Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Audibles at the Line: Week 15
Audibles at the Line: Week 15
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Rivers McCown

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

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

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Thursday, December 15th

Jacksonville Jaguars 14 at Atlanta Falcons 41

Tom Gower: Honestly, with a game like this, at this time of the season, I don't know how much I'm seeing of interest. Julio Jones' opening touchdown came when his defender got caught up in the trash caused by Tony Gonzalez over the middle, and nobody else picked up the coverage. Jones is also faster than most of Jacksonville's defensive players. Ashton Youboty is not an NFL-caliber corner, which isn't a surprise because he wasn't in the NFL a couple weeks ago. Neither Jacksonville guard Will Rackley nor right tackle Guy Whimper is anything close to a competent player.

J.J. Cooper: I've got Whimper with nine sacks allowed this year, and Rackley with 5.5. They have not impressed.

Rivers McCown: Jaguars defense: have the injuries finally caught up to them, does Mel Tucker has too much on his plate now that he's the head coach, or is it both? I'm leaning toward the injuries.

Tom Gower: On that Michael Turner TD to make it 17-0, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who's playing safety because Dwight Lowery left the game earlier with a shoulder injury, attacked Gonzalez's flat route AFTER Matt Ryan had handed the ball off to Turner. I'm not saying Lowery would've tackled Turner, but there's a chance he does. Between Lowery and Dawan Landry, the safeties have been a million times better this year, but they have zero depth whatsoever behind them, and that's a good example of it.

Coming into this game, I thought the worst game by an NFL player I'd seen this year was Brandyn Dombrowski at left tackle for the Chargers against the Raiders, in the game where he took over after Marcus McNeill's injury. Now that it's 41-0 midway through the third quarter, I'm sure almost everybody's attention is elsewhere, but Youboty's performance tonight has already exceeded Dombrowski's in my mind.

J.J. Cooper: I can't blame them too much, but Lance Louis' performance in Week 13 and Nate Garner's "efforts" replacing Jake Long at left tackle last week both rank up there as well.

Vince Verhei: I'm not watching the game, but I just checked the box score. It's 41-0 in the third quarter. Blaine Gabbert has 11 dropbacks, four sacks, one first down, and negative net passing yards. I cannot WAIT to write Quick Reads Sunday night.

Literally in the time it took me to type that post, Gabbert was sacked again.

I'm still not watching, by the way.

Saturday, December 17th

Dallas Cowboys 31 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15

Tom Gower: I suppose it says something about tonight's game that I didn't even think about Audibles until after the game was over. I was surprised the Bucs put up any fight at all after that dismal first half, but they did. Ultimately, I think you saw a deeply flawed team that went down early and never got back in the game, which what I think pretty much what we were expecting.

Danny Tuccitto: My takeaway from this game is that, although I'm loathe to play armchair sports psychologist from afar, it's pretty apparent the Buccaneers have given up on 2011.

Rivers McCown: I charted Josh Freeman's Week 10 game against the Texans a week ago, and though I hated the work his offensive line did, I saw him making a few weird decisions in his progressions in that one. That continued in this game, I thought. I'm fine with the general consensus that Mike Mayock left us all with (and goodness, he makes games like this bearable), which was that Tampa desperately needs speed on offense, but it seems to me like Freeman is much better when Tampa is running the two-minute drill. That makes me curious about how well he's being coached.

Sunday, December 18th

Cincinnati Bengals 20 at St. Louis Rams 13

Mike Kurtz: Everything you need to know about the Rams offense: On third-and-7, the call is a toss to Steven Jackson out of shotgun.

Cincinatti's defense is just too fast for all of these slow-developing outside runs that St. Louis is trying. They've had success running up the middle, but on third down they keep trying to go outside, where they get hammered for losses.

Guess what St. Louis dialed up on third down? An outside toss. It was completely shut down, but they were bailed out by a facemask.

Another third down, quick hitch, shut down. Hey, guys, you're not having any luck outside. Run it up the middle with Cadillac Williams or Jackson.

The St. Louis defense has been playing lights-out today, especially on run defense. The Rams offense has been ... uh ... yeah. Neither team, through halftime, has converted a third down.

The CBS halftime crew must be having a contest to see who can screw up the most names ... Cable Hanie? Steve Young on the Panthers?

The Rams finally got their first third-down conversion, near the start of the fourth quarter.

Cedric Benson has fumbled twice this game, and both have bounced right into the arms of Bengals.

Robert Weintraub: Benson fumbled a third time later in the game, and Cincy recovered that one too, for the hat trick.

Ben Muth: Harvey Dahl just got called for holding. When the ref announced the call, Dahl yelled "That's not f---ing holding!" The refs mic picked it up, so everyone at home and in the stadium heard it. Then the ref called him for a personal foul. That's a bullcrap call. If the microphone doesn't pick it up, there's no way that's a penalty. It shouldn't make a difference how many people hear it. I could see a fine later in the week, perhaps, but it shouldn't be a penalty.

Aaron Schatz: If we're going to start flagging players for swearing on the field, or even just for swearing at officials, I mean, just pack up the whole league right now and call it quits. That's ridiculous.

Mike Kurtz: When the ref goes off to announce the penalty, they clear all the players out.Dahl stayed in the ref's face.

Aaron Schatz: So, the penalty is for shouting in the official's face, you think, not necessarily what he said?

Ben Muth: I'm 100 percent convinced that it's because the mic picked it up. He could've been so close to the ref he was spitting on him, but if the mic doesn't pick it up, the ref wouldn't call it.

Mike Kurtz: I agree with Ben, it was called because the mic picked it up, but he wasn't just standing around swearing to his buddies, he kept coming at him even after he should've cleared out.

Robert Weintraub: OK, I was at the Bengals-Rams game today (scalped ticket for $20, and I still felt a bit ripped off). Dahl cussed, the whole crowd went crazy, and only then did the flag come out. There was no question the flag came out because a bunch of little kids heard the f-bomb during a family outing -- and on Marshall Faulk Day, no less. Horrendous call, but given the poor officiating all game, right in line, actually. It's the first time I've ever seen that particular penalty, called so I suppose being there was worth it.

It looked like a blatant hold from the stands, by the way. At least get flagged for complaining about something less obvious.

Otherwise, an awful game, but I'd rather Cincy win ugly than lose in any fashion. The results are going the Who Dey way so far today, but this team has no business being in the playoffs given their current ineptitude. If seeing the Edward Jones Dome is on your bucket list, remove it post-haste.

Mike Kurtz: I watched the entire game, the only bad call was an uncalled helmet-to-helmet hit to Kellen Clemens. There were other borderline calls, but there are always borderline calls.

Danny Tuccitto: Let me make my weekly obligatory mention of the tiger suit bet. The Bengals win this week gives them eight for the season, which means I will indeed be wearing a tiger suit to my fantasy drafts next year. Photodocumentation to come ... in nine months.

Robert Weintraub: I may fly in to see it in person, actually.

Carolina Panthers 28 at Houston Texans 13

Mike Tanier: Cam Newton hits a touchdown bomb to Steve Smith on second-and-20. Remind me to look up the Panthers second-and-long play selection. I bet it is very deep pass-heavy.

Panthers just scored on a ... um ... a...

Rivers McCown: The announcers dubbed it a "modern fumblerooski." It was a heck of a call. Newton gave the ball to tight end/fullback Richie Brockel, who hid it low, and then Newton ran a fake sweep before the rest of the line moved left and opened up space for Brockel to score.

I only caught bits and pieces of the game, which is probably good news for my psyche. Nobody is going to win many games when they lose the turnover battle by three, and Arian Foster's first-quarter fumble again put Houston behind early. Honestly, from what I did see, I didn't think Houston played too poorly. The run defense looks like it may be a problem in the playoffs, and DeMeco Ryans played especially poorly today. I have to think he is a prime candidate for a restructure-or-release contract scenario this offseason.

Green Bay Packers 14 at Kansas City Chiefs 19

Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs march down the field against Green Bay on the first drive. They end up with fourth-and-goal from the 1. Romeo Crennel elects to kick the field goal. Because, of course, three points at a time is the perfect way to beat Aaron Rodgers. What a wuss move. What do the Chiefs have to lose at this point? Be bold!

Mike Tanier: The Packers look real flat early. Their first drive was just a roughing the punter penalty and a missed field goal. The Chiefs are gouging them with screens.

Jermichael Finley has several drops, as do some other receivers. Jordy Nelson has several offensive pass interference penalties. The Chiefs are still gaining big yards on screens and settling for field goals or goalline stands.

Aaron Schatz: Kansas City gets a huge pass to Leonard Pope on a second-and-inches, but Pope can't quite keep his feet in bounds as he tries to leap over the pylon, and gets declared down at the 3. Once again, the Chiefs suck in the red zone and have to kick a field goal. I wonder if Pope's inability to keep his feet in bounds just saved the Packers' perfect season.

Mike Tanier: The Packers are rapidly running out of offensive linemen. Bryan Bulaga got hurt earlier, and now Derek Sherrod is on a stretcher.

Aaron Schatz: We wondered all season who could stop Aaron Rodgers. Today we found out: His own receivers and offensive line.

The Chiefs finally get a touchdown when Romeo Crennel stops giving the ball to Thomas Jones in the red zone and gives it to Le'Ron McClain and Jackie Battle instead.

Mike Tanier: And the Colts can't even get on Any Given Sunday!

Vince Verhei: I spend 16 Sundays a year in a sports bar with tons of TVs. This is the one weekend I leave town, and Green Bay loses. Figures.

Washington Redskins 23 at New York Giants 10

Aaron Schatz: Jason Pierre-Paul gets a sack when the Redskins flat-out do not block him. Really wacko. The line slides to the right, which leaves the left tackle and left guard blocking the defensive tackle. And since the fullback is on the right side, he has to cross over in front of the quarterabck to try to pick up JPP. Honestly, even if the fullback was on the correct side, do you really want to leave your fullback in charge of picking up JPP?

Rivers McCown: (Yeah you know me!)

Aaron Schatz: Looking again, I guess the line was moving right because they were play-action faking a stretch run right, but still, that play-action fake naturally ends with Grossman directly in JPP's path. What a bad play.

Mike Tanier: It doesn't matter what the Redskins do. The Giants are in pass-dropping, tip-drill interception mode.

Aaron Schatz: At halftime, the Redskins offensive line is getting surprisingly strong push on runs up the middle against the Giants. They're not doing quite so well on outside runs -- I think they'll want to stay away from those in the second half. The Giants are not getting good coverage and it looks like they've benched Prince Amukamara. As far as the Giants offense goes, Tanier is correct. Eli Manning has terrible numbers right now (7-of-17, 77 yards, interception), but he's throwing the ball fine. The Giants have made a couple of egregious drops and have run a couple of really poorly-blocked screens, and the Redskins also have a couple of nice passes defensed, including one that turned into a tip-drill interception.

Mike Tanier: DeAngelo Hall is having the one game per year that convinces people not named DeAngelo Hall that he is good.

Aaron Schatz: The Giants secondary seems to be back on its heels on every play. They're letting the Redskins catch pass after pass ahead of them.

Tennessee Titans 13 at Indianapolis Colts 27

Tom Gower: Chris Johnson picked up three yards on a carry early in the second quarter -- there wasn't a free Colt within 15 yards of him when he hit the line of scrimmage. Yep, that kind of day.

Mike Tanier: We are on hour two of a Colts attempt to punt. I think there have been nine penalties on three attempts. The Colts special teams coach has a shiny bald head like a bowling trophy.

There was just another play where Johnson looked like he had a mile of running room on a draw, but gained just about four yards. Then he dropped a pass in the flat.

Tom Gower: The mascots-third graders scrimmage at halftime was just as well-played and more entertaining than the first half between the Titans and the Colts. The former is only a slight exaggeration.

Mike Tanier: Any day now, Johnson will stop running laterally and cut upfield for some real yardage

Pat Angerererer is having a great game for the Colts.

Tom Gower: Nobody helps out the 0-13 Colts like the Titans/Oilers. Indianapolis is now 2-0 against them when they hold that record, I believe.

I expected the Titans to win, but gave the Colts a chance if the Titans had trouble moving the ball offensively. It was apparent in the first quarter that Johnson would not have a good game and that the Titans' wideouts would struggle immensely to win in coverage. The Titans gave them good field position with a mediocre punt and a penalty, and Dan Orlovsky hit Reggie Wayne in what I think was the Cover-2 deep outside void for the touchdown and a 10-6 lead. Matt Hasselbeck followed with the "I don't think CJ tried" pick-6, and that was pretty much that. The Titans went to Jake Locker down 20-6 in the fourth, a series after I thought they should have if they wanted to win, and he had some success against a soft defense. Donald Brown, who I thought was clearly the best running back on the field, answered Locker's touchdown with an 80-yard score, though, and it was really over. Credit to the Colts, who for the most part have looked only like a team that's badly outclassed and have kept trying despite the lost season, and brickbats to the Titans not named Rob Bironas.

Seattle Seahawks 38 at Chicago Bears 14

Vince Verhei: Seattle's defense overwhelmed the Bears offensive line today, getting four sacks and five interceptions, including a pair of gift pick-sixes. I think "dominant pass rusher" is Seattle's biggest defensive need, but what they have is good enough to beat Chicago.

New England Patriots 41 at Denver Broncos 23

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots just look horrible early on defense. Just awful. Can't tackle. Can't get off blocks. The Broncos are running all over them. Tim Tebow's also hit a couple of good passes on totally open receivers.

Vince Verhei: Ben Muth has said that teams don't even bother blocking cornerbacks on running plays, because cornerbacks don't want to tackle running backs anyway. New England's defense appears to be fielding 11 cornerbacks.

Aaron Schatz: Andre Carter goes out with a knee injury, just in case you thought the defense for the Pats couldn't get any worse.

The Broncos had something like 240 yards in the first quarter. They get into the red zone near the start of the second quarter, and Tebow runs for seven yards on third-and-8, but there's a holding penalty. At first the Pats accept the holding, then they decide to decline instead, so it is fourth-and-1. Denver brings in the field goal kicker. Man, if you are Denver, doesn't it make sense to go for it more often on fourth-and-1? Especially with Tebow? Does anyone think this Pats defense has more than a 20 percent chance to stop Tebow on fourth-and-1?

Vince Verhei: On the same note, Denver is currently ahead 16-14 because they missed their first extra point, then kicked the next one. Shouldn't Denver always go for two, especially to make up for the one they missed earlier?

Aaron Schatz: That was the best play of the game. The Patriots players picked up the aborted extra point and went running for the end zone celebrating. Whoever "scored" with it pointed to the sky, I think mocking Tebow. They had no idea that you can't return a missed extra point for a score in the NFL. It was hilarious.

Ben Muth: The Broncos had the ball the entire first quarter, the Patriots have had the ball the entire second quarter. The Pats were able to get one quick touchdown in the first with their limited time of possession, and that's the difference at the half.

Erm, scratch that. The Broncos muff a punt with three seconds left in the half, and the Patriots kick a field goal on the next play to make it an 11-point game. That's as bad a special teams play as you can make.

Aaron Schatz: First of all, Quan Cosby should have never, ever tried to catch that ball. What, he's going to return it for a touchdown? Just let the Pats down it and take a freakin' knee. But wait, it gets better. The Pats player who picked it up tried to advance it, even though you can't advance a muffed punt. OK, maybe he didn't remember that rule. But then, with the Broncos tackling him, he flipped the ball forward to a teammate. He probably should remember the rule about "no forward laterals." What on earth was that guy thinking?

Tim Gerheim: Wow, check out Jim Nantz's tie-and-sweater combination; I didn't know he was a Gryffindor.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots offense really took over after the first quarter. It doesn't even look like the Patriots defense is playing much better than before, mostly because the Patriots defense has barely been on the field ... they've stopped the Broncos a couple times and that was good enough for the Pats to score 27 straight unanswered points.

Whoops, forgot one other thing: fumble luck. Three Denver fumbles so far, and all of them were recovered by the Patriots, including the muffed punt by Cosby. Muffed punts are almost always recovered by the return team, not the punting team, so that's a nice piece of serendipity.

Mike Tanier: It ain't over yet.

Aaron Schatz: No kidding. Tebow just made an amazing play in his own end zone. Second-and-14, Pats defender Brandon Deaderick blows past Zane Beadles and tries to drag him down for the safety, Tebow stays on his feet, but the ball bounces loose. Deaderick is wrapped up with an offensive lineman on the ground though, so Tebow is able to pick up the ball in the back zone and throw it away (skipping a pass on the ground ahead of Demaryius Thomas) instead of taking a safety or, worse, the Pats getting a touchdown. Just another one of those amazing athletic plays by Tebow.

Oh boy. Here we go with the Tebow. Third-and-18, Devin McCourty thinks he has help over the top and Sergio Brown is still hanging around in the middle of the field, leaving Demaryius Thomas wide open on the sideline for a 39-yard gain. On the next play, a dumpoff to Lance Ball, Jerod Mayo, who is covering Ball, leaves Ball to try to come after Tebow scrambling. 35-yard gain. Next play: Tebow quarterback power for a touchdown. Patriots by 11.

Hmmm. Tebow Time may be pre-empted by a Denver defensive scheme that is leaving the Patriots tight ends wide open in the middle of the field.

Mike Tanier: I am stuck watching anti-Tebow Vince Young, but it appears that the Patriots have run out of plays and plan to run Tom Brady sneaks for the rest of the game at the goalline.

Robert Weintraub: Oh, Mike Arnold, no! Tebow is wandering around after the gun looking for Brady, the Tom/Tim meeting they need to capture, and just as they go to shake hands Arnold cuts to Welker just standing there! They switched it fast, so perhaps he just called the wrong camera in the heat of the moment, or maybe they were losing the handheld look. Made up for it with good sound, though, hearing Brady say "maybe we'll see you again."

Cleveland Browns 17 at Arizona Cardinals 20

Mike Kurtz: Arizona just challenged a third-down play purely in an attempt to make the field goal six yards longer. It's still a 44-yarder, after Whisenhunt loses. The resulting kick would've been good from 50.

It's astounding how poorly both of these offensive lines have performed this week, considering neither of these teams have particularly fearsome pass rushes.

Ben Muth: I kind of like Arizona's front this year. Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell are good pass rushing 3-4 defensive ends, and I like Sam Acho. He has been a pleasant surprise.

Mike Kurtz: I'm starting to agree with Ben regarding the Arizona pass rush. It really does look like Pittsburgh: West Side. The execution isn't quite there, but they're bringing great heat from all corners. It's a lot of fun to watch.

Cleveland's offensive line is definitely not impressing, though.

J.J. Cooper: If Levi Brown is on the field, I expect pressure to be coming from his side. The Browns have some talent on the offensive line -- can't really say the same for the Cardinals.

Ben Muth: John Skelton just wins football games!

New York Jets 19 at Philadelphia Eagles 45

Mike Tanier: The Eagles are coming up with every variation on the non-fumble you can think of, including a challenged play and reviewed play, and a tuck-like play.

Mark Sanchez is hurt. Something weird happened, with Jason Babin hanging on him like a Christmas ornament for several seconds after a pass until Sanchez went down. I think someone bumped his ankle when he was still supporting 250 pounds of Babin meat. No call.

The Jets have lots of trouble covering tight ends. Brent Celek just had a 70-yard catch-and-run to put the ball at the goal line.

Sanchez is back. From the look of things, Babin is still clinging to him.

The bad Mark Sanchez is doing his thing tonight.

Detroit Lions 28 at Oakland Raiders 27

Robert Weintraub: Mike Mitchell just put a major lick on a Lions back, to the point where he had to come out of the game for a play. From what I've seen of this game, the Raiders are physically pounding Detroit, but only lead by three.

Any idea why T.J. Houshmandzadeh would be returning punts for Oakland?

Aaron Schatz: I swear I mentioned the same thing about Housh a couple weeks ago. They don't have 20 guys who are faster?

Robert Weintraub: I guess they trust him not to pull a Quan Cosby, or else there is some sort of former-Bengals jobs program going on that I am unaware of.

Ben Muth: If he's fielding them deep in their own territory, then I have no problem with Housh returning punts. He probably is the best at catching them, and there aren't too many 80-yard punt returns. Better to just put someone back there who's guaranteed to not muff them. If it's the middle of the field though, I don't know.

Mike Tanier: Jacoby Ford and the new kid are still hurt, right? At some point you just go for ball security out of your punt returner. But geez, you would think Darrius Heyward-Bey should have developed into a role like that by now.

Robert Weintraub: The rarely-seen midfield dive over the pile fails for Detroit on third-and-1, and the Raiders stuff fourth-and-1 too. Combined with the Bengals getting stuffed on those same circumstances earlier, I've witnessed four Power Situation runs up the gut that came up empty. My kingdom for some creativity!

Aaron Schatz: Don't forget the Chiefs constantly getting stuffed in short yardage by the Packers.

Robert Weintraub: Big hidden timeout -- the Raiders lined up for a field goal on fourth-and-1, and Detroit had 13 guys on the field. They all started running off, but the Lions wisely called timeout. Even if it may come back to haunt them later, it's probably better than giving Oakland a gift first down. Sebastian Janikowski puts a 51-yarder through without apparent effort, and the Raiders are up six with eight and change to go.

Janikowski then falls down whilst kicking off. Never a dull moment.

Now the Raiders get the strip sack-six on Matthew Stafford, seriously salting this game away.

The Lions get down the field in a hurry trailing by 13, and with fewer than six minutes left, and two timeouts, face a fourth-and-3 in the red zone. Thom Brennaman is asking why the Lions aren't kicking a field goal. Brian Billick explains it patiently. The Raiders call time, and Brennaman yelps "I wanna get back into that after the break -- why not take the points here and try to get the ball back one more time!?"

OK, play-by-play is a far tougher job than we give it credit for, but that's just simple mathematics.

Detroit converts on a Stafford scramble, and scores on the next play. This sucker is apparently not so salted.

Aaron Schatz: The Lions just went ahead of the Raiders 28-27. The drive started at the 2 and had a 10-yard offensive holding penalty, so that means it went 108 yards. 92 of those yards were to Calvin Johnson: 75 receiving and a 17-yard defensive pass interference.

Robert Weintraub: Somehow the Raiders wound up with single coverage on Johnson on the game-tying post route. Didn't we go over this earlier in the year?

Oh, and having Rolando McClain in under coverage against him probably also isn't a good idea.

The Janikowski 65-yard kick for the win was blocked to complete the miracle comeback -- one that helps Tim Tebow, naturally. Ndamukong Suh got the block.

Baltimore Ravens 14 at San Diego Chargers 34

Danny Tuccitto: Through his first 10 passes, Joe Flacco's arm has been incredibly enigmatic. He's overthrown and thrown behind open receivers, but then somehow caps off the Ravens' first touchdown drive by threading a pass to Ed Dickson through a tiny window between two Chargers. Like everything else NFL, this reminds me of Tim Tebow.

Mike Tanier: Philip Rivers looks like his old self.

Phillip Rivers ruheaally looks like his old self.

Mike Kurtz: Considering I'm in two close fantasy semifinals, it'd be great if he looked like his old self in Vincent Jackson's direction a bit more.

Danny Tuccitto: As I'm hanging onto a slim lead in a fantasy semi with Ray Rice and Antonio Gates against Vincent Jackson, I prefer Rivers to look is his old self in every direction other than Jackson's.

Mike Kurtz: Amusingly, Danny, I have Rice in both leagues. Here's hoping for garbage time!

Aaron Schatz: Malcom Floyd is looking even better than his old self. Speeding right past guys tonight.

DVOA's top defenses are really getting keelhauled this week. The Chargers have scored on every drive. the Jets got stomped by Eagles, the Jags got blown out by Falcons, the Bears were killed by the Seahawks. If Pittsburgh can score a lot on the 49ers, that will be all of the teams in the top five.

Tom Gower: Floyd's DVOA has been excellent this year, and I'm not really sure why. Is it just a sample size fluke (he's missed enough time that he doesn't qualify) or has his absence really been what's been plaguing the offense? It's something I'll have to figure out sooner or later.

Aaron Schatz: Floyd is just killing rookie Jimmy Smith.

Oh, boy. Flacco throws a ball that Quentin Jammer nearly picks off, but he can't hold onto it. On the next play, Flacco throws the ball right to Takeo Spikes sitting in a zone in the middle of the field. No idea how he didn't see Spikes. He's trying to throw it to a receiver who is crossing behind Spikes. Maybe you notice a dude in an electric blue jersey standing right in your field of vision in front of your receiver?

Robert Weintraub: You know it's your night when you drop a pick, then get one on the next play anyway.

Mike Tanier: This is like Course Correction Sunday.

Danny Tuccitto: Teams like the 2011 Baltimore Ravens have always fascinated me. They're undeniably good. Against good teams, they play well. Against bad teams inside their division, they play well. At home, they play well. However, put them in a non-divisional road game against a wildly inferior opponent, and they seemingly don't show up. If this game finishes as is, it would mean the Ravens are 1-4 in this latter type of games, and 9-0 in all others. What gives?

Tom Gower: These look like the same coverage issues Baltimore had in Week 2, albeit with more Jimmy Smith. Why don't these show up every week, like against Pittsburgh? Is it just the pass rush covering them up, or what? And why aren't Terrell Suggs and company killing this offensive line? If I hadn't come up with an explanation I liked for the Ryan Mathews/Mike Tolbert conundrum, I'd really be pulling my hair out here.

Danny Tuccitto: Well, Tom, in his comments to Michelle Tafoya going into halftime, John Harbaugh seemed to think Suggs and company weren't killing the Chargers because the Chargers offensive line was getting away with holding. Of course, "blame the refs" is a handy excuse.

Based on their losses, I think we can definitively say this about the Ravens offense this season: Whether by scheme or by building an early lead, if an opponent is able to take Baltimore out of its play-action comfort zone, the Ravens basically have no Plan B.

J.J. Cooper: I'm getting to see the best tight end I ever saw play high school football is in this Ravens-Chargers game. Takeo Spikes was not much smaller or slower than he is now when he was a defensive end/tight end in high school, and whenever he caught a seam route, he pretty much looked like he did on that interception. The only difference is that instead of NFL players trying to tackle him, he was shrugging off 180 pounders.

The second-best high school tight end I got to see play is also in this game -- Randy McMichael.

When Ray Lewis rightfully is inducted into the Hall of Fame, they won't show the highlight of that third down dumpoff pass to Mike Tolbert. Tolbert catches it and spins right out of Lewis' tackle to convert for a first down.


243 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2011, 8:08pm

#54 by Pottsville Mar… // Dec 19, 2011 - 12:54pm

Half the time, Bart Scott seems like a pretty intelligent guy and a great leader. The other half of the time, he transforms into a combination of the worst qualities of Terrell Owens and Ndamukong Suh.

Points: 0

#88 by chemical burn // Dec 19, 2011 - 2:30pm

Yesterday was downright weird. He was really getting up in Eagles' players' faces late in the 4th quarter even though they were getting blown out and he himself was getting abused up and down the field.

I live in NYC and until yesterday I never really understood the ire that Ryan's Jets draw. Between Scott and Santonio Holmes' TD celebration, I finally got why they are hated with a passion. Holmes and Scott are team captains would played as bad of games as they could have and they still continued to make fools of themselves by crowing and preening all game long.

Anyway, that Jets team has problems way beyond anything a B/B+ QB like Kyle Orton could solve. I've seen them play a lot this year and their defense just isn't that great - they get abused teams with great schemes like Philly (who has done more to shoot themselves in the face this season than other teams have done to shut them down) and the Pats. The Eagles had 4 turnovers and another 2 fumbles that easily could've been recovered by the Jets and not one of them was particularly caused by anything the Jets did, just typically atrociously sloppy Eagles' play.

The suggestion that Orton would make them SB favorites is delusional.

Points: 0

#50 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 19, 2011 - 12:49pm

The second-best high school tight end I got to see play is also in this game -- Randy McMichael.

Supposedly LeBron James was one of the great high school TEs, too. Makes sense -- 6'9", 250 lb, 4.4 speed, great hands.

Points: 0

#66 by Otis Taylor89 // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:23pm

Maybe he should have taken his talents to the NFL - he could of had a ring already playing for any of the elite QB's.

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#73 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:42pm

For all people rag on James -- Jordan had a sub-.500 record and zero playoff wins without Pippen, and Russell was drafted by the most talented team in NBA history. (They had two HoFers on the bench)

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#101 by jtduffin // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:11pm

I'm guessing that you're mostly joking, but the amount of money Lebron James makes in the NBA is in a whole other league (ha, ha) than it would have been in the NFL. I mean, I'm sure it isn't ALL about the Benjamins, but it's probably at least a factor. As far as salary goes, I think it'd be foolish for anyone who could get drafted in the NBA to go into the NFL instead.

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#61 by TomC // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:08pm

Expanding a bit on Vince's (deservedly) brief comments on the debacle in Soldier Field yesterday:

1) Tarvaris Jackson made lots of good decisions and no dumb throws in the 2nd half. He even did some effective audible-ing. I wouldn't be surprised if Carroll et al. stick with him next year.

2) Hate to agree with the Fox crew, but Carroll's halftime adjustments clearly made a difference. Not so much on defense (I don't think Hanie was "killing them from outside the pocket" in the first half, as Myers and Ryan repeatedly claimed), but on offense, where they went almost 100% quick-drop, short passes, with the occasional shot over the top.

3) Even with those adjustments, I don't think the Bears' defensive performance is going to grade out as poorly as Aaron implies. 4.4 yards per play (including 1.8 per rush) and 6-16 on 3rd down is pretty respectable. Seattle only had two real TD drives---the other three came on 2 pick-sixes and one fumble recovery deep in Bears territory (and the Bears stopped them on that drive only to commit a leverage penalty on the FG attempt).

4) Knox's injury was horrifying. I'm very glad to hear he "only" cracked a vertebra, with no apparent spinal damage. At this point, it's probably irresponsible to speculate whether he can play football again---I'll only make a general comment that all Bears injuries are now to be viewed from the perspective of "will he be ready for mini-camp and OTA's?"

5) Green Bay is angry after losing their first game, and the Bears will likely be starting Josh McCown without Forte and Knox and with a banged-up Hester. Christmas night is going to be some kind of ugly for Bears fans.

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#64 by Jimmy // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:18pm

Agreed on Tarvaris, I have watched him a couple of times this year and he seems like a different player to the sap who was stinking up the Metrodome, maybe Childress was as bad as Will Allen would have us beleive.

And yeah, it was a huge relief to hear that Knox is OK (or as OK as someone having emergency back surgery can be). That hit nearly made me hurl and I thought that I had watched a man have his back snapped clean in two on the field. I was seriously considering whether I could keep watching this sport if hits like that are going to happen.

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#175 by akn // Dec 19, 2011 - 9:15pm

Knox didn't need emergency surgery (hence why they waited a full day to do it), and all things considered, an simple fractured vertebrae (especially if it was only at one level and didn't involve significant displacement or compromise any nerves--I'm speculating--I don't know the full extent) is a fairly fortunate outcome considering the mechanism and force of his injury.

Edit: And now I'm reading that his injury is more specifically a facet joint injury, and that his recovery time is 3-4 months. This is even better news, as it means that when he went to the hospital Sunday they were able to reduce any displacement without surgery (meaning the fracture displacement was not severe), and the surgery done the next day is for stabilization only (either by wire, screw, or pin). The long term prognosis in such a case is generally very good. He'll have to take it easy for a few months, but fortunately he doesn't have to wear a back brace that whole time.

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#192 by Jimmy // Dec 20, 2011 - 7:49am

If I didn't need back surgery at 1pm Sunday and did need back surgery at 2pm Sunday I would consider that something had happened that could be considered an emergency. Maybe there wouldn't be doctors running about shouting for crash carts or various other staples from medical dramas but still not something you plan for. Although I get the point you are making in that it wasn't life threatening and it seems that he avoided serious spinal injury.

It is great news that his prognosis seems positive, cheers for the info.

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#223 by DGL // Dec 20, 2011 - 3:03pm

There's a difference between "don't need surgery at 1PM but need surgery at 2PM" and "at 1PM, don't need surgery, but at 2PM, need surgery".

In the former case, you don't need surgery NOW at 1PM - but it's recognized that you will need it later. In the latter case, NOW at 1PM you are not expected to need any surgery, but something happens in the next hour that changes that expectation. The second is an emergency; the first isn't.

I think it's fairly frequent that surgery is performed some time after an injury, not immediately after the injury happens - allows swelling to reduce, internal bleeding to heal, etc., before subjecting the injured area to the additional stress of surgery. It sounds like when Knox was evaluated, they decided he didn't need surgery immediately but would need it eventually - which means it wasn't an emergency some time between Sunday and Monday, just that Monday was the appropriate time to do it.

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#226 by akn // Dec 20, 2011 - 4:54pm

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. For a back injury, you are brought to the ER to rule out an emergent injury (spinal column compromise, blood supply compromise, significantly unstable fracture, etc.). If these emergent issues are ruled out (via clinical exam and imaging), then a closed reduction is performed in the ER (realigning the displaced fracture/joint non-surgically through the use of various maneuvers and traction/weights). Within 24-48 hours (non-emergently) surgery is then performed to place hardware in order to stabilize the reduced fracture. This is what happened with Knox. He was taken to the ER, and then we heard word that he will be okay. We then later heard that he was to be taken for surgery the next day. This is standard nonemergent procedure.

If there are emergent issues, the patient is sent to surgery immediately (time is tissue). In such a case, the prognosis is obviously worse. Knox is lucky that this was not the case.

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#230 by Karl Cuba // Dec 20, 2011 - 8:06pm

From the nature of your posts I deduce that you're probably either a doctor or a serial killer...

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#232 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 20, 2011 - 9:31pm

He has detailed files.

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#233 by akn // Dec 20, 2011 - 11:06pm

I imagine doctors would make the best serial killers, but alas there's that darn oath we have to take...

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#236 by Mr Shush // Dec 21, 2011 - 10:00am

Harold Shipman was definitely productive - prolific, even - but . . . a bit of a Welker of a serial killer, if you know what I mean. Give me an old time blithering lunatic like Albert Fish or H.H. Holmes with fewer victims but higher Y/K any day.

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#237 by akn // Dec 21, 2011 - 12:51pm

I had never even heard of any of these people until I read your comment. Your casual knowledge of the subject is ... extensive. I'm a little afraid now.

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#239 by Mr Shush // Dec 21, 2011 - 3:24pm

I write and direct horror theatre. I've been doing some light holiday reading in a quest for useable material . . .

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#240 by akn // Dec 21, 2011 - 4:30pm

That is awesome. If you ever need to know some particularly interesting or difficult to forensically detect ways of killing people, let me know.

Well, we're quite a bit off topic now, aren't we?

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#241 by Mr Shush // Dec 21, 2011 - 9:10pm

I guess we are. Thanks for the offer - I may very well take you up on that at some point.

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#69 by Charles Jake (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:36pm

"Christmas night is going to be some kind of ugly for Bears fans."

Indeed. I plan to skip that one and save my "you're watching sports on Christmas!?" ticket for Bulls-Lakers.

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#72 by Eddo // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:38pm

In reply to by Charles Jake (not verified)

I'll watch it, but only because it's the lone game being played. I've pretty much focused my attention elsewhere lately; I barely watched the game yesterday, preferring the Red Zone channel.

A Cutler-less team is just so disappointing, especially after how well they were playing.

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#133 by Duke // Dec 19, 2011 - 5:24pm

I disagree about Hanie's scrambling--on the two drives where he really moved the ball, he got a lot of yards from scrambling and/or throws from outside the pocket. He didn't do that as much in the second half.

But the adjustments by the Seahawks on offense were good, too. Couldn't believe how many times they threw short into the flat to a wide open back/tight end.

And, to re-iterate what was said: If you didn't see Johnny Knox's injury...don't.

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#75 by rengewnad (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:53pm

i wish i had dvr, because i'm almost positive that during one of the half-time or post game shows, boomer or marino said something to the effect of: he's "amphibious" when I'm pretty sure they meant to say "ambidextrous"

Did anyone else catch that?

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#78 by Will Allen // Dec 19, 2011 - 1:58pm

Gosh, if the most pessimistic scenarios for global warming are proven correct, an amphibious quarterback will be MVP for sure! Or at least in the AFC and NFC East....

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#117 by SandyRiver // Dec 19, 2011 - 4:23pm

Orchard Park and the Razor should be safe, at least until Antarctica has all melted. Jerry J's Taj Mahal, too.

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#200 by Aaron Brooks G… // Dec 20, 2011 - 8:52am

This is where I point out that the Superdome is already below sea level, and the Saints employ a 5'0" QB without issue.

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#79 by drobviousso // Dec 19, 2011 - 2:02pm

Yeah, I heard that too, or something like it.

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#91 by dryheat // Dec 19, 2011 - 2:53pm

Yes, but it was an intentional malaprop.

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#80 by Will Allen // Dec 19, 2011 - 2:04pm

Now, out of the blue, the Vikings are within a game of the Suck for Luck sweepstakes, and I'm not even sure what tiebreakers are used for the draft. I don't think it is impossible for the Colts to beat the Jaguars in the last game.

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#90 by Eddo // Dec 19, 2011 - 2:45pm

The only tiebreaker is strength of schedule; the easier the schedule, the better the pick.

After that, it's a coin flip.

EDIT: Here's a brief discussion of the tiebreaker situation.

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#86 by GlennW // Dec 19, 2011 - 2:17pm

For draft slotting the team with the weakest schedule takes the tie-breaker. IND also appears to be in good shape there (IND with 120 opponents' wins, MIN 127, STL 130). Bill Polian probably knew this before giving the go-ahead for yesterday's win (just kidding!).

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#98 by Purds // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:04pm

But seriously, are all three teams going to play hard, or tank it at the end? Interesting decisions. Even as a Colt fan, this is where I'd like to see a 5-team NBA-style lottery for the top 5 picks.

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#99 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:10pm

Players can't afford to tank, coaches might if they are super secure, I don't think of the above qualify, and owners definitely put their teams in positions to fail on occasion, but really what more can be done to the Colts to make them uncompetitive?

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#103 by dryheat // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:17pm

I've long held the opinion that the 2nd-worst team should get the top draft pick.

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#104 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:23pm

It would be awesome if the week before the Superbowl, the two worst teams played and whoever won got the first pick.

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#180 by Purds // Dec 19, 2011 - 10:13pm

I am in. Of course, by that point all the coaches have been fired, so it might be a 7-on-7 flag football game, but it would be fun.

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#197 by justanothersteve // Dec 20, 2011 - 8:40am

For safety's sake, I think some sort of non-contact sport might be in order. Darts (the kind with plastic tips), ping pong, or Rock'em Sock'em Robots. My ideal would be a drinking game like "Hi Bob", but I don't think that would go over big with the league.

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#201 by dryheat // Dec 20, 2011 - 8:54am

Why am I reminded of the Upper Class Twit of the Year sketch?

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#110 by Scott P. (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:59pm

If you look at NFL history, it's always better to have a better record than a worse one. 6-10 teams get to the playoffs sooner than 5-11 teams, 5-11 teams faster than 4-12 teams, etc. in a very linear progression.

The only slight difference is that 6-10 teams make the playoffs slightly quicker than 7-9 teams, but the difference is small and possibly due to chance.

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#181 by Purds // Dec 19, 2011 - 10:14pm

Really? There is evidence that 2-14 with the second pick will get to the playoffs sooner than 1-15 with a decades-best touted QB first pick?

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#193 by dryheat // Dec 20, 2011 - 7:49am

I find this claim dubious, if not outright spurious. It completely ignores teams that are improving vs. teams that are declining.

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#224 by Noahrk // Dec 20, 2011 - 3:41pm

I believe it. Statistically, even if some teams are improving and others are declining, I'd assume teams tend to regress to the mean.

In other words, it's much harder to find a 4-12 team that is declining than, say, an 8-8 team that is declining.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

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#225 by dryheat // Dec 20, 2011 - 4:13pm

But the relevant question (I think) is whether or not it's harder to find a 4-12 team that's improving than a 4-12 team that's declining.

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#238 by Noahrk // Dec 21, 2011 - 2:41pm

Well, if you're 4-12 it's a lot easier to get better than to get worse, right? Just like if you're, say, 15-1 or 16-0 there's nowhere to go but down. It stand to reason more teams would get better than worse.

That other poster mentions hard numbers, which I don't know about, but it seems like a logical proposition.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

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#106 by MilkmanDanimal // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:27pm

Hmmm . . . by that logic, Tampa is likely looking at the 5th pick, with Cleveland 4th. Let's see, Cleveland already stole Joe Thomas one spot ahead of tampa back in 2006 (but hey, GAINES ADAMS was the pick instead), so now Cleveland can steal . . . Justin Blackmon, I'd guess?

Is it OK if I start hating Cleveland now?

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#148 by BaronFoobarstein // Dec 19, 2011 - 6:03pm

You're free to hate them if you like. But that's really just piling it on, isn't it?

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#97 by Peregrine // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:01pm

Battle for the top three picks...

Indy (1-13): v Houston, at Jacksonville
Minnesota (2-12): at Washington, v Chicago
St Louis (2-12): at Pittsburgh, v San Francisco

Right now Minnesota has two conference wins and St Louis only one. I believe that means St Louis has the #2 pick and Minnesota the #3.

I wouldn't expect St Louis would pick a QB at #2, but maybe they should. Same for the Vikings at #3. If you don't have a top-12 QB, you can't contend in this league. While Bradford and Ponder have shown flashes, it's actually much cheaper, in the long-term, to use another high pick on a QB right now - and let the best man win - than it is to design a team around an average player at the QB position.

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#102 by Theo // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:12pm

St Louis has Bradford. If they draft a QB, it will be on day 3.

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#111 by Peregrine // Dec 19, 2011 - 4:08pm

Yes, St Louis has Bradford. Like I was saying, maybe the Rams should draft a QB at pick #2 or #3.

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#154 by Ben // Dec 19, 2011 - 6:41pm

The draft order is not determined like the playoff order. The first tie breaker is strength of schedule.

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#190 by Ben // Dec 20, 2011 - 1:55am

Here is a breakdown of the last two weeks games for the Colts, Vikings, and Rams.

It looks like the Colts hold the tie breaker at both 2-14 and 3-13. So, unless the Colts win out and one of the other two lose out, the Colts will have the first pick.

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#100 by Theo // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:10pm

"but it seems to me like Freeman is much better when Tampa is running the two-minute drill."
Was this before or after this play:
1-20-TB 10 (3:19) (Shotgun) J.Freeman pass short right to K.Lumpkin to TB 14 for 4 yards (V.Butler, F.Walker).

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#107 by bigtencrazy (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:28pm

Color me shocked that a certain Packer enthusiast is notably absent from the thread today.

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#113 by Nathan // Dec 19, 2011 - 4:15pm

In his defense he came into the Week 15 open thread and took his lumps a little bit.

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#122 by SFC B (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 4:28pm

I thought the DVOA thread was where the fandom ran strongest since it had the "odds the Packers will lose a game" included.

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#126 by The Powers That Be // Dec 19, 2011 - 4:32pm

I have to say that Paul M has been pretty stand-up this whole time. He posted in the Q1-3 DVOA thread and acknowledged that he was wrong. He was in the week 15 discussion thread and said he was wrong. I'll be surprised if we don't see him in the Quick Reads and DVOA discussions tomorrow.

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#130 by Eddo // Dec 19, 2011 - 5:07pm

I thought QQ was much more obnoxious. Paul M seemed to be blinded by his homerism at first, but I got the impression he sincerely read other commenters and began writing more level-headedly.

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#156 by bigtencrazy (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 6:52pm

If so then I give him full credit.

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#144 by bravehoptoad // Dec 19, 2011 - 6:00pm

I hope those packers guys are back. Without them it'll be a longshot that the DVOA discussion thread goes to page #2 for the nth consecutive time this season.

edit: I am, though, thankful that we won't have to hear any more about the Pack never trailing in the 4th-quarter since cavemen discovered fire.

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#174 by Arkaein // Dec 19, 2011 - 9:10pm

How about haven't lost a game by 6 or more points since the playoffs following the 2009 season?

Just kidding (though that is in fact true). I agree that stats like that are useless if you want to discuss likely future performance. But I still think it's worth acknowledging historic accomplishments. Even if the requirements for the accomplishment are quirky and cherry-picked to fit a specific situation, they can still be impressive. As a fan, those kind of accomplishments are going to stick in my mind when I remember this Packers team, just like another recent 10-6 Superbowl champion, the 2007 Giants, was particularly memorable for its brutal slate of playoff opponents.

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#108 by bigtencrazy (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 3:32pm

Separate topic

My portable radio for outside is broken so yesterday I was using the NFL audio app to listen to the Packer game. The signal seemed to cut out during big moments of the game.

Is this commonplace? Just chance?

Because it became REALLY annoying

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#153 by Thomas_beardown // Dec 19, 2011 - 6:30pm

I'm not sure about this, but I would just find a local station with streaming (which is every radio station I'm pretty sure), and bypass any official NFL nonsense.

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#157 by bigtencrazy (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 6:52pm

iPhones don't take adobe and when I searched for alternatives they all used Adobe as part of the streaming function

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#189 by jonsilver // Dec 20, 2011 - 1:20am

When I've attempted to do this, I've found that the radio station's internet streaming program will not be the NFL game they're broadcasting...I think it has to do with the NFL's (and MLB also) wanting you to buy a digital season's package...

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#231 by Joseph // Dec 20, 2011 - 8:42pm


I know that this has been the case for the last couple of years. I also know that for us Saints fans, WWL radio ( has now procured the rights from the NFL to broadcast Saints home and away games live over the net via streaming. Also, you have to be a registered user on their site. [There is no fee, either.]
Supposedly, it is about 30 secs behind live radio or a TV stream--which, to me, if you're listening on the radio, is fairly unimportant.

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#188 by 0tarin // Dec 20, 2011 - 1:15am

The NFL app is WORTHLESS when you're trying to listen to your team play. It cuts out at the start of every drive as well as every critical play. At least, as far as I've been able to tell over a couple years' worth of periodic use.

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#114 by RichC (not verified) // Dec 19, 2011 - 4:17pm

" It doesn't even look like the Patriots defense is playing much better than before, mostly because the Patriots defense has barely been on the field "

They had barely been on the field in the 2nd quarter because they forced a turnover pretty much immediately each time they were. I'm not sur how thats "not playing much better"

Aside from one bad drive near the end, the defense pretty much dominated the broncos for the last 45 minutes of the game. The first quarter they were clearly terrible.

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#128 by MJK // Dec 19, 2011 - 4:53pm

On the Patriots defense:

Their scheme the entire season (and actually for several seasons now) has been much the same as the Colts defense played through the mid-2000's: Play a deep zone to protect DB's without a lot of talent, keep your rushers in their lanes, try to limit the big play, and force the opposing offense to execute over and over again rather than get a big play off. The idea is that eventually the offense will make a mistake. It works well against bad an average teams, and poorly against good offensive teams that don't make many mistakes. Against Denver, it was the right approach.

In the first quarter, the Pats defense was indeed terrible. The defensive calls largely looked correct in that players were in the right places to make plays...they just didn't. Couldn't tackle, couldn't get off blocks, and so forth. Then they tightened up. They really did improve after that. They were still playing to force Denver to make lots of plays in the hopes that a bad offense would make mistakes, and the bad offense obliged.

When you play defense, you can either play aggressive and have defensive success much of the time, but also gamble that you're going to give up big plays, or you can play conservative and and have little success much of the time and gamble that the opponent will make some critical mistakes. The former type of play looks better to our eyes, but the latter type of play can work as well, as evidenced by the Pats defense this year being 32nd in yards, but 12th in points allowed (or something like that...haven't checked how this weekend changed the rankings).

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#131 by PatsFan // Dec 19, 2011 - 5:10pm

The game stories also have the Pats players claiming that after Denver's 3rd drive the NE de facto DC metaphorically tore up the defensive gameplan and switched back to a 3-4 from the 4-3 that was in the gameplan.

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#162 by NYMike // Dec 19, 2011 - 7:16pm

So the two worst teams for yardage are in the middle for points. How often has that happened?

As badly as the Packers defense played yesterday, they still only gave up 19 points. Yes, I know it was the Chiefs.

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#163 by akn // Dec 19, 2011 - 7:21pm

The Bears defense are commonly middle-to-bad in terms of yardage but among the top in points allowed, yesterday's Seahawks game notwithstanding (it doesn't help when your offense turns the ball over 5 times).

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#165 by MJK // Dec 19, 2011 - 7:44pm

And the Bears also run a Cover 2 zone as their base defense, right?

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#172 by B // Dec 19, 2011 - 8:59pm

It happens when the teams that are bad at yardage on defense are good on offense and special teams, giving their opponents long fields to deal with.

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#173 by Eddo // Dec 19, 2011 - 9:04pm

It also happens with good teams, who have big leads and are content to allow long drives that take time off the clock. Teams playing catch-up are also going to be playing more aggressively, getting more yardage, but either turning the ball over on downs or committing a turnover as they advance further.

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#164 by BJR // Dec 19, 2011 - 7:28pm

Posted this in the weekly discussion thread but didn't receive any replies, so trying my luck here:

Looking at the schedule for next week, and Eagles @ Cowboys is scheduled to be played at 4:15 Eastern. However, if the Giants have already beaten the Jets (1:00 Eastern) I am under the impression that this becomes essentially a meaningless game for the Cowboys. Win or lose against the Eagles, winning the division would depend on beating the Giants in week 17 because this match swings all the tie-breakers. There are no wild-card or seeding implications. It doesn't matter that the Eagles are still in the hunt because, again, they can't catch Dallas if Dallas wins in week 17.

Can somebody confirm this? Has this happened before? Will the schedule adjusted so that the Giants and Cowboys games are played simultaneously? Otherwise Dallas could conceivably just rest their starters.

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#168 by Travis // Dec 19, 2011 - 8:05pm

If the Cowboys win Week 16, they could win the division with a tie against a Giants. The Cowboys also aren't eliminated in the wild card - they'd beat out the Falcons if they both finish 9-7.

The Seahawks last year played a completely meaningless Week 16 game (except for the possibility of a Week 17 tie) after the Rams beat the 49ers early.

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#229 by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) // Dec 20, 2011 - 7:25pm

(Adding on to what I wrote in #228 below): yes, this is all true, but possibility of either scenario so slim I can't imagine it affecting anything. Can't imagine Falcons losing to TB at home in week 17, and of course they could also beat NO in week 16.

Tie is of course a long shot -- and yet this is almost the scenario that happened in 1993. Giants were up by 1 game over Dallas going into 2nd-to-last game and lost what appeared to be a meaningless game, in that once Dallas won that week the Giants couldn't clinch and the division all going to come down to Giants-Cowboys game at Meadowlands. A game that went into OT, during which I started thinking that a tie would be the only scenario in which a Giants win the week before would matter (tie would have handed the division to Cowboys, unlike if the Giants had won the week before). Cowboys won in OT anyway (game in which Emmitt Smith ran for 168 yards with his arm out of its shoulder socket and dangling on the turf).

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#228 by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) // Dec 20, 2011 - 7:18pm

You are correct. Giants beat Jets in the early slot, and Dallas-Philly is meaningless; Philly's eliminated and Dallas has nothing to gain or lose (division TBD by week 17 v. Giants, and no one in the division has any chance at a wild card). Giants lose to Jets, and the game is hugely important: Dallas would clinch the division with a win, and Eagles would have a great chance to win the division with a win -- but they would still need to beat Redskins at home and have Giants beat Dallas in NJ in week 17.

As a Giants fan, if the Giants lose, I might actually do the unthinkable and root for Dallas in a meaningful game for the first time in my life (aside from when a Dallas win would help the Giants). If Dallas were to win, the Giants would be eliminated, but I think I'd rather have a final coup de grace than watch the Giants facilitate an Eagles' miracle division title. Giants could theoretically win the division, but there's no way in hell the Eagles are going to lose to the Redskins at home in week 17 if the division is on the line -- I mean, no team could possibly lose to the Redskins at home in a meaningful late-season game, right?

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#170 by Junior // Dec 19, 2011 - 8:40pm

Aaron Schatz: We wondered all season who could stop Aaron Rodgers. Today we found out: His own receivers and offensive line.

Yeah no credit to the Chiefs, as usual.

Chiefs were also the first team in history last year to take advantage of an easy schedule and never actually "won" 10 games, they were handed victories every single time.

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#184 by Jonadan // Dec 19, 2011 - 11:22pm

Well I suppose it would be impossible to get through this without some Chiefs whining.

Though tbh you have some points... but the game was close enough that something as "small" as missing Jennings could make a huge difference.

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

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#186 by NYMike // Dec 20, 2011 - 12:14am

And losing two right tackles, while already playing with a substitute left tackle.

The Chiefs played great, and deserved to win. They also had help.

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#202 by BSR // Dec 20, 2011 - 8:56am

If injuries to a team are "help" to the other team, then I really think the Packers had the most "help" in that game. KC has been decimated by injuries.

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#203 by Eggwasp (not verified) // Dec 20, 2011 - 9:03am

Because only GB has players out injured at this stage of the season?
How about GB gets Jennings & a tackle back and KC gets Jamal Charles and Cassel back? How about Chicago and Oakland each get their QB/RB/WRs back? Maybe that Manning guy could come back and play for Indy in our "what-if" league?
Players get injured - no whining from the 13-1 team please.

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#204 by NYMike // Dec 20, 2011 - 9:23am

Never mind the left tackle. When injuries occur to your two right tackles DURING THE GAME, it matters to the outcome of that game. Feel free to be as snarky as you like. At this point in the thread, we were saying the game was close enough that small things mattered. That alone is credit to the Chiefs, who played great and were expected to be blown out.

Actually, it's ironic that GB won the Superbowl with a ton of injuries last year, but they were spread out. This year, they haven't had that many, but they're all concentrated on the offensive line. Bad as the defense has been, I think ultimately the inability to field a cohesive o-line during the playoffs will do them in this year, and there will be no repeat.

Points: 0

#205 by DisplacedPackerFan // Dec 20, 2011 - 9:35am

Players get injured - no whining from the 13-1 team please.

Agree completely. This Packers team is still less injured than it was last year, a good team needs a front office that can build enough depth AND you need enough luck to not get hit hard enough. Everyone has to play back-ups somewhere, and while I do think some teams do suffer fewer injuries (because of training methods) I think it's a pretty small difference and that injuries are still pretty much luck.

On that note, I watched the game on NFL Rewind yesterday (after the live radio feed) and this game was only close on the score board. Yes I've heard all the cries of that is all that matters, but the Chiefs whooped the Packers. Yes, there were dropped balls, but some of those were because there was only a small window Rodgers could put the ball because of good coverage or because he was pressured to throw a bit faster, and the Chiefs dropped balls too, with receivers who were way more open.

If Orton had had more than a couple of weeks to get used to this offense, I'm confident 2 of the FG would have been TD's and now it's a 27 - 14 win. The Chiefs played coverage and mostly rushed 4. They got pressure with those 4 and they kept the windows where the Packers were open small.

The offense stayed within itself, they didn't take a lot of big shots, they took the soft zones, they bullied the defense with the run game. This is part of why the redzone didn't look as good either. Less field the defense was tighter because there was less space to cover.

That said, Aaron was wrong about then "finally giving the ball to McClain and Battle in the redzone.

First redzone Sequence.
1st and 4 at GB 4 J.Battle left tackle to GB 1 for 3 yards (A.Hawk).
2nd and 1 at GB 1 K.Orton pass incomplete short left to S.Breaston.
3rd and 1 at GB 1 K.Orton pass incomplete short right to L.McClain (M.Burnett)
4th and 1 at GB 1 R.Succop 19 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-T.Gafford, Holder-D.Colquitt.

Second Redzone Sequence
1st and 10 at GB 18 J.Battle up the middle to GB 14 for 4 yards (M.Burnett).
2nd and 6 at GB 14 (Shotgun) K.Orton pass incomplete short left to J.Baldwin (T.Williams).
3rd and 6 at GB 14 (Shotgun) K.Orton pass incomplete short left to D.Bowe.
4th and 6 at GB 14 R.Succop 32 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-T.Gafford, Holder-D.Colquitt.

Third Redzone Sequence (Jones finally shows up in the play by play)
1st and 10 at GB 12 T.Jones right end to GB 3 for 9 yards (C.Woodson; E.Walden).
Timeout #1 by KC at 04:59.
2nd and 1 at GB 3 J.Battle left end to GB 4 for -1 yards (C.Woodson).
3rd and 2 at GB 4 T.Jones right guard to GB 3 for 1 yard (C.Woodson).
4th and 1 at GB 3 J.Battle up the middle to GB 3 for no gain (C.Wilson).

Fourth Redzone Sequence
1st and 3 at GB 3 T.Jones left end to GB 5 for -2 yards (A.Hawk; D.Smith).
2nd and 5 at GB 5 (Shotgun) K.Orton pass incomplete short left to J.Baldwin (C.Woodson).
3rd and 10 at GB 10 (Shotgun) K.Orton pass short middle to D.McCluster to GB 2 for 8 yards (C.Matthews).
4th and 2 at GB 2 R.Succop 20 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-T.Gafford, Holder-D.Colquitt.

Fifth Redzone Sequence (OK so the first play is from the 21 on this one)
2nd and 3 at GB 21 K.Orton pass short middle to A.Becht to GB 5 for 16 yards (C.Peprah).
1st and 5 at GB 5 T.Jones up the middle to GB 4 for 1 yard (C.Wilson).
2nd and 4 at GB 4 L.McClain up the middle to GB 1 for 3 yards (B.Raji).
3rd and 1 at GB 1 J.Battle up the middle for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.

So I see 17 non field goal plays in the redzone.
I see 5 J. Battle carries, 4 T. Jones carries, 1 L. McClain carry, and 7 K Orton passes.

They tried Battle and a couple of passes (one of which was dropped) on the first two trips. Then they tried Jones and Battle (going to Battle not Jones on 4th down with Jones getting 10 yards and Battle 0 on their 2 carries). So none of that worked so they tried Jones then a couple of Orton passes. Then finally they went Jones, McClain, Battle. Scoring wise, Battle was 1 of 4 from inside the 4 yard line. Jones was 0 for 3.

I know FO doesn't like Jones, but the problem in the redzone for the Chiefs was more Orton and the receivers than the run game.

Points: 0

#207 by Will Allen // Dec 20, 2011 - 10:02am

Some folks thought I was trying to be harsh on this year's Packers' team, when I expressed doubt that they would prove themselves to be as dominant as past Super Bowl winners, but the point I was really trying to make is that the salary cap era probably precludes such domimnant rosters being constructed again, especially as HOF-quality QBs consume such a large percentage of the salary cap. Which means, of course, that rules changes are having this effect as well, which is kind of interesting.

Even before the Chiefs game, the Packers were the worst pass blocking great passing team I'd ever seen. Which is not to say they were a bad pass blocking team; just that, for one of the greatest passing teams ever, maybe the best, they really didn't protect the qb all that well. Of course, they are not a great run blocking team either, which leaves us with the prospect of a great, great, offense that doesn't block all that well.

I guess I'm turning into the old fogey I was destined to be, because I increasingly think I preferred the game that put a greater premium on offensive line play, and emphasized qb performance less.

Points: 0

#213 by Karl Cuba // Dec 20, 2011 - 12:37pm

While the Pack had a lot of guys on IR last season not many of them were that good, except for Finley. Well that's my opinion anyway, I think losing nearly all of your offensive tackles is probably a worse situation.

Points: 0

#219 by ammek // Dec 20, 2011 - 1:27pm

I agree with your analysis. The Packers also recovered both of their fumbles (on the same play), almost had a punt blocked, and were gifted a first down on a roughing the punter call. One of Rodgers' passes was a couple of extra inches of end zone from being intercepted. Not only the score but the stats, too, flattered the Pack.

On the injuries, I agree with Jimmy that last year Green Bay was as lucky as a team that led the NFL in AGL can be in terms of who went down. Not only were none of the star players lost for any long period, but in several cases the replacement turned out to be a small upgrade (Bishop over Barnett; Williams over Harris; Bulaga over Tauscher). I do think this year's casualties are more significant — Jennings and Collins might be two of the rare Packers that are actually under-rated — but as everyone has pointed out, other teams are hurt too. And the Packer organization itself is responsible for the imbalanced roster (four backs, five tight ends) which left the offense short of running-back bodies in Kansas City.

Points: 0

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