Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Audibles at the Line: Week 8
Audibles at the Line: Week 8
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Vince Verhei

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.)

Houston Texans 31 at Buffalo Bills 10

Vince Verhei: The 2008 Houston offense is back, racking up tons of yards and not getting any touchdowns out of it. They've got three turnovers -- a brutal Matt Schaub overthrow for an interception, a tipped pass for another interception, and a Steve Slaton lost fumble. Every time I watch Houston, I get the feeling that their offense should be better than it is.

As for their defense, they gave up a touchdown on an end-around to 58- year-old Terrell Owens, which pretty much says it all.

Bill Barnwell: Is Steve Slaton injured in Houston, or benched? Ryan Moats is in and has scored two touchdowns, while Slaton has one carry and a fumble.

Tom Gower: Word I have is that Slaton was benched because of the fumble.

Vince Verhei: They did say that Slaton leads the league in lost fumbles, so this is not the first time he's hurt them that way.

Bill Barnwell: Gary Kubiak gets butthurt over that sort of stuff too quickly. He benched Slaton in Week 17 against the Bears last year, too, for an innocuous fumble.

Mike Kurtz: Slaton benching could very well ruin my entire fantasy week. I have him in both leagues, both of which are really close.

Bill Barnwell: Ryan Fitzpatrick just threw one of the worst interceptions I've ever seen. I'm sure it had to be a route miscommunication, but there were five Texans defenders closer to the ball than any Bills receiver. I'm not even sure there was a Bills receiver on that side of the field -- that's how far off the throw was.

Hearing Dick Enberg do a promo for Fedor Emelianenko, by the way, just blew my friggin' mind. "Should be fun to watch."

Cleveland Browns 6 at Chicago Bears 30

Mike Kurtz: Derek Anderson is so very, very bad. He's throwing the ball essentially straight down, even to wide-open outlet receivers. His mechanics weren't great to begin with, but something has happened and they're now about shot.

Ned Macey: What are the blackout rules? Due to the excessive promos, I spent the whole World Series game last night excited that the Lions didn't sell out so I could see NYG-PHI. Instead, I've got TMZ tv, and CBS is subjecting me to the Browns-Bears. Now I wish the Lions-Rams were on, as at least their combined putridity would give me something oddly compelling to watch.

Aaron Schatz: I really don't understand the Browns' decision-making at all. Have they just totally decided that Brady Quinn is a bust? That's the only reason to play Anderson. Anderson has done much more to prove that he's not a starting-quality NFL quarterback, and he's older. Why not figure out if Quinn can get a hang of the NFL game with some playing time and experience?

Mike Kurtz: I've been continually asking myself that same question, Aaron. My only thought is that there's something about Quinn that Eric Mangini doesn't like and for political reasons he doesn't want to make it look like Quinn is "his guy." I wouldn't be surprised if they drafted a quarterback high this coming year, in that vein.

Punt. Punt. Punt. Ugh.

Will Carroll: Simple answer: yes.

Quinn was told he was going to be released. Twice. Yet they didn't do it. They had a trade to Minnesota worked out, but Minnesota pulled out at the last second because the pick they were going to get with Quinn would have done something to their cap number.

Doug Farrar: Per PFT, If Quinn takes 70 percent of the snaps this season, he unloads some serious escalator clauses in his contract for 2010 and 2011, so you won't see him until 70 percent is an impossibility. Either the Browns are playing cheapskate, or they're concerned that any additional contract weight would make him impossible to trade.

Mike Kurtz: Awful overturn in Chicago. Jay Cutler was hit, kind of shoved the ball sideways, ruled an incomplete forward pass. Even if his arm WAS going forward, it was probably a lateral. The announcers quite astutely note that all you need to do to avoid sacks now is make half-hearted forward motions, even if your arm isn't even aimed forward.

Bill Barnwell: I disagree. It was a rush from the blind side, I don't think Cutler had the awareness to think "Oh wow, I should really start moving my arm forward."

Mike Kurtz: That might be true, but that's essentially the effect. Sideways = forward. One can easily imagine a situation where a quarterback is being dragged down and do exactly what happened there, and essentially get out of both a sack and a fumble.

Bill Barnwell: Sure. Just don't think it happened there.

Danieal Manning made one of the nicest plays of the week, reading a Derek Anderson deep post and stretching out to grab it. The operative word(s) in that sentence is...

Mike Kurtz: Nice play by Danieal Manning, diving for the interception and getting a nice return. On the other hand, it was a two-route play against Derek Anderson, but it was still incredibly athletic.

Announcers discussing the "don't pay Quinn" strategy. Pretty good announcing, actually, whomever these guys are.

And John St. Clair just poked Adewale Ogunleye's eye out. I really need DirecTV.

Browns at halftime have two passing yards. Wow.

Doug Farrar: Definition of a personnel problem: When Mike Furrey may be your best option at receiver AND safety. Also, when you have two starting-caliber (in a technical sense) quarterbacks on the roster, and your most productive quarterback is your kick returner.

Mike Kurtz: Bears with a really awful, 10-ish-yard punt, which gives Cleveland its first snap in the Bears' territory. This is literally the most interesting thing that has happened thus far in the game.

Bill Barnwell: Browns offense in a nutshell: Derek Anderson completes a pass to Steve Heiden for no gain. Heiden fumbles and Manning recovers. Anderson is 3-of-12 for 13 yards with a pick and a sack. Maybe the Browns realized Brady Quinn is the source of all their staph.

Mike Kurtz: So, Cleveland blows up a play-action, Cutler throws a throw without much hope, defender emphatically bats it away.

There's a big problem here, though: It was fourth-and-goal from the 1. Catching the ball would be a touchback, give your team some room to work with. The first two runs after the pick were almost safeties. The third, Anderson had no room and threw up an ugly pick-six. You have to try to catch the interception if the line of scrimmage is the 1. Especially if you play for the Browns.

Ned Macey: I had not seen Cleveland all year, and boy were they bad. I can't believe how awful Anderson looked; Chicago just got destroyed by the Bengals last week. This is not your 2006 Bears. I can't imagine what Cleveland is doing playing Anderson, and the playing time makes the most sense. The team is intentionally stripping its talent to acquire draft picks, but what faith do we have that the 11 picks or whatever next year will be wisely spent? Who in that organization has a history of great drafting?

Mike Tanier: The new general manager in Cleveland is an Ozzie Newsome protege, so he probably has some drafting acumen. But there's a common-sense limit to how much talent you want to strip away. You need to have some decent professional veterans somewhere.

Mike Kurtz: All the backups Mangini brought in from New York, obviously.

Aaron Schatz: Well, also, if you are going to stockpile draft picks, it might be a good idea to let the players you draft -- especially in the first round -- actually get some playing time and experience.

Seattle Seahawks 17 at Dallas Cowboys 38

Doug Farrar: Marcus Trufant is getting abused by Miles Austin. It's Trufant's first game this year, and this is embarrassing. He already has two pass interference penalties in the first half, and after those penalties, he started playing about five yards off all the way through Austin's routes. Why are the Seahawks matching their just-back-from-injury cornerback against Dallas' main threat? Oh, yeah -- because Tim Ruskell can't draft cornerbacks for crap, which means there's nobody else good enough to take the challenge.

And in the "Worst Wide Receiver Trades of All Time" derby, Roy Williams has matched Deion Branch with one touchdown each.

Aaron Schatz: Brent Celek, Miles Austin, Leonard Weaver ... nice day for NFC East prospects from Ye Olde FO Top 25 Prospects list.

Vince Verhei: Any announcer who calls Keith Brooking "Keith Brookings" should be fired on the spot. Dude's been in the league more than 10 years. Learn his name. You would never say "Peyton Mannings," would you?

Doug Farrar: I blame Phil Simms for the whole thing. Nobody will correct him on "Asante Samuels," and that just breeds carelessness.

The Seahawks' local radio crew did "Brookings" over and over, and Warren Moon called Marion Barber III "Marion Barber, Jr." at least once. I'll give Moon a pass since he played in the same era as Marion Barber, Jr.

Bill Barnwell: Goose just called the Eagles' corner "Asante Samuels," too.

Twitter post from the Mighty MJD: Miles "WNBA" Austin caught a touchdown pass and then failed in an attempt to dunk the ball over the crossbar.

St. Louis Rams 17 at Detroit Lions 10

Doug Farrar: Why the Rams are the Rams: Early in the second quarter, Matt Stafford throws a ball from the St. Louis 12 that bounces off his target, and is intercepted by safety James Butler in the end zone. Butler takes the ball out to the 1 and gets pushed back into the end zone for a safety. Rams 3, Lions 2. Whoopee!

Doug Farrar: Of course, why the Lions are the Lions: On a fake field-goal attempt toward the end of the first half, Josh Brown passes to fullback Daniel Fells, who rumbles for a 36-yard touchdown past a horrible missed tackle.

Mike Tanier: Daniel Fells leads the Rams in scoring, doesn't he?

Doug Farrar: Counting the touchdown today, Fells has three touchdowns. At the half of the DET-STL game, that matches the total of offensive touchdowns scored by every other member of the team COMBINED. The Rams still don’t have a rushing touchdown. That’s right -- Leonard Little has one more touchdown than Steven Jackson.

Bill Barnwell: I don't know if I've ever seen the lower bowl of an NFL stadium in a close game as empty as Detroit this week. There are just huge swaths of missing people.

Also, Matthew Stafford looks terrible.

Aaron Schatz: If we're looking for reasons why the projected Rams possible miracle season didn't happen, here's one: Chris Long just had his first sack of the season. So much for highly-drafted defensive ends developing in their second seasons. I'd be curious to get a scouting take on what his problem is -- maybe I'll call Greg Cosell and ask him this week.

Tom Gower: On behalf of Danny Amendola, OUCH! He just got destroyed on the kickoff return after the Lions scored to make it 10-all.

Bill Barnwell: I just saw Will James defend a pass in Detroit. Two thoughts:

1) Wow, C.C. Brown actually makes Will James look bad.

2) Jim Schwartz can't be that close of a reader of our stuff if he has Will James on the roster.

Matthew Stafford is being pressured, but he looks really erratic behind center. His mechanics are breaking down, he's scrambling when the rush is only beginning to get there, he's not stepping into his throws, etc.

Ned Macey: We had it two weeks ago, as referenced in the Michael Rosenberg article in the Detroit Free Press: The Lions are actually worse this year than last year. If Calvin Johnson comes back, I suspect that will change, as he is good enough to occupy two defenders, which allows the Bryant Johnsons of the world to occasionally make plays.

Should the Rams consider trading Steven Jackson? I doubt they could get "fair value," since he's one of the three or four best running backs, but by the time STL is good again, Jackson will be on the downside of his career.

San Francisco 49ers 14 at Indianapolis Colts 18

Tom Gower: Well, it wasn't an entirely terrible first series for the 49ers. Gore did get seven on a good inside run to start. Alas, Joe Staley was hurt on the play (though he did walk off the field on his own after the commercial), Frank Gore got stuffed on a direct snap on the second play, and Alex Smith seemed to bail out a little on the third-down pass to Vernon Davis, who looked content to merely get one foot inbound and not try to get, y'know, the required second one in.

On the Colts' first offensive series, Peyton Manning missed Pierre Garcon deep the first play (route, throw?), and Dallas Clark was ruled to have fumbled on third down, giving the 49ers good field position, but Jim Caldwell's rightly challenging the call.

Hello, 2006 regular season Colts run defense! The unit last week I castigated as maybe being the worst in the league, SF's O-line, has been able to create holes up the middle for Frank Gore. The latest play Frank Gore took all the way -- he had a lane for the first 10 yards, then bounced off two would-be tacklers before out-running the rest of the defense. Calling Bob Sanders!

The Colts are now overplaying the middle. They kept two guys there on the 49ers' last third-down play. Adam Snyder also got destroyed by Robert Mathis, so all's right with the world now that the Colts finally get a first down on their third drive of the game thanks to a missed tackle by Nate Clements (in on an extra-DB package). Nate's also returning punts this game.

OK, Sanders is playing. Michael Crabtree can't haul in a Smith pass, but deflects it to Sanders. No problem with the throw by Smith, Crabtree just didn't make the catch.

The analyst, Tim Ryan, is talking about the 49ers spreading it out and how Alex Smith has the arm strength to make the deep out. The problem is, outside of third-and-long, the 49ers are playing pretty tight formations, tighter than a normal base split, and not showing the spread formations they did in last week's second half. Plus, outside of the early pass to Davis, Smith hasn't thrown the ball outside and down the field out at all, and (guessing on formations) the Colts don't seem particularly worried about his ability to do so.

Staley update: doubtful to return. Barry Sims is playing left tackle in his place.

Peyton Manning was just sacked for the first time in five games. After that, the Colts fail on another third down, this one on a drop by Hank Baskett. The 49ers are really working hard to disguise what they're doing on third down, with guys all standing up and moving around, and have confused Peyton a couple times. 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has been doing a pretty good job thus far.

Vince Verhei: Vernon Davis scored right before half to put 49ers ahead 14-6. He had seven touchdowns in 40 games the first three years of his career; now has seven touchdowns in seven games this year.

Colts add a field goal at the end of the half to trail 14-9. I may do Any Given Sunday on the first half of this game, regardless of what happens in the second half.

Tom Gower: Peyton sacked twice more, for a total of three in the game. That play, Ray McDonald just DESTROYED Mike Pollak -- knocked him straight on his rear and had Peyton easy. Play on third down, too, forcing the Colts to settle for Matt Stover's fourth field goal, 14-12.

The decision I really question is Caldwell choosing to kick a field goal from the 13 with six seconds to play in the first half. The Colts lost a second or three taking the timeout after the completion, but still had a timeout left and probably could have at least tried a quick pass to the end zone. That's a place where not having a big wide receiver (Hank Baskett doesn't count) probably hurts them.

Aaron Schatz: Can somebody please buy the Indianapolis Colts a running game?

Tom Gower: Who needs a running game when you have a running back passing game? Joseph Addai (!) with a touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne.

Bill Barnwell: 49ers have had a secretly good rush defense this season. No. 1 at one point.

Aaron Schatz: Seventh going into this week. Colts run offense ranks 13th, and this has been a problem for the Colts for a couple years now. Addai wasn't that great last year either.

Bill Barnwell: Thirteenth isn't that bad. Granted, Manning makes them look better.

Ned Macey: Colts' run offense really has never been consistently good. It was top ten in DVOA from 2005 to 2007 but only one other year since Manning arrived.

Miami Dolphins 30 at New York Jets 25

Aaron Schatz: The Jets just sent eight guys after Chad Henne in one of the most hardcore blitzes I've ever seen. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were split backs and both saw it coming and blocked and it didn't matter. Henne is going to be seeing that in his nightmares for the next 70 years.

By the way, there's a guy in the stands at the Jets game dressed as the green Teletubbie, which I may see in *my* nightmares for the next 70 years.

Bill Barnwell: Why does Joey Porter always do pre-game activities with his midriff showing?

Vince Verhei: I'm guessing just to show off his abs. The early 90s Washington Huskies that won the National Championship had a safety named Shane Pahukoa who would tuck his jersey up tight under his pads and play the entire game with his midsection exposed. Why? Just because he was ripped to shreds.

Aaron Schatz: CBS just showed a home movie of Rex Ryan's son Sean scoring a 60-yard touchdown in a Pee Wee game this week. If you're watching the Jets-Dolphins game, that may be the only moment of actual offense you will see all day.

David Gardner: Davone Bess fumbles a fair catch around the 30 for the Jets, and the announcers say, "Well, I bet he took his eyes off the ball."

The cameras show a great zoomed-in view of Bess, and as the ball comes into his hands, the announcers say, "See, he took his eyes off the ball." The only problem? He clearly was looking at the ball the whole time, and they didn't back off the statement despite what I would like to call indisputable video evidence.

Anyway, it leads to a Mark Sanchez touchdown run and the Jets are back in business.

... and Ted Ginn, Jr., just ran back his second kickoff return for a touchdown. The first: 100 yards. The second: 101 yards.

Aaron Schatz: Ted Ginn would like to announce that Jets, Inc. is CLOSED for the day.

Bill Barnwell: If only they'd benched him earlier! Can't wait to read the articles about how he had extra focus this week or was motivated extra hard to recognize that there were huge holes for him to cut through.

Sean McCormick: I'll be shocked if DVOA doesn't show that the Jets grossly outplayed the Dolphins in this game. In the first half, the Jets could run but couldn't pass, while the Dolphins couldn't do anything. In the second half, the Jets were able to open it up on offense, but were undone by two separate 100-yard kickoff returns by Ted Ginn, Jr. There was also a strange situation where the Jets were called for illegal motion on a two-point conversion, but replays showed that the call was incorrect. It ended up being a huge call, as the Jets were down inside the red zone late in the game but needed a touchdown because of the missed conversion.

It was interesting to see Rex Ryan's adjustments from the first game. He basically played with four big down linemen all game and used linebackers to crash upfield and string out any wide plays. The Jets also demolished the moving pocket look that Dan Hennings used to effectively win the first meeting. Miami tried to roll out Henne twice and the Jets destroyed the protection and sacked Henne both times.

Vince Verhei: Oh man, you did not just call Dan Henning "Hennings," did you?

Sean McCormick: I did, I did.

I'm so ashamed.

Doug Farrar: Aw, crap. Now we have to fire Sean.

Bill Barnwell: I'm not going to accuse anyone of anything, but if we start firing people who add 's' to the end of people's names, anyone who submitted anything over the past year with "Matt Cassell" in it gets sent out with them.

Will Carroll: As long as there are editors, I'm going to spell sh*t wrong. Well, not sh*t. I can spell most of the four-letter words and use them in a sentence. Creatively.

New York Giants 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 40

Mike Tanier: Greetings from the Linc!

Sean McCormick: You can feel the vibe -- is Philadelphia in full panic mode over the World Series? Having lived there, I'm guessing yes.

Mike Tanier: The parking lots were very quiet. I think Saturday night's game stunned everyone.

Bill Barnwell: Are you worried about being recognized as a New York reporter and promptly stomped out by fans over-running the press box?

Mike Tanier: I am ... conflicted. At least I don't work for the Dallas Morning News.

(The Eagles jump out to an early lead.)

David Gardner: Looks like you're safe for now, Mike.

Vince Verhei: Leonard Weaver breaks loose for a 41-yard touchdown run. He had 16 yards on the season coming into today. In related news, I just cut Weaver from my fantasy team.

Bill Barnwell: Vince, are you in a fantasy league with a fullback slot?

Vince Verhei: No, I saw Weaver flash big-play ability in Seattle last season, and figured it would be a perfect fit for Philadelphia. So I drafted him. And waited. And waited. And waited. Then I gave up and released him. Then he scored.

This is why I only play fantasy football once a decade.

Aaron Schatz: Does anyone jump a route better than Asante Samuel? He'll pay for it sometimes, if he doesn't guess right, but he must have more interceptions than anyone else the last few years from just plain jumping on the route.

Mike Tanier: The Giants safeties are really bad.

Bill Barnwell: I feel like the Eagles drop more interceptions against the Giants than any other combination of teams in the league.

And now, after Quintin Mikell drops an Eli gift, I feel like Tanier. Just run the ball!!

David Gardner: Eli Manning is playing with some reckless abandon right now -- and I don't mean that in a good way. He's just heaving the ball out there.

Aaron Schatz: The phrase is "having fun," David. "Having fun." Not "heaving the ball."

Moose Johnston says "division games are all about opportunity." Um, aren't all football games about opportunity? How are division games any different in this respect?

This must be a Kevin Gilbride thing, but I noticed the Giants motion Madison Hedgecock out to wide receiver from the I-formation. I wrote a couple years ago in PFP about them doing this with Jim Finn. Who is supposed to be scared of the fullback motioned out wide? They've only thrown to Hedgecock five times this season. If the point is to get the defense to show man or zone, there has to be a better way to do it. Motioning a block-first fullback out wide is just like announcing "we feel like playing with 10 guys right now."

Mike Tanier: Motioning the fullback is an old Norv Turner Cowboys trick.

Aaron Schatz: DeSean Jackson just caught what looked like a 1,000-yard touchdown. Man, the Giants safeties REALLY suck.

Mike Tanier: Eagles fans are starting to forget what happened Saturday night across the street.

Aaron Schatz: And then Eli Manning throws a floater, and Donovan McNabb hits Jeremy Maclin deep for another touchdown right before halftime. 30-7, and we are in full ass-whipping mode. What's the press box like in Philly, Mike? I mean, we all got pretty goofy in New England when they keelhauled the Titans but the Titans were a bad team. This is total destruction of a really good division rival.

Mike Tanier: I am surrounded by the New York media. Shhhhh.

Bill Barnwell: C.C. Brown should not be allowed on the field. I mean ... he's just so far below replacement level. It burns.

The Giants recover a Donovan McNabb fumble and Fred Robbins "laterals" to Osi Umenyiora during the return, which ends up being an illegal forward pass. Two comments on this:

1) It's irritating to hear Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa compliment Robbins on his heads-up play, which is all outcome and no process. Had Robbins failed on his lateral and the Eagles recovered, they would have been lining up to criticize his bad play.

2) Osi Umenyiora should be an actor if this football thing turns out. He was happy when the official announced that the replay revealed that it was a fumble, and then proceeded to respond to the announcement that it was an illegal forward pass with the facial equivalent of "wat."

Mike Tanier: I got home at 5:45 Eastern, despite doing the pressers and Giants locker room (a de-presser) and having to fight through throngs of totally insane Phillies fans. The secrets: 1) Live 3 miles from stadium, 2) Park 1.5 miles from stadium.

Denver Broncos 7 at Baltimore Ravens 30

Doug Farrar: Alphonso Smith grabs Derrick Mason’s jersey and doesn’t get flagged for it early in the Broncos-Ravens game. Obvious interference, and Mason throws his helmet on the sideline in frustration. Mason gets the 15-yard flag and an earful from John Harbaugh.

Ed Reed just destroyed Knowshon Moreno on a screen, causing a fumble that the Ravens recovered. Kid's gotta keep his head on a swivel when No. 20's around.

Tom Gower: While he wasn't flagged for it, Mason harangued the officials for a couple minutes, all through an injury timeout, in the BAL-TEN playoff game last year. Maybe I just don't remember him for it, but he seems to have really taken on the wide receiver diva persona. I wonder if it's just a reaction to declining physical skills.

Also, Dan Dierdorf needs to be told there's no such thing as a football move anymore in determining whether a pass is a completed catch.

For the Broncos, right tackle Ryan Harris was carted to the locker room early in the second quarter and is doubtful.

Jacksonville Jaguars 13 at Tennessee Titans 30

Tom Gower: Well, the Titans get points on the opening drive with a 48 yard field goal from Rob Bironas and thanks to Derek Cox beating Justin Gage down the field only to drop a wide-open interception in the end zone. Most of the yards came from Chris Johnson being Chris Johnson. They also showed a little bit of college-style read option, including on the third-and-5 from the 31 prior to the field goal.

Reggie Nelson: not a cornerback. He's starting in place of Rashean Mathis, with Brian Russell playing at free safety, and just got destroyed by Nate Washington off the line on second-and-goal from the 6. Vince Young was throwing it quick, so that's the Titans' first touchdown in about 9.5 quarters.

Jack Del Rio is again using the "Don't run the ball" tactic against the Titans, but it's not working as well thus far. The Titans seem to be bringing more pressure, and Rod Hood just got a pick off "The Umpire Strikes Back: DB Revenge," as Torry Holt ran into the umpire, knocking him off his route, and Hood was able to take advantage of it to grab the pick.

Maurice Jones-Drew has five carries for 172 yards, including touchdowns of 80 and 79 yards. The 79 yarder featured David Garrard shielding off Michael Griffin as MJD went into the end zone. It's not very often you see a quarterback hustle 60 yards downfield and prevent the safety from tackling his running back. The Titans held the ball for 22:08 in the first half, and are tied when they get the ball back in the second half (thanks, Michael Griffin, for blocking the extra point).

Our Seattle contingent will probably appreciate that on Chris Johnson's 89-yard touchdown run on third-and-4 from his own 11-yard line, Brian Russell was in perfect position to make the tackle seven yards downfield. That's the fourth touchdown run of 50-plus this game and the third of 79-plus.

One thing that hasn't been talked about that much is that the Titans have given the ball to Chris Johnson a lot this game. He had about 13 first-half carries, which is more than he normally gets. They give him 15 to 25 touches so consistently I'm sure it's intentional, which just goes to suggest they really want to win this game. I hope this isn't part of a trend, because Jeff Fisher will run a player into the ground and that would be a waste of C.J.'s limited shelf life the way this year is going.

Aaron Schatz: Confused. It hasn't been talked about how the Titans are giving the ball to Johnson a lot today? Talked about by who, the announcers in that game? Or do you mean they give him the ball a lot in the first half overall in every game? 20 carries per game is 320, which isn't really a problem.

Tom Gower: He had 22 carries late in the third quarter, on pace for 30 in the game. Twenty-two tied his season-high and it's only the third time in his career he's had 20-plus carries. By not talking about it, I mean they're ignoring the well-established tendency of limiting Johnson's carries and keeping him fresh.

The Jags are having intermittent but not consistent success passing. Garrard has only made one really bad throw, when he airmailed Mike Sims-Walker right and put it right to Cortland Finnegan as the Jags were driving, but the Titans have been getting much more pressure than they did in the previous game. I think they're bringing extra guys a little more, plus the players are just playing better. I think part of that is Jason Jones inside. Garrard also hasn't gotten much help from his wideouts.

Carolina Panthers 34 at Arizona Cardinals 21

Tom Gower: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie just bit HARD on a smoke-and-go to Steve Smith that produced an easy 50-yard touchdown.

Minnesota Vikings 38 at Green Bay Packers 26

Vince Verhei: On Percy Harvin's not-quite-touchdown kickoff return, the most impressive player to me was Nick Collins, for Green Bay. I don't know if he actually made an impact on the tackle, but he was actually catching up to Harvin even before Harvin was caught up in traffic.

Mike Kurtz: FOX has some kind of weird audio filter on right now, or maybe it's just our local broadcast, but it makes everyone sound like Darth Vader. Oddly appropriate for MIN-GB.

David Gardner: It's sad for Aaron Rodgers how badly his offensive line is playing right now.

Mike Kurtz: Part of me hoped that that first Peterson touchdown, where he reached the ball out and it popped out, wasn't actually a score, just so we could see the lineman who was heads-up enough to grab the ball in the air and charge toward the goal-line get a touchdown. That would have been a cool play.

David Gardner: Jimmy Johnson: "It wasn't any secret what Green Bay had to do to stay in this ball game: They had to protect Aaron Rodgers. Had they watched our pregame show, they would have known: protect Aaron Rodgers."

I wonder if the Packers even thought of that ... Johnson should call Mike McCarthy.

Aaron Schatz: The Vikings are awfully impressive. They've turned into an all-around team this year. Adding Brett Favre is part of that, of course, but the receivers have really improved. Sidney Rice has blossomed, and Percy Harvin is excellent for a rookie. On defense, they're getting on without Antoine Winfield. Their weakest unit now is probably the linebackers, but even they are league average.

And you know who I think is playing pretty well today? Phil Loadholt, the rookie right tackle. He's keeping Favre clean, even when he's up against Aaron Kampman, and he does an excellent job of pushing his man way back when the Vikings run a draw.

(Now, into the third quarter...)

This is interesting. Not only have the Packers suddenly come alive in the third quarter, but they are doing this while only leaving five to block on each pass. I don't know how long they can keep the passing game hot without Rodgers going down again unless they leave some blockers behind.

I think it would take someone with much more scouting experience than me, and some coaches' film with slow-motion replay, to figure out what the Packers changed in their offensive line protection scheme in the second half. But whatever it was, it really worked.

One last note about this game. Has anybody ever noticed Mason Crosby's eyebrows? Egads! I think they are permanently in "angry" slanted position.


154 comments, Last at 05 Nov 2009, 2:03am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Is this a new record for earliest Audibles??

The NYJ/MIA game was amazing in its own way (except for the Jets' unis -- I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't the Chargers).

And boy -- Gostkowski'd better work on kicking touchbacks next week...

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

There's only ever 1 Sunday night world series game. Unless there's like 4 straight rain outs or something. The World Series runs from Wednesday to Thursday (if there's 7 games), with two off days in between.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

There's only ever 1 Sunday night world series game

Well, ever is a strong word. Until recently, the Series was structured so that game 7 (when the series went 7) would be a Sunday night. So even though the NFL wouldn't go against the first Sunday night of the Series, they would have Sunday night games against the deciding game of the World Series. If a new TV partner wants to change the series again, I'm sure MLB would accomodate them.

As a Saints' fan, I believe they hosted a game (against the Jets?) the night of Arizona's game 7 victory over the Yankees some years back. I believe the NFL cities that don't have MLB teams generally host the night games this time of year, which is probably why New Orleans gets to host its first night game of the year this week.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Awful overturn in Chicago. Jay Cutler was hit, kind of shoved the ball sideways, ruled an incomplete forward pass. Even if his arm WAS going forward, it was probably a lateral. The announcers quite astutely note that all you need to do to avoid sacks now is make half-hearted forward motions, even if your arm isn't even aimed forward.

This made no sense when Solomon Wilcots said it during the game, and it makes no sense now. He was quite obviously attempting to make a pass, and his arm was moving forward. It makes no difference if his arm was pointed sideways because of the contact, and it sure as hell makes no difference whether or not the pass attempt was "half-hearted" (the same word Wilcots used).

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

It makes all the difference in the world. If his arm is moving sideways the ball goes sideways (or backwards). If it's going sideways, it's a lateral. If it's backward, it's a backward pass. Either way it's a fumble, not a incompletion, and his arm can be moving whatever direction from his body it feels like doing.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The rule should be that if the ball goes sideways or backwards -- even if the QB is attempting a forward pass -- it's a fumble. Why should intent matter if the "pass," as a matter of fact, was not "forward"? But I'm not sure that's the rule.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Oh yeah -- the Jets also got screwed on one of their 2pt conversion attempts. Where the heck was the "illegal shift"?? I saw no one moving at all except for a single man in motion. Anyone see what the heck the supposed illegality was?

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Nope, I couldn't see it either. I wonder if maybe the replay they showed started too late and failed to catch a second Jets player moving at the same time? That's the only alternative I think of to whats otherwise an inexplicably bad call. It's not like a bang bang play or something involving referee judgment.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Given Bill Barnwell's usage of "butthurt" and "wat", it seems pretty clear that he frequents (or is at least familiar with)

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

With 1 minute left in the game the Raiders needing to drive for the touchdown. They some how ran a pass pattern where both wide receivers simply ran down the field into one another and both fell down. Literally the funniest thing I've seen in a while. I wonder what the Raider playbook will look like in next years Madden.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Very glad the audibles crew checked out as early as they did on the Bronco game. It was just some sort of masochism that made me check in the first place, I suppose.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"Any announcer who calls Keith Brooking 'Keith Brookings' should be fired on the spot."

During the halftime highlights, Shannon Sharpe called Danieal Manning "Danieal Manningham." Sharpe seems to butcher the highlights every week. Of course, Terry Bradshaw is just as bad doing the highlights on Fox.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Come on, nothing on Raiders-Chargers? "JaMarcus Russell drops back for his first pass of the game...and it's picked off!" It's the story of the last 6 years of the Raiders franchise, encapsulated in one man and one play. Also, it was absolutely hilarious.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

My favorite was JaMarcus's "two minute drill" at the end of the game.

1st-10, SD44 2:00 J. Russell sacked by S. Phillips. J. Russell fumbled. C. Carlisle recovered fumble
2nd-23, OAK43 1:20 OAK committed 5 yard penalty
2nd-28, OAK38 1:18 J. Russell sacked by S. Merriman
3rd-31, OAK35 1:07 J. Russell passed to Z. Miller to the right for 11 yard gain
4th-20, OAK46 0:54 J. Russell incomplete pass down the middle

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

My favourite was the 2nd and 28 sack - two of the Raiders receivers managed to get blocked into each other and take each other out. The two Chargers defenders covering just kind of look at them on the floor then move away, as if out of sympathy.

Its at about 2.15 of this video:

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

My favourite was the 2nd and 28 sack - two of the Raiders receivers managed to get blocked into each other and take each other out. The two Chargers defenders covering just kind of look at them on the floor then move away, as if out of sympathy.

I saw it on nfl network. I've never laughed so hard watching football.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The Vikings' pass rushers sometimes seem to get gassed in the 2nd half, although, to be fair, they did hold up o.k. until late against the Ravens and Steelers. Beyond the fact that he seems to be a good guy, it would have been nice to see Udeze make it back to add depth to the defensive line. The defense played o.k., once one considers that 10 points came on very short fields. Please let Winfield get healthy, so Paymah's snaps can be reduced to what he is suited for; they are getting by with him, but just barely.

There is reason for Vikings fans to be hopeful that this team can continue to improve, given decent injury luck. I think Henderson is getting a little more back to form each week, and Loadholdt is improving, as is Harvin, which is a little scary. If the old fart doesn't get hurt, which I think is still iffy, it'll be fun to watch.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

They're getting by without Winfield largely because the front four are getting pressure. Based on that, I think Winfield can take his time in recuperating; our next 4 weeks are - bye, Detroit, Seattle, Chicago.

Them's some junky junky O-lines. Shoot, they can probably give Old Man Williams a breather in there as well.

It also appears that the new center - Sullivan? - is getting better. I was concerned about them letting Birk go to Baltimore.

Still - a week in the middle of the season to rest, then I see no more than five losses remaining, and that's being very generous. Chicago, Arizona, Cincy, Chicago, NY Giants. Probably more like 3-4 losses from here out, barring injury to Favruh, Purple Jesus, or Jared Allen.

On a side note - can someone teach Jared Allen a different 'sack dance'? Because the 'rope a calf' thing really isn't working. It might've in KC, or perhaps in Denver, but he's in Minny now. Can someone perhaps teach him to pantomime augering ice, then sitting on the QB whilst pretending to fish for walleye?

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

It's a reference to Allen's history not a reference to the teams for which he plays. Allen can do the Achy Breaky Heart dance for all I care, so long as he gets the sacks.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Blaming Phil Simms for the "Assante Samuels" thing, and the way it propagates throughout NFL announcers, is probably a good call. Being from Virginia, I've observed that this is a southern thing--putting s's on the ends of last names that don't have them. For example, that bookstore that we all know and love gets referred to as "Barnes and Nobles" down here more often than not. Phil Simms is from Kentucky--you do the math.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I used to work in a store called Reeve: everyone referred to it as "Reeves's", especially when writing a check. You can't imagine how that wound me up.

In Packerland we now have The Case of the Vanishing D. No, nothing to do with Atari Bigby in coverage — rather the consistent misspelling of Aaron RoDgers and Daryn ColleDge. After 20 years of reading about Bret Farve and Don Majowski, my heart sank a little when we drafted Brian Vroom.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I don't think that's a Southern thing. In Montana, we also called it Barnes & Noble's, and there were other, similar -s additions. In those cases, however, it may just as well have been because we're used to store names like that using a possessive.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

We do it in Chicago, too. Jewel is a big supermarket chain, and in Bridgeport (Mayor Daley's old neighborhood), it's always "the Jewel's" --- or, really "the Jewelse", because we tend to de-voice the final "s". One time a bunch of guys stopped their car to ask how to get to several different nightclubs, and they added a possessive to each one ("Shelter's", "Drink's", and "Kaboom's").

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I disagree. If we don't stand up, the s's will win.

Besides, it really shouldn't be that hard to say correctly. I mean, stores have these monster signs ... if you leave out a letter or two, maybe that's understandable, but I never heard someone say they thought it was Targets or Krogers or Meijers or whatever because someone got a crane and hooked another S up onto the sign.

And they have these wonderful media guides and such for the NFL. A rookie might get his name misspelled the first week or two, or maybe even the first year, but hell, Brooking has been around for many, many seasons of Madden (so anyone who ever played as Atlanta better get his name right).

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The who said Targets is a nice, sincere caring person. He is well spoken and intelligent. So he says Targets? I can live with it.

On the other hand he is from Troy and the biggest Lions fan I know, so maybe it is part of some deep seated emotional issue.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

A guy I used to date always referred to Wawa (those of you from Philly/S Jersey will know what I mean) as "Wawa's." It drove me batshit since there is no "s" anywhere in "Wawa."

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

My Dad's favorite beer was Miller Genuine Draft. Except he always called it Miller's. "Hey, if you're going to the store, pick up some Miller's Genuine Draft for me."
Now his favorite beer is Sam Adams, except he calls it Sam Adam. No "s". Go figure.

16 Panthers at Cardinals

The smoke-and-go was a thing of beauty. The Panthers have run that play so often that other teams were "onto it." DRC had definitely seen it on tape.

Jeff Davidson is definitely trying to fight for his job. Last week, with 1 WR left, and Double TE-right, the FB montioned into the left slot, drawing an LB that way. TE Out for a huge gain.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Oh, and if Rodgers starts 16 games, it's a miracle. I can understand getting beat by good pass rushers, but what's with the Don't Even Attempt to Block Jared Allen Scheme?

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Sorry, but Rodgers getting sacked an awful lot is not a problem from the Offensive Line in the first place. In the first and second quarter, it took Rodgers ages to get rid of the ball. And he never seems to throw it out of bounds. He released quicker in the third quarter, and Green Bay got things rolling.

Sorry, but nobody ever seems to complain about Rodgers "catapult slow delivery"? If he takes so much time back there, no surprise he gets levelled 14 times.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I have been writing on this site that Rodgers would have a major sack problem before the start of the 2008 season. I suggested that GB's record would drop precipitously but that Rodgers would not be blamed because his sacks which kill the offence would be blamed on the offensive line.

A year and half later - GB goes 10-13 following a 13-3 season with a young seemingly up and coming team and all I read is how wonderful Rodgers is and how horrible the line is.

I simply don't understand how anyone can watch Favre and Rodgers play in the same game and come to the conclusion that Favre isn't the far better QB now let alone Favre at the same age.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Rodgers can hold it too long and the line can still play poorly. They chose not to block Allen at all on more than one play!

Still, one has to wonder what's going on in his head on some of those sacks. He has very talented receivers that get open very well. His actual release isn't bad when he decides to throw, and he's mobile enough to avoid rushers and throw on the run. So why is he taking so many of what look like coverage sacks? I wonder if there are certain plays that they should just remove from the playbook because he's prone to indecisiveness in only certain situations.

Anyway, he's 23 games into his career as a starter. Nobody's expecting perfection. He's still doing pretty well despite this one flaw. Refusing to admit that the kid has a boatload of talent, great arm, and can make a lot of very good things happen is just making you look biased. You seem to just be pro-Favre/anti-Rodgers because it suits your initial theory and makes you look smarter. Do you really think Favre would've outperformed Rodgers in either of these two games if their teams had been switched? Even most Favre supporters would admit that Minnesota still wins both games, and probably much more decisively.

Regarding your observations about Rodgers throws under duress - maybe we're defining duress differently but I've seen him make some uncommonly good throws while on the run. And not like rollout speed running - I'm talking about a full sprint away from defenders, quick wrist flick, long completion.

Interesting thought about holding - I'd like to see some stats about that too. (I'm sure one could probably also argue that part of the reason they get beat more often might be that they're just not very good at holding.)

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"You seem to just be pro-Favre/anti-Rodgers because it suits your initial theory and makes you look smarter. Do you really think Favre would've outperformed Rodgers in either of these two games if their teams had been switched? Even most Favre supporters would admit that Minnesota still wins both games, and probably much more decisively.

Yes I do think Favre would have out performed Rodgers if they reversed teams because I think he's a better QB than Rodgers. I also think GB would have won the division last year had they but up with Favre's nonsense and kept him as their QB.

"Regarding your observations about Rodgers throws under duress - maybe we're defining duress differently but I've seen him make some uncommonly good throws while on the run. And not like rollout speed running - I'm talking about a full sprint away from defenders, quick wrist flick, long completion."

Here's how I would break down Rodgers:


Good accuracy
Avoids interceptions
Throws very well on the run
Handles the blitz well because he gets the ball out quickly and accurately on hot reads
Solid runner


Extremely indecisive if he doesn't see the initial reads
Slow to go through progressions
Not a great pocket presence and easy to sack
Takes far too many sacks
turns way to many pass plays into sacks or runs

I think the reason so many people think Rodgers is a top QB is because the things he does well are the things people attribute to the QB - throwing skills. The reason I think he's merely average is that while he has very good skills in key areas he is extremely weak in other key areas that most people attribute to the offensive line. The balance makes for an average QB.

By the way - this is not a Viking fan comment. I always thought Culpepper was a very over rated QB. Culpepper likes Rodgers was a very accurate passer who ran well. But he took to long to get rid of the ball and took too many sacks.

151 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I like your breakdown and analysis, but I still think you're exaggerating with your conclusion. Especially the part about the Packers winning the division last year, which I think is preposterous. Rodgers clearly outplayed Favre last year, even in those areas in which he is weak, and the rest of the team's play was abysmal. Maybe Peyton Manning takes that team to the playoffs, but not Favre.

I also think that most of the things in the Weaknesses column are to be expected of a 2nd year starter and can be improved. And I also think that those things would all be extremely minor factors if the two QBs switched places. With the way Favre is playing this year I can no longer say I think Rodgers is better (though I'll still say the Packers were right to trade Favre, since they'd otherwise be screwed for next year), but I do think that if Rodgers got to play behind the Viking line instead of his own we'd really only see his strengths (in these games). Meanwhile, Favre would avoid 2-3 of the sacks per game but throw a few more incompletions and probably picks. That difference would likely change the outcomes.

Anyway, I think the Packers have too many other flaws to be considered a top team even if/when Rodgers corrects those issues though. I'm pretty regularly disappointed in their coaching and discipline. The stupid penalties they seem to always take remind me of my Giants a few years back (including a redux of that in the NFCCG against the Packers). I have a hard time remembering anything about their 07 season other than the end, so I don't know what has changed, but I suspect it was a lot more than the QB.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

If you gain 47 yards or whatever it is I doubt your offensive line played particularly well. I'm not arguing that Rodgers is Derek Anderson bad, but that he isn't anything more than an average QB when you take into account all facets of his game.

Every time I've watched the guy he reacts to pressure by freezing and getting sacked or running. I almost never see him make a good pass play while under duress.

If you add up the sacks and Rodgers runs (which I presume were largely called pass plays) you see that over 20% of GB's pass plays turn into a sack or a Rodgers run. I think that leads to and under achieving offence.

Pass Attempts - 225
Sacks - 31
Runs - 29
Pct - 21%

Add those 60 sacks and runs together and you get -5 yards on 60 plays.

I'm curious of something - I would suspect offensive lines blocking for QB's that take a lot of sacks have a higher percentage of holding penalties. Anyone ever seen anything on that?

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Over at p-f-r they have a stat called Adjusted Net Yards per pass = (Pass Yd - Sack Yd + 20 * Pass TD - 45 * INT)/(Pass Att + Sacks) that should account for the actual sacks taken and factor in inefficiency caused by incompletions. You'll have to read further over there as to why they chose those coefficients for pass td and INTs.

Anyway, ANY/A thinks that Rodgers is playing pretty well despite all those sacks. His 7.8 ANY/A is 5th in the league (Peyton, Brees, Romo, Rivers and includes yesterday's games). Favre is 9th at 7.2. For comparison, Favre in 2007 was 7.2 as well, i.e. he's playing about as well this year as in 2007 (at least in terms of passing efficiency). Last year, Rodgers was at 6.6 and Favre, 4.9. So while the sacks hurt Rodgers physically and may drag his numbers down eventually, by one measurment they aren't hurting the team as much as you might think.

Also, Rodgers' sack rate was 6.0% last year, better than this year's Favre (6.6%), for whatever that comparison is worth. However, Rodgers is much worse this year (12.1%).

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Valid point about the sack rate doubling this year. Clearly the offensive line is declining in capability. But how many good QB's have put up a 12% sack rate anywhere?

By the way, I started this debate when I noticed Rodgers reg and pre season sack rate prior to 2008 was around 13-14%. What was interesting is how consistent it was. Each pre-season and reg season he would put up 10-14% sack rates - it wasn't like 3% one pre-season but 15% in the regular season - it was always right around 13%. I suspect he had a 6% sack rate because the offensive line in 2008 was pretty darn good. Favre managed a 2.2% sack rate on that team in 2007. I think he's likely behind a fairly average line now and he's now back to his normal range.

Not much point continuing this debate. I think Rodgers is hurting the Packers. I don't think he'll have much of a career and I doubt he'll be a starter in this league 5 years from now because I think he's average and average QB's don't last long as starters. If I'm wrong he'll be around for years, or he might even lead the Packers to the playoffs this year or next and make me look silly. Lets all wait and see shall we?

152 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Well, we obviously disagree pretty strongly about his abilities and contribution to that team, but setting that aside, even if he is just league average he'll still have a job in five years. Don't forget how bad some other teams have it.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you're decidedly not in the Kurt Warner for HOF camp, right?

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

FooBarFooFoo I want to give you a number for you to ponder: + 102%

That is the percentage difference of how many sacks the GB offensive line will give up if they continue on this pace. They are on pace to give up more than 102 percent more sacks then they gave up last year. Could Aaron Rodgers sack totals been lower if he throws the ball away sooner? Yes, but the fact that he is getting sacked more than double the rate than he did last year is a clear sign that the vast majority of those sacks are the fault of the GB offensive line, particularly their atrocious left side. TJ Lang is woefully inadequate and is a turnstile. No matter how anybody can spin it the Packers needs to improve their offensive line. I'm not talking about transporting Anthony Munoz or Walter Jones at their peaks to play for them, but just decent linemen. As for Rodgers, I've always suspected this: he is average at throwing the ball away. He could improve on it, but he isn't horrible at it either. I live in Wisconsin, but am not a Packers fan, but I most that most of the negative sentiment against Rodgers has more to do with (to steal a boxing analogy) Larry Holmes syndrome: no matter how good you are you're going to take harsh criticism for any perceived flaw because you're following a legend. Too many people around here loves Favre, so they will look at any little imperfection and blow it out of proportion as proof that he isn't any good. Never mind the fact that he is already very, very good with a chance of becoming a truly great QB.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I'd say it was linked to the Third-String Rookie Guard Now Starting at Left Tackle Strategy.

Alternatively, it could be a couple of California youngsters showing an old gunslinger how to carry off a phoney sack, Hollywood-style.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Well if you've got Rodgers in the Dead Pool, give me Cutler. He got knocked silly by DVOA's 28th ranked pass rush yesterday, so his season is basically guaranteed not to last past the first Minnesota game.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

One thing that ticked me off in the Vikes Pack game was the uncalled fumble that the Pack had at the beginning of the game. It didn't matter in the end, but if the Peterson strip fumble in week 4 was a fumble and not forward progress I don't see how that one wasn't either. the officials either need to call the turnover and let the other team challenge it or the NFL should make any play challengable. Forward progress was a crap call there.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8


I liked that Leber brought the ball to the endzone anyhow. You never know when a call could be overturned but isn't because several people give up on the play and there's no obvious recovering team.

21 Vikings Pack

Early Audibles - Its a good thing

I still can't get my head around the Vikings having good special teams. Seems unnatural.

Vikings have done well with draft picks who dropped for one reason or another. Peterson / Harvin with this regime and Moss before that. Helps make up for the Dimitrious Underwood pick and the WR from Carolina...

Vikings seem to do great against conventional teams. Opponents need to go unorthodox to have success against them.

23 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by moe

That's an interesting point - certainly seems to be a bit of a pattern there with Minny willing to roll the dice a bit. It helped that Moss and Harvin dropped down into the 20s, so it wasn't quite as risky to pick them (not that Harvin was a risk, anyhow; every year someone gets kneecapped pre-draft for stupid reasons, and he was the lucky winner last year.)

65 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by peachy (not verified)

Lucky indeed. Yesterday during the game I said to my wife, "how lucky is Harvin? He's all upset that he made a poor decision and failed a drug test before the combine, and sure, his drop in the draft cost him millions. But now he's on a team with Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre (double awesome) and his team's about to be 7-1. I'll bet he's glad the Raiders or some such team didn't take him earlier!"

71 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by peterplaysbass (not verified)

Ya' know, if you were a top ten pick who just won a 100 million dollar Powerball, and didn't have a huge need to make as much money as possible, and just wanted to maximize your chance to win a championship, you'd be well advised to pull a Michael Phelps about two weeks before the draft.

95 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

Interesting strategy and the $100M powerball win makes it a no-brainer in my mind. Even better, you could pick your preferred team by comitting to stay in college for your senior year, and then in April or so, let an agent buy you dinner. BOOM! your NCAA eligibilty is gone but because you are appealing the case, nobody will potentially waste a draft pick on you. Then the day after the draft, drop your appeal, and call on your preferrd team to sign you as an UDFA.

But it's also intriguing for guys not named Thurston Howell III. Of course pretty risky. If you think you are a top-10 pick (let's use #5 as an average) you are likely to get about $10M guaranteed and a long-term contract for about $40M (rough numbers) playing for a godawful team with criminally bad management and talent. Yeah, at age 45 I can see pros and cons there. But a 21 year-old kid who grew up poor...?

The flipside is hoping for some sort of a controlled free-fall because 2 weeks before the draft you got a speeding ticket and made an ass of yourself so the cops had to book you and you made sure it got into the papers. (I tried to go for "mild character concerns" as opposed to taking hostages or smuggling a kilo of heroin in your underwear.) Say you fall to pick #20 and gets only $2M guaranteed and a long-term contract for $20M, but with a playoff caliber team and possibly better talent/management/coaching. Playoffs, superbowl chances, the second contract/extension is likely to be bigger in scenario #2 in my view, and probably more HOF potential down the line.... $2M Still seems like a lot of money, but on an IRR and NPV basis (because of the risk of injury, what discount rate do you use?), it's a tough call.

Edgerrin James's tale would be a notable exception, but you don't often find a team turning around from 3-13 to 13-3 and then making the playoffs every year.

99 Re: Vikings Pack

That wouldn't work. You wouldn't be draft eligible if you didn't declare for the draft by the cutoff date. So you wouldn't be an undrafted free agent after the draft. Under your sceanrio, I think you would end up in the supplemental draft a few months later.

100 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by Bobman

Howza'bout showing up dead drunk at the draft, and every time the ESPN cameras light up on you, ya' pull a pint bottle of Wild Turkey out of your suit pocket, and give it a good, long, pull? If that doesn't visibly discourage the Raiders contingent, your could try puking into a waste basket.

101 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

Couldn't you just criticize any decision Al Davis, or any current Raider has ever made?

114 Actually...

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

That may be a bad example. You should never tempt Al with that kind of behavior!

137 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

It seems odd that Owen Schmitt did NOT do this at the draft. One would expect...

126 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by Will Allen (not verified)

I've also thought of this. What I would add to it is first discuss the "project" with the team of my choice. Everyone is upset with my conduct, I fall on the draft board, but my future team knows that it was all made up.

76 Re: Vikings Pack

In reply to by peterplaysbass (not verified)

I think if I was some WR prospect coming out of college and I knew I was the fastest guy there, I'd purposely run juuuuuust a bit slower so somebody else would be fast enough to be drafted by the Raiders ahead of me.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I'm surprised no one mentions the Eagles play of the year :

Tuck deflects a McNabb's pass, the ball ends up in his open arms, 10 yards away from the EZ, then McNabb gets to him, strip the ball from him and run 9 yards with it. That was wonderful.

Same game, the Robbins lateral review :

Announcers were saying : "He laterals it at the 38, Osi gets it around the 32, looks like a forward pass". Less SamuelS, more PhysicS please.

Oh and J.Byrd just got his 3rd straight game with 2 INTs, which is quite amazing.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Neither of Byrd's interceptions were exactly great plays. The first was a horrific overthrow by Schaub that went straight to Byrd, who had no receiver near him. The second was thrown a little behind Andre Johnson on an in-route. Johnson tried to make the adjustment but only succeeded in tipping the ball up in the air and into the arms of Byrd, who was almost certainly too far behind him to have made the tackle had he been hit in-stride and caught the ball.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I was actually annoyed when when I figured out that Byrd had gotten the interceptions. I knew people were going to make a huge deal out of it even though his interceptions against the Texans were mainly luck. Certainly not going to help Brian Cushing's chances for DROY

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I say this as an avid Oregon Ducks fan and alumnus; Jairus Byrd is no more than an average defensive back. If he's considered the mainstay of the Buffalo secondary, then Buffalo is in trouble.

...Okay, Buffalo is in MORE trouble.

Patrick Chung, on the other hand - very good player. New England should be better off with him in there for years.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Thankfully the two Packer Viking games occurred in the first half of the season. The second half won't be all about Brett Favre coming to Lambeau. With the division championship seemingly an impossibility, it's now a race for the wild card and emphasis (for us fans) is the horse race with the Bears, Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, and Falcons for the two wild cards.

The ridiculous Johnny Jolly head butt had a dramatic effect later in the game. What would have been a three point Viking score became seven. The Packers would have kicked the extra point to tie the game at 27; instead, they went for two with the score 31-26.

I didn't understand McCarthy's decision to kick a 51 yard field goal on the second to last Packers' possession when the Pack had a chance to take the lead, trailing 31 to 26. Rodgers made a poor decision on the Vikings' 34 on 3rd and 8 and tossed deep and incomplete to Driver instead of looking short or scrambling on that roll out for whatever yards he could get. That set up a fourth and eight.

Now, the team's best player is Rodgers. The team's best unit is the passing offense. In the second half, that unit was doing whatever it wanted against the Viking defense. If a fourth down throw was incomplete, the Vikings would get the ball on the 34 and the Packer D would need a stop for Rodgers to have one more go at a touchdown. Less than five minutes remained.

McCarthy's decision was to take his best player off the field and bring in Mason Crosby, who has a cannon for a leg but is 0 for clutch in his career. Seriously, none of us Packer fans could recall one kick that Crosby has made in a critical situation. Once again, plenty of distance, but wide right. Oh for clutch plus one.

So rather than try to win the game at that instance by having Rodgers, his best player, make one eight-yard pass, McCarthy elects to bank on the trifecta of an erratic kicker, a kickoff coverage unit that had been repeatedly torched during the game, and a defense to force a three and out, just to leave his best player with about a minute to drive the field to let the erratic kicker try another game winner. All this with only one timeout available, as the Packers wasted two timeouts because the defense lined up with 12 men one time and because the offense couldn't get a play in quick enought following Rodgers' 30-yard run. Me, I take my shot on that fourth and eight to keep the drive alive.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Honestly, not one of the ten of us could remember Crosby's kick in that game. All we recall about the 2007 NFC championship is Favre looking so flat and uncomfortable at game time and his OT pick to end another season.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I suggest that you torture yourself by watching it again some time — if only to get a more realistic perspective on what happened. The Packers got schooled on offense, defense and on the sidelines. Favre had a mediocre game, but Grant was terrible, Al Harris even worse, and both lines got stomped all game long. McCarthy didn't adjust until too late (no, really!) and had it not been for some Lawrence Tynes comedy kicking — and Crosby's equalizer — there would have been no overtime interception for you to remember.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I wouldn't say both line got stomped in that game. The run blocking was woeful to be sure, but the pass protection was a lot better than what New England was able to muster.

I agree with you on every other point, although fumble luck was a friend of the Giants that night.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Don't forget that Giants like Sam Madison were doing everything in their power to level the playing field by committing the dumbest drive-sustaining penalties in history. That helped a lot too.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Pete, Crosby isn't the most accurate distance kicker, but his first NFL game ever was won against Philly with a game winning FG, either as time expired or with just a few seconds left.

A 51 yarder is well within Crosby's range, and probably as good of a chance that the offense can pick up a 1st on 3rd and 8.

If anything should be second guessed about GB's coaching decisions it's the entire offensive game plan for the first half.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I'm glad someone brought that field goal up. I was listening on the radio and was screaming inside my car. And I don't even care about either team.

Part of this was that I thought the first field goal that half, when down 24-3, was ridiculous. 4th and goal, down 3 scores, why kick the FG that still leaves you down 3 scores? To that point, the offense had been useless and the D mediocre. Of course, I guess McCarthy had the luxury of knowing that he had flipped the ON switch for his offense, while I did not, but I didn't like that at all. Those 4 extra points (assuming success, which of course is not guaranteed) sure would've helped later in the comeback, whereas those 3 weren't ever all that useful.

Anyway, it turned out that that wasn't too bad, even though I still obviously favor the aggressive approach to 4th down decision making. But why kick a 51 yarder in a swirling wind (according to the GB radio broadcasters) when down 5 late in the game? I honestly would rather have seen a preposterous punt from inside the 40 than a FG attempt. At least that makes the Vikings have to work to score. I guess I underrated Crosby's leg (again, not a Packer fan) but it seemed to me that 51 yards at that time was a very low percentage kick. Even if they made it, too many things would have to happen to even have a chance to win - Packer Pete did a great job listing all that. The offense had been moving the ball pretty much at will since the earlier field goal. 4th and 8 seemed like it would've been worth the risk to me.

29 Crosby

You are not the first to notice the eyes of Crosby. I call them his 'angry eyes' which is a big hit with my wife and my Toy Story watching children.

35 VIkings

Obviously as a Viking fan I have to be happy with the play to date. Favre has played far better than I expected. I was high on Rice and Harvin but they as well are playing much better than I hoped.

Defensively it's a tale of two different teams - there's the group that plays incredibly dominant football while they get a big lead and then they go through some kind of metamorphosis and play like the 2003-4 Vikings. I am not enamored with Leslie Frazier's style. Particularly as it relates to his coverage schemes. They are so incredibly passive and fearful of letting anyone get behind them that they give up huge chunks of yards and points once they get a big lead. If I'm not mistaken Lewis fired Frazier from Cincinnati for the same reason (too passive).

Offensively the team just seems to be getting better every week. Personally I would like to see a lot less of Chester Taylor particularly as it has become apparent that Peterson has become capable in the passing game. You can't play Peterson every down but I'd like to see more of Taylor on 1st and 2nd down situations and and also Harvin getting more run opportunities. Seeing Peterson on the bench on 2nd and 3rd downs in the red zone is exasperating.

41 Re: VIkings

In reply to by jimm (not verified)

What do you think DVOA will make of Favre Bowl II? I bet it was a wash.

Harvin's amazing returns cancelled out by Robison's audition to be Harvin's replacement.

Field goal luck on the 51 yarder.

Yardage was similar. There might even be a slim chance that GB won DVOA.

46 Re: VIkings

In reply to by crack (not verified)

I doubt it. Packers recovered all three of their fumbles; Vikes lost both of theirs.

47 Re: VIkings

In reply to by crack (not verified)

I suspect the Vikings will come out substantially ahead in DVOA. GB recovered all 5 fumbles in the game and the Vikings were far more consistent on offence. GB's offence was terrible in the first half.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I watched pretty much the whole of CAR@ARI, and still don't really have a good explanation for what I saw. None of Warner's five interceptions was really an awful decision or a terrible throw, of the sort that I still see out of Schaub at least every other week. Jake Delhomme does not appear suddenly to have turned back into a good player. The Cardinals' previously excellent run defense seemed to be AWOL, missing tackles right left and centre and allowing backs to break free from the pile for big gains. I hadn't seen the Panthers previously this season, but had assumed that their results and DVOA must be reasonably accurate reflections of their play - ie. that despite returning almost exactly last year's personnel, they somehow sucked. Yesterday, they looked like a useful team, especially in the trenches. Arizona's interior OL got dominated. The Cardinals, though, looked like they were having their second annual attack of Braves Disease a little early. Was Raiderjoe in town, taking them all out for Sierra Nevadas? Both this year and last, the symptoms have appeared after a game against the Giants. Does Kurt Warner introduce his team-mates to his old Giant buddies for an epic night on the tiles? The Giants didn't look too hot this week either . . .

I was pleasingly re-assured that after spending the first quarter shooting themselves in the ass, the Texans had the mental fortitude to pull themselves together and dole out the beating the Bills deserved. I was a bit troubled that they felt the need to spend the first quarter shooting themselves in the ass to begin with: they won't get away with that against a real NFL team.

"Gary Kubiak gets butthurt over that sort of stuff too quickly. He benched Slaton in Week 17 against the Bears last year, too, for an innocuous fumble."

To be fair, Bill, Slaton now has 7 fumbles in 139 touches so far this season. He's averaging 3.1 yards per carry, and is last in the league in rushing DYAR. Moreover, when you have a pass offense that can move the ball without any help from the running game if it has to, a la 2008 Cardinals, ball security becomes even more of a priority for the RBs. Moats did a much better job of identifying and timing holes yesterday than Slaton has all season. He's not in the same calibre as a big play threat, and probably not as good a pass-blocker (an area in which Slaton has improved hugely), so maybe he should come out for third and longs, but the evidence of this season so far is pretty unequivocally in favour of Moats deserving the starting job.

"C.C. Brown should not be allowed on the field. I mean ... he's just so far below replacement level. It burns."

When God was trying to convince the Egyptians to release the Israelites, the Slaughter of the Firstborn was actually his second choice for the tenth plague. He was originally going to make the GM of the Thebes Sphinxes, Ramesses II, sign CC Brown. Gabriel talked him out of it on the grounds that it would be too harsh. Good news for Sphinxes fans, bad news for the firstborn of Egypt (and the division rival Hattusa Charioteers).

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Very frustrating game for a Jets fan. Jets were sixth in kick coverage DVOA and Fins were 27th in kick returns. So what happens? Two 100 yard TD returns. I also have grown to hate Brian Schottenheimer as a play caller. He strikes me as a good guy personally and designs good plays, but he seems to have no feel for the game as a play caller and under stress reverts to pass wackiness. It's bizarro Marty ball. I will give him credit for the naked boot, however.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

1) It's irritating to hear Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa compliment Robbins on his heads-up play, which is all outcome and no process. Had Robbins failed on his lateral and the Eagles recovered, they would have been lining up to criticize his bad play.

It's also irritating to hear them insist that there's no way this play could be overturned when the at-home viewer could easily discern the moment it happened that the ball was caught like a yard and a half ahead of where it was released, and quickly confirm by rewinding the DVR. They then stick to their stories despite having multiple replays at their disposal, to the point of arguing that there wasn't indisputable evidence, even though the refs overturned it.

Aren't commentators there to add to, not detract from, the viewing experience?

(I also like the Eagles)

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Also, did you notice the Moose and Kenny Albert were weirdly silent for big stretches, like they weren't being paid to, you know, make comments about what was happening on the field. It almost seemed like there was equipment malfunctioning or something... They just had nothing to say - a lot of the time, literally so.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Yep. Their other genius moment was to suggest that Kevin Boss invest in a hot-tub after taking so many "big hits." The big hit in question was his second vicious helmet-to-helmet hit in as many weeks. An astute cameraman then zoomed right in on Boss's face so the viewer at home could see his slightly unfocused eyes and dazed expression. A hot-tub is really gonna help those concussions...

(I also like the Eagles)

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"A hot-tub is really gonna help those concussions..."

I wasn't sure what you meant, thought it might be a nonsequitur (sp? - must note this lest some tangential, possibly entertaining rant/dispute emerge over poster's or postor's, or people who post's inability to spell - regardless, I fear I may have misused the word anyway and accidentally ignited a different firestorm...I secretely hoping DVOA results will post soon and this will be moot as we watch the Eagles rocket back to the top of the charts), so I googled (ibid) "concussion hot tubs" and found this link.

153 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The intent, of course, was sarcasm, and ridicule of the prevalent belief that the only consequences of "big hits" are sore muscles.

Hot tubs may indeed help concussions (except insofar as post-concussion syndrome may cause the concussed to lose consciousness and drown). I doubt the commentators had that in mind, though, since neither hit "officially" resulted in a concussion.

(I also like the Eagles)

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Jimmy Johnson should so be a coach again. I mean, you need to protect the QB? Really? This must be why he makes the big bucks as an announcer.

Watching the Vikes-Pack game with a lifelong Packers nut and admitted Favre fanboy was . . . interesting.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

To be fair to Johnson, I see many NFL coaches and GMs (Mike Martz, please pick up the white courtesy phone) who give insufficient attention to protecting the quarterback. One thing I always loved about Joe Gibbs was that he was committed to protecting the quarterback first and foremost. Not enough coaches understand why that is so important in the NFL.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I believe Mike Martz thought QBs were fungible and that if got one hurt he could find another Green/Warner/Bulger spare part and coach him up. It didn't work that way in DET or SF, but I believe that's how he thought. No way to prove it, of course.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

This ties in a bit to Aaron's complaint about the lack of the Colts run game. The job first and foremost of that offensive line is to keep Peyton upright. That is much more highly valued then how they run block. In that vein, they also put a lot of weight on a RB's ability to pass protect when evaluating them. While Addai has been pretty average rushing since his rookie year, he is very solid on his blitz pickups.

Certainly Manning's pocket awareness and quick release help a lot, but it's not by chance that the Colts consistently are among the top teams in fewest sacks allowed.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Having just watched the Titans-Jags highlights, all I can say is: back to tackling school. In fact (again going on the highlights only) it looked like a bad week generally for tackling. I wonder if the big defensive turnarounds this season are partly based on improving tackling from '09 Titans to '08 Titans level.

Also the game featured the NFL's fastest QB (Garrard on the second TD) and its slowest pass receiver (Crumpler runs more like an eligible left guard).

Is it time to talk about the *other* offseason unretirement of 2009: Derrick Mason's?

Asante Samuels (sic) and Ed Reed might not be the most reliable defensive backs, but I don't begrudge them (or Darren Sharper) their inevitable Pro Bowl selections. Football is entertainment above all, and these guys are fun to watch. I will, however, get annoyed about Brian Dawkins' selection: every time he made a tackle, the commentators began gushing, "Who else? The one and only…" However, when a tackle was made by somebody other than Dawkins, they skipped even mentioning it — as if Ray Rice had fallen over all by himself at the end of each run.

Alex Smith looked ok, yes, but Vernon Davis now makes that offense tick. I hadn't appreciated what a good blocker he was too. The answer to the Packers' 2006 draft dilemma — to pick Davis or AJ Hawk — used to look so straightforward — until this season.

85 Re: Vernon Davis

Davis suddenly becoming a good player has got to be almost entirely because he suddenly grew up as a person. Whatever else you say about Singletary, he deserves a large amount of credit for this. How often does this happen, that somebody so mentally careless and emotionally immature suddenly transforms like this? I can't think of a lot of examples.

Supposedly, Davis has always been a good blocker, no matter what else his problems.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

"but replays showed that the call was incorrect."

Gonna disagree. Replays show that a jet motioned, and never paused to get set. The penalty was correct.

As to Bess's fumble, it looked to me like it grazed his facemask, and that changed the trajectory a bit.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

All 3 of the PI calls on Trufant were questionable, one of which involved Miles Austin literally plowing over Trufant, and the other two which involved Romo sailing the ball out of bounds and the receiver doing his best to sell the call.

Dallas won this game, and they outplayed Seattle, and even without those penalties they still should've won, but Romo deflected half a dozen passes that a decent secondary would've intercepted, and the only unit that really looked good out there was the Dallas OL, which kept Romo off the ground on all but 1 play until garbage time.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

All 3 of the PI calls on Trufant were questionable, one of which involved Miles Austin literally plowing over Trufant...

Awesome, can you point me to video of that? Where did Austin get the plow? Were the groundskeepers angry?

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

I saw the same Austin plays but I disagree. The Austin plowing over Trufant, Trufant wasn't playing the ball, Austin was, and Trufant can't impede the receiver's path to the ball.

The others seemed like contact was made, and far more questionable that that one, but nothing glaring.

Austin Highlights:

Austin higlights don't have the PI calls, for some reason.

59 Bears

Wow, that was one of the worst 24-point victories I've ever seen.

The offense was its usual dysfunctional self. The line was bad, which meant that Forte's "patience" was of little use. Cutler was shaky against a very poor defense.

The defense had a good game, but they got a lot of turnover luck, and Cleveland's receivers dropped several catchable balls.

A graphic said that the Bears got 20 points off of 5 turnovers. Take those twenty points away and you have a four-point home victory. Take 3.5 points of home field advantage away and you have a .5 point neutral field victory. Over Cleveland.

I hate being negative, and I still believe that Cutler and the OL are capable of being better than they have been, but this victory isn't remotely reassuring.

74 Re: Bears

In reply to by c_f (not verified)

I have yet to hear a Bears fan or Chicago media member who disagrees with you.

109 Re: Bears

In reply to by c_f (not verified)

Oh come now, you're exaggerating. The accepted HFA is 3 points, not 3.5. They were good enough for a 1 point victory.

139 Re: Bears

In reply to by jebmak

He'd have to round up anyway.

The Bears have 4 weeks to patch up that line before Jared Allen brings his bad haircut, over-the-top routine, and Pro-Bowl-caliber game. After seeing the Vikes beat down the Pack for 14 sacks, I'd be a bit concerned were I a Chicago fan.

111 Re: Bears

In reply to by c_f (not verified)

Why would you take away points off turnovers? Turnovers aren't part of football?

68 Darth Vader voice

Mike Kurtz: FOX has some kind of weird audio filter on right now, or maybe it's just our local broadcast, but it makes everyone sound like Darth Vader. Oddly appropriate for MIN-GB.

Yes! Me too! Does anyone know why that happens? It seems like it happens every Sunday during the late games. My Westinghouse plasma flatscreen has goofy, low sound but my old Sayno tube TV sounds fine. I receive the broadcast through rabbit ears in Elk River, MN. If anyone has any suggestions or clues, please let me know.

140 Re: Darth Vader voice

In reply to by peterplaysbass (not verified)

And here I thought my dad was the only person alive who used a fancy digital TV with rabbit-ear reception.

He'll be glad to know he's got company.

70 John Sullivan

Mike Kurtz: Part of me hoped that that first Peterson touchdown, where he reached the ball out and it popped out, wasn't actually a score, just so we could see the lineman who was heads-up enough to grab the ball in the air and charge toward the goal-line get a touchdown. That would have been a cool play.

Yeah, me too. It was center John Sullivan. I met Sullivan at a store's grand opening during the offseason and he seemed like a cool and humble guy who was nervous about his first season replacing Matt Birk. I've read about his butterflies before games and it makes me root hard for him. A touchdown would've been awesome; I hope the coaches slap him on the back when the review film.

113 Re: John Sullivan

In reply to by peterplaysbass (not verified)

"I hope the coaches slap him on the back when the review film."

Maybe a pat on the back would be better, but Favre will likely slap him hard on the ass at least once this week, so you may get your wish.

119 Re: John Sullivan

In reply to by peterplaysbass (not verified)

That Peterson TD play was on 4th down. If it had been fumbled a lineman couldn't have scored anyways, since only the fumbling player can advance ball fumbled short of the goal line or first down line on a fourth down play.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Aaron Schatz - "And you know who I think is playing pretty well today? Phil Loadholt, the rookie right tackle. He's keeping Favre clean, even when he's up against Aaron Kampman, and he does an excellent job of pushing his man way back when the Vikings run a draw."

I've noticed when Favre has been pressured in the last few games it been from the left not the right. Loadholt has been playing very well.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

John Sullivan's play has done more to give me some confidence in the coaching and personnel management of the Vikings than any other development of the last couple years. If the goal is to compete for division titles every year, replacing effective but highly paid veterans with late round draft picks, who turn out to be effective as well, is a great way to do it.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

The draft is the key. The Childress/Spielman drafting in the first two rounds compared to that done under the Tice era is the major reason the Vikings have become a top tier team. Both groups had 4 drafts:


1st Round
Jerod Allen (via a trade)

2nd Round
T. Jackson,
T. Johnson,

Tice group:

1st Round and 2nd Round:
K. Williams,

R. Smith,
E.J. Henderson,
D. Thomas,
M. Johnson,

and they traded away R. Moss

The incredible difference in talent quality and production is incredible.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

You know it looks like Tice had some bad luck with his drafts.

Sure Williamson was a huge reach where they took him, but I don't think anyone expected him to be completely incapable of catching footballs. Plus, Udeze getting leukemia.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Tice wanted to draft Shawne Merriman. It was McCombs who forced a reach on a unproven receiver with a great 40 time, to try to make ammends with a fan base unhappy with the Moss trade.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Bad luck? Sure, Udeze is bad luck, but there were a number of crappy picks. The real surprise for Williamson is the Raiders didn't make a move to get him. Hey, look, fast guy who can't catch, awesome! Granted, that was a relatively lousy draft, but I'm not sure how "luck" factors in.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

You realize the Vikings took Williamson with the Raider's pick right? The pick they traded to the Vikings to get Moss. I'd say that trade talent wise was a steal for the Raiders. They just didn't have the personnel to take advantage of it. I wonder how JaMarcus would be doing if Randy was there.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

One more thing about MIA-NYJ. Why wasn't Braylon Edwards's forward progress ruled stopped? I've seen plays where the ballcarrier was under less control than that by the defense and the play was whistled dead.

Then again, it was right near the goalline, so I can sorta see why the ref would let it play out to actual down-by-contact or a TD rather than cutting it off with a whistle.

84 StL-Det

Butler wasn't pushed back into the end zone. He circled back trying to find space to run.

My friend and I were watching that clip on the Red Zone Channel (if you think I'm intentionally watching 60 minutes of Lions football at one sitting this year, you crazy), and we were joking that Schwartz was going to challenge the interception itself, hoping to get the play ruled an incomplete pass to bring up fourth down, so they could get three points out of the possession instead of two.

Maybe he should have done that.

I think the Lions are worse this year partly because Stafford and Megatron have been banged up a good part of the season, and partly because it's going to take a season or two to figure out which players will work in the new offensive and defensive systems and which ones won't.

I sure hope that's the case, anyway. If the NFL refuses to seize the franchise in whatever the equivalent of eminent domain would be (don't laugh, Al, you could be next), any success is going to have to come under incompetent ownership. (Insert Bidwill joke here.) The '91 season was luck and gimmicks, but it was also a 13-5 season, so I suppose it could be done again ...

87 Re: StL-Det

In reply to by zlionsfan

Well throughout the 90s, the Lions were closer to average than terrible.

However, a little guy named Barry Sanders might have had a something to do with it.

93 Re: StL-Det

In reply to by zlionsfan

The just pre-Millen drafts were busts in the first round.

I think the lions would have won that game if CJ was healthy.

86 Posturing

"Ed Reed just destroyed Knowshon Moreno on a screen, causing a fumble that the Ravens recovered. Kid's gotta keep his head on a swivel when No. 20's around."

One thing I noticed from the replay is that the Ravens almost missed out on the recovery. One of the reasons why is because Ed Reed was too busy posturing over Moreno to realize the ball was on the ground.

Very irritating. Just play the game and stop trying to show your opponent up all the time.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Josh Beekman is so much better than Omiyale, it's hard to see why Omiyale ever got the start. Watching Forte run to the left, I saw Beekman help Pace with a double team, then peel off and block a linebacker. It was so beautiful, it could make a grown man weep. Yes Omiyale was so bad this average run block looked made Beekman look like a HOF player by comparison.

My other thoughts: I know it was against Derek Anderson, but that pick looked really good by Manning. Maybe he can finally put it together and become that center field safety Lovie Smith has wanted.

Cutler was getting beat up bad by the Browns. Literally bloodied. Ron Turner didn't call any screens to slow down the pass rush. Also, I haven't seen the TE screen at all since preseason. I would like to see that once in a while. Defenses rarely expect a TE screen. Despite being under pressure all game, and generally not playing well, Cutler still made a couple amazing throws. The long pass to Knox where just dropped it right into his lap was the best example. I really hope the Bears can figure out how to keep him upright soon. Devin Hester also looked really good, but again this was against the Browns.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Good observations, tuluse, though the Bears did start to run screens quite a bit in the second half. Mainly WR screens, but it still helped Cutler stay upright.

In fact, Chris Williams looked very good getting outside to block on a couple screens to Hester.

Turner was also doing something I haven't noticed from him before. The Bears would line up in a singleback, two-TE, two-WR set, with the TEs close to the tackles, on the line. Then, both TEs would shift wide, creating mismatches where LBs would have to cover the slot WRs. Now, the offensive line's ineptitude made it tough for Cutler to take advantages of these mismatches, but it was some interesting playcalling, in a good way.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Sorry, I meant running back screens. I did notice the receiver screens. Bennett has really impressed me with his run after catch ability. I didn't know what to expect, but he seems to have good acceleration and vision.

I just think we need to get Forte the ball "out in space," and I think he could have done some damage against the Browns secondary.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Your desire to see Forte given the ball in space as a receiver is reinforced by the fact that the one time they tried it they got 25+ yards after the catch the one time they tried it in the second half.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Agreed about the difference between Beekman and Omiyale, nice to finally see someone get blocked on a power run or a sweep.

The only onion in the ointment with finally getting solid play from LG is it did show that the problems run deeper (which they probably always did). The biggest issues with the protection yesterday was correctly identifying the blitzing players, there were too many unblocked players, too often. Not exactly great for a top QB and a highly experienced center. Forte also had a very poor game in pass protection although asking him to block DL inside probably isn't that good an idea in the first place.

92 On Browns QBs

Why not figure out if Quinn can get a hang of the NFL game with some playing time and experience?

Granted, six career starts is not a large body of work, but he's also in his third stinkin' season. That's three training camps, three pre-seasons, and multiple opportunities to prove he's an upgrade over Derek Anderson. I know the one PFP cover blurb might be hard to get over, but its time to accept the possibility that he just isn't very good.

I've seen the Browns play four times this year (god, I need help), twice with Quinn and twice with Anderson. In fairness, the Browns are a putrid team with whom the second coming of Johnny Unitas would likely struggle. Not all of the poor play can be put directly on either QB. What I saw from Quinn is that he simply is not a starting-caliber QB; he doesn't appear to have the physical skills to run an NFL offense, and that cannot be overcome by coaching or experience.

Mike Tanier: The new general manager in Cleveland is an Ozzie Newsome protege, so he probably has some drafting acumen Of course the guy he replaced was also a Newsome protege who didn't work out so well. I read that someplace. Oh yeah, in the Cleveland Browns article in FOA 2009. It was written by, uh, Mike Tanier.

106 Re: On Browns QBs

In reply to by BroncosGuy (not verified)

No one is denying the possibility he isn't very good, however its hard to be sure of his ability based on such little game time. Factor in that we now know for sure that derek Anderson is no good, which some Browns fans refused to believe, while many others like myself knew by the end of 2007. As for the third season stuff, he is first training camp he held out, which is partly his fault, and partly Savages fault since he didn't want him to win the job immediately. So he got backup reps. Then 2008 he was the backup and got fewer reps, then this training camp he got haf the reps. So it isn't like he got a town of prep with the first team.

As for his game experience, he had a good game last year against a crappy broncos defense on a short week of preperation (and got no help from his own defense), then broke a finger on his throwing hand the next game against buffalo, and played on it the week after against a good Ravens D. Hard to come to any conclusions from those games. Then this year he faced three very good defenses, much better than what DA has faced.

The point being that its time to put him in to see what he have or don't have. Though i can understand not wanting to risk paying the escalators since he might be cut anyway, and it would be nice to have that money to spend. In my mind it's time to start him the rest of the way and see what he can do against a bit of an easier schedule.

131 Re: On Browns QBs

My pet theory, and maybe we'll see how true it proves now that the escalator is out of the equation, is that Mangini doesn't love Quinn. Therefore, if he plays Quinn and Quinn looks like he could be an average-ish or above average-ish starting quarterback in this league,* he's stuck with Quinn and they'll have to draft to satisfy their many many other needs. If Quinn never gets a chance to show that, the Browns will have to move on, and Mangini gets to play a role in hand-picking his golden boy QB, probably with their high first-rounder, and gets to pick someone he is in love with, or who he can talk himself into being in love with. (As an added bonus, he may buy himself some additional rope, since, "Hey, I'm breaking in a young QB, so there will be some bumps along the way.")

* Not that I'm expressing the opinion that this will be the case, but it certainly could be.

133 Re: On Browns QBs

In reply to by huston720

When I wrote the post, it crossed my mind that his rookie-year holdout made my statement a bit exaggerated, but I didn't want to clutter a perfectly good rant with the caveat that he missed a week-and-a-half of training camp that year. We should also note that he was horrible in OTAs before his contract hiccup. I think my point is still valid: he has had plenty of time to make a positive impression -- on two different coaching regimes, no less -- and has failed to do so. I saw the Broncos game you reference (and "crappy" is overly kind to that defense) and was not impressed. At the time I thought the fact he didn't attempt a pass more than 8 yards in the air (I exaggerate, but not by much)was a deliberate attempt to protect an inexperienced player. Now, having seen him repeat that approach, I realize its because he simply can't make NFL throws. The "let's see what he can do" argument presumes that his coaches haven't noticed what he can do: in camp, in practice, in a handful of starts. If he can't throw a deep out in practice, and hasn't been able to in a number of starts (and pre-season games), why would they believe that more starts would would suddenly bestow this ability upon him?

Nowhere, you will notice, have I defended Derek Anderson. Based on watching a handful of games on TV, I do believe he is the better QB of the two, but that is damning with faint praise.

As an aside, the escalators were part of a contract compromise because Quinn was employing the same logic as Michael Crabtree did this year: he wouldn't sign for slot guarantees, even with a "quarterback bonus", because he "should have" been drafted earlier than he was. Normally, I think making depth-chart decision based on incentive clauses is purely bush league. In this case, though, I can't blame the Browns if that influences their decision. Still, I think the escalators "only" amount to $10 million, not a big deal if you think have an elite quarterback in the making. Clearly the Browns have no such thought.