Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Audibles at the Line: Week 10
Audibles at the Line: Week 10
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 49ers 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.

Sunday, November 11

Denver Broncos 36 at Carolina Panthers 14

Vince Verhei: Initial reaction to Carolina's all-black uniforms: Gorgeous.

Andy Benoit: Von Miller said earlier this week that he was eager to do the Superman celebration after sacking Cam Newton. He got to do it on first series.

Ben Muth: Denver was actually using Miller to spy Newton, so when Newton left the pocket (there was no pressure) Miller was able to track him down. It'll be interesting to see how much they use Miller in this role. On one hand, he's your best athlete and your best chance to contain Cam. On the the other hand, you lose your best pass rusher with this strategy.

Agree with Vince, the Panthers unis look sharp. Makes me wish they had black helmets too.

Panthers with a long touchdown drive capped by a well-designed tight end screen. They went play-action with a half-roll right, and released Greg Olsen behind the line of scrimmage all the way across the formation. He was wide open.

Matt Waldman: Peyton Manning is rolling more in the red zone than I've ever seen during his career.

Trindon Holliday with another return for a touchdown post-Houston. Nice blocking up the right side after Holliday reverses his field.

Ben Muth: There was a questionable no-call on a block in the back, but all that matters is that Holliday has scored on special teams for the second straight game. Holliday also dropped the ball before he scored. It wasn't reviewed.

Andy Benoit: Wonder how our resident Texans fan Rivers feels about that...

Rivers McCown: Holliday's ability to break big plays was never in question. His problems were actually catching the football and durability. And, earlier this year, playing behind a unit that couldn't block.

Ben Muth: Is Byron Bell the Panthers normal right tackle? I've never heard of him and I have not been impressed with what I've seen.

Andy Benoit: He's been up and down this season. Occasionally overachieves as a pass-blocker, but not a foundation guy, certainly.

Rivers McCown: There's not a lot to be impressed with on that line beyond Jordan Gross. Especially since Ryan Kalil went down for the season.

Andy Benoit: Is Jim Core officiating the Denver Carolina game? I can't tell ... that looks like him. Did a replacement ref get full-time employment after the lockout? Or am i just seeing things?

Aaron Schatz: Could it be a vacation thing? Last year there were a couple of weeks where one ref's crew worked with another head ref because their usual head ref had a vacation week.

Andy Benoit: Never mind. It's Alberto Riveron. (He has one of the best "announcing the penalty" voices in the league, by the way.)

Ben Muth: Orlando Franklin decided not to block Charles Johnson for some reason. From what everyone else did, it seemed pretty clear it was Franklin's fault. Johnson sacked Manning and forced a fumble. Carolina recovered.

Andy Benoit: Miller pressured Newton off a three-man rush and forced Newton into an ill-advised cross-field throw that rising corner Tony Carter broke on for a pick-six. Carter also did the Superman celebration.

Ben Muth: Really bad decision from Cam. He hasn't looked very good since the second drive of the game.

Matt Waldman: Carter has been close to having a pick-six since the Chargers game. He's been playing well.

New York Giants 13 at Cincinnati Bengals 31

Rivers McCown: A.J. Green just got left completely wide open for a long touchdown on, you guessed it, a miscommunication in the Giants secondary involving Corey Webster.

Andy Benoit: Webster thought Stevie Brown would be behind him, Brown occupied by a deep cross. Great route combinations by Bengals.

Rivers McCown: Pacman Jones, just when you think he couldn't do anything more embarrassing, narrowly missed a punt-return touchdown because Steve Weatherford ran him down from behind.

Andy Benoit: Giants appear to be setting up their annual Super Bowl run: midseason struggles underway. Last time they went on the road to Ohio, they fell behind early to the Browns.

Rob Weintraub: There's been a Dre Kirkpatrick sighting on defense in Cincy. First action of the season for the first-rounder.

Andy Benoit: Mohamed Sanu makes a nice comeback catch against Prince Amukamara, finger-tipping it. He also got a shotgun carry earlier out of the backfield. The Bengals will have a much better offense if he can emerge is a viable contributor.

Rob Weintraub: On cue, Sanu grabs a fourth-down catch. (That's the second time Cincy has gone for it on fourth when they've stalled out around the Giants 30.)

Rivers McCown: FOX just cut from the game with a riff of "White Wedding." Uh, what?

Rob Weintraub: Better than "Dancing With Myself."

Jones punches the ball from Ahmad Bradshaw deep in Cincy territory. He's had a very good game today: coverage, tackling, and the big punt return of course.

Geno Atkins forces an awkward throw by Eli Manning that is deflected and picked off by Pat Sims, a former FO top-25 prospect fresh off the PUP list.

Vince Verhei: That was like a rookie year Eli decision.

Rob Weintraub: Atkins and Carlos Dunlap force another ill-advised throw that is picked off by Nate Clements. Where has this pass rush been?

I'll salute Bengals third-string center Trevor Robinson, who started today and has held up well. It helps going against a 4-3 team that hasn't tried to overpower him directly over the nose much today.

Remember in the Dark Knight Rises when Catwoman pulls the Batman move on Bruce Wayne, and disappears from sight the second he turns his head? Bruce Wayne mutters, "so that's what that feels like." That's Tom Coughlin and Giants fans after this pass rush domination.

Vince Verhei: So Tom Coughlin is Batman? I knew it.

Tom Gower: Going into that storyline would've really livened up the Football Life on Coughlin.

Rivers McCown: That may be the best explanation for the Giants annual midseason swoon yet.

Buffalo Bills 31 at New England Patriots 37

Aaron Schatz: On their first drive of the game, Buffalo had third-and-1 and then got false start, holding, and false start. Anytime you can make third-and-1 into third-and-21, you just have to grab that opportunity. Bills football!

The Buffalo offensive line is just getting brutalized by the Patriots front seven. You are definitely seeing the improvement on the defensive line today; the secondary may still be weak, but this defensive line is much better with Chandler Jones around and with Jermaine Cunningham improved. It's a problem for the Bills because their best offensive weapon is two running backs who are good in the open field; if they can't make it past the front seven, they can't get into the open field. The Bills finally converted a third-and-15 because they were able to get the ball to Fred Jackson on a dumpoff and he made people miss.

Andy Benoit: With the Patriots predominantly in three-wide sets, the Bills are once again defending them with their dime package. New England is attacking Nick Barnett successfully in the passing game.

The Patriots' second touchdown drive featured Danny Woodhead at the end, the up-tempo very effective. Logan Mankins did a good job working to the second level on Woodhead touchdown.

Bills are staying committed to running Jackson and C.J. Spiller, mostly between the tackles against seven-man defensive fronts.

Aaron Schatz: The Bills are also getting nice gains from Scott Chandler in holes in the middle of the field, much like in the first game against the Pats. If I remember correctly, Chandler was a big problem for them last year as well.

Andy Benoit: Cordy Glenn dominated Jerod Mayo on Jackson's touchdown. The Bills run game is easily approaching second level and even turning the corner upon doing so.

Aaron Schatz: Big difference from early in the game. On the first couple drives, the Bills couldn't get to the second level at all.

Andy Benoit: So are we going to criticize the Bills for so many first-half penalties or are we going to acknowledge that the refs are screwing them?

Aaron Schatz: It looked imbalanced for most of the half, but I'm not sure the refs were screwing them. None of the penalties were obviously incorrect. The only particularly strange one was when they called defensive pass interference against Jairus Byrd for interfering with Rob Gronkowski (which he did, technically) even though the pass in the air was to Julian Edelman 20 yards further

However, the defensive pass interference against Stephon Gilmore on a pass that went over the end zone and landed somewhere in Walpole was a bit much.

Chandler catches a wide-open touchdown to make it 24-17 Pats with :31 before the half. Patriots can't cover him. Chandler had two touchdowns in the first game between these teams. The Pats are 32nd in DVOA against slot receivers and 26th against tight ends. I'm going to start referring to this as the Dunkin' Donuts defense. Huge hole in the middle.

Andy Benoit: Eric Wood had some trouble holding his ground in pass-protection against Vince Wilfork and Cunningham. Cunningham has had a few effective plays with inside rushes, when he is playing defensive tackle in the nickel.

Aaron Schatz: I would like to commend the Bills for taking a delay of game penalty on third-and-14 from their own 9 early in the third quarter instead of wasting a timeout they may need during the inevitable fourth-quarter comeback against the Pats defense.

Andy Benoit: Woodhead's second touchdown was once again an option route out of the backfield against Barnett. Too much for Barnett to cover a quick change-of-direction player like Woodhead in space where the route can go in every direction. Good offensive design by the Patriots with slot patterns to help create that space.

The Patriots linebackers are struggling in zone coverage. Have seen Dont'a Hightower and Mayo both have issues.

Aaron Schatz: Good block by Corey McIntyre on the third-and-goal Jackson touchdown to make it 31-24 Patriots. I figure this may be the only time we ever mention Corey McIntyre in Audibles, so might as well give him his due.

Andy Benoit: In the second half, Chandler split outside, the Patriots had Brandon Spikes try to jam him at the line of scrimmage. Spikes struggled with it a bit, got an offsides on one play where he missed the jam, and appeared to get away with an infraction in same scenario a few plays earlier.

Aaron Schatz: Bills run-blocking really improved from the first quarter to second quarter, and then again from first half to second half. Spiller's having some great elusive runs, but he's also getting much bigger holes.

Andy Benoit: The Patriots made a questionable decision to keep throwing inside of 3:00 with goal-to-go. Two incompletions left them kicking a field goal in front of the two-minute warning. They’d been running successfully on the Bills (granted, not in a condensed field situation). Now they’re counting on their underperforming defense to protect a six-point lead with 2:06 to play.

J.J. Cooper: Wow. Buffalo is forced to use its final two timeouts on back-to-back plays because of injuries. I can't remember seeing that before.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots get away with it when Ryan Fitzpatrick throws it right to Devin McCourty in the end zone. They were going to lose this thing. The defense was folding, it was going to be their fourth loss by less than a field goal. I guess you can't lose all the close ones. Talking to some folks around here before the game, it seems pretty clear that McCourty is now a full-time safety, and the local reporters seem to feel it definitely fits his skill set and you'll see him as one of the more active safeties in the league.

Atlanta Falcons 27 at New Orleans Saints 31

Matt Waldman: Roddy White makes three of the first four catches on this opening drive, including a 49-yarder at the right sideline that he took all the way to the one. Falcons cap it with a tackle-eligible pass to Mike Johnson.

Andy Benoit: Chris Ivory's 56-yard touchdown run is one of the greatest plays we’ve seen all season. Explosive in his acceleration and change-of-direction, and a terrific stiff arm at the end of it. Just another play that makes you wonder why New Orleans drafted Mark Ingram when they already had this guy on the roster.

Tom Gower: Asante Samuel at the beginning of Ivory's run did a very fine job of kind of running in his general vicinity without actually trying to, y'know, tackle him. Thomas DeCoud, I think, then missed a tackle on on the sidelines, and Ivory was into the open field.

Matt Waldman: Ivory's run was a gigantic "S" across the field. I think that's just another indictment against the perception of small-school, low-round, less-expensive investments compared to big-school, high-round, costly ones. Considering there's not much of a difference in talent between rounds considering we used to have many more rounds in the league, it's kind of silly.

Aaron Schatz: Well, on the other hand, Jacksonville has taken a lot of smaller-school guys with their late-round picks in the last couple years and those guys have done bupkis. It's still about good scouting and intelligently identifying who fits your scheme, no matter if they come from the SEC or Division II. Saints are pretty good at it. Other teams, not as good.

Matt Waldman: To clarify, it's about the indictment of a mentality that big school-big salary creates an attitude that is too patient with players -- not about scouting. The scouts have nothing to do with coaching decisions to keep giving some players chances that, in hindsight, they shouldn't have. The Jags are a bad example of anything related to the NFL.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, I don't wonder why the Saints drafted Mark Ingram when they already had Ivory on the roster. I wonder why the Saints drafted Mark Ingram when they already had Ivory AND Pierre Thomas on the roster. Oh, and had just signed Darren Sproles in free agency.

Rob Weintraub: Remember, the Saints were coming off an epic run of injuries at the running back position when they picked Ingram. Thomas and Ivory were hardly sure bets to come back strong, and they probably figured they needed as many runners as possible.

Rivers McCown: Actually I think at the time they hadn't signed Sproles yet.

Aaron Schatz: Ah, right. 2011 was the year of draft before free agency.

Tom Gower: Tony Gonzalez makes it 28-23 with a touchdown grab over Roman Harper, whose coverage was one of the reasons the Saints defense gave up 41 points to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in a playoff game the year before they traded up in the first round to pick Ingram. Yup, an offense that only scored 36 points with their sixth or seventh-string running back was the problem. Unlike Leslie Frazier, who just went for two up 12 early in the fourth quarter, Mike Smith eschews the chance to go for it.

Andy Benoit: Atlanta has less than 50 yards rushing against what’s been, this season, an awful Saints run defense.

Tom Gower: YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, MIKE SMITH, KICKING A FIELD GOAL IN THE FOURTH QUARTER DOWN 4 POINTS FROM THE 2-YARD LINE [numerous expletives deleted for sensitive eyes because Tom is boring -Tom].

Vince Verhei: Falcons were down four and had a third-and-1 near midfield. Matt Ryan rolled out and went deep to White, who had gotten behind the defense inside the 20, but White completely misread the ball, turned, and backpedaled as the ball floated over his head. Then Ryan hits Gonzalez for what should be a fourth-and-1 conversion, but Gonzalez drops the ball. And Atlanta is undefeated no more.

Tennessee Titans 37 at Miami Dolphins 3

Vince Verhei: Tennessee's Darius Reynaud gets five yards behind Koa Misi downfield, but Jake Locker badly underthrows the ball, and by the time it comes down Misi is there to break it up. (Even though he never turned his head to find the ball, it hit him in the hands.)

Tom Gower: Jake Locker in his return to the lineup manages to complete a short pass to Nate Washington on a sprint right option (see, A.J. McCarron!), then the play Vince noted, then he whistled a dumpoff past covered fullback Quinn Johnson, and on third down was sacked by an unblocked Jimmy Wilson coming off the slot. At least unlike the last time he faced an unblocked blitzer from the slot, he doesn't seem to have gotten hurt this time.

Titans lead the Dolphins 21-3 early in the second quarter, which of course is not quite the result we were all expecting. Reggie Bush fumbled early, setting up the Titans' first score, and has been in the doghouse since then. I think he's been in the game once. The Titans cashed in on the good field position when sub-package safety Wilson, whom Andrew Luck picked on last week, couldn't tackle Kendall Wright short of the end zone. The second touchdown featured a 20-yard gain by Locker on a play where he tripped on a fake with Chris Johnson and fell down in the backfield before getting up and running, a rare Mike Munchak decision to go for it in what I thought was a non-obvious situation (fourth-and-2 from the Dolphins 37), and then a highlight-worthy Johnson run to finish off the drive. The third touchdown was an interception return for a score off a tipped pass. The fumble recovery and tip to player and return are the kind of breaks that are more or less random that the Titans haven't really gotten in any of their losses last year.

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Vince Verhei: I can't help but notice the reversal of fortune for Tennessee between this week and last. Last week, Jay Cutler had a lousy first quarter against them, but the Bears still built a big early lead thanks to turnovers and never looked back. This week, Locker had a lousy first half (4-of-14 for 37 yards), but the Titans have a big lead (24-3) thanks to turnovers. The Dolphins, by the way, have scored more than 24 points only twice this year.

Tom Gower: Locker doubles his completion total on the Titans' first drive of the second half on a drive that included four third-down conversions, including a nice seam throw to Jared Cook for the score. The touchdown came one play after the officials wrongly whistled down by contact on a fumble by running back Jamie Harper. When it's your day, it's your day.

Reggie Bush was freed from jail long enough to fail to haul in a catchable pass early in the fourth quarter, after which it was back to durance-ville for him. About the only thing nice I can say about Daniel Thomas is he's better than he was last year.

Rivers McCown: Boy, nobody really wants that last AFC playoff spot. Going to be interesting to see how high Indy's odds jump with the Miami loss. And the San Diego loss.

Aaron Schatz: Oh man, Colts at Broncos, please please please pretty please with sugar on top.

Ben Muth: Colts-Broncos in the first round would be amazing. I would have two demands: an HBO 24/7 style doumentary, and for Jim Irsay's Twitter feed from that week to be turned into a poetry compilation.

Oakland Raiders 20 at Baltimore Ravens 55

Andy Benoit: A friend of mine had a great line about Raiders' slick-haired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp: he looks like the older brother who keeps asking for money.

Vince Verhei: If he manages his finances like he manages his offenses, I'm sure he's asking for money all the time

Andy Benoit: Mike Brisiel has four penalties in the first half alone. Only his first year with the team, but he's already a Raiders player through and through.

Tom Gower: Darrius Heyward-Bey ends up with a 55-yard touchdown grab. He catches the ball maybe 30 yards downfield, and Ed Reed tries to bring him down only to bounce off of him. Watching the Raiders last year for FOA2012, I noticed the occasional play like that, where you remember: "this is the kind of big, fast guy who went in the top ten."

Detroit Lions 24 at Minnesota Vikings 34

Mike Kurtz: Matthew Stafford's throw went right through the receiver's hands, bounced off a defensive back's knee (and then hit the ground) and from there to Antoine Winfield's hands. He kind of stands around for a few seconds, apparently goes 'screw it' and books for the end zone.

That play should not have been allowed to continue. The announcers praise the officials for letting the action play out so things can be reviewed, but that has the entire focus backward. That's a big part of why I think the current replay rules are misguided.

It is astounding how much better the Lions look at the end of games, compared to the first half. It's like a light switches on and suddenly the offense is effective. I have no idea why. Coaching?

Andy Benoit: I wondered this myself a few weeks ago. In looking into it, the Lions are much less run-oriented in the second half of games (often due to them trailing). They regain their rhythm when they go pass-only. They just haven't been a comfortable team when it comes to mixing in the run game. That could be changing a bit -- Mikel LeShoure and the line looked more rhythmic the last two weeks -- but the bottom line is that this is a shotgun offense that's built to throw 65 percent of the time.

Mike Kurtz: Holding on first down for the Lions results in two bad running back screens; one dropped, the other just a disaster. What astoundingly bad play-calling.

While the result hasn't really been in question, the Lions seal it by picking up a personal foul on Christian Ponder's slide on what should have been a three-and-out.

San Diego Chargers 24 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34

Vince Verhei: For the record, Philip Rivers' pick-six to Leonard Johnson was significantly more stupid than that earlier interception thrown by Eli. Rivers was rolling out to the sideline and, well, I have no idea what he was thinking. Johnson was wide-open about five yards in front of Rivers and Rivers put the ball in his stomach. Johnson took it 82 yards to the house. Considering San Diego was down one score and approaching the red zone, that may have been the biggest play of the day.

Andy Benoit: Would love to say "I told you so" and reference the content we had on him in this week’s Film Room Quick Reels ... but it wasn’t a great play by Johnson.

New York Jets 7 at Seattle Seahawks 28

Vince Verhei: Jets convert a couple of third downs on their first drive, but a fourth-and-1 run is stuffed and Seattle scores three plays later on a gorgeous leaping touchdown catch by Golden Tate. This next comment is going to be preaching to the choir, I think, but I'm going to say it anyway just to get it off my chest.

Apparently some media types were trying to draw comparisons between the rookie seasons of Mark Sanchez and Russell Wilson, as they were both first-year quarterbacks on running-and-defense teams that made (or are threatening to make) the playoffs. These comparisons, of course, are ridiculous. Counting that lob to Tate, Wilson has 14 touchdowns already. Sanchez only had 12 touchdowns all year. Wilson's completion percentage is eight points higher than Sanchez's was, his interception rate is two points lower, his sack rate is lower, his yards per pass is higher. And, of course, his DVOA is about 27 points higher. There is no comparison here.

Aaron Schatz: On behalf of the choir, may I say, "preach brother Vincent!"

Vince Verhei: And after I praise him, Wilson holds the ball forever and takes a 12-yard sack, then on the very next play holds the ball forever for a sack-fumble-touchdown by the Jets. Sigh.

Andy Benoit: Wilson is clearly not getting a comfortable picture of the Jets defense. A variety of pressure concepts, he’s playing frantic from the pocket and hopping from read to read in-between glimpses of the pass rush.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks take a 14-7 lead into halftime. The game is largely what you'd expect. Seattle's defense has played great. The Jets have five first downs in six possessions (not including the end of half) and 112 yards of offense, 40-some of which came on one play when Brandon Browner fell asleep and let Jeremy Kerley run right by him. Richard Sherman bailed him out with a red-zone interception. Sherman is playing great, with the pick and a couple of defensed passes, but then it's the Jets.

The Jets are getting creative with Tim Tebow, and by "creative," I mean "silly" or perhaps "desperate." Bringing Tebow in to run on third-and-1? Great idea! Bringing Tebow in to throw swing passes on second-and-10? Not so great.

Seahawks have given up several sacks and fumbles, but they've been pretty efficient when they've avoided disaster, and converted their one red zone drive into a Marshawn Lynch touchdown.

Bruce Irvin goes unblocked to sack Mark Sanchez on third down near midfield. The Jets were so confused that the right guard (I believe Vladimir Ducasse) was standing up at the snap, looking at the Jets' sideline and shrugging.

Andy Benoit: Tate to Sidney Rice for the Seahawks game-breaking touchdown. Meanwhile, Jets continue to waste plays with Tebow trickery.

Vince Verhei: Rice only has two catches on the day, but they're touchdowns of 31 and 23 yards in the fourth quarter. One, as mentioned, was from Tate on an ugly-but-effective pass off a reverse. The first was a thing of beauty, a rainbow of a pass straight down into the hands of Rice, who had a defender all over his back. It took a perfect pass to get a touchdown there, and Wilson threw one.

Two more Seattle thoughts: One, in addition to his pass coverage, Sherman also had a sack-fumble, and should really win defensive player of the week. Two, Lynch is starting to amaze me. I always thought he was pretty average in Buffalo, and then he was below-average in his first season in Seattle (Beast Mode playoff run aside). He was pretty good in 2011, but I figured that was a bit of a fluke. This year, though, if anything, he's gotten even better. He is only 26, but it's still kind of ridiculous that a running back who takes a physical pounding like that would improve every year.

St. Louis Rams 24 at San Francisco 49ers 24

Andy Benoit: With Chris Givens inactive for disciplinary reasons, second-round rookie Brian Quick was given more playing time, and took advantage of it by beating the press-man of Chris Culliver off the line of scrimmage to run wide open for a touchdown.

Tom Gower: Looked like man across the board with a single deep safety and Quick just destroyed Culliver at the line, knocking him down.

Andy Benoit: Michael Crabtree's touchdown once again showed his great body control in short-area run after catch situations. Saw that a lot against the Cardinals.

Danny Tuccitto: All the kids wondering what Colin Kaepernick at quarterback for the 49ers would look like, rejoice. Alex Smith took an unnecessary hit from Jo-Lonn Dunbar when he chose to go head-first instead of feet-first at the end of a scramble.

First Kaepernick drive goes scramble, run, run, incomplete to a wide-open Vernon Davis, scramble, punt. Rejoice indeed.

Up 14-7, with a minute left in the first half Jeff Fisher, sings "Balls on Parade" by going for a fake punt from his own 10-yard line. It's successful, and so the 49ers won't be getting the ball back before halftime.

Vince Verhei: The defender had left his man open to move in for the block, so maybe the Rams just always have that call on, but the risk-reward ratio there seems completely out of whack. Failure virtually guarantees a 49ers field goal, with a good likelihood of a touchdown, and success means you just run out the half anyway. Rams are also ahead 14-7 and don't need to be taking risks right now. I just don't get this.

Danny Tuccitto: I have a nomination for the GIF/video to be set next to the definition of fumble luck: with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Kyle Williams catches a pass, runs for the first down, and has the ball knocked out. While two Rams continue to hold onto him as the ball rolls around, the entire mass of humanity falls in the ball's general direction, with Williams basically landing on top of it. Niners retain possession on a play where they have absolutely no business recovering their own fumble.

OK, I'm just going to say it. the Rams just took a two-score lead on the back of a drive almost entirely consisting of poorly-called penalties against the 49ers. One on Demarcus Dobbs for assisting on a tackle, and one on Ray McDonald for hitting Sam Bradford as he threw the ball. Not to mention that the Dobbs call came a play after the 49ers had the Rams stopped on third down if not for an offensive lineman coming at the last minute to shove him forward. That's not illegal, but it kind of explains why Dobbs would help a teammate finish his one-on-one tackle immediately thereafter.

Tom Gower: McDonald hit Bradford in the head. That's an obvious and easy flag. Hate the rule, if you like, but as long as that's the rule, it'll be called.

I should add that I agree with Danny that it really felt like that Rams drive was made out of baling wire and string.

Danny Tuccitto: McDonald's hit basically amounted to a bear hug. He's 6-foot-3 and Bradford's 6-foot-4. I'd challenge anyone to put on a helmet, and bear hug someone your same height without contacting helmets. So, yes, as that kind of hit is illegal per the rule, it's a stupid rule.

As a showing of bipartisanship, I'll now point out that the officials just gave Kaepernick a touchdown on a play where his right foot was clearly out of bounds before the ball broke the plane of the goal line.

And now San Francisco benefits from Fumble Luck II. On the ensuing kickoff, Isaiah Pead fumbles less than a yard from the sideline, the bouncing ball doesn't bounce, and instead just sits there so that any one of four Niners can recover. Darcel McBath does, and it's 49ers ball in game-tying field goal range.

Andy Benoit: Frank Gore's vision and second burst have been remarkable today.

Vince Verhei: Second fake punt for St. Louis, and this one works too. Johnny Hekker for MVP! Should add that the Rams were down 17-21 in the fourth, so this one made much more sense.

Danny Tuccitto: Danny Amendola's 80-yard catch was negated by penalty on the first play of overtime, so in lieu of it showing up in the play-by-play, let me just enter into the internet record for all time that Carlos Rogers got beat again.

Aaron Schatz: I can't believe the Rams blew an almost-sure win with an illegal formation penalty because the left tackle wasn't covered up. Penalties like that drive me absolutely insane. That's just hardcore stupidity that should never, ever happen.

Rivers McCown: You could really sense Chris Myers' desperation to leave the game on his call for David Akers' overtime field goal miss. "No! Nooooo!"

Aaron Schatz: Greg Zuerlein makes a 53-yard field goal, but Rams are called for delay of game instead of calling a timeout. Zuerlein then misses the 58-yarder, making him the first kicker to ever be iced by LACK of a timeout.

Danny Tuccitto: No matter who ends up winning (if it actually doesn't end tied), it's basically been one of those forgettable "team that fails last loses" games.

Ben Muth: If ever a game deserved to end in a tie, this is it

Aaron Schatz: The officials allowed something like 1:20 to go off the clock for no reason while they were trying to figure out what was up with the illegal formation on that Amendola catch at the start of overtime. Amazing that it will actually prove to be important.

Danny Tuccitto: And with that result, I'm off to go kiss my sister.

Rob Weintraub: And Fox runs a final score graphic reading "End of 1st Overtime." Donovan McNabb was in the production truck, apparently.

Ben Muth: Am I the only one who greatly prefers college overtime rules? I know it's a little weird to start every team in scoring position (especially with NFL kickers), but it's still better than the kinda-sorta sudden death rules the league currently has.

Only negative I see is that it would probably swing too many fantasy matchups. But fantasy owners (myself included) can't possibly complain any more than they do currently anyway.

Rivers McCown: I'd rather just see them play a 10-minute quarter. If a team can run that entire clock off in overtime on one possession, they deserve the win.

Vince Verhei: I was perhaps the only person who enjoyed sudden death and didn't think it needed changing. I think the new rules are ridiculously complicated and illogical, but I still like them a hell of a lot more than college overtime rules. The college system takes way too long, it punishes teams that play good special teams, and it doesn't seem any more "fair" to me than any of the other formats.

Sean McCormick: I have zero appreciation for the college overtime rules. They may be the only thing yet invented to top penalty kicks for utterly subverting the essential nature of their sport. Sudden death was better, but the new NFL rules are still a sight better than what they've got going on down in the NCAA.

Tom Gower: It's hard to overstate how much I dislike collegiate overtime rules. I'd much rather have games end in a tie.

Ben Muth: Wow, so it is just me. Fair enough.

Dallas Cowboys 38 at Philadelphia Eagles 23

Ben Muth: Eagles scored on a great one-handed catch by Riley Cooper on third-and-goal from the 1 on Philly's opening drive. It worked, but calling a fade for Riley Cooper on third-and-goal is a good indicator that your red-zone offense isn't great.

Cowboys score on their first drive thanks to hideous tackling by Philadelphia. Nnamdi Asomugha's attempt on Felix Jones was particularly pathetic.

Andy Benoit: Cowboys came in averaging barely over 50 yards rushing over last three games. On their first possession, they ran for 50 yards and also had a swing pass to Felix Jones go for 10 yards. Eagles missing tackles, as they did last week. Nate Allen also missed a tackle on that Jones touchdown play.

Aaron Schatz: The Eagles just ran quarterback power on third-and-3, lost a yard. Weird play call.

Looks like Michael Vick is injured with 11:00 left in second quarter. Nick Foles time?

Ben Muth: Playing in Philadelphia may be a disadvantage for the Eagles at this point. The crowd is all over the home team in the second quarter of a tie game.

Jason Avant may be getting checked for a concussion after that pass.

Jeremy Maclin was as open as you will ever see anyone in the NFL for a long touchdown. No one fell down or anything, the Cowboys simply didn't cover him at all.

Tony Romo just slipped out of three sacks to complete a 20-yard pass on third-and-4. He looked like the greased-up deaf guy from Family Guy.

Morris Claiborne is having a rough day: two long defensive pass interference calls and a defensive holding that just erased an Anthony Spencer pick.

Andy Benoit: Brandon Carr's pick-six was somewhat of a freak play due to tip, but it came about because Foles threw behind his intended receiver on a slant. Poor ball placement.

It's very apparent that the Eagles are extremely predictable with Foles under center. They’re trying to give him simple, defined reads. Problem is, Cowboys are recognizing them

Ben Muth: Cowboys win because of three non-offensive touchdowns: A pick-six, a punt return, and a fumble recovery. It was not a fun game to watch.

Foles did not look good in relief of Vick. Every completetion was either a checkdown or a blown coverage from Dallas. Foles didn't make any tough throws asides from the ball that bounced off Avant's helmet.

Rivers McCown: The FOX announcing booth has spent the entire fourth quarter writing Andy Reid's eulogy.

Vince Verhei: Big deal. Mike Tanier has spent the bulk of this century doing the same thing.

Houston Texans 13 at Chicago Bears 6

Mike Kurtz: The second play from the Texans, a play-action with trips bunch, was probably the best fake I've ever seen. The Bears bit on it like I've never seen them bite on play-action before, and absolutely every receiver was open.

Tom Gower: Romeo Crennel would have his entire team benched by the end of this game.

Rivers McCown: Romeo would have fallen asleep during this game, only to wake up wondering why Arian Foster only had five carries.

Anyway, at least all these turnovers have kept the Texans special teams away from the spotlight!

Dunno why these teams keep trying deep shots so often. The weather would dictate that you play underneath.

Mike Kurtz: Teams really need to stop being terrified of the ghost of Devin
Hester. An incredibly unlucky and unnecessary squib hits a return blocker in the gut and the Bears start their drive at the 50.

Aaron Schatz: Did everybody enjoy the worst squib kick of all time?

Rivers McCown: /weekly 2010 Chargers comparison

Aaron Schatz: Seeing the importance of Chicago getting a good backup quarterback in there. Loved that deep pass to Brandon Marshall near the end of the third quarter.

Gabe Carimi is getting destroyed by J.J. Watt. I guess the proper response there would be "who isn't?"

Tom Gower: Carimi's been getting worked by a lot of guys less talented than Watt this year. It's weird to see a Bears offensive line where J'Marcus Webb is the best offensive tackle.

Vince Verhei: I just want to confirm, NBC came back from commercial playing Metallica's "One" and then finished the segment and went to commercial with Milli Vanilli's "Blame It On The Rain." Did I hear that right?

NBC announcers blame the loss on Jay Cutler's injury. What nonsense. They scored three points in the first half with Cutler and three in the second half without him. Campbell had better raw numbers. Credit the Houston defense (and the weather) for Chicago's lack of scoring.

Rivers McCown: Where to begin on this one...

This was the kind of slobberknocker I expected from these two defenses. Houston wound up getting much less penetration that I thought they would, but Chicago spent a lot of the game in max protect. Wisely, I might add, because outside of Brandon Marshall they did not have anyone to throw it to anyway. Matt Forte was well-covered by Connor Barwin most of the time, and the rest of Chicago's receivers just weren't up to the talent of the Houston secondary. After Foster's touchdown, the game was effectively over barring a special teams meltdown, a freak lucky play, or someone falling down on that turf.

On the Houston side, I'd like to say that this was Kareem Jackson's coming out party. FO's statistics have Houston doing poorly against No. 2 receivers compared to the rest of the team, but a lot of that was due to Eric Decker in Week 3, and Decker can make a lot of cornerbacks look silly. I was slow to come around on Jackson because Houston has played a really soft schedule, and again, Hester isn't exactly a force or anything, but Jackson basically erased him from the game. Scouting-wise, teams are throwing at Johnathan Joseph much more often now. I'm not saying Jackson is the better corner, but he has become much more technically-sound and he reacts much better with short-area burst than he did in the past.

The Texans should have taken Military Appreciation week more seriously and just fielded a special teams unit out of enlisted men in the area for the game. There's no way they could have performed worse. Rock bottom for Joe Marciano's crew.


225 comments, Last at 14 Nov 2012, 2:11pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Im going to apologize to Karl in advance, but if I were the 49ers, I would be seriously concerned with what I saw from Kapernick today. Not that he had a bad game, because he was actually somewhat successful. No, the issue I have is, having watched the Broncos Panthers game, I came to the hypothesis that all run/scramble heavy qbs inevitably end up in games like the one cam endured. Namely, after a year or two of success, defenses will figure you out and you will need read defenses/make stick throws. Today, Cam couldn't run, he didn't properly read the defense and thus hung on to the ball and got sacked repeatedly. Sure, some of them were the result of Miller being Miller, but many, including the safety and pick six, were directly the result of cam holding the ball and just not being decisive.

And thats precisely how I felt about Kapernick- he basically was a one read and run/scramble type qb. Again, it was successful today, it probably will be successful for a while, but eventually, you end up where Cam ended up. This is essentially the same pattern we saw in Vick and Vince young, the scramble heavy qb always ends up into the gutter until they learn to play conventionally(historically they haven't, Mcnabb being the lone exception). If i were the 49ers, going into next years draft, i would seriously think about drafting and then grooming a true pocket passer a la nick foles or Osweiller type.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

As a 49ers fan, watching Kap was an incredibly painful experience. You're absolutely right that, at this point, he's a one-read run/scramble QB. He also has a huge wind-up, and he tries to make up for it by having a cannon for an arm. His completion to, I want to say Vernon Davis demonstrated that really well. Throw was a hair late getting out, but just rocketed in there.

A couple things I should add though. Steve Young was pretty successful as a pocket QB who could run, and I'm pretty sure in his early career he thought himself more of a running QB. That is, McNabb isn't the lone exception. Also, the niners have a pocket-type QB in Scott Tolzien, who I really like. I've felt that Kap has been the backup primarily to run him out on gadget plays. If Smith was out for a significant period of time, we may end up seeing Tolzien.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Maybe I'm an absurd homer but I'd like to give him at least one start before spending another high draft pick on replacing him. He is an incredible athlete, if you painted him blue and put him in a jungle then people would come along and start digging for unobtainium under his house.

He started pretty slowly, going 2 of 6 for 14 yards including missing Davis and Manningham high as well as failing to spot Kyle Williams running open deep (he should have spotted this at the line but the window to make the throw was limited by pressure that came from that side of the field). However, after that he was money, 10 of 11 for 103 yards.

Even if he'd bombed even more than some seem to have perceived him to have done, it's his first extended playing time. To write him off and start calling for him to be replaced by Nick Foles(???) or Brock Osweiler(???????) before he's even started one game is just a little bit premature. There was a bit of one read then run but for all we know he'd been instructed to keep things safe, the broadcast showed a conversation between him and his qb coach that seemed to tell him to take what was there in the two minute drill where he kept scrambling.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I tend to agree. It's possible that Kap could be really good, given a few starts. He is an incredible athlete, with a crazy strong arm. I'd just really rather have Alex Smith right now. And I don't know that I ever expected to say that sentence.

And, as I said, I really like Tolzien, with the love that a fan can only really give to a 3rd string QB.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Just to be clear- my statement incited near violence from my 49er buddies so I'm trying not to come off as 49er hater or anything. But really, my statement is not so much about Kapernick as it is about that type of qb. Sure, there have been success stories, but the presence of a few outliers shouldn't overshadow the overwhelming evidence against scramble qbs. And for the record, theres a difference between Aaron Rodgers/Andrew Luck scramble qbs and the mike vick, vince young type scramble qbs. Kapernick fits into the latter and just watching him, it was very evident what he was doing. Is that the coaching staff? maybe. Could he change? Again maybe, but my overall point was, the more success he has playing this way, the worst it will be for him down the road. You really only needed to see what Cam went through yesterday to realize that. Its the inevitability of the "playmaker" qb.

Now, here's my specific point about the 49ers. They have a very talented team with a weak qb. Eventually, that talent is going to decline just as all super talented teams do. It may happen next year or in two years or maybe their lucky and can stretch it to three, but it will happen. Alex Smith maybe better than Cassel, but he's only marginally better. That giants game really drove that home. So, in that situation, if you're a team that is so good right now that you won't have a chance at a first round qb, what can you do to avoid the collapse that happens when your talent recedes?(see Jacksonville, KC, and NY JETS) IMO, the only strategy is to draft some raw pocket passing prospect and have him sit for two years behind alex smith before bringing him in. Thats exactly why Foles and Osweiller were drafted, not to start right away, but within a few years after having a chance to sit and build their mechanics and be coached so that eventually they can come in.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Im gonna get some flame for this one, but having watched 3 of Wilson's games(not his most recent), I find him extremely overrated. Hes essentially schemed shot play qb and when that is taken away(a la 49ers), he becomes impotent in a hurry. And lets not forget, he's got Marshawn Lynch and that awesome defense to back him up.

Put him on Jacksonville and honestly, he would be a marginal upgrade over Gabbert imo.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I think that your playmaker versus pocket passer hypothesis is a result of post factual selection bias. That Vince Young and Michael Vick have failed to live up to their potential is an indictment of them, not all quarterbacks who can run. Neither of them displayed the required commitment necessary to master the position, by all accounts Kaepernick is a diligent worker and a respected locker room presence (who is unlikely to end up running a animal blood sports ring because his pet is a tortoise, who would have the time?)

You say, 'For the record', what record would that be? Where does Steve Young fit into your image of qb progression and what light does it shed on RGIII?

FYI if you give Kaepernick as many throws as Foles had yesterday then their production is virtually identical, with CK having one fewer pick and sixty more yards rushing.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


I'll try to be more organized with my statements. There are two major points I am trying to make, lets start with the easier one:

The 49ers are one of those fortunate teams that has a ton of talent, but does NOT have a strong qb. Once the talent ebbs, the more the weaknesses of the qb come to the fore front. What do you do? Again, it is unlikely the 49ers will be in position to grab for a first round qb prospect, so really, you're left in a situation where if you do nothing, you start to decline and hang around mediocrity for years before bottoming out. The only way to avoid this, imo, is to draft a raw pocket passer qb and have him sit. I'm curious, if say CK wasn't on the team, would you agree that the 49ers should do that?

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Now, as to CK. Even Tanier mentioned this in his breakdown: "Colin Kaepernick played exactly the way anyone not associated with Alex Smith Haters Anonymous would expect. He made plays with his legs, completed a few passes on the run, fumbled, took off running when he had open receivers, and marked off all the other boxes on the Scrambling Young Backup checklist." Maybe my theory feels like a post hoc fallacy, but really, thats why I call it a theory right now. Again, I don't want to be a doomsayer, but just watching CK, its the impression I got.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Of course he missed some reads, made some hasty decisions and failed to spot some open receivers, it was his first game. He still hasn't had the chance to start a game where he has had the starter's snaps in practice or the game plan tuned to his skills. I think it is far too early to say with any authority that he is never going to become an efficient pocket passer. His mechanics have improved quite a lot from the unreliable set he had in college, his release is quicker with a shorter delivery stride and his touch is improved. He's a long way from perfect but I don't understand why you assume that he cannot learn and improve behind Smith while someone like Foles could?

You think the 49ers should draft a young quarterback to train up, they did, he's called Colin Kaepernick.

152 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Hey look, I freely admit I'm just being more theoretical than practical. Of course its dangerous to assume that Colin can't improve. Its just what I suspect will happen. Why? because I think it is rare to see one read and run qbs that end up being successful. And to be honest, I just feel like thats what kind of player he will end up being. The reason I prefer foles(and again, i'm not specifically referring to Foles, just his type) is because they play the qb position conventionally. They don't have this runner mentality, its been about playing from the pocket with structure.

I should mention that I have been wrong. Smith was so poor in the pocket for many years and really failed with structure, but now feels like he can only play with perfect structure, so obviously it can be done. I just don't think it WILL be done is all. And if i were running the team, philosophically, I would spend a late 2nd or third on another qb.

You know, GB did this too in 08 before Rodgers became a known quantity.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Ben Muth: Am I the only one who greatly prefers college overtime rules?

Well, if it's just you and me in the room, yes. I think the college OT rule is lame. Starting in FG range? The problem with OT in general is that there is no perfect OT rule that can be devised. I know Peter King for one has championed the idea of each team being guaranteed one possession but owing to the grind of the game, I don't like that either. It's called "Overtime", not "Start the Game Over - Time." Football doesn't have rapid fire change of possession or innings like other sports, so this sudden or lingering death that the NFL has now is probably the best we can do.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Off the top of my head, here are 5 sudden death systems better than the current NFL/college overtime rules:

- The teams bid (silently or not) for where they are willing to take the ball in order to get it first. (If you are really worried about offenses dominating to the point where they are able to score from anywhere, you can as a tiebreaker use the number of yards to go for the initial first down.)

- The teams alternate having k plays with the ball (e.g., they switch possession every k plays, barring turnovers), k around 3.

- The teams alternate 2-point conversion tries; you have to get ahead by k successes at the end of a round to win the game.

- The teams alternate 1st-and-goal from the 10, without extra points, 2-point conversions, or field goals. (If you really want to make it fair, eliminate defensive touchdowns also.)

- The result is a tie.

184 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Yeah, that's a TERRIBLE list on pretty much all counts. It's like Penalty kciks in soccer. Completely absurd. Why not bring out a hoop at midfield and have the TEs do a 3-point contest to decide it while we're at it?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Here are the only sensible rules. Regular season end of regulation = tie.

Post season end of regulation = 1 extra full quarter played with 4th quarter rules again and again until someone wins.

Makes all the sense in the world. If you really hate ties then have a single 5th quarter for tied game sin the regular season.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

- The teams alternate 2-point conversion tries; you have to get ahead by k successes at the end of a round to win the game.

I would take this over the college format in a heartbeat. It would be football's answer to hockey's shootout. If you're going to do an abridged, bastardized version of football, you might as well make it edge-of-your-seat thrilling.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Don't get this at all. A well executed 2 minute drill that uses up the entire clock and scores a TD with seconds left is a thing of beauty.

I remember, I think it was the second Pats vs Jets game in 2008, Cassel just running one of the prettiest 2 minute drives I've ever seen, the entire team getting down the field and lining up as one. I think it was the drive that ended in Randy Moss stretching out for that sideline toe touch TD.

225 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I replied to the wrong post somehow, or the forum mixed it up... meant to reply to #64, not #65.

I feel the exact opposite. 2 minute drill/clock manipulation is one of the worst things about NFL football.

Which is just bizarre.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I was at that game, it was exactly as you remember. I was screaming for the Pats to go for two at the end of regulation. Of course, they went for one, tied it, and watched as Stubbleface marched the Jets right down the field in OT for the game winning kick in OT.

We were talking about how timid Belichick has become in recent years, and we were trying to think if it traced back to sixteen-and-no, or Fourth-and-two-gate. It just seems that nineteen times out of twenty, Belichick eschews the aggressive play for conventional wisdom.

207 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I quite like this idea. I think I am one of the minority who really likes penalty shootouts though. Love a bit of drama.

Toss a coin for whether you want to go first or second. Toss a coin for ends. One team does their two point conversion. As soon as that play ends the 25 second play clock starts for the other team to try theirs. Initially best of three, if its tied after 3 go to sudden death.

208 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Or just call it a draw. A draw is a perfectly fine result. When Amendola fielded the punt to the Rams with about a minute left deep in our territory I was hoping we'd just take a couple of knees and leave with a draw, because it seemed to me that the odds of getting a win from there were less than the odds of giving the ball back and the Niners getting the win.

213 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

But given how rare tie games are, a draw is extremely likely to be as bad as a loss anyway. I couldn't even attempt to quantify it, but my guess is that the odds of getting a win from that position are higher than the odds of losing *and* having that loss be worse for your team at the end of the season than a tie would have been.

219 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Ties are fine. also:

Doesn't the next-team-to-score percentile come out about 50% for possession on the 15 yard line in regulation play? Let the coin flip winner chose to take the ball or not, offense is on the 15. Overtime might be like regulation play on this. If not, adjust.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I'd be fine with a coin toss to decide who kicks off in ot, then a simple rule that says whomever gets at least a four point lead wins, with a tie in the regular season if nobody gets one in 15 minutes.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Yeah, I don't like college OT either. I would rather just have straight up sudden death.

I've favored first to 4 as the best compromise for a long time.

I would also accept shorter periods, where you play 2 of them and kickoff for the 2nd one like soccer does.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Think it was this one...

"N.Y. Jets (11/13):  Started at quarterback and set career highs in passing yards (400), completions (30), pass attempts (50) and rushing yards (62) while tying a career-high of three touchdown passes against the Jets ... Orchestrated two clutch two-minute drills to end each half, as the Patriots posted touchdowns to conclude both the first and second halves ... Found Jabar Gaffney for a 19-yard touchdown to cut the Jets lead to 24-13 with 15 seconds left in the first half ... Connected with Benjamin Watson on a 10-yard touchdown pass to cut the Jets lead to 24-21 at the end of the third quarter ... Tied the game with a dramatic last-second touchdown pass to Randy Moss, good for 16 yards, that with the ensuing extra point tied the score at 31, forcing overtime ... Posted 62 yards rushing on eight carries to lead the team in rushing and posted the highest rushing total by a Patriots' quarterback in more than 30 years ... His 19-yard run in the second quarter, extending a Patriots' touchdown drive, was the longest of his career."

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

How about these OT rules.

Games that don't require a winner always end after regulation.

Games that require a winner that are tied at the end of regulation are extended by five minutes. No changes in posession, down, distance or field position coincide with the overtime. Just keep playing as you were. Add another five minutes as necessary.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

One of the best things aout football is 2-minute drills and teams in hurry mode and manipulating og gameclock. You'd loose some of that with your setup. I'm not saying it's a no good suggestion - just pointing out a serious drawback.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Well the current overtime rules were brought in effext, because people belived, that draws are to complex to handle in playoff scenarios for average joe so they wanted to get rid of it. I dont really agree with this logic, but I dont think the original reasons for this are as valid/invaliud as they were then.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I actually think adding more ties might help people understand playoff scenarios, because as it stands the tie-break rules can become incredibly complicated and ties would help separate teams with otherwise identical W-L records.

Having said that I don't mind the current rule, and think it is an improvement on the previous sudden-death rule.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"people belived, that draws are to complex to handle in playoff scenarios for average joe"

Because this:

1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
5. Strength of victory.
6. Strength of schedule.
7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
9. Best net points in common games.
10. Best net points in all games.
11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
12. Coin toss

is so simple and straightforward for the average Joe to understand?

(I know, you don't really agree with the logic - not directed at you; your post was just a convenient jumping-off point.)

Really - how many people even on FO could explain "strength of victory" without looking it up?

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

The flaw with this is you'd have to get to about week 10 before you could use it. Otherwise how do you determine if a game "requires" a winner? Between 12 playoff slots, tiebreakers for those slots, as well as home field advantage it seems like the sort of rule which would be on the books, but never used until week 14 when a couple of 3 win teams wind up tied at the end of regulation.

Now that I think about it, even bad teams playing each other wouldn't be eligible because of positioning for the draft.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

absolutely agree on point one. Not only are tie games the single easiest tie-breaker in the NFL's annual playoff logjam, but they give coaches a tactical decision to make at the end of games--whether to play for the win, or play not to lose, which the current system let's them avoid: hence coaches' preference for OT. If you lose in sudden death, it's not your fault. Throw in the concern with injury and I think it far outweighs the kissing your sister argument.

on point two, the extension of the existing game would make a farce of the endgame. A simple one-possession guaranteed OT is easy enough to understand--it was used in NFL Europe and everyone (bar one coach) figured it out before it was first used--but I can live with sudden-death when it's only used it post-season. The current rules are too complicated, the NCAA OT is a joke like a penalty shootout in soccer or hockey, except it's weighted to help big teams/home teams sneak wins from weaker teams/visitors who've managed to stay with them for 60mins. But the key thing is if OT is a playoff-only thing, it becomes easier to live with whichever form of sudden death you use...

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Agree completely on point 1.

And agree mostly on point 2 - but I'd do playoff OT as non-sudden death. The simplest would be a 15-minute overtime, starting with a coin toss; if the game is still tied at the end of OT, do a second 15-minute overtime. Lather, rinse, repeat.

203 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Nah. Protecting a lead is one thing, but watching teams protect ties is a boring/frustrating idea.

Two problems with full 15-minute overtimes: (1) Television. There's often another game scheduled where a long overtime will conflict. (2) Player safety. Another guaranteed fifteen minutes of tired players beating on each other is a recipe for disaster.

209 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

(1) We're only talking about post-season, where the schedule is 1:00/4:30 or 4:30/8:20 EST; if you're really concerned about potential conflicts, change the schedules to 1:00/5:00 and 4:00/8:00 EST. That'll also give the networks an even larger window for pre/post-game coverage in which to sell ads.

(2) Again, we're only talking about post-season. There have been about 377 post-season games in the history of the NFL/AFL; 27 have gone into overtime. The average length of an overtime game is about six and a half minutes, so eliminating sudden death means that on average you're adding 8.5 minutes to one postseason game three out of every four years. I think that player conditioning can handle that.

As to the first objection, there's nothing that says a team has to play to protect a tie. It's another tactical decision that will lead to yet more Monday morning arguments among fans and talking heads, which I think the league would view as a good thing.

211 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I like that idea, but 5 mins is too short. A team could get in field goal range and then take a couple of knees to run the clock down before kicking, making it no different than the original overtime rule. I think 7:50 would be a good length (exactly half a standard quarter). But you would have to give each team only 1 time out, I think.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I hate that and it is even more "unfair" than the current system because at the end of each half, possession is supposed to change. If you make it to a 3rd OT in the playoffs, there is another kick off.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Btw, I want to add to Will. Before to the season, he and I argued that Eli wasn't elite and Rivers, was in fact, better than Eli. I'm not sure if this season has entirely vindicated my argument, but I'm sure both of us aren't looking so good with our preseason proclamations.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

It was the only time I've watched him this season, but he was throwing great passes all day, torching the soft Bucs secondary regularly. I think the two picks were just big mental errors.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I like college football overtime rules. You're not starting in guaranteed FG range for a typical college kicker, so getting a first down matters. It's not a total cr*pshoot like sudden-death overtime, where even with the no-FG-first-possession-ending-game thing, the team winning the toss gets a huge advantage (in a game that has been even on the scoreboard over 60 minutes). The last thing you want in an OT game is to basically tell the players "we're going to decide the game based on something that has no relation to football - a coin toss!".

186 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Yes, because eliminating special teams is MUCH TRUER to a football game than deciding first posession by a coin-toss. Give me a break.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

However, the defensive pass interference against Stephon Gilmore on a pass that went over the end zone and landed somewhere in Walpole was a bit much.

Having been on the wrong end of these calls so often in recent years I cant bring myself to mourn for the bills on that one. Also the fact, that the Ball landed out of bounds doesn't mean its uncatchable for someone with a standing reach of 11 feet (or so ESPN tells me).
Looking at the replay I would guess it wass still too high even for gronk, but when PI is as blatant as this one, Refs have always called it as long as the ball lands within the same postal code as the intended receiver.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

The Giants somehow managed to play even worse than they did against Pittsburgh last week. The offense, defense, and special teams embarrassed themselves again. The DVOA drop will be precipitous after this debacle.

My explanation of this November swoon: Tom Coughlin is going senile because he apparently believes David Diehl is his son in law. Blatant nepotism is the only conceivable reason why Diehl is starting. The Giants have given up 9 sacks in the 4 games Diehl has started and 4 sacks in the 6 games he was injured. Don't even get me started on Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Hakeem Nicks injury has really hurt the offense, as well as the inability to replace what Mario Manningham gave them athletically.

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I agree with most of this. Nicks' injury has hurt a lot, to the point where I'd rather have him not playing than playing as he is. He had a reasonably good game yesterday, but his injuries were most evident in how little he was able to do on those short audibles (where Manning checks down to a one step drop and immediate throw to Nicks at the line against soft coverage). Two were called; Nicks is usually very good at beating the first defender and getting 8-9 yards, but both times he was neutralized almost immediately. Stuff like that is killing the Giants' ability to move the chains and putting them in frequent 3rd and longs.

Other things I've noticed in the past few weeks:

1. Corey Webster has lost a few steps. He was once a very, very good cornerback, but at this point, Prince Amukamara is a better player. And Amukamara still plays very tentatively at times.

2. The Giants' defensive line looks like it's starting to get old. Linval Joseph and Pierre-Paul are excellent players, but Tuck's skills have deteriorated, and Osi seems to be compensating for diminished skills by trying to jump snap counts even more than he used to, and by not maintaining contain responsibility.

3. I think I heard that Jaworski was arguing that Eli might have a bit of a tired arm. I can see that; he's not getting the muscle that you'd expect on his deep balls these days. Perhaps the bye week will help with that.

4. I can't explain why the Giant receivers are no longer getting any separation from coverage; they rarely seem to have open guys the past few weeks. I think Nicks' injury has allowed for teams to focus more on Cruz, but I'm not sure that that's the whole story.

5. I have no idea why Diehl is playing over Locklear. Your guess is as good as anything I could come up with, certainly.

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The excuse I can offer Mike Smith for his 4th down decision - and it is perhaps a reasonable one - is that the Atlanta running game had been utterly ineffective all game, which severely limits the play-calling options on 4th and short. Compare this to the Pittsburgh fake-punt scenario last week where they had been trampling the New York defence on the ground up to that point in the game. Not all 4th down decisions are made equal.

I haven't watched enough Atlanta to know really what the problem is with the run game. Turner looks slow, but then he kinda always has done. Have they sacrificed run-blocking skill on the O-line in their move towards a downfield attack? The Falcons passing game is good, but it's difficult to see them winning an outdoor game in January without a run game, so they better hope they hang on to the number one seed.

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The Falcons OL is on the soft side. They are merely adequate in pass protection and are powerless in run blocking. And Turner's lack of burst and power doesn't help matters, not to mention that he's a zero in the passing game. We've already changed one OL starter in recent weeks (rookie Peter Konz at RG instead of Garrett Reynolds) and it doesn't seem there are any personnel alternatives there at the moment. We could play Rodgers and Snelling more at RB - both are decent runners who could probably exploit good blocking as well as Turner could, and both are better in the passing game. But trying to hand off to Turner on power blocking plays is killing us: we are clearly below league average on those, and we're just wasting snaps when we call them in close games.

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1. I hated the old overtime rules, because they were created for a very different NFL game. In the NFL when they went to OT in the regular season. Teams weren't going to get the ball at the 40, drive 35 yards and then hit a 52 yard field goal to win games.

The % of 50+ Yard field goals made in 2011 is 64%, the % of 30-39 yard field goals made in 1974 was 63%.

I would personally prefer a 10 minute period. Though I imagine the player's union would just readily agree to that. Of course, some games just end up ties. I hate the college rule. Like someone else said, it reminds me of penalty kicks.

2. What exactly does Sanchez have to do to get benched? His two turnovers on Sunday were BRUTAL. The INT in the red zone wascompletely telegraphed, even though he had Keller open before he threw it. He actually pump faked the ball to Keller and then threw it to him, which doesn't really work when you are inside the 5. The fumble was caused by blown protection (not on Sanchez... necessairly) but Sanchez tried to throw the ball away while being dragged down. His best case scenario was a incomplete pass there. It's the kind of throw a rookie makes.

Sanchez wasn't exactly good last season, but he has regressed badly this year. He doesn't look like he has any confidence, and just looks lost. I am a Jets fan who didn't like the Tebow move, but, what does it take to throw in a backup QB?

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The problem is who would you bench Sanchez for? Tebow? I really don't think this would make things any better. Tebow's been woefully ineffective the majority of the time he's in. As a Jets fan I was furious we didn't make a move on Jason Campbell to add the presence of a legitimate backup rather than the Tebow charade.

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Regarding DPI on passes thrown elsewhere: Isn't that what they call illegal contact or holding that happens when the ball is in the air?

The contact would be illegal if the ball wasn't in flight. And so long as the play isn't over, it's still illegal. They just call it interference because of when it happens.

These days, the "uncatchable" thing is just a way for the ref to say the play was done before the foul occurred. But unless the ball is already miles away from anyone on the field, it doesn't excuse illegal contact.

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Even aside from the ball-in-the-air issue, DPI and illegal contact are very different:

- Illegal contact is 5 yards from previous snap, DPI is a spot foul
- Illegal contact requires the QB to be in the pocket, DPI doesn't
- DPI *in theory* depends on the player interfered with being in position to catch the ball, illegal contact doesn't

Fundamentally, the rules are preventing different things. The illegal contact penalty is to allow receivers to get open, while DPI is to allow them the catch the ball. Once the ball is thrown somewhere, illegal contact is (and should be) moot because it no longer matters whether the receiver gets open. Conversely, once the pass has been thrown, DPI is *supposed to be* moot unless it prevents someone from catching the ball.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I watched the 4:00 game from a bar in Atlantic City and the loudest cheer of the night was when Nick Foles started warming up on the sideline.

I disagree with Ben's assessment of Foles. I thought he looked surprisingly good. You can see what the Eagles organization saw in him. He looked calm and poised in the pocket, and at least twice he (to borrow Jaws' line) "looked down the gunbarrel" and took the hit while delivering a pass.

Yes, he had two cover-your-eyes awful rookie mistakes. And yes, Andy Reid clearly did not think he's ready and as such kept the kid gloves on the whole game. But he already looks like a more accurate passer than the starter. He's certainly got a good arm. The intermediate throws, in general, looked sharp. None of this means he's going to develop into anything - it's way too early to say. But for a rookie who'd seen nothing but scout team reps, this was a promising debut. If he grows from here, he'll be a starter somewhere next year.

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The Cowboys outscored the Eagles 31-16 after Vick left the game.

Any discussion of this game should point out that the Cowboys' last three TDs were scored on a punt return, an interception return, and a fumble return. And the last two were turnovers by Foles.

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While Foles looked good for a 3rd round pick, he also looked like one of the first starters in the league, and a clear downgrade from Vick, who has been pretty bad this year.

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We don't know if he can play or not yet. But I didn't see him as a downgrade at all. If anything, the team seemed to rally around him (except DJax). They seemed to be energized by the move, even if Reid wasn't willing to let him throw more than 10 yards downfield.

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Not sure Maclin rallied arounded him much either. What's it called when a receiver alligator arms a pass but without even extending his arms out at all. Not trying?

And it's not like Maclin did anything special to get Peprah to blow the coverage on the bomb. It was just a fail on the new/scrap heap safety's part.

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Thanks for clarifying. I thought "first" meant "first year" in this case. So yeah, I disagree. He didn't set the world on fire, but he's already an improvment in the accuracy department, and neither poise nor arm strength appear to be an issue.

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It seems like Foles is able to incorporate Maclin into the offense more. I hate to say it, but I think his height is a major advantage over Vick - he's able to see more of the field and expand the options on offense. He may not make the best decisions or be "NFL accurate", but I think Foles starting would be at least a wash vs. Vick at this point and possibly an upgrade.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

The Rams seemed to find some success running to their right side, but I'm not sure what it was they noticed. Most of their big runs went behind Barry Richardson and Harvey Dahl and attacked San Fran's left side. Maybe Ben can shed some light on this?

The fake punts were fantastic. I LOVE it when good coaches recognize the fact that their team is out-gunned and put wrinkles in the game plan to try to steal a win against a more powerful opponent.

On the other hand, the Rams are horribly undisciplined, and it cost them yesterday. I don't remember this being a hallmark of Jeff Fisher (maybe it was and I didn't notice?) in Tennessee. It's got to get fixed, though. It was particularly notable in overtime, but it's been a problem for years. In years past, the talent level was so bad that the lack of discipline was just one more thing to fix. Now that the talent level has been raised almost to the point of respectability, the discipline level needs fixing ASAP.

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I'm just going to say it: the regular officials are doing no better than the replacements; they're just doing a bad job faster.

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Maybe their calls aren't better - I'm sceptical to that statement, but have no chance of disproving it either. The game management, however, has been cleaned up. Nobody (I've heard of) have been awarded extra timeouts, downs or the like. Thats important.

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Well, they did let a game clock run for over a minute while they made a measurement. (I'd put that up with the game with 2 2-minute warnings.)

What amazes me is how many calls they are getting wrong on replay (as in calls where they disagree with Pereira).

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I saw the segment you are talking about... He looked at the replay and made the comment that even though it looked like the official had gotten the call right, he'd have preferred the call be made the other way because then if it had been wrong there'd be the opportunity to fix it with replay. Absolutely nuts that he'd advocate guys intentionally making the wrong call.

But a sign of how the tail is starting to wag the dog with replay. The goal of replay being a failsafe in the event of missed calls is giving way to the desire of it being the primary call. Look at how many plays are allowed to go on forever without a whistle. I'm just waiting for somebody to get injured in a meaningless runback on a play that should have been blown dead.

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Why is it nuts?

The rules are structured in such a way that its more likely to get the correct call if the call is initially called one way. It would be daft to not call close calls that way.

The goal of replay is to get the call right. Not to get it right initially.

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The problem is, how many calls do you see where the evidence is so close, that the call could go either way, and as a result the ruling on the field stands due to incontrovertible evidence. If the ruling on the field is a fumble, it remains a fumble. If the call was down by contact, it remains down by contact.
Allowing a play to play out for the sake of letting replay clear things up only works when the evidence is glaring in the first place.

I've always seen replay as a device that might allow the referee to correct a bad call that was made due to the officials vision of the incident being obscured by players, bad angle to the play etc. It isn't a fail safe for bad judgement.

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"The goal of replay is to get the call right. Not to get it right initially."

Too bad the actual rules don't support your interpretation. They don't review every single play specifically because replay is seen as fail safe to be used in egregious examples of calls being missed. Advising officials to call things the opposite of what they thought happened because replay MIGHT stand a better chance of getting it right would directly result in more calls being missed because the play either wouldn't be reviewed at all, or not enough evidence would exist to overturn the call.

180 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I'd say the goal of replay is to fix obviously wrong calls that had a big effect on the game.

The goal is not to fix mundane missed calls (2nd and 8 vs 2nd and 7), and it's not really intended to fix borderline judgement calls either. Though people use it for that now.

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They have been the same, just quicker. Each week there have been a couple calls that would have gotten the replacements excoriated in the media, but since they are the regulars people just shrug their shoulders.

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Exactly. Keeping a game orderly and timely is the most important thing. Penalties are just there to "shape" the product and make sure no -900 favorite happens to lose at home. Seriously, the real refs are terrible. Dez Bryant's "touchdown", Kapernick's "touchdown". The clock fiasco (twice in the SF game), the Roethlisberger forward "fumble" (no apology). They don't know the rules anymore than we do. They don't have any idea what a catch is either.

A sign your "sport" is in trouble - when reasonable people watching a replay at 5000 frames/sec can't tell what a catch is. And neither can the refs.

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"A sign your "sport" is in trouble - when reasonable people watching a replay at 5000 frames/sec can't tell what a catch is. And neither can the refs."

Huh? People know what an obvious catch is, and what an obvious no-catch is. There's going to be a continuum from one to the other, and at some point in the middle are situations where it could go either way. You can have rules that deal with calls that could go either way, such as the "simultaneous catch is rewarded to the offense," but those calls also occupy a continuum, as we saw with GB-Seattle.

Is the fact that strike zones are ambiguous a sign that baseball is in trouble, or the fact that charge-block calls are ambiguous that basketball is in trouble? Every sport has these, and the best the refs can do is call it consistently in that game (not necessarily across all games).

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5000 frames per second? That's one heck of a camera. I think most TV broadcases are something like 25-30 frames per second, and the fastest high def TV cameras are only around 100 frames per second.

We use 5 and 10 kHz high speed cameras for expensive science experiments, but then, we're watching explosive detonate in real time.

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There are femtosecond cameras that can view the progress of a light wave. It was reported that one of these cameras managed to capture a period of Tony Romo's consistency but it has not yet been confirmed.

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I agree that there are no good solutions for overtime. I like the college format at times, but it frequently devolves into scoring at will or no scoring at all, and once you get to the third or fourth OT, it looks like the fifth or sixth period in a hockey game, where the on-field action isn't close to what it was in regulation.

I don't think the Lions' offense is geared for 65 percent passing ... I'd say more like 80 percent. Some of that is probably due to the age of the OL and its inability to create rushing lanes, and some of it is due to Linehan not really opening up the entire offense for Stafford (it still seems like the Lions show a lot of basic looks, although Megatron is in the slot much more often this season than last season), but I think it's also because the passing game is just that much better than the running game. If you pass well and don't run well, particularly in a league where coaches as a rule run more than they ought to, then you probably ought to be passing a lot.

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Agree about the Lions just needing to admit that they're a good passing office and a below-average (albeit better than last year) running offense. The OL is much better at pass protection than run blocking (I personally think Raiola and Stephen Peterman are the biggest culprits), and they need to play to the strengths of their personnel. They need to take their cue from the 2002 Oakland Raiders.

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I think they are going about things bass-ackwards - at least in the games I watched against the Vikings. They seem to try and establish the run and are very conservative in the passing game. In both games they wouldn't throw the ball down the field at all until they were down 14.

I think they should try to turn every game into a shootout because they are built for that.

They remind me a lot of the Culpepper-Moss Viking teams.

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Last week Jacksonville was nice enough to be their usual incompetent selves and let the Lions establish the run. The week before that, Seattle jumped out to a 10 point lead early in the 1st half, forcing the Lions to throw, so they were able to score enough points to keep the game in striking distance in the second half. This week, the Vikings dink/dunked and plodded their way to 13 first half points, fooling the Lions into thinking it was still close and they could afford to run the ball. They have to understand that their defense is not good and they have to score as many points as possible to win games.

I do have to give credit to the Vikings, though. They simply played better than the Lions in both meetings. It seemed like their defense didn't miss a single tackle, and their receivers didn't drop a single pass. And also Purple Jesus is a beast.

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Those totals skewed by the fact that Lions trailed by either 1 or 2 scores the entire second half and had to completely abandoned the run. I don't have the exact numbers in the first half, but it was something like 18 pass attempts and 11 or 12 rush attempts at halftime, at which point they trailed 13-3.

It may be counter-intuitive, but the point I'm trying to make is that if they passed more in the first half (with an occasional draw mixed in) and scored some points, it would have allowed them to actually be more balanced throughout the game. They would not have had to completely bail on the running game in the 2nd half if they either had a lead or trailed by a touchdown or less instead of 7-14 points. Then the final run/pass ratio would have been more like 25/35 or something instead of 14/45.

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Nothing ever comes "easy" for this defense. Adrian Peterson is going to have some great games, because he's a great player. I'm more concerned about the fact that they made Christian Ponder look like Fran Tarkenton for an afternoon.

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I said "easier" -- I didn't say it was likely or even possible!

The inconsistency is the most irritating aspect. Just 2 weeks ago they did a pretty good job holding Marshawn Lynch in check, then they put in a performance like this. I think they'll have to go looking for safeties again this offseason.

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Agreed. Most fans are clamoring for them to get new corners, but the corners have actually held up fairly well. It's the safety play (when Delmas is out) that has really hurt them. Coleman seems to alternate good games with terrible ones. Silva has been servicable for a guy who started the year on the practice squad. John Wendling should stay on special teams and never sniff the starting lineup again. Speivey seems to have done better than last year when he's been in there, but like Delmas, can't seem to stay healthy. There seems to be a few decent college safeties coming out next year that will be available when the Lions are likely drafting (I'm predicting in the pick #14-18 range).

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Regarding the "no scoring at all" did anybody else watch Tennessee this week pass up an easy FG in OT against Mizzou to go for it on 4th down? I They didn't get it and Mizzou kicked the FG to beat them. (And it's not like they were at the 1-yard line; it was 4th and 3 from around the 20.) I think Dooley was already a goner, but that had to be the final nail in his coffin. I don't care how poorly you think of your defense, taking zero points in college OT is absolutely stupid.

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the penalty for a qb getting knocked out of the game due to a helmet to helmet is an incentive for the defense to do it given the cost is 15 yards while the other team has to use their backup.

don't know what if anything can be done.

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But maybe it takes 4 tries. Getting a clean shot at a QB isn't that easy anyway. Scramblers, maybe, but you could be out there for days - or seasons - trying to knock out Peyton Manning.

If you can get, say, one good shot in per quarter, and you can take him out of the game with a 25% chance - you're looking at -30 yards (and 2 automatic first downs) and you only get to play against the backup for a half - on average.

When should you call off the dogs - when is a 15 yard penalty and a first down more expensive than a 25% chance of getting the backup in? At half time?

The above combined with the moral component and the endless stream of increasing fines, I don't think there's a lot of juice there.

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Ask James Harrison if it's that simple.

A player who intentionally knocks a QB out of a game is going to be suspended at least one game. A second offense leads to a multiple game suspension. A team that used this tactic more than once, intentionally, would face severe penalties.

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No mention of the amazing safety dance after Von sacked Cam? It was a thing of beauty:

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"That play should not have been allowed to continue. The announcers praise the officials for letting the action play out so things can be reviewed, but that has the entire focus backward. That's a big part of why I think the current replay rules are misguided."

I've been saying this for a while. Because turnovers get reviewed while non-turnovers are not reviewable, the officials are consistently acting like turnovers are legit, and putting the burden of denying a turnover on the replay official. For starters, this is just weak on the part of the officials. In the game Mike is talking about, the "turnover" was nowhere near being a completed pass. The thing bounced on the ground, in plain view, 1 foot from the intended receiver. You cannot tell me none of the officials saw that. Man up and call the incompletion!

This bad habit is going to continue until the refs let a play go on like happened yesterday and somebody is seriously injured on a play that should have been whistled dead.

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Again, I don't see the officials doing anything wrong. The rules encourage this behavior. They're supposed to call something that way when they're not sure.

If we want good reffing, we should let the booth official whistle down whenever the hell he wants, and let him force a review whenever he wants.

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" I have a nomination for the GIF/video to be set next to the definition of fumble luck:"

Yes, sometimes fumble recovery is mostly luck. Sometimes it isn't.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Ok I'll bite. Certainly there's always some amount of luck involved, yes? What we're saying is that fumble recovery is mainly a function of where on the field the fumble occurs - probably a proxy for how many good guys and bad guys are in the area of the fumble. Once you control for that, and DVOA does, all you are left with is random noise.

If you want to argue that because of a relatively small sample, we will never be able to detect a team that actually is better than average at recovering fumbles, I won't stop you. Even then, though, you will be conceding that the randomness of fumbles are too noizy to make recovery skill detectable - ie. fumble recoveries are mostly random/luck.

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"If you want to argue that because of a relatively small sample, we will never be able to detect a team that actually is better than average at recovering fumbles, I won't stop you. Even then, though, you will be conceding that the randomness of fumbles are too noizy to make recovery skill detectable - ie. fumble recoveries are mostly random/luck."

You are framing the question in a way that delineates the scope of your thinking.

Ever since I first started reading FO saying "fumble recoveries are mostly luck!" I had to wonder exactly what they were thinking. After all, fumble recoveries are happening in a system dictated by Newtonian physics. And if you know the position and momentum of each body in motion, you can know exactly how the system will resolve itself.

This has nothing to do with "sampling." If you don't think the motion of billiard balls on a pool table is dictated by "luck," then you don't think that anything that happens on a football field is controlled by "luck." (Well, outside of the Indy QB, but I digress.)

You can even see this in how people discuss certain stats. When breaking down fumbles in different areas of the field, they'll note that a fumble recovered in one part of the field is more likely to go to the defense, and in another part of the field is more likely to the offense, while in a third part it's close to 50-50, i.e. "truly due to luck." This discussion is utterly misguided from a mathematical perspective, but it reveals what people actually think the word "luck" means.

From a mathematical perspective, "luck" has nothing to do with how close the distribution of a given variable is to uniform. Indeed, a given random variable need not have more than one possible state. I can define a random variable that takes on value with probability 1 and takes no other values. This is, strictly speaking, still a random variable. But in popular parlance, this would not be "random".

No, in popular parlance, "random" means "unpredictable." But even this usage is an abuse of the words "random" and "luck." Any familiarity with chaos theory should make this clear. In chaos theory, we study a phenomenon known as "sensitive dependence to initial conditions." By this I mean that a "small change in initial conditions leads to a widely divergent result." Membership in a region with a fractal boundary can be viewed as this kind of phenomenon. A fractal set is defined with a clear rule, i.e. not according to a probabilistic rule. And yet, if you look close to the boundary of the set, it may seem that membership in the set is random. The behavior of pseudo-random number generators is exactly this. These so-called random number generators are used by computers because the properties of the sequences of numbers that they generate "look like" random strings of numbers, and share properties that random strings of numbers are supposed to have. But the process of generating the numbers is utterly deterministic.

From a scientific standpoint (and this is something I've argued in the past), you don't prove that a sequence of numbers is "caused by luck." What you do (if you're a frequentist and not a Bayesian) is calculate the likelihood that a set of data could have been produced by sampling a random variable. And then, typically, you either reject or fail to reject that hypothesis. A low p-value (i.e. a publishable result) happens with the probability that the data is random is calculated to be low. The converse is uninteresting. A high p-value does not "prove" that the data was, in fact, generated randomly.

But back to the popular parlance. What people really mean when they say something is "random" is not that the system is truly random, but rather that it's deterministic in an unpredictable way. That's how dice work, and that's how cards work, and slot machines, and roulette wheels. A roulette wheel is deterministic: if you knew the velocity of the wheel and of the ball after it was released into the wheel, you would know exactly where the ball would land. This function would be a function of the relative velocities, and would depend on the shape of the particular wheel. But when people say "random" it comes down to the fact that the wheel speed, the timing of the release of the ball, and the speed of the ball, are somewhat unpredictable and the result is highly dependent to changes in initial conditions. If the velocity of the wheel and of the ball were slowed, the lack of randomness would become more apparent.

So, in popular parlance, "random" has more to do with "unpredictability" than it has to do with "truly random" from either a mathematical or scientific standpoint.

And when a QB is hit from behind, and the ball drops out in a place where it's right next to one defender who can pick it up easily, his recovery is not "luck." It's no more luck for him to properly execute falling on the ball than it is for a receiver to properly execute the reception of a forward pass. The question of "luck" seems to arise when we see a ball bouncing in a crowd like a roulette ball, surrounded by several defenders of different teams, and it's completely unclear how this system will be resolved. But, strictly speaking, unpredictability is not luck.

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That's a lot of text to argue over semantics. "If" you knew the speed of the roulette wheel and the precise moment the ball was going to be dropped you could determine where the ball would land? But you don't know any of those things. Thus what you're arguing is that it wouldn't be random if it wasn't random.

And even if you buy that example, how does roulette equate to fumble recoveries where you have no consistency whatsoever where players are going to be, where exactly the ball is going to bounce, or if a guy is going to be able to recover it even if it lands right at his feet? Even if there are certain parts of the field where the offense or defense is more likely to recover a fumble, that doesn't mean the individual recovery still isn't a random event or that the causing of a fumble isn't a random event.

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"And if you know the position and momentum of each body in motion, you can know exactly how the system will resolve itself."

There's about 9 million variables in this equation, and you know maybe 3 of them.

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Yes, but the question of "what causes a system to behave the way it does?" is completely different from the question of "what do we know about the system?"

Whether I know 3 variables or all the variables has no bearing whatsoever one what the causal factors are. Only human arrogance thinks otherwise.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

And when a QB is hit from behind, and the ball drops out in a place where it's right next to one defender who can pick it up easily, his recovery is not "luck."

No, it's all guided by physics. All they're saying is that the "and the ball drops out in a place where it's right next to one defender who can pick it up easily" is not something that one team does better than another. Recovering 4 out of 4 fumbles isn't a skill-- as opposed to causing them, which does seem to be (stronger players who hit harder, more sacks, etc.).

In common parlance (but perhaps not technical), "luck" is just a way of saying "once a fumble happens, there is no way of knowing from a statistics perspective of which side-- offense or defense, Dallas or Philadelphia or New York, etc.-- will recover it."

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

". Talking to some folks around here before the game, it seems pretty clear that McCourty is now a full-time safety, and the local reporters seem to feel it definitely fits his skill set and you'll see him as one of the more active safeties in the league."

McCourty is in a tough spot. He's currently the Patriots best Safety, and their best CB. The thing is, their 2nd best CB is a whole lot better than their 2nd best Safety.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Presumably Talib will be their best CB come Sunday.

I have to wonder, though, how much of the problem is the personnel and how much is coaching and/or scheme. Time after time, the Bills found receivers wide open in the middle of the field. Since I was only seeing snippets of the game on Red Zone, it was hard for me to figure out exactly what the problem was.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Regarding Leonard Johnson's pick of Rivers, I actually didn't start celebrating until Johnson was about halfway to the end zone because I simply sat there open-mouthed, staring at the screen, unable to believe that an NFL QB would have thrown that pass. I mean, that may have been the worst throw I've ever seen if you consider (A) Rivers could have just thrown it away, (B) it went nowhere near an actual receiver, and (C) it was late in a one-possession game at that point. Just an inexplicable pass in every conceivable way.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I cannot believe Jim Schwartz kicked away instead of on-side with 2 minutes left down 10. There is no way that is smart even when your opponent isn't running all over your defense.

Its like he just wanted to keep it close instead of winning.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I thought they might have been trying to pop it over the front guys and get it bouncing and that Hanson just hit it a little to I do with my wedge from 30 yards out...

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"Holliday's ability to break big plays was never in question. His problems were actually catching the football and durability."

Yeah, let's find a guy who can catch and teach him how to break big plays.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

This has to be a huge black mark against the Houston coaching staff/front office. Ok, so Holliday is undoubtedly benefiting from superior blocking in Denver. But, you cut a guy who then signs for a rival team the same week, is immediately handed punt and kick-off return duties, then rips off return TDs in consecutive weeks? Doesn't look good. Surely they could have persevered, or found some other use for this guy.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I'm not sold on Holliday. Honestly his first TD Payton Manning could've run in - he put a tiny move on a pathetic tackle attempt by a Bengal at the 10 yardline and after that is was just running forwards.

And he looks for that homerun every. single. time. As long as he's getting them, thats abviously fine, but this is clearly unsustainable. Plus he fumbles a lot.

179 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I can see the fumbling as a legitimate issue. But I would probably invest a little time to try and correct that, just as I would in order to improving his ability to catch. My point is that the kind of elusiveness he's shown (preseason, too, in addition to the last couple weeks) is not something you can teach.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

If the Jets aren't going to bench Sanchez and start Tebow, they need to convert Tebow to a full-time fullback. Have him in the game in a 2RB package about 30-40 plays a game, where he's blocking on about 15-20, running on about 5, in a pattern on about 10 - and two or three times a game he throws a pass to keep everyone guessing.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Exactly. Optimizing Tebow-usage is the driving motivation behind many of the "use Tebow!" people.

Only with Tebow are we told "here's the player, find a role." Usually it goes the other way, "Here's the role, find the player who can fill that role."

Sanchez isn't particularly good, but Tebow is worse. It's a credit to Rex Ryan that he doesn't doubt his judgment here. The Jets probably need a better QB, but their problems are deeper than that. They don't have the running game they had 2-3 seasons ago, when they made consecutive AFC Championship games.