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

Audibles at the Line: Week 5

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.)

Cincinnati Bengals 17 at Baltimore Ravens 14

Tom Gower: "Fast" game thus far, with 12:26 off the clock and only two possessions. No points, though. First the Bengals stalled out in the red zone, taking their second delay of game to the drive to turn 3&13 into 3&18 and Palmer couldn't scramble for the first. Then, the Ravens got stuffed on first down, ran the option TE shovel right out of the Florida playbook on second down (incomplete), and Flacco got picked by Joseph on 3rd down after he tried to fit a pass in for Heap between double coverage.

Ed Reed opens the scoring with a 52-yard pick-6. The Ravens ran a little bit of an overload to the right side, leaving Ocho isolated in man coverage. An obvious hot read, so Reed, playing deep safety, reads the play immediately and goes from the middle of the field to the sideline to jump the route. Yeah, he's good.

The Bengals got on the scoreboard with a 70-yard drive, 75 of which came on a single pass to Chris Henry on a scramble drill play when Dominique Foxworth kind of gave up on the play because he didn't realize Chris Henry had caught it. The Ravens go three-and-out the next drive, after Pat Sims beat one of the Ravens' interior linemen.

Jeff Triplette is SO aggravating. Mark Clayton catches a short pass for a couple yards, then goes down and the ball comes out. The Bengals recover and run it back about 25 yards for an apparent touchdown. No whistle, play wasn't blown dead, looks like a TD. The refs confer for a minute, then rule that Clayton was down by contact. Lewis challenges, and loses-it was a VERY close call, and whatever the call on the field was was very likely to stand.

Then, after the challenge, they MIS-SPOT the ball by 5 yards, though the Bengals obligingly go offside to make up for the error. Still, that's going to be a really bad one in the gamebook.

Brian Leonard gets into the hurdling game, over a Ravens defender who may or may not have been Dawan Landry, to avoid Foxworth and pick up a first down. Really nice move by Leonard, who's subbing in for Benson in passing situations. Palmer hits 85 over the middle for a big gain the next play, but poor ball security costs him as Ed Reed knocks the ball out.

With Jared Gaither out, the Ravens have Michael Oher at LT going up against Antwan Odom, and he's not looking great. Odom pushed him into Flacco for one sack, and he's gotten pressure a couple other times. The Bengals will have their own problems protecting the passer so long as #74 Dennis Roland is the right tackle.

Doug Farrar: Two interesting rushing notes: Cedric Benson becomes the first running back to gain over 100 yards on the Ravens since 2006, and before Clinton Portis’ touchdown against the Panthers today, the only Redskins rushing touchdown this season came from Hunter “The Punter” Smith.

Awesome touchdown catch by Ray Rice, one play after he gets busted for a chop block. Rice takes the little swing pass and blows through three missed tackle near the line of scrimmage, putting his hand down on the ground to hold himself up. At the second level, he kicked it up about three gears, and he was gone for 48 yards.

Bill Barnwell: Lord, the Bengals are surprising. A late Ravens penalty on 3rd-and-long gives them a new first down, and they throw a game-winning touchdown pass. 4-1, and a tip drill away from 5-0.

Aaron Schatz: The funny thing about the Rams' gigantic pratfall is that a lot of the same positive trends applied to Cincinnati, but we wrote about them all in regards to the Rams because their overall projection came out with more average wins -- largely because of their division. (If you substitute Boller for Bulger, the Rams and Bengals end up with the exact same projected preseason DVOA.) I kinda wish now we had written about the Bengals instead. Heh.

Bill Barnwell: Bengals WERE the most-injured team in the league last year. Year before, it was the Dolphins...

Aaron Schatz: Right. The Bengals (and Jaguars) also qualify for the "teams that draft an OL in the top dozen generally have offensive improvement" trend.

Tom Gower: Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer deserves kudos. The Ravens scored on an Ed Reed TD and a great individual play from Ray Rice. Flacco was 22 of 31, but for only 186 yards (including 48 to Rice on the TD) and threw 2 picks. That's a pretty good effort.

Vince Verhei: The Bengals had success running whenever they went straight at Baltimore. If they tried delayed handoffs or zone blocking schemes, the Ravens defense was too fast for Cedric Benson and the line. But they had surprising success on power runs. Benson reminds me of Jamal Anderson, a low-center-of-gravity pinball with surprising quickness and moves, if not much speed. And he may get 400-plus carries before the season is done.

The Bengals's young cornerbacks, Hall and Joseph, really impressed me. Between those two and Maualuga, the Bengals have one of the best young trios on defense in the league.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, another thing that was positive for the Bengals going into this season; a lot of first-round cornerbacks don't fully mature until their third or fourth seasons. Joseph is in year four, Hall in year three. I think the surprising part of the Bengals' turnaround is the offensive line more than it is the defense.

Bill Barnwell: It would be hard for the line to suck as much as it did last year. Really, really hard.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, but like the Denver defense, this hasn't been simple regression to the mean. They are playing quite well.

Doug Farrar: Take it from this Seattle resident –- it is possible for an offensive line to not only suck, but to suck more each season in small, but torturous, increments.

Rob Weintraub: The key guy is center Kyle Cook, who is tough and nasty, two traits we haven't had the position in several seasons. Haloti Ngata absolutely kills us twice a year, but today Cook got great push and leverage on him, and Benson ran very hard inside. I'm worried about his carry rate, but the Bengals have made toughness and physical play a priority since minicamp, running several 6 o-lineman formations, bringing Jeremi Johnson back, and giving Ced plenty of opportunites. And then there is Rey -- I'm seriously considering buying my first jersey since 1986 (Boomer E.), and it's Maualuga's #58. The Steelers and Ravens have violent LBs who inspire the team. We finally do too. But let's remember, the D was solid last season, except for rushing the QB. The unit played hard and kept Cincy in games when the offense struggled mightily to gain ten yards over three plays. Often, they caved in from exhaustion in the fourth quarter. Not this season. There are legitimately 17 guys who I like on this defense, approx. quadruple the usual number.

Last note -- when was the last time a team went 4-1 despite having a long snapper that cannot perform this most basic of functions? Two more errant snaps for the erstwhile Brad St. Louis today, a high snap that led to a missed FG on the opening drive, and a Football Follies level snap that landed on the 35-yd line on an PAT, which fortunately was wiped out on a Ravens penalty (for illegal formation--can the defense have an illegal formation, even on a kick?). If it weren't for the late-game heroics, St. Louis would be a major NFL story (this is at least seven bad snaps this season), or, more likely, out on the street.

Mike Tanier: The most frustrating part of the end of this game for Ravens fans is that the two penalties against the Ravens during the Bengals game winning drive were legit and they were dumb mistakes. I better not read a quote from Ray Lewis complaining about the calls after he wrecked Ochocinco over the middle.

Cleveland Browns 6 at Buffalo Bills 3

Aaron Schatz: Rex Grossman may have to give up the title of "Worst QB Performance in a Win." Derek Anderson today was 2-for-17 for 23 yards and Cleveland just won the game 6-3.

Vince Verhei: I had money riding on this game and could still barely pay any attention. MVP should have gone to the Browns' punt team for pinning a pair of kicks inside the five and forcing a turnover on another.

Washington Redskins 17 at Carolina Panthers 20

Doug Farrar: I’m very concerned that the Redskins defense is playing well early on – this week, Greg Blache announced that he wouldn’t speak to the media any more this year. You know how superstitious coaches are; if the Skins came out with a stinker, Blache may have decided that he needed to remain the most quotable coach in the league. Sadly, I fear that we may need to factor in how much a Blache-out would affect TWIQ through the season.

DeAngelo Williams is trying to play smashmouth football in pink cleats.

The Panthers got upended by the Holy Roller Rule, as Jon Fox cursed the ghosts of Ken Stablers past. In the second quarter, Delhomme handed off to fullback Brad Hoover at the Washington 1-yard line, Hoover fumbled it forward, and tight end Jeff King recovered in the end zone. Since you can’t advance the ball with a fumble on fourth down, the Redskins got the ball at their own 1-yard line.

I should clarify that you can’t advance the ball on a fourth-down fumble unless the fumbling player recovers it.

At the end of the first half, Jake Delhomme appeared to throw out of bounds on a Hail Mary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Yup –I wound it back and you can clearly see the Panthers and Ravens adjusting beyond the edge of the right sideline on the throw. Weinke Deinke Doo, where are you?

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 at Detroit Lions 20

Mike Kurtz: Culpepper has had a fumble/sack and just fumbled a snap. He also got a massive run on a third down scramble. Incidentally, looks like this crew is calling holds soft.

Even with Stafford out, the Lions' passing game is still looking sharp. The routes are well-designed, and the playcalling is if not clever, at least efficient. They just got a long reception to a little-used TE, so they've really done their homework against the Pittsburgh defense, especially missing polamalu. Of course, then Culpepper runs 10 yards backwards, throws up the most blatant IG ever, and they're left with 3&G at the 28, which is way overthrown and nearly picked off. Oh, well.

As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with Rodney Harrison ... just put flags on the QB and leave it at that. Steelers got bailed out of an awful INT on a really questionable RTP.

On one hand, Roethlisberger's short passes lack a lot of zing, which contributed in some part to the pick-6. On the other hand, he's just playing pitch and catch with Miller, either lined up in the slot or as an h-back, and the Lions are giving it to him.

The Steelers' offense seems to be the opposite of last year. Last year, they were disciplined executed cleanly and fell apart in the end zone. This year, they seem more disjointed and sloppy, but are having great success getting into the end zone.

After Harrison's third sack: "Now Harrison has the trifecta!"

I think Enberg's lost it.

David Gardner: CBS commentators of Steelers-Lions game:

"What is it about Brett Favre when the lights come on?"
"Well, he'd be pretty good in the dark too."

Easy fellas.

Bill Barnwell: At one point, I was watching those announcers talk about Brett Favre during the Lions-Steelers game that was airing instead of the Giants-Raiders game. FML

Doug Farrar: The Lions remind me of this year’s Washington Huskies. A winless team replaces an all-time incompetent with a very solid staff, and all of a sudden, they’re competitive against teams that would have slaughtered them before and they’ll throw a surprise uppercut once in a while and pull off an upset. Pretty neat teams to watch in both cases if you like seeing things develop.

That said, I think they should put three tight ends to Jeff Backus’ left. Harrison-on-Backus violence is just not fair.

Bill Barnwell: Amazing how Harrison can consistently get underneath Backus, huh? Backus has 50 pounds on him, and it's worth absolutely nothing.

Mike Kurtz: Interesting dynamic working here ... Pittsburgh is blitzing with great success, killing Detroit in passing, so Detroit is dialing up RB screens on third and long and just killing them with it.

I think we can just go ahead and say that the Steelers aren't very good this year. The offense is somewhat explosive, but the defense is pretty hapless.

Aaron Schatz: I do think the Steelers deserve the benefit of the doubt until we see what the defense looks like when Polamalu returns.

Dallas Cowboys 26 at Kansas City Chiefs 20

Aaron Schatz: You know that this week's matchups are not very good when the FOX #1 team is covering a game where the teams have a combined two wins. Joe Buck says that the Cowboys think Anthony Spencer is getting closer to making an impact in their defense. Wait, Anthony Spencer isn't making an impact in their defense *now*?

Doug Farrar: Spencer’s ineffectiveness is one of the primary reasons DeMarcus Ware isn’t getting sacks this season. Turns out Greg Ellis may have had something to do with Ware’s production last year.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know. He always seems to be playing fairly well when I see him in pass coverage. Maybe he's just surprised people by being a better drop-back OLB than pass-rush OLB.

Doug Farrar: Right – I think they’re missing the push on the other side, allowing offenses to account more for Ware.

Mike Vrabel catches a touchdown for the Dallas Texans against the Dallas Cowboys. Wide open. Did not the Cowboys not review any of the old Patriots tape lying around this week?

Aaron Schatz: Miles Austin is having quite a coming-out party against Kansas City, including going high for a deep ball and taking it away from the cornerback when they both had it.

Bill Barnwell: 10-250-2 isn't bad. Of course, Maurice Leggett (in coverage on the final play) blows.

Mike Kurtz: I'm nominating Miles Austin for best FF FA sunday pick-up ever.

Oakland Raiders 7 at New York Giants 44

Aaron Schatz: Dan Dierdorf: "Did you ever see a grandpa who was as smitted with his grandkids as Tom Coughlin? Good ol' Uncle Tom there, always talking about those kids."

Despite Dierdorf saying ridiculous things and confusing Grandpa Coughlin with "Uncle Tom," I do have to give him points for some good commentary regarding Brandon Jacobs. The Raiders stuffed Jacobs on the goal line twice, on second and third down. They stood him up right at the line and while they couldn't get him down, he couldn't get across. Dierdorf mentioned that Jacobs has a problem where he likes to run tall, and tends to keep his pad level high, and sometimes that creates problems in the red zone. Sure enough, Coughlin goes for it on fourth down and brings in Ahmad Bradshaw, and Bradshaw takes the same handoff up the middle, gets small, and sneaks in under a pile of Raiders defenders for the touchdowns. Turns out the Madden Truck Stick doesn't work on every single play, even if you ARE as big as Brandon Jacobs.

Bill Barnwell: Well, Jacobs has really good numbers inside the five. So it's not a huge problem for him.

Aaron Schatz: I wonder if it is a specific problem this year. Subjectively, I remembered seeing Jacobs with similar problems a couple weeks ago. I went and looked, and Jacobs is only 2-of-6 on short yardage going into this game. Small sample size, of course, but still.

Bill Barnwell: It's all small sample sizes, but he was ahead of expectation in 2006-2008. Truthfully, how low can a 265-pound guy get?

Aaron Schatz: I think I've discovered something less accurate than JaMarcus Russell's passes -- the tackle attempts of the Oakland Raiders linebackers and safeties. When we chart this game with the new "broken tackles" category, we're going to end up with something like 30 broken tackles on Ahmad Bradshaw alone.

Doug Farrar: Yep. On his first-quarter touchdown run, he didn’t just cut – he came to a dead stop, called his dry cleaner, texted his mom, and then took the appropriate angle for the score.

Bill Barnwell: Another thing I've learned from watching the Raiders: They're one of the worst teams against screen passes I've ever seen. They had a play against the Texans last week where, somehow, half their team loafed their way into getting blocked out of the play. The Giants just picked up 50+ yards on a screen to Bradshaw.

The book on them was always that their linebackers were underrated, but they've looked terrible. Thomas Howard in particular.

Doug Farrar: JaMarcus Russell has five completed passes and three fumbles. Can’t wait to see the Quick Reads writeup on that one!

Bill Barnwell: What's the worst adjective you can think of?

Doug Farrar: He JaMarcused it. From this season going forward, whenever a quarterback has a truly horrific day on the field, all you’ll need to say is, “He JaMarcused it”, and the world will know exactly what you mean.

Aaron Schatz: Just out of curiosity, I pro-rated JaMarcus Russell's stats after five games to a full season and ran similarity scores. Here's the dishonor roll:

Orton Kyle 2005 CHI
Evans Vince 1981 CHI
Hilger Rusty 1988 DET
Deberg Steve 1978 SF
Williams Doug 1979 TB
Mirer Rick 1994 SEA
Trudeau Jack 1986 IND
Pagel Mike 1982 BALC
Collins Kerry 1997 CAR
Klingler David 1993 CIN

Showing that JaMarcus might still have hope: The 2-year similarity list includes Kerry Collins (years 2-3) and Phil Simms (years 1-2).

Chicago Bears at Bye Week

Mike Kurtz: I was really disappointed by the Bears this week, it's like they didn't even show up to play. I kept looking for the improvement on offense that everyone is talking about, I just saw a whole lot of nothing. Absent-minded playcalling, players not on the field ... I think Urlacher contributed just as much to the team this week as the other players combined, and he's on IR! Really dismal performance, and I don't see them winning any more games this season if they put up more performances like this.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 at Philadelphia Eagles 33

Doug Farrar: I didn’t see the deep scheme on the play, but it looked like the Bucs might have had single-deep on that 51-yard McNabb touchdown pass. I think it’s time to dust off the Tampa-2 worksheets, guys.

David Gardner: That's the seventh time the Bucs have allowed a play of 30 yards or more on defense. The route by Maclin wasn't realy impressive, but he's playing against a practice-squad caliber corner in Elbert Mack, and Donovan McNabb had time to do some underwater basket weaving before he threw the pass.

Doug Farrar: No, you don’t need to run great routes against them. Just a sideline stutter-go against that Cover-1, and it’s all over.

David Gardner: Bucs make a good call to go for it on fourth and 2 in Eagles territory, and drew up a good play, but the receivers aren't able to hold onto any passes today.

Bill Barnwell: Eagles are actually giving Jeremiah Trotter playing time, which surprises me. Josh Johnson isn't picking up blitzes so well, it turns out.

The Buccaneers are running a very weird offensive scheme. To counter the Eagles' speed and blitzing, they're running a lot of quick hitches and bubble screens. That makes sense. On the other hand, they're running a lot of option stuff with Josh Johnson. The Eagles are probably the worst team in the league to run those against.

Aaron Schatz: Well, the Eagles are starting a 97-year-old middle linebacker today who didn't even play in the league last year. I can think of some worse defenses to run that stuff against. Pittsburgh and Baltimore, to start.

Bill Barnwell: Philly's a quicker defense than either of those teams, though, especially at the ends.

David Gardner: Josh Johnson has been very impressive so far. He's only got six or so incompletions, and almost all of them are the receivers' fault. Then, on this drive, he has stood tall in the pocket, absorbed hits, and thrown really tight passes. He has given the Bucs the only hope of getting a "W" this season.

Bill Barnwell: Tampa was dead last in the league against #2 wideouts heading into this week, and that won't change; Jeremy Maclin (starting for an injured Kevin Curtis) is just killing them downfield.

Eagles blitz three times in a row. The third time, a blitzer coming through tips a pass in the air and Donald Penn catches it and runs for 15 yards. So happy I'm not charting that game.

David Gardner: And then the graphic before the next play -- "Donald Penn: First career reception."

Mike Tanier: The Eagles had it very easy on both sides of the ball against Tampa. Josh Johnson played better than he did against the Redskins, but he had about 4 passes dropped. He's just a runner at quarterback and I cannot see what he is giving the team at this point.

Trotter saw a lot of playing time at MLB. He was definitely in the running downs package and I saw him drop into the middle zone a little. It was hard to evaluate him because there were four Eagles in on every tackle. No one was getting blocked at all. The Eagles sent a defensive back through the A gap over and over again. I didn't like the call, because Johnson was sidestepping the blitz early on and completing some passes, but it started to work and led to a few interceptions and other mistakes. What's interesting is that Trotter used to be the guy who blitzed the A gap. Of course, Sean Jones is a little faster.

Minnesota Vikings 38 at St. Louis Rams 10

Sean McCormick: My, do the Rams look better in those old uniforms. It's time to go back to those full time.

Now all they have to do is figure out how to play football.

Aaron Schatz: For those who don't know, the Rams were the first NFL team to ever have a helmet logo... the horns were actually designed in 1948 by halfback Fred Gehrke, who was an art major at Utah. I grew up with those classic Rams uniforms, so I definitely agree. Also, to match the memories of my childhood, all Rams should wear goggles like Eric Dickerson.

Doug Farrar: Kyle Boller, wearing the Dieter Brock throwback, does a nice little Brady Quinn Reverse Forward Pass. Jared Allen, playing at an absolutely insane level this season takes it back for a touchdown. With the Lions in the rise (at least incrementally), it’s time to talk more about how crushingly awful the Rams are.

Atlanta Falcons 45 at San Francisco 49ers 10

Bill Barnwell: Nate Clements get caught in a bad spot on a 90-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White. Matt Ryan throws a ten-yard fade to White on third down, and Clements mistimes his turn; right as he turns, the ball is going past him and is in White's hands, and by the time he adjusts, White has three yards on him and beats him on a sprint to the end zone.

Doug Farrar: Serious Wood-Chopping from 49er cornerback Dre Bly, who picks off Matt Ryan deep in San Francisco territory and sort of half-asses it downfield, celebrating with the Deion “hand-up” move, and forgetting that Roddy White is REALLY fast. White catches up to Bly, and the tackle causes a fumble, which Atlanta recovers. I would not want to be Bly when he has to go to the sideline and explain his thought process to Mike Singletary for anything.

Houston Texans 21 at Arizona Cardinals 28

Doug Farrar: Andre Johnson went all Mark Bavaro on the touchdown that tied the game at 21. He blew up three potential tacklers and sent linebacker Gerald Hayes sideways. As fast as that guy is in space, he’s also a real pain to bring down.

Tom Gower: Matt Schaub's streak of about a dozen consecutive completions ends dramatically with a pick-6 on an out by Rodgers-Cromartie to take the lead. Just a bad play by Schaub, throwing late to the outside. I'd be interesting to see the charting numbers-I switched over to this game from JAC-SEA late and it seemed like the Cardinals starting bringing less pressure and dropping more guys into coverage that last drive, but that doesn't quite comport with Andre Johnson running over three guys downfield.

Bill Barnwell: Cardinals are actually being really smart with time management, starting to call timeout after the Texans drove the ball to their 1-yard line on first and goal with :55 seconds left so they can get the ball back after Houston (theoretically) scores.

The Cardinals restrict that scoring to theory...

Happy I threw in that qualifier. The Cardinals stuff the Texans on either side of a play action pass that Schaub horribly overthrew because he didn't set his feet and ended up making a jumping throw from across his body.

New England Patriots 17 at Denver Broncos 20

Bill Barnwell: Apparently, the Broncos forgot their uniforms at home and picked up the Steelers' practice jerseys.

Aaron Schatz: These Denver throwbacks are great. Where's Steve Garvey?

Doug Farrar: A pox on those stupid Copper Bowl unis. Why not the outstanding 1965 bucking Broncos unis instead?

Bill Barnwell: Interesting stuff from the Broncos, as they line up Russ Hochstein as the second TE/split-out FB and then motion him into a trips bunch set before running behind him.

Aaron Schatz: Broncos are also running a formation they are calling the "Wild Horses." Like the Wildcat, except with Orton off on the wing as a WR, and half the time Orton motions back behind center and just calls a normal Shotgun play. The other half the time, Moreno is running it like a Wildcat. This isn't actually getting them much, though. They barely used it on their 90-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter -- that one was more about Brandon Marshall being good. Fantasy players who decided to take a chance on the crazy are getting a payoff.

Mike Kurtz: The Broncos are just not blitzing effectively, and their linebackers are about 17 different kinds of awful in coverage. I'm willing to bet that the only reason this game isn't out of Denver's reach is that Bailey is doing a good job on Moss.

Aaron Schatz: They're blitzing well when they do something to send a guy untouched, a stunt or delay or sending a guy in off the side. Andra Davis and D.J. Williams both got to Brady and Brady was good enough to stay upright and throw the ball away. The problem -- give Phil Simms credit, he analyzed this correctly -- is that when it is just the Broncos' linemen and linebackers straight-up against the Patriots' offensive linemen, the Patriots linemen are handling them easily.

Bill Barnwell: Brandon Marshall is pretty much the worst possible matchup for the Patriots. They use Springs against #1 guys, and give them tons of cushion because they're pushing safety coverage to the other side and are terrified that Springs is going to get beat deep. So Marshall is going to get a lot of fade patterns and quick hitches.

Good to see Vince Wilfork's attempted sliding celebration stopped by the sheer force of his gut.

Brandon Meriweather is called for "taunting."

Bill Barnwell: The ref clearly threw the flag before Merriweather started pointing and taunting at Royal. I'm guessing some will suggest that he wanted to make a call for a late hit, realized that he couldn't call that penalty because the ball had been tipped, and pretended it was for taunting instead.

Doug Farrar: I’m guessing some will be right if they guess that. Though you can’t stand over a guy and point like Meriweather did, which gives the refs a legit CYA. I wonder if they’ll being that one up when Mr. Pereira visits with Rich Eisen on Wednesday.

Mike Kurtz: The most likely scenario is that the side judge threw the flag for helmet-to-helmet/defenseless, THEN the taunting happened, other official either disputed the call or the ref said no, taunting called separately. I think that makes sense in light of the ref telling the other refs "we got this" right before announcing.

Essentially, the first foul was (in essence) picked up, there was already a flag out when the second foul happened.

New Kyle Orton looks like old Kyle Orton. Decent arm, decent accuracy and good placement short, no deep ball and bad mid-long accuracy.

Moreno ran to put the Broncos in FG range, I should note that that entire run happened because Moreno, while facing a defender, JUST RAN FORWARD. Players leave so many yards on the field because they try to break down or juke or fake, instead of just running forward for a bit of momentum falling forward at the least. Moreno was rewarded by a missed tackle and a solid gain.

Doug Farrar: On the other hand, kudos to that same crew for not calling the ticky-tack interference on the overtime play where Eddie Royal and Shawn Springs got their feet tangled. A lot of crews would have screwed that one up.

Aaron Schatz: Grrr. Dumb penalties. Defensive meltdown in overtime. Grrr. Also: Too much Josh McDaniels talk, not enough Mike Nolan talk. What Nolan has done with that defense is remarkable.

Will Carroll: Is Nolan the defensive Cam Cameron?

Aaron Schatz: Heh. Unless Gregg Williams is.

David Gardner: My description of the Broncos' defensive progress would be literally unbelievable. Every week, I expect for them to be exposed, but they have been consistent all season.

Bill Barnwell: A very good defense with fortuitous plays at the right time (e.g. sack of Brady that led to fumble). Have to think their playcalling would have been different if Light had been in there; a bunch of runs and then when they drop back to pass, Brady gets strip-sacked.

Doug Farrar: Not to mention the year Champ Bailey's having. It's one thing to say that you're going to limit the Pats downfield and force them to pick away, and quite another thing to actually, y'know, DO IT.

Jacksonville Jaguars 0 at Seattle Seahawks 41

Bill Barnwell: Wow, did Monroe get abused by Darryl Tapp on that play.

Tom Gower: Maybe it's time for Jack Del Rio to go back to last week and play Tra Thomas at LT and Mo Williams at RT with Nwaneri at RG. Monroe and Britton at LT and RT doesn't seem to be working very well.

Of course, that probably wouldn't help Mathis from getting roasted like he was on Housh's TD or failing at tackling like he just did on Burleson's TD.

Oh, and Jack Del Rio did finally wise up a little and play Thomas at LT. Didn't teach Mathis how to cover, though, as he was beat by Housh for another TD. It also hasn't really helped the offense of the league's most schizoid team. One thing that might help is forgetting Marcedes Lewis plays for you, since he keeps failing to catch passes in key situations. I'm starting to wonder if the Seahawks are leaving him more loosely covered on purpose.

Indianapolis Colts 31 at Tennessee Titans 9

Aaron Schatz: Why do the Colts hate their colleges so much? Well, except Antoine Bethea.

Tom Gower: Tony Ugoh is a MASSIVE liability for the Colts. With Charlie Johnson the first couple games, plays like the hit by Ford on the Bulluck pick weren't happening.

Bill Barnwell: Al Michaels talks about how the Colts' final drive of the first half was slow and methodical. Meanwhile, the on-screen graphic lists: "6 plays, 93 yards, 48 seconds". Right.

Tom Gower: Is there any precedent for two safeties who as long ago as last year were considered among the league's best for immediately becoming awful? Hope and Griffin seem to be in a continuing contest of who can screw up more often this year.

Bill Barnwell: Not the same, but what about Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman?

Aaron Schatz: Can anyone think of a team that has had more success on the undrafted free agent market than Indianapolis over the last few years? The Chargers found Eric Parker and Antonio Gates, but the Colts just find defensive starter after defensive starter after defensive starter...

Can we just forward this thing to the end so I can start working on the stats already? We've had an amazing run of good prime-time games this year but wow, is this not one of them.

Mike Kurtz: Crowd calling for Vince Young. I support this, but only if NBC accompanies the rest of the game with an endless loop of Yakkity Sax.

Tom Gower: Something the SNF guys haven't pointed out: Dan Federkeil is in for Tony Ugoh at LT. Not sure if it's performance or injury-related, but that probably wasn't in the Colts' preferred plans for this evening. Hey, I'm looking for small favors.

Aaron Schatz: Collinsworth and Michaels say that Peyton Manning needs to win another Super Bowl to be in the conversation for best quarterback of all-time with Montana, Unitas, Marino, Elway, Favre... Um, guys? Marino never won a Super Bowl. Favre only won once. Peyton could be hit by a bus tomorrow and he would be in the conversation.

Doug Farrar: And the affront to good football continues. Vince Young comes in the game halfway through the fourth quarter, and begins his night by underthrowing Tim Jennings of the Colts. I'm not going to assume that he was aiming at Kenny Britt, since the throw hit the ground three feet in front of Britt. Then again, the whole "aiming" concept is a relative one for our man Vince.

Erectile Disfunction

Aaron Schatz: If my mirror reflection started to counsel me about erectile dysfunction, I think I would seriously consider suicide.

David Gardner: I was wondering if the guy had considered talking to his doctor about his schizophrenia?

Vince Goes To The Casino

Vince Verhei: I watched games this morning at the MGM Grand sports book in Las Vegas. Always wanted to do that. At first it was quite a disappointment -- just a really, really crowded sports bar with nowhere to sit and little place to stand by the time I got there a half-hour before the first games kicked off. Then things turned around. You had fans there from all over the country, so between fantasy players, gamblers, and regular fans, every long gain, turnover, or score would draw passionate cheers from the peanut gallery. The endings of CIN-BAL and CAR-WAS were particularly raucous. It started out like a sports bar, but by the end it was like being in a half-dozen stadiums at once. In short, it was quite, quite great, and I intend to do this again at least once each season. (Using FO Premium picks, by the way, I bet on five games, and went 3-0 on Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Washington to make a profit before the late games had even started. That probably helped my mood.)

If anyone wonders, my other two bets were on Houston and Indy to win.

Bill Barnwell: Mmm, Stage Deli.

Several hours pass...

Vince Verhei: And Indy wins to put me at 4-1! Did I mention that I walked out of the MGM and it was 80 degrees and sunny? So yeah, Las Vegas is better than Delaware.

Comments

212 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2009, 3:41pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

The Bengals (and Jaguars) also qualify for the "teams that draft an OL in the top dozen generally have offensive improvement" trend.

I know Audibles is taken from emails and often edited and placed in different ways to make sense when posted in a series of statements, so some statements can be seen to be taken out of context and what not...

I just hope you're not suggesting that Andre Smith is in anyway a factor in the Bengal's resurgence.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

"On one hand, Roethlisberger's short passes lack a lot of zing, which contributed in some part to the pick-6."

The "lack of zing" contributed a lot less than Wallace's inexperience and BB's late throw. Receivers who try to catch the 5 and out pass without coming sharply back to the QB to catch it are likely to have to chase the corner following the interception. Combining his drop on the deep pass and allowing the pick-6 Wallace was worth a 14 point swing in 3 plays. He'll get a pass (I hope he catches it) for it because 1) he is fast, 2) the Steelers won, and 3) he isn't Limas Sweed.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Yeah, looking at that replay, Ben's pass has plenty of velocity, it's just thrown way, way too late. On the other hand, Schaub's version of that exact play in the HOU/ARI game was just as late but was also a horribly thrown wounded duck. Either way, it astounds me that a veteran QB would even attempt that throw if the DB is less than 5 yards off the receiver.

3 Broncos Defense

In my mind, Champ Bailey is making a huge difference over last year. He officially only played 9 games, but I specifically remember him not being anywhere close to 100% healthy in many of them. Bailey at 75% is still good enough to start, but he was certainly not a star player last year.

Additionally, the Broncos simply needed to stop giving playing time to a lot of terrible players. That's one thing I won't defend Shanahan for. Denver's defense played best last year in a stretch of games where many of their "starters" were injured; and as the starters got healthy, the team played worse. Simply getting rid of guys like Nate Webster and Boss Bailey makes a huge difference. (I'd love to see Denver's defensive DVOA with and without Webster.)

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

A few thoughts from a Vikings fan who watched the Red Zone Channel, since it is impossible to learn anything about your team, when they are playing a team as bad as the Rams (no, I was not surprised to see Boller faint at the sight of an oncoming Kevin Williams, giving a touchdown to Jared Allen):

The numbers 30 and 31 should be retired by the Chiefs, so no future player has to be associated with either Brown or Leggett, who appeared to have taken the Miguel Cabrera approach to preperation. The fact that the Chiefs took it to overtime with those two in the Chiefs defensive backfield should temper a Cowboys fan's urge to induct Miles Austin into their Ring of Honor.

The Raiders, meaning the entire roster and management, have essentially quit. Their qb threw 13 passes in a game where they were beaten by 37 points. I'm about half serious when I say Oakland's season ticket customers should sue for a refund. Is there not an implied contactual obligation for the Raiders to try to win? This ain't even funny anymore, if it ever was.

At what point does Shanahan's record over the last few years in Denver start to harm his public perception, and thus his negotiating position for his next job? Wasn't it his responsibility to find a good defensive coordinator, and didn't he have almost carte blanche control of defensive personnel? I ask this as a guy who always has thought very highly of Shanny.

Kudos to Marvin Lewis for working around Mike Brown very effectively. A completely healthy Carson Palmer helps.

Culpepper is mobile again, which means he has a chance to be a competent qb again. Not that I would bet on it.

I guess the Singletary approach has it limits. I was really surprised to see the 49ers play so poorly, especially on defense.

Between Dre Bly and the idiot Rams wr who did an extended touchdown dance when his team was down 31-10 in the fourth quarter, we can safely say that the Force of Stupidity remains formidable.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

"I was not surprised to see Boller faint at the sight of an oncoming Kevin Williams"

Did that happen before or after KW nearly took Boller's head off when dragging him down by the earhole? It didn't look intentional or malicious to me, but I wouldn't blame Boller for having nightmares about ol' number 93.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Will - agree with you one game against a bad team doesn't tell you much but 6 road wins in a row and 5 by more than 14 points is definitely a sign of a much better team than we've seen in Minnesota in quite some time.

One thing that's been nice about the Childress era for Viking fans - his teams have very rarely been blown out (14+ points). He's had 12 such wins and only 3 such losses, two of which came in 2006.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Well, I've been hard on The Chiller for signing one lousy qb after another, until he got lucky enough to have something fall into his lap, namely a 40 year old Hall of Famer, who had a previous relationship with The Chiller, and who knew the offense as well as The Chiller, and who, amazingly, still has a very good fastball, but I also have thought that a lot of the crticism of The Chiller has been misplaced.

Strangely enough, the playcalling improved dramatically, once there was a qb who could use the entire field. It has appeared to me that Childress is a pretty effective communicator, for all the flack he received about the manner such players as Marcus Robinson and Troy Williamson were cut. If nothing else, Childress effectively communicated that sucking while putting forth an unprofessional effort was a good way to get kicked off the team, which strikes me as fairly wise. Childress has shown himself to be flexible in response to feedback from veterans worth listening to, like Antione Winfield or Pat Williams. An owner could do worse than Brad Childress, and many often have.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

The Broncos 1960 uniforms are exceedingly awful but, if wearing them means wins against tough opponents, they can keep wearing them all season.

Nolan gets HUGE props for the turn around the Denver defense has made this year.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Just to start this weeks grammar topic. Why do people say 'I could care less' are these people totally stupid?

It should be 'I Couldn't care less!'

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

You're technically right, but I believe "could" began, long ago, as sarcasm: "yeah, really, like I could possibly care less about this...." but over the years, the tone deaf have conflated the two and lost the sweet sting of sarcasm.

pity.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Literally, you'd be correct. But the expression "I could care less" is meant to be a snarky implication of "I COULD care less, but it would be exceedingly difficult to do so."

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Random comments: Thanks, Aaron for b-slapping Collinsworth for his "greatest ever" conversation, rife with inconsistencies in just one sentence! What a tool he can be.

Those NE unis were sweet. Something about white--I like 'em better than the powder blues in SD.

I am so pissed I couldn't watch the Bears this weekend. I'm calling my cable provider today.

Crazy stats day: Every QB NOT over 300 yards take a step back. Now every WR under 200 yds? Good. Were there like five 200 yd rushing games I missed? Or a Bettis-FF-Special 5 carries, 11 yds, 3 TDs?

Hey, that Jared Allen guy is okay. One might say, he's Favretastic.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Bobman, at a minimum, I think Peyton signed a long term lease, as opposed to a short-term rental. I keep watching the crowd shots during Colts games, trying to spot the fella with the pointed ears and horns.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Will, Come on, still with the Faustian conspiracy theory? If Manning signed a pact with the devil, would Reggie Wayne have just flat-out dropped that sure TD pass? I don't think so. Or maybe that constitutes breach of contract by Mephistopheles (remembering to boost the youngsters' talents but failing to keep his evil eye on Reggie).

Keep looking, though; ya never know.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Bobman, THAT is just the sorta thing ol' Mephi does to throw you off your suspicion! Just wait until my stubbled jeans-modeling hero shows up in Miami, and casts some Holy Water on your soul-leasing slinger, during the coin toss in February! A global audience will witness the righteousness of pitching flat-screen televisions, compared to the wretchedness of being a flak for sugar-filled cookie sandwiches!

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

The Chris Collinsworth comment was mind-boggling. It was tossed out there with no support, almost Bayless-ian in its attempt to be contrary, and even when Collinsworth realized his mistake there was no effort to take it back. If anything, Chris proved the opposite of the point he was trying to make: when given the descriptor "greatest quarterback of all time" one of the first names his mind came up with was a guy who hadn't ever won a single Super Bowl. It was almost stream of conscious like.

The only thing more mind-boggling than that conversation was the Reggie Wayne dropped TD pass. I'm actually still in disbelief that Reggie let one get away like that.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Mike Nolan for coach of the year. What he's done is more incredible than what Williams has accomplished given the apparent lack of 'talent' he was assumed to be working with. The transformation in Dumervil alone is astonishing. This was a historically bad defense last season, per DVOA. I ridiculed McDaniels before the season, and while I still think he was wrong in how he handled the Cutler thing, he clearly has some idea what he's doing.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I was one of McDaniels' advocates on these boards before the season. Several of us Patriots fans were trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to convince Denver fans that they were actually getting a good coach.

He did mishandle the Cutler thing, but rookie coaches inevitably make some mistakes, and from what I read about the whole situation, I think Cutler and Cutler's agent are as much to blame, and Bowlen even more so, than McDaniels. And anyway, would the Broncos be in a better position right now with Cutler? They couldn't possibly have more wins than they do right now, and while their offense would certainly be more dynamic, it would also be more mistake prone (I think another poster already pointed out that it's possible, with Cutler in there, they they have more than zero real interceptions right now, in which case they may not win one of these games that they did win).

Anyway, I've long maintained that head coaches often excel at the area that is NOT their specialty...i.e. "defensive" guys like Dungy build good offenses, and "offensive" guys like Billick build good defenses. I think it has to deal with personal hubris and familiarity with variety...an offensive guy necessarily knows how to beat a wide variety of defenses, so will design a defense with the tools he has to minimize these vulnerabilities. But he generally knows one offensive system really well (his own) and was ostensibly hired to install that system, so he'll try to fit his players into it even if they're a square peg-round hole. Likewise defensive coaches knowing a wide variety of offenses so they design the best possible defense, but think it's their way or the highway on defense.

So it doesn't surprise me that the Broncos have a better defense than offense under McDaniels. I'm just surprised it happened so quickly. Of course, I'm sure Nolan is a big help too, and deserves a huge share of the credit.

Frankly, even though I'm a Patriots fan first and foremost, the fact that I like McDaniels, and that the Broncos have gotten rid of the whiny prima donna, and that I love defensive football, has made me root for the Broncos this year. So this Pats loss doesn't sting as badly as it should.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I'm tuly amazed that I have not yet seen anywhere even a mention of the truly hideous, Norv-Turner-Andy-Reed-and-Brad-Childress-trying-to-outdo-each-other-couldn't-have-topped-it, game management by McDaniels at the end of overtime.

You are in FG range in overtime, your QB was almost intercepted not three plays ago, and insted of goign for the FG on third down, or at least running up the middle to try and center the ball, youcall a pass into the end-zone? That was a certain interception dropped by the DB? That was the answer to the question "What if the 2007 Bill Bellichick had sustained brain damage but insisted on coaching?"

If the DB doesn't drop that INT, EVERYONE is laying in on McDaniels for blowing that game for a petty, run-up-the-score in freaking overtime call. And even after the drop I was sure people would still at least comment on it, but no such luck.

And the way McDaniels acted after the FG? Complete disgrace. When even Bill Billichek is getting off the field with a "what the hell is wrong with this guy?" face, you know it's serious. All that was made during the game that McDaniels was the one Billiciple that didn't end up on bad terms with the grim-faced one, and Billicheck even goes looking for McD-bag, only to have him completely ignore him..

As a Bears fan I wish nothing but the best to Orton, who I think was underrated last season, but I can't wait for the incerdibly dumb luck they've had to run out and the Broncos to be pummeled to the ground several times this season. I now hate McD-bad almost as much as I hate Princess.

- Alvaro

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Yes, that was rather curious, and it did seem rather run up the scorish and arrogant. I can't account for it, except for the fact that the Broncos had already missed one 40-ish yard FG, and McDaniels wanted to actually try to get in closer. And running wasn't doing it, especially when you RB is prone to fumbling. But I agree that fade passes to the end zone don't make a lot of sense...

The impression I got was that Belichick and McDaniels had trouble finding each other because they were both being chased by too many camermen...

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

I heard it reported that Belichik suggested before the game that the post game handshake be eschewed for a simple wave/salute after the game. Bud Grant always made that suggestion to the opposing coach. I also heard it reported that McDaniels and Belichik did talk inside the stadium afterwords, and it was a warm exchange. Maybe these reports are false, but it would seem that describing McDaniels behavior as a "complete disgrace" is a rather large stretch.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

"And the way McDaniels acted after the FG? Complete disgrace. When even Bill Billichek is getting off the field with a "what the hell is wrong with this guy?" face, you know it's serious"

BigCheese, are you seriously suggesting anyone should take coaching etiquette notes from BB? The 30-second SB loss interview remind you of anything? Not saying the name of a former colleague remind you of anyone? Dead-fishing more handshakes than a presidential candidate remind you of anyone? Please.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Uhh.. no. I'm suggesting that when even BB, who is known for having NO coaching etiquette whatsoever, thinks that you're being classless, that means you're on a whole other level.

It's like if I said "When Ann Coulter thinks you're going too far with your Democrat-bashing, you know you've gone too far." At no point does that imply that one should take non-bashing advice from Coulter.

Now, if they indeed agreed on this before the game, and they had a cordial meeting inside, well, then my point is moot. But it really didn't seem like it from the shots I saw. BB was indeed looking for McDaniels, but McD-Bag made absolutely 0 effort to look for him. None whatsoever. And the way BB kept looking back as he walked off the field, even seeming to want to stop and go back, makes me really wonder if they indeed agreed to just wave (which they didn't do either, come to think of it) beforehand.

- Alvaro

180 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 5

Except Raider Joe has never inferred an entire manifesto from a facial expression as viewed from a one-second TV shot. I'll take drunk-and-optimistic over creepy, hallucinogenic faux mind-reader any day.