Audibles at the Line: Week 4
compiled by Bill Barnwell
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, which means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
San Francisco 49ers 14 at Atlanta Falcons 16
Doug Farrar: So … the 49ers go cross-country and are up, 14-0 on the Falcons in the first quarter. We all had that one, right? Completely awesome play by Taylor Mays on a blocked punt – he gets serious air and tippy-toes the back of the end zone to keep the ball in bounds for the 49ers’ second touchdown. That’s the pure raw athleticism Mays brings; any receiver would consider that a career catch.
Vince Verhei: I've come to the conclusion that Mike Singletary hates long pass plays. By anyone. San Francisco plays a lot of Cover-3, and it's working today -- Atlanta is moving the ball, but they usually drop a pass or turn it over before reaching the end zone. And their own offense seems to consist entirely of screens, dumpoffs, and flat routes, although that may just be Alex Smith being Alex Smith.
Ben Muth: Alex Smith just threw a brutal pick in Falcons territory. I don't think a new offensive coordinator is going to fix San Francisco's offense.
Benjy Rose: Falcons are having a terrible time tackling today. They're getting no pass rush, and when they are, little Alex Smith dumpoffs & screens are getting way too many yards after catch.
On offense, the Falcons look ugly. After a great start, Ryan's looking really uncomfortable. His timing with his receivers is nonexistent, possibly due to the 49ers getting pressure while rushing three and four.
Inside two minutes, Ryan's pass gets picked off by Nate Clements, who runs it back for the game-icer....except Roddy White goes all Don Beebe on Clements, hustling back and punching the ball out for Harvey Dahl to recover. Falcons currently re-marching down the field, thanks to some terrific catches by White. They're in field goal range...
...and the field goal is good. Crushing, crushing defeat for SF, who dominated the whole game, and who should have been able to end it with Clements' pick.
Aaron Schatz: Just drop to the ground, Nate. Just drop to the damn ground.
New York Jets 38 at Buffalo Bills 14
Baltimore Ravens 17 at Pittsburgh Steelers 14
Bill Barnwell: Ravens aren't really big-blitzing Charlie Batch so much, although they just got him on an A-gap blitz with Terrell Suggs to push the Steelers into a long field goal attempt that Jeff Reed pushed onto the bar. They've gotten a few sacks with coverage where Batch couldn't find someone within three seconds and started running around with his finger locked on the pump fake button.
Doug Farrar: I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- there isn't a team in the league that's worse at altering protections and picking up the blitz than the Steelers. You start to wonder if they even have those types of calls in the playbook. I guess they just got spoiled by their old (and soon to be new) quarterback.
Bill Barnwell: Steelers are throwing downfield at Lardarius Webb with Mike Wallace, and Webb has done a good job of breaking them up; he just picked up two passes defensed in the course of a few minutes in what looked like one-on-one coverage.
Aaron Schatz: OK, you are Baltimore. You are down 14-10 on the Pittsburgh 3. It is fourth-and-goal with 2:44 left. Do you kick the field goal, or go for it?
Well, here's what you don't do. TAKE A TIMEOUT. You know, a timeout you may need if you DON'T SCORE HERE, in order to stop Pittsburgh and get the ball back.
Oh but wait, there's more. Baltimore lines up for the play now, to go for it. And PITTSBURGH takes a timeout. You know, a timeout that they might need if Baltimore scores, so that they have the time to come back down the field for a game-winning drive. Let's see... they saw Baltimore line up and decided they wanted a defense to counter that formation. OK, sure, but what if Baltimore comes out in a different formation?
AAARRGGGHHHH. This kind of timeout wasting silliness MAKES ME SO ANGRY.
Mike Kurtz: The end of BAL-PIT was absolutely pathetic. The Steelers begin with the ball on their own 2 or so, and three absurdly predictable runs and two false starts later, they're punting from the exact same spot after killing a whopping 30 seconds of clock. A decent punt to midfield gets cut down by a holding call, and the Ravens just waltz down the short field to score. Conventional, conservative playcalling massively backfires and costs the Steelers a 4-0 start.
Bill Barnwell: Joe Flacco appears to have about one great throw a game in him, but that throw seems to lead to a touchdown every time.
Also, stupid graphic of the day: CBS showed one that said "Charlie Batch has not completed a pass in the last one hour and six minutes." They didn't mean an hour and six minutes of football time. They meant real-time, which had included halftime and two Ravens possessions.
Carolina Panthers 14 at New Orleans Saints 16
Doug Farrar: Less than a minute into the Panthers-Saints game, Steve Smith calls time out from the slot, walks over to Jimmy Clausen, and earholes Clausen for not getting the play off in time. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Sam Bradford guts Seattle’s defense on a first-quarter drive like the proverbial trout. Moral: There are rookies, and there are rookies. Watching Bradford this week, I was tremendously impressed by his ability to grasp his new offense and his sense around pressure.
Denver Broncos 26 at Tennessee Titans 20
Bill Barnwell: Wow. Ryan Clady just got sprinted past on a sack. He barely even came out of his stance.
Tom Gower: It's scoreless in Nashville after a quarter, but play has been far from as even as the scoreline as the Titans have outgained the Broncos by 115-15. The Broncos haven't found any room in the running game at all, and Orton has been sacked thrice on eight dropbacks. The Titans have moved the ball fairly successfully, but Rob Bironas missed from 35 yards out and Chris Johnson fumbled inside the 30 to kill the second drive; Fisher challenged and he probably didn't fumble, but there wasn't enough to overturn.
Doug Farrar: Okay, Tom – what on earth is going on with this Titans’ pass defense this season? New personnel? New schemes? Somebody just added water to Chuck Cecil? They look amazing.
Tom Gower: Well, in the first three games they've played Jason Campbell and Dennis Dixon/Charlie Batch and given up 386 yards to Eli Manning, who went 17-20 the first half with two drops and that tipped ball INT, so I'm not sure they're any better than average. One thing they've been doing more is blitzing-I think I've already seen more zone blitzes this year, including on one of the sacks today, than they ran the previous 4 years put together. I'll hit this again later.
Chuck Cecil just flipped off the officials while the sideline camera had a close-up on him.
The second quarter in Tennessee was definitely more high-scoring than the first; the Broncos moved down the field on a series of pass plays, capped off by an Orton to Royal TD on a rub route. The Titans matched with Vince Young to Kenny Britt on a smash-type play, set up by a 54 yard run by Javon Ringer -- not sure exactly what happened on the Ringer run to spring him free. The Broncos took a lead on a field goal late in the first half, but Josh McDaniels, Boy Genius, called his TO with about :28 left and the Titans took advantage of that to set up a game-tying 55-yard field goal by Bironas.
Offensively, the Broncos are still getting absolutely nothing out of Laurence Maroney: Seven carries for -4 yards, including an eight-yard gain on a cutback after some overpursuit. When Orton's had time to throw, though, he's found open receivers, frequently against Alterraun Verner, starting for an injured Jason McCourty.
A game written off by those gathered in the Barnwell residence as a Titans win turns into a Broncos victory...
Bill Barnwell: What on earth happened at the end of the Titans game?
Tom Gower: The Titans lost, as I expected. They had a kickoff return touchdown, but otherwise the offense struggled greatly to move the ball in the second half from generally bad field position. Chris Johnson ended up 19 for 53, with 9 of those carries coming in the first quarter and aside from his big 54-yard run, Ringer had little work and just as little productivity.
Orton generally moved the ball successfully with hardly any help from a running back, though Correll Buckhalter was marginally better than Maroney. The Titans lost both Derrick Morgan and SenDerrick Marks to injury in the second half; neither seems to be serious from the early indications, but it did result in a more tired DL. I was listening to Greg Cosell on the FantasyGuru podcast this week, and he mentioned the Titans' secondary struggles in coverage when the DL doesn't get pressure, and he's absolutely right. I also will say Orton is a much better quarterback than I ever expected him to be -- it's not just that he was awful as a rookie, but that he was also so mediocre at Purdue. It really surprises me that he's able to move around in the pocket, read the D, and find an open receiver.
Moment of what would've been amusement if I wasn't a Titans fan but instead invoked pathos: after the Broncos scored a TD to go up 23-20 with about 1:40 left, the kickoff (into the wind) bounced about the 20 and took a very high bounce. Marc Mariani, who had the TD return earlier, got hit while he was trying to haul it in off the bounce and couldn't; the Broncos got it and burned a minute and the Titans' last 2 TOs off the scoreboard. The Titans had already used their third TO on Fisher's second lost cause challenge of the game, this one on a QB sneak that converted fourth-and-inches.
Oh, and I think the Titans also had about four defensive offsides today, so they're back in form when it comes to that.
From today's post-game press conference, Josh McDaniels was asked about refusing to abandon the run:
I think though at some point, in a game, and for today I think it was 9:27 to go in the fourth quarter, we were, that’s it, that’s enough. I’m done talking about the running game right now. If that’s what we’ve got to do at some point in the game , that’s what we’ve got to do. You play to win the game, and if you don’t always [inaudible] then you have to try to do it the other way.
For some reason, that answer cracks me up.
Cincinnati Bengals 20 at Cleveland Browns 23
Bill Barnwell: The Browns challenge a play in the end zone where Benjamin Watson catches a pass and loses it on the way down with the ref about six inches away. Five replays and 30 seconds later, they decide to challenge. Don't you have a guy who watches that stuff?
Doug Farrar: Perhaps Mangenius was impressed by Lane Kiffin’s creative use of time outs yesterday.
T.J. Ward launches an elbow right at Jordan Shipley’s head on a potential touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Shipley goes down like he’s been shot. Carson Palmer wanted to discuss the matter further with Mr. Ward, that’s for sure.
Ben Muth: I saw that hit too. Happened on third down, just a really dumb play, that's gonna cost Ward some money.
Rob Weintraub: Defensive holding. On a defensive lineman. On a run. With 3.5 minutes left. Pass interference. When the covering linebacker didn't touch or otherwise impede the receiver, and the ball was five yards over his head. Unnecessary roughness on a safety for tackling a tight end who had just made a reception. No blow to the head. Nothing late. Just a collision tackle.
I hate to complain about the refs, and lord knows Cincy had its chances to win regardless, but these three ridiculous calls cost the Bengals the game. The roughness set up a FG at the end of the half. The interference kept a drive alive that became a TD. And the worst of all, the holding on Pat Sims for the crime of getting shoved out of the play, allowed Cleveland to run out the clock. Simply maddening, especially as Palmer finally looked like an NFL quarterback, and TO was a mismatch all day against the smaller Browns corners. He is now the oldest player to go over 200 yards receiving in a game, and is number two all time on the receiving yards list.
Cincinnati still has red zone issues, still allow too many completions to the tight end, still have protection problems on the right side. But the Bengals should have won this game, and instead lose in the division for the first time since 2008. To the hated Browns, who still stink. Ugh.
Detroit Lions 26 at Green Bay Packers 28
Doug Farrar: Play about halfway through the first quarter shows how the Lions just aren’t … there yet. Kyle Vanden Bosch jumps early, so Aaron Rogers knows he has a free play. Green Bay receivers go deep vertical on the left side, and Donald Driver takes to the middle of the field. There are no Lions defenders anywhere near Driver, and it’s a 48-yard completion. I mean, nobody. Looked like 7-on-7 out there.
Tom Gower: In the first 48 minutes of the game, the Green Bay Packers have run 25 plays from scrimmage. They're currently leading 28-26 after the Lions make their 4th field goal of the afternoon.
Elias Holman: I had the pleasure of attending the game at Lambeau today with my five-year-old, which meant I was a a bit distracted, but it was fun to see the game through his eyes. Overall, I'm starting to have some serious doubts about the GB offense. It seems like they can only move the ball and score in chunks of yardage, and they have had a lot of trouble sustaining drives and moving down the field in increments. They have been lucky to put enough points on the board in this big plays to get some wins, but if you can stop the big pass plays, they simply cannot move the ball effectively right now. I wonder if they will start relying on Kuhn more often after seeing how they were able to sustain that drive at the very end to hold the lead feeding him the ball, but I also hope they can figure out why Brandon Jackson continues to be so inconsistent. The defense seemed to be just the opposite, preventing big plays but giving up 5-10 yd runs and passes over and over, and allowing third down conversion after third down conversion, and of course, special teams continues to be atrocious.
On the flip side, I came away very impressed with the Lions, and maybe a lot of my observations about the Packers can be attributed to the quality coaching and playcalling on the other side of the ball. It seemed like on every play there was a receiver running free, and every blitz was anticipated and countered with good pickups, a screen play, or a run away from the pressure. The defense all but shut down the Packers for the entire second half. Their biggest problem was settling for field goals or this game could have easily been 42-28 or worse. I am definitely not looking forward to the game at Ford Field.
Doug Farrar: The Lions are coming up from seven years under the worst personnel executive in the world history of sports, but they’ve had two stellar drafts in a row under new management. They’re definitely putting things together, and you can see flashes of greatness from different places. Unfortunately, you’ll just as surely see equal amounts of fail at the worst possible times. This is not a team other teams will enjoy facing over the next few seasons.
Seattle Seahawks 3 at St. Louis Rams 20
Doug Farrar: Note to the Seattle Seahawks: If you’re going to re-implement something from the Mike Holmgren days, why must it be The Walrus’ two-minute clock management and play-calling? For the second week in a row, Seattle leaves points on the board near the end of the half – last week with an ill-times quarterback draw, and this week with a really stupid fake field goal that looked like a designed run play for punter/holder Jon Ryan.
Oh, and Pete Carroll has borrowed Mike Martz’s tinfoil hat for his challenges today.
Vince Verhei: Seattle's constant reliance on cute plays is really starting to frustrate me. Late in the first, they hit a Michael Robinson-to-Leon Washington double pass to set up a long field goal attempt. Then instead of a 51-yard field goal, they run a fake field goal with Jon Ryan running a sweep. I thought at first it was a pass play with blown blocking, but John Carlson was downfield looking to block someone, not catch a pass. Rams take advantage of the field position and add a last- second field goal to go up 10-3 at halftime.
Doug Farrar: Bad day for the Seahawks. Not only do they get clowned by the Rams, but T.J. Houshmandzadeh scored the winning touchdown for the Ravens against the Steelers today, and Seattle is still paying $6 million of his 2010 salary. Housh was the only person who has worn a Seahawks uniform this season who actually scored a touchdown today.
This Seahawks team was the one I initially feared I would see under Pete Carroll. Strategically outmatched, prone to resorting to gimmicks just for the sake of it, and clueless when it comes to time and game management. I have been more impressed with the coaching staff than I first expected, but this is a worrisome loss. And that’s not to take anything from the Rams – their victory over the Redskins last week was just as legit as this one.
Ladies and gentlemen, the St. Louis Rams are your NFC West leaders. And they’re already won more games than they did last year.
Indianapolis Colts 28 at Jacksonville Jaguars 31
Will Carroll: Wow, David Garrard just ran an option for a touchdown. It was as simple an option as I've ever seen in the NFL. Naturally, the Colts didn't have a damn clue what to do with it.
Bill Barnwell: Clint Session just timed a third-and-1 snap count perfectly and leaped over the line and would've been able to give David Garrard a jumping neckbreaker...but Garrard just ran the sneak to the left and picked up a first down. Had he timed the snap count wrong, he would've bounced off Garrard's back while Garrard was under center.
Huge swing in the Jaguars-Colts game. Peyton Manning throws a pick that would just about end the game, but Derek Cox bumbles around and drops it after about five steps. Then the Jaguars big blitz on fourth-and-10 and the Colts hit Dallas Clark against soft zone coverage for a big gain. Manning rushes them to the line and Reggie Wayne runs past David Jones on a go route to get the Colts inside the 10. Oh, and then Derek Cox goes down on with an injury and the Jags are forced to take a timeout.
Aaron Schatz: I've mostly been watching the Eagles-Redskins game, so does anyone know what on earth happened in this Colts-Jaguars game? How did the Jaguars actually stay close with the Colts all day? We just watched the Colts make their game-tying drive and the Jags' defense looked as porous as always. Derek Cox was so bad at one corner that they've benched him for David Jones, who was Cincinnati's dime back last year. Jones is covering Reggie Wayne. Wayne is going off. Last year, Cox covered Wayne and Wayne went off. What happened to "Rashean Mathis, Pro Bowl cornerback?" Shouldn't he perhaps be covering Reggie Wayne?
Will Carroll: Turnovers. And a 59-yard kick by Scobee. Wow.
Tom Gower: After 4 weeks of the 2010 NFL regular season, the Indianapolis Colts are in last place in the AFC South. I have no more to say than that.
Houston Texans 31 at Oakland Raiders 24
Bill Barnwell: Arian Foster benched because of a "coach's decision". This is why the Texans can't have nice things.
Tom Gower: It's been an offensive showdown early in O-town, as both teams have moved the ball well. Slaton looks better than he has since '08, and the Raiders are just getting it done with their bailing wire offense of McFadden, some Bush, and Gradkowski doing what he does -- converting third and fourth down on an zone read option keeper and then finishing off the drive with a simple fullback flat pass on third-and-short to exploit the Texans' short area coverage problems thanks to a Zach Miller pick.
Query: is anybody else as annoyed as I am by all these rub routes? Am I just noticing them more, or does it really seem like they're more prevalent than they used to be? I know they kind of addressed it with the umpire move, but I wonder if that could be something the Competition Committee takes a look at in the next couple years.
A Raiders' promising drive at the end of the first half is snuffed out when Mario Williams destroys Langston Walker and strips Gradkowski. The Texans have some success moving down the field, but Rackers hits the upright from 46. Other notes: Jacoby Jones would be a good receiver if he could actually catch the ball. Matt Schaub seems to be running around a lot from pressure. Joel Dreessen is looking like a much more viable receiving option than I thought he was, which may say more about the Raiders' coverage units. The Raiders seem to primarily be matching up Asomugha with Kevin Walter.
Gradkowski got smoked by Pollard on a very hard hit on a failed third down scramble. Campbell was warming on the sidelines, but Bruce came back in on the next possession ... and immediately threw an interception. Really bad read, tip was by the underneath defender who was in the passing lane.
What is up with the Texans and fourth quarters? They were comfortably in control of this game at 31-14, but the Raiders drive the field and it's 31-21. Another quick defensive stop, and it's 31-24. Another defensive stop, and the Raiders have the ball at their own 25 with 3:03 left and a chance to tie the game.
Tom Gower: Bruce Gradkowski: a kind of marginal intentional grounding on second down, incomplete for DHB on 3rd down, and Louis Murphy drops it on 4th down. Zach Miller had a huge game, abusing the Texans' safeties and linebackers in coverage, but it wasn't enough.
Vince Verhei: What's up with Houston is that their offense is capable of scoring on anyone at any time, but their pass defense is so miserably bad that anyone can score on them at any time from anywhere. Raiders had a fourth-and-16 on their last drive and Gradkowski hit Murphy for what should have been a conversion, but the ball bounced off Murphy's chest and was intercepted. They got a lucky break.
They're 3-1, but it's an unimpressive 3-1. That seems to be the story of the league this year, how every team has obvious, glaring faults. Somebody is going to win the Super Bowl by default.
I think the lack of great teams is part of the reason. Colts lose on a 59-yard field goal at the gun -- who cares? Even with Peyton, it's hard to call a team with that defense a Super Bowl favorite. The whole day just felt like a bunch of mediocre teams repeatedly falling behind each other.
Sean McCormick: And the Jets strangling a chicken.
Aaron Schatz: I don't know. Is that defense really any different than past years? Sometimes they're okay at stopping the run. Sometimes they suck at it. But basically, same defense. I think they're still a major Super Bowl contender, 2-2 or no 2-2.
Bill Barnwell: I don't know if I'm with you guys on the "There are no Super Bowl contenders" page. The Falcons are 3-1, and while they've needed two game-winning field goals to do it, their one loss is to arguably the best team in the AFC, the Steelers, who haven't played a single game with their starting quarterback yet and nearly won with Charlie freaking Batch today. The Jets lost a game to one of the other teams in that top tier by one point and otherwise have been pretty great, and that's been without their best player for two weeks.
Mike Kurtz: I agree with Barnwell. Also, while Tennessee and Denver may not be Super Bowl contenders, the game at least seems like it was interesting and exciting.
Also, at the risk of sounding like a giant homer, Steelers-Ravens is a blowout if Roethlisberger played. Batch had so many great opportunities both downfield and over the middle and completely squandered them.
Tom Gower: I don't know what you people are talking about. Steelers-Ravens was a defensive slugfest between two very good teams that went down to the final two minutes, Titans-Broncos went down to the final two minutes and was close throughout, Falcons and Saints both scored late to win closer than expected games, and in the late block, Raiders were driving for a tie with less than two minutes left, the Eagles had a drop on a Hail Mary that would have won the game, and the Jaguars beat the Colts on a 59-yard field goal with no time left right after a dropped pick and after the Colts tied the game with less than a minute left. I was pretty entertained today.
Now, are there any great teams? I'm not sure. If Roethlisberger comes back and plays at a pretty high level, then Pittsburgh almost certainly will be if they avoid devastating defensive injuries.
Aaron Schatz: I don't think this year is that much different than any other year. Yes, there are not one or two dominant early teams, but even those dominant early teams usually have weaknesses. Last year, for example, the Colts and Saints were great teams but they had weaknesses. (Oddly, opposing weaknesses -- the Colts couldn't run and the Saints couldn't stop the run.) Not only are there definitely strong teams out there, but I still think the Colts are one of them. The Colts lost by three on the road against a division opponent. This is not a sign that they are suddenly mediocre.
Arizona Cardinals 10 at San Diego Chargers 41
Ben Muth: The Cardinals strategy of manning linebackers up with Antonio Gates hasn't been great so far. But it's still early, maybe Paris Lenon will get significantly better in pass coverage as the game goes on.
Aaron Schatz: I don't know if there's one linebacker in the league who can man up with Antonio Gates, but there certainly isn't one on Arizona.
Vince Verhei: Chargers are ahead 38-7 in the fourth quarter, and Philip Rivers is not only still in the game, he is still throwing passes. Why?
Washington Redskins 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 12
Mike Tanier: The boos down in booville just made a strange sound. It wasn't a boo, but something quite loud. It sounded like cheers, these fans so demanding. They started to cheer! They really were standing!
Bill Barnwell: But then the Eagles fans booed when McNabb took the field.
Mike Tanier: Vick is slow to get up. Kolb got polite applause. This is more polite applause than I have ever heard in this city.
Even McNabb couldn't overthrow all of the wide-open receivers streaking through the Eagles secondary. My God, now I'm doing it.
Aaron Schatz: LeSean McCoy looks excellent right now for Philadelphia. Really doing a great job with vision, weaving through guys. Scary moment when he seemed to suffer a knee injury, but it was just a helmet hitting his knee, painful but not a tear or anything, and he was soon back in the game.
Mike Tanier: Yep, Shady's back. Tell a friend. Kolb settled down a little and threw a few checkdowns. McCoy made plays for him in space. This game simply stopped with 0:23 left in the half. I don't think I have seen a play in 20 minutes.
Mike Kurtz: Troy Aikman is seriously considering that the officials should have stopped the clock because Andy Reid wanted to ask them a question, after the time out period. And then calling it some kind of league-wide officiating epidemic.
Thankfully, they cut to Pereira, who tells Aikman he's completely full of it. Best hire ever.
Aaron Schatz: That booth review with 23 seconds left in the first half is the longest review challenge I've ever seen in my life.
Mike Kurtz: Aikman and Buck still yakking about the play clock. I actually didn't see Reid try to call a timeout, but that's kind of irrelevant. Aikman's thesis seems to be that Reid should be given unlimited to time derp at the refs over the result of the replay (claiming that knowing why the spot changed would change the play call, which is absolutely absurd because the only important question is where the ball is, not why it's there), because he feels like it, and that shouldn't eat up any clock. It doesn't even make sense, and despite being told point-blank by the guy his network hired SPECIFICALLY to be the ultimate authority on officiating why his theory made no sense, he's still going on about it.
Mike Tanier: After that three-hour challenge, Reid REALLY should have just had a play ready.
Aaron Schatz: You know, for all the Vick Vick Vick before this game, I think the story here is the Eagles defense. It is not playing well. They're giving up a lot of yards to Portis, and some big catches to a variety of receivers. This is not good when you play a team that doesn't actually have a variety of *good* receivers. Ernie Sims with a stupid roughing the passer penalty just for extra fun.
Bill Barnwell: Donovan McNabb threw three passes on that drive that should have been intercepted. Only the third one was picked.
Mike Tanier: Yeah, but then Kolb was incapable of finding any underneath receivers, many of which were open. He now just looks at DeSean Jackson and panicks, though he seemed a little calmer before halftime than on the first drive of the third quarter.
Aaron Schatz: My god, another replay taking forever in the Eagles-Redskins game. Is Alberto Riveron always like this?
Mike Tanier: Asante Samuel is now hurt. Soon, Chase Utley will find a way to get injured in this game.
Oh no. Kolb thinks he's Vick. He's running on every play. Diving head first, He just threw an underhanded pass. It's like he's the little brother imitating the big brother to get attention.
BTW, I love the fact that's 17-6, but in the second half the Eagles have completely abandoned the run, running only on 1st-and-20 type situations. LeSean McCoy has been playing well. The pass rush is teeing off. Reid just keeps passing.
Bill Barnwell: Oh wow. That's a dropped pass on a Hail Mary. We don't see that very often.
Mike Tanier: Final thoughts on McNabb's Return:
What I learned today was that the fans who actually go to games are different from the fans who call radio shows, post on the fan blogs, and complain around the water cooler. The ticket-holder fans invests thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in the home team. These fans experience real joy -- lifestyle-defining, family-and-friends, life-enriching pleasure -- when the home team is playing well and every Sunday has a celebration quality. These fans "get it:" all the tough-guy talk about "one winner and 31 losers" is neither realistic nor fulfilling.
So the fans that walk into Lincoln Financial Field are much more like FO readers or FO writers than all the people who make most of the noise on the radio or in the lunchroom. They recognize what McNabb did, week after week and year after year. They can mock his overthrows and root against him while at the same time appreciating how much fun he gave them over 11 years.
I guess I should know all that, but it's easy to get sucked into floatsam and jetsam attitudes, not just from the radio guys but from casual fans and non-fans, the Aunt Ginny types who glom onto negativity hovering in the zeitgeist. Real fans still love the Sundays, love the games, and love the players, and they don't let the loudmouths convince them not to. Thank heavens.
Chicago Bears 3 at New York Giants 17
Bill Barnwell: By my count, four different Bears blockers blew blocks on that sack of Jay Cutler on the opening series.
Tom Gower: I've defended Cutler a lot against criticism, and I think Jaws was a bit overaggressive in attributing none of his picks last year to the offensive line difficulties, but that first quarter pick by Terrell Thomas was about as bad a read as you'll see this season.
Doug Farrar: Cutler’s a weird cat. I think Jaws was looking at him strictly mechanically, which you can’t really do or you’ll just drive yourself insane. He throws off his back foot all the time, which the cardinal sin at his position … but he’s really, really good at it. He’s been that way since his early Denver days, when he would be almost falling backward out of pressure and still throw a perfect 50-yard air dart to Eddie Royal or whoever. I have never seen him look comfortable on short throws, though. Those little out patterns like the Thomas pick was – I don’t know. It seems as if something in his body rebels against those throws . Bill Lee used to say that he was incapable of throwing a pitch the same way twice, and that’s probably why he was more effective with coaches who understood his idiosyncrasies and worked around them. I think Cutler’s that same type of person – he balks at simple, repeatable stuff but will do harder things that just blow your mind.
Mike Kurtz: Imagine what the Bears could be doing with Orton, Martz, and two draft picks!
Doug Farrar: I don’t think Orton is a Martz guy at all.
Tom Gower: The problem wasn't really the throw-it was a little ahead of the intended receiver (Olsen, I think) but not awful. It was the read-he simply didn't see Thomas or if he did he completely ignored his presence. I mean, I'll do that sort of thing but that's one of the many, many reasons I'm not qualified to be an NFL quarterback.
Mike Kurtz: I was mostly joking. Then again, I don't really think Cutler is, either. And unwillingness to be coached out of some of his bad tendencies really does not help.
Okay, apparently Cutler is not longer interested in throwing the ball. I'm not entirely sure this isn't some kind of postmodern performance art exhibition.
Bill Barnwell: The Giants have apparently employed several sentries with the Hallucination technique.
The Giants are really showing off some impressive coverage tonight. Cutler has nothing to throw at, and while he's holding onto the ball too long, he's picking up coverage sacks.
Mike Tanier: So... Cutler didn't see Ross blitzing, though he looked right at him? And he didn't see that Earl Bennett was uncovered?
Bill Barnwell: The psionic storm is powerful.
Aaron Schatz: Is Winston Justice playing in this game and I didn't notice? How on earth did this line manage to protect Cutler against Green Bay and Dallas? It can't be as simple as "hey, they know how to block against 3-4 defenses."
I thought that a couple of the sacks were coverage sacks at first -- Corey Webster in particular has had really good coverage tonight -- but by the end of the second half it was just total constant protection disintegration.
Mike Kurtz: I think it's all three. The coverage was great early, which let them get to Cutler, which spooked Cutler, which made him slow and amplified the protection issues, until you get near the end of the half and there are open or semi-open receivers and Cutler isn't even looking at them because he's immediately curling into the fetal position every snap.
Ahmad Bradshaw fumbles at the 1-yard line.
Bill Barnwell: Oh, my lord. What an ugly, stupid football game.
Aaron Schatz: The Bears are stuck with a seventh-round rookie, J'Marcus Webb, over at right tackle. Last year he was playing at West Texas A&M. Barry Cofield just threw him aside like a rag doll to force a hurry.
Mike Kurtz: Looking at all the sacks in the montage, Cutler simply refused to move up in the pocket. He either ran backward or vertically. It's a flashback to the start of the Dallas game. When he did start moving up, he just held on so long and had zero pocket presence. It's like he was scared to even be out there.
This Is Commercial
Bill Barnwell: We were having the good commercial/bad commercial debate at my place today. Three notes:
- I think we can all agree that the silly Russian accent guy in the DirecTV "Opulence, I has it" spot is a winner.
- The AT&T commercial where the hipster says without batting an eye "I do like cool jams" is an early favorite for me just for that line. But I am weird.
- The little boy covering the car in shampoo in the Nissan commercial, unfortunately, reminds me of a particularly unfortunate scene from Jackass.
Mike Kurtz: "I also like savings the money." Hell yes.
The new set of "bags fly free" commercials make me want to kill someone. I'm only being slightly hyperbolic.
Bill Barnwell: I agree. At the very least, it turns an advantage -- Southwest not charging for checking a bag -- into a disadvantage, since I would not want to fly Southwest because I find those commercials so obnoxious.
Elias: At the stadium, they played that Droid commercial that is supposed to demonstrate the movie playback quality, so the guy is sitting at an office desk late at night watching The Bourne Identity on this tiny screen and I always find myself asking, "why did you stay late at work just to watch movies on your phone? Why not go home and watch it on a regular TV? Shouldn't you be working?"