Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: Nick Chubb & Sony Michel

The Georgia Bullddogs' dynamic duo should be on NFL rosters at some point in the next 72 hours. Which will be the better pro? That depends on what kind of running back you're looking for.

05 Oct 2009

Audibles at the Line: Week 4

compiled by Bill Barnwell

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

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

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, which means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Raiders fan, not so much.)

Detroit Lions 24 at Chicago Bears 48

Mike Kurtz: The Bears defense looks generally in disarray. The announcers are crediting two bears penalties with the Lions TD, and the penalty on the FG was huge, but The Lions had a massive toss to Megatron for 50-odd yards, and then Stafford barely missed him wide open in the end zone. It's just one drive, but it's a pretty damning one.

Bill Barnwell: Nice play by Jay Cutler, going full Elway for a touchdown plunge. Announcer notes that the coaches would "dog-cuss" him if he didn't make it. That's a term I'm unfamiliar with.

Doug Farrar: Chicago’s beat writers immediately started writing columns interpreting his body language during the play.

Mike Kurtz: Not sure who's doing the announcing, but most of the words he's using I'm pretty sure aren't real words in ANY language, so I wouldn't be too surprised. Also doesn't understand the facemask rule.

Stafford looks really good, but has made 3 really bad near-miss overthrows to wide-open receivers.

Next play, of course, throws up a turf-burner.

If Stafford was a few feet more accurate, he would be cutting the Bears to ribbons, and it's not just the defense. He's doing a great job reading the defense. For instance, the Bears showed a 6-man middle blitz, then pulled the MLB back, but he blitzed from the back of the box anyway. The Lions couldn't keep up and they were in the backfield in about two seconds, but Stafford identified the blitz and the wide receiver either did also or Stafford told him to stick around, quick hitch and get an easy first down off the CB playing back.

His accuracy has been a real problem thus far, though. Two overthrown passes in the EZ, and then one that was overthrown but should have been caught by Pettigrew.

Another megablitz by the Bears, only a DPI keeps it from being a giant Megatron TD. They need to come with better blitzes, or at least smarter blitzes. They're doing a lot more inside blitzing, I wonder if they're scared of the running game.

Bears finally focus on coverage, rush four, get a coverage sack.

Doug Farrar: You've got two quarterbacks in love with their arms in this game, that's for sure. On fourth-and-goal in the second quarter, Cutler threw a ball through the end zone so hard, the thing rebounded a good ten yards off the crowd barrier.

What Polian is to wideouts, Jerry Angelo is to kick returners. Rookie burner Johnny Knox took the opening second-half kickoff for a 102-yard touchdown, and he looked about 50 percent faster than anyone else on the field.

Vince Verhei: That was absurd. It wasn't Knox beating the kicker one-on-one, it was Knox WITH TWO BLOCKERS IN FRONT OF HIM beating the kicker. Did the Lions have nine men on the field on that play?

Mike Kurtz: Yeah, the Bears aren't really all that great at picking kick
returners, they just have fantastic special teams coaching. The blocking is and coordination are superb, year after year, even when the returners are sucking. It's the reason Chicago has been able to hang around the past few years.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 at Cleveland Browns 20 (OT)

Doug Farrar: Clear indicator that nobody respects Cleveland’s defense – on fourth-and-3 in the first quarter, the Bengals go for it from the Browns’ 35. Bernard Scott gets the handoff outside, the Bengals’ offensive line blows out the outside pursuit, and it’s a 10-yard gain.

As you will no doubt see, Mr. Ochocinco ended that same drive with what might be the catch of the year in the end zone. Extended his body all-out with Eric Wright all over him, and brought the ball in before he hit the ground. Amazing play.

David Gardner: And then Chad had to be restrained before trying to jump into the dog pound.

Aaron Schatz: Cleveland called a really weird timeout in that game. The Bengals were left with fourth and goal, down by 6 points. Their offense looked totally confused, and clock was running down to 2:02... 2:01... and the BROWNS used their last timeout. Huh? We figured the Browns would keep that timeout because they would need it to come back if the Bengals did score on the next play. And why on earth would you call a timeout as the clock was about to hit the two-minute warning? Luckily for the Browns, they blocked the extra point so they didn't need that timeout to comeback and try to win the game -- the game went to overtime at 20-20.

Why is Eric Mangini using Mike Furrey both ways in overtime? Do they have injuries I don't know about? I know the guy was a safety for a while, but he's really such a great athlete that you have to use him both ways?

Mike Tanier: There's no right way to use Mike Furrey.

The Browns had no business staying in the game the way they played in the first half. They could barely move the ball and had at least four dropped passes. The Bengals offense just let them hang around by going 3-and-out a thousand times.

Tom Gower: Pure genius: the analyst in the Bengals-Browns game, one Rich Gannon by name, was greatly confused by why the Bengals took a time out with :07 left in overtime. After all, if they make the FG, they'll then have to kick off to Josh Cribbs, whom they had been conspicuously avoiding on punts. I will be kind to Mr. Gannon and not point out that he'd earlier been needling Ian Eagle about Syracuse alum Donovan McNabb not knowing games could end in a tie.

Bill Barnwell: The announcers also noted at one point that "Eric Heiden" had made a nice catch for a touchdown.

Rob Weintraub: Cincy, in yet another cardiac affair, did have a pitchout today, to Bernard Scott on a third and medium, and he stuck it for a first down. Was begging for some more while going first down free for 2 1/2 quarters, but alas.

I watched it all, and would prefer not to report on it. P.U. I'll give Rob Ryan some credit--the Browns did a very good job disguising coverages for that long stretch. But after Cincy went up 14-0 early, they checked out until somehow pulling it out at the end. The Bengals, playing ugly and winning anyway again! Who are these guys??

Hidden key -- Cleveland had two short-field possessions in the 4th quarter, and we held them to three both times. So only down 20-14, Palmer and Co. figured why not go ahead and get the win.

Is there another team that has a dedicated long snapper who cannot, apparently, snap the ball to the holder on kick attempts? Brad St. Louis is a willing special teams tackler and a nice guy, but how many bad snaps does it take before someone else takes the gig?

Oakland Raiders 6 at Houston Texans 29

Vince Verhei: Some fun numbers from halftime of this game: Matt Schaub has 16 attempts for 204 yards, including three plays of 41 yards or more (to three different receivers). JaMarcus Russell has 18 attempts for 83 yards, total.

The Raiders have 12 rushes for 41 yards (including 20 on one carry by Darrius Heyward-Bey). Steve Slaton has 12 rushes for 54 yards. His longest carry (32 yards) was beating the Raiders' rushing total until right before halftime.

Mike Tanier: What did Tom Cable do to deserve this? Oh yeah, right...

I was surprised by how many JaMarcus Russell passes don't come within three yards of the receiver. I have seen inaccurate passers who are always a half yard or yard off, but he's the first quarterback I have ever seen who consistently misses by four yards.

Bill Barnwell: What hurts JaMarcus Russell is that Darrius Heyward-Bey can't stay upright. It's not just that he falls down when he gets hit. He falls down when he's brushed by a corner. On plays where other receivers are being targeted and Heyward-Bey appears in the background, he's tipping over. I don't know if he did this in college, but he's terrible.

Mike Tanier: Heyward-Bey sometimes stays upright long enough to drop the few accurate passes. And you don't give that Murphy kid enough credit for his ability to fall over.

Seattle Seahawks 17 at Indianapolis Colts 34

Doug Farrar: The Colts ran a neat little TE combo on their opening drive with both TEs to the left -- Dallas Clark running a short out and Gijon Robinson heading upfield. Split Seattle’s alleged defense right in two. Note to Kelly Jennings: When you play the ball, you also have to play the receiver – you can’t stop and look at the pretty ball in the air halfway through the route. That’s why Pierre Garcon burned you for that long sideline catch.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Seattle defense isn’t any more disciplined, nor are they lining up any better, than they were when Lofa Tatupu was out. Maybe it’s a backfire from giving Peyton Manning the silent treatment.

Vince Verhei: Seneca Wallace almost made it out of the first quarter without running out of bounds for a big loss when he had the opportunity to throw the ball away, but he couldn't help himself. He seems to be getting dumber
with more experience.

Pierre Garcon did make a nice catch down the sideline on the game-opening, game-winning touchdown drive. I marvel at Bill Polian's ability to find wide receivers.

Wallace hits John Carlson for a big gain, but the play is wiped out by a penalty -- on Wallace, who was a full yard past the line of scrimmage. You know, Jeff Garcia is unemployed and apparently looking for work.

Doug Farrar: I'd be more inclined to blame Wallace for any of this if he had any protection whatsoever. Garcia wouldn't last a three-and-out behind this line.

And after Mike Carey gets his allotted facetime by blowing a substitution call and talking extensively to both coaches, effectively halting the game for five minutes, the Manning-Garcon combo carves the Seahawks secondary again. This game is as good an advertisement for the Red Zone Channel as there is.

Vince Verhei: It would certainly be wrong to say that the Seahawks are down 21-3 at the half simply because of Wallace. He's under heavy pressure. There have been plenty of penalties. The receivers can't break tackles. The defense is making Peyton Manning look like, well, your average Peyton Manning. It's been a team-wide butt-kicking.

Manning has tied Fran Tarkenton for third in career touchdown passes. The last went to Austin Collie. What did I just say about Polian and wideouts?

Doug Farrar: Perhaps the most disconcerting play was in the Seahawks' failed red zone series that ended in a field goal. T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a one-on-one with a defender that was giving up nearly a foot in height (or so it seemed). Instead of going to the end zone, Housh sort of rounded off the route and stopped short of the goal line. The Seahawks are starting to remind me of the Redskins -- they don't have any confidence in their offensive success, so they'll just go dink-dink-dink all day. My impression was that they paid Housh all that money to provide end zone advantage.

The Seahawks' brilliant "silent defensive count" strategy is backfiring something fierce. Basically, between that and the home crowd, Manning probably has to call his audibles over more noise in practice. Presnap, it sounds like he's in a public library.

Tennessee Titans 17 at Jacksonville Jaguars 37

Tom Gower: The Jaguars will be missing both rookie OTs, so Tra Thomas gets off the bench. For Britton at RT, they're kicking out Maurice Williams from RG and putting Nwaneri in for him. It's probably the better move, but it just feels wrong to voluntarily start 3 OL you didn't start the previous week. Something I'll have to keep an eye on once the game starts.

MJD goes in from 10 yards out to give the Jags their first 1Q TD of the season and a 10-0 lead early on Tennessee. The Titans have gone 3&out both times they've had the ball and Garrard's been able to find time to hit WRs downfield. They picked on Nick Harper the first drive, but he did manage a PD on 3&G to force the field goal. This drive, they also picked on Jason McCourty some, just to prove they're an equal opportunity assaulter against CBs who can't cover.

On the bright side, Mark Jones has successfully managed to catch all 3 of Josh Scobee's kickoffs 8 yards deep into the end zone.

After #32 ST DVOA strikes again, giving the Jaguars the ball at the Titans' 46 after a kickoff, Garrard needs 3 plays before answering the Titans' FG with a TD to Sims-Walker. The Titans' pass D problems of the first two weeks certainly do not appear to have been fixed.

Chris Johnson comes close to breaking off a long gain, but Gerald Alexander not only makes the tackle but forces a fumble that Reggie Nelson manages to recover inbounds. CJ's knee is almost down, but Fisher elects not to challenge down 20-3 late in the 2nd quarter. It's probably a loser, but the chance you get a reversal is better than giving them the ball at your 42.

We've now lost the announcers (Fouts and Enberg), which is interesting and feeling rather blessed.

It's going to be another fun week of explaining the "going to the ground" rule for Titans fans. Mike Sims-Walker catches a pass in the end zone for the Jags, then is tackled by Jason McCourty, who strips the ball out before Sims-Walker is going to the ground. Pass is called incomplete on the field, but gets reviewed. But, because Sims-Walker was standing up when he made the catch and got 3 feet down before being tackled, he wasn't actually "going to the ground" when making the catch and thus the call on the field is overturned and the TD stands. Good job by the refs, though Riberon did a lousy job of explaining it. 27-3.

Titans get the ball back with under :30 left, but Collins is picked on an out route when he completely doesn't see the obvious underneath defender. Only :10 for the Jags to work with from the 26, and Scobee misses wide right after Garrard is sacked.

After holding the Jaguars to a FG on their first possession of the second half, Collins moves the Titans down the field on short and medium passes, hitting Kenny Britt on a couple third downs. The Jags get pressure in the middle, though, and Collins airmails a pass right to Cox. VY starting Week 8 after a bye for an 0-6 team is looking more like reality (vs. IND, at NE the next 2 games).

Kerry Collins has now passed Dave Krieg on the all-time yardage list. Wonderful accomplishment on a 16/27, 124, 0/2 day.

Mark Jones gets an 8 yard return on a Jaguar punt to give the Titans their best starting field position of the game. Their own 23. Yes, it's been that kind of day.

Baltimore Ravens 21 at New England Patriots 27

Bill Barnwell: Joe Flacco's drawn the Patriots offside with a hard count twice in six snaps or so, including once from the shotgun. Not bad.

Love watching the Ravens' offense so far this year (charted 2 of 3 games, thanks AFC West). They ran a lot of plays last week motioning Clayton into the backfield as the tailback and then handing the ball to the upback (usually Rice) with the occasional handoff to Clayton and a Flacco option. This week, they run the same motion, but work play action to the fullback and then throw a quick hitch to the side Clayton came from for the first down.

Is anyone tougher in the pocket than Flacco? He stands in the pocket and, despite having a rusher right in his face, throws a perfect out to Mason for a touchdown.

Bill Barnwell: Jim Nantz is a poet. "The sun has come out after a week-long scrimmage with the clouds, and is declaring victory."

Aaron Schatz: The one thing I would say about this game so far is that the Ravens don't seem to be sending quite as many pass rushers after Tom Brady as people expected. Just four or five, I haven't seen a lot with six or more. They didn't copy the Jets' game plan.

Now that the Patriots beat Baltimore at home, can all of New England stop having a massive panic attack, worrying that the Pats are going 6-10 just because they lost a road game to a division rival by a touchdown?

Mike Tanier: The Patriots forced Joe Flacco to make some bad-habit mistakes in mid game, throwing off his back foot several times and getting a little cute with his scrambling. They did this by rushing him hard early and by doubling Todd Heap often to take away the safety valve. He bounced back for a decent game, but it showed that the Patriots can still take away a major part of an opposing offense.

Penalties were also a big problem for the Ravens. Two roughing the passer calls, an offensive pass interference, a few illegal contacts in the secondary. They kept giving the Patriots first downs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13 at Washington Redskins 16

David Gardner: On the first drive of the game for Washington, Gaines Adams got a sack on second down and then recovered a fumble off a Jimmy Wilkerson fumble on third down. A good start for a guy under a lot of pressure.

Doug Farrar: And Josh Johnson (the guy I did a pool report on from the Combine two years ago) threw a touchdown pass off that turnover with a pretty sweet play-action fake. Good to see him doing well out there.

David Gardner: The Bucs defense has come alive today. Clinton Portis has had some nice runs, but for the most part, has been contained. Talib has a pair of interceptions, Gaines Adams came to play and Geno Hayes has looked really fast in run support.

Doug Farrar: In the second quarter, Campbell threw a pass that bounced off the umpire and flew straight up in the air, and that was almost another pick. The Redskins are very lucky they’re playing an offense that can’t score – it’s only 7-0 near the half even with all those Washington miscues.

David Gardner: Ronde Barber has still got the speed. He broke up a near-touchdown pass on the last Redskins drive and then blocked an extra point off the edge.

Talib is having the game of his young career, with three interceptions. It'd be a perfect game for him except he got burned bad by Holmes on a huge touchdown pass that is the difference in the game.

Mike Tanier: How many quarterback runs were there in this game? Wow, 14. Campbell's preferred method of getting first downs was to scramble on third down. Johnson just likes to run around in circles like QB-Eagles from Tecmo Bowl. When Santana Moss caught that touchdown pass, it may have been the only time all day a receiver was open.

New York Jets 10 at New Orleans Saints 24

Doug Farrar: Halfway through the second quarter, the Saints are up, 17-0 on the Jets, and both of New Orleans’ touchdowns are from the defensive side of the ball. Welcome to Bizarro World Saints, where defense exists!

Sean McCormick: Sanchez has made two brutal mistakes, the first being a telegraphed throw towards the end zone that Darren Sharper picked and returned for a touchdown and the second being a sack and fumble in the end zone when he held onto the ball WAY too long off a play action. Since that point, he's responded by tucking the ball and running a lot more.

Fantasy alert: Shonn Greene is getting all the reps at halfback this series. Thomas Jones owners, beware.

Aaron Schatz: Saints pass rush is really overwhelming the Jets offensive line. All that talk about how many guys the Jets have been sending, but the Saints are blitzing just as much and the Jets can't pick it up.

Mike Kurtz: I think what you're seeing with the Jets this year is fundamentals. Aside from a really awful CB dive-tackle, all of the Jets tackles have been very fundamentally sound. A mediocre defense can quickly become a good defense with proper discipline and fundamentals. That's often lost in the shuffle.

Aaron Schatz: Charles Grant all over the place today. He had a sack where he came in unblocked. For some reason, the Jets had Damien Woody blocking to the left instead. How do you let a defensive end in untouched?

Bill Barnwell: Welcome to "Not Converting On Fourth Down" Week. We've seen at least four failed conversions today.

Vince Verhei: Chad Ochocinco does not have this day on his calendar.

Aaron Schatz: Ian Dembsky made a good point over here at Bill's house. Teams need to stop running so many handoffs to the halfback in the I-formation. If
the defense wants to stuff things up the middle, it's going to be very hard for the running back to make it to the line of scrimmage before the defense blocks everything. You are going to have a lot more success with a quarterback sneak, a give to the fullback, or some sort of outside toss to the halfback which takes advantage of the defense sending everyone inside instead.

Will Carroll: Which brings up a question I asked a couple weeks ago -- why is there virtually no pitch in the NFL? Why does Manning have to run out to Addai on the stretch play? Why no toss sweep? Fake dive, pitch reverse? There are a lot of things I grasp as differences in NCAA and NFL bc of size and speed, but this one's counterintuitive. The chance of a fumble can't be so much greater as to negate the speed of a pitch, can it?

Mike Tanier: There's no pitch anymore because defenses are too fast for a slow developing pitch play. By the time a halfback gets up the sideline, often the linebackers are already there.

Aaron Schatz: They pitch occasionally. We're actually tracking that in game charting this year.

Elias Holman: Last week in GB-STL, GB ran a play at the goal line out of the I where they faked like the play was just a power run to the right, and then did a quick give to the fullback who went left and walked into the endzone untouched as the defense was basically asleep and he got to the line of scrimmage so much faster. While that was STL we're talking about, it does support the "please do something interesting out of the I" theory.

Dallas Cowboys 10 at Denver Broncos 17

Mike Tanier: It is now 10-0 Dallas and the Broncos cannot stop the run at all. Are the real Broncos about to stand up?

Vince Verhei: Champ Bailey picks off Tony Romo in the red zone, a beautiful fingertip snag. Denver still trails 10-7, but it's time to admit this team is much, much better than I thought they would be. Particularly on defense, where the front seven looks really aggressive. Seems like there's an orange jersey in the backfield more often than not. And the aging secondary is playing, well, young. I'm still not sure how good they are -- wins over Cleveland and Oakland do not impress me, and I'm still not sure what to make of Cincinnati or Dallas -- but I expected them to be one of the worst teams in the league, and they're certainly not that. They're about to enter the brutal part of their schedule, but they still have games against the Raiders, Redskins, and Chiefs twice, so they should be at least contending for the playoffs into December.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, when my team has two plays to try to score a touchdown to tie the game, the right call is to throw the ball to my number-four receiver covered by Champ Bailey. Twice.

Mike Tanier: The Broncos defense sure did tighten up after the first few drives. I wanna get a closer look at this game tape to see exactly who is beating up on whom, besides Dumervil.

Aaron Schatz: I'll agree with Vince. The Denver defense does look pretty good. It doesn't look like their strong numbers were just the result of playing bad offenses. They're really in Romo's head. How many times can he overthrow guys on post patterns so they have to jump and the ball glances off their fingertips?

The Denver offense, on the other hand, has caught some ridiculously lucky breaks.

St. Louis Rams 0 at San Francisco 49ers 35

Vince Verhei: Vernon Davis just made a great leaping catch on a seam route for a touchdown. He's starting to make that a habit.

Kyle Boller will always be Kyle Boller. He's played OK most of the day, but then he holds the ball, drifts right, then throws back across the field right to Patrick Willis, who takes it to the house.

San Diego Chargers 28 at Pittsburgh Steelers 38

Tom Gower: Attention Norv Turner: The game has started. You can make challenges. Challenging, say, that long early pass to Mike Wallace would probably have been a good idea.

Aaron Schatz: Attention Chargers: The game has started. You can play defense.

Wow, Rashard Mendenhall looks good. He looks so much better than Willie Parker, but I'm trying to figure out how much it is him -- the Chargers just can't stop anything up the middle without Jamal Williams. I'm sure Parker would look a lot better with holes this big.

Mike Kurtz: A lot of it is the Chargers, but Mendenhall doesn't have the incredible reticence that Parker does. He's not afraid of contact, and he's willing to hit first. He has other problems, but he's definitely better than Parker.

MIke Tanier: It's midway through the second quarter and I don't think the Chargers have heard Aaron's announcements yet.

Aaron Schatz: Honest to god, are the Chargers even trying? I know the defense is dealing with some injures but the offense just looks completely listless -- in the rare instances they've actually had the ball.

Mike Kurtz: Collinsworth drunkenness watch: "The Steelers are just kickin' their... stinkin' butts! Look at that! Yeah!"

Hooray, Steelers have begun looking for ways to lose this game.

Tom Gower: Brian Urlacher's TD against Arizona, redux. I'm pretty sure Logan's not down, and no whistle = San Diego touchdown.

Mike Kurtz: Yeah, that the whistle didn't get blown is an absolute travesty.

Aaron Schatz: Somebody needs to tell Cris Collinsworth that Adrian Peterson is not a good example of a player who doesn't fumble a lot.

I wonder if Mike Tomlin is going to be excoriated for letting Mewelde Moore throw a halfback option in the red zone, the same way Washington fans ripped Jim Zorn apart for the same play call a couple weeks ago with Clinton Portis.

And do you know what? Lawrence Timmons on Antonio Gates isn't really the best matchup for the Steelers.

Mike Kurtz: Nearly a disaster, but hopefully this game will see the end of the Willie Parker era.

Aaron Schatz: It was strange to see a Norv Turner team make a huge fourth-quarter comeback instead of the usual blowing of a fourth-quarter lead. This defense is really torn up, though -- that comeback was all offense, and one fluky special teams fumble/strip. They seem to be getting some more pass rush than they had last year, but the run defense is horrible without Jamal Williams, and it doesn't look like a healthy Antonio Cromartie has been a dramatic improvement on last year's secretly injured Antonio Cromartie.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 05 Oct 2009

244 comments, Last at 08 Oct 2009, 4:31pm by MJK


by Chris from CT (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:57am

No one watched the NYG/KC game?

by NYCityRat :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:06am

Yes, this perplexed me as well. Usually every game has at least one line, such as last week's "The Rams are killing killing killing me" from Mike.

by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:26am

Wow, first two comments about not watching some horrible game. This site is too popular for its own good now.

by Grouchy Bills Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:41pm

Frankly, I'm just as glad that nobody watched or wants to comment on the Bills game. Including me.

by Led :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:22am

If you were not a NYG or KC fan, would you watch it if there were other options? A Jints blowout was inevitable. They're stacked and KC is just not good.

by Chris from CT (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:36am

Oh, I dunno. I can think of storylines:

- Is Matt Cassel bad, or is KC just a black hole of talent?
- Where the hell did Steve Smith come from?
- Eli hurt?

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:47am

yeah, but if you're not a fan of KC or the Giants none of those storylines are that interesting because the talent disparity is so wide between KC and the Giants.

Steve Smith may or may not be any good - he's putting up big numbers against crap teams (like KC), so there's nothing too remarkable about his performance on Sunday. Or, at least, not interesting enough to make watching that game worth a non-fan's time.

Same goes for Cassel - he's looked bad, but mainly against good defenses (Balt., Philly, Giants), so seeing Cassel struggle to lead an over-matched KC team isn't that interesting.

Was Eli hurt? I saw that weird jump around play (which, to be fair, was the most interesting moment of the game). But, yeah, if that's the best the game has to offer, there's just not much to say.

A good team beat up a bad team (and Eli Manning tripped over his own foot) - that's the whole story, right?

by Dave0 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:56am

yes, why on earth would anyone watch nyg/kc if there was another game on

if raiderjoe stops by he'll do a better job of describing the horrible-ness of kc, but... were you tripping over yourself getting the lions vs anyone on your television last year?

by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:13pm

Hold on. We've had a lot of people say that we should've watched a lot of games in the past, and I can understand that they just ignore the opening to this piece every week.

But Eli hurt? That means that you either:

- Wanted us to anticipate that Eli Manning was going to get hurt this week, and despite the fact that it was going to come at the end of the game and just result in David Carr having an ugly series, that we should watch the entire game just to smugly prove how right we were about Eli getting injured.


- Upon hearing that Eli was hurt, flip the channel away from one of the close games that were going on at 3:20 or so, in order to tell each other "Eli is hurt. You should stop watching that Ravens-Patriots game so we can all watch the replay together."


- Upon hearing that Eli was hurt, go back in time and watch the Giants game from the beginning, in order to anticipate Eli's injury.

by DGL :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:17pm

Personally, I'd go with (c). Isn't KUBIAK also a time machine?

by jebmak :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:08pm

You guys are always so smug about your predictions. It makes me sick.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:00pm

Are you joking - because I really do feel like Barnwell is needlessly smug and condescending when replying to comments. I'd go so far as to suggest that FOA's horrifically bad team predictions this year might be the result of the FOMBC being brought down on FO itself by Barnwell...

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:16pm

Unless I missed something, Bill didn't actually predict anything just now.

As for the 'smugness' - I'd recommend either: a) finding another football site with statistical analysis, or; b) enjoying the smugness for what it is, similar to going back to that Chinese restaurant with the extremely rude waitstaff over and over, just for the novelty.

by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:19am

As I read it, he was referring back to Bill's statement that if he had commented on Eli getting hurt, he would have been obligatorily smug. Humorous support, not criticism.

by Quincy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:32pm

Having watched the whole game, let me first agree with everyone who said there was no reason for a nonfan to have watched that game.

That said, my take on the few storylines you brought up:

- Matt Cassel looks pretty bad. I understand that he is surrounded by inferior talent and has faced some tough defenses. I expect his numbers would be better had he gone to Denver and not KC. That said, if you're a Chiefs fan you have to be more than a little worried.

- Steve Smith is reminding me of a young Hines Ward. He doesn't have the speed, size or athleticism of a #1 wr, but has great hands and just excels at route running and finding holes in the defense so his physical talents play up. This is his 3rd season, which is breakout territory for most young WRs. Also, Smith is getting a ton of targets as Eli seems to be relying on him almost as much as he used to rely on Plax. That was especially the case yesterday after Manningham dropped a couple balls early and contributed to the interception.

by mrh :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:41pm

Cassel has looked terrible. As a Chiefs fan, of course this worries me. However, there are multiple possible explanations:

1. Cassel is bad.
2. The line is bad (4 games, three starting RTs and it's not like the LT is playing well; the other positions aren't so strong either).
3. The receivers are bad or at least not on the same page as the QB (new re-treads Wade, Ryan, Pope and Engram, Wade and Pope did not go thru preseason with the team; old re-trade Bradley already has been benched once; Bowe has been in the doghouse and hurt; and Cassel missed some of preseason and the first game).
4. At the end of preseason, the OC was fired and the HC took over OC duties, changing a lot of what was worked on in the off-season and first exhibition games.
5. The RBs are bad so there is little threat of a running game to take pressure off the QB.
6. The OC/HC has decided to implement a power running game which has consistently left the team in 2nd/3rd and long.

It's not like the organization should be excused for #1 thru 6. And Cassel may be bad. But there are so many bad things going on that it's impossible to sort out all the blame. And as bad as yesterday was, it was better than last week.

by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:42pm

My view, for what it's worth, is that Cassel is adequate to "better than just good". That is, in the right system or on the right team, he'll do well.

Cripes, taking him from New England, a system guaranteed to make just about anyone who can throw a ball look good, to KC, where you wonder if there IS a system....well, that's not Cassel's fault.

My guess is he wanted to prove he can do a decent job. He just picked the wrong team to prove it on. I think there are a few QBs like that out there. Warner, upon leaving St. Louis, generally sucked until last year. All of a sudden, with some good support, he's amazing again. Favre went from rejuvenated to "eh, so-so" with the Jets last year, and looks like he may be rejuvenated again (I say give it 2 more games, then he'll revert to the age he really is and the numbers show it).

Cassel would be fine if he stayed in New England and Brady didn't come back. And he'd probably be fine if Philly, Indianapolis, Baltimore, or Tennessee needed a QB. But they don't. And QB alone isn't going to fix a team that's in disarray.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 8:22pm

To be fair to Cassel, he didn't officially choose Kansas City; rather, they traded for him. (Now, I assume they made sure he wouldn't hold out or anything before trading for him, or at least I hope they did, so he must have had some small say. Though I imagine the prospect of being the starter somewhere was more important that picking the ideal destination for him.)

by Sophandros :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 9:20am

Also to be fair, maybe he is just Scott Mitchell, part II, which means that he'll have a monster season soon and then regress back to what he really is: A Career Backup.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 9:52am

Didn't he just have the monster season?

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:17am

As a Colts fan, I'd root for Fisher to be fired, except I'd be afraid he'd land in Jacksonville.

Del Rio in Jacksonville has been a key to the Colts' success. Fisher in Tennessee has been a thorn in their sides. Jeff is a great game day coach.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:55am

Nicely said. I respect, maybe even like Fisher. But anybody will fail in Jax as long as their owner is, well, their owner. And their future is murky. WWhile i doubt this would happen, wo knows, Mad Jack might move on and have solid success elsewhere, with nary an axe or chopping block in the locker room.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:47pm

Would you care to clarify this comment? I can understand many of the criticisms of Del Rio, but what exactly did Wayne Weaver do to ensure a lack of success for any coach?

Obviously, there were major mistakes in the Jaguars' early years with salary cap management, and James Harris was given far too much slack with his draft and free agent debacles.

But Weaver's spent freely to keep what standout players the Jaguars have had, and has wisely given Gene Smith a powerful GM role with excellent initial success in personnel moves. The Jaguars haven't been as active in free agency after some early-years splurges, but that certainly doesn't look like a bad thing just in terms of how consistently successful teams our built (and their one splurge in 2008 was a disaster). It also doesn't make Weaver a tightwad despite what Michael Silver might have you believe.

And it's unlikely you'll find very many owners who are more charitably inclined or dedicated to his community than Weaver is. He goes out of his way to treat his team's fans with kindness and decency and to give them ample access to their team. The way Weaver conducts himself and his team's affairs versus, e.g., Dan Snyder is startling.

Usually there's at least some partial truth to your bizarre obsession with introducing gratuitous slams on the Jaguars and/or Jacksonville into threads, and I'm sure you revel in baiting Jaguar fans with them.

But for those unfamiliar with him, a good man like Wayne Weaver, who makes me proud to be a fan of his team, sure as hell doesn't deserve some unexplained ipso facto assault on his stature.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:49pm

That should say "are" built, obviously - sorry

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:07pm

No, no, and sorry. I had no intent to bait Jags fans. Really. If I made an anti-Al Davis slam, I think the strongest supporters (one notably excluded) would be Raiders fans.

My impression of Jags ownership/management is probably more from the Shack Harris regime than Gene Smith, and I know nothing of Weaver's local community-minded activities. I certainly didn't mean to imply that he was somehow a bad citizen.

I just meant that the team has been run in what might be called a questionably wise manner--there was the fiery young coach and a pretty good talent base, they kept following sort of a sine-wave pattern of success, rising almost to the expected level, then falling off, rising and falling. Maybe the draft classes didn't fill in the gaps year after year, leaving the structure weak? The dominating D and two-headed rushing attack of a few years ago was, to use a harsh word, wasted. That's only really appropriate if you view a SB win as the only true validation of an NFL season. I don't, but understand many fans' views that it is. Along the lines of "Jeez, this was our year and where did we end up?!?!" Squandered might be more appropriate.

It seems that with a few different ingredients in the mix, they could have had the consistent success of a few other AFC teams with notably strong visionary leadership, good drafts (or FA signings), etc. (I'm thinking Kraft, Irsay, Rooneys) They had the player core, IMO. But failed to execute. And yes, having a HOF-caliber QB doesn't hurt those other teams.

Happy to revise my opinion if the Smith regime continues to improve things (but so long as they don't displace the Colts). As an opponent, they used to concern me. No longer.

As for the coach, I think Jack is just too much of a loose cannon and I thought his Mike Pete dust-up last year could have been a fatal error.

by strannix (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:26pm

Maybe I'm just missing it, but I don't see how any of what you've written explains - or even addresses - the notion that the Jags cannot win with Weaver as the owner. None of it even has to do with the behavior of the owner.

by Admorish (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:20pm

Hello, Mrs. Weaver! How are you today?

Just kidding, I don't know anything about Wayne Weaver, or his behavior.

Everyone talked about how the Titans were clever because they fielded a great team before easily foreseen cap problems blew them up. Jacksonville's problem with the same plan, to me at least, was injuries.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:27pm

I realize I'm somewhat over the top with my commentary here. It's rather a personal subject with me because there is a chorus in the media (Silver, Kornheiser, King) that has been more or less openly cheerleading for the Jaguars to relocate, not only this year with the glaring and very frustrating ticket sales problems but in past years when they were not nearly as severe.

It's at turns depressing and frightening. Through it all, Weaver has really said and done everything in his power to make fans feel appreciated and show his commitment to the city. I'm not from Jacksonville and have never lived there, but I love the city and couldn't root for the team if it played somewhere else. I am a season ticket holder even though I live out of state and can only make a couple of game a year. I appreciate Weaver's stability and reassurance in the face of the storm. Other owners in similar circumstances--Tom Benson pre-Katrina, Robert Irsay in the late 70s/early 80s, etc.--have blustered and added fuel to the fire. Weaver is fair and honest about the situation, but goes out of his way to defend the city in the press and to contribute to its being a better place on a regular basis.

I understand Bobman's argument above completely and there's nothing I could argue with in it. I realize he was conflating ownership with roster management, and the Jaguars have indeed made a number of mistakes in roster management--the salary cap situation, then the Harris draft/FA debacles--although Gene Smith is quite obviously righting the ship if this offseason and the early returns on the rookies are any indication.

Hearing someone casually say "the Jaguars have bad ownership"--Michael Silver has done it, rather bizarrely and under a seeming vendetta against Jacksonville and desire to move a team to L.A.--tends to set me off, because I know what Weaver has meant to the team and the city.

I get that Silver is an L.A. resident who wants a team, but beyond that, I've no idea why anyone in the press or on this message board would want to do a preliminary end-zone dance over a city or fan base's struggles, even if one disliked the team. It just seems exceptionally petty and small and I fail to comprehend how it benefits any fan to see an up-and-coming city, or a slowly declining older one, fail to keep its NFL team. I'm not a Colts fan for divisional reasons, but couldn't conceive of gloating about the prospect of Indianapolis' losing the Colts when it experienced some ticket sales problems in the RCA Dome years, or trashing their fan base. I wish success for all the small-market cities in the league in building and growing strong fan bases, if not success on the field given that two of them are in my team's division.

Injuries did hurt Jacksonville's fast and loose play with the salary cap in the early years, but the Jaguars threw a lot of money at players in the decline phases of their careers too, more so than the Titans did, I believe.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:18am

So the AFC looks the same as always - NE, Indy, Balt, Pitt and two other teams that alternate for the last two spots. Not sure that is entirely accurate - just seems that way to me for the past 8 years or so.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:26am

The AFC playoffs are going to be great this year... who wins it all?

The Colts have defensive problems... and Manning hasn't been great outdoors on the road against good defenses. I'm not going to call him a choke artist, but he hasn't been himself...

Ravens, I'm not inclined to believe in Flacco just yet.

The Steelers offensive line, plus repeating....

San Diego's defense has been weak, plus the Norv factor.

The Patriots were the favorites early in the year, didn't look themselves on offense or defense... They have the best coach and 1A QB when healthy...

With this oligopoly of good teams at the top, getting homefield advantage by having the best record through the regular season could help one of these team chances.

With the salary cap the NFL doesn't have that 1 dominant team like they used to... there are a number of teams that work around the cap well to field strong teams every year... SEE AFC upper class, but they do have teams that are complete duds too.

by jebmak :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:46am

1A QB instead of 1B QB? Them's fightin' words.

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:00pm

Actually, 1A is perfect. You don't know whether they're 1 and 1A or 1A and 1B. Safest way to describe either of them.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:05pm

So far, I am not sure what the Colts' D problems are aside from health and the wildcat. Missing the D captain/MLB, starting CB, and former DPOY SS, yet still managed to hold the Jags to about 100 yds (about 1/4 of their one-game total a few years ago when MJD famously said "we were going for 400"!), and the Cards/Seahawks to under about 40 on average. Neither of those is a moajor running team, but holding any team to 2.6 YPC or less is pretty decent. Against the pass, well, what would Warner have to say about that? Wallace got all his yardage in garbage time against backups. The rush is excellent and the cover-2 working well.

The key for the Colts D is Manning (and, often enough, vice versa). If he keeps up the pressure--and even if he is "contained" you never know when he'll break out--the opponents have to play with an urgency that feeds into the Colts' strengths. not to say they can not be figured out/game-planned, but their weaknesses on D are far from obvious.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:15pm

The case for an injured Bob Sanders would be better if the guy wasn't always hurt.

The scary thing for the Colts is if they are matched up against say Baltimore in the playoffs, and the Ravens 3 backs go Miami on them and rush for 250 yards and keep Manning off the field, and their defense forces him to make just enough mistakes.

or if SD does the same thing, although a little less effective, but Sproles and their punter dominate special teams enough again to pull off the win.

The Colts pass rush/speed on defense that is vulnerable to the run match up better against the Tom Bradys.

by BostonPDF (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:46pm

But Miami still lost. Of course, horrible clock management at the end probably did that to them, and I wouldn't anticipate the Ravens doing the same. Ultimately, giving Manning just one quarter of time to move the ball may not be enough.

by TGT2 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:44pm

As a Ravens fan, the team that scares me the most are the colts. The CBs (and to a lesser degree, LB depth) are the Raven's biggest weakness. Against San Diego, Rivers and Jackson ripped them to shreds on deep passes, but Rivers underthrew most of the passes, and kept being stuck in condensed field no man's land. Manning hits his receivers in stride, so all those deep passes are TDs, not FGs. Not pretty for the Ravens.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:18pm

Plus, so far this season, the Ravens are a pass-first team. I don't think that Flacco to Mason is comparable to Warner to Fitz/Boldin/Breaston.

The Ravens are a much more competent rushing team than AZ, of course.

Frankly, who are the dominant run-first teams of yesteryear? The Steelers seem to have lost that ability. Ravens are enjoying the N2O high of a high-scoring aerial attack. Chargers... ditto in 08 and 09. Pats, not in a few years. Denver? No idea. Jets... I don't think so but maybe. So for the Colts worst-case scenario, a stout-D playoff team that can grind out a game for 40 minutes TOP and 200+ yards on the ground, that team does not exist--as of today in the AFC. It used to be the Steelers, the Jags, and Titans, Chargers, Broncos a handful of years ago. No more in the AFC. In the NFC, they are called the Giants. The Vikes (suddenly competent at QB, too!). The Niners.

Interesting conference dichotomy, actually. Or am I simplifying it too much?

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:16pm

With the run/pass the Ravens have been sporting lately, their offense doesn't really even scare me as a Colts fan all that much.

The Miami OL absolutely dominated the Colts D line, especially the tackles. I don't know if it was a one time thing or maybe just Ed Johnson getting his legs back under him or what (I do know that Wildcat or no wildcat, Miami's interior line is impressive - they were blowing them off the ball and whacking a guy at the 2nd level too on every play) but those DTs fixed things in the next two games and it was a night and day difference.

It remains to be seen whether they'll keep that up, but I wouldn't say the key to the Colts D is Manning. It's the tackles. If they do their jobs well, everything else suddenly looks ten times better. The past 2 games they've justified the optimism that many of us had about them turning a weakness into a strength. They've played well 4 men deep... and that's without Moala even dressing yet.

This week should be telling. Even with the Titans struggling, their OL has still been run blocking pretty well, haven't they? They're probably not going to fix their secondary in time to give Peyton a hard time, so one would assume they'll be doing some running. Then again, it's Fisher, so he could go all gadget/onside kick/pass-wacky on them and it wouldn't surprise me. He doesn't often do the predictable thing against the Colts.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:24pm

Well, we know Fisher will get at least one kickoff to go onsides with, and maybe two, but possibly not a third to tinker with. Maybe a quick kick punt on 1st and 10 from the 50 to pin Manning deep--worked for Mike Scifres.

And what is the deal with Moala--he was the supposed DL savior on draft day and has yet to see much time. Injured? Just not up to snuff? If a crop of UDFA types can keep a second round pick on the bench, that's some hard playing by those guys.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:49pm

Just not up to snuff so far. Not in practice or in the preseason games.

Not that I put any stock in what Todd McShay or Mel Kiper say, but that guy has had one serious fall from grace. 14 months ago most draft morons had him as a potential #1/certain top 5 pick (along with at least one of his 3 LB teammates).

Muir has really stepped up too, though, and at the time they drafted him, they hadn't picked Big Ed back up. So they were thinking it might be Johnson/Muir/Foster/Moala/Taylor. The first three have all stepped up, the 2nd Johnson was added, and thus you've got two useless (thus far) 09 draft picks.

There's plenty of time for him to turn it around though.

by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:55pm

As a Colts fan, I can say that I have very few problems with the way the Colts D has played this season.
- They came up BIG in the Jax game, keeping the Jags from getting into FG range and making a huge 4th down stop.
- Despite being on the field for 45 minutes, they kept the Dolphins out of the end zone.
- A short week after the Dolphins game, down a few key players, they held the defending NFC Champs, home of the best receiver in the NFL, to 10 points, where late in the 3rd they basically said "These guys aren't beating us." and just started running.
- The Seattle game was over in the first half. The Colts could have just kneeled down for the second half and Seattle would STILL have lost by a touchdown.

The Ravens are good, but if I'm them I'm worried about a repeat of 2006: a hungry, fast, aggressive Colts team coming into town and punching them in the mouf. Even worse, them going to Indy and being out of contention by the 3rd quarter.

The Steelers O line is going to get Big Ben killed. He can't take the kind of punishment he's getting for too long. Moreover, the D isn't dominant, and the running game just isn't clicking. The Bengals will push them all season. The Ravens are probably a better team.

I'd peg Denver as the 4th division winner, not SD. SD is talented, but isn't winning games. Merriman isn't even 50%. LDT is maybe 25% of the LDT he was three years ago (much to my fantasy team's chagrin). Denver is 4-0. Still though, with the Raiders and Chiefs, that's a guaranteed 4 wins.

The Patriots have an old defense that's missing some star players, and isn't the D it used to be. Tom isn't 100%, and the idea that he might never be is a valid one. Their receiving corps isn't what it was in 2007. They might not even win their division with the Jets playing so well.

I think you're looking at this:
1) Colts
2) Ravens
3) Jets
4) Broncos
WC1) Patriots
WC2) Steelers/Bengals

by MJK :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:14pm

The Patriots have an old defense that's missing some star players, and isn't the D it used to be.

The last part of your statement is true...the Patriots completely re-tooled their defense this year and only five starters are the same (Warren, Wilfork, Thomas, Mayo, and Sanders). And even fewer of them are starting now...Sanders has been bumped to #3 on the depth chart due to the good play of Meriweather and McGowan, and Mayo is out for a while with an injury. However, given how horrible their D was last year, not being the D they used to be is actually a good thing.

But I wouldn't exactly call their defense "old"...that's a myth that has been circulating for about the past two years that just won't die.

Here are their (unofficial) starters after four games, with ages:
Warren 29
Wilfork 28
Green 30
Woods 27
Mayo 23 (Guyton 24)
Thomas 32
Springs 34
Bodden 28
Meriweather 25
Sanders 26 (McGowan 26)

Only two starters are over age 30, and one of them (Springs) has been seeing very limited playing time, with Butler (23) and Wilhite (25) seeing as much or more time on the field. Only Adalius Thomas is really "old".

The Patriots defense has actually been carrying the team. They struggled a little in the Buffalo game, but have given up just 16, 10, and 14 points in the last three games, against three decent offenses (or at least two...Atlanta and Baltimore).

Their problems have been primarily offensive, with Brady missing his WR's and the WR's running the wrong routes, but they're taking steps to fix that...Brady is starting to look a little better, and benching Joey Galloway and getting Welker back is a major step in the right direction. A lot of people are predicting a Jets division this year, since the Jets won a (close) game, but the Jets didn't look so hot last week. I'm looking forward to seeing the rematch on November 22.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:36pm

MJK, you left Seau (age 79) off your list. He skews the average, but not the median. you are right, they are much younger than general perception.

Why are they re-signing him? Senior leadership? Injuries? Lack of depth? They need his poi recipe? (yes, I'll get kneed in the balls for my cultural insensitivity, but I went for the cheap laugh I'll never hear anyway.) Actually, a MLB playing for 20 years at his level is more impressive to me than even Jerry Rice playing for 20 years at his level. A LOT more punishment in the middle there. To survive is one thing; to thrive is yet another, and to want to keep going back and to be sought out at that age is amazing.

A final note on NFL ages--teams should really be judged by the ages of their 5 key O and D guys,not overall team age. If you look at a table from 1-32, the total range is about 2.0 years of age, with the youngest team averaging about 26 and the oldest 28. That's no big deal, folks. The spread from #1 to #10 might be all of five months. How much does a guy age in those five months? A 44 year-old K or P or long snapper skews things but has no effect on the vitality or veteran savvy of a team (except that older kickers usually have weaker legs, but you can game-plan around that by not attempting 50 yard FGs; it's not like comparing a 14 year vet LT who may be savvy but is losing a step, to a dynamic 3rd year DE snorting fire from his nose). My $0.02 on the average age stats. I prefer MJK's approach--pick the key guys who are actually out there 20+ minutes a game.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:00pm

Here are their (unofficial) starters after four games

I think I know what the Patriots defensive problems are! They're only starting 10 guys.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:12pm

There is absslutely zero chance that the Jets win the East. By season's end, they will be in their rightful place... 2-3 games behind NE.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:20am

Why didn't Dallas run the ball in the 2nd half? Why did the offense ignore Jason Witten? It seemed like even on first downs Romo was throwing and getting nothing. Denver's pass rush was alright, and their zone coverage was alright too.
Denver's defense looks much much better than last year... Bradie James played well and the guy has 9 sacks in his last 14 games as a MLB. Brandon Marshall made an amazing play at the end of the game over Terrance Newman who actually was in good coverage. Marshall then beat 5 cowboys down the field for the game winning score. I think Dallas on the rebuttal could have had a DPI call in the 2nd to last play, and certainly in their last play of the game with the defender draped all over the pass catcher.

Steve Smith had another fantastic week for the Giants. The Giants got lucky on a bad call on a helmet to helmet call from Jared Paige ( Smith beat the chiefs over the top for a TD on the next play) and it looks like the Refs admitted they were wrong after the TD. They were talking with a pissed off Paige who made a clean play.

Darren Sharper is still a ball hawk. I though Sanchez would make some mistakes on the road in that loud Dome...

Matt Stafford again played better than at least I expected.

The Patriots defense played better than I expected and early on when I saw them containing the Ravens offense, I thought the Pats would win... They lost to the Jets a few weeks ago ( a game people modeled this game against), but remember they were winning 9-0 after failed opportunites which could have been 21-0 under normal Brady circumstances. The Ravens beat 2 duds and won a good game in SD... The reason why I liked the Pats was because they were stuffing the Ravens run game and forcing Joe to throw. Joe looked very calm in the pocket ( Joe Cool), but I didn't expect the win...

Redskins/Bucs game = special olympics.

The Browns/Bengals game was brutal as well...

I didn't even watch the Colts game, but how come whenever a QB sucks it's always " he has no line"? How come whenever a QB doesn't complete passes " no receivers were open?"

The Steelers offensive line looked much MUCH better last night and like a real NFL line for once. Part of that could have been the depleted SD front they were playing, but we'll have to see next week.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:35am

I hope Jaws covers Romo in next week's Matchup - his performance wasn't just bad, it was perplexing. It looked like his sacks were more about coverage than pressure, but it also looked like he was feeling phantom pressure on some of his misses in the 2nd half. Was he waiting for something to open up downfield? Were the receivers just getting blanketed? Was Romo confused the zones? They really didn't cover it during the game, and I can't see anything from the camera angles.

The Steve Smith helmet-to-helmet was BS, but it was also on 2nd and 5. Converting the 3rd and 5 wasn't guaranteed, but I'd still give it better than a 50% chance.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:44am

Who ever was calling the game once mentioned Romo "feeling the pressure", the next play Mike Nolan only rushed 3 and had 8 men back in coverage to take advantage of the mental state of the quarterback. I think even with 3 men Romo had to step up as (maybe Dumerville) forced the QB to move, but it seems like Romo was still in that flustered state.

I was wondering why the Dallas offense didn't work in the 2nd half, and I feel like they needed to run more behind that big offensive line, and use Jason Witten more.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:52am

I don't know about running more - they only averaged 3 yards a carry yesterday (and ran the ball 25 times), so it's not like they abandoned the running game or it was working so well for them to begin with. Their longest run was 11 yards.

When your QB is that off his game, I'm not sure there's anything you can do...

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:11pm

Romo looked like a guy who has spent almost all of his career behind poor pass blocking. His pocket mechanics have regressed, and he does react to phantom pressure. Note to owners who think they know something about football: if you are going to commit a ton of money to a qb who hasn't started a ton of games, make your next offensive commitment to pass blockers, instead of trading a ransom for a wide receiver who really has never done all that much.

by witless chum :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:21pm

As a Lions fan, there's little I get to gloat about, but Martin Mayhew fleecing one of the least appealing characters in the NFL in his first month on the job was pretty awesome. That he did it again, getting Anthony Henry and a pick for the sure-to-be-cut Jon Kitna was doubly amusing.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:27pm

That trade convinced me that that the Cowboys are soon headed back to the land of 6-10, unless Jones sobers up and makes another Parcells-like hire. Stupid, stupid, stupid, trade. Stupid. Really.

by Key19 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:30pm

I may be wrong, but I remember nothing about Detroit getting Henry and a pick (unless you were making a stretch of a pun to reference interceptions) for Kitna.

That said, the Roy trade at this point has been miserable.

by Key19 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:33pm

I think Romo may have been having flashbacks to Flo blowing blocks against NYG and PHI last last year and just about getting him killed (literally). Flo was terrible this week, and if I were Romo, I'd start to get a bit uneasy when I know he's having a bad game, regardless of what kind of rush is coming.

Jerry: Please don't hesitate to trot out Doug Free if Flo has more bad weeks.

by JasonK :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:36am

Smith's second TD wasn't "over the top," it was a post pattern in front of the safeties (whom he split to walk into the end zone).

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:48am

The pass was thrown over the top of the linebackers, on a post pattern breaking to the middle of the field inbetween the safeties.

Was it a deep bomb? No, but it was thrown probably 30 or so yards though the air above the LB's and in front of the safeties and not some rinky dink screen pass.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:38pm

"Over the top" typically means "over the top of the defense" which means past the safeties. You might want to be a bit clearer. I mean, even rinky-dink screen passes are "over the top" of a defensive lineman.

by DGL :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:59pm

Actually, rinky-dink screen passes are usually off into the flat or about 3 yards straight in front of the quarterback. But I think my pedantry on this is a bit over the top.

by Dave0 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:16pm

yes, i don't know what league a screen pass typically goes over a d-lineman in, but i don't think it's the nfl

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:36pm

Er? Plenty of screens consist of a linemen half-heartedly blocking a D-linemen, and then the quarterback throwing the ball over the rushing lineman to a running back behind the OL who've now set up in front of the running back.

Here's an NFLTA video from last year, with Sean Payton diagramming a screen pass in which Drew Brees throws a screen pass right over the head of a rushing lineman.

by Dave0 :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:11pm

that's my bad, i get 'screen' and 'shovel' mixed up sometimes, my apologies to the op

by billsfan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:22pm

To me, "over the top," almost always refers to the efforts of a divorced truck driver to win the affections of his estranged son by entering an arm-wrestling tournament. But it's hard to fit that into the context of a football game.

(I also like the Eagles)

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:16pm

So is the sky blue or not?

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:22pm


The pass went 30 or so yards through the air deep into the secondary to the point right where the safeties were after their backpedals....

It was a post and not a streak down the sidelines or anything and certainly not a rinky dinky screen pass "over the top" of a defensive lineman.

" After the cheap penalty, #10 threw a 30 yard pass through the air on a skinny post..."

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:00pm

"I didn't even watch the Colts game, but how come whenever a QB sucks it's always " he has no line"? How come whenever a QB doesn't complete passes " no receivers were open?""

I was at the Colts game, and I can tell you -- he had no line. He also isn't good, especially the run-out-of-bounds-for-a-loss play, but he didn't exactly have The Hogs out there protecting him today.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:10pm

Fair enough...
but it seems like whenever a QB sucks, his defenders say " he had no line", which isn't always the case. This is especially true with a popular player as people won't argue that Kyle Bollier or Joey Harrington had no line... " My guy" couldn't possibly suck... it's his line! "My guy" couldn't suck... it's his receivers! People will always rush to their guys defense and blame everything else whether or not it's true.

Yes, sometimes it really is the line or the receivers, but that excuse is way over played in my opinion. Do you think Ben Rothlisburger had a good line last year and especially against that schedule?

Seatle runs a quick throwing west coast offense. I don't think Hasselback particularly gets a lot of time to throw, but that's what they run when they are lined up 4 wide or 3wr and Carlson.

Also as always, good QB's make their line look better.

by LukeM :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:23am

The Colts tried pitching last year instead of having Manning sprint for the stretch play, and it didn't work as well. I think that the stretch extends the time before the hand-off without making the RB wait to start his run and without making the Colts even commit to running (play action). That keeps the linebackers from selling out to stop the run.

by LukeM :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:25am

I also think they were forced to try pitching because Manning's injury prevented him for sprinting for the stretch.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:59am

Exactly. So you take one of yor most effective plays and change it enough so that it's about 75% as effective on runs, which means the D can play pass more against your injured QB, and with the patchwork OL, the runs got worse and worse, pitch or not, reducing effectiveness by a full 50%. Last year was just sad.

This year it's not quite there (yet). The run game has been okay--enough--not hardly game-winning. With Manning, that might be enough, but come january, you want a bit more I'd say.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:26pm

Yeah, it's safe to say that when your qb is Peyton Manning, and you have decided to run the ball, the last thing you want to do is let the defenders know, as quickly as possible, that the ball is no longer in Peyton Manning's hand. This may be the ultimate example of how a qb improves the running game.

Bobman, from what I've seen, Manning is playing better than he ever has, which is almost creepy. Hey, he already had one Super Bowl ring; why the need to go all Faust on us?

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:27pm

Hey, he already had one Super Bowl ring; why the need to go all Faust on us?

Given how often I read from idiot fans that only one Super Bowl ring means that Peyton's a loser, clearly he needs a few more.

The longer that Favre plays and keeps running up his NFL records, the more hope I have that Peyton will be compelled to stick around and challenge same.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:11pm

Hey, I hope Manning The Elder Brother plays well until he's 45, and ends up with 700 touchdown passes, but I've always thought the anti-Favre sentiment a bit overblown, even years ago, before there was any inkling that he would end up with horns on his helmet. Sure, I've made fun of The Jeans Model, and no, he isn't close to being the best ever, but he's often been damned good and damned entertaining. Yes, the media hype is often stupid, but Favre isn't the guy getting paid to make editorial decisions, or put forth football punditry, and there's a reason God invented a volume control button, after all. If the guy couldn't make up his mind about his career, it is easily counter-balanced by a very long and productive career.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:29pm

Most of us are just tired of hearing about him. You're right that he can do some things and sure as hell can entertain us, but there's still an awful lot of "Favre is awesome and instantly improves any team" sentiment out there. The Packers were right to let him go, and I think if people acknowledged that I would be a lot less anti-Favre than I am.

Anyway, with regards to Peyton, I think he's as calm and smart as I've ever seen him (which is kind of the ultimate compliment because he has always been prepared and smart) but I've definitely seen him play better. These 4 games have been great, but I've seen stretches of better throws/accuracy from him before. But the coolness in the past 3 games especially has been off the charts. Yesterday I got the feeling that they could score at will. I took a punch to the arm when it was 14-3 (and past midfield on the scoring drive) for saying "this is too easy for him." He has often looked like a guy playing against a D in slow motion, but it's even more obvious right now. Any drive that doesn't result in a touchdown is a surprise.

That said, I thought it was a little bit odd that he decided to throw so much in the 2nd half. I understand that with him and some of the passes, it's still a high percentage clock-bleeder, but it still seems like they could've done a bit more running, like on the 3rd and goal at the end, just for practice for later. I don't think they have to run to win, but it sure doesn't hurt to be good at it and force the other team to prepare for it.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:34pm

Well, it sounds as if you are saying that you are anti-people-saying-stupid-things-about-Brett Favre, which is not the same thing as anti-Brett Favre.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:45pm


But I am also a bit anti-Brett Favre himself, just because I think he's immature, selfish, and kind of lazy. An argument can be made about why he's justified in being selfish and lazy, but I don't really buy it.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:03pm

I severely doubt that someone can start 270-plus games at quarterback in the NFL while being lazy. I literally believe it to be impossible, no matter the physical talent.

As to being selfish, I'd need more information to make that judgement. The fact that a guy can't make up his mind about quitting doesn't tell me enough. If Favre had wanted to red-line the ol' selfishometer last year, he could have forced the Packers to cut him last year, by showing up to camp, and giving a press conference every day, critiquing every throw Rodgers made, while refusing to discuss a trade with any potential suitorr, while complaining of vague back pain. The reason he didn't, despite his obvious desire to play for the Vikings, was likely in some part due to his regard for his former teammates in Green Bay. No, that doesn't make him Ghandi, but his selfishness, which no doubt exists, as it does in nearly all successful people, can be a bit overstated.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:17pm

Yes, but the real issue is if he tucks in his shirt on the golf course. :P

In all seriousness Will, you're showing a surprising willingness to avoid passing judgement of any of Favre's past actions, when you didn't hesitate to make similar judgement's of Cutler for his behavior in the spring. Neither you nor I have any idea what either man is like in private.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:55pm

Eddo, if I here a credible source say that Favre has spent 50k to join a Eden Prarie country club, and has then has had his membership cancelled when he refused to take his beat-up ball cap off in the dining room, after several requests, I will then say, "If this account is true, Favre is an idiot".

I'll restate my take on Cutler, as it has evolved, since there are people in this forum (not you) who tend to lie about what I wrote. At the time the conflict erupted and after Cutler was traded, I said that if Denver management lied to Cutler, that was really dumb. I stated then, and have stated since, that Cutler is likely to play well for the Bears. I also said later that for the starting qb for the Denver Broncos to get kicked out of a Denver area golf club, if that is what happened, the qb has to be an idiot, in terms of how he interacts with other human beings, and that is a quality which is cause for concern at that position. However, I'll concede that if Cutler had been in possession of three MVP awards, and 270 consecutive starts, my opinion on whether this was cause for concern might be altered somewhat.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:06pm

"hear" instead of "here" of course. Sheesh, I guess I picked a bad day to stop sniffin' glue!

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:59pm

"severely doubt that someone can start 270-plus games at quarterback in the NFL while being lazy. I literally believe it to be impossible, no matter the physical talent."


He refuses to come to training camp.

He refuses to do offseason workouts.

He refuses to tutor the backups.

Those all strike me as being lazy things for an NFL quarterback.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:03pm

Don't forget that he has a rep for not really ever preparing or watching much film and that many of the sacks he has taken this year are his own fault for not bothering with getting the protection right.

On the plus side, that downfield block last week was f'ing awesome. That was the opposite of lazy.

by Led :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:51pm

Favre plays his ass off in games, no doubt about it. But so does Allen Iverson.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:00pm

Uh, if somebody isn't under contract, how can it be said that he "refused" to do something? Refused whom?

Look if is your position that someone can accomplish what Favre has while being lazy, you just go right ahead and hold to that position.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:40pm

Well, if he refused to sign a contract until after training camp was over specifically to avoid training camp, yeah, I'd say that you can do that.

"Look if is your position that someone can accomplish what Favre has while being lazy"

Depends on your definition of lazy. Does lazy mean "doesn't work as hard as he could?" If so, it's probably safe to say that Favre, and just about every human on the planet, is lazy. Does lazy mean "works less than the average NFL Pro Bowl-level QB?" If so, I'd again say probably - dodging training camp (ok, maybe) and not knowing who all of your receivers are is probably less than average. Does lazy mean "works less than a replacement level QB?" If so, almost certainly not.

It's also probably a bit disingenous to point to past history and say "how could he do that while being lazy?" It's entirely possible that his work ethic declined over time; that is, he was hard-working early in his career, and is not now.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:21am

Pat, if I had thought the intended definition of "lazy" was "works less hard than other top-tier qbs", I may not have agreed, since these are things that are difficult to measure, but I would have not have taken the time to dispute the chraracterization. If that is what Rich meant, fine.

I have little doubt that Favre works less hard than when Holmgren was training him.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:31pm

You will kindly stop referring to Favruh as "The Jeans Model", and instead call him "My New Purple Quarterback" (MNPQ, for short). In the event that you are neither a Vikings fan nor Tundrapaddy, you may refer to him as "Tundrapaddy's New Purple Quarterback" (TNPQ).

MNPQ - he's Dilfer-plus!

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:56pm

Will, it's a tough market to sell any kind of asset, but if the devil is paying cash.... well, why not?

He does look as good as ever, and his line is NOT as good as ever. His receivers are probably not as good as ever. So I am stoked.

The real question is, was it a one-year deal, sort of a soul-lease, or an actual "until you retire" sale...?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:06pm

Does ol' Beelzebub ever dabble in the time-share market?

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:04pm

Well, when you consider just how valuable Peyton is, and how awful the economy is, perhaps a time-share is all the Big B could afford.

by strannix (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:27am

It's hard to overstate how good the Bears' special teams were in the second half yesterday. It's weird to say that a team had a bad day on offense but still scored 48 points (41 by the offense), but that was the case. The Bears simply dominated on special teams, giving them short fields on every possession and pinning the Lions back on every one of their possessions. Gould even snuck a 52-yard through ... just that kind of day for them.

Also, it did appear that for some reason the Bears were afraid of the Lions' ground game during the first half. I don't know why that would be, but the same thing happened in the first half against the Seahawks last week. In the second half, however, they came after Stafford much more aggressively and got much better results.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:46pm

Agreed. Bennett averaged over 15 yards per punt return, and Hester's single first-half return went for over 20 yards. Throw in Gould hitting that 52-yarder (and wow, the draw he put on that kick!), and the Bears special teams was about as good as I can ever remember it, and that's saying a lot.

I agree with Ron Turner, who said something along the lines of, despite scoring 48 points, the offense could have played much better. Not that Cutler (or anyone else) was disappointing, but he didn't impress me like he did the previous two weeks. It was a very dialed-back performance from him, it seemed.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:09pm

Yep, I think the Bears have sewn up the "Least Impressive Performance By An Offense When Scoring At Least 45 Points" award for the season. But holy cats, what a special teams day. I really hope we get to see the single-game special teams DVOA and where it ranks in the all-time list. A few tidbits:

The Bears had 276 offensive yards and 283 return yards.

Four different players had a KO return of over 40 yards or a punt return of over 20 yards.

The result of Bear KO and punt returns were: own 27, own 40, Detroit 35, own 39, own 40, TD, Detroit 38, own 48, own 48, Detroit 47.

The result of Detroit KO and punt returns were: own 27, own 28, own 6, own 22, own 12, own 2, own 23, own 20, own 17, own 11, own 19, own 24, own 25.

And, almost as an afterthought, Gould was 2/2 on FGs, including a 53-yarder.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:16pm

I'll give it to you, if you give me 49ers winning the same award for 35 points.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:35pm

Yeah, I think the 49ers are more deserving of that award. Ringing up a total of 14 offensive points against the Rams' defense deserves notice.

...although they did hold the mighty, mighty Redskins to 9.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:13pm

There comes a point when you have scored five offensive touchdowns and kicked two field goals when you haven't so much failed to move the ball as much as you have run out of field. I thought the offense played fine but I am rather concerned about the defense, especially the amount of space there seemed to be over the middle of the field in the first half. I think the defense looks much better when they play zone rather than man.

On the other hand the running game looked better (OK it was Detroit) especially on the plays where the line blocked the opposition instead of each other.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:33pm

I'm hoping space over the middle has something to do starting our 3rd string MLB and 4th and 6th LB overall. We managed to shutdown John Carlson last week though. Getting Hillenmeyer and Pisa back should help.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:15pm

I'd say the offense looked fine for two quarters but was pretty useless against a weak opponent for the other two. In the second and third quarters, the Bears had one TD (and that only because the drive started at the Detroit 8, and they were given 5 downs to score) and two field goals, despite starting drives at (the aforementioned) Detroit 8, own 39, own 40, Detroit 38, own 48, Detroit 19, own 48. In that stretch was the sequence where Cutler got killed two plays in a row, fumbling once. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and predict that the Bears' offensive rank will drop this week.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:27am

can all of New England media stop having a massive panic attack, worrying that the Pats are going 6-10 just because they lost a road game to a division rival by a touchdown?

Corrected that for you, Aaron.

by nat :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:28am

Bill Barnwell: Joe Flacco's drawn the Patriots offside with a hard count twice in six snaps or so, including once from the shotgun. Not bad.

There was also a false start in that same six or so snap period, probably caused in part by Flacco's hard count.

Over all, Flacco induced three encroachment penalties from the Patriots (only one accepted) and had a delay of game and burned a timeout to avoid a delay, and possibly contributed to that false start. I would rate his snap count as a wash at best.

On the other hand, this Patriot fan thinks that Flacco is for real, and that the Ravens at last have an offense to worry about.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:34am

I actually give a lot of credit to Cam Cameron for the Ravens offense. I think he's of the Norv Turner ( good coordinator bad head coach mold).

Flacco just looked so cool in the pocket ( Joe Cool). He's not flustered by the pass rush and I credit Cameron with setting him up with an offense that he can succeed in. I think the Ravens offensive line would have done better against the Pats front 7, but having Vince Wilfork helped a lot, and Jarvis Green played well too.

Flacco sort of does remind you of Big Ben very early in his career...

by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:14pm

Don't forget the Ravens losing their starting LT. There was definitely a correlation between that, the Pats sending the house 2 out of every 3 plays, and Flacco going all Weeble.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:18pm

And thank god the news on the guy seems good. That was scary.

by glengarryleads (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:35am

Raiders need to get DHB tested for vertigo

by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:33am

Well, he does stand poor.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:36am

Question on ball spotting rules...

When a ballcarrier goes OOB on the sideline of the field of play such that
the ball is the first thing to touch OOB, where is the ball spotted? Is it spotted where it broke the plane of the sideline or is it spotted where the ball hits the ground?

(Brought to mind by NE's fake FG attempt.)

by morganja :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:08pm

The ball is suppose to be spotted at the ball's location the instant the runner is out of bounds. Where it is actually spotted is apparently a crap shoot sometimes.

Similiarly, when a player's progress is stopped the ball is spotted at its location when the runner is stopped. It doesn't matter if his elbow or knee or anything else touches the ground. Of course sometimes the officials will inexplicably allow a fumble to happen after the point where the play is dead though 99.9999% of the rest of the time they correctly call the play dead.

I would love to see an NFL official reconcile the San Diego fumble recovery for a touchdown last night with the Terrel Owens call from two years ago when Owens was hit, fumbled, and then the officials claimed his 'forward progress was stopped', therefore no fumble.

I hope that this new chief of refs starts cleaning this ongoing embarrassment up.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:19pm

The ball is suppose to be spotted at the ball's location the instant the runner is out of bounds. Where it is actually spotted is apparently a crap shoot sometimes.

If the the first thing to hit OOB is the ball, "the instant the runner is OOB" is the instant where the ball hits the ground OOB. So does that mean the ball is spotted where the ball landed?

To be concrete, pretend the runner is running along the left sideline with the ball in his outer (i.e. left) arm. The runner is blasted from the side and behind and goes flying in the air. He's trying to get the first down so as he's sailing through the air he holds the ball in his left hand (that's the arm the ball was in and he's not about to try to change sides while flying in the air) and sticks his arm out as far as he can. The ball crosses the plane of the sideline at the opponent's 25, but at that moment the ball and the runner's entire body is still in the air. The first thing to hit the ground is the ball (in the runner's hand). At that point the ball and runner are OOB. The ball hits the ground at the opponent's 23, but two feet OOB. Is the ball spotted at the 25 or the 23?

by morganja :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:25pm

At the 25, at the point that the ball crosses the out of bounds plain EXCEPT when dealing with the endzone. In that case it is different. The player can reach back inside and touch the python, or the endzone, with the ball before any part of him touches out of bounds and it counts as a touchdown.

This is the way it is suppose to be, anyhow. At least the way its been called for decades. The endzone exception is relatively new. The NFL apparently has secret rules that it doesn't tell anyone and can 'reinterpret' anytime they want, so its hard to argue with them, even when they argue opposite interpretations from one week to the next.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:42pm

As I understand it, the end zone extends infinitely to either side. So you can cross the end zone with the ball a good 4 feet out of bounds and tap the pylon with your other hand and it's a touchdown. It's a nice advantage for the offense because there's no way you risk fumbling it out of the end zone (or even in play) but you can still be rewarded with a touchdown, so it's worth laying out.

That should mean that an analogous situation, as described above with the 23/25 example, would mean the ball is spotted at the 23. I'm not sure that it does, though, either by rule or in practice.

I also did not see the play in the Pats game. I could be completely wrong. But I do very clearly remember Pereira describing the rule about the end zone on one of the NFLn segments about 2 years ago.

by Marko :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:37pm

I haven't read through all the comments yet, so this may be addressed below, but the rule about the end zone extending infinitely was changed a few years ago. The ball must go inside or over the pylon now for it to be a touchdown on this type of play. The ballcarrier no longer can get a touchdown by extending the ball outside the pylon and tapping the pylon with the other hand, a leg, etc. There was an extensive discussion of this rule change in an Extra Point a few years ago.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:10pm

Interesting. So my memory of that is from several years ago then. Pereira has been doing those segments that long already? Wow.

by Kal :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:07pm

"The player can reach back inside and touch the python,"

Wow. The NFL really has started putting those new anti-celebration rules into effect.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:48pm

"I would love to see an NFL official reconcile the San Diego fumble recovery for a touchdown last night with the Terrel Owens call from two years ago when Owens was hit, fumbled, and then the officials claimed his 'forward progress was stopped', therefore no fumble."

I don't recall the specific Owens play you're referencing, but aren't the refs instructed to err on the side of letting the play continue, then deciding it should have been blown dead? Especially two years ago, before the new rule where an obvious fumble that had been called down is challengeable?

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:35pm

It doesn't matter if the Ball crosses the sideline plane. Out of bounds only happens when a players touches the ground out of bounds, and I think the ball should be spotted where ever it is when that happens.

by morganja :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:30pm

The reason that isn't the rule is because 1) it then becomes necesary for defensive players to tackle players out of bounds to stop them from getting additional yardage, and 2) keeps players on the sidelines from stopping the player. It really makes sense from a safety perspective. Do you want coaches teaching their players to tackle opposing players while they are out of bounds but still advancing forward?

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:44pm

Are these ball carriers flying while they're out of bounds? Why would they still need to be tackled otherwise?

by John (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:15pm

If I were a ball carrier running out of bounds, I'd be tempted to launch myself along the sidelines if the rules weren't set up to prevent that from being useful.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 9:03pm

For what it's worth, Mike Tirico just said virtually the exact same thing. The ball is spotted where it was when any part of the body first contacts the ground out of bounds.

by JCRODRIGUEZ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:53am

"that comeback was all offense, and one fluky special teams fumble/strip."

I honestly think that it was the other way around, if not for the fluky special teams issues, Gates had no way to carry the Chargers all the way back. Seriously, with Troy out, nothing was working to contain him. Lucky for the Steelers we have the Lions and the Browns to get some more momentum and get back in the race.

The o-line did played better, but will not be relieved as the goat-of-choice until they can sustain this level of play.

by Led :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:56am

A few thoughts on Saints/Jets. First, Pierre Thomas is a very solid back. Good vision, runs hard. Two, Brees is really just all around good. Pocket presence, accuracy, identifying blitzes, toughness. Very impressive. Three, the Jets need to trust Sanchez on some deep patterns or teams will continue to pack the box and sit on the short patterns, which the Saints did very effectively. At times in this game, they looked like the Pennington-era Jets. Four, LOTS of holding went uncalled. I don't think there was a holding call all game. I saw Jets defenders blatanly held repeatedly. (If Kris Jenkins ever needs a hug, he can always call Jonathan Goodwin.) I didn't focus on Jets holding Saints defenders, but I assume there were examples on that side of the ball too. Refs also swallowed the whistle on PI calls. A number of plays by both sides would've drawn flags with other crews. It's odd how different the game can be when called by different sets of refs.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:01pm

yeah - I noticed the un-called holds, too. It was both teams, on both sides of the ball, I couldn't believe how few flags were going up in the secondary. I'm not sure the Jets didn't trust Sanchez to throw the deep ball, so much as his receivers were being clamped down on all day. Of course, same thing on the other side of the ball - Revis played great, but he also played very physical and the refs easily could've whistled him on a few plays...

by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:12pm

I didn't get the feeling that Sanchez had time to setup downfield. Overall it was a pretty horrific day for the Jets OL/great day by the Saints defense.

Also, the Jets weren't running well, but 3x they went into shotgun on 3rd and 1, only picking up 1 first down. I simply don't understand that call. I don't know the numbers, but I feel like the Jets go shotgun on 3rd and 1 way more often then they should. Why telegraph a pass on 3rd and 1?

The refs were off the whole game, missed holding calls on both sides of the ball, a head-to-head call against the Saints, etc.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:10pm

Lordy, the Bucs game was painful. Yes, I'll admit, I had a week of hope thanks to there being a new, totally unproven QB who'd at least shown the vaguest hint of something against the Giants, and then Josh Johnson comes out and throws a very nice ball and gets the TD on his first pass. Then . . . nothing. I'm finding the play calling for the Bucs to be very perplexing. It's a predictable mix of first-down runs along with short passes. I thought Gruden was gone?

For all the talk about Johnson's mobility, there wasn't really any effort to move the pocket around or do rollouts or such. He wound up with a bad case of happy feet by the end of the game, not really setting himself up to throw. He looked, well, young. And undercoached.

by Zieg (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:04pm

I got all excited by the start of the game then was furious by the end. Johnson showed promised but looked really young. You hear a lot about young quarterbacks showing poise but you never really know what it means until you see the lack of it. Visibly frustrated and complaining on the sidelines after a failed scramble while one of his offensive lineman is down on the field injured. He did keep a lot of plays alive with his feet but it seemed an awful lot of those plays ended with an injury or holding call. If that's his strength we're not playing to it.

But we still would have won this game if we'd had a better kicker. And we still might have won it if we'd've gone for the touchdown instead of taking the fieldgoal. Choosing not to go for it down 6 that close to the end of the game seemed like a move designed not to win but to lessen the margin of defeat. Compare that with Gruden's go for 2 call vs the Redskins and for the first time this season I'm seeing what all the coaching complaints are about.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:10pm

Johnson reminded me of Garcia in that he started running before he actually needed to multiple times. When he stayed set and delivered the ball from the pocket, he had some really lovely throws, but, like you said, he lacked poise and wound up bailing too early too often.

Also, if anyone needs me, I'll be in the back yard, burning Mike Nugent in effigy.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:20pm

Josh Johnson didn't really get the reps in the preseason. Remember everything was Byron vs Luke, and then the remaining reps went to Josh Freeman.

I think they are more or less throwing Josh out there to see what he has, while Freeman should take over maybe week 8-10 or so (???) unless JJ vastly outperforms expecations.

Tampa is a freaking mess.

by J.D. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:43pm

Bernard Scott and Johnny Knox were on the same 1-AA team last year. No wonder Abilene Christian put up 93 points in one of their games.


by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 12:53pm

Why diesn't it suprise me that Mr Kurtz has plenty to say in the half where the Bears tie the Lions 21-21 but nothing to observe at all about the second half where hte Bears outscored their opponents 27-3 other than to point out to anybody that will listen that Knox and Hester aren't any good. Nothing like irrational Bears hatred to make me wish you had missed the game.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:40pm

Please refer to TomC's reply to brodelicious below, and please please please don't invoke the dreaded FOMBC. We all know Fnor has an irrational disdain for the Bears, but that's just it - it's irrational. Let him be, it's part of his charm :)

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:03pm

I have said nothing to annoy DVOA or incite any curse. When I saw the page was up I nearly didn't click on it as I could guess what any comments on the Bears game were likely to be (I was right, points for me!). I didn't bitch in the first column or the second but it is now a month and it still isn't very interesting or informative.

I don't expect DVOA to love the Bears, I personally can't make up my mind whether they are a good team underperforming or a team that is inherently inconsistent (if such a thing as always being inconsistent is possible). If I can't make my mind up how can I expect DVOA to?

by Mike Kurtz :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:36pm

My wife's parents arrived, from Ohio, a few minutes into the third quarter.

Of course, whining about how a fantasy football writer on the internets has horribly wronged your team is much more fun than, say, reality.

by JoeSmithe (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:53pm

This is a pretty silly response. No one knows your personal schedule, champ. What we do know is that you have a well documented history of wetting yourself when talking about the Bears.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:57pm

I pointed out elsewhere that you have a decent record of spotting some things others have missed (eg Grossman) which only makes reading the same repetitive drivel for four weeks quite disappointing.

You serve it up.

I find it distinctly underwhelming.

You call me a whiner.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:04pm

"reticent" means "quiet" or "reluctant to speak".

Could you pass that on to, say, all the other people in sportscasting who use "reticence" as a simple synonym for "reluctance". It's jarring to read a football analysis talking about how Willie Parker is a shy individual in social situations.

by Mike Kurtz :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:45pm

This reminds me of a scramble comment a few weeks back ... language changes. Phrases that were once used for one thing can be expanded to cover others, and words can gain, lose and change meanings. That's how language works. In that case, "begs the question" has certainly come to mean "raises the question" in the vernacular. In this case, you can even find "reticent" defined in dictionaries as "restrained." You may not like to use the word in that manner, and may even believe it wrong to do so, but to say that everyone's usage is incorrect seems to have the process backwards.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:17pm

Decimate all abusers of The True Language!

As Peter King would say, in an effort to compliment you, Mr. Kurtz, your post is filled with truisms!

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:10pm

Words may change that way, but that change often starts out as ignorance that sends a message different from what's intended. This is one of those cases.

My least favorite recently has been Rod Brooks attempting to redefine "tantamount" to mean "paramount."

by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:41am

The one that always gets me is the use of the word "penultimate" by nearly anyone. It's like they think of the "pen" part of it like racing stripes, it makes the word cooler, but is just for show.

by nat :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:33pm

George Orwell demonstrated that dumbing down language can make it impossible to form, much less express, some ideas. When you suck the meaning out of "reticence" and "begs the question", you leave the world diminished, however slightly. Do we construct awkward phrases for these thoughts, or do we just stop thinking them?

That, too, is how language works.

On the other hand, Audibles is a collection of emails, so I can't justify getting too upset about the occasional weak word choice.

by Purds :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:40pm

Someone read "Politics and the English Language" recently, or has a really good memory.

by nat :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:22pm

Actually, neither. I was thinking of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Thanks for the pointer, though. I've got some reading to do.

I was semi-serious about the damage to the language. When we lose nuanced meaning, we also lose metaphor. Without the original meaning of "reticent", I can't say

When Fred Taylor hits the hole, he hits it hard enough to make a statement. Laurence Maroney is more reticent.

and have it seen as wordplay. Which would make griping about Maroney less fun.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:14pm

"When we lose nuanced meaning, we also lose metaphor. Without the original meaning of "reticent", I can't say"

Interesting choice of words: 'nuance' means a subtle or slight difference; in other words, a difference that might not be picked up by everyone (since subtle means 'difficult to detect').

In that sense, I don't think that poor word choice can lead to the loss of nuanced meaning. It just leads to a shift of the meaning of the primary usage, and actually *strengthens* the nuance, because the differences become subtler.

"and have it seen as wordplay."

I think you actually have that a bit backwards. Switch "reticent" for "quiet," which doesn't have quite the same "reluctant" meaning, but carries the same "doesn't speak much" meaning. In that case, at least to me, the statement seems awkward, and a bit heavy-handed - it's like you're forcing the metaphor.

With reticent, however, since it's commonly used as reluctant or tentative, the statement seems natural on its own, and yet extends the metaphor naturally.

by nat :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 8:41pm

I hate having to explain jokes.

Reticent, meaning "disposed to silence, reserved", has a connotation of holding yourself back from saying something. Which is what I was saying about Maroney: he is holding himself back, rather than being held back or stopped. Because reticent has lost that meaning for you, you miss the point. The difference between holding yourself back or making a statement and merely being quiet or talking is difficult to make clear in your world, and easy to distinguish in a world where language still has some life. But that is precisely - metaphorically - the difference between Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney.

In case you missed it, I chose "reticent" because that was the word that started the conversion a few posts back. But it fits Maroney well. There are plenty of RBs who are tentative, or reluctant, or merely quiet. There are even some who are restrained, or ought to be. But Maroney's defining characteristic is that he quiets himself. It's as if he's too damned polite to state his preference for one hole or another.

If I were to switch to your style, I'd have to say or at least mean "Fred Taylor talks loud. Maroney is quiet." That's vaguely, imprecisely true. Or false. It doesn't much matter, since it says little of interest to anyone.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:04pm

"Reticent, meaning "disposed to silence, reserved", has a connotation of holding yourself back from saying something. Which is what I was saying about Maroney: he is holding himself back, rather than being held back or stopped. Because reticent has lost that meaning for you, you miss the point. "

Um, no. I didn't miss the point. At all. In fact, I don't know if you caught the point; the original argument was that reticent is used too much in *non-speaking* contexts as just 'reluctant, unwilling to be aggressive', so unless you think I thought "reticent" meant purely "quiet," you should've thought that I would catch everything about that statement except the extended 'speaking ability' analogy. Which is wordplay, and since wordplay's subtle, it's not lost when a word takes on a more common usage.

Quiet can imply exactly the same thing. It doesn't have exactly the same connotation, but that doesn't really matter for my argument; the point was you were equating "aggressiveness in hitting a hole" with "speaking ability" (or something similar, hopefully you get the point).

You were then extending that to Maroney, to display the differences - you could either extend the metaphor awkwardly (if you'd prefer, you could say "Maroney keeps his thoughts to himself," I guess) by using a phrase that doesn't have a more common meaning, or use one which has the common meaning you want but *also* extends the metaphor.

"But Maroney's defining characteristic is that he quiets himself. It's as if he's too damned polite to state his preference for one hole or another."

I have no idea how this is any different than a running back who's reluctant and tentative. Reticent doesn't really carry a "polite" connotation.

(You're incidentally defeating the argument of the original poster; if 'reticent' really is a word that uniquely describes the characteristic of a running back, then it *was* appropriate in the original context. I don't believe it does. I think any of reserved, reluctant, tentative, reticent, or passive would describe a runner like Maroney equally well.)

"If I were to switch to your style"

I have no idea what you mean here. I'm not advocating a different 'style', so maybe you should reread my comment. I'm simply stating that even if the most common usage of "reticent" is as "reluctant" rather than "unwilling to speak," it doesn't change the wordplay involved.

It actually helps the communicative nature of your comment, since even without knowing the etymology of reticent, you can still recognize the meaning. Knowing it makes the word usage clever, but since not everyone gives a crap about clever word usage, it's not that important.

by MC2 :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 5:02am

It's as if he's too damned polite to state his preference for one hole or another.

Like a porn star doing his first gangbang scene?

by nat :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 7:38am

Vivid. But apt.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:54pm

"George Orwell demonstrated that dumbing down language can make it impossible to form, much less express, some ideas."

I don't quite think you can go that far - if you've got a state-controlled media that specifically *forces* the dumbed down language upon you, sure.

But in this case, all that really happens is that a word or phrase *doesn't* match up well with the 'instinctive' guess as to what it means based upon its sound gets replaced with a more intuitive meaning, and another phrase comes along to replace its original meaning.

Or, put more succinctly: having "The subject is begging the question" mean "The subject statement is an answer begging for a question" is a stupid phrase. Having it mean "The subject is begging for the question to be asked" is a fair amount more intuitive (Will Allen's point about the truism/aphorism misuse is another example - given only the pronunciation and the definitions, with no prior knowledge of the words, I doubt most people would get which corresponds to which right).

Reticent, I think, is just an example of a thesaurus being used too much by writers. It's not necessarily wrong, or bastardizing the language, it just introduces a connotation that the writer didn't intend (namely, that the running back is quiet and reserved).

Maybe said even another way: is it really "dumbing down" the language when you're fixing a word or phrase that was stupid to begin with?

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:06pm

I don't quite think you can go that far - if you've got a state-controlled media that specifically *forces* the dumbed down language upon you, sure.

I would argue that a very powerful media that is privately owned and effectively creates a monopoly of news that is either unregulated or ineffectively regulated could have a similar effect.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 8:29pm

True, but a private corporation wouldn't have any incentive to do so, since they'd be alienating customers, and there's really no advantage for them to do so. A state controlled media might (in a situation like 1984, for instance).

I also think it's an important distinction that in 1984 they were essentially removing words. Here, you're not removing words - in fact, you're increasing their usage by expanding their common meanings. I don't think you can really make the analogy of words and phrases picking up additional meanings based on misuse to 1984's wholesale reimagining of the English language.

I won't argue that it wasn't Orwell's intention to rail against exactly this point, which it almost certainly was. But I don't think his criticism actually had much merit; the idea of language altering the minds of those who speak it is interesting, and the idea of a dictatorial government doing so even more so. But stuff like this is an organic change - it's the users of the language that are directing it. And so it's difficult to imagine that it actually has a destructive force, since it's just changing in exactly the same way that it originally came about.

by Really? (not verified) :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 1:47am

"True, but a private corporation wouldn't have any incentive to do so, since they'd be alienating customers, and there's really no advantage for them to do so."

Have you ever heard of Fox News? Karl Rove? Frank Luntz?

Google the etymology of the word "media." Nattering Nabobs of Negativity. &c.

And do you seriously not get how advertising and branding work? I'm lovin' it. Think different. Simply smarter.

More? Death tax. Democrat party. Tax and spend. Social Security is going bankrupt.

Have you ever thought about that last one? Medicare and Medicade and Social Security are the ONLY things in the budget that make a profit. What are the revenues of the Department of Defense? Of the Justice Department? Are they bankrupt?? Of course not, we just fund them from income taxes and...the payroll tax surplus. Which inches us ever-closer to "bankruptcy."

Support our Troops, won't you?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 10:39am

Right. In Britain, the news coverage - and especially what might be termed the centrist coverage, most likely to appeal to the floating voters who decide elections - is dominated by Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns the Times, the Sun (Britain's most read paper by a distance) and Sky (10,000,000 home subscriptions, which I'm guessing is about half the population). Both papers and the news arm of Sky are loss-making ventures whose sole purpose is to provide Murdoch with political leverage to gain regulatory advantage for the de facto monopoly that is Sky. There is every incentive for a man in Murdoch's position to manipulate the populace in the interests of the government (or, as is now the case, the presumptive government in waiting) as a quid pro quo.

by billsfan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:39pm

I think that was my comment. To me, "begs the question" almost always means, "I use language imprecisely. Please regard what I have said with suspicion."

Don't even get me started on "transpire."

(I also like the Eagles)

by brodelicious :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:06pm

The disdain for the Bears is getting kind of old from the bitter Mike Kurtz. Living in Ohio makes his antics seem all too familiar. Many people here choose teams other than the local ones (Bengals and Browns) and get more of their enjoyment out of the failure and subsequent angst of the local fan base than they do out of whatever team they call their own. This kind of living is easy, especially recently, with uncommitted franchises. Although I don't follow the Bengals or the Browns I never get any such joy out of either teams failures. But for Mr. Kurtz I suggest you ask Denny Green what putting the Bears in a box does for you. I'm sure he still thinks they are what he thought they were (grammar?). Winners that is. Not world beaters or world champs, just winners. By any means available. Which leads me to my second point.
Another trend that is equally tiring (not from Mr. Kurtz but in general) is the disdain for quality special teams play. I'm not sure why teams who CONSISTENTLY win by the 3rd phase are somehow seen as illegitimate. A fluke return or block in the kicking game is not what the B0ears do, they commit to winning on special teams and it often translates to actual, real life wins in their schedule. What coach wouldn't or shouldn't commit to that?! In fact Dave Toub may work himself into a Head Coaching job based on his special teams units play over the past several seasons.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:15pm

Mike Kurtz: Yeah, the Bears aren't really all that great at picking kick returners, they just have fantastic special teams coaching. The blocking is and coordination are superb, year after year, even when the returners are sucking. It's the reason Chicago has been able to hang around the past few years.

Are we not reading the same article?

My advice to you & Jimmy and any other Bears fans who crave Mike's validation: Relax, and enjoy being 3-1 at the bye week.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:45pm

I don't crave Mike's validation and can assure you that I am fairly relaxed about the Bears prospects. Fnor (or whatever we are supposed to call him now) was bang on about Rex Grossman and deserves credit where it is due but his irrational hatred of Hester (especially) and all things Bears in general makes this column poor reading for a Bears fan. The sentence you have cited doesn't quite make complete sense when quite a few regulars in the kicking units are currently starting on defense. I would agree however that Toub is a fantastic specials coach with a great eye for detail (ie calling a counter-return to exploit the Lions over pursuing specials).

Less hatred and more insight can only improve the column.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:02pm

Saying that Hester is "good" and not "All-world" does not mean "hate".

The bears blocking on special teams is fantastic. Hester is good, but he doesn't seem to be all that much better than anyone else they throw back there, which most likely means that its the blocking that makes Hester look great, and not the other way around.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:08pm

Do I have to go back and find the quote from Scramble where he tells us all how much he hates Devin Hester?

by brodelicious :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:48pm

I've got an even better quote than the one on Devin Hester...it was in my subconscious when I referred to Denny Green. From his first week on Scramble...

"I've been charting since either the first or second year of the project, and had one or two (I like to think) celebrated entries in 'The Game Charters Speak,' mostly about how Chicago is never as good as everyone thinks they are."

I read football outsiders because it at least attempts to back up such claims with evidence. And this kind of comment has an air of bias that will be hard for me, as a Bears fan, to overlook when I read the content. I'm fine with someone telling me how it is as log as it's supported and open for discussion.

On the other hand I re-read my post after the replies and realized that I went a little overboard.
First Audibles at the line is more of an off the cuff editorial of the days games. Unlike weekly DVOA ratings, audibles isn't necessarily claiming to have an objective reporting aspect.
I'm not seeking validation from anyone I just came with knives out because I generally love the site and have high expectations.
However it does hurt an individual's and a site's credibility when their fandom or antifandom are front and center.

Apologies Mike...I promise not to "dog-cuss" you.

by Marko :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:35pm

A few comments about Mike Kurtz's well-documented disdain for the Bears:

1. I, like many others, read Football Outsiders for the insightful analysis and commentary. However, when discussing the Bears, Mike seems more interested in providing inciteful commentary. But because I know Mike's biases, I always consider the source. It might as well be Raiderjoe bashing the "Cheifs" or "Brocnos" while singing the praises of "JaMacrus Rusesl" after drinking copious amounts of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

2. Ultimately, who cares what Mike (or anyone else) thinks about the Bears (or any other NFL team)? This isn't college football. No poll or subjective ranking will determine who makes the playoffs or plays in the Super Bowl.

On another topic: Contrary to what Doug Farrar said, Cutler did not throw a ball through the end zone on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter. I presume he was talking about the incomplete pass on third down on that series. When the Bears went for it on fourth-and-goal (after accepting an offsides penalty on the Lions on Robbie Gould's field goal), Cutler threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Greg Olsen.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:06pm

It's funny, but I interpreted the comment about blocking and coaching to be more of a credit to the Bears special teams than just saying that Hester is awesome. The most impressive thing to me about the Bears ST is the fact that everybody seems to know what what his jobs is, and is always in position - not the fact that Devin Hester is really really fast.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:56pm

Agreed - and besides, I'd like to add, hypothetically, that perhaps it's not all that hard to draft a returner? It's probably the one position where the Combine numbers have the greatest applicability - you want someone who can haul ass.

That's the job description. Catch the kick, start into a run whilst surveying the field, then haul ass.

Thus, it probably isn't too hard to pick these individuals out (again - I speak hypothetically; I've never coached special teams, nor played special teams, so if you know better please respond). It's more a matter of coaching them up, and getting the entire unit to act in concert. And I think that is a far more impressive 'team strength' than just 'having a really good returner'.

I suppose that the addition of Harvin to the Vikings' ST unit this season will prove instructive to this discussion.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:57pm

I think the reason that special teams performance is not heralded all that much on FO is that their research has demonstrated that it is not consistent year to year. Although from what I have read it seems as though the only stat that has a great deal of consistency year to year is offensive DVOA and I am not sure that that isn't mainly caused by the consistent production of franchise QBs. If there is an argument to put to FO about special teams units I would start by pointing out the strong performances of some of the elite groups over the last few years (ie Buffalo, Chicago and Cleveland - I think). Since Bobby April arrived in Buffalo and Dave Toub in Chicago they have fielded some of the best units in the game year in year out.

The other problem is that a lot of the info needed for top rate special teams analysis is difficult to come by (eg hang times on punts and kickoffs) and the players used rarely stay in the same places or keep the same roles on their teams. Other stuff is just very difficult to track; for example I have read that the Bears nearly blocked the two kicks prior to Mare's miss in the Seattle game and that a Bears player got his hand on the previous attempt both near blocks coming from the kicker's right, then he pulls the next one to the left and the sequence of near blocks is ignored. However the only way anybody managed to find this out was asking Dave Toub in the locker room after the game and that doesn't make it into the NFL gamebooks.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:16pm

(double post deleted)

by JasonK :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 1:51pm

What isn't being talked about enough: Andrea Kremer's blue leather jacket covered with zippers. I'm sure that it's a tasteful and stylish piece of fashion design, but viewed, as she is on camera, from the elbows-up, it looks like a Smurfette bondage outfit.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:59pm

I think I used to own that figurine, Bondage Smurfette.

by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:02pm

I certainly don't think the Seahawks O-line played well, but Brandon Frye is the 3rd string left tackle and was playing hurt so it's hard to put the blame on him.

Seneca Wallace has zero pocket awareness and he creates his own pressure by panicking at the slightest hint of pressure. He doesn't make adjustments at the line and stares down WR's. I'm actually shocked that his numbers looked as good as they did yesterday, he played a lot worse than someone who completed 33 of 45 passes.

Seattle's offensive line is young and actually pretty talented, but poor QB play has made them look bad. Give this offensive line a young/talented potential franchise QB (Sam Bradford?) and it will look pretty good.

by Anonguy :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:12pm

Drafting Sam Bradford at this point seems to be like solving the common cold by setting yourself on fire. Entertaining for everyone else, but not so much for yourself.

by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:18pm

Yeah possibly, I don't really follow college football enough to know. I just remember Bradford being a potential top 5 pick for last season so I threw his name out there.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 10:41am

Really? Bradford strikes me as a QB who may struggle early on if he's inserted behind a poor OL, much as Brees did, but I think he's a sensational talent. Brees is actually a pretty comparable player in many ways, though I think Bradford has a better arm.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:05pm

In addition to a new QB (Hasselback is talented, but he's just injured too often these days), I'd request a new coach - or at least a blunt face-to-face review with this coach. I know it's early, but really - has Mora done anything to impress yet? The team looks far less disciplined that it has in the past, especially on defense. There's too much talent back there for them to look like they have.

As was noted last week (I think) on this site, he's had some bad playcalling, then turned around and blamed the loss on the kicker. And it's not as if his resume from Atlanta was particularly glowing.

I'll give them an 'incomplete' on offense, due to all of the injuries (QB and line).

And I will reiterate that I was calling for them to reinforce the lines (OT, DE, and DT for rotational depth) prior to the draft. No more "we can squeeze another season out of Walter".

by CoachDave :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 2:48pm

If I'm a Raven fan...I'm once again pissed after the Pats game.

The Suggs roughing the passer call was just terrible and the the Ngata call was marginal at best...and of course Tom "Rasheed Wallace" Brady was whining and gesturing "throw the flag" like he always does...but oh wait...I forgot, the Jets are the ones that do that too much...right Aaron? Child please.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:09pm

Yes, the Ngata call was marginal, but it was just as marginal as the roughing-the-passer call on NE's Mike Wright, who hit Flacco's head about as intentionally and as physically (which is to say, "not much") as Ngata did on Brady.

Different story on Suggs. What was he doing going for Brady's knee in the first place?

In any event, for all the calls in question intent isn't part of the call (rightly or wrongly). If contact is made to the relevant body part (which it clearly was on all three plays) the flag is supposed to be thrown.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:36pm

I think that in most cases, when battling against professional linemen, a pass rusher has less than 100% control over where exactly his body is when getting free near the QB. I hesitate to blame Suggs for "going for Brady's knee" - absent a long history of obvious cheap play, my assumption is that he was just rushing the passer and after the contact with the lineman that's where he ended up. If anything, he seemed to be trying to avoid it once he got through.

I thought the calls were pretty awful all around, but the Ravens should've known that going in. It was Ron Winter. That crew flags EVERYTHING. This is not a new phenomenon.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 4:06pm

Dwight Freeney's facemask thinks you might be mistaken, at least about the "everything" aspect. Marcus McNeil left enough of his DNA on Freeney's grill to clone a whole new DT last January. No flag.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:06pm

Not even the Winter crew calls even 20% of the holds that happen on Freeney. Not calling those is one of those undocumented points of emphasis in the interest of keeping the playing field level. You know that.

It's all also in the interest of protecting QBs. If people weren't allowed to hold Freeney, Peyton would be the only healthy QB in the league!

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:09pm

It was Ron Winter. That crew flags EVERYTHING. This is not a new phenomenon.

I'm glad you brought that up. There was a number of posts at the beginning about the lack of flags in the Jets/Saints game, and it got me to thinking that the coaches should have known who their officiating crews were, and what their tendencies would be. A smart, well-prepared coach would use that information - much like the Patriots' famous 'mugging of the wideouts' during that Indy-NE palyoff game in 2001 or so.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:19pm

I'm sure they do. Brady mentioned on his weekly radio call-in that Belichick reminded the team that Winters's crew has been at/near the top of the list in number of flags thrown this year and the past couple of years and to expect a tightly-called game.

I'm sure BB is far from unique on this and that every other non-incompetent coach in the NFL does the same sort of ref-scouting and briefing their players on what the scouting turns up.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 7:38pm

In baseball you can find all kinds of information on an umpires strike percentage, total pitches per game, average runs per game...

If a head coach is willing to video tape other teams walk through, practices, and defensive hand gestures... It's highly likely he's going to try and coach around those refs.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:47pm

I think part of the complaint was that similar hits on their QB were not getting flagged. I'm not sure as a coach you can tell your guys to play different based on the officiating crew. However I think you can tell your guys to talk up the penalties on a crew that is more flag happy. Base on the fact the Raven would have won the game had they simply executed better anyways. I'm not sure this is a huge deal. I think fans of other teams will be happy to point out bad flags that helped other teams in the NFL. So I don't think this is Patriot specific. About the only real officiating bias study I ever remember seeing showed dark colored jersey teams got more penalties than light colored ones. But that was a long time ago. I'm not sure if it's true anymore.

by morganja :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:44pm

Tony Dungy brought up the good point that there has to be more than contact to cause a penalty. I think once a couple weeks go by pretty much everyone will agree it was just a terrible call. Looking at the replay I notice that there are two players locked up between Ron Winter and Tom Brady, blocking his view. I think it is apparent that he couldn't see the contact or lack of contact but threw the flag based on seeing that Suggs came into his field of vision low and Brady leaped backwards. I think Winter assumed the contact and threw the flag which is something that always bothers me by officials in every sport. They get so hyped up to make all the calls that they call things that they can't actually see, deducing the infraction from circumstantial evidence.

It happens all the time, especially in basketball where you will see a foul called by an official who has 4 guys approaching 7 feet between him and the play. Whenever I play any sport I have always been satisfied by a non-call because the ref says he didn't see it. I am much happier to accept his human limatations than his god-like assumptions. If he can only see 1 out of three penalties, just call the ones you see and let us live with the rest.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 8:33pm

After seeing Brady whine for the flag on ESPN's highlights tonight, I have to say Brady is now officially the woosiest QB in the NFL.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 6:10pm

If you are a Ravens fan, you should be upset...

At how soundly your team was manhandled.

When a team is as outplayed as Baltimore was they usually lose 34-10. As much luck as NE had with the calls and the game ending drop, Balitmore had more and then some to even be in it at the end.

Sorry Ravens fan. The right team won the game.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:06pm

That Suggs roughing the passer call was embarassing. Brady whining for it just makes it look bad. Do you think if Kyle Boller was whining for that call he wouldn't get laughed at? In one of the preseason games, Joey Harrington is scrambling around and gets smashed in the head helmet/helmet by a defender. Soloman Wilcotts says that it was perfectly legal and has this pompous ( he deserved it for scrambling) attitude because he was a ball carrier. Do you think they would have said the same thing if Brady got smashed in the head with helmet to helmet contact on a cheap shot? Rodney Harrison played with Brady and he thought the call was bogus.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:10pm

They seem to be calling them a lot more this year. Wilfork got called on one a couple weeks ago where he barely touched a scrambling Mark Sanchez.

Like holding, every ref's opinion of roughing seems to be different. I don't know why you guys can't understand that.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:13pm

Brady mentioned on his weekly WEEI call that the team knew Winters's crew threw a lot of flags and were expecting the game to be called tightly.

by billsfan :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:46pm

That "take off the skirt" line was awesome.

Keep in mind, however, that Harrison has made a career out of diving at people's knees.

That said, *anyone* who whines for a call after physical contact is playing the wrong sort of football. This is the NFL, not UEFA.

(I also like the Eagles)

by nat :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 8:01am

I chuckled at first, too. Then I realized he had just used "like a woman" to mean "a coward". That was in bad taste on a day dedicated to recognizing the plight and courage of women fighting breast cancer.

Less than awesome, when you think about it.

by billsfan :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 9:34am

I saw heteronormativity where you saw misogyny. Non-traditional men also wear skirts, as do Scotsmen, who are a different sort of non-traditional man. Given Brady's propensity for tiny hats, ascots, and miniature dogs in baskets, not to mention his marriage to a woman with undoubtedly masculine facial features, the former is not an unreasonable assumption.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Charger watcher (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:29pm

It was strange to see a Norv Turner team make a huge fourth-quarter comeback instead of the usual blowing of a fourth-quarter lead

That was old school Norv, pre-Chargers. As HC of the Chargers his M.O. has been to have his team suck early and suck often and then to have them miraculously remember how to play football in the second half. They then put on a furious rally which either snatches victory from the jaws of defeat or at least pumps up the offensive stats and makes the loss cosmetically better. This overall theme also applies to seasons as a whole.

by southpaw (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 3:51pm

Agreed on Kramer. My thoughts were more like a Star Trek dress uniform in pleather.

Jim Nantz. Because a pall must be cast over the day Enberg finally croaks.

by Dave B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:07pm

"Somebody needs to tell Cris Collinsworth that Adrian Peterson is not a good example of a player who doesn't fumble a lot."

When Collinsworth suggested that Peterson gets his pads low and therefore doesn't fumble, I nearly went off at the television. How can an announcer not know that Peterson fumbled the ball last year?

Not to Collinsworth: you get paid to talk knowledgeably about football, not to heap unwarranted praise on NFL stars. Christ.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:19pm

Maybe he meant "Peterson gets his pads low, which keeps him from fumbling," but decided against adding, "Then he extends his arms to yardage and coughs it up more than Doc Holliday."

No, I don't really believe that this is what Collinsworth was thinking, either.

by whodat :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 9:56pm

And Purple Jesus gives away another loaf.

What's the over / under on # games before Favre gets dead arm? His footwork and throwing mechanics look strained to me.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:34pm

Packers @ Vikings

- Green Bay moves the ball on offense some ( Rogers looks calm and good), the Vikings pass rush seems aggressive and the Packers took advantage with some screens.

- The Pack starts off with 3 penalties and a turnover. The Vikings do enough to move the ball and convert a turnover and take a 7-0 lead.

- Aaron Rogers rebuttal with nice movement in the pocket and a 62 yard TD pass!

- Clay Matthews with a huge strip over Adrian Peterson for a touchdown and a huge momentum shift. What a play by the rookie on MNF.

- Charles Woodson with a huge pick in the endzone at the end of the first half that was called back. They called that hand on the hip as a pass interference (there was also an off sides) but I'm shocked they called pass interference on that play but not on either of the last 2 plays in the Dallas game. That was nothing compared to what happened on the last play there (no call).

- Brett Favre has a lot of time back there in the pocket. The play before the Berrian TD Fave had what seemed like 10 seconds back there.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:45pm

Favre actually had 7.36 seconds on that pass play to be exact.

- Earlier in the game Antoine Winfield had an amazing interception where he broke on the ball and just beat Greg Jennings to the stop on the out route.

- Rogers is 8/8 with 7 first downs on 3rd downs thus far.

- Rogers also did have that fumble, but to be fair he has a LG playing LT and blocking Jared Allen... His line play hasn't been great and Donald Driver said he'd be the best QB in the league if we could protect him.

I know DVOA won't like the turnovers, but those were 2 turnovers that I can't totally fault the QB on. I think Rogers is playing a fantastic game thus far. You know I'm hard on qb's and especially the dunk and dunk variety, but Rogers has been nothing short of amazing. If you don't think he's top 5 after this game, I don't know what will make you think that.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:54pm

Donald Lee with a drop on 4th and goal isn't helping the Packers cause.

I like this team with Tirico, Jaws and Gruden in the booth by the way. Jaws brings up something about gap control on an Adrian Peterson run and Gruden is just laughing, gap control... sometimes you have all the gaps controlled but Adrian freaking Peterson is running the ball.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/05/2009 - 11:20pm

You've been sacked six times, and you pump fake in the end zone? Um, not so good.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:01am

Jaws at the end... " If they would have kicked the FG like I said...", yeah, but if Donald Lee doesn't drop a routine throw, the Packers would have scored 7 points.

Aaron Rogers played a fantastic game (even though DVOA might not like the turnovers). Rogers had a make shift O-Line and he still played like that. If Rogers played like crap, you could have easily said that he " had no line", the old excuse for bad/mediocre quarerbacks. The guy did about as good as you possibly could with what he had. If you were to switch QB's, there is no doubt in my mind Favre could not have done what Rogers did with that team tonight... Favre played well too, he wasn't doing the dinks/dunks as much as earlier in the year, he did make plays down field, but I was really impressed with Rogers.

Does Rogers taking over remind you a LITTLE bit of Young taking over for Montana?

by Eddo :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:23am

For someone who loves to point out slow deliveries and bad decisions, how can you totally ignore that Rodgers held the ball forever tonight? He was nearly as bad as Seneca Wallace at knowing when to get rid of the ball.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 6:59am

Slow deliveries and bad decisions?

What does bad decisions have to do with Rogers tonight? Antoine Winfield gambled on a route and made a great break (and catch) that you see so infrequently from a cornerback. Greg Jennings could have done more to attack the point... That pick is so unlikely but Rogers had another ball he threw on 1 on 1 coverages that was defensed that wasn't picked but was much more likely to even it out a bit. Throwing the ball down field for 380 yards with little to no run game and 1 pick isn't poor decision making.

Rogers held onto the ball forever last night? Really? I saw a backup left guard get dominated by one of the top 5 DE's in the game and a quarterback with little to no time. How often do quarterbacks get sacked 7 times and throw for 380 yards?

Senecca Wallace to Rogers? How often did Rogers drop back and look at his pass rushers?

You could disagree or not, but I give Aaron Rogers my seal of approval. There is a huge difference between dropping back and throwing the ball through the air repeatedly and dropping back and throwing the ball sideways to your RB's, or throwing TE drag routes, and WR screens. One offense is dynamic and will be able to score points, and one offense will get shut down by decent defenses.

by anotherpatsfan :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:38am

In reply to one of the easiest questions ever asked: "Does Rogers taking over remind you a LITTLE bit of Young taking over for Montana?"

No, no, it doesn't. Not even a little bit. Not even if I was drinking a lot. Neither reminds me of Montana. Neither reminds me of Young (imo best of the group statistically). Sorry.

by J.D. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:03am

Have Aaron Rogers and Rob Johnson ever been seen in the same place at the same time?

by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:43am

Come to think of it, have Brett Favre and Cleopatra ditto ditto?

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:19am

Favre was brilliant. Rogers isn't now nor will he ever be the QB Favre is now, let alone Favre in his prime.

I wonder if Childress will be smart enough to realize he needs to open up the offence and burn teams that want to play 8-9 in the box. Was that game enough enough proof for him? I doubt it.

Rogers will always be over rated - he's like a home run hitter that doesn't get on base. He's brilliant at times but his core weakness (sacks) will kill the Packers and lead to a mediocre career.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 6:51am

Rogers isn't what Favre is now?

Rogers was better than Favre last year and he will have a better year this year too.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 1:59am

How long can Rodgers can this kind of punishment before he gets injured?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:52am

I'd like to put a stopwatch on Rodgers' sacks (along with seeing the all 22 shot) before concluding that he was horrible in terms of holding on to the ball too long. I'll concede that the safety sack was likely very poor judgement by Rodgers. On the other hand, Rodgers did seem to throw quite well and intelligently when he remained upright. His health is in definite danger if the Packers' line keeps at this level.

I thought the broadcasting team was just so-so. They did some things better than what one normally hears, but also fell prey to the common deadly error of sticking to the pre-planned storyline, no matter what actually transpires on the field. Think (I do) Antione Winfield is a great player? Then we have to rave when he does something good, but not mention his name when there is a chance that he screwed up, like he may have on the Packers' first touchdown, and maybe their last.

Favre was terrific, of course, and it'll be interesting to see what opponents decide to do with regard to scheming for Peterson, if Favre keeps up the success going downfield, to a number of different receivers. We may yet see the best that Bernard Berrian has offered in his career, now that he is getting healthy, and playing with an above average qb for the first time. Harvin will likely only get better, and he already is dangerous. Sidney Rice actually looks like a competent NFL receiver. That said, opposing teams may still decide that they would rather take their chances with an old qb, Peterson's fumbles notwithstanding.

The Vikings defense played pretty good, of course, but I do think their pass rushers got tired in the fourth quarter, which often happens when your pass rushers have had success for the first three quarters. It'd be nice if the Vikings could win a game in which all of the opponent's points were actually scored by the opponent's offense.

by bubqr :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 4:58am

On the "contact below the QB's knees" topic :

Can anyone remember who was the QB sacked below the knees by Merriman a while ago (I think it was Peyton, not sure), when he used what I think was a fantastic move : bullrush, then rotate his body while falling down on his back to grab the QB's knees. I absolutely loved that move, because it's an amazing one for an undersized DE. I guess it's know illegal. I'm just trying to know who was the QB/which game it was, see if I can find a video of it.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 8:02am

"Rogers was better than Favre last year and he will have a better year this year too."

What is obvious is that Favre's injury last year was the reason for his poor play. I really doubt GB would have finished 6-10 with Favre as their QB last year. But we'll never know. All I can say as a Viking fan - I'm glad you've got Rogers and the Vikings have Favre.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 9:02am

So was Favre going to go both ways and help stop the run last year? I know he's godly and all but please.

You are a Vikings fan that is glad you have Favre, and that the Packers have Rogers NOW, but what happens when he retires and the Vikings have Tavaras Jackson and the Packers have Aaron Rogers. Then will you be happy?

So Favre wasn't better than Aaron Rogers last year?

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 8:08am

Will Allen - "I'd like to put a stopwatch on Rodgers' sacks (along with seeing the all 22 shot) before concluding that he was horrible in terms of holding on to the ball too long"

Last year I pointed out on this site that Rogers coming into 07 had been sacked 13-14% of the time in all of his regular and pre-season games. I was a little surprised when he was sacked just 6% of the time last year but that was still double the rate Favre was sacked in 07. Now he's almost up to 9% for his regular season career. I've only watched about 5-6 of his games so it may not be fair to judge him but I know that he's one of the key reasons for the last two GB losses in Minnesota.

He may fix the problem - but I really doubt it. I would say 5-6 of the sacks he took last night we're clearly avoidable and two of them were huge factors in the loss (fumble first drive and safety).

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:33am

jimm, I'km not saying I know you are wrong, but there simply is no substitute for using a stopwatch, and the all 22 shot, if you want to know if the qb is holding on to the ball too long.

The key reason the Packers have lost the last two games to the Vikings is that the Packers have gotten decimated (yes!) on the line of scrimmage. Last night, the Packers decided that, no matter what, Adrian Peterson was not going to have a big night. They had zero pass rush, however. The Packers offensive line performance speaks for itself; it was a bit like watching baby seals getting clubbed.

by billsfan :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:11pm

I could see how having 4.5 people on their otherwise quinquevirate offensive line could be problematic.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 12:52pm

Now, THAT would be blood and guts football!

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 9:52am

C - Aaron Rogers is not a QB I would want on a team I'm cheering for. Favre is far from my first choice - but I'm guessing Rogers would be somewhere around 15-20 on my list of choices.

Lets see:

Favre, Cutler, Ryan, Brees, Romo, McNabb, E. Manning, Warner, Hassleback (healthy), P. Manning, Garrard, Brady, Pennington (healthy), Roethlisberger, Palmer, Flacco,

17th - I'd probably take Sanchez over him as well. But not sure yet.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:25am

Hmm... you love Favre, you say? I seem to remember Jets fans feeling the same way last year at four games into the season... I have a feeling I know how this story ends... (it ends with several ridiculous interceptions, many poorly timed mistakes and an old man playing out the stretch with complete indifference)

by BrixtonBear (not verified) :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 2:40am

Green Bay fans who haven't blocked out the '07 NFC Championship know this story, too.

by CoachDave :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:27am

I think Rodgers is overrated, but calling him a 15-20 ranked NFL is ridiculous.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:30am

David Garrard over Aaron Rogers? Really? That isn't a wee bit of Vikings hate going for the Packers signal caller?

Flacco? So you are sold already on Joe? Does that defense Flacco have anything to do with it, or you'd rather have Flacco commanding your offense?

Pennington when healthy? So in even years only? The other years you throw the season and try and boost our team with high draft picks?

Brees, Manning, Brady (untouchables)

After that I'm not so sure Rogers won't finish in the class right below them even this year. PS, you forgot Rivers.

PSS, isn't it funny how opinions on QB's change year to year. Last year Joe Flacco was a "game manager", now he's in your top 15. Matt Cassell played a fantastic year last year, now he moves to the Chiefs and he's not in the top half. Brett Favre could be "old and should retire" one year, but then throw 3 TD's on MNF and he's better than Aaron Rogers. Warner was written off the Giants, and then leads Arizona to the super bowl...

Yes, I'm very hard on QB's but I think Rogers will be in that upper echelon... Good footwork, good mechanics, good release, good decisions, decent enough arm, Calm under pressure, studious, I don't see him holding onto the ball too long but you've probably seen more of him than I have. Plus, in his 2nd year as a starter the guy does actually have upside in thinking quicker, making better reads etc. He's not exactly throwing dump offs every play and I expect him to learn and grow...

by Eddo :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:33am

Who is this "Rogers" character everyone is talking about?

Seriously people, it's not a hard name to spell, and not even that rare a version. His name is Aaron Rodgers.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:49am

by Eddo - who cares how he spells his name - he'll be long forgotten 10 years from now.

C - this is not a Viking fan thing - I don't like QB's that hold the ball too long. Didn't like Culpepper much for the same reason. I would take a bunch of QB's over Roethlisberger for the same reason. I always liked Favre even when he was in GB.

Re Flacco - really liked him by the end of last year. But not nearly as much as Ryan.

Rivers - of course. I would take him right after P. Manning.

As for Pennington and Warner - they would be in the same bunch as Rodgers if I was choosing a QB. Warner in his prime was a miles better QB than Rodgers will ever be.

by CoachDave :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:59am

"Warner in his prime was a miles better QB than Rodgers will ever be"

Wow. Do you also "foresee" lottery numbers?

And may I recommend the ESPN or Yahoo message boards...you'll fit in nicely with the "internet-know-it-all" crowd.

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:35pm

Warner in his prime was on the level of Dan Marino. That's like saying Shakespeare, in his prime, was better than Thomas Wolfe will ever be. Technically true, but utterly meaningless.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 10:57am

Coach Dave - here's my list

1. P. Manning
2. P. Rivers
3. T. Brady
4. D. Brees
5. M. Ryan
6. J. Cutler
7. D. McNabb
8. B. Roethlisberger
9. B. Favre
10.E. Manning
11.T. Romo
12.M. Hassleback
13.C. Palmer
14.M. Hassleback
15.J. Flacco
16.K. Warner
17.D. Garrard
18.A. Rodgers

I said Pennington ahead of Rodgers earlier, but that's probably not true.

by anotherpatsfan :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:17am

Too many "M. Hasslebacks" or however you spell it.

If you think about QB play for the next 5 years, and who would you NOT trade if you could get Rodgers, I think only McNabb, Favre, both Hasslebacks, Warner clearly fall off this list, although I disagree with Garrard over Rodgers. I don't know that I'd trade any of the other remaining 12 guys for Rodgers today (Romo and Flacco possibly).

I think even that type of analysis factoring in long term potential would still put him outside the top 10...

Not Steve Young territory...

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:02am

Further to Rodgers ranking (got that spelling down now). He was 10th in FO ratings last year. But that was on a team that had the 3rd rated QB the year before. GB is a good offensive team. Almost any QB would put up decent stats for GB in 2008.

Arguing he was the 15-20th best QB last year given the quality of his offensive teammates is I think entirely reasonable and likely accurate.

It's the same argument I used on this site when I said M. Cassel wasn't really any good and that his stats would suck in KC.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:05am

by CoachDave - Rodgers is 26 years old. Athletes reach their prime around 27. The likelihood he gets much better is not great and I've already pointed out I don't think he's very good and provided support for that reasoning. I think your comment demonstrates that perhaps you belong on such sites.

I sure as hell hope you aren't really a Coach.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:42am

"Athletes" might reach their prime at 27, but do Quarterbacks reach their prime in their 3rd year? Maybe for a normal football player, but not a guy playing the hardest position in pro sports. I think he had a fantastic year after stepping into the spotlight in some great shoes.

Is he going to get "much better"? That's relative, I think he's already very good.

For the record, the Montana/Young question wasn't over do you think Rogers will be as good as young or anything like that ( you could argue Young was the best ever), the point was that the franchise is passing a a HOF QB, to replace him with a very good QB and get on with life.

Spotting flaws in QB's is easy, but I'm very bullish on Rogers. The problem with ranking quarterbacks is that you could easily mix results from the process to get those results... One guy could put up the numbers one year, but the next year his numbers could take for a variety of different reasons ( Marc Bulger). Yeah you could compare numbers year to year but they inflate/change. One year a guy might have top 5 or top 10 numbers but maybe not so the next. Do you think the guy changed a lot or maybe the schedule/teammates/luck/other teams scouting/strategy had any effect at all on that?

Were you impressed at all with Rogers being 8/8 with 7 first downs on 3rd down conversions? No matter what DVOA says for Rogers, I think he'll lose some on the dropped TD, lose some on the great INT by a pro bowl corner, he was sailing against the tide all night with Jared Allen too... I think he played not good but great for what he had.

Out of curiosity, how come you have Phillip Rivers at #2? How come you like David Garrard better than Rogers?

by t.d. :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:57am

Garrard is much better than Rodgers. If Sims-Walker develops and Holt remains as good as he was last year, Garrard's production will jump.

by Nate :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 4:03pm

I thought that FO (or someone else) did some math, and QBs hit their prime late, like 32 or something.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 10:58am

I believe Lewin's finding was that QBs essentially hit their prime (on average) in around their 5th year in the league. That's not necessarily their absolute peak year, but the last big jump in productivity is typically between year 4 and year 5. After that, they start to decline physically, but for several years (until around age 32 or 33) the ongoing gains in knowledge/awareness cancel out or even slightly surpass the slight loss of physical skills, making that phase of the career an approximate plateau. PFP 2006(?) is the place to check for details.

by t.d. :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 11:54am

he's near his physical peak. his flaws aren't physical, they're mental. he's started 20 games, same as matt ryan, two less than joe flacco.

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:06pm

C - Were you impressed at all with Rogers being 8/8 with 7 first downs on 3rd down conversions?

At times I'm incredibly impressed with Rogers - he throws the ball very accurately, moves well and makes great plays. But he just seems to eat the ball every 7 or 8 plays. I just don't think that is something you can learn to be better at.

Out of curiosity, how come you have Phillip Rivers at #2? How come you like David Garrard better than Rogers?

I would like Brady number 2 if he hadn't had a knee injury. What I like about Rivers is his accuracy and toughness.

As for Garrard over Rivers - not sure there's much of difference really - Garrard/Rivers - not sure I'd care much which one I had.

I think if I bunched them into groups I'd break in down this way

Top Tier - P. Manning, Rivers, Brady, Brees, Ryan
bit of a drop off
Tier 2 - Cutler, McNabb, Roethlisberger, Favre, E. Manning,
Not yet Tier 2 but I bet he has a big career - J. Flacco

Tier 3 - Romo through Rogers....take your pick don't think it makes much difference which one is your QB.

How would you break them down? Did I miss anyone significant -Schaub? Stafford? (not accurate enough in my mind - but man he can wing it)

by Independent George :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 2:43pm

The interesting thing to me about all these lists is just how many 'good' quarterbacks there are. I imagine this has to do with both the rule changes and the rise of stat-friendly spread offenses, but I wonder if there has also been a marked improvement in the way QBs are coached/developed, going down to the college ranks.

by MC2 :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 5:02pm

I don't really have any evidence to support this theory, but my guess is that advances in film study and game preparation work to the benefit of QBs more than other positions, since it's such a mental position. Knowing in advance exactly how different defenses react to specific plays has to be a tremendous help for a QB.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 3:58pm

Jimm, one thing I've thought of with regards to Rodgers vs Favre (especially younger version) as a GB fan is that while they both have some very similar positive attributes (arm strength, accuracy, mobility within the pocket, able to make throws on the run), their biggest difference is how they react under pressure.

Rodgers definitely holds the ball too long at time and ends up taking a few more sacks than he should. before he became a starter I thought it was mainly a lack of pocket presence, now I believe it's more that he will try to keep a play alive too long even when he knows guys are around him, often relying on his mobility to buy time. This works well outside the pocket, not so much when the defense contains the pocket.

Favre on the other hand often reacts to pressure by forcing throws. Sometimes this results in great plays, often it results in interceptions. He's held this part of his nature in check so far this season, as the Vikings have hardly played from behind and in the case of last nights game Favre faced almost zero pressure. However there will be games this season (I'm thinking Pittsburgh and Baltimore, possibly Chicago and the game in Green Bay) where he will face pressure while playing from behind and will try to force some throws.

The net result is that Rodgers takes more sacks, but over the long haul I think he has fewer turnovers. That was the case last year, and I think DVOA and DYAR recognize that while sacks are bad, they are much better than turnovers, and so I think you are selling Rodgers a bit short. I'd rather have him than Eli (with the Giants o-line and running game Rodgers would be playing lights out this year), and although I haven't seen enough of him to say for sure I think putting Ryan in the top tier of QBs is premature. I'm also not sold that Cutler is better than Rodgers, he seems to make some great plays but is not terribly consistent and throws more picks.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 4:06pm

That's a fair point, but keep in mind that a qb who more frequently allows himself to get hit while in possession of the ball will also fumble more frequently. Robo-QB, of course, would always throw incompletions, and never interceptions, to avoid a sack.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 6:32pm

Also a good point, but on average it takes several sacks to produce one fumble, and it takes (again on average) about 2 fumbles to produce one turnover.

Rodgers has been sacked about 20 times this year, fumbled twice, and lost only one. Combined with his single INT against Minnesota he has 2 turnovers this season, a total turnover rate of 0.5 per game. Historically Favre has averaged something close to 1.0 INTs per game, even in his MVP years. Jimm's numbers in the post below similarly demonstrate the relative expecations for fumbles and INTs between the QBs.

As long as Rodgers can keep mostly hanging onto the ball when he gets sacked and throwing very few turnovers, he won't be significantly hurting GB's chances for winning games. On a bad day Favre (or any QB who throws a lot of passes recklessly) can produce as many INTs as Rodgers might produce lost fumbles over a season (currently on pace for 4).

by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 10/06/2009 - 4:42pm

Arkaein - you make some good points...turnovers on average will be worse than sacks. GB fans certainly have a much better perspective on both QB's - My observations of Favre are influenced by his much more conservative and effective play this year and the twice yearly great performances against the Vikings of recent years.

Will - I looked at Rodgers fumble rate so far vs Favre - per 500 pass attempts Rodgers is averaging about 1 more fumble. Looking at int rates Favre would throw 16 ints/500 attempts to Rodgers 10.

by t.d. :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 12:06am

Sacks are very negative plays because they end drives. Not as often as turnovers, but more often than is being acknowledged here. They take away a down, and they raise the degree of difficulty in subsequent downs. FO found that offensive penalties had a negative correlation to winning, and sacks often create a greater disadvantage than a penalty would. It is entirely possible that Rodgers will turn out to be a decent quarterback who has thus far been unlucky, but it isn't a given.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 3:59pm

Sometimes sacks end drives. A sack on 3rd down ends a drive, but is hardly any worse than an incompletion or even a short completion. On early downs a sack might matter more, but a lot of that depends on the amount of yards lost. A 2 or 3 yard loss isn't that big of a deal compared to a simple incompletion.

On average I think I'd rather take a sack than a holding penalty. Holding penalties have seemed to be the real drive killers for GB so far this season.

by MJK :: Thu, 10/08/2009 - 4:31pm

You're right that it depends on the down, but I think I'd rather take the holding penalty, in general, unless we're talking about the "QB tries to scramble and is brought down 1/2 a yard behind the LOS" type of sack.

A holding penalty costs you more yards than all but the most egregious sack, but the sack costs you some yards AND the down (and also the risk of a fumble). On 3rd down, everyone would almost always rather take a holding penalty, because 3rd and really long is still preferable to 4th and long. Obviously, on 4th down, you always prefer to get the holding penalty than take a sack.

On the other hand, on 1st down, I think it's nearly a wash, but I still think I would rather take a holding penalty. Would you rather face 1st and 20 or 2nd and 16 and the risk of a strip-sack (I'm assuming ~6 yards is an average loss for a sack)? Minus the fumble, the two are pretty much equivalent to me, since it's not too hard (especially in long yardage situations), to trade a down for about 4 yards. In fact, there's a pretty good chance you'll get more than four yards, and be in a better situation than if you had taken the sack. Factor in the fumble possibility, and taking the holding penalty probably wins.

I would assume 2nd down would fall somewhere between the 1st (they're about equal, with maybe a holding penalty slightly preferable) and 3rd/4th down situations (holding penalty clearly preferable). So on every down, taking the hold wins or ties taking the sack.

Note that coaches will sometimes decline a holding penalty even if the offensive team doesn't lose any (or even gains) yards, implying that in some situations, loss of down is more important loss of yards.

by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 12:16pm

Mike McCarthy thinks Rodgers was a part of the sack problem as well against Minnesota.

Mike McCarthy:

“When you play up there in that noise, they're playing a little bit downhill on you when they know it's a pass. I think that's evident to everybody. Holding the ball sometimes is not what we want to do.”

“When you can design plays, whether it's a three-step drop or a five-step drop, really the quarterback's decision-making is clear in our offense. He only has three reads in the whole offense. He has what we refer to as a pure progression read, where you create a triangle with the pass concept, and I tell him exactly who one, two and three are. You either throw it to one, two or three. The second read is the progression or an option. You throw it to one, two or three, or there's an option built in based on the coverage. And the third read is what we refer to as a PSL, pre-snap look, that tells you to work one side or the other. So when you stay in tune with that, the time clock fits, and it's tied to the protection. ... But you have to trust the read, trust the read, and that didn't happen all the time.”

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/07/2009 - 12:41pm

Man, for fans like us, having a coach speak with that sort of candor is really great. Makes me want to root for the Packers to win a wild card spot.