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

Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Audibles at the Line: Week 9
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Bill Barnwell

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

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

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, which means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

San Diego Chargers 29 at Houston Texans 23

Tom Gower: San Diego Super Chargers 2010 Special Teams strikes early, as Jacob Hester makes an over the shoulder grab and goes out of bounds at the 3. It'd be a great job if he was downing a punt, but less fine a move on a kickoff that likely would've gone out of bounds.

It continues! The Chargers go three-and-out, and recent Texans acquisition scrub linebacker Stanford Keglar, who never did anything of note with the Titans, blocks Scifres's punt. Texans start inside the 20 after the block, and Scifres is down with an injury. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS/John McEnroe voice.

Bill Barnwell: "Steve Crosby is one of the longest tenured and most respected special teams coaches in the NFL."

Tim Gerheim: Apart from that first series, the Texans are the perfect opponent for the Chargers. They can't block a punt or field goal because they can't force either. If you throw it against the Texans, you will succeed. Period.

Tom Gower: Arian Foster just had one of those great plays that keep drives alive -- he catches the dumpoff from Schaub on third-and-9 with five Chargers having a chance to bring him down, cuts to avoid the first two, and then gets low and dives forward to avoid the other three and pick up the first down.

Quentin Jammer is not having a very good game. He was horribly out of position as the end defender on Foster's first TD run, has been flagged twice for DPI, and just got run over at the goalline on Foster's second TD to put the Texans up 17-14. We're still less than 20 minutes of gametime in, so he has plenty of time to redeem himself.

Bill Barnwell: At what point do we give Philip Rivers the MVP in spite of the Chargers' special teams? Sure, it's the Texans, but he's down his top, what, four targets? He's 10-of-11 for 175 yards with two scores. His receivers are a Cowboys castoff and an undrafted free agent.

Tim Gerheim: Matt Schaub has thrown two passes in the red zone that would have been touchdowns if he'd put a little touch on them; both drives resulted in field goals. The first, Jacoby Jones was open in the corner of the end zone but Schaub threw it too low, letting the trailing defender get a hand on it, and Jones is bad enough at catching the ball in the best of circumstances so he couldn't come down with the tipped ball. The second he had James Casey moving toward the left sideline open at the goal line, but Schaub zipped it instead of lobbing it over the defender charging underneath. With better hands from the linebacker it's a pick-six; with a little air under it it's an easy TD.

Tom Gower: See Kareem Jackson, throw ball. Rinse, repeat with success.

Tim Gerheim: The Texans offense is all Arian Foster. He has about 25 carries midway through the third quarter. Schaub is having his best success on play action, which I'm glad to see because it's been strangely missing from the playbill lately. But whenever they bring in Derrick Ward, they're still running it to their credit but getting approximately zero yards per carry.

Patrick Crayton - Patrick Crayton! - just abused the seconday, juking his way past the corner theoretically in coverage then stiff-arming Eugene Wilson entirely out of the play. The corner (I think the charbroiled Kareem Jackson) had to finally come back in and make the tackle after about 30 YAC.

Tim Gerheim: Ain't that the truth. The Chargers don't have enough healthy receivers to force nickelback Brice McCain into service, which actually simplifies the offense, since you don't even have to decide which overmatched corner to throw at.

Stop the presses: Kareem Jackson just made an interception. I repeat, Kareem Jackson. This is not a drill.

Bill Barnwell: You throw at a guy 100 times, he's bound to catch one.

Tom Gower: Especially when the quarterback gets hit low as he's throwing. Antonio Smith (I think) will probably be getting a letter and a paycheck deduction this week.

Bill Barnwell: That'll be what, $10,000? Most guys would give $10,000 for a sack, let alone a pick.

Tim Gerheim: He was blocked to the ground and got to Rivers the only way it was possible. Is that really a fineable play?

Tom Gower: Unless he's blocked into the ground on the way to Rivers, yes, it absolutely is.

Tim Gerheim: The Chargers score a touchdown (against Jackson, to beat a dead horse) to go up 27-23 with 5:17 left. They choose to go for two, which I don't understand. How is going up 6 better than 4 at this point? There's really no downside, which may explain it, but I don't see any upside either Are they really worried the Texans will pull off two field goal drives in 5 minutes? Do their soothsayers foresee a missed extra point?

Rob Weintraub: Standard move according to the two-point chart. If you go up six and the enemy scores but misses the PAT, it's tied, is the thinking I suppose. Texans just got stuffed on a QB sneak on 4th down anyway.

Tim Gerheim: Ugh. The Texans lost this game on two fourths downs, among other things. The first one was a dodgy call, up 23-21 at the Chargers 18. The second was necessary, down 29-23 with 3:31 left, but I don't know what they were thinking running a QB sneak on 4th-and-2.

Arizona Cardinals 24 at Minnesota Vikings 27 (OT)

Ben Muth: Tony Siragusa just called out the Vikings defense for lack of hustle. That can't be good.

Bill Barnwell: The Cardinals are leading in Minnesota on a touchdown pass to Andre Roberts where virtually every member of the secondary took quizzical, confounding routes to the ballcarrier. Crowd responds by chanting "Fire Childress!" Do they really want Leslie Frazier? Because it sure looks like he's not teaching them all that well.

Tom Gower: The Vikings are playing like they're a team that wants to get their coach fired and knows they could make it happen with their performance.

Bill Barnwell: The Vikings doing their best Chargers impression -- not only did they allow a kickoff return for a touchdown by LaRod Stephens-Howling in the first half, but Percy Harvin just fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and the Cardinals returned it for their second special teams touchdown of the day.

Ben Muth: The Vikings can't get any pressure on Derek Anderson. I'm not sure if Childress, Frazier, or both are gonna be fired, but it sure seems like something needs to change.

Bill Barnwell: And the Vikings tie things up -- for what seems like the first time all year, the Vikings actually complete a two-minute drill, with Favre hitting Visanthe Shiancoe for 14 yards on second-and-15, sneaking for the first down, and then getting Shiancoe up the seam again for a game-tying TD.

Rob Weintraub: Adrian Wilson was right there on Favre pass, but it was perfectly placed.

Ben Muth: The Vikings look like a completely different team over the last five minutes of this game.

Doug Farrar: And with 23 seconds left in regulation, Jared Allen gets his first sack since Week 2. That said, I don’t remember seeing a dominant front four falling this far this fast. Allen getting negated, Alan Faneca kicking Kevin Williams’ butt, Pat Williams shooting past the quarterback and getting blocked out on the other side … well, okay, I kind of expect that now.

Vince Verhei: Maybe Zygi told them he'll fire the coach if they win.

Doug Farrar: And Ray Edwards gets a sack with eight seconds left in regulation. Man, these Vikings really pick their spots!

Ben Muth: The Vikings get two sacks in three plays on the opening drive of overtime. It's almost like they were shaving points in the first three quarters.

Vince Verhei: Cardinals' first drive in overtime: incomplete, sack, stripsack. do you think Matt Leinart watches these games late at night, cackling to himself?

New Orleans Saints 34 at Carolina Panthers 3

Tom Gower: Drew Brees drops a snap, picks it up, tries to complete the slant anyway, but it's off the receiver's hands and right to Richard Marshall, who returns it about 70 yards Panthers can't cash it from goal-to-go after Gettis can't haul in the fade on 2nd down and Moore throws it short on 3rd down.

Three hours later...

Vince Verhei: Drew Brees rolls out right and doesn't throw the ball away until a defender is dragging him to the ground. Another defender giving chase nearly steps on his hand. Saints are up 24 points in the fourth. Why is Brees in the game?

New England Patriots 14 at Cleveland Browns 34

Aaron Schatz: Hey, Eric Mangini has some balls. And some luck. As for balls, he went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 29. The Pats stacked to stop Peyton Hillis, so Colt McCoy audibled to an empty backfield... and then took it for the QB sneak and got the first. As for luck, Phil Dawson somewhat flubbed a kickoff but the Pats were totally confused trying to catch it at the 20. It looked like Rob Gronkowski called for the fair catch and then sort of forgot to catch it, thinking maybe that Sammy Morris had it. It bounced, Browns recovered, and Hillis takes it in for a touchdown.

Wait, did I say luck? Hillis just fumbled the ball away on the play after that fourth-down conversion. Still, it is 10-0 Browns early.

Even with that fumble, Peyton Hillis is killing the Patriots. They can't tackle him, he keeps dragging two and three guys for extra yards, and the Browns are getting big gains off play-action when Hillis doesn't run it himself.

Rob Weintraub: Nice to see it isn't just the Bengals--Hillis ices the game on a sprint around end, the same exact play that salted away the game against Cincy. Bengals kept him from scoring, at least.

Aaron Schatz: I don't think you saw much unexpected from the Patriots defense, but you did see the Cleveland offense play better than expected. I was very impressed by Colt McCoy. He looks like Chad Pennington II to me. No, he doesn't have the strongest arm, but he can get the ball downfield when necessary. He makes good decisions and is accurate. He adjusted a lot of plays at the line, with success. And he's much more mobile than people realize, like Trent Green. Let's just hope he doesn't follow in the footsteps of Pennington and Green when it comes to health.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns safeties had a very good game in coverage, and the run defense is impressive. Chris Gocong was all over the place today; technically, the Browns have moved him inside, but they had him coming from outside a lot today and the Pats had trouble blocking him or even remembering to pick him up. The Patriots receivers generally had an awful game, with Gronkowski and Tate dropping passes (and Gronkowski, of course, fumbling near the goal line). And I know this sounds strange to say, with Brady having strong stats this year, but he just doesn't look right. He's gone back and forth this year, usually in the same game. He'll have a quarter or two where he seems fabulous. But he also will have a quarter or two where he's just straight out missing guys. He seems to be overthrowing a lot of passes on the outside or up the seam, while underthrowing crosses and those little Wes Welker hooks. I can't tell you how many times this year it seems like Welker has to catch a ball at his shins and give up on any yards after the catch.

Still, while this will cause the usual freaking out in New England, the Patriots can get away with this one if they can work on these problems for future games. It's a mulligan. You are allowed to lose a couple and still make a Super Bowl run. Unless this starts a string of games where the Pats get walloped -- a possibility, with the next two weeks at Pittsburgh and home against Indianapolis -- I think this game says more about the Browns: underrated and frisky.

Tim Gerheim: People don't think of Colt McCoy as mobile? Did they not watch him in college? He was the Longhorns leading rusher last year, I believe, because they didn't have much of a running game or one back who distinguished himself above the rest. He's not all that fast, but he can rightly be called a running quarterback.

Aaron Schatz: I think people don't think of him as a running quarterback because a) he's melanin-impaired and b) they don't specifically write up running plays for him, or even bootlegs that are "run if nobody's open." It's more about mobility in the pocket and running when everything breaks down.

Doug Farrar: I wouldn’t consider him a running quarterback per se; more a mobile quarterback, which is what Aaron originally wrote. There’s a pretty big difference in terminology in my mind. Against the Steelers, they had him run a lot of designed rollouts, and I’d bet it was the same way in this game. But I think those rollouts are as much to free up throwing lanes as anything – he’s melanin-impaired AND height-deficient.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 at Atlanta Falcons 27

Bill Barnwell: The Falcons score on their first drive with about 17 runs. It took a fourth-and-two conversion, a quick throw to Jason Snelling against a defensive end. Turner's going to end up with 30 carries today.

Falcons are blitzing Freeman on virtually every down. Just paid off when Mike Peterson came off the edge and Freeman totally didn't account for him, leading to a third-and-19.

Mike Tanier: Sabby Piscitelli did something right! He downed a punt at the one yard line.

I saw Michael Jenkins catch a bomb. I have seen everything.

Vince Verhei: The amazing thing about that Jenkins bomb is that it should have been an easy touchdown, but Matt Ryan's throw led him out of bounds. So yes, Michael Jenkins made a great play, and Matt Ryan (to a degree) screwed it up.

Bill Barnwell: Mike Williams is dominating the much smaller Brent Grimes physically. He's got about four inches and 30 pounds on him to begin with, and while Williams still has issues with looking the ball in, he's very good at using his body on Josh Freeman passes to shield away smaller defenders.

Williams picks up a touchdown catch, though, on a quick slant where Dunta Robinson slipped and Williams took it straight to the house.

Vince Verhei: Atlanta kicks off, and the ball lands in between the up-men and the returner before dribbling into Michael Spurlock's hands. He picks it up and everyone ambles forward into a cluster of Falcons defenders. Then Spurlock gets a sliver of breathing room, and BOOM! he's at full speed in one step and gone for a score.

Bill Barnwell: Buccaneers run a surprise onside kick after the touchdown, and although the kicker recovers it and it's ruled Bucs ball, it's revealed on review that he touched the ball about a foot before ten yards. Falcons get it back. Good call by Morris, even though it didn't work out. Every Falcons drive seems to go six minutes and end in a touchdown.

Rob Weintraub: Down on that rule. It shouldn't be illegal touching before ten yards if it hits a leg or shoulder--anything but the hands.

Bill Barnwell: Grimes steps up and gets an interception. Freeman stares down a quick out and Grimes jumps the route, getting some help when Williams falls down on the throw. Bucs wanted pass interference, but it wasn't.

Buccaneers convert a third-and-10 on a great out by Freeman to Williams against Grimes. Then, they run a flea flicker that Freeman throws into triple coverage, but William Moore is catching up with the play and doesn't turn around in time. The ball hits him on the arm and it's pass interference. Bucs have the ball inside the ten-yard line.

Rob Weintraub: Raheem Morris sprints five yards into the end zone to ensure he gets the time out before the critical fourth down play. That's the longest I've seen a coach go to get his call.

Bill Barnwell: Looks like the Falcons just stopped the Buccaneers on fourth-and-1 from the 2-yard line. Buccaneers faked the handoff to the fullback before giving it to Blount, and there was enough counter action for Thomas DeCoud to come in off the edge and make the play.

Chicago Bears 22 "at" Buffalo Bills 19

Bill Barnwell: The Bears are playing the the league's second-worst run defense in Toronto. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor have combined for 14 yards on 11 carries. The highlights from one sample red zone performance: Cutler misses a wide-open Matt Forte on a wheel route for a touchdown by throwing the ball out of bounds, the Bears take an illegal shift and two false starts within five snaps, and Cutler finishes the drive by throwing a pass to Forte in triple coverage. Oh, sorry. Robbie Gould misses the field goal. That finishes the drive.

Bills came back and Ryan Fitzpatrick ran a nice two-minute drill down the field to end up with a touchdown on a throw to Roscoe Parrish.

Miami Dolphins 10 at Baltimore Ravens 26

Doug Farrar: Wonderful drive by Baltimore in the early second quarter. They start at the Miami four-yard line after a Chad Henne interception, and it goes a little something like this: Loss of one (McGahee), delay of game penalty, time out, 10-yard loss on a Flacco sack, fumbled field goal attempt. They went from the four to the 30. I think Tampa Bay had a red zone drive that was even worse than this a few games ago, but this was one injurious Flacco QB sneak (their new favorite play, it seems) away from being the perfect storm in reverse.

New York Jets 23 at Detroit Lions 20 (OT)

Bill Barnwell: Matthew Stafford just missed Brandon Pettigrew in the end zone for a touchdown. Brodney Pool took an illegal contact penalty, but the ball still landed well outside of the end zone.

Mike Tanier: Jets-Lions keys to the game: Jets must "be who they think they are." Lions must "be who they want to be." Everything I know about football I learned from fortune cookies.

Jahvid Best just dropped a likely touchdown on a wheel route. On the other sideof the ball, the Jets have abandoned the downfield pass altogether. And the couple at the bar next to me is fighting so bad that it is making me uncomfortable.

Tim Gerheim: Foster is great at squirting forward at the end of a run for an extra yard or two. That play you mentioned, and also a third-and-1 where he squeezed forward to remove any doubt that it was a first down. I said a few weeks ago that he's a decisive take-what's-there upfield runner, but I've been really impressed today with his shiftiness and ability to break tackles.

Mike Tanier: I think the Jets spent the whole first half setting up that touchdown bomb to Edwards. The cornerback just let him release deep, like he couldn't imagine that Sanchez would throw it.

Bill Barnwell: How cunning of them to fumble two snaps in that plot.

Vince Verhei: In Any Given Sunday I noted that the Jets had had ridiculously good fumble luck, and they wouldn't be able to keep it up. At halftime today, they have fumbled four times, and recovered all of them. Harrumph.

Mike Tanier: The fighting couple is now necking. I am even more uncomfortable.

Bill Barnwell: Lions just took the lead after a really stupid play from Trevor Pryce, who roughed up Jason Hanson about a full second after the kick was off. Matthew Stafford promptly runs into the end zone on the next play.

Oh, and since Hanson is hurt, the Lions bring in Ndamukong Suh to kick the extra point, which he boots off the uprights. Awesome.

Doug Farrar: He’ll make up for it with 15 quarterback sacks in the next 10 minutes, of course. Suh was actually quite the soccer player growing up – maybe they thought they had a budding Garo Yepremian there.

Mike Tanier: Hanson is back for the Lions. I like watching 300 pound men kick :(

Aaron Schatz: The officials in this game have no idea what they are doing. "Wait, you mean that when someone scores a touchdown, we need to actually signal 'touchdown'? Are we supposed to stop the clock too?" I swear, they just let the clock count down 10 seconds for nothing. The Jets just lost 10 seconds off their attempted comeback.

Bill Barnwell: Lions decide to go play-action with Drew Stanton to Jerome Felton on third-and-6. A turf burn later and the clock is stopped with 1:54 left for the punt away to the Jets.

Vince Verhei: Meanwhile, Julian Peterson delivers a hit way out of bounds on Tomlinson to put the Jets in range for a tying field goal. Wood: chopped.

New York Giants 41 at Seattle Seahawks 7

Doug Farrar: In the Qwest Field press box, we’re still trying to figure out who the third quarterback is behind Charlie Whitehurst and Zac Robinson. Michael Robinson (former San Francisco special teams guy and Penn State QB) is supposed to be, but he’s been hurt all week. Against this Giants pass rush, we may be looking at direct snaps to Justin Forsett and Leon Washington by the third quarter.

Oh, and Michael Robinson’s real first name is “Burton”. You learn these things over time.

Bill Barnwell: The Seahawks are down 14-0 and just fumbled a kickoff on a play where Leon Washington fumbled and kicked the ball to the opposite hashmark, where Jonathan Goff caught it on a bounce and returned it to the five.

Doug Farrar: Starting to wonder if this is the worst special teams day in NFL history.

On the return after the one Bill mentioned, Washington went 57 yards down to the Gants’ 32-yard line. On the next play, Marshawn Lynch ran for six yards as pretty much every Giants defender was trying to being him down. I think guys were coming off the bench to tackle him. Lynch is no Jerome Harrison, but he’s a pretty solid power guy once in a while.

Bill Barnwell: Then Lynch took a false start. Yes. A halfback. He fell over waiting for the ball to be snapped.

Doug Farrar: The Giants clearly saw something on tape telling that that Marcus Trufant can be worked over on outs and comebacks -- anything where the receiver moves quickly in a short space as the ball's coming. They're just beating Seattle to death with that stuff.

Mike Tanier: It looks like the Giants have given up volleyball for football, with positive results.

Vince Verhei: Down 35-0 late in the second half, Seahawks go for it on fourth- and-15. Whitehurst throws deep, and the pass lands five yards out of bounds. Sigh.

Doug Farrar: Me, to John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse: "Whitehurst is giving me Stan Gelbaugh flashbacks." Hickey: "I think there's something you can take for that." Me: "Yep. I think its name is Andrew Luck."

At halftime, the Seahawks are doing a special tribute to Veteran's Day, with special musical guest ... Duff McKagan. No, really.

Vince Verhei: Hey, no need to knock Duff. I've seen Loaded live a few times, they always put on a good show, and he seems to be a cool guy from all accounts.

Doug Farrar: Oh, I'm not knocking Duff at all. I've met him more than once, and he is absolutely a stand-up dude. Does some neat stuff for the Seattle Weekly. I just didn't see the connection here.

Indianapolis Colts 24 at Philadelphia Eagles 26

Aaron Schatz: Colts are wearing throwback uniforms today, for no apparent reason. On the road. While the home team, Philadelphia, is not wearing throwback uniforms.

In honor of throwback day, Dwight Freeney will be replaced by a fat white guy with a flat-top haircut, while Peyton Manning will be exactly the same as always.

Sigh. Gary Brackett just got penalized with roughing the passer for what looked to be a helmet-on-six inches of thin air away from helmet hit.

And Phil Simms just referred to Jerome Harrison as the back you put in when you want the tough yards. Yes, that's how I've always thought of 5-9, 195-pound Jerome Harrison, who had a 268-yard game last year. He's a short-yardage back. The man is a bowling ball, as long as we are talking about your six-year-old son's first bowling ball. Then Simms referred to Harrison as a "banger." Seriously.

Vince Verhei: Halfway through the second quarter, Colts have run at least three wide receiver screens. I guess they're trying to beat the blitz, but it seems like a strange tactic when you're missing as many players as they are.

Follow-up: Jacob Tamme score a few plays later on yet another receiver (well, tight end) screen.

Mike Tanier: DeSean Jackson just caught a tight end screen and ran 50 yards laterally for a loss. A candidate for Burn this Play in an otherwise solid offensive performance for the Eagles so far.

Vince Verhei: Austin Collie is sandwiched between two Eagles and knocked out cold. Another Colts receiver on the shelf. Somewhere, Craphonso Thorpe is staring at a phone that refuses to ring.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I'll be the controversial one this week.

Horrible hit on Austin Collie when he collides helmet-to-helmet with Kurt Coleman. But I don't think Coleman was playing dirty. I don't even think he was leading with his head. He looks like he's trying to run past the play a little bit, seeing Mikell has taken Collie down. He would have hit Collie with his shoulder... except that Mikell pushes Collie into Coleman's helmet. It's not spearing. It's not launching. It's not dirty. It's just physics. What do you expect Coleman to be doing on that play? Coleman can't possibly react in time.

Will Carroll: I expect him not to lead with his head. The fact is that Coleman's helmet hit Collie's helmet. PERIOD. Anything else - anything - is not a question of whether or not it should be a penalty, but a question of how big the fine should be. I agree that Mikell's hit changed things, but any ... ANY ... instance of a defensive player leading with the helmet deserves penalty and fine. This was made clear by Goodell. You're assuming that Coleman would have changed his trajectory.

Just saw another angle - Coleman gets up and sways, Stewart Bradley-style, after the hit. It's for his safety as much as it is for Collie.

Aaron Schatz: But he's not leading with his head. If Mikell does not hit Collie and change his trajectory, Coleman will hit Collie with his shoulder while his head is to the left of Collie. You can't physically really LEAD with your shoulder in such a way that your head won't hit anything. It's there on your neck, and it is not going anywhere. So a slight change in the trajectory of the ballcarrier, suddenly your head is hitting the ballcarrier instead of air.

I'm okay with the penalty, I guess, because that's the rule now, with the helmet to helmet, intentional or not. But if Coleman gets fined for this, that's ridiculous. And the people on Twitter calling this a "dirty hit," frankly, that's nonsense.

Tim Gerheim: This is why I think they need to invent soft helmets that are actually protective. The helmets as they are are borderline counterproductive at this point; when two helmets come into contact, they act as weapons, not as armor. And when a helmet hits you anywhere else, it's purely weapon.

Will Carroll: His head hit him first. Period. I'm not assessing intent. Nor can the officials on the spot. That's why they review tape for fines. All I'm saying is that Coleman hit him with the helmet -- by definition, that's leading with the helmet.

I agree, it's not dirty, not intentional. I don't think there should be a fine. Problem is the vast majority of fans would be perfectly okay if Collie's head had popped off and rolled to the sideline. They'll take no fine as a victory.

Aaron Schatz: If we're gonna have this argument, I do want to know, Will, what you think about the new helmet that DeSean Jackson is wearing this week.

Will Carroll: It's not new. The Schutt DNA's been around for years. It's something, but it's really not much of an improvement. Tim's point above is correct - helmets are designed to prevent skull fracture. That was an issue in the sixties and isn't now. We need a complete redesign. The NFL needs to do a "helmet X prize" -- get a million dollars if you invent a helmet that reduces concussive force by some parameter.

Aaron Schatz: What about the helmet -- who was it, Don Beebe who wore it -- with the big sort cushy part on top of the regular plastic?

Will Carroll: The foam thing broke down and got dirty quickly. That guy invented this, which no one will ever wear.

Vince Verhei: ESPN had a story on the outer helmet shell a few weeks ago. Mark Kelso wore won for the Bills. A 49ers lineman whose name escapes me wore one too. Both guys had concussion histories and said they worked great. But nobody else wore them because they looked so goofy. There does have to be some happy medium between style and safety, though.

Mike Tanier: Michael Vick played pretty well early in the game. As of now, he's 9-of-18, and he just finished a three-play sequence from around the Colts 30: a scramble around incompletion, an incomplete screen pass where the play was broken up by the Colts pass rush, and a scramble that ended in a rush for a minimal gain. The Eagles did take the lead on a field goal.

I have the queasy feeling that Vick is now in runaround mode and will no longer even try to execute the offense as designed.

Aaron Schatz: You know, I love Brent Celek as a receiver, but the dude is really not a very good blocker.

Mike Tanier: Of course, when runaround mode includes some 30-yard runs on third down, well, I can live with that. (and it was set up by a sharp 20-yard throw on 2nd-and-25).

Winston Justice committed the most obvious, clear hold I have ever seen on Robert Mathis. If we want put a video in a time capsule to explain to future civilizations what holding is, we should use a video of Justice.

Jason Avant catches a pass on a sprintout, and dives for the pylon. It doesn't really look like a touchdown, but if you use your imagination you could talk yourself into it. The Eagles rush up to the line as if they are going to try to rush the sneak past the Colts, and it doesn't look like the Colts defense is quite set. But then Reid throws the challenge and we spend 5 minutes verifying that it is not a touchdown.

The Eagles then line up to run the sneak, but the Colts are now aligned just right. Vick might have crossed the plane, again maybe-sorta, but the refs called a touchdown. Colts challenge. Five more minutes and the play is overturned.

Finally, the Eagles punch it in, barely, on another sneak. I am waiting for another challenge. And I am pining for the good old days when a trip inside the five-yard line didn't take 15 minutes to resolve.

Plus a penalty on the extra point!

Will Carroll: And then after the 14 minutes of challenges, there were four minutes of commercials before the kickoff.

Tim Gerheim: On his way to a strip-sack, Trent Cole brushes Manning's helmet, which is a 15-yard penalty that reverses a pretty much game-clinching turnover. Phil Simms is right (let that sink in): the way the rule is written, it's a penalty. Well, that's another dumb rule where they tried to legislate out the refs' ability to use common sense. There's gotta be a difference between bumping the QB's head and a "blow" to the head.

Will Carroll: I think it was a bit of a weak call, but I wouldn't call it a "brush" either.

Mike Tanier: The Cole hit was somewhere between a brush and a blow, but it wasn't the kind of thing that leads to injuries or concussions. And while I don't want to sound insensitive to the dangers of concussions, there is a real risk of over-legislating here.

Aaron Schatz: OK, smartness points to Asante Samuel, who picks off Peyton Manning in the final minute to end the game and does not try to score, and does not go down immediately, and does not run out of bounds, but rather runs around in circles to waste as much time as possible.

Kansas City Chiefs 20 at Oakland Raiders 23 (OT)

Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs and Raiders are playing as if the winner of the AFC West gets a free bowl of herpes.

Vince Verhei: Chiefs try a fake punt. It fails. On the next drive, Raiders try a fake punt. It fails too. The element of surprise is gone, everyone.

Aaron Schatz: Kansas City is now losing to Oakland going into the fourth quarter. Thomas Jones has three times as many carries as Jamaal Charles, with one less yard. Can we all agree that if Kansas City does end the year as the surprising division champion, we aren't going to vote for Todd Haley as coach of the year? It seems like they're doing this despite him, not because of him. The Kansas City game plans are just horrendous. Let's misuse our running backs. Let's barely pass the ball against the horrid Jacksonville secondary. Let's make Terrance Copper a starting wide receiver. And on and on.

Mike Tanier: Over in Oakland, we get a clinic in how many different ways a clock can stop without a timeout: first a Chiefs player gets hurt, then there's a long review, and the Raiders get two "free" timeouts that help them get the game to overtime.

Aaron Schatz: First possession of overtime, third-and-4, Matt Cassel throws a two-yard flat pass to a completely-covered Leonard Pope. Great situational football there, kids.

And... I have to hand it to rookie Jacoby Ford. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown, then added two absolutely insane catches to set up the two Sebastian Janikowski field goals, one to tie the game, and then the one to win it. First catch, he took it out of the hands of the Chiefs defender. Second catch, he had to beat Brandon Flowers, then dive and lay out for the ball, 47-yard gain. Impressive. Basically won the game by himself. Well, him and Campbell, but mostly him.

Dallas Cowboys 7 at Green Bay Packers 45

Aaron Schatz: What confuses me about the Cowboys this year is this: What the heck happened to their pass coverage? We knew that they didn't have very good safeties, but their cornerbacks were supposed to be very strong. Mike Jenkins made the Pro Bowl last year, Terance Newman is close to Pro Bowl level, and Orlando Scandrick is an above-average nickel corner except for some reason in division games. And yet, prior to this game Dallas ranks 32nd against number-one receivers, 30th against number twos, and 27th against others. Obviously pass rush and secondary work together, but the Cowboys are average in Adjusted Sack Rate, so they do have some pass rush even if it hasn't been as good as recent years.

A cursory look at our coverage charting stats suggests that those numbers are very inconsistent from year to year. (I ran out of time to do an actual study this spring, and hope to do it for FOA 2011.) So it makes me wonder, are cornerbacks really that much less consistent than players at other positions? Is this all sample size, either in numbers or in what we see with our eyes? I mean, there's inconsistency, and then there's Mike Jenkins 2009 vs. Mike Jenkins 2010. (Although, hey, Fred Bennett's decline between his rookie and second years was probably even bigger.)

Mike Kurtz: Really disappointed we didn't see halftime seppuku, much less firing.

We have our test case for Park Avenue. If Nick Collins doesn't sit for that hit on Roy Williams, feel free to start mocking the NFL's new-found awareness of the risks of head injury from playing professional football.

Doug Farrar: I have no idea what Collinsworth is talking about when he says that Sean Lee is not a coverage linebacker. At Penn State, it was one of the strongest traits, and I'm pretty sure he could cover seams better than Bradie James and Keith Brooking in his sleep. Undersized guy with good speed. What the hell?

Ben Muth: I'm waiting for the cameras to cut to Jerry Jones playing a fiddle.


357 comments, Last at 11 Nov 2010, 9:34pm

340 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

It seems like the majority opinion would have been to continue bare-knuckle boxing because that's how we've always done it.

Think about how ridiculous these discussions will look in 20 years.

344 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"If the only way he can hit him is to hit him illegally, yes. You're using the same reasoning that people used when they banned the horse-collar tackle. "Well, what if that's the only way to get him down?" Tough. Stop sucking and take a better angle."

Completely different from Horse Collar and Facemask, which are intentional - you have complete control on whether to grab or not. Stop sucking? Hard hits are what make big plays - fumbles, incomplete passes, etc... The greatest safeties in the NFL were know for their great hits. Maybe they should all play like Mike Jenkins. Do you even like football? Stop watching if it disturbs you.

"They don't allow fights in football. They don't allow punches, kicks, or biting. They don't allow dragging a player down from behind by their shoulder pads. They don't allow grabbing a player's facemask and dragging them down."

Again, all of these are intential and/or controllable. I agree with penalizing/fining intentional head-to-head hits against defenseless players, but more than that and your changing the nature of the game. Coleman lowered his shoulder with his feet on the ground (did not launch himself) and did not lead with the crown of his head. The only reason the ref threw the flag is when he saw Collie's reaction. And the NFL agrees as Coleman was not fined.

348 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"Completely different from Horse Collar and Facemask, which are intentional - you have complete control on whether to grab or not."

Horse collars and facemasks happen accidentally because the tackler grabs too high. That's why you see it happen with QBs all the time - because they don't practice tackling, so they just grab blindly. It's exactly the same thing.

"Hard hits are what make big plays"

We're not talking about getting rid of big hits! Why don't people get this? Sheldon Brown's hit on Reggie Bush was a huge hit. It was also much safer than Coleman's hit on Collie, or Robinson's hit on Jackson, etc. Same thing with Polamalu on TO.

All the league is trying to do - and they've stated this - is get defenders to change where they're aiming when they make the hit. Proper tackling form puts your shoulder basically in the ball carrier's gut. When people launch to hit receivers to break up a catch, they've been aiming at the shoulder, because you either knock the guy out or torque his upper body to prevent him from tucking the ball in. All the league's saying is "stop aiming for the shoulder, aim for the torso/gut."

262 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"Allowing any other consideration to trump safety is cynical and evil. The integrity of the players' lives is far more important than "the integrity of the game." Besides which, any rule change will affect all teams equally, so how is the integrity of the game threatened?"

So is it cynical and evil for Manning (or any QB) to continue to throw passes to receivers that leave them exposed to big hits and potential injury? Why is player safety so important that defenses have to change the way they've played for generations but not so important that offenses are expected to take steps to reduce the risk of injuries? (After all, offenses can control to whom the ball is thrown and where; the defense can't.) By increasing the number of penalties on defenders on passes down the seam or over the middle, the rules encourage offenses to throw more of those kinds of passes.

339 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"So is it cynical and evil for Manning (or any QB) to continue to throw passes to receivers that leave them exposed to big hits and potential injury? Why is player safety so important that defenses have to change the way they've played for generations but not so important that offenses are expected to take steps to reduce the risk of injuries? (After all, offenses can control to whom the ball is thrown and where; the defense can't.) By increasing the number of penalties on defenders on passes down the seam or over the middle, the rules encourage offenses to throw more of those kinds of passes."

Actually, offenses have thrown over the middle for generations too. And defenders do in fact control their technique. And technique has changed away from proper form.

Also, if offenses stopped using the middle of the field, defenses would shift strategy so they could light up receivers in other areas. Ultimately, the issue is tackling technique. And headgear.

343 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

And technique has changed away from proper form.

Is there any evidence of this other than nostalgia for a simpler time?

I mean watch highlights of Dick Butkus and Ray Lewis, then tell me who tackled in a more dangerous way.

319 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"Here is the thing. Safety is paramount. Allowing any other consideration to trump safety is cynical and evil. The integrity of the players' lives is far more important than "the integrity of the game." Besides which, any rule change will affect all teams equally, so how is the integrity of the game threatened?"

To put it quite simply, safety is not paramount to football, or any other sport. Football is a violent game, and as long as it remains a full-contact sport, players will suffer injuries - sometimes life-altering injuries, even without any helmet-to-helmet contact (e.g. Joe Theismann, Chris Simms, etc.). If long-term player safety were truly paramount, then most of the rule changes would revolve around the offensive and defensive lines, which is where the majority of helmet to helmet contact occurs (and imposing some sort of rules that decrease the size of the players - offensive linemen have a shorter life expectancy than the general population, as weighing 350 lbs is simply not advisable for those concerned about their cardiac health).

Moreover, any rule change that alters the balance in favor of the offense (especially the passing offense) will obviously benefit some teams more than others. For example, converting the actual game into a 7-on-7 format (with no linemen other than the center, and no rushing the QB allowed while he's behind the center) would reduce injuries considerably (especially to QBs), increase the average life-expectancy of the players, and the rules would apply to all teams equally, but obviously would alter the game significanty and inequitably - punishing teams with good offensive and defensive lines, and rewarding teams that had focused on skill positions.

This is not to say that the emphasis on reducing concussions is a bad thing or that I'm opposed to the NFL changing the rules as it sees necessary to do so; however, it's worth remembering that the players are consenting adults receiving (at a minimum) 6-figure annual salaries in exchange for taking up the injury risks associated with the game - if they find the rewards of being an NFL player worth the risk, it's their decision to make.

338 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"Moreover, any rule change that alters the balance in favor of the offense (especially the passing offense) will obviously benefit some teams more than others."

I don't agree at all. The performance of offenses is much more variable against good defenses than bad. Everyone looks like Joe Montana against the Texans this year.

And who cares anyway. The game is safer and teams pass more. Fewer players have oatmeal from brains at age 50. Sounds like a good trade off.

Honestly, some of you folks sound like you would support a return to bare-knuckle boxing.

346 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I like how you ignored the vast majority of my post, and end with a complete non-sequitur. I stated explicitly that I don't oppose the NFL changing its rules as it sees fit to reduce concussions - I was specifically countering your ridiculous assertion that safety is of "paramount importance" to football. It's not, and if it were, the sport wouldn't be in any way recognizable as football today.

335 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"And when the ball carrier is already being tackled the hit is just gratuitous."

so by this line of reasoning, mike jenkins should be commended for pulling up on greg jennings, as jennings was already being "tackled" by the safety?

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I don't play the "I played football card" a lot because it's completely annoying and of course I could be completely making everything up (which I'm not, but anyway...), but it's not a question of "control" it's completely a question of tackling technique as Pat is suggesting.

Look at #42's arms (in the linked picture). They are down and his right arm is TUCKED underneath his body. You can't wrap up a man with your arms down. That's a launch and that's crappy technique. Look at his head, he's leading with's not debatable.

Arms down, leading with his head, launching with his knees/lower body, that's a crappy tackle while I'm not suggesting that he tried to head hunt, if you tackle like that and the guy you are hitting gets knocked out, than quite frankly I don't feel sorry for you if you get a massive fine...if you hit the guy low and or drive him down with your arms extended and wrap him up, that h2h hit never happens.

301 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Why not make tackling without arms extended, trying to wrap up the guy an illegal hit?

Aside from given the refs reasons to call for a penalty on pretty much every Oakland defensive play of course.

345 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I don't see how his arm away from hist body would make any difference. The heads still collide with perhaps more chance of helmets hitting first.

"Look at his head, he's leading with's not debatable."

You're absolutley right, but it's a stupid argument. The only way to NOT lead with your head is to run completely upright or slide under them, or maybe run backwards into them.

There's a reason NFL football players don't use "proper" form tackle in many cases - wrap, then drive to the ground - because it's completely ineffective in most circumstances. Offensive players will run them over, stiff arm, etc... Hitting low doesn't solve the problem, cause then Coleman HAS to lead with the crown of his head when running that fast, putting himself in danger.

353 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

If he was wrapping, the impact would be less severe because the shoulder wouldn't be the only thing slowing down the two players.

Hitting low doesn't solve the problem, cause then Coleman HAS to lead with the crown of his head when running that fast

No he doesn't. He just needs to bend his knees more (well, at all).

There's a reason NFL football players don't use "proper" form tackle in many cases - wrap, then drive to the ground - because it's completely ineffective in most circumstances

Don't agree. They aim for the shoulder because it torques the body open, freeing the ball. Going lower and wrapping would be just as effective in bringing the opponent to the ground.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Aaron has one of the greatest lines in football commentary. Very, very funny.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The Kansas offensive playcalling is utterly inexplicable. Jamaal Charles is so obviously their best player, yet he spends most of the games watching incompletions to Dwayne Bowe and Thomas Jones running into the line. And I can't offer any explanation as to how DVOA can rank Kansas' passing offence at #6 in the league, but believe me, it is not.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The hit on Roy Williams in the Cowboys game didn't look that violent - not James Harrison-level, anyway - but the result was among the most frightening I've seen. Williams went face-first into the turf like he'd been shot. Apparently he's OK but it looked scary.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I wish I knew what Collins was thinking on that hit. It's not like he's normally a dirty player.

I will be quite pissed if he gets suspended for a game because of it. Not because the hit was excusable (it wasn't), but because players with much higher reps for dirty play will have already gotten off with warnings for helmet hits that were at least as intentional.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Great thinking there. I don't care that the honor student beat up his girlfriend. He should get off because people who are known to knock their wives around regularly have gotten off before as well.

If he isn't suspended, the warning that they would be suspending players for those kind of hits, EVEN FIRST OFFENDERS, is a bigger joke than KC's playcalling. He went straight at the back of Williams head with his helmet. Dirtiest hit I've seen all year. I hope he doesn't see the field again in November.

- Alvaro

201 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Of course I'm not. But you can't seriously be dense enough to actually be missing the point, can you?

Substitute robbing a store, cheating on a test, whatever you want to. THe intensity is irrelevant. The argument that one person who blatantly broke the rules should not be punished for them because others haven't been punished before is patently ridiculous.

I understand that you want to get away from that actual point and instead discuss the non-existent comparisson of playing football to wife beating, because that one you might actually win (although I'm not sure how willingly going at someone's back of the head with a hard object, thus potentially crippling or kiling them is morally defensive on ANY level either. But I can see how you might win that because of the horro attached to wife-beating).

- Alvaro

220 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The intensity is relevant, because as you say, it's morally indefensible to hold the position that wife or girl-friend beating shouldn't be punished, just because it sometimes wasn't punished in the past.

Take it the other way and compare it to exceeding the speed limit. The fact is that in most environs the speed limit is not strictly enforced - 5 to 10 miles over the limit is commonly accepted by the enforcement officials. So it would be perfectly legitimate to raise holy hell if you got ticketed for 5 miles over the limit when no one else has been.

Where exactly hard/vicious/'illegal' hits falls on that scale is debatable, but it's not up there with beating women.

222 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

None of those analogies work either, because the game of football inherently involves people trying to hit other people. That's a far cry from someone committing a crime, or even cheating on a test, as those involve a deviance from acceptable behavior. The only difference between a head-on hit and a normal tackle is where the other guy gets hit. Remember that Phil Simms kid got hit in the belly and almost died from a ruptured spleen, yet that was, by your definition, a clean hit. Basically, your argument comes down to the opinion that any hit that involves helmet to helmet contact automatically implies attempt to injure, which is absurd. Since my name is Kevin and not Kreskin, I can't read a player's mind to detremine if he intends to injure another player with his helmet - or maybe I'm just dense - but I'm gald for you if you can.

Sorry, fixed a spelling error - maybe poster drnuk?

235 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

How exactly is breaking a specific and deliniated rule which concerns player safety and has been made a point of emphasis to both players and oficials this year not "a deviance from acceptable behavior?"

I am seriously wondering how you can say that cheating on a test is worse than breaking a rule designed for player safety with a straight face. Even in the most shallow, slanted comparisons, there is no way that they are not at the very least equal.

- Alvaro

254 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The reason is that flying around a football field is a lot quicker and less controlled than a test. These guys are just trying to get to where they need to be and knock a guy down - who cares how - and sometimes things that look awful aren't even intentional. I'm not saying the Collins/Williams hit was or wasn't (I didn't see it). But the rule is neither specific nor delineated; it's nonsense and it is interpreted inconsistently.

Which is fine, there's no alternative to a judgment call. But Goodell's "points of emphasis" are for the press, not the officials, and judgment calls shouldn't decide who plays and who doesn't.

276 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"But the rule is neither specific nor delineated"

"But Goodell's "points of emphasis" are for the press, not the officials,"

So we have established you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Good to know.

The league sent out a video to both the oficials and the teams specifically delineating what is and isn't a legal hit to a defenseless player, making both your arguments patently false in one stroke. This site even linked to said video, if you care to look it up.

- Alvaro

304 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

And yet, the league has decided not to fine the kid who knocked out Collie. Guess they realized that it was a bang bang play, and that he had not commited an outrageious violation of the rules, Or maybe they're dense too.

356 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

And that has to do with the Collins/Williams hit what exactly? I have not once even mentioned Collie, since I'm arguing against a flagrant violation and disregard for player safety, which the Williams hit is, but the Collie one isn't.

You really should check which "Coll" is being talked about before posting...

- Alvaro

323 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Of course they did.

And every week, the officials leave most of that uncalled. Did you -see- the four players upending Vince Young? Uncalled. The league has a product to sell, and it involves this stuff. Unless something valuable to the league is at stake, like a popular white quarterback, the officials tend to let it go. (Remember Chris Kluwe's own point of emphasis on the Vikings white board: Showing that identical hits in the NFL's video to a punter and QB were treated differently.)

The very fact that we're arguing back and forth about this shows there isn't a rule, there's a judgment call. And that judgment is made, week in and week out, on the basis of issues other than how the hit happened.

Roger Goodell can send out all the video he wants, but that's for our consumption, not the officials. He's "being concerned". Do you believe for a minute that he cares about head injuries?

357 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"The very fact that we're arguing back and forth about this shows there isn't a rule, there's a judgment call."

What? Do you even know what the words 'rule' and 'judgment call' mean? That sentence makes no sense whatsoever. Or are you sriously suggesting the officials can call whatever the heck they feel like on a whim? "Illegal farting, Offense, 81, 15 yard penalty"

Also I'm SO glad that you are bringing in all the insider knowledge of what isn't for the officials consuption, even though it was specifically sent for them for that purpose. What would we do without you to blow up the cover-up?

- Alvaro

163 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

This one is tough. I saw it and I was like "what the hell Nick!" But looking at again I really think it was more of he saw the ball and was just trying to get through the receiver to get it and I think the helmet slipped up the shoulder pads and helmet to helmet. So I think I know what he was thinking now, but I still don't think it was a smart play.

Of course when you get this quote from Williams

"Commissioner Goodell, don't fine the guy. It wasn't that bad of a deal, he shouldn't get fined. It was a football play, a football player making a football play. No injury, no harm."

that backs it up a bit. Though that could just be another player thinking the NFL is simply going overboard on it. But when the guy that got hit said that even after seeing the replay it's at least some evidence.

Another quote from Williams that I saw on the whole deal.

“There was nothing (wrong); I just laid there and made sure everything was OK. I had a bunch of grass in my mouth. Doctors came over there, I was like, ‘Get this stuff out of my mouth. I know where I'm at, Lambeau Field, getting beat 35-7, just tried to run a nine route, didn't get it, got hit somewhere, either the ground hit me or he hit me. Somebody hit me. I'm good.'"

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

How is it the SDG special teams coach still has a job? Miami special teams has three breakdowns in one game and he's fired. But SDG special teams has cost them multiple games, and he's fine??

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The Vikings finally sat Jared Allen down for a few plays in the 2nd half. He looked like a different player when he came back.

It was nice to see the decent pass rush in the 4th quarter but they were playing Arizona and Derek Anderson.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

raiderjoe better show up to crow about the Oakland win and how dvoa is designed by "drnuks".

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Hey, the Raiders have a winning record halfway through the season, they just won in overtime and he posted about having a good supply of Sierra Tumblers...

I'd say give him till Tuesday at least. Maybe Wednesday.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Mike Tanier: Over in Oakland, we get a clinic in how many different ways a clock can stop without a timeout: first a Chiefs player gets hurt, then there's a long review, and the Raiders get two "free" timeouts that help them get the game to overtime

I've mentioned it before, but I think "free" timeouts and substitutions via injuries are something that the Competition Committee is going to have to address. At one point during NE/CLE, New England gained 13 yards on 3rd and 15, and were running up to the LOS to run a play and trap Cleveland in a dime defense. Coverage linebacker Blake Constanzo looked to the sideline, nodded at a coach, and standing all by himself, fell down on the field as if struck by the invisible swordsman. The trainers came out, and Cleveland was able to get their base defense personnel on the field.

I don't know what the solution would be. Maybe the player is unavailable for a quarter or the Coach can opt to be charged a timeout? Maybe the opposing coach gets to choose which player (of the same position) has to replace the injured one? Maybe take a page from the NHL, and call obvious dives and give the offense 10 yards? That would probably make the most sense for the egregious after-the-play, clearly tactical "injuries".

Not a new phenomenon by any means, but I'd like to see these move from the "Poor sportsmanship, but heads-up play" category to "Poor sportsmanship, and the team will be punished for it."

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

If you are going to go the NHL route, why not just prevent a team from substituting any player besides the injured one onto the field? I suppose this still allows for possible "tactical" injuries, if a coach replaces an "injured" linebacker with a cornerback to go into a nickel package or something, but everyone else would be stuck on the field...

216 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9


I saw that, too. It was so obvious, it was comical (well, to me as a Colts fan). There has to be a solution. I like this one: anyone who causes a time stoppage for injury is out for the rest of that possession. Sure, a team could still do it, but they can't get that player back into the game until a change of possession.

236 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

3 reasons

1) The defense can substitute they just have to hurry up

2) It doesn't change what the game clock is doing, stopping it or starting when it is stopped

3) It doesn't give any advantage, neither team can substitute.

238 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Because as the ofense you are giving up the ability to substitute and to huddle up in order to get the play off.

But more importantly, because the offense controls the clock, and this is a fundamental part of the game. When you are on offense you can try and take as little time as you can so as to be able to run more plays. Conversely, you can try to take eveyr last second to end the game. On defense, the only way you have to control the play is time-outs. If you're really concerned about a subtitution, call one. Of course, you might need it later, but that's part of the strategy. Faking an injury to get more time-outs than alloted to each team is cheating, ebcause you are trying to cirumvent the rules of the game.

- Alvaro

312 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Which rule, exactly, is being circumvented in this case? There's no rule, to my knowledge, that an offensive team is required to wait X amount of seconds before snapping the ball. That would kind of kill the 2-minute offense, and cause Bill Polian to choke Goodell. Which might not be the worst thing to happen.

307 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Where's the line? Are you against play-action passes, because the offense is tricking the defense into thinking it's a running play?

The more I think about it, the more I like the 10-yard "diving" penalty. Just having it on the books might cause coaches and players to cut the malarkey (or knowlingly trade the yards for a substitution). I'm all for erring on the side of player injury, and if a player remains down after the play, there's really no way to prove he's not shaken up, but when there's clear communication between player and coach, and instructions to go down are relayed, hit them with the 10 yards. I would think this would even fit under Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

In addition to the diddling around in the Chiefs-Raiders game noted above, there was the sequence where the Chiefs appeared to get into the end zone on a third down play, but the Raiders challenged and the runner was declared down at the two - at which point the officials forgot what down it was. The Chiefs had made the first down on the challenged play, but after the subsequent play lost a couple of yards, the refs tried to give the ball back to the Raiders on downs. Only a Todd Haley screaming fit restored order.

Which brings up the question: Why is Jeff Triplette still refereeing NFL games? Every time I see a game with his crew, I am guaranteed several interminable, pointless delays and at least one or two egregiously blown calls. He's also the guy who blew a coin toss in overtime a few years ago, and threw his penalty flag in Orlando Brown's eye. Why doesn't the league office realize how bad he is?

303 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

After the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss in Raiders/Chiefs, Richard Seymour asked the ref for a review!

In other news, my Captcha words for this post are reeras safety which pretty much sums up the Dallas pass defense.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I think SF has a decent shot at the NFC West. They are two games back but the the Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals are truly bad.

SF has road games in GB and SD but their other six all seem very winnable to me.


I could see the winner of this division going 8-8 or 7-9.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

By default, someone has to win it. Arizona probably has the worst shot.

As for the 49ers, I don't see them going 6-2 the rest of the way. Even with a cheesecake schedule, they're not good enough to be that consistent for 8 games. I suspect once they lose to St. Louis, their season will essentially be over.

It seems to me, the team that has the best shot is the Rams. Not that anybody will do anything once the playoffs start, but the Rams seem like the only team in the division that is actually getting better.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The thing about Boise State is that they peaked in week 1. It doesn't matter that they're running the table, because after the win over VT, everybody assumed they would run the table. It's already built into their ranking.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Yes but it tanked when VT lost to James Madison. In theory as the Hokies have revived their season, that will help somewhat, and it will also go up if they finish out and win the ACC title game to go to a BCS bowl.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Normally I don't like the whining that accompanies a team making the playoffs as a division winner with a worse record than other teams in the same conference who fail to get a wild card because those teams have failed to win their own division and so I feel that they shouldn't have a reason to be too upset. But this year the NFC West champion is not going to be a good team, I wouldn't be that bothered if they just decided to take five playoff teams in the NFC.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Aaron Schatz: Colts are wearing throwback uniforms today, for no apparent reason. On the road. While the home team, Philadelphia, is not wearing throwback uniforms.

Too many of the Colts regular uniforms were injured and didn't make the trip.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

There is no figuring out the Vikings. I have no idea what to expect, in their next two games, against the Bears and Packers.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

the offence has come around in the last 4 games. They've averaged 439 yds a game but their red zone offence has been terrible and they are still turning over the ball.

The good news is that ints and red zone are two areas that have little predictive value.

The other good news could be Sidney Rice.

Defensively they just aren't generating a pass rush save for the 4th quarter and OT yesterday. I think Allen was benched briefly in the 4th quarter and that seemed to fire him up. I also saw Everson Griffin in there a little. He made one hell of nice bull rush against two blockers on one play that looked more impressive than anything Allen or Edwards has done all year.

The defensive line has seemed almost complacent this year. Even the comments from Allen about how he was playing fine and how he was just missing and getting doubled all the time, didn't seem to accept reality. Sitting his ass on the bench may have woke him up a little.

Probably overly simplified wishful thinking on my part though.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"do you think Matt Leinart watches these games late at night, cackling to himself?"

There is no way on earth that this is not how Matt Leinart spent last night.

240 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I picture him getting drunk, wondering how he got fired by these guys, while knowing in his heart that he was even worse than the guys they kept.

Mostly I just picture him getting drunk. It's one thing to be told that your services as QB are not needed because the team has Joe Montana and Steve Young. It's quite another thing to be told that when the other QBs are Derek Anderson and Max Hall.

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For Jenkins' performance (or lack of), on certain plays in NFL Rewind will give you "Game Film" which gives you an all 22 view of the play. Gives you a better idea of what the defense is doing pre and post snap of the ball. Just have to wait until they post the games.

UNFORTUNATELY, you don't see all plays, just certain ones.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I was surprised at the lack of commentary on the GB "strip-the-football-out-just- after-the-runner-hits-the-ground-and-since-DAL-is-out-of-TO's-they-won't-be-able- to-challenge-this-obviously-wrong-call" TD. I could see that he returner was down before "fumbling" live.
One (very tiny) part of me says "Poor Cowboys--even the refs screw them over badly when they manage to execute a play well." Most of me just says "They deserve it--they have quit on their coach, and it's about time that the 'media darlings' get their just desserts." ESPECIALLY after seeing the lack of tackling attempt (by Jenkins, iirc) and the ride-the-receiver's-back-while-trying-to strip-the-ball-instead-of-just-bringing-him-down (by one of the safeties) on James Jones' TD catch. It was nice to see Collinsworth call out Jenkins for it after the commercial break.

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In case you or anyone else here has not yet read it:,18405/

America is in mourning for the sad state of America's Team, you know.

Or, um, maybe not.

/ht to Xian for pointing it out to me the other day

292 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The Onion. Source of all your non-FO sports news.

I was a little surprised at the play not being blown dead, but I was also more surprised at how long it took Al & Chris to realize that Dallas was out of TOs and couldn't challenge it. Spent about a minute trying to talk to them through the tv.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

This is one of the reasons I've never liked the NFL instant replay rule. Referees are essentially told to err on the side of letting a play continue with the idea being that if it should have been blown dead that they can correct it upon replay. Except for those cases where it can't be corrected by replay (like this since Dallas was out of timeouts) or the replay evidence isn't clear (either due to poor camera angles or simply the closeness of the call).

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

On the other hand, you can argue that the onus is on Dallas to make sure that they have a timeout to use in those situations. If anything it demonstrates the potential danger of exhausting your timeouts before the end of a half.

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Given that coaches have at most three challenges per game, I think that's a terrible instruction to give to referees. Tom Cable used his second challenge shortly after the second quarter started and was without a challenge when he could have used one in the second half. Now, you can criticize Cable for wasting a challenge when he did, but the fact remains that the 3-challenge limit means that refs really need to make more of an effort to get the call right when it's being called initially, rather than "erring on the side" of anything.

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Agreed. The refs may be instructed to 'let a play continue' but then if think it was down, they need to bring it back to the spot and let the other team challenge. Confuse a lot of fans and maybe upset a lot, but get it right. Otherwise, do it the college way and review all of them. Better yet, get better refs and reduce (not eliminate) how many of these happen.

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Yeah that was a clear blown call. I was thinking, well that's getting called back when watching it live as well. Heck even Collins knew it you can find this quote from him out there.

“I know he was down. I know that,” Collins said. “I got a gift, an early Christmas present.”

But still clearly a blown call and I never feel bad for the Cowboys. Been a Packers fan too long and always hated the Cowboys because back in the 90's they never played in GB, the Pack always had to go down there and lose even when both teams were good. :)

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Tim Gerheim: This is why I think they need to invent soft helmets that are actually protective. The helmets as they are are borderline counterproductive at this point; when two helmets come into contact, they act as weapons, not as armor. And when a helmet hits you anywhere else, it's purely weapon.

Tim: why? I'm missing something. The helmets are hard on the exterior, but (presumedly) cushioned internally. Otherwise they're useless. Why would a soft helmet help?

Imagine an infinitely strong car: if it has a collision with an infinitely massive object, a person inside the car will decelerate to zero in approximately zero time, and experience infinite force (and turn into a pile of jelly). We all agree here, right? This is why cars are designed to crush in collisions - the car absorbs some of the collision and the deceleration is spread over finite time, reducing the force.

But if you imagine a crushable car inside an infinitely strong box in that collision, it's *exactly the same* as a crushable car without that box. The box stops right away, car absorbs the impact as much as it can, and things are exactly the same.

In fact, if you imagine cars inside an infinitely strong sphere, we'd be better off: a two-car collision would virtually never be head-on, and the deflection would allow the collision to extend longer.

I've heard the "the helmet's a weapon!" thing many times, and I don't get it. Unless the hard helmet part is limiting the compressibility of the helmet, I don't get the issue.

Yes, it's true that if I hit you with a foam bat and an aluminum bat, the aluminum bat will hurt more, even if I'm wearing padding. But a helmet isn't an aluminum bat: it's more like an aluminum bat with a foam core to which the handle's attached. And in that case, it's all about how much energy you can transfer, and that's just the compressibility of the foam.

Now, the one advantage that I could think of for a soft helmet is that it'd deflect the neck less, but that would result in additional force to the brain.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I think the "infinitely strong" part of the thought experiments you propose might distort the perspective a little?

I think the hard helmet is definitely limiting the amount of protection it can provide. I think you're right that, for the heads inside the helmets, the ultimate question is how much force ends up being transferred from outside the helmet to the head inside. But in a collision involving a rigid exterior, the amount of force that can be (a) redirected and (b) absorbed is limited by the fact that the exterior shell is (I would think) transferring the force almost unchanged from the impacting object to the interior cushioning materials. If there were no shell at all, the impact might be more transferrable in tangential directions, and there could also be more total cushiony material in between the colliding objects. (I think that more cushioning inside could probably also be added while keeping the hard shell on the outside, but it'd obviously add more to the bulk and weight of the total helmet.)

That's on the receiving end of collisions. On the impacting end, it seems to me like it should be obvious that a hard-shelled helmet would be more of a weapon when it hits another helmet, or anything else, than a soft-shelled helmet. As you say, hitting someone with a foam bat wouldn't hurt as much as a metal bat, even if the foam bat is just as heavy and swung with just as much force. The foam bat will absorb more of the impact itself, and if it is *designed* to reduce force in collisions, I would think that could be a pretty strong effect.

This would presumably have at least some effect on user behavior as well: if helmets become *less* effective as weapons, even if they're still *somewhat* effective, you would expect to see players making less attempts to use them as weapons, right?

I think the quote you responded to might have gone off-course a little bit and maybe that's part of what you were responding to? Tim wrote "when two helmets come into contact, they act as weapons, not as armor" but I think that's a bit of an exaggeration or misstatement - they are still armor as well, but the impacting helmet is functioning as a weapon against the receiving helmet, at the same time as it is functioning as armor for its wearer, in a sense.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I think the "infinitely strong" part of the thought experiments you propose might distort the perspective a little?

No, it's just a limit. Add compressibility to both sides and it doesn't change anything.

If there were no shell at all, the impact might be more transferrable in tangential directions

If you have a hard shell, the impact between two of them will be a small point, and unless you're absolutely, perfectly aligned, that point will be off of the collision axis, so you'll deflect and the impact will be reduced.

If you've got a soft shell, the impact between them will be a larger surface, and so the center of that surface will be closer to the collision axis, and so the deflection's less.

As you say, hitting someone with a foam bat wouldn't hurt as much as a metal bat,

A cushioned helmet is not a metal bat. It's not. Like I said, it's more like a metal bat with a foam core where the foam core's got the handle. When you swing that bat, when the metal makes the collision the foam compresses, absorbing some of the energy of the swing.

The helmet alone doesn't deliver most of the energy. It weighs nothing, compared to the person. It's the person that's delivering most of the energy. The compression of the helmet during the collision should be exactly the same between a soft and hard helmet (assuming that the hard helmet is basically "exact same soft helmet + hard outer shell.").

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For soft helmets? I can't imagine it'd do anything. The normal force is so high that reducing friction won't do much to promote sliding. Hard helmets don't deform enough to snag on each other (you can see that pretty obviously in collisions) so it wouldn't matter.

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Thanks for answering my tongue in cheek question...I'm sort of brainstorming on this and also amusing myself with a variety of images at the same time. I've found that throwing out wacky, half-assed, not meant to be taken seriously ideas sometimes yields good stuff.

I'm very concerned about this topic. I think it's interesting that after Dale Earnhardt died, NASCAR had solutions in place by the beginning of the next (I think) season. Hopefully, the NFL will be able to do the same. The current rules and enforcement of said rules are not going to do it, and I suspect that given how long players have been utilizing these poor (dangerous) techiques, I doubt that coaching will resolve the problem in short order as overlearned behaviors with a signficant amount of muscle memory involvement are not easily changed.

176 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

It's more complex than hard vs soft. The helmets are a system with the "foam" padding, and web supports inside playing a major role. Like a car, it is a system design. I think there are 3 methods of injury that have to be accommodated: Skull fractures, concussion from impact, concussion from a quick stop. The current helmets were/are designed primarily to prevent skull fractures. By material selection and design, helmets can be improved to better dampen and spread the impact which might lead to concussion. I don't see any way a helmet can effect the quick stop (think the D. Jackson hit the other week.) If a body or head has that large a change in velocity, the brain will bounce around the skull. Some very small mitigation might happen, but those will be a part of the game until they are legislated out.

One other thought, don't use historical norms to judge "acceptable" hits. I think the league is looking to move the line between acceptable and non-acceptable.

293 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

No, no. The problem is that the existing helmets are rigid. As you say, they don't deform. If two objects collide and neither deforms the collision is elastic and most of the energy is preserved; actually, the struck helmet vibrates like a bell, and the interior padding only does so much. Soft helmets will collide inelastically and not transfer nearly as much energy in the first place since the energy will be dissipated by the padding on impact.

317 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The interior padding does exactly what the padding on a soft helmet would do, with the added benefit that the impact parameter is increased since the point of impact is smaller (and farther from the impact axis). The helmet-to-helmet collision is elastic, but the skull-to-helmet collision (on both sides) is inelastic. If the padding on the interior of the helmet can absorb as much energy as a soft helmet would (and if not, just take the soft helmet and put a rigid shell on it) it's exactly the same.

The whole "the helmet is a weapon" thing is completely overblown. The weapon isn't the helmet, it's the other guy's body.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Helmets don't kill people! PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE!!!

You make a very reasonable point, BTW, and am glad to see someone arguing that we shouldn't go back to the 19-ohs when players frequently died because their crania were crushed.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The momentum, impulse, and kinetic energy going into and coming out of the system would all be identical with a soft helmet. However the effect of the helmet on other players would be changed.

Right now the impact of a helmet on an opposing player is concentrated in a fairly small area because the hard out shell does not deform, which makes the helmet more usable as a weapon, because an impact spread evenly over one player's head is concentrated on another player's body. With a soft exterior the helmet would protect both the hitter and the hittee. It's not just about the amount of energy transfer, but also about the physical area of transfer.

A softer exterior may lead to players using their helmets less against ball carrier's bodies, which may lead to fewer overall helmet-to-helmet hits, but that's just conjecture on my part.

That said, your point would still stand as far as the result of helmet-to-helmet hits, since both player's are protected by the cushioned interiors of their own helmets. Additional padding, either on the inside or outside of the helmets, as well as reducing the weight of helmets, seems like the only way to reduce the impact of helmet-to-helmet hits.

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But do they explode and fly into a million pieces like an Indy Car? Just think about it, maybe we'd get that "Ooooooooooo, BIG HIT, BoooooooooM!!!!!!!" satisfaction and with a reduced risk of injury.

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That's actually a non-terrible idea. It would be fun to see helmets fly to bits after a big hit.

On the other hand, you would remove any protection from any hits that come in after said helmet explodes.

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Not really, actually. It's a tradeoff: the shell breaking apart also absorbs energy (moreso than, say, metal denting, which would require so much energy that the person would likely be dead). The loss of protection afterwards isn't actually that bad because, well, any additional force that the helmet would've been *asked* to absorb wouldn't've been absorbed anyway (it just would've been transmitted).

There are lots of other helmets (motorcycle, etc.) that work similarly. The breaking point is usually very high on those helmets (and probably on current football helmets, too) but that's because those situations have much wider variations in possible impulses to absorb.

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I think he meant an entire second collision, like a receiver getting hit once breaking the helmet, and another defender flying in to hit him again, and his now uncovered head.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"Right now the impact of a helmet on an opposing player is concentrated in a fairly small area because the hard out shell does not deform, which makes the helmet more usable as a weapon, because an impact spread evenly over one player's head is concentrated on another player's body"

Yes, but we're talking about helmet-to-helmet hits. In this case the impact is spread on both sides, and in fact, the hard helmet should *help* here because the small area makes the impact parameter of the collision larger (and thus deflects the two heads away from each other).

In terms of helmet-to-body, I agree with you. But I think a soft-helmet to soft-helmet collision could be worse (with the caveat of maybe more neck trauma mentioned before).

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Oops, didn't see the fact that you agreed for helmet-to-helmet hits.

Anyway, even for non helmet-to-helmet hits, there are virtually no unpadded areas of a football player's body where flinging your head at them would do real harm (and still be legal - obviously knees are the bad point, but also in that case, unpadded versus padded helmets ain't gonna do much - the knee's still going to buckle).

But seriously, I don't see helmet manufacturers mentioning this, and this is a problem that should be possible to simulate. Given the fact that I don't see many people suggesting it, I have to think that the hard helmets are actually better.

306 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Right now, the helmet's are basically a two part system. The outer shell to absorb or deflect the energy, and the inner padding to extend the duration and distribute the energy of the impact. That's a pretty good system for defending players, but it makes the helmet a weapon. The helmet's should probably be a three part system. Exterior shell, that acts like the interior, to extend the duration of the hit (crumple zone in cars). The middle shell (perhaps lighter as you suggested) and then the interior padding.

I believe others have mentioned such a system is available, but for one reason or another, players have been against it. If the NFL is willing to fine 50K a hit, and are serious about safety, they should mandate a better helmet that protects the players better. Since they have not made a single mention about the helmets, I conclude that this concern is NOT truly about player safety. Any safety concern should address BOTH issues: how the players are hitting and how to protect them when the hits do occur. Any other plan is just band-aids.

318 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The helmet's should probably be a three part system. Exterior shell, that acts like the interior, to extend the duration of the hit (crumple zone in cars).

Soft exterior, rigid wall, soft interior is actually worse than rigid wall, 2x soft interior, I think. Both have the same ability to absorb hits (same amount of cushioning), and I think the rigid outer wall makes the impact parameter larger, like I mentioned.

Imagine a ball hitting another ball, with the centers of the two balls offset by half their radius. The impact parameter (distance to center of point of impact perpendicular to impact axis) is just going to be half their radius, and only a portion of the possible energy of a head-on collision gets transferred (since the two balls just dink off each other at an angle).

If you imagine two soft balls colliding in the same way (one coming down, one going up), the impact point is actually going to be closer to the axis, since the helmets will deform from the bottom of the top ball out to the impact point, and the other will deform from the top out to the impact point. The impact parameter is then something like *half* of the radius (depending on the compressibility of the material), and the energy transfer is actually higher.

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The deforming moving the closest point that the heads reach doesn't affect enery transfer. What you're talking about in paragraph 2, elastic vs inelastic collisions does. And as far as the initial collisions goes, you are right about the elastic collision transferring less into the head.

But that's unfortunately not the only concern. The energy eventually has to go somewhere. And unless the players' full bodies bounce elastically (they don't) that place is largely going to be the neck. So you have to strike a balance there. Completely inelastic and the energy all goes into the head. Completely elastic and the energy all (okay not all, but a lot will) goes into the neck. What you need to do is spread the energy out so to minimize damage.

What padding does (in addition to affecting the elasticity) is not change the total energy, but rather it changes the duration of the energy transform by deforming during the impact. This yields the same impulse but a lower maximum force. Again the benefit is gained by spreading the energy out, in this case over time instead of over space.

Finally, and I don't think this should be overlooked, padding on the outside would yield less specatular helmet-to-helmet hits since they would be less elastic. This might not (or might depending on current balance) be beneficial in direct effect on the hit in question. But I would expect it have a phychological effect on players that would tend to reduce the number of such hits overall.

333 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The deforming moving the closest point that the heads reach doesn't affect enery transfer.

It's complicated. A rigid helmet will deflect the heads away from each other quickly, and then the majority of the collision will happen between most of the player's bodies. Obviously the neck/spine will drag the skull back, and then the brain flies forward (and the helmet doesn't actually do anything here) - but this shouldn't be that bad, because since the neck can pivot, you'll basically just whip the person's head downward.

For a soft helmet, it won't deflect away quickly, because the contact area is larger and closer to the axis, so more of the momentum transfer happens through the helmet/skull/neck compressing, which should mean more force on the brain.

Naively, I'd say the rigid helmet wins (*if* you assume the rigid helmet's interior padding can absorb the same amount of energy that the soft helmet's padding can - that is, at maximum compression, the stored energy's equal), but the torque/stress on the neck could be serious.

This yields the same impulse but a lower maximum force

A cushioned interior does exactly the same thing. It stores exactly the same amount of energy, spreads the impulse over the same amount of time, and makes the collision just as inelastic. The collisions don't magically get worse when you put a rigid shell on the outside of a soft helmet.

Finally, and I don't think this should be overlooked, padding on the outside would yield less specatular helmet-to-helmet hits since they would be less elastic.

The collision's inelastic in either case. It's elastic to the rigid portion of the helmet, but the energy of the helmet is tiny compared to the total energy of the collision (and even just the head alone!).

Put a soft helmet on someone, and those huge hits that we've seen over the past few weeks wouldn't change a bit. The helmet, *in total*, weighs something like 5-6 pounds, whereas the head of an NFL player is probably more like 15-16 pounds. I don't think the elasticity of the exterior of the helmet makes that much of a deal, and I definitely think it could make it worse.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Giants' OL changes were interesting.

With starting C Shaun O'Hara hurt (as well as Will Beatty, their swing-backup OT), instead of playing Adam Koets there as they have done in the past, they moved LG Rich Seubert to C, moved LT Dave Diehl to LG, and brought Shawn Andrews (!) in at LT. But, in certain formations and situations, they went back to Koets-Seubert-Diehl. I think that they were partly afraid of Koets snapping in what was potentially a very hostile stadium for visiting teams.

In any event, Shawn Andrews looked good at Left Tackle. The 'Hawks aren't exactly a team stocked with top-shelf edge-rushers, and I'm still nervous about Andrews' neck/back/head issues. But the weight he has lost since his time with the Eagles seems to really have helped his mobility.

The downside for the Giants, though, is that both Koets and Diehl sustained injuries of yet-uncertain severity. Giants were using every healthy OL they had on the active roster by the 4th quarter. (Which makes that 13:00 all-runs drive to close out the game even more satisfying, but it also makes me worry.)

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Does Suh get top billing in Loser League this week for kickers? 0-1 on XP.

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Maybe someone can help me with this, but I don't know why a punter can't come in and kick an extra point? I know its different, but in my mind at least, they at least have a working knowledge of how to approach the situation. They at least have some leg flexibility. Is Suh, a 300 pound defensive lineman REALLY the best option to kick an extra point (which ultimately cost them the game).

There has to be some better option than Suh.

190 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

There's no rule saying "so and so can kick and so and so can't." Detroit simply chose to use Suh in that situation. Probably because of his soccer background.

It didn't work. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind if any time a player over 300 lbs kicked an extra point, it was automatically worth two. That's good entertainment right there. (sorely tempted to type "period" here just to be a jackass but biting my tongue - metaphorically speaking)

219 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"On the other hand, I wouldn't mind if any time a player over 300 lbs kicked an extra point, it was automatically worth two."

Yeah, but then you'll just see Janikowski bulking up a few pounds and getting two-point PATs every week.

224 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

As someone pointed out, the Lions' punter is also their holder. So not only do you need to have someone unaccustomed to placekicking figure out the timing and mechanics to kick the ball, you also have someone unaccustomed to holding figure out how to catch the snap, place it, spin it, and get his hands the hell out of the way so they're not taken off.

That said, I agree with those who said that going for two would have been a better option. Even if there's only a 45% chance of making it, that would give you about 0.9 expected points, and I can't imagine that people thought that Suh had a 90% chance of making the kick.

233 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The other issue to remember is that for some (most?) teams the punter is the holder for place kicks. If your punter starts doing the kicking, you'd have to make sure someone else on the roster has enough experience holding to handle the snap and get the ball down so that the punter could actually attempt the kick. Maybe the Lions don't have anyone else on their roster that they felt could handle being the holder, so maybe in that instance Suh *was* the best option.

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"Will Carroll: I expect him not to lead with his head. The fact is that Coleman's helmet hit Collie's helmet. PERIOD. Anything else - anything - is not a question of whether or not it should be a penalty, but a question of how big the fine should be. I agree that Mikell's hit changed things, but any ... ANY ... instance of a defensive player leading with the helmet deserves penalty and fine"

I always thought Will Carroll was clueless about baseball, proving me right when he voted for Dan Haren in the Cy Young Voting last year. Now he has shown me that he is oblivious to the game of football, as well as human anatomy. Your head has to be somewhere. You can't tackle someone while tucking your head between your legs, can you? The fact is, if a defensive player is about to hit the offensive player with his shoulder but the offensive player changes direction and you don't have time to react, you did not lead with your head. and there's nothing that can be done. Well, except play flag football, of course.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9


"Your head has to be somewhere. You can't tackle someone while tucking your head between your legs, can you? The fact is, if a defensive player is about to hit the offensive player with his shoulder but the offensive player changes direction and you don't have time to react, you did not lead with your head. and there's nothing that can be done. Well, except play flag football, of course."

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You're entirely missing the problem.

Helmet-to-helmet or shoulder-to-helmet makes no difference. Both should be flagged. The problem is the "to-helmet" part. That's why the rule says a hit to a defenseless receiver to the shoulder/neck area or above.

The "helmet-" versus "shoulder-" just affects Coleman, not Collie. The problem was that Coleman was aiming way too high. That's why everyone is saying "they need to change their target area." Stop aiming for the guy's head/shoulder. Period.

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Everyone is well aware that. However, when the receiver is pushed or lowers his head into your shoulder/helmet/whatever, then there is nothing that can be done. No one should be penalized and fined for those particular situations, because as I said before, your head has to be somewhere. Read my post again and you'll understand that.

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There's no need to glorify the Samuel play. His initial instinct was "to the house" and then he changed his mind midstream. The Eagles were in kneeldown mode with Indy out of timeouts - the Colts were better off getting a fumble from a running Samuel then they would be getting a Pisarcik from Vick on the kneeldown.

Samuel was also celebrating and woofing a few minutes after the Collie hit, which shows how utterly classless he is. When someone is down for the count, show some friggin' respect.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I don't think Samuel knew what had happened. The Eagles players were quick to make a play on the loose ball. I think it took players a few minutes to understand the gravity of the situation. The same may be for the fans. It was a rough hit regardless, and Collie quite easily could have simply had the wind knocked out of him. We have the benefit of television angles and replay--I saw his arms go rigid the moment he got hit--but fans in the stadium and players not watching the hit might not notice. Samuel thought it was a hard hit and a legitimate fumble recovery.

To Coleman's credit, it appeared that when he realized what happened to Collie he made an effort to make sure he was ok. I don't think any players want to see someone wheeled off on a gurney. It reminds them of the risk they take playing the game.

hail damage

232 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I'm just pissed the guy couldn't pull out a win for me in my Delaware pools. Would have been a $1200 win if the bum had scored a TD.

And by the way, Samuel was not celebrating while Collie was lying on the turf - he was upset about the penalty. Matter of fact, Samuel had his back to the guy, so he probably didn't even realize Collie was still on the ground.


in soccer, a foul is called in a situation where dangerous play is deemed to have occurred. if a player is trying to control a ball in the air and brings his foot up to shoulder level and above with an opposing player in the area, its whistled as a dangerous play. seems like an innocuous point, but the reason i bring it up is that if a player BRINGS HIS HEAD DOWN in an effort to control the ball, he is whistled for dangerous play as well.

football is a struggle for leverage. imagine a skill player is in the open field outside the hashes and hes squared up with a would-be tackler. lets say theres a defender coming from the middle of the field to help, and theres sideline keeping the player inbounds. as soon as the ball carrier decides to challenge the defender, if they are both doing their jobs, theyre trying to get lower than the other guy. defenders going for the hips and thighs, and the ball carrier is squaring up his pads so that they are low enough to deflect that attempt. well, what happense if, in this fundamental course of events, their helmets collide? isnt the ball carrier as much at fault for that?

of course, many of the hits we've seen dont occur in this fashion, but if a receiver like austin collie lowers his head to churn out a couple extra yards against multiple defenders, hes putting himself at risk and thus, blurring the line along which fault is established. and this doesnt even levy any blame on peyton manning for leading him into traffic. (steve young knows what im talking about. he was roasting kolb after desean got KOd)


In reply to by spanky (not verified)

Completely agree. Receivers/RBs lowering their head before impact is probably as much of a problem as defenders hitting guys with their heads.


It seems that much of the current discussion centers around the DEFENSIVE players responsibility, but I think, that the best rules are applied equally to both sides of the ball. Many people on this site complain about the disparity in OPI vs. DPI, because the league has determined that the offensive player has MORE of a right to the ball in mid-air (I don't know if they have stated this, but it's sure how it plays out in practice). If we want to start penalizing the defensive player for these hits, you can forget about playing defense in short yardage situations. Just make any rule run both ways, i.e, a running back can't lower his helmet to truck a defensive back, and it's fair, but given what the NFL has done with pass interference and illegal contact, any new rules around this would run 80/20 or more against the defense...


Well, I think the (exploding) shattering energy dispersing helmet might assist in this matter. As Karl Cuba points out, players would have to come out for at least one play to get a new helmet.


As a policy, I try not to ever agree with you, Rich (you know, the whole Colts/Pats thing), but you're dead-on here. In fact, the Colts' Donald Brown did this in a very dangerous way in yesterday's game, knocking a DB out of the game for a few plays. Scary. I need to add this to my list of things the NFL should change:

1) WR/RB's who lower heads at contact should be penalized.
2) Guys (faking or not) who stop the game for injury should be out until possession changes.
3) Offensive players with the ball should not be allowed to put a hand in the defender's face mask, Heisman pose, unless we let defenders do the same (not pulling the mask, but the stiff-arm to the face).

What am I forgetting?


I thought they made #3 a rule a year or two ago, never seen it called though.

Overtime rules could still use some tweaking (my favorite idea is first to 4).

And offensive players getting to dive at the knees of defenders is unseemly.