Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Audibles at the Line: Week 2

compiled by Bill Barnwell

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

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

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

Pittsburgh Steelers 19 at Tennessee Titans 11

Aaron Schatz: A thought on Tennessee, from this morning's NFL Matchup: We've written in the past about why the college option play doesn't generally work in the NFL, because the defensive ends are too fast and would just kill quarterbacks. They showed this morning a good wrinkle Tennessee uses to make its option work: counter action. Vince Young generally takes a step or two in one direction, then bootlegs out in the other direction with Chris Johnson behind him for the option pitch. That generally takes the defensive end and the play-side linebacker out of the play, because they are flowing in the other direction with their first step, and it leaves Young and Johnson with one defensive back stuck trying to cover two guys. It will be interesting to see what happens with Pittsburgh -- maybe the Steelers can give the outside linebacker instructions to not follow Young's first step on a handoff and always look to protect the backside, so that poor Ike Taylor or somebody doesn't get stuck having to guess which of those two guys is going to end up with the ball.

Tom Gower: The weird thing about that play in particular was defenses normally learn to key in on CJ's running as he goes playside before reversing field. That play, though, he just stood there. When it first happened, I thought it was a busted play and VY simply ran the wrong way at the snap, but that immobility was actually the latest wrinkle. I suspect one thing they were counting on was McClain as a rookie being overly aggressive, even without CJ moving.

Personally, I'm very interested to see what the Titans do today, because my explanation for Week 1 is that there's a very good chance Oakland still just really sucks.

Doug Farrar: Pistol, pistol, pistol. I’ve seen the Steelers show some vulnerability against the short shotgun and certain delay/draw looks. I would love to see how Tennessee’s offense could be even more dynamic if they were to stack their playmakers in the backfield, and let the option get vertical as well as horizontal.

Bill Barnwell: And another thought on Tennessee -- might want to cover the opening kickoff. And then hold onto the ensuing kickoff.

Sean: Otherwise known as making the "non-Oakland" adjustment.

Doug Farrar: Ah, the little things.

Bill Barnwell: Well, Dennis Dixon fumbled. Great equalizer.

Tom Gower: Apparently Dennis Dixon didn't watch what Tennessee did last week. Otherwise, he might have recognized that semi-delayed blitz by an untouched Will Witherspoon causing the quarterback to fumble from the first quarter of last week's game, when he did the same thing to Jason Campbell.

Charlie Batch entered the game for Dennis Dixon. The trainers were looking at Dixon's ankle/foot on the sidelines, and he's now being carted to the locker room. It's apparently being reported as a left knee injury.

Aside from a bad read that resulted in a pick in the end zone by Polamalu, Vince Young has been pretty accurate so far.

A very frustrating for half for the Titans. Young has been accurate, except for the two times he's thrown the ball right to a Steeler. Both teams have had a touchdown called back for holding, though the Steelers at least got a field goal out of their drive. The Titans have taken the ball away once, on the aforementioned Witherspoon blitz, but should've had a second one -- only Tony Brown, I believe, knocked the ball out of Jamie Winborn's hand as he tried to scoop and score. Oh, and Jeff Fisher elected not to use 1 of his 2 time outs and let the Steelers burn the last :35 of the half before kicking a field goal to go up 13-3.

Young gets destroyed on a sack by multiple players. Harrison and two other guys picked him up and took him vertical, slamming him into the ground head-first. Fortunately, he's Vince Young and there's almost nothing you can do to him that can result in a roughing call.

Bill Barnwell: May I remind you of the Mathias Kiwanuka play from a couple of years ago? And that looked like a judo throw.

Tom Gower: James Harrison destroyed Chris Johnson on pass protection, which results in a strip sack. Kerry Collins is now warming up on the sidelines. Young supposedly hurt his hand on the play where he had his head slammed into the ground (which "judo move" started right after the whistle blew, for what it's worth), but isn't currently being attended to on the sidelines.

Doug Farrar: The Titans sit Vince Young in favor of Kerry Collins, who promptly throws a pick. It must be the footballs.

Tom Gower: Kerry Collins hits two passes, then misses Nate Washington badly on a deep out, lets a bad shotgun snap go through his legs, and then misses Nate Washington badly on another deep out, though he didn't miss Bryant McFadden.

Kerry Collins had taken the ball from center nine times. On those nine plays, he's thrown an interception, fumbled twice (once on a bad snap), losing one, and taken a 15-yard intentional grounding penalty. That's Ryan Leaf-caliber play. And the Titans get screwed once again on replay after there's not enough evidence to overturn a marginal call on the field.

TMQ's coaching corollary may have to be renamed "Uncomfortable Coach = Victory." At the hottest regular season game ever at LP Field, Mike Tomlin is wearing a black long-sleeved shirt while Jeff Fisher is in short sleeves. No wonder the Steelers are winning.

Aaron Schatz: Terrible move by Will Allen of the Steelers on an onside kick by Tennessee. He jumps forward to get a squibbed little bouncing kick, and it bounces off his chest. So the kick doesn't go 10 yards, but because it hits Allen first, Tennessee can recover it. (It probably would have gone 10 yards if he didn't touch it first, but still...)

Tom Gower: Query: is the 32 the shortest an onside recovery on a kick from the 30 has ever taken place?

Aaron Schatz: Nope. Let's go to the big database...

Just last year, we had this onside kick by Kansas City against Jacksonville in Week 9:

(Onside Kick formation) 6-R.Succop kicks 2 yards from KC 30 to KC 32, impetus ends at KC 37. RECOVERED by KC-6-R.Succop.

Ball bounced off Atiyyah Ellison at the 37, bounced back into Succop's hands.

Going back to 1996, and including today, there have been eight onside kicks recovered by the kicking team within 10 yards because of bouncing off a member of the return team.

Baltimore Ravens 10 at Cincinnati Bengals 15

Aaron Schatz: Watching the Red Zone channel, and I have to say when they've gone to the Bengals-Ravens game, Carson Palmer really looks like his passes are sailing on him.

Ben Muth: Yeah, that pass to Chad Ochocinco was awful.

Bill Barnwell: Joe Flacco just looks awful in Cincinnati. Not only is he checking down prematurely, but then he's air-mailing the checkdowns.

Doug Farrar: He was air-mailing everything against the Jets, too. Does anyone else notice something funky about his mechanics this year? It seems like he’s trying to flick the ball out of his hands, as opposed to just throwing the damned thing. I don’t know if it’s a coaching point, or some sort of injury adjustment, but there’s something in the way he’s throwing that has him way off on distances.

Bill Barnwell: And Flacco FINALLY hits a receiver downfield as Derrick Mason gets past Johnathan Joseph for a 31-yard touchdown. Good throw.

Very questionable tripping call on Ray Lewis extends a Bengals drive. Ravens show a really weird look with one tackle above the center and then two guys outside each tackle. Lewis comes off the edge and Bernard Scott knocks him down with a block, Lewis rolls with it and his trailing leg trips Palmer. Looked accidental.

Ravens offense just looks bumbling. I've seen at least three plays now where the running back falls down immediately upon receiving the handoff. Every Flacco pass seems to end with him running backwards and throwing the ball away.

Bill Barnwell: And the Bengals are going to win -- a Terrell Suggs roughing the passer penalty extended a drive that led to a field goal that took the lead, 12-10, and the Bengals tipped a Flacco pass again for an interception. That joke isn't funny anymore.

Aaron Schatz: Grrr. Joe Flacco just went down on a sack on third down with the Bengals only rushing four. He was looking downfield, trying to find an open man, but I think when he stepped up in the pocket he felt the pressure... he sort of winced and crouched a little bit, and that took his eyes off the field, and at that point he wasn't going to be able to find an open man. It looked really awful.

Bengals jump offsides on the fourth down, which gives Ravens fourth-and-7, but Flacco throws a pick, game over.

Ben Muth: The Wacko 4 Flacco t-shirt business will certainly take a dip after this performance.

Mike Tanier: I haven't seen anything odd with Flacco's mechanics, but today he looked like he was reacting to a pass rush that wasn't there on some plays, then didn't have a plan for the pass rush when it was there. He just gave up and threw the ball out of bounds a lot, and as Bill mentioned, he checked down to Heap or a back very early on some plays. He also didn't see a wide open receiver running up the sideline on one play.

Rob Weintraub: After being awful in all three phases last week, the Bengals shored up two of the three. Defensively, they got some pass rush at last, knocked Flacco around and made him awfully jittery (surprisingly so--he didn't get hit that badly). Pacman played very well before going out of the game in classic fashion--he made a blindside block on an interception return by Leon Hall, stood over the Raven to woof, then realized he was hurt and fell to the ground. Still, the Joseph/Hall/Jones trio woefully outplayed the Ravens receivers. There's a reason T.J. Houshmandzadeh got cut by Seattle--he has zero separation left, and isn't willing to fight over the middle anymore. Overall, the Ravens seemed hungover from Monday last, but credit Cincy's defense for taking it to them. Mike Zimmer took the blame for last week's strangely passive effort, but said "that's the last time I do." The unit played smart and tough Sunday.

That's 9 of 12 for the Bengals against the Ravens (and the pundits have probably picked Cincy to win once in that time), but it sure wasn't because of the offense. Cincy took over in Baltimore territory after three different picks and a long kick return, and settled for three every time. Palmer was terrible, missing a wide-open Chad Ochocinco in the end zone in the second quarter, and forcing several other balls into coverage or just plain missing throws. Of course, the rush was in his face. Kyle Cook was manhandled at center, Dennis Roland is giving so little at right tackle that Andre Smith was actually on the field at game's end, and Jermaine Gresham, while a wondrous receiving target, is killing the team with his blocking. He whiffed completely on Suggs (if I recall correctly) at one point, but to his credit turned to Palmer and provided a last-ditch target for a 3-yard gain. But Gresham continually missed or failed to sustain blocks. Bob Bratkowski can't be happy with the fact that Ray Lewis and the other Ravens appeared to be calling out Bengals plays at the line. He HAS to get more creative--the Bengals can't win every week this way.

As I was busy mocking T.O. for the fact that, while still fast, he has no thirst for breaking tackles, he had two or three nice moves and/or plays he ran out of tackles. But it is apparent that of the Bengals' top four passing targets, three are new to the offense (TO, Gresham, Shipley). The timing is well off. Shipley has great hands, and a keen sense of his position on the field, making him Welker-esque to every broadcaster (2-for-2 so far, and I expect the comparison each week, though the same announcers--Macatee/Gannon--are doing the next 2 Bengals games as well).

Bernard Scott had a big 60-yard kickoff return to set up a key field goal, Mike Nugent is light years better than Shayne Graham (not just 5-5 on field goals but several booming kickoffs), and Huber had a 61-yd punt that tilted field position, immense in this game. Looks like special teams coach Darrin Simmons' tongue lashing worked.

The sked for Cincy is light the next few weeks (Carolina/Cleveland/Tampa Bay/bye) so they could be a mirage of a 4-1 team, but unless the blocking vastly improves, and Palmer regains some semblance of his old self, my Stripes ain't going no place.

Philadelphia Eagles 35 at Detroit Lions 32

Doug Farrar: Jahvid Best just Roto-Rootered Philly's defense on Detroit's second drive. If we had any doubts, eliminate them. This kid is for real.

I think we might have just seen another example of the Fred Swearingen Immaculate Reception ruling, where the officials knew they wouldn't make it out of the stadium alive if they didn't make the right call. Just one week after the Megatron catch ruling, ON third-and-3 from the Philly 48with 3:12 left in the first quarter, DeSean Jackson takes in a 35-yard catch and loses the ball after he hits the ground under somewhat similar circumstances. The initial ruling is a catch, at which point out good friend Jim Schwartz earholes the first official he sees and throws the challenge flag. After review, the same ruling is made. No catch. Still seems to me that in trying to eliminate the grey area around this rule, the NFL has simply made it more problematic. They're just lucky that was reviewable -- they may have had to call the National Guard had that catch stood.

Three hours later...

Tom Gower: Riley Cooper can't handle an onside kick, and the Lions get the ball back down 3 with 1:45 left as they try to recover from 35-17. Alas, it's Shaun Hill, which means (a) deep fade for Calvin Johnson incomplete, (b) Best bumpoff overthrown, (c) deep out for Bryant Johnson broken up, and (d) throw over middle for Tony Scheffler broken up. Best was apparently wide open on the third down play, but Hill elected to throw deep instead.

Mike Tanier: I wasn't sure the Eagles game would end in time to be included in Audibles.

Michael Vick played pretty well. There was only one really dumb mistake -- he held the ball for about eight seconds in the pocket and got strip-sacked -- and he actually made some sound in-the-pocket decisions and throws. Kevin Kolb will start next week. I just hope he enjoyed that media honeymoon.

Arizona Cardinals 7 at Atlanta Falcons 41

Ben Muth: The Cardinals brought the house on third-and-short and Matt Ryan hit Jason Snelling on a little flat route for 25 yards and a TD. Nice job of knowing where the pressure is coming from and how to beat it.

Bill Barnwell: Derek Anderson really struggles with getting the ball out on time. In charting last week's Rams game and watching the Falcons game today, he just misses open guys with a mix of poor accuracy and late throws.

Aaron Schatz: Cardinals have decided to lead the league in penalties this year, I guess. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie just got flagged for pass interference in the end zone on a pass that must have landed five yards out of bounds. Uncatchable, anyone?

Bill Barnwell: No way was that five yards out of bounds.

Ben Muth: I'm not sure if it was actually catchable, but it was close enough to get the call.

Aaron Schatz: I am outvoted. And this is why I am not wearing black and white stripes.

Ben Muth: LaRod Stephens-Howling just took the kickoff right to the edge of his own goal line, stopped, look at the ref to see if he crossed, then decided he should take it out of the endzone. He got it out to the five. Things are not going well for Arizona.

Miami Dolphins 14 at Minnesota Vikings 10

Doug Farrar: Vikings end their first drive with an unsuccessful fourth-down conversion from the Miami 26. Childress is immediately blamed. Why do I think that if they had made it, Favre would have been credited?

David Gardner: Adrian Peterson is single-handedly taking the Vikings down the field. He just made an outrageous leap over Yeremiah Bell.

Tim Gerheim: This Dolphins-Vikings game really calls into question the idea that you pass to win. Throwing, instead of running, is how these two teams seem to be trying to avoid scoring. Miami's first drive of the second half was gashing run after gashing run, and it stalled when Henne threw incomplete on 1st down, winding up in a 3rd-and-long requiring another incomplete pass. The Vikings' ensuing drive featured consistent devastation by Adrian Peterson, only to end on a bad Favre interception in the end zone. And that was after an even worse Favre interception was nullified by offsetting penalties. The Vikings still got an AD touchdown following the Ricky Williams fumble David mentioned, but only after calling a pass on first down that Karlos Dansby brilliantly defensed. Oh, and I forgot the strip-sack in the end zone that Koa Misi recovered for a Miami touchdown.

Jake Long is dominating his matchup with Jared Allen. He's pushing him around in the running game and neutralizing him in pass blocking. Long's getting the occasional chip from a back, but he's largely handling Allen one-on-one. It's too bad we won't see this matchup in the contiguous again until 2014.

Doug Farrar: With 6:00 left in the game, Brett Favre does what Brett Favre does. Throws a horrid punt into double coverage, and Jason Allen picks it off. Vikings get the ball back on the next play as Ronnie Brown fumbles, but that throw/decision was absolutely atrocious.

Ben Muth: Adrian Peterson can't even tackle himself.

Tim Gerheim: Favre has some kind of karma. For the second consecutive time, an interception by Jason Allen is followed one play later by a Dolphins back fumbling it away. Plus he's the one who made the interception called back by penalty. Maybe he should just start knocking them down.

Doug Farrar: On every single play after the Vikings get the ball back, they hand off to Peterson. Fourth-and-1 at the Miami one-yard line, and Minnesota bottles AD up in time with a nice stand. Everyone in the box, and Peterson can’t get there. Sheesh – they could have saved all the drama and just stuck with Tarvaris Jackson for THAT result. Vincent Jackson, please pick up the purple courtesy phone.

Kansas City Chiefs 16 at Cleveland Browns 14

Bill Barnwell: Jerome Harrison just fumbled in Cleveland. Well, the ground forced the fumble, but the refs called it a fumble and the replay couldn't overturn it. Now he'll never get another carry.

Can you guys think of a worse set of starting quarterbacks in a single game than Matt Cassel and Seneca Wallace? Maybe Keith Null and Alex Smith last year in Week 17?

Aaron Schatz: I want to know what the heck happened with Matt Cassel. Was his success in the second half of 2008 solely due to the scheme and talent around him? And if so, why didn't Scott Pioli -- who played a major role in collecting that talent and setting up that scheme -- know this?

Bill Barnwell: I think it's really easy to underestimate the impact of that scheme and talent. And Cassel also had that really easy schedule, too, and I don't think he was considering schedule effects.

The Browns got a second pick on Cassel at the end of the half on a tipped pass, only to be knocked out of comfortable field goal range by a stupid, stupid Alex Mack unnecessary roughness penalty at the end of a checkdown to Jerome Harrison. Clearly, Jerome Harrison didn't do a good enough job of getting down and letting his center know the play was over.

Chiefs have already punted twice in Browns territory. Up two with two minutes left, they're facing a fourth-and-1 from the Browns 36. I guess I can see the case for punting, but ... you have to go for it, right?

Chiefs do go for it and get it when Thomas Jones leaps from fullback depth. He gets it by the nose of the football and, although it's under review, looks like the Chiefs are 2-0.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 at Carolina Panthers 7

David Gardner: Commentator in the Bucs-Panthers game just called Tampa's pass rush, "tremendous." ... By what measurement?

Josh Freeman's pocket awareness is way better than last season. He just saw the pass rush coming, checked down to Earnest Graham and got a 14-yard touchdown.

Panthers go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Bucs' 37-yard line. The Bucs gamble and blitz, leaving no safeties in the backfield. Steve Smith takes a slant, breaks an Aqib Talib tackle and scores.

Wow. Freeman just shed two tackles in the backfield on a third-and-17, then threw it for 40 yards to Kellen Winslow. The next play was a touchdown to Mike Williams. Bucs passing game is looking pretty good against this secondary.

Bill Barnwell: Think the jury is out on that Panthers pass defense being so good without Julius Peppers.

David Gardner: Their best pass rusher has been the rookie Greg Hardy, by a mile.

Yikes. Matt Moore just threw into triple coverage. He's got two weeks left as a starter, max, playing like this.

Jon Beason is incredibly intelligent. He's the quarterback of their defense and has the freedom to audible plays. As Freeman makes adjustments, Beason is making adjustments, and he's just forced the Bucs to call a timeout. By the way, this blimp cam that FOX is using is awesome. Let's you see all 22.

Bill Barnwell: I was really surprised they moved Beason to the weak side. I guess it makes sense -- Beason has the athleticism to be a Lance Briggs-style guy, and their best backup linebacker is Dan Connor ... but it seems strange to move a Pro Bowl-caliber guy to a different spot.

David Gardner: Aqib Talib is cramping and comes out of the game, leaving E.J. Biggers on Steve Smith. Needless to say, Biggers got burned.

Doug Farrar: The Panthers-Bucs game is the first chance I've had to hear Jim Mora as an analyst in the booth. Predictably, his combination of Col. Klink-level strategic intelligence and annoying reliance on tough-guy clichés makes him a Millen-level liability. Maybe he should go back to being a defensive coordinator -- I seem to remember that he actually didn't screw that up.

David Gardner: He also was surprisingly not knowledgeable about the two teams, considering he coached against them for years. I realize that a lot of things have changed, but he coached against John Fox and Raheem Morris is running essentially the same system as when Mora was coaching against the Bucs.

Buffalo Bills 7 at Green Bay Packers 34

Elias: I think the overall feeling of the GB-BUF game can be summarized in a single play:

1-10-BUF 30 (12:22) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep right to 89-J.Jones for 30 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Penalty on BUF, Defensive Offside, declined. Penalty on BUF, Defensive 12 On-field, declined.

Doug Farrar: Here's a receiver with an actual beef. The Bills were down by as many as 24 points with serious time left in the fourth quarter, and Lee Evans was not targeted once the entire game. Unbelievable. Unless he got hurt and had to leave the game, someone needs to figure something out.

Bill Barnwell: Charles Woodson.

Aaron Schatz: Was targeted once, actually. Ended up as DPI on Woodson, but that was it.

Doug Farrar: Sure, but no other targets? Not one? Why do they even show up to play the games?

Mike Tanier: The Bills were still running the ball when they were down by 20 points in the second half. Their offensive line looked as bad as I have ever seen a line look on the first two drives: guys were bumping into one another when pulling.

Chicago Bears 27 at Dallas Cowboys 20

Ben Muth: In Dallas, we play Adventures in Misleading Statistics, as Charles Tillman pops Miles Austin with a great hit and pops the ball loose. D.J. Moore plays tip drill and gets it before it hits the ground. Technically, interception for Chicago on Tony Romo, but not Romo's fault at all... really more of a fumble by Austin, but he had not quite "finished" the catch.

Aaron Schatz: Matt Forte looking surprisingly good early for the Bears, getting big swaths of yardage, but Chris Williams has left the field with an injury, which can't be good. Like Ben Muth said last week about Bryant McKinnie getting injured: When your left tackle is mediocre, that usually means your swing backup tackle is even worse than mediocre.

Mike Kurtz: Cutler is terrified, part of it surely due to the absence of Williams. At the end of the drive after the Austin tip drill, he looked downfield about half a second each time he dropped back, then pulled the ball in and started running to get some space. You know there are hot reads built into these play calls. He's major-league spooked.

It's astounding how complete a package Ware is. He's a terror rushing the quarterback, but there have been two short passes (a screen and a hitch) that he diagnosed quickly and absolutely nailed the receiver.

Cutler finally starts stepping up, got some time, hooked up with Knox for a long reception. Hester actually makes a great catch for a TD off a shaky throw. Checking the sky for pigs.


Aaron Schatz: Bears put Matt Forte in a trips bunch then motion Earl Bennett into the backfield and throw him a swing pass. Earl Bennett? Not Knox or Hester? Why not just have Forte or Taylor for that pass? I'm not sure what the point of that is.

Ben Muth: Mere mortals can't be expected to understand the genius of Mike Martz.

Bill Barnwell: I still see the Bears having issues with Mike Martz's offense. They just ran a third-down play where Matt Forte and Devin Hester ran the same crossing route with about one yard of depth between them.

Mike Kurtz: Back on a punt return, Hester EXPLODES for -5 yards. I love the Bears.

Bill Barnwell: We need to give credit to the Bears offensive line -- admittedly, they haven't played very well, but they've played well enough that Cutler hasn't taken a sack since the opening drive.

Mike Kurtz: Praise to Dallas. Witten is sitting on the sidelines with a concussion, screaming at the medical staff and thus far they haven't budged, even when the game was a three-point affair.

The most impressive player this game has been Miles Austin. He's been slicing and dicing the Cover-2 and making some excellent catches. I don't think I've seen him drop anything that didn't require super-human effort to pull in.

Seattle Seahawks 14 at Denver Broncos 31

Bill Barnwell: Matt Hasselbeck starts the game with an ugly interception to Champ Bailey inside the Broncos' five-yard line, two plays after a Justin Forsett rushing touchdown was called back by a holding penalty. And no, it wasn't on Tyler Polumbus.

Doug Farrar: I guess they left the footballs labeled “DO NOT THROW THIS TO Champ Bailey” in Seattle. Man, what a poor throw. Deon Butler was looking great on that first drive, too.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks' run defense looked great last week and good early against the Broncos, but then on third-and-1 they come out in a 3-4 look, with both ends outside the tackles and giant gaps between the linemen. Correll Buckhalter gets the easiest 1-yard touchdown of his life. Every tenth play the Seahawks run this year, on either side of the ball, seems to be a wacky look nobody has ever run before just because nobody has ever run it before.

Bill Barnwell: (Can't say this very frequently, so....) Great coaching by Pete Carroll on third-and-1 from midfield. They go play action and go deep, and although Hasselbeck misses an open Deon Butler, they know they're going for it on fourth-and-1 and succeed with an easy Hasselbeck sneak.

Of course, then Hasselbeck throws a pick two passes later.

Doug Farrar: I wonder if they’re having timing issues on their routes. Seems like Hasselbeck is waiting too long for routes to develop, or guys are cutting into routes too soon.

Bill Barnwell: I think the Seahawks have some comeback in them. They steadily moved the ball on the Broncos throughout the first half, and while the defense was terrible, it's Kyle Orton out there.

They just scored on a Ben Obomanu touchdown after an easy conversion on third-and-8 and a long Golden Tate punt return.

Vince Verhei: Obamanu's very physical. Seattle brings him in to block on a lot of running plays, and on that touchdown he basically posted up his defender like a power forward to get himself open.

Bill Barnwell: Seahawks are down 31-14 with 3:30 left. They just punted inside their own ten-yard line. Why?

Vince Verhei: Remember what I said about Obamanu being physical? Well, Demaryius Thomas had at least four inches and 30 pounds on each of Seattle's starting corners -- and he caught eight of nine passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.

St. Louis Rams 14 at Oakland Raiders 16

Tom Gower: The Jason Campbell Era looks like it may have ended after 6 quarters, as Bruce Gradkowski enters the game for the Raiders after halftime. No word of an injury that I've heard/seen.

Ben Muth: I guess the Jim Plunkett comparisons were a bit premature.

Darren McFadden looks good. He's running straight ahead and with purpose. I'm shocked. Also, I'm enjoying John Lynch's commentary.

New England Patriots 14 at New York Jets 28

Bill Barnwell: Randy Moss just barely missed on a long touchdown, bobbled the pass in the end zone or it would have been six. Revis/Leonhard in coverage.

Aaron Schatz: Interesting to see the Pats motion Fred Taylor out wide, which leaves Antonio Cromartie one-on-one with him in man coverage. That can't really be the best use of Cromartie.

Bill Barnwell: I'm pretty sure the best use of Cromartie involves housing him in a clinic.

Wow. Mike Westhoff's special teams intimidate the Patriots into a delay of game, and then Gostkowski misses the second field goal.

I don't think that Eric Smith hit merited ejection. He'll get fined. They got the penalty.

Believe Phil Simms just pronounced Sione Pouha "Sell-me Poo-ha."

Patriots beat Antonio Cromartie -- Aaron freaking Hernandez beats Cromartie -- for a crucial third down, and a couple of plays later, Wes Welker beats him to the pylon for a touchdown.

Doug Farrar: You’d think that Rex Ryan would have learned from his brother Rob that when you have a cornerback on one side that nobody wants to throw to, it’s more important for the guy on the other side to be reasonably consistent than it is for the guy to be freakishly talented but all over the place. We’ll call it the DeAngelo Hall Theory for short. When the Raiders got rid of Hall and put (the other) Chris Johnson in there in the second half of the 2008 season, there was a major upgrade in coverage – Oakland shot up from 17th to 8th in Defensive DVOA against the pass, just because Johnson had a head on his shoulders. I wonder if they’ll discover that they’re better off with Kyle Wilson on the other side sooner than later.

Vince Verhei: Credit where it's due: Sanchez converts four third downs on the second drive, the fourth a touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards to tie the score. Patriots are sending all kinds of blitzes at him, some 11-angry- men stuff, but he's hanging in there and finding open men.

Mike Tanier: Actually, I like the theory of having a Cromartie type across from Revis, because he is going to make enough interceptions with 15 passes per game coming his way to make up for a few lapses. Ideally, you want to have two of Revis, but that isn't going to happen.

Doug Farrar: I don’t know. Those highlight picks are nice, but I’d rather have stops and deflections more consistently and leave the missteps and senseless penalties for some other tea to deal with. If I have Revis 2.0 on one side, I’ll take the player with more of a flatline on the other side, all things being equal.

I think that being targeted 10-15 times per game and keeping an even keel with an absolute shutdown corner on the other side of the field is an entirely different skill than just dealing with what’s thrown at you on a “regular” defense. Mercurial personalities, maybe guys more prone to boom-and-bust results, might not be as well-suited to that role.

Mike Tanier: I think the personality thing is valid with the Jets, Doug. In general, I think the best place for those "boom or bust" cornerbacks is in the slot, where they can jump routes more safely. But who has the talent to put a guy like Cromartie in the slot? The Jets might, if Kyle Wilson develops quickly.

Doug Farrar: Damn. That touchdown pass to Moss at the end of the first half was notable for the time Brady had in the pocket. He looked like Ken Stabler in about 1976 – just standing there for seconds.

Bill Barnwell: Jets defense was all out of whack after the long completion to Hernandez. Looked like Revis thought he was going to have safety help over the top and Jim Leonhard was out of position and, well, didn't offer safety help. Certainly don't think the Jets were supposed to be in Cover-0.

Aaron Schatz: I don't think it looked like Revis thought he would have safety help. I mean, how often do the Jets give him safety help? He didn't hang towards the line of scrimmage at all like a guy who looks like he's in zone or in double coverage with a safety up top. He just got beat, and he probably got beat because of his hamstring, which he clutched afterwards.

Braylon Edwards is looking very good today. Talk about your mercurial players. I actually wasn't that impressed with Sanchez's accuracy on the 7-for-7 drive. I was impressed with his athleticism and instincts to get away from pass pressure before dumping off, but the throws themselves were mostly not that hard. And I was really impressed with Edwards' catch on the touchdown. He was covered, *and* he had to make a big leap for it, and he still got it.

Bill Barnwell: The Jets usually play a Cover-1. And I thought he did hang around a little bit like he had the underneath bracket. I could be wrong, though.

Aaron Schatz: Right, but as we have written a lot over the past few months -- especially in response to arguments by our good friend Mr. Joyner about the replaceability of Revis -- that safety is almost always shaded towards the other side of the field, away from Revis, to help the other starting corner.

Bill Barnwell: I think Revis expected Leonhard to be in centerfield, and it's not like he isn't going to help out if Moss gets a free release, which he did because of the previous pass. Leonhard was also pretty close to the LOS and was looking around confused at the snap, which is why the idea came to mind for me.

And Revis is apparently out to begin the second half, with Drew Coleman taking his place. Oh boy.

Aaron Schatz: Brady just threw a pick to Cromartie by letting a deep ball hang on third-and-long, but wow, he had forever to throw. The Jets are really going against their usual tendency of bringing the house on third down. Sent only four on the last two third downs.

Bill Barnwell: I have to think that's because Revis isn't available. You have to pretty much change your scheme on the fly.

Mike Tanier: See? Cromartie heard me say something nice about him!

Bill Barnwell: That Sanchez play-action bootleg to Keller was straight out of the Bengals playoff game. And it sure seems like the opposition is picking on Darius Butler through the first two games of the year -- most of the Ochocinco stuff was at Butler, the Edwards touchdown was at Butler, that Keller play-action was at Butler's side...

Aaron Schatz: Patriots having real trouble with Dustin Keller up the seam today. Those seam passes to Keller impress me probably more than the throws Sanchez had on the 7-for-7 drive. He's whipping those right in, and right on the money.

Darius Butler just self-destructed for two pass interference flags within three plays, putting the Jets on the verge of a touchdown. Then on play-action at the goal line, Mark Sanchez had the composure to look for a second guy after the Pats knocked down his first read (Tony Richardson -- legal, as it was within five yards) and he found Dustin Keller on the other side of the field. Sanchez looks better and better the more this game goes along. At this point, doesn't look remotely like the guy from last week.

Jason Taylor takes down Brady, who fumbles, and that's pretty much game. When they put Jason Taylor in Hall of Fame, they should knock Tom Brady's bust off its perch and just put the Taylor bust sitting on top of it, because that's how Taylor has spent a lot of his career.

The most impressive thing about Mark Sanchez this week is probably the thing that he didn't do: turn the ball over. No picks, and nothing in the second half even close to a pick.

Vince Verhei: Aaron is right about Mark Sanchez -- his worst plays were sacks, and even there he usually had blockers in his face right away, and he managed to hang on to the ball. I have no idea what happened this week, but he followed that stinker on Monday night with the best game of his career today.

So, Jets beat the Patriots. Patriots beat the Bengals. Bengals beat the Ravens. Ravens beat the Jets. That's a hell of a loop for Week 2.

Aaron Schatz: Now the question: Will the overreaction in the Boston media this week surpass the overreaction in the New York media to the Jets loss last week?

Jacksonville Jaguars 13 at San Diego Chargers 38

Ben Muth: Ryan Mathews left with an injury. Has his shoe off on the sideline. It'll be interesting to see the Sproles/Tolbert breakdown. As I'm typing this Matthews is getting carted off to the locker room.

Legedu Naanee mistimed his jump and the ball went off his fingertips for another pick. That's six turnovers already in this game.

David Garrard just threw it right to Brandon Siler for another pick. This is ridiculous.

And there's a blocked punt by Jacksonville. That's basically eight turnovers in this half.

Houston Texans 31 at Washington Redskins 28

Tom Gower: Steve Slaton's momentum on a kickoff takes him out of bounds at the 1. I wonder if he'll be returning the Redskins' second kickoff. The kickoff came after the Redskins took the opening kickoff down and scored a field goal. They spent a lot of time attacking the edges of the Texans' defense with short passes with rub outs.

Bill Barnwell: The Texans go three tight ends on second-and-9 and they run a two-man route with Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson off of play action. Daniels runs a curl and Schaub throws it too late, so Carlos Rogers undercuts it for a pick. That's two ugly interceptions in two weeks -- and 20 attempts or so -- for Schaub.

Vince Verhei: Jets' offense picks up right where it left off Monday night. Three-and- out, and on third-and-5, Sanchez throws to a crossing receiver three yards short of the first-down line, and the pass is dropped.

Tom Gower: Portis goes in to put the Redskins up 13-7. The touchdown was set up by a long bomb to Joey Galloway against rookie Kareem Jackson in coverage, where it looked like Bernard Pollard failed to provide safety help, then more yardage against Jackson to down inside the five, that time to Moss.

Bill Barnwell: Redskins are destroying the Texans with downfield stuff. They just ran a PA/EA and McNabb threw a pass to Mike Sellers 30 yards downfield -- ancient freaking Mike Sellers -- and it was off his fingertips. The next play, they run play action and Fred Davis AND Clinton Portis are wide-open about 25 yards downfield. Davis rumbles 38 yards more down to the 1-yard line.

Tom Gower: Anthony Armstrong in the middle of a zone, Roydell Williams wide open, Chris Cooley wide open... McNabb's over 300 yards and the Redskins are up 17 on the Texans. Mario Williams had a sack (playing LE, flipped with Antonio Smith, got the corner on Brown), but generally the Texans still have no pass rush and are getting smoked because of it.

Ben Muth: Yeah, if I was a Colts fan I'd be really worried about how little pressure the Texans are generating. Last week their defensive line looked like the fearsome foursome, this week not so much. Hopefully it speaks more to the Skins o-line than the Colts offensive line.

Awful sequence for Houston after they block a Graham Gano field goal. Three and out followed by a 39 yard punt.

Bill Barnwell: Redskins get Joey Galloway ten yards past the safeties AGAIN for what would have been a game-winning touchdown, but McNabb misses him by about a foot.

Andre Johnson doing grown man things. On fourth-and-10, Schaub lobs up a 40-yard prayer and Johnson comes down with it in the end zone.

Tim Gerheim: It was a bit of a prayer, but it was a prayer to Andre Johnson single-covered by safety Reed Doughty - who had been shaken up a couple times previously in the game on errant hits during gang tackles - so it was an educated prayer.

Tom Gower: Redskins brought a blitz and got pressure up the middle, but Schaub side-stepped the initial pressure and LG Wade Smith came back and picked up Andre Carter. Without that, Schaub probably doesn't get the chance to get the throw off.

Bill Barnwell: Redskins two-minute drive appears to be over after two plays, as McNabb takes a huge sack and Trent Williams gets injured on the play.

Ben Muth: Redskins convert on third-and-20, but Williams' backup Stephon Heyer gets called for holding. Ouch.

Bill Barnwell: Houston is punting on fourth-and-4 from the Redskins 36 in overtime. What the what?

Ben Muth: And Turk put it in the endzone for the touchback.

Mike Tanier: Hate the punt. Hate it. Hate it. hate it.

Graham Gano gets iced.

Ben Muth: I'll say this, those shots of Graham Gano aren't inspiring a ton of confidence. He looks like he's 14.

David Gardner: Tough break for Gano, but I don't think there should be a rule against those last-second timeouts. We have seen them go both ways multiple times.

Mike Kurtz: It doesn't matter which way they go, they're incredibly annoying and aggravating for the audience. We see a great kick or a shank, we're excited, we're engaged, and then the zebra trots out and tells us that was an un-play. Not because the coach needed a timeout to save clock or call a play or anything. Just because they feel like making the play go twice. It's stupid and it makes for terrible viewing.

David Gardner: You're engaged a second time when he kicks it as well. It's not like redskins just walked away from the TV after that timeout.

Aaron Schatz: I agree with Mike. The "last-second timeout to ice the kicker" thing is not about what's fair on the field, it's about providing the most appealing product to the audience. And we know that's important to the NFL front office.

I really hope Gano doesn't get blamed for this loss. This loss is on the Washington defense for blowing a 17-point lead, and on the Washington running game for being unable to ice the game by running out the clock. That 52-yard field goal will hit roughly 55 percent of the time. If you miss, the other team gets it on their own 42. The average score on a drive that starts from the 42 is 1.9 points -- obviously that's all drives, not just those that are only trying to get into field goal range -- but I can also tell you that first-and-10 between the 40s only leads to a first down about two-thirds of the time. The other team needs to do that at least twice to get into field goal range, which would be a 45 percent chance (.67 x .67), and even then, they also have to hit their field goal try. Shanahan made the right choice, and Kubiak did not, even though Houston eventually won.

Mike Tanier: By the way, the most shocked looking person when Joel Dreessen came down with that big catch was Joel Dreessen.

I see that Larry Johnson had a run for a loss of 10 yards in the play by play. Was that some kind of trick play?

Bill Barnwell: It was a sweep gone bad. Think a sweep shaped like a horseshoe.

Mike Tanier: Like a parabolic sweep? Because when I think Larry Johnson I think "speed to the edge."

Bill Barnwell: Yeah. It was a pitch to Larry Johnson. Because...

New York Giants 14 at Indianapolis Colts 38

Bill Barnwell: Apparently, Donald Brown isn't bad enough for the Colts to not give him the ball near the goal line.

Aaron Schatz: Wow, Colts playing a lot of man coverage. And not only playing man, but playing it very close and well.

Mike Tanier: You are right. They just played man on back-to-back passes. But on the second pass they were called for pass interference on Hakeem Nicks.

Doug Farrar: If anyone ever asks you to define a “touch pass”, the touchdown to Dallas Clark in the second quarter would do nicely. Peyton hit a 3/4 nine-iron, put the ball perfectly over Clark’s shoulder on the run, and that was that. Man, that was pretty.

Aaron Schatz: Did Cris Collinsworth just say that the Colts made major changes on the offensive line after Bill Polian criticized the line post-Super Bowl? What were they? The center and tackles are the same. The guards changed, but the new guards were already on the team last year. Mike Pollak was the original starter in 2009 until he was benched halfway through the year. Switching your guards to the second-stringers isn't really "major changes."

Vince Verhei: Well, they also brought in a couple of really big guys off the street. And now they're on the bench.

Bill Barnwell: I broke one of my own fantasy football rules today and inserted Eli Manning for Tony Romo at around 12:50 or so. That's why I'm an expert.

It looks like the Giants are keeping their corners on the same sides of the field, so Reggie Wayne is lining up against Terrell Thomas and Pierre Garcon is against Corey Webster. They'd be better off on opposite sides.

Ben Muth: The Giants defense looked a lot better against Matt Moore.

Aaron Schatz: This is over at halftime, right? I don't even think the Giants look that bad... the Colts are just outplaying them in every way. The top five teams in VOA from Week 1 all lost this week (assuming no amazing Giants comeback), showing once again that one week doesn't forecast the whole season.

Mike Tanier: The Giants just woke up. Single coverage on Manningham on the outside.

Bill Barnwell: That play was nearly another sack that likely would have resulted in a fumble. Freeney did a spin move and was by Beckum before Beckum got out of his stance. And David Diehl wasn't very far out of his. Sigh.

Aaron Schatz: A couple of plays later, they did get the sack, fumble, and touchdown. Diehl looks awful tonight, Freeney is killing him.

Bill Barnwell: Their strategy on the last play was to let Mathis run by McKenzie and then McKenzie pushed Mathis into Freeney.

I know it's gone out of vogue in the league, but this would be a good time for the Giants to bust out the old Pro Set.


178 comments, Last at 25 Sep 2010, 9:26pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Vikings passing game is plain awful so far. Rice is out and that's a big deal. Harvin is clearly not up to speed either from lack of camp time or his hip injury. Berrian gets no separation and doesn't ever fight for a ball. On top of all that Favre has been very inaccurate much of the time as well.

Very impressed with how Peterson is running. He also seems to be making a very conscious effort to take care of the ball when he sees contact coming.

Long handled Allen very easily. Allen got a sack or two but it was the type that comes about when he's completely blocked but the QB runs up in the pocket right into Allen.

I don't think all is lost. But GB is definitely good and Chic is probably pretty decent as well.

2 NFC East - Over Rated!

I started on this last year pointing out that Dall, Wash and NYG were something like 2-14 against top 15 DVOA teams and negative 160 or so points.

So far this year those 3 teams are 2-3 with wins over Car and Det, but 0-3 against Indy, Chic and GB - with two of those games at home.

I'm pretty convinced that neither of those three teams is anywhere near a top ten team.

86 Re: NFC East - Over Rated!

I really hope you're referring to Dallas, Washington and the NYG, and not Indy, Chicago and GB, because two of those are defintiely Top 10 teamsna dn the third might sneak in if things keep improving.

Also, Philly is not better and probably not worse than Dallas, Washington or the Giants. The NFC East is really clustered together. It's jsut that most expected them to cluster at the top, not the middle of the pack.

- Alvaro

116 Re: NFC East - Over Rated!

I meant Dall, Philly and NYG not Wash.

Those three teams were consistently ranked very highly last year by almost everyone, including FO.

I would agree Indy and GB are very likely top 10 teams...not convinced about Chic but it wouldn't surprise me.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'd be curious, and maybe someone mentions this because I'm still reading, but it really felt like this week must've set a record for tipped interceptions. A lot of badly thrown balls, to be sure, but also a lot of receivers failing to bring it in.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Just a note that in the Redskins-Texas summary it says:

Vince Verhei: Jets' offense picks up right where it left off Monday night. Three-and- out, and on third-and-5, Sanchez throws to a crossing receiver three yards short of the first-down line, and the pass is dropped.

Probably meant for the Jets game.

6 Time for Overreaction! :)

Well, I'm not the "Boston media", but that's two games in a row the Pats D couldn't do anything in the second half, and two games in a row that the offense didn't do very much in the second half, either. Coupled with how 2009 went and it doesn't exactly bring good feelings to the fore.

Butler was extremely frustrating, especially on his second PI. He had turned his head, saw the ball coming in, and pushed off the receiver with one hand while knocking the ball down with the other. Thing was, the ball was so underthrown that if he had just left the receiver alone and gone for the ball it was likely an easy interception.

17 Re: Time for Overreaction! :)

Well I think the Defense played pretty consistently bad since the second half of week one, so this is hardly a sign of good things to come.

As far as he Offense goes, I would put it down as the Jets still ebing a pretty good Defense, although I am quite worried about the little success Brady and Moss had, when trying to pick on Cromartie after Revis was out. Lookedlike Cromartie was getting way more help, and the Pats were not able to find the holes, this must have opened up on th other side.

All in all a very frustrating evening, mostly mirroring the game last year. If this means, the team is going to mirror last years performance, then it would probably be ok, given the preseason Projections, but I had hoped for more.

35 Re: Time for Overreaction! :)

I said it two weeks ago in one of these threads before the season started, Butler has terrible technique.

What worries me is the fact (correct me if I'm wrong) that they keep Butler on the left side and McCourty on the right the entire game, so everyone is picking on Butler knowing which side he's gonna be on. Butler was too small to play against Edwards. McCourty would have been a better option.

This is why the Bodden injury is a killer, because McCourty has showed he's got talent and he's played pretty well. Him and Bodden could have been a great combo. Now we have to throw Butler in there and he's just not good. He's Ellis Hobbs/Jonathan Whilite esque with worse technique.

My problem with the defense was we were super aggressive against Palmer and the Bengals in the 1st half of game 1. We were overloading sides, blitzing multiple people...the type of stuff the Pats never do. It worked.

Against the Jets, we were getting pretty good pressure at times rushing four - Warren and Tully had good games -- but most of the time Sanchez had time to sit there and pick on Butler 1v1 on the corners, or find Keller wide open in the middle of the field. Our defense isn't good enough for that. I would rather be super aggressive, take chances, and force Sanchez to make quicker decisions than sit back and get picked apart. I watch almost every Jet game. Sanchez is not good under pressure, but he's a guy who can make throws when he has time.

I know it's not that simple, and I'm painting it very black and white, but from my perspective, the D wasn't nearly as aggressive as I expected.

122 Re: Time for Overreaction! :)

Butler was too small to play against Edwards. McCourty would have been a better option

I think I know what you meant, and it's not this, but Butler and McCourty have the same body, 5-10, 190 (193 McC).

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"That 52-yard field goal will hit roughly 55 percent of the time. If you miss, the other team gets it on their own 42. The average score on a drive that starts from the 42 is 1.9 points -- obviously that's all drives, not just those that are only trying to get into field goal range -- but I can also tell you that first-and-10 between the 40s only leads to a first down about two-thirds of the time. The other team needs to do that at least twice to get into field goal range, which would be a 45 percent chance (.67 x .67), and even then, they also have to hit their field goal try. Shanahan made the right choice, and Kubiak did not, even though Houston eventually won."

52 yard field goals league-wide hit roughly 55 percent of the time, but coaches know (or should) their own kickers and the conditions of a specific match. Gano is a young guy with a huge leg who had the wind behind him. Rackers is 34 years old, hasn't made a 50+ yard field goal since at least 2008, and was kicking into the wind. It's entirely plausible that the probability of Rackers making that particular 52 yard field goal was nearer 5 percent than 55. Kubiak still made the wrong decision, but the right decision would have been to go for it (and probably to have called a run on 3rd and 4 in the knowledge that he would go for it); punting was almost certainly a better call than attempting a field goal.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I'm also not entirely sure you should just use averages for OT field goals, either. A form of win probability would likely be better.

That is, the downside of a miss from 52 yards is much worse in OT, where the next score ends the game, than in regulation.

I don't think Kubiak should have had Rackers attempt the field goal, but probably should have gone for it. The punt was silly.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Kubiak after the game said that he factored kicking into the wind. If you look at Rackers' +50 kick history, he chances of making that field goal were not good. The bigger problem was that the punt after that was terrible.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"It's entirely plausible that the probability of Rackers making that particular 52 yard field goal was nearer 5 percent than 55."

But how much closer to 5 than 55? Using Aaron's numbers, which are maybe generous (more likely they would need 3 first downs), the Redskins have about a 35% chance of getting into field goal range and then making it. The break-even point would be somewhere around 25%, so even if Rackers makes only 1 in 4 from that distance, it's worth the risk. I also think Kubiak overstated how much the wind was blowing.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Between 2006 and 2008, Rackers made 5 of 23 attempts from 50 yards or longer, with the majority presumably coming in favourable conditions (home games in Glendale, two away games each season in San Fran and the dome in St. Louis). Since then, he hasn't attempted one, and given his age I think it's fair to assume his leg strength has probably declined further since. I doubt he makes one in four from 52, especially outdoors into even a mild breeze.

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I completely agree about going for it on 4th down as opposed to punting. One more factor in Kubiak's decision, at least according to gossip around Houston, is that Rackers had passed a kidney stone a day or so before and wasn't really at his best. He'd also missed from a shorter distance earlier in the game. Long-term probabilities aren't that useful in such a situation, I think.

Not Kicking=Reasonable

9 Don't buy the "forcing it to Moss"

BTW, one thing that's being said in some fan and media corners is "why is Brady forcing it to Moss all the time?". So I looked at the play-by-play. In the second half there were 19 pass plays called (counting plays nullified by penalties). Brady threw to Moss five times. Two interceptions, two incompletions, and a drawn illegal contact penalty.

One thing I'm curious about is if and/or how much the Pats are hurting themselves going shotgun for the huge majority of their pass plays and lots of those with no back near Brady -- so even taking away the threat of a shotgun draw let alone any other kind of run. I've also wondered if Brady's habit of taking the play clock down to zero on every play hurts -- it does give him longer to get a read, but by the time the clock gets to 2 the defense knows the snap is imminent and can presumably try to jump it.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"I want to know what the heck happened with Matt Cassel. Was his success in the second half of 2008 solely due to the scheme and talent around him?"

I'm surprised to see this treated as an open question. I thought everybody knew this at the time. A healthy, motivated Randy Moss is jet fuel for an offense. As much credit as he's given, I don't think he's given enough. Welker and the rest of the offense were great, too, but Moss is one of the GOATs.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Back in the off-season of 2008-09 I was debating with a writer on this site (can't remember which one) that same question. I argued Cassel was just a product of a great system and team and that his stats compared with Brady's suggested he was not very good. They argued that the progress Cassel showed during the year suggested he was actually playing very well.

So it was certainly an open question even to FO not to mention a bunch of NFL teams clamoring to sign him.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

This drives me crazy. Moss may not be the greatest receiver of all time, but it's certainly within the realm of reason to opine that he is (1) the most talented receiver ever and (2) the receiver that has struck the most fear into defensive coordinators in the history of the NFL. Based on the performances of Culpepper/Brady/Cassel with a motivated Moss (much different QBs from a talent standpoint, yes, but *all* performing significantly better with Moss than without), not examining the possibility that Moss is a huge component of their shared successes together seems a tad foolish.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Clearly Moss makes his QBs better, (in fact, I think hes a much more important part of NE's offense than Brady is), but I think its silly to ignore the fact that Cassel is playing behind a terrible line, has no WRs, and no running game.

I think hes a nice clear example of how overrated the importance of the QB is on the offense.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

im agreeing with rich on this. Cassels two receivers are dwayne bowe and chris chambers. This has to be the worst group of starting receivers in nfl history. Not even manning could make this group work.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Seriously? It's not even the worst in the league this year. Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey? Mohammad Mossaquoi and Brian Robiskie? Lee Evans and, apparently, Steve Johnson (I had to look him up). Mark Clayton and either Laurent Robinson or Danny Amendola? Bowe and Chambers are awesome compared to those groups.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think what we're all seeing is that for a passing offense in the NFL to work well against modern defenses, you need to have all of the following ingredients (unless playing against a bottom 6 defense)

1) A quarterback that is both reasonably accurate and who can do a passable job of reading a defense or at least seeing who's coming open in a hurry.

2) A legitimate top tier receiver

3) at least one, but ideally two competent pass catching additional receivers/tight ends

4) A decent offensive line that gives the quarterback enough time to go to his second read

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Not a bad start, though I'm not sure you need all four. The Patriots, for example, had a lot of success pre-Randy-Moss without #2 on your list. The Steelers in recent years have had good passing offenses without #4. Maybe you need three of four?

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Bears only have two of those things, and their passing offense has been working.

You could argue the Packers have only have 2 of those too, depending on your evaluation of Jennings and the line.

167 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I don't remember Cassel being able to take advantage of Moss' presence on the team. From what I remember, Cassel's entire value lied in being able to throw screens and drags to Welker. Maybe Moss took coverage away, but Cassel could rarely hit him even when he was open. The most frustrating trait of that year's offense was consistently under thrown balls to an open Moss.

Oddly enough, that's similar to this year's Pats offense because Brady's deep ball is off and he's throwing it to Moss regardless of coverage. I really wish we could exorcise Rex Grossman from Brady's body.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am surprised by the amount of snark in the CHI/DAL comments, especially from Kurtz. You're free to say whatever you want, and no one's forcing me to read it, but I do ask one thing: Please drop that tired old canard of "Devin Hester can't catch." His catch rate was 64% last year, compared to 65% for your superhero Miles Austin (who dropped a ball thrown directly into his breadbasket yesterday --- you must have missed that one).

From the perspective of a Bears' fan, Cutler's performance and the in-game adjustments by Martz and Tice were like nothing we've seen in this town since....ever.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

From a Dallas fan: I haven't re-watched the game yet, but it seemed like CHI did a much better job coordinating their offensive line/extra help blocking assignments. During the first three drives, not only were people getting beat but DAL also had guys coming in untouched. On the big pass to Knox, they kept 7 guys in (Taylor blocked, Olsen chipped) and Cutler had enough time. On the touchdown to Hester during the same drive, Olsen stayed to block at the TE spot on Schaffer's side while Malumaleuna stayed in to block from the FB position. I also thought that Cutler played really well. He's a fun guy to watch.

My first impression is to say that Mike Jenkins, undoubtedly DAL's best corner, had perhaps his worst game since early in the 2009 season. I'm also not sure if Alan Ball is any better in coverage than Ken Hamlin was.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Agreed, and while you would think the Bears lost by two touchdowns given the Audibles comments, that doesn't really bother me. Judging by Peter King's comments as well, I'm guessing that national highlights and GameBreaks(TM) gave the impression that the Bears line stunk and then just showed a couple touchdowns.

I'm pretty optimistic for the Bears right now. While they could have easily lost to Detroit, they did outplay them quite a bit, except for some ill-timed fumbles and short-yardage woes. They corrected those problems against Dallas (I only recall one short-yardage failure) and looked pretty good while doing so, after the first two or three offensive series.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I thought PK's comment about the Bears O-line being "worse than we thought" was some blatantly lazy analysis. They swapped Frank Omiyale from RT to LT after one series with Schaffer at LT. It was the first time since '08 with Carolina that he had played there and Tice et al haven't had him even practicing at LT. The story here is 1) Cutler didn't get sacked the rest of the day in large part to play calling and adjustments (even without a running game to speak of) and 2) why the hell hadn't Omiyale been practicing at LT?

Another storyline: the Dallas medical staff not letting Witten back in the game and the verbal abuse Witten was throwing at the physician. I think that physician deserves huge credit and Witten should apologize for his display.

158 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

But if your backup plan for the starting LT going down is shifting the RT over, don't you give him a couple snaps over there in preseason?

The fact that they went one series with Schaffer at LT before switching Schaffer and Omiyale tells me they hadn't thought this through and were winging it.

161 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

How many teams have their starting RT practice on the left side?

Also, Schaffer played LT in preseason and training camp, I'm pretty sure the backup plan was for him to be the swing tackle. That didn't work, so they tried something else, and it did work.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Let them keep sleeping on the Bears. Unless they get blown out by the Packers (which is not beyond the realm of reason by any means), I have faith in Chicago. And I honestly think they have a shot at pulling this one out at home on monday. And hey, if the Packers are resting their starters in Week 17 we might even sweep them this year! :P

- Alvaro

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

They did a really great job of adjusting the blocking and the play-calling once they quickly realized that Cutler was going to get killed back there. The sight adjustment quick passes that resulted in the first TD were beautiful, and it seemed like it made Dallas more gun shy in going crazy with the blitzes.

They're still not operating like a well-oiled machine as there are still some goofs in patterns and such, but it seems to me that the Bears collection of offensive skill guys are nicely suited for what Martz is doing. Forte has always been good out of the backfield, and the receivers are good in space, and Martz is finding things to do with their TE depth as well. And I'm getting a kick out of some of the funny formations that result - in addition to the Bennett in the backfield play mentioned above, I also thought I saw Des Clark as a single back at least once, as well as a split-back formation with Forte and Olson in the backfield.

The run defense has been absurd thus far -- 1.4 ypc, only 28 yards per game.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"And I'm getting a kick out of some of the funny formations that result - in addition to the Bennett in the backfield play mentioned above, I also thought I saw Des Clark as a single back at least once, as well as a split-back formation with Forte and Olson in the backfield."

Yes, they did use those formations you mentioned. They also had at least one play with both Forte and Chester Taylor on the field.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think it was Manumaleuna in that single-back formation (on what I believe was the Forte touchdown catch). I'm not sure Clark has played at all this season (and weren't there rumors he would retire?).

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Clark did play, and he did line up as the single back at least once. It was not near the goal line, and I believe it was on a 3rd-and-short, but I could be wrong about that.

Looking at the tape, it was on the Hester pass+run to the Dallas 3 (i.e., the play before the Forte TD). Forte & Clark were in the I, then Forte motioned out right.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I went back and quickly looked at the game (thanks, DVR!) and you beat me to it - the play with Clark as the single back was the 38 yard Hester catch and run to the 3 yard line on the play before the Forte TD. (Manumaleuna was lined up in the backfield on the Forte TD, with Hester lined up as a wingback.)

Clark also was in on several other plays, including the Hester TD catch. Clark was lined up as the I-Formation fullback on that play, with Forte the tailback.

So I guess the lesson from this limited sample size is that if Clark lines up in the backfield, look for a big pass play to Hester.

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Kurtz seems to have some kind of vendetta against Hester. He has never had a problem catching the ball. He's had problems running routes and reading defenses, sure, but he's always been adequate at actually catching the thing.

13 defending will allen

Aaron Schatz: Terrible move by Will Allen of the Steelers on an onside kick by Tennessee. He jumps forward to get a squibbed little bouncing kick, and it bounces off his chest. So the kick doesn't go 10 yards, but because it hits Allen first, Tennessee can recover it. (It probably would have gone 10 yards if he didn't touch it first, but still...)

Okay, Mr. Schatz, pretend you're the special teams coach of the Steelers. What do you tell Allen? He's got a knuckleball spinning and darting at him, and a bunch of guys from the other club ready to knock the stuffing out of him. If Allen waits until the ball goes 10 yards - like there's any time to measure that as this all comes down in a split second - does the degree of difficulty get affected at all? I don't see it.

There's no "right" thing for Allen to do there. When you're on the hands team and you think you can catch/secure the ball, you should try to do it. It's easy to second-guess the mishandler, but tell me what he could have done differently and why it would have mattered?

39 Re: defending will allen

That was my thought, exactly. The chicanery the kicker pulled had sent the ball in a completely unexpected direction, and Will Allen was the only Steeler in the vicinity the ball was moving (or at least, the only one in the camera I remember seeing). If he backs up and lets the ball go 10 yards, then maybe a Titan touches it before it does (unlikely), or maybe he can fall on it, but it would be him versus 3 or 4 Titans, which isn't good odds.

On the other hand, before the ball goes 10 yards, he can touch it and the Titans can't...meaning he gets exactly one shot to field it cleanly without them interfering with him. On reflection, I actually think he tried to do the right's just too bad for him that he misjudged it and couldn't hold on.

40 Re: defending will allen

That was my thought, exactly. The chicanery the kicker pulled had sent the ball in a completely unexpected direction, and Will Allen was the only Steeler in the vicinity the ball was moving (or at least, the only one in the camera I remember seeing). If he backs up and lets the ball go 10 yards, then maybe a Titan touches it before it does (unlikely), or maybe he can fall on it, but it would be him versus 3 or 4 Titans, which isn't good odds.

On the other hand, before the ball goes 10 yards, he can touch it and the Titans can't...meaning he gets exactly one shot to field it cleanly without them interfering with him. On reflection, I actually think he tried to do the right's just too bad for him that he misjudged it and couldn't hold on.

42 Re: defending will allen

I always thought front line on a short onside was supposed to block in order to give the second line time and afford the possibility of a bounce out-of-bounds. I haven't seen the kick. Was it a situation like this, where Allen should have let the ball go past and blocked for the second line, or was there truly no other Steeler nearby?

43 Re: defending will allen

Agreed. A rule for playing infield in baseball is to not let the "ball play you"; that is, be aggressive and get to a grounder before it reaches you. That way, you can choose at what height to play it, instead of it taking an awkward hop and coming in too high or low by the time it gets to you.

Allen still screwed up in the actual act of catching the ball, but I don't see a problem with his decision to go after it.

166 Re: defending will allen

If Allen waits until the ball goes 10 yards - like there's any time to measure that as this all comes down in a split second - does the degree of difficulty get affected at all? I don't see it.

Don't know that it affects the difficulty on this play at all, but there's no need to "measure" the 10 yards in a split second on onside kicks. There's a big white line on the field at the 40. The ball has to get past that before the defense can recover it.

171 Re: defending will allen

Because, as a Steeler surrounded by hostiles and watching an erratic ball racing your way, you want to take your eyes off the ball and look at your feet to see where the line is.

Uh, yeah.

175 Re: defending will allen

Well, no, not really - you stand with your toes on the 40 yard line, and you know that if the ball gets to you, it's traveled ten yards.

On the other hand, as I think others have pointed out, by the time the ball gets to you, you will have been leveled by two Tennessee blockers, leaving the third guy through an unopposed shot at the ball - so taking a couple of steps forward to grab the ball before the blockers get to you isn't a bad idea. It was just the execution that was flawed.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As a Bears fan I am not the least bit surprised that they went to Irving and won that game. The Cowboys may well have top 5 pure talent in the entire league.But they often play under their ability. I am not sure if that is Wade Phillips, the players or Jerry Jones fault ( or all of the above ) but I figured that the Cowboys would not run away with the game. Credit the Bears for not panicking after the early game woes. The Cowboys? Could this be another 8-8 or 9-7 team under Wade Phillips?

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Doug Farrar: He was air-mailing everything against the Jets, too. Does anyone else notice something funky about his mechanics this year? It seems like he’s trying to flick the ball out of his hands, as opposed to just throwing the damned thing. I don’t know if it’s a coaching point, or some sort of injury adjustment, but there’s something in the way he’s throwing that has him way off on distances."

Maybe Jim Zorn as his QB coach is messing him up....

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That could very well be, and while that might mess with his head, you wouldn't think it'd screw with his throws so much.

He seems like he's trying too hard to have a nice soft touch on some passes when he could just be zinging it. We know he has the arm; he used to be one of the QBs who actually overthrew deep routes instead of underthrowing them. Against the Jets (I didn't watch much this week) he was laying them up short. From what I've seen of both weeks, he's not confident in his full strength full body throwing motion anymore.

It makes me wonder if he has a nagging injury issue. Lower body or lat or something, maybe. It's not his right arm, obviously. But something else could screw with his confidence to step and fire without affecting his ability to practice (or his absence on the injury report).

177 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

If you remember, he did have that hip injury late last season.

I don't know about that being the reason, though. It seems he wouldn't need a great deal of rotation or power on the short throws, which he also lofted. Mechanics seem to be the collective culprit.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I dunno what was causing it, but every time Redzone jumped to the Baltimore offense it looked like they were running a highlight package titled "Joe Flacco looks confused". He looked like I do trying to pass the ball on Madden, which basically has two results:

1. Scanning the field not really sure what he's supposed to be looking for, panicking and feeling pressure that isn't there, running out of the pocket without any receiver near by, eventually finding his brain and throwing it away.

2. Looking at the D presnap, figuring out his first and second read, assuming he knows what the D is doing, firing a pass to the guy he assumes will be open, realises the guy isn't open and watches the D catch the ball.

3. Somehow lucking into a decent completion.

I haven't watched Flacco a huge amount, but its not like I haven't watched him at all and he hasn't looked as much like a rookie as he did yesterday since...well, actually, he didn't look as much like a rookie when he was a rookie!

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

My memory of last week is full of a lot of poorly thrown balls that were caught anyway, either due to superior receivers or inferior DB play. Not to mention the penalty conversions. I was actually a bit surprised, given the success they had on 3rd down, that the VOA for the offense wasn't much higher. (Then again, being in those 3rd and longs meant poor 1st and 2nd downs.)

Even the ones that I'd consider accurate didn't look quite "right." At least not compared to how he used to be. Style points don't matter, of course.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Really? Flacco did not look good against the Jets. He received a bunch of interference calls from the Jets secondary and lofted up a bunch of decent throws and the WRs made good plays. He was inaccurate in all his short throws. He made no adjustments on the line. He refused to check down and give what the defense was giving him. He had terrible pocket presence the entire game. He played bad. Yeah, you can pick out 2 or 3 "nice" deep throws he had, but I challenge anyone to watch that film and tell me Flacco had a good game.

He's been awful this season so far.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Ben, Did you quote yourself?

"Ben Muth: In Dallas, we play Adventures in Misleading Statistics, as Charles Tillman pops Miles Austin with a great hit and pops the ball loose. D.J. Moore plays tip drill and gets it before it hits the ground. Technically, interception for Chicago on Tony Romo, but not Romo's fault at all... really more of a fumble by Austin, but he had not quite "finished" the catch.

Matt Forte looking surprisingly good early for the Bears, getting big swaths of yardage, but Chris Williams has left the field with an injury, which can't be good. Like Ben Muth said last week about Bryant McKinnie getting injured: When your left tackle is mediocre, that usually means your swing backup tackle is even worse than mediocre."

Not needed. Your stuff is great. It's already on my must read list.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The Redskins may have lost, but there is no way the Jason Campbell/Jim Zorn Redskins would have been up 27-10 on the Texans this year.

It looks like moving on from Jason Campbell will help two teams get better this year...I thought in the WAS @ OAK game last year that Gradkowski was a better QB in terms of timing and accuracy. I know raw stats don't mean as much without context, but seeing Jason Campbell be 7/10 for 70 yards never surprises me.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

What's wrong with 7/10 for 70 yards? It ain't Daryl Lamonica, but a 70% completion percentage and 10 yards per completion is right where Peyton Manning and Tony Romo are after two games, and it's better than Brady or Matt Ryan. (Cherry-picking, I know...)

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Are you talking about Jason Campbell? Have you watched any Raiders games this year? Yeah, nice completion percentage when your checking down in the flat every play. CP doesn't mean shit when your offense can even sustain drives or move down the field. He's been awful.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Not exactly, since Campbell did have a handful of 300 yard games with the 'Skins. But I agree with your point, that McNabb has the swagger Campbell doesn't.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

And, you know, the ability to read defenses while under pressure from the pass-rush and throw downfield with reasonable accuracy. McNabb is a good quarterback with some flaws; Campbell is a bad quarterback with just enough sense not to make too many awful mistakes. There's really no comparison, swagger-wise or in any other way.

168 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Campbell have 5 300 yard games, but what was the context? Campbell seemed to get his most yards playing catchup after the game was out of hand.

Not saying he had the best coaching staff to work with.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I agree with you. McNabb picked apart the Texans D for almost 3 quarters - I don't see Campbell doing that. Once the Texans caught up it was anyone's game, and it broke for the Texans.

What I would worry about as a WA fan would be conditioning. Their will to play never lagged, but their ability to keep up max effort did from what I saw.

I honestly think a large part of the Texans comeback was that the Redskins were looking gassed somewhere in the 3rd. It lead to a (finally) effective Texans pass rush, and Schaub being able to carve up the D with much less pressure than he got previously. This is one of those things that's hard to measure, but the Texans opted for a much harsher training and conditioning regime than seems normal these days in the NFL. Much more hitting in camp, was one feature. Longer practices in fairly high heat (and definitely high humidity) was another.

Also, without Landry I'm not sure the Skins would have even gotten much of a lead. That guy was awesome.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think what I'd be worried about is what happens if one of the starting tackles gets hurt, because it appears that what happens is called Heyer, and it sucks - whereas Trent Williams looked great, at least in pass protection, and Jammal Brown not at all bad. By the sounds of it Williams' injury is not serious, and he could be back next week, but if he does pick up a more serious injury at some point I think the offense will take a big, big hit.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Can you guys think of a worse set of starting quarterbacks in a single game than Matt Cassel and Seneca Wallace?

SF's Ken Dorsey vs. CHI's Craig Krenzel week 8 2004.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Niiice. Funny thing is, Krenzel actually completed a deep ball for a TD that day, resulting in a week of "see, a molecular biologist *can* play QB in the NFL" talk on Chicago sports radio.

You could choose from a whole host of 2004 Bears games for this discussion. My favorite is Bears/Redskins with Jonathan Quinn against The Lifeless Remains of Mark Brunell. The Corpse was 8-22 for 95 yards and accounted for the Bears' only TD by throwing a pick-6 to Jerry Azumah. But that was nothing compared to Quinn, who ended up 10-22 for 34 net yards and 3 first downs. Oh, and I hope there are enough other nerds on this thread to appreciate this: I looked up the box score for that game, and they have something called "Fan Rating" --- for this game, it was "NaN." I've never seen a NaN in a box score before, but as a fan who actually attended that game, I can attest that it was entirely appropriate.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Brunell had a brutal 2004, but I don't think it was entirely age-related; he performed quite well for much of 2005, and even his metrics for 2006, his last (half-) year as a starter, were pretty decent. I'd be the first to agree that the numbers overstated his abilities for 2006, but announcing Brunell's "time of death" as 2004 is definitely premature.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

How about Craig Krenzel/Jonathan Quinn vs. Drew Henson/Vinny Testaverde?

The Ultimate Tag Team Game of Bad Quarterbacks

Seriously, for some reason I remembered Chad Hutchinson as Chicago's QB. It's probably because I have so many fond memories of him as Dallas' starting QB that I wanted fans of other teams to be captivated by his greatness as well. Drew Henson made his only start that day. I remember he was mercilessly booed when the teams went in for halftime. Vinny Testaverde played the rest of the game. This is also when some fans wanted to crown Julius Jones as the "next Emmitt Smith." Great times.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

2002, last regular-season game for the Bucs in the Super Bowl season. Rob Johnson vs. Chicago starting Henry Burris, who went 7/19 for 78 yards and four picks. Tampa won 15-0 on five field goals. It was one of the singly worst games I have ever witnessed.

156 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

The week before that, while Chris Chandler started for the bears, Burris played most of the game against the Panthers after Chandler predictably got injured.

Carolina's QB? The 36-year-old remains of Rodney Peete.

Burris went 8/22 for 50 yards, with one interception. Taking away one 69-yard bomb to a young Steve Smith, Peete had 34 attempts for 110 yards.

173 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

That game was also notable as it was the first time the Bucs had won when the game-time temperature was in the 30s or below.

Of course they won a more significant game in sub-freezing temps a few weeks later in Philly, but that still was the game that broke the drought.

(And thanks to Micheal Spurlock about five years later, the Bucs didn't have to hear about that not-scoring-on-a-KO-return drought either, their other longtime bugaboo).

165 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I remember watching him against the Packers. Couldn't pass worth a crap, but excellent runner for a QB. Also part of one of the funniest plays I remember where he threw the ball so hard it hit a player and went so high it took several seconds to come back to earth. Players were looking for the ball for several seconds. Here's one: Lions vs Bears, 21 Nov 1971 - Bill Munson (3 for 9, 75 yds) vs Bobby Douglas (6 for 26, 68 yds, 4 INTs). He also had starts opposite Scott Hunter (Packers) and Steve Ramsey (Broncos) that year.

176 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Speaking of Scott Hunter (and as a Packer fan, I rarely do)…

During his spell with Atlanta, Hunter started a game against the Giants quarterbacked by the unlamented Jerry Golsteyn. Both QBs were, predictably, terrible: Hunter was pulled for Mike Tanier's favorite crap quarterback, Kim McQuilken, while Golsteyn gave way to Joe Pisarcik and would never start again.

The four QBs' career passer ratings:
Hunter: 55.0
McQuilken: 17.9
Golsteyn: 36.2
Pisarcik: 53.9.

And as it's Bears-Packers week, why not revisit Jerry Tagge vs Gary Huff?

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

This reminds me of an old quote (can't recall who it's from), something along the lines of "there used to be 20 teams and there were 15 good quarterbacks, now there's 32 teams and there's still 15 good quarterbacks."

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

It does seem doubly wierd at the moment even accounting for that, though: loads of really good quarterbacking at the top end, but hardly any of the kind of competent but uninspiring journeyman veterans who used to ensure that 4-15 with three picks and two fumbles lines were more of a rarity - Kitna, Testaverde, Brian Griese, late-career Brunell or Brad Johnson (though both those two probably stuck around too long). When "We need to bring in a reliable veteran - who's out there?" yields the answer "Derek Anderson", something is horribly wrong.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

In terms of "QBs who performed really badly", this game is not that remarkable, but if we go with the original spirit of the thread (which I read as "QBs who had no business starting a game in the NFL"), it's a winner.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Yeah, I read it as "QBs who had no business starting a game in the NFL" too.

Obviously, the best examples of those would be the 1987 replacement games, featuring the following immortal matchups in (scheduled) Week 4 [week 3 according to PFR]:

Mike Hohensee-Scott Tinsley
Bob Bleier-Jeff Christensen
David Norrie-Kevin Sweeney
Alan Risher-Tony Adams
Brent Pease-Ken Karcher
Dan Manucci-Gary Hogeboom
Matt Stevens-Vince Evans
Bruce Mathison-Kyle Mackey
Erik Kramer-Steve Bono
John Fourcade-Steve Dils
Adrian Breen-Rick Neuheisel
Ed Rubbert-Shawn Halloran
John Reaves-Todd Hons
Bob Gagliano-Mike Busch

Only 6 of these 28 had started an NFL game before that week.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Oh yeah, I'm aware of Erik Kramer's underrated career (and his 1995 was awesome). But it's still weird, considering his entire body of work (mostly due to injuries) left him far from being a top QB of any era.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think Frye vs Anderson gives it a good run for it's money. I'm not completely sure I'd take either of them over Seneca Wallace or Matt Cassell. And we KNOW Russel is worse than Wallace, so him vs Cassell has to top this one.

But the clear winner in my mind is Keith Null vs Alex Smith. Null would probably bring down a match-up with Tommy Maddox into the discussion. And Alex Smith is no Tommy Maddox (you poor, poor, San Francisco fans, I fel for you).

- Alvaro

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I can't believe I haven't seen Mike McMahon's (sp?) name in this thread. Did I miss it? He started for both the Lions and Eagles, right. There had to be an ugly match-up in there somewhere. I certainly know that McMahon held up his end of the 'qualification'.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"Wow. Freeman just shed two tackles in the backfield on a third-and-17, then threw it for 40 yards to Kellen Winslow."

This? This was a really impressive play, both by Freeman's ability to avoid two rushers who would have taken down most QBs, and his throw to Winslow, which was a thing of beauty. Freeman throws really well on the run. Actually, on an earlier drive, he took off on a run on 3rd and about 18 or so, got most of it and slowed up as if he was going out of bounds, then juked around a defender and picked up the first down. He was very, very solid on third down yesterday.

29 Re: icing

I dislike this tactic. a lot. (I was also pleasantly surprised that Shanahan didn't try it.) Not the idea of calling the time out itself, but rather the twist where the opposing coach waits until "after" the play has started to call it. (In a time sense, of course it happens - or is supposed to happen - before the ball is snapped, but in a game sense, obviously it happens afterward or the kick wouldn't be tried in the first place. For an example of what I mean, read about the MSU-ND fake field goal from Saturday.)

I don't even think it's about icing any more. You can "ice" a kicker by calling a time out as soon as the teams line up. I think it's about making the kicker hit two field goals from that distance, and I don't think that's in the spirit of the game. (If you think this is bad, wait until a coach tries it on a play from scrimmage - I'm a little surprised someone hasn't tried it already. That'd get a rule change, I bet.)

I don't really care how they fix it, either: no time outs once teams are set, no time outs from the sideline, whatever.

It's not the biggest on-field problem the league faces, not at all, but it's one that can be addressed fairly easily (as opposed to, say, helmet-to-helmet hits, where any attempt to increase punishment will be met with NFLPA resistance).

48 Re: icing

In reply to by zlionsfan

"I don't really care how they fix it, either: no time outs once teams are set, no time outs from the sideline, whatever."

Agreed, zlionsfan. I don't like it, even if you conclusively proved it has zero effect on the actual field goal result.

As for a solution, I think you're nearly there with this comment. You can't prohibit calling timeout once the teams are set, though; or else a QB couldn't decide to re-group when faced with a defensive setup the offense isn't prepared for (or vice versa). However, I think you could prohibit timeouts from the sideline once the teams are set, or possibly after the play clock has hit 10 or 15 seconds.

The players should be allowed to call timeout whenever they feel the need. Coaches should be more limited.

53 Re: icing

In reply to by Eddo

Maybe you could restrict to when the kicking unit is on the field?

55 Re: icing

In reply to by bingo762

That makes sense, too. There already are a handful of rules that are only in effect when the offense lines up in a kicking formation.

58 Re: icing

In reply to by zlionsfan

Remember in '07 when Baltimore was about to stop New England on a 4th and short? The coaches called a timeout "before" the play so the stop didn't count, and New England converted on the next try.

81 Re: icing

In reply to by LukeM

Part of that "stop" was that the New England o-line just stood up and didn't block anybody, so its not all that analagous.

110 Re: icing

In reply to by RichC (not verified)

Do you mean that the NE line heard the whistle and didn't actually try to play the down? Here is the video from (5:03):

88 Re: icing

In reply to by LukeM

It was Rex Ryan, so yeah, he was probably trying to cause some controversy.

106 Re: icing

In reply to by LukeM

Not exactly right. The ensuing play, Ngata stoned a hand-off, but the Pats were called for a false start. The Pats then converted a 4th and 6.

109 Re: icing

In reply to by dmstorm22

Forgot about that. Also forgot that the Ravens were called for defensive holding on another seemingly failed 4th down later that same drive and that Mark Clayton caught a Hail Mary at the end only to be tackled at the two. That was a wild game.

151 Re: icing

In reply to by zlionsfan

Look, taking the comments in this article aside...the league will never disallow icing totally (agree that if it starts happening on non-kicking plays it may get a rule change). Doesn't the league get revenue from commercials during the games? As noted in Audibles at the line, not only did the Redskins players stay on the field (assuming they really meant fans) but viewers were treated to another commercial interruption before the next attempt. I seriously doubt that the league will disallow this completely cause everyone wants to see the end of a close game and will surely stick around for the revenue generating commercial break.

160 Re: icing

In reply to by DenverCheeze (not verified)

The number of commercials is constant (I think 5 1:30 breaks per quarter). They don't sell extra spots if there are extra opportunities; hence the 30-second time out. And there are no commercials in overtime.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I do think that coaches kick too often, but passing up 40-45 yard field goals early in the game, in a domed stadium, is either a bad coaching decision, or you need a new kicker. Early in the game, taking the high probability of 3 points tends to make ensuing decisions later in the game more clear cut. If the Vikings take the three points there, and Harvin makes the td catch, instead of tipping the ball in the air of Favre's first int, or even if Harvin just drops it, instead of tipping it in the air, the game is completely different.

The int Favre threw on the play with the offsetting penalties came when Favre saw the flag threw on the Dolphins, and knew he had a free shot. The first int on a ball thrown in the direction of Berrian was the type of throw Favre has had a lot of success with in the past; for whatever reason, Berrian and Favre don't click, and given Favre's success with multiple, non-superstar receivers in the past, I'd guess most the problem lies with Berrian. The guy has very, very, mediocre ball skills, like all the Viking receivers not named Rice. Even the int on the long pass to Berrian looked worse than it was, because Berrian simply does not react to the ball in the air nearly as well as the dbs who are covering him.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Berrian does well when he has to run to a ball full speed. But if any adjustment is required he is downright awful. Last year most of the long passes Favre threw to Rice were underthrown - Rice was just extremely good at reacting and winning the fight for the ball.

If the Vikings sign Jackson I think it is likely Berrian is not with the team in 2011.

Harvin has looked confused and not himself physically. Take away Rice and some percentage of Harvin and the offence falls off substantially.

I also think Favre has been off. Not horribly off, but missing some very keys throws altogether and behind a lot of receivers.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I think it is the most underrated aspect of receiver play; the ability to quickly adjust to the ball in flight, and outfight the defensive back for it, when the receiver has not gained wide seperation. Berrian hardly ever catches the ball if the defender is close to him. Shiancoe isn't a lot better. Harvin had some nice catches last year, so I think there is a chance that his current issues are mostly due to his still not having, seven weeks into the year, very many reps.

These guys likely really need to be no worse than 4-4 at the halfway point, so they better figure something out fast, or they might end up being the most expensive team that didn't make the playoffs in NFL history. If it is true that Wilf has more than 150 million commited to player compensation this year, in a all-out effort to get more 700 million in stadium subsidies, he may as well spend another chunk on Vincent Jackson. If Jackson can give them something, Rice gets back to effectiveness, and their injury luck from here on out doesn't suck, maybe they can go 6-2 or 7-1 in the 2nd half, and do some damage. If they start 3-5 or worse, however, it may be too late.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"I think it is the most underrated aspect of receiver play; the ability to quickly adjust to the ball in flight, and outfight the defensive back for it, when the receiver has not gained wide seperation. Berrian hardly ever catches the ball if the defender is close to him."

Agreed. This was a big problem when he was on the Bears. You had Rex Grossman at QB, who was OK if receivers got separation, but a disaster if he tried to fit the ball into tight windows. And you had receivers who had the same problems, which made everything all the more worse.

It's also been an area in which Devin Hester has improved considerably.

152 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

As a life long Packers (not necessarily Favre) fan I can say that when he was with the Packers, much of his success came from knowing how his receivers were going to react for a ball. His last season with Javon Walker (shudder) Javon made a number of incredible plays...even the huge game he had in Oakland on MNF came because of some incredible plays by receivers that could have easily gone either way...the receiver just came out on top. I dont deny that he has had a great career, and is a great QB. He really needs to get in sync with his receivers and his expectations of them to go after the ball in order to be successful on the current Vikings team or they will not be any good.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Can we push the brake on the "Sanchez-looked-grea-against-the-Pats-here-he-comes!" bandwagon and remember that he played against what arguably will be one of the bottom-5 pass defenses in the league?

Seriously, unless the offense scores 35 points per game, the Patriots are losing every game they play against respectable pass offenses (say, current Lions pass offense up).

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Not sure why the Dolphins game questions passing to win. The Dolphins only offensive score of the day was a pass, that was set up by another long pass. All of Miami's running drives stalled out and most of Miami's biggest runs came deep in their own territory. Plus their backs fumbled twice. The only question in the Miami game is why Henne disappeared after the first quarter, because when he disappeared so didn't the Dolphins chances to score points.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Some thoughts:

* On Cassel: He's not a Brady or Manning or McNabb or McNair type that can take a bad offense and carry it. I think he is (or can be) a good QB if given the tools to succeed. But he has to have them and he has to trust them. It took him half a season to get comfortable with having a good O-line and a lot of talent. Then he was good. Then he went to KC where he had no O-line and little talent. Then he was bad. Even if KC gets/is getting him the talent back again, it will take him a while to trust it...provided he hasn't been afflicted with Carr-Syndrome in the meantime, permanently spoiling him.

* The Pats offensive failure in the second half I think was entirely due to Brady coming down with "throw-it-to-Moss-even-if-he's-double-covered" syndrome that afflicted him much of last season. He needs to remember that Moss isn't playing as well (for whatever reason) as he was in 2007 (the one-handed TD catch aside). In the first half, with Revis on Moss, Brady looked elsewhere and had good luck. The second half, Brady seemed to think "OK, Revis is gone, I'm going to force it to Moss now". That didn't work. Ironically, losing Revis may have therefore helped the Jets.

It also didn't help that Welker appeared concussed due to that Smith hit.

* The Pats defense, on the other hand, looks like it will have real problems covering TE's in the seam, and Darius Butler is the second coming of Ellis Hobbs. Brash, confident, good enough to be a #3 DB, but not a #1/2. He's going to be picked on until something changes. I think the Pats trend of doing a bad job protecting against #2 WR's and TE's will continue.

* There was one sequence of Jets plays that was a thing of beauty, from a play-calling perspective. Jets come out in a 1 back, 1 TE, trips formation with one WR on the line. All the pre-snap read seems to be them setting up for a screen to the trips formation. The Pats ILB's bite and run over to break up the screen...and LdT takes a handoff and runs through the gaping hole the ILB's just left. Next play, the Jets come out in the very same formation, but mirrored. "They can't be running the same play again, can they? It'll be the screen for sure this time" say the Pats defenders. Once again, they run to break up the screen and once again, LdT take the handoff and runs through the gaping hole. Next play, the Jets come out in the very same formation for a third time in a row. "Ah, I get it" say the Patriots defenders. "They want us to think that there's no way they'll run the same thing three times running, but we're on to them. They're going to hand it to LdT again. The screen formation is really just a decoy". Nope, this time as they move to block the run, it really is a screen.

Belichick was outcoached there...

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

With respect to Welker I was thinking the same thing and tweeted such in Mike Reiss's direction this morning. FWIW, here was his take on that:

Don't think lack of Welker in second half was a result of hit to head. More offensive approach and Brady's decision making.


Wes Welker took big hit in first half, but it didn't affect his availability in 2nd half. 21 first-half snaps for Welker and 18 in 2nd half.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

Keller is a tightend who runs like a WR.

Brandon Spikes is a LB who ran a 5 second 40. Use him as anything more than a situational player, disasters like that are bound to happen. It was madness to draft a guy who would be so predicably exposed in the pros.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

"On Cassel: He's not a Brady or Manning or McNabb or McNair type that can take a bad offense and carry it. I think he is (or can be) a good QB if given the tools to succeed. But he has to have them and he has to trust them. It took him half a season to get comfortable with having a good O-line and a lot of talent. Then he was good. Then he went to KC where he had no O-line and little talent. Then he was bad. Even if KC gets/is getting him the talent back again, it will take him a while to trust it...provided he hasn't been afflicted with Carr-Syndrome in the meantime, permanently spoiling him."

I'm pretty sure that's the definition of a mediocre to bad QB. I'm sure Tarvaris Jackson and Shaun Hill could be "good" with the 08 Patriots. I'm also pretty sure Kyle Orton would have run both the 08 Patriots and the 09-10 Chiefs far better than Matt Cassell.

When your upside is "I might catch up to Kyle Orton (as much as I love me some Captain Neckbeard), you're never going to be a good QB.

- Alvaro

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I echo the thoughts about Sanchez--last week, he looked worse than horrible. This week, he really made some good throws. Now, LdT helped him with a good catch on one down at his ankles, and Edwards made a good play on that jump ball 2 point conversion, but the flip pass to LdT and a couple of zipped balls to the exact place he aimed it on passes to Keller and Edwards make me think the light bulb might be coming on for longer stretches.

Re: the Lions--I think this is a vastly improved team, whose record might not show it at the end of the year. I vote for them having a 4-12/5-11 record, being about 20th in DVOA, with about 7 expected wins--and then the naysayers saying that Detroit is ranked way too high. My guess is that NEXT year, the Lions will actually put up a decent win total with a 3rd year of decent drafting. (Let's face it--the Millen drafts were so bad, even a decent draft gives the Lions a talent infusion.)

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I picked them as my least likely team to go .500 that would go .500. Favre is done, no Sidney Rice until late in the season, Willams wall collapse to rubble, a suspect secondary and unexpected injury/wearing down of AP makes MIN ripe. I did not have any faith in CHI, either. DET should be 1-1, and could have been 2-0 but one or two plays. After recovering the onside kick, I expected them to ride Best down to the 20 and hit Megatron in the corner. I did say this before looking at the rest of their schedule.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 2

I cautiously agree, definitely in that it would have been the Bears beating themselves as opposed to the Lions winning the game. The primary reason the Lions were within one score was that the Bears had especially terrible timing on their fumbles and short-yardage woes.