Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: Maurice Hurst

A heart condition discovered at the combine has put the Michigan lineman's career in limbo, but Hurst had the best film of any defensive tackle in this year's draft class.

05 Feb 2007

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLI

Here's the final Audibles at the Line, a look at the e-mail conversation of the Football Outsiders staff during Sunday's games. There wasn't much in-game conversation for the Super Bowl, but we all shared our thoughts afterwards. Our Indianapolis native writer and our Indianapolis resident adjunct PFP contributor are pretty happy this morning.

Bill Moore: I guess we don't introduce individual players on teams anymore.

Will Carroll: That sound you heard after Devin Hester's touchdown was Indianapolis. Has anyone discussed the fact that Bill Polian is on the edge of losing his sixth Super Bowl?

Bill Moore: Looks like Vasher has been on Harrison much of the start of this game. I don't know who's on the irregular side.

Doug Farrar: On that Wayne TD, there hasn't been a Colts receiver that wide open in a Super Bowl since Jimmy Orr in Super Bowl III.

Will Carroll: And no one had Reggie Wayne. Looked like the safety 38 (Danieal Manning) went in on Clark up the middle.

Hunter Smith is no Koy Detmer.

You will lose a fight for the ball with a guy named Hagler.

Doug Farrar: Hunter Smith, Tony Romo. Tony, would you like to introduce Hunter to the group?

Will Carroll: Has any Super Bowl ever been so affected by weather? Will the long halftime help this pass?

Bob Sanders had his head down the whole play. His career might have one, maybe two more productive years.

Doug Farrar: I think Super Bowl IX (PIT-MIN) at Tulane Stadium was cold and a bit drizzly, but nothing like this.

Colts have a 2-1 time of possession advantage at the half, and after watching this team through the playoffs, I'm convinced that's absolutely according to plan. Tire out their defense and keep yours of the field. Remember the 30-play stretch at the end of the first and beginning of the second halves in the AFC Championship game where the Colts had possession on 29 of those plays?

Bill Moore: Just as an aside, I would expect playing electric guitar in the pouring rain would be a hazard. Plus I think his makeup is running.

Patrick Laverty: How does a safety stepping into the neutral zone cause a left tackle to jump? That neutral zone infraction seemed wrong to me.

And how about Nantz noticing that Hester checked the jumbotron on his way to the end zone. Making it sound like Hester was just admiring his work. Not a mention that players do that to see where the tacklers are without having to turn around and slow down.

Nantz just doesn't seem good this game.

Before the game, I heard that this was the first one played in rain.

I think Rex lost another 6 yards by trying to pick the ball up and not just falling on it.

As a Patriots fan, this game sure looks familiar.

Will Carroll: The Colts have run three plays today (inside delay, play action and back to same RB, and Harrison in the slot) that I haven't seen all year.

Michael David Smith: Am I the only one who thought that should've been roughing, not running into, the kicker?

Doug Farrar: No, you're not the only one. No doubt Bill Polian is frantically speed-dialing Rich McKay and Jeff Fisher right now.

Ryan Wilson: I actually told my wife it looked like roughing the kicker (or, at least what I envision roughing the kicker might look like). She seemed unfazed, but I stand by my initial call.

Patrick Laverty: Bad boy Rex. Bad boy.

Doug Farrar: Another fun football drinking game -- not as quite as dangerous as the Madden/Favre one: Take a shot every time Phil Simms asserts with 100% confidence that something will happen or has happened, and the exact opposite proves to be true. My favorite this game was his assertion that Grossman's first pick would put him "in a groove" and he'd start throwing better. He said that just before the snap on the next interception. Runner-up: The Harrison catch. "Even from up here, I could tell it was out of bounds." Uh ... yeah. This is the guy CBS wants on its A-Team? Will someone explain this to me?

Will Carroll: Would it be wrong to vote for "Rex Grossman IND" as MVP?

Doug Farrar: Ha! Not at all. I'm trying to think here -- has a rookie ever won MVP? I don't think so, but my vote would go to Addai.

Will Carroll: I also think Addai should win.

Doug Farrar: Okay ... THAT'S scary.

Bill Moore: Adam Vinatieri now has his fourth Super Bowl ring. What individual has the most?

Michael David Smith: Charles Haley is the only player with five rings.

Mike Tanier: Let me beat Aaron to the summing up:

Never in history has a game gone so exactly as everyone thought it would go. By "everyone" I do not mean Football Outsiders, but everyone who follows the game and knows the two teams well.

The Bears got one touchdown on a special teams play and one on a lapse by the Colts run defense, Grossman provided three (?) turnovers and made some terrible decisions. The Colts had trouble in the red zone but moved the ball pretty easily. The Bears ran on third-and-medium and failed. It was like someone had a clipboard (a Saunders Clipboard, I bet) and was ticking off the necessary items.

Now, I wait for Peyton Manning to be assumed body and soul into heaven, and I thank my maker that I am not Rex Grossman and I don't have to listen to an off-season of screaming for my head, especially with the knowledge that such shouting is deserved. I suppose now the mantle of Quarterback Who Never Won has officially been passed to Donovan, and I will be informed of this in a Philadelphia Daily News headline by Tuesday.

And Prince rocked.

Okay, time to crawl back into my coffin for a while.

Bill Moore: Happy for the Colts, Dungy and Manning.

That has to be among the worst owner speeches ... ever.

The selection of Peyton Manning as MVP was purely a reputation-precedes choice. Although he didn't play poorly, by any means, there were clearly others more worthy.

Will Carroll: I think in absence of a clear MVP, Manning was going to get it.

Best line of the night from my Super Bowl party:
Drunk 1: "What, he's going to do more commercials now?"
Drunk 2: "No, just charge a lot more."

Bill Moore: I would have to say that Rex Grossman's absolute horrendous game is the worst since Tony Eason, which ironically was against Chicago. Is there any performance I'm missing?

Ryan Wilson: Roethlisberger might send Grossman a thank-you note. Or at the very least, Eason's thank-you note will have a postscript that reads: "Oh, yeah, Ben says thanks for crapping the bed."

Ned Macey: Obviously I have a million thoughts on the game, but I'll wait to see sort of what the neutral observers thought before going into too much depth. I will say that Tanier was 95% right on, but the one missing was a deep pass to Berrian. Everybody kept talking about how they would hit a big one, but they never did. They got nothing over the top, and that's a credit to the Colts defense. Simms was convinced Berrian was open on the Sander INT, and while it was a bad throw, I'm not sure Sanders wouldn't have broken it up no matter what. Grossman has one skill -- throwing the deep ball. It was rarely open, and so he did as told, checking down. The Colts tackled well underneath. The dropped snaps are a different issue.

I sort of was pulling for the Rhodes as MVP, but do people really think it wasn't Manning? The next time the Bears put an eighth guy in the box is the first. Addai caught all sorts of passes, but he was never covered, and he also dropped the handoff when Anderson came free. Manning absolutely controlled this game for the middle two quarters. Credit to the Bears red zone defense, but they were getting eaten up in the middle of the field.

This whole postseason has been about explaining the Colts defense. Nobody understands what went on, and at this point it defies explanation. They just had their fourth straight game of presumably better than -20% DVOA.

Finally, the Colts had probably a -14 on special teams (Hester TD, field goal after return and personal foul, missed FG, bad snap extra point) but Terrence Wilkins actually had a really nice game. The Colts were getting good field position on both punt and kick returns. And Hunter Smith, holding issues aside, had a nice game.

Super finally, the weather sucked. Not to be a non-purist, but watching power running is only fun for so long.

Michael David Smith: I think Manning deserved MVP. Rhodes and Addai were effective because the Bears' linebackers were totally focused on stopping the passing game.

Taking a quick look around online, I clearly saw this game a lot differently than most people. I thought Manning was great aside from the first possession and that the game was entertaining all-around. I can't even imagine how anyone other than a Steelers fan could say last year's Super Bowl was a better game than this year's, but I've already seen two non-Steelers fans say that.

Aaron Schatz: I'm happy that I live in a country where a young African-American child can dream that one day, he too will grow up and coach a team that loses the Super Bowl because his white quarterback isn't very good.

First things first. Last year, all we could talk about was the officiating. All year long in Audibles, we've been complaining about the officiating every week. We've complained about calls that went against our teams, in favor of our teams, and in games that had nothing to do with our teams. Before the game, everyone at Ian's house (in Braintree MA) agreed, nobody was really rooting for one team or the other, all we wanted was for the officiating not to suck. I think the most valuable player in this game was Tony Corrente, along with his crew, for not screwing up any call except for the Harrison sidelines catch, which got properly overturned on replay because it wasn't out of bounds. There haven't been many games this clean all year, and if you are going to have a well-called game, it should be the most important one.

I guess Manning was a default MVP choice since there really was no standout. I thought Sanders was great all game, I would have voted for Rhodes perhaps, and I think Peyton Manning has enough cars and really should give the truck to Kelvin Hayden. He's a lower-round rookie, I'm sure he could use a nice truck. He came through on that interception, although, what the hell was Grossman thinking? Why on earth did he throw that ball? Were the Colts using the Madden "lame duck" cheat? Egads. I think at the end of all this Lovie Smith has to look in the mirror and ask himself how on earth he stuck with this guy all year.

They had the pass to Berrian. It was a weak spot in the defense, it was the right play call. Grossman underthrew it, but Berrian was open on the ball that Sanders intercepted. He had to come back to the ball because Grossman just didn't get enough into it, but if he throws it slightly deeper and to the right, that's a touchdown. The Muhammad TD was a bad pass too, to be honest, into some TIGHT coverage. Nick Harper was about two inches away from slapping that sucker out and a foot away from intercepting it. And the pass to Desmond Clark that he should not have thrown, that Jason David almost intercepted...

Although, the Bears defense has to look in the mirror too. To win with a shaky quarterback, the defense has to shut the other team down. That's what the Ravens did to the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. But tonight, time and time again, the Bears played a loose zone on third-and-short or third-and-medium, giving the Colts easy underneath first downs so they could just march down the field. By the third quarter, they really needed to start taking some chances. I'm not talking about blitzing -- just changing the coverage a little might have helped.

Speaking of coverage, another Manning who deserves the MVP for the Colts is Danieal Manning, who unfortunately plays for the Bears. That was one astonishing blown coverage on the Reggie Wayne touchdown. Dude, if your job in the Cover-2 is the deep left half, stay in the deep left half!

I was blown away when -- after I had written about how the Bears never switch their cornerbacks -- the Bears switched their cornerbacks and had Vasher on Harrison and Tillman on Wayne all day. Honestly, it didn't matter. Those guys did a good job, and the linebackers really did shut down the TE just like the FO numbers predicted, but Manning was getting lots of passes to Addai and the Wayne TD wasn't the fault of the cornerbacks.

Did anybody else notice the Bears spell the linebacker's name in the intros "Lance Brigss"?

Some other stuff to congratulate:

  • Colts did a great job on blitz pickup. I always write about how they have trouble with the 3-4 because the rushers come from strange unexpected directions. Well, the Bears are pretty much the opposite of that, so the blocking was top notch. Mark Anderson looks like he's going to have the same weakness that Dwight Freeney had until a month ago, constantly spinning past the play on runs.
  • Bob Sanders. I guess he really is that good. The helmet on ball to cause Benson's fumble was sweet.
  • The Colts did a much better job of pointing. As we all know, the team that points more gets the fumble recovery.
  • Hunter Smith for that short punt in the first quarter, keeping that out of the end zone for the touchback. Good stuff.
  • Dominic Rhodes, I have to mention him again. There was one play where he broke Hillenmeyer's ankles and then Chris Harris' ankles. Neat.
  • Thomas Jones. A good game in a losing effort.
  • NOT Adam Vinatieri. He has a swell game and all, but listening to the radio on the way home, people were talking about how important he was to the Colts, how he was the best postseason kicker ever because he's 40-for-49. That's like 82 percent, right? That's average for field goal kickers these days, I think. He's great and all, but listening to them talk like he was a big reason the Colts won this game specifically? Wacko.

And a few random thoughts:

  • I liked the use of the New Orleans jazz funeral march in the NFL's "next year" commercial.
  • What on earth were the Bears doing checking down on third-and-long to a pass BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, losing by 12 points late in the fourth quarter?
  • You can review 12 men on the field, but you can't review pass interference? Seriously? What a strange rule. I've never seen anyone challenge 12 men on the field before.
  • Congratulations to the Colts. Yay for Dungy, Manning, Harrison, Wayne, all these guys, good players all. Freeney, Mathis, even Cato June, what the heck.

Finally, history. This was a year where a lot of "no team has ever..." rules got broken. I'll say it again: probability is not certainty. But that also doesn't mean that because something happens, we should expect it to happen all the time. The Colts are a dramatic outlier in the history of NFL champions. The odds are still strong that a team that gives up 5 yards per run won't win a title, that a dome team won't win outside in the cold, that you can't give up 22.5 points per game and expect to take home the Lombardi Trophy.

The Colts really have been one of the top 4-5 franchises of the decade, and while it is odd for this year's team to win the title, it isn't odd for them to win the title considering how well they've played year after year. However, this team does have significant flaws on defense and special teams and it is a testament to Peyton Manning as a quarterback that the offense is SO GOOD that it can overcome them. He really is great. There are people who have written about Peyton Manning as a choking loser over and over, and honestly, those people are going to need some new story ideas now. I'm proud to say that I never staked my reputation as a sportswriter on the absurd idea that Peyton Manning was not one of the best players in football.

It's a copycat league, but you can't copy the Colts and expect to win a Super Bowl. This is really an uncopyable blueprint. How many quarterbacks are as good as Peyton Manning? How often will you find not just one but two wide receivers as talented as Harrison and Wayne, and a tight end who can succeed as a receiver like Dallas Clark? How often will you play crap defense for 16 games and suddenly play good defense in the postseason? (And, to be honest, how often do you get to play the Super Bowl against a team with a colossal gaping black hole at the most important position on the field?) No, you can't plan for any of this. The Patriots, Bucs, Steelers, there was a blueprint there. There's no blueprint here. Honestly, it's part of what makes the Colts special.

Mike, the Eagles go on that list of best franchises of the decade too. And I think Donovan will get his one day.

Russell Levine: On the MVP, I think I might have cast my lot for the whole Indy offensive line. I felt they dominated the game, opened some huge holes for Rhodes/Addai and kept Peyton nearly clean throughout. Not that Manning was undeserving, he was just unspectacular. But I do think the rain had a lot to do with Indy's approach -- particularly once it became obvious that we were seeing Bad Rex today.

As a Bucs fan, I've seen that Indy approach before -- it used to be called "Buc Ball." Dungy is nothing if not consistent. With the way his defense was playing, there was no way he was going to start taking risks in the red zone in a downpour. And even though it meant it took Indy a while longer to officially salt the game away, you can't argue with any of his decision making. Particularly with the way Indy was able to run the ball throughout.

Did Chicago end up falling into the same trap as KC and Baltimore against the Indy defense? I don't know, but it sure looked early on like they were trying to win the game without putting it in Rex's hands. Then again, they barely had the ball the first three quarters.

Bill Moore: See, I don't buy into the argument that Manning deserved the MVP because his modestly above average play was driven by defenses designed to stop the pass - even if it were true. If the roles were reversed, and the Colts focused on taking away the run, yet Thomas Jones pulled off 80 yards and 1 TD anyway, would he have gotten an MVP over a passing game that picked up the slack.

Manning, without the Bears defense brain fart of a Reggie Wayne TD pass that only Reche Caldwell could have missed, is 24-38 with less than 200 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and an official fumble (even if you think it was Addai's fault).

His award was reputational only, in the same way that someone like Rhodes never could have won it.

Russell Levine: The fact that the fans get 20% of the MVP vote is a joke. Give them a vote, fine, but make it like 5%, not such a significant chunk.

Ned Macey: I guess there's not a lot to say about this game given the Colts dominated, won handily, and the officiating was good. But, since it is the first title by an Indianapolis team in my lifetime, I'll go on some more.

Good work by Charlie Johnson, a rookie thrust into action at right tackle against the Bears in the Super Bowl. The one sack came from Glenn's side, and the Colts running game obviously didn't miss a beat.

Second, the game was almost over by then, but what about Marlin Jackson getting hurt forcing Giordano, a safety, in as the nickel back only to see Giordano break up the fourth down pass to Desmond Clark.

Lance Briggs is a great player, and I can't believe the Bears won't franchise him. Urlacher is better, but the WLB is the most important linebacker in the Tampa-2. I hope Berrian someday gets a consistent quarterback.

I think the Bears defensive game plan was upset by the rain. They played the Colts with the Fisher/Schwartz strategy and it did keep the scoring down, but I think it would have been hard to throw the ball well down the field. They should have played more man coverage once the rain became obvious. Make Harrison and Wayne beat you when the weather sucks. The strategy makes sense from the standpoint that they were completely outplayed but only down 5 near the end, but the Bears have more physical talent than the Titans and didn't need to be in a game through luck.

Outside of the big run, Jones had 8 carries for 16 yards in the first half, including 2 for 6 yards on third down that left them short of a first down. I know the Chiefs game plan was weak. I know Jamal Lewis is washed up. I know the Patriots abandoned the run, but while impossible to predict, the run defense improved radically in the playoffs. They aren't the 2000 Titans, but you had to have a complete offense to beat the Colts in the playoffs. (Thank God the Chargers lost.) When it was believe one game or 16, two games or 16, three games or 16, then it was easy to believe the 16. At four in a row, this was a remarkable achievement.

That brings me to Dungy, who is the person I feel best for. Nobody with any intelligence really could have thought that Manning was incapable of winning a Super Bowl. Clearly inferior quarterbacks have won two dozen Super Bowls. With Dungy it was a different story. The whole mild-mannered thing, repeated playoff losses, the Tampa Super Bowl in 2002. I always thought (hoped?) he could do it, but it was reasonable to question his approach. What he did this year was impressive. Obviously he deserves some blame for what happened to the defense during the regular season, but he stayed patient and fixed the defense. I'm not too worried about where he gets the motivation to coach the way he does, but I have a great deal of respect for treating men like men, teaching, and most importantly, understanding football is not the be all and end all of our existence.

Finally, this is not the best Colts team of the Manning era, but hopefully the Super Bowl allows people to appreciate how successful that era has been. They are now 50-14 over the past four years. They have the most regular season wins this decade (and went 13-3 in 1999 so that's not cherry-picking their run). They have 76 while the Patriots and Eagles have 75. They have done it completely different than any other team. I don't just mean the all offense, no defense (or special teams) approach. I mean letting their QB call the plays, almost always lining their receivers up on the same side of the field, using almost no motion, playing the same defense the vast majority of the snaps. They have valued execution in a league that with the rise of Martz, Gruden, and Belichick has been all about these evil-genius coaches. At training camp this year they didn't really have any two-a-days because they had nothing to practice.

Furthermore, 21 of the 22 offensive and defensive players who started yesterday have never played for any team besides the Colts (and neither have Jackson or Hayden or Rhodes). Bill Polian is a great drafter and clearly one of the very top player personnel guys even if he is a prick. I'm glad he shook the loser tag because he has built two separate, extraordinary teams in very different environments. I don't think the Colts blueprint can be replicated, but hopefully it encourages teams to think outside the box. The more different ways people approach offense, defense, and roster construction, the more interesting the league is.

Aaron Schatz: Well, it's only fair to let our long-suffering Indianapolis native have the last word. Thanks to all of you for reading and supporting Football Outsiders again this year, for participating in the discussion threads, for buying our book, for wearing Football Outsiders t-shirts (still available!) and for everything else.

The off-season doesn't mean that Football Outsiders goes away, of course. We'll have The Week in Quotes and one more Scramble and Quick Reads. Four Downs, our off-season series, begins on Wednesday with the NFC West. The results of the 2006 Football Outsiders awards will be up in the next week or so, and we've got the fourth annual off-season Old Faces in New Places contest already up, your chance to win a copy of PFP 2007. There will be lots of draft coverage in April. Three or four of us are going to be in Titletown for the scouting combine in a couple of weeks. We'll have the usual off-season free agent and draft open discussion threads up as soon as we figure out if the new discussion board helped our server issues and other assorted technical details. You should also look for regular commentary on free agent moves on the FO FOX blog.

And behind the scenes, I'll be goofin' with the numbers, improving our stats, creating new formulas, and we'll all be writing the best possible Pro Football Prospectus for you all to enjoy.

Thanks, and good night. For Three Feet High and Rising, this is Don Newkirk.

Posted by: admin on 05 Feb 2007

296 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2007, 9:08pm by Sid


by wr (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:04pm

The best part of the NFL "next year" commercial for me was the Brett Favre part. Almost seemed like they were taking a pot shot at him.

by Stephen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:05pm

Prince is easily the super bowl MVP. That was 15 minutes of solid shredding.

by Steve (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:09pm

Prince did rock.

The Bears felt like they were playing a holding action - if they ever adjusted to the run by exposing their edges they were going to get destroyed deep and so they simply played it out. And it worked until the pick-6; at least they were in the game. Then again, if I need Rex to lead me back late in a Super Bowl my basic plan is pretty poor. Kudos to the Colts and to FO - both had great years...

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:15pm

I thought Prince was good and the game was also good. The rain was cool, and the Rex implosion happened right on schedule as i was telling people all week (not that this should be a surprise, but I have many Chicago friends).

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:17pm

I can understand being able to challenge for 12 men on the field. Heck, if there's anything that's not a judgement call, that's it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:17pm

Grossman has one skill — throwing the deep ball. It was rarely open, and so he did as told, checking down.

When I saw that Indy was clearly taking away the deep ball, I knew the Bears were never moving the ball - ever. From what I could see, Grossman was staring down his checkdowns. The Colts defenders probably had an extra second or so to get to the receiver, and that made all the difference.

Grossman needs a lot of work in the offseason, or the Bears are in a lot of trouble next year.

by Josh (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:17pm

Concerning MVP, if Rhodes and Addai were a single player, that player would have deserved the MVP. But since they are not, I do think Peyton Manning was the best choice.

by Mike J (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:19pm

I've never seen this posted anywhere yet, and its entirely possible I'm an idiot, but ..

Considering how many of the same defensive players the Colts have this year compared to last (when the Colts D was fairly effective), doesn't considering the Colts D in context of the last -two- years somewhat explain their rebound? They certainly played even better than that in the postseason, but when you expand the sample thus (and I think there's enough players in common to do that, Bethea being the only starter I can think of not present for both) it helps explain their regression - they played 13 or so of their 16 games far, far off of what they had already demonstrated themselves capable of.

Am I an idiot?

by David (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:28pm

I tried to vote Jeff Saturday for MVP, and the Super Bowl site didn't let me. Lame.

Also, my final-score prediction was Colts 27, Bears 16. Go me, I guess.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:28pm

The new message board never sent my activate email. :(


Yay working from home when you're hung over.

Time to actually read the article. wooooooooooooooo

by Robert Leung (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:33pm

Hey great coverage and analysis all year guys. Thank you for bringing a fresh insight to the game.

One question: Why does Dungy not take the roughing the kicker penalty and 4 downs to score a touchdown from inside the 5? And why has no one, outside of a vague one line mention here, not over-analyze or at least try to explain some of the thinking behind the decision and it's possible ramifications to the game?

The TV announcers gave little explanation except to say that maybe Dungy was loathe to take points off the scoreboard. But no discussion no explanation of the options. It was an unusual occurrence and could have used a little more discussion I thought. No one has even mentioned this in any post game show or article that I've seen or read.

by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:36pm

Why does Dungy not take the roughing the kicker penalty and 4 downs to score a touchdown from inside the 5?

Because he didn't get 4 downs, it's still 4th down after the penatly.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:39pm

One quick point. Manning completely dominated the game. The Bears safeties were practically out by the concession stands, they were playing so deep, which aided the running game tremendously. One may think constantly making the right choice by throwing underneath, and efficiently running the offense, thereby allowing the defense to stay off the field for huge expanses of time, is not a spectacular feat, against a good defense in a championship game, but one would be wrong. Whatever one may think about how MVP voters don't view things correctly in other circumstances, they were right yesterday. Manning was CLEARLY the most valuable player on the field.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:40pm

#8: Corey Simon. Considering they specifically traded to get a replacement player at that spot, I'm guessing that Simon's loss actually was a big deal. Bob Sanders also basically didn't play this year, and he did last year. I'm guessing the combination of the loss of those two was a big deal. Getting Sanders back probably moved them to 'average'. More importantly, it probably moved their pass defense to 'good', which brings out Evil Rex.

#11: Er? Without the first down, in that game, you've got to take the points. It's not like you're playing a bad defense, and 4th and ~4 or 5 to go isn't an easy down.

by David (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:47pm

11, 12: Specfically, it was running into the kicker, not roughing. That's five yards and no automatic first down.

by Yaxley (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 12:53pm

Even as a Steelers fan, I'm going to have to agree with MDS. While I certainly enjoyed the outcome of Super Bowl XL, as far as entertaining football goes, I thought Super XLI was better. I know turnovers are considered "sloppy" play, but I'd rather see that than two teams just punting back and forth to each other.

by Tim Gerheim :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:06pm

Nathan (#10):

Check your spam folder. That's where mine went.

by Nick (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:07pm

It wasn't roughing the kicker. It was running into the kicker. 5 yard penalty, still 4th down.

by Jordan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:08pm

On the MVP question, Manning deserves it. How many running backs in the NFL could you replace Addai with and expect similar performance? If Manning is replaced with another active NFL quarterback, would you expect similar offensive performance? Most Valuable Player doesn't always mean the player with the best statistics.

I did like the call to give it up on downs at the end of the game instead of kick a field goal. It takes away the Bears best chance to score (Hester) while giving it to the person most likely to cause Indy to score (Grossman). Did anybody expect Grossman could drive the bears 80 yards downfield for the score?

by cd6 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:10pm

"The results of the 2006 Football Outsiders awards will be up in the next week or so"

Did I miss the voting for this? Where was it?

Rex Grossman deserved my vote for KCW player of the year and I didn't get to give it to him :(

by PackMan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:11pm

I think Manning got the MVP by default over one of the backs because they both played well, and kind of took away from eachother. If they had one primary back (Edge) and Rhodes played much less than he did, I think he gets the nod, but they seemed to split the duty pretty much in half. If Addai got the TD and another 30 yds rushing or so, I say he gets it, and Rhodes isn't the starter. Has a backup ever won the SBMVP?

by admin :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:13pm

re: 20. If you get all the FO stuff through an RSS feed, you miss a lot of things we advertise on the site with graphics, like the awards and contests. There's a reason we want you to come here: advertising pays the bills.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:15pm

I give up. Rex Grossman is clearly the worst QB ever and should be cut immediately. Hell, I should find his house and personally beat him up for playing the sport of football. Clearly, he is so bad that his progeny will be spawns of satan and should be destroyed immediately. In fact the fate of the workd depends on Schwarzenegger and Ditka foiling an insane plot and taking Grossman out.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:16pm

I'd like to note that I have the same problem as #10, but that you're not alone with sloppy computer work, because the NFL London 2007 page won't send me one either.

I'm another Steelers fan who thought that XLI was superior entertainment to XL.

The only other thing I'd like to say may make some of you hate me. Here in the UK (at least on terrestrial, I don't know what the Sky feed was), we got an NFL Network feed, with Spero Dedes and Sterling Sharpe instead of Nantz and Simms. Based on my impressions and your complaints, I got the better of that trade. (On the Harrison overturn, Sharpe called it in, looked at the replay and called it a brilliant catch, then said he'd jump out of his press box if it was overturned.). In general Sharpe was pretty insightful, despite overuse of "this is who the [Colts/Bears] are". (Yes, he did say "the Colts know who the Bears are" at least twice and yes, I did think "so do the Cardinals" each time.)

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:18pm

I didn't think this was a terribly exciting superbowl. It was one half of sloppy but exciting play and one half where one team collapsed and the other team drove them into the ground. Not much suspense or excitement. Overall it was better than last year, though.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:26pm

I'll give the MVP to the rain. It affected the game far more than any single player, and that's a shame. The rain completely ruined the game for me. It did make the halftime show extra cool (that was by far the highlight of the event -- Prince absolutely rocked!), but otherwise, it was a disaster.

I have a hypothesis that bad weather is a major randomizing force in football. That is, bad weather makes any game much more of a toss-up, and the better team becomes much less likely to win. Why? It makes fumbles, slipping, dropped balls, failed tackles, and other "unforced errors" much more likely. Which team is lucky enough to benefit from those miscues is largely random. Also, of course, bad weather leads to sloppier and lower quality play, so it is less fun to watch. I don't think you can learn much from a game played in poor conditions. I thought the Colts were better going in, but I don't think they demonstrated it in this game, simply because I don't think any team can effectively demonstrate almost anything of importance in conditions that poor. To me, games played in conditions like this amount to bad data or failed experiments that deserve to be thrown out and ignored.

So count me as one of the small minority, according the the current ESPN SportsNation poll, that says that the Super Bowl should be played in a dome every year. Games as important as the Super Bowl should not be allowed to be ruined by the elements.

I'd love to see the Outsiders test my "bad weather makes outcomes more random" hypothesis. I certainly recognize that I could be completely wrong, and, given the proliferation of outdoor stadiums, I hope I am. If there are any articles along these lines available on this or any other site, please let me know.

by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:32pm

Firstly, congratulations Indy fans. The way that defense regrouped for the playoffs was astounding. I guess Bob Sanders just has some serious mojo.

Now, onto non SB XLI points:
And I think Donovan will get his one day.

Aaron, I hope you're right, but to hear my SE PA area compadres, it won't happen in Philly. I had to listen to an entire roomfull of people explaining how the Eagles would be crazy to start McNabb over Garcia. They seemed offended when I brought up McNabb's MVP-caliber half-season statistics. And when I asked them who should be the #2 quarterback in the NFC (assuming Brees as #1), someone suggested Michael Vick! With a straight face! And tried to defend it! AAACK!

I don't know what it is about Philadelphia, but that town just hates its stars. Mike Schmidt, Eric Lindross, Allen Iverson, McNabb, etc. Definitely not a good place for the alpha dog.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:38pm

Re 37:
To be fair, Lindros is pretty easy to hate. AI too, for white suburbanites.

by Darrell Jackson\'s push off (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:40pm

And as yet another Steelers fan, I'd like to say that in the wake of Tony Dungy making history and Peyton Manning finally getting his ring, it's just wonderful to see people still have the breath to waste on bitching about the referees in last year's game and comparing Roethlisberger's performance in a win to Rex Grossman's and Tony Eason's losing efforts.

You guys basically ruined the Super Bowl for me last year with your unjustified whining, and it's just fantastic to know that I'll get to hear it for the rest of my life.

Thanks for all the memories.

by Tampa Bay Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:41pm

So, was that Evil Rex, Neutral Rex, or Neutral Evil Rex? I thought that the Bears would win if they could at least get Neutral Rex to show up and from watching the game it looks like that would have been the case.
On a separate note, I wonder if Dungy will retire now given his past statements and the tragic passing of his son last season.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:42pm

It's amazing what good officiating does for the game. After horrible officiating last postseason and practically all this season, the officiating this postseason was fantastic. I can actually only think of two bad calls that come to mind easily over all the playoffs, and both of them are probably just me being a Pats homer. Bravo to the refs this postseason. Thank you for enjoyable playoffs.

by Mikey Benny (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:42pm

Re: 11, As mentioned, it was running into the kicker, not roughing... running into the kicker is not an automatic first down. It would have been about 4th & 2 had they accepted the penalty. They probably made the right call.

by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:42pm


Nice accidental future quote there. They're still funny when it's an accident.

by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:43pm

Will Allen - I reiterate what I said in the text. What if the final result were reversed, and the Colts had solely focused their D on stopping the run. Under that scenario, Rex throws for 300 yards, Berrian has 125 yards and a TD, and Mushin has 90 yards, yet Thomas Jones pulled off 80 yards and 1 TD despite the heavy run D, would you have said he was MVP over either the QB or the WRs? I doubt it.

Don't get me wrong. I think Peyton played well enough to win. I just think there were others who deserved the award more. However, after the fiasco of giving it to Dexter Jackson, voters are wary of who they give it to.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:49pm


Funny, the consensus among the people at the SB party I was at was the the SB should rotate between Lambeau, Ralph Wilson, and Gillette every year. :-) We all enjoyed seeing the game played in the rain and watching how the players and coaches were forced to adjust. That was one of the crazier things about the game--Chicago, a team that plays in an open stadium in bad weather, adjusted poorly while Indy make perfect adjustments. I think the rain enhanced Indy's game, and hurt Chicago.

I get annoyed that weather is such an important part of the game through the regular season, and even through the playoffs, but then the SB (until recently) is always held in a warm weather venue or a dome, which gives a huge advantage to Dome teams that make it there.

Maybe the difference between us is that I follow a team that regularly plays outdoors in bad conditions, so I consider playing in weather to be an essential part of the game. If your're a fan of a dome team or live in San Diego or something, then I guess you might not consider weather to be an inherent part of the game...

by coltrane23 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:49pm

Ditto to what Will Allen said . . .

Peyton may have been unspectacular stats-wise, but it was his playcalling and execution that kept the Bears D on the field much, MUCH longer than can reasonably be expected of a defense. Addai caught 10 passes because the D had backed off enough (i.e., respect for Manning) to allow Addai to be open quite often, and Peyton kept finding him. Same for Rhodes--he found running lanes because the back 7 were playing off the ball to stop the pass. And yet, even though the defense was playing the pass, Manning repeatedly found the open guy, or gashed the Bears with a well-timed run call.

And then Rex giving it right back a couple of times just added to the defense's torment.

I wouldn't call it a butt-whipping, because until the pick-6 the Bears seemed to be one big play away, but the Colts offense went down the field moved like a glacier--methodical, but ultimately unstoppable.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:50pm

I'd say evil or neutral evil. QBs can't be true neutral - they can't develop enough loyalty in their party if they are.

CA, I was thinking the same thing. How can we let the game be played some place like Miami, where the weather can be terrible? :D Hey, I'm not going to the game, so I'd rather see the Super Bowl in a city with hostile outdoor weather and an indoor stadium. (But not here.)

I don't see why Gould couldn't have missed an extra point as well. One of my squares was 3 and 6.

I thought it was interesting that Dungy didn't take the half-the-distance penalty. Yeah, it's taking points off the board, and the Bears could well have stopped them, but in that weather, with the Colts defense playing well and the return team doing a good job, I'd have been happy to give Peyton and company another crack at the end zone, knowing that in all likelihood, if they didn't score, then Evil Rex would have had the ball inside his own 5. (Note that both before and after the penalty, Peyton did not get to keep the offense on the field. I suspect there are situations where Moore and/or Dungy leave it up to him to decide, but I don't think he gets the final say on a regular basis.)

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:51pm

Bill, you're forgetting...even if the Colts had solely focused their D on stoppin gthe run, under that scenario, Rex still fumbles a snap or two and throws some picks.

Who won the MVP last year? It certainly wasn't Roethlisperger, was it?

by Sully (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:52pm

I love it--lol. But, living in Indy certainly taints my perceptions.

For the past several seasons Peyton and the Colts screw up the stats.

For several years people question the intestinal fortitude of a quarterback and a coach.

Hopefully the questions now become "just how great are Dungy and Manning"?

Greatness seems to sometimes elude stats and talking heads.

I do have to say thanks to Football Outsiders. You guys make the season so much more enjoyable. It is a site for the thinking and the blindly loyal fans both. Great job guys!

Now how to avoid the overexposure at FOXSports.

by MJCM (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:52pm

Bob Sanders for MVP?

He forced a fumble and picked Grossman. That would have been my pick.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:52pm

Last year's MVP was Ward, (more or less by default) and under the circumstances given Berrian wouldn't be a bad choice.

Of course, if they'd used this year's method in XL and just given it to the best QB, then it would have been Randle El.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:52pm

Manning did more for his team than other Super Bowl MVP QBs, including Len Dawson, Roger Staubauch, Joe Montana (in 16), and Tom Brady (in 36).

I would have split the MVP for Rhodes-Addai, but if one person is to get it, then Manning is deserving.

13: When Phil Simms said the safeties were 25 yards back, I said, "I have to see that." Then they showed the starting spot where they were nearly 20 yards back, and Simms said they dropped back further after that. It opened up everything.

The thing I hate most about TV coverage of football games is that you don't get to watch the pass coverage--seeing a game live is a better experience almost exclusively because you get to watch what goes on down field.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 1:59pm

I'd like to know why people don't consider this the best Colts team? Is that because James left? You're telling me their defense isn't more talented than in the past?

I think this year the Colts learned that it's not about points and more about controlling the games... I'd like to know what Time of Possession was for their games and if the offensive philosophy significantly changed.

by DaveO (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:01pm

Regarding the officiating, another positive I saw last night was that the replay challenges were handled quickly and decisively. Kudos to the crew for having the stones to take a stand in the spotlight. Overall, a great job by the refs.

Although I have to say, I did throw my hat at the TV when Harrison was first ruled out of bounds - not because of the call itself (clearly could have gone either way), but because the original (correct) call was waved off, without even a conference, by an official with a clearly worse vantage point. That stuff drives me nuts...

by DaveO (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:06pm

I would have split the MVP for Rhodes-Addai...

This was my first inclination, as well - but then, when I saw the presentation, I figured that Cadillac probably wouldn't allow co-MVPs. So I guess Addai and Rhodes split the vote, and Peyton was the logical choice after that (excepting Train Rex, of course).

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:08pm

Two things that have happened that I doubt will ever happen again:

1. A player from the losing team winning Super Bowl MVP (Chuck Howley in 5)
2. Two players sharing Super Bowl MVP (Randy White and Harvey Martin in 12).

by DaveO (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:10pm

Re: 43

I think that personnel-wise, you could argue that the loss of Simon and the significant downgrade at MLB makes the D appreciably worse. Plus, in terms of actual performance, especially early in the season they seemed to struggle against teams that they should have been able to easily handle (not to mention the late-season swoon against the likes of Houston).

by admin :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:13pm

For those interested, DVOA ratings for the game:

Indianapolis 38% (36% OFF, -22% DEF, -19% ST)

Chicago -7% (-33% OFF, -17% DEF, 9% ST)

The Colts had good punting and punt returns, which somewhat blunted the negative of the rest of their special teams.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:15pm

Saturday was clearly my MVP. Amazing performance.

I am glad to see that Will agrees with me about Sanders. I'm going to blame this all on NCAA and Deion Sanders. There are far too many players in the secondary that compensate for bad fundamentals by taking risky/dangerous shots and suceeding/whiffing/getting ridiculously injured. Sanders is in his second(?) year, and he's already nearly toast.

I feel sorry for the Bears, especially their D. I don't like the playcalling, but I think they needed some sort of offence to have a shot, and they got nothing. I wonder if PIT can poach Lance Briggs....

That said, party at my house to celebrate victory over my arch-enemy, Rex Grossman!

by DaveO (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:16pm

Re: 43 (continued)

... also, losing Doss for the year put a palpable hurt on return coverage, as did the decision to start Mathis and take him off of ST as well...

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:21pm

Re challenging players on the field
Bill Parcells did it against the Titans during a primetime game (MNF, I think) in the 2004 preseason after the Cowboys were flagged for too many men on a 4th down. He was right that the Cowboys didn't have 12 players on the field--they had 13. Still ruled a lost challenge, shockingly enough.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:22pm

I’d like to know what Time of Possession was for their games and if the offensive philosophy significantly changed.

I hate time of possession as a statistic. I really do. The reason the Colts dominated time of possession had nothing to do with an offensive strategy.

It had everything to do with the fact that the Bears converted 3 of 10 3rd downs, and fumbled away three other possessions before they could even get started.

by DWL (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:26pm


by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:27pm

I said this several times on the message board, but that game should be shown to every referee working in the NFL as an example of how to effectively officiate.

I would've given the MVP to either Manning or Sanders.

How about Tillman? If D. Manning doesn't make a rookie mistake, Wayne catches one pass for 8 yards.

by Mike J (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:29pm


Chaotic Neutral Rex, my friend

by TracingError (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:31pm

Isn't Peyton going to lead the team in DPAR? Doesn't that make him MVP? They were 8/18 on third down, and Peyton was 9/13 with 5 first downs, a long touchdown, and a pick that wasn't much worse than the average punt (and kept it out of Hester's hands). That's all above average performance against, to remind folks, the league's #2 pass defense according to DVOA.

The Bears decided they wouldn't give up the deep ball, and Manning got one anyway with a defender's hand on him--that was one of the best plays of the game. The rest of the game he did exactly what the cover-2 defies you to do--work methodically down the field and don't make a mistake. Manning is MVP in a walk, and Sanders is the only other player even worth debating.

by Gabrosin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:31pm

Bad QB performances in the Super Bowl? And you come up with Tony Eason, but NOT Kerry Collins? Wow, memory fades fast...

I'd have to rank them, worst to best, as Eason, Collins, Roethlisberger, Grossman... Earl Morrall probably deserves a spot on the list too.

by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:32pm

I don't think it counted as Evil Rex, and as a Bears fan that is scary. On the first one it really looked awful, but on the replay while it wasn't the brightest idea Moose would have had a shot... if Rex had thrown it 10 or more yards down field. He got rushed though and didn't step into it and it was a wounded duck toss. On the second one, I have to think the wet ball had something to do with it, Berrian was open and Rex can usually throw that ball, but it was way short this time.

Odd that the Bears never changed their defensive game plan, but given they were within one score headed to the 4th quarter, I can understand why they left it the way it was. Sucks for the D to be on the field that much, but holding them to FGs every time was clearly working for them.

by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:34pm

re 51: The Colts made that challenge at least once before in the last few years, and won it, I think. I can't remember the exact game though...

I'm trying to figure out how there wasn't a camera angle of the Bears sideline for the Superbowl though... The weather precluded blimp shots, which would have been the best angle to review that play.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:35pm

#53: It's pretty easy to dominate time of possession when the opposing team constantly gives the ball back to you.

Indy's offensive drives averaged 2 minutes, 43 seconds. That's not a "clock controlling" offense. That's normal.

For reference, in 2004's playoff vs Indy, New England's drives averaged 3 minutes, 46 seconds. That's a "clock controlling" offense. (And that includes a 4 second kneel drive).

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:35pm

56: Not really, DPAR is naturally slated to give QBs higher ratings than backs or receivers, and nobody else even gets any value at all that way. If we base the MVP on DPAR, then it will always go to the best QB.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:36pm

57: Neil O'Donnell would like a word with you.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:37pm

Bill, in the scenario you put forth, Grossman throws for approximately three times as many yards Thomas Jones rushes for. Yesterday, the Colts did not rush for approximately three times as many yards as Manning threw for.

Putting forth someone besides Manning as MVP reminds me of some years in which Shaquille O'Neal did not win the season's MVP in the NBA, despite the fact that there wasn't a player who came even close to O'Neal in terms of value added to the chances of winning a game.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:37pm

55: So he's confused?

by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:40pm

I apologize for not getting in my comments earlier but I'd just like to add my glee that, joining the pantheon of KNEEL TO WIN, we now have POINT TO RECOVER.

by Mike J (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:44pm

Very, very confused.

I made this whole thoughtful post about sample sizes and no one even acknowledged it, am I that stupid? :(

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:53pm

First, congrats to the Colts, the organization, and their fans. Excellent game.

Second, as a person who wished good things for the Bears I am dumbfounded as to what the Chicago coaching staff was thinking with that game plan. With a somewhat soggy track (though the field played great) the Bears should have taken more risks. For heaven's sake everyone predicted the Colts would blow them out of the stadium. What's the difference between a death by 1000 cuts or getting your neck sliced open? You are still dead, correct? One could see the defensive plan was driving Urlacher nuts. Did he say anything after the game?

Offensively, the play that will stick with me was the third quarter after the Bears FINALLY got the ball back, get a first down, and on 2nd and 1 call a pass. What was Turner thinking? It was a free play to hand it to Jones. Good grief.

And as for offensive line play what about the Bears offensive line looking so slow? Chicago has seen McFarland before with his days with Tampa. Yet he repeatedly got the big push. That spin move on Garza was VERY impressive. What got into Booger??

Very disappointed in Chicago. They had a LOT of things go right for them last night between the weather and the turnovers and they gacked it away. One part gameplanning, one part Rex, and umpteen parts the Colts being better.

Again, congrats to Indy.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:53pm

#66: Er? I did. And someone else did, as well.

Indy's defense last year and this year were fairly different. Corey Simon, Sanders (4 games this year to 14 last year) and David Thornton, off the top of my head.

Also important to remember that none of Kansas City, Baltimore, New England, or Chicago are actually very good running teams. Biggest change was probably Sanders coming back and making the pass defense above average.

by eblack (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:54pm

I'm thoroughly convinced that if Seattle or the Saints made it to the Super Bowl that the Colts would have still won, they are the better team of those four. But does anyone else out there feel that Seattle or the Saints would have played a better game than the Bears. It's wierd saying that, but it's how I feel after that many turnovers and missed opportunities by the Bears.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:55pm

I can't find the message in my spam folder. So can it be resent (if the other board is going to be used for anything)

I really don't have any thoughts not voiced. There are very few times I end up agreeing with almost everyone. Even other football websites are on target about the game.

And Prince rocked.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 2:55pm

Pat, you make a good point about the Bears' futility on offense, but the Bears' offense had nothing to do with the first or second most important drive of the game, the opening drive of the 2nd half, which consumed 50% of the third quarter. I have no doubt that the Colts would have tried to go down the field faster if the Bears hadn't been so cautious about not yielding the long pass, but despite it not resulting in a touchdown, it was masterful execution for a team with the lead.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:00pm

Re: Pat
Well it seemed like the Colts changed their offensive philosophy and were sustaining longer drives this post-season....

Incidentally the Bears D seemed decent on 1st and 2nd down, but collapsed on 3rd down. Their lack of pressure to Manning was big, and he was able to deal with it when it happened.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:05pm

#71: Except Indy was only up 1 score, and since it only resulted in a field goal, they still were only up one score.

Basically, it consumed half the third quarter, and put them not much farther ahead than before. Considering the Colts were clearly moving the ball better than the Bears, that drive actually wasn't that beneficial for them.

Let's put it this way: suppose Chicago gets the ball back, does an "All Thomas Jones" drive, eats the rest of the third quarter, and scores a touchdown. Now the score's 21-19, or maybe 22-19 if they go for two. And it's the fourth quarter. This isn't a positive situation for the Colts.

They weren't trying to kill the clock on that drive. That's just what was available.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:10pm

Regarding, Uhrlacher, I thought he played well, and he clearly is a great player, but there is a kernal of truth regarding his weakness at shedding blockers. No player is perfect, of course, and all linebackers have some degree of dependence on the performance of the linemen in front of him, but Uhrlacher's red zone play on the Colts' rushing touchdown drive was poor. In particular, the rushing play prior to the touchdown run was atrocious. The Colts guard comes out to meet Uhrlacher in the hole, and instead of taking him on and trying to get the hole clogged at least a little, Uhrlacher tries to run around the block like a smallish safety, making it an easy big gainer in the red zone for the Colts. Butkus and Singletary would have been embarrassed, and no, that's not the harshest criticism in the world.

by Jody (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:15pm

My wife, an admitted anti-football fan, endured the first half of the game. She noticed and was amazed at the continual flow of drivel from Phil Simms. After one of his many statements (I don't know which one) she asked, "Is this guy for real?" Another time she asked, "Do people really buy this stuff (he's selling)" And another, "How much does he get paid to do this game." So there you have it, a non-football fan, who agrees with the consensus on FO, that certain football announcers are pretty terrible.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:15pm

Oh, I agree, Pat. They weren't trying to consume the clock nearly as much as they were just taking what was available. However, the difference betwen a two point and a five point lead, when playing a team quarterbacked by Rex Grossman, is more significant than when the opposition's qb is, oh, I don't know, Peyton Manning.

by Mike J (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:17pm

I thought the problem wasnt that Urlacher shed blockers badly, it was that he seemed to frequently be 8-10 yards upfield, the way the Colts block runplays combined with the draws seemed to almost constantly have him out of place.

Similarly with the underneath stuff, the safeties were SO deep that Urlacher playing the 'middle' was really playing 8-10 yards off on most passplays, which is why Addai was so open.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:19pm

Re: Aaron's comment:

Mike, the Eagles go on that list of best franchises of the decade too. And I think Donovan will get his one day.

Hmm... I don't. Not because McNabb isn't a very good QB, but because I don't think it's probable that any given player of approximately McNabb's age will win a Super Bowl championship. Say McNabb plays eight more seasons, meaning he would retire at age 38. In order for him to have a 50/50 chance of winning a Super Bowl during at least one of those eight seasons, his team has to have a geometric average of an 8.3% chance of winning the Super Bowl each season (0.5^[1/8]=8.2996%). That's about 1 in 12, which means that, going into the typical season, McNabb's team has to have 11:1 odds to win the Super Bowl. The average team in the league has just a 1 in 32 chance of winning the Super Bowl. I don't think we can expect McNabb's team to be so much better than average over the next 8 years that he actually has a better chance than not of winning a Super Bowl. I also think there's a high probability that McNabb won't play another 8 years, either due to injury or simply the fact that most people in the NFL don't play until age 38 (keep in mind that Brett Favre is "only" 37, and he's been on the verge of retiring for years). If McNabb does play that long, his skills may well diminish significantly in the last few years of his career, which will hurt his team's chances.

Of course, this same logic could be applied to basically any veteran player. I think it is more likely than not that Peyton Manning won't win another Super Bowl, and I think that it is more likely than not that Tom Brady won't win another Super Bowl. Now if you asked me, "Do you think at least one of the two of Manning or Brady will win another Super Bowl?" well, that's a different story.

I'm not sure there is any player in the league that I would say more likely than not will win a or another Super Bowl championship. If anyone sees any problems with my reasoning or my math, please let me know.

by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:22pm

"It’s a copycat league, but you can’t copy the Colts and expect to win a Super Bowl. This is really an uncopyable blueprint. How many quarterbacks are as good as Peyton Manning?"

The Colts remind me a lot of the Bills of the early '90s. Lots of talent on the offense, a bit undersized on the defense. But they don't have to face the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys (who would have demolished them).

My take-home message: any time you see fumbles on consecutive plays twice in the same game, that's not a game that's being played terribly well. There were way too many turnovers and Rex was just hideous to watch.

The rain really helped the Colts. Sure it took a bit away from their passing game, but, geez, they could stack the box and dare Rex to beat them long all day long. Who wouldn't want a piece of that action? What would be the odds of a prop bet "Rex Grossman beats the Colts with a long passing game on a rainy day"? The Bears' receivers got open deep more than once, but Rex simply could not reach them. (OK, not as open as Reggie Wayne was, but the passes were there to be had.)

by Mike J (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:24pm

The main flaw in your logic is that all teams arent equally likely to make the SB.

I think the odds the Colts, Eagles and Pats remain playoff teams at least semi-consistantly (or that some of them do) over the next 8 years, due to their superior management and superior existing talent, is above the odds that the Lions or etc other teams become SB contenders.

Not that there isnt turnover, but its alot more likely teams like say .. Chicago, or Baltimore, who appeared out of nowhere, will equally return to mediocrity and be the teams replaced, not the consistantly good ones.

by DoubleB (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:26pm

MVP Debate:

The Colts really won the game as a team. I didn't think anybody played above their heads except for maybe Rhodes who ran hard and well. In a situation like that it usually goes to the QB. And let's not forget Manning made some great throws in the game: the TD with a guy draped on him, the time he was flushed out when he threw back across his body to Clark (1st half TD drive), and the incomplete pass when Harrison got hurt--bought just enough time to get a perfect throw off. Other than a few early moments, he played well.

Rex deserves much of the heat for his poor play, but he got no help from anybody. The Bear O-line that a number of commenters believed was better than the Colts, stunk. Flat out stunk. Protection was poor. Didn't create much running room other than the big Jones play. If your entire season is built around everybody playing well to help your QB--then everybody better step up. I believe it was more of a team loss for the Bears than a Rex loss.

Question for Colt fans. I did not watch a lot of Colt games, but it seems to me they dumped the stretch play and ran a lot more true inside zone in this game. Have they done that more than I imagined or did they really make the adjustment for Super Bowl week? In any case, great job by the Colt O-line.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:27pm

The Cowboys and 49ers, through the 1995 season, are the last of great teams of the pre salary-cap era, even though the cap was insituted earlier in the '90s. It is unlikely we will ever see such dominance over multiple years again; keep in mind that the Pats didn't blow anybody out in their Super Bowls, and won two on game ending field goals.

by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:28pm

I don't know if I've ever seen a player as obviously pissed off at the game plan as Urlacher was. I agree that the game plan had him fairly deep for most of the game, and his reactions after yet another dump off or short pass to convert a 3rd down were pretty demonstrative. The game plan just gave the Colts the passes they would have tried to throw anyways given the wet ball, and why the Bears didn't adjust is beyond me and makes me wonder if it would be the worst thing in the world to have Rivera take a job elsewhere. The talent on the D is so absurd I don't think a coordinator switch will do much. Frankly, I'd rather have Lovie running it himself.

That their defensive game plan was odd isn't unusual to Bears fans -- we all remember the moronic game plan to single cover Steve Smith last year, even when it was with a 4th or 5th corner.

by harry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:29pm

When have the Bears ever had a top-10 QB? Sid Luckman? Has any franchise ever done more with worse quarterbacking than the Bears? To think that Jim McMahon is arguably the greatest QB in Bears history is just sad.

by Diane (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:31pm

Tony Dungy to address bigots


by Boots Day (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:32pm

Super Bowl XVI, Broncos vs. Cowboys: Craig Morton is 4 for 15 for 39 yards with 4 interceptions. They yanked him for Norris Weese, for God's sake. Grossman wasn't within a mile of a performance that bad. Dr. Z has intimated that there was something very funky going on in that game, and I wish he (or someone) would elaborate on what that was.

I didn't think Rex was that bad, at least until the started forcing the ball down the field in the fourth quarter. If you had known before the game that he'd finish 20 for 28, you'd expect the Bears to win. All those fumbled snaps are getting awfully tiresome, though.

by Old Whippersnapper (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:36pm

#57 Gabrosin -- prime example of the overrating of ratings, particularly when it comes to Super Bowl QBs. Exhibit #1: Roethlisberger was the victim of Hines Ward dropping a sure TD pass, off a beautiful QB read. Ward makes that play, and things are a lot different number-wise. What else isn't reflected is that Roethlisberger made the momentum-changing play, the 35-yard bomb on third and 28. Or even the block he made on the R-El reverse pass, without which the WR is a sitting duck, and Ward never gets to make the catch that gives him the MVP. Or recognizing a defense and checking off to a keeper, to get the game-sealing first down. Yet you look at the "pure" rating and you say, what did this guy do? Roethlisberger's Steelers won, but Neil O'Donnell doesn't make the worst all-time list because his rating was higher? So was Grossman's, and again, he did almost as much to make his team lose. Roethlisberger made one awful duck toss into the end zone. Otherwise he was in on a lot of game-winning plays. Which again, you don't get from the dumb ratings system. There's a big difference between QB rating and QB performance.

by Boots Day (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:42pm

I'll defend the game plan for the Bears D: It was frustrating watching those draws and flare passes picking up first downs, but except for one botched coverage, they totally took away the big play. In the end, they held maybe the most powerful offense in the league to 22 points. I don't think you can be too upset about that.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:45pm

Re: 80

The main flaw in your logic is that all teams arent equally likely to make the SB.

I never assumed that. I do give the Eagles an above average chance to win the Super Bowl next year and perhaps even the year after that. Beyond that, who knows? You can say that they have a great organization, but organizations can change quickly or fail to adapt to changing conditions (say, a new CBA). As long as they have a healthy McNabb, they do have a very good QB (well, until he experiences the inevitable regression that comes with old age, and we don't know exactly when that will occur). That does help a lot. But the point is that the Eagles need to have significantly above average chance in almost every year for a long period of time to make the numbers work out such that more likely than not that they win a Super Bowl, and I don't think we can say that. Even regarding next year, I haven't seen the early Vegas odds for the Super Bowl XLII champion yet, but I bet they are greater than 11:1 for the Eagles.

by cd6 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:49pm

I don't even know what an RSS feed is. Doh.

re: Colts winning superbowl

I think the thing that strikes me the most isn't necessarily that the Colts have this super unbalanced offense/defense combination, and Peyton's high accuracy and the abnormally bad run defense is a strange, one time combination that won it all this year and this probably won't happen again. However, that description only fit the regular season Colts... in the playoffs the team showed generally efficient offense (even if they were stopped for FGs) and solid, at times great, defense. That formula will always do well in the playoffs.

The biggest oddity of this Colts' win isn't the offense/defense imbalance, its the fact that their team completely reinvented themselves in their bye week before the playoffs, to a level that I can't remember any other team doing.

by Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:49pm

Is anybody else disappointed that Boomer Esiason's post-game remarks didn't include something about how "Peyton Manning is no longer the Dan Marino of his generation..."?

by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:52pm

#88: Absolutely correct. And a lot of good it did them.

This is why I don't like the cover 2.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:53pm

Bill Moore -- is he the FO resident Peyton-hater? Wow, talk about cheery picking stats to the point of producing a big heaping pile of crap!

According to Moore, Manning's outstanding play on the TD with pressure on him is reduced to nothing. And the fumble by Addai which Manning put right on his numbers, is now Peyton's fault because of official stats rules.

All the many dropped passes by the Colt receivers? Moore puts the blame on Peyton. Just look at the stats.

Harrison's refusal to make a play on the INT? Or the fact that the INT came on 3-13 after 2 false start penalties and was essentially a punt (therefore no harm). Moore is too busy bashing to pay attention.

Managing the game flawlessly? Moore gives him zero credit.

Handling the rain flawlessly? Zero credit.

Running the no-huddle better than anyone in history such that the Bears couldn't rest defenders when they tired without burning precious timeouts? Moore gives him zero credit.

What a fool. Peyton Manning was the dominant force in the game on every single offensive play the Colts ran. Because the Bears made him the absolute focus of everything they did defensively. Because he was the one choosing the plays and executing them in the rain. Because his numbers alone were outstanding given the elements.

Someone should help poor Mr. Moore get a clue about football. In case he has half a clue about basketball, pass along this little hint to him. If a hoops team uses 3 players to defend the star of the other team and the star's teammates take advantage to win the game with easy baskets, the star is the MVP even if he doesn't take a single shot.

If you are capable of understanding that simple example, you may prove to be capable of beginning to appreciate why defensive coaches around the NFL go to such bizarre lengths to try to stop Manning.

Let me repeat -- Manning was the dominant force on the field every time the Colts snapped the ball. No one else in the game came anywhere close to having the same impact in helping his team. Not even half the impact.

Next time try watching the game.

by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:54pm

Nitpick: I think it was Chris Harris (#46) who blew the coverage on Reggie Wayne in the first quarter, not Danieal Manning.
And while Rex certainly played poorly, if you had heard before the game that Rex would complete 20/28 passes, Thomas Jones would have 100 yards rushing, and Hester would have a kickoff return for a touchdown, you probabably would have thought the Bears would have won by at least 7 points.
No one player or unit is at fault. I think the Bears can blame (1) Rex, moreso for being unable to move the ball, the killer turnovers came at a point where I no longer had any hope for a victory, (2) Ron Turner, who didn't take shots downfield until too late and also call less than five play fakes, (3) the defensive line, who got no pressure on Manning and didn't do much to slow down the running game, (4) the offensive line, which couldn't keep Indy out of Rex's face, (5) Ron Rivera, for never tightening the zone coverage, even after the Colts proved that the short passing game could easily move down the field.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 3:55pm

79 - the link between those two teams (mid-2000s Colts, early 1990s Bills), is Polian, whose sh*t appears to have finally worked in the playoffs, with apologies to mssrs. Beane and Barnwell.

by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:03pm

Will - I'm not sure I get the 3x analogy. Rather, I tried to show it in average context. If someone from Indy ran for even 2x what the QB throws for he's be a SHOE-IN for MVP.

In my scenario, Jones has an average day against the focus of the D, whereas the other "skill players" get big stats amidst the slack. Clearly, one of those guys picking up the slack would have gotten MVP over Jones - even though Jones accomplishment may have been more execptional.

In this case, Manning had an average game (especially if one takes out the gift that was the Wayne TD). Rhodes put up fare better than average numbers at 113 yards (5.4 yds/carry) with 1 TD. I don't have the stats in front of me, but eyeballing the PBP and his success rate had to be very high. Now 31 of his yards came in the final drive, but he also didn't get a carry until something like 2:46 to go the the first.

However, like the winning QB is always the best shot to be named the MVP no matter the performance, the back-up running back has very little chance. I like the Bob Sanders vote.

P.S. DaveO - Train Rex. That is excellent. I fully intend upon stealing that.

by Gabrosin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:09pm

62 - Good call, O'Donnell belongs on the list too. Probably third. Someone mentioned Craig Morton, whose name I didn't recognize, but based on the stat line, I'm guessing he's deserving of a spot too.

87 - It's not a matter of QB rating; just watch the game. Ben was awful. You can't blame Ward for dropping a TD and then not credit him for bailing Ben out on that wobbly-duck third and long conversion. Nine times out of ten, that play results in exactly what we saw yesterday when Grossman threw it sky high and up for grabs: an interception. Sorry, but having a "chuck and pray" as your most defining play (to go with the "was he in or not" TD run) doesn't mean you played a great game.

In Ben's case, he got bailed out by a combination of good Steeler defense and bad officiating. A win shouldn't excuse you from being credited with a poor performance, any more than a loss should wipe out an outstanding one (Terrell Owens a couple years ago, for example).

I'm not going to make excuses for Grossman - he played poorly, making some physical errors and some awful decisions. But it's hard for me to say that his performance in a downpour is hands-down worse than the people listed above him, who had the luxury of playing in perfect conditions and still stunk.

by DaveO (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:10pm


Next time try watching the game

Why bother? By your logic, Manning is the MVP before the first snap is even taken, by dint of being "the most dominant force on the field".

Seriously, methinks you need to reel it in some. While I don't necessarily agree w. Bill, his argument is not without merit...

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:17pm

Even regarding next year, I haven’t seen the early Vegas odds for the Super Bowl XLII champion yet, but I bet they are greater than 11:1 for the Eagles.

15:1. Not much lower.

As for "will McNabb win a Super Bowl": 8.3% is 1 in 12. That number seem familiar? Also happens to be the number of teams in the playoffs. If you're the favorite to win your division (which Philly will be for the next few years) you'll sit at around 1 in 12 odds for the Super Bowl.

by Snoop (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:18pm

86 - the rumours are that Morton was in debt, and took a dive.

by Richard Robert (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:22pm

88 / 94 - Completely agree. The Bears were spotted 7, held the #2 offense in the NFL over the last 10 years(!) to 22 points (possibly 16 w/o a brain freeze), and their offensive line simply couldn't sustain a 10-play, 4 min. drive. Rex did not help, but will of course bear a disproportionate share of the burden. It will be a long off-season as a Bears fan.

by JPS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:23pm

Re: 27. Is Philadelphia's general level of suppressed rage just several notches higher than in most other large US cities? Friends of mine who have moved there from various parts of the US have all commented to me on it.

by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:28pm

Re: 78

It would appear to me, though, that Eagles have been an above average franchise over the past 10 years. Therefore, their odds of winning the SB would be much higher than the pure mathematical odds of 1 in 32.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:29pm

Re 102:
Let that be a lesson to everyone, Cheeseteak makes you angry.

by DoubleB (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:29pm

Re: 102

Philly is the land where they boo parades. I once saw Phillie fans boo a home pitcher pitching a no-hitter in the 5th inning. It's amazing.

Re: 100

If Morton took a dive in Super Bowl XII (a terribly played game across the board by the way), he got a lot of help from his O-line. They didn't block anyone all day.

by Teddy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:33pm

This basically has nothing to do with anything, but I just wanted to toss in a quick thank you to the FO people. This is a pretty cool thing you've built here, and you should be proud.

That's all a bit schlocky, so I'd just like to close by saing that Bill Polian is a p---k.

by ashok (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:33pm

To what degree was Grossman ineffective because the Colts' front four were getting to him about a nanosecond after the snap?

I think Grossman is going to be very, very effective next year. What he needs to fix in terms of his short and medium throws shouldn't be the end of the world. And I think Chicago's line might actually act as a unit that can do more than run block.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:35pm

Bill, if Grossman throws for three times as many yards as Jones runs for, Jones has not been more exceptional.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:38pm

I think Chicago is a prime target for the Super Bowl losers curse. No, the curse was not broken, because the NFC West was putrid.

As for Chicago, likely to lose key free agents? Check. Defense should regress to the mean? Check. Coordinator possibly leaving? Check. Below average quarterback play? Check. Aging offensive line? Check.

Lots of indicators that say the Bears won't be very good next year.

by Wayne Pitcher (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:41pm

Two things:

Re: 74

Didn't Urlacher play safety in college? My understanding was that his game is based mostly on speed. His inability to shed blocks would be consistent with that, no?

Secondly, the re-evaluation of the Colts' recent success due to the Superbowl win is not unlike the re-evaluation of Phil Mickelson's career after he won his first major. After you win the big one people seem to view those runner-up (or top-10) finishes as positives instead of negatives. My beloved 49ers were only 5-5 in conference championship games during the Montana-Young era, but nobody seems to hold that against them (fortunately).

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:46pm

Re: 101

The Bears D *did not* hold the Colt's O to 22 points. They held them to 26. You can't credit the Bears D for a botched XP and a missed 32 yard FG. If you are going to not count the pick-6, you have to count the points that only bad Colts special teams kept them from getting.

That game really came down to who was worse, Colts Special Teams or the Bears Offense. And it would seem that the Bears Offense 'won' that matchup.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:46pm


You are the one who needs a logic lesson. The Bears didn't have to play the way they chose to on defense. We can't know before the game what tactics they will choose. They could have loaded up to stop the run. They could have made changes at halftime. They didn't.

If the RB runs for good yardage because the safeties never come up in run support out of fear of Manning, it is as if the QB has blocked two players on every running play.

So take Manning's pass numbers and give him credit for blocking two defenders on every running play. How can that not be the MVP?

by Mike B. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:48pm

Running the no-huddle better than anyone in history such that the Bears couldn’t rest defenders when they tired without burning precious timeouts? Moore gives him zero credit.

I'm with you until this. Peyton is great at this offense, but no better than Jim Kelly with the early '90s Bills. Of course, there's all sorts of links between the two teams...

by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:57pm

First off, this game was more entertaining than last year's Super Bowl. The first half was pretty wild, and the second half was a clinic on how to demolish a Cover 2 defense, which is always fun for me. In any event, the real Super Bowl was played two weeks ago and it was a classic.

I think that Mike hit the nail on the head- the game went exactly as everyone thought it would. I was thinking 40-21, with Chicago getting a meaningless special teams touchdown at some point during the game. Well, Chicago got their score at the best possible time, and the Colts obliged them by letting 7 points sit on the field (fumbled snap on XP, missed short field goal by AV, passing up the fourth quarter field goal). It seemed pretty obvious- if you are going to stay in a cover 2, shade the safeties to the sidelines and drop the LBs deep to take away Dallas Clark, then Manning is going to a) check the ball down to the backs over and over or b) audible to a run play. The Bears defense was begging the Colts to carve them up five yards at a time, and did anyone think that Manning wasn't going to take them up on it? And on the other side, it was every bit as predictable. The Colts continued to crash their DEs in, they gave up one long run when Thomas Jones hit the spot where the DE just left, but aside from that there was nothing inside and the Bears runners didn't have the speed to bounce outside. Meanwhile, there is no good Rex or bad Rex- there is just Rex, a quarterback who has a very limited number of throws he is comfortable making and who is happy to chuck the deep ball up regardless of the coverage. His strengths, such as they were, played directly into the Colts' basic defensive scheme.

It was utterly, utterly predictable. And that's an indictment of Lovie Smith, who showed zero imagination and zero flexibility with a championship on the line. Yes, he had the lesser team, but Rex Grossman and the Cover 2 seem like an awfully shaky pair of horses to hitch your reputation to.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 4:57pm

I think Grossman is going to be very, very effective next year. What he needs to fix in terms of his short and medium throws shouldn’t be the end of the world.

I think it would be very, very, very hard to expect significant improvement in Grossman in those areas in one year. A lot of it had to do with Grossman staring down receivers. His accuracy also isn't good enough to fit the ball in tight spaces in some of the close/medium throws.

by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:11pm

While I agree with the sentiment here...

Putting forth someone besides Manning as MVP reminds me of some years in which Shaquille O’Neal did not win the season’s MVP in the NBA, despite the fact that there wasn’t a player who came even close to O’Neal in terms of value added to the chances of winning a game.

... the specifics are a bit off. If you replace Shaq with Michael Jordan, then this actually happened. A lot. Pretty much every year Jordan played a full season for the Bulls and didn't win MVP, in fact. But there's not really a clear case of Shaq getting shafted for MVP (at least, no more than Peyton was this year in the NFL); there are a few times when he had a good case and somebody else won it, but the other guy had a really good case, too.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:11pm

Yeah, I'll be surprised if Grossman makes big strides. Yes, this is the first year in which he started a full season, but he isn't a first year player. His mechanics and his coverage reading habits should be better by now. He likely doesn't have the inherent abilities, physically or in work-habits.

If the Packers get a good tight end, and have decent luck with injuries, they'll likely give the Bears a run for their money in the division next year.

by Mike J (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:12pm

If Im the Colts, dont I see if Freeney comes back for a little, franchise him if not, let Cato June walk and say 'Heyyyyyy, Lance Briggs, being in Chicago was neat, but we have the same scheme, your coach squared, and we just pasted your ass, and if you played here you'd be our star defender, wanna work something out'?

I wonder if they have the cap space for that, and I bet its worth a stab just to see if people will play for 'super nice' Dungy cheaper the way they will for 'genius' Belichick.

If I were the Colts, those're probably my 2nd and 3rd offseason matters of business.


"Dear Special Teams Coach: YOU'RE FIRED, DON'T COME BACK. EVER."

by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:14pm

Does nobody else see my logic in voting for Devin Hester for MVP? He touches the ball once and gets a TD. The entire Indy kicking game was forcused on keeping it away from him.

Using "value" as you would when buying a car (for example: The Mercedes is a great car, but dollar for dollar, the Camry is a better value), Hester is the most valuable. If he was QB, the Bears would have run up like 150 points. Okay, maybe I need to sit back and reevaluate things a bit.

I also never got the email that allowed me to link but will check my junk mail folder now....

Stan, simple question: Are you happy? I'm not really ecstatic and can't figure out why. Probably because I was not worried at all about the outcome. If there was a big comeback the anxiety might have pumped up the adrenaline more. 35 years of waiting and for what? To hear Irsay splutter through a speech? The best part was when he started to cry--it started a chain reaction for me (I know many FOers are now vomiting on their keyboards, heartless bastards that they are). I had to explain to my 6 year-old that he was so happy, but he didn't quite get it.

All I can say is, with their new-found D and some healthy returnees, they better be 19-0 next year or I'll be mightily disappointed.

Yes, I am kidding. A little.

by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:18pm

109: Coordinator possibly leaving? Check.
That should go in the "Likely to Break Super Bowl Loser's Curse" column. The Bears defense is so good because they have such good players. Rivera's inability/unwillingness to ever make defensive adjustments based on opponent has held them back, in my opinion.
Hopefully, Jerry Jones didn't watch the Super Bowl and will gleefully sweep Rivera away.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:20pm

This is two straight years that a coach who "can't win the big one!" won the big one. I have long argued that the primary goal of every team should not be winning the SB but making the playoffs - once you get in, it's a 12-team tournament crapshoot where anything can happen, but to have a chance to win it you have to make it in. I'm very happy for Cowher and Dungy, two class guys who've gotten their teams in almost every year, and things finally went right for them. My preferred SB matchup next year is Browns vs. anyone, but failing that, I'm pulling strongly for Chargers/Eagles, so we can have another consistent winner shed a label.

On MVP - I definitely thought it was Manning or Sanders. Manning was tremendous in his reads and adjustments, and the Bears couldn't do a whole lot about it. Their defense is essentially based on preventing the big play, make them drive the field four yards at a time, and more often than not they'll make a mistake somewhere along the way. Well, what happens when you run into a QB who just is that good, that he can go 4-6 yards at a time without making any big mistakes? As much as we laugh at names like Captain Checkdown, that's exactly what Manning was yesterday, and the Bears couldn't do a thing to stop it. To succeed like that you need to be extraordinarily good and consistent, and Manning was.

On the Colts chances next year - what kind of personnel changes can we expect? Is Simon retired, or could he come back to add some D-line depth? Doss for secondary depth? What if they get Stokely back, or find another competent 3rd WR, so they can go 3 wide with Clark and Addai? We have reason to think the offense could regress next year (that 3rd down DVOA can't continue... right?), but Manning is still very much in his prime and continues to improve, Addai should be better, another WR to pick up some of Harrison's slack - this offense could just be frightening again. And assuming the true defense is somewhere between the regular season and playoff ratings, they're not far away from being above mediocre, which might be all they need. They'll want to replace June at least, get a replacement for Sanders ready, and maybe just draft some young guys for special teams (what's the deal with that, anyway?). You have to think they'll be strong favorites to win their division again, maybe be a top 2 seed, and then we'll see.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:21pm

Dave, Jordan is a better example of the phenomena than O'Neal, but I remember the year in particular that Iverson won MVP, when the only thing he should have won was "Most Valuable Short Guy Playing in a Hugely Inferior Conference".

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:22pm

WARNING: never eat peanut butter sandwiches while reading FO. If you do, when you read a line like this:

The Colts did a much better job of pointing. As we all know, the team that points more gets the fumble recovery

...you'll blow chunks of peanut butter all over your screen.

by SOW (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:27pm

Ned: Maybe that sack game from Glenn's side and was made by Glenn's man, but Manning ran right into dude's arms trying to flee Tank Johnson's jailbreak from a really poor double team effort by Saturday and the left guard.

by David (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:27pm

Bobman: what value did Chicago get from that threat, though? They couldn't make a good return on any of the squibs, one of them still went for a touchback, and their offense couldn't capitalize on the field position Indy conceded. Hester was fantastic, sure, but the Bears got nothing from his skill after that first touchdown. The comparison that springs to mind is a fantastic quarterback who throws bullets past defenders all night, dodging sacks and never getting picked off, only to see his recievers drop three-quarters of his passes. It's not his fault, but the passing game still goes nowhere.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:28pm

Yeah, Wayne, Uhrlacher was a safety at New Mexico, so it isn't surprising that taking on offensive lineman is the one area in which he is not much better than average. I don't want to make too much of it, however; he really is a great player.

by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:31pm

Will, I'm not being argumentative here. I don't understand your logic. A bad quarterbacking day can easily involve throwing for, say, 150 yards, whereas the standard for good running backs is 100 yards. How does the fact that the quarterback had 1.5x more yards have anything to do with who had a better game?

Stan - your acuasatory comments are hardly worth a response, but for that you only prove my point. You are predisposed to giving Manning the MVP no matter what the stats say. If you've read any of the above, or anything I've written about Manning is the past, I think he is the best quarterback in the league. I hardly believe that thinking he wasn't the MVP of the game makes me a Manning-hater.

As for the NBA, the League Championship is decided among a many game series, and it would be a are case where your superstar can have a series and you win. However, in your rather outlandish example, if Tim Duncan were double and triple teamed every posession and failed to put up average points, but Tony Parker put up 33 pts per game - I absolutely expect Tony Parker wins the MVP of that series. Click my name, and you won't find a single MVP listed with the description, "was the focus on the game even though he didn't put up great numbers." You have to go back to Dennis Johnson in 1979 to find anyone who didn't score high double digits per game.

As for watching the game, I can only hope to obtain the high level of objectivity of observance that you obviously have.

by Wayne Pitcher (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:34pm

Will, I used to think Urlacher was overrated, but after a closer look at his game I see the value of his speed in the kind of defense Chicago plays. Having good speed (and cover ability) at middle linebacker is vitally important in the cover 2/Tampa 2, something I did not realize until I found this website!

by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:38pm

Some of us need to chill a little bit with the bickering. Sarcasm is fun and all, but after awhile everyone just sounds bitter.

Did I mention the Colts won the Superbowl? If not, I may be mentioning it in every single post of mine for the next year.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:41pm

Re: the jordan/shaq/pmanning mvp awards.

This has been going on forever. It started with Ted Williams, continued with Mickey Mantle, and spread like an epidemic.

Actually, it really started with Ruth and Mel Ott (who somehow never won one despite having an excellent case four or five times), but I'll give the reporters the benefit of the doubt re: not having adjusted from the deadball era mindset/combination of other factors.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:42pm

Why is everyone trashing the Cover-2? Don't the Colts also run the Cover-2?

I just don't remember Manning being patient like he was the past couple of playoff games.

I like how the media-perception completely turns around on Manning... if only they could put out balanced reporting beforehand...

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:42pm

Oh, and on the "who should've been MVP?" my vote would've gone to Saturday, who had fantastic blocks all game. Ideally it would've gone to the entire Colts offensive line, but Saturday grabbed my eyes the most.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:47pm

78: That's the logic I use when people tell me that they're sure the Vikings will win a Super Bowl in my lifetime. I say, "They've got like a 3% chance each season. There are tons of sports franchise out there that go decades without winning a title. How is it guaranteed?" Then I die a little inside again.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:49pm

Bill, the only thing that matters is who contributed to the odds of victory more. You posited a Bears victory in which Grossman throws for over 300 yards, while Thomas runs for 80. In the vast majority of such cases, Thomas is not the more exceptional player, in terms of increasing the odds of victory.

Yesterday, Manning throws for 247, while Rhodes and Addai combine for 264 in rushing and receiving, while Manning is completing the passes for their receiving yards, while calling a large number of plays at the line of scrimmage. Does this mean that Manning is nearly always the Colts' MVP? Of course, which is why a running back, to say nothing of two, has to outplay Manning by a very wide margin statistically before he becomes more valuable.

Go ask Tom Moore how many running backs he would have had confidence in prevailing with yesterday, running those plays, and how many qbs he would have similar confidence in.

by Blair (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:50pm

I heard Rex only had a bad day because he was so excited about the Lincoln's Birthday Party he is going to be attending.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:55pm

I agree, Pat, in that I thought the Colts offensive line just whipped the Bears defensive line. In particular, I was surprised to see a rookie ot have such a solid game.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 5:57pm

Blair, and here I thought it was the lingering effects of a Groundhog's Day celebration.....

by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:00pm

I'm surprised you guys are arguing on who should be the MVP based on conventional stats such as total yardage and touchdowns. Shouldn't we be using the advanced knowledge of this website in our arguments?

I'm waiting to see what the DPAR numbers are. I bet Manning's is sky high after opponent adjustments. Addai is probably a little higher than Rhodes, assuming that the fumble is credited to Manning. Addai seemed a little more consistent than Rhodes.

Sander was impressive on defense. Someone else mentioned the Colts offensive line, they were very effective against the Chicago rush except for 3 or 4 plays. I guess in these deadlocks usually result in the winning QB getting the MVP.

by Toby (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:01pm

109, I have to disagree.
As for Chicago, likely to lose key free agents? Check. Defense should regress to the mean? Check. Coordinator possibly leaving? Check. Below average quarterback play? Check. Aging offensive line? Check.

The Bears only have one significant free agent (Briggs) and they are likely to franchise him, their defense has been near the top in the league for several years, so I don't see why it should regress. Coordinator leaving? Only if the Cowboys decide to hire him, which I doubt. I'll leave the Grossman discussion aside for now, and the line is 27, 29, 32, 33, 34. So, a couple guys are getting up there, I'll give you that.

by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:02pm

Will, the argument seems to have spun to a different one. My original premise was, just because the D keys in on you hasn't historically earned you the MVP vote. We both seemingly agree that in my hypothetical example, Jones would NOT have won the MVP even though his 80 yards were tremendously harder to earn than Grossman's 300, or Berrian 125.

My posit is that Manning gets the vote due to the reputation preceeding him - not the numbers he put up. Without the Wayne TD, he threw for less than 200 yards. Frankly, if Grossman put up Manning's identical numbers and Jones put up Rhodes' numbers (with Benson playing the role of Addai) in am alternate universe Bears win, Jones would have been named MVP - not Grossman. Grossman wouldn't have gotten it because he's volatile Rex. Peyton DID get because he's Peyton Manning.

by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:05pm

Re 131: Yes, and the Colts are quite the defensive powerhouse. Wait a minute...

Well, that makes DVOA 7 for 9 in predicting Super Bowl winners. Unlike the other miss back in 2001, however, this wasn't a fluke. If you lined those two teams up and made them play ten times, Indy would win eight of them. I know that last year's Colts team just about broke DVOA with their strength of schedule, but I came away from yesterday's game wondering if DVOA still doesn't do enough to take strength of opponent into account. The Bears had all the looks of a 9-7 AFC team.

by Richard Robert (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:17pm

#111 - 22 or 26 points, regardless, the Bears only needed 19 net points to take out the #2 offense in the last 10 years, and the O-line simply could not do it.

by Dollah Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:23pm

78, 99: CA's post notes that to even have a 50% of winning a title Philly will need preseason odds of around 12-1 EVERY YEAR for the next EIGHT YEARS. And this is assuming, as he says, that McNabb stays healthy, stays at an elite level, and stays in Philadelphia for that entire stretch.
Even granting those highly dubious ifs(and you have to live here to understand how passionately and irrationally many in this town dislike Donovan) -- can we really assume that the Eagles will be divison leaders for eight straight seasons? Even an optimistic projection has got to put them at around 15-1 for the next couple years, and then regress nearer to the 32-1 baseline for years 4-8 (when Donovan will be 34-38... and a QB older than 34 hasn't one a SB since John Elway...and who before him?).
It seems clear to me that the odds are considerably less than 50-50 on Donovan winning a title. But maybe that's just the reasoning of a Redskins fan living on Philadelphia...

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:26pm

Bill you posited a situation in which Jones gains 80 yards, and Grossman passes for 300, yet Jones is truly the more exceptional player. I think that is an exceedingly unlikely situation. I also disagree with your premise that if the team's numbers had been reversed, Jones, and not Grossman, would have been MVP. My point is simply this; the player whose removal, and substitution with a replacement level player, would have most likely resulted in a win becoming a loss, is the most valuable player. I think that player is Manning, and I will continue to think that, no matter what the advanced stats say. Giving Rhodes credit for the safeties playing 25 yards deep is like giving a cornerback credit for great coverage when the corner's defensive line is producing ten sacks and fifteen hurries.

by mb (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:28pm

I already said it on the Manic Monday thread but I'll repeat myself because it looks like a lot more people are reading this one. Congrats to all Colts fans. It was a better performance by a better team.

Couple things about the game. I understand the Bears' entire philosophy is based on keeping plays in front and forcing longer plays w/more drives but Rivera's playcalling was ever more infuriating as the game went on. I also recognize the extreme difficulty of successfully blitzing Peyton, especially sans Tommie Harris soaking up blockers, but was it really necessary to keep the safeties posted safely in orbit around Earth and the LBs 150 miles off the LOS? The 4th or 5th time Peyton play-faked and checked to Addai was bad enough; by the 10th I wanted to scream. Go for broke, it's the f***ing Super Bowl. If you give up a big play or two, so be it. Vasher/Tillman were solid on the WRs all night as well. Lovie, Rivera, and Co. were pretty definitively outcoached by Dungy and Moore and their staffs. As a couple people noted the relative success of the Bears defense was in spite of and not because of the defensive game plan; the refusal to adjust was crippling. Lovie is really establishing himself as a poor in-game strategist whatever his numerous other qualities may be.

As far as the Peyton Manning MVP debate, well, he's Peyton Manning. More than, he's also the Guy who Couldn't Win the Big Game, a symbolic standin for Marino and Tarkenton and Kelly and all the other great QBs who are unfairly denigrated because they never won a SB. To paraphrase Edwin Edwards, Peyton would've been the MVP unless he was found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy during halftime.

Oh, and I was disappointed by Prince even though his show was better than most of the game. Sure, he was a zillion times better than the laundry list of geriatric rockers who the NFl usually trots out but time has taken its' toll on the Artist as well. If only the NFL could have gotten him in say, 1987. And if only Tommie Harris hadn't busted that damn hamstring. Oh well...like I said enjoy your victory Colts fans, you deserve it.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:28pm

Re 145:
You're arguing that the best player on the field should get the MVP. So Peyton should have recieved it regardless of a win, loss or 18 picks. That would mean that Hass was the MVP last year since Seneca Wallace would have been AWFUL.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:30pm


I'm guessing a problem with using DVOA to predict the SB is that there is insufficient connectivity between the two conferences to make the opponent adjustments as accurate as they should be. I.e. the NFC and the AFC don't play each other enough to truly establish how an "elite" team from one conference stacks up against an "elite" team from the other.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:32pm

141 Yeah, maybe.

135/137 LMAO. Actually, he was stoked to go to the home of this RB from Arizona for "a bitchin' party after the game. What? That dude's rooting for the Colts. Oh crap."

by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:35pm

You might be interested in this. The Colts won the Superbowl. Thought you'd like the sound of that.

by OMO (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:38pm

Hey Nathan...did you hear that the Colts won the Super Bowl? YEAAAAAAAAAAAH!!

Not going to the parade? Don't blame you...it's like -5 in SE Michigan...I got to believe that it's just as freakin cold in Indy. What the heck is going on? I guess for Pats fans this is like hell freezing over? ;)

My two cents on the SB MVP award is that without a "mindblowing" performance...it goes to the winning team's QB.

I would have like it to go to Rhodes but I can't argue with Manning, especially with the fans getting 20% of the vote...casual fans don't vote for backup RBs.

Bobman...I'm freaking on cloud nine...and that's with some leftover effects of a stomach bug that I got Friday night...first time in a while I watched the game by myself without the distractions of a party and I'm glad...because after that KR-TD and the 1st Manning pick...I was pretty much freaking out.

It was a very sloppy game in the first half...but a victory is a victory and as Aaron wrote last week..."it still feels pretty good" no matter what the circumstances.

After all...the last time an Indy Pro franchise won something signficant, it was the ABA Pacers in '73 and I was 2 years old...after watching Mike Pagel, Trev Alberts and Jeff George...for many years and having this great team get so close...it's great to have finally get over the hump.

In terms of Grossman...I'm sorry Bears fans...but I think he sucks today and he will suck tomorrow.

No, he didn't get much pass protection, but his mechanics are beyond horrible, his decision making is painful and I have the additional advantage of knowing people who played with him in HS and tried to recruit him in college and they all pretty much confirm that he's just as much of a team prick as you can get (and his Father is much, much worse).

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:40pm


If the RB runs for good yardage because the safeties never come up in run support out of fear of Manning, it is as if the QB has blocked two players on every running play.

So take Manning’s pass numbers and give him credit for blocking two defenders on every running play. How can that not be the MVP?

Except that if the safeties never come up in run support, it is NOT in fear of Manning. It is in fear of what Manning might do given the quality of his WR's, the routes they are capable of running, the protection offered him by his O-line, the schemes and plays called in by the O-coordinator, and heck, maybe even the athleticism of the RB's themselves. It's not that "Manning" has effectively blocked two players--it's that the Colts' potential to be successful in the passing game (which granted, Manning is a significant part of) has effectively blocked two players.

I'm not knocking Manning. He's certainly an exceptional QB, and I've seen games where he made Herculean efforts and went well above and beyond what you expect an ordinary QB to be capable of--buying time by moving in the pocket, throwing accurately while off balance or being chased, psyching defenders out into making mistakes, etc. He played that way in both games against the Patriots this year, which is why it was the Colts and not the Patriots facing the Bears.

But this game was not one of those games for him. He had a nice play where he hit a wide open Wayne for a TD while being tackled, but that play was more due to a broken coverage than Manning being amazing. But for the most part he played competently--making good decisions and passing crisply and effectively--without looking amazing. He certainly deserved to win. But it was more on the level of Tom Brady ca. 2001 (minus the last second comeback drives) than an amazing Peyton Manning game won by Manning carrying the team on his shoulders, which your arguments seem to imply. (And yes, I know that Brady won the MVP that year--that was questionable as well). I'm not saying Manning wasn't the MVP--I just think that arguments to the contrary hold a great deal of merit.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:41pm

The thing about DVOA and this year's Super Bowl, however, was that there was no way to statistically predict what happened to the Colts defense in the playoffs. I was a nervous wreck prior to the game yesterday, because I was rooting hard for the Colts, but had no idea of what to expect from the Colts' defense.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:45pm


All I can say is, with their new-found D and some healthy returnees, they better be 19-0 next year or I’ll be mightily disappointed.

Yes, I am kidding. A little.

Welcome to what it's like to be a Patriots fan. Most Patriots fans consider the last two years to be huge disappointments, despite consecutive division wins, multiple playoff victories, and getting closer to the Superbowl than Matt Millen and Denny Green grandchildren can ever hope to be. And a good Steelers fan friend of mine says he feels worse about this year than he would if they hadn't won last year (I know, fans of like 28 other franchises are all crying a river right now). To you and to all other Colts fans--relish this now. Maybe you'll win another one (or three) in the near future, and maybe you won't, but that doesn't change how sweet this is. And do your best to enjoy next season even if it doesn't end as perfectly--it's a lesson I've been trying to learn.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:46pm

Even granting those highly dubious ifs(and you have to live here to understand how passionately and irrationally many in this town dislike Donovan) — can we really assume that the Eagles will be divison leaders for eight straight seasons?

Assume? No, but until they show some sign of not dominating the division, it's a safe bet. They've almost totally turned over the roster since 2001, and the only bad year was 2005 due to a debilitating brain injury.

by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:47pm


Actually, Indy’s ranking along with their DVOA makes sense, but you have to realize what happens when you put all of them together. The articles basically said Indy has a great pass rush, bad linebackers, poor run defense, and one safety that can play the run well. From that, you’d expect high defensive line yards (check), very high sack rank (check), about average 10+ yards (check - the one good safety makes up for the poor linebackers).

The question then becomes “how did Indy end up with a decent DVOA?� Because when you’re forcing other teams to pass, a pass rush is critical, and the Colts have one of the best in the league.

In other words, the Colts defense is perfect when paired with that offense.

If you tried to pair up the Colts defense with an ineffective offense, though, you’d be in a lot of trouble.

That’s why the defensive line ranking - which, I would agree, is the best part of that defense - specifically states “ranking Indy’s defensive line is really hard.� What do you do when a unit is perfect for what a team asks of it, but which would be a liability on a slew of other teams?

:: Pat — 8/15/2006 @ 4:04 pm


Pat, are you sure about that?
Think about it, when you are forcing the other team to pass quite often you are playing a prevent defense or an 8 man zone or something, and a pass rush isn’t critical.
The Colts defense seems well set up to win in the reguar season but once the playoffs come around
1. Teams have better o-lines, somewhat mitigating the pass rush
2. They have better offenses that are able to score early.
I don’t know what the perfect d for the Colts would be, but one would want perhaps a little more flexability, doncha think?

:: thad — 8/15/2006 @ 5:29 pm

Here is me and Pat debating in August.
Pat totally nailed it.

by johnt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:47pm

151: I agree to some extent, but I think you greatly understate what Manning brings to that offense. He is essentially the only QB in the entire league that defensive coordinators are actually AFRAID to blitz. It's not just because he's got good WRs, because the entire point of the blitz is to make him throw before the routes are ready. It's because he's so good at reading defenses and has such a quick release that he effectively nullifies the blitz most of the time (his QB rating on blitzes is absurdly high). I don't think there is any other QB in the league that, if put on the Colts, DCs would refuse to blitz like they do Manning. Maybe Brees is the closest, but he doesn't have Manning's size, which gives him a big advantage in shrugging off contact and seeing over people.

by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:48pm

146: I didn't get the impression that 145 was arguing that the best player "should" get the MVP, but rather the impression that it was pretty much pre-ordained that, unless he had a truly awful day, Manning would win the MVP if the Colts won, which they did.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:49pm

Re: #102 and the Philly discussions. I grew up and still live in the Philly suburbs. The lack of a championship team in over 20 years in such a passionate sports town does strange things to people. That being said, if you turn off Talk Radio and talk to fans, McNabb is not hated. I think some fans find him somewhat distant and fake and perhaps overrated to some degree. Garcia doing so well in relief backed up the feelings of many that McNabb is not the MVP-caliber player he gets paid to be. Superstars are not hated here. Dr. J., Barkley and AI were beloved, excepting a few people who didn't like them. True for most of the 1993 Phillies team, especially Dykstra, Kruk and Daulton. Brian Dawkins is beloved, as is Trotter and other guys on the team. Schmidt was a strange, prickly guy who got booed unfairly, I'll agree with that. Cunningham was beloved until he just stopped trying, about two years before going to the Vikings. Part of the problem is the whole "Rocky" mentality that the city over-imbraces, where we root for less-then-talented scrappers of guys with lots of talent.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:50pm

And do your best to enjoy next season even if it doesn’t end as perfectly–it’s a lesson I’ve been trying to learn.

What took me a while to realize is this: the thing that I enjoy most about being a fan is watching the games. Therefore, the best thing that a team can do for me is to play as many games as possible.

Therefore, any time Philly gets into the playoffs, that's a successful season in my book, because I get to watch them more.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:51pm

#132 Hmmm...I wonder who Easterbrook will say should have won the MVP?

#152 DVOA also cannot adjust for injuries. This is a different game with a healthy Tommie Harris.

One other thing: it's obvious that the worst strategy for 2007 championship games is to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. (Another instance where Dungy outcoached Lovie Smith.)

by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 6:53pm

I have seen people complain about the Cheifs playcalling
the Ravens playcalling
the Patriots playcalling
and now the Bears playcalling
At some point, maybe its not the playcalling.

by Richard Robert (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:04pm

#141 - "The Bears had all the looks of a 9-7 AFC team"

They were who DVOA thought they were: A top three team prior to the loss of two pro-bowlers; Simply a top 10 team after the loss. Hard to pin an "AFC" record to a team with major personnel losses and an volatile QB.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:05pm

156: I know this is true, but I've never understood it. If you don't blitz Manning, he'll find the hole in your zone or the open receiver every time. Yes, if you blitz and don't get him, you'll pay, but if you pressure him, he can be sacked or forced into a mistake.

by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:05pm

Finally, Will, and then I'm ok agreeing to disagree, "My point is simply this; the player whose removal, and substitution with a replacement level player, would have most likely resulted in a win becoming a loss, is the most valuable player."

Do you really think that's how the vote takes place? There are many players on an NFL team whose replacement by a replacement-level player would result in a loss.

Deion Branch, Otis Anderson, Dexter Jackson? Were they the only indispensible players on the field those respective days?

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:07pm

#155: Plus note that that sort of thing (great pass rush, one good safety) is very, very fragile. Lose the good safety and it all goes kaboom.

I think the Colts got pretty fortunate this year in their postseason opponents. While everyone thinks that KC was a "horrible" matchup problem for them, KC did not run well this year. Neither did Baltimore, nor New England, nor Chicago.

I kinda think if the Colts had faced San Diego, and New England had faced Baltimore, neither NE nor Indy would've made it to the conference championships. Not meant to be insulting to Indy. Just an opinion.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:13pm

161 - most of the difference is that people are complaining about the Bears' defensive playcalling, whilst all the others it was the offensive playcalling.

We're all quite prepared to believe that the Indy D is better than the Chicago O with the best playcalling in the world.

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:17pm

Nothing particularly interesting to say here, just another Bear fan congratulating the Colts & their fans on a well-deserved title. And I'll also express the highly unoriginal sentiment that I'm very happy for Dungy, whose only flaw as a human appears to be that he name-checks the Lord way too much.

Oh, and this is going to be painful: Will Allen and Fnor were right, and I and the rest of the kool-aid-addled Bear fans were wrong. Grossman is awful.

by tim (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:21pm

Manning did fuel the running game, in my view. There were two plays where Urlacher came in to spy the delayed HB release. The first Manning hit Harrison on a cross over the zone where Brian would have been with Briggs trailing the play. The second had the Dline crash strongside, and in response Manning booted out right and hit Clark on an improvised comeback route across his body. Both of these were great ( and heartshattering) throws, and i feel they instigated the Bears conservative D play thereafter. So I'm fine with his MVP status.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:26pm

Bill, I said in one of my first posts that I don't have much to say regarding how the voters think . I was mostly just commenting as to who actually was the most valuable player yesterday, and in my opinion, Manning was.

by Chip (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:36pm

# 167 - "Oh, and this is going to be painful: Will Allen and Fnor were right, and I and the rest of the kool-aid-addled Bear fans were wrong. Grossman is awful. "

Agreed. Although I take certain satisfaction that Will Allen's Vikings will not be competitive next year. An offense powered by a T. Jackson and a non-existent receiving corp? A Defense anchored by an overweight and over the hill d-lineman? Not what I want to hang my emotional hat on.

by Devin Hester (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:38pm

I'd like to add that I'm really really good at kick/punt returns.

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:44pm

#170 - Pat Williams is not over the hill. That run D is still going to be fearsome next year.

by Ted Ginn Jr (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:45pm

Me too!

by mb (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:52pm

mactbone (and anyone else who misunderstood the Edwin Edwards reference): Whether or not Peyton deserved the MVP based on his actual performance is open to debate. My point was that short of throwing 3 or more picks and being generally awful he was going to win it in the event of a Colts victory. Voters weren't just choosing him, they were choosing a symbol as well, and by extension all the Marinos and Tarkentons. So playing well, if not great, was enough.

Concerning the Super Bowl Loser's Curse I think the Bears are primed for a letdown next year but not a huge one in terms of performance. If they do franchise Briggs, which I expect, the biggest potential FA loss is Mike Brown. The aging O line is a huge concern that needs to be addressed via the draft. I don't expect much, if any, improvement from the offense but the defense will probably still be strong despite some regression to the mean (I'm thinking maybe 10th-12th in DVOA instead of top 5). The letdown will mostly be fueled by a much tougher schedule. I guess it's conceivable that the Packers could challenge them for the division if Farve has a few heaves left in his creaky old bones and they get a competent TE.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:52pm

Nope, the Vikings will likely be fighting it out with the Motown Millens for third place, but it won't be because people are suddenly able to run the ball on them.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:53pm

I kinda think if the Colts had faced San Diego, and New England had faced Baltimore, neither NE nor Indy would’ve made it to the conference championships. Not meant to be insulting to Indy. Just an opinion.

I half agree. Not to disrespect Indy, but I still think the Chargers were the best team in the league this year and would have shredded Indy. They should have shredded New England, but the Patriots pulled that one out with spit, duct tape, and bailing wire.

But I disagree with the other half. New England was far better suited to match up against Baltimore than San Diego (which is why Belichick played the Pats so hard against Tennessee). I think if you reverse the seedings, NE beats Baltimore 6 or 7 times out of 10, while San Diego beats Indy more often than not. Of course, then if NE travels to San Diego with one more week of injuries and exhaustion, I think the Chargers probably beat them, even with all the lucky/unlucky breaks, and it's Marty who gets a shot at the SB.

On the other hand, if Indy pulls it out against SD, and Baltimore beats NE, then Indy still handles Baltimore easily as they did, and the outcome isn't very different. But if NE DOES beat Baltimore, and Indy manages to top SD, then Indy has to travel to Gillette instead of hosting the Pats in Indy, after playing a tougher opponent and flying all over the country, and maybe the AFC Championship game turns out differently.

Ahhh...the "what if's" that console the fans of 31 teams (well, at least 11 teams) every year!

by desmond howard (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:53pm

whatever. call me when you win a Super Bowl MVP, Hester.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 7:57pm

Here's a crazy idea... The Bears big defensive weakness was against #1 WR's, right? And their big potential FA loss is a young, athletic LB.

The Patriots big defensive weakness is aging, slow LB's. Their big potential FA loss is a young, shut-down CB.

What if they both franchise Briggs and Samuel, and then swap them in trade, a la Bailey-Portis.

Yes, I know, it won't happen, but it would certainly be a fun story...

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:07pm

I think if Devin Hester never played another down of football, he'd be the best return man of all time.

Nobody has ever returned more than 4 touchdowns in a season. That Superbowl touchdown was Hester's 7th. He's half way to the all time career return touchdown record. And he's 24.

by mb (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:09pm

MJK: Yeah, it's a fun what-if, but even if it could happen the Bears #1 WR weakness has more to with refusing to double-team anyone than lack of a shutdown CB. Vasher and Tillman are both solid if unspectacular. Briggs also plays in a 4-3. What would he do in the Patriots scheme? I'd presume ILB as he's not nearly big enough (6-1, 240) to be a hybrid DE/OLB.

by NF (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:11pm

If you are wondering why Peyton Manning won MVP, you should read why Ray Lewis got the MVP in the Ravens-Giants Super Bowl.

by pete (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:14pm

Re: Bears
I guess they finally got their a**es crowned, eh?

Seriously, though, if you're a Bears fan you've got to be a bit aprehensive about the future. Their offensive line as currently constructed is not going to get any better. Though still servicable, Ruben Brown and John Tait appear to be on the downside of their careers, and as good as Olin Kreutz is, I don't see him getting any better. Grossman all of the sudden taking his game to the next level isn't realistic (although I think next year's a contract year for him). The strength of their running game is overstated and the Benson-Jones situations begs a resolution. The defense should hold up but the offense dosen't offer much added promise for next year. Plus, the Saints, Seattle, and transition teams like the Rams and Packers should pose more of a threat to them. Reported here in Chicago (WSCR), Def. Coord. Rivera has stated that "Its his time" to be a head coach. The Bears offseason should be interesting...

by James C (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:23pm

Seriously disapointed Bears fan here. I have now finally had enough of Grossman. It is bad enough when he has total breakdowns in reading the play and throws three or four picks, but the whole fumbled snap thing is just ridiculous. You can't play QB in high school if you can't get the ball from the center, he is an NFL quarterback and he must have fumbled at least six snaps this year. I would suspect that most NFL QBs would take a whole career to get to six fumbled snaps. I am picking on this one detail, but I feel it is symptomatic of his whole approach to the game. I just don't see him working hard enough to improve in the same way as Manning or Brees or Brady have. Right now I don't think I ever want to see the guy in a Bears jersey again (but I may be over reacting). At least when we were playing Orton you knew he was a rookie and was trying to get better. I would be much happier if we traded for Leftwich or Carr. At least they know how to take a snap.

by Bart (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:29pm

Re: 181

The voters were afraid of getting shivved if they didn't vote for him?

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:29pm

170: We don't know if the Vikings will feature T. Jackson throwing to stiffs next year yet.

And it seems silly to call the defensive linemen overweight and old when they were just the key reason the Vikes had the best run defense in the league.

Not that I have a bunch of confidence or anything.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:30pm

Nope, the Vikings will likely be fighting it out with the Motown Millens for third place, but it won’t be because people are suddenly able to run the ball on them.

Sigh. I really want the Vikings to succeed. I always thought Brad Childress was a smart guy, and I actually think it's advantageous for both teams to have another team running a similar system. You end up having a place to trade veterans who are still useful but who have better replacements on the team already.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:31pm

One other thing about the fact that Indy is a historical outlier this year: the same was true last year, only in the reverse case (only team to start 13-0 not to get to the Super Bowl).

Cosmic payback? Probably not, but at least some solace to us Colts fans.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:34pm


"Without the Wayne TD"

What is that? Are we waiting for Godot on Animal Farm? All yardage is equal, but some yardage is more equal than others????

If the Colts don't screw up coverage, Hester doesn't take it to the house. If the Bears don't take poor angles and use poor tackling form, Rhodes and Addai don't run for as many yards. If a frog had wings, he wouldn't bust his ass every jump. This is just a totally wacko argument you are making.

Every single play in a football game has people making mistakes. If you disregard plays where someone busted, you wouldn't have any plays left to evaluate when voting for MVP. Why in the world would you think it logically sound to throw out plays like the Manning to Wayne TD, but not do likewise for other players you support? I would hope that the illogical aspect of your argument would have been blatantly obvious.

Besides, it was a damn good play under a blitz with a defender wrapping him up.

You say you want to apply the standards voters use. Would that be like MVP for DBs who score TDs when the QB throws the ball right to them? That standard for MVP? Or are we to think that because the DB made no break on the ball and just got a gift from the QB, the voters throw the play out?

by Drew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:35pm

I was disappointed to see two comments by stat freeks that repeated the "take away the long run/pass and the player's stats don't look so good" trap. Isn't that true of almost every performance. Almost every time a QB throws for 300 yards, he has one or two long passes. Take away those one or two passes, and his yardage is around 200. Most times a running back breaks 100 yards, he will have had one or two long runs. Take away those, and he will have averaged 2-3 yards per carry.

Those stats need to be put in perspective. If you take away a QB's longest completion, is 200 yards a good day? What does a good running back average if you take out his longest run?

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:35pm

Re 159 - Amen. Don't get me wrong, I'd still LOVE the Eagles to win it all, but after the disaster of the 2005 season, it was fun just to enjoy the post-season ride for a change.

by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:40pm

re: 183

Grossman is like horse with three legs.

by OMO (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:43pm

Jason Mulgrew is like Borat with no funny.

by ashok (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:44pm

Pat, Will Allen - thanks for your comments. I'm sticking to my guns, but you guys definitely have me looking at Grossman differently.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:53pm

Shoulda been Grossman as the MVP. Can't think of anyone who more helped the Colts to win.

by Chip (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:59pm

#194 My favorite series was 2nd & 1: center-QB fumbled exchange results in an 11 yard loss; next play: sack for a 10-yard loss. 4th & 22 = punt...

That deserved the nomination right there. I can here TMQ writing the words(retrospectively of course) "game over"
on his little yellow notepad.

by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul Dawg (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 8:59pm

Admit it. You like me OMO.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:02pm

Aaron, I gotta give you props. First you drop some science about the Q-Dogs to your whitebread cohorts and now you lay some Tribe Called Quest on the people. I hereby grant you your official Ghetto Pass. What it is, bruh?

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:18pm

Re: 165

As much as the playoffs are a crapshoot, they are moreso all about matchups. I agree that the Chargers were a terrible matchup for the Colts and probably would have beat them. I was a huge Patriots fan for about 3 hours ;o)

But that's why just making the playoffs consistently is such a big deal. It's very rare that you have a team that definitely would have beat every single team in the playoffs. The last 3 years the Colts likely could have won the championship without running into the one team that could beat them. This year they didn't have to play that team. I would say that is closer to the rule than the exception to the rule.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:21pm

I'm really kinda curious as to what's going on in Chicago. When you start being known for quarterbacks sucking ass in historic ways, doesn't that indicate that you've got a problem somewhere? I mean, when you've got Grossman, Krenzel, Hutchinson, Chris Chandler, Kyle Orton - all of which put up horrific (and I mean, scary horrific) numbers... what's going on there?

I mean, clearly they're above average at scouting defense, which is something other "wretched QB" teams can't say. Why is it so hard for them to find an "average" quarterback?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:22pm

Pat, I'm not nearly as negative as many Vikings fans are regarding Childress; I guess I'm sort of neutral. I think he took the job with the notion that he would have at least a decent qb, Culpepper, throwing to at least one wr, Koren Robinson, with playmaking ability, along with some defensive talent that had been very poorly coached. The last element certainly proved to be the case, but he never had Culpepper, and ol' Koren took a header off the wagon before training camp was over.

Now, Childress has to replace one of the best young coordinators in the league, and he still has no playmakers for offensive ball handlers, including a GIGANTIC ? at quarterback. Childress will be phenomenally lucky if Tavaris Jackson achieves replacement level status by next year, and that is if they get somebody who can get open and catch the ball. Heck, they'll be phenomenally lucky if Troy Williamson doesn't end up being the highest picked first round bust in Vikings history. I guess the thing I would be most harsh about in regards to criticizing Childress would be trading an undrafted rookie with promise, Baskett, for a veteran who really never showed much, McMullen, at a position where the Vikings were desperate.

I guess the Vikings should go after Garcia, but absent the quality of receivers the Eagles have, I wouldn't count on him continuing the rejuvenation act. I don't think Childress has proven himself to be a below average coach, but as you and I have discussed, people underestimate how unforgivingly competitive the NFL is, and I think, mostly due to some bad luck or bad decisions prior to his arrival, Childress has got the cards stacked against him now. It doesn't help that so many fans (especially with an owner who is seeking stadium subsidies) tend to think that playcalling can make a big difference even when the talent sucks.

Who knows? Maybe he'll get lucky.

by Julio (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:27pm

I think the reason the Colts run defense improved was because of Mike Tanier's detailed article on why the Colts can't stop the run right after the season ended. After that the Colts suddenly became capable of stopping the run. I think he told them what to do!

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:31pm

Hey, I still think trading for McMullen was a good idea, and it pretty much panned out over the season, too. They were basically equal, but Baskett had a better supporting cast and quarterback. But probably more importantly - McMullen was probably brought in to provide experience at WR. Baskett had potential, but no experience.

I thought the biggest mistake was leaving Johnson in as long as he did. Worst part of Childress's first year is that he boosted people's hopes at the beginning of the year.

by Chip (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:33pm

#172 "Pat Williams is not over the hill. That run D is still going to be fearsome next year."

They just lost a great D-coordinator. And PW is 34 & 350+ lbs. Guys at that age, weight, & position are prone to break downs as their skills diminish. Think Keith Traylor, Ted Washington, Tony Siragusa. Good players, but do you want them to be the linchpin of your defense? If PW breaks down, they're done.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:37pm

You raise a good point, Pat, but then I'd say the biggest error was signing McMahon to be back up. It may have been easier to go with Bollinger if they had started training camp with him. Jackson was just not ready to play at all this year.

When I look back on it, however, it is frustrating to think that they likely would have made the playoffs with receivers who just had average pass catching performances.

by Gordon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:38pm

A number of random thoughts:

I love that our biggest argument is who the MVP should have been. I said before the game that Manning would get it unless he really stunk, while my buddy said Addai would get it (and Addai actually made a decent case, although obviously Rhodes dimished Addai's contribution).

Aside to #160: Clearly, Easterbrook would go with his 11-year-old son, Spenser, for MVP. (Damn, I hate that guy.)

I loved the officiating. They made all the right calls on replay (made easier by the fact that they were all pretty obvious calls), and (correct me if I'm wrong) also made not a single PI or roughing the passer call. Nor were there any egregious non-calls. It has been said that you know the refs did a great job when no one says anything about it, and that's very true here. (On re-read, Aaron did give this a paragraph.)

How many times did a Colts edge rusher end up flying over a prone Bears O-lineman? Seemed like I saw that on every other play.

Why do people think that was Vinateri's first FG miss in the postseason? When I say that one of his Super Bowl game winners was after shanking two earlier in the game, I'm not crazy, right?

Loved Aaron's comment about the pointing. That has always made me laugh. I mean, do the linemen really think they're affecting anything?

I love the debate about Rex's D&D alignment. My vote goes to Chaotic Neutral: he's just as likely to throw a pick as a TD, and seems completely unconcerned with the outcome either way.

Being that this is the end of the season, I would like to thank Football Outsiders for providing outstanding analysis and entertaining debate. And also for helping me win about $600 over the course of the season. I guess I should donate some money now. ;)

Can't wait for the draft coverage!

PS- Congrats Colts. Now can we shut up about how Peyton Manning isn't the best QB of his generation?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:43pm

PW had avery good year, but he isn't the linchpin of the defense. That would be Kevin Williams. Replacing Tomlin is quite a task, but there is some talent out there. The Vikings we'll be battling the Millens to stay out of the cellar mostly because they can be prepared for by any competent opposing defensive coordinator in about 30 minutes.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:49pm

Someone pointed out that they could hear a guitar playing even when Prince's hand wasn't on his guitar. I saw that, too, but I'm pretty sure he had at least one backup guitarist interlacing on a few of the songs.

Besides, it's Prince. If there's one guy I'm going to believe can play his guitar with no hands, it's Prince.

by Chip (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:58pm

#206 - The Williams' sisters both require double teams for different reasons. One b/c of girth (PW) and the other b/c of talent (KW). Take one of them out of the equation (eg. PW to injury) and the other is easily neutralized. Either way, they're both linchpins...

by Gordon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 10:02pm

Re: 207

Yeah, he definitely wasn't really playing. Throughout the entire performance, you could see him taking his hands completely away from the guitar. Not that I care all that much.

by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 10:11pm

194: Ron Rivera.

by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 10:20pm

Drew - Thanks for asking in such a rational manner. I'm not suggesting Manning's pass should not count. I'm also not suggesting that you take away a QBs longest pass, or a running backs longest run as a general rule of thumb. However, I am suggesting that when grouped in with the rest, one may forget that Reggie Wayne didn't have a defender within 20 yards of him. There was no blitz on, but rather a safety inexplicably choose to double cover the under route. Considering that those 53 yards represent 20% of Manning's total passing yards, and 100% of his touchdown throws, and those yards were not exactly the result an amazing throw by the QB, that one might want to consider his results without that one play being so dominant. Similarly, stripping out a running back's 55 yard run may reveal that all his other runs left him with 1.2 yards per carry or 4 yards per carry.

It's not just done in sports statistics. For instance, when economists report inflation figures, they often report Inflation ex-Fuel and Energy. Is that done because Fuel and Energy have no basis on actual inflation? No. It is merely a comparitive statistic to see how everything else looked considering that one category can significantly skew the performace of the group in aggregate.

If you think the Wayne completion was the result of some super QB talent, you are kidding yourself. Did he make a adaquate move to make sure he had room to throw the ball? yes. Could Rex Grossman have completed the same pass? Absolutely. That pass weighs heavy on Mannings's over stats for the game, and one should consider it when evaluating greatness of his performance.

This is stupid. I haven't once said I think Manning played poorly, or isn't a great QB. I merely think he won the award on his deserved reputation as being a great QB in the absense of another 'star' who the award could be granted rather than his actual performance.

As an aside - Stan you are awfully bitter and angry for a man whose team just won the Super Bowl. Get to Disney World, my friend.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 10:26pm

Re 207: if you mean his strumming/pick hand, that’s no big deal. If you have your amp cranked up, you can get plenty of sound from the guitar just by the action of your fingers on the fretboard. Lots of guys show off by playing “one-handed.� Now, if he’s got both hands off the guitar, I don’t want to know what he’s using to play the strings. (and the FCC doesn’t, either.) (I also made this comment in the MMQB discussion.)

by tim (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 10:32pm

Prince really was playing, you could even hear the chuck of the guitar over the contacts. He was doing a lot of subdominant hand technique ( pulls and hammers), making it seem like he wasn't playing.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 10:52pm

According to Chris Mortenson on ESPN this morning, Manning said that his injured thumb was bothering him during the game. However, Manning claimed that it actually helped him, since it prevented him from gripping the ball too tightly, which is often a problem in the rain.

Maybe the Bears should have slammed the locker room door on Grossman's thumb at halftime.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 10:55pm

Dammit, that was De La Soul. I'm such a herb.

by miami (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 11:09pm

Your site, of all guys should know that while Haley may have 5 rings, Matt Lepsis has SIX rings.

by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 02/05/2007 - 11:13pm


More condemnation of the Cover 2. It's kind of funny that both teams in the Super Bowl used this defense as their base, as it's in the process of being rendered obsolete. It worked great against the West Coast offense, but the Cover 2 is just a terrible defense to try and handle the combination of power running and vertical pass offenses that you are seeing more and more of around the league.

FO should be proud for being so far ahead of the curve on Grossman. I don't remember who the game charter was, but he went into tremendous detail in covering Grossman's impending implosion, and this was back when the Bears were 5-0 and Bears fans were utterly smitten. (It's worth looking at the comments thread to see just how far gone they were.) It was as good a write-up as I've seen all year.

Put me in the camp that says the Colts lucked out with their matchups. I took the same line all year- I thought San Diego was the best team but Indy would win the Super Bowl, and it really broke their way. Peyton would have had to play one of those 2003 KC games to match up with the Chargers, and the run defense would have been exposed. San Diego was the only team really capable of making the Colts pay for crashing the defensive ends. As it was, the Colts didn't have to face a running back with the speed to get to the outside and make them pay.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:54am

FO should be proud for being so far ahead of the curve on Grossman. I don’t remember who the game charter was, but he went into tremendous detail in covering Grossman’s impending implosion, and this was back when the Bears were 5-0 and Bears fans were utterly smitten. (It’s worth looking at the comments thread to see just how far gone they were.) It was as good a write-up as I’ve seen all year.

I think this is what you're referring to: Week 6 DVOA. Fnor was the game charter. I didn't remember this, and it was very interesting looking at the thread. A commenter named Moose actually predicted a Cardinals victory over the Bears.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:57am

You know what hasn't gotten a big discussion?

The effort made by the Bears on the interception runback. No one was covering the sidelines... that's probably one of the easiest 56 yard returns we will ever see. I didn't break down the coaches video, but it seemed nearly as easy as Hester's FG return against the Giants.

That was the key play of the game. Blame Grossman all you want for the pick, but their offense did a lousy job at tackling. They aren't trained to tackle either. But most of the time you see the guy take it up the sideline and get clobbered by a lineman.

by CA (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:11am

Re: 217, 218

I thought Sean was referring to the piece by Mike Kurtz from October 13 (click on my name).

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:20am

Two-three weeks ago I would have agreed with the AFC matchups benefitting the Colts to a great measure.

Not any more. Not they way they played against Balt/NE/Chi. The biggest benefit of the way things broke was, as someone pinted out, the lack of cross country travel, which assisted in wearing down the Pats (along with flu--thanks Pats fans for not bringing this up. You are mensches.) But Indy managed to break down the Chi DL as well after two weeks rest, so maybe it wasn't the travel and flu working against NE. Don't know. All I know is that the Indy/SD game would have been a lot closer than I expected, and I no longer think Indy would have lost.

153 MJK. Thanks, I think. Somehow I now feel ... so... dirty. Just kidding. It's how I always feel. I can accept the losses when they happen if they're truly beat (i.e. it's not the refs of them beating themselves), but I never expect them. Eternal optimism. Even the Pats could not beat it out of me. Amazing, I know.

150 OMO, Maybe I never get totally immersed in the games these days because my viewing is always compromised by three little kids. Blunts the highs and lows. Next house, I get cable it the wine cellar and no kids allowed! I can kick and scream and drown my sorrows and douse myself with champagne like the GoDaddy gals all at once.

161 Thad--Right on! How can all the other coaches be morons! (even Herm)

188 Stan, I like taking out the outlier play to assess the rest of a player's work. I don't "throw it out" but rather "hold it at arms length" to see what else he's been doing, then add it back in once I've gotten an idea. Manning still had a decent game without the Wayne TD--good by FO measures but below average by traditional stats. He was totally in control out there, like an orchestra conductor, which is not reflected inthe traditional stats. Add in that TD and he was very good.

Use the same tactic for Thomas Jones--he had a good game at quick glance but if you take away his 52 yard run and--woah--he had barely 3 YPC and a low success rate.

By those measures, both guys had pretty good games on the surface, but if you take away their top plays, you would NOT say Manning hurt his team with a lame performance, but you could say Jones did. He was all they had, and still it was not very productive (take away garbage time and it was even worse!). So I think taking away outlier plays can be useful. Take away Rex's pick-six and what do you have? A high-completion % game with very low success rate, and still a lot of other blunders. In that case, taking out the best/worst play reveals nothing we didn't already know.

BTW, Stan, you neglected to mention that the DL hanging on Manning had about 100 lbs on him. Just remaining vertical, not to mention rotating his body and stepping into a pass, was a herculean feat. It was not a work of art, but still an amazing throw. Too many times in the past, say 2002, he'd have made that throw only to be picked. I'm so glad he's not feeling the weight of carrying the team on every down anymore.

Finally, I have two questions regarding guys leading with their helmets: Was it just me, or did the Bears seem to be doing that a lot in the 2nd half? On the play where Marvin tweaked his leg, at first I thought it was helmet to helmet--lucky the tackler missed with his hat.

2nd question: Was the leading with the helmet call on Mathis on KO coverage ticky tack? It was TOTALLY uncalled for on Mathis's part and stupid (grrr), but looked fairly benign to me, as if he barely made contact. Was it because it was OB or was it because of the helmet?

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:26am

Another thing that really hasn't gotten a lot of discussion were Dungy's post-game comments.

I really didn't understand what Irsay was talking about... just thought it was funny that he mentioned the tornado victims and then after he's done with that goes crazy about being World Champions. Also very fun how he repeated twice that he loved his players so much. Irsay just thanks a generic God and talks about how they were together as a team.

Dungy was a lot more direct in his comments about the Lord and weathering storms. He then goes on to fake out Jim Nantz... "I'm proud to be representing African-American coaches... important to our country... but Lovie Smith and I... we are Christian coaches, showing you can doing it the Lord's way, we are more proud of that.".

I thought everyone completely ignored the fact that these were Christians and even after he did something that normally causes such an uproar, no one raised so much a voice of condemnation. That was pretty cool.

I think people thanking God or Jesus should really make it clear that no matter who wins God/Jesus loves everyone.

(We shouldn't forget however, that God loves Cults the most!)

by dje (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:29am

I think that two stats best sum up the Colts' playoff run this year:

Total plays:

Colts 307
Opponents 203

Total First Downs:

Colts 99
Opponents 48

In all 4 games, the Colts controlled the ball and wore down the opposing defense. Manning did a great job of managing all four games. In my mind, Manning was the right choice for MVP. My second choice would be Sanders.

Re the Bears: I think it would make sense for the Bears to sign Garcia in the off season. I think with Garcia's game management and Harris and Brown returning, the Bears would have a great shot at winning it all.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:31am

I agreed... but the NFL has been ticky tack like that. It seemed like they called the penalty for leading with the helmet out of bounds. I don't like that penalty, but the NFL likes it. If he had kind've bumped into the player it would've been okay, but I think the flag came out because he laid a hit on the guy.

Players lead with their helmets all the time nowadays... no one really pays much attention to it, I guess since there hasn't been any major injuries in the NFL lately (?).

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 2:58am

Just wait until Bob Sanders dies on the field next year.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 4:13am

Fnor... you are a horrible, horrible human being. Couldn't you have picked somebody more... oh I don't know, expendable?

Though if it's Sanders, that might disprove the God loving the Colts the most assertion. Or maybe just that He moved on to the next team, as fickle as Zeus. ("Oh hey, look, hot cheerleaders and a great lingerie calendar. I think next year the Eagles just might win it all. If I can just ditch Hera and find my swan outfit....")

by Jordan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 4:30am

I'm saying that Addai doesn't win the MVP because I felt that the average NFL RB can come in and do just as good of a job as he did. Not that it's a bad thing, being average is still a pretty good player. It's not the only criteria but if you can be replaced by the average player then you aren't the MVP.

by stan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 8:07am


Manning was the dominant player in the game and would have been even if he had only thrown for 100 yards. If you think conventional stats encompass what Manning does (or did in the SB), you obviously aren't paying attention.

I agree with Joe Namath, Don Shula, Mike Shanahan, Jeff Fisher, John Gruden and the others -- Peyton Manning plays QB at a level never before seen in the NFL.

And I'll give you a hint -- they aren't talking about his stats.

When you assess value by the players in the game, how much value to attribute to the no-huddle offense wearing down the Bear defense? Clearly, it was an important part of the game. What credit do you give Manning for that?

How much value do you give Manning for the unique Colts running game? Teams have had to change the force and contain principles of their defense to address the outside stretch (because of Manning's technique). This opened up the inside run during the playoffs. How important was that to the outcome? Huge. Without Manning, it doesn't happen. Are you giving Peyton adequate credit for that when you assess MVP? Or did you not bother to even notice?

Peyton called every one of the Colts' plays in the game. How much is that worth in your calculations?

by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 8:49am

"I’d disagree with a lot of what you said about Grossman. His decision-making hasn’t improved at all, he’s merely hit a mix of bad defence and Manning (the younger) luck. I think that during the Minnesota game alone, there were about 6 passes that should have been interceptions but were dropped. Not “should have had that one,� but “If that were a WR I wouldn’t blame the QB� dropped.

Detroit was better, but not by much. His inaccuracy was made up for by a fantastic effort by Berrian (who is, by the way, awesome). He still one-hopped passes to the flat, threw into bad coverage (I’m still impressed he found bad coverage to actually throw into), and at one point bounced a pass off a lineman’s head.

He is still consistently off, usually more over- than under-thrown, which better for avoiding interceptions on the long ball than the short one.

The worst part is, he has a schedule full of patsies to play against and could possibly have all of these very bad habits stick, as others have commented on. I don’t think he’ll be a great QB, but he could be a pretty good one. If he thinks he can keep playing the way he has thus far, he’s going to end up as a bad QB."

Fnor: Week 6 DVOA Thread

Looks pretty good now, doesn't it?

The biggest suprise was how badly the Colts O-line beat the Bears D-line. I know Harris was out, but the Colts seemed to be moving people at will when they ran.

I said this on the game board, but the officiating was outstanding; nearly as good as the Indy decision to squib every KO (except the first one).

FWIW, I prefer the regular discussion threads to the message board; they're more conversational, and I wasn't keen on loading comments in pages of 10. Having said that, it was nice not get 'WordPressed' whenever something meaningful happened.

Finally, what do people think will happen with Tony Dungy? The guy's been adament that he's not an NFL Lifer. Now he's got the ring (and vindication), will retirement or a repeat be more attractive?

by dje (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 9:34am

223: I definately think Dungy will be back. I think reassessing his situation is consistent with his approach, but I wouldn't read to much into it.

BTW, I was at the Colts rally at the RCA Dome last night. Colts fans love Dungy and I think he was overwhelmed by the reception, but he does not seem like a coach who is burned out or needs a break.

by Bjorn (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:14am

Well personally I felt this game was as booring as a game where the score is "one-possesion" for so long can be. Seeing the NFL's most monotonus and least flairful (but extremly effective) offence slowly but surely grind down a defence which hardly even atempted to create the kind of big plays that would've been an absolute neccesity for chicago is not my cup of tea i guess.

How anyone can even compare SB XLI to SB XL is mindbogling. Last years game was so much more entertaining it is scary. OTOH there was lots of other entertaining games this playoff...

As for the MVP I can't really find any player on the colts that stood out. Too me this was above all a game lost by Chicago rather than one won by Indy. (Face it, without offence and without big plays on D you just can't expect to win.) So given that it would always be a "default" choice I'm not suprised by the choice.

If you look at the entire playoff run however I think the big story is the Indy D and given that I think a defensive player would be more deserving and Sanders is the obvious chioce.

But maybe I'm just biased by my dislike for Payton Manning. The man is so clearly a smug, charmless despicable douchebag. Of all the "name" players in the NFL he is one of the few that are totaly unlikable.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:14am

Worst SB performances by a QB has to include:

Rich Gannon (5 int)

Drew Bledsoe/Craig Morton/Jim Kelly/Kerry Collins (4 int)

John Elway 51.9 in 1997, 36.8 in 1987, 19.4 in 1989. Elway could be considered the worst SB QB ever.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:26am

Oh, and Big Ben doesnt have one of the 5 lowest passer ratings in the Superbowl. Those would be Craig Morton (0.0), Kerry Collins (7.1), Earl Morrall (9.3), Fran Tarkenton (14.1), and John Elway (19.4).

He is actually 7th...

by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:35am

re 233:
He has the worst QB rating for a winning QB - that'a been a widely cited stat.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:56am

Yaguar #179:

I think if Devin Hester never played another down of football, he’d be the best return man of all time.

Lets see him sustain the excellence to match Brian Mitchell and Dante Hall in the yardage and returns departments as well. There is more to returns than TD's.

Nobody has ever returned more than 4 touchdowns in a season. That Superbowl touchdown was Hester’s 7th. He’s half way to the all time career return touchdown record. And he’s 24.

Hall returned 5 touchdowns in 2003, including 1 in the playoffs. Hall also has 11 regular season and 1 post season return touchdown, so the record is likely to be higher than Brian Mitchell's 13 in a few years.

Desmond Howard returned 5 touchdowns in 1996, including 2 in the playoffs. Howard has 10 career returns and the all time one-year punt return record.

The record books are full of guys who had great rookie campaigns of scoring TD's, and then went on to other things because other teams figure out how to keep the ball away from them.

Also, if you are going to start including Field Goal returns, why not also include other returns, like interceptions and fumbles? Deion Sanders has 19 total return touchdowns (9 interceptions, 6 punts, 3 kicks, 1 fumble). Rod Woodson has 15 (12 interceptions, 2 punts, 1 fumble).

Hester certainly can be great, but he won't be by retiring after one year.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:12pm

#220, #229 et al:

Mike and Fnor are the same person, so everybody is right.

by Goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:26pm

Bjorn, IMHO this years SB was MUCH MUCH MUCH better than last years. The 2nd half was a bit dull, but the 1st half was extremely exciting. Last years was all about blown calls, and at the end I was unconvinced that the Steelers had actually won fairly.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:44pm

Re: #211

"Could Rex Grossman have completed the same pass? Absolutely."

I think you can conclude this if the open WR was Grossman's primary read on the play. I'm not sure it's safe to make the assumption that Rex comes off his primary receiver to find another in his progression. I'm still trying to figure out why he threw the ball on the pick six. (The only thing I can figure is he assumed his WR would be able to make a better play than the DB who had superior position-which is quite a gamble.)

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:46pm

Re #235
Dammit, Mel Gray was a better returner than Brian Mitchell. The only thing Mitchell was better than Gray when it came to returning was PR TDs, and Gray's KOR TD superiority is enough that per return his average is better. See my comments, AatL Week 13-ish.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:51pm

What I learned from SuperBowl XLI:

1) The AFC always wins if the SuperBowl is played in a steady rain.

2) Giving up a TD on the opening kickoff results in a 100% probability of winning the SuperBowl.

Easterbrook better watch his back. If ESPN ever notices how good I am at making up meaningless stats, they may give me a shot at the TMQ gig.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 12:59pm

Following up on my own 235, it was actually Week 5's AatL, comment #172. See link.

Mitchell ended up with more cumulative stats than Gray did because he played longer. Mitchell was also way more valuable than Gray on plays from scrimmage, but that doesn't make him a better returner.

by Goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:03pm

Wanker, don't forget, always punt on 4th & short from inside the 40.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:06pm

#240: You can do better. What I learned from 2007: Giving up a TD on the opening kickoff results in a 100% chance of winning a title game.

Hey, it's a sample size of 2. I've heard worse stats.

by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:19pm

“It doesn’t matter how many wins they have this year, or how many points per game their defense gives up — it’s still an AFC-dominant year. I think if I was going to put money on anything (don’t take that to mean that I’m recommending this) I’d have to take the Colts over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Indianapolis has been playing so well, for so long, against the best conference in football, that this season may very well be their best ever.�

from "the bears trend"

that dude rocked it back in november.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 1:41pm

Re 244:
Except it wasn't their best ever. I don't think anyone can honestly say that this year's Colts team is better than last year's. Anyway, there were a lot of people that predicted the Colts - at the beginning of the season even.

by Rick (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 2:00pm

re: 228

"Manning was the dominant player in the game and would have been even if he had only thrown for 100 yards."

And how did FO get its reputation for having intelligent commenters?

re: 227
"I’m saying that Addai doesn’t win the MVP because I felt that the average NFL RB can come in and do just as good of a job as he did."

I suggest you take a second look at him. It's really not that easy to gain over 10 yards on first down against the Bears' defense. Addai is a very good running back. I say this as a Pats' fan.

by OMO (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 2:14pm

Stan...one Colts fan to another,

Relax. Manning is sweet. We won. All is right in the world. Dogs and cats not living together. Parade. 40,000 in the dome. Life is good. Repeat after me...winning is better than losing, winning is better than losing.
Think happy thoughts. Order your SB champs sweatshirt...wear it until the seams fall apart. Enjoy the moment!!!

by Newbie (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 2:30pm

Re the MVP discussion: The main problem with throwing out the Wayne TD is that Peyton has stated he read the defensive breakdown from the start. Mistakes happen all the time - spotting them and taking advantage are the critical skills and exemplify what Manning brings to the table better than any other QB playing. Compare that to how little the Pats got from the bungle that left Caldwell uncovered in the Red Zone.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 2:46pm

#244 - the difference is that Fnor's prediction was a detailed analysis of specifically how & why he expected things to go as they did, and not just a vague assertion that it would happen. "Indianapolis has been playing so well, for so long, against the best conference in football, that this season may very well be their best ever..." is not quite on par with "Alex Smith will have a great season, I can just feel it", but it's in the same neighborhood.

It's generally better to reach a wrong conclusion based on good analysis than it is to have a right conclusion based on faulty analysis, for the simple reason that you can learn something from getting it wrong in the first case, but you're really none the wiser for getting it right in the second.

Stan - dude, you must chill. I happen to agree with you on Manning as MVP, but the Sanders/Rhodes/Addai contingent all have very good points. This was a clear team win, and it takes nothing away from Manning to say that one of them was as deserving of the honors. Your last few posts have been skating dangerously close to irrational Manning vs. [blank] debate territory.

Anyway, with regard to the Wayne TD, the thing to remember is that Manning got hit just as he released the ball. The receiver was open, but he didn't exactly have a lot of time to make that read, then deliver an accurate throw downfield. 99% of QBs could have made throw, but a significantly smaller percentage would have.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:04pm

Is it lucky for the Colts that Wayne got ridiculously open once, or is it lucky for the Bears that it only happened once? Not trying to answer, just curious what people think.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:08pm

Yeah, considering they'd never give MVP to the offensive line, Manning's the next closest. Sucks, though, as the OL so deserved it. They just dominated that game.

It's the Anti-FO curse again. MDS writes an article about how the Colts O-line might not be that great, and they go out and beat the tar out of someone. Mike Tanier writes an article about how the Colts defense is getting gashed, and they go and fix everything.

I think the Colts read FO. (/sarcasm)

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:09pm

Congrats to the Colts on their victory. I'll admit I thought the Bears would make a better game of it.

Aaron's right that other teams can't copy the Colts blueprint, but I am anxious to see how many teams pick up on one 'innovation' I've seen from the Colts (at least during the playoffs) - the OL 'reacting' to a defender in the nuetral zone. On at least three occasions during the playoffs, a Colt OL moved after a defender had entered the nuetral zone resulting in a penalty against the defense. In every case it was clear the intent of Colt OL was only to create the penalty, that is, they weren't really reacting to the defensive movement. It's smart play and one I expect other teams to copy in the future.

by Goathead (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:19pm

I think most people (at least here) agree that it would have totally rocked if the Colts O-Line, or in particular Saturday got an MVP.

by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:23pm


what makes you think this is faulty analysis? i've been reading the guys' blog and it may be a different kind of analysis, but it's not faulty.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:27pm

re 234:

I know, I never argued that fact...I was refering to an earlier post which stated that Ben had one of the four or five(cant remember) worst SB performances ever. When he, quite obviously, didnt.

by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:31pm

200: I agree with you on Childress; I'm not ready to say that a coach sucks when he's had one year. He couldn't call plays to get slow WRs open for a weak armed QB; if he has a flaw, it's that he thought he could. There's no reason to think he can't still be a good coach.

Pat Williams is a stud--I think he's been the best Viking the past two years. But Kevin Williams can play without him. He had more sacks prior to having Pat join him on the line. He's going to be the anchor of the defense for years to come.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 3:49pm

Stan, you wanna address 231 or shall I?

Bjorn, out of desperate curiosity, what makes Peyton Manning (whose first name has an E not an A--maybe you're thinking of somebody else?) "...so clearly a smug, charmless despicable douchebag. Of all the “name� players in the NFL he is one of the few that are totaly unlikable."?

Wait, Bjorn, let me spot you the only incident I ever heard about him being a bad guy, and the details are somewhat under dispute: I believe when he was about 20 or 21 at UT, he flashed or mooned or otherwise acted in a sexually crude manner to a female trainer. Naughty, naughty. Not something I'd approve of my sons doing, but much milder than any dozen things I did at that age.

The rest of his life has been, to the best of my knowledge, run like a senator in waiting. Always gives credit to the other guy, knows all the sports cliches, bland as they day is long, hard working, philanthropist, and in his commercials he's actually self-depricatingly clueless and funny.

Loathesome, I know....

But thanks for the heads-up. Now that a-holes like you can't call him a choker, you dig up some other unprovable, trashy subjectivism. And tonight, when you cuddle up next to Simmons in bed, if you need help getting him aroused, whisper, "Manning face."

Stan, never mind, I got it. May have gone overboard. Not sure.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 4:12pm

Maybe Bjorn is really, really bothered by "Cut that meat! Cut that meat!"

Manning has the same problem that Brady does--he's a "golden boy". He's like that guy in high school who was valedictorian, star player on the football and basketball teams, class president, fashionable, dating a hot girl, and who got a car for his 16th birthday. And is a really, really nice guy on top of it all. You really want to hate him, but he makes it so hard. So you hate him for never giving you anthing to hate about him...

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 4:23pm

Great stuff from Schatz & especially from Macey-- Johnson & Giordano came up huge. Thanks for pointing out that 21 of the 22 starters have never played for another team...that makes me even prouder of OUR World Champion Indianapolis Colts.

Here's another fun roster fact. What do all of these guys have in common?
MLB Gary Brackett
CB Nick Harper
RB Dominic Rhodes
C Jeff Saturday
TE Ben Utecht
LS Justin Snow
KR Terrence Wilkins
backup WR Aaron Moorehead
backup DL Darrell Reid

Answer: All of them were undrafted free agnets signed by Bill Polian.

Brackett walked on at Rutgers...now he is the Colts defensive captain.

Harper was a 2-year starter at a Div. II school with 3 career INT's. How in the world did they find him?

Moorehead started just 7 games at Illinois-- 6 of those in his soph season.

Rhodes played 2 years at a JC & 2 years in Div II.

Utecht had just 18 receptions as a senior at Minnesota.

Backup TE Bryan Fletcher was signed as a FA in 2005 after being a 6th round draft choice of the Bears in 2002 & then waived by several teams. He had just 30 receptions in his college career at UCLA.

DT Raheem Brock was a 7th round draft choice by Philly but they couldn't sign him due to salary cap space. Polian snagged the Temple DL 2 days later & Brock has started for 70 games during his 5 years in Indy.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 4:40pm

MJK, you're right and funny. I was just being too pissy. Making it worse, he's probably the kind of guy who'd lend you the keys to his new red Caddie if your car had a flat. "No problem, pal, just park it out front when you're done."

"Damn you, neighbor! I won't stand for such politeness! And where are the keys?!"

(Manning graduated early either Magna or Summa and did marry (IIRC) the homecoming queen....)

Ooh, I did think of another blot on Peyton's life resume: Country music. It's not like it's a cardinal sin, and I'm probably in the minority here on a nation-wide basis, but, well, I can't go on.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 4:52pm

Bobman, you have to give credit where credit is due: Brady is WAY better than Manning at giving us pictures of the respective significant other to look at. Not that Ashley isn't attractive, but (i) she's not smokin' and (ii) she's not omni-present like some other wives (see, e.g., Brenda Warner, who was (a) a wonderful story and (b) looked too much like John McCain for my taste).

Ok, ok, I'll go off to Irrational Discussion III now.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 8:06pm

NewsToTom, Brenda Warner looked more like Schwarzenegger (in "Commando") to me with the brush cut and all. Mighty scary, IMHO. I bet she packs heat and "is not afraid to use it, punk."

If you're gonna go with pure heat from significant others, I think Garcia has a case. In fact, didn't he inspire a famous catfight between old and new gals at a club somewhere...? Hot chicks fighting over me in public.... I KNEW I shoulda been a QB, and shaved my head, and got TO to call me gay....

by Football Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 8:51pm

I'm not a big Peyton Manning fan after watching the Super Bowl. Why is he always whining and complaining about his teammates or the play call after every play that doesn't work? I usually don't watch Colts' games so I wonder does he do this every game?

What really turned me off was when the Colts fumbled in the backfield and the ball was on the ground a few yards in front of Manning. Instead of diving on the ball to avoid a turnover, Manning backs off to avoid taking a hit. What kind of football player is this? He's not willing to put himself marginally at risk for something as important as preventing a turnover in the Super Bowl? Yes, from the coach's perspective his actions may be acceptable and maybe even recommended, but hardly shows a heart of a champion.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 9:02pm

263 - remember, Peyton calls the plays at the LoS. He wants to know why the previous play didn't work because that's something he's got to take into account for the next one. If the offensive co-ordinator was doing the same thing, would you even question it?

As for the fumble, if my franchise quarterback went grubbing after fumbles near the line, I'd be very pissed off indeed. Doubly so in this case. There is a superbowl every year. There is only one football player at Manning's level per generation.

by Football Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/06/2007 - 10:01pm

It looked a lot more like whining and complaining than an interest in where the breakdown occurred. Manning isn't the offensive coordinator, he's a player. If an OC acted that way I would think he had a whining and complaining coaching style and would prefer to see a more inquisitive yet professional approach.

Remember, this was the Super Bowl. There is no game next week or the week after, it's do or die. Would Unitas, Montana, Elway, or Favre run away from a loose ball? Not! Yes, there is a chance to get hurt, but the players aren't trying to tackle the QB, they are going after the ball. It was only one play, but it revealed alot - a big contrast between this play and Elway's helicopter hit as he put it all on the line in a dive for a score in Super Bowl XXXII. Also, I think Tom Brady and his followers would argue against Manning being a level above all QBs of his generation.

by Just Saying (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 1:06am

I wonder how the game would have went had Tommie Harris never fallen to injury.

I know no one likes to hear the injury card, but I can't see anyway the Colts OL would have held up that well, had the Bears defense had Tommie Harris drawing double teams, freeing up his linemates.

Furthermore, anyone questioning Peyton as MVP, especially by pointing to the RBs stats, seems to be missing the huge effect Peyton had on the entire Bears defensive gameplan.

by Bjorn (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 7:06am

Answer to 257

For the record I've never called Peyton a choker, and if you just look at the sports side he is clearly the QB of his generation, perhaps even alltime.

Are you seriously telling me you don't consider purposly living your life like "a senator in waiting" a major caracter flaw? Btw thanks for the expression, puts what _I_ dislike about the man into words much better than what I could do. (At least in english, which is btw not my native languge.)

Oh, and it's certanly not the comercials, living in Sweden I have not seen them. All I get is the games and some "gamerelated" interviews plus a lot of internet stuff.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 10:27am

Re 265:

Brady's followers can argue all they want, but the ONLY valid point they had for Brady being even with/better than Manning was Manning's lack of a SB win....that is no longer a point they can use, and I dont think there are any others.

Manning is far and away the best QB in the league. He could end up being the best QB in NFL history. And this is coming from a Steelers fan, so I am not biased toward one or the other.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 12:32pm

Bjorn, here's a heads-up. Believe it or not, there ain't any real, actual, saints playing in the NFL. Not one. Furthermore, you (and the rest of us) don't know any of these people. Therefore, unless a player has been convicted of a violent crime, or there is clear evidence that a good number of his teammates (given that the teammates actually do know the guy) despise a player, there isn't a whole lot of reason for fans like us, looking from afar, to have a real personal, as opposed to rooting interest, dislike for a player.

It cuts the other way as well, of course. It doesn't make much sense to put somebody up on a pedestal, as far as the person's personal qualities as a human being, unless we have fairly direct knowledge of the person. I was rooting hard for the Colts because of my esteem for Dungy, esteem based on the fact that I know a half-dozen guys who played with him, and to a man they describe Dungy as the finest leader of men they have encountered. That's good enough for me, and while I certainly have impressions of guys that I lack that degree of information about, I try not to let them form into hard opinions one way or another.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 2:53pm

because it wasn't roughing the kicker, which would've been a first down. It was running into the kicker, a 5 yard penalty. It still would've been 4th down, and since he was going to go for a FG anyway, it made sense to stick with the FG in hand already.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 2:53pm

because it wasn't roughing the kicker, which would've been a first down. It was running into the kicker, a 5 yard penalty. It still would've been 4th down, and since he was going to go for a FG anyway, it made sense to stick with the FG in hand already.

by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 3:13pm

Re: 263

Peyton Manning doesn't show the heart of a champion; yet he is a champion. That's weird.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 3:17pm

Regarding all the talk that Manning deserved the MVP because of the impact that he has on the defensive gameplan, I don't really think that is the correct way to decide an MVP. To use an analogy from a different sport, imagine that the Denver Nuggets got to the NBA Finals (unlikely, but this is just a hypothetical). Furthermore, assume that the opposing team decided to constantly double team Allen Iverson, leaving Carmelo Anthony 1-on-1. As a result of this decision, Iverson only averages about 10 ppg, while Anthony averages 30 ppg to lead the Nuggets to a series sweep. Who would (and who should) be named Finals MVP?

In my opinion, the award would (and should) go to Anthony. I don't think it's fair to say what *would* have happened if they had doubled Anthony instead of Iverson, or if they had split the double teams evenly, or whatever, simply because we have no way of knowing. We can guess, and many times we'll feel very confident in our guesses, maybe even enough to proclaim that we're "certain" what would have happened. But how many people were "certain" that the Colts would beat the Texans in the regular season?

Similarly, it's just not fair to say what *would* have happened if the Bears had put 8 men in the box, or if they had blitzed more, or whatever. Maybe Manning would have torched them, or maybe he would have had an off game, like he did in the infamous "41-0" game a few years ago. We'll never know. But what we do know is that every time the Colts needed a big first down, Dominic Rhodes was, more often than not, the guy to get it. An that's why he would have been my choice for MVP.

Of course, that's just my opinion, and I don't expect everyone to agree with it. MVP voting is, unfortunately, a very subjective process. Furthermore, I knew that there was virtually no chance of a "nobody" like Rhodes actually winning the award. But he woulda got my vote.

by DoubleB (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 3:37pm

Regarding the Addai fumble,

Manning made the smart play. If the ball squirts loose back towards Manning he can make the recovery. If a Bear is able to scoop it up, he can at least try to make the tackle (or force him back towards the pursuit--inside). He's the only thing between a turnover (bad) and a defensive TD (much worse). There's a reason they put a guy 10 yards behind the LOS in victory formation.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 4:39pm

The problem is that Addai was doing a WHOLE lot of getting first downs early and Rhodes was doing a whole lot of getting first downs late. That's why I'd love to give it to the O-line, but it has to be one player and I'm not sure you can choose Saturday as the leader of the o-line for the award solely.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 4:58pm

MC2, that wasn't the only reason Manning was deserving of the MVP. Go check the DPAR numbers for the game. Is it easier for a QB to rack up bigger DPAR numbers? Sure, which is why it is entirely appropriate for QBs to win the the award most frequently; it is the most important position on the field. Your analogy has Iverson being outscored 3-1 by Anthony. Rhodes did not "outscore" Manning. Manning "outscored" Rhodes, and did so in the context of an opposing defense which was primarily preoccupied with minimizing Manning's "scoring".

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 5:32pm

266 Just Saying, Indy was missing 2 starting DTs and 2 starting safeties most of the year and it affected their run D. I have no qualms about playing the injury card--Tommie in the game makes it a different game. Not too much different, but better.

Bjorn, I admit I would not quite warm up to anybody I knew who "lived their life like a senator in waiting" but that implies personality quirks best described IMO as a little plastic, fake, shallow, and calculating. Most corporate CEOs have to be like this as well. I would find that life tiring, to always say and do the right thing. But that really is the antithesis of "despicable douchebag." Your English, BTW, is phenomenal, at least in print. Feel free to use the phrase I provided, it IS pretty damning in many cases. But for people in the public eye... I imagine their publicists or agents/managers would see that description and dance for joy because their client is doing just what they need to be the most successful/win the election/make the most money. Not sure if you heard this but about 12 years ago John Elway was criticized for being cheap and giving out too little candy at Halloween. Then he complained about the petty criticism and was doubly-damned for being cheap and a whiner. These people are under insane scrutiny, and if the worst we can come up with in terms of concrete examples is "they pout" or "look frustrated", or "don't give out enough candy" well, they're doing pretty damn well. I assume Manning has learned from the mistakes of those before him, and would NEVER dream of giving out too little candy or publicly commenting on it if he did. Now would he do it just to avoid the outcry, or because he's a nice guy? I don't know the answer and I'm not his psychiatrist. Frankly I don't care--their personal lives and lives off the field/practice field are not my business so long as they uphold the law. I thnk I'd want my QB to be a senator in waiting more than I'd want Jim McMahon from the 85 Bears or Ken Stabler from the old Raiders.

272 CA, He has it in a basement freezer at home and takes it out and pokes it from time to time. Might be Seabiscuit's or Jim Thorpe's....

263/265, I have two references for you: #1 is Marc Bulger last season, after throwing a pick to Indy, dislocated his shoulder in a lame attempt to make the tackle. Out for 6 games, most of them losses. Some leader, leading from the bench. Way to help your team....

That is why I cringed when #2, in this season's playoffs, Manning threw a potential pick-six to Ty Law and nearly tackled him. He slowed him down enough for Harrison to make the tackle from behind at the 6 YL and the D held KC to a FG. Frankly, Manning is so much bigger than Law, he probably could have crushed him, but he MIGHT have missed if he tried a pure open field tackle on a shiftier DB, and given up a TD. He was facing back behind Law and could see the pursuit, so all he had to do was slow Law down. Which he did and saved 4 pts.

From the first I came up with a rule: QBs should NEVER try to tackle a guy. From the 2nd I revised it to QBs should use their football smarts and know when it makes sense to tackle a guy or at least slow him down/trip him up (Roethlisberger in the playoffs last year saved the season for Pit that way--but he was the last man to be able to stop a TD).

Getting landed on by five 300 lb men on the 40 YL is not the best use of a QB's body. Saving a TD inside the 10 YL might be (maybe). Hey, every body knows Manning's cerebral and maybe he just proved that in the heat of the battle, requiring a split-second decision, he can out think you (and me).

Your point was?

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 5:59pm

Re: 332 Bobman, well put re: when a QB should put his body at risk when plays break down. In the first quarter, Manning absolutely did the right thing by hanging back instead of trying to retrieve the loose ball. The risk of injury there far outweighed the minimal chance he might have been able to recover the fumble. Midway or late in the 4th Quarter, in a one score game, the risk/reward ratio changes. Roethlisberger tripping up Harper is the perfect example of when a QB has to do whatever it takes to make a play.

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 6:00pm

re: 277 I meant. 3:32 was the timestamp. I don't think this thread will get to 332.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 6:02pm

279 FT, if it does hit 332, we are complete losers with no lives, right?

I'll race you to 230, but after that I stop.

by MC2 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 6:32pm

Re #276:

You make a good point, although I would be interested in seeing the DVOA numbers for the game. My gut tells me that Rhodes was more efficient than Manning, so maybe I should have used shooting % rather than ppg in the analogy.

Regardless, I really have no beef with anyone who wants to give Manning the award, based on his actual performance in the game. My only objection was to the claim that he should get the award based on the effect that his reputation had on the Bears defensive strategy, or based on what might have happened if the Bears had chosen a different strategy.

Based on my own personal observation, I felt like Rhodes was the most dominant player on the field, but it's certainly possible that I didn't give enough credit to Manning (perhaps because he's set the bar so high with his past performances). As I said before, choosing an MVP in football is very subjective, much more so than in a sport like basketball, where all the players are basically trying to do the same sorts of things, and where all the players accumulate the same kinds of stats, regardless of their position.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 7:10pm

I’ll race you to 230, but after that I stop.

It looks like dje already won.

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 8:56pm

Re: 211
Bill: You are right about your comment about Manning. I just have a thing about this. Yes, economic statistics often take out food and oil when looking at inflation. It is a useful statistic--when compared with the same statistic in other periods. But it is not useful when compared with overall inflation rates in other periods. So when inflation was in double digits in 1974, it is useful to know that the inflation rate without oil and food prices was around 5 percent. But that 5 % rate should not be considered low, because the normal rate of inflation without food and oil was around 2 to 3 percent. In fact, the core rate of inflation without the oil shock was very high, because Arthur Burns was letting money growth go wild.
Back to football, if a running back has 100 yards on 25 carries, people often say "if you take out his 30 yard run, he only averaged 2.7 yards per carry." But if all backs who have 100-yard days have one long run, 2.7 yards per carry for the rest of them is a pretty good day.
So you are right about Manning. He had one fluke long reception, and that skewed his stats. And he probably did not deserve the MVP award. But take out that long pass, and he still had a pretty good day.

by Football Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 10:58pm

There appear to be quite a few Manning apologists in this discussion. Yes Manning is a good QB and has the potential to hold a lot of statistical records. The problem is he doesn't perform well in big games. While at University of Tennessee he never played well against their big rival Florida and lost all four years. The year after Manning left, UT went undefeated and won the national championship.

After several years of subpar playoff performances by Manning, Manning fans are now saying he proved everyone wrong and won a Super Bowl. The fact is the Colts' defense, offensive line, and running backs stepped up and became the keys to the Colts winning the Super Bowl. Manning took his usual step backward come playoff time, but was fortunate enough to have a good enough team to compensate. Peyton Manning's 2006 Postseason statistics: 3 TD passes, 7 int., QB rating = 70.5. Below average peformances and far below what Manning usually does in the regular season. This is supposed to show Manning doesn't choke in big games?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 12:39am

Football Fan, I don't even know were to begin. Your last post made my hair hurt, so I think I'll leave it to others.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 1:17am

Will, Let me try to unravel it:

2002: Manning's "supporting cast" does things like rush for 13 yards on 9 carries and allows 41 points and two 100 yard rushers on D. But they lose because he's a choker. 2003: Manning has two of the best QB performances in playoff history, one over the #4 defense, but his suspect D and special teams force him into a punt-free shootout that he wins over the top-seed at KC, and he's a choker.

2004, 2005, 2006 they lose to the SB champ because... he's a choker. In fact his chokerness is so bad it infects all the other teams that lose to these three SB champs. These 3 opponents rack up a collective record of 10-0 in the playoffs... because Manning's a choker. (He also infected the most accurate FG kicker in history to such an extent that he shanked two game winning/tying FGs in the playoffs. Both over 45 yards, so Manning may have had help there from simple physics, but I am sure his chokerness contributed. He made Nick Harper's wife stab him the night before last year's playoff game, guaranteeing a failed fumble run back. Because he's such a choker. This year he made Marlon McCree stupid on his INT return so the Pats would win thanks to Troy Brown's strip, eliminating the only team that could have really beaten Manning, because he's a choker.)

2006, The D steps up, the OL and RBs step up and win for him because...(there's a theme here) he's a choker. (Ignoring his 80% completion percentage vs KC and high success rate throughout the playoffs and the 2nd galf against the Pats, the fact that the threw a TD on Sunday while WEARING a DT, and the monsoon they played in. And the top D's they played. Because ... he's a choker.)

Damn, why the hell didn't they put Sorgi in there? You'd think that his suckiness was so valuable to the Pats and Steelers that they'd have given him a share of the rings and bonus.

That look right to you? It's only a smattering--sort of a course syllabus, rather than the complete text of the class. But you get the idea. Professor Football Fan, please let me know what else I've missed. Thanks.

And FF, please conveniently leave out that during the season Manning plays teams like Houston to puff up his QB rating, while in the playoffs he plays teams like Balt, NE, and Chi, which all have slightly better defenses. The teams he has lost to in the playoffs (since the Jets debacle) were all top 10, maybe top 5 D's on SB winning teams.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 9:14am

Well said B-man, but the hating will continue no matter how many valid points you provide.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 1:34pm

Re 275:
It doesn't have to be one guy. There was a year with Co-MVPs. I would have voted for Addai and Rhodes.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 2:46pm

Congrats to Indy fans! You guys finally got your ring...

But don't rest. Pats will be in your house the beginning game of next season, most likely, continuing the best rivalry in football today...


by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 3:12pm


Let me start with the BS about his college career. The "Never won a big game" (let's remember that the phrase until this year's playoffs was "a" big game, not "the" big game. The assholes said he had never won a big game in his life. Not one.) tag was first nailed to Peyton during the Heisman campaign his senior year. Manning is the only college player in history to have the media mount a negative campaign against him to try to keep him from winning the Heisman. They made up ridiculous claims to puff up Charles Woodson and lied about Manning's record.

Although Manning's team won more games with him as starting QB than any other QB in college history (at the time he graduated) and won those games while playing in the nation's toughest conference, he "never won a big game". Not even the SEC championship where he had to overcome a number of punt return fumbles, etc. to bring back the Vols in the 2d half. Not even breaking the long losing streak to the Vols biggest traditional rival, Alabama, counts as a big game regardless of the fact that everyone at the time thought it was huge.

No, in a great example of 20-20 hindsight by the haters, the only "big" games were those against Florida. In fact, the Peyton-haters love to blame him for the loss his freshman year when he wasn't even a starter. In his three starts against Florida, the defense gave up over 120 points. It simply isn't true that Peyton played poorly. Had the Vol defense held the Gators to 17 points as they did the next year in 1998, Peyton's team would have won all 3 of his starts. And those Gator teams included a national champion and a national runner-up.

What makes Peyton's performance against the Gators more remarkable is that he put up all those points against a defense that knew his offense cold. An offense that did not use the draw or play action passes. Imagine the Colts today without the draw or play action pass! Not only that, the Vols' offense did not utilize the TE or RBs in the passing game. Actually, the RBs did have one route, a flare, that they almost never used. Imagine the Colts without the TE throws or checkdowns to the RB. And finally, the Vols always snapped the ball on the same snap count. Think that might be a little help for pass rushers and blitzers?

I have to laugh every time I hear someone try to crap on Manning by citing Tee Martin and the 1998 NC. Yes, the Vols won the Florida game 20-17 in OT when the Gator PK hooked a short FG wide left. I'll end with a quiz about the great Tee Martin. In that win over Florida, Spurrier's offense threw for more yardage than Tee. By how much did the Gator passing yardage exceed Martin's:
a) less than 50?
b) 50-100?
c) 100-200?
d) 200-300?
e) more than 300?

And the answer is e. Tee didn't even break the 100 mark in passing yards while Spurrier's QBs threw for over 400. Clearly replacing Peyton was the key to the Vols' win.

by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 3:26pm


And another thing about the college BS -- the Vols won that 98 NC with a great defense anchored by Al Wilson at MLB. The year before (Peyton's last), the coaches moved Leonard Little, the best pass rushing DE in the country, to MLB where he was an uncertain, mediocre player. And they made the move because they didn't think Al Wilson could play MLB. [Al turned out to be a pretty decent MLB.] This really reduced the effectiveness of the Vol defense and was obviously Peyton's fault.

A lot of the players who keyed that NC were recruited to a program that Peyton had helped build up to the next level. Many left early in the 2000 draft after the 1999 season. They had 9 players chosen in the first 57(?) picks in that draft. So that NC was won with guys who just weren't ready to play at a NC level in 1997. Anyone who watched the Nebraska off line steamroller them in the Orange Bowl could see that.

by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 3:40pm


re: Manning's "several years of subpar performances in the playoffs"

Would that include the greatest game ever played by a QB in the playoffs (Indy at KC in 2003 playoffs)? Or the second greatest game ever played by a QB? Manning's perfect passer rating against Denver's top 10 defense in the 2003 playoffs just weeks after the Broncos had dominated them? Or perhaps the game vs. Denver's top 10 defense the next year which would have to be nominated in any top ten list of playoff performances? [now that we can add this year's AFC game, Manning has 4 playoff games that rank at the top or very near the top of any list of the greatest QB playoff performances of all time]

Oh, I forgot. When Peyton's team loses in the playoffs, it is always a big game. When Peyton's team wins in the playoffs, it is never a big game. Same standard the assholes used against him in college.

Want to see a Peyton-hater get turned mentally inside out? Have them define a "big" game.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 4:23pm

Stan, it's quite simple. A big game is one that #18 loses. I thought you'd worked that out by now.

Likewise, it isn't a clutch kick if Vinatieri misses it.

by TomC (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 5:28pm

Peyton still hasn't won the Big Game, because prime-numbered Super Bowls don't really count. Call me when you win one divisible by 4, or even 10.

by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 6:09pm

re: 286 Good rundown, as always, except for one minor point. ".... eliminating the only team (SD) that could have really beaten Manning...." The Pats WERE good enough to beat Manning this year. To Peyton's everlasting credit, he didn't let it happen.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 02/08/2007 - 9:08pm

RE: 29

The officiating was horrible last year, as was Roethlisberger.