Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features


» 2017 Play-Action Defense

Our look at play-action pass in 2017 flips to the defensive side of the ball. Carolina was historically good, Houston was historically bad, and a long-standing question about year-to-year correlation gets cleared up.

13 Dec 2010

Audibles at the Line: Week 14

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.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That 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.

Thursday, December 9

Indianapolis Colts 30 at Tennessee Titans 28

Tom Gower: It was very easy to see what a big loss Kenny Britt was to the Titans' offense. His ability as a deep threat wasn't on display tonight, but his ability to catch imperfectly thrown balls and do something with the football on short and intermediate passes was, and has been something they've really missed.

Mike Mayock on Playbook this week highlighted Chris Johnson for not pressing the hole on runs and giving up yardage. He still looked to cutback a little more than he should, I thought, but did a better job of taking available yardage tonight than he has in recent games. He also had I believe two runs longer than any single run he had against the Colts last year, when they did a good job of limiting his big plays at the cost of letting him have consistent success, especially in the game in Indianapolis.

Peyton looked like Peyton, more or less. He hit Reggie Wayne for a couple deep passes against Cortland Finnegan. He exploited rookie Alterraun Verner in coverage, including for a couple first downs. The Colts ran the draw with success in some key situations. Titans had a couple crucial penalties, legit calls, on third-and-goal to give the Colts first downs they converted into scores.

The Titans defense as a whole lacks a consistent playmaker. They did better in the second half, limiting the Colts to three field goals instead of three touchdowns, but they don't really deserve much credit for stops -- Blair White tipped one away from Wayne and Peyton just missed Eldridge on another. If they hit those, it's 35-21 and Fisher obviously goes for it.

Bill Barnwell: Someone, please, anybody, sell me on that decision to punt on fourth-and-1 with four minutes to go.

Aaron Schatz: Nope. Can't do it. Should have gone for it.

Tom Gower: Your defense of punting: It's a six-point game, so you only need one score. There are 4 minutes to play and you have three timeouts left. Caldwell has shown a willingness to play conservatively -- see, e.g., the Super Bowl and the end of the first half of this game. If you stop them on one pass, you get the ball back with probably 3:30 to play, plenty of time to drive the ball down the field for a score.

If you go for it, you're only at your own 35-yard line if you just get the one yard. You're still 65 yards away, and your offense has had trouble consistently executing the last five or so weeks. You may have a punt/go-for-it decision again on, say, fourth-and-9 but with only 3:00 to play from your own 37. If you fail, though, the Colts if they get five yards are in field goal range, and if they get a field goal, you lose. Plus, punting gives Marc Mariani another crack at a return to give you a big play for good field position.

What was really bad, though, was the last drive. They should have tried a field goal no later than the 42-yard attempt with :55 left after Cook made it out of bounds on the sideline. The ONLY way I can think of that strategy makes sense is if your priority is covering, not winning the game.

Bill Barnwell: You can't be really concerned about the next fourth down situation; that can come up regardless of what you do. Even if you stop them and they punt, maybe Mariani breaks a big play, but the vast majority of the time, you're ending up right back where you are with two minutes off the clock.

Tom Gower: The Titans this year have been horrible in Power situations. They're converting 45% of the time, at the bottom of the league (the Bears are technically 32nd, but also at 45%). The Colts D has actually been a little above average, 59%. Maybe they pass, maybe your chance of converting is a little higher than that, but the chance you don't get it is maybe 35%. If that happens, you're guaranteed to lose. By punting, you are delaying the moment when that could happen and giving your strongest units (yes, the defense hasn't been great, but the offense is still mediocre and can't execute consistently, plus Mariani) a chance to help you out. If Hope or McCourty manages to tackle Garcon, the Colts actually may go 3-and-out and you then have 3-plus minutes when you know you're in 4-down territory the entire drive.

I'm not sure if I agree with this strategy or not, but I think this is how Fisher (or a hypothetical smart coach who decides to punt there) is thinking about the decision to punt, and as I said on twitter, it never crossed my mind Fisher would go for it there.

Bill Barnwell: The difference between converting fourth-and-1 and fourth-and-2 (and first/second-and-goal) is pretty dramatic -- just about 20 percentage points worse. And you have to consider the opponent on both the power situations and then when you're giving the ball away; it's still Peyton Manning out there.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 at Washington Redskins 16

Bill Barnwell: Finally freed from the specter of Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb one-hops a pass on third down to a wide-open Chris Cooley, and then Graham Gano puts a 34-yard field goal onto an upright.

Doug Farrar: With two minutes left in the first quarter, Washington’s Ryan Torain has 118 rushing yards against a Tampa Bay team that already ranks 31st in Defensive Adjusted Line Yards. Gerald McCoy is out of the game, as well. We’ve talked about it before, but I still wonder about the people who said that McCoy would be better than Suh – what secret film were they watching?

Bill Barnwell: OK. So Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa say that the Redskins shouldn't over think it and just continue to run the ball. (Moose also went into a point about Brandon Jackson averaging 13 yards per carry before he flat-out stopped in mid-sentence; Jackson had a total of 13 yards on four carries against the 49ers last week and hasn't played the Bucs, so I have no idea what he was getting at.) So when you pass the ball effectively, you need to run the ball to create balance, but when you can run the ball effectively repeatedly, you shouldn't get over think it and get away from it?

Arrelious Benn gets behind DeAngelo Hall's defense for the second time today, ending up about six inches short of the end zone. Normally, that just means the team runs it in for a touchdown on the next play. Instead, Josh Freeman comes out of the snap with empty hands, and as he recoils in horror (and the running back dives over the mass of people going for the loose ball, hilariously enough), the Redskins recover.

The Redskins just scored on a play that might have been fifth down. The FOX graphics said fourth down, but that might have been third down. Either way, the Redskins scored on the next play, but then they promptly drop the snap on the extra point; with misses from 24 and 34 yards and a botched XP, Graham Gano may have had one of the worst games in kicking history.

Tom Gower: So apparently what happened is Fox didn't notice the Redskins got a first down on their first play from scrimmage and not a nine-yard gain that left it second-and-1.

Doug Farrar: Funny that they didn’t go to Mike Pereira that time.

Cleveland Browns 6 at Buffalo Bills 13

Bill Barnwell: The Browns run the ball on eight consecutive plays to start the game against the Bills. The last of those runs is a stuff of Peyton Hillis on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Eric Mangini is overwhelmed by the evidence from this one play and decides to kick a field goal instead of going for it.

Doug Farrar: This may be Eric Mangini's way of telling Jake Delhomme that he needs to spend 2011 in a broadcast booth somewhere. Seneca Wallace jumped off the milk carton for a snap, as well.

Bill Barnwell: I can't reconcile "Our running game is so effective we can run the ball eight straight times" with "We can't get a foot on fourth down."

Doug Farrar: The Browns get the ball back in Buffalo territory into a Ryan Fitzpatrick fumble, and immediately go back to the 1925 Providence Steam Roller playbook they used on the first drive, with yet another handoff to Peyton Hillis. Hillis tries to hurdle a defender and immediately gives the ball back.

Will Carroll: I'm guessing the Steam Rollers didn't try to leap over anyone.

Doug Farrar: Maybe Pudge Heffelfinger did. I’ll check it out.

Tim Gerheim: Yes, I think that was more of a Pottsville Maroons move.

Tom Gower: Watching Red Zone Channel, host Andrew Siciliano says we go to the Browns and Bills, where Jake Delhomme tried to throw another interception. Cue analyst Steve Beuerlein saying "That was a good decision by Jake Delhomme."

Doug Farrar: Speaking of quarterbacks digging their own graves with a backhoe, I give you Jake Delhomme’s first-quarter line: 1 of 2 for 1 yard.

Bill Barnwell: Stevie Johnson catches a pass for the Bills. Here's what Steve Beuerlein has to say. "Very good throw by Ryan Fitzpatrick, you see the ball come out of there. He's got a live arm. And this guy, Stevie Johnson on the outside...well-documented, the big drop against Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago that would've won the game for the Bills. Sheldon Brown gave a little bit too much room, but Stevie Johnson is a guy .. 61 catches coming into this game, he's really established himself as a top wide receiver in this league."

Now, this took Beuerlein a full replay and all of the play clock to say. What exactly did he impart that we don't already know about Stevie Johnson? And I mean, I'm not saying we at Football Outsiders know, or a hardcore fan knows, or a dedicated fantasy player knows. I'm saying what did Steve Beuerlein say that someone who has interest in watching the Browns and Bills play football on TV wouldn't be able to say? That Sheldon Brown gave too much cushion. Quoting a guy's reception total and saying he's a guy? That isn't insight. It isn't analysis. It's reading from a set of media notes. That we're at the point where that's expertise, where that's a skill that only ex-players have and it requires more than minimum wage ... that's embarrassing.

Later on, Don Criqui calls a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the half by Jake Delhomme a "poorly-thrown ball, a dangerous one". What on Earth? It's a HAIL MARY. It actually hit a Browns receiver in the hands in the end zone. I understand the rush to call every Jake Delhomme pass a dangerous one, but that's just absurd. It's like he's never watched a football game.

Green Bay Packers 3 at Detroit Lions 7

Will Carroll: Stanton avoided a sack, then put up a floater into the end zone for an interception. I doubt it's measured, but in a sack-avoidance scramble like that, I wonder if there's any significant difference in decision making. Even throwing it away or taking the sack would be more positive than what he just did.

Ben Muth: Greg Jennings just let a ball go through his hands and bounce off his helmet for a pick deep down the field. It's the kind of play you see made in a kids football movie before the having fun montage takes place, and the team turns it around.

Mike Tanier: The Lions tried to commit three penalties during that Jennings tip drill interception, but they couldn't get it overturned.

Aaron Schatz: What was amazing about the Jennings pick is that it didn't bounce that high, and just went straight into Amari Spievey's hands. I mean, Spievey didn't have to do anything. The ball was just there. Lions get away with it because two of those three penalties were on the return, and the third penalty was actually not a penalty, illegal contact called off because Rodgers was out of the pocket.

The announcers here seem surprised that the Packers aren't spreading it out and going to the air more against the poor Detroit defensive backs. But while it is true that the Lions have a weak secondary, they also have a very good pass rush -- a much better pass rush than they do a run defense. As a result, their run defense and pass defense are pretty much equivalent.

Doug Farrar: Drew Stanton reciprocates by throwing a deep ball RIGHT to Charlie Peprah.

Aaron Schatz: Pretty much everything sails on Stanton. Honestly, I don't see why he should even be in the league next year. The Lions can easily find a better third quarterback in the late rounds of the draft.

Ben Muth: The Packers had two holding calls on the same running play. They still lost two yards.

Aaron Schatz: The Lions ran spread read-option with Drew Stanton (!?!) and Stanton kept it for 17 yards. Seriously. They ran it again a couple plays later, with less success. Still, Drew Stanton? 17 yards?

Matt Flynn will play the final 1:10 of the first half for Green Bay. I'm wondering if Aaron Rodgers got a concussion on the last drive. He had a big scramble down the middle of the field, and got slammed by Landon Johnson. Johnson was using all shoulder, no intent to hurt Rodgers, but the same can't be said for the turf. That's the biggest problem with the concussion issue -- no amount of rules against hard hits can protect against head-to-ground hits.

Bill Barnwell: I don't think anyone's suggesting concussions are going to be eradicated by eliminating particular hard hits that are responsible for a disproportionate amount of concussions.

Aaron Schatz: It's official, they do say Rodgers got a concussion and is done for the day. This teaches two other lessons:

1) Quarterbacks really need to remember to slide on long scrambles to make hard hits like this much less likely. 2) Green Bay really should have considered playing better in the first half so that they would not be stuck going into halftime in a scoreless game they really need to win to make the playoffs.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, he looked as if he couldn't name the planets, and he may have been on a different one.

We now know what it takes for Lawrence Jackson to get a sack -- put him up against a rookie, and put Ndamukong Suh next to him. I'd mention who drafted Jackson (10 sacks in three years) in the first round, but Tim would put me in the penalty box.

Ben Muth: Considering Rodgers played football at Cal, he'd probably struggle to name the planets anyway.

Aaron Schatz: You know how I said Drew Stanton sails everything? I mean EVERYTHING. He just overthrew a wide-open fullback in the flat, the hot read on a cornerback blitz by Charles Woodson. Lofted it... about five yards behind him.

And, with 7:10 left in the third quarter, one of the teams in the Packers-Lions game finally converts a third down, when Matt Flynn scrambles for 12 on third-and-10. Of course, he dives at the end to get the first, and Mike McCarthy is freaking out on the sidelines, because the Packers have already lost one quarterback to a hit on a scramble and they have no other quarterbacks on the roster.

You know, I'm going to have to question Mike McCarthy's decision to go for the home run deep touchdown pass on fourth-and-1 with a minute left, down by four. You don't want to, you know, try to get a yard and four opportunities for that home run pass?

Mike Tanier: I hated the Matt Flynn fourth-and-1 bomb. I think the Packers called six or seven bombs up the sidelines when Flynn entered the game, completing one of them.

Oakland Raiders 31 at Jacksonville Jaguars 38

Tom Gower: On the McFadden 67-yard TD on the dumpoff, veteran NFL watchers probably won't be surprised to learn Sean Considine was involved in the play.

Tim Gerheim: Whenever they talk about the Jaguars lately, they put up a graphic showing that they have the fewest offensive 3-and-outs in the league. The next two best teams in that are Houston and Indianapolis; do we think this stat is descriptive of the offenses or does it suggest that the AFC South is full of dreadful defenses?

Doug Farrar: Terrance Knighton is probably the best defensive tackle nobody’s talking about, but he may be the only guy on that Jacksonville defense who knows how to tackle.

Bill Barnwell: Knighton can play alongside Kyle Williams up front on the "It's Not My Fault" team.

Matt Shaughnessy just ran over the Jaguars left tackle; I didn't see the number, but I'm assuming it was Eugene Monroe. He punched him and Monroe just fell on his ass, and then Shaughnessy ran over him to get a half-sack.

Tim Gerheim: The announcers in Jacksonville-Oakland commented that this game features two running quarterbacks. Garrard's a good scrambler, but Jason Campbell runs like Kerry Collins. This game features two black quarterbacks, guys; that's not the same thing.

Bill Barnwell: Solomon Wilcots just noted that it's surprising that Maurice Jones-Drew trails several backs with inferior numbers in the fan voting for the Pro Bowl. I wonder if any of us can think of a reason why that might be the case.

Tom Gower: The Raiders elected to run a direct snap play on third-and-three in the red zone. Did they direct snap it to Darren McFadden, the best college Wildcat QB of recent vintage? No, they put McFadden in the backfield but as a running back, next to wildcat QB Jacoby Ford, who kept the ball. Ford lost 2 yards on the play.

Tim Gerheim: There's a challenge going on in Jacksonville, where Mike Thomas caught a long ball over the middle, but the corner wrestled it out of his hand on the way down and Mike Mitchell (most mocked second round pick in history) caught it in the air. It was ruled a catch down by contact. As I understand it, if that ball hits the ground instead of getting "recovered," it's a Calvin Johnson incomplete pass.

The Raiders win the challenge and the ref calls it an interception, although he did say (unnecessarily in my mind) that the ball came out before Thomas was down by contact. Even if Thomas was down, if he lost control of the ball in the process of going to the ground, it would be an incomplete pass, so after being caught by Mitchell it would be an interception, not a non-fumble.

Vince Verhei: Jason Campbell may not be a prolific runner, but between folklore and scrambles he is on the move a lot today. He's got a knack for teasing a run, drawing linebackers and safeties up to tackle him, and getting receivers open in the process. Then he's throwing these ugly off- balance throws, but they're getting where they need to be.

Tim Gerheim: The Jaguars just held on an MJD run that turned out to be a loss of three. The Raiders took the penalty to make is second-and-20 instead of third-and-13. There have to be situations, short of bringing up fourth down, where you're better off declining the penalty. Is there any research out there on down vs. yards-to-go equivalency?

Of course, Garrard throws a 48-yard score to Jason Hill on 3rd down, making the down and distance issue rather moot.

Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots are persistently ignorant that a coach can't challenge three times in one game unless he wins both of the first two. Tom Cable challenged that goofy fumble/interception I talked about earlier, and he threw one away on a long Rashad Jennings run, losing the challenge. The Jaguars just hit a touchdown pass to Sims-Walker, but the toe on his second foot may well have come down on the sideline, and the announcers spent a lot of time and energy checking whether Cable should challenge. When the extra point went up, they figured that Cable didn't want to risk losing a second time out in the second half on a difficult-to-see close call. Or maybe he's out of challenges, guys. Unbelievable.

Another option sighting in the NFL: The Jags just gained about 15 on a Garrard run. All the action started to the left, then Garrard pivoted back right with, presumably, Jones-Drew, faked the pitch, ran inside the contain defender, and lumbered until he was pushed out of bounds. He probably should have gone out a yard earlier before contact though, but he probably hasn't heard about Aaron Rodgers yet.

Tom Gower: There's this bird that's been flying around EverBank Stadium for the last couple minutes. He made a cameo appearance during the kickoff the Raiders fumbled, I believe, and when the Jaguars kicked off after going up 31-24, he was sitting on the Raiders 10. He flew around a bit during the return, then when the action settled down and they made it past him landed on the 14. Not quite the pigeon in kickoff coverage, but still an unusual sight.

Tim Gerheim: Nice presnap play by Jason Campbell. The back (probably McFadden) started to motion out of the backfield, but Campbell waved him back into his spot. McFadden wound up responsible for blocking a defender coming from the offensive right, and Campbell completed a pass to his left for a first down. I don't know if it was a blitz or if that's just how the protection was designed, but it was a good catch by Campbell.

Later on the series McFadden had a fantastic run for a touchdown. First, a nice cutback to the outside to get behind a block that was pushing a linebacker to the inside. Then as he turns upfield he keeps his balance as a would-be tackler gets a shot on his legs. Then he just destroys a defensive back with a stiff-arm inside the 10 to get into the end zone and tie the game (by dint of the Raiders' kicking team not being the Redskins').

This game has turned into a big play fiesta. Immediately after that McFadden touchdown, Deji Karim returns the kickoff to the Oakland 30 and MJD scores on the first play. I foresee Jacoby Ford in our future.

Bill Barnwell: Considering the game was tied and it was inside two minutes, should MJD have kneeled at the 1-yard line?

Tim Gerheim: Oakland only had one time out, so I think they could have knelt out the game and kicked a field goal as time expired.

Cincinnati Bengals 7 at Pittsburgh Steelers 23

Doug Farrar: Seeing the attention Ben Roethlisberger is getting by wearing a visor on his helmet to protect his broken nose, Brett Favre immediately texts Ed Werder to tell him that if the Vikings had to play today, he’d probably have to break his own nose and wear a visor, too.

Vince Verhei: Carson Palmer throws into what looks like triple coverage, and Troy Polamalu flashes in to catch the ball and is in the end zone before you know it to tie the game. He dived over Palmer to get into the end zone. An amazing run and leap to score, but he comes up limping, although he did jog off the field.

Steelers kick a field goal to go up 10-7 very late in the second quarter. Roethlisberger threw near-picks on both second and third downs. On second down his pass was tipped at the line into the air, but the Bengals couldn't pull it in. On third down he tried to float a pass over a linebacker on the left side. The linebacker reached up and got both hands on the ball and probably should have intercepted it.

Aaron Schatz: Roethlisberger has ditched the visor for the second half.

Tim Gerheim: On a CBS highlight, unless my hearing fails me, James Brown just referred to LaMarr Woodley as "David." I have no idea who David Woodley is.

Bill Connelly: He seriously said David Woodley? That's the guy who started for the Dolphins between Griese and Marino, if I remember correctly. That's like calling Andrew Luck "Oliver" ... only 1000x less excusable.

Vince Verhei: Bengals are near midfield, down 16 points with three minutes and change to go, and are running play-action passes. What is the point of that? It's not like the Steelers are going to be jumping on the run there.

Rob Weintraub: In fairness to Palmer, they showed the all-22 at halftime, and it revealed that Owens stepped on a defender's foot coming out of his break, which caused him to stumble, and thus unable to get to the ball where it was thrown. Polamalu cleaned up. It wasn't as sensational a pick as it first appeared -- it seemed live like he shot in front of Owens, but it was a camera illusion. The leap for the flag was as sensational as it first appeared, however.

For what it's worth (not much), bad as the Bengals have played this season, it is mind-boggling that they are 2-11 and lost 10 straight for the first time since 1993. This team is light years better than the craptastic 90s teams, or even the 2008 putrid bunch. That team won its last 3, but they were a soft bunch. This year Cincy still has Baltimore, San Diego, and Cleveland.

Atlanta Falcons 31 at Carolina Panthers 10

Doug Farrar: On their second scoring drive, Matt Ryan tries to run it in on third-and goal and nearly gets decapitated by Panther linebacker Jon Beason. An offsides penalty gives the Falcons the play back, and the next move, which results in a touchdown, is to wisely give the ball to Michael Turner. I’d bet a few people on the Atlanta sideline went short of breath on that play.

Mike Tanier: Falcons using a ton of three tight end sets. That will happen when you start sitting on the clock in the second quarter.

Bill Barnwell: Jimmy Clausen just took a sack on fourth-and-4 where, at the time he was hit, he was facing the wrong end zone.

Seattle Seahawks 21 at San Francisco 49ers 40

Vince Verhei: 49ers score on their first drive. Vernon Davis beats Hole In Zone for a reception, and Lawyer Milloy, the deep safety on that side, fell down, giving Davis a free path to six points.

Mike Williams is out for Seattle, so that touchdown may be enough to give San Francisco the win.

Your intriguing sack of the day: on third-and-long, Seattle brings a heavy blitz, looked like six rushers. Aaron Curry, basically playing a three-technique tackle, ends up one-on-one with the right guard and destroys him taking Smith down and forcing a punt from the San Francisco end zone. Creative way to get a mismatch there.

Seahawks go with their usual third-down cuteness. Third-and-four, they start to line up in a typical formation, then everyone sprints to a different spot, with Michael Robinson in shotgun formation and Matt Hasselbeck out wide. At the snap, Hasselbeck steps backwards and does the "I'm open!" arm wave, a good seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. That was funny. Meanwhile, Robinson just runs straight ahead and picks up the first down.

49ers throw a smoke route to Josh Morgan, Marcus Trufant misses a tackle, and it's 20-7 San Francisco. It's going to take years to fix this secondary.

St. Louis Rams 13 at New Orleans Saints 31

Tom Gower: The Saints start out productive, going up 14-0 before the end of the first quarter. The Rams chip away with their normal offense -- a bunch of short gains, no downfield passes, but just enough to be productive. It's 14-6, then they get the ball at the 20 after Courtney Roby fumbles the kickoff (and gets hurt). One Jackson run, then Bradford throws deep for Gibson. But it's Cover-2, and he throws the ball too far inside, far enough Malcolm Jenkins can do his Darren Sharper impression, and a probable 14-9 or 14-13 game turns into 21-6, Saints. Poor throw by Bradford.

New England Patriots 36 at Chicago Bears 7

Bill Barnwell: Phil Simms: "You know Jim, you talk about the bad weather, I'll never forget -- I can't remember what game it was, maybe it was the Tennessee game -- [the Patriots] came out to practice and Belichick walks up..."

There's just something really funny about following "I'll never forget" immediately with "I can't remember".

Simms again: "Someone said to me this week, 'Jay Cutler, he's a game manager.'" No strawman could ever be wrangled into saying such a thing with any shred of sincerity. That's insane.

Doug Farrar: I find Simms to be fairly nonsensical most of the time.

Bill Barnwell: Then Simms mentions (based on, I believe, talking to Peppers) that playing in Chicago is a defensive lineman's dream; that the culture there is "...football! Defense!". That's really a deciding factor for players? Someone would choose Chicago over, say, San Diego because of the defensive line culture?

Vince Verhei: I'm in a bar showing most of the games, but instead of commentary they're playing blues music, Stevie Ray Vaughn and such. Much better than Phil Simms.

Bill Barnwell: It doesn't really look like the wind is affecting the throws by Cutler and Brady all that much; both of them are making accurate throws over the middle of the field, even on deeper routes. Cutler hasn't had the results that Brady's had -- a drop and fumble from Knox haven't helped -- but the issue looks to be more about footing than anything else.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots are up 24-0 with about five minutes to go before halftime. Seven of those points came on a Johnny Knox catch-and-fumble with a Gary Guyton touchdown return. The other 17 points can be fairly attributed to the fact that the Patriots offensive line is much, much better than the Bears offensive line. The difference isn't even as big on passing plays as it is on running plays. On some of these 10-yard BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs, Dan Connelly and Sebastian Vollmer are just pushing guys back four or five yards at a time.

Bill Barnwell: More Simms. Simms, On the Bears and Pats getting into some post-play shoving matches: "You know, they probably should institute a rule, you know this, if you're losing by a lot of points, you're not allowed to fight. You've just gotta play. But sometimes, if that's what it takes, getting emotional, get a little fight going, hey, you do what you gotta do to get into the game."

So in this comment, Simms appears to be suggesting:

a) There should be a rule against fighting in blowouts. (There already is, from what I understand, a rule against fighting.) b) However, sometimes, it should be OK to fight if your team isn't in it.

Tim Gerheim: When the Bears played the Giants on Sunday night a couple months ago in the sacktastrophe, Cris Collinsworth commented hilariously, "somebody needs to put a tent on this circus!". The Bears have all three rings out again, and they deserve a big top.

Denver Broncos 13 at Arizona Cardinals 43

Tim Gerheim: The Cardinals just executed the most ludicrous botched snap I have ever seen. It didn't even leave the ground, just rolled about an inch to the left. The silver lining of that is that the center was easily able to recover it.

Jay Feely has scored all 16 Arizona points, including a fake field goal rushing touchdown. This speaks to the skill of Red Skelton. The fact that they have 16 points speaks to the skill of the Denver Broncos.

Ben Muth: Jay Feely is doing his best Ernie Nevers (Stanford) impression. Also, this game is tough to watch.

Mike Tanier: Ben, one more Stanford homer reference and you will be cardinaljoe.

Miami Dolphins 10 at New York Jets 6

Bill Barnwell: Mark Sanchez nearly threw a pick to Sean Smith on the first drive of the game; on the second drive of the game, he did throw a pick that the Dolphins converted on a 47-yard field goal. Sanchez and Chad Henne have started the game 0-for-7.

Mike Tanier: The Dolphins are running a ton of Wildcat wrinkles.

Bill Barnwell: Sanchez gets started in the second quarter with a nice slant against the blitz, but on the next third down, Dustin Keller cuts off his route and Sanchez hits Sean Smith in the chest. So that's four drives with one interception, two near-interceptions to Smith, and a fumble.

Sanchez fumbles on the fifth drive, an empty hand going forward. Jets bring in Brad Smith to run the Pistol on fourth-and-two and he hands it off to Shonn Greene for no gain.

Drive six: Sanchez makes two nice throws and then air-mails a screen. Then he gets Santonio Holmes open in the end zone and Holmes does his best Stevie Johnson impression.

Seventh drive: After the Jets recover a Ronnie Brown fumble, a Sanchez pass to Cotchery gets dropped and falls into the hands of a Dolphins defender, but he's out of bounds.

I neglected my Sanchez watch, but I turned this game back on long enough to see Sanchez throw a pass as he was falling down that went through a diving Sean Smith's hands. Then the Dolphins deflected away another deep pass.

Mike Tanier: Sean Smith has touched the ball more than Michael Turner this week.

Tim Gerheim: Too bad Sean Smith isn't covering Braylon Edwards. They deserve each other. Anything at all could go on on their side of the field, Sanchez could throw as well or poorly as he wanted, and it wouldn't matter because nobody would catch a thing.

Bill Barnwell: What happened in the Jets game? Someone on the Jets sideline tripped Nolan Carroll?

Tim Gerheim: More like subtly kneed him in the thigh while he was running on a punt return play, having been blocked out of bounds. No idea who the guy was. He was the first in a line of about half a dozen guys in green track suits.

Bill Barnwell: After about 14 drops, near-picks, and fumbles, Ian Eagle sums it up: "The Jets have lost their swagger." I mean, losing the game was rough.

Aaron Schatz: If the Jets defenders want to keep their swagger, I think they deserve it. They've probably stolen extra swagger from the offense.

Bill Barnwell: The special teams can keep it, too. It takes real swag to think to yourself "I'm going to stick my knee out and show this guy what's up and I'm not going to get fired for it." And then to actually do it!

Kansas City Chiefs 0 at San Diego Chargers 31

Bill Barnwell: Really nice play by Antonio Garay early on in Chiefs-Chargers; lined up in the A-gap and shoved Casey Wiegmann aside to make a play on Thomas Jones behind the line of scrimmage.

Tim Gerheim: Mike Tolbert is channeling his inner Natrone Means. He just had a run where he cut outside, broke a tackle, and ended the run by straight up running over a DB. He actually used that last guy to help recover his balance, since he was falling forward off the arm tackle, and gained an extra three or four yards aboard him.

Aaron Schatz: OK, folks watching Chargers-Chiefs: 21-0 at halftime. How much of this is Brodie Croyle sucking, and how much is San Diego just better than Kansas City all around?

Bill Barnwell: The Chiefs have no offense, which gives the Chargers great field position, and the Chargers offense is certainly good enough to make plays, especially at home.

Chargers also recovered a Floyd fumble in the Chiefs red zone, so a little bit of luck, but it looks like Eric Berry just picked off a Philip Rivers pass on the sideline. And Gus Johnson is doing the game. So there may still be something to come.

Tim Gerheim: The Chiefs got a sack-fumble where Rivers just arrogantly stood motionless looking downfield as the pocket collapsed.

Bill Barnwell: While I'm normally extremely eager to mention great Tamba Hali plays, that was one where Rivers just held onto the ball too long and Hali came out of the ground like he was an extra on the Walking Dead to strip him of the ball. Chiefs actually converted a third down after that, but it was called back for a Barry Richardson hold and then they threw a 15-yard out on third-and-16 (that went incomplete) instead of playing it like it was four-down territory.

Chase Stuart tweets me to note that the Jets forced a fumble and didn't recover it. Literally as I re-tweet it, a snap goes over Chad Henne's head and the Jets fall on it, costing the Dolphins a red zone opportunity. Magic beans.

Philadelphia Eagles 30 at Dallas Cowboys 27

Bill Barnwell: Mike Ditka before the games today picked the Cowboys. The reason why? "The Cowboys have to outscore them, that's a fact, because as you said, their defense isn't very good."

Mike Tanier: I just assume all Eagles games will start with a bomb these days.

I liked the idea of bringing Brent Celek into the backfield on Vick's quarterback-keeper touchdown. It was less of a draw play than a power run, because Celek lead-blocked right into the gap and took out Keith Brooking.

That wasn't a late hit by Anthony Spencer on Michael Vick. Vick just has so much momentum -- and is so light -- that he flies about 15 yards into the benches when knocked out of bounds.

Aaron Schatz: I agree. It looked like Spencer hit Vick just as he was crossing the out of bounds line. If you are going to push him out, and you realize he's one second away from going out, it isn't like you can stop your inertia.

Rob Weintraub: Maybe not, but we've all seen that exact scenario called a late hit about 1,000 times.

Mike Tanier: FUMBLE!!!!! How do the Eagles not recover that fumbled punt AAARFGH!

Bill Barnwell: Eagles used up all their fumble luck against the Cowboys during the famed "Eagles Porn" game from 2008.

Mike Tanier: Cowboys are taking care of Trent Cole tonight. Mostly Doug Free, with a little bit of the tight ends.

Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys pass rush is really showing up tonight. There's another part of the team that wasn't doing anywhere near what was expected until a month ago. I was there was a better explanation for this team's terrible Week 5 to Week 9 stretch besides "Wade Phillips wasn't a good coach." I mean, your coach is supposed to motivate you, but also, don't you have to be professional and motivate yourself?

Mike Tanier: Oh, DeSean, the play was great. But the celebration at the end was asinine.

Rob Weintraub: Celebration penalty or no, that was friggin' awesome.

Aaron Schatz: Funny, they don't flag you for that when you do it in Madden.

Tom Gower: Big play offenses are great when you can hit the big play with any kind of consistency. Of course, when they can't, they can easily be borderline unwatchable and horribly ineffective, but darn if these Eagles aren't fun to watch sometimes.

Bill Barnwell: I think what's amazing is how small the margin of error is there. Jenkins is, what, a step late on that throw? And Jackson's basically gone to the races because of it. Amazing. And Jon Kitna follows it with an interception.

Rob Weintraub: Dmitri Patterson was the anti-DeSean on that pick -- barely even registered an emotion, let alone celebrated.

Mike Tanier: Patterson has been having a rough night with penalties. May be actively keeping his mouth shut.

Bill Barnwell: Well, Ben, at least we know that Cal products can count to seven on their fingers.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 13 Dec 2010

298 comments, Last at 16 Dec 2010, 12:05am by Noah Arkadia


by TayloreatsBrady (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:11pm

The Henne vs. Sanchez debate is moot: they both are not very good. The question now is which team will be smart enough to cut ties with their repsective QB first?

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:36pm

Call me crazy, but I'm going with Henne's 16.4% DVOA over Sanchez's -0.4%.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:58pm

Call me even crazier, but I wouldn't give up on a young QB who isn't terrible and has shown signs of improvement. You don't build winning football teams by drafting a QB on the first day every 3 years.

by coboney :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:23am

I suspect the Jets are much more likely to push forward with Sanchez then the Dolphins will with Henne because of level of investment. I expect Sanchez to go into camp as the unquestioned starter next year - whereas I'd be surprised if Henne isn't competing for his job. Part of that though has to do with the fact the Jets are likely to make the playoffs for the second straight year despite Sanchez's play while the Dolphins are likely to miss it. Also Henne has been benched, pulled and such so Sparano has less patience for his inconsistancy.

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:36am

Are we sure Sparano is going to be around to make that decision?

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:47pm

That's the irony of the situation

by Gold_Star_for_R... :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:15pm

Did you see his pulped finger being wrapped up on the sideline? He couldn't snap the ball for all the blood.

by Tim Gerheim :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:18pm

That helps explain it. I didn't see the sideline wetwork; I only turned to the Cardinals game when the two games I was actually watching were on commercial. It did look like there was blood on the ball, but I figured it was just wet, because all of the late games seemed to feature weather, and the rainy Jets-Dolphins game was on the big TV, and the audio, and my wires got crossed.

by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:18pm

"Don Criqui calls a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the half by Jake Delhomme a "poorly-thrown ball, a dangerous one". What on Earth? It's a HAIL MARY"

I was literally laughing my ass off when I heard this while watching the Red Zone. It was one of the most unintentional funny things I've ever heard an announcer say. That guy was comedy gold all game. At one point, a Bill ran a slant route and he says "there's a crossing pattern." I'm dead serious...LOL

I actually enjoyed watching that game just because the announcing was so atrocious.

by joepinion (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:19pm

Simms again: "Someone said to me this week, 'Jay Cutler, he's a game manager.'" No strawman could ever be wrangled into saying such a thing with any shred of sincerity. That's insane.

This is real. Last week on the Dan Patrick show, Simms came on and Andrew "McLovin" Perloff claimed on air that Cutler is a game manager. Simms berated him on air. It is a strange contention to make at his best or at his worst, "game manager" is a weird title to bestow upon Jay Cutler.

by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:38pm

Thank you for confirming that. At least Simms isn't THAT crazy.

by Marko :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:29pm

"Then Simms mentions (based on, I believe, talking to Peppers) that playing in Chicago is a defensive lineman's dream; that the culture there is "...football! Defense!". That's really a deciding factor for players? Someone would choose Chicago over, say, San Diego because of the defensive line culture?"

It's not the "defensive line culture," it's the Bears' history, tradition and emphsis on defense, as well as the fact that Chicago cares greatly about the Bears. Peppers specifically mentioned these factors in his introductory news conference when he signed with the Bears as a free agent. Based on his comments, he absolutely would have picked Chicago over a place like San Diego because of these factors. His comments really were a dig at Carolina if you think about it. It's not their fault that they don't have much tradition or history, but he evidently also found the fans' passion lacking.

by TBall (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:19pm

Didn't see a MMQB posting place, but was beside myself by this.

In his top five MVP candidates, King says that Brees has edged out Polamalu for the fifth spot this week (which Polamalu held last week) with his high level of play when his team really needs him. Then on the next page:

Polamalu catapulted himself back into the MVP race -- at least into the periphery of it -- with a brilliant 45-yard interception return for touchdown to awaken a comatose Steelers team Sunday at Heinz Field.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:49pm

He doesn't even know what position he plays

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:20pm

The Dolphins interior offensive line is horrible. There were plays when Jet defenders ran through double teams and clocked Henne. Henne, Henning and the backs are getting a lot of heat for lack of production this year, but really this line is as bad as anything south of Chicago right now. Oddly enough though their coach is suppose to be a Oline guy, the unit looks worse every year he's been on the job. You have to wonder now if the end of camp oline cutting spree was Ireland telling Parcells this is my team now hit the road. One things for sure last years starters would have made handy back ups, rather than the street free agent revolving doors they have now. You have to start to worry if the Dolphins got the right man at GM to build for the future.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:09pm

Makes letting Smiley go all the more puzzling. He didn't fall off a cliff, skill-wise, without me noticing at the end of last year, did he? I remember him being a real steamroller of a blocker on those wildcat runs in 08 and early 09.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:54pm

Yeah, both him and Jake Grove were a big part of that awesome Miami run blocking. Then they were gone. Grove is unemployed and Smiley has started 5 games for Jacksonville. Some say injuries, but I have no idea.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:21pm

That Simms comment was great. Perfect example of the crap he and Nantzy usually spew.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:26pm

IT WAS FIFTH DOWN. Or should have been.

NFL Network last night clearly showed that the Redskins got nine yards on their first down play. It wasn't even close to the marker, there is no way that was a first down. They then got four more plays, and scored on the last. There was much . . . unpleasant language at that point. Suffice to say, the ending was enjoyable, particularly in light of the bonus down.

To echo what was said above, McNabb was terrible yesterday. On the Redskins final drive, McNabb threw a quick slant left and it hit Ronde Barber in the hands, except he didn't see it. It was shades of the 2002 NFCCG (my favorite sports moment EVER). If Barber had his head up, that was six and it was over. There were probably three or four dropped picks minimum in that game, outside of Ryan Torain transforming into an amalgamation of Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Earl Campbell in the first half, the Redskins couldn't do anything much on offense.

Also, Josh Freeman for president.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:30pm

This was the original PBP listed on NFL.com. I copied it down.

1-10-TB 12 (:49) (Shotgun) D.McNabb pass short right to A.Armstrong to TB 3 for 9 yards (C.Lynch).
Timeout #2 by WAS at 00:32.
2-1-TB 3 (:32) D.McNabb pass incomplete short right to R.Williams.
3-1-TB 3 (:28) R.Torain right end ran ob at TB 6 for -3 yards (T.Crowder).
4-4-TB 6 (:18) D.McNabb pass incomplete short middle to F.Davis.
Washington Redskins 0:04
4-4-TB 6 (:13) D.McNabb pass short middle to S.Moss for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

It was changed later. So who made the mistake: the officiating crew, or the official scorer? I'm not sure, but I know you can't blame the FOX announcers, for following the official scoring.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:42pm

If you watch the replay (and I have several times), the Redskins clearly start on the 12-yard line, but the "down marker guy" (whatever his official title is) is standing on the three-yard-line, not the two. He's short a yard of where he needed to be. Because of that, from his point of view, Armstrong's catch did just reach the first down. The problem is nobody noticed he was only NINE YARDS DOWN THE FIELD.


It was clearly an official's mistake, and one that very well could have decided the game. The NFL front office should sent Hunter Smith flowers to thank him for dropping that snap, because if the Bucs had lost that game, there would have been a pretty huge uproar.

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:52pm


And here's the kicker: none of the Tampa/St.Pete beat writers are saying anything about that, but they are saying that there was no fifth down (which is technically correct).

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:29pm

Found a picture that does this even better. Redskins start on the 12, first down marker is on the THREE.


What the hell? I don't recall ever seeing this sort of thing before.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:31pm

To be fair, it looks like the first-down marker's off by about a half-yard or so too. So it's not a full yard that's screwed up - it's more like a half yard or so.

by jebmak :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:53pm

Wow, good catch!

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:19pm

It was definitely a horrible, inexcusable mistake, and the Redskins did seem to benefit from it. However, if Shanahan is calling plays based on the belief that the Redskins made the first down (as signaled), then he's likely to take a different approach from what he'd be doing if it were 2nd and 1. So even though it was a nearly inconceivable mistake that could in no way benefit the Bucs, it's hard to know exactly how much it helped the Redskins.

Also, if officiating mistakes on big plays from that game are going to be discussed, it ought to be mentioned that Brian Orakpo was corralled, Alex Barron-style, on the TD pass to Winslow that put the Bucs up for good:


by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:34pm

Everyone on the field knew what down it was. They said so after the game, and their reactions in-game say this as well: Bucs weren't celebrating after knocking away that pass on 3rd/4th down.

That hold is pretty bad, but to be fair holds can be called on nearly every play. That one's a bit more egregious than most missed holding calls, though.

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:31pm

That the Redskins were awarded a first down at the 2 is absolutely indisputable from the video broadcast. During the timeout after the play, you can see the near side crew taking down the first down marker, which had initially been left in place, and at the start of the next play, the far side markers are down, as they are in goal-to-go situations.

Backup up a little bit, the initial spot for the previous play (the 3rd down completion to Moss) looks like it was about the 13 yard line. Moss went down somewhere between the 12 and 13 yard lines. When the ball was snapped, it looked like it looked close to the 12, which is also where the far side official lined up. Looking at the first down marker on the near side, it looked like it may have been a little behind the ball, but its base is not visible on the screen (at least on Game Rewind). McNabb then completes the first down pass to Armstrong, who does down between the 2 and 3. The far side first down marker is right on the 3 yard line, so the Redskins were awarded a first down.

A couple points:
1. I'm not sure whether the far or near side chains are the official one.
2. I don't place a huge amount of emphasis on the far side official being lined up at the 12, since he's lining up over the ball, not in relation to a first down marker.
3. I'd like to know where the near side chains showed the first down marker as being.
4. It's not hugely unusual for the unofficial first down marker to be a yard off from the actual first down line.
5. It's an old center's trick for a veteran to move the ball forward when the refs aren't looking. Fox is showing us a replay of McNabb in the pocket, so we can't see where the refs initially spotted the ball. A half yard would be a lot, but it wouldn't be the first time.
6. Was there a bad call? It seems like there may have been, but I don't think it was a hugely egregious one.
7. I think Fox bears a good share of the blame here. It clearly was not fifth down, and SOMEBODY-the producers, spotters, or announcers absolutely should have noticed that the Redskins were awarded a first down on the Armstrong play. If that happens, we're probably not talking about this play, and this is by far the easiest issue in the conversation.

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:36pm

The play-by-play guy thought it was 5th down as well, it was changed later.

Another note: the play-by-play now says the Skins were awarded a first down at the 2, as you note. If you go back and look at the game, the next play is run from the 3-yard line.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:40pm

Which is the point. There are clearly a number of very odd things going on here. As for the center moving the ball forward a half-yard, I would have to assume that wouldn't move Fox's "magic blue line" that shows the line of scrimmage; before the center snaps the ball, the ball is clearly right on that line.

Yes, I'd like a clear explanation, and Fox has a lot of responsibility in getting this wrong, but, regardless of Moss' half-yard or so, the first-down marker is clearly NINE yards away from the ball on that first-down play. It's not even "nine-and-a-half"; it's pretty much exactly nine yards downfield.

Is that sideline official? Heck if I know. I do know that, in years and years of watching football nigh-obsessively, I've never seen anything like this before.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:46pm

"I would have to assume that wouldn't move Fox's "magic blue line" that shows the line of scrimmage; before the center snaps the ball, the ball is clearly right on that line."

What are you talking about? It clearly isn't, from the above photo you posted. I mean, it's like, more than the full length of the football off.

"Is that sideline official?"

No. Look to the bottom of that photo: you can see the orange marker for the beginning of the 10-yard-chain at the bottom of the image. So the far side (in that photo) is the unofficial side. The chains aren't visible here.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:03pm

How does FOX have any responsibility?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:13pm

Their line-of-scrimmage (and first down lines) were clearly wrong. Unless the center dragged the ball back two feet. It looks like they just snapped the lines to the 12 and 2 yard lines instead of putting them where they actually were, which was almost 2 feet away (well, maybe - at least half a yard).

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:25pm

They put the first down line at the official who's supposed to be in line with the ball.

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:43pm

Down locations are made by the farthest forward point of the football. The next play was run from the 2, since the edge of the football was inside the 3, though they would've said it was the 3 if the play didn't get a first down.

On reflection, and looking at the photo, the near side chains seem to be the official ones, and we can't see where exactly they had either the initial spot or the first down marker. As Pat said upthread, and as I noted, the initial spot may be a half yard short of where the spot was, which is why I came up with my "center moved the ball" hypothesis.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:42pm

"1. I'm not sure whether the far or near side chains are the official one."

The near side (the one not visible in MilkmanDanimal's photo above) chains are - you can see in that photo that there is no corresponding chain at the line of scrimmage on the far side, indicating that that's the unofficial side.

If I had to guess, most likely the far side official at the 3 was just off by a bit. He's lined up at a down marker - most likely the first down marker was between the 2 and the 3 (the ball's lined up between the 12 and the 13).

The unofficial line-of-scrimmage/first down lines are clearly on the yard markers, so that really throws off your eye. It's probably a half yard off on the line of scrimmage, a half yard off on the line to gain, resulting in an apparent 1st and 9.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:54pm

This is totally plausible, and it strikes me as incredibly weird that, in a league so completely and utterly driven by television, that the official down markers would be on the "non-TV" side of things. Now, if the guy at the top of the screen is off by that much . . . how are you off by that much? Is he a Redskins fan who's so intently into the game that he isn't looking across the field to see that he's several feet off from where he needed to be?

I'm not calling "conspiracy" or anything; I don't believe refs favor certain teams and, if they were going to, it's not like the Redskins would be that team. It's a case of "what the hell"; through all the typical visual cues from watching the game, the guy simply was not near a first down. It was so utterly confusing that the NFL's official play-by-play shared my confusion. In other words, somebody did something incredibly dumb, and I'd like to hear some kind of formal explanation of such rather than just having the NFL update the play-by-play and pretend this weirdness never happened.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:02pm

I think Tom has made some good points toward explaining what happened, but I agree that it would be really good to hear from the league about it.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:26pm

"Now, if the guy at the top of the screen is off by that much . . . how are you off by that much? Is he a Redskins fan who's so intently into the game that he isn't looking across the field to see that he's several feet off from where he needed to be?"

No, I think it's just Fox's magic lines which are off by a full yard. The first-down indicator guy is a little past the three, and the base of the ball is at about the 12 and a half yard marker. If you move the far-side flag man down about a foot, then first down is at the 2.5, and the LOS is at the 12.5. Or, it's possible that the far-side flag man isn't off at all. If the center skooched the ball forward a little, that'd also be about right, so the LOS might be at the 12-and-a-third, and the first down marker at 2-and-a-third.

Again, if you look at the placement of Fox's magic lines, they're on the yard markers, so it's probably just a rounding error.

by Roy G (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:54pm

"This is totally plausible, and it strikes me as incredibly weird that, in a league so completely and utterly driven by television, that the official down markers would be on the "non-TV" side of things."

To answer this particular comment, the official down markers are switched at half time (along with the game officials, they switch sides as well at halftime). Since the TV doesn't change sides as well, there is nothing they can really do about this.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:35pm

the official down markers are switched at half time (along with the game officials, they switch sides as well at halftime). Since the TV doesn't change sides as well, there is nothing they can really do about this.

Other than NOT switch the officials/markers at halftime...

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:32pm

@1: A little first-hand experience from the danish american football league: The referee always faces the home team when he announces a call. The red triangles with the yard-line numbers on them is also placed on the home team's side.

Since FOX shows the front of the referee when he announces a call, I don't think it's unreasonable to extrapolate, that the chains on the near side, are the right ones.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:09pm

It wasn't the Fox announcers - I heard the exact same thing listening to the radio. And they specifically said after the pass that it was a 9-yard pass and that the Redskins had 2nd and 1. And then the incomplete pass and after Torain lost yardage I thought the Redskins were down to 1 play. But the radio announcers were no longer talking about how the Redskins could still get a 1st down. Also, they didn't seem to be filled with a sense of urgency about it being 4th down.
Still, after the incomplete pass to Davis, I thought it was game over, but somehow the Redskins had another down, three plays after 2nd and 1, when they had gained no yardage.
I thought at the time I must have misremembered a play, but it seems in retrospect that somehow the officials mysteriously granted a 1st down on the Armstrong catch two plays after it happened.

Does anybody have the game recorded? I want to know what the chain game and the ref were up to. I can positively attest to the fact that the radio announcers said that the Redskins had 2nd and 1 at the 3. And they certainly didn't gain any yardage from either the two incompletions or the Torain run, which lost yardage!

by RickD :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:13pm

Now I'm really confused. The FO time stamp is an hour in the future. Is your server in Labrador or Nova Scotia or something like that? Or does it still think we're on Daylight Savings Time? (Hint for the server: it's only 8 days until the shortest day of the year. If you've missed the transition at this point just pretend you were right all along.)

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:28pm

No, the Armstrong catch was deemed a first down when it happened.

by apk3000 :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:16pm

It's possible that the radio guys are looking at the FOX broadcast with the lines and just assumed the lines were right.

by Andrew B :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:19pm

All of the radio announcers are watching the TV to make calls? Even though the feed is delayed?

I was listening to Philadelphia area radio broadcasting some sort of live radio feed from the game, and they clearly announced a 9 yard gain to the 3 yard line on 2nd and 1. Then they talked about some confusion over whether it was a first down or not between the markers on the two sides of the field, with one showing first down and the other second down, and that the confusion wasn't resolved until after 3rd down.

The Original Andrew

by apk3000 :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:41am

I'm pretty sure the booths have a monitor that shows whatever the scoreboard shows, I don't know if they also get an undelayed Fox feed or whether the in-stadium feed has the 1st down lines. In the couple of games I have been to, I do know that the PA guy and scoreboard often seem to give wrong information.

by Misfit74 :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:46pm

This game happened to be the one non-Seattle game I recorded to DVR yesterday. I'll check it out. By then, there will probably resolution but I'll share some info when I get a chance.

by Joe T. :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:41pm

Skins radio team had them short of the first down too. I was shocked they got a 5th down, but then the radio team didn't discuss it.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:26pm

The true highlight of the bizarre EverBank bird sequence was the Jaguars' mascot's efforts to hunt the bird. Unfortunately, the hemisphere's greatest predator couldn't close the deal.

by PerlStalker :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:27pm

The DEN-ARI game was painful to watch and not just because I'm a Broncos fan. Orton seemed to forget how to throw. He was bouncing balls off the turf or totally missing receivers all game.

by MJK :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:53pm

Couldn't have anything to do with replacing one of the best QB-coaching and offensive game-planning coaches in the game right now with a former RB coach who has never head coached, now could it?

by tunesmith :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:27pm

It could, but he was lousy last week, too. Defenses are either dropping everyone into coverage, which Orton can't figure out, or they're blitzing absolutely everyone, which Orton can't figure out. Orton is great against conventional defense, but defenses have figured out he can't do anything if they show him something non-standard.

by PerlStalker :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:55pm

I doubt it. He sucked hairy monkey balls against KC, too, and McD was still the HC.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:06pm

Glad to see someone else who understands that McDaniels does have strengths as a coach. It's too bad his personnel moves were worse than Matt Millen...

by MJK :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:33pm

I've been a McDaniels fan for a while (one of a small minority, along with tunesmith). I think Denver was the wrong place for him (or, alternately, he was the wrong guy for Bowlen to pick). As we all know, his personnel acumen is...suspect, and his knowledge of defenses is only average (which kind of surprises me...I've long held the theory that offensive minds build better defenses and vice versa). But he sure does know how to coach up a QB, design an offense to succeed, and make good offensive playcalls. In other words, he's a great offensive coordinator.

If he was HC of a team with a decent and relatively respected defensive coordinator, along with a savvy personnel department, I actually think he'd still be a pretty good head coach, too. By all accounts, the players liked him and responded well to him, except for the ones angling for more money.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:23pm

If he was HC of a team with a decent and relatively respected defensive coordinator, along with a savvy personnel department

You know when he started in Denver, that was the exact situation he had. Then everyone else started getting fired.

by Darin (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:33pm

Any insight as to why this game lasted until nearly 5:00 PST? Were the football gods simply not as anxious for this game to end as the rest of us?

All of the other games were over and this one still had 12-13 minutes left in the 4th. Made me wonder if there was a power outage or some severe injuries, but the recap mentioned nothing like that.

by Dennis :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:38pm

The first half just took forever, almost 2 hours. There were a lot of incompletions, some injuries, a couple of challenges.

by Nathan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:39pm

whoever was controlling the red zone channel also seemed to have an masochistic interest in that shit show

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:27pm

So Gano misses 3 kicks. That means McNabb isn't clutch, right?

by JPS (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:05pm


by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:19pm

So Hunter Smith drops a high snap. That means Gano missed the XP, right?

(I agree with your point, but if you're going to argue against excessively scapegoating one player, don't excessively scapegoat another! Gano had a horrendous game, but he missed two kicks.)

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:51pm

Point taken.

by just cuz (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:40pm

I thought the point was missed

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:58pm

One point was missed. Another was taken. But not before it was missed.

Football. It's complicated.

by Grumpy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:27pm

You guys deliver a much better experience when you make insightful comments on the game rather than unfunny, cliche, quips about the commentators. Ironic isn't it?

by dbostedo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:27pm

David Woodley also played QB for the Steelers during the Mark Malone era.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:34pm

Woodley of course was the starter for the Dolphins in that amazing divisional playoff game vs the Chargers, pulled for Don Strock after a dismal 1st quarter.

One of the great coaching accomplishments of all time: Shula took the Dolphins to the Super Bowl in 82, with David Woodley as his starting QB.

They lost to the Skins of course, and that offseason they drafted Marino with their 2nd-to-last pick in the 1st round. Washington then took Darryl Green. Has there every been a better pair of players picked back-to-back to end the first round? Or any round?

Woodley committed suicide a few years ago, so my appetite for making fun of him has diminished some.

by Eric (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:38pm

Jenkins wasn't a second late, he went for the ball when he should've gone for the tackle.

by Joseph :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:19pm

Agreed. You have to know what coverage you're in.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:39pm

Was any poster here at Soldier Field yesterday? How windy was it? The passes didn't look like they were being moved a lot by the wind that was reported. Also, a sloppy field can give an edge to offensive linemen, in that the speed of defensive linemen, ends in particular, is negated. That said, when the offensive liemen aren't good, like the Bears', the edge remains elusive.

I was only half-way paying attention; what the hell happened to the Cowboys defensive front on the Eagles last possession? Were they taking a nap? To just get steamrollered like that, at home, with 4 minutes left in a 3 point game, is absurd.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:58pm

Yeah, I couldn't believe what I was seeing at the end of the Eagles game - McCoy was just ripping through them like wet tissue paper. It's distinctly possible the Eagles could have been doing that all game long, but McCoy only had 10 carries or something like that through the first 3 quarters (in a very typical Eagles style.) But, yeah, the Cowboys were getting blown up like they accidentally only had 10 men on the field - it was weird as heck...

Also, it warmed my heart to hear the Dallas fans chanting "Eagles suck!" at one point. Good to know the hatred is mutual.

by Mike W :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:57pm

I was not at the game, but here in the burbs it was indeed very windy, and coming off the lake, which it no doubt was at Soldier Field as well. It didn't appear from the TV that it was nearly as windy on the field, though it still was a cross-wind from east to west, as expected. The very high, narrow stadium may be effective at cutting down the wind. I was amazed at how not only the QBs, but the kickers, were able to do pretty well. I did notice the first punt of the game, by the NE punter, had quite a hook to it (got an end zone view of the return on the replay), and punts usually get as high or higher than kickoffs, especially since kickers will in high winds tend to line-drive them.

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:10pm

One of the Pats kicks (I think it was a FG in the 1st half, although it could have been the one in the 2nd) was kicked about 5 yards to the right of the right upright, and hooked in (and barely made it over the crossbar). I think it was only about a 30 yard kick, so I'm guessing the wind was pretty nasty on that one.

by TomC :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:22pm

Kudos to Graham on that kick and his next one, which he started outside the *left* upright and hooked in, so he was clearly judging the wind very well.

In general, the Patriots appeared infinitely more prepared to play in the conditions than the Bears did, which is pretty galling to Chicagoans.

by Independent George :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:45pm

In general, the Patriots appeared infinitely more prepared to play in the conditions than the Bears did, which is pretty galling to Chicagoans.

Or, the Pats are just a much better team than the Bears, regardless of weather.

by TomC :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:01pm

Oh, that's definitely a part (the largest part) of why the game turned out as it did, and it's a tough one to swallow as well. But before the game, Bears fans were telling themselves "Yeah, New England is a better overall team, but let's see how they play in Bear weather." As it turns out, the Bears derived less than zero advantage from the weather which, to me at least, was somewhat of a surprise.

by Karma Coma :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:59pm

"As it turns out, the Bears derived less than zero advantage from the weather which, to me at least, was somewhat of a surprise."

This was baffling to me in the week leading up to the game. Several fans & analysts claimed that terrible weather conditions favored Chicago, as though they were playing San Diego or Miami. New England plays in... New England! In December, Chicago averages only about 7 degrees (F) cooler and .8 inches snow more than Boston, and Boston is actually the windier of the two cities. New England's recent snow games should have left no doubt that playing in snowy conditions wouldn't slow them down. Why the surprise?

by TomC :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:47pm

Some of us have a deep emotional attachment to the concept of "Bear Weather", often in defiance of all empirical evidence.

by jfsh :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:20pm

As a native New Englander but recent resident of Chicago, let me express my skepticism that Boston is actually windier, at least near the lake. This is the windiest damn place I have ever been.

That said, I completely agree with your point.

by Nathan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:07pm

Pats should move their stadium to Mount Washington, NH.

by Karma Coma :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:20pm

You can express your skepticism to the National Climatic Data Center :)

I've been to Chicago and i've been to windier places that don't feel half as windy as Chicago. Growing up in Alaska, Central Maine, and the Adirondacks, i can tell you none of them *felt* as cold as when i lived in Seattle, probably because you can't just layer up against the damp. I have no idea what it is about Chicago's wind that makes it so damn windy.

by jebmak :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:30pm

These last few comments have amused me.

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:18pm

Jeez, I regularly run the AC on my car 12 months a year in Seattle. The humidity makes we sweat. It's not a pretty sight. After skiing last weekend my kids and wife were talking about how cold they were and I was complaining about the opposite. You just ruined my vacation plans for some cool-weather R&R in Alaska. Maybe I'll try the Rockies.

by akn (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:41pm

If everyone but you says is cold, you may have hyperthyroidism.

by piratefreedom (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:26pm

or be the only man in a car full of women and children

by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:18am

Yay for Central Maine! Pats home games make great weather forecasts for Maine. Sunday afternoon in MA = Monday in ME - 15 degrees.

I don't get around much, but I have never been colder than Winter Carnival in Quebec. Mon Dieu, did I want to get oooooot of there! By comparison an ice arena would be cozy warm.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:46pm

Saying you grew up in Alaska doesn't tell anything about the weather. It's a big state. Barrow, Tok, and Juneau don't have much in common, let alone Kodiak and Nome.

by MJK :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:15pm

Foxboro may well get more snow than Boston. The Boston metro area sits inside a very large shallow bowl (the confluence of three small river deltas...the Charles, the Mystic, and the Neponsett? I think...), and for whatever reason, the temperature in Boston usually hovers ~5-10 degrees warmer than the outlying suburbs (the dividing line is generally the 128 belt). As a result, you get a lot of storms that fall as snow everywhere 10 miles outside of Boston, but rain inside Boston.

So the weather if Foxboro might be worse than in Boston (or Chicago). Of course, it's further south, which helps, but not sure how much...

by Felkar (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:06pm

The Patriots doing well in snow should not be a surprise. Brady is 10-0 in such games, and his best passing day ever was in a snow game last year where the Patriots beat the Titans 59-0.

It was rather surprising to see all the ink on how the bad weather would give the Bears an advantage.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:44pm

Did the stadium become more passer-friendly on windy days after it was remodeled? I always remember the Giant's punter, in the 1985 NFC Championship Game, whiffing on a punt, when a gust off the lake blew the ball eight inches, after he dropped the ball to kick it. Maybe the dynamics changed, for balls that aren't high in the air, after they rebuilt the place.

by Marko :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:15pm

That was in the Divisional Playoffs, not the NFC Championship Game. Sean Landeta was the punter. Shaun Gayle picked up the ball and ran it back 5 yards for the TD for what I believe is the shortest punt return for a TD in NFL history.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:26pm

Ah, that's right. The NFC Championship game was the Mike Singletary blowing up Eric Dickerson in short yardage affair.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:08pm

I don't think so. I remember in 2005 a game against the 49ers where both teams couldn't throw the ball at all due to wind. Of course it was rookie Kyle Orton and Ken Dorsey, so the effect might have been exaggerated. There was also a game against he Pakers where Favre was unable to accurately get the ball to receivers. Orton actually had an OK game in that one. Would have been 2007.

by Mike W :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:09pm

The 'new' stadium is much taller, narrower, and more enclosed than the old one.

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:46pm

Well, the field runs pretty much parallel to the lake, and the sides of the stadium got a ton of added height, so its entirely possible that its acting as more of a barrier to the wind.

by Eddo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:01pm

I was there, and it was extremely windy. It was weird, though - like you saw, passing wasn't really affected much. The kicking game was, however; most kickoffs were knocked down by the wind and wound up being really short. Ditto for punts. Graham had a 35-yard field goal look really good, then get knocked down; it was good, but it barely cleared the crossbar.

The wind was swirling, so I think at field level (and the level passes were thrown at), it wasn't very severe. Once you got up 30-40 feet, I'd guess, is when it got brutal. Hence, the kicking game was destroyed, but passing was fine.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:22pm

At my house on the north side it had been windy all day... until right about kickoff, when it settled down. I just assumed that it gave them a bit of a break down there too, and it looked like a lot of the flakes were just floating randomly too on TV. But perhaps I could only see them when it wasn't gusting.

I agree with the post above about the conditions obviously favoring New England. Setting aside the fact that they're always the better prepared team, play in MA, and have totally destroyed the last 3 teams they played in snowy wintry weather, extreme winds (whether they actually materialized or not) covers the only remaining weakness of that team, the pass defense. Sure, it theoretically helps the Bear D as well, but the biggest impact it would've had was to improve the Pats D. I don't know how this wasn't the obvious pre-game conclusion.

by Yinka Double Dare :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:56pm

I was there sitting in the 400 level. It was windy, but the steady winds weren't that bad. There were some occasional gusts that were very strong. I think the biggest gust happened during a stoppage in play, it blew a bunch of snow all over and up into the air and got a roar out of the crowd.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:40pm

I'm just amazed I haven't heard a ton of Woody Hayes references today.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:03pm

Or Bill Cowher references, after he tried to lunge at Chris Hudson during his blocked field goal return to close the Jaguars/Steelers Monday night game in '97.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:13pm

Well, he didn't exactly "try" to bring Hudson down. He clearly considered it, started to do it, and then pulled back.

My first thought was actually a play from college football: Dickie Maegle taking out Tommy Lewis from the sidelines back in the '50s.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:29pm

That was actually the play I was thining of, but I got my historical references jumbled. I'll go get some caffine and hopefully that will fix things.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:44pm

Well, since Hayes was a coach, in some ways it was more analogous -- I didn't even consider that you were thinking of the same play I was.

At least in this case, the incident didn't create or negate a score. Even so, I was enormously disappointed that the refs didn't catch it, if only because I was really hoping to finally see the "palpably unfair acts" provisions come into action.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:59pm

You've got it backwards, Moegle was running for the touchdown and Lewis came off the bench to tackle him.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:08pm

You're absolutely correct. My bad.

by jebmak :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:41pm

Thanks for those Simms quotes Bill! Hilarious.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:47pm

Whenever people mention how the Pats are winning "despite" their defense, I'm reminded of the 2006 Colts who couldn't stop the run all year, but found a run defense in time for the playoffs and won it all.

I don't know what to make of the Bears. They've been debacled by two playoff-caliber teams (NYG and NE), lost ugly at home to two bad teams (WAS, SEA) and beaten three top-11 DVOA Teams (PHI, GB, MIA), two of them decisively. I guess that's what variance is for.

Thanks Lions!

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:49pm

What happened to waiting three years before making hard and fast claims about draft picks, Doug?

I realize you're very impressed with Suh, and he has been very good so far, but stuff like this is just embarrassing:
"We’ve talked about it before, but I still wonder about the people who said that McCoy would be better than Suh – what secret film were they watching?"
We're not even done with their rookie year (and McCoy is going on IR now), and you're judging their entire future careers?

Then consider that one of the guys who said McCoy would be better than Suh was Mike Mayock, who has been consistently praised by Football Outsiders for being one of the best draftniks and analysts around.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:57pm

There are exceptions to any rule. The Manning vs. Leaf debate was over pretty quickly.

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:15pm

This isn't close to the Manning-Leaf debate, though. McCoy's been a model citizen in Tampa Bay, and he's gotten much better as the year progressed.

Suh has been very good, but he hasn't been transcendent and McCoy certainly has shown enough where he could be a very, very good player in the future. We're just not far enough along in their development to say anything definitively about their future.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:04pm

I wasn't referring to citizenship issues per se, just to the fact that sometimes one young player can demonstrate superiority over another young player fairly quickly. For a rookie, Suh has been close to transcendent, and very importantly, seems to be getting better late in the season, whereas a lot of rookies tend to get worn down later in the year. It kind of reminds me of Richard Seymour's rookie year, except Seymour had the advantage of playing on a good team.

As a Vikings fan, I've resigned myself to watching Suh blow up plays for the next decade, and Millen isn't around anymore to ensure that he is out there by himself.

by Lyford (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:20pm

Seymour also missed the first 5-6 games of the 2001, season, which probably helped him avoid getting worn down...

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:38pm

Suh has been very good for a rookie, but there have also been a lot of one-year-wonders in the NFL. Let him sustain it for more than a season.
Also have to remember that Suh has a lot more talent around him than McCoy does and their coaching is likely better.

The Manning-Leaf debate wasn't over that quickly just because Manning was so awfully good, but because Leaf was just beyond awful as well. This is an entirely different matter. Farrar is basically shoving McCoy aside not because of what McCoy did, but because of what Suh did a whole 13 games into his career. And that despite the fact that McCoy is a year younger and came out as a junior.

Look, I'm not saying Suh isn't going to be a better player than McCoy. He probably is and he certainly has a head start. But there's no way that this debate is over yet, as neither player has finished their development. Yet Doug just about calls anyone who thought pre-draft that McCoy could turn out to be a better player an idiot. That's a bit much, isn't it?

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:45pm

whoa, hold on a minute. A lot more talent? I'm not sure how that can be the case. Is Detroit's starting defensive line better than Tampa Bay's (with McCoy)? I haven't seen much of the Bucs, but let's say it is; certainly Detroit's DL has improved significantly from last season. I suppose it's possible that Detroit's backups are better than non-McCoy starters in Tampa Bay, but I'm not sure I believe that, and the Lions have had injuries on and off at DE this year.

It's not just the defensive line, though, and I can't imagine that the Bucs hurt as much at LB and DB as the Lions do. I would guess the teams have comparable talent overall on defense. If Detroit has an edge, it's slight.

Honestly, Suh really has been transcendent this year. Yes, part of that comes from Vanden Bosch and Williams (and from Avril's improved play), but the improvement has been significant, as the numbers bear out: from a defense that was average in power situations and terrible at rushing the passer to a one that's excellent in power situations and solid at rushing the passer. Not all of that comes from the DEs.

Does this mean that McCoy isn't as good or won't be as good? No, and at this point I don't think it matters. Does it mean Suh will be a legend or even a Pro Bowler? Don't know. I think it does mean that Suh was definitely a good pick for the Lions.

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:54pm

Our starting D-line at the beginning of the season: Kyle Moore( 2nd year 4th-round pick who had shown nothing), Roy Miller (2nd year 3rd-round pick who can be a somewhat decent run stuffer but adds nothing as a pass-rusher), Gerald McCoy, Stylez White (somewhat solid edge rusher, but nothing special).

Starting Lions line on opening day: Cliff Avril (3rd year 3rd-rounder), Corey Williams (7th year veteran), Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch (3-time Pro Bowler).
Yes, that's a lot more talent and experience than the Bucs have along the D-line.

I'm not trying to demean Suh here, and I've said over and over that he's been very good. But he's also been put in a much better situation.

Part of it is also the creativity and the efforts the Lions coaches have made to get Suh into the right positions. The Bucs run very few pass-rush games and those they run look pretty bad. Plus, they've gone with a lot of 3-man-line(and 3-man-rush) where McCoy lines up at NT or DE, which doesn't help either.

The Bucs secondary (when healthy - missing star cornerback and starting safety) is much better than the Lions secondary, really. I'd imagine the linebackers are probably a tie, depending on how you view Barrett Ruud, though I don't know much about the Lions linebackers. Anyway, my point wasn't about overall defense which has been fairly good for the Bucs anyway, but about the level of talent along the defensive line.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:11pm

Look at the bright side, if the Vikings move to LA, they might switch divisions with the Rams.

/sorry if this dark humor is too dark

by jebmak :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:32pm

I would be happy if the Dolphins switched divisions with the Rams.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:53pm

I know you weren't thinking literally, but assuming the Vikes do move, there's no way they'd change divisions. The rivalries with Green Bay, Chicago, and even Detroit are too lucrative to change.

by jackgibbs :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:56pm

well, as a prospective future LA-based fan, I certainly care not a whit for any rivalries any team that chooses to move here may have had in the past. Everything before the move doesn't count. So yeah, I'd much rather have the vikings come here as part of the NFC West. Man, that would be real nice

by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:42am

Sure. But the opinions of the LA fans aren't what matters here. They'll be happy for, and embrace (to the extent they embraced the Rams & Raiders) any team they can get. It's the fans, and more accurately, the owners of the Lions, Bears, and Packers whose opinions will matter. They will still see the Purple helmets as a rival, regardless of what city they fly in from. Those three markets won't want to lose those games. It's essentially the same concept that you're not going to break up the NFC East ever, regardless of geography.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:37am

I've always felt that the Vikings/Bears/Packers/Lions rivalries were primarily geography-based, anyway. Remember, the Vikings are a relatively young team compared the to the Bears, Packers, and Lions. Moving the "L.A. Vikings" (and will they still be the Vikings?) to the NFC West makes sense to me.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:02pm

It's hard to call them "relatively young" when they're pushing 50 years old. At this point, I think the rivalry can be fairly called "entrenched."

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:46am

Except they won't be Purple-headed Vikings in LA, so that argument disappears. They'd be the Blue-headed Condors or Grizzlies or something.

Regardless, I have no doubt that it will be the Chargers, and not the Vikings, headed to LA.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:03pm

"Except they won't be Purple-headed Vikings in LA, so that argument disappears."

Just like the LA Lakers, right?

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:10pm

No, more like the Baltimore Ravens, Charlotte Bobcats, New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche, Oklahoma City Thunder, Tennessee Titans, Phoenix Coyotes, and in fact, most professional sports franchises that have moved in the last 15 years...especially when the nickname doesn't fit the new locale.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:54pm

How many of them moved to Los Angeles?

Regardless, it doesn't matter. I suspect that the Lions, Bears and Packers management will still consider them rivals even if the logo changes.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:35pm

The Bobcats are an expansion team. The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans and kept the name Hornets.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:03pm

Same deal with the Ravens. The Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis and kept the Colt name.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:29pm

Sure. And the Cardinals through three cities, and the Rams, and the Chargers, and that's off the top of the head. Starting with the Browns, most professional leagues are now sensitive to the fans and keep the nickname and colors with the city. Heck, the Titans even had to get permission from the Jets to use that name, and the Jets haven't been the titans since what? 1964 or something.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:11pm

Nah, I've decided to not care if the Vikings move. I mean, I've been a fan since I was 6, and having lived in downtown Minneapolis for ten years, it would be kinda' cool to see a tremendous stadium built a few blocks from where I used to have a condo. I can't get behind, however, handing 600-800 million in subsidies to an extremely wealthy family, even if they are the best owners Vikings fans have ever had. If they go, they go, and in some ways I enjoy the NFL more when there is no particular team(s) that I hope to watch in the Super Bowl.

by hughesm12 :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:33am

How can you count a Ryan Leaf comeback out of the question? That Manning-Leaf debate may not be over yet...

by Err (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 12:50pm

Can someone make a list of the DB's or CB's with the worst hands in football. Is Sean Smith worse the Carlos Rodgers? These are things we need to know...

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:02pm

Nick Collins of Green Bay has been pretty awful. I believe either here at FO or at the Journal-Sentinel online somebody counted 18 interceptions dropped by Collins over several years.

It was a crazy nuts big number. He's a fine player who would be a GREAT player if he held onto the ball more than half the time.

What's even more bizarre is that he has made some amazing picks. But throw it right to him and GACK!

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:03pm

Carlos Rogers actually has managed to catch a few balls for picks before, but I think half of them were popped up to him. If he's the first one to make contact with the ball, it's almost guaranteed to be incomplete.

Ike Taylor should also be added to the list of players who regularly make the commentators say, "that's why they're on defense..."

by drobviousso :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:53pm

Ike Taylor has to be on that list, although he's managed to catch a few this year.

by MJK :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:00pm


I think Simms comment about fighting was meant to be sarcastic and hence funny. (I'm pretty sure he knows fighting is illegal). I just think his delivery was terrible, and then he followed up with a comment that he thought a little chippiness might inspire the Bears to start playing better.

The Pats O-line was kind of funny versus the Bears... very boom or bust. On running plays, BJGE was getting either -2 yards, or +10. Practically nothing in between. On passing plays, Brady was getting pretty much 2-3 seconds of perfectly clean pocket, and then everything would go to hell. Not what you normally see where sometimes there is a good pocket and sometimes there isn't.

I think it was all what Urlacher and Briggs did. This was just my impression but it seemed that, when they played the run and the Pats actually had a run called, the running plays almost always failed. But they left the intermediate passing lanes open, so when they played the run and the Pats had a pass called, the pass always succeeded. When they dropped back into short-medium coverage, there was massive running lanes for BJGE, but they made Brady hold the ball until the pocket collapsed (he still made a few plays by dodging rushers in a splintered pocket and finding someone leaking open).

So basically it seemed like the Pats Oline was manhandling the Bears Dline, but that the Pats TE's and backs couldn't handle the Bears LB's (with the one notable exception of Crumpler absolutely owning the Sam backer on one of BJGE's long runs).

The Bears' problem was just that they only made a good defensive play when they guessed right...and the Pats coaching was good enough that they didn't guess right often enough.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:09pm

"The Bears' problem was just that they only made a good defensive play when they guessed right...and the Pats coaching was good enough that they didn't guess right often enough."

Like Tecmo Bowl!

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:18pm

I had to work so I didn't get to see this game, just hear parts of it on the radio. Which probably turned out to be a blessing.

The radio guys were really impressed with Urlacher's game, but that was about the only good thing they could mention. Well that and the return game.

Anyways, back to your point that the linebackers had to guess right to succeed, I would guess the snow had a lot to do with that. It probably made their change of direction and first step or two a lot slower. Normally when they guess wrong they can use their speed to recover, but in the snow they just didn't have the traction.

by TomC :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:07pm

Random thoughts:

1) I would have liked to have seen Pats O against Bears D in normal weather, but I'm not sure the result would have been significantly different.

2) Heaping on Simms: I was almost keeping my sht together after the Bears gave up that ridiculous TD before halftime, but I lost it when Simms blamed it on Tillman for letting the WR behind him. How long have you been covering the NFL, Phil? Have you heard of this thing called the Cover-2 defense? The Bears have been known to run it from time to time. (It was Major Wright's half of the field, and he got sucked into the middle by a crossing route, which no cover-2 safety should ever, ever do. Hope it's a one-time rookie mistake, not a career-long Chris Harris / Danieal Manning kind of thing.)

3) I'm curious if Aaron watched any of the Bears/Lions last week. Stanton was remarkably accurate in that game, which surprised the hell out of me. I was yelling at him in DET/GB yesterday, wondering why the hell he hadn't thrown those horrible floaters against us last week.

by Joseph :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:35pm

Tom, I have to respectfully disagree on your second point. First, it looked like the Pats were content to run out the clock--it was running, they had run BJGE the play before, and there were ~5 secs. at the snap. Secondly, to quote TMQ [and I GUARANTEE this play will be mentioned tomorrow] "Where might the pass go? Up the field, maybe??" Even if cover-2 is called [which would be a HORRIBLE call by the DC in that situation), Tillman has enough experience that he shouldn't be passing Branch to the S unless he's already about 40 yds downfield! Yes, Wright shouldn't have moved up to cover the slot guy--but, in his defense, the receiver (Welker, maybe, IDK) WAS open and about 2 steps behind his defender. And, since that receiver was right in front of him, it is somewhat excusable--it's not like he got sucked forward on a play-action fake or something.
Now, if we want to "assign blame" on this play, I think 50% has to go to the DC--it's the end of the half. THE ONLY THING THAT CAN HURT YOU IS A LONG TD PASS!!! Why isn't there a deep safety down at the 20 or something??? Mr. Tillman, WHO CARES if Branch gets a 20 or 30 yd. reception--don't let him get behind you!!! (As you mention, Wright needs his 25% too--WHO CARES if they get a 20 yd. reception down the middle of the field??
Just a horrible play call with worse execution. Good candidate for TMQ's worst play of the year (so far). At least, when the Texans screwed up the Hail Mary against JAX, there was an element of bad luck (or good luck, if you're one of the small contingent of JAX fans).

by TomC :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:08pm

I see your point, but if cover-2 is the defense called, then Tillman did what he was supposed to do. You can only fault him for not making a unilateral decision to stay deeper than his assignment, whereas Wright committed a mortal cover-2 sin. But I agree that, with 5 seconds on the clock and 59 yards to the endzone, you might want to call a slightly more conservative defense.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:35pm

For what it's worth, an analyst in the Chicago Tribune blames them both. Wright had to watch the inside and outside vertical routes, but he didn't drop deep enough, so he had no chance once he bit on the pump fake. Tillman, knowing the position that Wright was in, should've gotten a jam on Branch at the line.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:51pm

Why is it always necessary to throw in a shot at the number of Jaguars fans? No, there aren't as many of us as the glamour teams have, but we're nowhere near last in the league in ticket sales or attendance and have made dramatic improvement since last year. The jokes made a lot more sense last year and have long since stopped being fresh or clever.

What's more irritating is the perpetual inference that our fewer numbers suggests that Jaguar fans are less passionate than other teams' fans. Not that you were necessarily making this inference, but it seems to be a Barnwell standard.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:14pm

This has been brought up before, and I've noted that references to the Jaguars' fan base being small are quite accurate. According to the Harris Poll, the Jaguars have had the smallest following in 5 of the past 6 years; the lone year they climbed out of last, they were 30th.


Of course, that's not to say that such references aren't gratuitous, and you're certainly right that the size of the teams' fanbase has absolutely no relevance to the passion or intensity of those fans.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:06pm

Your observations are perfectly reasonable and accurate and I have no complaints about such statements. Nor are they a surprise since we play in the league's fourth-smallest market and have no consistent secondary market support (unlike, e.g., the Saints and Bills). Even in the Jaguars' late 90s glory years when they received substantially more media attention, I don't think we ever got above about 20th in the Harris poll.

As you've correctly stated, it's the gratuitous remarks, and/or the ones that proceed from a presumption of individual fans' passion or a perception that the 2009 sea of empty seats persisted, that get exceptionally stale in a hurry. There's a big difference between "Jaguars have the smallest fan base per the Harris poll again" and, e.g., "Jaguars fans, both of you..." or Barnwell's link to the story about my friend Kim Nored that began "Well, I guess there are a few hardcore Jaguar fans out there..."

by iapetus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:25am

I think the words that explain what you're seeing are "lazy journalism". You kind of expect it from the more mainstream sources, but it's a bit disappointing from FO.

by Dan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:35pm

That was a terrible play call by the Bears defense at the end of the half - that's the one time when you have to be in prevent, and they just weren't ready. The Pats caught them sleeping.

The funny thing is that the Bears offense tried the same thing at the end of the half a couple weeks ago against the Dolphins. They ran the ball to make it look like they were just running out the clock, but then with under 10 seconds left they threw a quick slant to Knox hoping that he could break it (it fell incomplete). Then this week the defense falls for the same "lull them at the end of a half with a run, then take a shot" trick.

by MJK :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:03pm

The funniest thing about this play...

According to an interview this morning, Brady admitted he was freelancing! The Pats de facto O-coordinator, Bill O'Brien, had actually called for Brady to kneel and run out the clock. Brady saw where the safeties had lined up, and on his own initiative called that pass play.

by TomC :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:44pm


by Tballgame (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:11pm

Do you have a link for that interview? I could have sworn Green-Ellis ran the ball with less than 40 seconds left. I thought it was obvious the Pats were going to go deep because they lined up with the play clock off.

by Eddo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:30pm

I recall that the clock was running, as well. If the Patriots had wanted to down the ball, they could have just walked off the field.

Not that they should have done so; it was nice to see a team decided to actually try on the last play of the half.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:41pm

Randy Moss is spinning in his... umm...

by MJK :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:03pm

According to Mike Reiss's blog on ESPN Boston here:

The score that put New England up 33-0 heading into the locker room very nearly never happened. As Branch explained it after the game, the sideline was calling for Brady to take a knee and let the clock run out. The quarterback had other ideas.

“We didn’t have much to lose, the clock was running out. I kind of saw the coverage,” Brady explained during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI on Monday morning. “It’s tough for the safeties to move in those [snowy] conditions.

Brady goes on to explain the exact cues he keyed in on, and on how they had gameplanned to take advantage of those cues if they saw them. So he wasn't totally doing something out of the blue, but it was his decision. And when asked if he was disobeying orders, he was very coy, as evidenced by the interview on the Boston Globe's site here :

On whether he disobeyed an order to take a knee before halftime

Tom Brady: [Chuckling] "I don't know about all that. I listen to my coaches all the time, just ask Billy [O'Brien, the Patriots' quarterbacks coach]. I may be the biggest pain in the you-know-what to Billy. Billy didn't realize when he got the job as quarterbacks coach a few years ago, how big of a pain in the butt I am. I love Billy he's just does an incredible job. He's a great coach, a great motivator and he's got a great presence about him. He's a local guy and he's got very much of this Massachusetts personality to him; he's tough and he's hard-nosed and he's relentless and all the players' really appreciate it."

by Athelas :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:50pm

You can find it at weei.com or itunes Patriots Monday/Friday.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:55pm

One fellow I do blame for the Pats TD as the half ended is Lovie Smith. The Bears had a defense called to keep the Pats out of field goal range because that was the priority when the Pats had finished the previous play. As the clock dropped below five seconds (maybe a bit more, say ten?) Lovie Smith should have used one of his remaining timeouts. With five seconds left you are better off calling the timeout and changing your play to one with five guys lined up in the end zone. The Pats saw a coverage they liked and then waited for the time to run down to a point at which it was extremely unlikely to cost them anything and took the shot. Bloody brilliant coaching.

Anybody else think there was a bit of gamemanship at play earlier in the drive where Branch split out of the huddle earlier than anyone else and then was bouncing up and down waiting for the others before lining up really wide with the rest of the team in a tight set. As soon as I saw the Pats' alignment I knew they were throwing to Branch and I strongly suspect the rest of the stuff was to try to make the Bears think run as much as possible.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:10pm

Daryn college, Green Bay guard, went out early and the offensive line pretty much collapsed from that point onward. His sub, Spitz, was inserted and then benched for TJ Lang. The Packers were so focused on Suh that no-name d-linemen for Detroit were making all kinds of hits in the backfield.

Even so Green Bay could have won the game if not for McCarthy's stubborn refusal to change his gamecalling to adapt to his personnel. The call where you have the backup QB throwing in the middle of the field near the goal line where it's heavy traffic/narrow windows was incredibly stupid. Setting aside that it was intercepted it's just a dumb call when it was critical that points be garnered. The Lions were NOT going to have Stanton try many passes until absolutely necessary. Even going up 6-0 would have pushed Detroit to throwing more often.

And then the last series who knows if that was McCarthy or Flynn with the 4th and 1? But again, Mike McCarthy goes on and on about how who is in the game doesn't matter the players have to execute blah, blah, blah.

What's bad for Packer fans is that McCarthy has a great cover story in the injuries when in reality the real issue is McCarthy.

Thompson has clearly provided a talented roster. And McCarthy deserves credit for getting team prepped, etc.. But his in-game management is killing the team. Hence the awful record in close games. McCarthy is a disaster when the game hangs in the balance.

If GB thinks all the other positives are worth it maybe they need to hire a special coach. Somebody like a Don Zimmer who helped Joe torre with the Yanks. The coach of common sense maybe?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:53pm

I'd say the biggest mistake was made in the off-season, when making decisions on how to fill out the depth chart at qb.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:21pm

Well the past 2 off-seasons, since Flynn has been the primary backup for the last 3 years.

I would say an even bigger problem is not having 2 NFL-caliber running backs on the roster when many teams have 3.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:03am

Consider that GB:

-Decides to go into the season with 1.5 NFL RBs on the roster

-Decides to go with 2 QBs (one of them Matt Flynn) for the second straight year.

-Have a game-day coach that is a mix of Jim Zorn and Andy Reid

And they're still one of the scariest teams in the league.

As a Bears fan I live in terror of the day they decide to actually get half-competent on the management side of things, because they'll be pretty much unstoppable then.

- Alvaro

by BigCheese :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:05am

Seriously, who made the call to go under-staffed atRB and QB but carry three FBs?

- Alvaro

by KipFurnace (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:05pm

Completely agree.

No one mentioned how McCarthy failed to challenge the end zone pass to Jennings that was ruled incomplete. The replay easily showed enough to overturn the call on the field. Add that to the long list of replay decisions that McCarthy has screwed up.

And wasn't there over a minute remaining on the clock when McCarthy went for it all on 4th and 1? Even if they complete the pass for a TD, that's enough time for Detroit to set up for the tying field goal. Why in the world do you not just try to convert, then give yourself 4 more chances to score while eating up clock?

This was the game where I officially became Anti-McCarthy.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:49pm

Flynn has beat out everyone who has been on the roster. Green Bay did draft Brian Brohm (sp?) second some time ago and that guy washed out while Flynn impressed onlookers.

Everyone around the team, besides McCarthy, speaks highly of the guy.

This game was on the head coach, not the backup qb who was running for his life half the time.

by Mike W :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:14pm

And of course McCarthy had to run the ball on 2nd and 2 before the ill-fated 4th and 1, because, you know, you have to keep the defense honest and establish the running game, even down four with a minute left.

God, I'm tired of McCarthy's play calling. Short stuff was working all game, so he had Flynn throw deep several times, and continued to run the ball to the very end.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:54am

Look, McCarthy didn't have a great game, but this loss was a real team effort.

If Quarless doesn't fumble GB probably gets into FG range at worst early on. If Jennings catches a perfect pass from Rodgers he probably scores a TD, Rodgers never feels forced to put the team on his shoulders and run head first, and GB probably grinds out a victory playing from ahead. When your players drop and/or fumble the ball that's not usually on coaching, that's on the players.

And the INT by Flynn was terrible, but what do you really want to do there? Run? No way GB scores a TD trying to run from the 9 they way their O-line was getting pushed around. Flynn drove them 80 yards on that drive, might as well kick the FG on first down if you aren't going to let him throw. For all we know the play may have been designed with primary reads to the outside, but the QB has to be able to make his own pre-snap reads.

And although it wasn't your comment about the non-challenge bigtencrazy, I'll just add here there's almost no chance they get that non-TD catch by Jennings overturned. There was only one decent camera angle, and it looked like the ball moved and touched the ground as Jennings got his hand under it. Because he had to try to make the catch so low Jennings didn't have the chance to get control of the ball before it MAYBE touched the ground. No way it was an indisputable catch. McCarthy is in a no-win situation with the fans here, because if he makes the challenge then he's likely roasted for being an idiot on wasting a challenge on a play he can't win.

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:44am

I thought it was a clear catch. The ball moved, but at no time did it hit the ground. There is no way to justify not challenging that given the way the game was going. McCarthy seemed too eager to kick the field goal.

Matt Flynn was not the problem that game. I thought he played better than Rodgers, while obviously taking into consideration that the defense keyed more on the run after Rodgers left. Rodgers hasn't been himself the last two games....maybe he had a mild concussion going into the game.

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:31pm

Could Bill Barnwell please shut up talking about Phil Simms? Or put Mr. Barnwell on other teams, as the Patriots are most likely to get Nantz and Simms crew ...

But this Phil Simms is a whatever really starts to p#$$ me off.

by JoseTortilla :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:57pm

Nice try, Chris Simms.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:57pm

It's okay Phil. You have a Super Bowl ring and millions of dollars. When Mr. Barnwell starts to make you feel bad just got lay in your bed with piles of money and many beautiful ladies.

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:29pm

Everybody can decide by him or herself whether Simms piles up more crap than anyone else at the mic.

Using half of the Audibles for one game in continues weeks now telling me what I can already see and hear myself, without any innovative stats, intelligent indicators or crap-over-average percentages over the course of the season. It's neither something new, nor is it interesting anymore, nor is the item completely justified in this case.

I don't think Simms is a great analyst. But he's certainly not the worst out there.

If FO wants to be fair, then please pile up the garbage from all the other analysts, and you'll end up with an item thrice as long without mentioning one sentence about the game. The only guys ending up looking good will be Eisen and Hanson, just because their self-deprecation makes them more tolerable.

None of you is perfect. Stop moaning about every single mistake Simms makes.

Don't you guys realize that Mr. Barnwell (or is he a she?) tilts in the same direction as TMQ a couple of seasons ago. Inflated ego. Shut it up, and stick to what you are good at.

by Eddo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:35pm

First of all, I think you're really overreacting. Sometimes, ripping on announcers is amusing.

Secondly, I think Simms gets a lot of unwarranted criticism, but not for the reasons you state. I firmly believe he is one of the worst in-game color commentators working today. He rarely gives any insight, and often seems to be saying whatever pops into his head.

However, if you ever watch Inside the NFL on HBO, you'll have a different opinion of him. A lot of his analysis on that show is really, really good. It's clear that when he's had time to think in-depth about something, he can make some excellent points.

He does have the problem that most announcers have, though; he feels the need to analyze everything as it's happening. This leads to a lot of knee-jerk and incorrect statements.

Third, you'll be taken a lot more seriously if you cut out the ad homenim attacks on writers (and/or other commenters), like your "is he a she?" comment. Criticize the message, not the messenger.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:45pm

I don't think Simms is a great analyst. But he's certainly not the worst out there.

Nantz and Simms are the #1 team for CBS. Simms is without a doubt the worst analyst of the #1 teams (Nantz/Simms, Buck/Aikman, SNF and MNF crews).

The reason why you see people piling on Simms is because Simms, as the #1 crew, gets the games with the biggest national coverage.

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:54pm

Gruden? You kidding me? Gruden better than Simms? Sorry. Does he ever say anything useful? Other than "whoa, this guy is the greatest abc, and he is awesome at xyz?"

Simms is also better than Matt Millen (NFLN), and clearly better than most of the number 2 crews. Simms is just the butt of all jokes, and honestly that has become boring and unfunny. Honestly, I wouldn't say he is much worse than Aikman, but I agree Collinsworth and Aikman are better.

And Nantz plus Simms are no worse than Buck plus Aikman, because Nantz is better than Buck.

And I get my fair dose of Simms as I always watch the Patriots.

Can't say I am pizzled enough to justify spending column after column beating this Simms is not smart dead horse.

Not funny, not innovative, and certainly does not play to the strength of Mrs Barnwell.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:10pm

"Gruden? You kidding me? Gruden better than Simms? Sorry. Does he ever say anything useful?"

No, but that's better than Simms, who actively contributes negative information. Listening to what Simms says actually makes me less knowledgeable about the two teams in question.

"Honestly, I wouldn't say he is much worse than Aikman,"

I dare you to find one instance where Simms actually pointed out that some trite football phrase ("establish the run", etc.) is a myth. All Simms does - at best - is parrot football catchphrases. At worst he states things which are factually wrong.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:50pm

Using half of the Audibles for one game in continues weeks now telling me what I can already see and hear myself, without any innovative stats, intelligent indicators or crap-over-average percentages over the course of the season. It's neither something new, nor is it interesting anymore, nor is the item completely justified in this case.

You do understand that Audibles is not about innovative stats, right? It's a bunch of football fans trading emails around. They can, and do, talk about whatever. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it.

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:56pm

And you apparently don't understand irony. Even though my English was bad (not a native, and apparently have no clue about your game. Or announcers.)

by drobviousso :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:00pm

I understand irony and don't have any idea what you are saying.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:47pm

What kind of irony? Dramatic or socratic? I don't see any evidence of either. Or did you mean sarcasm? Plenty of that.

by Nathan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:11pm

Simms is godawful. Not only does he offer nearly zero insight, his delivery is atrocious. He is a bologna sandwich on white bread with miracle whip and iceberg lettuce.

by V. Barbarino (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:02pm

Hey, now...the sandwich you just described actually sounds pretty good to me right now.
Could I get a slice of Kraft American cheese on that?
Phil Simms is like the napkin I'd put under that sandwich.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:31pm

Other than that, how'd you like the article Mrs. Simms?

by BigCheese :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:14am

"put Mr. Barnwell on other teams"????

Have you ever actually read the big, bolded disclaimer at the begining of Audibles? You know, the on that's up there every single week?

This is us listening in on the FO staff making comments on the games they are watching as football fans. You don't like it? Stop reading it Mr. Simms!

- Alvaro

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:53pm

As a Bears fan, I have to say that I was far more impressed by what the Patriots did, than disappointed about what the Bears " failed " to do. The Pats showed me that they are simply the best team in the league and that the Bears have a ways to go to reach that level. The Bears are still a good team and that nothing about that game changes how I feel about their chances of getting into the playoffs or doing well once they are in ( if they get in ) Just one of those character building ass whoopins teams get every once in a while.

by Eddo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:09pm

I think you're mostly right. The Bears didn't really make very many mistakes when the game was still in contention, save for the Knox fumble (and that was a really close play, in that, he was almost down). Cutler's interceptions were both pretty bad decisions, but at the same time, he was in a situation where he just had to make plays. Otherwise, he actually looked decent, I though; he was pretty accurate and made a few throws that made us say, "Wow".

Brady, of course, looked great. Though there were three instances I counted where his passes hit a Bear defender in the hands, and were dropped. Cutler didn't have any until the fourth quarter, I don't believe. I don't mean to whine; Brady played much, much better on Sunday, and deserved to win.

In some ways, this game seemed like the last two years' snow games (Titans in 2009, Cardinals in 2008) for the Patriots. They outplay their opponents early, and then get a few semi-breaks which cause everything else to snowball. If Knox hadn't fumbled, the game is still likely won decisively by New England, but it's probably not an embarrassment for the Bears.

The biggest factor was the Patriots' lines playing so much better than the Bears'. The optimistic part of me wonders if the defensive line would have looked better in dryer conditions, but I'm not sure that's true.

The Patriots' offense is just a sight to behold right now. In some ways, I think it's scarier than in 2007; in that season, it was pretty clear that Moss was opening everything else up. If you could get to Brady, you could prevent Moss from beating you downfield, and you had a chance to beat them.

However, this year, no single receiver or back really stands out. Take away Welker, and someone else will be open for Brady. Take away the deep ball, and Brady will beat you short. Blitz, and Brady will be smart enough to pick you apart. Play man coverage, and one of the Patriots' slew of better-than-average receivers will likely beat his man.

I think the only way to beat them is to score early, then get a break or two, and force them to play from behind. And obviously, you can't exactly gameplan getting breaks.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:34pm

On one of PFT's video segments Rodney Harrison talks about how to beat the offense and says you have to get good pressure (duh) and play tight man coverage. Beat the receivers up at the line, similar to that whole "blueprint" for beating the Colts from 03-06ish before people changed to dropping into 8 man disguised coverage, etc. And it made me wonder: When are people going to start cooking up these special tricky game plans for Brady the way they used for Manning? According to Harrison, Brady still struggles with decision making when under extreme pressure, and we saw that in the Giants SB (really, what QB doesn't have that issue?). Obviously playing zones and cover-2 just plays to their post-Moss strengths, as we see in their near-record DVOA. They're patient, they're disciplined, they have great balance, etc. So change it up. Start giving him looks they might not have seen before. Start beating up the receivers. One of the things that I've always kept in the back of my mind in the whole Brady v Manning thing is that it has been obvious for years that DCs are obsessing about stopping Manning. Maybe it's time to start giving Brady that same obsessive treatment.

Then again, their offense is a lot different, even beyond the QB, and you can bet they're smart enough to know this and are probably practicing to prepare for goofy looks, pressing, and 07 Giants-esque pressure even if they don't see it in games. I'm sure 07 has made them more determined to finish the job this year, which makes them even more scary.

I thought it was very odd how direct Rodney was about that, too. It seemed almost un-genuine, as if he was trying to spread a myth. Paraphrasing a bit here, he basically said "We used to run the 2 minute drill with pressure and really try to force Brady to make pinpoint accurate passes and he wasn't very good at it." Saying it that way was really weird. I would've expected something more diplomatic, like "gives you a chance to pressure him into an uncommon mistake" or something.

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:23pm

Well, he's always had trouble in Denver; Bailey always gave him fits. He has trouble against the NYJ(well...in NY?) with Revis.

I've always had the same opinion. You can't shut down Brady with Zones. You need to play close man, and push him. Thats not easy to do, and there's not many teams who have CBs to put guys in man against Welker, Branch, Tate/Edelman, and not have one of them get lose.

I honestly think that one of the biggest changes in the current offense is that if you put a guy like Revis on Moss, you could really go after Brady. With the current set of receivers, putting Revis on one of them shuts down that receiver, but its like "Who cares?"

The jets kept Moving Revis to cover one guy, and someone else would catch about 5 passes in the next drive, and they'd move him to that guy.

I know I'm rambling here, but its almost like its tougher to send a lot of guys, because with a whole bunch of good but not great recievers, someone is going to get open really quick.

The nickle corner/safety against a guy like Hernandez or Gronkowski is just a huge mismatch.

by Felkar (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:31pm

Couple of thoughts on this .. having Moss running deep routes as a key part of the offence made the Patriots more susceptible to a big pass rush. Brady is also not the most accurate deep passer out there while he is very good at short and medium range. With a diverse short to medium catch and run offence you don't have as much chance to get to the QB and blitzing in particular is a lot more dangerous.

The advent of the young tight ends and a decent ground game makes it much more difficult to key on the WR's and running backs out of the backfield.

I think if you had a lot of defensive speed you could make it difficult on NE. And of course with a short to medium range game comebacks are more difficult.

What I find most impressive about the Patriots is how they retooled the offense after the start of the season. The is probably only possible with a superior QB and coaching staff.

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:55am

Miami has always given him fits as well...even in those terrible Dolphin seasons earlier in the decade.

My opinion on the way to beat the Patriots offense is just to do whatever you do, and out-execute. Nobody's going to fool Brady with disguised coverage, at least not often. Heavy A-gap pressure will help, since Brady doesn't roll-out particularly well. But a team like Baltimore or Pittsburgh will always have a chance by showing up and doing what they do and hope the turnovers break in their favor. Don't mess around with some exotic defensive scheme that is probably going to confuse your own defense far more than Brady.

To quote one of my favorite movie characters from an otherwise mediocre movie, You're doing too much, do less.

by Eddo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:00am

Mediocre movie! Blasphemy!

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:22pm

I think the way to beat (or give yourself the best chance to beat) Brady is to use the Colt's old offensive strategy in reverse. Line up with the same look every play, and run lots of different stuff out of it. Don't show anything before the snap, try to make everything look as close to the same as possible. The Eagles and the Giants are probably best suited for this style, and it's kind of what Jimmy Johnson did.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:35pm

This whole "defensive line needing good footing" thing really baffles me as watching Green Bay, New England, Chicago(!) and New York if a d-line is good they get a push no matter what.

Cripes, the Giants line overpowered the Green Bay offensive line in the title game a few years back and by all accounts it was an ice rink.

If a d-line isn't good they get pushed around like THEY are on skates.

The Bears faced a good team and despite seemingly multiple intangible advantages (home field, weather) they were obliterated.

Chicago will make the postseason and at some point the same will happen. Face a good team that won't be mesmerized by the water torture that is the Bears defensive approach, neutralize the "Do No Harm" offense and play the special teams to a draw. And Chicago will get creamed.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:41pm

Just because something can be an overused cliche doesn't mean there is no truth to it. Most defensive ends or rushing edge linebackers love a dry artificial turf for a good reason.

by Nathan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:47pm

speed rushers seem like they'd fare worse in snow. stands to reason that someone who uses the bull rush is going to be more effective than a speed rusher in bad footing, since they still have their upper body strength to rely on.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:51pm

the Giants d-line was full of speed that season (and still is).

Derrick Thomas played in KC in bad weather and I never read him grousing.

I have yet to see anything that confirms the validity of this common refrain. And I am speaking beyond this thread.

Just by observation I think it's hokum used as an excuse when convenient.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:29pm

Hey, I've never played in the NFL, but I suspect a guy like Strahan knows what he liked best for a reason, so when I hear him say that a dry artificial turf suited him and most other past rushers best, my initial reaction is that it likely isn't hokum.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:51pm

Baseball players believe in lineup protection and all studies have demonstrated that having guy "X" hit behind guy "Y" doesn't make an impact on "Y's" output.

There are lots and LOTS of things players/coaches believe that have been shown to not be supported by the facts.

It's why this website exists. And others like it. Challenging the commonly accepted beliefs.

by Sidewards :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:24pm

I'm wondering if Muth has any input on this, as he's played O-line at a high level. Somewhere along the line, did he play in weather? How much did that affect the line play?

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:51pm

Well the Bears d-line got blown off the ball in the running game (looking at the stats), so I would say that supports d-linemen like to have something to stick their cleats in.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:08pm

Sure, but believing that one is protected by another hitter in the lineup really isn't analogous to Michael Strahan saying he can play better on dry artificial turf. It is more akin to Albert Pujols saying he can hit the low outside fastball best. Now if I had to take a guess as to who had better insight regarding what pitch most suited Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols telling me which pitch he liked best, or you telling me that Pujols' opinion on the matter was hokum, maybe I'm nuts, but I'll lean towards Pujols' opinion. Please feel free to enlighten me as to why I should do the opposite.

by Jovins :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:36pm

Well, if Pujols says he hits the low outside fastball best, and the statistics show he doesn't, then I'm going to go with the statistics.

There are a lot of people who don't realize what they're best at.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:41pm

I don't see any stats one way or the other. Just a few anecdotal observations.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 11:40pm

Which is why I asked to be enlightened, if such information was available. There aren't lots of people like Albert Pujols or Michael Strahan. It's possible to be at the level of accomplishment of those guys, while being wrong about what conditions allow them to perform best. It's possible that their insights regarding what conditions favor them are reasonably accurate. Which is more likely; that Albert Pujols has achieved his level of success while being wrong about which pitches given him a better level of success, and thus he should swing at them, and which pitches he should not swing at, or that his opinions on these matters are largely accurate?

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:32am

Well, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan thinks that walks aren't valueable, and his primary value as a hitter was his high OBP, so yeah, I think its entirely possible for someone to be supremely talented, and have no idea what they're talking about.

by Shattenjager :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:39am

I have never been able to figure that one out.
It's so illogical that my brain cannot handle it.

by B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:19pm

In Joe Morgan's mind the "computer nerds" are always wrong. The computer nerds say walks are valuable, therefore, walks are not valuable. He doesn't really evaluate the message, but judges everything based on his preconceptions of the messenger.
Honestly, if Sabermetrics came out pro apple-pie, Joe Morgan would be against apple pie.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:21am

Well yeah, but Joe Morgan is as smart as Raiderjoe is sober. I don't think the same applies to Strahan.

- Alvaro

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:39am

Yes, that is true, but that really isn't analogous either. The analogy would be if Joe Morgan was entirely wrong about which sort of pitch best allowed him to drive the ball.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:02pm

I'll try to find the article, but I'm pretty sure there was exactly this article with PitchFX data about Arod(maybe?) on Fangraphs.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:38pm

Oh, it is certainly possible, but then we would need the data from a large sample size of extremely good hitters, to determine how often such a player was entirely wrong about what sort of pitch he hit best. We are still left with the question, in the absence of of other data; when trying to make a decent judgement about whether a dry artificial turf aids defensive linemen, especially edge pass rushers, should we lend more weight to what a very good player of that type says regarding the issue, or should we lend more weight to the anecdotal observations of someone who has never done it?

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:54pm

It's close. If there were stats, I'd take the stats. When you put it like this, I guess it depends on the person making the observations. For example, would you trust what Strahan says over the observations of a head coach (even if he'd never played the position)?

The thing is we don't know a lot about Strahan. But would you trust Tony Siragusa or someone you know from the booth when he speaks about the position? Many of those guys seem to understand the game less than the casual fan, regardless of their level of success on the field.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:46pm

I know Strahan has rushed the passer in NFL games several thousand times, and has sacked the qb more than all but a handful of human beings. Now, if you are a guy who has lived in a film room for many years, I likely would give your opinion on the matter as much weight as Strahan's. If you are the typical hard core NFL fan who at most sees four games a week on t.v., no, I'm not going to give your opinion as much weight as Strahan's.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:44am

But would you say the same about Emmit Smith? He's the all-time leading rusher, you know. He should know a lot about running the football and what works best and what doesn't and when. And yet, I suspect he doesn't know his wheat from his ass.

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced a player's opinions are close to meaningless. Even Head Coaches like Herm believe stuff that just isn't true. And he coached and played a bunch of games.

Maybe it's like art. Artists are great at creating, doing. But ask them about what they created and how they did it and, no matter how great their technique, they either have no idea or they spew a bunch of idiocy (with some notable exceptions). Which is why such a despicable thing as art critics can even exist.

In this particular case, I wonder how much Strahan has taken into account how artificial turf, in turn, helps offensive linemen. I mean, obviously he feels better himself on a good turf, but unless he has a sound, questioning mind, he might just have taken that fact and inferred from it without even realizing what he did.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:38pm

Wait, most artists I know understand their craft a great deal. Most painters could teach me how to paint, guitarists could teach me how to play the guitar, etc. They might not be able to teach me how to create art, but they certainly understand how to teach the techniques to do so.

As for Smith, while I wouldn't trust his opinion on building a football team or overall strategy, if he was talking about the technique of actually running the ball or what surfaces or weather he liked, I would listen to him.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 12:05am

I agree that performers know/have technique, but not that they can automatically teach it. Teaching is a whole different skill, and it requires patience and communication abilities (ruling Emmitt out -lol), as well as its very own technique. Most of the best teachers are not the ones who excel at performing. For example, I teach English as a foreign language, and yet, native speakers who try to take on the job usually fail. Conversely, some very good teachers don't even speak English very well at all.

Also, I don't think the Strahan issue relates to technique.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:15am

I would trust a monkey to know what was best for Emmit Smith before I trusted anything the man had to say about his success

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:05am

Really? I gave up watching baseball years ago, but anecdotally this seems wrong. Are you suggesting that David Ortiz would get the same pitches to hit when Manny Ramirez followed him in the order than he would if Mario Mendoza was on deck?

Of course there's lineup protection. Having pitched at a low level, even I took care not to walk a guy like Ortiz in the first scenario, and never give him anything over the plate in the second.

I always hated National League Baseball, because if you would look at the intentional walk leaders, it would be Barry Bonds followed by nine #8 hitters. I tend to think those .190 hitting shortstops and defensive catchers wouldn't get on base nearly as often if they were batting fifth in the order.

I suspect those "stats" aren't really measuring what they purport to be measuring.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:06pm

What the stats show is that when you go after a guy who "Has protection", his slugging will increase, but his batting average and OBP will go down, because he'll strike out more. Pitchers still win most at bats.

Because a point of OBP is worth about 2 points of slugging, it ends up almost always being a negative for the hitter. There's actually a pretty strong negative correlation between hitter OPS and the OPS of the guy behind him.

Its been studied pretty extensively. "Protection" doesn't exist.

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:02pm

Interesting....but I'm not sure it means much. Maybe in the grand scheme of things Protection doesn't exist -- much like statistics show that icing the kicker works. However, I would expect in both cases results would vary wildly from athlete to athlete. There are probably kickers who are more accurate after the icing attempt. There are probably hitters who are much more successful in their at-bats with another offensive threat behind them than if there aren't.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:19pm

I always hated National League Baseball, because if you would look at the intentional walk leaders, it would be Barry Bonds followed by nine #8 hitters.

THAT's why you hate National League ball? Not the gorillas with arthritic knees who couldn't field a baseball aimed at their foreheads? Ooops...wrong league.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:05pm

In the week leading up to the game the weather was supposed to be very cold but no snow. I hadn't checked for a few days and when I saw the field was white with groundstaff scraping snow off the field markings my heart sank. The Bill Belichick coached Patriots are the best team I have ever seen play in snow. Most of their playbook is full of plays that work very well in icy conditions and it is almost impossible to run a one gap defense in the snow which left the Bears pretty much scuppered. The Patriots are a very, very good team and if the playoffs run through a snowy Gilette Field they are going to be in the Superbowl, what odds on snow in Dallas in early February?

by Marko :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:18pm

While it is possible that there will be snow in Dallas in early February, it won't matter because the stadium is domed. So even if it snows, there won't be any snow on the field unless they decide to replace the roof with the current Metrodome roof.

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:27pm

I hear the Metrodome roof can be bought for a song these days.

by Marko :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:51pm

What song is that? "Let it Snow"? Or perhaps "White Christmas"?

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:06am

Sure, sure....but they nail you with the shipping and handling charges.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:13am

Don't buy now, it's an overvalued market that's expected to collapse soon.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:54pm

i have the feeling that Miami couldve put 11 guys in the box, yet schotty still wouldnt have stopped calling those horrendous between the tackle run plays.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:24pm


The Jets called 51 passes to 29 runs. Or did you mean that you wanted more of the runs to go toward the edge? They averaged 2.9 yards per carry on designed runs scored as "end" or "tackle" ... better than the 2 yards per carry on designed runs inside (guard / "up middle"), but not remarkably so.

Also, completely unrelated except that it was the same game: I don't think I've ever seen so many dropped passes -- by both receivers and defenders -- in a game before. The rainy conditions and slightly inaccurate passing certainly made it easier for it to happen, but it was just absurd.

by NYExpat :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:59pm

He probably means that they should have stopped running on first and 10, when everyone and their grandmother knew that the Jets would run it between the tackles. I think the final numbers were something like 16 out of 24. They finally ran a play-action on 1st and 10 and (surprise!) got a 10 yard completion to Cotchery.

Also, I don't know why that phrasing didn't occur to me before, but "slightly inaccurate" describes Sanchez to a 'T' right now. Does anyone know if young quarterbacks have been able to go from 55% to 60%+ completion percentages after their second year?

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:36pm

Eli did, barely, in 2008, after 4 years of well below 60% completions.

by Dales :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:13pm

Eli did, barely, in 2008, after 4 years of well below 60% completions.

And then he proceeded to increase it again and has (so far this year) done so again.

In fact, 2007 kind of sticks out in this pattern:

2005, +4.6
2006, +4.9
2007, -1.6
2008, +4.2
2009, +2.0
2010, +2.5 (so far)

I am not sure how unusual this is, but I am guessing it is quite so.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:49pm

That doesn't explain it, either. It seems to me like runs up the middle may have been their most effective first-down option when you factor in penalties and fumbles:

11 passes: 3/8 for 31 yards, 2 sacks for -4 yards and a fumble, 1 spike. If you count the 2nd down after the spike as "first down," then add a sack, -6 yards, and another fumble.

Avg. Net Yards: 2.7; 1 fumble (Does not include spike or the following play)

9 runs outside: 7 carries for 14 yards; 2 carries for 7 yards were negated by penalties totaling 25 yards

Avg. Net Yards: -1.0 (Excluding plays negated by penalty: 2.0)

11 runs inside: 11 carries for 31 yards

Avg. Net Yards: 2.8

In all fairness, the 1st-down playcalling was particularly run-heavy toward the beginning of the game. But Sanchez started out 1/4 for 8 yards on 1st down, so it's not like there's much evidence that passing more early was the solution.

by BJR :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 1:54pm

Chiefs/Chargers was probably the worst game I have witnessed this season. It was clear from the very first series that KC weren't going to be able to move the ball at all and it was going to be a blowout. San Diego just needed to execute efficiently and avoid blunders on offence and special teams, which they did. In the second half there was a poor throw from Rivers which was intercepted on the sideline, and a sack fumble where he stood in the pocket too long, but it was apparent by then that short of giving the Chiefs the ball on the goalline and subbing in the local high school team's defence, they weren't going to score.

Can't see the Chargers losing to the 49ers, Bengals or Broncos. Any defeat will see the Chiefs fall behind in the tie breaker, so they are going to have to win out. They are @STL, TEN, OAK so it's definitely feasible as long as Matt Cassel returns healthy.

by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:54pm

I just don't see how Cassel can be healthy enough to play next week. Every article I've read agrees that the default recommendation is two weeks of healing before doing any type of physical activity. I had a laparoscopic appendectomy in May and the most I could do for two weeks was take long walks. For a couple months afterward, I would feel a twinge in my abs whenever I bent over to tie my shoes. I shudder to imagine what could happen to him if he rushes back this week and gets hit hard in the abdominal region.

Unfortunately, the Chiefs might be desperate this weekend. The Rams have been surprisingly competent, especially at home. The Chiefs couldn't generate any offense with Croyle, although some of that was not his fault. He put several important passes right on target only to see his receivers drop them. He had a well-thrown bomb to Bowe that was just barely tipped away by Cason at the last second. The Chiefs also didn't get any help from the refs, as most of the questionable calls went the Chargers way (there were several uncalled DPI's and the second Floyd TD was not a catch).

It's too bad, since the Chiefs have done such a great job this year. Their young players have played well and the coaching has appeared rock-solid. It's sad that their season might get torpedoed by one inflamed vestigial organ.

by BJR :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:19pm

I've got no idea how long it takes to recover from his surgery, but your comments are worrying.

If Cassel is out again next week, it's probable that the Chiefs offence will function better against weaker opposition (although far from terrible as you point out) and with Croyle having had another week of first team reps in practice, but they were pretty downright miserable yesterday. There was a lot of garbage time at the end of that game to rack up some yards and they couldn't achieve anything.

Who would have thought that Chiefs @ Rams would carry so many playoff implications in week 15?

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:26pm


Actually, no. Even though I've been driving the bandwagon for the Rams all year, I didn't REALLY think they'd be a playoff contender. I was told I was being overly optimistic by picking them to go 6-10. I suppose that would have put them not mathematically out, but that's stretching things a bit.

There's a chance I might make it to my first game at Arrowhead this weekend.

Can I trot out the cliche about how all Brody Croyle does is lose games?

by Spielman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:35pm

If you do go to Arrowhead for the game this weekend, you're going to be awfully lonely.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:54pm

Great seats!

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:27pm

With enough cortisone shots, you don't feel anything at all!

by akn (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 11:44pm

(I'm a doctor)

From what I have read, Cassel had a single-port (single 3-4cm incision) laproscopic appendectomy closed without sutures, which speeds up healing (no foreign objects--sutures--to heal around) and minimizes pain/functional impairment during recovery (the less the abdominal wall/muscle is cut, the less you have to heal and the less pain you have to deal with). However, the speed of healing is limited by the extent of blood flow the wound. Any abdominal incision of reasonable size requires at least 7-8 days to heal enough to prevent "bursting" open, but with a single incision that small, there's usually little chance of that happening even at 3-5 days.

Under ordinary circumstances, the only thing holding Cassel back is his pain tolerance (or alternatively his tolerance to pain killers--taking opiates messes with your mind and your breathing). However, there's 2 things that complicate the situation.

1) The procedure was done under emergency conditions, meaning that it wasn't done under optimal conditions. Only the surgeons involved would know what those conditions were and how much they would affect his recovery.

2) Playing in the NFL is a bit more extreme than what you or I would consider strenuous or vigorous activity. Really, there's no research that establishes an optimal timeline for recovery from lap-appe's for elite athletes. I have no idea what those kind of forces would do to surgical incisions, no matter how small.

If I were the surgeon, I wouldn't sign off on full contact football less than a week after surgery. Depending on how the procedure went, I would probably be okay with 8-10 days of recovery (with little to no restriction on non-contact activities after 5 days). I see little reason to believe he would miss more than 2 games.

by Shattenjager :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:00am

I just want to thank you for sharing the information.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:47am

This type of post is why these comment threads are always worth keeping tabs on. Thank you for that; it was very informative.

by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:41am

First joke: Is there a doctor in the board?

Second: as for the opiates, so you are saying that a QB like Jamarcus Russel might have been more likely to play due to his familiarity with the effects of such substances?

by jebmak :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:25pm

I've seen some games where the first series or two each way has it looking like one team will slaughter the other and then for some reason things switch. I attribute those to the pre-planned 15 or so plays that teams do. That's the only thing that I can think of.

And just to be contrarian:

Could you see the Chargers losing to the Raiders by two touchdowns at San Diego last week?

by BJR :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:21am

Absolutely not. And yeah, there is clearly an element of hindsight to my comments. But there was reason to pay particular attention to the Chiefs first few offensive plays given they had a new QB installed. They called 5 runs, then Brodie Croyle's first pass attempt was a quick out to Terrance Copper for no gain on 3rd and 10, at which point you knew the play callers had no faith in their quarterback and it was going to be a long day.

by Not My Fault (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:05pm

So what's the starting lineup of the It's Not My Fault team? I would probably put McDaniels-era Kyle Orton at QB.

I wouldn't start Knighton (JAX) at DT, I'd play Suh (DET) instead. I'm not even sure Knighton should qualify - his team is still a playoff contender. I agree that Kyle Williams (BUF) should start.

Also I don't know if the team is 3-4 or 4-3, but I feel like Darnell Dockett (ARI) deserves to play.

by funkdoc (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:12pm

arian foster + peyton hillis for RBs imo. i'd take both over peterson because peterson is actually part of the problem via his lack of pass protection

left tackle has some really good ones too (jake long, joe thomas). a number of browns o-linemen would fit here, really

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:47pm

I'm still sitting here wondering how the name Terrence Knighton can come up at all without mention of his nickname, which goes into the pantheon of great sports names: Pot Roast.

Even more galling is that Peter King used the term "meat and potatoes linemen" when talking about him and Alualu and STILL didn't bring it up. It was insulting.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:55pm

Is it currently active or historic? What about one of each?

by theoldschooler (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:22pm

Audibles would be much more readable and enjoyable if the writers actually focused on the game, instead of spending half of each write up nick picking about Phil Simms latest head scratching comment.

I mean we get it, color guys are lousy. You don't need to run that shit into the ground every week. How about a one temporary prohibition on Audibles discussing tv commentators, that would be a nice change.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:39pm

"Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching...

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature."

They aren't writing up the games. These are the emails they sent during the game. If Phil Simms sounded like an idiot (which... he did, well, he always does) then they'll comment about Phil Simms sounding like an idiot.

Still, though, we could use your comment kindof as a template for other people to rant about Audibles. Like a new zlionsfan template.

"Audibles (disparaging insult, preferably with profanity). You guys need to write about (some game they didn't watch OR the details of a game that had a 4-touchdown spread by halftime). We get it, you guys just write about (large market team that always gets national TV coverage OR team that one of the writers is a fan of OR topic that people talk about during games, like bad calls, bad coaches decisions, or poor announcing)."

Other people should feel free to enhance it! It'd make it so much easier to skip over comments like these on Audibles threads.

by Independent George :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:47pm

I think this is unfair. He's not making any of the complaints you're listed above, and he's just as entitled to critique Audibles for digressions about announcers as the FO staff is entitled to critique the announcers.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:41pm

Simms and Nantz were covering the Bears/Pats game, which was a 4-touchdown game by the half. Football fans complain about announcers a lot when watching the game. Sorry if I was too vague.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:53pm

My name is zlionsfan, and I endorse this idea.

by John Elway (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:39pm

Ben Muth: Considering Rodgers played football at Cal
Hey now, after my beatdown by Cal in my final game for Stanford, it took me years to get that Stanford Stink off of me before I would win anything meaningful!

by beargoggles :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:04pm

I like the fact that the other FO writers already have ridiculed Mr. Muth, so I don't have to.

by BucNasty :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:45pm

Tom Gower: There's this bird that's been flying around EverBank Stadium for the last couple minutes. He made a cameo appearance during the kickoff the Raiders fumbled, I believe, and when the Jaguars kicked off after going up 31-24, he was sitting on the Raiders 10. He flew around a bit during the return, then when the action settled down and they made it past him landed on the 14. Not quite the pigeon in kickoff coverage, but still an unusual sight.

Maybe it's like The Crow, only this time Al Davis is being kept alive through his link with the bird in order to put right the brutal demise of the Raiders.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:23pm

Hat tip to the Eagles OL for great execution of the 4 minute offense. When they got the ball with 4 minutes to go, I certainly didn't expect them to hold onto it. Hell, I half expected Cap'n Andy to keep throwing. Their ability to close out games in that situation has been called into question in the past (for good reason). They did a real nice job there (channeling my inner Reid) at the end of the game.

by Xao :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:31pm

Mike Tanier: "Vick just has so much momentum -- and is so light "

That may be the greatest way I've ever heard someone call Vick fast!

by dbostedo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:53pm

What I'm wondering is if that was just a nice coincidence of word choice, or if Tanier actually made a physics equation reference...

by TomC :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:54pm

Wait, so you're saying if my momentum is big, and my mass is small, then my velocity is ....

No, wait a minute, I can do this ........

by dbostedo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:15pm

It's fine to calculate Vick's velocity, but when you finally figure it out, you will longer know where he is on the field.

by horn :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:07pm

Just don't give him access to a box, radioactive material, and a cat.

Too soon?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:10pm

It's just the principle of the thing.

by T. Diddy :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 10:44am

I'm not certain about that.

by MCS :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:50pm

Not a Pats fan. Not an AFC fan so I hardly watch CBS. I meniton that so I can make the following comment in peace.

Simms just kills mne every time I tune into a Patriots game. It sounds like I'm watching the local Boston broadcast of a preseason game. The one with the homer announcers.

I get it. The Pats are the best team in football. Move on to some other rinterestign storyline about the game.

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:51pm

The Patriots are much better then the Bears. It was cold, windy, and snowing.

Thats pretty much the only storylines there were.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:15pm

My favorite Simms moment in this regard came in about week 11 or 12 of the 2007 season. There was a shot of Josh McDaniels on the sideline and Simms remarked something to the effect of, "There he is, just 30 years old and the offensive coordinator for the world champions..."

by MCS :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:54pm

Rodgers did slide against the niners. It seemed like they hit him anyway, 4-5 times. Several times, the spot of the ball was less than favorable as well.

Perhaps all of that played into his decision to forego sliding.

I still thought it was a foolish decision. He is the franchise QB and now he is concussion prone. Affecting both the future of the franchise and his own long term health.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:15pm

This has been something that anyone following Packer games has noticed now for at least two seasons. Rodgers gets smacked around regularly and rarely a flag. The Niners hit him twice when he DID slide which is supposed to be automatic and nothing. And the one was no tippy tap either. It was a shoulder up high.

I really began to notice at the end of last season particularly when the Steelers almost decapitated him on the first drive and when Rodgers clearly asked the official you could see the ref say, "quit crying" as he walked away.

I get why Big Ben is getting obliterated this season. It's pretty clear he's a marked guy and a team will have to take a machete to him to get a flag.

Is Rodgers disliked? Is he a jerk to the officials?

Because the guy is taking a beating and none of the zebras seems to care one iota.

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:32pm

The officials all went to Stanford.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:53pm


by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:05pm

Tim Gerheim: The announcers in Jacksonville-Oakland commented that this game features two running quarterbacks. Garrard's a good scrambler, but Jason Campbell runs like Kerry Collins. This game features two black quarterbacks, guys; that's not the same thing.

Garrard led all quarterbacks in rushing yards last year. Campbell was fourth. I know you guys love to jump all over the announcers for saying false things or inane things (and most of the time I think you are right), but this is one instance where I think their theme was reasonably accurate. Maybe Campbell is more of a resourceful runner or a willing runner, but he's got rushing yards to support this type of comment.

Here's what I would like to know - do you chaps like any of the current NFL announcers? Or it it just the world we live in, where we talk about how awful everything is and everyone else is. Joe Pos had some thoughts on this lately.

I enjoy NBC's team on Sunday night. I also think Boomer Esiason is good on the radio.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:33pm

Agree about SNF for announcers; Michaels is annoying when he tries to do Chris' job, but he's an articulate and accurate play by play guy, and Collinsworth is surprisingly smart and attentive for someone who has as their job filling air with words. Announcers get too much flak I think; it's an incredibly difficult job to analyze plays in real time for an audience that will dissect the replay at home.

Simms and Gruden are both pretty awful, and I'm impressed with no one who currently has a studio job rather than calling games. Anyone heard Kurt Warner? I would bet he's decent.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:39pm

I've heard Warner once and he was actually decent. I've also been impressed with Tim Ryan once or twice, and I wonder how alone I am in not really minding Moose Johnston/Siragusa; sure, they're goofy and all, but at least they don't pull a Dierdorf and just talk about how player X is the best ever. I was shocked to discover that I no longer hate Brian Billick and can at least tolerate him, that seemed to be a big improvement.

I've had enough Chris Myers, Charles Davis, and Joe Buck to last a lifetime. Also can't name anybody on a CBS team I even vaguely want to listen to, Fox seems to have a better track record to me.

And yes, Collinsworth is really good, as is Jaworski. Oddly enough, I really liked Gruden last year, as he and Jaws would go off on these hardcore football-geek tangents. This year, all he does is pump his favorite players, and he's annoying as hell.

by Spielman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:33pm

In the two Warner games I've heard so far, his biggest problems have been being a little uncomfortable with the mic, and he tends to fall into the same speech patterns too often. Both of those things should fade with time if he stays in the job.

Unsurprisingly, he's good with pointing out the nuts and bolts of plays and schemes.

by JPS (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:17pm

I thought Verne Lundquist did an excellent job when he was brought in as the number two to Pat Summerall (sp?) all those years ago, and I think his and Danielson's calls contribute a lot to the SEC games nowadays.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:30pm

Lovie Smith had a great quote at half time, "they scored 33 points and shut us out in the first have, we just have to do the same to them in the second half." It's just so simple.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:59pm

While on the one hand, I find it amazing that the Lions' defense played a significant role in the win over Green Bay, on the other, I find it odd that they cling to Stanton as the third QB, especially given that he's a fourth-year player. I was unimpressed with him in college, and like Curtis Painter, he doesn't strike me as an NFL-capable QB. Certainly there are other options out there. I can understand not starting one of them now, but in 2011, I'd think Detroit would have to find someone with more upside for that role. (Hill has been a very pleasant surprise as a backup; if his contract doesn't already cover 2011, I'd hope the Lions would take care of that.)

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:34pm

Hey now, Curtis Painter holds a clip-board just fine, thank you. A few more years and he'll be promoted to senior clipboard manager at a salary in excess of $1M annually.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:59pm

I'd just like to thank the world for giving us all more reasonable cleavage to look at.

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:35pm

hmmm? I'm sorry, did you... did you say something?

by B :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:51pm

I disagree.

by JonFrum (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 11:57pm

Personal vent: During the entire Patriots-Bears game, with the field covered with snow. I don't think the announcers gave the ball position once. I couldn't tell half the time within +- 15 yards where the line of scrimmage was. And they had no interest in telling me. Isn't this elementary for a play-by-play guy, down and yardline?

by Junior :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:37am

Hard for them to squeeze in that pertinent information while juggling Brady's cherries all game.

by Marko :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:06am

I remember them giving that information a few times. The on-screen graphic with the score sometimes also indicated the yard line (e.g., "Ball on Chi 22 yard line"). But that didn't seem to be consistent. Maybe the guy doing the graphics couldn't figure out where the ball was either.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:41am

The radio guys were pretty funny about the ball spot. Things like "he ran for something between a 1 yard loss and 2 yard gain. We can't tell because the yard lines are covered up." Of course most of the calls were "another first down for the Patriots."

by Theo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:58am

"Aaron Schatz: Funny, they don't flag you for that when you do it in Madden."
I don't know about the latest madden animations, but showboating is not illegal. It's illegal to do it in the opponent's face, which DeShean was penalized for.

Oh and Patterson's first name is Dmitri. You don't see that very often.

by BJR :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:08am

In Russia you do. But it's true you don't see many Russians with surname Patterson.

by DGL :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:22pm

In Soviet Russia, all celebrations illegal.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:31pm

In Soviet Russia, penalty celebrates you!

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:55am

Some part of me always cracks up when I see a name correction in the same post as a screwed up name. It's DeSean.

by southpaw2 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:35pm

Not that I feel good about chiding anyone for mailing in analysis of an NFC West game, but as long as condensing an utter blowout into a discussion of one Seahawks blitz seemed worthwhile, why not give Leon Washington kudos for remembering to run all the way to the endzone this week? Watching him make a concerted effort to blow by the Niners long kicker, who has to be at least a few kettlebells past his fighting weight, had me laughing harder than just about anything else from Sunday.

Simms included, who can't carry Gruden's spray tan. Are you guys kidding?

by dbostedo :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:06pm

"Not that I feel good about chiding anyone for mailing in analysis of an NFC West game..."

The thing is, this isn't an analysis column. It's a collection of excerpts from emails that the guys send to each other during the games. Nothing about this needs to be worthwhile and while the ideas contained might be thoughtful, it's not like they're planned out or anything.

by Sid :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 9:41pm

"Will Carroll: Stanton avoided a sack, then put up a floater into the end zone for an interception. I doubt it's measured, but in a sack-avoidance scramble like that, I wonder if there's any significant difference in decision making. Even throwing it away or taking the sack would be more positive than what he just did."

Wait, so you're telling us throwing it away or taking a sack is better than throwing an interception?

by dbostedo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:28am

I think - just guessing really - that he meant taking a sack or throwing it away is better than tossing up a floater, ignoring whether or not it's actually picked. I.e. even if the pass had been caught for a TD, it was a worse decision that taking the sack or throwing it away.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:37am

I agree with the complaints about announcers.

I've been complaining about some of them for years, most notably Joe Theismann.

It boggles the mind that these people get paid well to talk about football, considering how terrible they are at their jobs and how little they know of NFL rules. Many of them are not particularly intelligent, and merely got the job by dint of being a former high-profile player.