what you would expect from a young player.

Alex Smith is running that boring conservative, let me drop ball and throw to my RB all day offense. He should have a good QB rating, they aren't asking him to do much.

Eli has a lot of stuff on the table, and I would expect his big plays to continue, while he gradually tapers off those mistakes.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Fergasun, oh, I agree, and think it may turn out to be the case that Jackson's long term career has been harmed by him being drafted too high, which has led him to being started to early, which, combined with receiver talent which doesn't begin to approximate Dallas', has put Jackson in a position where he might just end up being ruined. Yeah, there are some guys who can let truly horrible early performances roll off their shoulders without long term adverse effect, but I think it is more likely the case that putting guys on the field before they are ready is harmful to a career, long term. I am not a Childress denouncer, really, although I thought the last time he sent out the punting unit yesterday was ridiculous. If Childress has blown the qb management proceess with the Viking however, and that may well be the case, ol' Chilly likely has blown his NFL head coaching career.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

1. Other teams were interested in Romo after he went undrafted. IIRC, one or two other teams even offered more money. But Dallas had an unsettled QB position and Sean Payton.

2. The Dallas O-line is largely the same O-line that was constantly ripped the past few seasons. It's not playing all that much better now. The difference is more Romo and less them.

3. Poor Patrick Crayton, he has been the most sure handed receiver on the team the past few years. Madden's criticism of him last night was a bit overstated and due to a lack of understanding what FO readers know: he's a quality receiver.

4. Maybe there's still not enough film out there on Romo? Wait till he has started sixteen regular season games - then teams will really have him figured out and he'll crumble like a child.

5. And let's not have any bs about the Bears D getting injured during the course of the game. The Giants and Dolphins defenses also got beat up. And nobody has cut the Dallas D any slack for playing without three of their four best D players (Newman, Ellis, & Ferguson) for most of the first three games.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I should clarify: for purposes of the example, I'm using "football move" incorrectly, but rather as what I view it as, a test that is used to determine possession in all situations but is only named as such in a limited number of situations.

I blended the two for simplicity's sake

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I dont think I've ever seen Pass Interference called within the confines of that rule Fnor. The refs pretty much just make shit up as they go along, IMO, and that, most definitely, is a bad thing.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

88: The ref called it as tipped. You could see him in the replay making that signal. I think he barely got a hand on it, it was utterly shocking that Bradley didn't completely block it.

Romo is like Grossman. Grossman with the ability to move in the pocket to avoid the rush and deliver accurate throws under pressure more often than not. So, really nothing like him.

The Bears D injuries didn't cause them to lose the game, it was bad tackling, poor offensive play yet again (it wasn't just Grossman), Benson's inability to hold onto the damn ball, and of course Romo's very good play.

The defensive injuries are more of a concern going forward. They can absorb the Brown injury (hurts, but they were still excellent on D last year after his injury until a later Harris injury), but taking out Harris and Briggs takes out two of the 3 best players on that defense, including what might well be the single most important defensive player for any team. How many other guys can get injured and have his team's defense go from great to merely average as a result (as happened when Harris got hurt last year)? If he's out for a stretch of weeks here, the Bears are likely to dig themselves a hole that's going to keep them out of the playoffs.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Tavaras Jackson just plain isn't very good. Lewins QB system isn't very favorable for him either.

He threw 4 picks against a detroit team that got shredded by Mcnabb like swiss cheese. Jackson hasn't done anything this year, besides throwing 1 screen pass to Adrian Peterson that he took to the house. The guy couldn't beat out Matt Jones as a starter at Arkansas, why would you think he would be good in the NFL?

I'd agree that the Vikings would be a lot better if they had Jeff Garcia at the helm.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Everyone wants to talk about Romo, and I love the guy, but the story should be about a massive o-line which includes two first rounders considered busts with other teams who are living up to their draft status in Dallas.

The boys have had all three defenses they have played look like they were sucking wind in the 4th quarter. I think the O-line will be the reason they either go deep in the playoffs or don't (if hit by injuries).

Also, did you see the block Hurd laid on Archuletta? They showed a close up of him after Barber broke his tackle and looked like he could still hear the phone ringing inside his helmet. Hurd absolutely leveled him. Had to be a factor in how AA crumbled in front of Barber.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Yeah, if Jaws actually said that Romo and Grossman have similar skills, I find that pretty shocking. If you switched qbs last night, the outcome is very likely reversed, and then some. How many interceptions would Grossman throw while similarly pressured?

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I was very impressed by Romo last night too. Bledsoe would have been sacked at least 5 more times. Romo doesn't have to take off for an 8 yard run, he buys time with his elusiveness and delivers a 20 yard strike downfield instead. He almost reminds you of Donovan in that regard.

It might not show in his QB rating, but that pocket awareness really helps him out a lot. David Carr and Mike Convict had some of the worst pocket awareness in the league, but Romo, Brady and D-Mac are all outstanding in that regard.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"Everyone wants to talk about Romo, and I love the guy, but the story should be about a massive o-line which includes two first rounders considered busts with other teams who are living up to their draft status in Dallas. "

You mean those same guys who ALL stopped being busts in week 7 or so last year when Bledsoe was replaced with Romo?

I'm sorry, but thats too much of a coincidence.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

107:

I'm not sure who the other one is, but one of those former 1st-round busts is Leonard Davis, who was in Arizona last season. His transformation into a non-bust probably has a lot more to do with moving inside to guard than it does with the QB behind him.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Not to stir up a hornets nest, but the tuck rule that gets me annoyed is one where his arm ISN'T going forward, like the classic one, but where because it WAS going forward at one point in time and the ball wasn't "tucked" it is an incomplete pass. And that one doesn't get called more than about once per year (I've seen it TWICE since the original).

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

109. I saw it called twice YESTERDAY, so I dont know what the hell you're talking about.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Favre is by no means a "mobile" quarterback but his ability to slide this way and that, sense the pocket collapsing and keep himself in throwing position (for him--it ain't the prescribed method) is one of the biggest parts of his game at this point.

And he didn't develop it. He just had it. From Day 1 he managed to avoid rushers more often than not.

Like I wrote. Idiot savant at qb.....

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

The point, Chris, is that if Jackson is taken in the fourth round or later, as he probably should have been, nobody really expects anything of him until he has been in the league three of four years, if he even lasts that long. I suspect that if Romo had been starting at age 23, he would have stunk as well.

JimD, a qb with average mobility would have been sacked many, many, times last night playing in front of the Cowboys massive o-line, which would have likely rendered the 4th quarter fatigue factor moot.

Scott, if a qb doesn't get drafted, nobody is really too interested in him, no matter how many teams try to sign him as an undrafted free agent. If nobody is willing to risk a 7th, nobody thinks the guy's prospects amount to much. The Cowboys got lucky on Romo.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I think Romo deserves more credit than his o-line. The Bears were in his face much of the night, sometimes they even got their hands on him, but he was able to get the job done.

If Romo hadn't been able to throw accurately under pressure, this may have been another game where the D kept the Bears in the game late with a chance to win. My hat's off to the guy. I wish we had a QB.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

RE: Tuck Rule

Aaron the unbiased Patriots fan wrote,

The Brady play remains controversial to almost everyone who is not a Pats fan because Brady's arm was not going forward and he was not in the process of passing the ball. Brady had finished a pump-fake and he was leaving the ball in his passing hand away from his body when Woodson drilled him.

If the Tuck Rule were always interpreted the Brady Way, a smart QB wouldn't need to continually pump-fake in order to avoid fumbling... he would simply need to pump-fake once and never bring the ball entirely back into his body. Brady was rewarded for being cavalier with the ball in snowy conditions.

No matter how many Pats fans try to whitewash history, it remains one of the crappiest calls in NFL history.

Spoken as a Bears fan with no allegiance to either the Pats or the Raiders.

Prediction: Now that Aaron has reopened the "Tuck Rule" debate, I look forward to his comment next week that Brady is a much better QB than Manning. We haven't covered that ground yet this season...

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Will Allen- I see your point. I think the problem is that people shouldn't really expect any quarterback ( round 1 also) to do anything their first year. Maybe even their second.

There are way too many young guys starting in the league now. Some teams are smart and ask these guys to start off as " game managers" most of the time, but if your going to ask a young guy to be a game manager, why not let a vet do that?

I'd rather redshirt my young quarterback, and bring him in when you believe he can succeed, and that you don't have to shield him so much with those training wheels.

Too many quarterbacks are brought in too early, then fail miserably, and the fans want to ax the guy.

I think the cowboys brought Romo on the right way in that regard.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Ah, that's the comment I forgot to make.

FO listed Leonard Davis as one of the worst (or did they call him THE worst?)free agent signings of the off-season. The guy's been a beast at guard for Dallas. Looks to me like they knew what they were doing.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

I'll go down hyperbole lane again, and reiterate that Romo was Tarkentonesque last night. Tarkenton seemed to have eyes in the back of his head, and would contantly elude even HOF quality pass rushers with a simple sidestep or spin move, and thow a strike downfield to a receiver who was intitially covered but then seperated. Favre has great instincts, and of course the arm that can make any throw possible, but it seems as if his mobility, especially at current age, of course, is of a different kind. To say the least, as a modern day Vikings fan, this can be a little dispiriting.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

The bye after week 6 will help some. But barring a change in gameplanning about game 10 Favre’s play will begin to suffer just like last year as his body runs out of gas.

Yeah, but given that the Packers face only 2 or 3 good defenses after week 10, it might not matter that much.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

agreed- the Dallas offensive line is ridiculous. Thus far its been so good its unfair to the rest of the league. If they all stay healthy I could see this offense averaging 35/game.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Good comparison to Tark.

116- Nobody is going to be perfect and correctly call everything. FO does a darn good job and is way ahead of the mass media... The Pete Priscos of the world, and that other dork that copied the QB rating system.

I still think they were too low on Eli though :)

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Will:

What's John Randle doing these days? I remember when Randle was the big hoo-haa who would run his mouth nonstop during games.

One of the things that has to be satisfying to Favre is how many guys have come and gone during his career who thought they were going to take down Number 4. Either by being the next big thing at qb or by being the defensive player who got to him. Or even coaches like Dennis Green who boasted that they knew "how to beat Favre".

So many quarterbacks. Cripes, I remember when Erik Kramer(!) was being touted in Chicago as better than Favre.

My favorite is still Kurt Warner if only because writers like Paul Zimmerman would contrast Warner's "amazing touch" versus Favre's "horrible technique". That Warner is fighting for playing time in NFL Siberia after wandering in the desert for several years has amused me no end. Not that I wish ill on Kurt directly. But how experienced NFL followers can't discern ability from system baffles me.

Favre played for several years (2005/2006) with cr*ppy players or players that were learning. Now that the O-line has some experience and his someone other than Driver can get open Favre looks better. What a shocker!

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"Aaron the unbiased Patriots fan wrote,"

I'm sorry, but Aaron is not an unbiased patriots fan. Aaron goes so far out of his way to appear to not be biased that generally, hes significantly biased against the patriots. If its even close, he'll pick the other team.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Romoholics:

I think Tony Romo is a going to be a great quarterback. Even though, like most normal football fans, I freakin' hate the Dallas Cowboys, I picked them to win the Super Bowl this year largely because Romo looked very, very good to me last year, even when his numbers dropped off at the end of the season. He's got uncanny pocket presence and that Joe Montana calm-in-the-huddle thing going for him. And I'm really regretting passing on him to pick Philip Rivers for my fantasy team. So there's some FO love for the guy.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#97 - Count me as one of those Giants fans who's glad to have been wrong about Eli's development. He's looked damned good in every game thus far, two of them against very good defenses. If I recall correctly, Shockey had some pretty serious drops in week 2.

Is it me, or are Shockey & Burress the worst good players in the league? They seem to alternate between absolutely spectacular, athletic catches & runs, and complete dunderheaded drops/fumbles/penalties, with nothing in between. I just don't get it.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"So many quarterbacks. Cripes, I remember when Erik Kramer(!) was being touted in Chicago as better than Favre."

Don't take it personally, we're always grasping at straws for The Next Great QB. It's the same reason so many people want to believe in Grossman. The fact that Sid Luckman still holds most of the franchise's passing records is a continuing source of embarrassment to Bears' fans.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#123 - I thought the preferred term was 'Romosexuals'? Or is that just amongst NYG/PHI/WAS fans?

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Aaron says:

"I would like to ask that we please, please, please have a moratorium on “Can the Patriots go 16-0?� talk until after they’ve gone to Indianapolis Week 9 and to Baltimore Week 13. If they are 12-0 after that, with their last four games either at home or at the Giants, then we can talk."

Week 14 doesnt look like a cakewalk the way the Steelers have started out...plus the short week for NEleading up to it.

Honestly, the Pats have Philly, then @ Baltimore, then the Steelers..expecting them to win all 3 is a lot. However, after the PIT game it does look like a pretty easy schedule, the only thing is if they get to the Giants game 15-0 they will almost certainly sit everyone.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Randle is retired, of course, and I think he is Steve Hutchinson's neighbor. Those have to be the most one-sided conversations in human history!

Boy, Randle had some talent, of course, because you don't get as many sacks as he racked up without talent, and he is to be creditied for making something of himself, coming undrafted out of a tiny school. He really drove me nuts, however, in the latter half of his career, in how he would go hunting for statistics to the detriment of his run defense responsibilities. I do wonder, however, from time to time, what the Vikings defense would have looked like in the 2nd half of the nineties, if Denny hadn't whiffed on Warren Sapp, instead taking a slow d-lineman out Florida State who only stuck a couple of years. Sapp and Randle wouldn't exactly have been complimentary, but it would have been interesting, and the chatter would have been extraordinary.

As Denny got more personnel power, the Vikings draft quality declined, with the obvious exception of Randy Moss.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Pats offensive distribution, courtesy of the Globe's Mike Reiss:

WR Randy Moss -- 55 of 68 snaps
WR Wes Welker -- 48 of 68
TE Kyle Brady -- 45 of 68
TE Benjamin Watson -- 38 of 68
RB Laurence Maroney -- 34 of 68
WR Donte' Stallworth -- 31 of 68
WR Jabar Gaffney -- 27 of 68
RB Kevin Faulk -- 15 of 68
RB Sammy Morris -- 15 of 68
RB/FB Heath Evans -- 12 of 68 (3 as RB, 9 as FB)
TE David Thomas -- 8 of 68
TE Ryan O'Callaghan -- 4 of 68
FB Junior Seau -- 3 of 68
TE Mike Vrabel -- 3 of 68

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Schaub's failure to go deep wasn't just a function of being without Johnson. Most of the Texans' deep pass attempts against the Chiefs and Panthers were on play action roll-outs, which bought Schaub the time the O-line couldn't. With Green and Dayne both out, the run was not a credible threat, so any attempt to run such a play would simply have got Schaub killed.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"If Brad Childress goes after the readily avaliable veteran qb who is most suited to run his offense, Jeff Garcia, the Vikings are likely 3-0 right now."

They might. But they would be no closer to a Super Bowl win than they are now, and might even be further away.

They would have accrued that record playing three of the worst teams in the league (the 2-1 Lions have beaten the Vikes and the Raiders). They would be thinking they are a contender, when they aren't. Then those two meaningless extra wins would grant them a harder schedule for next year and a lower draft position.

The Vikes are in a pretty decent position for next year. They need a QB, but can do the draft-the-future (in a deep QB draft)/sign a veteran stopgap combination this offseason. They've got a good defense going, Peterson's the real deal. They're not going to be good, at all, this year, but they've got quite a few pieces in place and can improve markedly by filling the gaping black holes. Like QB.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"he only thing is if they get to the Giants game 15-0 they will almost certainly sit everyone."

I dunno about that. If they do go 15-0 (and they most likely wont), I see Belichick going for 16. I mean, this is the same guy who touted out Flutie to kick a dropkick, and sent Testaverde out to break a record. I dont think he'd sneeze at a chance to have an undefeated season, especially when it would hurt the dolphins. We hate the dolphins up here.

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Ben, I feel your pain. I despise nearly everything about Jerry Jones. Nearly. Every. Single. Thing. Thus, the fact that they haven't won a playoff game in about a decade, and that they suffered a string of 5-11 seasons, was hugely entertaining for me. Then, Jones has to hire Parcells, who I've always hade great respect for. Now, they have two players, Romo and Barber, who I greatly enjoy watching play, and it appears like Wade Phillips is a decent guy. It takes the fun out of wishing for bad things to happen to Jerry Jones' team.

Oh well, I really despise A.J. Smith too, so I can still root hard against the Chargers.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

127: I for one would love to see what Carson Palmer's USC backup could do in a game, or failing that John Navarre/Chad Henne's backup at Michigan.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re 127- if the Pats get to 14-0 or 15-0, would Belichick really sit people? He seems to have a keen understanding of history (the drop kick, his historical film study presser), so I think he'd relich the chance to be 19-0.

And yes, I know we're violating the moratorium.

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#131 - It's funny how the Vikings' two biggest needs (QB, WR) happen to be the two positions where they had very public, acrimonious splits with pro-bowl calibre talents in recent years. They finally have the supporting cast for the superstars with the team!

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Charles:

One of my best memories of the early Favre years was that after that after GB went up and down the field against the Bears but lost 31-17 on two interceptions returned for touchdowns (Dante Jones!) the ESPN crew including Berman and Jackson went OFF on Favre. Jackson, after gushing over the Bears defense which was "opportunisitic", declared that "Green Bay will never get to the playoffs with Brett Favre at quarterback".

In a chat a few years later Jackson denied ever making that comment. But any Packer fan who saw it remembers it with relish. Because Jackson was just so CERTAIN. When Berman questioned him he just did his pursed lip shake of the head routine.

I know those guys are paid to say outrageous things. But patently stupid things?

Anyway, I chuckle every time I see Jackson. Which isn't often now that I have other avenues for enjoying football.....

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#90: "Eli looked fantastic yesterday."

I don't know about that. I thought it was clearly the worst he has played this year. His stats aren't as good as they should have been due to Burress' strange allergy to catching the ball in the first half, but I saw more bad decisions and inaccurate throws this week than I had in the two previous games.

He wasn't horrid, but I did not walk away thinking he looked all that great.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Er, that's supposed to read, 'superstars no longer with the team!'

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Gerry, to me, drafting is just too inexact a science to feel better about losing today, in return for a better draft position tomorrow. You simply need a lot of luck to win a Super Bowl. For instance, I doubt Roethlisberger was the number one qb on the Steelers' board, and Brady's story is well known. I'd rather try to win a Super Bowl the Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson route than have my favorite team lose 13 games in hopes of getting the next Peyton Manning.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Will - you mean Tarkenton DIDN'T have eyes in the back of head? Man, I hated that guy. Respected him, but hated him.

Badger - I would like to see the Packers run the ball more as well, and I'm sure McCarthy wants to even more, and hopefully when (1) Morency comes back, and (2) GB plays some more balanced defenses, Favre can get a rest. I also think (hope?) that better pass protection will keep him from getting hit as much and maybe 'age' him less throughout the season.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Honestly, if I were the ref, I would have called Brady's loss a fumble in the snow game. (And I'm a huge homer :D)

However, I also would have seen the whack to the helmet he took that caused it...

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

#1) The 49ers run defense looks bad. Unfortunately I don't think they have to look very good to put Seattle in a hole. I really hope Obomanu is back next week, or maybe we get to see some Seneca Wallace plays. I don't think Seattle gets away with nearly as much against the SF secondary as they did against Pittsburgh.

#2) Seattle's run defense looked stout yesterday, but man they looked tired in the 4th. Marcus Tubbs :'(

#3) Is anyone else more scared of the Bears with Griese at quarterback than with Sexy Rexy?

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Minnesota would be great with a decent QB... so would 15 other teams. Who is going to be the veteran stopgap de-jour this offseason? I don't think it's that easy to find a good QB... although Jeff Garcia certainly deludes fan-bases into thinking it is easy. It seems like every year there are 10 teams who don't even have a decent starting QB... and every team is dead if their QB is ever injured.... I'm sure Pats fans are sure looking forward to the Matt Cassell era... as is Randy Moss.

Most teams that have a good vet QB normally hold onto them... no? Will Minnesota fans be happy with Kurt Warner? Joey Harrington? Cleo Lemon? Jim Sorgi? Mark Brunell? Charlie Batch?

Was anyone else wondering who Trent Edwards was? If Losman misses serious time... Buffalo fans are clamoring for Trent Edwards... wouldn't your time be better spend shopping with the wife instead of watching that live?

Maybe they could go with a more youthful castoff, Aaron Rodgers, Rex Grossman, Chooseyour McCown, Kyle Orton, JT O'Sullivan, Sage Rosenfels, Chris Redman... names sure to be available come offseason...

Houston absolutely stole Matt Schuab from Atlanta, and last year he'd be my choice for "breakout QB season". Sure there are always the Romo's/Bulger's/Brady's lurking around... maybe its someone like Stefan Lefors... but it's really hard to find a decent NFL QB... teams even didn't want Trent Green this offseason and Mark Brunell 2003.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re: 116

IIRC, I think the criticism of the Leonard Davis pickup had more to do with his contract than with the quality of his play. And regardless of how well he plays, paying a 29 year old Guard nearly $50M over 7 years with $18.75M guaranteed is still highly questionable.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Well, the Vikings would not be "great" with a decent qb. Their receivers may suck worse than their quarterbacks, after all. They would be extremely competitive, however, and able to win road games against non-great opponents.

No, my expectations are not extremely high at this point.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

"drafting is just too inexact a science to feel better about losing today, in return for a better draft position tomorrow"

I completely understand, and agree, with that.

My point was merely that, if the Vikes were 3-0 right now due to having Jeff Garcia rather than Tavaris, they still would not be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and would still be looking at having a losing record by the end of week 9.

I think it is always better to have a clear picture of the team (wish I had that about my Giants this pre-season) than to see what one hopes to see. A 1-2 record is more truthful, for lack of a better word, about the Vikings than a 3-0 record would be (even with that imagined QB change). That it comes with a better next year's schedule and a better draft position is gravy.

Having a team that is considered to be closer than it really is, is a recipe for long-term mediocrity.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Re:99
I'll confirm that Romo was wanted by other teams. Before the joint pre-season practice week of the Broncos/Cowboys, there was a bunch of press on how Shanahan had tried to sign Romo, and even offered him more money than the 'Boys. Lots of comparisons of Cutler/Romo that week.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 3

Romo v. Grossman: I would like to know more about the context in wich Jaws compared Romo to Grossman.

My memory is at the end of last year, both were playing a little (or more) out-of-control, helter-skelter-type football. It looks to me like Romo spent the off-season in a way which reined in the bad tendencies while keeping the improvisational abilities. Grossman seems to have regressed, either from a lask of work/study; problems with the offensive design; etc.

The Cowboys brought in a new coach and system and Romo seems to have taken to it; Grossman stayed in the same system, with the same coach, and fallen back.

Watching Grossman the last two weeks (played "my" Chiefs, then on national TV), he'll make some good throws, make some bone-headed plays, and there will be some where it appears to an outsider that his receivers let him down. His supporters (or at least Lovie Smith) see the good plays, are willing to live with the bad ones, and apparently blame the receivers for the ones in between. his detractors take the opposite view.

On a separate but related note, the Bears o-line doesn't look as good to me this year, from a superficial fans perspective.