Audibles at the Line: Week 7

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.

Baltimore Ravens 14 at Buffalo Bills 19

Bill Barnwell: Trent Edwards makes a great throw to Roscoe Parrish against Samari Rolle on a go route that ends up with pass interference. The dropback looked much better. Unfortunately, Marshawn Lynch does his DeShaun Foster impersonation on first down and loses four. Then, on second down, Edwards runs a sweet play fake and makes an even better decision to throw it away when no-one's open. Great throw by Boller against some sort of mutated Cover-2 the Bills ran -- the perfect 20-yard out over some defensive back's outstretched arms.

Stuart Fraser: Yamon Figurs has now muffed, fumbled, or otherwise dropped three straight kickoff returns. Quinn Sypniewski has fumbled. The Ravens' much-injured offensive line keeps getting penalties which really aren't helping drives. Willis McGahee, after a slow start, is actually doing pretty well. Ooh, that was well timed, since he just ran the ball 46 yards for a touchdown, stiff-arming a safety along the way. The play was kind of strange -- you'll probably see a highlight. He seemed to kind of stop near the line of scrimmage and then take off again. Boller threw a block on a chasing linebacker during the run, which Rich Gannon raved over. I'm trying to remember if Gannon ever did something similar.

Something else to note is that I'm pretty impressed with Trent Edwards. The Bills are doing a good job of pass protection (injuries to the Ravens are, of course, helping) but he generally seems to be pretty accurate, isn't forcing throws into tight coverage, and generally looks more like an NFL quarterback than J.P. Losman does.

Bill Barnwell: I've been impressed by Angelo Crowell. He's wrapping up well on tackles without allowing any additional forward movement, and he's getting from sideline-to-sideline pretty quick. The Bills isolate Corey Ivy on Lee Evans and Evans runs a perfect pattern right past him for 30 yards. The Bills pick on Ivy again inside the 10 with a fade pattern by Josh Reed, of all people, and Ivy can't keep up and gets ticked for pass interference. Boy, does he suck.

Mike Tanier: I remain impressed by Edwards, even after an ugly read and throw in the fourth quarter that almost turned the game around. Not only is Edwards smart with the ball, but he was running the no-huddle effectively for much of this game. Most importantly, he made a play or two down the field. I think of young dink-and-dunk quarterbacks like young junkball pitchers in baseball. A quarterback needs to have big-play ability to turn into a great player, otherwise he's Rick Mirer. It was good to see Edwards uncork a few deep balls (one for a long gain to Evans, another to draw pass interference to Parrish) against a good defense.

The Ravens offense without Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox just isn't an offense. They have other major injuries, but they did a real good job covering for losses on the offensive line. But you just can't insert the third and fourth tight ends in an offense that throws to Heap a lot and uses lots of two-TE sets and expect it click. It's a good thing Boller was in for Captain Checkdown, because McNair is such a legendary "tight-end-o-phile" that he probably would try to throw passes to Ozzie Newsome in the owners' box if Mason wasn't open.

Ryan Wilson: I, too, like Trent Edwards. And although he makes a lot of swell decisions most of the time, when he makes a mistake he doesn't get cheated. Twice now he's thrown a potentially back-breaking pick, and both times he's stared a hole through his intended target. Generally speaking, I'm against drafting running backs early in the first round, but I absolutely love the way Marshawn Lynch plays. He only averaged 3.1 yards per carry, but imagine how what he'd have if Dick Jauron wasn't afraid to OK a few pass plays. And unlike, say, Shaun Alexander, it takes two, sometimes three guys to get him down. Pretty awesome to watch.

As long as Brian Billick is calling offensive plays, I will just regurgitate the following statement: The Ravens' defense and special teams need to score 21 points if the team is going to have a chance to win. The team might be better off punting on first down and taking their chances with Ed Reed returning a pick for six.

Kyle Boller, on the other hand, looks like he's matured since he was starting back in '05. His fourth quarter touchdown pass to Derrick Mason was a laser that split three defenders. Perfect pass. Never thought I'd say that about Boller. To me, it seems obvious he should be the team's starter from here on out, but I also think Billick should be relegated to the Joe Gibbs oversight role.

Stuart Fraser: Two early contenders for the Keep Choppin' Wood award. The first is Brian Billick, who, with a third-and-1 at roughly midfield, down 14-19, calls two consecutive passes, because everybody gives Kyle Boller the game to win or lose in that position. The second is the Yahoo/NFL GamePass feed, which has so far managed about 45 minutes of uptime, at least where I'm sitting. Which is a really great thing for your international stream to be doing the week before your much trumpeted international series kicks off, NFL.

Atlanta Falcons 16 at New Orleans Saints 22

Sean McCormick: Atlanta tried to get a little tricky by running a play where Joey Harrington started off in shotgun and walked toward the line as if he was going to change the protection and the ball was direct snapped to Warrick Dunn. The only problem is that the ball was direct snapped to nobody. It went right between Harrington and Dunn, and it ended up being a huge loss.

Vince Verhei: I saw that play. I thought it was supposed to be a regular shotgun play, but whatever Harrington was shouting at his linemen must have sounded an awful lot like "Hike!" So tack it up to poor player preparation, not poor play design.

Anyone who thinks quarterbacks have no impact on the yards their receivers gain after the catch needs to watch Byron Leftwich and Joey Harrington play for the same team in the same game. Harrington can find open receivers and throw accurate passes, but his arm is weak, his passes hang in the air, and defenders have time to close in and make immediate tackles. Leftwich, on the other hand, zips his passes in to receivers before defenders can react, giving them opportunities to make plays. Between that and his willingness to throw a pass more than 15 yards downfield once in a while, he's clearly the better quarterback, despite his very... slow... release and tendency to stare down receivers. Of course, all that's assuming his ankle injury doesn't effect him all season.

Note to Bobby Petrino: Jerious Norwood is a much, much better running back than Warrick Dunn. He has a higher rushing DVOA. He has a higher receiving DVOA. He has a higher success rate. If you don't have faith in advanced stats, well, he's averaging 5.8 yards per carry to Dunn's 3.1. And yet you continue to give Warrick Dunn the majority of the team's carries every single week. This is stupid, Bobby. This is very, very stupid.

And all of that may be moot, because apparently there is a curse on the Falcons' offensive tackles. Renardo Foster, the undrafted rookie who started at left tackle for Wayne Gandy, played OK, all things considered. But he suffered what looked like a very nasty knee injury and was carted off the field. I didn't catch the name of his replacement. He may have been the winner of a halftime field goal kicking contest or something.

The Saints' offensive line gave Drew Brees plenty of time to throw all day, and he generally looked OK, but his interception was bizarre. The Saints were going for it on fourth-and-2 from the Atlanta 34 right before halftime. Brees play faked and rolled out to his right. There was no defender chasing him and he had a wide receiver wide-open, but he threw the ball right into the hands of Demorrio Williams.

Arizona Cardinals 19 at Washington Redskins 21

Bill Barnwell: The Cardinals' passing game is really struggling. Dropped passes, throws into traffic, and then a London Fletcher interception taken to the house. Next series, Warner fumbles a snap. He probably shouldn't be in there, although Will Carroll can speak to the propensity of his injury to heal much better than I can.

I hated this play call from the Cardinals: Fourth-and-2 from the Washington 48. They line up five-wide and send Anquan Boldin in motion. He catches an immediately-thrown screen and attempts to use the two wideouts as blockers, but there are already three guys on that side of the field and once Boldin stalls, the linebackers flood and Boldin's got nowhere to go. On the next play, though, Jason Campbell makes an absolutely abysmal throw on a screen, not getting it over Bertrand Berry, who tips it right to Calvin Pace (who had also snuffed out the screen and might have just picked it off himself). Campbell should've just eaten it. Then, Arizona goes for it on fourth-and-goal from the four-yard line with six seconds left in the half and converts. Never let it be said Ken Whisenhunt doesn't have balls. Of course, the extra point gets blocked, but it was worth it. There's a fracas after the play and I think a ref leg-dived one of the Cardinals linemen.

More strange stuff in the Cardinals passing game. Boldin runs a slant on third-and-1 and Warner hits him in the arms while Boldin's not even looking for the ball. London Fletcher gets some sort of mythical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he hits Fitzgerald on a third-and-10. It looked absolutely fine to me, so I assume it was some kind of taunting or other penalty. Warner looked much better in the second half, throwing with more precision, but he got hit from behind on a straight speed rush by Andre Carter around Levi Brown and was stripped inside the 15. You can't line up Brown versus Carter one-on-one and give him five seconds to get to Warner.

Mike Tanier: Robo-Kurt's accuracy was off by a few degrees in this game. This game reminded me of Cardinals games I would watch two years ago, when Warner would score 14 points for the Cardinals and 17 for the opposition.

Ned Macey: The announcers spent the whole game praising Warner's guts, while he handed the game to Washington. Maybe the injury is a legitimate excuse (and the constant right-handed handoffs were amusing to watch), but he threw two terrible interceptions which set up 14 points for Washington. He also inexplicably took two delay of game penalties inside the Redskins' ten-yard line. The first was the initial play to start the fourth quarter. He didn't even seem to realize that the clock was running down, and was surprised when the ref blew the whistle. Washington neutered their game plan and just tried to nurse the lead. It almost cost them. Mike Sellers was featured more than he has ever been featured in his life in an odd game plan.

Ben Riley: Very interesting series to end the game. Cards down by eight, Tim Rattay enters for the first time in the game. The Redskins stack the line and blitz, Rattay rolls right, Shipp lays a nice block and Rattay hits Leonard Pope in the end zone. The Cards then go for two with Rattay split wide, direct snap to Anquan Boldin, who rolls right and -- throws an interception. Ah well, it was still a good try.

Doug Farrar: Two things you don't often see: A kicker starting a fight -- Neil Rackers going after Carlos Rogers after the aforementioned missed extra point, taking Rogers to the ground (!) by his facemask; and the gadget play that lost the Cardinals the game after they scored late to make it 21-19. Ken Whisenhunt hails back to his Pittsburgh days, runs Boldin out there as quarterback on the two-point conversion, and Boldin throws a pick to LaRon Landry. Mr. Whisenhunt, you're officially in the running for Keep Choppin' Wood, and Neil Rackers couldn't save you.

Stuart Fraser: I'd defend Whisenhunt's call. It's not as if his gadget plays have a history of never working, and Boldin, a converted quarterback, can certainly throw the ball -- just not, apparently, to the right player.

Aaron Schatz: Rackers hooks the field goal slightly to the left, and you can hear the announcers pausing because they expected Joe Gibbs to pull that "last-minute timeout" crap. The kick hooks left... and.... the Redskins ... (timeout?) ... are going ... (timeout?) ... to win (timeout?) ... the game.

San Francisco 49ers 15 at New York Giants 33

Doug Farrar: New York's methodical opening touchdown drive was marked by Eli Manning drawing the 49ers into encroachment twice with hard counts, San Francisco's continued inability to stop the run, and Manning's efficiency -- had Derrick Ward caught the two screens he dropped, Manning would have completed all seven passes he threw. The Giants' line is pushing San Francisco back even when the 49ers bring up extra defenders, and Darryl Johnston wonders if there's some sort of Manning "cadence gene." We need to go back and figure out how many encroachment penalties Archie Manning caused. Eli going play action with screens and dumps -- they're not asking him to do too much, which is very wise.

Meanwhile, the Giants are feeding on the surprisingly horrid 49ers offensive line. On the second play of San Francisco's first drive, Michael Strahan just blew up rookie right tackle Joe Staley for a sack, and the offensive line collapsed on third down. This was the "Four Aces" package written about by Mike Tanier in Two Deep Zone -- Strahan, Osi Umenyiora (who absolutely destroyed fullback Moran Norris on a first-half near-sack), Justin Tuck and Matthias Kiwanuka. They bring six guys total, and Strahan's in the backfield before anyone knows what to do. New York's second drive was stopped by a Derek Smith pick caused by Marques Douglas getting around two Giants and tipping the ball. Douglas is really having a great season.

Bill Barnwell: 49ers have had trouble holding onto the ball. Dilfer fumbled a snap and Gore never grabbed a handoff. The first time, the 49ers recovered and scored; the second time, the Giants recovered. Mike did a good job of covering this in TDZ, but it's amazing to see the difference in the Giants from the preseason and first two games of the year. They look disciplined in their lanes and functional within their positions as opposed to the mix of flailing and overpursuit that marked the earlier games.

Ben Riley: Hilarious series in this game. San Francisco has fourth-and-1 at the 20 and decides to go for it -- Easterbrook, stop scribbling in your notebook -- which prompts Johnston to ask Tony Siragusa if Trent Dilfer should run a sneak. "NO, NO!" shrieks Siragusa. (Gore converts the first, and on the next play Arnaz Battle scores.)

Doug Farrar: The Quote of the Day contest has packed up and left town. Matt Vasgersian: "There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Giants' running game. While Tiki Barber sits on a couch every morning and talks about shoes and handbags with Ann Curry and Al Roker, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns are running wild." Yee-ouch!

I'm starting to come around ever so slightly on Elisha. He threw an exceptional pass to Amani Toomer at the end of the first half. He got the ball off with a defender hitting his throwing arm, but still threw it over Walt Harris's head and right to Toomer on the run. There's evidence of some development in his hard counts, the way he can extend a drive, the minimization of stupid risk throws. He'll still throw a goatball once in while, but this is a better version of a quarterback who has never impressed me before.

Two things I think the Competition Committee has to review in the off-season: Obviously the sneaky time outs/field goal thing is a problem, but the new rule about delay of game penalties on post-play spikes seems a bit ticky-tack. Ashley Lelie brought in an incredible 47-yard bomb from Dilfer at the start of the third quarter, and yes, he did spike the ball, but it really did seem like honest emotion, not just another receiver acting like a jerk. I understand that the NFL wants to keep the games moving, but you can't ask these people to play to the heights of their potential (hey, even Ashley Lelie does it once a year or so!) and then remove all emotion from the game. This should be a judgment call, and I think degree of difficulty in the play itself should be taken into account.

Ben Riley: Agreed, but the penalty for irrationally exuberant spiking is pretty weak (backed up five yards).

Doug Farrar: Of course, Umenyiora gets to Dilfer a couple plays later, causes a fumble, and returns it for a touchdown. New York ran an overload right, blew up the line again, and that was that. This came one play after Strahan took Staley to school again. I've seen offensive lines implode from one year to the next (I live in Seattle), but this is ridiculous. Staley, in particular, is getting mauled from every direction.

Sean McCormick: Is it me, or is the Giants defensive line about as predictable a dominant unit as you'll find? Whenever they go up against an offensive line with some weaknesses, they absolutely demolish it. When they play a team with a good offensive line, they do nothing. I'm not sure if it's a scheme thing or a question of personnel (maybe the lack of a dominant nose tackle). In any event, this 49ers line was made to order for them, and they're tearing through it like wet tissue paper.

Bill Barnwell: I think it's both. I think they can be exploited with misdirection and letting them overpursue, but they're going to make some plays regardless. Even when the defense was terrible the first two weeks, they still made some plays on pure athleticism.

Michael David Smith: Assuming the Giants keep playing this way they'll have won four straight games by more than 10 points. Anyone know the last time they did that?

Aaron Schatz: The answer is... one year ago.

Week 5: 19-3 over Washington
Week 6: 27-14 over Atlanta
Week 7 : 36-22 over Dallas
Week 8: 17-3 over Tampa Bay

Remember, they were in the DVOA top 5 at midseason or something like that, then went into the crapper. However, before 2006, four straight Giants double-digit wins had not happened since 1990. The Giants have fallen apart in the second half for three straight years now. It was less apparent in 2005, because a lot of it was going from big wins to small wins. In 2004, they were 5-2 and ended 6-10.

Mike Tanier: I was impressed by the Giants offensive line in this game. Their backs are pretty good (though they can't catch), but they are consistently able to string out seven-yard gains to the outside because the blocking is so good.

Trent Dilfer is really terrible. He looked like he has never seen a Cover-2 defense before, he doesn't know that linebackers are sitting in underneath zones or that the cornerback is going to drop off of his receiver to cover a guy in the flat. In the second half, the Niners tried an adjustment where they went to seven-man protection and threw deep passes up the sidelines. That's when Dilfer completed that ball to Ashley Lelie, but the strategy didn't work because it was Dilfer throwing to Niners receivers, not a good quarterback throwing to good receivers. Some team is probably going to use that strategy successfully against this defense. It won't happen next week against Miami.

New England Patriots 49 at Miami Dolphins 28

Ben Riley: Twice today, Tom Brady has thrown deep to Randy Moss in double coverage in the end zone, passes that in Logical Football World, no quarterback should throw. Twice today, Randy Moss has made unbelievable grabs to score. Quoth my girlfriend: "It's like Moss has magnets in his hands."

Doug Farrar: I don't usually comment on Patriots games because so many others who know the team better write for FO, but I'll say one thing: This isn't even fair. This is beyond ridiculous. When your quarterback throws a bomb on third-and-18 into double coverage in the end zone and you know it's going to be a touchdown ... when there is no doubt in your mind ... wow. Just wow.

Bill Moore: Those two catches by Moss were insane. They should not have been caught. If anything, they both should have been intercepted. Dan Dierdorf said something pretty funny: "I don't know of any other situation where a quarterback looks down the field, sees double coverage, and says, 'Hey, I think I'll go there.'" I'm not sure that's the exact quote, but I'm too busy throwing up from quoting Dan Dierdorf.

Aaron Schatz: The fact that Norv Turner so discouraged Randy Moss that he went from this to an unspectacular starting wideout may be the best possible evidence that he's the worst head coach in NFL history. Unless it is the best possible evidence that Art Shell is the worst head coach in NFL history.

Mike Tanier: Norv Turner didn't really demoralize Randy Moss. He let Randy be Randy. Let him do whatever he wanted. And Art Shell was even worse. Randy isn't exactly Mr. Work Ethic. It's amazing what a guy can do when he is surrounded by coaches and teammates who won't take any of his crap.

Sean McCormick: I actually have a different read on Moss. I think he, like many great players, is contemptuous of incompetence. He recognized it right away in Oakland and mailed in his performances. When he's played with good quarterbacks, he's played hard and produced. He clearly wants to win -- he's just not stupid.

Mike Tanier: Contemptuous of incompetence? Sounds like an excuse for "lazy." If all Americans were "contemptuous of incompetence," nothing would ever get done. We all have some incompetent co-workers or bosses. I'm a teacher. What am I supposed to do: Figure if my superintendent is a ninny then I can show movies every day? I know a lot of good, hard working players get dragged down by bad teams. Moss helped drag down a bad team. Big difference. Sure he "wants to win." We all do. When you go in the tank in Week 2 because you don't like the situation you are in, then you don't want it that bad.

Sean McCormick: I really don't see it that way. Chad Pennington talked about Moss and said that if you put good players around him, he'll work hard, he'll play hard, and he'll generally be a fantastic teammate, and his pro career more or less backs that up.

Mike Tanier: So if he has a great situation around him he will try. And if he doesn't have an ideal situation he will go out of his way to make the situation worse. Sounds like a model employee to me. I hope Tom Brady doesn't get hurt, because if Matt Cassel comes in Moss will just give up and then go on every radio show complaining about the situation because he's just too good to be saddled with such a bad quarterback.

Aaron Schatz: I'm enjoying this as much as all the rest of the Patriots fans, but running the fake spike play at the end of the second quarter up 35-7 is a bit much. I know you guys aren't happy about all those times Miami beat you in the heat and humidity, but that is really, really bad sportsmanship.

Ben Riley: Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital "C." Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole "fake spike to stop the clock" with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football -- it's a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship.

Vince Verhei: Bill Simmons has written about the "Eff You" touchdown. This was the "Eff You" game.

Aaron Schatz: Meanwhile, let's talk about the Dolphins. First, the good. Beautifully designed play by the Dolphins for their first touchdown. Reagan Mauia, the fullback, goes in motion wide right, and Rodney Harrison has to follow him because the Pats are in man coverage. That leaves the middle wide open behind the defensive line, and Cleo Lemon runs right up the middle for the score. Rookie center Samson Satele looks very good. Nice pick there.

The bad: Is Joey Porter even on the field in this game? Good personnel call there by the Pittsburgh Steelers front office.

Tennessee Titans 38 at Houston Texans 36

Bill Barnwell: Tennessee wins, somehow. That wins my vote for ugly great game of the year. The Titans deserved that one. Amazing. Sage freaking Rosenfels almost won the game. Appalling coverage by Lowry on that play. That was Madden-esque, where the safety just stands there and lets the guy just jump right in front of him for the score.

Sean McCormick:You must mean Madden 2007. In Madden 2008, the safety would run straight through the receiver and pick it.

I think we can expect TMQ to make a note of the ill-advised blitz Houston ran on second-and-10 that left Roydell Williams in single coverage on the streak. Seven men cross the line ... and Houston loses.

Doug Farrar: Second week in a row that Kerry Collins engineered an impressive late drive. And Rob Bironas kicked eight field goals? Good Lord.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 at Detroit Lions 23

Ben Riley: One thing I like about football is that it proves, over and over again, that economists sometimes know what they are talking about. Cause: Earlier this week, the Bucs traded for Michael Bennett. Effect: Earnest Graham is running and catching like a man possessed. (It also helps to face the Lions, whose defensive line should be better than it is.)

Doug Farrar : I think we may have to take the "Captain Checkdown" name from Steve McNair. With 11:29 left in this game, Jeff Garcia has completed 26 of 29 passes for 243 yards.

Sean McCormick: The Bucs just ran the greatest onside kick I've ever seen. They bunched up their coverage team in the middle of the field and kicked it really hard straight at a Lions -- the ball shot right off a Lion and went up in the air, and there were about eight Bucs charging to it.

Tampa Bay built on their first onside kick with their second one. They came out in the same formation with their team bunched in the center. Detroit bunched their cover men in the center in response. The kicker then kicked what was basically a soccer through pass into the space on the right side, giving his return team a chance to get after it running forward at full speed while the cover team had to backpedal. Detroit recovered, but it was a terrific special teams sequence.

New York Jets 31 at Cincinnati Bengals 38

Sean McCormick: The Bengals are doing everything they can to make the Jets defense effective. They are taking a ton of penalties that turn favorable downs and distances into unfavorable ones. Of course, this is the Jets defense we're talking about, so they're promptly giving up big pass plays anyway.

This could be the last game played by Chad Pennington. It's too bad, because this game was a perfect illustration of how low down the quarterback position is on the list of team problems. The Jets offense scored on each of its first five possessions, and they threw the ball successfully at every depth level.

What did the defense do with that performance? They gave up five scoring drives of their own, drives of 78 yards, 76 yards, 76 yards, 57 yards and 50 yards, despite Cincinnati making things harder on themselves by taking repeated penalties on offense. They gave up 130 yards to Kenny Watson on 31 carries. Kenny Watson. Just look at the drive stats for the game -- the Jets' offense averaged 36.1 yards per drive and 2.3 points per drive, which are fantastic numbers. The defense gave up 44.1 yards per drive and 3.4 points per drive, which are about as bad a set of numbers as you can possibly generate. But Pennington threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown while trying to drive the length of the field with no timeouts, so he's going to lose his job. It's absurd.

Bill Barnwell: Pennington sure does make a convenient scapegoat while you're ignoring the flaws of your team, though...

Michael David Smith: Is anyone actually ignoring the flaws of the Jets? I think everyone pretty much agrees that their defense sucks. That doesn't necessarily mean Pennington shouldn't get benched, though.

Bill Barnwell: The New York media is. Well, I mean, they mention it, but they focus on the Pennington thing like it's the difference between the Jets winning or losing when that's not the case whatsoever.

Sean McCormick: Right. The issue is one of proportion. It's not that the offense isn't in any way to blame, or that Pennington's limitations don't play into that in some way. But the defensive numbers are just staggering. The notion that changing quarterbacks or throwing downfield more is going to give a "spark" to a defense that just surrendered 44.1 yards a drive and 3.4 points a possession is just ludicrous. But it's going to be taken perfectly seriously by both fans and the media, who will look at the record and the game-ending interception and lump offensive and defensive performances together.

Chicago Bears 19 at Philadelphia Eagles 16

Vince Verhei: If opponents are going to kick or punt the ball out of bounds, well, there's really not much Devin Hester or the Bears can do about it. But if teams are just going to kick the ball high and short on kickoffs, as the Eagles did all day, don't you coach your guys to pitch back to Hester if at all possible? I saw one ball come down at about the 20, and as the up-man settled under it to make the catch, Hester actually ran by him to throw a block. Is that really the best way to win a game? The Bears should have been prepared for this tactic, and the players should have been able to get the ball into Hester's hands with a minimal risk of turnover.

Mike Tanier: The red zone in Philly has become like the Forbidden Zone from Beneath the Planet of the Apes. When the Eagles venture inside the 20, they find a bunch of guys who were locked in the old Vet Stadium holding pen now worshiping an atomic bomb. This is appropriate, because Andy Reid also worships a bomb. The Eagles red zone problems can only be solved by better play-calling or a cameo by Charlton Heston. I am just so sick of the Eagles dickering around in the red zone, keeping these second rate opponents hanging around. Run more. Make play-action more viable. It has gotten very tiring to watch.

Ben Riley: Bizarre call that I can't believe is right just made by Big Arms Hochuli. The Bears snap sideways past Brian Griese, and the ball is recovered by the Eagles and run back to the 20. But the play is whistled dead, because by rule a ball that is snapped past the quarterback is a false start. If that is the rule, why is that rule?

Doug Farrar: Two notable things about this game: Mushin Muhammad complaining about the hotel room service in the post-game press conference, and a group of birds surrounding Devin Hester as he tried to bring in a deep pass from Griese. The birds distracted him, and flew away. You think Belichick's bad? Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has assembled the forces of nature in Hitchcockian fashion, and he's getting away with it!

Mike Tanier: Yes, but the birds failed. They need to bring the Vet Stadium rats back.

St. Louis Rams 6 at Seattle Seahawks 33

Doug Farrar: Seattle's opening scoring drive was a nice little flashback to 2005 -- Matt Hasselbeck goes five-for-five, throwing to four different receivers, actual blocking is observed, and the run game works with Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris. The Rams answer with a drive in which two straight false starts are called on their offensive line, and Marc Bulger throws a desperation "doink" pass on third-and-22. Between the Rams and 49ers today, I've seen about all the horrible line play I can take. Not wanting to be left out, the Seahawks can't convert a fourth-and-inches, which gives the ball to St. Louis at the Seattle 48-yard line. Rookies Adam Carriker and Cliff Ryan were factors on the inside. Back to 2007 for the Seahawks, and their nonexistent ground game.

Nice sideline-cam shot of Marc Bulger rolling his eyes at Scott Linehan after the Rams can only get three points from their advantageous field position.

Ben Riley: The phrase "coverage sack" has always confused me a little, but three times today, Marc Bulger has stood in the pocket for two seconds two long, resulting in a Darryl Tapp sack. Meanwhile, Matt Hasselbeck is grabbing his ribs and missing on his passes. The era of Seneca Wallace, wide receiver, may end momentarily.

Doug Farrar: I'm pretty much ready for the era of Bill Laveroni, offensive line coach, to end momentarily. I know there's been a great deal of personnel churn on this line, and there's a young center and left guard to account for, but it's been a season and a half without Steve Hutchinson, and it's been the same crap pretty much the entire time -- minimal gaps, sloppy pulls, hurried throws -- plays can't develop with this line, and Mike Holmgren's offense requires plays to develop. There has to be a better way to do this.

For the second straight season, Nate Burleson gets a 90-plus-yard kick return against the Rams. The unsung hero on the play was reserve linebacker Will Herring, who blocked Ronald Bartell all the way downfield, running step-for-step with Nate. Darryl Tapp is having one of those Umenyiora-vs.-Justice games -- four sacks halfway through the third quarter, and that's after having a cast put on his right hand at halftime.

Ben Riley: Shaun Alexander just got stopped at the line, then ran backwards four yards before being stuffed for a big loss. That, in itself, is not worthy of an audible. What made the play unusual is that Matt Hasselbeck literally pointed down the field in the direction that Shaun should have been running, i.e., forward. From MVP to not knowing which direction to run: the 2007 Shaun Alexander!

At least four times today, Matt Hasselbeck has thrown a pass to the streaking fourth- or fifth-string wideout toward the end zone. Luckily for the Seahawks, none have been picked off -- unlike last week, when Hasselbeck threw an interception to the Saints at the worse possible time -- but he needs to remove that page from the playbook.

Aaron Schatz: The play-by-play says that Donnie Jones had an 80-yard punt in this game. Seriously?

Doug Farrar: Yes, and he also had one that went 64. That was a real 64-yarder, as Burleson was back to retrieve it. The one listed as 80 went more like 60, but Burleson misjudged that one in the air, and it went over his head and rolled a bit.

The second half of this game was basically a study in almost cruel domination -- a bit like a large cat playing with a very small mouse. The Rams had no answers for Seattle's defense, and Seattle's offensive liabilities didn't matter. From what I'm seeing here, I can't imagine that Scott Linehan will keep his job through the season. It's bad enough if you're the Dolphins and you lay open your throat to the Patriots -- but they're the Patriots, and there's a great chance you'll get your ass kicked even if you're a really good team. To get pushed around the plate and devoured by the Seahawks, a decent team who themselves would get waxed by the Patriots at this point, is just about inexcusable.

Linehan came in before the 2006 season and wanted to establish a power running game, more consistency, blah, blah, blah. But I think he's superimposed his idea of a team on a team created very differently by other people. This is not a physical team. It's a big-play offense with a noted lack of situational discipline -- the Rams have led the NFL in false starts since at least the day that Alex Barron was drafted -- and you can't just tell a team to "play this way" if it runs counter to their abilities.

I'm also starting to wonder if parity isn't on the way out. We have two 0-7 teams in the Rams and Dolphins, and if the Colts win tomorrow night, there will be a 7-0 and a 6-0 team. My guess is that it's been a while since that happened.

Mike Tanier: I wasn't watching this, but I read the comments and assumed that the Seahawks were involved in some nail-biter because they were enduring such criticism. It is 33-6 Seahawks, right? Somebody besides that defensive end played well, right?

Vince Verhei: This was, without question, the most disheartening 27-point win I've ever seen. The Seattle offense has serious problems that have already been discussed. The Seahawks started four possessions in St. Louis territory, and on those four possessions managed one touchdown, two field goals and an interception. That's against the Rams, not the Steelers. And while the defense couldn't really have played much better, beating a team with a backup tackle and a beat-up quarterback in your home stadium that produces extra false start penalties is not really a great achievement.

Still, the division completely, totally sucks, and the deviant part of my brain hopes the Seahawks win the division at 7-9.

Doug Farrar: The defense played exceptionally well, especially in the second half. Marcus Trufant continued his improvement as a cover corner -- nobody will ever mistake him for Champ Bailey, but he's looking very solid out there. I don't think there's any question that as far as linebackers in a 4-3 scheme go, Seattle's are right up there with the best in their effectiveness and versatility. Backup tight end Will Heller impressed (he really should be playing more, because he can block!) and I liked what I saw from the interior defensive line rotation.

Unlike last week against the Saints, the Seahawks didn't regress against an inferior team. They're back in first place in their division, they've got a bye now, and they'll have some guys coming back healthy in two weeks. The concerns are obvious, but there's also room for guarded optimism.

One more thing: In the second half of this game, I'm thinking of Aaron's recent article about teams who bring on mobile (as in running, not as in pocket presence) quarterbacks, and how their rushing totals increase. I begin to wonder if, in the second half of games like this, when the Seahawks are doing little more than protecting a lead, they wouldn't get Seneca Wallace out there at quarterback and run some spread option plays.

Minnesota Vikings 14 at Dallas Cowboys 24

Aaron Schatz: I think I can feel a research project coming on, because watching this game, I'm just ultra frustrated at the Minnesota Cover-2 defensive schemes. How often can you let the other team's superstar receiver get open easily on the out? How often can you have two defensive backs sitting there while the tight end catches an easy eight-yard pass on first down right in front of them? I understand that the Cover-2 defense works well at times. I'm not talking about the run -- of course the Vikings are awesome stuffing the run. I'm talking about the pass, but Chicago and Tampa Bay have enjoyed some of the best defenses in NFL history over the past few years using this scheme, and defending the pass is certainly not the problem for the Indianapolis Colts.

And yet, I watch Romo here -- with a zillion yards, but losing most of the day because of bad bounces on fumbles -- and I watch Peyton Manning against Tampa two weeks ago, and Dallas when the Cowboys destroyed the Bears 34-10 with Terrell Owens going nuts, and Tom Brady against Minnesota on MNF last year, and Steve Smith in the NFC playoffs two years ago... It just looks too easy.

So it leads to a question, and thus a debate perhaps for now and a research project for later. Is it possible that:

a) When they play against a Tampa-2, are the top quarterbacks less affected by the strength of the defense than average quarterbacks are?*


b) Is the disparity between the good Tampa-2 defenses and the bad Tampa-2 defenses larger than the disparity between, say, the good 3-4 defenses and the bad 3-4 defenses?


c) Is the issue not the quality of the quarterback, but the quality of the number one receiver? Brady's big game against Minnesota last year would seem to suggest "no," but the fact that it was Jake Delhomme who destroyed the Bears in the 2005 playoffs would seem to suggest "yes."

* Assuming, of course, that the head coach of the team playing Tampa-2 was not the head coach of the other team the previous year, and did not play the part of the quarterback in practice prior to the game (known as the Jon Gruden Exception).

Doug Farrar: Well, if the idea of the Cover-2 is to allow underneath stuff and avoid the big play, while bringing enough pressure up front to avoid having your opposing quarterback just sit back there and tee off (as the Seattle defenses of 2003-2004 could not do), I'd say that the Vikings are at a severe disadvantage when running that scheme. Because they stop the run so well, and they're going to face minimal rushing attempts and maximum pass attempts, they're almost inviting offenses to carve them up. With that many attempts against a Cover-2 without pass pressure up front, conversions will happen -- over and over again. The Vikings are currently 26th in DVOA against the pass, and they're 27th in defensive Adjusted Sack Rate, and with defenses like that, you have to wonder which hand washes the other.

Mike Tanier: I think Cover-2 is just becoming one of those things like West Coast Offense was 12 years ago. Suddenly, all of these bad teams were running the West Cast Offense, and it didn't work, and people figured that the system stunk, when in fact the personnel was bad and the system didn't matter. When I see a team playing a lot of Cover-2 getting picked apart, I don't necessarily blame the scheme, because I assume that if they switched to more man coverage and started blitzing that would just make things worse.

Ned Macey: I'll take (b) first. Aren't the Jets the single worst defense in football so far this year? Weren't the Texans a terrible defense for years under Capers? Isn't Cleveland the third to worst defense in DVOA this year? I think there have been plenty of crappy 3-4 defenses that have been exploited over the years.

I'll take (a) next. The Cover-2 is not the same everywhere, and a coach can tailor it to stop the run or the pass. Dungy always has his team stronger against the pass than the run. After he left Tampa Bay, Monte Kiffin/Jon Gruden have played the run better at times.

As for (c), I think the Carolina-Chicago game might be skewing your thinking. If I remember correctly, they often left their corners in single coverage on Steve Smith, thus deviating from the traditional Cover-2. The Tampa Bay-San Francisco game referenced above obviously featured T.O. (four catches for 35 yards). Not to mention Tampa Bay's game against St. Louis in 1999 when they held them to 11 points or whatever when they had Isaac Bruce in his prime.

I'd propose two alternate theories:

a) Peyton Manning is a bad example because he and the Colts are designed to kill a Cover-2, just like you can't really say a 3-4 is superior because it makes the Colts struggle. The Cover-2 generally gives away where the rush is coming from, which makes any good quarterback extremely difficult to deal with. It's susceptible to teams that have two outside receivers to force the safeties wide and a great threat up the middle to exploit the opening. Drop to cover, and the running back kills you underneath.

b) You cannot run the Cover-2/Tampa-2 if you can't get pressure with your front four. If so, then a quarterback has all day to wait for someone to come free. Mix in linebackers who struggle in coverage (see Minnesota, at least last year), and it is a recipe for disaster. I will say this: Any defense that shows no variation is no good, so the best teams tweak their defense a bit for the opposition.

Aaron Schatz: Maybe the Tampa-2 just looks worse than other defenses do when you don't have the right players. At least the Jets look like they are trying and they just suck. With the Tampa-2, when two defenders are just standing there while a wide open tight end catches an eight-yard pass in front of them, it looks like they aren't even trying. I realize this is how the scheme works, but it is agonizing, and this is from someone who doesn't even care about whether the Vikings win or lose.

Teams need to start fitting the scheme to the players and stop trying to squeeze players into the wrong scheme.

Sean McCormick: I happen to echo Aaron's feelings on the Tampa-2. I think it's a defense that is already lost its raison d'etre. The funny thing is that it came into vogue to combat the West Coast offenses that were the big thing in the mid 90's, but it had the bad luck to spread right at the time when the Rams were re-introducing the vertical game. At this point you need really good personnel to run it successfully, or you need a really good offense that puts enough pressure on the opposing offense to force it to take chances rather than take its time and pick the very obvious holes in the zone apart. And even a very good defense can be completely dissected by a team with the requisite tools. Yes, the Colts are absolutely ridiculous, but they laid out a blueprint against the Bucs a couple weeks ago that quite a few other teams can follow, just by attacking the MLB high-low with a tight end and a running back, while having receivers good enough to keep the safety spacing wide.

The 3-4 defenses that are failing are at least failing while trying to take an approach that actually disrupts the offenses that teams are currently running.

Bill Barnwell: Minnesota pulls off the fumble/lateral/fumble/recovered by the same player/touchdown return. The booth challenges and it's upheld. That's about ten minutes of Excel work. Romo also appears to attempt to slide-tackle one of the return convoy and comes up lame.

Aaron Schatz: After my rant, the Vikings pass defense is playing far better in the second half. I can't tell why. That's one of the things about watching games live vs. charting -- if I was charting, I would notice the difference. Can anyone tell if the Vikings are doing something different now? They definitely seem to be getting more pass pressure, but I think it is still generally just that front four.

One more note: Tarvaris Jackson is awful, just awful. He's a walking, talking advertisement for the Lewin Career Forecast. No accuracy, awful decision-making, constantly flustered by pressure. Seriously, Dave should get twin tattoos of Jackson and Jason Campbell with the words "LEWIN CAREER FORECAST 4EVER" above them.

Ryan Wilson: There's a very good case to be made that he shouldn't have been a second-round pick. That selection was all on Fran Foley, who traded back into the second round to take him. Dave's system puts the evaluation onus on the scouts, but this was the act of an underqualified executive who was fired soon after.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 at Denver Broncos 31

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, shaky Ben Roethlisberger was not a one-year fluke, and neither was the decline of the Pittsburgh offensive line. He is getting killed out there tonight with the Denver pass rush, which is a little odd because Denver does not actually have a pass rush. He's looking a little jumpy, too. I know one of his strengths is throwing on the run, but he looks like he's starting to scramble almost immediately, and he did a pirouette-and-throw-at-receiver's feet thing on one play that was like his tryout for Alvin Ailey.

Ryan Wilson: I think we should hold off the the "Big Ben is still shaky" talk. The offensive line has always been in doubt -- that they were adequate in the first quarter of the season was the biggest surprise. I'm pretty sure the first pick was on offensive coordinator Bruce Arians -- he's fond of throwing deep, occasionally, no matter the coverage. The second pick was on Hines Ward. It wasn't a great pass, but you expect Ward to catch it. Other than that, I'm not sure why Roethlisberger is "shaky." Because he has 0.4 seconds to throw a pass, or because his wideouts can't get open?

Ben Riley: Remember our "Something called Spaeth just scored" conversation a few weeks ago? Well, he just scored again for the Steelers, prompting Al Michaels to say "Tim Spaeth" three times and John Madden to say it once. Matt Spaeth, fellas, Matt.

Doug Farrar: That was one hell of a game. After it was over, I was surprised to see that Roethlisberger was sacked four times, only because he seems so hard to bring down. As he was in 2005, and as he certainly was against the Seahawks earlier this season. He would complete passes with defensive tackles draped on his back. Kind of a coming-out party for Jay Cutler against this defense as well.

Ryan Wilson: This was the first time all season the Steelers' defense was the liability. As Doug mentioned, Roethlisberger is incredibly tough to bring down, but it's a double-edged sword. Sure, he'll make some big plays, but as a fan, you spend an inordinate amount of time yelling, "THROW THE FREAKING BALL!" ... right before he takes a 10-yard loss. That said, the offensive line managed to keep it together on the last touchdown drive, but anything inside 55 yards for Elam in Denver is just about automatic.

Doug Farrar: I recently interviewed Norm Johnson, who kicked for 18 years in the NFL with the Seahawks, Falcons, Steelers, and Eagles. We discussed the transient nature of his career and how difficult it is for players to find long-term situations that work best for all involved. Jason Elam and Matt Stover were two exceptions that were brought up, and that's what I was thinking about when Elam kicked the game winning field goal as time expired. That's a relationship between player and team that has worked so well for all involved.


339 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2007, 10:11am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital “C.� Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole “fake spike to stop the clock� with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football — it’s a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship."

Oh dear, here we go again. I was involved last time and see this one come over the horizon feeling nothing but dread.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Amen, Jimmy.
All I can think is that FO is trying to increase page views by manufacturing idiotic controversies. I hereby withdraw from any discussion of the unsportsmanlike act of running up the score in the first half.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Tavaras Jackson completed 6 of 19 passes, and 4 of them were to running backs.

Jason Campbell threw for under 100 yards, he completed only 6 passes to receivers, 2 of them were screens, and he threw 1 interception on a screen. Joe Gibbs runs one of the most conservative offenses I have ever seen.

The Cards got screwed on a call on 3rd and 6 when they called somebody for a late hit that extended their drive. Mike Sellers was still motioning forward when I guess it was Calvin Pace dove at him to stop him from getting the 1st. That kept the drive alive and gave the Redskins the 7-0 lead.

We also saw Carlos Rodgers get punked by the kicker, and the kicker barley miss the game winning kick.

Will the 5-2 Giants finally have a higher DVOA than the 2-4 Eagles team they beat? Will the 5-2 Giants finally have a higher DVOA than the Redskins team they beat? The Giants are 5-0 in their last 5 games with an average win margin over 13.... including beating the Eagles and Redskins.

Oh but wait, the Giants are screwed without Tiki Barber, and hate their coach. The outsiders think they will draft Jake Long #1 next year.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Also, the Cover 2 isn't a great defense... but when you have an allstar cast of players ( like Tampa had) it worked... then again, many other defenses would " work" too with 7 pro bowl players. It is a cookie cutter basic basic scheme.

BUT ( as I have been saying to Will Allen), Tavaras Jackson sucks. He really really sucks. I am glad everybody is finally coming around. How can you only complete 2 passes to receivers for under 100 yards and expect to be called a pro quarterback?

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The best catch by Moss was the "classless" play where he caught it one hand - unbelievable. People actually think they will lose this year?

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

“Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital “C.� Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole “fake spike to stop the clock� with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football — it’s a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship.�

Give me a break. It's improbable that the Dolphins could've made up a 28 point deficit in the 2nd half, but it's not impossible. I've never seen anyone say "we're close enough to winning, it's the first half, let's not play hard anymore."

Turns out that the Dolphins score 3 times in the 2nd half. If the Patriots had taken the rest of the game off after being up 35-7 it would've been a 35-28 final margin. Thank god clowns like you guys don't coach the Patriots, otherwise it'd be like Art Shell coaching them.

This is what Belichick had to say:

"But the score was 42-21"
"Yeah, one more turnover and it's a 14-point game in the middle of the fourth quarter. Yeah, I was at the game."

"Is that why you went to the two-minute offense at the end of the first half?"
"It's the first half. It's the first half. Look, we've all seen games -- the Tampa-Indianapolis game a couple of years ago, 21 points in four minutes, whatever it is -- I mean, don't tell me about leads in this league. Until the final gun goes off, it's not a win."

I completely agree.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Classless? It sure was classless of the NFL to schedule a junior varsity middle school team (Miami) game against an NFL team (NE) on Sunday.

Miami should be relegated to Division I AA.

NE looked great as a team, BB looked paranoid/petty in benching Cassell so quickly. Odd that he didn't put the 3rd string QB in right there to get him experience. But, BB has his schtick, and his players seem motivated by it, so why worry about it?

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

on Wilson's comment that Tarvaris is Fran Foley's fault... that may be, but Foley is gone and the Vikings are still throwing him out there.

If they were a team with no other talent, you could understand them trying to see what he might do, but their defense has a lot of veterans in their prime who probably won't be around, or in their prime when they finally get the offense fixed. That Childress presumably won't be either makes it even more perplexing.

I mean, looking around the league and seeing other quarterbacks that could have been had for next to nothing playing competently, Collins or Rosenfels for example, makes it fairly pathetic. Never mind that the Minnesota front office is now run by the brain trust behind Miami's similar waste of defense, not that they'd have any special insights into someone like Rosenfels...

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

So, Roethlisberger is possibly shaky, the Steelers O line was adequate all year, but suddenly wasn't in this game, and similarly the Steelers defense?

Let me add a few other items that might be of interest.

Neither Champ Bailey or Javon Walker played, arguably the Broncos' best players. Tom Nalen is out for the year but the Broncos O line almost didn't miss a beat. The running game was ineffective (3 ypc), but the Broncos often fare poorly against 3-4 defenses.

For the first time yesterday you could actually see Bates' scheme coming together. The rush defense gave up three bad plays: 27, 15, and 24 yards. On the remaining 18 runs, Willie Parker averaged 1.5 yards per carry.

Special teams did great... that didn't look like the 32nd ranked unit. Look forward to seeing its DVOA.

The offense, despite Henry averaging 3 yards per carry with a long of 8 yards, finally put up some points to match the yards. Cutler looks like the franchise QB a lot of teams would love to have.

The Steelers converted 8/12 3rd downs, and it seemed like all of them were to Heath Miller or Willie Parker. There was a big hole in the middle of the Broncos' pass defense... I wonder if a LB actually defensed a pass all game.

I had forgotten how well Roethlisberger moves and how hard he is to tackle. Gah. You just knew that 3rd and 12 was no biggie... he'd avoid a couple pass rushers, sprint out to one side, and complete a 15 yard pass to Heath Miller. Seemed like that happened half a dozen times.

So, hopefully the Broncos have hit bottom and rebounded. Still many things to fix, but clear improvements all around. Phew.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I just wanted to interrupt this ridiculous debate (what does it matter anyway??) to say thank you for getting Audibles up so quickly this morning.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"NE looked great as a team, BB looked paranoid/petty in benching Cassell so quickly."

Belichick was just auditioning Cassell for the Dolphins. He'll end up getting Jason Taylor and a late draft pick from them next year for Cassell.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm OK with the Pats scoring as much as possible, but the fake spike was kind of silly.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Please, FO, haven't we all had enough so-called insight from second-rate scrub Mike Tanier?

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"The bad: Is Joey Porter even on the field in this game? Good personnel call there by the Pittsburgh Steelers front office."

Oh yes, Joey Porter was on the field. He even managed his 1st sack yesterday. Brady then promptly threw the 35yd TD pass to Moss on 3rd & long.

Beyond the awesomeness of Moss, and the questionable fake spike, the real story yesterday was the complete inability of the Miami defense to tackle. Stallworth beat two "tacklers" for his TD, and Welker beat at least 1 tackler on both of his TDs. Throw in Channing Crowders' ability to cover Kyle Brady (or anyone else) and the spectacular ineptitude of the Miami Kick off coverage team this year, and you explain all but 14 of New Englands points. The remaining 14 are all down to Moss.

On the bright side, the offense did OK, albeit against a soft defense for much of the second half. Much to my suprise, Miami didn't miss Chris Chambers [/sarcasm], and Cam Cameron continues to impress me with his willingness to try and convert 4th down. If Miami don't get 4 wins, Cameron is probably toast, and I think that would be a shame. Purely subjective, but I think he has the makings of a good HC.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Request for Every Play Counts this week: Patriots Offensive Line. We all know that Moss and Brady are amazing but can we get an in-depth look at the guys up front?

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I was watching the Jets/Bengals game yesterday and was wondering if anyone else thought the refs really missed it on the play where the Jets pick of Palmer was ruled as 'dual possession'? The announcers kept mentioning that the Bengals receiver had 'two hands on the ball' so that gives him possession. But merely touching the ball with both hands can't equate to possession. It looked to me like the Jets guy clearly had control of the ball and the Bengal player was just sort of grasping at it trying to take it away.

Wondering if anyone saw it differently.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Even TMQ has said that no team should be criticised for running up the score in the first half.

I’m also starting to wonder if parity isn’t on the way out. We have two 0-7 teams in the Rams and Dolphins, and if the Colts win tomorrow night, there will be a 7-0 and a 6-0 team. My guess is that it’s been a while since that happened.

It's the increase in salary cap. Good front offices have more margin to play with.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"To me, it seems obvious [Boller] should be the team’s starter from here on out"

Please no. Boller was jumping backwards and firing inaccurate passes at the end of the 4th quarter without a defender within 3 yards of him. He just gets way too jittery when there's any hint of a pass rush.

The Ravens playoff chances took a major blow considering the remaining schedule. However, after the bye if they beat Pittsburg they'll be tied for 1st in the AFC North, and they typically match up well against the Steelers because fast Willie can't operate in tight spaces.

And it looks like Ogden is back (he played 10 plays in the Buffalo game), him along with Pryce, Heap, McCalister, McNair, and Adam Terry should definitely improve the quality of play for the Ravens. I'm pretty skeptical that this improvement will put the Ravens in the playoffs, though.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I've been wondering about Tampa Bay (and they're relatively high DVOA ranking) so it was nice to be able to watch them yesterday. They really didn't ask Garcia to do much. He completed lots of passes, but his turnovers killed them (his DPAR this week will be interesting). TB scored only six points prior to 'desperation time' at the end. And this was against a Lions defense that had been absolutely crushed by the two decent offensive teams it had played.

Net, it looks like the defense is going to have to carry this team all season. Hard to see them winng many games where the opposition scores 20+.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

This is one of the latest times an undefeated team played a winless team.

But it will be surpassed when the Patriots play the Dolphins again in December.

I don't think any member of the '72 Dolphins will even bother to watch.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re: 5

Yeah I do think the Pats will lose a game this year. I suspect there will be a game where every break goes against them and about a half dozen questionable calls benefit there opponent. The Pats game winning field goal attempt will sail over the left post and be ruled wide.

This will be later called the NFLs 'Eff You' to the Pats.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I wonder how much last year's boasting by the Dolphins of having known all of Brady's audibles before their 21-0 shutout of NE was weighing on some Pats' minds yesterday. Despite Belichick's rationalizations, they seemed to clearly want to humiliate the Dolphins, and show the two teams are on different planets right now. While Brady had played down the possible effect of that pre-game information after last year's rout, he seemed definitely irritated by it (and/or by the boasting).

Frankly, this was the first time this year I thought the Pats could have safely kept their foot off the gas in a game, and didn't.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Lets just hope that Indy can keep playing at the level NE is or this season will be boring. Clearly Dall and Pitt aren't in the same class as NE.

After watching Dallas the last three games and some of the Giants. The Giants seem like a better team to me.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Bizarre call that I can’t believe is right just made by Big Arms Hochuli. The Bears snap sideways past Brian Griese, and the ball is recovered by the Eagles and run back to the 20. But the play is whistled dead, because by rule a ball that is snapped past the quarterback is a false start. If that is the rule, why is that rule?

I'm pretty sure its there so that teams don't direct snap to a RB with the QB under center.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm astonished at how many people seem to have completely forgotten last year's AFC championship game. Belichick is less than 12 months from watching a team blow a 18-point lead to the Colts.

There is no upside to easing up. None. This is not a question of "sportsmanship", not when we're talking about plays in the first half. These guys are all pros making 6-figures. We're not talking about a spunky Div II college whose players are just playing for the love of sport.

Jason Taylor has it exactly right. He has no problem facing an offense that is trying to do its best to win a game. Rather than sit and mope about "sportsmanship", Taylor kept playing his heart out and actually made a big play in the second half.

From today's Boston Globe:

"That's what you should do," said Taylor. "You shouldn't be conservative and sit back just because you have a lead. They ran their offense, and they took Tommy out for a while and put him back in because of the interception. But that's what the game is. If you don't want people to run the score up then stop them. I have no problem with it."

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Kaveman... don't get too excited. The Steelers' offensive line is really, really, really bad at pass blocking. They're probably as bad as the 49ers and Rams; Roethlisberger's Houdini-esque escapability is the reason why most people don't notice as much.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re Moss: isn't it a pretty big exaggeration to say he'll only try hard in the perfect situation? Is that how you describe the Minnesota teams of Dennis Green and Mike Tice? I mean those were fairly talented teams, but I don't think anyone thinks too much of the coaching decisions or atmosphere put in place by those two.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re: 9

My take, too. I felt a heck of a lot better to actually see some defense played. Stopping a 3rd-and-anything still needs work, but it's a lot more improvement than I expected, even for a bye week.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Teams need to start fitting the scheme to the players and stop trying to squeeze players into the wrong scheme."

Ladies and Gentlemen, your New York Jets!

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Regarding T. Jackson and Lewin's forecast. It seems my own early positive misinformed biased observations on Jackson were wrong and that Lewin's forecast is dead on.

I don't know if I've ever seen a QB play so badly when given such a comfortable situation to throw from. The Vikings OL in the last two games has been tremendous, both in run and pass blocking. The the QB and the Receivers have been horrible.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

One other Viking comment - having Bobby Wade return punts when you have Mewelde Moore is nuts. Wade has been horrible and yesterday he cost them big - he let a punt bounce at the 30 with no Cowboy within 10 yards of the ball and it rolled to the 9. Pedersen fumbled the next play. He also fair caught a ball at the six.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re: Broncos/Steelers

I didn't see the second half and was wondering what happened to bring the Steelers offense to life? In the first half, the Broncos defense was attacking the LOS with eight defenders routinely - especially on first and second down. Did they continue that in the second half (and the Steelers adjusted) or did the Broncos try something different that didn't work as well?

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

" I’m enjoying this as much as all the rest of the Patriots fans, but running the fake spike play at the end of the second quarter up 35-7 is a bit much. I know you guys aren’t happy about all those times Miami beat you in the heat and humidity, but that is really, really bad sportsmanship."

They asked Bill Bellichick about that in the press conference. His answer:

"It's the first half"

I agree with him. In the first half you score as many points as you can.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

And just to expand, if the Patriots were bad sports, and Classless, this game would have been 84-14.

I expect better from you guys.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The same thing happened last week at WAS-GB. Even though Green Bay homers and Washington haters on this site convinced me it wasn't a dual possession, when I saw the replay it was clear the Washington had enough of the ball to make an argument for a dual catch.

I'm guessing the NFL has made it a "point of emphasis" that there are no dual catches, and when the officiating crew makes the call they are do to it swiftly with confidence and standby the call. That's exactly what happened to Washington, and I think dual-catches are not reviewable.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I have not purchased access to the premium database (although I might for a random project or two), but Washington has to be among the teams with the worst differential in offensive DVOA between the first and second half. I live in virginia, so I get Washington games every week, and the difference has been ridiculous. In both of their two losses, they have built two touchdown leads and gave them up. In the second half, they are going into "protect the lead" mode, even though it is only the middle of the third quarter. They call low yardage plays on first and second down, then on third and long, they call plays that have a low chance of picking up another first down. It has killed them in their two losses, and nearly beat them against the Cardinals.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Thanks for the explanation. I had no idea why the rule would be written that way, although I'm not complaining about the result.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm not sure that's a rule.
According to the NFL rulebook:
A muffed hand-to-hand snap from center is treated as a fumble.

Now I haven't found anything about a long snap. But it makes no sense that a long snap to the QB is a dead ball, because it isn't when it's to a punter, who is essentially in the QB position. And as far as I know, you CAN snap directly to an RB. I've never seen a rule that says you can't. I think I've seen it done...though that may be in college.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Washington has serious o-line problems, and I think the Cardinals probably have a defensive line that is under-rated. I only watched from the time that Fox switched over NYG-SF.

Even though the Redskins had been doing their Run-Run-Incomplete pass offense us fans really hate, they did something very strange on their final drive when they got the ball with 3 minutes. They ended up going run-incomplete pass-run. The pass was actually a good attempt to go to Thrash to end the game (he didn't end up with it)... but I'd still have preferred them to run-run-run. Incidentally on their 3rd down run Portis not only ran out of bounds but Samuels was called for holding... U-G-L-Y!

Rocky McIntosh cannot cover at all... and I think neither can London Baker Fletcher. I think their middle has been pretty bad (provided the QB is accurate enough to not get picked by Sean Taylor).

Seriously that was the worst onside kick defense I had ever seen. Perfectly executed by Arizona, but I like how the onside kick as evolved into "let's have our front line mash the all hands team"... which seems to be working.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

And just to expand, if the Patriots were bad sports, and Classless, this game would have been 84-14.

I expect better from you guys.

If it's any consolation, Rich, that's exactly what I expected from you.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I was going to follow #1 and #2's advice, but when my captcha is "doofus", how can I not respond?

While a couple of other posters have already addressed it, I found it amusing that the Audibles call the Patriots Classless in the first half, and then go completely silent for the 21 points Miami scores in the second half.

Look folks, I know it is the in thing that commentators have this month, to call the Pats classless. It's already old.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Justin Zeth, #26: Kaveman… don’t get too excited. The Steelers’ offensive line is really, really, really bad at pass blocking.

Huh? Which part of my post in #9 suggests that I'm excited about the Broncos pass rush?

Incidentally, Roethlisberger's stats for the second half? 13/14 for 141 yards and 3 TDs. I don't think his pass protection was all that bad.

But hey, I'll admit that I am a bit excited that the almost written off Broncos put up 31 points on a team that was giving up 9.4 points per game.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


"I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a QB play so badly when given such a comfortable situation to throw from. The Vikings OL in the last two games has been tremendous, both in run and pass blocking. The the QB and the Receivers have been horrible.""

I only watched maybe 30 snaps of that game, but it seemed to me, like Will was saying, that the WRs are WAY more of a problem than Jackson. I think in 30 snaps (15 by dallas) there were about 6 dropped balls by Minny WRs, and one by Peterson.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Man, what, do the Patriots send legions of annoying Boston fans to any website where they dare to be questioned immediately? Jesus Christ people, calm the eff down. OH NO SOMEBODY SAID SOMETHING AGAINST THE PATRIOTS I MUST DEFEND THEIR HONOR IMMEDIATELY AND ACT AS IF A PRIEST WAS JUST SHOT!

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Ben Riley: Lots of words could be used to describe the Patriots, so let me add another: Classless. With a capital “C.� Leading 35-7, Brady just did the whole “fake spike to stop the clock� with 33 seconds in the first half. The Patriots are playing near perfect football — it’s a shame they seem to have forgotten about sportsmanship.

And that's why you're an arm chair QB analyzing games and Belichick is coaching championship teams.

The Dolphins outscored the Pats 21-7 in the second half.

The Hou/Ten game proved why you don't just mail it in once you get a huge lead.

These guys are all men, all professionals, being paid millions of dollars to play the game. These aren't high school games. As Jason Taylor said, if you don't want the other team to 'run up the score', "stop them."

There's absolutely no reason, especially after the leads that are blown in the NFL every single year -- including the lead blown by the Patriots last year to the Colts -- for any team in the NFL not to continue to put up as many points as they can until the final whistle blows.

Tell ya what, though. If you can get the other teams to say, "yep, you got us... we're going to quit trying and playing", then, and only then, will I agree -- and not think you're the one acting classless -- that the Pats should stop trying to score.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re: #24

A muffed long snap to a shotgun QB is a fumble. I think the thing yesterday (just going from press reports -- didn't see it) wasn't a muffed hand-to-hand to the QB under center -- it was a snap that went through the QB's legs (as opposed to hitting the QBs hands and being dropped).

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I have to go back and re-read the rest of the discussion, but on the Tampa on-side kick thing, that's always been one of the things Gruden (or the Bucs under Gruden) have always done really well.

One of my favorites from a couple of years ago was they lined up 8 left and 2 right. The team they were playing (escapes my recall... I think it was in 2003) lined up 9 left and 2 right. So the kicker just knocked it 10 yards straight ahead and fell on it himself.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

As smart as the people at this site think they are... " It was the first half". The stats are great, but calling the Pats "Classless" for doing their job is way off.

The stats are great, but the scouting and commentary can be real spotty.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

32, I think Denver went into a prevent mentality in the 2nd half after going up by 2 TDs. I don't know the defensive schemes well enough by looking at the screen, but Madden and Michaels kept talking about the tampa2 which I believe is a passing prevention defense. I have no idea why teams get into the prevent mentality when it seems that offenses are able to easliy march down the field and score on mid-range passing plays... You can't go into prevent early in the 3rd becaues there are too many scoring opportunities (drives) left in the game. I believe if denver would have kept pressing like they did earlier in the game they would have kept the steelers to fewer points. The steelers recievers seemed to have lots of room in the flat and on short crossing routes over the middle late in the game.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

35- The Packers defensive Back had both hands on the ball, and the ball cradled in his stomach. The Redskins was touching the ball, but didn't have nearly the same claim to the ball.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re: 24

The only thing I can find along those lines is the following:

A.R. 7.27 Third-and-10 on A30. Offensive quarterback A1 places his hands on side of snapper. Ball goes through A1’s legs to Back A2 who completes a pass to the A40.
Ruling: False start. Five-yard penalty. Snap must go to quarterback A1. A’s ball third and-15 on A25. Blow whistle immediately.

I have to admit, I'm not even exactly sure what that ruling is about. I didn't see the play in question, but I don't think it applies though. It sounds like a bad call to me...

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

To follow up to my own post. I think a shotgun snap is effectively considered just a backwards pass, and as such should be a live ball.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"And that’s why you’re an arm chair QB analyzing games and Belichick is coaching championship teams."

Oh, there's plenty of other reason. That probably doesn't even make the list. What a silly comment.

There's plenty of people who critize public figures' decision that aren't qualified to do their actual job. Does that mean one shouldn't comment at all?

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re #45:

Dare I say it, just to stir the pot (and incur the wrath of Rich)?

Stat Boy Brady was just piling on the TD passes so he could break Manning's record. Needless points scored in the 4th quarter. What was Brady in there for? If it were the Colts, Manning would have been on the bench, victory secured.

(Of course, I don't really believe that, but as a Colt fan, I enjoy flipping the past NE fan arguments around, now that Manning is the reigning SB MVP and Brady is the two-time playoff choker filling up the record books!)

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

45- Exactly.

That same arm chair Ben Riley would call the Patriots idiots if the Dolphins came back and won. Crunching stats and coaching are two different things.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

#32: I didn’t see the second half and was wondering what happened to bring the Steelers offense to life?

One short drive, due to a Cutler INT. Shorter, higher percentage passes; a lot of alley screens. A couple of Roethlisberger scrambles. And him evading pressure all over the place.

Ben Riley: Quoth my girlfriend: “It’s like Moss has magnets in his hands.�


That's exactly what my wife said!

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Regarding the tampa-2 "steve smith" exception. Go ahead and name some players who were playing in the Bears secondary that game. By the third quarter it was Peanut Tillman and 3 guys who might as well have been in charge of carrying the K balls.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"After my rant, the Vikings pass defense is playing far better in the second half. I can’t tell why. That’s one of the things about watching games live vs. charting — if I was charting, I would notice the difference. Can anyone tell if the Vikings are doing something different now? They definitely seem to be getting more pass pressure, but I think it is still generally just that front four."

Romo couldn't push off his bad hammy for throws. Thus he dink and dunked in those final minutes before the half and I think attempted one pass to a WR in the second half. Mickey Spagnola at noted all this and said Romo had some trouble climbing the podium for the press after the game and had Andre Gurode drive him out to his ride after the game.
Hopefully he'll be alright after the bye week.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

41: "I was going to follow #1 and #2’s advice, but when my captcha is “doofus�, how can I not respond?"

AndyE, no! Don't give into the dark side!

There is so much more to talk about, even if you limit yourself to the Pats/Fins game:

Has throwing deep to Moss replaced the RB dump-off as the outlet pass when everyone is covered?

Should the fake spike be outlawed - not because the Patriots did it, but because it is intended to confuse players about the end of a play and is thus dangerous/unfair?

Would a fake-fake spike be a good way to induce a penalty? If you spike it backwards, is it a fumble, and can it be advanced?

Would the Vikings like Matt Cassel for Tarvaris Jackson? Would it matter to either team if they traded?

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

People here and Washington have been critical of the Wisenhunt 2 point conversion play in the Arizona game.

The Cards had Rattay split left, and Boldin in the gun. The ball was snapped to Quan and the entire O-Line pulled right. Boldin ran out in what was designed to be a run play, with an optional pass.

I know that because none of the lineman crossed the LOS. If they did, it was a 100 percent run play, but they didn't cross the line.

Once Quan realized he couldn't run in the 2 pointer, he decided to throw to a wide open Fitz, but it was a low throw that was picked off. In his defense, he was running nearly pretty fast, and it wasn't an easy throw to make for the former FSU quarterback.

Fans were critical of this play, but I'd say most of the time Quan could just run it in. The times he can't run it in is because everybody runs at him, and he just simply throws it in. It was good defense by the Skins on what isn't a bad play design. I actually like the play, it just didn't happen to work.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Kaveman (#56 )--

Ben Riley: Quoth my girlfriend: “It’s like Moss has magnets in his hands.�
That’s exactly what my wife said!

Does that mean that your wife is Ben Riley's girlfriend? ;-)

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I hate to argue for censorship, but can the purely abusive posts be removed?

As for football, I didn't see many Vikings games prior to 05, so I always assumed Culpepper was a good QB, but watching Moss bail out Brady so many times this season, I wonder how good he really was.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

First, there is no such thing as running up the score, or needlessly humiliating an opponent in the first half, especially in the NFL. A player or coach who would complain about an opponent humiliating him in the first half should be fired. Yesterday.

Moss' performance is more dependent on his surrounding players than any other HOF-level talent I've ever seen. This is not a compliment to Randy Moss, but it does suggest that the Patriots are going to be extremely difficult to beat, because Moss is more talented than any receiver I've ever seen.

Also, insinuations above to the contrary, I've never really defended Tavaris Jackson. I've said he shouldn't have been taken in the 2nd round (and as much as I'd like to blame this entirely on Fran Foley, I don't know if that is accurate), and that somebody like Tony Romo probably would have sucked if he had been starting as soon as Jackson was. Not for the for the first time, I'll note that when you are new to the head coaching profession, and you place all your qb chips on a bet named Tavaris Jackson, you may not become old to the head coaching profession. If I hear another Viking fan complain about play-calling, or the amount of touches Adran Peterson gets, instead of about the fact that they only completed 6 passes, I think I'll start laughing hysterically.

Finally, I do think the advanced and conventional stats are missing something about the Vikings pass defense; it is not as bad as some are saying. Yesterday, on the road, against a good passing offense, on a day when the Vikings offense only ran about 40 plays, the Vikings defense only yielded one touchdown drive of any length, and it has only had about 1 very sub-par quarter out of 24 this year, in terms of yielding touchdowns.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

As for the Patriots being classless, I think we've known this for a few weeks now (despite what some pats fans here would say), and I'm fine with it. The NFL isn't about being merciful. But if you want to point out where they were especially unmerciful, I would take a look at them opening up the second half in shotgun running WR screens and complaining about flags while up 42-7.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

To be more serious, this season (Indy won the SB, Brady's piling up TD's) just keeps reminding me how much we are all homers, allowing "my guy" to do anything and supporting it. My current top 5 list of "my guy" guys in sports:

5) Pete Rose (an oldie but goodie) -- needlessly crushes a catcher in a trivial All-Star game, and Cincy fans say "My guy was just playing hard."
4) Allen Iverson -- takes practice non-participation to a new level (publicly), and fans say "My guy is just saving himself for the games."
3) Michael Vick -- says he was innocent, until he says he wasn't, and Atlanta fans say (initially) "My guy is being picked on, it's his upbringing, it's not that big a deal."
2) Manny Ramirez -- showboats like he won the World Series after hitting a meaningless home run in game 4, and Boston fans say "My guy was just Manny being Manny."
1) Bill Bellichick -- gets caught cheating, and NE fans say "everyone does it, it didn't help that much, and he can do anything now and it's just him saying F-U to those who criticized him."

Now, if the fans of the above swapped the guys they hate into those situations, those same fans would shift 180 degree in their reaction:
5) Munson
4) Jordan
3) Manning
2) A-Rod
1) Dungy

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Tavaras Jackson is not ready to QB an NFL team at present, However, not many QBs are much prepared in what is essentially his rookie season. Yet I take issue with the commentator"s comparison of Jackson vis a vis J. Campbell; J. Campbell clearly only needs more experience and consistency to flourish at the NFL level. Once more...with whom is the commentator comparing Jason Campbell with? I question the credentials of the commentator.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re: 50
It doesn't matter. In a case of dual possession a tie-up goes to the offense... think of it like a basketball jump-ball. I watched the replay about 5 times and they both fell to the ground with their arms around the ball... it was a dual-catch. To put it another way, when Woodsen came down with the ball ARE was still hanging onto the ball as well. Even after going to the ground he couldn't rip the ball away.

I'm sorry we have to disagree and I don't want to get in a 100 post back and forth with you about the play from last week.

I do think the Giants will get a nice bump in DVOA... considering the strength of the Redskins and Eagles will drop a bit as well (I can't see how the Redskins improve on offense, defense, or special teams... maybe defense).

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Purds- Brian Dawkins/Roy Williams would be somewhere on that list, I'm sure :)

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"2) Manny Ramirez — showboats like he won the World Series after hitting a meaningless home run in game 4, and Boston fans say “My guy was just Manny being Manny.�"

If you want to bitch about that, you should take a look at Victor Martinez's homerun. Manny scored before Martinez even rounded 3rd.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Is there a Level of Losing for "your defense gets dissected by Brian Griese"?

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Tillman was the guy who got beaten, but he was playing with an injured shoulder. On the two plays Smith beat him on, once he got overpowered trying to hand-fight and fell down and the second he had the angle to make the pick but wasn't able to stop Smith from pulling the ball away from him because his arm wasn't working properly. Smith is a great player but he was able to treat Tillman like a rag doll, and when healthy Tillman is one of the most physical corners in the league. In that game Smith actually torched 3 scrubs and a guy trying to play with one arm.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I have suffered through a number of Bears losses the last few years and the easiest way to see the flaws of the cover 2 is the Carolina playoff game.

I think the problem with the cover 2 is that it doesn't take into account a stud #1 WR. They treat every WR the same, where another defensive strategy would roll a safety over and double team the stud.

With Steve Smith they just let him steak down the feel and passed coverage off instead of double teaming him. With TO this year they let him do slants across the defense and ended up with a LB trying to stay with him. Another defense would have kept the CB on him and hopefully had a S/LB covering on crosses.

On a side note, the Steelers offensive line is so poor that on a number of passing situations they motioned Ward over to help pass protect.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I was dogging Tavaras Jackson from day one, and people were saying that was "unfair". Now is it unfair? Same thing with Mike Vick. I don't need DVOA to tell me the guy completing 6 passes ( 4 of them to running backs) sucks beyond all belief.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

There's No Crying In Football!
(but keep it up anyway - jealous, whiny tears are part of the fun).
The Pats have looked suspect against the run and the short passing game, their running game seems weak compared to what a dominant passing game should allow. A good running game to keep Brady on the bench plus a defense that can bring a lot of pressure to put him there plus a few breaks on special teams and they could look very mortal.
I'm looking forward to seeing Indy tonight. They've been ignored by the talking heads but their winning streak is pretty impressive and includes a Lombardi. I'm worried about them.
Also teams usually look better than then are when they win and worse than they are when they lose. Often there is a cascade effect where a relative strength/weakness in one area puts pressure on other areas causing a chain of collapses.
I'm hoping for another superbowl, not expecting 19-0 ,but it's still fun to hear from people who think the Pats should treat their opponents like little league teams.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

68- We can agree to disagree, but the impartial 3rd party ref agreed with me as well, and that is all that matters. The ball was in Woodsons chest! Sure ARE was touching the ball, but it was in Woodsons chest.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Regarding the whole snap in CHI/PHI, I think a similar thing happened in the Saints-Steelers game last year. The rule is, once the QB (or any player) lines up under center, that player must be the one to receive the snap. I'm pretty sure you're allowed to receive it from the shotgun after an audible, but if it touches another player before it touches the QB, it's an illegal snap. (Although I think the penalty is actually called Illegal Snap, not False Start.) I didn't see this game, but is that approximately what happened?

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Chris, don't sprain your shoulder patting yourself on the back. Any qb taken at the end of the 2nd round has a good chance to suck, so your accomplishment is less significant than calling a coin flip correctly. If one merely predicts with every qb taken after the first round that they will suck, one will be right most of the time. Whoop-dee-do.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Anybody else think the Jags win tonight?

Grass field, home dog, dog on national TV, Jags killed the Colts in Jax last year, good running team and defense against the Colts suspect run D, and coaching advantage with Del Rio :)

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

re: 53
What a silly comment.

No sillier than any comment made by Aaron or Ben Riley.

There’s plenty of people who critize public figures’ decision that aren’t qualified to do their actual job. Does that mean one shouldn’t comment at all?

Did I say he shouldn't comment? Please show me where I said he shouldn't comment.

He's allowed to comment, and I'm allowed to comment on how idiotic and moronic his comment was, given the situation, and the nature of the NFL.

I love how people love to turn criticism into, "he isn't allowed to comment?" It's hysterical. In the same vein, apparently I'm not allowed to comment on his comment.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

What price does a team pay to keep the ball out of Hester's hands? The Eagles forced the ball out of bounds or in the end zone the whole game. Below are the punting stats for the weekend.

punts Gross Net
Dallas 4 53.25 50.50
NE 3 54.00 47.33
Den 3 51.67 46.33
miami 4 48.00 45.75
Buff 5 45.80 45.60
Oak 9 51.22 45.44
SF 5 52.60 45.40
Minn 7 46.00 43.29
KC 8 46.38 43.00
STL 6 52.33 42.50
Detroit 2 46.00 42.00
Seattle 5 45.80 41.80
Houston 5 45.00 40.60
chicago 2 42.00 39.00
NYJ 2 39.00 38.00
Pit 2 38.00 38.00
Tenn 4 37.75 36.50
NYG 3 37.33 36.00
Atlanta 6 44.17 35.00
balt 6 50.83 34.67
Wash 6 35.50 32.67
NO 5 38.80 31.40
Ariz 5 42.80 30.80
Cinci 2 40.50 30.50
Phil 4 33.00 28.00
TB 1 47.00 27.00

For the year the eagle's have averaged 38 net yards per punt so they were content giving away 10 yards to avoid the threat of Hester returning a kick.

Being a Bears fan I would rather see Hester attempting returns, but I think the Eagle's are making the right decision.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Will Allen- If it was such an easy call, they why was everybody bashing me for talking about how bad Jackson was? It is yet another case of hindsight being 20/20. I do remember people talking about his "mobility","upside", and "small sample size".

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Anyone else hear the commentator of the Giants game burn Tiki? something along the lines of:

"spending all his time gossiping with his girlfriends on The View about shoes and handbags"

it was pretty harsh... and I totally agreed. All this "OMG, THE GIANTS SUXOR WITHOUT TIKI" was just silly. RBs are fungible.

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"2) Manny Ramirez — showboats like he won the World Series after hitting a meaningless home run in game 4, and Boston fans say “My guy was just Manny being Manny.��
If you want to bitch about that, you should take a look at Victor Martinez’s homerun. Manny scored before Martinez even rounded 3rd.
:: Rich Conley — 10/22/2007 @ 10:28 am"

It's too easy. Too easy. easy. The irony is stupendous.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

83- Running backs (average) are fungible, but Brandon Jacobs is good, the Giants O-line and QB too.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"And that’s why you’re an arm chair QB analyzing games and Belichick is coaching championship teams."

He puts his pants on just like us, one leg at a time. Only once he does, he coaches championship teams.

And he's got to have more cowbell.

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Are there similarity scores for coaches? You know, taking into account the record of the teams they inherited. In other words, is it historically possible for Cam Cameron to turn out to be a good Head Coach in this league? Or is it a giveaway that he should be fired at the end of the year?

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Rich is right on this.

1) Manny was wrong. Being down the way he was, I was disappointed that he didn't just put his head down and run the bases. I would have been fine if the Indians pitchers decided to drill him in the ribs.

2) Martinez was JUST as wrong, yet he doesn't get blasted in the media the way Manny did. Manny was in the dugout and sitting down before Martinez even crossed home plate.

There was definitely a double standard in coverage of those two events.

Both were wrong... but one was hammered harder by the media than the other. And, interestingly enough, the situations weren't all that different. Martinez's home run made it a 3 run game, Ramirez's a 4 run game.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Yeah, it is easy. Cleveland fans/ boston haters are complaining about Manny when their player is MUCH worse. You just unintentionally made your own point, by pointing out one player when "your guy" is much worse. Nice job.

They put the two next to each other on the screen in the game last night. Manny scored before Martinez rounded third... so much for Manny showboating.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Chris, get over yourself. Really. Predicting that any qb taken at the end of the 2nd round will suck will be right most of the time, so the fact that Jackson looks like he will suck doesn't make you a shrewd evaluator of qb performance. Now, when you make a few accurate predictions, and fewer mistakes, anout guys who will be good in a similar situation, that will be worthy of recognition.


91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Starshatterer, #62: Does that mean that your wife is Ben Riley’s girlfriend? ;-)

Actually, I suspect that legions of good-humored women around America, patiently enduring football Sunday, simultaneously came up with that comment... magnets in his hands for chrissakes.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Rich, way to prove purd's point.

And #80: You dismissed the comment made in audibles based on the commenter not being qualified to judge Belichick. Which is exactly what #53 pointed out.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

re: 75

I agree with that. The Patriots seem vulnerable to rushing to where Jarvis Green is. I'd like to see Richard Seymour back, badly. Hopefully he makes it back by week 10.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Having watched my first Minnesota game, I have to say that Will is dead on. Put even an average QB on Minny and they win that game going away.

That team is really, really good, with an albatross at the most important position.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Two interesting things about CHI/PHI:

1) PHI kept the ball away from Hester all game, and they surrendered so much field position the Bears average starting position was . . . their own 25. Oops.

As for the pitch-back, if the ball's only going to the 20, it's going be pretty darn high, which means the coverage team would be pretty darn close. In the time it would take the guy to catch the ball, locate Hester, and pitch the ball back, the coverage likely would already be at the 20, giving Hester about 2 seconds and 5 yards to work with. Plus, Hester has fumbling issues, and a somewhat unpredictable backward toss on a kickoff is probably not the best way to compensate for that problem.

2) Hoculi's usually excellent crew robbed us of a good game at the end, by completely ignoring the DE being ridiculously held on every single play of the final drive. They called it once, but really, it was that bad. Now I am annoyed, because I want to know if the Bears could've pulled it out without facing an illegally-slowed pass rush. Ending the game like that just leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Hochali (sp?) and crew called a terrible game. Missed a holding on Jaquia Thomas and called two terrible ones on the Eagles. But, apparently, they were right on the snap. If a ball doesn't leave the ground and rolls past the QB, it's a false start by rule, apparently related to concerns over bad field conditions. Baldinger was discussing that on the Fox coverage.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


And #80: You dismissed the comment made in audibles based on the commenter not being qualified to judge Belichick. Which is exactly what #53 pointed out.

I didn't dismiss anything. I made the comment.

His comment was idiotic and the Dolphins outscoring the Patriots 21-7 in the second half is proof positive of that.

He criticized Belichick and his play calling and, in the end, Belichick did the right thing. It was a dumb comment and thankfully Bill Belichick is a coach who does what is necessary to win.

Apparently Ben Reily thinks these guys are playing Pop Warner football out there.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Well, Oswiek, the Vikings' receivers stink for the most part as well.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

So, was the undefeated Dolphin's team classless? It's not like they needed to win those last few games. Are the Yankees classless because they keep trying to win the World Series? They already have way more rings than any other team.

Come on people, we all know that you play to win the game, plain and simple.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I remember that play in the Saints game, but I thought the Saints ended up scoring a TD...

It sounds like what happened is that the ball was rolled between Griese's leg... ie. the snap didn't get high enough. Which I agree would be an illegal snap.

I saw NYG-SF and the Giants were gashing SF for 6+ yards a run... their defensive line is scary as well... and I miss Antonio Pierce.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I recently interviewed Norm Johnson...

I was two years behind Norm Johnson in high school. He was the prototypical SoCal three-sport athlete: football, soccer, baseball. Very talented. I thought it was normal for high school football teams to attempt (and make) 40-yard field goals. Silly me.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

70, 88:
You realize by arguing either way on one of Purds's points, you're proving his point, right?

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I can't believe how much the Viking's pass offense sucks. It's pathetic and embarrasing. Bobby Wade got into an argument with Jackson after the underthrown pass that Roy Williams batted away (Wade would have had a TD or stopped inside the 5). But Bobby Wade isn't the kind of receiver that should be criticizing any QB as he drops plenty of perfectly thrown balls. But you can just feel this team starting to fight each other due to the terrible pass offense.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

33: I find it a little weird to be agreeing with anything Rich Conley says about the Pats but he's right here, in the first half you can't be guilty of running up the score. My critisicm of the play would be that they should have saved it for a game where they might have needed it. RickD has an interesting take as well but Cleo Lemon is not exactly in Manning's league.

On the Tampa-2 debate: It's a scheme that totally fails if you can't get pressure. Look at Minnesota's ends, that's why their pass defense stinks (however, look at their DTs, that's why their run defense is excellent) Am I the only person that thinks Minnesota have the wrong personnel for a Cover-2, as the LBs and DEs are too big.

I don;t think that the success of Steve Smith and Tom Brady vs the Tampa-2 is actually not unrelated. The Pats spread the zone with 5 recievers and Brady was good enough to find his receivers quickly and Smith-types stretch the zone deep. Smith isn't actually the best example of this as the Bears tried to cover him with Tillman; a very good example is when Marvin Harrison lit up the Bucs in a thrilling comeback a few years back. My point is that the Tampa-2 likes to drop the CBs and The LBs deep to compress the space between them and the safeties, speed and spread offenses prevent this.

I seems that the better Tampa-2 teams play more than just the cover two, just like everyone else they run all the plays, the difference is in how they run them.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Don't need to prove his point, he already did it. He proved very clearly that hes guilty of ragging on players when there are worse being ignored.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

53: I'm not qualified to do Ben's job, but I'm still allowed to criticize him, right?

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You realize by arguing either way on one of Purds’s points, you’re proving his point, right?

Uh, no, I'm not. I'm not giving 'my guy' a pass. I said he was wrong... and even went so far as to say that he deserved a fastball in the ribs for it.

I simply stated both were wrong, but the coverage off both incidents as entirely different. Not much of a peep about Martinez, but Ramirez's actions were in almost every article about the game.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

More comments on WAS-ARI (second hand):
Jason Campbell saved the game with an 8 yard run on third down to continue a TD drive. The called play was a shovel pass to Portis, which the Cardinals easily snuffed out, so he put the ball down and ran for the first.

The penalty on Fletcher, post-game he replied that he wasn't taunting but was trying to get the crowd fired up... so I guess the NFL doesn't allow players to yell acknowledge the fans? I suppose if they don't like crowd noise we'll see similar penalties in the future.

Their o-line status: RT not playing at 100%, back-up center. They are all unsure how available they will be for the Patriots.

Offensive playcalling was definately trying to protect Campbell, but they still had problems on pass protection and couldn't run the ball... so I'm glad their defense is good enough to set up a bunch of easy drives, as well as Rock Cartwright. If they hit that FG the game is probably not as close...

I'm still amazed Gregg Williams is playing no-blitz defense. I wonder if they learned any lessons from last year...

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Karl (re104)

"My critisicm of the play would be that they should have saved it for a game where they might have needed it."

They've run it 3 or 4 times already this year. It seems to still work.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

77: That's how I've heard it explained. If it goes past the QB under center, it's considered a false start, as opposed to a snap that hits the QBs hands and is just muffed. The rule doesn't apply at all when the QB is not under center.

It is a weird rule, but given the example in the rulebook, it's obvious that it's intended to prevent a direct snap to the side of the QB or between the QBs legs to a running back or receiver in motion.

Of course, I had no idea about the rule. I imagine almost no one did.

On the fake spike, it's a dick move, but there's a solution to a team running up the score on you: play better. You're professionals. Or to say it another way, IT'S NFL FOOTBALL! IT'S THE AFC EAST! THIS ISN'T INTRAMURALS!

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Speaking of the Vikings passing troubles, why isn't Kelly Holcumb starting? I know he's not the long-term solution, but clearly Jackson isn't qualified to be a starter in the NFL.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Wow seems like yesterday the Patriots were the good guys of the league. Clean cut hard working overachievers. Now their QB has an illegitimate child, their head coach was caught cheating, their starting safety uses performance enhancing drugs and now they are considered poor sports for pointlessly running up the score on teams. To me I just don’t get putting Brady back into a game like that. I have visions of Martin and McMahon in my head. It only takes one pissed off steroid driven lineman to cheap shot your QB and your dynasty is over. Why take the risk? I just don’t get it. As for the Dolphins? Who knows maybe they can get Ray Handley to coach the team. I'm happy to say I didn't watch the Patriots-Dolphins and boy am I glad I missed it.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Washington has played a decent amount of Cover-2 recently. The striking characteristic is that a TE or slot-WR will catch a pass going deeo over the middle and he's being trailed by the MLB... Lemar Marshall was great at this... if they are calling it more I hope Sean Taylor has adjusted to this because I suspect there's a lot of adjustment to be made on timing of deep pass coverage (ie when you can leave your side of the field).

I really hate it since it seems like Washington can't cover the middle well enough with their LBs...

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Manny has a history of "being manny", and Boston fans routinely give their pardon because he produces so much for them. That was his only point. What other players do is besides the point.
By the, way this is not unique to Boston. He's given other examples of this behavior and so have I (Dawkins, Roy Williams, TO- and I'm a cowboys fan).

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Why take the risk?"

Read post 6.

"This is what Belichick had to say:

"But the score was 42-21″
"Yeah, one more turnover and it’s a 14-point game in the middle of the fourth quarter. Yeah, I was at the game."

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Yeah, Jin, and people should recognize that playcalling has little to do with it. Bevell and Childress call plenty of well designed plays that get guys open, often well downfield. Unfortunately, the roster is filled with qbs who don't throw the ball accurately, and receivers who don't catch it when it is. What makes things tough, in terms of getting better, is that if the qb situation doesn't dramatically improve, attracting good free agent receivers, or even making a trade for a good receiver, gets really hard.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

#107: This is, of course, because New England sports fans infuriate the rest of us with their insufferable smugness.

And I live in Boston nowadays... woe is me. ;)

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Manny has a history of “being manny�, and Boston fans routinely give their pardon because he produces so much for them. That was his only point"

Manny is ragged on and vocally abused more than any player in baseball who hits .315 and 35 homeruns every year (except maybe barry bonds and A-rod).

Have you ever been to Boston? The fans have been trying to run this guy out of town for the last 3 years.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

70, 88:
You realize by arguing either way on one of Purds’s points, you’re proving his point, right?

Seriously. Effin homers.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Patriots classless?

I wish the Titans were as classless as the Patriots, or else they wouldn't have gave up a 25 point lead in the 4th quarter.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I also saw the Atlanta miscue, and like Vince, I don't believe it was a trick play at all. Maybe on a silent count, the QB stomps his left foot for the snap and is supposed to step right foot first if he needs to change something, and Joey got them backward. Anyway, it looked to me much more like a regular shotgun snap, except that the QB wasn't asking for it yet.

Arizona-Washington: IIRC, Gibbs has already declined to participate in timeout chicanery once this year, calling the standard ice-the-kicker timeout instead of the BS after-the-snap-oops-I-mean-just-before-the-snap timeout. Glad to see at least one coach (apparently) will do the right thing.

I suppose the two-point play was supposed to work off the earlier Boldin end-around play, but since that one didn't work, why bother with the sequel?

My friends and I heard Vasgersian's comment. Ordinarily, we assume Andrew Siciliano will have the best lines of the day, and I personally think Vasgersian's one of the worst announcers in NFL history, but wow, that was one great way to redeem himself ...

I didn't watch too much of the Lions game (I was afraid to), but it was on the eight-game channel whose name I forget. I don't know that you can blame Garcia for checking down unless the Lions secondary was as bad as usual and I just missed it. It's possible that the safeties actually played the Tampa 2 correctly (the LBs still bite on play fakes too much) and that there really wasn't anything deep. If so, Detroit worked it perfectly: make them nibble their way down the field and wait for mistakes.

The Lions seem to have improved, but I don't think they're quite in contention yet.

I agree with the general thoughts (I think) on Cover-2 variants. The Cover-2 doesn't suck because the Lions don't play it well: the Lions don't play it well (for the most part) because they suck. (Well, because they don't have enough talent across all positions. Some players aren't too bad, but the D as a whole, well ...)

I would like to thank Tom Brady for keeping one of my fantasy teams unbeaten through seven weeks. That is all.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Didn't the bears give up like 30+ in the 4th quarter to the lions two or three weeks ago?

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

For the fake snap, does that play ever work? I know Marino pulled it off once, but other than that, I've never seen a team get anything more than incompletion out of it.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Holcombe overthrew more than a few wide open receivers in his starts, doesn't have the velocity to put the ball in a small window, and is a statue in the pocket, which makes him really easy to stunt against. I wish the prospect of benching Jackson provided hope, but it simply is not the case.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Nat 60 - since you asked
"Has throwing deep to Moss replaced the RB dump-off as the outlet pass when everyone is covered?"

No, I think that's the pass to Welker underneath, also replacing the pass to Troy Brown. I think the deep ball to Moss has become the "why the heck shouldn't we do it?" I think that the early "I can't overthrow Moss" has come back to bite Brady; he's now struggling to get back the right distance.

"Should the fake spike be outlawed - not because the Patriots did it, but because it is intended to confuse players about the end of a play and is thus dangerous/unfair?"

Well, we see the danger - now we know why Vrabel was playing to the whistle last week - he'd seen this trick play in practice. I think confusing the players shouldn't be outlawed, but players that stand around during a formulaic play and don't play the game create the danger. If Brady gets fined for not buckling his chin strap, shouldn't offensive lineman who don't protect their quarterback on a spike be fined for lollygagging?

"Would a fake-fake spike be a good way to induce a penalty? If you spike it backwards, is it a fumble, and can it be advanced?"

Well, I'd think a fumble; but it would have to be backwards on the throw, not the bounce.

"Would the Vikings like Matt Cassel for Tarvaris Jackson? Would it matter to either team if they traded?"

Cassel usually looks better than he did yesterday. And Gutierrez doesn't look as good as his stat line from this week; the 15 yards on his pass was entirely Stallworth YAC on a screen.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

For the fake snap, does that play ever work? I know Marino pulled it off once, but other than that, I’ve never seen a team get anything more than incompletion out of it.

From memory only -- which, admittedly, can be very faulty -- I don't think it does work all that often.

That being said, had Brady not over thrown the ball a little, that would have been a TD, as Moss had his guy beat.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

#111: Because Kelly Holcomb sucks too. He cost us the Chiefs game by over throwing a wide open Robert Ferguson in the end zone, and then over threw Sidney Rice twice in the Packers game.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Thanks, Temo, you see my point more clearly than others.

Rich, others: I didn't see the Martinez home run, or the game last night, so I didn't use that example. I would have if I had seen it. But, look at your quick reactions to defend "your guy." Are we so hopelessly homers that we can't even think objectively about any sports figures?

Rich, your argument is that someone else was a worse showboater? That someone else did something worse, so that lessen's "my guy's" actions? How pathetic of a response is that?

("Hey, officer, that Manson guy orchestrated the murder of several people. All I did was kill one. What's the big deal?")

My point: We're all rediculous homers. If Manning had killed dogs, Atlanta fans would have been all over that "southern hick." If A-Rod did what Manny did after A-Rod hit his one (meaningless) homer in the post season this year, Boston fans would be all over "that loser." If Dungy had cheated, NE fans would be all over "that hypocrit."

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

126: Collins tried the backwards spike last week. He was in the process of being sacked when he tried it, and the play was whistled dead because he was "in the grasp" Otherwise, it would have been a fumble.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Marcus Trufant continued his improvement as a cover corner — nobody will ever mistake him for Champ Bailey, but he’s looking very solid out there."

Especially solid, given that whenever he's played the Rams in the past Torry Holt has average about 1,300* yards and 14 TDs** against him!

On the other hand, that could have something to do with the Rams just being utterly utterly awful this year. Maybe this'll be the week that we finally get that 32nd in DVOA which we so deserve!

Another thing, I didn't see any of the Cowboys-Vikings game, but just going from the box score, how impressive was Marion Barber's performance? 19 carries, nearly 100 yards on that defense seems pretty good to me. Plus, did he get more carries cos Julius Jones was injured or something, or has Phillips realised he's better?

*This is an exaggeration.
**So is this.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The Vikings defensive ends yesterday played reasonably well. Again, both the advanced and conventional stats are overstating the deficiencies in the Vikings pass defense.

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

If Dungy had cheated, NE fans would be all over “that hypocrit.�

Almost. We know how to spell "hypocrite". :-) :-)

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Is it really surprising though that all fans are somewhat 'homers'? What type of fan would we be if we could enjoy the highs and lows of sports, without investing any bit of emotional attachment to the players that produce those emotions?

I don't think you're a 'real' fan if you don't want to protect 'your' guy at least a little bit. If the first thing you do is believe the story, and not immediately try to think the best... well you're a better person than I.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Hey Chris,
I also possess the mind-boggling ability to predict which QBs will suck in the NFL. My lock for the next draft is Sam Hunt of UAB. I already know that he's never going to make it in the NFL. Trust me on this one.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Well PFT is saying that a league source says the Vikes will explore all options to find a new QB. You know what that means Will, time to go to Eagles message boards and instigate hate on McNabb.

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I like most others here have no problem with scoring as much as possible in the first half. But of all the plays NE ran in the 2nd half before Gutierrez was put in for the final series, NE threw on 9 of 12 offensive plays.

Whether this is running up the score or just bad game strategy I'm not sure. To me it seems to increase, not decrease, the chance of the other team coming back, it makes your QB vulnerable to injury and increases the chance of a fight breaking out between the teams (how many times have we seen something break out when one team is putting the beatdown on the other).

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Podge, a big chunk of Barber's yards came on the Cowboys last possession, when the Vikings defense knew that the odds of the Vikings offense getting two score were one in a thousand. Barber played well for the most part, but when the game was still in doubt, the Cowboys didn't run all that well.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Well, some people actually thought the " mobile duel threat" TJ might not be so bad... they were wrong. Sorry Vikings fans. Hindsight is 20/20.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

re: 83. 85

RBs are fungible? Did you see Jacobs try and catch the ball out of the backfield? Those types of deficiencies may not hurt the G-men vs San Fran, but could very well come back to bite them against a quality team. People love to bash Tiki, but he was still one of the best all around backs in the the league. Jacobs is obviously a great runner, but good defensive teams will probably be able to expose his inadaquacies, which are greater and more obvious than Tikis's.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

#124: True, but if it works, you have the potential for a big gain, even if the probability for such is low. If it doesn't work, you've only wasted a few seconds.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

To me it seems to increase, not decrease, the chance of the other team coming back,

Normally, I'd agree with you 100%. However, with Morris and Maroney basically out (I say "basically", because Maroney wsn't going to play in the second half), and the manner in which the Patriots could move the ball through the air, I think their best bet of maintaining possession and running the clock was throwing the ball.

When you're up by that much, you want to keep collecting first downs and running down the clock. Considering Brady only had 4 incomplete passes on the day, I'd say that the best way to continue to run down the clock and maintain possession of the ball was by throwing it.

If you were talking about last year, or even a few years ago, then I'd agree... run, run, and run some more.

This year, the Patriots are just on a different level with their passing attack.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


IIRC, I think the Bears-Lions game was actually pretty close until the 4th quarter.

The Titans game this week was a major meltdown. We rotated in our 2nd unit D-Line I believe, and Schwartz called a lot of prevent defense (which I partially don't mind), and the rest of the defense took the 2nd half off.
The defensive call wasn't all that bad. What killed us was the complacent/conservative playcalling on offense. We were happy to run twice, throw a screen/flat route and punt it away.
We were killed on First Downs in the 4th quarter. Houston gained 10 First Downs in the 4th quarter against our prevent defense, and we only gained 2 First downs, both of them coming in the Final drive.

Just goes to show that you can't ever get complacent or too conservative in your playcalling at any point in the game (Okay... maybe not when you're up by like 21+ with a minute or two to go), because any NFL team (perhaps, minus the Dolphins) can come back from any lead, in a very short amount of time.

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7


Way I remember it an albatross was a ship's team's good luck charm til some idiot killed it.

Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

And as a note, I meant the Dolphins as a joke.

ANY NFL team can come back from a deficit at any point in the game. Even a team as bad as the Dolphins.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sweet! A fantastic weekend of football with a number of games decided in the last 30 seconds and we're talking about the Patsies drubbing of another team.

"Classless" - was a comment in the Audibles section. I assume the writers on FO are allowed personal commentary in this section of the site. Why is this an issue invoking such wrath? The rest of the site is essentially devoted to hard statistical fact. NE fans must unwad the panties a bit and realize the sheer dominance of these wins may cause a bit of resentment/backlash. To argue that there isn't a hint of "eff you" (as referenced by Simmons) seems a bit disingenuous.

As I said in the last "run up the score" thread - go ahead and do it. The Patriots have (presumably) 19 games to play. Sunday is the chance to run the playbook. The team they stomp today may be the reason they win the gut tomorrow. I wish my team (Oakland) played with half the success of NE as we already take twice the crap.

Anyone enjoy the other games this weekend?

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Scouts Inc. Jeremy Green just said in the ESPN chat that he thinks McNabb will be in Minnesota next year. Save us Mac-5, you are our only hope.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

All's fair in war, but...a couple of Dolphin defenders diving at Brady's knees in the rematch ought to send the needed message. That's how it's handled in some other sports, anyway: If you steal bases up 10-1, don't act all shocked and self-righteous when the next pitch you see is a purpose pitch. And it's certainly not like the Patriots wouldn't do the same if the situations were reversed.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Aaron Schatz: I’m enjoying this as much as all the rest of the Patriots fans, but running the fake spike play at the end of the second quarter up 35-7 is a bit much.

Why?!? What's with all this talk about "running up the score" in games that aren't even halfway over? They had a 28 point lead. There have been second half comebacks of more than 28 points, so the outcome of the game was still in doubt. 4 TDs could be scored in one quarter, for that matter. Why would they stop trying to score? They turned a 28 point lead into a 35 point lead. I'd call that a smart decision. Hardly classless or bad sportsmanship.

It's only running up the score when the outcome of the game is completely decided. For instance, if there's under 2 minutes on the clock, the other team has no timeouts, and you have the ball on 1st down, you kneel until the game's over, because that guarantees you victory. Scoring again in that situation might count as bad sportsmanship.