Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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25 Oct 2010

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

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.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 at Kansas City Chiefs 42

Bill Barnwell: Chris Chambers is a healthy scratch for the Chiefs for the second week in a row. That whole resurgence thing didn't go so well.

Mike Thomas returns a punt 49 yards against the Chiefs but has the ball knocked out of his hands as he falls down. A Jaguars player tries to, of course, scoop the ball and run with it. This ends less than well. The Chiefs recover, and Thomas Jones runs 70 yards on first down to set up a Jamaal Charles touchdown.

You know, Rich Gannon might be the worst color commentator in the league. No one clings closer to conventional wisdom. Not even Dierdorf.

Will Carroll: I'm seeing more and more clear offensive PI. Mike Sims-Walker really got away with one where he had a full handful of the DB's jersey, then on the next play, Marcedes Lewis pushed off, Eric Berry didn't budge, and Lewis spent 20 seconds complaining.

Bill Barnwell: It was actually a great play by Berry, who was able to get all the way around Lewis to bat the ball away.

Tom Gower: The best OPI non-call in JAC-KC actually came earlier in the drive, when Todd Bouman threw out, and Deji Karim turned in, right into Derrick Johnson, who was running to get to the ball. There's very little doubt in my mind that if Karim had been the defensive player and Johnson the offensive guy, there's a flag for DPI, so why not flag for OPI?

David Gardner: The commentators were going nuts over Todd Bouman's performance so far. I turn to my roommate and say, "Watch, he's gonna throw a pick now." Sure enough, he throws a pick-six and the Chiefs are up 28-20. And they're getting the ball back again. On a side note, I really like how enthusiastic their fans are -- especially compared to an empty stadium in Tampa.

Tom Gower: Todd Haley, Genius Extraordinaire, just decided to eschew the field goal attempt and go for it on fourth-and-three from the 24 with the Chiefs leading 28-20 with 11:16 to go in the game. I'll just go write up the Martz Award now.

Bill Barnwell: That's a somewhat defensible move -- the Jaguars defense is awful.

Philadelphia Eagles 19 at Tennessee Titans 37

Tom Gower: The Titans started out the game with a statement they're not going to let Collins starting change the game plan, calling a bootleg. The Eagles stayed at home (big shock), so Collins threw the ball away (another shocker). After the Eagles punt, Collins is kind enough to give the Eagles the ball back with a pump fake, pump fake, try to hit Nate Washington by throwing the ball through Quintin Mikell. Ah, well.

Bill Barnwell: What's the interception rate on passes where Kerry Collins double-pumps? 30 percent? 50 percent?

Aaron Schatz: Who attached the rocket to Kevin Kolb's arm today? I switched over from Pittsburgh and saw him throw two straight passes five feet over the receivers' heads. Also, Chad Hall is the first read on third-and-5? Really?

Mike Tanier: Hall got a handoff earlier. He is a big part of the game plan today. Reid must think he is Reno Mahe. And yes, Kolb is a little pumped up.

Bill Barnwell: Hall was open up the seam. Just a bad throw.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not saying he wasn't open. I'm just surprised he's the first read, not the third or fourth.

Tom Gower: Well, at the end of the first quarter, the Titans have 31 yards rushing and 29 yards of total offense. Collins is 1 of 4 for 4 yards (on third-and-eight) plus that aforementioned pick, and has been his current self: quick to feel pressure, hesitant to try to hit a receiver, and quick to throw the ball away. He was the better option in 2008, but he now looks shot.

Offensively, the Eagles aren't getting yardage in big chunks, but have still moved the ball fairly successfully, though it didn't result in any points in the opening 15. It looks like the Titans are playing mostly zone thus far, and Kolb has been locating guys in the voids though he hasn't always been hitting them. The Titans' defense still looks to me like a good defensive line that's generally better than the individual sum of its parts.

Bill Barnwell: Bad process, good outcome: Eagles run a reverse to Kolb out of the Wildcat. Kolb lofts up a bomb into triple-coverage that should have been picked off, but Chris Hope doesn't play the ball and Riley Cooper jumps in front of him for a long gain.

Mike Tanier: They are thinking outside the bun today.

Tom Gower: The Titans did get into the end zone in the second quarter when Collins hit Kenny Britt on a deep fade to the outside before the safety could get over and help. That came right after a similar play to the other side for Nate Washington where the ball was thrown out of bounds. Have I mentioned the deep fade is a great staple of lousy offenses where the quarterback has a decent arm?

I've officially fallen out of love with Kolb as a quarterback, and suspect I'd be even more so if I could see the secondary coverage. His brain just doesn't seem to be operating at the speed it needs to for a real NFL quarterback yet in terms of anticipating coverage and feeling the pass rush. I haven't watched Vick in enough detail this year, but Kolb is not playing so well you can't justify benching him if you have another viable option.

Tom Gower: Collins throws his second pick of the game on the Titans' first possession of the second half. Britt ran a deep in on third-and-seven, Samuel started with inside position and maintained it as Britt cut in after the slot guy ran his clearing route, and Collins threw the ball right to him.

Titans with two with 13 minutes to play, as Kenny Britt hauls in an 80-yarder from Collins. Britt ran right past Nate Allen and was a good seven yards clear, but Collins of course underthrew the ball by a good ten yards. Britt did a great job of adjusting to come back for the ball, then avoiding both Allen and Ellis Hobbs I believe en route to the end zone.

Kenny Britt is up to 209 yards receiving, while the rest of the Titans have combined for 79 net yards. Nate Allen is really looking like a rookie safety out there. Collins will get praised, I'm sure, but few of Britt's 6 receptions have come on good throws, and some of them, like the 80 yard TD, have been lousy. And as I'm typing this, he scores his third TD of the game and now has 225 of the team's 318 yards.

Bill Barnwell: Cortland Finnegan picks off a Kevin Kolb pass to somewhere with nine seconds left and returns it for a touchdown. Not quite as bad because the Titans were up 11 as opposed to one score, but still dumb.

Buffalo Bills 34 at Baltimore Ravens 37

Mike Tanier: I just sat down and Roscoe Parrish already fumbled, with the ball bouncing about 30 yards backwards. It is gonna be one of those weeks.

Doug Farrar: With five minutes left in the first quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick throws a deep pass to Lee Evans, who scores a touchdown and then tries to remember what it’s like to catch a ball that’s thrown over seven yards in the air.

You know, I actually kind of like Fitzpatrick as a Chan Gailey-type quarterback. He has some mobility, he's conversant with fakes, and he can actually make more than one throw. I'll be interested to see how their Alleged Offense might develop with him in there. (Hint: MORE PISTOL!)

Mike Tanier: Joe Flacco is overthrowing everyone, which is why the Bills keep getting possession.

Bill Barnwell: Steve Beuerlein just referred to Derrick Mason as Anthony Mason. That was a great moment.

Vince Verhei: Late in the first half, the Ravens have as many incomplete passes (11) as they do total rushing plays. That is a sure sign that you've been passing too much.

Tom Gower: Lindell hits the field goal to send the game to overtime, and the Bills recover from a 10 point deficit to force overtime. Because, you know, NOBODY CIRCLES THE WAGONS LIKE THE BUFFALO BILLS.*

*-After blowing an 18 point first half lead.

Oh, boy. Shawn Nelson fights for extra yardage on a dumpoff after the Bills force a Ravens punt in OT. He's stood up, and, like happened to Edge on Monday night four years ago, the opposing team's star MLB rips the ball away. Should have been a whistle there, but wasn't and of course forward progress is not reviewable. A Bills lineman rips off his helmet and slams it down to put the Ravens in field goal range, and three runs into the line later, Cundiff wins it.

Cleveland Browns 30 at New Orleans Saints 17

Bill Barnwell: Browns ran a really nifty throwback play on a punt where Josh Cribbs fielded a punt on one side of the field, ran a few yards forward, and then threw across the field to an open Eric Wright, who went 61 yards.

Ben Muth: Those millions of people who started the Browns defense against the Saints this week have to feel vindicated.

Bill Barnwell: David Bowens -- he of the "Perfect Year" essay -- just picked off Drew Brees again and ran 65 yards for a touchdown, his second of the day.

Washington Redskins 17 at Chicago Bears 14

Doug Farrar: Early on, people on Twitter are praising Albert Haynesworth for beating the crap out of Chris Williams on yet another Cutler sack. These people have not seen the Bears' offensive line. Mrs. Haynesworth could beat these people for a sack. The Bears have failed to convert their last 24 third downs. That has to be the Stat of the Year so far.

Bill Barnwell: Really dumb play by Donovan McNabb, who is in the grasp of two defenders and tries to get a pass off anyway. The pass gets tipped by Israel Idonije (defender 1) and caught by D.J. Moore (defender 2) and returned for an easy touchdown.

Doug Farrar: Someone needs to tell Donovan that he’s not Roethlisberger.

Aaron Schatz: When Roethlisberger tries to get off that pass, it ends up as a simple fumble and recovery, not an interception and touchdown return.

Vince Verhei: That was the second or third play where McNabb threw a pass with heavy pressure in his face. A turnover seemed inevitable.

Aaron Schatz: If the Chicago first-team offense ever faced the Chicago first-team defense in practice, what would that look like?

Doug Farrar: Well, Mike Tice would pull all the protections and leave Chris Williams alone to face Julius Peppers over and over, so it would look pretty stinkin' bad. Oh, wait, that's actually what they did in training camp!

Ben Muth: Chicago blitzed and Santana Moss had time to run a post-corner-post. It was a touchdown.

Bill Barnwell: Lovie Smith with an impossibly stupid challenge. Earl Bennett catches a 48-yard pass and is down at the 1/2-yard line. Could be a touchdown; hard to tell, but the refs rule him down short of the endzone. Bears have first-and-goal...and Lovie Smith decides to challenge the touchdown. Seriously? I mean, I know it's the Bears, who are awful on the goal line, but you have to think they'll eventually score from the one-yard line.

...and then the Bears promptly fumble on the one-yard line. Cutler stripped on a sneak. Oh my lord. Replay shows he actually broke the plane, but Smith is suddenly hesitant to challenge. I mean, this isn't advanced game theory or anything. One challenge is the difference between a touchdown and four shots from the one-yard line. The other challenge is the difference between a touchdown and a loss of possession.

Ben Muth: Donovan McNabb just threw a second interception that DJ Moore returned for a TD. Luckily they didn't snap the ball in time so the refs called off the TD and gave them a delay of game instead.

Bill Barnwell: Just an awful throw by Cutler against a big blitz. He throws an out off of his back foot that sails, and DeAngelo Hall jumps it and runs in a straight line for a 92-yard touchdown.

Tom Gower: Yes, it was a bad throw by Cutler, but it was also a great one-handed grab and return by Hall.

Bill Barnwell: Great catch by Hall, but it was a great catch because he nearly overran the ball. It was that bad of a throw. I don't know about a great run; he had an entirely open field ahead of him and outsprinted everyone to the endzone.

Tom Gower: Yeah, wasn't that great of a return. Still, he did there exactly what you want your CB to do-did an excellent job driving on the ball, adjusted to an errant ball to make an excellent catch, and immediately went upfield and accelerated.

Bill Barnwell: This Redskins-Bears game is probably the worst game of the year. The Redskins took over after that last Cutler interception and fumbled twice in three plays, with a recovery only averted on the first one when Chris Cooley (smartly) batted the ball out of bounds. Graham Gano hits the upright on the ensuing field goal attempt. The Bears pick up a third down with a pass to Forte, but it's called back for holding. On the makeup play, Cutler is flushed from the pocket and hits LaRon Landry in the helmet; the ball promptly bounces about 15 yards back towards the line of scrimmage, where an offensive lineman catches it.

Vince Verhei: I think the Bears and Redskins have fumbled 700 total times today.

Doug Farrar: Looks like Mike Martz is rubbing off on everybody.

Bill Barnwell: DeAngelo Hall, meanwhile, finished with four interceptions of Jay Cutler. And the Redskins going 7-for-8 on fumble recoveries might be a record.

Cincinnati Bengals 32 at Atlanta Falcons 39

Mike Tanier: All of the Falcons defensive backs are getting hurt again. DeCoud was out with a hammy. Dunta Robinson got knocked out last week, of course, and isn't back this week.

Benjy Rose: Not much to say here so far near the end of the first quarter ... Benson tearing up the Falcons line, Palmer overthrowing receivers, Matt Ryan playing inconsistently...yawn.

Bill Barnwell: Roddy White has 157 yards and a touchdown with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter. The Bengals are without Johnathan Joseph today and are playing Morgan Trent and Adam Jones on one side of the field. I haven't seen a ton of the game, but I suspect these two things are related.

Tom Gower: Don't look now, but the Bengals just turned two turnovers into two scores to come back and take the lead. The first came when Leon Hall picked off a deep pass intended for Michael Jenkins, followed by a long Jordan Shipley TD, then Pac-Man stripped Roddy White after a short completion, ripped the ball out, and took it back. Marvin Lewis went for down after the first TD made it 24-19, failed, then went for two again and just failed for the second time.

Mike Tanier: The Bengals have engineered this amazing comeback. What happened to those fundamentally sound Falcons of a few weeks ago?

DeAngelo Hall and Pac-Man with touchdowns within a few minutes. The fast but clueless have inherited the earth.

Pittsburgh Steelers 23 at Miami Dolphins 22

Aaron Schatz: Just in case anyone needs examples of why Ben Roethlisberger is not one of the top five quarterbacks in the league despite his impressive passing stats, we had one in the Miami-Pittsburgh game. Big Ben's size and scrambling ability give him the chance to extend plays, but that also means he takes more sacks and worse, sometimes tries to make the impossible play. With a bunch of Dolphins trying to drag him down for a sack, Roethlisberger refused to hit the ground and tried to shovel the ball ahead to Ike Redman who had been trying to block. However, Big Ben lost the handle of the ball before he could start the actual shoveling motion, i.e. a forward pass, thus leading to a fumble. Good thing the Steelers defense is so good, they've fumbled twice and it has led to two field goals as the Miami offense pretty much went nowhere twice.

Ben Muth: Is Hines Ward a Hall of Famer? 11,000 yards, 80 touchdowns, 2 Super Bowls, one super bowl MVP, and a reputation for being the best blocker at his position. I don't think he'd get in, but I think it's close.

Vince Verhei: Based on the way they've been voting, he'll get in because of the rings. It's almost impossible for a wideout to get in without one -- ask Cris Carter. Not to say that's how they should vote, but it's the standard they've set.

Aaron Schatz: Ben Roethlisberger just went to scramble, then changed his mind, then pump faked, went to scramble again, changed his mind, pump faked, and overthrew Hines Ward in the end zone... from two yards past the line of scrimmage.

When he comes in as part of the pass rush rotation, rookie OLB Jason Worilds is having an excellent game speed-rushing right tackle Vernon Carey. Anyone know how you pronounce his name? I have no idea. On the other hand, James Harrison vs. Jake Long is advantage Miami.

And geez, Dan Dierdorf, will you please stop slobbering over the amazing pocket that the Dolphins keep setting up for Chad Henne? The Dolphins leave in a back to block on nearly every play, and the Steelers are blitzing less than usual. Every play is six blocking four. It's not THAT spectacular.

Vince Verhei: Miami has used a couple of rollouts today. Not play-action, not bootlegs, just a quarterback rolling to the right and his offensive line moving with him. If Miami can run those with Chad Henne, can't pretty much any team use them? Seems like a good way to keep your quarterback upright that teams should use more often.

Aaron Schatz: Problem is that those rollouts basically cut the field in half, condensing the space your receivers can work in.

Astonishing coaching challenge result in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger runs a quarterback draw but loses control of the football before he crosses the plane. Originally called a touchdown, the Dolphins challenge. Gene Steratore comes out and explains: Roethlisberger loses the ball and therefore it is not a touchdown. However, the challenge has two parts: did Roethlisberger fumble, and who recovered it? Since there is not clear evidence as to which team recovered the football, Steratore says that he can't overturn Pittsburgh possession of the ball. Therefore it goes into the book as a fumble recovered by the Steelers, and it will be Steelers ball, fourth-and-goal from the half-yard line, down by two points. Jeff Reed hits a 19-yard field goal to go up by 1.

Honestly, it looked pretty clear from the video that Miami recovered the football. I guess it wasn't 100 percent sure, but it definitely looked like it.

Vince Verhei: The best part about that was Steratore nervously scratching his elbow during the announcement, knowing the call was lame and he would be hated, but it's the only call he could make. The Dolphins fell on the ball first and probably recovered, but indisputably? No.

Aaron Schatz: Golly, Chad Henne sure likes to throw to people in the flat. When it is third-and-8 with less than two minutes left, down by one, you might want to consider throwing it more than a yard past the line of scrimmage.

San Francisco 49ers 20 at Carolina Panthers 23

Tom Gower: Alex Smith went down hard early in the third quarter and is headed to the locker room with an apparent shoulder injury. David Carr has entered the game. Yes, ALERT, ALERT, David Carr has entered the game.

Ben Muth: The Giants make the World Series and David Carr comes in? Good weekend for San Franciscans.

Bill Barnwell: OK, one of the stupidest decisions of the week: David Carr has the ball on his own 20-yard line with one timeout and 30 seconds left, down three points. No one's open deep, so what does he do? Throw a two-yard checkdown to Vernon Davis, who's surrounded by defenders.

Tom Gower: His career in a nutshell.

St. Louis Rams 17 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18

Doug Farrar: Halfway through the first quarter, the Bucs have second-and-goal ... from the 35-yard line. OPI, holding, sack. Yikes.

David Gardner: Sam Bradford fumbled from his own 6-yard line on the first Rams' possession. The Bucs took over and were flagged for offensive pass interference, holding, and then Freeman was sacked. They ended up with third-and-goal from the 36. Hilarious. A good catch by Mike Williams put them in field-goal range and the Bucs are up early.

Doug Farrar: The guys doing the Bucs game are comparing Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh. I suppose that was inevitable, and I’m sure McCoy will be a dynamic player, but I was surprised that so many people thought McCoy would have more of an immediate impact. He can be made to disappear on plays when he’d double-teamed, and Suh plays with far more velocity at the line of scrimmage, which is why he’s already beating those same types of double-teams in the NFL.

Aaron Schatz: I always thought that the difference was that people thought that McCoy would make more game-changing big plays, while Suh would be a more consistently good player who affected every play. Not saying that's true, but that was the general impression I got from pre-draft reports.

David Gardner: An offsides call against Ronde Barber on a field-goal attempt gives the Rams a first-and-goal and eventually a touchdown. The Rams game plan has been simple -- run, run, run.

LeGarrette Blount is finally getting the carries in the second half. Blount runs with more power and decisiveness than Williams.

The Bucs offensive line continues to be the weak link of the team. They aren't opening up any holes in the running game, Freeman is being pressured on almost every snap, and they have been flagged a bunch of times, including a late hit on a two-minute drive to try and win the game.

On a third-and-10 with 30 seconds left and the ball at the 20-yard line, Freeman finds Mike Williams for the first down, and he jukes his way down to the one. Two plays later, Freeman rolls right and finds Cadillac Williams for the go-ahead score.

Doug Farrar: How has Davin Joseph been this season? I had him pegged as a future star a while back.

David Gardner: He's been the best of a bad line. He had a dumb penalty today, but he's a really good pass blocker and a decent run blocker.

Freeman also has established some late-game credentials early in his career. Of Freeman's seven wins, five were comebacks.

Arizona Cardinals 10 at Seattle Seahawks 22

Doug Farrar: Wow. That Max Hall pass intercepted by Earl Thomas in the first quarter was so bad, I’d believe it if I was told that Thomas was the intended receiver.

Seahawks running a bit more bunch today, with the tight end inside pulling to the other side to block – I like the blocking out of bunch idea, which the Steelers do as well as anyone.

Bill Barnwell: Seahawks get a stripsack of Max Hall when they rush three and get Chris Clemons one-on-one versus Stephen Spach while left tackle Levi Brown just watches the play. Hall gets laid out from behind (and clearly has no feel for the rush), and the Seahawks recover the resulting fumble.

Awesome. Olindo Mare lines up for a 31-yard field goal and hits it, but Cameron Morrah gets called for holding. Mare then hits a 41-yarder, but Morrah is called for holding AGAIN. So then Mare hits the 51-yarder. He's hit 26 in a row -- 28 if we count those two -- since last year, when Jim Mora threw him under the bus. Karma is awesome.

Doug Farrar: Bonus to twelfth-string guard Mike Gibson for the unnecessary roughness call after the successful try, which gave Mare a 15-yard ding on the kickoff. He kicked the ball 77 yards to the Arizona 8. He is officially the baddest kicker alive.

And the Seahawks wind up kicking yet another field goal on a drive in which Mike Williams pretty much made Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie his play toy because they went away from Williams in the red zone. Oh, and they managed two more delay of game penalties, including one on the field goal. Half the time, I'm pretty much convinced that Jeremy Bates is Norv Turner's son, not Jim Bates'.

New England Patriots 23 at San Diego Chargers 20

Bill Barnwell: Chargers run a surprise onside/squib kick after a Kris Brown field goal and, of course, it fails.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, that's not a Chargers thing. That's been an everyone thing. Not counting a Chargers kick with one second left that was just meant to waste time, kicking team has only recovered 2 of 6 first-half onside attempts. I wonder if the Saints Super Bowl kick sort of ruined the strategy, or is this just small sample size? Probably the latter, but still...

Bill Barnwell: Here's the problem with Phil Simms. He starts going off after a fumble on a Kris Wilson checkdown about how guys who don't touch the ball frequently fumble at a higher rate because "it makes sense". Lots of things make sense. That doesn't make them true.

I actually ran a quick test and it's true, although subject to selection bias: Running backs that have more than 60% of their team's carries fumble once every 75 touches, while backs that have fewer than 20% of their team's carries fumble once every 33 touches. But I know Simms didn't test it.

Patriots just a ran a diamond formation with four wideouts on one side. That was nifty.

Aaron Schatz: Second time the Pats have run that formation. Both times, it was a screen pass to the back guy in the diamond: Welker a couple weeks ago, Woodhead today.

Ben Muth: I hope they're setting up the double pass for later this year. I always loved that play.

Tom Gower: Rookie Chargers receiver Richard Goodman caught a pass over the middle, then went down and let go of the ball. Since nobody had touched him, he wasn't down, so the Patriots had one of the world's easiest fumble recoveries. Now, SD turns the ball over again after a pass for Hester is ruled a lateral on the field and there's simply not enough evidence to overturn it. I hate this team.

Bill Barnwell: Richard Goodman made Phil Simms sure look a little smarter.

Aaron Schatz: The thing about the lateral to Hester is that Hester didn't make any attempt to pounce on the ball once he didn't catch it. It was like he had no idea that a backwards pass was a live ball, or that a maybe-backwards pass might be a live ball so you probably should pounce on it just to be safe. That's twice today the Chargers have given the ball to the Patriots without any contact with a defender, simply by not noticing that the whistle had not blown yet.

Good thing their defense is playing so (surprisingly) well this year. Antwan Barnes is an excellent edition. I always thought he was an underrated pass rusher on the rise in Baltimore. The Chargers finally have the pass rush this year that they allegedly have had every year but that they ACTUALLY have not had since Merriman's first steroid suspension.

Also: fun to note that Brandon Meriweather seems to be making a point of hitting everyone with his shoulder today. At one point, he completely leveled a Chargers receiver with a shoulder-to-chest hit and then got up making "did you see that" motions.

And at the half, the score is: New England 13, San Diego -25, and Antwan Barnes 28. Good thing for the Chargers that Antwan Barnes is one of their players, so the scoreboard says "13-3."

Aaron Schatz: Marcus McNeill's return was supposed to improve San Diego's pass-blocking, but this doesn't really work if the opponent (say, the Pats) has the defender (DE or OLB) on McNeill's side hang back while the pass rush goes at the other linemen.

Bill Barnwell: Well, they have Jeromey Clary on the right side, and he sucks. They should really take Brandyn Dombrowski (the guy who replaced McNeill at left tackle) and play him at right tackle.

Decision by Belichick to go for it fourth-and-1 from midfield is pretty defensible. Surprised they went with a handoff to Green-Ellis versus a sneak or a pass play, but still think it makes sense. Green-Ellis really didn't read his blocking very well; I think he gets it if he runs up underneath his left guard, but he kicked it outside where there were three defenders waiting. I can see the case for punting, but it keeps your worst unit (pass defense) on the sideline.

Aaron Schatz: Then the Chargers have a false start on the attempt to tie the game with a field goal, making it a 50-yard field goal, and Kris Brown (signed this week with Nate Kaeding injured) knocks it off the right upright. Chargers go to 2-5.

Oakland Raiders 59 at Denver Broncos 14

Bill Barnwell: The Raiders are up 21-0 within six minutes. Boy, am I excited for this 49ers-Broncos game next week.

After yet another Broncos turnover gives the Raiders the ball in the redzone, the Broncos strip McFadden. A Bronco goes to scoop it and can't, of course, and Jason Campbell recovers. The Broncos committed defensive holding on the play anyway, of course. Football!

Ryan Clady just took a hands to the face call against Kamerion Wimbley; he doesn't have any knee bend. A healthy Clady doesn't take that penalty.

Darren McFadden now has four touchdowns; it's safe to say he has the starting job in Raiders to himself again. The Raiders have 52 points with 20 minutes left in the game; no team's put up 60 in the regular season since the Bengals in 1989, and if anyone's going to want to run up the score for fun, it's Al Davis against the Broncos.

Minnesota Vikings 24 at Green Bay Packers 28

Bill Barnwell: Vikings just lined up on the opening third down in that same diamond formation we talked about during the Pats game. They also ran a screen to the back receiver; let's see when someone runs something different out of that set.

Vince Verhei: The Seahawks tried it in an earlier game. It was also a WR screen. It also failed. It's big neon sign saying WE ARE RUNNING A WR SCREEN. The next step would be a pump-fake to the back receiver, then a lob to one of the "blockers" who has slipped through the defense on a fade route, but I don't think I've seen that yet.

Aaron Schatz: Well, the Pats screens didn't fail. They both succeeded, although the one earlier in the season was better than today's.

Mike Tanier: There's a lot you can do from the diamond besides a screen. NFL coaches must just be on page one of that playbook.

Bill Barnwell: Aaron Rodgers is incapable of throwing to anyone but his tight end in the red zone. Quarless was double-covered and he still threw it. Of course, it worked.

Aaron Schatz: Cris Collinsworth saying that very few teams are willing to put their left tackles one-on-one against Jared Allen, but isn't that one of the big stories of the Vikings season -- that opponents seem perfectly willing to put their left tackles one-on-one against Allen, and they're pretty much all doing fine, because Allen isn't playing as well as years past?

David Gardner: Wow, what a fourth-down play call by the Packers on that bomb to Andrew Quarless. Even though it failed, I respect the originality of it.

Aaron Schatz: Aaron Rodgers just threw a pick at the goal line. Despite what Collinsworth said, the problem wasn't really the idea of throwing the ball to Jennings being covered by Frank Walker. The problem was that the ball was thrown behind Jennings, where Walker was, instead of ahead of Jennings, where the cornerback couldn't get it. Walker tips, Madieu Williams picks it off.

Packers are squib kicking in order to avoid returns by Percy Harvin. Man, I just hate that play. The Vikings were fifth in kick return value going into this game but still, Harvin is not having a Devin Hester 2006 season. The average Harvin return before tonight, not counting squibs, went to the Vikings 31, and that includes a touchdown return. The touchdown was the only return Harvin has brought back past the 50. To avoid that longshot touchdown, you are just handing the other team the ball around the 40. Heck, that last one after the Favre pick-six gave the Vikings the ball at the 42. The Packers might as well have just kicked it out of bounds. Unless you have a return man who is enjoying a historically great season, it's a bad strategy.

A few minutes later, and the Packers are going for it on fourth-and-1. John Kuhn takes the ball, gets stopped, then slowly rolls over the pile until he has the first down. The problem? The refs whistled the forward progress over before Kuhn was actually down. All these plays we've seen where the refs swallow their whistles because they are afraid of making a mistake, and here they whistle way too early. Worst part for the Packers is that Greg Jennings honestly had the first down on the previous play with forward progress -- but Mike McCarthy didn't challenge, perhaps afraid to blow his last challenge on a one-yard spot when he might need to keep it for a scoring play or turnover.

Bill Barnwell: Favre comes back and throws a pick, though, on a play where Favre's throw is late, Percy Harvin runs a lazy intermediate route, and Nick Collins comes out of nowhere to nab the ball out of the air.

Aaron Schatz: Hello, officials? Phil Loadholt on the final Vikings drive? Holding? Anyone want to call it? Hello?

OK, after a couple plays (and a great play call on an Adrian Peterson screen that had a ton of room to work) they do call Loadholt -- not just for holding, but for a face mask and a 15-yard penalty that makes it (along with the false start before it) first-and-30.

David Gardner: Wow. That Harvin catch wasn't even close. It just goes to show how difficult it is for officials to verify both possession and being inbounds at the same time.

Aaron Schatz: Just so it doesn't sound like the complaints about officiating are one-sided, I should point out that Pete Prisco is tweeting that Clay Matthews took his helmet off after the Harvin catch (that wasn't). Should have been a 15-yard penalty on Green Bay. Not sure which official is supposed to be looking for that stuff. You definitely can't ask one guy to look at the receiver's feet and hands simultaneously, but I'm guessing the "look for dudes taking off helmets" guy is a different guy.

Bill Barnwell: They showed a replay of it. Matthews' helmet came off in mid-play. He took it off, but it was during the play.

Aaron Schatz: So he didn't take it off, it came off? That's not a penalty. If he took it off, even in mid-play, it is a penalty.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 25 Oct 2010

325 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2010, 11:37am by Chocolate City


by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:38am

How 'bout those Rams! Oh, wait.

by Mikey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:44am

What are Fitzpatrick's DYAR going to look like tomorrow? Top ten pass-D equals good adjustments (I hope).

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:13pm

I may be missing something obvious, but I just don't get the circles the wagons thing - what does it mean?

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:18pm

I don't get cable or watch sportscenter, so I had to look it up, too.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:52pm



they play...

the game.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:05pm

I thought you played to win the game?

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:36pm

Hmm, good point. Maybe I was just rumblin', bumblin', stumblin' on that one.

by jtduffin :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:04pm

I'm not sure if the link from drobviousso made it clear to you or not - I believe that the phrase comes from the American frontier days, when colonists would travel west in groups of horse-drawn covered wagons. If they were attacked by Native Americans, they would pull their wagons together to make a circle to "huddle up" for defense. (Or so they say. My understanding of the actual events involved isn't solid enough for me to say whether or not this really happened regularly.)

So I think the quote that "nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills" is an allusion to this concept, made more apropos by the fact that the namesake of the Bills, "Buffalo" Bill Cody, was a "Wild West" guy himself.

Hopefully that is either a helpful explication, or it has entirely drained the life out of the joke - you be the judge. :-)

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:53am

Darren McFadden, official RB binky of one Bill Barnwell, finally gets his day. And of course the only commenter to note it was Barnwell. Who else would watch a Raider game?

by jmaron :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:53am

I think the Packers-Vikings game is such a perfect example of how much referees change games.

The two TD's in the first half that were questionable (Quarless and Shiancoe) could have been easily called the other way. If that happens it's 21-10. Then Moss gets called for a push off - he did it - good call - but often that goes uncalled. Those three calls can be the difference between 28-10 and 17-14.

I'm not arguing about the merits of calls, just pointing out how a few calls change a game so dramatically.

by mawbrew :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:55pm

I thought the Vikes scored a touchdown after that Shiancoe call. Am I misremembering? In any event, I done't understand how that wasn't a touchdown. It looked like a text book example of the Bert Emanuel rule.

by jmaron :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:09pm

no the Vikings ended up kicking a field goal after that play.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:27pm

Vikings scored a TD after Harvin's non-TD was overruled because he stepped out of bounds.

As for the Shiancoe thing, the ball did move (barely), but I really have no idea what the rule is to that level of subtlety. I think most refs call that a TD.

Lots of bad calls in both directions, but i think they mostly evened out. Without checking the game log, I think Shiancoe's non-TD came after the bogus late hit out of bounds on Harvin, so maybe those calls end up canceling out.

by mawbrew :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:49pm

Thanks for the correction.

Yeah, I thought that call against the Packers for the hit on Harvin was a bad call too. Harvin hadn't stepped out of bounds when the Packer player made contact. You could technically make an arguement that Harvin was clearly headed out at that point (barring his breaking the laws of physics), but geez you have to be able to push a ballcarrier before he hits the white.

by jmaron :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:09pm

The two TD calls (Shiancoe and Quarless) cost the Vikings 8 pts. Childress is saying the NFL says the refs got those wrong.

I doubt anything else in the game even's up a 8pt swing.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:43pm

Maybe so, but it's pure speculation to say what would have happened on some other calls.

The thing about bad calls on TDs, especially TDs on 3rd down, is that everyone knows pretty well what will happen if the call goes the other way. On other plays it's much more difficult to tell what would have happened, but that doesn't mean that these missed calls don't have the same effect on the game, whatever Chilly claims.

Was Shaincoe's TD ruling more important than the ball spot on Jennings 3rd down curl route that setup the failed 4th down conversion? We don't know. Shiancoe not getting the TD cost the Vikings 4 points. The Packers not getting that first down could have potentially cost them a chance to burn time off the clock, score a TD, and then kickoff to give the Vikings worse field position to start their final drive. Or not, who knows.

Without the clearly incorrect late hit out of bounds call, which directly preceded the Shiancoe play, the Vikings run a play from the 32 instead of the 17, meaning that the same completion only nets a 1st down around the 10-12 yard line. So maybe the Vikings end up settling for a FG anyways.

by Dan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:27pm

That late hit out of bounds personal foul was a terrible call. It's a penalty that referees are far too eager to call. On any other late hit call, referees understand that a defender can't stop himself instantaneously and allow a buffer where they won't throw a flag if the hit comes a just after the quarterback has thrown the ball, or the receiver has dropped the pass, or the ballcarrier is down by contact, or the runner has made it into the end zone. But on a late hit out of bounds they'll throw the flag on bang-bang plays where the contact comes right after the player steps out, and in some cases like this one they mess up and flag a hit that happened before a foot has even landed out of bounds.

Coaches should be allowed to challenge those calls, at least in the case where the player clearly had not stepped out of bounds before the contact. When the contact comes just after the player steps out it's a judgment call, but if it comes before then that is definitive evidence that the hit took place before the play was dead and thus cannot be a late hit.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:16pm

Agree--that is a major pet peeve of mine as well. OOB calls are especially terrible in College FB I think. I don't think they should call it unless contact is a couple of yards out of bounds or there's clearly unnecessary follow through on the hit.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:39pm

What seals the deal for me is seeing players take advantage of it by pretending they're about to run out of bounds, making the defenders slow down to avoid the penalty, then accelerating away. I've seen that exploited in the same way as a quarterback faking to slide. I hate to say it, but there needs to be a clarification - something like if the guy takes three steps past the sideline - as many officials clearly aren't using common sense in their definition of late.

by Chocolate City (not verified) :: Thu, 10/28/2010 - 11:31am

Those calls overwhelmingly get called on the offensive team's sideline because everyone on the bench goes apeshit as soon as the contact comes. The refs get jittery and the flag comes out.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:20pm

No, they kicked a Field Goal. Of course, as an owner of Favre and Harvin in a close fantasy match-up, I have to say the Minnesota game was extra frustrating. Lost three TDs to replay overturns in one game. That must be some kind of record.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:00pm

Big swing between the best and worst case scenarios for either team, which illustrates your point, but also that consistency in the calls is of the utmost importance to a game's officiating not creating an unfair advantage for either team.

Admittedly, I'm a Vikings fan, but I thought the calls favored the team that won last night.

by jmaron :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:16pm

I thought the same as well. But I'm a fan as well.

Those back to back TD decisions were a killer for the Vikings. But the Quarless TD should have been challenged by the Vikings whether or not they see a replay. It makes sense to toss the challenge flag in that situation. It would simply be a smart gamble. Review the situation for a coach who hasn't seen a replay or not received any feedback from up top:

1) it was third down and 8 - if the call is reversed you safe at least 4 pts.
2) The play was very close to the end line. Maybe his feet are out?
3) He was hit hard. Did he bobble it?

What do you lose by challenging and being wrong. One challenge - you still had both. And one 1st half timeout.

Seems like a no brainer gamble to challenge.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:36pm

Agreed on the challenge attempt. I couldn't tell what hit first - his back out of bounds or his butt in the end zone. It was close on that, although not indisputable, but the bobble was something I didn't notice before the replays.

by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:02pm

Which were not displayed until after the PA was kicked.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:20pm

I thought the exact opposite. McCarthy had to use two challenges on obvious calls, which probably stopped him from throwing his third on another obvious one (that spot that led to the 4th down that should've converted but didn't due to the early whistle), Loadholt was holding all night, uncalled, and the refs also initially signalled TD on that Harvin catch, which would've required yet another red flag if it had been outside of 2:00 to play.

The only thing that went the Pack's way was the first TD, which was so obviously blown that one can only blame Childress for not throwing the flag.

Games are routinely officiated that poorly or worse, so it really made me laugh when Childress went off about the refs afterwards. Especially since every review done was correct.

Re: the Shiancoe TD, the ball clearly moved quite a bit when it hit the ground, which makes it an easy call. If he had it securely between his hands (it was kind of low, more like between his wrists) and those hands moved with the ball, that'd demonstrate control (or possession, or whatever word they use in writing), but since it moved into his body like that, it could be argued that the ground helped him secure possession.

It's kind of a stupid rule, since it's quite clear that Shiancoe wasn't going to drop that ball, but I understand the need for it.

Re: the game in general, there's still something wrong with the Packers. That the Vikings were even in position to win in the end there should be embarrassing for them. They got three gifts and even with the injuries, have arguably the better team. They've still got a lot of work to do.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:54am

Also, I love NFC North games. They've overtaken AFC East and NFC East games for me in terms of entertainment. Lions/Vikings/Packers/Bears-- any game featuring two of these teams playing each other is instantly memorable.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:13pm

Oh it's still the NFC West for me. Nothing gives me a buzz like a Cards-Seahawks festival of fumbles and field goals.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:25pm

It's a different type of enjoyment, but I will admit that NFC West games have their appeal.

I just like NFC North games because the teams on the whole have good to decent talent (even the Lions, at least on offense) but will consistently fuck up in weird and unpredictable ways (see also: Dallas). And having horrible game management coaches only helps (excepting Detroit, I guess).

by TBW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:42pm

For sheer comic enjoyment nothing beats a Chargers game. It's like that movie where Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin inhabited the same body and fought to control it. Sometimes the good Chargers take control for a few minutes and keep the game tight and make you think they might pull it out, then the bad Chargers take over and start leaving the ball lying around the field for the other team, or forget to block on kicks, or forget to wait for the snap on kicks, or forget to tackle on kicks....

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:37pm

That's potentially the weirdest thing about this season. The Lions were supposed to be more of a factor this season (and they have been; they've been close in every game, threatened at the end of all except the Vikings game, and of course there's the win against the Rams) ... but if they become a factor in the division, it'll be because the other three teams completely collapsed.

In a sense, the Lions caught a really bad break in their schedule. They've already played (and lost) their three divisional road games. If they got to play those games now, it wouldn't surprise me to see them beat both Chicago and Minnesota. (I don't think the secondary is good enough to beat Green Bay.) I definitely feel better about the home games now than I did before the season ...

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:17pm

Hey, the Lions still have major spoiler potential. The Vikings might be out of the hunt if they lose to NE this week (or not, considering that no team can create separation in this division), but the Bears and Packers could have a tight finish with or without any collapses.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:54am

Did the Dolphins make the right call not going for 2 when they had the chance? I know it's early in the game but it seemed like trying to tie the game instead of being down one made sense. The end of the game made no sense and I don't even want to talk about it :)

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:04pm

Not going for two with 2:00 left in the first half? I don't see that as a mistake.

As for the last drive of the game, I suspect that, given the quality of PIT's pass defense, if Henne had tried to throw downfield we would be talking about how he recklessly threw a game-ending pick and cost his team the game.

There are teams who can drive down the field against the Steelers when passing is the only option. I don't think the Dolphins are that team. Henne was kind of in a no-win situation there.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:02pm

Matthews actually took his helmet off *during* his pass rush. I got the impression that he did it to keep Loadholt from grabbing his facemask again, since he practically had his head ripped off during the play that Loadholt got the penalty on - or to taunt him. Either way, by the letter of the rules, it should have been a penalty on Matthews.

by otros :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:37pm

(100% speculation) To me it looked like in the initial surge his helmet moved in a way that impeded his vision somewhat, so he took it off.

PS. That was a clear cut 15 yarder as there is.

by n8 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:03pm

The ill-fitting helmets are an epidemic. Someone needs to keep a statistic of how many times helmets pop off during games. It's purely stupid. If they want to prevent concussions, they need to ensure proper fit on the helmets.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:37pm

I suspect in most cases it's not that the helmet is ill fitting but that the chin strap is not properly fashioned.

There is actually a rule on the books that they choose not to enforce where you can be flagged for illegal procedure if your chin strap is not properly fashioned. It'll never happen. The sad thing is, it used to be a fashion statement among DBs to have 3 or 4 snaps on the strap and only snap one of them. Always thought that looked rediculous.

by Led :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:11pm

You mean "fastened" not "fashioned", right? The former is the fault of the user, the latter is the fault of the manufacturer. Riddell lawyers were getting nervous!

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:38pm

Yes, fastened.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:33pm

I still remember doing that in Pee Wee so I could be like Deion. Coaches used to be confused why I was doing that, but thankfully never protested.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:40pm

Why on earth would you WANT to be like Deion???

In the 90s, one of my favorite sayings - especially when trying to mentor younger people - was "try to emulate Sanders. Barry, not Deion."

And of course, he never had any trouble with his helmet falling off because he would have had to hit someone first.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:59pm

When you're 12 years old, flashy footballplayers just have a higher appeal. And Deion was flashy. At 12 years of age five nice wrap-up tackles by a corner for a gain of one just isn't as pleasing as an athletic INT or punt-return.

In fact I'd say you'd have to be a coach to feel much differently.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:11pm

Either that or a smart kid.

Back then, I was still young enough to be in ESPNs target marketing demographic. I still knew I was seeing douchebaggery.

The sad thing is the lasting legacy of Deion Sanders isn't his return skills, it isn't his touchdowns, it isn't prima-donna comments like "they're gonna have to put me on layaway" (draft day). It isn't even his prodigious coverage ability. The real lasting effect he had on the game was the misguided notion that you should somehow be allowed to play defense and not tackle. An entire generation of CBs have been allowed to have their tackling skills erode on the notion that if they can cover like Deion - and most of them can't - then they should be allowed to be pansies and not tackle. It's F'n disgusting.

by Chocolate City (not verified) :: Thu, 10/28/2010 - 11:37am

I think that's true to an extent, particularly in the pros, where guys are drafted solely on coverage skills. However, the spread offense exposed a lot of that in the college game. I think corners are far better tacklers than they were 10 years ago on the whole. You still see bad tackling, but it's for other reasons than the Deion principle these days.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:32pm

Yeah, I remember thinking the "one or two unbuckled straps" look was pretty awesome, though I didn't (usually) emulate it. I don't know if it was Sanders or Michael Irvin who did it first, but the ironic thing is that I HATED both of them! By the early 2000s, it had spread to QBs (McNabb, Vick, and eventually Brady). I think they decided to ban it shortly after Brady started doing it.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:44pm

It's kind of a shame they banned it. Well, not really, but it means that I won't be an old man snarling at the TV and raving that "back in my day, if we didn't buckle our chinstraps, we got flagged for illegal procedure!"

And they did flag us for it in pee-wees and junior high. I think by the time we got to high school, people had learned.

I guess I'll have to tell the neighborhood kids to stay off my damn lawn instead.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:28pm

Because I was a corner back, and Deion was the best. (Nevermind that at the Pee Wee level there's little to no passing and CB/S was where they put all the skinny kids who couldn't be trusted in the trenches, making my only job to make sure no one ran around the edge-- something Sanders never really did).

And lets face it, you just hated Deion because he was a Cowboy (or maybe you also hated him as a 49er?). I was always an NBA fan first growing up, and thus actually liked personality, as long it was backed up by good play. Most football players, especially back then, had zero personality. Deion wouldn't stand out as outlandish now, but back then he was just different from everyone else.

Also, EVERYONE agreed that the unstrapped look was cool.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:30pm

I got stuck back there for the same reasons. I'm probably a couple years older, but I wanted to be Wes Hopkins. And Steve Largent on offense. I still own my old Largent jersey, and I still have the best hands on my rec league team, and I'm still never going to be described as a "deep threat."

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:00pm

That is a bit more than 2 years older than me. Both of those guys retired before I played my first down of pee-wee. ('94-'95)

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:19pm

Yeah, Deion Sanders was clearly an unpopular player who no one would ever want to emulate. Was treated like a pariah, and ostracized from all media and team functions.

by Hippo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:06pm

I think you mean fastened not fashioned? because if we're talking about improperly manufactured chinstraps then that's a different issue.

by otros :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:40pm

According to TMQ (Easterbrook) a couple of weeks ago, both are the same penalty, not using the strap and using and ill fitting helmet.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:03pm

Loadholt had shoved Mathews helmet so that the chin strap was now suffocating him. What was he supposed to do? Run to the sideline to adjust his helmet so he could see and breathe?

That does not change the fact that the officials were letting folks play unless it was just out and out ridiculous. Mathews was routinely getting dragged down and otherwise manhandled while Kevin Williams was getting similar treatment. Holding was rampant.

Pretty impressive pass rush most of the night considering that Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal were all out and Jenkins and Neal are 2/3 for pass rush among Packer linemen. GB was down to three healthy d-linemen for the game and two of them were third string.

Capers kept the game close by giving Favre a break by blitzing too often. Favre eats up blitzes because he has been around 100 years. GB did a lot better with straight coverage.

Rodgers checked down more often but still forced some throws downfield. He seems to be on some kind of mission to go downtown at least 10 times a game.

Brandon Jackson rushed 13 times for 58 yards. He also ran some great screens. He's a find pass blocker. Maybe McCarthy is worried about wearing him out but 20 carries a game sounds appropriate and would keep defenses more honest.

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:33pm

Yeah, I think Jackson could do with a few more carries. I like Kuhn, but she should never, ever, be carrying the ball.

by ebongreen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:34pm

I continue to wonder why the Packers don't screen and draw more often. Their straight-ahead running game isn't that impressive, and everyone knows that McCarthy wants to pass the ball. Jackson's done some great work in those two play styles - why don't they make'em staples?

I know it'd annoy the bejesus out of me if I were a pass rusher - real pass, fake pass-to-run, or fake-pass-to-screen? Make the opposition work for their sacks rather than depending on Rodgers' amateur-Houdini act. The O-line did pretty good work last night, but they were suspect last week vs. Miami. Hello, West Coast offense - let's have some!

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:38pm

I have found Capers to be the master of the obvious, completely predictable and easily blocked, 3rd and long blitz that allows the easy conversion. He did it a lot last year against the Vikes, did it in the Steelers game, and did it in the AZ playoff game. Basically, in every game where their D got destroyed, he was sending the type of blitzes TMQ likes to write about. In these cases, I agree. Straight defense, well-executed, favors the stop, while blitzing in situations like that is just asking to get burned.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:08pm

I'm not saying Antwan Barnes isn't a good player (he probably is!). But beating Matt Light like a rented mule proves nothing about the quality of the DLman.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:08pm

"Bill Barnwell: Steve Beuerlein just referred to Derrick Mason as Anthony Mason. That was a great moment."

"Deltawhikey: Schatz just just referred to Antan Barnes as an excellet edition. That was a great moment."

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:19pm

"Danish Denver-Fan: DeltaWhiskey just referred to himself as Deltawhikey. That was a great moment."

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:36pm

Damn, wish I were clever enough to have done that on purpose. Kind of makes my point...I think.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:09pm

This Redskins-Bears game is probably the worst game of the year

I didn't see it, but both of those teams have been terrible to watch all year long. I would, however, put in a word for Bears-Panthers and Cards-Saints in terms of setting the awfulness bar.

Stereotype watch: on NFL Net, Steve Mariucci said of Jordan Shipley's long catch-and-run: "I didn't know he had that kind of speed."

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:26pm

The first half of Giants-Bears was awful too. The Giants got it together in the second half (probably because Cutler went out of the game), but during the first half neither team could manage anything.

by MP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:48pm

For the record, the complete drive chart of the Redskins-Bears game: punt, punt, punt, punt, INT, TD, FG, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, TD, kneeldown, fumble, punt, INT, INT, INT, fumble, fumble, INT, missed FG, punt, punt, INT, kneeldown.

I can't remember ever seeing another game that had six straight turnovers. That's got to be the worst game of the season so far.

by Mike Elseroad (not verified) :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 1:32am

The Ravens/Bengals affair in week 2 gets my vote as the worst game of the year.

Aaron & co. should add that as a category at the end-of-the-season awards.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:11pm

The overturn of the Vikings touchdown was a horrible decision. That's a ref making stuff up for whatever reason.

It was pretty obvious that Childress was working to keep from having Favre make any tough throws. Peterson was the focus all night and was wonderful. Just an incredible player.

by Geo B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:42pm

Looked pretty clear on my 52" LCD that he fell on the ball trapping it, did not have contol.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

by tracingplan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:37pm

I have no rooting interest in the game either but it seemed clear to me that what he had when he hit the ground was not what should be called "control." He kinda had control, like he probably would have controlled it, but he did not yet control it.

by Spielman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:30pm

Hell, it moved less than the Spurlock sideline catch that helped the Bucs beat Cincy two weeks ago.

by Sidewards :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:20pm

If David Carr's career's in a nutshell, it's a cracked one, amiright?

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:25pm

David Carr's career in a nutshell is a coverage sack.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:21pm

Or a blown-block sack, or scrambling for my-life sack or...

by Harris :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:21pm

I'm really hoping Sean McDermott lands a Martz Award this week for stubbornly refusing to adjust his defense while Kenny Britt picked up more yardage and nearly as many touchdowns in one game as he had ALL SEASON.

Hail Hydra!

by bubqr :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:22pm

Come on Harris, we can criticize McDermott for not benching Hobbs, but not for his calls.

Britt was double covered all game after his first TD, with Hobbs trailing inside and Nate Allen over the top : Hobbs was absolutely awful, I mean dead awful, some of the worst trailing technique/execution I've seen in years (no Ellis, losing your footing 10 yards away is not "covering"), and N.Allen was schooled, looked slow and hesitant.

The K.Britt thing is completely an execution problem IMO. If your DBs can't run a basic double inside/outside coverage, there's nothing to do about it.

by otros :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:48pm

After watching Hobbs career in NE, you just know that that Hobbs never trail inside, he's only comfortable giving the twelve yards cushion en every play, regardless of down and distance.

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:22pm

Looked to me like Matthews actively took his helmet off. Not sure what motivated that--maybe the flowing locks were begging to be set free.

by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:33pm

I have read Matthews helmet was dislodged during the chip on that play, but he most decidedly grabbed his helmet and pulled it off. And yes, the flowing locks streaming behind him as he rushed the passer were glorious.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:36pm

I have read that when he strikes his helmet upon the ground, he is instantly transformed from crippled Dr. Donald Blake into the mighty Clay Matthews. He was probably afraid Loldholt was going to knock his head back into the turf, and Dr Blake has no speed rush.

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:24pm

I guess Rob Weintraub was on bye this week. He's my must-read Cincinnati analyst.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:38pm

If Rob is anything like my two Bengal-fan friends, he's either still out on the ledge, or he's "relaxing" and "making progress."

by Mikey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:28pm

I don't want to alarm anyone, but has anyone seen Raiderjoe since the game yesterday? That seems like the kind of victory that would finally push him over the edge.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:24pm

Sierra Nevada stock is up by 31 percent.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:55pm

I was thinking the same thing. I have a mental image of Raiderjoe, midway through the second quarter, standing on top of a house a la Billy Crudup in Almost Famous shouting "I am a Golden God!" and jumping off the roof.

by jtduffin :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:11pm


KC Chefs have good tema this year, but Charges llook terrble and Denver Borncos going to go about 4-12 now. Orto decent q b but defense stinks. Raders on track to win divison if can get past Chefs and if QBs can play halfway decnt.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:42pm

I'm sure he's fine. He's probably celebrating the complete annihilation of their biggest rival, and he'll show up eventually to point out that he knew this would happen all along.

Because you know, if he had posted that the Raiders would win like 59-14 or something like that, we would have dismissed it as crazy talk.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:28pm

Oh, and one other comment - this is obviously the homer in me talking, but the Bills got jobbed in OT. I was still pretty shocked at how Fitzpatrick carved up the Ravens, though. I'll take signs of hope, however small.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:32pm

Jason Worilds, pronounced Jason Worlds.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:32pm

while Belichicks decision to go for it on 4th and 1 could be defended, it shouldnt be applauded (like that hack greenberg was doing on espn this morning). A coach as good as BB has to know his team's strengths and weaknesses, and short yardage running seems to fall in the latter category.

Just look at the three scenarios:
- Punt (ball likely lands between 10 and 15 yard line, SD must get at least 50-55 yards in 1:45 with 3 timeouts just to have a game tying FG attempt)
- Go for it and make it (assuming a 3 and out follows). Same situation except SD must go the same yardage in less time and 0 timeouts.
- Go for it and miss it. SD only needs 15-20 yards for a tying fg, and if played properly has a real chance to score a TD to win.

If NE punted there was no realistic way they could lose in regulation, and as an added bonus SD needs 50 yards to have a shot at tying the game. By going for it, they put themselves into a position to lose the game in regulation and almost assured themselves of having to play OT. The fact that it did not backfire doesnt make it right.

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:35pm

Teams with three timeouts remaining and two minutes of clock *do* score touchdowns sometimes, especially when they're hurrying things up. I'm not saying San Diego would have scored a touchdown after a NE punt there, but you can't dismiss the possibility out of hand.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:28pm

And certainly not when you are fielding a shaky secondary against one of the best QB's of the league. I'd say a TD from the 15 with ~2minutes a 3 timeouts is almost likely. It's not like NE had been shutting them down - more like SD giving the ball away.

by TBW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:51pm

Belichick was rubbing it in, and I ,for one, find it disgusting. He knew that San Diego was going to lose one way or another, to purposely turn the ball over in his own territory in order to make the Chargers ultimate failure even more heartbreaking is cruel and despicable. Good sportsmanship dictates that he punt the ball away and let the Chargers quietly go 3 and out, or throw a pick, or just leave the ball lying around on the field somewhere.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:58pm

Say what you will about the Chargers, but their roster isn't full of the type of person who will quit and take the ball home with him.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:50pm

Pats: 82 percent rushing in short-yardage situations going into yesterday, fourth in the NFL. Pats have been above-average in Power situations for at least four straight years, probably more. It actually is a strength.

by B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:14pm

I agree, but against the Chargers it wasn't much of one. Not that the rest of the offense was much better, but on their only good drives, the running play was only effective when they had the threat of a pass.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:40pm

Perhaps. But look at the replay. Barnwell was right -- if BJGE had gone behind the guard instead of bouncing it outside into the arms of three waiting defenders he very likely would have had the first down.

by mawbrew :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:17pm

A few years ago, it seemed the Pats would frequently spread the field on short yardage and have Brady 'sneak' for the necessary yardage. I haven't noticed them doing that recently (maybe since his knee injury?). Do they still try that play?

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:32pm

Is it really a strength from the I formation? I'd have thought those results had more to do with how they approach short yardage than how effective they are at power running. I was fine with the decision, but wasn't particularly enamoured with the playcall.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:33pm

fair enough, i was going moreso by simmons' whining than anything else.

by otros :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:54pm

Even before Aaron clarification, so, assuming that they have lousy short running game, you have to think this pass defense is by far the worst unit in the team. So it's a problem of playcall, no the choice of going for it.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:07pm

Why are you assuming that a 3 and out follows? That's part of the reason to go for it in the first place.

If NE gets the first down, at a minimum, San Diego will have to burn all of their timeouts, and on top of that, they'll get the ball back with less than a minute to play. They could either get a touchdown to all but ice the game or get another first down to do the same (getting it on 1st down would mean less than :20 remaining, and on 2nd down or later, NE could kill the clock).

Also, a punt can be returned for a touchdown or blocked; while the average punt might land between the 10 and 15, there's no guarantee this specific punt would. (New England has the second-fewest punts in the league this season, so conclusions from their data are more difficult to draw, but of their 20 punts, 6 have landed inside the 20 and none have gone into the end zone.)

I agree with other commenters that it's entirely realistic for San Diego to drive the length of the field with three timeouts, and in fact, I think you have it backward: if the Patriots converted the fourth-down attempt, there's no realistic way they lose, and as an added bonus, the Chargers have to use their timeouts on defense.

New England's DVOA on third-and-short plays this year is 23.3%, 6th in the NFL, and on third and fourth downs as a whole, it's 76.8%. If any team ought to be going for it, it's New England. Perhaps a run wasn't necessarily the best call (even though FO keeps pointing out that run plays tend to be more successful in these situations than pass plays and that coaches call too many pass plays), but it's hard for me to imagine a situation that would justify NE punting.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:44pm

And keep in mind the issues NE's long snapper was having. A block or bad punt was probably more likely than the usual baseline for NE yesterday.

by Rocco :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:07pm

"Also, a punt can be returned for a touchdown or blocked; while the average punt might land between the 10 and 15, there's no guarantee this specific punt would. "

Are you familiar at all with the Chargers special teams this year?

by Jetspete :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 3:47pm

I go back to my original scenarios, using Aaron's caveat that the Pats had an 82% chance at conversion. Let's give SD the benefit of a strong defense and home crwod and say NE had a 75% chance of converting. However, the conversion does not guarantee you victory. SD still wouldve had a great chance to get the ball back, albeit with zero timeouts and needing 50 yards for tying field goal range. This wasnt a scenario where Brady could kneel down three times, in which case i might be inclined to agree.

The drawback is the 20-25% chance that SD takes over at midfield with 3 timeouts. A FG is almost assured and SD has, as the Pats fans here have already mentioned, a great chance at a touchdown. At that point you have to look in what position you are putting your defense. By punting you give your defense a real shot to stop Rivers and end the game. By not punting you give your defense almost little chance to prevent.

Though I will say that as a Jets fan, i'm encouraged that Pats fans have so little faith in the NE defense that they think it is a real possibility Rivers could move 85 yards against them in a 2 minute situation.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 4:53pm

Though I will say that as a Jets fan, i'm encouraged that Pats fans have so little faith in the NE defense that they think it is a real possibility Rivers could move 85 yards against them in a 2 minute situation.

I think it's a real possibility Rivers could move the San Diego offense 85 yards against almost any defense in a 2 minute situation. It's unlikely that he would, even against New England, but definitely made more likely with a tired defense, three time outs, and a play stoppage for the change of possession.

On the other hand, I thought at that point it was a real possibility Brian Hoyer could move 85 yards against them in a 2 minute situation, especially given that they'd been on the field for two consecutive relatively long drives a short time beforehand. I was watching that drive and thinking "let them score quickly so we've time to come back", not "we can win this by playing defense and letting them make a mistake".

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:35pm

Hate to be Mr. grammar nazi, but the overuse of "promptly" is getting annoying.

/standard english-is-not-my-first-language disclaimer.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:51pm

Can we bring back "post haste" instead? I'd love to hear Troy Aikman say it.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:38pm

P. D. Q.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:44pm

Immediatly, if not sooner.

(credit to my late, temporally-challenged mother)

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:36pm

Shawn Nelson (the runner at the end of the Ravens's game?) was NOT down. His forward momentum was NOT stopped. It was clear that he was still moving forwards, although he was being carried along by like 10 guys, the yardage he accrued this way would have been granted if he hadn't been stripped... so why should the fumble not count?

Great play by Ray Lewis. Just, awsome.

by Mike W :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:42pm

I call bullshit on the Pit-Mia refs. How many times have we seen a scrum that takes the refs two minutes to untangle (yes, many times) and how many times have they shrugged and said, “We don’t know, so we’ll call it a draw, and tie goes to the offense?” (yes, never). Why handle things differently in the end zone? Regardless of whether the rule book (once again) allows the refs to avoid making a decision, they should make a call there. By refusing to make a call, they got the call wrong. Period.

Nice job by the Was-Chi announcing team (Brennaman?) pointing out Torain doing a terrible job missing an opening on a 4th down run, and then showing the replay. You so rarely get treated to an assessment of whether a RB is making good or bad choices, even though it’s often not difficult to tell.

GB-Min game:

Capers blitzing Favre – In. Sane.

Aaron’s analysis of the GB decision to squib kick away from Harvin misses the issue that the GB special teams are completely horrid, as usual.

McCarthy had to challenge that Jennings spot. Like playoff baseball, you win the game you’re playing today. Horrible decision. Another example of coaching to minimize the chance of being asked a ‘tough’ question.

There was a play - just before, I think - the Harvin non-TD where Matthews took off his helmet for a moment after a play because the previous play's hands-to-face got his hair tangled up. I think the referee saw that and gave him a mulligan.

Why is the NBC hi-def picture so bad? Is it not 2010 at NBC?

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:58pm

"Aaron’s analysis of the GB decision to squib kick away from Harvin misses the issue that the GB special teams are completely horrid, as usual."

If only Aaron had some data on hand to support his assertion.

I'm fully aware of the nature of the Audibles, and it is truly one of my favorite reads of the week. I appreciate all of the knowledgeable eyes reviewing various aspects of the games they've chosen to watch and applying the data and info from this site to that experience, but there seems to be a significant amount time that looks like the FO writers calling out the kettle.

The parts

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:29pm

Especially when Harvin killed the Packers last year, he returned one kick this game for 48 yards, and the Packers have the worst coverage teams in the league. (Yes, Chargers fans, worse than San Diego.) Under no conditions should the Packers kick to any returner who is a decent threat to score. It sucks that two of the best are in their division.

by Mystyc :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:15pm

Yeah, the refs will almost always untangle the scrum, but only when the players in it are fighting for a live ball. That play was dead the second a touchdown was called. I'm not defending the result, but the rules are the rules. The blown call was on the field, not after the replay.

by Mike W :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:40pm

That's not how it was reported, nor is it how the referees explained their call.

by Mike W :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:25pm

Exactly. Thank you. He never says dead ball, play stopped, anything like that. Just that they couldn't determine possession.

by Mystyc :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:07pm

Semantics. They couldn't determine possession from the video, which was necessary because they didn't determine possession on the field. They didn't determine possession on the field because the original ruling was a touchdown.

Asking referees to determine possession of a dead ball means asking players to fight for possession of a dead ball. That's a bad idea for obvious reasons, right?

by Mike W :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:46pm

You're arguing something different now. Besides, it's fairly clear from the video who fell on the ball. Not completely, but would you be upset if you had to put money on it?

The point is that the referees should have made a decision, even if it was a best guess, even if they were only 51% sure. The only reason not to do so is if the whistle was blown and it was a dead ball, and the referees emphatically did not say that, even given multiple opportunities.

by Mystyc :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:07pm

The point is that they had no reason to make any such decision. When does a touchdown result in anything other than a dead ball? Whether the referee used your preferred wording or not, there was no reason for them to untangle the pile if the play on the field was deemed over.

by otros :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:02pm

The reason for untangling the pile is that the sports includes the possibility for reversing calls on the field. So, no, TD and a lost ball aren't clear-cut-play-is-dead situations.

But, "the referees should have made a decision, even if it was a best guess, even if they were only 51% sure. The only reason not to do so is if the whistle was blown and it was a dead ball," You mean on the field, right? Because that can't be done that way on the review.

by Tim F. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:36pm

The problem I have with that is: most of the crew saw that it was a fumble and did try to make the call right by proceeding into the scrum to clean it up and look for possession.

Secondly, most of the calls I've seen a fumble reviewed did not seem to bother with the second element of confirmation because it was already confirmed on the field. (Now most of these were clean, easy to see recoveries, but I don't know what is more confirming then an actual official picking a guy off the field who is on top of the ball and saying, "White ball!")

(Less significant because it's just lousy, bad officiating we see every week, but the referee running down the field, blowing his whistle out because the linesman raises the TD signal seems a little iffy when the rest of the crew is digging into a pile that they think is a significant gamechanging play -- and so did both teams (Love how two separate Steelers both say they had possession but then dropped it when they called TD; has any player ever given up possession based on an initial call?). How often do we see a linesman raises his hands for TD, and then a 2 minute conversation occurs?)

But thems are the breaks. Not trying to be a crybaby.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:51pm

As a PIT fan, given the defensive injuries, the way MIA had moved the ball, and how PIT has struggled last year and against BAL to close games out late, I was worried that MIA was going to march it down the field.

I thought that MIA's attempt to run the 2 min. offense was one of the most anemic attempts I've seen in a long-time. The running play to start it made no sense to me, and on subsequent plays, the Dolphins just seemed lifeless. I realize that the call in the endzone was a heartbreaker, but they were only down by one with more than 2 minutes to play. Did anybody else get the sense they absolutely failed to recover?

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:58pm

Watching Roethlisberger in teh PIT game, it was pretty clear that he fumbled before crossing the goal line. It was almost a yard short (right where they spotted the ball afterwards) and should never have been called a TD. At the very least, they should have erred on the side of it being a fumble, since, in that case, they would be able via challenge to determine the correct call either way. But since they already ruled it a TD and blew the whistle now they had no chance to correct the call...

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:17pm

When the play happened, the ref didn't even wait five seconds before making the announcement to the crowd that it was a touchdown. When does that ever happen? They couldn't pick through the pile? They couldn't confer? I've never seen a ref make an announcement to the crowd like that within five seconds of the play ending: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZM1AU5svoc

Isn't this why they used to have the rule that you err on the side of calling it a fumble? I didn't really like the way that was worded, but it seems pretty obvious that the ref should see who recovered the ball before making a call.

by CraigInDC :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:56am

When the play happened, the ref didn't even wait five seconds before making the announcement to the crowd that it was a touchdown. When does that ever happen? They couldn't pick through the pile? They couldn't confer? I've never seen a ref make an announcement to the crowd like that within five seconds of the play ending

This makes it sound like you have a perfect memory of every touchdown call you've ever seen, and that none of them were done like this. Much more likely, you don't remember the vast majority of them because it was unimportant how quickly the ref made the announcement, and some of them were done like this. While I agree that they should have sorted it out, I don't think this was some very unusual, major mistake by the refs the way your wording makes it sound. These things happen.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:44pm

Just for giggles. Adam Schefter on Aug. 25, 2009 (his first ESPN post):

"He's getting a lot of heat now, but someone who knows coaches well predicted to me that McDaniels is going to be one of the greatest NFL coaches ever. Strong words, I know, and we'll see. But I think he's going to be a real good one."

by Athelas :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:13pm

I think that 'someone' might have been Peter King.

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:41pm

Or Michael Lombardi, who thinks really highly of McDaniels and is a former co-worker.

by otros :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:05pm

I have faith in McDaniels future as a coach. Granted things are not going well in his first attempt, but that's hardly unheard of.

by t.d. :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 3:42am

I think mhe's a decent coach. He's a "cover your eyes" awful GM

by BucNasty :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:46pm

The Bucs' O-line is certainly the weakest link in the offense, but they're usually not that bad. The starting center (Faine) and left guard (Vincent) were out for the game, and the starting RT (Trueblood) was out as well for the final drive, and it showed. It seemed like every positive play was called back, and the ones that weren't were eventually nullified by false starts.

by Gridiron Grammarian (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:14pm

For the first time in living memory, I'm currently more concerned about the Bucs D-line than the O-line. What is going on with their run defense?

by Sander :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:12pm

For the first time in living memory, really? You missed all of last year then?

Also, young DTs don't help, especially not when Raheem Morris insisted on playing 3-3-5 for half the snaps until this game (when we didn't play a single snap of 3-3-5). But it's been the back-end play more than the D-line play in the run game. Often someone will miss a tackle extremely close to the line of scrimmage, and then the next tackler gets him 8 yards downfield.

by Gridiron Grammarian (not verified) :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 3:30pm

Due to work, I actually did miss being able to watch/listen to the first 12 games last season. I think there might be some selective memory/desire to forget on my part there, too. I just remember something weird going on where the defense was completely dismantled and changed around for, what seemed to me, no good reason. But from what I've been able to catch this year (mostly just radio broadcasts), the run D was at least acceptable until the last couple of games.

As an aside, Coach Morris announcing "We're the best team in the NFC!" right after barely beating the Rams by 1 point? Oh my dear lord...

by Geo B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:51pm

Aaron -

It's your site, you do great work - so here's my question:

Top 5 QBs - I'll give you:

1) Brady
2) Manning
3) Brees

So if Roethlisberger is NOT a top 5 - who are the other two?

Rivers? Call me back when SD has a winning record or wins a playoff game
Schaub? Maybe, call me back when the Texans make the playoffs

Just saying that as a Steeler fan I'm trying to list the QB's I'd rather have, and I'm not coming up with many I'd trade #7 for (assuming he stays out of further off-field trouble of course). Those top 3 and that's it so far.

(is it time for the "all he does is win" cliche? ;-)

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:54pm

Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:57pm

I say this as a Steelers fan: selection bias, which was kind of the point of the comment.

by Geo B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:35pm

Lester - you might get me to agree with Aaron Rodgers - would have to look closer as his record. Certainly a top 10 QB, but better than Roethlisberger? Not sure.

Rivers - like I said, call me back when he wins a playoff game. He's got good numbers but not many big wins.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:42pm

I don't know what debate you're having, but it's not top 5 QBs. Maybe it's top 5 teams with good QBs? Maybe it's top 5 QBs with good teams? In any case it's more complicated than "top 5 QBs."

by B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:08pm

It's obviously Top 5 QBs with Super Bowl rings. So the guy missing from the conversation is Eli Manning. Well, and Favre, and, uhhh, Brad Johnson? If he's still in the League.

by Kurt :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:52pm

Talentwise, Kurt Warner is probably still a top ten QB today.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:51pm

It's top-five CLUTCH QBs because it's all about big wins and clutchness, clutchness and big wins. And if you suck but your team wins, then you are clutch, my friend, and just win games. Who can forget that titanic first SB win Ben R had? Now that is the very definition of a great QB, having a great game, in a clutch situation. Without him, they... uh, wait, time for my meds. Okay, fixed, now where was I?

FTR, I think he's an excellent QB. Just thought the argument was silly.

by Jerry :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:08pm

I think that at the time, you were still getting over what he did to the Colts a couple weeks earlier.

by troycapitated p... :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 11:14pm

The part I found interesting was that up until a few years ago, if you tried to argue that Roethlisberger was a top 5 QB, people would point to his lack of big stats and say he's not asked to do anything. Now a few seasons later, it's that his stats inflate his value.

Was it a dumb play? Maybe. Then again, I've seen him do it successfully in the past and he's hardly the only QB I've ever seen attempt a similar play.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:49pm

From my perspective, there just aren't 5 top-5 QBs. There's P Manning, Brady, and Brees. After those three, there's a tier of arguably several similarly decent, but flawed QBs; in no particular order, Rodgers, Rivers, Rothlisberger, Cutler, E Manning, Orton (it still hurts typing that), Schaub, and Romo. (Pardon me if I missed anyone, though I might also include Flacco and Ryan.) Then there's a mix of too old or too young, including Favre, McNabb, Stafford, Bradford, the Sanchize, Freeman, Hasselbeck, Palmer, and a few others. Lastly are those who should never start even if they were once good as demonstrated by Anderson and Delhomme. Of course, Rothlisberger is still a douche.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:08pm

Good post, and I largely agree. There are fairly clear tiers of quarterback - so while they can't be ordered, they can be grouped. I'd add a tier of quarterbacks who are mediocre - the lowest tier of passable starters who aren't particularly old or young, and also neither all that good nor utterly terrible - including Campbell, Cassell, Garrard, Palmer, Smith, and Young.

This leads into the only issue I saw with your post:

Then there's a mix of too old or too young, including Favre, McNabb, Stafford, Bradford, the Sanchize, Freeman, Hasselbeck, Palmer, and a few others.

One of these is not like the others.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:40pm

I think he's assuming Palmer is actually the old man he plays like and doesn't realize he's 30 and should be basically in his prime.

by Geo B :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:34am

Saw this on a Yahoo Steelers team report this morning:

• QB Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter or overtime for the 21st time. He also extended his team record of 300-yard passing games to 13. And for the 38th time, he topped a 100 passer rating in a game, finishing at 132.

I think that's what I'm thinking about when I think of a "top 5 QB" - leading your team to a win. Yes Roethlisberger sucked in SB 40 but I think that game ending drive at SB 43 shows that come from behind ability. Still think that "clutch" performance gets a lot of hype but it's what I'm looking for in a QB. P. Manning and Tom Brady have it, not sure about some of the others in this discussion. Schaub had it in the Texans last game.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

by dbostedo :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 4:18pm

"...leading your team to a win."
"...it's what I'm looking for in a QB."

If that win is due to the QBs excellent play, sure. But way too many QBs get way too much credit for comebacks at the end of games. What's wrong with playing well throughout a game and not needing to come back?

Pretend you have two QBs with identical overall stats and victories; But one of them has significantly better 4th quarter stats and more comeback wins. I'm guessing the "comeback" QB would be significantly more hyped and more highly regarded. And I think it would be for no good reason and they two QBs should be rated equally.

People seem to psychologically like a comeback more than early points. I like it too - always thinking the Steelers have a shot, the excitement it brings. But I'd rather they go out and get a big lead early and then just simply win.

by Geo B :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:05pm

Would TOTALLY rather be up 38-0 in the second quarter.

Yes QB's get too much credit for "come from behind victories" - but sometimes they are the reason you win. When the guy goes 5 of 7 for 88 yards having one time out to win the game, a lot is on the QB and he's making good throws.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

by BucNasty :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:48pm

Rex Grossman led the Bears to a Super Bowl, so he at least has to be in the conversation, right?

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:59pm

The Bears defense led Rex Grossman, kicking and screaming, to a Super Bowl.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:59pm

Donovan McNabb.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:46pm

Rivers? Call me back when SD has a winning record or wins a playoff game

So call you back in 2007 then?

by B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:53pm

Please do, and when you call, tell me to move everything out of the stock market. Thanks.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:57pm

And don't forget to sell your house, post-haste.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:07pm

Above Roethlisberger:

4. Philip Rivers
5. Matt Schaub
6. Eli Manning
7. Aaron Rodgers
8. Tony Romo
9. Kyle Orton (apparently).

Roethlisberger is overrated because he is allowed to throw downfield a lot and therefore racks up gaudy passing numbers. And his numbers aren't that gaudy.

by jonah_jamison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:57pm

Orton, until this year, was never rated in the top 15 of quarterbacks in DVOA and he's never won in the playoffs. Romo, still, has never won a playoff game. Schaub has never won in the playoffs, or even gotten into the tournament (to say nothing of his durability). Rivers has gotten to the playoffs, only to disappear into the coaching futility of Norv. In the playoffs he's 3-4 (Roethlisberger is 8-2). Furthermore, Rivers QB rating in the playoffs is 79.2 to Roethlisberger's 87.2. Rivers adjusted yards per pass attempt in the playoffs also lag behind Roethlisberger and he's thrown more INT's than TD's (Roethlisberger is 15/12). DVOA might suggest Rivers is better than Roethlisberger in those playoff games, but it doesn't pass the eyeball test.

Manning (Eli the Lesser) can't throw in his own stadium in December / January (see loss to Eagles) and suffers from a Jekyll / Hyde personna.

Rodgers is the one guy I'd give you. Which makes him #4 and Roethlisberger #5.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:01pm

Dallas did beat Philly in the Wild Card round last year to break their string of playoff losses. Not that I think post-season record is a very good way of rating players at a single position.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:14pm

"Schaub has never won in the playoffs, or even gotten into the tournament (to say nothing of his durability)"

So it's Schaub's fault that the Texans' defense sucks? Or that Kris Brown missed multiple crucial FGs last year?

Roethlisberger was better than Eli and Rivers for their first few seasons, but right now I'd take Rivers over either of the other two, even though he's the one without a Super Bowl ring.

If you want to argue that Roethlisberger is in the Top 5, argue with this:


which has him 8th in both DVOA and DYAR for 2009. Mind you, we cannot look at 2010 stats because Roethlisberger missed 4 games due to suspension!

Rivers, whom you dislike, actually finished #1 in DVOA last year.

Personally, I would start with the 2009 list, drop Romo a few slots and Favre a couple dozen spots, but I would also push up Rodgers several spots.

Given the time missed, I would also push McNabb, Orton, Flacco, Ryan, and even Mark Sanchez ahead of Roethlisberger for what they've accomplished.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:35pm

Not saying I disagree either way, but why drop Romo a few slots when he's got identical rankings to last year (same rank in DVOA and DYAR).

by DGL :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:34pm

QB won/loss records are about the only stat less meaningful than pitcher won/loss records.

Except for QB playoff won/loss records, which have roughly the informational content of gaussian noise.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:14pm


by Geo B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:25pm

Great discussion points by several of you, thanks, that's what I was looking for. Wasn't really looking for a stats breakdown but some of them were valid discussion points.

About the only one so far I'd still add to the Brady/P. Manning/Brees list is Rogers. Schaub is really close.

McNabb, Orton? Really? If you are Pittsburgh's GM, you would trade Roethlisburger for either of them? Not McNabb at his age. Eli Manning? No, No and No. That was more my point. Yes he does commit the bonehead plays - dude run over the safety DON'T risk fumbling. But SB 43 and that game winning drive means I still wouldn't trade him for anyone other than maybe Brady and Payton. I know FO's status love Phillip Rivers, and maybe he would be successful on other teams, but I don't see it - I may have a blind spot in his case.

Keep up the great insights everyone.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

by jonah_jamison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:30pm

Right, because the top 5 playoff winning QB's of all-time (Montana, Brady, Bradshaw, Elway, and Farve) are just static on the radio. Cosmic background radiation. Doesn't mean a thing. It could have been you, could have been me. Or the guy with the best winning percentage ever in the playoffs, Bart Starr, is just some anonymous dude.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:34pm

Welcome to the site. Pull up a chair under the ol' learnin' tree and you'll see that you're actually much closer to right than you realized.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:51pm

The argument is that "Playoff wins don't cause great QBs, great QBs cause playoff wins" (more specifically, "great QBs are a part of the cause of playoff wins", or "Great QBs are a big part of the cause of playoff wins").

So by that argument, your thinking seems backwards.

By the way, using Terry Bradshaw as evidence of a great QB? Probably not the best way to go.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:01pm

You're really using Bradshaw to make that point?

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:48pm

Eli? Really?

The question was "better than" not "drafted ahead of."

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 10:41am

This argument has gone retarded when people rank Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Kyle Orton ahead of Ben.

And Aaron Rogers is still living off of last year (when he faced a ridiculously easy slate of pass D's). He is about as average as it gets this season.

He is overrated because he is allowed to throw downfield. I just got dumber after reading that.

by Vicious Chicken Of Bristol (not verified) :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 10:44am

All I can say to my fellow Steelers fans is that it doesnt matter where people "rank" Ben among other QB's. Let them rank him dead last, it wont change anything and we will continue laughing win after win after win.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 10:49am

YEAH, F THE HATERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by Flounder :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 12:17pm

You recognize context to denigrate his performance last year, while ignoring it this year. That's the very definition of talking out of both sides of your mouth. According to FO stats, Rodgers is better this year than last year.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:58pm

Rivers and Romo

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 3:22pm

Check out Ben's throw to Hines Ward last week that went for the TD. Ward is getting a lot of credit, but it's mostly on Ben in my mind.

He read the blitz, and then hung in there to deliver a very accurate pass at the right moment in time. It was very catchable, with good velocity, in the right location where Ward could catch it and get YAC. It was also a checkdown of sorts, throw short of the sticks, and wasn't forced down the field.

I see Ben execute and throw the ball exactly where it needs to go. I see great awareness (none of that super slow Donovan McNabb two minute drill crap) I see him carrying the team when the running game and defense aren't doing so well.

But yeah I guess he's not very good.

hehe captcha word is "capthchaw"

by towishimp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 4:22pm

It's certainly debatable whether or not Ben is a "top 5" QB in the league, but citing playoff wins and W-L record is not going to win over many minds around here; neither is disregarding DVOA as a measure of how good a player is.

I get that you love Ben because he's been the QB of your team through a very successful period, but as a reader of this site, many of expect other posters to be able to spearate themselves from their "fan-ness" to some degree, so that we can talk about football on a different level than that found on other sites. (Or, we could scream "F the haters!" at each other. Whatever, stay classy.)

by BlueStarDude :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:52pm

re: "Todd Haley, Genius Extraordinaire, just decided to eschew the field goal attempt and go for it on fourth-and-three from the 24 with the Chiefs leading 28-20 with 11:16 to go in the game."

OK, Dierdorf. (Sorry, forgive me for that.) That is absolutely the right call.

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:04pm

If I have a, I dunno, 75% chance (P(made) for 42 yard FGA) to put a team with Todd Bouman at QB down 2 scores in the 4th quarter, I take it. If it had been 4&G at the 1 or 4&a foot at the 5 instead of 4&3 from the 24, I'd feel differently.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:40pm

Advanced NFL Stats' win probability calculator is a fun toy to play w/ when puzzling ones puzzler on these sorts of situations.

by Anonymous764 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:54pm

"Bill Barnwell: Here's the problem with Phil Simms. He starts going off after a fumble on a Kris Wilson checkdown about how guys who don't touch the ball frequently fumble at a higher rate because "it makes sense". Lots of things make sense. That doesn't make them true.

I actually ran a quick test and it's true, although subject to selection bias: Running backs that have more than 60% of their team's carries fumble once every 75 touches, while backs that have fewer than 20% of their team's carries fumble once every 33 touches. But I know Simms didn't test it."

Bill Barnwell in a nutshell.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:01pm

Yeah, that got me too. Never mind that someone in the truck may have fed Phil the same sort of data...would we expect Phil to acknowledge that?

by AbsolutCam (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:11pm

Yeah, with all respect to Bill, I was thinking along similar lines... Of all the dumb things Phil Simms says on a weekly basis, why single out a comment where he was apparently right (even if luckily so)?

by TBall (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:47pm

I don't think the data proves the point because it doesn't show causation. Maybe the reason backs with fewer than 20% of the carries carry the ball fewer than 20% of the time is because they don't protect the ball well. Simms made it seem that if someone other than your primary back or your primary pair of backs is carrying, they are more apt to fumble because they are not used to carrying the ball. Never mind their years running the ball in college or practice.

I can seem Simms' point with a defensive back returning an INT, holding the ball in one hand away from the body or a rookie WR forgetting that he's not down unless he's down with contact, but the guys who practice running the ball as their livelihood (whether it is 30 times per year or 300 times per year) should be used to protecting the ball. Phil's theory makes sense in Pop Warner, not in the NFL.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:55pm

Selection bias. Backs who are able to hold the ball well remain in the sample and distort it, those that can't are removed and therefore it is not an ubiased sample.

by Kurt :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:57pm

We don't have a direct quote. Based on the cited excerpt, Simms' comment in no way condradicts the argument that fumblers get fewer carries.

by B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:24pm

I can't remember the exact quote, but Simms said that players who get fewer carries fumble more because they don't get practice carrying the ball in game situations.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:58pm

Fumblers might not get fewer carries, but eventually their carries end up like this:

Son, can you please carry this back to the bar and bring me a Coke without any ice in it? Thanks. And don't drop this one, okay. And, by the way, you look familiar, you ever play football?

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:19pm

I suspect that Simms may have his causality backwards. Running backs who fumble more often than average running backs may tend to be fed fewer carries until they reach a point where they stop fumbling so often.
(Unless named Tiki Barber or Adrian Peterson, and in the latter case it also depends on whether he wears horns on your helmet.)

by Phil :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:56pm

There are plenty more examples of why Roethlisberger IS definitely one of the top five QBs in the league than examples of why he's not. When he's scrambling around like that and trying to make "the impossible play," sometimes, he makes it. I've just seen too many positive plays. It's easy to take a fumble or a sack and say "he tries to do too much," but on the plays where he shakes off a defender, scrambles around and finds Hines Ward 40 yards downfield, well, that's pretty effective. I much prefer it to the QB who constantly checks down and can't convert on third down. It's more fun to watch, too.

And who else are you taking before Roethlisberger? We'll say Brady, Brees (not so sure about this right now), Manning...are you taking Rivers? Rodgers? I wouldn't. You can shuffle the deck as you prefer, but if you don't have Ben in the top five, he has to be top six, right? Whatever the case, it's certainly overdoing it to act like he shouldn't be in the conversation.

by Led :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:14pm

I'll take Phil Rivers over everybody but Manning today.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:19pm

Are we grading on this season alone? Because Big Ben may not have taken enough snaps yet to qualify. If we're adding in performance from past seasons then many other players have to be taken into account. (Favre, Favre and Favre)

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:27pm

Let's grade on "who you would want to QB your team next weekend".

I'm not a huge fan of forcing ordinal rankings on a set, since people then concentrate on the difference in ordinal score as opposed to whatever the underlying differences are.

Brady and Manning are clearly the top 2, and Brees has made a good case to be in the top 3. After those three, I see a big drop-off to the level of Rivers, Rodgers, Eli, and Roethlisberger. Schaub and Orton are aiming to be included at this level.
Flacco and Ryan are a bit further off, and then there are guys like Sanchez, Bradford, and Fitzpatrick who look very promising but are not quite yet a complete package.

Favre of the mid-90s was clearly in the top tear. Favre of 2009 was just outside the top tier, as was Kurt Warner. Favre of 2010 is back in the lower half.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:17pm

If Kurt Warner wasn't out of the league, he'd be ahead of everyone on the list except Manning (and perhaps Brady and Brees). Warner's achievements in Arizona were absurd given the team he inherited. Arizona went from the Super Bowl/Deep in the Playoffs to "Arguably the worst team in football," simply because they're missing two guys, Warner and Dansby.

by Big Johnson :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:54pm

and boldin.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:24pm

Boldin missed a lot of time, or I would have included him. Warner put up the massive game against Green Bay without him, for instance.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:09pm

True, but the quality of the replacement players is an important factor too. Arizona's decline speaks as much for how bad Derek Anderson/undrafted rookie are, as to how good Warner was. Although the fact that they are forced to start this detritus at QB tells us just how valuable and scarce a commodity it is to have a QB of the quality of Warner.

by whitty (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:32pm

And Boldin. Don't forget him.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:37pm

Schaub, Orton, and Eli but no Romo? Assuming you skipped a few to get down to Flacco.

by Big Johnson :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:52pm

How is Brady clearly in the top 2? Everyone on this site knows I despise the Manning worship but to say Manning is clearly in the top 2 is not a stretch to me. Brady on the other hand doesnt deserve automatic top 2 status.

Your list doesnt include Romo. He is pretty "clearly" in the same level as Rodgers, eli, and roflburger. I discluded Rivers because hes "clearly" in a higher tier.

I dont know if its just my opinioin or a consensus opinion, but there are 4 quarterbacks that are better than everyone else. Manning, Brady, Brees, and Rivers. Remember just a couple years ago Cutler was dubbed one of the top quarterbacks in the league. My point is that these 4 can seemingly be put into any situation and still thrive in it. Brady has been good with shit receivers in the early to mid 2000's. Manning was passing to austin collie and garcon last year. Rivers this year is throwing to patrick crayon, buster davis, and some rookie guy that gives fumbles to the other team. Brees has been throwing to seemingly non elite guys his whole career (Colston is a top 15 receiver by numbers but not by skills). Im just rambling now but im using a sort of wisdom of the crowds thing. No fan would complain if these 4 was their teams quarterback. Some fans would complain if any other quarterback was their starter.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:53pm

I wouldn't put Romo, Eli, or Rodgers ahead of "roflburger". I think the latter has clearly had less talent to work with than the other 3.

by Big Johnson :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:55pm

Neither would I. Thats why they are in the same tier.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:07pm

Rodgers makes a strong case, but yeah Romo and Eli look like significantly worse QBs to me.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:36pm

Rodgers has good offensive talent around him and has ranked 9th/10th the last two years in DYAR and 9th/14th in DVOA. This year, in limited sample, he's just outside the top 5.

I don't see how that gives him a strong case over Roethlisberger, or makes him clearly better than Romo/Eli. I think the perception of Rodgers has outrun his actual production.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:44pm

Could be. Rodger's offensive line is very poor, and Ryan Grant is the epitome of mediocre (with his backups being even worse). He has good receivers, but that's it.

Also, all those mis-communication mistakes never seem to happen against the Bears, he's just deadly accurate the whole freaking game.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:42pm

Yeah, that Roethlisberger, he puts up gaudy stats, but doesn't really win...he's really kind of like a poor man's Manning.

Oh, wait...

Yeah, that Roethlisberger, he wins a lot, but he doesn't put up the numbers that he should...he's really kind of like a poor man's Brady.

Oh, wait...

I don't really care if he fits your definition of a top 5 quarterback. I root for the team for which he plays. I've had a pretty good run since he got there. Those of you who root for the team for which Rivers plays, or for which Romo plays, or for which Schaub plays, have probably not gained as much satisfaction from their 'fan experience.' The FO reader in me and the fan in me might use different contexts for judging, but, in all honesty, when the game is on, the fan wins out.

by jmaron :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:27pm

I'm interested in feedback on the performance of Rodgers and Favre.

I thought both very pretty awful in that they both made huge mistakes. Favre had to deal with a little more pressure - but his lack of mobility really makes that duress seem much worse than it is. His consistency is not there either.

As for Rodgers he operated under no duress whatsoever but made two huge mistakes in the red zone. He also seemed completely out of sync with his receivers several times and wasn't particularly accurate.

For the season my sense has been that Favre's legs are shot. He just isn't mobile enough to play the position any more.

For a game with about 800 yards of offence - I really thought the QB's were both pretty awful.

by ebongreen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:04pm

To put it mildly, I've seen both play better.

For Favre, it was one of "those" games where stupid $#!& is the order of the day. Unfortunately for him, that's become the norm (again) this year, while last year was a wild departure from the trend. He used to be money, and was again for most of last year - now he's just old (again). The increasingly-common nature of games like those were the reasons the Packers brain trust cut him loose. I just want him to walk away, rather than being carried off on a stretcher (or in a straightjacket).

On Rodgers, I wonder if he still isn't quite right in the head from his concussion two weeks back, and I know for certain he misses Jermichael Finley. He and his receivers were not on the same page way too often last night, but he's still got a tremendous future ahead of him. He can make all the throws, like the one Quarless (mostly) caught last night and the one Finley nabbed in the endzone of the Lions game (linked in my name). Rodgers these days is rarely awful, routinely good, and frequently spectacular. If Favre could say that, he's still be wearing green and gold.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:16pm

The concussion and days of missed practise might not have helped, but Rodgers has been spotty since the very beginning of the season. Part of the problem was that he was keying in on Finley, who is now on IR. Also, the receivers are in a funk: Driver didn't have a catch yesterday, and Jennings has been going through his annual quiet spell. The interception total isn't unexpected: I think Rodgers led the league in dropped picks the last two years. More worrying is the reversion to trying to throw downfield and/or instinctively relying on his legs whenever he's under a bit of pressure.

That said, Rodgers confessed this weekend to having been a strat-o-matic addict as a kid. What's not to like?

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:34pm

Rodgers announced before the season he was going to take more risks and boy has it blown up in his face. Time and again he passes up the short gain for a third down conversion to try and go over the top. And now with the defense down I think four or five starters it would REALLY help to chew up some clock. But Rodgers, and his coach, think scoring fast is the better option.

Favre does best when a team blitzes because he always sees it, knows who will be open and gets rid of the ball fast. When teams drop 7/8 and he has to move to buy time then the injuries affect his accuracy in a serious way.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:11pm

His injuries affect his accuracy only on the plays where he has to think and make decisions?

Are they also to blame for the dumb decisions then?

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:31pm

Favre single-handedly killed his team's chances to win not because of too much pressure, or because of injury, but because on a play when Percy Harvin was wide open on the right side of the field, he looked left for 5 seconds without looking right at all, and tried to force a pass to Randy Moss that was turned into 6 points for the Packers. That's the kind of mental error I've come to count on from Favre. When his team has the lead and he can stay in cruise control, he's a much better QB. But he's really become the worst QB in the league when his team is trailing.

I don't have a sense that Rodgers did anything similarly egregious.

by jmaron :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:59pm

Favre also did the same thing on the last Viking play of the game. Look at the tape - Harvin was wide open in the back of the end zone.

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:27pm

Have you considered the possibility that he was "wide open" because the defense could see that Favre wasn't looking in that direction?

by TheHerminator :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:32pm

I'm glad to hear that the Jags' OPI was as blatant as it seemed yesterday.

by PGotts (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:32pm

Just curious for any of those that saw the SD/NE game this past weekend: Is it at all possible that FO's assumption that fumble recovery luck is random (that is, that a team's inabaility to recover fumbles in the past is not indicative of whether or not they will in the future), might be subjective to re-evaluation? The Chargers have had this type of "bad luck" all season long, and what was witnessed Sunday regarding Goodman and Hester could easily be applied to the final play of the Chargers second-to-last drive against Oakland, where Rivers fumbled, and everyone on San Diego thought it was a forward pass. The Raiders, of course, not hearing a whistle, picked it up and returned it for a score.

To put it a different way, if there were a fumble in a 2011 Chargers/Patriots game, and I didn't give you any more info than Belichick is coaching NE and Norv is coaching SD, wouldn't you have a predisposition as to what team you'd think would recover?

I'm beginning to believe that fumble recovery "luck" is not so random as I might have originally believed.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:43pm

Well, I could believe that fumble recovery luck in the specific case of fumbles that appear to be dead balls is not luck -- a coach might not do a good enough job of drilling it into his players' heads to play to the whistle on such plays.

But that's very different than the far more numerous fumbles where it's obvious immediately that it's a live ball.

I imagine the randomness of the latter would swamp any non-randomness of the former when both sets are viewed in the aggregate.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:06pm

And the Chargers were perfectly average at recovering their own fumbles in 2008 and 2009, and slightly above average in 2007.

One of the 'bizarre' fumbles lost yesterday was by a rookie. That's a more likely explanation than Norv.

by Dales :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:59pm

This year's 12 lost on 15 fumbles is pretty astounding, wouldn't you say? Last year, the Chargers fumbled 14 times, and lost 7. The year before, they fumbled 18 and lost 9. the year before, they fumbled 17 and lost 8.

Meanwhile, the fundamentally sound Patriots totals each year are 3-2, 17-9, 17-10, 14-6.

Norv deserves criticism, and two of the fumbles they lost yesterday can be signs of bad coaching, but by and large data support the fumble luck theory.

by Whatev :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:31pm

What I find objectionable about the handling of fumble recoveries as luck is that people here seem to assume that "luck" means "50/50." If the quarterback is stripsacked in an empty backfield, it seems to me the defense has a much higher probability of recovering the ball than the offense.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:39pm

True, and that's been acknowledged here, but over the aggregate of all fumbles (if you believe FO), recovery is random i.e. 50/50 luck.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:52pm

That is adjusted for.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:04pm

Hmm, that's true. DVOA accounts for this - it doesn't treat fumbles as 50/50 affairs, but instead gives proportional credit based on the historical recovery rates for each type of fumble (sack, botched snap, RB, wide receiver after pass, etc). But most of the commentary goes something like "they fumbled 4 times and only recovered once - BAD LUCK!" What would be more accurate is "They had 2 fumbles on sacks, one on a botched snap, and one by a running back, which would normally lead to 2.2 fumbles lost - but they lost 3 - BAD LUCK!" It's hard to blame individual commenters for this,though, as it's quite a bit more effort to look up the types of sacks, and then look up the recovery rates. But you'd think the FO writers could have an easy reference chart on hand when writing, so they can quickly use the more accurate method.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:09pm

Expect apparently when McNabb gets strip-sacked.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:34pm

The Packers won the game, but I'm still mad at McCarthy over my pet peeve: challenging a play when a successful challenge will not help much (another one is calling a timeout when a delay of game penalty will not hurt much -- punting situations nowhere near the end zone and short field goals are the biggest offenders here). First and goal inside the three is darn near a sure touchdown for any team in the league; there's no point in wasting a precious challenge to exchange a 100% touchdown for a 95% touchdown/4% field goal (unless it's very late in the game, and you can't reasonably win if the other team scores a TD, or it's very late in the half and they don't have time for more than one or two tries).

by DenverCheeze (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:12pm

And wen will McCarthy STOP THE MADNESS with John Kuhn up the middle on short yardage...try something else man...anything...especially when the O-Line is getting no push on ANY RUNNING PLAY!!!!

by Crymeariver (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:39pm

In the spirit of Halloween, I'd like to talk QB Fear Factor. And speaking as a Pats fan, I can say without hesitation that the two QB's who scare me the most in crunch time are Manning and Rivers. I've never ever experienced the screaming sweats when Roethlisberger is involved. That doesn't necessarily exclude him from the Top 5, but if you're talking Fear Factor, he's just not any where near as scary as those other two guys (nor as scary, I would presume, as Brady, though I'm happy to say I've really never experienced the terror of being on the other side of one of his closing drives.)

(Oh, and btw, is it all possible that Simms may have picked up a thing or two about football from actually being in the game for about 40 years so that he doesn't have to run the numbers on something he's observed first hand over and over again?)

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:56pm

Manning. He's a (*&(^ machine. My team is Pittsburgh, and a lot of their defense is based around forcing QB's into making mistakes. There are some times where Manning appears to be playing perfect ball no matter what the D is doing. I half expect him to walk out of a burning semi truck with all his flesh burned off a metal skeleton.

Rodgers (and probably Schaub, but I haven't seen him play much), because he can score from everywhere, theoretically. This is more of a 'the game is never in the bag' kind of fear.

Rivers doesn't scare me. Seen him and his team make too many bone-head mistakes.

I'm not surprised a Pats isn't scared of Ben's late game abilities, but I think a Ravens or Cards fan might feel a little different. Especially after 2008.

by apk3000 :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:10pm

Under Marty (and previously in the Norv era) the Chargers did come back regularly. Rivers seems to always be able to put his team into contention late. (Whether his kicker or defense can do their parts seem to be a different issue.)

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:19pm

Sure, but fear isn't a statistical thing, its an emotion, and I was answering the question in 2010.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:55pm

I'd add Brees to that list. I do not want him facing the Patriots secondary again anytime soon.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:37pm

For fear factor, there's nobody like Peyton Manning (as another Pats fan). Nobody else is close.

After that, only Drew Brees is worth mentioning. Rivers doesn't scare me half as much because the Chargers have been Norved for long enough that they have no discipline any longer.

There's not much of a fear factor with Roethlisberger since most of the fear facing the Steelers relates to their defense.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:56pm

Honestly, if Manning was QB-ing San Diego's last drive, is there any doubt they get the TD there.

Also, did it seem like it to anyone else that the Chargers were playing for OT. After picking up 14 yards on the first play of the last drive, they waited another 15-25 seconds before the first down snap. Since the Pats had no timeouts, they Chargers had full control of the clock, so there was no need to drain time there. They seemed to have no real urgency on that drive.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:13pm

Past few years, the only guy who does that to me is Ben R. I think it's his ability to ad-lib, get hit, absorb hits, and make something of nothing.

Manning would scare me if I weren't a Colts fan. Especially after about 2005 when he markedly improved his ability to throw on the move.

Brady... not nearly so much as Moss scared me. For me the quintessential Brady pose has been stock-still, stiff-legged in the pocket because he has 6 seconds to throw, bombing downfield to Moss. Move that pocket a little and my level of concern goes way down. The second I see his knees lock, I get the "oh shits."

Brees? In terms of fear-inducement--Meh. He CAN do it all, but "by himself" has not won enough games that I have seen. Despite his huge numbers, they had a ton of big "team wins" last year.

Rivers? A big concern, to be sure, but as good as he is, he was never my biggest concern, especially in the Colts losses to the Padres. I mean Chargers.

Rodgers might scare me simply because I know NFC QBs less than most AFC guys.

by imafreak (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:06pm

"I actually ran a quick test and it's true, although subject to selection bias: Running backs that have more than 60% of their team's carries fumble once every 75 touches, while backs that have fewer than 20% of their team's carries fumble once every 33 touches. But I know Simms didn't test it."

There's several ways to look at that data.
A different interpretation might be fumblers don't get many carries. That certainly makes sense.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:15pm

That's why he mentioned that it's "subject to selection bias."

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:40pm

Isn't selection bias referring to cherrypicking the cutoffs to maximise the difference (the 60% and 20% marks in Bill's audible)? What the guy before you is saying seems more related to cause and effect (do running backs fumble more because they get fewer carries, or get fewer carries because they fumble more?).

I'm not asking to nitpick by the way, I'm asking to check whether I'm understanding that properly.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:47pm

I think he's using selection bias correctly. I've heard what you're describing referred to as using "selective endpoints." That's probably what you're thinking of.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:08pm

Selection bias is a general term for a sampling error where members of a population are more likely to be included in the sample due to a particular characteristic. In this case, the "60% of team carries" sample is biased towards good players, since good players (presumably) get more playing time and therefore more carries. You are correct that this results in a situation where causality cannot be determined, since "not fumbling" is correlated to being a "good player." (Note that Bill wasn't trying to establish a causal relationship -- just whether the data backed up Simms' claim.) Similarly, the "20% of team carries" sample is biased toward bad players, etc., etc.

I would second AudacityOfHoops' (awesome name, btw) suggestion that "selective endpoints" is the more appropriate term for the situation you described.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:19pm

Thanks, it's also the name of my college basketball statistics blog (nothing new for this season up yet, I'll resume posting once the games start). I also set up an "Audacity Of Hops" blog to talk about craft beer, but never ended up posting anything.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:11pm

Percentage of team carries is a bad measure too.

Simms's point was about lack of practice, so total carries would be a lot better since every carry is a rep.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:00pm

The more specific species of selection bias here is survivor bias. Since people without a particular trait are killed/fired/forced out of the market, that trait looks oversampled.

Being a pro player probably doesn't turn you into a gym rat. Being a gym rat is probably nearly required to be a pro player.

Being a full time back might not improve your hands. Having good hands probably makes you more likely to be a full time back.

The problem is that hands / full time back are likely only partly co-linear. They partly overlap, and they partly don't. If you have all the other skills to be a great back (Tiki Barber, AP), you might get more and better coaching on ball handling than if you are a purely situational back.

by hubcap (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:49pm

No, Bill's use of the term "selection bias" is correct. Selection bias means that you didn't get a truly random sample: some members of your population were more likely to be included in your sample than others. So even if you play your statistical analysis straight, your results will still be biased because your sample wasn't really random.

Selection bias happens before you even start the analysis; cherrypicking (aka "Simmons-izing") happens afterwards, when you are interpreting your data. Both are bad, but IMO selection bias is usually trickier because it's less obvious. It's usually a sin of omission ("oh crap I didn't realize these things were related") rather than commission ("well if I ignore Iverson's actual age because he was arrested as a teenager, you'll see that his numbers fit my theory about offensive point guards PERFECTLY.")

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:00pm

I wasn't asking about Bill's usage of it, rather dmb's. Selective endpoints looks like the term I was thinking of.

Thanks for the clarification, guys.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:09pm

No problem!

by DenverCheeze (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:10pm

Glad I was not the only one seeing lots of holding by the Vikes on their last drive. Maybe it was happening on both sides all day but I definitely noticed it on the last drive. Brett has said post-game that he will not play next week if he cannot help the team...but I am guessing Brett Favre with a cast on his foot is still better value over their backups so he has no choice but to play. Too bad for the Vikings he may be ruining their season that way.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:17pm

drobviousso or one of the other Steelers' fans here would probably have a better recollection of this, but I thought that under Arians, Pittsburgh has occasionally used a diamond formation -- but would use the bunch to draw coverage to that side of the field, then throw deep to the single receiver. True?

by jonah_jamison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:27pm

If by diamond formation you mean a bunch formation (3 receivers, usually 2 wideouts and a TE), then no. They usually throw the WR screen out of that formation or hit someone running a seam route, or find someone in the flat. Generally they run this on 3rd down. The natural "congestion" caused by having so many receivers bunched tightly does seem to free up at least 1 target. Most of the passes out of this formation seem to go to either Ward or Miller.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:31pm

Ha ha. I think I need to go back and read that book.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:43pm

I didn't mean a standard bunch -- I was referring to the same formation that the Pats showed this week, as discussed in the article. Empty backfield, one receiver split wide to one side, four receivers on the other side lined up on the other side in the shape of a diamond. It falls under the subset of "bunch formations," but uses four receivers to one side, rather than the standard three.


by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:46pm

No, the Steelers rarely go empty backfield with a diamond, based on my recollection.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:54pm

The weakside tackle can't be left uncovered, so if a team lines up with a diamond, there has to be a receiver on the other side -- which leaves the backfield empty. (Unless the tackle reports as an eligible receiver ... but I think that would still be an illegal formation because it would make too many players eligible.)

Or did you mean the Steelers rarely use a diamond? I didn't mean they did it often -- nobody does -- but I thought it had happened a few times in the past couple years.

by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:15pm

I think you end up with only 6 men on the LOS. If you lined up like this with an overloaded line:


there would be 7 on the line. Maybe overload the other side?


The RT is covered and the LT could report as eligible. This might be a legal formation, but I am probably missing something. If a swinging gate is legal, I guess this has a chance. With the QB lined up under center, that leaves 6 eligible: the 4 bunched WRs, the RB and the LT.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:26pm

12 men on the field in both of those.

You may be wanting something like:


Where I is not an eligible receiver, but rather a blocker for a screen. It's not a true diamond, and probably wouldn't be as effective in most circumstances because one of the players can neither catch a pass nor run a downfield route.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:59pm

Is that allowed? For some reason I thought you needed 2 players tight on either side of the center.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:02pm


You need 7 players on the line, one of which must be on either side of the center, and only the two ends are elligible receivers. Most teams put 3 on either side, but the minimum required is 1.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:15pm

Cool. It would fun to see some team come out with, say


in order to set up 6 blockers out wide for a quick pass to a running back. I feel like there is no way a defense would be prepared, so they'd have to either burn a timeout, or risk a big play.

Of course, the fact that I never see this happen probably means there is good reason NOT to try it, which I just haven't though of.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:19pm

Jim Zorn is intrigued and wants to discuss this further.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:27pm

Didn't Zorn try something like this last season, where the QB had only 1 or 2 blockers and everybody else was out wide?

IIRC, the QB was flattened.

I'm not positive it was the Redskins, but I am positive I saw somebody try something like this.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:27pm

Hahahaha. Well. That is essentially the formation I wanted to see, but it seems really stupid to try a deep throw there. If you have no blockers, you have to call something that lets the QB dump it off IMMEDIATELY. Plus, if my count is right, the Redskins had an 8 on 5 advantage out wide - a bunch of double team blocks takes better advantage of that than a lob pass, which basically lets all 5 defenders play the ball.

Let's see it again with actual offensive players, as well, instead of special teams.

by Dales :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:57pm

Also probably better to try it against a team that does not have the Giants defensive linemen.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:48pm

I was referring to the fake FG-Timeout-same fake FG play Zorn ran vs. the Giants. And it was the kicker or holder (forget which) who was rushed into an incompletion, as I recall. Which seems worse.

by Dean :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:01am

Your OTs would have to report in as elligible receivers on every play.

by DGL :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:31am

You could use a couple of big blocking TEs on the ends.

by Dean :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 10:02am

You could. But wouldn't they then be labeled as TE and not T?

Regardless, the risk inherent in this formation is on the edge. By not having both a guard and a tackle lined up outside your center, you've shortened your edge and given the DE that much less distance to cover on his outside rush. Even a 3 step drop risks your QB getting absolutely killed. And if you send a blitzer on that side, too, now you have one OT/TE and 2 rushers AND a short edge. Your QB will end up in the hospital.

Ben could probably go into much greater detail on this, but I have a hard time imagining that you could sustain any kind of offense out of this formation. One-offs and the occasional surprise play can work once or twice a year, but as an actual subset of your offense, I just don't see it as sustainable.

by DGL :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 11:41am

Put the QB in the shotgun, and have him throw a quick screen to the back on the outside. A zero-step drop should get the ball out before any rushers get there.

Do it with a QB like Tebow or Vick who can actually run, and you can get some more mileage out of it. If the defense lines up with five or more over the center, you throw the quick screen and are blocking six on six outside. If the defense lines up with four or fewer over the center, you run a QB draw.

But I'd agree that it's too limited to build a sustainable offense out of it -- you've basically got two plays to run, and I'm sure that a competent defensive coordinator could find a way to neutralize it given enough time.

by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:20pm

Yes, thank you. I miss counted. I meant to diagram this:


Which results in only 6 men on the line, which is why I ended up with too many men on the field. The closest I can figure is this, again with the LT declared eligible:


Which, if legal, would give you a passing situation to the right or a running situation to the left. If I were still playing line blocking flag, I would try it out.

by Theo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:02pm

ehm yeah, but I've seen this 'diamond' wrinkle a few times this season and it isn't pretty.
One corner will just blast the bottom receiver at the snap no matter what happens.
It's nice but no cigar.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:00pm

I mean that I think Steelers rarely go diamond.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:56pm

You have to go empty with a diamond bunch, otherwise you can't get 7 men on the line of scrimmage.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:42pm

Accidental double post.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:29pm

I think so. There's an article in this years Maple Street Press written by one of the FO guys (Tannier or Barnwell, I think), that talks about the bunch and diamond. I don't recall how often they go diamond and how often it's bunch, but it's more often bunch.

Pittsburgh under Arians has always had a passing concept with "crazy fucking shit" on one side of the field and "lone speedster" on the other. If the safety plays down on the CFS side, that leaves Holmes/Washington/Wallace (depending on year) one on one deep. If the safety plays deep the lone speedster, Ward/Miller/Whoever get favorable matchups on linebackers. I don't think they usually run deep out of the CFS side. More clearing routes, comebacks, and slants.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:46pm

I should've been more clear -- what I meant in the original post was what you described as the situation where a "safety plays down on the CFS side, [leaving] Holmes/Washington/Wallace ... one on one deep." I thought I remembered this happening a couple times out of a diamond formation. :)

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:47pm

Gotcha. Don't recall it that way, but I've been listening to more games recently than watching.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:52pm

Okay. I could easily be misremembering or just (accidentally) making @!#$ up...

by Jerry :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:54pm

The Steelers like to use the three-man bunch, but I don't remember seeing the diamond. (I'll try to remember to look for it during the next homestand.)

by jmaron :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:39pm

Aaron Schatz: "A few minutes later, and the Packers are going for it on fourth-and-1. John Kuhn takes the ball, gets stopped, then slowly rolls over the pile until he has the first down. The problem? The refs whistled the forward progress over before Kuhn was actually down. All these plays we've seen where the refs swallow their whistles because they are afraid of making a mistake, and here they whistle way too early."

The only reason that Kuhn was able to roll forward is that some of the Vikings stopped playing when the whistle went and starting celebrating the stop.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:58pm

You're probably right, but we'll never know for sure. Kuhn was never pushed back and his knees never went down, so the refs should have held their whistles until it was clear that Kuhn could not keep grinding.

by MurphyZero :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:36pm

His knees never went down, but the defenders did have him pinned against the pile nearly horizontal and Kuhn was no longer getting any push. That was when the refs blew their whistle, the defenders relaxed and Kuhn got free and moved forward. I thought the ref's whistle was appropriate. Otherwise, during goal line stands the scrum could last 20 seconds as the runner is on top of other players and the pile is pushing back and forth in small increments.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:30pm

Well, I'm going to have to disagree that Kuhn stopped getting any push for even one full second (direct link to video of that play):


The Vikings player in the best position to hold him (Winfield?) throws his hands up almost the instant Kuhn falls on the pile, I'm pretty sure in response to the whistle, but Kuhn is pushing the whole time.

Again, Kuhn probably doesn't make it anyway, but that whistle was too quick. Gotta give a ball carrier at least a full second (in my opinion, not necessarily the official rule) to push forward if he is not actually losing ground.

by Packfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:43pm

I think Kuhn demonstrates a pretty large myth in the NFL - bigger backs are necessarily better short-yardage backs. Jackson has looked much better on goal line and short-yardage carries than Kuhn.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:33pm

Kuhn looked better earlier in the season when GB could catch defenses with quick hitters up the middle. Now that teams are onto this tactic it's losing effectiveness.

Overall he's been a pretty decent short yardage back. I checked the stats earlier in the day and he has 11 first downs on 41 carries, which is pretty good since GB has run him in lots of down and distances. I definitely agree they need to direct the running game through BJack and limit Kuhn to 1-2 carries per game, which could still be effective.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:40pm

"Not counting a Chargers kick with one second left that was just meant to waste time, kicking team has only recovered 2 of 6 first-half onside attempts. I wonder if the Saints Super Bowl kick sort of ruined the strategy, or is this just small sample size? Probably the latter, but still..."

I haven't seen the others, but the failed attempt by KC to start the Indianapolis game had absolutely zero to do with the defense being prepared. The kick just failed to go 10 yards. If it had, the Chiefs seemed to be in a much better position to recover it than the Colts.

by Junior (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:03pm

8 defensive scores this weekend, if my count is correct. Is that the most ever in a NFL weekend?

by Travis :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:47pm

By my count, there were 10 defensive non-special teams TDs yesterday (9 interceptions, 1 fumble).

Best I can tell, the post-merger record for a single week is 11, set six times, last during Week 5 of 2007. (The other weeks are Week 7 1983, Week 4 1984, Week 15 1998, Week 1 1999, and Week 2 2003.)

by Theo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:12pm

Who was the commentator that was saying that Hall should have gotten a flag for going to his knees? (hall sat down on both knees and pointed up/to the stands)
"You can go on one knee and point up, but this, he should get flagged for it, it's excessive celebration." (loose translation).
What a bull to say Hall should be flagged for just sliding on 2 knees.

by Mike W :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:26pm

That was crotchety old Grandpa Troy Aikman.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:43pm

Wow. So yet again, Troy Aikman tries to drop a turd into the punch bowl when something goes well for the Redskins.

When will Fox stop assigning Aikman to Redskins games? Redskins fans hate him and his anti-Redskin bias is really hard to overlook.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:46pm

We may hate your team and everything it stands for, but fans in New York and Philadelphia sympathize.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:29pm

They're not my team, I'm a Pats fan living in the DC 'burbs. But I watch a lot of football with Redskins fans and they absolutely cannot stand Aikman.

by Theo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:05pm

On television.
Hired by a network.
Calling for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
For sliding on 2 knees.
...because 1 knee is allowed.
Inflation is a bitch.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:18pm

Well, to be fair, if the rumors were correct, Aikman might know a thing or two about being on two knees.

by Temo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:44pm


by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:48pm

I was surprised, too, when I heard he made exra cash by doing tile work while in college. Damn, that's hard on the lower back.

by Dean :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:04am

You expect me to know one way or another?

That was always the rumor anyway. It was mainstream enough that even Bangcartoon ripped on him about it.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 6:09pm

Bangcartoon is the epitome of mainstream? Man am I outta touch.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:20pm

He's 100% right. The [stupid] rule says you can't go to the ground for a celebration. Hall went down to the ground (and didn't point to the stands, he raised both arms in a pose that I can only describe as "glory be to the great and holy ME").

If Columbo can get a penalty for falling down accidentally because he went to the ground, and if Jared Allen can be informed that his sack celebration is illegal (and I believe someone else was told he couldn't kneel to pray but could be wrong about that) Hall's two instances of deliberately going down to pose are definitely flag-worthy.

Honestly, I think it's stupid that any of it is. But by the rule, Aikman's right. And it's the first thing I thought of when I saw it.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:01pm

There is a special religion exemption to the going to ground. No specification on which deity.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:56pm

Oh, it's only a matter of time before the religious specifics are written into the rules. Zool--out. Quetzacoatl--out. Zoroaster--in. (damn Zoroastrians....)

It's an odd rule to be sure. Rookie DB Jacob Lacey last year caught a pick-six, made it to the EZ, and "slid into second" as he stopped his momentum, then made the "safe" sign with his arms. It seemed spur-of-the-moment. The whole "celebration" took 1-2 seconds, and he was indeed in safe, except for the fine the NFL assessed. (and later reduced on appeal) In no manner could that have been thought of as excessive (shorter and less choreographed and "in your face" to the other team than most sack celebrations), and it kind of made sense--he made it to the EZ safe.

Ah, whatever. I'm in anti-league/anti-ref mode about now....

by Ben Stuplisberger :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:48pm

Aaron has an unhealthy obsession with Roethlisberger. That being said, I don't think Ben is a top 5 QB either. Roethlisberger has been better in the playoffs though.