Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Audibles at the Line: Week 11

compiled by Bill Barnwell

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, which means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Raiders fan, not so much.)

Additional warning: For some reason this week, we felt like swearing. Not safe for work, at least if you work in a monastery.

Miami Dolphins 24 at Carolina Panthers 17

Aaron Schatz: It's not just about the offensive line with these Carolina running backs. You can see them slashing through the Dolphins defenders, the way they see where the holes are and shift to get like they're weaving through cones on a driving test. I wish we had a stat that could measure RB vision, that "hole-seeing ability." Frank Gore has it. Adrian Peterson has it. Williams and Stewart both have it.

By the way, Matt Millen just referred to Steve Smith as "an all-day sucker."

David Gardner: Well, it's good to see he's back to being the next John Madden.

Tim Gerheim: Matt Millen is killing me. (Maybe I'm channeling MDS.) He's bringing no insight, missing things, and getting things wrong. Having watched NFL Network's replay of Pats-Colts last night, the contrast between Millen and Cris Collinsworth (who has a high quality observation on almost every play) could not be more stark.

Tom Gower: Watching this game, I remain flabbergasted that John Fox not only doesn't bring in somebody like a Chris Simms who could challenge Jake Delhomme for his job, but instead gave him an extension. That interception he threw early in the 3rd quarter was rookie-quality.

Aaron Schatz: Matt Millen is like Cris Collinsworth, Madden video game version.

Is it me, or are the Dolphins not running the Wildcat in usual Wildcat form? Without Ronnie Brown, they're sticking Ricky Williams in a conventional single wing. They've got Lousaka Polite in a fullback position in front of Williams, instead of using him in Williams' usual spot, starting at wingback and sweeping across from left to right. I realize the Dolphins scored a touchdown from this, but I think that getting rid of that sweeping motion really ruins what makes the Wildcat special. You don't get multiple plays that start the same and
end differently. There's no play-fake, no counter, and apparently Ricky can't even pass as well as Ronnie Brown, at least if we're to believe the announcers. Does this formation as they're running it lead to anything other than a Ricky Williams run, either up the middle or sweep?

Doug Farrar: I don't think so. The mechanism is really based on Brown as the power/counter instigator and Williams as the sweep option, keeping defenses on their heels. Without it, they're able to pull and get power to the right side, but if they want any sort of versatility out of it, it might be up to Pat White to run the speed option, or the counter option they're running in Tennessee pretty successfully with VY and Chris Johnson. Brown has taken about 10 direct snaps this year before this game.

Tom Gower: What Doug said. I saw someone speculate they'd use Ginn in Ricky's old role, but while he's fast, he doesn't present the same sort of power problem that Ricky does-blitzing corners would work against him. They can't replicate the same versatility, so you're seeing just the normal direct snap single-wing plays.

I don't think White's been on the field yet, which has surprised me.

Aaron Schatz: They could try Lex Hilliard in the Williams role, I suppose.

Doug Farrar: I like that they’re doing what works with their personnel – just a lot of straight I- or offset I-formation, fullback lead and go. You’ve got a fullback who can just maul people and a good inside runner, so go for it.

The Dolphins are losing an offensive lineman on just about every play. Who do they think they are, the Seahawks? I know about injury luck regression, but this is ridiculous.

Tim Gerheim: What I've learned from Jake Delhomme during this game is that 52 is ALWAYS the Mike.

The Carolina linebackers have really been unimpressive today. I know it's the Dolphins and they're pretty good at running, but the linebackers look like they've done a very poor job of occupying their gaps, maintaining spacing, and avoiding the trash in the middle of the field.

Sean: It can be hard for casual viewers to appreciate the impact of losing offensive linemen, but in the first few plays after Jake Grove went out, Miami had defenders blasting immediately into the backfield right through the A gap, and at one point Henne couldn't even get the center exchange cleanly because of the pressure.

As for the Carolina linebackers, they've looked like bowling pins out there. I can't remember the last time I watched lead blockers so consistently pancake their defenders at the second level.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, they brought Grove in because Samson Satele was more rangy and better in space. Didn’t really work for the offense they run. Grove is much more that power guy. Where they want agility is with their guards, Smiley’s pulling ability being the best example.

David Gardner: Carolina's hurry-up offense is soooooo slow. Receivers are walking near the line of scrimmage to get set, and they weren't able to kill the clock after a first-down reception to get an extra play in before the two-minute warning.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Kansas City Chiefs 27

Doug Farrar: Opening kickoff of the Steelers-Chiefs game: Jamaal Charles. Kickoff return. Steelers are the other team. See if you can guess the outcome!

Mike Kurtz: Uuuuugh.

Vince Verhei: Any Given Sunday alert: Andy Studebaker is a Kansas City defensive end with nine tackles on the year coming into today's game. He has two interceptions today. The second came two yards deep in the end zone, and Studebaker returned it 94 yards to set the Chiefs up with first-and-goal. They are the Chiefs, so they go three-and-out, but they do kick the tying field goal. 17-17 at the end of the third quarter.

Doug Farrar: With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, down 24-17, Matt Cassel throws a bomb downfield to Chris Chambers for 47 yards. Chiefs tie the game on the drive. Chambers gets hurt on the play in the process of demanding a public apology from Bill Barnwell.

Bill Barnwell: Chiefs playing the Steelers close; actually had the ball just before the two-minute warning and an open Mark Bradley for a first down, but Matt Cassel threw the pass behind Bradley and Bradley promptly dropped it. Then, Derrick Johnson sacks Ben Roethlisberger on a play where Mewelde Moore blocks him up into the air into Roethlisberger, and Johnson grabs Roethlisberger in the air and eventually drives them both down into the ground. The refs follow that with a phantom penalty call on Wallace Gilberry that was never announced.

Mike Kurtz: Charlie Batch in for Pittsburgh after Roethlisberger took a shot to the head. On third down at the brink of field-goal range, a Mendenhall pitch loses a yard. Tomlin turns down the 55-yard field-goal try and punts instead. Ball goes into the end zone for an 18-yard net punt.

Vince Verhei: A deep pass to Chambers is nearly intercepted, but Ike Taylor can't hang on the ball. Next play, Chambers comes free on a crossing route for 60-some yards to set up first-and-goal from the 5. And the field goal by Succop is ... good! Chiefs win! Chiefs win!

Actually, can't really call that a dropped pick. He got both hands on it, but there was plenty of contact and the ball came free as both bodies fell to the ground. If anything it should be a pass defensed for Chambers.

Mike Kurtz: Steelers punt from their own 43 in a tie game with less than a minute left. On behalf of Steelers fans: Fuck you, Tomlin.

Shortly thereafter...

Fuck you for punting around midfield with a minute left in regulation. Double fuck you for punting at KC 36 in overtime. This is an absolute fucking shambles.

Aaron Schatz: What was the down-and-distance where they punted in each situation?

Mike Kurtz: Fourth-and-5 on each. The OT punt netted a whopping 18 yards of position.

Aaron Schatz: Where was the midfield one that upset you so much? Fourth-and-5 from midfield is not not an automatic "they should go for it here" situation.

Mike Kurtz: It around around the KC 45 with 30 seconds left. A punt means you go into overtime. Going for it gives you a shot at keeping your drive alive and getting a FG. Either Tomlin was playing to not lose, or he had no faith in his defense, which seems a bit silly for the Steelers.

Aaron Schatz: Someone else can run the percentages, but honestly, that's not ridiculous. Fourth-and-5. If you have it back to them... I mean, there's faith in your defense to prevent 55 yards, and then there's faith in your defense to prevent 25 yards. That's how close Kansas City would have been to a long field goal if the Steelers went on fourth-and-5 and failed.

Mike Kurtz: Prior to overtime, the Chiefs had around 220 yards of total offense, including a goal-line stand where the chiefs actually went backward. Up until blowing the overtime possession, the defense was doing its job well.

Tom Gower: I don't really have a problem with Tomlin-KC had against the Jaguars shown they could hit the college-style "random deep ball" offense, and 1 of those was all they needed for a game-winning score.

Vince Verhei: I'm all in favor of leaving the curse words in Audibles this week and just doing the most profane edition ever.

Tomlin was right to punt in regulation. Roethlisberger had also been sacked several times on the Steelers' last couple of drives, so you're risking handing the Chiefs 7 or 8 yards right there. Then with 20 seconds, you're one deep ball to Chambers, one pass interference call, or a couple of completions to other guys away from losing on a field goal. Too much can go wrong there.

The one in overtime though was a lot more questionable. I think the run on third down was intended to set up a fourth-and-short, and when it lost yards, Tomlin decided to just play it safe.

Indianapolis Colts 17 at Baltimore Ravens 15

Doug Farrar: This is becoming unfair. On Indy’s opening drive, Manning throws deep incomplete into double coverage for Pierre Garcon to start the game, and I’m thinking, “He’s coming back to that one”. Four plays later, a 66-yard bomb to Garcon followed by a quick out in the end zone to Dallas Clark in which Clark catches the ball one-handed and holds it up like a pizza. On both of those deep throws, Manning had oodles of time. That needs to not happen all day, Ravens.

Aaron Schatz: Peyton Manning throws second interception of the game on a deep pass where he tries to thread it in as two Ravens defenders converge. First one was Dallas Clark, second one Reggie Wayne. I wonder -- is he not seeing the safety is going to come over, or does he think he can get it into a hole that's not going to be there? Frankly, neither one sounds like Peyton Manning to me, so who the heck knows.

Mike Kurtz: The Ravens were cunning, allowed a long bomb completion in the first quarter which led to a touchdown. This gave Manning a false sense of security, leading to a Reed interception at the goal line.

Doug Farrar: I wouldn't say the first pick was all on him -- it was more a tip drill to Clark -- but his reads seem pretty questionable today. He's throwing into more traffic than I'm used to seeing him do.

Bill Barnwell: Sometimes, great players make great plays. Impossible to anticipate what Ed Reed might read.

Aaron Schatz: Question especially to Will or Ned if you guys are out there... what happened to Fili Maola? They drafted him in the second round, I thought the whole point was that they would be able to go bigger at defensive tackle to stop running teams like Baltimore. I don't think I've seen him on the field today.

Will: Just hasn't won the job. Coyers has been very big on performance. The thing I've heard is that while they expected him to be slow, he's a step slower than that.

Doug Farrar: Colts defense is making it pretty tough to do anything else on the fourth-quarter goal-line stand. Not sure why the Ravens called a delay to McGahee on third down, but kudos to Clint Session for blowing through and forcing yet another field goal.

Aaron Schatz: I wonder what the Colts saw on film that made them say, "Gee, this is the right week to make Tom Santi a major part of the offense." It isn't like Baltimore's been particularly bad against tight ends.

Doug Farrar: I really like this Garcon kid. He gets absolutely 'faced by Ray Lewis near the two minute-warning, jumps right up, and starts barking at #52. He's tough when it comes to gaining the extra yard, as well.

Mike Kurtz: Harbaugh Martzing it up, Colts get a really obvious first down when the receiver stretches for it, Baltimore calls a timeout, THEN challenges and loses, which means they lose two timeouts on the play. Awesome.

Aaron Schatz: Terrible, awful. Coaches need to stop challenging plays that are too close to find indisputable evidence. Way to cost yourself all your timeouts there.

Doug Farrar: I don’t remember a two-week stretch with so many questionable challenges. And this with Romeo Crennel out of the league!

Aaron Schatz: Ed Reed, I know you like to lateral all the time on returns, and I know that your knee might have actually been down on that fumble, but what's wrong with you?

Doug Farrar: Well, there’s your KCW winner: Ed Reed, ladies and gentlemen! No way they overturn that one.

Will: I think it's a practice time issue. Garcon was banged up, Collie's in the doghouse, so Santi's there. They haven't run a lot of routes for TE2 at all, so there's something of a surprise effect and keeps the LBs a bit honest.

On Santi's goal line fumble, he was knocked unconscious briefly. Watch his arms and eyes if you see that close up they did.

Ed Reed's play at the end has to be the biggest difference between "smart player" and "dumb play" I've ever seen.

San Francisco 49ers 24 at Green Bay Packers 30

Vince Verhei: Remember when San Francisco drafted Alex Smith first overall and let Aaron Rodgers slide down the draftboard? At halftime, Rodgers is 22-of-31 for 274 yards. Smith is 3-of-7 for 5 yards. His three completions: A six-yard pass to Michael Crabtree on third-and-19, a five-yard loss to Frank Gore, and a four-yard pass to Vernon Davis on third-and-9. He has also been sacked three times.

Tom Gower: Way to go, Mike Singletary. Uses his last TO on a challenge to turn third-and-inches into third-and-a yard, only it doesn't work. Rodgers sneak, ballgame.

Buffalo Bills 15 at Jacksonville Jaguars 18

Tom Gower: Lee Evans is open 18 yards downfield in the middle of 4 Jaguar defenders. Fitzpatrick almost hits the upper-right Jaguar defender. Hey, Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick is NOT an NFL quarterback. You know this. Do something different.

Boy, that was some incredible clock management by the Bills at the end of the half. They spiked the ball at the Jaguar 12 with :26 to play in the first half, had a TO left, and barely managed to get 2 plays off. They completed a quick pass to TO to the 5 for a first down and, rather than taking the TO and running 3 passes trying to get into the end zone, decided to hurry up to the LOS. Which takes them until about :05 left in the half. At which point they give Fred Jackson a inside handoff. They're danged fortunate he only got 1 yard and Fewell got the TO called immediately, or else the half would've been over. Just a terrible job of end-of-half coaching and execution.

Roscoe Parrish stupidly catches a punt at his own 5 and gets tackled at his own 2 after retreating. No matter, Fitzpatrick calls the audible and hits TO up the right sideline. TO outmuscles the corner for the ball, and it's clear sailing for a 98 yard TD pass. Up 15-10, the Bills run a gimmicky 2-pt conversion play out of FG formation, but the throwback pass is too far for an open DE Ryan Denney.

According to the TV guys, Perry Fewell described Jags TE Marcedes Lewis as the best tight end in the AFC. I have nothing to say to that comment.

Eric Wood is now on the ground, which means the Bills are down 2 OL this game. This is getting ridiculous.

Paul Posluszny seems to be over-aggressive in attacking the wider holes, which is something the Jags have exploited a little this game.

Wood got carted off with his left leg already in an air cast. Marshawn Lynch also went to the locker room in the first half, and has been ruled out with a shoulder injury, not that he's better than Fred Jackson.

TO has been getting a lot more targets than Lee Evans. I'd like to think that's an example of TO being better at going over the middle, where Fitzpatrick has a chance of throwing the ball successfully, rather than the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

I really, really, really can't get the Jaguars. They pound MJD into the line twice on first and goal, forcing Buffalo to use TOs to preserve time for a comeback, then finally decide to pass (like they did the entire drive down the field, successfully) and come up with a nice play design-Holt iso left, trips right with Lewis, Wilford, and MSW, then run Holt on a drag shallow and MSW on a deeper drag left. MSW's defender gets caught in the trash, and there's an easy TD. OC Dirk Koetter really has some nice scheming like this, but MJD's also 25 for 66 against what has been a terrible rush defense.

Atlanta Falcons 31 at New York Giants 34

Bill Barnwell: Giants build their early offense around swing passes to Brandon Jacobs, which works when the Falcons blitz, but doesn't when they get pressure with four. After a sack and a swing pass for no gain, a rush on third-and-29 gets in Eli Manning's face, and the result is an ugly pick into double coverage.

The Giants offense is extremely frustrating so far. Eli's nearly thrown three picks through two drives. They're running these weird plays to get outside -- like toss sweeps out of the shotgun. You're the New York Giants. You're supposed to have an elite offensive line.

Doug Farrar: Is Jacobs still running like there’s a four-way stop at the line of scrimmage?

Bill Barnwell: They're actually getting Danny Ware involved, and he's doing the same thing.

Pretty clear the Falcons don't believe that Chase Blackburn knows what he's doing. They're using a lot of formations with two tight ends on the strong side and Snelling's cutting all his runs back straight up the middle. Just led to a touchdown after Blackburn overpursued the motion on the handoff, which screamed outside run.

Lawrence Tynes misses a chip shot after a mix of good Eli (great touch on a double move to Manningham) and bad Eli (misses an open Boss badly on a deep out in the end zone, nearly takes a delay of game penalty). Moose: "Second week in a row the Giants have struggled with field goals." Giants had an open date last week.

Giants score on two consecutive plays that just look like huge breakdowns in coverage, with nobody within five yards of Hakeem Nicks (deep out, left) and Kevin Boss (deep out, right).

Chase Blackburn's having a nightmare day. He's been ugly in run defense, and just took a bad holding penalty on a third down play that got extended. He's not C.C. Brown bad, but teams are going to be able to exploit that as long as Antonio Pierce is hurt.

According to the announcers, the Giants "hold the Falcons to a field goal", which involves committing a defensive pass interference penalty inside the ten and then Michael Jenkins dropping a pass wide open in the endzone.

The Falcons score with a handful of seconds left and with the game at 31-30, they choose to kick the extra point instead of going for two. No Belichick effect there.

Despite nearly blowing it with multiple ill-advised passes, the Giants eventually kick a game-winning field goal. Falcons never touched the ball after tying the game. Overtime rules are awesome.

New Orleans Saints 38 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7

David Gardner: Earnest Graham is ripping through the Saints defense on the Bucs' opening drive. Saints run defense has been exposed in the last three games when they haven't had the benefit of a big lead.

Tom Gower: And teams have had time to see how they play without Sedrick Ellis.

David Gardner: In his pre-snap reads before being strip sacked, Josh Freeman pointed at Saints backer Scott Fujita and said to his line "you better guard the fucking edge out there." Nice. Oh, and they didn't guard the fucking edge.

Vince Verhei: Josh Freeman hits Michael Clayton on a fade route for a red zone touchdown. There was blown coverage on the play and Clayton was wide open, but it was still a nice pass by Freeman, a touch pass to the outside where not even a great play by the safety could have broken up the pass.

Doug Farrar: True to their end of the deal, the Bucs defense allows the Saints to drive 68 yards down the field for a touchdown. On the touchdown pass, Meachem was matched up against Bucs' linebacker Geno Hayes. Pitch and catch.

David Gardner: Raheem Morris has wasted both of his challenges already here in the second quarter with five minutes left. The first was on a punt that was clearly downed at the 1-yard line, and the second was on what Morris thought was an interception but clearly bounced off the ground.

Doug Farrar: Seriously – over the last few weeks, is someone sending out joke memos to coaches saying that challenges are 2-for-1?

David Gardner: Antonio Bryant has fallen down on a couple of crucial passing plays for the Bucs. If there's one thing particularly encouraging about Josh Freeman's early performance it's that he can fit the ball into tight windows. He throws hot out routes to the right places and isn't afraid to split defenders in the middle of the field.

Washington Redskins 6 at Dallas Cowboys 7

Doug Farrar: The Cowboys started their first drive by running all over the Haynesworth-less Redskins front four, until London Fletcher popped the fumble from Marion Barber, and DeAngelo Hall recovered. After the play, Hall was on the ground, barely moving, and Romo looked shaken up as he got up from making the tackle. Joe Buck (with alarm in his voice): “And it looks like Romo’s hurt!”

Bill Barnwell: It's no "Oh no, there's a man down!"

Doug Farrar: Wow – nice flying elbow by Willie McGinest on Rick Mirer there.

Bill Barnwell: Rock Cartwright has been freed! Four years too late or so, but Ladell Betts is down with a knee injury and will not return.

Cowboys are gashing the Redskins up the middle. Turns out they're a lot worse with Albert Haynesworth on the sideline.

They're also, predictably, killing Jason Campbell, who's had a mix of nice adjustments for decent gains, sacks/blown plays, and premature checkdowns.

Doug Farrar: As near as I can tell, here’s what’s going on in Dallas near the end of the first half: Jason Campbell got rid of the ball rolling right behind the line of scrimmage just before he stepped out of bounds. The call of a sack was overturned on booth review and changed to an incomplete pass. Alberto Riveron, for some reason, called delay of game on the Redskins, which I assume was cancelled out because it didn’t show up on the play-by-play. It took the refs a few minutes to figure that one out. Then, Shaun Suisham missed a field goal, and Romo ended the half with a kneeldown. Did I miss anything? I was in and out with Red Zone.

Vince Verhei: You know how we've all been begging the Cowboys to run more? At halftime, they have 22 runs and 12 passes -- and the result is a 3-0 deficit. I give up.

Bill Barnwell: Jason Campbell throws what should be a game-ending pick, bouncing it off a defensive lineman's helmet as he's being hit and into the arms of Anthony Spencer on a bounce.

Cleveland Browns 37 at Detroit Lions 38

Tom Gower: In the Battle of the Suckiest Bunch of Sucks That Ever Did Suck, Detroit Lions pass efense fails harder than Cleveland's pass ffense, as Massaquoi is open by about 10 yards downfield which is enough room for Quinn to find him for a 59 yard TD.

Doug Farrar: Quinn to Josh Cribbs for his third touchdown pass of the first quarter. That was set up by a Matt Stafford pick to Eric Wright in which the Lions’ offense proved that they can’t play defense, either. Wright ran around with the ball for about five minutes before someone felt like tackling him.

Aaron Schatz: Part of me is happy to see Brady Quinn put up a huge game a few days after ESPN published my first ever front-of-the-magazine column detailing how Brady Quinn needs to get more of a chance. The other part of me is very, very sad, because Jim Schwartz is so, so desperate for defensive backs who can actually play in the NFL.

Bill Barnwell: That doesn't mean he should be choosing Jason David, Will James, and Jack Williams. Is Roc Alexander's cell phone disconnected or something?

Aaron Schatz: They waived Jason David after a week, because, sadly, Jack Williams is better than him. Honestly, who is out there that the Lions should be going after? The only thing I can think of is Fakhir Brown playing in the UFL.

Bill Barnwell: Anyone. It's pretty well-established those guys are sub-replacement level. Bring in a bunch of rookies that need their technique refined. Sign some guys off practice squads. Anything. You're hoping to find guys who are going to contribute to the next good Lions team, and these guys are veteran stopgaps.

Tom Gower: Are we sure Schwartz is totally in charge of the personnel department? Bringing in veteran stopgaps who are sub-replacement level, but not really, really awful is the kind of thing somebody like Martin Mayhew might do if he was going to get fired if the Lions were bad enough.

Aaron Schatz: Right, that's also true. Schwartz isn't in charge of personnel, Mayhew is.

Vince Verhei: Well, if Detroit is THAT desperate, Pac-Man Jones is out there.

Bill Barnwell: A 75-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson ties it up at 24-24 before the half. Awesome.

Tom Gower: Which is the suckier thing to do: to give up a 21 first quarter point lead to a team that's scored 5 TDs all year before that game, or to blow a 21 point lead in a quarter to a team that's 1-28 in the past two seasons combined?

Bill Barnwell: Announcers are aghast at the Browns not kicking a field goal on fourth-and-4 from the Lions 29 in a tie game. What do you have to lose?

Tom Gower: On 4th and 9 from the Lions 21 with :13 left in the half, the Browns direct snap to Phil Dawson in FG formation and he throws complete to Mike Furrey for 10 yards and a first down. The Browns call TO with :06 left, and Dawson kicks a FG to give the Browns a 27-24 halftime lead.

Mangini is probably going to get ripped for running a fake FG and a FG on consecutive plays, but I'm actually pretty much fine with what he did there. I would have kicked the FG, because one of the benefits of going for it is the other team doesn't have good field position if you fail, and the end of half negates that scenario, but your defense has given up 21 straight points, so you can't rely on 3. Going for the fake is a reasonable decision-4 extra points is a reasonable game. But, the Lions don't screw it up. With :06, you can't rely on getting to run a play then an FG, so you go ahead and kick the FG there. There's an element of "Look how clever I am" masterminding there, but, hey, you're Mangenius coaching the Browns and playing the Lions.

Aaron Schatz: I just grabbed my phone, and it looks like Tanier's been texting me his Audibles comments because he won't be near a computer today. Here's a timeline of his comments:

12:57: I'm about to watch Cleveland-Detroit next to a guy in a Calvin Johnson jersey. Life is strange.
1:37: Poor Mr. Schwartz. Bar switches TV to Pittsburgh-Kansas City, WITH the Calvin Johnson jersey guy's blessing.
2:08: This is why they should never change a TV in a bar.
2:36: Phil Dawson is right-footed but left-handed!
3:21: This is the Liberty Bowl. Oh, and Massaquoi drops two straight.

Tom Gower: The Browns have a third-and-5 at their own 43 with 1:45 or so left with a chance to end the game with a first down. Naturally, they go empty backfield, the Lions blitz, Quinn throws incomplete, and the Lions are driving for the potential game-winner. Browns 40, :27 left after a spike, down 6.

WOW. Lions at the 32 with :08 left. Stafford scrambles around for about :10, then unleashes one into the end zone, but it gets picked. Alas, there's a flag down, as Hank Poteat shoved Bryant Johnson out of the back of the end zone before the ball got there. Stafford got hurt when Mosley slammed him down into the ground. After the Browns take a TO, Stafford comes back into the game (he'd gotten an injury TO, so if Mangenius hadn't called the TO, the play would've been run with Culpepper), and sticks Brandon Pettigrew. Hanson hits the PAT, and the Lions win! Awesome ending.

I also can't leave this game without mentioning Randy Cross is absolutely aghast that there wasn't a complete furor being made over the officials charging Detroit a timeout for Stafford's injury when they were out of time outs. Uh, Randy, teams get a 4th TO for injury before being penalized for delay of game. Wouldn't knowing the rules be a helpful part of your job?

Seattle Seahawks 9 at Minnesota Vikings 35

Vince Verhei: Brett Favre-to-Percy Harvin puts Minnesota ahead 7-0 early in the second quarter. The Seahawks got a couple of sacks on the Vikings' first possessions to keep Minnesota off the scoreboard. They got no help from their offense, which used a series of cleverly designed botched screens to finish the first quarter without a first down.

And then the Seahawks finally get a first down, and on the ensuing third down they try Seneca Wallace at quarterback, and he promptly runs out of bounds for a 9-yard loss. That's all he ever does. I never want to see him at quarterback again.

Doug Farrar: So, if the Seahawks want to play nickel all the time and take Aaron Curry off the field, why was linebacker David Hawthorne covering Harvin on that touchdown? Do they need to go back to the half-dollar defense (somewhere between seven and 15 defensive backs) they ran last week?

Aaron Schatz: If you are going to play nickel, why would Aaron Curry be the guy who comes off the field? Isn't he your best linebacker at this point?

Doug Farrar: I’m firmly convinced that Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp would lose yardage on purpose so that he could go for it on fourth down from inside his own 30.

Seahawks bring extra men to the line late in the second quarter, and the Vikings immediately adjust out to a four-wide with Visanthe Shiancoe split side left. Shiancoe beats Deon "Milk Carton" Grant for the touchdown. Ben Obomanu fumbles the subsequent kickoff return. Vikings' ball. Aaron, you wondered last week why the Seahawks contingent wasn't commenting much on their games. This is why. They're bad, but they're not entertainingly bad. They're just "We're waiting for Tim Ruskell to get fired" bad.

Tom Gower: Question for the Seattle contingent then: Holmgren as GM/President, picking his own coach. Yay or nay?

Doug Farrar: Better than what they’ve got, but I’m not convinced of Holmgren’s personnel skills. I’d rather see them go as the Falcons did, with the best available sub-GM guy and a hungry assistant coach ready to kick some ass as a head coach. Thanks to Ruskell’s missteps, this isn’t going to be a one-year rebuild. They need guys who are going to be patient for the long haul, and I don’t see Holmgren orchestrating a rebuild. He’d be better served running a team that’s a few offensive players (especially a quarterback) away. A lot of what was credited to Holmgren as GM was the work of Ted Thompson and Scot McLoughan.

The Vikings bring Tarvaris Jackson in before the start of the fourth quarter. I’m hoping that in future days, when Seahawks beat writers recall the end of the Ruskell era, they’ll refer to this as the tipping point.

Oh, and former Seahawks backup tight end Will Heller now has as many touchdown catches on the season as current starting Seahawks tight end John Carlson. Will Heller now plays for the Lions.

I don’t know what’s more pathetic about the Seahawks – that they had the same number of penalties as first downs (10), or that they had four net yards rushing. Four. In the entire game. Justin Forsett “led” the team with nine yards on nine carries.

Arizona Cardinals 21 at St. Louis Rams 13

Vince Verhei: How bad are the Rams? They're getting gashed on the ground by Tim Hightower. He had runs of 12 and 50 yards to set up Anquan Boldin's touchdown. Cardinals ahead 7-3.

Kurt Warner is out with a head injury, but it won't matter today, not if Wells and Hightower keep rushing like this -- they've cranked out 150-plus yards already early in the third quarter. They're also ahead 21-3. That'll help.

Bill Barnwell: It's an easy 150-plus yards, too. They're getting seven yards past the line of scrimmage before being touched.

Vince Verhei: Um, guys? The Rams have come back and are driving for a potential tying touchdown. And it's not because the Cardinals have turned the ball over, or because Steven Jackson is going insane -- it's because the Rams receivers are making big plays all over the place. Deep down the middle, over to the sideline, on screens -- the Cardinals suddenly stop these guys named Gibson and Amendola.

Bill Barnwell: The Rams are going right after Mike Adams at corner, play after play. Never has Bryant McFadden looked so good.

Tom Gower: Sure, and it's partly because the Rams converted 3 4th downs on the drive to make it 21-13. The Rams are also really annoying me because Gibson, and to a lesser extent Avery, are whining for a flag after every incompletion. Gibson just did it on 3rd down after dropping a TD pass, while Avery did a little bit of it after the 4th down pass falls incomplete.

I have to question the Rams' play-calling a little there. You have 3rd and 4th and reasonable distance after the Gibson catch, and you don't give the ball to your best offensive player. Sure, I know, passing, but he's Steven Jackson. Your team is bad. Get the point.

Aaron Schatz: How does Leinart look? Or are they running so much that he's hardly throwing anything?

Vince Verhei: Leinart looked OK. Accurate and poised and smart, but aside from one nice third-down conversion where he went through his reads under a heavy rush before finding Early Doucet for a first down, didn't really do anything special.

New York Jets 14 at New England Patriots 31

Aaron Schatz: I have some good news and some bad news for the Jets. The good news is, Darrelle Revis is draped on Randy Moss. The bad news is, everyone else is wide open, especially Wes Welker, over and over again. Come to think of it, that's not really good news for the Jets, just for Darrelle Revis' ego.

24-0 Patriots with two minutes left in the first half. Boy, the Patriots clearly lost their championship swagger when they blew that fourth-and-2 play last week.

Vince Verhei: And after Belichick sabotaged the confidence of his defense, they've held the Jets to 29 total yards and two first downs in the first half.

Tim Gerheim: I want to see a review of the reviewability of that Welker non-catch, since the booth review was called down very close to the ensuing spike snap. I love the idea of a meta-review.

Aaron Schatz: Mark Sanchez's favorite receiver today is Leigh Bodden. Just threw this third interception right to him, matching Dustin Keller's three receptions or the three receptions that Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery have combined. NFL Matchup this morning showed that Mark Sanchez has terrible footwork when throwing to his left. I just went and looked: All four interceptions against the Patriots were to the left. Eight of his 12 interceptions before today were to the left.

San Diego Chargers 32 at Denver Broncos 3

Bill Barnwell: Chris Simms looks like Byron Leftwich on quaaludes.

Oh. My bad. Let me rewrite for this week's Audibles. Chris Simms looks like Byron Leftwich on fucking quaaludes.

Vince Verhei: If we're retroactively adding in curse words, please change all references to Seneca Wallace to Fuckin' Seneca Wallace.

Mike Kurtz: Norv, naturally, can only be adequately described as "Norv."

Tom Gower: Dawkins is questionable with a neck injury for the Broncos. How shocking, a 30+ year old DB got hurt. Also, Neckbeard is warming up on the sidelines, because, frankly, the Chargers' current 10-0 lead (2Q 7:07) might be safe unless the Broncos get a special teams score.

Russ Hochstein knocks the ball out of Knowshon Moreno's two-armed grip as he's crossing over the goalline. It's a ruled a fumble on the field, and the Chargers recover in the end zone for a touchback. McDaniels challenges, and loses. It's a very close call, and there's not enough evidence there to overturn. Tough break for the Broncos, and a sign of how thin the edge can be.

Orton was in for the Broncos that drive, and looked significantly better than Simms; accurate and decisive with his throws. It probably helped his ankle that he could have read every Sunday paper published in Colorado one play before finding Gaffney. And he just got picked by Cromartie on the next possession-good play by #31.

Aaron Schatz: The Broncos have to cut Chris Simms now, right? I mean, if you give the guy the whole week as the starter in practice, and he's so bad that you have to bring in your heavily injured regular starter before you even hit halftime, then there isn't much point in having him around. They might as well just make Brandstater the backup.

Bill Barnwell: Mixed signals in Denver-San Diego. Broncos ran a surprise onsides kick, but most of the Broncos on that side of the field ran through the ball; Andre' Goodman had it go right through his hands. Legedu Naanee recovers.

Tom Gower: Josh McDaniels, why is Kyle Orton in the game? You're down 26-3 with

Cincinnati Bengals 17 at Oakland Raiders 20

Vince Verhei: Bruce Gradkowski hits Zach Miller for a touchdown near the end of the first half to make it 14-7, Bengals. The Raiders now have THREE passing touchdowns all year. There are at least 37 players in the league with more receiving touchdowns than the Oakland Raiders. (I'm not sure if ESPN's numbers are updated with today's games or not.)

Bill Barnwell: Huge swing in Oakland, where the Bengals are up 14-10. The Bengals line up in a Pro Set on third-and-goal from the Raiders 2, and run play action, but Stanford Routt comes off the edge and Carson Palmer pulls one of those I'm-going-to-keep-retreating moves to create space, only to never actually get the ball off. It ends up being a megasack for 18 yards or so, and Shayne Graham misses the ensuing field goal.

Tom Gower: Also, Solomon Wilcots on Bruce Gradkowski's holding on to the ball too long: "It's like holding on to a hand grenade, bad things happen." Because, yeah, footballs explode. I think I saw that in some movie, or some movie should have that as its gimmick.

Mike Kurtz: Monday Night Jihad, obviously.

Tom Gower: Raiders' offensive strategy, final drive of regulation: find Morgan Trent in coverage, throw ball.

Rob Weintraub: Trent has actually been pretty solid this season as nickel back, and was superb against Pittsburgh. But that was bad coverage. Of course, it was only the 12th or so bad play in a series of them that let this one slip out of Cincy's grasp.

Doug Farrar: I’ll give Gradkowski credit for the throw across his body to Louis Murphy for the late touchdown/non-touchdown. I wouldn’t assume that Russell puts it together to exploit the rookie.

Oh, WOW. Ed Reed, you have KCW competition when Andre Caldwell doesn’t secure a kickoff and fumbles inside his own red zone. Now, we await the SeaBass field goal attempt... and it's good. Raiders win.

Vince Verhei: Going into Monday night, Oakland now has four touchdown passes on the year; 24 individual players have more than that, and Andre Johnson can make it 25 if he catches at least one touchdown against Tennessee.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 at Chicago Bears 20

David Gardner: On third-and-1, Vick gets his biggest play of the season so far. He got a nice hole off right guard, put a move on Manning at the second level, and ran for 35 yards.

I just can't help but think that the Michael Vick from a few years ago wouldn't have been tackled from behind like that.

Aaron Schatz: This ain't your daddy's Chicago defense, kids. No Cover-2: Bears are playing single-high safety on pretty much every play, and blitzing plenty. Eagles, seeing this, call the perfect play in the red zone, a screen to Jason Avant. Touchdown.

Mike Kurtz: Gigantic run by Bell, got a good block (I know!) at the line, squeaks through and... there's nobody in the secondary. Everybody is on the WRs, who were running intermediate routes. So Bell just runs and runs, the WRs throw some good blocks, and down to the 10. Crazy play. I know the Eagles don't respect the Bears' running game, but that was a bit extreme.

Aaron Schatz: I think the Eagles got caught in a blitz also.

Mike Kurtz: Yeah, it was a huge blitz, but the safeties (as far as I can tell) were deep and to the sides, instead of cheating up in case the Bears ran (as far as I could see/remember).

Vince Verhei: It was a blitz to the strong side with eight in the box, and Bell ran to the weak side and slipped by all of them. Then there were only the corners and a single safety.

Aaron Schatz: Good catch by the NFL Matchup guys. They said this morning that Jay Cutler is throwing much better against the blitz, and tonight the Bears have had their best success both rushing and passing when the Eagles blitz. Which is a problem, because the Eagles blitz more than almost any other defense in the league.

Doug Farrar: I've seen him throw two picks this season where he rolls out to the left as a designed play, and whoever designed that play needs to stop. There are guys who can throw going away with little momentum, but Sanchez is not one of them. He needs to have his feet pretty solidly under him with a good plant to make accurate throws.

David Gardner: DeSean Jackson was so open on that touchdown that it didn't even matter that McNabb underthrew him by about three steps. That was your dad's Bears' defense there, they were playing Cover-2 and Jackson split the safeties beautifully.

Bill Barnwell: No stats to back this up, but the Eagles' DL have to be among the best in the league at recognizing and sniffing out screens. The Bears have ran two of them tonight, with the Eagles doing very good work on both. Forte nearly ran to the opposite hashmark to get away from the defensive linemen on the last one.

Doug Farrar: Were Cutler’s mechanics this bad in Denver? It seems that he’s trying to throw a fadeaway jumper with anything up in the air. He’s not putting his body behind his throws, and it’s anyone’s guess where those things are going when he’s "arming" everything.

Mike Tanier: I don't think the Eagles played any better this week than in the last two weeks. They just faced a weaker opponent, made a few better short yardage and red zone plays, caught a break or three. They are on par with the other NFC East teams, none of whom look exceptional right now.

What's frustrating about rooting for an NFC team is that nobody ever falls by the wayside. Sure, the Redskins are toast, but the Big Three keep hovering within a game of each other until the end of December, even if they aren't playing very well. The Giants found a win Sunday, then the Cowboys really found one, then the Eagles, with none of them really stepping up and saying they're the best team in the division. Compare that to say, the AFC East, where we now know it's Patriots trying to hold off Dolphins, or the NFC North where it's now Vikings keeping Packers at Bay.

Comments

242 comments, Last at 24 Nov 2009, 2:05pm

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Depends what you mean by a "good team". They don't have to play anyone elite, but they do have to play @HOU, and the Texans aren't at all bad - a realistic wild card contender. A blowout win at Reliant would be a very impressive result.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

They absolutely destroyed Arizona who is pretty good. They also blew out Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee. They won close games against New England, Houston, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Miami, and San Francisco all of whom except for San Fran are decent to good teams. I don't think that radically disproves the Guts vs. Stomps. They blew out one good team and three bad teams and played essentially even games against their better opponents.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Can we please restart the discussion of whether Peyton can win the Big One? I've come to terms with him being the greatest regular-season QB of the last decade, but I'd really love it if we can all start talking about how he chokes in the post-season (including an under 40 passer rating post-season game the year he did manage to get it together and win the SB).

To the people who run this site, who's been the best post-season QB in the last decade? Is it rash to automatically assume Tom Brady?

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I think you'd have to assume Brady. I can't think of any epic stinkers he's had in the playoffs (though I'm sure he's had a few), and he's played and won plenty of playoff games. Roethlisberger has the two SB wins, but he was terrible in that SB against Seattle (to be fair, everything in that game was terrible). Manning had his documented problems earlier in the decade. In the NFC, McNabb springs to mind, but don't think he would compare to Brady.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Tough to call, as not many QB's have a lot of appearances.
Warner has had some very good post seasons, but so few.
Brady has been awesome at times (no sub 40 passer ratings like Manning), but he also gets a pass from most on days when he was individually bad but the team won (Brady's Pats have won playoff games this decade with him having a passer rating of 57, 66, 73, 76, 70).

Overall, it has to be Brady, but few have gone unscathed in the post season.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"Doug Farrar: Quinn to Josh Cribbs for his third touchdown pass of the first quarter. That was set up by a Matt Stafford pick to Eric Wright in which the Lions’ offense proved that they can’t play defense, either. Wright ran around with the ball for about five minutes before someone felt like tackling him."

Talked about it on FO irc : on Wright's INT have you seen Megatron sprinting back to...act as a soccer goalkeeper on the middle of his own goal line ?
It was weird, and I still can't figure out :
1. If y ever saw anything like that
2. If it's a bright move or not

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Vince Verhei: You know how we've all been begging the Cowboys to run more? At halftime, they have 22 runs and 12 passes -- and the result is a 3-0 deficit. I give up.

THANK YOU!!!!

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

RE ALT NYG - Why do coaches continue to play for overtime, when ATL scored they had the momentum, go for 2 and win the game. In OT it's 50% chance to get the ball, all a team needs to do is get close to FG range and game over, yes the OT rules are nor perfect but when you can win the game or take your chances in OT and you choose to go to OT you deserve to loose the game. Goodbye 2009 palyoffs ATL.

ALL HAIL BILL BELICHICK!

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Tom Gower: In the Battle of the Suckiest Bunch of Sucks That Ever Did Suck, Detroit Lions pass efense fails harder than Cleveland's pass ffense, as Massaquoi is open by about 10 yards downfield which is enough room for Quinn to find him for a 59 yard TD.

You're right. There is no D in the Lion's pass defense this year...

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I first saw that in 2005 during Wannstache's last year with Miami. One of the beat writers ( I forget who), started referring to Miami as the "lphins", beacuse they had no 'O' and no 'D'.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I don't know how the Broncos don't cut Chris Simms. Putting an injured QB in because your backup is so awful he can't do anything . . . how does he stick around? He wasn't that good before his spleen injury, and he's been worthless since. The guy's done. The "Byron Leftwich on quaaludes" comment . . . yeah, that works for me.

As for the Bucs, Earnest Graham had two big runs on the first drive. And one more run the rest of the game. Cadillac Williams looked really good for the first couple of games, but now? He looks like a guy who's had two serious knee injuries. There's no burst and he can't cut back. I have to think he aggravated something in those first few games.

And Raheem Morris? Go away. Please. Those challenges were the latest in a series of dumb moves. The lack of talent is bad enough without you at the top making things worth. Also, I'd like to set Jim Bates on fire, please.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

No comment on the play where the Pats had Brady in the shotgun and brought Edelman in motion, he stops and goes under center for the snap. The play didn't work but it was an interesting idea, and led me to wondering this:

For teams that want to run the Wildcat and have a hybrid QB/receiver or QB/rusher (either a Michael Vick or a converted college QB like Edelman) -- why not leave the main QB split wide, snap to the hybrid who runs a play action to buy time for receivers to clear the line and then throws a lateral (spiral but lateral) to the main QB.

Is the protected QB whoever takes the snap? or is the protected QB the paticular guy with a QB number? If the former, then this might be too risky to allow your QB to get hit like a wideout. For QBs who throw well on the run, bring him in motion for a short pitch or handoff.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

"No comment on the play where the Pats had Brady in the shotgun and brought Edelman in motion, he stops and goes under center for the snap. The play didn't work but it was an interesting idea, and led me to wondering this:"

The Pats have been doing that (occasionally) for years. I've seen Welker, Troy Brown, Deion Branch, and now Edelman do it. Thats the first time I've seen it fail, and that's probably because Edelman didn't get the snap cleanly.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Aaron, 4th-and-5 at midfield

    is

an automatic go for it. The fact that many coaches don't do this doesn't change the fact that it is, unambiguously, a go-for-it situation.

Some percentage estimates:

Chance of converting the 4th down: 30%

Chance of getting a field goal or TD if they convert: 60%

Chance of preventing a field goal or TD if they fail to convert: 40%

Chance of preventing a field goal or TD if they punt: 70%

Assume the expected value of overtime is .55 (because the Steelers a little better than the Chiefs, even with Chaz Batch).

So, if you punt:

0%*win + 30%*lose + 70%*OT = 38.5% chance of the win.

If you don't punt:

30%*60%*win + 70%*60%*lose + (70%*40% + 30%*40%)*OT = 40% chance of the win.

So, with (IMO) very conservative numbers, it still comes out in favor of going for it. And of course, the OT situation is even more clear.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

http://www.advancednflstats.com/2009/09/4th-down-study-part-1.html

Brian Burke says, using averages, that it's a better decision to go for it at mid-field with six yards or less to go.

155 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

an automatic go for it. The fact that many coaches don't do this doesn't change the fact that it is, unambiguously, a go-for-it situation.

None of those situations are a coin flip (except getting the ball in overtime) - they're not really random, so you can't really stack the percentages like that - the chance you can prevent a FG if you don't convert is directly related to the chance you can prevent a FG if you punt, for instance.

The decision to punt really comes down to whether or not you believe your defense can stop their offense, and whether or not you believe your offense can beat their defense. And the punt/no-punt decision is really a question of margins: you've got one play for your offense to beat their defense, and a bunch of plays for your defense to beat their offense. That's why, in general, you punt, unless you really think their offense is significantly better than your defense.

Chance of converting the 4th down: 30%
Chance of preventing a field goal or TD if they fail to convert: 40%
Chance of preventing a field goal or TD if they punt: 70%

The discussion entirely hinges on the relative values of these three numbers. You can put out numbers that make the decision look great. You can put out numbers that make the decision look horrible. You can put out numbers that make the decision look even. You can usually justify all combinations of those numbers.

I just don't believe this kind of thinking is the right way to think about a strategic decision, since you're completely ignoring the fact that if you punt, and they start moving the ball down the field (beating your defense, or making better decisions than you) you can gain information and adapt. Since you've only got one decision on offense, you don't have any way of adapting if you fail.

Bold decisions that could easily fail without a great backup plan don't usually work well strategically.

165 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Of course the discussion hinges on the percentages. My point is that I was very conservative with the percentages, in favor of punting at every turn - and yet going for it still came out ahead.

I have a very hard time seeing any argumend for more conservative numbers than the ones I used. To wit:

Outside the red zone, 4th-and-5, statistically, is converted about 50% of the time. Inside the 20 that drops to 45% or so, but that's the floor of a reasonable estimate in my mind. I was VERY, VERY conservative with that 30% estimate. Unlike the Pats-Colts situation last week, the Chiefs really do care about giving up the big gain, too, so they can't sell out completely. This was by far my most conservative estimate, and it's the one that impacts the relative choices the most.

Furthermore, the idea that punting boosts your chances of successfully defending against a FG from 40% to 70% is, likewise, favorable to the pro-punting position. That only makes sense if you think gaining 40 yards is exactly twice as hard as gaining 20 yards, which we know is not the case. So it's difficult to argue for tweaking those numbers further in the direction of punting. Once could easily argue for a breakdown like 45% (chance of preventing a made FG from midfield) versus 65% (chance of preventing a FG after a punt).

Finally, I gave the Steelers a 55% chance of winning in OT. This also favors punting, because OT is much more likely if you punt. I could easily argue for the coin flip 50%.

Plug those numbers in and you get this.

Punting:
35%*lose + 65%*OT = 32.5% chance of winning.

Go for it:
50%*60%*win + 50%*55%*lose + (50%*40% + 50%*45%)*OT = 51.25% chance of winning

That's almost a 20% edge.

I think the rational bounds of the percentage debate are roughly in that range. When the agressive guesses lead you to a 20% edge, and the conservative guesses lead you to a 2% edge, the entire range is on the side of going for it. That means you go for it!

181 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

It doesn't seem to me like your original numbers were that conservative, certainly not as conservative as you are making them out to be in the above post. First saying that converting a 4th and 5 is 50/50 seems high to me. I would guess that to be more the upper limit, with 20% being the lower depending on your offense. On 4th and 5 you really can't call a designed run, which would most likely hurt your chances. If it really is 50% I'm curious to see the stats.

Next I think you can definitely make a case for a wider split than 40/70 based on different field postion after a punt. If you miss the 4th down KC is at the 50 and need 20 yards for a reasonable FG attempt. If you punt at best they are probably at the 20 with 50 yards to go to get into field goal range, and the amount of time to do so as a ratio to yards needed is worse. I would guess on average preventing a FG from the 20 is more like 80% than 65%.

The 55% chance in OT seems about right to me.

187 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

A histogram of conversion percentages is available here:

http://www.advancednflstats.com/2009/09/4th-down-study-part-3.html

At midfield in a reasonably high-scoring game, and when Pittsburgh has been more successful passing than running this year, there's really no compelling reason to think the precentages should be any LOWER than average. So, I'm extremely comfortable defending that 50% number.

As far as the field position after a punt versus a failed conversion attempt: unfortunately I don't have easy access to the stats on those situations, so it's a bit dicier. That said, they need to get a first down just to get a 47 yard attempt, which is hardly a guarantee. Package up the chance of holding them without a first down, with the chance of them missing the long field goal, and I think it's hard to argue that KC had much more than a 60% chance of a GW field goal.

I can get on board with an 80% chance of holding them after the punt, though. I don't know the time out situation there, but with only a minute left, any significant drive from the 20 is a tall order.

I can also get on board with a 55% chance in overtime - it does seem reasonable. So, third try here:

Punt:
20%*lose + 80%*OT = 44% chance of the win.

Go for it:
50%*60%*win + 50%*60%*lose + (50%*40% + 50%*40%)*OT = 52% chance of the win.

So, that's an 8% edge - predictably, somewhere between the other estimates.

232 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Ok I see where you are getting your 50% from, but it isn't clear in the blog where the data for that histogram is coming from. Is the data all 4th down attemots in the league? And if so over how many years, and how many attempts because I'm guessing the sample size is small for some of those distances. Or is it just using average gains on any down at a given distance to go? A 4th down is a uniques circumstance and needs to be treated as such. Thats why 50% seems high to me, I can see getting a first down with 5 yards to go 50% of the time on first through third down, but that doesn't mean it is the same percentage for 4th down when it is all or nothing.

193 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Outside the red zone, 4th-and-5, statistically, is converted about 50% of the time.

Like I said, I hate treating this statistically. It's not a coin flip - it's one coach choosing a play, and another coach choosing a defense (well, okay, you can also call it "a set of defensive players reading and reacting" but it's still a play choice, it just happens to have been set well before the game, in film review of the other team). 4th and 5 isn't a running down, it's a passing down, which means it's even much less of a coin flip.

I prefer to think of it backwards: as in, "figure out the percentage likelihood that the 4th down play has to be, and then decide whether or not you have a play that you think will succeed that often, and then fold in your own personal uncertainty in that estimate" And that varies entirely on game situations. If the other team's been matching up really well in short yardage passing situations and anticipating most routes, it's conceivable that you'd say "yeah, I have no idea," and so you punt.

That only makes sense if you think gaining 40 yards is exactly twice as hard as gaining 20 yards, which we know is not the case. So it's difficult to argue for tweaking those numbers further in the direction of punting.

Again, you're neglecting information gain here. If the coach believes he is smart (or his players are smart, or he was smart in coaching his players, you get the idea) then gaining 40 yards could be more than twice as hard as gaining 20 yards, because the first 20 yards allows the coach/players to recognize what they're doing and change. Playing for overtime is a similar logic.

To bring in a chess analogy, a grandmaster would be much more likely versus a novice than another grandmaster to take a risk which puts him at a slight short-term tactical disadvantage to allow for a strategic (positional) advantage, believing that experience will win over.

The problem with relying on historical averages and information here is that you're averaging over coaches/players that are both stupider and smarter than their opponent. With Pats/Colts you can make an argument (maybe a convincing one) that Belichick did not believe that himself/his players would learn faster than Manning would learn how to pick them apart. I can buy that argument, and so it ends up being a half-decent decision (although not allowing them to score the TD right afterwards flies in the face of that decision-making process). With the Steelers/Chiefs, not so much.

(N.B.: I don't actually disagree with the conclusion that it was a bad decision. I just don't buy the logic. I think the real reason it was a bad decision is the fact that there was only 30 seconds left, and so punting doesn't gain you anything. They're only going to have two, maybe three plays either way. With more time, however, I think punting becomes a reasonable choice. But the time pressure here should make the decision for you.)

199 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

You may hate treating this statistically, but really, it's pretty unavoidable. Sure, you call a particular play, but every play just has a chance of succeeding. In particular, you have to allow for some randomness when you consider that the defense's call against the offense's call can have a sort of rock-paper-scissors effect. A corner blitz loses to a smoke screen, and so on.

There's all sorts of unique factors in every play that happens; the whole point of looking at statistics is that it gives you a general sense of how often various outcomes come out of that whole mix of factors. Rather than try to document every possible factor (a hopeless task) we simply narrow the situation down to something measurable.

To put it another way - I would be fine with what you think is the appropriate approach. But in order to decide how often you think your best 5 yard square-out play works, you don't go with your gut. You go with the stats. If you have stats that are particular to your offense or their defense, all the better. But humans are very poor at guessing probabilities by nature. That's why coaches make dumb decisions like punting when they should go for it.

As for 4th and 5 being a passing down, sure, it is, but that's true of all 4th-and-5 plays. That's built into the stats.

As for the 40 yards versus 20 yards argument, there's some logic to what you say. I could quibble about defenses getting tired being a dominant factor, but neither of us really know. What we DO know is that both of these effects are completely swamped by the presence of big plays. Teams don't lose more than 8 yards on a play very often, but teams gain more than 25 all the time. This is why it's more than half as likely you'll give up 40 yards than 20 - the big play bias.

209 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

#177 below has it right. We can argue the percentages all we want... and I'm pretty much the most anti-punting guy on earth and put my fist through things when NFL coaches do things like punt on the opposition 36. I will defend Belichick's decision last week to the death; I regard that as a no-brainer.

But in this spot, it's 4th and 5, Roethlisberger is gone and Batch has already broken his wrist. Dennis freakin' Dixon has just entered the game and hasn't thrown a pass yet. A field goal is not an option; Jeff Reed's absolute max range is about 51-52 yards, this would be a 53 yarder. Your options are go for it, or punt, and Daniel Sepulveda is one of the league's most accurate punters, meaning there's a pretty good chance he can pin the Chefs inside the 5.

Given that set of circumstances... well, I personally would still have gone for it, but I do not blame Mike Tomlin one bit for deciding the Steelers' best chance was punt, hope Sepulveda pins the Chefs deep and then the defense induces Rusher McFumbles to give the game away.

I think this year there has been some disconcerting evidence--some poor fundamentals, the historically atrocious special teams, not taking care of the ball on offense, stupid penalties--that Mike Tomlin is really not an especially good coach, even if he LOOKS the part at an A+ level. Really, he was only slightly more qualified than Raheem Morris to be an NFL head coach--one season as a coordinator, with a very talented defense, under noted coaching guru Brad Childress--and there's plenty of hope he will improve with time, but objectively I'm not sure he's really a plus coach yet.

But punting in that spot is completely reasonable.

216 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

That's the second 4th and 5. There were two. The first 4th and 5 was with 30 seconds remaining in the first half. That one is pretty indefensible, but I'll still say it's the time pressure that's the deciding factor. At that point field position is pretty immaterial.

under noted coaching guru Brad Childress

Woah, woah, woah. When did Brad Childress become a coaching guru? When did I enter bizarro NFL?

215 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

You may hate treating this statistically, but really, it's pretty unavoidable.

No, it's not. Again, you're not talking about a coin flip. You're talking about one person making a decision against another person's decision. The fact that historically, in that situation, you convert 50% of the time is completely immaterial. If your best play call for a short-yardage, high completion pass is one that they've been cheating up against all day, you'd be an idiot not to punt.

In particular, you have to allow for some randomness when you consider that the defense's call against the offense's call can have a sort of rock-paper-scissors effect. A corner blitz loses to a smoke screen, and so on.

Exactly! But the point is that you can't treat it as if "well, I'll go for it because historically these plays are converted 50% of the time." You don't get to run a 'historically average play.' You have to ask "what's the chance my opponent will sniff this out?" You don't have the statistics to know the answer to your question.

But thankfully, your brain is a really good pattern-recognition engine, and so your instinct as to whether or not you've got a play call that will work is probably a lot better than a simple look at history.

But in order to decide how often you think your best 5 yard square-out play works, you don't go with your gut. You go with the stats.

Take that farther. Why wouldn't you choose the most statistically likely play to gain 5 yards? You look historically, and say "a 5 yard square-out to the flanker has succeeded 63% of the time in a 4th and 5, and it's the highest percentage" (totally made up). And then the opponent shows a safety blitz and drops the safety between the flanker and the QB for an easy pick 6. And after the game, the player is asked "how did you get that pick?" and he responds "well, that's the highest percentage play from that point, historically." Other teams repeat, and then in a flew years the 5-yard square out fails a bunch... but a few crazy coaches start running a worse play, and gain the 5 yards more often, and then it becomes the high-statistics play, until some CB jumps that route... Lather, rinse, repeat.

Yes, this is an exaggeration. I know. But going with the high-statistics plays and choices based on historical tendencies in a strategic game means you will tend to lose to someone who anticipates current tendencies.

You can't go with the stats. You have to go with your gut (well, your 'well informed' gut, hopefully). You're not playing history. You're playing your opponent, and if you're not making your choices based on what he will do, why did you scout at all?

This, again, is why I think it was a horrible decision. Tomlin didn't believe Dick LeBeau could prevent the Chiefs from gaining 25 yards in under 30 seconds (probably 25 seconds), and that's just crazy talk.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Phil Dawson is right-footed but left-handed!

The Steelers radio guys were talking about the fact that the Chiefs' punter is left-footed and right-handed and it messed with how he dropped the ball to the punt.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Oh and did anybody see the Patriots 3rd string LT light up the Jets CB on a WR screen? Holy crap! He rung his bell in one of the hardest hits you will see! A 300 LB offenive lineman running down hill and crushing an unsupecting 200lb corner. It looks like one of those concussion hits, and the Jets had to bring their LCB out of the game after that one.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Impressive hit. I liked that when they showed the OT after the hit, he wasn't even smiling -- for about 15 seconds. Acting like he belonged, and that it was no big thing. Then, he finally cracked a smile! Good for him. Great hit.

167 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

It was Mark LeVoir, subbing in for Sebastian Vollmer, who was subbing in for Matt Light. I think he was thrilled to get to drill someone like that.

Frankly, I was thrilled to watch it, until they cut to the CB limping off field.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Jason Campbell got rid of the ball rolling right behind the line of scrimmage just before he stepped out of bounds. The call of a sack was overturned on booth review and changed to an incomplete pass.

I didn't see this play, but didn't this exact situation happen with Eli Manning against the Chargers two weeks ago, when they called he stepped out of bounds but replays showed he got the ball off before, and Coughlin threw the red flag but the ref said it was unreviewable?

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

No love for Addai juking Ray Lewis out of his shoes on Joe's TD run? Now that is how you dance in the hole.

OL cleared out a big hole, but RayRay was waiting on the other side of it. Addai gave him a big fake to one side and went the other leaving Lewis with just fingertips catching Addai's hip.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Does anyone know what happened at the end of Pats-Jets to get both teams to keep going at it? First, the Jets call a TO on a Pats' 3 and long with 2 and a half to go, which is kind of a stretch 3 scores down, but whatever. Then Brady throws the bomb to Moss, and calls a TO with 25 ticks to go on a 4th down. And finally, the Jets call another TO with 5 seconds to go, and Ryan could be seen answering what looked like a puzzled ref's question with a shrug and a "f-them". Weird ending for teams with enough injuries already.

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I suspect the last pass play towards Moss was done because Moss wanted it done. He wanted one more chance to try to burn Darrelle Revis. And it didn't work.

I think it's clear that there continues to be a lot of ill will between the Pats and Jets, even with Mangini out of the picture.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

There used to be a lot of ill-will between the Indy and NE. But now that Indy has beaten the Patsies 5 of the last 6 games it's faded away. It's simply hard to muster up much hate for a rug that you beat all the time.

163 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

JS, your logic escapes me, since the same would have applied before the Indy victory stretch. But regardless, apart from dumb fans I think there has mostly been respect between Indy and NE, especially since so many of the games have been incredibly close. And certainly not the same kind of rivalry as with the Jets, which extended to off-the-field management issues.

As far as the final plays go, however, I doubt Moss could have asked for that bomb if the coach's call was "run to kill the clock". Something else must have happened, but who knows.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: Detroit DBs-Chris McCalister just signed with New Orleans. Am I really supposed to believe that an over-the-hill McCalister is worse than the 2nd string XFLers the Lions have back there now?

Re: Cutler, what cracked me up was that he was constantly overthrowing receivers and/or sailing his passes. While on the other sideline, was McNabb who one-hops and underthrows his receivers everytime he's rushed. If they could only take the average.....

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I thought the Eagles were just going to blow out the Bears, so I guess I should be somewhat happy with the result.

A couple things I noticed. 1) With Tommie Harris this defense is completely different. It goes from Lions-esque to respectable. We can actually get pressure, and stop the run once in a while with fewer then 9 players in the box.

2) Hillenmeyer sucks and is killing us on runs up the middle. I wish Lovie could just use him as a nickle backer.

3) Our lack of receivers really hurt us for the first time on the final drive. None of them were getting any separation for Cutler. Earl Bennitt was really stupid on his catch too, trying that spin move instead of trying to get out of bounds or going down immediately.

4) The line actually opened some holes for the running game. Forte still looks hesitant though.

5) One thing I miss about Orton is his presnap read and audibles. Once the ball is snapped I take everything Cutler has over what Orton can do, but Orton was really good seeing what the defense was trying to do. It's really a shame he doesn't have a better arm, I think he could have been Manning/Brady level based on his mental strengths.

195 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Yeah the Bears front seven looks a lot better with Harris on the field. I used to think the Bears had quite a few good players up front. If this year has taught me anything it is that the Bears have three good players in their front seven (Urlacher, Briggs and Harris) and that those three are really good and nobody much cares who else is lined up as they can only do anything when single teamed.

It was nice to see a Gaines Adams sighting. He even gave Peters some trouble on a couple of plays.

Hillenmeyer is pretty limited but Roach doesn't help matters when he constantly fails to hold the strongside edge on running plays. You can't play a one gap defense when the SLB won't stay in his lane. He tries to flow to the ball and tackle the RB but that isn't his first responsibility is gap control. He would be a much better MLB but he doesn't drop quickly enough in coverage leaving the middle of the field open and couldn't handle the play calling so they had to put HH back in the middle.

On the missed field goal that got blocked it was nice to see the Bears getting Omiyale back on the field. He couldn't move and block on offensive plays so it was a good spot (or lucky) when the Eagles lined up loads of guys to Mannely's right and charged the A and B gaps. Omiyale slided over to help and instead of smacking the guy to make sure he couldn't block the kick just gave him a little shove. Big Frank, yet again helping the Bears lose games. I am starting to think he is a sleeper agent brainwashed by Ted Thompson to screw the Bears up at every given opportunity.

242 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I'm still an Alex Brown believer, but only because he is so good at everything that isn't sacking the QB. This defense desperately needs a stud pass rusher off the edge. I have a feeling that all the other problems would suddenly disappear.

204 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

The problem (as someone else pointed out) is that Hillenmeyer is the only guy (besides Urlacher, obviously) who can make the defensive calls. I'm not sure why Lance Briggs can't handle it...maybe the calls have to come from the MLB, maybe that's the only position who can see it?

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Tom Gower on Randy Cross: "Wouldn't knowing the rules be a helpful part of your job?"

I saw Randy Cross constantly growing up, announcing Broncos games and I learned that this is the full list of what Randy Cross knows:

1. John Elway sucks.
2. Knowledge point 1 is the explanation for all things.

He did seem to add a new one recently, which was:

Jay Cutler is so much better than John Elway that it should be mentioned at least once per sentence.

122 Re: Cowboys

They got extremely lucky in their win. When I saw the replay on SNF, it was pretty clear that 2 of the 'Boys linemen were about 2 yards past the line of scrimmage when the ball was thrown. One of them was right in front of an official. How they didn't get called for illegal man downfield is anyone's guess.

123 Re: Cowboys

In reply to by Viliphied (not verified)

Refs don't seem to call this penalty unless it's super ultra blatant.

I've also never seen an assisting the runner penalty called, and I thought they changed the rule about stiff arms this year that you couldn't hit a defender in the facemask but I haven't seen that called either.

131 Re: Cowboys

In reply to by Viliphied (not verified)

Actually, the patriots never get this called on them. They run great screen plays but always have linemen 5 yards down the field and actively blocking before the ball is caught. Other teams do get it called on them. Belichick must know something about how officials watch for these things because he is a master at getting away with it.

I wish my team would learn how to do it, or even sucessfully throw a screen pass, but they prefer the pressure on our quarterback. I think it builds character or something.

158 Re: Cowboys

In reply to by Viliphied (not verified)

They don't call that play often. Besides, if they call that penalty it's 2nd and goal from the 15. Not exactly the end of the game.

I think the real luck for the Cowboys in this game was the Redskins going 2-4 on FGs (including a missed 39 yarder) and losing by 1 point.

174 Re: Cowboys

In reply to by Viliphied (not verified)

I think there might only be certain crews that call ineligible man penalties. I'll go months without seeing it called on certain teams that do it all the time, but then they'll get a game where it's flagged 3 times. Much like all other penalties, I think it's just on the coaches to prepare the team for what they expect to face.

Ryan Diem was 2 yards downfield on a screen yesterday, for instance, and obviously he's smart enough not to do that if he thinks there's a chance it'll be flagged. Same can be said of most linemen, really.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re: Tom Gower: Watching this game, I remain flabbergasted that John Fox not only doesn't bring in somebody like a Chris Simms who could challenge Jake Delhomme for his job, but instead gave him an extension. That interception he threw early in the 3rd quarter was rookie-quality.

Look at the interception again. Delhomme has a defender pulling him down around the shoulder as he throws the ball. The receiver was open in the back of the endzone and it would have been a touchdown if he could have gotten the throw off cleanly.

It's also his only interception in the past 4 games. Delhomme isn't the problem. Tom Brady would suck in that offense as well. All-pro LT out for the year, dismal offensive playcalling, one great receiver double teamed every play, have never practiced the screen pass...

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Am I the only one who thought that not kicking a field goal at the Panther 28 with less than 2 minutes to play up by 7 was the most inexplicable coaching decision of the past two weeks, including Belichick's? No punt, just a run on 4th down, which fails and gives the Panthers a chance to win at the end.

154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

You have a better chance at converting 4th and 3 than having Dan Carpenter make a 45 yard field goal. A punt only gains you 18 yards or so of field position (on average) while a 4th down conversion ices the game. There were only 44 seconds left.

Seems like a fine decision to me. When in doubt, go for it.

166 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Sorry, but that's ridiculous. Carpenter is 16 of 17 for the year, including 6 of 7 from 40-49. Chance of him hitting the FG is somewhere in between 86% and 96%. You are making the claim that the chances of making a 4th and 3 are higher than that? Really?

Even if he misses it's only 7 yards of field difference, 28-35. If he hits it, game over.

How can you be fine with the call? Even the ludicrous insistence of a 4th down being made 60% of the time is way below the cut-off here.

173 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

It's more or less based on the fact that I think Dan Carpenter is an awful kicker than anything else. I just don't trust the guy to make anything. He was, for the record, way worse last year than he has been so far this year.

There's no way his chance of hitting the FG is between 86% and 96%, especially since his career % from 40-49 is 75%.

144 Re: Ruskellmania

Not so fast Doug Farrar. The tipping point will come next week against the Rams... Keep the change!

160 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I think, if it were me, I would feel obligated to bench Sanchez. If I'm committed to trying anything to get a win, I'm benching him.
Would it really be so wacky?

188 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

I'm all for an in-game benching in sitautions like yesterday's, but at this point you're playing the games to develop him for next year.

It's also not like Sanchez has been consistently horrible since week 4 - he's had 3 meltdown games (including yesterday) in which he's thrown 12 of his 16 picks. In the Jets' other 3 losses, the defense and/or special teams played poorly.

161 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Re Tom Santi's big game for the Colts: it had nothing to do with new routes for the TE2 position. For most of the game Santi was playing tight end and Clark was in the slot. Those were the same TE routes that usually go to Clark. The only change was apparently the Colts decided they prefer having Santi on the field rather than both Collie and Garcon; perhaps a result of last week's dropfest, or maybe a matchups issue.

164 Defences not much different

FO noted last week there isn't much difference in the defences this year. I think this is demonstrated when you look at Minnesota's and NO's scoring:

Minnesota has played 5 games against top defences
145 points scored against 4 teams in 5 games ranking 1-5 in defence
161 points scored against 5 teams ranked 20-32

New Orleans as well has similar splits

177 pts against teams ranked 3-16
192 against teams that rank 18-32

haven't had time to look at other top offences but it does seem that the top offences can basically score on any team.

176 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

QB Rating in Playoff Games for currently active quarterbacks, minimum 10 games:

1. Kurt Warner, 98.9
2. Tom Brady, 88.0
3. Ben Roethlisberger, 87.2
4. Peyton Manning, 85.0
5. Donovan McNabb, 80.8

I think that's the whole list with a minimum of 10 starts. I can't find anyone else over 80 in any number of starts less than 10, which isn't surprising since teams that lose early in the playoffs tend to get substandard quarterback performance.

I know rating is a clunky stat, but I doubt you'll find any stat* by which Kurt Warner hasn't significantly outperformed the field in playoff games.

*except WINS! Actually, fun/weird fact: Roethlisberger (8-2) has more wins than Manning (7-8) in the playoffs. I assume this will change for good this year, as Manning is likely to win the AFC, while Roethlisberger is unlikely to make the playoffs.

180 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Jim Schwartz got into the 'Why, coach, why?' challenges, by challenging and winning a spot that transformed a second quarter Browns play from third and 2 to third and 6.

183 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Holy mackerel, Barnewell, I thought I was a pessimistic Giants fan, but on arguably Eli's best day as a Giant, with certainly the best accuracy he's shown on deep balls all season, this is what you choose to comment on? Rag on the defense all you want yesterday, but Eli's day deserves nothing but accolades.

194 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

You're the Atlanta Falcons. You have the ball at the 2-yard line, down 1 with 30 seconds left. You can kick an XP to force OT, or you can go for the win.

Factors to consider:

1) You have the worst kicker in the league, a man who hits 50% on 30 yards or more:
http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/player/_/stat/kicking/sort/fieldGoalPct

In OT you're going to need to get to the 20 to feel comfortable putting the game in this guy's hands.

2) You have the best goal-to-go offense in the league (according to Tanier) Admittedly this was with Michael Turner.

3) Your defensive secondary is amongst the league's worst, and has already allowed Eli to have one of the best days of his career.

In what universe are you putting the game in the hands of a coin toss here, where losing means almost certain defeat, and winning it means putting the game in the hands of Jason Elam who had already missed from 35 yards earlier in the game?

218 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

in another sign of the genius of Tomlin+Arians, the Steelers are apparently considering signing Cleo Lemon over Jeff Garcia in the wake of the Batch/BigBen out, Dennis Dixon starting (against the blitz happy Ravens). Hell, Hines Ward would be a better option at QB than Cleo Lemon.

225 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I like Brad Johnson as much as the next guy, but 'future HOF'? Come on.

Can't the Steelers find some way to, kind of under the table, convince the Buccaneers to release Byron Leftwich? I wouldn't think it would take a lot of convincing.

As for Cleo Lemon, Jeff Garcia, Vinny Testaverde, Jeff George, a Huard Brother To Be Named Later... whatever. If any of those guys is on the field, your season is over. In fact, might as well pick the worst of them and improve your draft position.

229 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Atlanta should've gone for two on their previous TD (the one that cut it to 31-23 with 6 minutes to go). If you go for 2 after the last second TD, then if you make it you win and if you miss it you lose. If you go for 2 on the previous TD, then (assuming you score the 2nd TD) if you make it you win and if you miss it you get a second chance to go for 2 again to tie it up.

240 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 11

Mike Kurtz brings nothing to the table in his commentary. If I wanted to hear knuckleheads like him, I'd just pop over to the CBS game commentary. Send him to XBox live where he belongs.

Stay classy FO.