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

Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Audibles at the Line: Week 6
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

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. Well, except this week.)

Houston Texans 28 at Cincinnati Bengals 17

Vince Verhei: Matt Schaub is going to end up with a pretty great day, DYAR-wise, but the receivers are doing more than their fair share -- a lot of the yards, especially the big plays (the Steve Slaton touchdown, a screen to Andre Johnson) have come after the catch.

Mike Tanier: You will see a lot of that from Schaub. He will also mix in a bunch of "what was he thinking" throws and just some wobbly passes.

Aaron Schatz: I like Carson Palmer a lot, but at some point we have to admit he has a weird problem throwing dumpoffs. The Bengals' running backs have been at the bottom of the league in DYAR year after year and I'm starting to wonder if it has to do with the quarterback. The Bengals had split backs in the third quarter with Daniel Coats in the backfield as fullback, and Palmer is under pressure, he throws to Coats over on the left side. Not only is Coats not really particularly open -- there's a defender like three feet in front of him -- but Palmer throws the ball two feet behind Coats, so Coats has to reach back to make the catch and then the defender has the opportunity to smack him, ball comes loose, fumble, recovery Houston. This is just one subjective view of one play, obviously, but it jives with the numbers from the past few years. Bengals running backs seem to specialize in low catch rate and third-down receptions that end nowhere near the sticks.

Robert Weintraub: As for Cincy today, the less said the better. Just one -- is adjusting to non-stop screen passes really that difficult?

St. Louis Rams 20 at Jacksonville Jaguars 23

Tom Gower: The Rams and Jaguars entered today's game having scored, combined, a grand total of 16 points in the first quarter this season, all of which were scored by the Jaguars and 10 of which came against the Titans. After one possession by each team, they've scored 13 (Jags flubbed the XP).

Doug Farrar: Discussion question: If the Rams lose to the Jaguars today, they will have lost their last 16 games, and it could be argued quite convincingly that they’ve been as bad as the 2008 Lions all the way. Should that carry the same stigma as a winless season does, or is it kind of a reverse Tiger Slam? To me, it’s even worse, because you have an offseason to deal with what ails your team.

Bill Barnwell: Well, what's the worst streak of consecutive losses across multiple seasons?

Tom Gower: 26. '76 Bucs 0-14, 77 started 0-12 before winning their last 2.

With Donnie Avery's hip injury today leaving him doubtful to return, the Rams' healthy, active wideouts were Danny Amendola, Keenan Burton, and Tim Carter, who wasn't on the roster three weeks ago and got hurt two plays after the announcers mentioned Avery's injury. TE Daniel Fells is now injured as well. Steven Jackson, you have my sympathies.

Later on...

Tom Gower: Wow. Jags up 13-10, trying to run out the clock. Garrard's throwing the ball to Greg Jones on a swing out of the backfield, but Leonard Little reads the play, peels off the right tackle, makes a nice grab to steal the ball away from Jones and outraces Garrard 38 yards for the end zone. Fantastic play by Little.

Baltimore Ravens 31 at Minnesota Vikings 33

Mike Kurtz: I'm sorry, but Brad Childress looks like a child-molesting high school teacher. I'm not sure I can take the vikings seriously with him as
their coach.

Michael Oher being praised by Dan Dierdorf for essentially holding Jared Allen. This is going to be an interesting game.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, Mike, I think of it as "Brad Childress: The Rabbinic Years." I guess we have different cultural touchstones.

Mike Tanier: When did the NFL stop calling offensive picks? Percy Harvin just blocked Bernard Berrian's defender on a slant route for a Vikings touchdown. He really just lowered his shoulder and blocked, it wasn't a rub or a wipe, it was a block. Brett Favre is kicking butt early, but it helps when plays like that go uncalled.

Doug Farrar: Same time the NFL decided that any hit without a text beforehand (I M GONNA TCKL U NOW WATCH OUT!) was unnecessary roughness.

Mike Kurtz: Dierdorf, on the Vikings TO after only 9 men on the field: "I believe it's always best to start with your full complement of players."

The Vikings are just cutting up the Ravens' secondary, and there's been little pressure on Favre thus far. I think the loss of Rex Ryan is much bigger than the loss of Bart Scott... the Vikings are easily finding the seams and, on the most recent touchdown throw, defenders are missing assignments and running into each other. It's really sloppy thus far, although the run defense has been decent.

Bill Barnwell: Michael Oher is having a day that not even Sandra Bullock could fix. A false start earlier, a hurry or two, and Jared Allen just strip-sacked Joe Flacco for another Vikings defensive touchdown.

Well, until the refs say it was an incomplete pass.

Vince Verhei: I think the deal with the Flacco non-fumble is that referees are now allowing close fumbles to play out without blowing the whistle, then discussing to determine whether the runner was down or not. That way we avoid the "the ball was fumbled, but the whistle blew the play dead so the recovery doesn't count" debacles we've seen in the past. They did the same thing last week in Cincinnati-Baltimore.

Sean McCormick: Yeah, I thought the refs handled that well. You need to let the play run to conclusion, then go back and check. Flacco clearly maintained control as his arm went forward, even though Allen did strike his hand.

Mike Kurtz: After spending the first half picking apart the Ravens' secondary, the Vikes have switched to power running with Peterson. The adjustment has paid off thus far on this drive, Baltimore is respecting the pass and getting blown off the line.

The Ravens' offense has finally come alive. Flacco worked the sidelines on a long touchdown drive pretty much all the way down the field, including 3 third down conversions. At the end, Rice broke loose and scored.

Favre is getting a lot of press, but his receivers are really bailing him out. In the first two drives (two touchdowns), Favre was consistently throwing behind his receivers, and they (primarily Rice) were making excellent catches. Just now Favre threw a fade about 10 feet over the receiver's head. He has not looked great.

Dierdorf, in response to this awful throw, has spent the past 5 minutes babbling about Favre, with random quotes included. Shoot me now.

Aaron Schatz: We all know the Minnesota run defense is really good, and I think there's a reason people don't talk about. Those linemen have great instincts and reaction time. It seems like even if a back can break through that first line of blocking, some Minnesota defender is reaching back and grabbing a hold of a the back's ankle or leg, something to slow him down or take him down after a short gain.

Bill Barnwell: Ray Rice just sprinted through the Vikings defense for his second touchdown of the day, giving the Ravens a 31-30 lead. What were the odds of both backs in Baltimore vs. Minnesota having a huge game?

...and Favre responds by finding Frank Walker matched up in single coverage 50 yards downfield against Sidney Rice for a huge gain. Of course, a huge hold right in front of a rolled-out Favre goes uncalled.

Dan Dierdorf says over a shot of a desolate Joe Flacco, "Flacco must be asking himself who that #4 guy is." You know, because Brett Favre's gone unreported during Flacco's childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

Mike Kurtz: Not quite playing for the tie, but the Vikes just shut down their offense in the red zone and appear to be settling for a FG that would put them up by 2. With 2 minutes left. Against a Baltimore offense that just torched them on two consecutive quick TD drives. What?

Luckily for the Vikings, Brett Favre uses his magic mind-control powers to make Hauschka the winning FG wide. Good acquisition.

Doug Farrar: I'll say this about Flacco -- he showed excellent pocket awareness, especially late in the game. Good movement to get out of trouble while maintaining his reads and getting the ball off under pressure.

New York Giants 27 at New Orleans Saints 48

Bill Barnwell: The Saints offense is pretty simple so far. On first and second down, isolate weak links in the passing game and run when there's space available. They still have to convert on third down, though, and that was tricky; Drew Brees threw a quick slant to Lance Moore when Corey Webster stumbled and Webster still had his hands on it and nearly picked it off. I'm not an NFL quarterback, but Webster isn't the guy I'd target in that defense. C.C. Brown, on the other hand....

The Saints' second touchdown comes when Marques Colston lines up essentially at his old position of tight end (fantasy leaguers can dream) and gets matched up in zone against Antonio Pierce; predictably, Colston runs a seam, Pierce can't keep up, and Brown gets looked off long enough to drop a great throw in.

Well, until the refs say he was down at the one.

Mike Tanier: During Gamebreaks, James Brown is talking about what the Saints are doing to the "NFL's #1 Defense" I think the Giants defense is very good, but do we all have to shut our brains off when reciting these official stats? They have played the Redskins, Chiefs, Bucs and Raiders. How shocking to think they may have a few flaws that those teams couldn't exploit!

Bill Barnwell: Everything the Giants are doing offensively is vertical, usually going towards the goalposts on seams and deep posts. Unfortunately, the Saints are either tipping passes away, or Eli Manning's overthrowing them.

We might have to add Darren Sharper to the list of guys who seem to have some skill at returning turnovers for touchdowns, alongside Ed Reed and DeAngelo Hall. Freaky.

Very questionable pass interference call against Corey Webster where the receiver got caught up in Webster's feet, but the call was that Webster was "not playing the ball". Of course, it didn't look like he was playing the ball because the receiver was turning and got caught up in Webster's feet.

Sean McCormick: The Jets' defensive performance against New Orleans is looking better and better with each Saints drive. New Orleans is having tremendous success forcing the Giants linebackers into coverage and taking advantage, whether it's making them cover Reggie Bush out in the flats or taking advantage of linebackers who are providing bracket coverage on deep post patterns.

Right now, it's all working for the Saints.

Mike Tanier: At half, this looks like the kind of game the Saints found a way to lose last year. They are up by 10, but they just missed a goal line opportunity to score a touchdown, and the way they are playing, the Giants shouldn't even be in the game.

Bill Barnwell: It was the right move to go for it, though, and I think they actually made it and got screwed by a bad call that it was impossible to overturn.

Tom Gower: Agreed with Mr. Barnwell, but that was an excellent play by Osi Umenyiora to get to the right place and stand up Pierre Thomas.

Eli fumblesacked, almost fumble-6. First-and-goal again for the Saints, it appears.

Doug Farrar: A Reggie Bush sighting!

The Saints have had success today running outside in the red zone (sometimes by holding, as Heath Evans found out), and they blew open a serious lane for Bush to roll in for the touchdown at the end of the first half.

Bill Barnwell: Giants scheme for this Saints game is totally wrong. They're rushing three and four and dropping seven or eight into coverage, and Brees is picking the mismatches apart in man and finding huge cracks in their zones. You've got the best pass rush in football. Blitz Brees and confuse him.

C.C. Brown is just having a terrifyingly bad game.

Doug Farrar: Darren Sharper batted away a pass to Mario Manningham in the end zone with 12 minutes left in the game. If he didn't have it already (or if Aqib Talib had two or more today), that play should break the tie Sharper had with Michael Huff of the Raiders for the NFL lead in passes defensed with 10. So it's the lead in picks AND deflections for a guy who was thought to be hanging on with a one-year contract in New Orleans. Not bad!

Cleveland Browns 14 at Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Doug Farrar: The Browns have wisely decided to do away with the traditional quarterback concept altogether, instead putting Josh Cribbs in shotgun a lot early on with a lot of their Flash package stuff. Cribbs threw an early pick to Troy Polamalu, who came up limping, Ouch.

Bill Barnwell: The problem with the Wildcat as a red zone offense for me is that you can't manipulate the safeties, since there's no space behind them. The Steelers split out Polamalu in coverage and the Browns are targeting him, but they can't do anything with Cribbs as the quarterback there.

Doug Farrar: Back to Josh Cribbs, who returned a kickoff 98 yards for that rarest of all things: a Cleveland touchdown. If he throws a touchdown pass today as well, I think Cribbs should be allowed to tear up his current contract in a public ceremony.

Mike Kurtz: Willie Parker? What? Did the steelers brass not watch the past two weeks?

This is a nightmare.

Two quarters later…

Mike Kurtz: Why is Willie Parker playing. Why. Why. Why.

Play-action, Parker runs out, the Browns… do whatever it is the browns do, there is nobody within 20 yards of him. Catches the ball. Then falls down. A few seconds later, he gets up and runs for another 4 yards before he's tackled.

Next play, simple off-tackle, home clear, gets hit high by one guy and coughs up the ball, Browns recover.

Why are you doing this to us, Tomlin? Why?

Carolina Panthers 28 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21

Doug Farrar: The return of Cadillac Williams is an underreported story because his team stinks on ice, but it's pretty miraculous to watch the cuts he's making after all the knee problems. Specifically, the SICK cut to the left on the
run that put the Bucs up a touchdown on the Panthers early in the first quarter.

David Gardner: The Bucs offense has moved the ball down quickly on their first two possessions, thanks to Josh Johnson's accuracy and much-improved play from the wide receivers.

Bill Barnwell: Dante Wesley just hit Clifton Smith, waiting for a punt, with one of the dirtiest hits you'll ever see. Smith called for a fair catch and, with the ball about to land in maybe a second, Wesley lept in the air and leveled Smith with something straight out of NFL Blitz or the XFL's marketing plan, knocking Smith unconscious and starting a huge brawl.

Doug Farrar: Oh, jeez – I just saw the Wesley hit. With all the legitimate talk about the league getting too ticky-tack on roughness calls, that was waaaaaay out of order. He’s about to get a lot lighter in the wallet.

Tom Gower: The Panthers got a first and goal at the 12 with 1:54 left. The Bucs burned up their time outs and CAR converted for first and goal from with 1. With the Bucs unable to stop the clock and having the ability to win the game by taking a couple knees and kicking a 19 yard field goal, DeAngelo Williams gets the ball on first-and-goal and scores. I'm really not sure I like that move by Fox.

Kansas City Chiefs 14 at Washington Redskins 6

Doug Farrar: Washington’s defense is playing like absolute garbage. They’re getting gashed by Larry Johnson (!), and DeAngelo Hall is playing so far off Dwayne Bowe, he may need a passport if he decides to bump-and-run later in the game.

Bill Barnwell: That last fade before the Chiefs field goal was a comedy of errors. Cassel overthrew the fade by three yards, so it didn't matter that Hall fell down in his backpedal.

Doug Farrar: Great way for the Redskins to end the first half. They go shotgun on fourth-and-2 at the KC 35 with six seconds left on the clock. Campbell rolls around in the pocket, just long enough to insure that there’s no time left, and throws a pick to Brandon Flowers. As far as I could see, all three Washington receivers ran what amounted to straight downfield routes – not a single sideline pattern for an anemic offense that could use a 3-3 tie at the end of the half, even if it is against the Chiefs. You don’t go Hail Mary there, Zornie – you get a quick out for 10 and kick the damned field goal.

On replay, fourth receiver Antwaan Randle El ran a skinny post from the right slot. THAT makes sense.

Washington brings in Todd Collins and benches Jason Campbell

Mike Tanier: Oh my, ladies and gentlemen: a Todd Collins sighting..

Bill Barnwell: Clinton Portis promptly busts out a career-high 78-yard run. Must have been Jason Campbell's handoffs holding the Redskins offense back.

Doug Tanier: After that, the Redskins enjoy the following third-quarter red zone sashay:

First Down: Empty backfield, Todd Collins overthrow in the end zone.
Second Down: Empty backfield, Todd Collins overthrow in the end zone.
Third Down: Single-back, four-wide, Collins pass deflected at the line.

As a longtime Seattle resident, I love me some Jim Zorn, but it’s pretty clear that this Redskins thing needs to end.

Tom Gower: But ... but ... but ... Clinton Portis never would've run for 78 yards with Campbell still in there. Collins so inspires the team they've scored points the first two drives he's been in there.

Doug Farrar: Yes, and the receivers all would have run the right routes on the last stupid playcall if only “Toddball” (©The Washington Post) had been in there at the end of the first half.

Bill Barnwell: And now the Redskins-Chiefs feed is out nationwide. I wonder if Collins can fix that, too.

CBS color commentator notes after a two-yard run on first-and-10 that the Chiefs are doing a good job of getting Larry Johnson the rock and that once he gets up around 25 carries, the Chiefs usually win. Good job with that.

Matt Cassel just pulled an Orlovsky, scrambling two yards ahead of the line of scrimmage before (temporarily) throwing a pass for a first down.

Vince Verhei: Cut to Todd Haley, who just has his arms crossed, staring at the ground and shaking his head.

Aaron Schatz: Wait, I thought Orlovsky was known for forgetting where the back of the end zone was? That's not an Orlovsky, that's a Favre. I bet if you go into the big FO pbp database, half the penalties for illegal forward pass over the last 15 years were by Brett Favre (well, not counting penalties on end-game lateral-fests).

Bill Barnwell: I just consider Orlovsky as the patron saint for quarterbacks with absolutely no sense of awareness.

Vince Verhei: Would Reverse-Orlovsky be appropriate?

Doug Farrar: Oh, dear. Matt Cassel throws high to Dwayne Bowe, driving late, and Bowe gets alligator arms on the high stuff as LaRon Landry is diving to lay him out. Bowe does a half-jump and pulls up. Still, the Chiefs pull ahead, 9-6, on Ryan Succop's third field goal of the day. If that's the way the score stays, I'll bet money on Jerry Gray being Washington's interim head coach next week.

Vince Verhei: Washington has the ball down 6 with 30 seconds to go. In an attempt to pull off a miracle, Todd Collins is sacked in the end zone. Pretty much sums up the Zorn era, doesn't it?

Bill Barnwell: The Chiefs haven't been great this year, but Tamba Hali is showing real skill as a outside linebacker.

Doug Farrar: Don’t forget the kickoff penalty on the usually invisible Fred Davis to put the Skins in that hole in the first place. They can (and should) fire Zorn -- the guy is clearly in about five stories above his own head -- but without a major, major change in thinking in that front office, it doesn’t matter one bit who replaces him. Dan Snyder needs to do two things: Hire a great GM and stay the hell out of his way. As he will do neither, this team is in major trouble.

Aaron Schatz: Anyone want to check the manifests for all flights from Denver to Washington tonight?

Vince Verhei: Shanahan? Why would he want that job? He can wait three months and something better will open up. And "something better" would be pretty much anywhere else except Oakland.

Philadelphia Eagles 9 at Oakland Raiders 13

Bill Barnwell: JaMarcus Russell's first pass is too high, off the receiver's fingertips, and picked off in Oakland. Looks like a gorgeous fall day there, while the snow comes down in New England. Why did I move again?

Vince Verhei: On the first play of the Raiders' second drive, Russell is sacked for a 10-yard loss. Every team gives up sacks once in a while, but when the Raiders do it, it just looks funnier. Russell play-fakes to a pair of running backs, both of whom move to the left to pass block. Then Russell kind of pirouettes back into something resembling a passing stance. Then one of the runners blows his block and his man takes Russell down.

Mike Tanier: Nnamdi Asomugha is out for the Raiders. That said, I wish the Eagles would run once. in. a. while.

(How many times have I typed that in the past five years? 25?)

Bill Barnwell: Zach Miller with an absurd 86-yard touchdown pass where he finds a hole behind Jeremiah Trotter, the Eagles blow about three tackles, and he gets a couple blocks downfield. I thought that the Eagles were going to struggle with Trotter in coverage, but ... not like that.

Tom Gower: To be fair, that was some fantastic downfield blocking by Louis Murphy, who destroyed the CB, and blocked the safety. It's still a good gain with normal (bad) blocking, but Murphy made that TD. Also Miller's first TD in over a year, I believe.

Bill Barnwell: And then McNabb follows it with a pick-six to Stanford Routt that ends up being called back for a VERY questionable amount of pass interference.

Vince Verhei: To back up Tanier's point: At the end of the first quarter: LeSean McCoy has two carries, and Brian Westbrook and Michael Vick have one each. Meanwhile, the Eagles have run 14 pass plays. On the other hand, those four carries have netted one total yard, so maybe they should pass every play.

Bill Barnwell: Andy Reid -- Mr. I Never Go For It -- goes for it on fourth-and-inches from his OWN 29 and makes it on a McNabb sneak. About time.

All year, the Raiders have been rushing four and getting no pressure. This week, they're lining up linebackers in the A-gaps for blitzes, creating confusion, and Jason Peters' injury has resulted in the left side of their line getting destroyed. Richard Seymour's killing them, but there's other problems there with communication; on one play, the two linemen (King Dunlap at left tackle and, maybe, Todd Herremans at left guard?) didn't even come out of their stances until 1.5 seconds after the snap.

Mike Tanier: Eagles are having one of THOSE games. Jason Peters is hurt but Reid isn't giving the replacement much help. McNabb got sacked out of field goal range near the end of the first half. The special teams just failed to down an easy-to-down punt at the 2-yard line. And JaMarcus Russell is 9-of-11.

9-of-11

9-of-11.

JaMarcus Russell.

Everyone is just playing dumb. One of those infuriating games, like the Bengals game last year.

Okay, now he is 10-of-13 but with a pick.

Ooh. Eagles call 4th timeout! Then McNabb is sacked on a ragged start by the offensive line! Maybe there is lead in the paint in Oakland.

Missed field goal by David Akers. The hits just keep on coming. And now the Raiders offensive line is suddenly good.

Tim Gerheim: Imagine: you're the Raiders facing fourth and one. You have a 260 lb. QB who's completing about 40% of his passes. Do you try sneaking it maybe, or throw a deep out? Sneak it you say? Sorry, you've just made yourself ineligible to coach the Raiders.

Mike Tanier: How about if you coach your fat QB that when he rolls out, if there is no defensive containment whatsoever, he must just take the easy first down? That would also be too much for the Raiders, Who are winning,

DeSean Jackson just got hurt while being tackled 5 yards out of bounds. No flag.

There's a pigeon on the field that is currently outplaying the Eagles offense.

Vince Verhei: The Oakland Pigeon is now on the highlights, accompanying the Raiders on their kickoff coverage.

Bill Barnwell: This Eagles game really is a 2006-08 special. Raiders recovering multiple fumbles (or fumbles don't get called), tipped Russell passes that hit the ground, intentional grounding calls that go unwhistled...

Mike Tanier: Anyone watching a good game? Just curious who I should be jealous of.

Meanwhile, in Monday Night Jihad, there's a Italian tight end (from Italy, a guy from the Elamverse's version of NFLEurope) who speaks German, married an American woman just weeks after entering the US, and receives suspicious phone calls just minutes (in book time) after the terrorists call their boss for instructions.

Am I going to read about an Afgani terrorist who can pass for an Italian tight end? Don't know whether to laugh or cry. Or call John Spagnola and tell him to sue.

Vince Verhei: Raiders finish off the Eagles. Last bit of drama: Will Tom Cable and Andy Reid be able to shake hands, or will their respective enormous
bellies get in the way, leaving them waving their arms at each other like obese tyrannosaurs?

They're reaching out, and ... success! We have a handshake!

Mike Tanier: Then Cable and Reid ate the friggin pigeon.

Mike Kurtz: Wait, what? Did the Eagles really only have single-digit runs this week? Reid panicked or something?

Sean McCormick: The Raiders were demolishing the Eagles offensive line all day. It almost looked like they knew the snap count better than the Eagles, as they were repeatedly moving before the linemen could get out of their stances.

Arizona Cardinals 27 at Seattle Seahawks 3

Vince Verhei: Boy, this first drive has been exactly what you would expect: Seahawks getting pressure off the edge, but Warner hanging in there and completing passes to giant wide receivers who are playing against outmatched Smurfs. Warner passes convert on third-and-2 or less three times on the drive, which ends in a Larry Fitzgerald touchdown. Warner went 9-for-9 on the drive.

Doug Farrar: Don't you dare say anything against Tim Ruskell's Smurfs! You're always better off with short, quick cornerbacks because other people don't see their value and you can get them for a steal and look like the genius you are! And that's why you overdraft them in the first and second rounds! Or something like that!

Vince Verhei: I'm not a fan of Jim Mora and his staff at all, but whoever designed and called that fake punt deserves high praise. John Carlson just stepped out into the flat and no Cardinals made even an attempt to cover him, and Carlson rambled for a big gain.

Of course, the Seahawks were caught off guard by their own success, and following the successful fake punt they had to call timeout to get a play called. Drive eventually ends with a sack on third-and-goal, and Seahawks kick a field goal to go down 17-3.

Matt Hasselbeck is sacked for the fourth time. Play ends with both tackles sitting on the ground, looking back at the defenders who ran over them and took Hasselbeck down.

Bill Barnwell: Lofa Tatupu is out for the year. Thoughts, Seattle crew?

Vince Verhei: S--t. For whatever this is worth, Mora and the staff were getting excoriated, just ravaged on sports radio afterwards. Fans and radio guys alike are already sick of him. I don't think I've seen this city turn on a coach so quickly.

Doug Farrar: Mora isn't the problem. He isn't the solution, but he isn't the problem. He isn't the one who thought that David Greene was the Seahawks' quarterback of the future. He isn't the one who let Steve Hutchinson dangle on the open market over a $600,000 tag difference, despite the fact that the Eagles had shown interest in poison-pilling for Hutch a few months before. He isn’t the one who plucked Julius Jones from the Cowboys as if it was some sort of epic win, when Jones would be Dallas' fourth-best running back right now. He wasn't the one who gave up a first-round pick and a $39 million contract to a ball-dropping, constantly hurt Santana Moss Lite. And he wasn't the one who did nothing to replace Walter Jones despite the age and microfracture concerns. No, moving Sean Locklear to left tackle doesn't count in the least.

If people want to rip the architect of this disaster, they need look no further than Tim Ruskell. Mora shouldn't be taking the bullets for this -- he's just the caretaker of a comatose patient. Mike Holmgren found it more and more difficult to win with Ruskell's personnel moves after the first Super Bowl year. Any coach would.

Tennessee Titans 0 at New England Patriots 59

Aaron Schatz: Hello from Gillette Stadium, where FO makes its first-ever press box appearance. It is 45 minutes to kickoff and, I kid you not, SNOWING.

Laurence Maroney with a 41-yard touchdown through a HUGE hole from Stephen Neal and rookie Sebastian Vollmer, who is playing left tackle with Matt Light out.

The Pats CB were giving guys a ton of space in previous games. Don't know if it is the Tennessee receivers or the weather, but this week they are playing very close to the line before the snap.

Titans are down to four corners because of injuries: rookies Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton, a second-year guy named Cary Williams with only three NFL games before today (who went to a college called Washburn that I've never heard of), and recently signed FO binky Roderick Hood. Man, are the Titans happy about the weather, although the wind didn't stop Brady from hitting a wide open Welker downfield for nearly 40 yards.

Bill Barnwell: I would like to disassociate myself from being binky for Roderick Hood if at all possible.

Doug Farrar: Duly noted. Barnwell says, Life of Brian-style: “Wewease Wodewick!”

Aaron Schatz: Pats hit Randy Moss deep for 40-yard touchdown on Flea Flicker. Can anyone remember which Audibles last year I ran through some numbers for Flea Flickers? I seem to remember doing it at one point. Great percentage play.

Tom Gower: I'm glad next week is the bye week. I'll need the full 13 days to come up with a list of "things to look forward to after an 0-6 start with 20 starters back off a team that was 13-3." Or at least one thing.

Vince Verhei: Two notes on Brady's second touchdown to Moss: First, the roughing penalty was a blatant head-to-head hit. How can you not be cognizant of that kind of thing after the Brady-Ravens hullabaloo?

Secondly, are the Titans defensive backs even trying anymore? It seems like they'd rather just stand around and point at each other than even try to cover anyone. The corner just jogged by at half-speed as Moss blew by him, and the safety reacted late, then sort of sauntered over to at least be in the picture as Moss went into the end zone.

Aaron Schatz: Tom, what the hell? You watch this team every week. We can talk about Albert Haynesworth and all that, but the Titans brought back the entire offense from last year. What on earth happened to this offense? They look AWFUL. We're halfway through the second quarter and I am not sure if Collins even has a completed pass.

Tom Gower: I think a lot of it is a coaching issue. The corners are all young, except Hood who's been on the team for 3 days, but the safeties are veterans. I'm now starting to believe DC Chuck Cecil isn't communicating effectively, or may just be terrible at gameplanning.

Aaron Schatz: The defense, yes, has tons of injuries in the secondary and has to adapt to the lack of Haynesworth. What the hell is going on with the offense? Same coordinator, same players, no injuries except they were missing Nate Washington for a couple weeks. But what about the offense?

Vince Verhei: Collins has completed two passes -- one to each team.

Tom Gower: Well, this year I didn't write a preview post for my personal blog about how the Titans wouldn't be as good as everybody thought they were going to be, so everything that's happened this year has been my fault.

One problem is that the offense was never actually any good. It was 16th in DVOA last year, and that was probably overrating how good it actually was. They have precisely two skill position players who are at least average, and I'd say Hall is maybe only marginally above average. And, CJ28 is a boom-and-bust runner. One thing I suspect about those guys is they're more inconsistent from year-to-year. This year, he's been going boom a good amount, but he's also been going bust a lot more-something like half his carries are for 0 or negative yardage.

That actually points to the root problem of the offensive problems, and that's that every single member of the offensive line is playing worse than they did last year. Michael Roos has gone from great to pretty good (and he was never a mauler in the run game), they haven't been able to cover for Amano like they did last year, Mawae has struggle, Jake Scott has been bad, and David Stewart looks like he did when he had an ankle injury that caused him problems mid-season in 2007. It's the same five damn guys, they've been together for 2+ years, and Munchak is still the O-line coach. Yet, nothing is working as well as it did last year. I'm completely lost as to what's going on.

What also hasn't helped is the Pats are the fourth 3-4 team they've faced (including the Jags as such), and they've struggled offensively against 3-4 teams for years, both running and passing.

The struggles in the run game, when combined with the defensive struggles, mean they're behind more and having to pass more than they did last year or in '07, and they simply don't have the ingredients to be a good passing team when teams can play to defend the pass.

The frustrating thing about this is there's no easy way to fix what's going on. Sure, you can play Ringer instead of White and see what he can give you (not sure if White will be back today), and Kenny Britt looks promising. Rookie TE Jared Cook may be worth something, but isn't yet (Crumpler's cooked and Scaife isn't any good). Collins hasn't played well, but putting VY in isn't going to fix all your problems in one go, and he's probably gone after this year anyway without a massive pay cut. It really hurts when you blow consecutive top-six picks (Pacman and VY).

I actually thought the Titans would stand a chance in this game when I saw the kickoff weather conditions-something like 13-10 game. The holes in the run game today have really surprised me, plus Brady's success throwing down the field. The drops have also really hurt in the passing game.

Aaron Schatz: It is easier to throw in snow than it is in rain, and the wind has calmed down from what it was when I was driving down here a couple hours ago. The conditions at 2pm were a lot more favorable to the Titans than the conditions at kickoff.

Pats are going four-wide against the Titans, which is just unfair. I mean, the Titans only have four cornerbacks right now, and that's just because they signed one a couple days ago. And how many times have you seen Michael Griffin come up on the screen after a touchdown? Holy crap, it's Brian Hoyer time already.

Two differences noticed between Lincoln Financial press box and Gillette press box:

1) Gillette press box is two floors with food on first floor, seats to watch game and work on second. Lincoln Financial is one floor with the food and stuff behind the work area. It means if you go to get a snack here, you can still see the game, plus they can sit another row of people in front of a window down there.

2) Gillette press box seems a lot quieter during the game. Less talk between reporters. I'm a bit surprised.

Vince Verhei: The more I watch TEN-NE, I see that it's not the the Titans secondary isn't trying it's that they have no cohesion together. They have no idea who's supposed to be covering who, and given the ragtag nature of the lineup, that's understandable, if not acceptable. It's like the corners are playing Cover-2, but the safeties aren't, over and over again. Moss is all alone 15 yards downfield on the right sideline, and catches the ball, and No. 23 gets away with a helmet-to-helmet hit. Moss was down for a while, then recovered. Then Walker gets open 15 yards downfield on the right sideline and scores a touchdown. At this point it's time for Tennessee to do just nutty stuff -- 11-man blitzes, Cover-5 zones, a 2-7-2 formation, whatever, it can't be worse than what they're doing.

Bill Barnwell: Phil Simms says Jeff Fisher should shock the troops at halftime by screaming and turning over garbage cans. My suggestion: Walk into the room, tell everyone to shut up, take out a razor, and shave the mustache.

Doug Farrar: I think Jeff Fisher should give us all a break by screaming and turning over Phil Simms. That said, you may be on to something with the facial hair idea. Joe Flacco is MUCH better since he lost the Unibrow.

Vince Verhei: Trust me on this one: Losing a unibrow makes everyone better.

My buddy and I are discussing different things the Pats can do to handicap themselves. Our favorite so far is for Welker and Moss to tie their ankles together, three-legged race style. I think they'd still get open.

Aaron Schatz: Man, LenDale White is going back to drinking Patron after this game. This is ridiculous.

Tom Gower: For the record, the record for NFL points in a half is 49, set by the Packers against the Buccaneers in 1983 (1st half) and the Bears against the Eagles in 1941 (2nd half). The last team to score 45 in a half was the Seahawks against the Vikings in 2002 (when, IIRC, Shaun Alexander just went nuts).

Aaron, can you see a guy in a red hat on the Titans sideline? I'm wonder if DC Chuck Cecil got killed or committed seppuku at halftime. He probably can't just sit there laughing in despair at this game like I've been.

Aaron Schatz: Believe it or not, I can't see the red hat. Are we sure Cecil was wearing the usual red in the first half? Maybe he's wearing normal blue today because of either the weather or the league rules regarding AFL throwbacks. Thus, without the red to stand out on the sidelines, he can't get the proper signals into his defense. That explains 52-0, right?

Tom Gower: Hmm, maybe he just has it on under a hood or something. I don't recall actually seeing him in the first half, but about all of the sideline shots have been closeups of somebody (normally Fish, sometimes VY).

Bill Barnwell: Kerry Collins slipping on fourth-and-10 down 52 points and having to pitch it to Nate Washington, who then fumbled for a total loss of about 25 yards, is a summation of the Titans' season.

Aaron Schatz: Let the record state that with 7:53 to play in the third quarter, Michigan officially gave way to Michigan State. It is Brian Hoyer time in Foxboro.

The entire Titans team seems to be huddled around the heater on the sidelines. It's at least a dozen guys, and a coach. The Titans are desperate to get out of here.

Tom Gower: Follow-up stat of the day: the Titans and the Patriots each had 193 yards rushing. The only difference in the game, then, was the Patriots had 426 yards passing and the Titans had -7.

Buffalo Bills 16 at New York Jets 13

Sean McCormick: I turned down three different tickets to the Jets game. I don't mind sitting through horrid weather in November and December, but in the middle of October? Grr...

Bill Barnwell: Always good to see the color commentator in Jets-Bills calling for the Jets to challenge on a play where he thought Thomas Jones was down on the one-inch line. Hint: Not good to waste a timeout when you get four chances from the one inch line, even if it's the Jets.

David Gardner: I was listening to the radio play-by-play of the Jets decision to call a time out on fourth and 2, line up to go for it, then take a delay of game and then kick a 44-yard field goal. I agree that it wasn't the smartest move.

What's less smart? The color commentator suggesting that Rex Ryan should have taken a second consecutive timeout, rather than taking the delay of game. Um ... that would have cost them 15 yards, because you can't do that. It's considered unsportsmanlike conduct.

Bill Barnwell: By the way, just noticed when Braylon Edwards was the target of a Mark Sanchez interception -- not a single catch today. That's the Braylon Edwards we know.

Sean McCormick: When Rex Ryan sends his overload blitzes, he generally has a soft zone coverage on the side opposite the blitz. It means that the corner away from the blitz has to be able to immediately take down the receiver should the quarterback throw to his hot read. Instead, Lito Sheppard was caught flat-footed while Lee Evans broke to the inside on a slant, and Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Evans for a simple touchdown.

As for whether or not this is a good game, I would say no. Sanchez is having a horrendous time dealing with the wind, Dustin Keller is having a horrendous job trying to protect his hands from the balls that keep hitting him square in the palms, and the Bills are basically moving the ball on the strength of drawing defensive contact penalties.

A good game it isn't.

Mike Kurtz: Agreed on BUF-NYJ. It's close and it's interesting, but it's really sloppy. Lots of penalties and turnovers and reportedly some nasty wind. Sanchez almost pick-6'd as an LB fails to catch the ball on a jumped slant.

Sean McCormick: Sanchez has thrown three interceptions and nearly chucked a fourth just now. His ball was fluttering when coming off his hand in the first quarter, and he's having trouble getting zip on anything but checkdowns. Mike Lombardi over at National Football Post often talks about how you need to design your team to match the elements you'll play in, and that you absolutely need to make sure your quarterback has the arm strength to cut through the wind if he plays in New York (or in Buffalo, for that matter). Well, Sanchez is probably playing in the worst conditions he's ever experienced at any level, while the Bills have been trotting out Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

As you can imagine, the passing game has been ugly. And there's pick number four for Sanchez.

Oh, and three of the four interceptions were on passes intended for Braylon Edwards.

The Jets try to kick a 50-yard field goal in overtime, but Dennis Weatherford bobbles the snap, so he picks up the ball and tries to chuck it downfield. Interception. That makes five Buffalo interceptions, for those keeping track at home.

The most entertaining part of the game so far has been the titanic war of pronunciation going on between Dan Fouts and Dick Enberg. Dan Fouts will say, "Bad job there by SAN-chez," and Enberg will immediately fire back with, "San-CHEZ looks uncomfortable out there, Dan."

Mike Tanier: The Jets were playing without Cotchery and Brad Smith. That, plus bad conditions and an inexperienced quarterback, equals a hard-to-watch game.

Chicago Bears 14 at Atlanta Falcons 21

Tom Gower: That was a beautiful throw by Jay Cutler for the "TD" to Knox-against the blitz, downfield, where his receiver and nobody else could get to it. I think (Mike) Smith probably should have challenged the call, given his team's offensive struggles early, but I'm not sure it gets overturned.

Mike Kurtz: The Bears are executing exceptionally well .... nobody is doing a particularly impressive job, aside from Cutler (okay, as I say that, he throws the most ugly interception I've seen in non-Mark Sanchez games this week) on that TD throw. What they have done very well this game is execute. They have a game plan, everyone is in the right spot, and they're all doing their jobs well. That's an impressive display of coaching.

Doug Farrar: Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offensive line made some nice adjustments to the Bears' blitz packages in the second quarter, using no-huddle and more quick passes up the middle and to the flats. Just picking apart the short stuff until the Bears had to back off. And yes, as Collinsworth pointed out, Ryan's phantom snap call on the (Danieal) Manning edge blitz was very (Peyton) Manning-esque.

Falcons line coach Paul Boudreau, who did such a great job with the Rams in 2006 and 2007, is an unheralded but crucial part of the team's rebirth.

Mike Kurtz: Hester, JUST RUN FORWARD. The screen, you had three blocks in front of you. Run forward! You are inexplicably wide open and catch the ball in space? Sure, make a cut. But then RUN FORWARD! Hester very probably left a TD on the field around the two-minute warning because of his penchant for unncessary juking and horizontal running.

David Gardner: Does it bother anyone else how wealky Hester finishes his runs? He looks to go out of bounds and avoids contact like the swine flu.

Bill Barnwell: I tend to trust Devin Hester's running instincts and decisions over my own.

Mike Kurtz: And you write about football? On the Internet? You do understand how this Internet thing works, right?

Cutler has been consistently behind his receivers tonight. The receivers have done a good job of compensating, but that's contributed in no small way to their red zone woes.

Aaron Schatz: Somebody on the Atlanta defensive staff needs to spend next week working with the players on turning around and looking for the ball in coverage. That's twice they've gotten defensive pass interference for the same reason, playing the man and not even looking for the ball.

David Gardner: Corners aren't required to turn around and look for the ball anymore, but refs seem still more likely to call PI when they don't.

Will Carroll: It worked for Marvin Harrison. I dont think that guy ever took a big hit. I'm not sure if it was him (I think so) or Dungy (they didn't in TB), but all the Colts guys do it now, even without him here.

And I'll agree. I don't have the vision or skills to know how to run in the NFL. There's lots of things I'll second guess, but if I were a coach, running and vision wouldnt be something I'd coach (though I have some ideas on drills) and I'd encourage avoiding contact on offense.

Aaron Schatz: Right. Because it is easy for a receiver to slow down a bit and now all of a sudden the defender is interfering.

Mike Kurtz: Agreed, the rules favor passing to what I'd argue a disgusting degree ... it's really, really hard to defend effectively, especially with the extra rules protecting the QB arguably taking the edge off your pass rush.

Vince Verhei: Big guys like Brandon Jacobs should run over men. Skinny guys like Devin Hester should hit the deck or get out of bounds and preserve their careers.

Franco Harris was mocked and called soft for ducking out of bounds, but it probably added several years to his career.

Bill Barnwell: As a Giants fan, I would prefer if Brandon Jacobs ran out of bounds, too.

Will Carroll: Interesting about Harris. I have no recollection of those teams aside from NFL Films, but if he's the only one who's kept his head and wits about him, shouldn't we be noting that? There's how many Steelers dead or disabled now from that era (yes, I include Terry Bradshaw in that mix) and with all the articles of the past few months, maybe Harris is an object lesson. Where is he now? I smell an article.

Doug Farrar: I didn’t know about the OB thing, but Shaun Alexander always reminded me most of two guys (and we know all about Shaun’s rep): Harris and Duane Thomas. Thomas for the gliding, deceptively fast style, and Harris for the ability to avoid really hard contact while still getting forward momentum. I could see, especially in the 1970’s, how any back who didn’t drive his head into the line on every play would be viewed as some sort of pansy. That’s very much how things were. On the other hand, some of that talk is born out of frustration. You hate the guy who ghosts you out of the NFL Films tackle, so you call him a wimp because he didn’t go out of his way to bowl you over. Well, his job isn’t to fight you – his job is to get into the freaking end zone.

Bill Barnwell: The pinnacle of this was when Bart Scott started complaining about how the gimmicky Wildcat offense wasn't manly enough. You know, that high-falootin' single wing.

Comments

288 comments, Last at 23 Oct 2009, 12:41pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

So what was with the non-safety in the TEN-NE game (or is that HOU-BOS? :) Mercy rule, or did the refs get confused about the snow and think the goal line was the 5 yard line? If you look at where Young was brought down and pretend the goal line was the 5, the two (which is where the refs said he was down) would be at about the right spot.

233 Nothing is safe

On his weekly interview on WEEI, Belichick said it was appropriately called, and that the line judge placed the ball where VY got hit. Much as I'd have liked 61-0, it was a fair call.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

"Chicago Bears XX at Atlanta Falcons YY"

At long last: chromosomal football analysis.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Like many, I've always found sideline reporters relatively unhelpful. But a sideline reporter during the Viking-Raven game might have at least forced the two guys in the booth to ACKNOWLEDGE the absence of Antoine Winfield due to injury. Suddenly I notice #41 in coverage a lot, wondering what's going on, then I start looking around at what numbers are missing in the secondary, and I don't see #26. And of course, the Ravens target Karl Paymah like mad, as he gives up a lot of good plays, and doesn't come close to making tackles. The Ravens utterly destroyed the Viking defense in the fourth quarter, and the announcers didn't happen to notice that the Vikings were without their best CB and the Ravens were openly targeting and abusing his overmatched replacement.

(I don't use the Winfield injury as an excuse, mind you: every team must make due with injuries throughout the season. I just might have thought the announcers might, um, notice).

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I was watching the game on TiVo so I skipped most of the non-action and just assumed they talked about while I was fast forwarding.

The drop-off is a little scary for the purple. If Winfield is going to be out or limited they will need to change the coverage scheme dramatically.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

At least you noticed; I never did until someone commented on it after the game. Of course, neither did the FO analysts, but then they had a lot on their plate with combatting Favre over-hype. I'd like to offer my gratitude on behalf of all of us who are unable to formulate our own opinions.

CAPTCHA: ruffle This. I've got to figure out a way to use that.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Yeah, it's bad enough when they don't mention Winfield being off the field, but when their number three cb also has to leave the field for extended periods, leaving the number four guy to play a central role, for which he is not remotely prepared for, you'd think producers and announcers, who are getting paid a lot of money to explain what is happening, might bring the topic up.

Is anybody watching the Bucs? Can Ronde Barber still play? If so, the Vikings should be on the phone today, willing to overpay in draft value, to get him in purple before the trade deadline tomorrow. Once an owner has decided to go all in, as Wilf has, there is no sense in being half-hearted. They can't go the rest of the season with Karl Paymah as an option if Winfield has a lingering case of turf toe.

Also, I doubt the Vikings will see, for the rest of the season, as many seven man fronts as the Ravens showed yesterday. Trying to stop Peterson for lesss than 4.5 yards with only seven up front is a long shot, and you don't really gain anything in terms of cutting down on the chance of a gain of 40-plus yards. May as well try to force the forty year old to to make forty throws, and hope he wears out.

Finally, I have to say that the above commentary exhibits the stereotypical irrational anti-Favre overeaction. Strangely enough, Sidney Rice was never able to bail out Tavaris Jackson, in the manner that he supposedly does Favre. If you had to bet your life on it, which do you think is more likely; that the Vikings' receivers ball skills have suddenly taken a quantum leap, and they are thus bailing out Favre, or that Favre is playing well?

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Ronde Barber, I think, is pretty much past it, but Dunta Robinson appears to be all the way back from his injury and playing pretty well, and could probably be had for the right price (a 2nd?). That said, he's playing under the tag, so you'd have to be willing to either pay him silly money or let him walk at the end of the season.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Hey, you can be past it, and still be much, much, better than Karl Paymah. The Vikings pass rush was good right until the end yesterday. Is Barber likely to play a lot better behind Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Co., compared to the Bucs defensive line?

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

From what I've seen, as long as you never ask him to cover anyone fast downfield without safety help, you're probably fairly ok. He'd still be a good nickel back. Obviously a great D-line will make anyone look better, and your lot certainly have one of those. I still don't know that I'd give up very much to get him.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Barber has definitely slowed down quite a bit, and I think there's an element of square peg-round hole this year with him transitioning from being a Cover-2 guy to being asked to do a lot of man coverage (not quite "Jason David going to the Saints", but same general idea). Barber is still very smart and a great tackler, but he's not any kind of a significant fix (and I'm a huge Barber fan).

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Well, winning at Pittsburgh Sunday is a hard thing to do, but at this point the Vikings can afford a loss to an AFC team. However, a win at Lambeau seven days later, going into the bye week, would be huge, and to do that it would be very helpful to not have Paymah on the field too much. The Vikings need to add depth at cornerback, even if they have to give up too much in draft value to do so, as much as I hate getting all Jerry Jones about it.

187 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

On Ronde, I would definately trade a 5th for him counting on the scheme change and the human nature of being in a hopeless situation are making him look much worse than he really is, also it should be noted that we have another corner (rookie Asher Allen) who is inactive on game days for Paymah because he is a better sp. teams player, but that would seem to be irrelevant now as it is obvious that Paymah can't be allowed to play D under any circumstances, I'd rather throw Berrian, Rice or Harvin out there than him.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Will, your Favre-philia (to borrow your cutesy term) is getting a little old. If it bothers you that people have it in for your favorite hillbilly, we get it, since you talk about it (and its related pseudo psycho-babble concept Favre-phobia) every time anyone mentions Favre, but give it a rest, please.

How is the following an "irrational anti-Favre overeaction"? "Favre is getting a lot of press, but his receivers are really bailing him out. In the first two drives (two touchdowns), Favre was consistently throwing behind his receivers, and they (primarily Rice) were making excellent catches. Just now Favre threw a fade about 10 feet over the receiver's head. He has not looked great. Dierdorf, in response to this awful throw, has spent the past 5 minutes babbling about Favre, with random quotes included. Shoot me now."

Whether he's talking about press generally, or the announcers in that game (and he is clearly annoyed at Dierdorf, but a lot of people gag over the Favre fellating that announcers do on a regular basis, often to comic proportions), he is not saying Favre is playing poorly this year or suggesting that Sidney Rice has suddently gooten better, he is saying the receivers were bailing him out in this game, in the first two drives. I didn't see the drives, so I don't know if he is right, but you certainly don't dispute his point. Was Favre spot-on in those drives? Or did Sidney Rice make some great catches to keep things going? Did he throw a crappy fade?

Despite your claim of irrationality, none of the rest of the commentary mentions Favre's play negatively in any way, although clearly he bugs Kurtz. So what? He bugs a lot of folks not wearing purple. Your overly-sensitive preoccupation with people not loving your guy is detracting from your usual ability to post coherent cogent thoughts. Please move on.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I've composed a poem that I wanted to share:

Favruh, gunslinger,
Cleveland and Detroit,
Favruh Favruh, San Fran
Favruh to Greg Lewis.

Favruh,
Green Bay - reunion! Rejoice!
Favruh,
Saint Louis and Baltimore,
Just having fun,
My New Purple Quarterback.

Thoughts?

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Hey, you just wrote about 600 words, to my 60, on the topic. Why are you so overly sensitive? Give it a rest, please.

This seems to have escaped you, so I will explain. The phrase, "his receivers are bailing him out" is largely relative, because to some degree receivers bail every quarterback out, on anything less than a perfectly thrown ball to a receiver open exactly as the play is diagrammed. Thus, it is useful to compare how other qbs were or were not bailed out with the same receivers, facing, if anything, more press coverage. By any reasonable comparative analysis, the Vikings are not, on average, bailing out Favre any more than is typical in an NFL game, which makes it silly to claim, on the basis of one overthrow, and some imagined greater than usual bailing out, that Favre's play is "not great" assuming that term is being employed in a critical manner. Favre has played very well, and it is silly for a football analyst to pretend otherwise, because Dierdorf is a doofus. Why, one might say it makes one every bit as big of a doofus as Dierdorf.

See, I can be obsessively verbose as you!

Pointless snark aside, if my posts irritate you greatly, I suggest moving your eyeballs past them. Happy to help.

157 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Phantom comparative analyses aside, much of the time you have something to say in your posts, so I read them, and not with the "it's a Morganja trainwreck" sense of anticipation. When you rant about Favre not getting enough love (which in the face of the love he seems to get from every TV commentator is silly), you don't say much, and nothing about what you said escaped me in any way.

Favre is 9th in DYAR/6th in DVOA through Week 5. In 2008, Jackson was 25th/17th. It seems difficult to question that Vikings are getting very competent/far better QB play this year than last. Hopefully for the Vikings it lasts.

Kurtz apparently believes Dierdorf would still be fellating Favre if he was not doing as well as he is, and I don't disagree with that. Ok, you win, I guess he's a Favre-phobe.

207 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Well, if the sixty or so words I devoted to the topic in this thread is, by your definition, a "rant", well, your attributing to me the quality of oversensitivity is interesting, if nothing else. O.K., O.K., I plead guilty; I am like the playwright Friedrich Schiller, and admit to being without an epidermis, in all matters Favrerian!

210 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Finally, a modest, if obsessive suggestion, to those who engage in football punditry; describe Favre's play like he was any other qb, and don't let your analysis be influenced by some blowhard in the booth who started mailing it in 20 years ago. Who knows, maybe an effort at objectivity will be seen as unique and valuable!

232 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

It's not so much the specifically football related comments, even though anything remotely positive about Favre was offered with some kind of qualifier (offensive pick, holding, etc.), it's how much space is devoted to commenting on the commentary.

"Luckily for the Vikings, Brett Favre uses his magic mind-control powers to make Hauschka the winning FG wide. Good acquisition." Ha, ha; that was probably the funniest of the 3 versions of that I read this morning in various columns.

Most of the television media over-hypes Favre (although they're not exactly in the business of understating anything - let's see how reasoned the Brady commentary is for the next few weeks); that's clear. And a majority of the print media feels compelled to point that out almost every single time they mention him. There were 3 or 4 such comments in the thread above, as there are every week.

It's tiresome, and it's starting to drift into sophomoric. It's essentially the same tired comments over and over again and nearly everyone (in print) does it.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

not sure you're being fair with Will as the comment by the FO commenter could certainly be taken as Favre in general isn't playing well but in answer to how Favre played in the game; Favre did throw a couple of balls behind receivers in the first drive that receivers made good to great catches on and he threw one ball high to Rice in the end zone that was definitely a bad throw, but other than that I thought he played particularly well.

My take on watching Favre is that he is playing very well. That observation is tainted by 3 years of absolutely putrid QB play and the fact I'm a Viking fan. He is clearly far more accurate than Jackson, Frerotte, etc, but he also seems far more in control of things than did the others. I think his football intelligence is overcoming Childress/Coaching staff lack of in game intelligence.

I thought this comment I read in Siefert's blog summed up the level of game time football smarts...

"Favre had a funny exchange with Vikings coach Brad Childress late in the victory over the Ravens. Childress came over and told him that momentum was shifting to the Ravens and the Vikings needed to finish drives with touchdowns. Favre said his response was: "No s---, Sherlock."

Childress says this and then calls run plays at the 15 when a first down ends the game as opposed to giving Baltimore the ball back with 2 minutes to play needing a FG. I suspect if was a playoff game Favre would have said - fu coach were passing.

181 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Sidney Rice couldn't bail out Tjack last year because he was playing with a bad knee ligament (PCL I believe) and for a guy who isn't very fast or quick this was a big problem, thus he mostly played in the red zone. Also this is his third year.

As for his ball skills, he's always had tremendous ball skills and great hands going back to college and were mentioned as his biggest assets on the draft scouting reports so those catches aren't surprising for him (you might remember his ridiculous catch in the endzone against Green Bay in his rookie year).

On Favre, he has been a HUGE improvement on QB play, however I am noticing an increasing level of ol Favre Slinging n Slanging as he seems to be getting cocky.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Was the 430 yards passing disparity in NE-TEN the biggest in history? Gotta be up on the list at least.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Hey, all of those Eagles fans defending the Trotter signing still have confidence in that move? Or did giving up the two biggest plays of the game, the ones that more or less decided it, put a damper on all the "hey, he might not be such a liability in coverage" talk?

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I don't remember many people on FO defending the Trotter signing (but I don't read all the threads so maybe I missed some conversations about it) anyway I will go down on record as saying it was and still is a huge mistake. He is too old and too slow, and it's going to be a disaster this season.

156 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

There were two threads with extended arguments about how Trotter would hurt the passing game... and whether his help in the running game would offset it. It boiled down to: if Trotter gets caught in coverage, the Eagles are obviously screwed. Some folks thought that he could be hidden to a certain extent and whether having Gocong in coverage (as a result of hiding Trotter) would be such a bad thing. It turns out Trotter helped almost none in the running game and was a huge liability in coverage.

250 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I blame the coaches for putting Trotter in single coverage against a good TE on the touchdown, and I blame the coaches again for TAKING A TIMEOUT WITH 2'02 LEFT IN THE GAME, GIVING THE RAIDERS THE OPTION TO PASS THE FREAKING BALL, AND PUTTING TROTTER IN COVERAGE ON 3RD AND 10. YES I'M MAD ABOUT THIS GAME, AND THIS MOMENT IN PARTICULAR. THAT'S WHY I'M WRITING IN CAPITALS.
I never said he would be good in coverage, he was dead awful, and is still dead awful. I just said that I don't trust Gaither against the NFC East rushing games, and that losing Garcia, who is now useless, to give a shot at a possible Trotter comeback, who was one of the best run stuffing LB 4 years ago and was apparently moving better than he was in 2005 and 2006, was a low risk high upside move.

On the PHI-OAK game, I have to say that the refs were putrid, and while it doesn't excuse anything, I saw 2 non called Jamarcus grounding, Desean Jackson hit 5 yards OOB, uncalled, David Akers hit on a FG, uncalled, and a FF mby Macho Harris with the whistle blown early (on top of the mentionned bogus call for DPI on the raiders INT). That was awful.

264 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Listen, if Trotter's in the game for more than five or six plays, he's going to end up in coverage. He's definitely going to end up in coverage if the Eagles decide to... I don't know... blitz? Which, as we all know, they rarely do. Putting Trotter in the game is the entire problem, not anything the coaches did once he was in there. And if Trotter is supposed to help with the run, how come the Raiders ran the ball very well, on top of everything else? I don't think Gaither is any great shakes, but he's clearly the best option at this point.

You say "low risk, high reward" but the risk was obviously that having a washed-up linebacker with bad knees on the field for any significant amount of time would lead to big plays by the TE and RB in the passing game... and worst case scenario: those passing plays being the difference in a loss to a team like the freakin' Raiders. Trotter. should. not. be. on. the. field.

And, yes, I saw the roughing penalties, the quick whistle on the fumble, the ri-goddamned-diculous grounding no-calls... but you can't rely on the refs to win a game. ever.

7 Re: The Raiders-Eagles Pigeon

First, the pigeon had big brass ones. Tackles could happen a few feet a way and he didn't budge.

Second, he is more trainable than Jamarcus Russell. By the end of the game he could line up for kickoffs and fly down the field in formation.

So don't refer to that pigeon as "friggin."

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

It always seemed like Bruce and Holt got down to avoid contact back in the Rams glory days.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

"The Pats CB were giving guys a ton of space in previous games. Don't know if it is the Tennessee receivers or the weather, but this week they are playing very close to the line before the snap."

Butler and Wilhite got the start instead of Springs and Bodden. Butler and Wilhite are much faster than Springs and Bodden.

"Aaron:Pats are going four-wide against the Titans, which is just unfair. I mean, the Titans only have four cornerbacks right now, and that's just because they signed one a couple days ago"

This is the patriots. Find a hole, exploit that hole. This is the same team that ran the ball like 50 times against the Bengals a couple years ago because the Bengals only had 3 active LBs that day. Did anyone expect them to do anything other than come out throwing?

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

No comments on it in audibles this week (and deservedly so) but my own comment on the GB/DET game. Never have I seen the winning team in a blowout/shutout game look so putrid. I have officially soured on the Mike McCarthy era. The team consistently has way too many penalties, and the trend has, to my subjective eyes, gotten worse each year of McCathy's tenure. That is the hallmark of a coach who does not have control of his team.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I'm anxious to find some good analysis on that game. 13 penalties for 130 yards? Gag.

It'll be interesting to see the Packers crumble against better opponents after the soft part of their schedule has the brainless media writers gushing aboiut a turn-around. They allowed 5 sacks against Detroit? Flynn will see playing time if this keeps up.

177 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

It would be awful. The vast majority of NFL fandom has much more fun bagging on and laughing at the cowgirl's failures and missteps than cheering for barely won victories over the Chiefs. Irrelevant? Yes!

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I was watching that game and the annoucer said that Aaron Rodgers was under some criticism for holding the ball too long and the annoucer ( forget who) said he didn't think he was...

The very next play on cue Aaron Rodgers was probably taking his 2nd step back when he was sacked... he wasn't even finished dropping back yet but some Lion shot the gap and sacked him... was that his fault too?

The O-line was healthier than it had been ( before getting hurt again), but still looked less than impressive.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Yeah, Rodgers deserved some blame for maybe the last two sacks, but the first three were 100% on the o-line. Rodgers also had a few nice plays where he scrambled around to buy time before hitting a key pass.

Losing another fumble makes me nervous though. As long as he holds onto the football I'll accept sacks as preferable to forcing potential interceptions, but not when he fumbles the ball away.

182 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The sack and fumble he took inside the 5 at the end of the first half (I think) was all his fault. The pocket collapsed pretty completely from all directions but he had plenty of time to throw it away. It seemed to me that he was being a bit selfish and really badly wanted another TD pass going into the locker room. (Which is fine - I wanted the exact same thing for him.) He just sort of stood there and waited to be sacked instead of throwing it through the uprights.

It's hard to say this is a fatal flaw though - often his stubbornness can be combined with his mobility to create plays even when the line sucks - but he needs to hang on to the ball a lot better. I think I'd take extra sacks as a tradeoff for the extra completions, but the fumbles are killers.

13 Good Grief, C.C. Brown

C.C. Brown might just be the JaMarcus Russell of safeties. I believe he had coverage responsibility on 3 of the Saints’ 4 passing touchdowns. On two of those, he wasn’t even in the picture because he bit so hard on the play action fake. I’ve never seen a player so fooled by play action, and can only speculate as to whether this spills over to other areas of his life. It would not surprise me for instance, to discover that C.C. Brown is the leading purchaser of bridges in the Brooklyn area, or that he budgets based on expected Publishers’ Clearing House winnings. I’m not sure what Aaron Rouse did to get cut from the Packers, but if he can avoid hurtling himself at the line of scrimmage every time the quarterback so much as glances at the running back during his drop back, it would be a major improvement.

The Giants were lauded for their depth coming into the season, but the one position they ignored was safety. Jerry Reese has 24 hours to trade for a replacement-level safety. No price is too high. At this point, I would rather watch Charlie Brown assume placekicking duties for the Giants than watch C.C. Brown not cover Larry Fitzgerald, Desean Jackson and Vincent Jackson over the next 3 weeks.

251 Re: Good Grief, C.C. Brown

I have to admit that the joy I find myself feeling that someone other than Texans fans finally knows the rage and agonising terror that is the experience of rooting for a team that starts CC Brown is making me wonder if I may be a very bad person. I spent three years, every week and every off-season, praying to read that he'd been cut and replaced by a practice squad player/street free agent/homeless heroin addict/blind quadriplegic grandmother. No draft pick or free agent signing has ever thrilled me as much as the news that CC Brown was on IR. Please don't bother trying to convince yourself that this week was some sort of aberation. He really, truly is that bad.

276 Re: Good Grief, C.C. Brown

I think it sorta depends. If you, as a defensive co-ordinator, treat CC Brown as if he was just a hole in the zone, hole in zone is probably not better. Brown, for example, has three career interceptions and a sack. Hole in zone has fewer. But if you scheme with the assumption that Brown is actually going to tackle and/or cover someone, you might have done better to stick with HiZ.

275 Re: Good Grief, C.C. Brown

When Kenny Phillips got hurt, I told every Giants fan that would listen that the injury was more devastating to the team than potential injury to any Giant except Manning, Pierce, and maybe Tuck. That list may be even shorter now.

C.C. Brown, while terrible, hopefully won't spell doom for the Giants. Most teams don't have the talent to expose a safety like the Saints did, and even if they do, the Giant's pass rush is still better than they showed last Sunday. They can move Thomas to safety in nickel/dime packages if/when Ross comes back. Or maybe they can find a competant safety before the trade deadline.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Welcome to the wonderful world of CC Brown, Bill. I just know you and your fellow Giant fans are going to love it. He's the ultimate football player - a cross between Deion Sanders and Jeremiah Trotter. Unfortunately, that's because he tackles like Sanders and covers like Trotter. Of all the God-awful defensive backs that have (dis-)graced the Texans secondary over the past five years, Brown is by far the worst. A first ballot KCW hall of famer.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I used to strongly dislike James Butler in coverage... James Butler is like a pro bowler compared to CC Brown.

I'm still not liking Antonio Pierce in coverage either...

I wish Aaron Ross, Michael Boley and Kenny Phillips were healthy. The Giants defense was overrated ( but look at who they played).

The Saints O-line played well... Brees showed fantastic pocket awareness and he picked the Giants D apart like a surgen. Glad I had the over with two legit offenses and two overrated defenses...

Lance Moore is like Bresus's Steve Smith.

261 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Pierce is terrible in coverage, but he's expected to be terrible in coverage. He still brings enough as a signal caller to be worth the tradeoff.

CC Brown... egads. Can't we just have him blitz every down? The coverage doesn't get any worse, and at least there's a greater than 1% chance of somebody reaching the QB.

269 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

It's true that Brown did once get a sack, but it was of Drew Bledsoe, so I'm not sure it counts. Richard Smith's defense featured roughly as much safety blitzing as it did competence (which is to say bugger all); I'd almost be willing to bet that that play was the result of Brown biting harder than usual on the play action and realising there was no point even trying to get back in coverage.

I don't ever remember seeing a CC Brown blitz, so I can't tell you how he'd screw it up, but I promise you he would. Fall over his shoelaces in front of a blocker and get done for tripping? Get juked out of his cleats by Kurt Warner to set up the world's first zimmer frame assisted twenty yard touchdown scramble? The possibilities are endless.

Judging by the comments on this thread, Giants fans have had the opportunity to witness Brown's "coverage skills", but it may be that some of you are assuming he's a classic box safety, a punishing tackler who can stymie opposing run games but lacks a little awareness against the pass. I hate to break it to you, but no. Brown tackles like a stuffed toy monkey. It's not that he doesn't wrap people up: he wraps them up very gently, and is then mystified when they effortlessly break free. I cannot for the life of me understand how the man has even one NFL start, never mind fifty-something, for two different franchises, one of them competent.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

As a Panthers fan I have to agree on the Wesley hit. Uncalled for and way out of line. I hope the Commish lands on him as hard as he did Smith.

Couldn't disagree more about the final TD though. Kasey already had a FG blocked earlier in the game so I cant blame Fox for calling another run to take more time off of the clock in case they blocked another. The fact that DWill took it in was more on a bad Bucs D than any calculated attempt to get points in my opinion.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

But the Bucs had also run back a kickoff for a touchdown. I would've gone the run out the clock/kick a field goal route, myself, as opposed to leaving the Bucs with a minute on the clock.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

On the Panthers final drive, they ran up the middle twelve times in a row. I'm going to repeat that: THEY RAN UP THE MIDDLE TWELVE TIMES IN A ROW. TWELVE. And they got 5+ yards a carry on every single play. That had to have been the single worst defensive line performance I've ever seen.

My grandmothers would be a better tandem at DT, and they've been dead for ten years.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I noticed that too! But the "middle" was really the B and C gap as they tried to run right behind big ugly Jeff Otah. He DOMINATED at the end of that game. He's a premier run blocker and he man handled whoever was in front of him.

Yes, they ran up the gut 12 times in a row, but they were really run rights on probably every play but that final TD run. I don't blame fox either for just pounding it home...

I'd love to see the Bucs DVOA, 4 or 5 Josh Johnson fumbles ( I think they recovered all of them)... They got a defensive and special teams TD so their offense really only had 7 points...

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

At the end of regulation, Dick Jauron elected to let the clock run down for about 30 seconds on second down with time outs left before attempting a 46 yard figgie in a nasty wind rather than running a couple plays to get closer. Inexplicable. I'm sure his kicker was thinking WTF?

I've watched a lot of Jets football over the last 25 years or so and a lot of it has been bad. I'm not sure I've seen any NYJ quarterback play worse than Sanchez today. Not Browning Nagle. Not Rick Mirer. Not Glenn Foley. Sad to say, but if Kellen Clemens played they would have won by 20, especially once Edwards got hurt (and Clemens is not very good). It wasn't just the picks, but the missed and ill timed passes, the random fumble that probably cost them 3 pts, a brutal 15 yard sack on second down that killed a promising drive toward the end of regulation. I'm very concerned the Jets bought a 60 million QB who can't play in bad northeast weather and it messes with his head. And Jenkins is going to be out for the year. Not a good day.

20 Jauron is a fool

At the end of regulation, Dick Jauron elected to let the clock run down for about 30 seconds on second down with time outs left before attempting a 46 yard figgie in a nasty wind rather than running a couple plays to get closer. Inexplicable. I'm sure his kicker was thinking WTF?

I was wondering the same thing. They ran an off-tackle play on first down and lost two yards. Bills had one timeout. I expected they'd run a power dive to center the ball on the field and to try to pick up a couple of yards, let the clock run down and call that last timeout.

When they didn't do that I then thought they were going to run the FG team out and save the timeout in case there was a bad snap or something. But then they let it go all the way down to three seconds. So it obviously wasn't that.

So I agree -- WTF?!

37 Re: Jauron is a fool

Agree on this as well. It was curious, to say the least, and I disagreed with it. I think too many coaches feel that, in game-winning situations, getting inside the 50 yard distance is close enough. Maybe it's blame avoidance, like Easterbrook talks about? If the kicker misses a 48 yarder, it's his fault, but if your RB fumbles, or if you get a holding penalty that knocks you out of FG range, the coach get's criticism for continuing to run plays and taking risks while already in "FG range". I think this is especially likely to kick in when you lose yards on 1st down, as the Bills did.

44 Re: Jauron is a fool

Speaking of holding, Jets TE Ben Hartsock had a terrible holding call on the series in overtime where the Jets botched the 50-yard FG attempt. Even if he wiffs on his guy on that play, Thomas Jones gets a first down. The fact that he managed to get a penalty called on him as well and move the Jets 10 yards back was crucial (and bad).

55 Re: Jauron is a fool

Crucial, to say the least. It probably lost them the game, unless Feeley missed the resulting 30-something yarder. But there's a long list of things that lost the Jets the game. That was just the play when they were closest to winning it.

134 Re: Jauron is a fool

many if not most coaches get chicken shit in these situations - they are so petrified of something going wrong (a sack, penalty, fumble) they have a choice of taking an action that will likely improve their chances of winning but ignore it out of a fear of failure.

It's the same kind of thinking that leads to so many punts on 4th and short when the odds favour going for it.

199 Re: Jauron is a fool

The Rams did this too. They drove right down the field after letting the Jags take the lead back, spiked it on first and goal, threw incomplete on 2nd, and then with 8 seconds left and a timeout, Spagnuolo sends the FG unit out to tie it.

You're in the discussion for the worst team in football and have somehow managed to put yourself in position to win. Run a damn play! How hard is it?

I was rooting against the Jags the entire way but as soon as Spags made that call I wanted him to be punished. Predictably, they never saw the ball in overtime and lost. And now they are 0-6.

Spagnuolo used to have balls when he was a D Coordinator.

138 Re: Jauron is a fool

In reply to by PatsFan

By the way - how in the hell does Dick Jauron warrant 139 games as a head coach? What does this guy have to do to prove he isn't worthy of the position?

Chic 6-10
Chic 5-11
Chic 13-3
Chic 4-12
Chic 7-9
Det 1-4
Buff 7-9
Buff 7-9
Buff 7-9
Buff 2-4

163 Re: Jauron is a fool

In reply to by PatsFan

That drove me crazy too. What is the statistic I'm thinking of: "Field goals longer than 40 yards have a 50% chance of being successful?" What rational coach would be satisfied with a 50-50 chance at a win?

Would it be too much to ask an announcer to call out guys like Jauron for once? These coaches seem content to say "Hey, if he misses it's because we're unlucky" instead of thinking "We need to put the kicker in the place where he has the best chance to win the game." You make your own luck.

170 Re: Jauron is a fool

In reply to by fillylabinga (not verified)

"What rational coach would be satisfied with a 50-50 chance at a win?"

I guess if you're Dick Jauron those are actually primo odds.

Did you see Dungy calling out Favre for running three times and settling for a FG with 2:30 left, when a first down for all intents and purposes would have ended the game? Nice to see such a questionable decision challenged.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I'm surprised that nobody mentioned that Reid kept alive his streak of god-knows-how-many close games making at least one clock management blunder, taking his last timeout at 2:02 with 3rd and 10, giving the Raiders a chance to throw for the first down without clock risk.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Apparently what Russell needed was the challenge of playing the #1 DVOA defense. All these other teams couldn't keep him interested. I mean obviously PHI's 'Advanced' ranking wasn't built on the smoke and mirrors that the Giant's un-advanced ranking was.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Well, we'll have to see DVOA for this week. I didn't watch the game, but I saw the highlights and looked at the stats, and it seems like the Eagles defense didn't play that poorly... Other than one freak play which gave up a TD due to some highly questionable tackling and a 1/1000 blocking effort, they held the Raiders to two FG's, and got two interceptions and forced seven punts on fourteen drives. That's not bad defensive play, and even counting the Raiders TD, giving up just 13 points is generally considered pretty decent defensive play (granted, giving up 13 points to the Raiders...maybe not so much).

But it seems to me that the story of this game is not Russel's play against the Eagles defense, but how the Eagles offense managed to get shut down so completely...

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Can those numbers be right??? Well, we all know that big negative DVOA numbers are desirable for defensive ratings, so I guess it is true that the best defense is a really lousy offense.

No, wait, maybe I am missing something...

235 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I think the loss of the left tackle on the o-line was the key to Philly's offensive collapse. The left side is McNabb's blindside. He ended up getting sacked, hit, and hurried far more than usual, all while nursing his broken rib.

After the game, I thought it could have been an interesting experiment to put Michael Vick in for McNabb, simply because he's left-handed, so he wouldn't be getting constant pressure on his blind side (the right side for him). Unfortunately, that would be interpreted as a vote-of-no-confidence in McNabb, which is probably why Reid didn't consider switching QBs. But given that Vick would be able to see the pressure coming, is a good scrambler, and isn't injured, he might have been a better tool for that particular circumstance than McNabb.

I don't think the defense was the reason Philly lost. I think it was that the offense could not get a rhythm going, and that was in large part to the weakness of the o-line after the injury. Given the Eagles performance against similarly bad teams (Panthers, Chiefs, Bucs), they should have scored 25-30 points against the Raiders.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Are you really claiming that OAK had a better chance of winning the game if they had run on 3rd and 10 than if they threw? I'd like to see numbers to back that one up.

You could even argue that it was the right thing to do to bait OAK into throwing, had PHL played the pass on 3rd down. Unfortunately, PHL was completely surprised by the throw, because it never occurred to the coaches that the payoff matrix for throwing substantially changed because of the two-minute warning.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Went to the KC-WAS game yesterday (yay Chiefs). A couple of comments:
--Chiefs go for 1st down on 4th-and-2 from around the 35: KC Star writers are ripping the decision, but the wind was very bad, I thought it was a good decision. Bowe completely beat his defender and was wide open, but line couldn't keep Cassel upright.
--Bowe: Redskins could not cover him. He was consistently open and even when covered was too big for CBs to stop. The only one stopping Bowe was himself. The short-armed catch attempt was mentioned, but he killed a couple of drives with drops. Huge 2nd-and-14 catch when KC was trying to run out the clock negated by going out of bounds. With 2 Redskins timeouts and 1:37 left, if he stays in the Chiefs can kneel down. Instead, it meant the Chiefs could not run out the clock, had to settle for a FG, and give the Skins one last chance. Even if they weren't up to it.
--Skins offense: three good plays (catch and long run by Cooley, deep ball to Moss, Portis run) accounted for three first downs and 145 yards. Other 50 plays gained 4 first downs and 120 yards. I don't think DVOA will like that.
--Crowd: bad weather + bad home team + bad visting team = half empty stadium. Not much of a game day atmosphere. Many left when Skins couldn't convert late in 4th qtr down 9-6. Didn't they know they were playing the find-a-way-to-lose Chiefs? Chiefs fans stayed to the end, knowing it wasn't over until the clock ran out.
--Stadium: replays very sketchy, never on anything remotely controversial, but not even on key plays with no question about the call. Low point was in 2nd qtr when the out-of-town scores came up and were from Week 2 (KC 3, OAK 3, 2nd qtr, really? Was that the A team or the B Team?). How can that even happen?

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I agree with Flounder. Fans made fun of Barry Alvarez at WI because the Badgers ran a grand total of five plays on offense and rarely did anything special on defense including such whacky things as blitz.

Alvarez responded to these criticisms by saying if you focused on doing the basics really, REALLY well more often than not you would win a football game because the other team would make a mistake or mistakes.

The good Alvarez teams would lead the Big Ten in fewest penalties, fewest turnovers and fewest negative plays. That and they were very physical on both sides of the ball.

McCarthy's teams are Sherman-like in their stupidity, careless with the ball and can get pushed around. That is a recipe for bad results.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Regarding Cincy, how much longer can that TE Coats be allowed to play? The guy drops passes, commits penalties, misses blocks and is pretty much a cipher. I barely saw that game and each time I did Coats was blowing up a Cincy drive with badness.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

"I'm sorry, but Brad Childress looks like a child-molesting high school teacher."

You're better than this Football Outsiders. This isn't funny and skirts the boundaries of libel. I don't find Mike Kurtz's commentary insightful or funny and comments like this, man. Stick to breakdowns and stats.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

It's been done before, so I'll grant that it's a little tired, but saying that someone "looks like" something is not libel, nor does it skirt the boundaries of libel.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

While the FO comment is tacky and vulgar, it is also the following things:

1) Surprisingly accurate - I remember which teachers were considered creepy by classmates, and almost all of them had an appearance similar to Brad Childress.

2) Insightful - a lot of times I find that really bad & tasteless jokes do a better job of waking people up to things that we as a society SHOULD get angry about. One of the ironies of the PC movement of the late 80's/early 90's is that I think it made it a lot easier for the powers-that-be to sweep things under the rug and make discrimination EASIER.

3) Frankly, I think it is just plain hilarious - especially as a Vikings fan who seriously worries that the biggest issue with our team is Childress' lack of, um, testicular fortitude. (That, and the team effectively putting a gun to the state over getting a new stadium.)

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I think the full beard looks wa-a-ay better than the mustache he was sporting last season.

But yeah, what's that have to do with football? Nothing. Why do I read FO? For the football analysis. I guess we have to take the bad with the good.

162 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Funny, but the first time I saw him in profile in that game I thought about "what does this guy look like and what amusing thing can I say about it on message boards?" I kid you not. Oh, it was a good game, too.

Sadly the best I could come up with is that with the surprising density to the hair portions he has (contrasted with the bald pate) his head looks like a giant hairy "S" hanging off a cue ball. Not the stuff of platinum-selling comedy albums.

You have to admit, if the game was dull, there would have been a LOT more chatter; the dude is one odd looking MF with that hair/beard ccombo. I suspect Vikes fans are happy with the results. You have to respect a streak.

203 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

A modest proposal: let's post photos of Schatz, Tanier, Kurtz, Verhei, Barnwell, et al and critique (amusingly, of course) their physiognomies. After all, the judgment of your appearance by the "cool kids" is the true barometer of your intrinsic merit, as we all should have learned in high school, during the time when we weren't avoiding being caught alone in a stairwell with that Childress-like math teacher.

245 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

These basically are in line with my thoughts on the subject. I agree that we don't want a society where everyone is offended by everything, but the Childress jokes are just stupid and sophomoric.

On top of that there are the pot-and-kettle elements given the looks of many of the people taking pot-shots, and the ever so mild public health nuisance of reinforcing the stereotypes that children are molested by creepy looking strangers when typically they are molested by "normal" looking family.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I'm dying to know what the Titans' DVOA was for that game. I wouldn't be shocked by -150%. That was as bad as I've ever seen an NFL team look. CBS mercifully switched to Bills/Jets in my viewing area. I think Fisher is a great coach, but jeebus. Guys have gotten fired after better games than that.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

OK, Doug. You've convinced me re: Ruskell. I was high on the moves he made prior to the '05 season, and he's still drafted some decent talent on defense, but I have to agree that the Seahawks' talent has gotten stale and Ruskell hasn't addressed it effectively. I anticipated maybe an 8-8 season this year, but with their remaining schedule that seems optimistic (although, there should be a lot of talent returning from injury after the bye).

One thing I find troubling is all the soft-tissue injuries over the last couple years. Bones break, and there's not much to be done to prevent that. But it seems like the Seahawks are dealing with a lot of muscle pulls/tears, ligament injuries, etc. and I've always thought that those injuries are more preventable. All teams deal with injuries, but it seems like the 'Hawks have had a lot of them over the past couple years. Do you know if there was a recent change-up in training staffs to go with the move to the new facilities?

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I'd been wondering about this as well. A year of 'fluky high' injury rates...well, it happens to teams now and then. But consecutive years indicates an issue with the training (strength training, physical therapy, etc.).

That and age (Hasselbeck, Walter Jones).

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Post 25:

This is a running gag on almost every sports blog in the Western Hemisphere. Bill Simmons spends a paragraph each week sharing messages from readers insulting Brad Childress' appearance.

Dude, he looks creepy.

32 Unsportsmanlike for timeouts

"What's less smart? The color commentator suggesting that Rex Ryan should have taken a second consecutive timeout, rather than taking the delay of game. Um ... that would have cost them 15 yards, because you can't do that. It's considered unsportsmanlike conduct."

Actually, no:

"Unsportsmanlike Conduct. An attempt to call an excess team timeout or to call a second timeout in the same dead-ball period by Team B in an attempt to “freeze” a kicker, will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct and will subject the offending team to a 15-yard penalty (See 12-3). This will apply to field goal or Try attempts."

So just randomly calling two timeouts normally is just ignored; it doesn't result in a penalty.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I didn't see the game, but anyone care to explain how the heck the Raiders beat the Eagles? Other than Reid being allergic to running plays...

On the Pats game...I thought it should have been a safety, too, but let's not get greedy, shall we?

In general, my thoughts on the Pats game were:

(1) the turning point was the first quarter, when open Tennessee receivers dropped about five passes as if they were live ferrets, which prevented the Titans from getting any momentum, especially after shutting down the Patriots' first offensive drive (culminating in a missed Pats FG). I think it was weather...the Tennessee offense just couldn't adjust to the snow and wet and wind.

(2) I have never, even in the Arizona game last year, seen a team melt down and disintegrate so thoroughly as the Titans did in the second quarter of this game.

(3) The flea-flicker was great. I love it when teams do that, and they ought to do it more often. And on that play specifically, Moss used his reputation for "dogging it" on running plays to his advantage. You can clearly see the LB's and the safety on his side of the field watching him on the snap, and when they see him take three half-hearted jogging steps, they turn and run full tilt to the LOS. Then "Law Firm" throws the ball back to Brady, Moss turns on the burners, and that's all she wrote.

(4) Where did Laurence Maroney come from? I thought the Titans' run defense, at least, was supposed to be tolerable. And Laurence Maroney incapable. That's what I get for criticizing him harshly in last week's Audibles.

(5) It was said above, but the whole reason for the success of the Patriots' passing game looked to me that the Titans DB's could never figure out if they were supposed to be in man or zone coverage. Most of the long completions came when a DB playing low handed Moss or Welker off...to Hole-In-The-Zone.

(6) I don't know if Belichick will be brave enough to try it in good conditions against good WR/QB combos, but I really like the press coverage that Wilhite and Butler were playing...

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

"(4) Where did Laurence Maroney come from? I thought the Titans' run defense, at least, was supposed to be tolerable. And Laurence Maroney incapable. That's what I get for criticizing him harshly in last week's Audibles."

Every time I go and actually watch Maroney run, and go and analyze the tape (outside of yesterday's game), I can't find anything wrong with him. It just seems like every time he gets the ball, someone blows the block and there's a DE in the backfield at the hand-off. Maybe they're just bad at blocking in Single-Back (which it seems like him and Faulk are the only backs used in that formation, and Faulk just runs draws). I don't know why. Maybe they're somehow telegraphing runs, or something along those lines. Either way, the whole Maroney "dancing in the backfield" is nothing but crap.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

When Maroney gets in space (imo he is underused as a receiver), he can make some special plays (think 2007). This may be his last chance to overcome negative perceptions in NE -- among fans and possibly the coaching staff.

Anyone figure out why Adalius Thomas was a healthy scratch? Unless I've missed something, that seems baffling.

180 Laurence Maroney

The thing about Maroney's style is that he has a tendency to keep his weight over his feet, rather than leaning into his runs, and he has this dancing stutterstep behind the line that looks awfully indecisive. Normally, this is a big downside; when playing on icy snow, it's possible that it let him shift his direction into the gaps that aren't usually there.

Pats blowhard since LA lost its teams.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

How did the Raiders beat the Eagles? 1) Akers missed two field goals - both were from the mid-40's, but should've been made. Those points were the difference in the game. 2) Jeremiah Trotter in coverage. He got burned on the long TD to Zack Miller and then burned on the 3-and-10 passto the RB at the two minute warning that allowed the Raiders to run out the clock. 3) McNabb was ice cold (22 for 46) and Reid chose to ride him all game. The running game was variable - but Westbrook averaged over 8 yards a carry on his 6 carries and the game was close, so there was no excuse for not trying to run the ball. 4) Four out their five projected starters for the season on the O-line were injured. McNabb (again, ice cold) held onto the ball too long and the pass protection played like a group of back-ups. King Dunlap got abused in place for the injured Jason Peters. 5) McNabb and Reid displayed a complete lack of understanding of game management. Mikell returned an INT to the Raiders 46 with 1:52 left in Q2. The Eagles had 1 timeout. They got off, I believe, 4 plays including the field goal. They took zero shots at the endzone and completed two short passes and a run up the middle. Late in the game, the team played with no urgency and took low percentage shots down the field, rather work the running game or short passes to their leading reciever, Brent Celek.

The Raiders did not play well and the Eagles (save Trotter) did not play too badly. There wer also a bunch of uncalled penalties (including a roughing the kicker and a tackle out of bounds that were outrageous). Also, on two different pass plays, Avant had his jersey pulled off his pad, with no flag. Whatever, penalties are penalties and I'm sure the Eagles got away with some stuff, too. The game just got out of hand quickly and the Eagles seemed to be flustered, desperate and unfocused - they played stupid.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Well, hold on - Trotter played terribly. That's what I said above. He was personally responsible for at least 90 of the Raiders offense yards. Probably more, but I haven't looked that closely. I don't mean to imply that the Eagles D gets a pass - but everyone played well but Trotter. They had interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles, three-and-outs and held their opponent to 13 points, despite getting no respite their their offense. On the whole, they played "not too badly." I suspect DVOA will not be kind because of the opponent adjustments, but really, the defense was not the problem yesterday.

The Raiders ran the same three plays over and over (two different play action passes and a running play) to exploit Trotter and exploited he was. Macho Harris, the rookie safety, also wasn't anything to write home about. But had the defense played the exact same game and the offense done their part, this would've been a 35 to 13 blowout and the defense would've looked exactly as they have in past weeks, against similarly putrid offenses...

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I posted this up above but I can't help myself and have to say it again... I HATE, HATE HATE HATE the Trotter signing. It makes no sense, the D was fine against the run up the middle, Gaither and Mays may not be that great at MLB but they are better than Trotter... What I don't understand is if all of us sitting here in our office, living room, wherever know this, how can a professional NFL front office not realize it? I feel like I'm in the twilight zone like a few years ago with the Eagles playing Mike McMahon at QB... why?

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The best explanation is the the Eagles threw in one of their two to three times a season clunkers. They do this every year, for no apparent reason and usually against the most terrible opponent on their schedule. If anybody can explain WHY they do this, please send your coaching resume to J. Lurie at 1 Novacare Way, Philadelphia.

161 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Yeah, halfway through the second quarter, I just thought, "Shit, this feels just like that 10-3 loss to Washington last year." These games always happen when McNabb is off and Reid fails take the throttle off of the passing game. I'm not saying the running game definitely would've worked, but geez - your QB is completing less than 50% of his passes, take the game off of his shoulders...

188 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Mcnabb was inaccurate in his throws, but the Raiders pass rush is why. Richard Seymour had 4 sacks in the first half and totally disrupted the Eagles passing offense ( that's all they did anyway).

Mcnabb didn't have time to set his feet, because he had less than 3 seconds on a consistant basis, his left tackle hung him out to dry. Mcnabb not setting his feet helped contribute to a lot of inaccurate passes.

Yes the Receivers still should have caught the ball though, if you are a professional WR, your job is to catch the ball. If you get your hands on the ball, you should catch it.

The Raiders D-Line ( mainly Seymour) dominated, and the Raiders O-Line outplayed the Eagles D-Line as Fargas and company had more than enough nice runs.

The Eagles have been known to play down to their competition and this was one of those games. The thing is Mcnabb and company didn't look like they had that killer instinct. My best guess is that they didn't take the Raiders seriously, didn't game plan the way they needed too... thought they could just show up and win...

Odds makers gave the Raiders about a 10% chance to win, and they killed a lot of people's survior pools.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Collinsworthless back to old form last night. First he explains that Cutlers problems in Denver with redzone INTs was the lack of a running game in Denver(yeah they had a lot of backs hurt but the replacements all seemed to run well) but that the Bears do have a running game(the ultimate irony being the two fumbles later in the game). Then at some point in the game the booth gets into a long discussion of all the Bears passing options available to Cutler. He might have too many good options they seem to conclude!

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

So nothing from Bill Barnwell about his advice on his ESPN fantasy column to bench Drew Brees this week?

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

You BENCHED BREES???? For who?--Are you in a 4 team league or something???
(I will agree--last two weeks his fantasy stats have been well below par for him. But hasn't he reached the level of auto-start no matter what?)

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Roethlisberger. Brees was facing a top ranked defense and had looked a little shaky the last couple of outings...and Roethlisberger was facing Cleveland and had been playing well.

Yes, it was idiotic. It's also the first season I've every been involved in Fantasy Football.

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Same here. That he was playing Cleveland was the difference maker. I figured Ben was a guaranteed "good" play, whereas Brees could have a great week, but was also more likely to have a poor week than Ben was. I played it safe.

186 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

If you took Brees you took him early. You didn't need another QB until Kyle Orton territory way late in the draft. If you have Brees and Big Ben, you took your second QB too early (I guarantee there were higher upside choices at RB and WR available) -- you start Brees for 16 games and live with it, and you play the other guy the bye week. Besides meaning you are weak elsewhere, having one great and one very good QB is a way to outthink yourself into fantasy suicide...

246 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

This sounds like the advice of someone who really needs to branch out into more non-traditional leagues :). Standard leagues are so boring. Try auctions or keepers (or better yet both!). Such little axioms mean little in these leagues.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I won my fantasy game this week because my opponent benched Brees for Hasselbeck.

I sat Roddy White (and his 30+ points) last week though and lost because of it, so what goes around comes around I suppose.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

How good is the Saints offense? Against a pretty good defense (that will take a MASSIVE hit in the DVOA ratings tomorrow) they had 6 1st half drives: TD, TD, TD, TD, stopped on 4th down at the 1 ft. line, TD. Seriously--1 foot away from 6 straight TD's. Also, they lost a SEVENTH!! when Darren Sharper's weekly pick 6 was called back on a legit roughing the passer penalty (helmet-to-helmet). Remember--THIS WAS THE FIRST HALF!!
Imagine my disappointment when Brady decided to do basically the same thing to the Titanic. Tom, I hate to say it, but right now they are at the point in the movie where he says no matter what they do, too many compartments have flooded and it is a mathematical certainty that the ship will sink.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I don't think we can credit the Saints offense for the Darren Sharper non-TD, though, as he's on defense. Still, what the Saints did was downright impressive. I think they had a better 1st half than the Pats, when you consider the opponent differences. I'm hoping we can revisit the numbers once we have the opponent adjustments at 100%.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

All credit to the Saints offensive line. When the Giants d-line doesn't get pressure, the Giants' secondary is, well, to be kind, pedestrian.

Generally speaking, it really appears to me that defensive back play has fallen off a cliff, on a league wide basis. Myabe it is because I'm watching a lot of the Red Zone Channel, but, good grief, does anyone have ball skills or the ability to tackle anymore?

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The Saints are the scariest team to the Vikings in this year's playoffs (assuming they both make it, that is). Especially if Minnesota keeps kicking it to Bush.