Audibles at the Line
Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Audibles at the Line: Week 7
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.

Chicago Bears 24 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18

Mike Kurtz: Tampa's line had a very impressive opening series; Josh Freeman had all sorts of time. Unfortunately for the Bucs, he missed three or four extremely easy throws, and they have to punt.

Mike Tanier: If it weren't for Matt Forte these games would already have me in a boredom coma.

Mike Kurtz: Forte is just eating the Bucs for lunch. It's kind of unfair. On that note, Earnest Graham fell down clutching his leg, and was shown being taken to the locker room without putting any weight on his right leg. On punt coverage, their backup running back injures his arm. The next play, their starting defensive tackle goes down.

How's this sequence of events? Jay Cutler throws an easy screen to Marion Barber, who bobbles it for an interception. Then Freeman fires a bullet right to a receiver at the 1-yard line, which Chris Conte yanks away from the receiver. The next play, Chicago tries one of those awful "safe" goal-line runs that is actually not safe at all. Ronde Barber blows it up in the backfield and Forte is tackled for a safety.

Mike Tanier: Tony Siragusa looks like Sir Topham Hat

Mike Kurtz: Jeremy Trueblood is back to his old form, pulling two false starts and a holding through three quarters.

Oooookay. Sequence is: Freeman drops back, facemask on Tampa, interception by Brian Urlacher, fumble by Urlacher, recovery by Tampa.

Lovie Smith accepts penalty, challenges. I think Urlacher was down. Corrente agrees with me. Chicago gets the ball, the personal foul is tacked on, time is added to the clock. Extremely good job by Corrente's crew getting the play correct.

Ronde Barber has been a monster today. He's been in Cutler's face, he scored the safety, and, with Chicago up 3 on third-and-goal, he anticipated the snap and hit Cutler on the first step of his drop. His one bad play of the night was lazy coverage against Devin Hester, resulting in a 12-yard gain. Even then, he cleaned up right after the catch.

Of course, Aqib Talib stuck his fingers into Roy Williams's facemask on that third-and-goal play, drawing a personal foul and giving the Bears a new set of downs. The defense keeps Chicago out of the end zone, but the new set of downs eats up 1:40 of clock, taking them down to the two-minute warning. The game basically ends on a Freeman interception with 28 seconds left at the Bears 40 or so. You have to think they have a better chance on that drive with an extra minute-plus.

Atlanta Falcons 23 at Detroit Lions 16

J.J. Cooper: Looks like the Lions will keep me busy this week. The first two plays after an Eric Wright interception are two sacks allowed. The Lions are much improved, obviously, but they still have Jeff Backus at left tackle, which leads to some mismatches against elite pass rushers. Looked like on the first sack Backus was worried about John Abraham's speed which left him vulnerable to an inside move.

Doug Farrar: The second sack gave me Mike Martz flashbacks – tight ends release despite a strong-side blitz. Who adjusted that protection?

Denver Broncos 18 at Miami Dolphins 15

J.J. Cooper: The Broncos appear to be running the spread early with Tim Tebow. Most of his plays from the gun, many of which begin with him sticking the ball in the gut of a running back before pulling it back out.

I know it's only the first quarter, but the Broncos coaching staff doesn't seem to really believe in letting Tebow do much. They have had 10 runs in the first 13 plays. Tebow shows why on the 14th play. Against a four-man rush, he holds the ball for 4.8 seconds, then tries a dodge that adds six yards to a long field goal that the Broncos miss. The run-first approach is often used to take pressure off a quarterback, but it also means that the quarterback faces a lot of third-and-longs.

Danny Tuccitto: Been walking around the stadium taking in the crowd. First odd sighting: person in a Mark Sanchez jersey. Attending in solidarity among bad quarterbacks?

J.J. Cooper: Announcers just comped Tebow to Bobby Douglass. That isn't a good thing.

Tom Gower: Where'd you find announcers who remember Bobby Douglass?

Mike Tanier: Tebow's end-over-end shotput to Knowshon Moreno was positively gruesome.

J.J. Cooper: In Tebow's defense he did spin out of a sack for a 21 yard-gain. Of course that means he has more rushing yards then passing yards.

Danny Tuccitto: Interesting sequence just now. Tebow with a long run, and half the club level dining room roars. Next play, he gets sacked and the other half erupts. Mind you, this is an area that's pretty much all season-ticket holders.

They even brought the Florida band to this one.

J.J. Cooper Broncos and Dolphins are a combined 0-for-15 on third down now. Ugly football.

Danny Tuccitto: The inevitable Tebow fourth-quarter comeback will have to wait until next drive as this one had a negative run sandwiched in between two wild incompletions. To be fair, Tebow himself was sandwiched by a pair of rushers on the last pass. Still 12-0 Miami.

Another week, another pirouetting Tebow scramble! This time it was with six minutes left, not six seconds, and led to a sack. Broncos forced to punt down 15-0.

Mike Tanier: Anybody else have a sinking feeling that the Tebow Magic talk is going to make us sick to our stomachs this week?

Vince Verhei: We should all agree to scream this to the Heavens: IT'S MIAMI. 31st in total defensive DVOA, 30th in pass defense. If that's too much for people to handle, "0-6" should suffice.

Tom Gower: Well, that was a nicely-designed and executed throwback screen to the tight end for the touchdown before the game-tying 2-point conversion.

Aaron Schatz: How can you be Miami and not have an extra defender in the middle for the draw? How?

Rivers McCown: Well you've got to make sure that Tebow can't beat you with the laser-accurate arm that Solomon Wilcots swears that he has.

Aaron Schatz: The prototypical "story of two different games." For three quarters, this game set back offensive football 20 years ... although that might have been less than the Cleveland-Seattle game. It was hard to tell who was rooting for anyone because Miami, Florida, and Denver all have orange as a color. Tebow looked horrible. John Fox's "we're not changing the offense for him" stuff was nonsense. There were a lot of college-style read option plays and it looked like Tebow had one, maybe two receivers to look for on each play before he took off. And he was taking off a LOT and throwing almost no passes, in part because the pass blocking was abysmal. That part, at least, Tebow had no control over. Oh my, did Cameron Wake abuse rookie right tackle Orlando Franklin all day, non-stop. With a left-handed quarterback, the Broncos need to consider switching Franklin with Ryan Clady.

But when Tebow did get at least 2.5 seconds to throw the ball, his throws were so off that you literally couldn't tell -- was he throwing the ball away, or was he really overthrowing guys by that much? At one point he had Daniel Fells without guys within ten yards of him and Tebow threw it out of bounds. There's no way that he could have been throwing that away on purpose, right? Right? And his passes are so wobbly, no tight spiral there.

There was one play that totally encapsulated the Tebow experience: it was second-and-20 on the 10, he was dead to rights for a sack on the goal line, almost a safety, but he somehow got out of it, and scrambled forward and actually got a first down. Insane. He broke like four tackles along the way. On the other hand, he completely should have thrown the ball away, and never, ever should have tried to run. That kind of thing drives coaches nuts.

And then ... I have no idea what happened in the last five minutes. Tebow suddenly was more accurate -- not totally accurate, but now the receivers were making good catches to make his almost-accurate passes into completions. Suddenly, the Dolphins pressure wasn't quite enough, even though a couple of those passes ended with Wake on top of Tebow. And the second Denver touchdown was the perfect play call, taking advantage of the fact that Wake had been abusing Franklin all day. This time, they let Wake and everyone in on the right side ON PURPOSE -- because the right-side linemen were pulling out to block for a screen to Fells. Easy touchdown.

And I said it earlier, but let me say it again. When Denver needs a two-point conversion to tie the game, and they spread you out, how on earth do you not stick an extra linebacker in the middle to try to guard against the draw? How how how?

A quick Miami note: I'm not sure why Tony Sparano coaches so risk-averse when he has to know his job is gone. Let it all hang out for once, Tony. Try to advance the ball when you get it back with 30 seconds left in the first half.

Finally, this game was a great example of why I disagree with the decision ESPN made to include clutch performance in their new Total QBR. Once again, I'll say that Total QBR is a pretty good stat with a lot of good ideas made by people I trust. However, I'm sure Tebow will score well because all his good plays today came in a fourth-quarter comeback. That doesn't really make sense, because why did Denver have to come back in the first place? Maybe because Tim Tebow had a total of 24 passing yards in the first three quarters of the game? He himself dug the hole that he had to climb out of. Well, he dug it with a lot of help from Franklin. Hard to overstate how bad Franklin was.

This was like the worst possible result for those of us who want a definitive answer to the Tebow question, those of us who want Tebow to either excel or really suck so we can stop arguing about him. Instead, he did both in one game. Grrrrr.

Mike Tanier: The other thing to note on the Tebow draw for the two-point conversion is the blitzing defensive back off the edge -- I don't remember who -- takes this horrible angle into the backfield, so Tebow runs right past him. That defender has to come in flat in that situation, anticipating a possible (likely. inevitable) draw.

Rivers McCown: Will Allen. And yes, he looked lost on that play.

Danny Tuccitto: OK, had some technical difficulties in the press box earlier, so here's a synopsis of my experience at Tebowfest 2011:

I spent most of the first half walking around the stadium to get a gauge on the makeup of the crowd. There were three distinct factions. There were obviously the Dolphins fans, which I'd say made up about 60 percent. Then there were the Tebow fans, presumably University of Florida alumni, easily identifiable via their UF Tebow jersies or their general non-Tebow UF paraphernalia. That group made up about 20 percent.

Much to my surprise, there was the forgotten third faction, actual Broncos fans, who made up the remaining 20 percent. In the hype surrounding the halftime tribute to UF's 2007 national championship team, and the turmoil that is the 2011 Miami Dolphins, I had taken for granted -- much like the national media -- that there would actually be non-idol-worshipping Broncos fans at the game. What's more, I was totally surprised by how many of them there actually were.

Truth be told, it was a pleasant surprise, because Broncos fans were easily the most creative of the three factions when it came to jerseys. Sure there were plenty of John Elway and Terrell Davis jerseys to be seen, but two others were pretty out-of-the-box wardrobe selections. There was one guy wearing a Karl Mecklenburg jersey, which stood out to me because I just assumed pre-1997 Broncos history had been wiped from Denver's collective memory. But my personal favorite, which had to be an apparent ode to the White Wide Receiver Name Generator, was a guy who bore a striking resemblance to Ed McCaffrey wearing -- what else -- an Ed McCaffrey jersey.

From what I was reading, most of the first three quarters was absolute dreck to watch, so I didn't return to the press box until the start of the fourth quarter. It didn't take me long to see how bad Tebow can look at times, although I think the Denver's offensive coaching staff needs to share in some of the blame. There were plenty of times where Tebow simply held the ball too long, even when the obvious intended receiver on a play broke open the way it was drawn up. You'd watch the routes develop, see immediately who his first read was, and he wouldn't throw it. Especially perplexing was that this happened a couple of times with Eric Decker running a slant right across Tebow's face.

With that said, and putting aside Tebow's penchant for inaccurate throws, what also struck me watching Denver's offense was that their route combinations were taking forever to develop. On the majority of passing plays I saw, it would be three seconds or more before the receivers made their breaks. It was usually three receivers each running intermediate or deep routes. It wasn't surprising then, that Tebow kept resorting to sandlot football. I think that, in order for him to succeed at this stage, Denver needs to be running a lot more quick-hitting, underneath stuff, because not doing so feeds into all of Tebow's bad habits. If you don't want him to play sandlot football, and want him to get rid of the ball quickly, don't give him three seconds to wait for receivers to get open on a 20-yard dig route. It's not like the Broncos' offense is devoid of receivers who can run bubble screens, hitches, or slants. It's true that Tebow didn't throw to the open Decker slant I mentioned earlier, but at least a play call like that trains Tebow to break bad habits. I think that's what their goal should be going forward, unless of course they have no plans for him in their future. But if that's the case, he shouldn't be out there, regardless of what the fan base says.

On the final drive in regulation, I totally agree with one of the comments -- I think Aaron made it -- about how obvious Tebow's quarterback draw for the two-point conversion was. What was especially mind-numbing about it was that, on previous short-yardage situations that I saw, you could see Miami's defense accounting for the quarterback draw, even when Denver tried to spread them out with four or five receivers in the formation. From what I saw, they seemed to make it a point for the entire game not to get fooled by that play design, but totally ignored it for whatever reason on the most important play in regulation. If half the press box knows what's coming, and you've known what's coming from that formation the entire game, how do you not defend it properly at that point?

What was also interesting from a stadium environment perspective was that, by the time that play happened, the crowd had dwindled down to something like 20,000, at least half of which were Broncos fans. (The announced paid attendance of 63,800 elicited a collective chuckle among the media types.) The audience reaction to the two-point conversion took me back to Week 2, when Candlestick Park went wild with jubilation on Jesse Holley's game-clinching catch-and-run in Dallas' overtime win in San Francisco.

One last thing I'll note in closing is that, when I was leaving the stadium, I overheard more than one group of dejected Dolphins fans railing against Sparano going for two at the beginning of the fourth quarter because, if he had chosen to kick the extra point, the score would have been 16-7 going into Denver's final drive, thereby rendering it nearly impossible for them to win. Of course, that's playing the result a bit, and it really didn't seem like that controversial of a decision at the time: 12-0, 13-0, 14-0? Who cares? Denver couldn't move the ball at all through three quarters. They're going to start now? Nevertheless, I'd love to see a breakdown of the probabilities associated with that decision. I'm generally of the school that you don't go for two unless you absolutely have to at the end of a game, and you certainly don't do it with a two-score lead at home against a team that had amassed 137 total yards and zero points in the previous 45 minutes of the game.

Tom Gower: Friend of FO William Krasker's handy-dandy two-point conversion chart has the break-even point for going for two, up 12, with 15 minutes to play, at 24 percent. Then decreasing by roughly five percent every three minutes from 18 minutes to play on. According to his game model at least, that's overwhelming sense.

Danny Tuccitto: Ah yes, can't argue with a Markov model! Thanks Tom.

I'm assuming that the difference between the break-even probabilities for being up 12 (24 percent) and up 11 (69 percent) is because whereas kicking an extra point to go up 12 or converting the two-point conversion to go up 13 is functionally the same result, converting to go up 14 is an inflection point that's much more valuable than kicking to go up 13.

Of course, then there's Chris Brown's more game theoretical take on two-pointers. From that perspective, Sparano's decision seems like more of a borderline call. Either way, though, I don't buy that his choice made much of an impact on the outcome of the game.

One other thing I totally forgot to mention in my little essay, which I was just reminded of reading some of Sparano's postgame comments, is that the Dolphins still fell for the quarterback draw from the spread formation even after they had the benefit of seeing Denver line up in it before the timeout that Miami called to give the booth more time to review the touchdown. Denver literally used the same formation and pre-snap motion.

Seattle Seahawks 3 at Cleveland Browns 6

Brian McIntyre: Midway through the first quarter, the Seahawks and Browns have combined for 35 yards of total offense and 35 yards in penalties.

Vince Verhei: Brian kind of stole my thunder, but at the end of the first quarter in Cleveland, there are six total penalties for 60 yards, and six total first downs for 73 yards of total offense. One of the first downs was, of course, on a penalty.

And the Seahawks block a field goal early in the second. Years from now someone will look at this boxscore for a late-October game in Cleveland and assume it was rainy and muddy, but it's a nice sunny day.

At halftime of Football In Hell, Cleveland leads Seattle 3-0. A few factoids: In 17 pass plays, the Seahawks have given up three sacks to get four first downs. (In Quick Reads last week I noted that Charlie Whitehurst's sack rate was better than Tarvaris Jackson's. Never mind about that.) Whitehurst has six completions, none of which have gained more than 11 yards. Cleveland's offense has been marginally better, but Colt McCoy is completing half his passes for fewer than 10 yards per completion. And the Browns have given that advantage back on special teams, with a blocked field goal and a nine-yard punt.

Tarvaris Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, and Peyton Hillis are all inactive, by the way. That probably has something to do with the sorry state of things. Lynch apparently strained his back in warmups. That should have been a sign.

Browns come out in the second half on (ahem) "fire," picking up three first downs on their opening drive, although all three came on third downs. Then on the verge of field-goal range, McCoy hangs in the pocket for close to five seconds before throwing an interception right to middle linebacker David Hawthorne.

Following the interception, the teams exchange punts. Leon Washington appears to score what I'm certain would have been a game-winning touchdown on a punt return, but -- of course -- it's called back for a block in the back.

On the first play following Washington's non-touchdown, Whitehurst throws a deep ball down the left sideline to Sidney Rice, covered by Sheldon Brown one-on-one. The ball is underthrown, and Brown boxes Rice out for the interception. You've heard of video game football? This is what happens when you give the controllers to the whiny four-year-olds in the room.

Seahawks actually manage a field goal to tie the game and threaten us all with the menace of overtime. This game does not need an extra frame. Key play on the drive was a big reception downfield by Rice when the Browns forgot to cover him, then he fell out of bounds with no defender within 5 yards. That was the first time all day either team had reached the red zone.

Brian McIntyre: Despite not advancing the ball inside the Seahawks' 30-yard line, the Browns have a nearly 19-minute edge in time of possession (33:45 to 14:57) and lead 6-3 with 11 minutes to play.

Vince Verhei: It will surprise none you to learn that Jim Mora thinks Colt McCoy is a winner. I know this because he has said so 17,000 times today.

I'm not a big believer in time of possession, but the Browns did have more good runs on their latest drive than they have all day. The drive stalled at the goal line, though, and they settled for a field-goal attempt ... which, for the second time today, was blocked. Seahawks have about three minutes, no timeouts, down 6-3 at their own 20.

Seahawks turn the ball over on downs. They hold Cleveland to a three-and-out and it appears that they're going to at least have a chance for a miracle, but Red Bryant commits a dumb foul, headbutting a guy after the play, getting himself ejected, and giving Cleveland the first down they need to ice the game. And, mercifully, it's done.

Houston Texans 41 at Tennessee Titans 7

Tom Gower: Midway through the second quarter, the Texans lead the Titans in a contest that can probably be fairly described as "desultory" and poorly-played by the Titans, including a demonstration of their desperate need for a non-terrible receiver other than Nate Washington, Chris Johnson's penchant for leaving yards on the field and not gaining anything (the blocking isn't great, but it's not worst in the league bad), and a stream of idiotic personal fouls on defense. On the plus side, Arian Foster is a good and exciting player.

Rivers McCown: Johnson just isn't a good NFL running back right now. He seems to bottle up and accept it when there is a tackler in his area and he's past the line of scrimmage. No fight.

Ben Muth: The Texans seem to get one big play a game on the bootleg right throwback deep left. At some point a defense is going to have to stay home and get a pick, right?

Tom Gower: The Texans really do a good job of running different stuff of the boot action and getting guys in different ways. They hit the playside tight end for a big score against the Raiders, and this game they've hit the bootside receiver, the bootside tight end, and now the back. They run a good amount of boot stuff, and do it in different ways, and Matt Schaub is willing to throw it away if it's not there, at least most of the time.

I don't have a lot more to add about this game, but the Texans are continuing to dismantle the Titans. After doing down 27-0, the Titans did drive for a score, going most of the way down the field quickly with Javon Ringer in the game. The popular comment was that this was a benching, but Ringer has played more all year in obvious passing situations and is a better pass-blocker. When they got into the red zone, CJ came back in the game. I may have mentioned this before, but I thought the Texans' offensive line had a particularly good year in 2010 and they'd regress some this year. Well, never mind, they still look great and the combination play is still particularly excellent. Johnson might even be a decent runner behind those guys.

Ben Muth: Neil Rackers puts an exclamation point on Houston's win with a big hit on Marc Mariani. That's right, the kicker laid someone out. Then celebrated with a massive fist pump.

Tom Gower: I think I'm going to claim the Titans were doomed to a loss by Mike Munchak's failure to challenge what I thought was a completion to Damian Williams on a flea-flicker. Williams lost the ball when he went to the ground after a hit, and it was ruled an incompletion on the field. I didn't think he was going to the ground when he caught the ball, thus completion and fumble out of bounds. The Titans failed to convert third down, and have done hardly anything positive since then.

Rivers McCown: If it's all the same to you Tom, I'm going to blame it on the fact that the Texans had zero punts and 26 first downs over the last 53 minutes of the game. That probably played a factor.

Washington Redskins 20 at Carolina Panthers 33

Mike Tanier: John Beck has made a few good throws, but the Redskins gameplan has been classic "hide the quarterback." Beck just took a bad sack on fourth down.

Beck had a much better series on a scoring drive. Some rollout plays and play action completions before scrambling for a touchdown. The Redskins lost Tim Hightower, though, and it looks serious.

Cam Newton is having another marvelous day. The air is getting sucked out of the Redskins.

San Diego Chargers 21 at New York Jets 27

Aaron Schatz: The Jets really had a problem here covering Antonio Gates. They were leaving Gates wide open in the middle of the field on zones, or they would run man coverage with linebackers who had no hope of covering him, who were already two steps behind by the time they started backpedaling from the line of scrimmage.

When the Jets came back at the end, and San Diego tried to score one more touchdown, someone is going to have to explain to me what on earth Philip Rivers was thinking checking down for three-yard gains with 23 seconds left and no timeouts.

Sean McCormick: I'm not sure what was going on, but the Chargers seemingly spent the entire day offsides. There were a minimum of five neutral zone infractions called on them, and San Diego was lucky that the Jets were usually running the ball, as they were opening themselves up to free plays down the field.

It's not surprising that both of Rivers' second half interceptions came when he was trying to force the ball to Vincent Jackson. Jackson was completely shut down by Darrelle Revis, but a few times in the game the Jets goaded Rivers by playing Revis to the other side, only to throw bracket coverage on Jackson. Jackson bobbled the first throw, popping it up in the air for a waiting Revis, and Kyle Wilson was able to undercut Jackson on the second throw.

Kansas City Chiefs 28 at Oakland Raiders 0

Ben Muth: With six minutes left in the first quarter, Kyle Boller is 1-for-3 with two picks. The Carson Palmer trade looks a little better now. It's still awful, but not Kyle Boller awful.

Tom Gower: Boller starts off with two interceptions in his first three throws, one of them returned for a touchdown. Dwayne Bowe puts the Chiefs up 14-0. Boller calms down some and has some decent throws to help lead them down field, but a few Michael Bush carries on the goalline, including a direct snap on fourth and goal from the one, don't get in, and it's still 14-0.

Kyle Boller throws a third bad first-half interception as the Raiders are driving. He's doing his best to make the Palmer trade look like a really, really good idea.

Aaron Schatz Raiders bring in Carson Palmer in the third quarter. Palmer looks suspiciously like a guy who has only practiced with his receivers for about two days.

Tom Gower: Palmer's primary virtue through two offensive drives has been the conspicuous absence of any passes thrown right at defenders. Such as, say, that one Matt Cassel just chucked up on a wheel route. That said, his pass to Denarius Moore right after the Cassel's interception was not, shall I say, a particularly safe one.

Aaron Schatz: Palmer follows your comment with a pass thrown right to a defender, Brandon Flowers, for a pick-six.

Tom Gower: Another quick slant, this one a little bit behind Moore (also the target of Palmer's first interception). The rookie can't haul it in, ball tipped up in the air, and Jon McGraw gets the Chiefs' fifth interception of the game. Never mind.

Pittsburgh Steelers 32 at Arizona Cardinals 20

Mike Kurtz: Mike Wallace just caught a 95-yard touchdown. He blew past the cornerback, who fell down before the safety could get there (a beautiful throw but a little short). Wallace had to slow down to catch up, but then almost immediately shifted up gears and ran untouched into the end zone.

That said, Pittsburgh has been really sloppy today. The previous two drives before that strike were buried under penalties, and they've already drawn two personal fouls. Ike Taylor has been nearly lights-out against Larry Fitzgerald, aside from a pass interference call that actually took a minute-long officials' conference before the flag was thrown. Fitzgerald jumped up and beat Taylor on another play, but that was hardly Taylor's fault; he had perfect position, he's just not as good as Fitzgerald.

Taylor is apparently not allowed to touch Fitzgerald. There is, however, no such thing as offensive holding, as Brett Keisel is getting mauled every single play. No flags. In all fairness, the refs are being very consistent. Nobody is allowed to look at wide receivers too hard or they get flagged.

Green Bay Packers 33 at Minnesota Vikings 27

Vince Verhei: At halftime, the Packers are losing, but Aaron Rodgers is 17-of-20. And one of the incompletes was a spike to stop the clock.

Doug Farrar: And another was a very catchable drop over the middle.

Mike Tanier: Rodgers is still 21-of-24 late in the third. He is taking a few too many hits, though.

Aaron Schatz: The Minnesota secondary can't stop Rodgers at all, but their defensive line is getting a ton of pressure. I believe Rodgers has more sacks than incomplete passes.

Brian McIntyre: Clay Matthews shows no quit, fighting through a double-team to get a hit on Christian Ponder a split-second after the rookie released the ball. His reward: A very questionable 15-yard personal foul penalty. Ponder hits Michael Jenkins for a 24-yard touchdown on the next play.

Mike Tanier: Ponder has had a solid first start, from what I have seen, considering the defense he is facing.

Aaron Schatz: I think there's been a distinct lack of boneheaded throws.

Also, it looks like they are rolling Ponder out a lot to cut the field in half for him.

Rob Weintraub: I have a distinct and completely biased fondness for Ponder, as I've noted before, thanks to getting to know him a little bit, so I'm both unsurprised and quite thrilled that he's playing this well in his debut. Having said that, he's almost been picked on back-to-back throws late in the game as the Vikes drive for the upset.

Vince Verhei: That's my impression too. It's not so much that he's making tons of great throws, as much as he's making (generally) good decisions and doing a good job running the show. He looks poised and competent.

Tom Gower: I thought punting was a defensible decision, given that if the Packers get five yards, they're in field goal range to put you down two scores, but that run defense against James Starks was. .. deeply disappointing.

Mike Tanier: Twice on the final Packers drive, the Vikings defense could not stop a simple cutback run by Starks.

St. Louis Rams 7 at Dallas Cowboys 34

Rivers McCown: Really a pretty predictable game at half time. Steven Jackson broke one 40-yard run to get the Rams to the red zone (and a touchdown!), but other than that the A.J. Feeley experience has only germinated a series of six-yard passes to tight ends that will wind up in the "Going Deep" section of FOA12. The Cowboys have continued to look sloppy and involve Martellus Bennett way too often, but Tony Romo isn't having any problems finding open receivers. DeMarco Murray has nine touches at 2.3 yards per carry asides from his long touchdown run.

Tom Gower: Murray's big play was a 91-yard gain on a delayed draw where both safeties screwed up. Either the Rams' run defense is really, really bad or the Cowboys' rushing offense is a lot better than we thought it was. My money is on the former.

Vince Verhei: Murray over 230 yards rushing for Dallas. A lot of it is big plays -- his four longest carries have gained 135 yards -- but even taking those away, he's still going over five yards a pop. He's had some big stuffs in there, but still looks like a pretty remarkable day.

Rivers McCown: So, in the second half, Murray was a lot more impressive, needless to say. With Tashard Choice going down in the third quarter, the Cowboys have been giving him all the carries he can handle. Murray was so tired that he responded by falling down from exhaustion on a 43-yard gain that helped essentially seal the game.

There is a reason the Rams were 32nd in rush DVOA defense coming into the game.

Also, FOX just cut from the game using "You Belong With Me." I am sure there have been more inappropriate football game segues, but I can't think of them off-hand.

Indianapolis Colts 7 at New Orleans Saints 62

Tom Gower: Wow, the blocking on these Indianapolis screens is really awful. They have one, maybe two blockers, and Joseph Addai is quickly trapped.

Brian McIntyre: And on the very next series, the Saints offensive line shows how to block in the open field on a screen pass, clearing out two defenders so Pierre Thomas can rumble 57 yards to set up another Drew Brees-to-Marques Colston touchdown.

Mike Tanier: I am watching baseball.

"I notice that Drew Brees is 15-of-17 just before halftime," he says, just trying to spark some conversation.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, this game is not going to spark a lot of conversation.

Rivers McCown: How's the baseball game going?

Mike Tanier: It's a baseball game. I can look over every two or three minutes and not miss anything.

Tom Gower: I can chat about other things, like how the Titans officially today ran 10 third down plays, nine of them passes. The sole run came on third-and-one, so they've now faced third-and-two or more 69 times and called a pass play 67 of those times.

I'd love to know the real story of why Justin Tryon got run out of Washington and then out of Indianapolis. Something's going on there, and the Colts could use him. The Colts could use a few other things as well, but they actually had Tryon.

Rivers McCown: Is there anyone in the league that can cover Jimmy Graham? I think we've conclusively proven that a Colts safety one-on-one won't do the trick.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, Rivers, I think you answered a more important question: Is there anyone at Football Outsiders still watching this game?

Tom Gower: I am. I also haven't voluntarily watched any baseball on television this year.

Mike Tanier: I mean, really, having watched those day games, even though some were close, they were not very well played, I feel like I can skip this one. I mean, it's just the Saints thumping on the Colts with their usual efficiency, right?

Aaron Schatz: No, no. This is greater than usual efficiency.

Rivers McCown: Chase Daniel is in at the very end of the third quarter.

Mike Tanier: Oh thank heavens. Brees is destroying me in my fantasy league.

Vince Verhei: That means Brees is finishing the game with more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (four). (I'm not watching either.)

Mike Kurtz: I am swearing at the television. I have Brees in both leagues I'm in, but I'm playing against Colston in one and Graham in the other, so Brees' ridiculous game is being basically wasted. Oh, and one of them is running the New Orleans defense, which just got a pick-six. I really can't catch a break this week.

Vince Verhei: Saints are now the 15th team to score 62 points in a regular season game, and there's more than 11 minutes to go, and the first since the Jets in 1985.

Brian McIntyre: Up by 55 points, Gregg Williams is dialing up the blitzes on Dan Orlovsky. Ease off the gas, Gregg. Tonight won't completely erase the past six weeks.

Rivers McCown: And you thought people weren't watching, Aaron. We just had to wait for this to get to full-blown trainwreck status.


144 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2011, 6:30pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I spent most of the first half walking around the stadium to get a gauge on the makeup of the crowd. There were three distinct factions. There were obviously the Dolphins fans, which I'd say made up about 60 percent. Then there were the Tebow fans, presumably University of Florida alumni, easily identifiable via their UF Tebow jersies or their general non-Tebow UF paraphernalia. That group made up about 20 percent.

Much to my surprise, there was the forgotten third faction, actual Broncos fans, who made up the remaining 30 percent.

The fans were giving 110%!

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Also, you spent "most" of the first half counting jerseys (a questionable priority, and one that shouldn't take most of a half in the absence of weird desire for precision), then you don't make it back to the press box until the fourth quarter, because you read the game was dreck (you are at the game, still have to read about it, have technical difficulties, and are still able to read about it). That leaves a lot of time unaccounted for. Let's hope you didn't murder anybody, because Columbo (Detective, not Marc) is going to blow your alibi to smithereens.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Maybe the count took awhile, and some of the fans changed shirts during the game to distance themselves from Tebow (most of the game), or to distance themselves from the dolphins (late). Implausible, sure, but as a half-hearted attempt at face saving? Worth it.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I feel ya, Mike K., I feel ya -- thanks to my opponent running the Saints D, even with Brees, I need about 10 points from MJD against the Ravens.

My life sucks.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Well, not having Brady, McCoy, and Green-Ellis due to bye weeks, Brees outscored my entire team yesterday. Embarrassing, if not totally unexpected, loss. Your life doesn't suck. Getting a Zero from Matt Cassel, now that sucks. Greg Jennings scored my lone touchdown yesterday.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sounds familiar -- my three wideouts yesterday were Vince Jackson, Miles Austin and Doug Baldwin. Two catches for a total of 31 yards. Vince was on Revis Island, true, but, man...

I hate bye weeks. We now return you to your regularly scheduled complaints of, "Why didn't you mention "insert game here" in Audibles?"

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Public service announcement: The 62 scored last night mightve been the most in a regular season game since 85, but its only the most scored in any game since the 1999 season. I bring that up because that was the final game of Dan Marino's career, or as i call it, the definition of awesomeness and still in my list of top 5 games of all time.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I remember the game in '85. Without looking it up, I remember Jets 62-28 over the Bucs. I also remember that the Jets were favored by about 14 points, and the Bucs scored the first 14 points of the game.

Oddly, I was only 6 years old at the time.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

eagles were up 51-7 on the Lions in the playoffs with 24 minutes left before completely shutting it down. They got outscored 30-7 the rest of the way and still didn't care. I think they could have gotten up to 75 pts if they wanted to.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

A DC paper noted this morning that the Panthers are now 2-0 when Newton doesn't throw an INT, and 0-5 when he does. As helpful analyses go, this was not one.

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

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

K. Boller massive turd. Guy is qb equivalant of toilet clogger bowel movdnment. C. Palmer try vrry hard bit too new to trma. Will work harf bye week and be good. Will lead tem to afc west fitle. Thank you Jets for beating chargers. Raiders will gert back KC later in yeaf. Also losing mcfadden not good but game jist blimp on radar screen. Nothing to worry aboiut.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

This goes even beyond "classic" Raiderjoe! The snickering began at "toilet clogger", increased at "work harf" (which my brain transliterated into "barf"), then erupted at "blimp on radar screen". I think RJ used all that involuntary time off-board to hone his game.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

What a truly godawful day of football. Blowouts, ugly play, really the first day of football that I haven't much enjoyed. But hey, there's that undoubtedly exciting Jags-Ravens game tonight to wash the taste out of my mouth, so at least we got that going for us. Woo.

Ronde Barber is having an utterly bipolar year; he's making great plays or getting completely burned in coverage, no middle ground. He's just not quick enough anymore. He needs to magically get a few inches taller and add 25 pounds, and he'd be a hell of a LB; I know he plays the position pretty frequently in various sets, he's just not big enough to eat up blockers. Still incredibly smart and has great instincts, but he's being targeted in coverage pretty constantly.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Your '2011 is a kerrazy passing league' update:

At halftime in the seven early games, there were three offenses with more than 100 net passing yards: Houston, the Jets and Tampa (who had 104). Five teams had accumulated fewer than 50 yards. There were more passing yards on the first play from scrimmage in the Vikings-Packers afternoon game than there were in the entire first half of the Marino-Elway Bowl (Miami had 47, Denver 6).

With no Browns-Bills game on the schedule, and Buffalo proving somewhat competent, it was left to the Seahawks to moonlight as this year's annual unwatchable Cleveland opponent. The announcers excused Seattle's offense by noting that it was missing the injured Tarvaris Jackson.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I've wondered more than once why he isn't moved to SS and replace Sean Jones (who could use some replacing). My guess is it's a combination of the fact that he's obviously very smart and good at tackling/blitzing/being near the line like he's always done (even if his coverage skills have gone off a cliff), as well as the fact that he and the head coach are buddies and therefore he'll get more leeway. I grumbled a few years ago that he should have moved to safety, but, considering how terribly Talib is playing this year and there isn't much at corner other than E.J. Biggers (who is playing quite well), he's probably stuck at corner.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I was able to watch Jets/Chargers followed by Packers/Vikings; two well-played, exciting contests that came down to the final drive. So I was happy with my experience. Every other game looked like garbage though.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Hey, I was surprised that the Vikings made it competitive, but some context is need to indicate how limited the Vikings offense is. It isn't often that you see a defense play, as their base package, a single safety over the top, while they are leading by 13 points in the fourth quarter, but that is what Capers was doing yesterday, so little did he fear any Vikings receiver.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It doesn't seem fair, now that QB#4 has finally retired, that the media has Tebow to take his place.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The problems with protection in Detroit go well beyond sacks, which plays to the point of some of the articles posted here about pressure. Stafford is actually doing a pretty good job of getting rid of the ball to avoid sacks - the Lions were 9th in ASR coming into the game, and giving up only 3 against Atlanta, their 4.9% should drop if I remember the attempts correctly - but even when the pressure isn't quite there, it's having enough of an effect that his accuracy issues are affecting his throws.

I haven't seen Atlanta highlights yet, but in pretty much every game so far, he's missed a number of throws at key points in the game. Usually they come in the first half and dig a hole that the Lions have been able to escape later, but first against San Francisco and now against the Falcons, Detroit's been unable to move the ball steadily enough to overcome second-half deficits.

The lack of a running game isn't so much the absence of Best or lack of depth as it is the inability of the line to block well on a regular basis. Unlike last year, when the Lions had success running to the left side but couldn't run anywhere else, this year, nothing's working. For every play like the one on Monday night where the Bears guessed poorly, there are about 40 plays where the Lions essentially waste a down. Best's success rate is 39%, ahead of only Arian Foster (what?) and Thomas Jones coming into this week, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Foster passes him. The defense might be able to drag Detroit into playoff contention if they can cut down on stupid penalties and third-down mistakes, but it'll be the offensive line that prevents them from playing later in January. Schwartz and Mayhew have done a good job bolstering the DL the last couple of years; next year, they have to rework the offensive line.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It's weird to think that the O-line could have regressed from last year. Sims seems to be more of a problem now rather than Peterman.

I don't think I've seen a play yet this year where Stafford has been able to roll to the right out of pressure -- he seems to be going mostly left. Not good for throwing downfield.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It'll be interesting to see the Quick Reads tomorrow. But I have to say that Before opponent adjustments, Vincent Jackson will have one of the worst games by a receiver this season. By my quick look Jackson had 1 catch on 8 targets, with two balls picked off. That's not so good.

The Jets Offense, for the first time this year, actually looked good all game long. THey were moving on the first drive before the fumble/strip, and they were moving (and had a TD called back) on the drive that ended with the Sanchez INT in the end zone.

That two minute drill made no sense. But I have seem those passes late in the game often, where the Saftey or CB can't make the tackle and the WR runs out of bounds after a 12-15 yard gain. Eric Smith and Kyle Wilson made great tackles to keep the receivers in bounds and probably cost the Chargers about 30 seconds.

Saw this quote from Philip Rivers on the 4th down throw, "No one was open," Rivers explained. "It didn't matter where I threw that one." That's a painfully poor assessment of the situation, and it's really a disturbing that a good QB would think like that. With the amount of DPI penalties called, at the very least throw it at the guy Cromartie is covering.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I don't normally subscribe to the "coach comes in to mentor/fix/settle down" story that gets peddled in the media, but I think that Tom Moore's presence almost undoubtedly contributed to the offense's improvement. There was a notable shift in terms of the rhythm of the playcalling, and many fewer attempts to trick their way to first downs. And while I could be wrong, it seemed like the Jets spent a lot of time in the Colts basic three-wide look, utilizing Kerley often.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

This comes from Rich Cimini, so take it for what it's worth, but he's reporting that the offense switched from zone blocking to more "downhill" man blocking. Greene did seem to run a bit more decisively, but it helps when there's an actual hole to run through. I suspect it has more to do with the Chargers' weakness against the run than any secret sauce the Jets added. It's not a coincidence that the Chargers have by far the worst DVOA against the run of any team the Jets have played yet. I hope the 3 TDs to Burress get Sanchez to relax a bit and stop forcing throws in to him, but I fear it could have the opposite effect. I'd love to see a breackdown of Sanchez's DVOA on Burress targets vs. all other throws.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sure, bad play by a College Sophmore running around on 4th and 22. Really bad play by a "Elite" NFL QB in his 7th season. Furthermore. He wasn't really even being rushed on the play. Just completely forgot it was 4th down.

10 condolences

condolences to whoever has to chart the Browns-Seahawks.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Dan Orlovsky looked pretty sharp in there. He completed a pass and jogged to the correct sideline after every series of downs. I think we might have a quarterback controversy in Indianapolis!

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Tony Siragusa looks like Sir Topham Hat

Damn Americans and their bowlderizations. It's the Fat Controller (and yes, I know TH is his real name).

17 This Tampa loss brought to you by Aqib Talib and Josh Freeman

Seriously. What the hell was going on this game? In addition to the stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Aqib just played like crap all game. Williams had a catch where his first shot at it was horribly muffed and all it would have taken was a shove or even a stern glance and it would have been an incompletion but Aqib seemed to just stand there and patiently wait for him to finish. That may have just been a bad camera angle at play on that one but the game seemed to be filled with missed opportunities for the man who is supposed to be our number one corner.

And Josh Freeman's ball control needs some work. I don't know what kinds of things he worked on with his special player camps this off season but accurancy was obviously not one of them. At the Bucs open practice night they had a QB accuracy competition in which Freeman was the first one eliminated. At the time I shrugged it off but apparently this was a sign of things to come. I mean I love the guy. He can still make things happen and with him under center I always feel we're still in the game. But unfortunately this season whever he's under center I also feel that any drive can suddenly end in a turnover.

49 Re:

Talib was looking to be one of the best young corners in the league at the start of last year, but yeah, he's just completely vanished this year. I know he had a rough offseason, but can't he save some of his aggressiveness for on-the-field play and do less shooting/punching off the field? He's just sucking.

Freeman . . . it's just hard to watch. One thing I've been noticing the last few weeks is he just isn't leaving the pocket to throw. Last year, he was "extending plays" all the time and helping compensate for the crappy pass blocking. He'd find his way out, make eye contact with a receiver, and throw to the open spot. This year, he's staying in the pocket constantly and, rather than trying to get free and having a moment to throw, he's waiting until the absolute last second and making some godawful back-foot throw.

Curious if anyone else has the same impression that I do regarding the pocket stuff. It really seems like he's decided to be a "pocket passer" and cut down his mobility, which is driving me crazy.

52 Re:

In reply to by MilkmanDanimal

I seem to recall Freeman finally moving in the pocket more those last two drives, which is when he finally had some success. Granted, some of it was against the Bears' softer coverage (they went soft way to soon, in my opinion - it was frustrating as a Bears fan), but he was buying just enough time to avoid the rush (Peppers had a monster game, I thought) and find receivers downfield.

67 Re: This Tampa loss brought to you by Talib and Freeman

I think y'all are being too hard on Talib. The Bears were avoiding him most of the day and targeting whomever Barber was covering, so he couldn't have been doing too bad a job in coverage. And the personal foul on the goal line only cost them time---they still started the drive with two minutes and all their timeouts. Really, that loss is on the DL and LBs (and safeties) that made the 2011 Bears OL in front of Forte look like the 1985 Bears OL in front of Payton. Next in line is Freeman and whoever dropped all those early passes. Then it's God or the Fates or bad luck for causing all the injuries.

Now this is going to piss off Bucs fans even more, but god that was a frustrating game to watch as a Bear fan. They completely dominated for 3+ quarters and seemed poised to go into the bye week coming off consecutive stomps of conference opponents and having miraculously fixed any number of problems. Then, in the 4th quarter, they managed to forget 1) how to rush the passer, 2) how to call offensive plays when you have a 2+ TD lead and your best assets are your running back and your run-blocking OL, 3) how to run block (probably part of the reason for #2), 4) that taking a sack is vastly preferable to floating the ball into triple coverage.

Finally, if the Bears can stop Adrian Peterson without Chris Harris at safety, do we ever need to see Chris Harris at safety again (I understand that Wright was hurt yesterday, so I'll give the coaching staff a pass)? His awareness in coverage is no better now than it was in Super Bowl XLI, and he's sure as hell not getting any faster. I hated the Conte pick when it was made, but I will happily admit wrongness if he keeps up his current level of play.

80 Re: This Tampa loss brought to you by Talib and Freeman

He looked to me like the classic Jerry-Lovie "we're so clever" reach---i.e., I thought he was going to be the Dan Bazuin of the secondary. Jerry claimed that some other undersized-safety-loving team was going to snatch him up, but none of the publicly available draft ratings had him going higher than the 6th round or so, and most had him undrafted.

89 Re: This Tampa loss brought to you by Talib and Freeman

I hadn't heard a thing about him before the Bears drafted him but once I did a little digging I could see why Angelo & Co took him. He had only played one year at safety having been a CB before Clancy Pendergast (spelling?) took over as DC at Cal so there was little tape of him playing his projected position. The scouting forecasts will have only seen a mediocre CB, not a FS. Hence for all intents and purposes this will have removed him from amateur evaluations, so I see why he was off the public radar.

I went and had a look for some tape of him and the best I could find was a tape of Cal vs Stanford that ended up with Cal getting battered by about 40 points (not exactly ideal tape). It did show every play from Stanford's offense though and as I watched I had a very hard time finding Conte as Stanford seemed to be avoiding him all game and when they didn't he was pretty much the only defender making the plays you would want/expect him to make. Considering it was a dominant performance by Stanford I thought it was quite illuminating that he seemed head and shoulders above the rest of his team mates.

Also is 6'2" and 200lbs really that undersized?

92 Re: This Tampa loss brought to you by Talib and Freeman

I pay only a passing attention to college football so outside of the first round just about every player might as well have Conte's lack of notoriety to me. However, I do remember reading some analyst after the draft putting Conte on a short list of look for these guys to surprise type of thing.

I wanted offensive line, defensive line, and secondary upgrades in the offseason, and that's the first 3 picks Angelo used so I was pretty happy about the draft.

I also wasn't too worried about Conte being an outright bust. Angelo has a pretty decent track record with safeties. They've pretty much all been above replacement level, even if none of them have really impressed.

99 Re: This Tampa loss brought to you by Talib and Freeman

Agreed about the first three picks of this draft, so far they all look to have good futures if not good presents. Whether the whole thing turns into a walk off home run depends on how the rest of the picks turn out. Nathan Enderle is currently 3rd string but that is to be expected, JT Thomas is this year's magical defensive IR scholarship award winner and Harvey Unga left the team following the birth of his kid and hasn't been seen since, I suspect he will get a look next year and replace Bell. I would be suprised if any of them do anything to drastically change the way the draft is perceived. That does leave some decent looking UDFAs though - OK mainly Sanzenbacher.

123 Re: This Tampa loss brought to you by Talib and Freeman

Also is 6'2" and 200lbs really that undersized?

Wow, I apologize. actually has him at 6'2" 210. I would have bet cash money he was under 6 feet.

(edit:) But my point still stands that, no matter how good Jerry-Lovie believed he could be, if no one else had him on their draft board, then he's still a reach in the third round.

(edit #2:) They've pretty much all been above replacement level.

Craig Steltz has been above replacement level?

Kevin Payne?

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I want to know how the Broncos can get Tebow to play like he did in the last five minutes of the game for the entire game. The first three and a half quarters were nearly unwatchable. The running game was working with McGahee but died as soon as he went out with injured hand.

For all the credit Tebow is getting for the win, he needs to take (almost) all of the blame for the fact that they were down 15-0. Prater gets his share for missing those two FGs. If he doesn't show real improvement over the next 3-4 games, he'll have played himself out of the QB position and, possibly, out of the NFL.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Oh, that's right. His Holiness used his divine influence to pull out the win. How could I have missed that? I must do penance by scourging all memory of good quarterbacking from my mind and replace it with the idea the accuracy is a curse bestowed by the Adversary. </snark>

In all seriousness, if Tebow can play like he did those last five minutes for an entire game, I think he'd be a serviceable QB.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Tebow looks like a really talented high school sophmore taking snaps in the NFL. His accuracy is the worst I have ever seen in a starting NFL QB, he doesn't seem to have even basic understanding of reading coverage, there is absolutely no timing or rhythm to his game and he has the worst case of happy feet ever. I think his late game success these last two weeks was based against playing prevent defenses. Against a prevent, he doesn't have to throw with timing, his passes don't have to be as accurate, he can run around a little more and the fact that he rarely forces the ball is a major advantage in that situation.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I agree that the failure of Miami to anticipate/defend againt Tebow QB draw has to be infuriating for Miami fans. I mean, anyone who knows a bit football knew it was coming.

SD-NYJ: I do think that Revis is getting passes from official in terms of illegal contact/DPIs (not talking about the clear unsportmanlike conduct missed too). Between this game and last week, I counted at least 3 plays that could/Should have been called, all 3 way worse than what was called on Jammer. Including one to VJax who had a clear step on him.
Rivers doesn't look like his 2010 version of himself, any fan can enlighten me of the reasons why ? He has his weapons back, better protection (seems so at least), better running game...

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Regarding the jammer call, whenever a defender faceguards a receiver (ie doesnt look back at ball), typically a referee will call PI whenever there is any contact, no matter how incidental it is. Should it have been called? of course not, but with the way that game went with 20 other penalties you should expect nothing less from the refs.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Totally agree on Revis, and on Jammer. I don't know what PI is anymore, and I think refs call it based on a guy's reputation. Revis is supposed to be really good, so if he breaks up a pass, it must have been skill. I'm sure he didn't commit DPI! Jammer is known for interfering, so since the receiver didn't catch the ball, Jammer must have interfered! Never mind he didn't touch the receiver appreciably...

I have noticed for a couple games now that Revis plays very physically with the receivers, in a way that I would expect to draw more flags. He certainly is an amazing athlete with excellent ball skills, but I think part of his effectiveness is that he is very good at making contact with the receivers in a way that the refs don't notice.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Woodson would get called for holding or illegal contact all the time a few years ago. He's played a bit less press coverage the last few years (more blitzing from the slot last year, a little more off man or zone this year).

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Part of this is true, but I don't think it's about reputation. PI calls are a bit like out/safe calls on stolen base attempts. It happens so fast that refs can't really see it in real time and have to guess. So a DB that is in great position and plays the ball is like a base stealer who beats the throw -- he often gets a favorable call that doesn't necessarily hold up on replay. By the same token, a DB in bad position or who doesn't know where the ball is or who looks awkward playing the ball often draws a flag even if the contact is minimial. I don't know how else refs can do it unless they start using replay to assess penalties. A huge part of Revis's technique is positioning and awareness. He's almost always in good position, knows where the ball is and plays it, so he gets the benefit of the doubt on plays even where there is contact. Cromartie is the opposite. He's lazy in his technique, finds himself out of position and picks up flags right and left (many of which are deserved, but some not).

Yesterday was a particularly poorly officiated game. It was the worst combo for a fan -- way too many penalties called and called inconsistently. Chargers fans have reason to gripe, but there were a number of bad or missed calls that hurt the Jets, too.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The only thing that was solved in regards to Tim Tebow is that Andrew Luck will not be Denver's QB next year. (sniffle, sob... I'll be OK.)

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

That would be really weird if the Colts got the #1 pick. Massive deja vu if Luck demanded to be traded exactly like Elway was.
But I don't see that happening. I would think that Indy would be one of the favored destinations for Luck.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

If I were Luck I would refuse to play for a team that didn't want to start me immediately. As far as anyone can tell he is ready to play NFL QB and has all the gifts to do so. Why would he be happy sitting on the bench when he could be playing? Sitting would cost him millions of dollars at the start of his career (longer to second contract) and he has the background wealth to tell the NFL to stick it for a year if a team tries to hard ball him. I strongly suspect that he is very competitive (most elite sportsmen are) so why would he not want to play?

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You'll have to let me know how not starting will delay his second contract. Contract years run whether a player is on the field or not. He'll sign his 5 year deal and if all goes well will sign an extension after year 4, whether he starts for 2,3,or 4 years.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

To reply to Eddo as well as yourself.

One or two years of production will not recieve the same value of contract as three/four or even five (try and tell me it will). Furthermore whilst the CBA might say that the contract is for five years and the player just has to play, a young, elite QB can ignore those rules especially if he doesn't mind leaving the team - just ask Jay Cutler. A team will not be in a position to aboid pissing him off if he is as good as he says he is.

I don't think arguing that he will lose money over his career sitting for three or four years behind Manning is all that contravertial.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Certainly not. You specifically said "longer to second contract", though, not "value of second contract". The length of his first contract will be determined well before he has the opportunity to play a down.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

OK OK I surrender (that'll teach me to rattle off posts at work).

The general gist of my comments was that Luck should not be expected to want to play behind any passer as a young NFL QB, even Manning.

There is a general assumption that if rookies were allowed to go to whichever team they want they would all choose the Pats / Eagles / Colts / (any other team who's fans deem to be superior in every way to other teams). This theory completely ignores the facts that players earn big NFL contracts on the field not the bench and that these top college players are probably intensely competitive and want to play immediately.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Neither are paid elite QB money and I would wager aren't likely to end up ranking amongst the NFL QBing elite in pay considered over the course of their careers and that of their elite contemperaries.

Try harder.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I don't think it hurt Aaron Rodgers, but I admit I don't know all his contract details.

It seems to me that there are so few +-level QBs, that even two years of good performance will get you a fat contract. See Kolb, Kevin.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Yes I am sure he would still be very wealthy. He would not end up with a similar earning profile over his career to say Manning; which starting and playing well from the word go would get him.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

One point I've not seen: if Luck was concerned about making the most money as soon as he could he would have come out last year. That he didn't clearly indicates to me he is looking for more than just his paycheck.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sure, learning under Manning would be an advantage for any QB. But other than that, I don't see why Indy would be a "favored destination." The Colts have a miserable OL, no skill position talent other than Wayne and Clark, and a defense that's pretty terrible other than Mathis and Freeney. All four of those players are on the downside of their careers and will probably be gone within 3-4 years. Plus, they're a small-market team; anything short of Manning-level success will severely curtail his endorsement opportunities.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The "small-market means no endorsement deals" argument is not valid. P.Manning is without a doubt the MOST endorsed player in history - and nearly all of these deals were signed way before he won a Super Bowl. The NFL is so widely popular, it doesn't matter what city a guy plays in. If he is good, charismatic, and plays QB, he is going to get all the endorsements he wants. Strangely enough, the charismatic part of the endorsement equation is the hardest to find, and Manning has that in buckets.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You're thinking on national companies which indeed will hire any good player. However, if you are not Peyton Manning good but merely say Josh Freeman good those are not necessarily available to you. What you get is local endorsements, of which there are more and they pay more in a larger market.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Do you really think the "best prospect since John Elway" is worried about securing a cheesy endorsement from the local car dealer, or insurance agent? No way. He's thinking national deals all the way.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Derrick Rose has a ton of local endorsements and he was a #1 pick who's making millions and has national endorsements too. That's why being in a large market is nice. The "local" businesses are billion dollar industries.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Probably true, and I'm sure it's some nice extra money... but I'd think no matter the city, the local endorsement money wouldn't be enough to make me want to go to one team over another, even if it were, say, New York versus Cleveland.

In other words, if I thought the organization in Indy was a good one to go to, the local endorsement money difference between there and elsewhere probably wouldn't sway me.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Exactly. Besides, if the #1 rookie QB prospect has local endorsements as one of his top priorities, then it raises serious questions about his focus and dedication to the game. It would be amazingly short-sided to consider local endorsements when deciding on whether to pull a "John Elway" move and force a trade. Seems like he should be more interested in the quality of the organization, GM, coaches, teammates, etc. I seriously doubt Andrew Luck will be that petty and naive.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sure, learning under Manning would be an advantage for any QB

Why? What evidence do we have that Manning is good at teaching QBs? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you can teach someone else to do it. Especially when so much of it is quick-reflex instincts.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

While I'm afraid last night may have made hash of this theory, my read on the situation says:

1) Manning is basically the Colts OC at this point, and
2) Painter's been serviceable-backup quality so far (through Week 6, 176 Passing DYAR (21st), rushing is -16)/13.9% DVOA (18th); through week 7 85.2 NFL PR (12th), although Ad. NFL Stats puts his WPA at -0.62, good for 30th overall but bang in line with Collins), meaning that
3) Something has improved drastically since his disastrously bad garbage time playtime in '09, and the obvious conclusion is
4) A better OC. Which is to say, my hypothesis is that Manning is already and will someday make a damn fine coach.

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

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Or Painter got a year older?

"4) A better OC. Which is to say, my hypothesis is that Manning is already and will someday make a damn fine coach."

Offensive coordinators != quarterbacks coach. Manning might know how to develop an offense, but that doesn't mean he knows how to explain to another QB how to do what he does.

My instinct is still that Manning would make a terrible coach. He's far and away one of the best students of the game at the QB position - unless he finds another version of himself, I think he might struggle to adapt to another QB's limitations compared to him.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Bill Polian is not a young man. He will trade the number one pick for a huge bounty and use it to try and win a title with manning. Either that or he will draft luck and immediately trade manning. I cant see any scenario where Polian drafts Luck and keeps manning (unless forced to by ownership)

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The Colts' offensive line gave up just one sack and contributed to a reasonably effective running game. They were the only Colts unit not to get the suck-for-Luck memo, I guess.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The big winner Sunday was Dave Wannstedt who has probably had to here about the Jet Monday night come back about a million times. Congrats Dave Wannstedt you are no longer owner of the worst choke in Miami history. Now call up Tony and teach him to do a proper bitter beer face during the post game interview.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

As much as it is maddening to see a Vikings offensive coordinator once again forced to cut the field in half, to simplify the reads for the qb, at least it is with a guy who was playing in college last year, and who appears to have decent instincts, which is more that can be said about Tavaris Jackson, or even a Daunte Culpepper without the benefit of Randy Moss.

The Vikings really need to convert Joe Webb to receiver, to see if he can be a useful player, if they are pretty sure they are going to give Ponder a couple years to prove his value.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Yeah I thought Ponder did as well as one could within the bounds of a 13 for 32, 2 int outing.

And I know, Donovan had only 2 picks all year, and was something like 17 of 21 when pulled in Chicago. It doesn't matter, the difference is like night and day. He makes decisions quickly, and for the most part they are good ones.

If the stories are true about Donovan not putting in the time (last one to arrive at practice, first to go), then there was really no other choice to be made.

If nothing else he was challenging the secondary all over the field, even when missing. I think that Peterson found running room was no coincidence.

I was completely against Frasier's decision to punt late. Yes, I know, a first down gives them a likely FG and a two-score margin. But a first down pretty much sealed the win anyway, regardless of where they were. And if they didn't make it, forcing a 3-and-out (which they weren't able to do) would have given them another chance anyway. I'm sure there's like 500 papers from sports conferences on this very topic, even if the opponent wasn't Green Bay.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

As soon as they got to 1-5, there was no longer any reason to start a guy in his mid 30s at qb, when you have a guy on the roster that you just used a first round pick on, with a team that needs to improve in several areas to be a candidate to win a playoff game. One of the areas they need huge improvement in is obviously receiver (see my note above about what Capers was doing with a 13 point 4th quarter lead), which is why they should commit Webb to receiver now, and take their chances with the guy they thought warranted a pretty high first round pick.

The bigger issue with the last possession is that if they were going to a four down strategy, on first or second down Peterson needs to get the ball, so as to avoid third and ten or fourth and ten, with a rookie qb who isn't up to reading the whole field.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Ponder played a lot better than I thought he would yesterday. I still think accuracy issues and a fairly weak arm were evident yesterday, but he also did some really good things out there.

He is a hell of an athlete - which will help the a weak pass blocking offensive line a great deal. I think it will also help the running game as well. Having to concern yourself with containing a running QB opens up running lanes. He also seems to have a decent idea of what's going on.

For me he played well enough to make me interested in watching Viking games the rest of the year.

One positive sign yesterday is that I thought Loadholt played his second really good game in a row. He's been very good run blocking all year, but he's done well pass blocking the last two games.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

He doesn't seem to have the same panicky aura that Tavaris Jackson exuded well past his rookie season, and Ponder also seems to have some instincts when running that Jackson has never displayed. I don't have enough to judge his accuracy,and I think his arm strength is adequate.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The biggest controversy to come out of week 7 is:
If the Saints continue to be a better offensive machine with Sean Payton in the press box, will he come back to the sideline once his leg is healed? These are the important questions that need answers!!! :D

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Wow, pretty awful weekend of football. I'm not sure which is more unwatchable...a 6-3 exercise in futility, an 18-15 comedy of errors by two bottom dwelling teams, or a 62-7 blowout where a good team stomps the zombified corpse of a once good team.

I hate it when coaches try to do the "safe" thing and, as someone pointed out, actually do the less safe thing. Two ways you see it, as people have discussed. One, having the ball at your own 1 yard line (or less). I don't know for certain, but I would expect that in that situation, where the defense is gunning for you, runs for a loss actually happen more often than sacks. At least if you put your QB in shotgun, he has a second to throw the ball away if the O-line breaks down, whereas the RB has no good recourse if it does. Going shotgun is the safest bet. Even if a run play gets a couple of yards, it's not like that improves your field position that much. The only disadvantage is that an INT is almost automatically a pick-6. But if you trust your QB, a pass is way safer.

The other one alluded to is "protecting your rookie QB" by running a lot. I think it's far easier for a rookie QB to pass if he gets to throw on 1st and 2nd down, when the defense isn't sure if its a run or a pass, than to run, run, and then force a throwing situation in (at best) 3rd and 4 or longer.

One final note...for a QB that a lot of people talk about as being in the same conversation as Rodgers and Brees, Rivers' end of game effort was singularly the WORST 2 minute drive I have seen in a long time. I put a lot of it on coaching... After completing the first pass, you could see Rivers looking to the sideline to get the next play, and then signaling the other players, while the clock "ticks ticks ticks...". Why on earth, knowing the situation, don't you have five plays pre-called already? Every player on the team should know, if you complete a deep pass down the middle, exactly what the next play call is, or you should have direct instructions to immediately get to the line and spike it. Then, Rivers threw two ridiculous 3-yard checkdowns which basically sealed the game...but again, it's partially playcall. Why do you even have receivers running 3 yard routes in this situation? And if they do, why are they not closer to the sideline? Part of it's on Rivers, because an incomplete pass is actually preferable to a 3 yard gain tackled in bounds, but stupid play! On 1st and maybe even 2nd down, you run routes deep along the sidelines, and if nothing's there, throw the ball away to get a clock stop. Finally, on the final's 4th down with 11 seconds left. Even if you get the first down, you'll only get another play if you get out of bounds. Not a single receiver went deep, and most didn't even run sideline routes. It kind of looked like they were trying to set up a hook and ladder, but then Rivers threw the ball away. Why? Try something! You could get DPI, you could get some crazy lateraling going on, you could get a poor defensive play. An INT there is harmless. Heave it!

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"One, having the ball at your own 1 yard line (or less). I don't know for certain, but I would expect that in that situation, where the defense is gunning for you, runs for a loss actually happen more often than sacks."

I don't know, my impression is that a lot more sacks happen on passing plays than on running plays, although it may be different if we look only at plays where the LOS is the one yard line. Don't forget that you have to add holding penalties to the sacks on those passing plays.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Nothing more painfully hilarious in sports that a QB in the two-minute drill looking beseechingly at the sideline while the clock runs... "What do you want me to do?? What do you want me to do??" If I was a SD fan I would have been clutching bloody clumps of my own hair by the end. Bizarre they don't have a two-minute offense installed for a QB as accomplished as Philip Rivers, one that lets him run the show from the field like Brady and Brees do. Can it be true that he's not equipped to handle all the decisions? Or is it just the coach not wanting to relinquish control?

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It once again remains a mystery why good teams indulging in blowouts will not attempt to give meaningful reps to their backup QBs. Drew Brees was in the game well into the 4th quarter last night, and even when Chase Daniel did come in it was just to hand the ball off. All the Saints coaching staff had to do last night was to glance over at the other sideline to realise the importance of having their main man healthy, and having somebody prepared if he does go down.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The last pass Brees threw was a TD with 1:46 left in the 3rd quarter. Chase Daniel entered the game at the start of the next drive, with 0:24 left in the 3rd.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I remember an anecdote from Jaworski's book. When he asked Tom Moore, then Colt's OC, why he didn't give Peyton Manning's backup some more snaps in practice, Moore replied something to the effect, "If Peyton goes down, we're fucked, and we don't practice fucked."

Giving Daniels or Painter more practice and in-game snaps isn't going to make an appreciable difference if Brees or Manning is out for a prolonged period of time.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

See, this is where I disagree with you (and Polian).

When Brady went down, Matt Cassel came in. He was terrible for his first couple of games (earning Aaron's moniker of "Rusher McFumbles"), but the longer he played, the more capable he looked, to the point at the end of the season when the Pats offense was respectable (not as good as they were the previous year or would be the following couple of years with Brady, but certainly NFL calibur and in the top half of the league at that). The Pats lost their star, and still managed to put together an 11-5 season (which, in any other year, would have been enough to make the playoffs).

When Manning went down, the Colts had no plan B. They didn't even trust Painter enough to not hire Kerry Collins. Had he had some more meaningful reps, they either would be in less of a hole right now, or they would have realized that Painter sucked and they had to replace him with a better backup.

It's worse because Manning's injury wasn't a freak on-field thing like Brady's that no-one saw coming. He is out for extended time because of off-season surgery. This is the sort of thing you have to have a contingency plan for.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

No question the Colts screwed the pooch on this QB thing, but don't forget the difference in experience for Cassel and Painter. Cassel was entering his 4th year, Painter his 3rd, but with no third preseason to speak of (or, no OTA's and a shortened preseason). In effect, Cassel had almost twice as much time in a pro program. Now, the Colts should have figured out how bad Painter was at the end of the 2009 season, but they stuck with him in 2010, he didn't play because the Colts had to resurrect the season to make the playoffs, and then they had no chance to get him better in the 2011 off season. Personally, I think he's terrible, and that the Colts screwed up, but it's not like they were planning to have a terrible QB. Certainly, Siorgi was a pretty solid backup when they had him. They would have been much better with a c. 2006 or 2007 Siorgi than they are now with Painter.
They made a mistake when moving on to Painter, didn't want to accept the fact that Manning was so injured (early indications were he'd be ready for the season), and then reacted too late in seeking a replacement. I will say I am glad the Colts did not trade a #1 and #2 draft pick for Palmer!
My hope is not for Luck, thou I would take him if he fell to us in the draft. But, I hope Caldwell and Coyer get kicked to the side of the road. They are both really, really bad. And, I am not sold on the younger Polian, Chris. The team they kept after training camp had many Colt fans wondering what the hell was going on. Now we can see, not many good things were.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

What's impossible to assess, however, is whether a single-minded focus on having the Colts ready to play with Peyton (and vice versa) led to more success than the alternative.

My suspicion is that Peyton is such a unique player that optimizing his impact on the team is incompatible with maintaining a viable plan B. The Patriots' defense is not designed around Brady as quarterback, and Belichick is probably the best coach of his generation; both factors made it easier to overcome Brady's loss.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

That certainly explains why the Colts are in the position they're in. Personally, I prefer my team to have a viable back-up plan at QB, but that's just me - I mean, you'd never end up in a situation where you are 9-3 going into the final stretch of the season and your QB is out for 5 weeks or anything like that and even going 2-3 is valuable...

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

True, the Saints are likely fucked if Brees goes down no matter how they prepare for the eventuality. I'm more questioning the process they went through last night. I mean, why wait until the end of the third quarter to pull him? The game was dead at halftime. Then why have your backup simply hand the ball off every down? Brees could do that with no risk of injury.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Wanted to see c. Daniel throe passss Nd saimts get to 70 pionts bit fell asleep early. Alsi watched the walking dead (zombie tv show- not Dolphins game))

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Do not knkw Ciusin Sal but if B. Simmkns wants football articles for grantland will step up to plate and score a touchdown if hiring. Just make sure he have goof editor there becauuse often type bad

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You know, I usually watch the games at the local bar but with the Eagles on bye and leafs to rake, I decided to watch at home this week. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone here that I ever disagreed with - You are correct, Brian Billick IS the worst announcer in the NFL. Ten times worse than even Buck or Simms. Mea Culpa.

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I thought the general opinion of Billick here was that he's one of the better commentators on TV these days. I personally don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, but I've definitely heard some people say good things.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I thought Billick was really rough when he started years back, but yeah, I think he's one of the best guys out there. Has some actual insight, doesn't over-talk, and doesn't just sit there and talk about how "X player is one of the best at his position, he's phenomenal, wow, did you see that, blah blah" (which I hold should be know as "Dierdorfing").

I'm always perplexed when guys like Billick and Collinsworth get slammed; they're not perfect, but they're far above the usual happy-face, babbling glad-handers who do nothing more than do constant PR for well-known players.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Maybe it was just this game, but over-talk he did (which was the basis of my post). It seemed to me as if Billick didn't want to have one second of silence. I'll have three weeks away, as the Eagles are on a home stand, but if he's assigned to the games shown here after that, I'll reassess.

83 Everson Griffen

I don't know if anyone but an avid Viking fan would care, but Everson Griffin's performance yesterday, in limited regular action and special teams, was incredible.

He probably saved a TD on a punt return when he chased down Cobb on the sideline. Of course he's not as fast as Cobb and must have had an angle - but it was impressive to watch. Several times on KO's he was the first man down the field beating db's and wr's. He missed blocking a punt by inches. He also managed a sack in regular play and just missed another when Rodgers made a great duck under move.

He has 3 sacks this year in fairly limited action. He strikes me as a freakish athlete for his size. Allen certainly isn't going to miss any snaps, and Robison is playing pretty well - so it's hard to get him snaps, but this guy looks like he has huge upside to me (provided of course he doesn't go the Chris Cook route).

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Defensive end is their best position, and that is a pretty good position to have talent and depth at. Here's hoping they get the rest of the roster improved before they start to decline there as well.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Mike Tanier: Tony Siragusa looks like Sir Topham Hat

THIS is why I read FO.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Congratulations to FO for joining other media in devoting astonishing column inches to the Broncos-Dolphins game, an embarrassingly poorly played game between two utterly irrelevant teams. Oh, yeah, Tebow.

Aaron, along with much of the media, bemoans the lack of definition of Tebow's day:

This was like the worst possible result for those of us who want a definitive answer to the Tebow question, those of us who want Tebow to either excel or really suck so we can stop arguing about him. Instead, he did both in one game. Grrrrr.

Really? Other than the small sample size, what is not definitive? Tebow was awful. Yes, in the fourth quarter he broke some tackles (we knew he could do that) and threw one, on-line pass to Daniel Fells, who made a spectacular catch among three defenders. Had, say, Aaron Rodgers thrown the same pass, we would have labeled it his worst pass of the day.

This was like the best possible result for Tebow acolytes who don't, like, care about actual performance and stuff, and who understand what a winner is, 'cause, you know, he won and that's the only stat and you can't, like, argue with that.

Seriously? You want him to either excel or suck, and you are not sure which he did? Aside from killing a child, what more did he need to do to slide into the "suck" category? No, he didn't both achieve greatness and suck in one game. He was awful, had meager success against a prevent-D, and converted an obvious and poorly-defended two-pointer. If you can't perceive that, at this point, Tim Tebow is a comically inept quarterback, then you should refrain from any analysis of any quarterback, ever.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Seriously? You want him to either excel or suck, and you are not sure which he did?"

I'd guess that most people here at FO are sure which he did overall; I'd also guess that Aaron is saying that people will start to talk about things like "if he just does for a whole game what he did in the fourth quarter", etc. As you pointed out, there is a certain percentage of commentators and announcers and columnists out there who turn a blind eye to everything else when the team wins. Fourth quarter comebacks are especially revered for some reason. So in their eyes, Tebow probably didn't really suck.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

If the offense was changed significantly for the last two drives (other than the short field thing), then maybe Tebow's one of those infamous "system QBs". Other than that I don't see a way to make a compelling argument for him being potentially great, at this point. Salvageable to a "decent" level? IDK that either.

Or he was just lucky as hell once. Whichever.

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

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

To me it's simple:

If Kyle Orton turned in this performance, would the fans and media be fluffing him and spewing such nonsense as "he just wins games" or he was "good when it counted" (insert Jake Plummer flashback here)? Or would they be hollering for him to be replaced?

I don't think that it's a stretch whatsoever to say that the Broncos won that game against perhaps the worst (and worst-coached) team in the NFL in spite of Tebow.

Obviously, the Broncos need to play Tebow to decide what to do at the QB position next year, and I'd like to think that he'll improve with experience, but it doesn't appear he's improved one iota since he first walked into Denver. I understand it's a new offensive system, but they both appear to be over his head. Either he's getting bad coaching, or he's just coaching-resistent, happy to do things the way he's always done them because he's been damn successful with it.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Seriously? You want him to either excel or suck, and you are not sure which he did? Aside from killing a child, what more did he need to do to slide into the "suck" category?

As you'll see Tuesday morning, Tebow would have needed to play much worse to suck, at least this week. #quickreadsteaser

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm glad Tebow played to both his haters and fans. He makes me watch or at least DL his games... can't think of anybody other than Cam who can generate that type of interest. And Tebow is the only one I know (correct me if I'm wrong) who threw a failed hail mary pass at the end of the game yet people still chanted his name. (wish I was there live).

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Aaron...Tebow's QBR was it was really poor. I am not sure but I believe most of the "clutch" part of the QBR is applied anytime the score is close not just in high leverage situations near the end of the game. Since the score was relatively close throughout and since Tebow was sub-par throughout I guess he did not score so well. I have the same concerns as others have pointed out over QBR since it is much more of an explanatory statistic than predictive and was not expecting his score to be that low either.