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03 Jan 2011

Audibles at the Line: Week 17

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.

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

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Miami Dolphins 7 at New England Patriots 38

Aaron Schatz: Tom Brady came out for Brian "Red's Cigar" Hoyer, then for some reason came back in. Why is he back in? What is the point? I understand leaving him in for a half so he doesn't have two weeks off, but why take him out and then put him back in?

If you get to watch the highlight shows, check out Julian Edelman's punt return touchdown. In particular, check out punter Brandon Fields as he attempts to catch up to Edelman... slowest punter EVER. He huffs, and he puffs, and he huffs, and he puffs. Definitely not one of those ex-Australian Rules guys.

Vince Verhei: Patriots up 24-0 as the second half starts. Why on earth is Brady still in there?

Aaron Schatz: I think the announcer in the Patriots game just said the Patriots are preparing for a "Sugar Bowl run."

Doug Farrar: BenJarvus Green-Ellis becomes the first Patriots rusher since Corey Dillon to bust the 1,000-yard mark. Confused analysts all across our nation begin to craft ways in which they can credit the accomplishment to Danny Woodhead instead.

Minnesota Vikings 13 at Detroit Lions 20

Bill Barnwell: Ron Pitts notes that you shouldn't look at the Lions "statistical numbers". You know, instead of focusing on the non-statistical numbers. Then FOX pops up a graphic with their ball distribution and how over the last three weeks, the've gone from running the ball 35 percent of the time to running the ball 50 percent of the time. John Lynch adds "...it's not coincidence that they've been 3-0, in my mind, in those games. They've found balance on this football team."

Doug Farrar: If it’s so crucial to find run/pass balance to win, why are quarterback wins so important?

Bill Barnwell: I actually went ahead and ran the numbers and the Lions actually ARE running the ball more in the first half of games, with an effect even larger than that graphic suggests -- they ran the ball 57 percent of the time in the first half over the past three games after running the ball 39 percent of the time in the previous 12. So fair enough. However, it's hard to argue that the offensive consistency has improved things. The offense has scored 19 points per game during that three-game streak after averaging 22 points per game in the previous 12.

Carolina Panthers 10 at Atlanta Falcons 31

Tom Gower: Because, well, why not? Falcons come out with a very pass-heavy drive and take the ball right down for an opening score, with Tony Gonzalez capping it off with the TD reception. On the TD play, the Falcons lined up with an empty backfield, causing Charles Davis to boldly declare that it would be a pass play.

Mike Tanier: Kroy Biermann almost intercepted a screen pass in the end zone. Next play: a Eric Weems punt return touchdown. The Falcons will sit on the ball for the rest of the afternoon.

Mike Goodson just fumbled for the second time. Ball security is not his strong point. Not sure what is.

Tom Gower: One thing the Falcons seem to be doing in their early pass-heavy plan is targeting Michael Jenkins, in an attempt to tell teams "Oh, no, you really do have to cover Jenkins, he'll make plays if you concentrate too heavily on White and Gonzo." Mike Smith also decided to go for on in fourth-and-3 inside the 5 up 14-0. Teams should go for it more often, but I think there you kick the field goal and go up three scores. Ryan threw too far for White on the Sprint Left Option, in case you need a reminder why teams normally run to their quarterback's throwing arm side.

Mike Tanier: The Falcons keep going for it on fourth down. They respect the Panthers the way Charlie Sheen respects a hooker.

I admire Jimmy Clausen's ability to turn every wide receiver screen into an abject lesson in failure.

Bill Barnwell: Panthers run an end-around to Brandon LaFell for sixty yards. Great blocking on the outside by David Gettis, and LaFell breaks two tackles and does a great job of extending the play.

On the next play, the Panthers run the same end-around to LaFell to the other side. The handoff gets fumbled, only for LaFell to pick it up and then throw it away, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty.

On the next play, Clausen scrambles and hits David Clowney, who breaks a tackle and has a free path to converting for a first down on second-and-27 ... and promptly falls down. Brent Grimes does a great job of breaking up a fade on third down and it forces the Panthers into a field goal.

Tom Gower: Throwing the ball away was a smart move, but he was deep enough (17 yards) after recovering the fumble the throw didn't make it back to the line of scrimmage.

John Fox's decision to kick the field goal... avoiding the shutout, I guess.

Oakland Raiders 31 at Kansas City Chiefs 10

Mike Kurtz: I haven't seen all of KC/OAK, but Routt seems to be having a monster day. Great coverage against Bowe (at this point KC's entire offense) on a few plays, and a great quick catch for a pick-six.

Aaron Schatz: I'm actually writing an XP about Routt later this week. His charting numbers are, shall we say, unexpected.

Mike Kurtz: And then Brown clotheslined Routt as he was about to intercept Cassel. Wow. DB on DB violence!

Aaron Schatz: Can Cassel possibly throw more passes to receivers covered by two Raiders defenders?

Bill Barnwell: Chiefs just handed the ball to Jackie Battle on fourth-and-21. You're not going to believe this, but he didn't get 21 yards.

Mike Tanier: Jacoby Ford is more fun than a basket of pick-and-peel shrimp.

Pittsburgh Steelers 41 at Cleveland Browns 9

Bill Barnwell: Browns start with the ball and throw an interception when Benjamin Watson tries to catch a ball with one hand and tips it twice into the hands of Troy Polamalu. Announcers speculate that Polamalu just has a knack for finding the ball. He does, but that's not a good example of it; Polamalu was standing three yards away from Watson.

Steelers then score on a deep post to Wallace where poor rookie safety T.J. Ward gets lost about as bad as you'll ever see a safety get lost. He's running backwards and trying to find the ball as it hits Wallace for the touchdown.

Vince Verhei: Roethlisberger-Wallace has now passed Bradshaw-Swann or Bradshaw- Stallworth for the most 40-yard touchdowns in team history.

Mike Kurtz: Joshua Cribbs injured his ankle on a (bad) kick return. Hillis is limited and now Cribbs is out, so this is not a good combination for Colt McCoy. Then again, right afterwards the Browns put together two first downs. Lots of intermediate passes to Benjamin Watson.

Tim Gerheim: The Browns just ran the Titans' "run two receivers to the same spot and hope somebody gets lucky and catches it" play Tennessee used a couple times in the Rusty Venture game against the Texans. It didn't look as much like it was designed to allow for a bad throw to become a lucky reception. In this case it went through Peyton Hillis's hands and Brian Robiskie caught the deflection. That play still baffles me; isn't it kind of fundamental that you don't want multiple receivers too close to one another, because at least against zone it winds up putting too many defenders close to the ball? I get having guys at similar spots horizontally but at different depths, but Hillis and Robiskie were only three or four yards apart, and I don't think that counts.

Mike Kurtz: It depends on the defense you're playing against and where the throw is going. Especially if you're playing against a zone blitz, an overload blitz will leave a mid zone in the center and a short zone on the sideline. If you occupy the linebacker in the middle, you can get a flanker and the slot to force the DB in the short zone to commit to one or the other. The safety isn't going to be able to get up in time, so in the end you have two receivers against one defender in that zone. Easy completion.

Bill Barnwell: I am told that Robert Royal just dropped back-to-back touchdowns for the Browns.

An unnamed friend of FO adds: "Robert Royal dropped two TD passes in a row when they were on the one, down by 14. Mangini then kicked a field goal. I am livid. My first scream at the TV this year."

Mike Kurtz: Cribbs is back in. Both his legs are injured in some way, now, so it's interesting to see him playing in this meaningless game against a team known for -- let's not mince words -- injuring opponents.

Heath Miller just completely ran over Abram Elam and pushed him 10 yards after the catch. Wow.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, that wasn't technically a broken tackle, but it may as well have been. Roethlisberger was laughing about it.

Bill Barnwell: Solomon Wilcots on Mike Wallace: "Speedsters usually don't come back for the ball. They feel that if it's underthrown, it's not their fault." What the what? Does anyone really believe that if a speedy receiver is running downfield and sees that a pass is underthrown, they don't bother to try and catch it out of spite? That's just insulting.

Tim Gerheim: Maybe he's thinking of Randy Moss, who does everything for spite.

Mike Kurtz: This is just getting ugly. Pitch to Randle El, he slips, defense converges, hits Ward wide open in the end zone.

Vince Verhei: Two thoughts on the Randle El touchdown pass: Is five yards the shortest touchdown pass by a non-QB ever? And I like Roethlisberger in the flat, frantically pointing to Ward all alone in the end zone.

In related news, this is not the best Browns effort today.

Buffalo Bills 7 at New York Jets 38

Bill Barnwell: Jets recover a fumble downfield that a) was bouncing out of bounds and b) C.J. Spiller had a clear chance to grab and chose to try and grab-and-run as opposed to falling on it.

Brad Smith runs for 40 yards after the fumble. He killed the Bengals in Week 17 last year, too. He's the Kevin Maas of football.

Doug Farrar: I’ll say it again, Jets-Bills announcer guys – all Wildcats are options, but not all options are Wildcats. Please.

Bill Barnwell: Pick-six for the Jets when Brian Brohm is hit in motion and the ball goes almost entirely vertical before falling into the hands of Marquice Cole, who runs it back for a touchdown. One thing with Brohm: He's listed as 6-foot-3. I've interviewed Brian Brohm. If I'm not taller than him, I'm not very far off. I'm barely 5-foot-11.

Jairus Byrd -- he of the nine interceptions with no predicative value whatsoever -- finally gets his first interception of the year, a pick-six when Mark Brunell stares down a quick out.

Brunell then hits Braylon Edwards for a touchdown pass down the sideline on a play where Byrd, now playing centerfield, was too slow to get over to the sideline.

Vince Verhei: Not-so-instant replay in New York: Brohm tries a pass while being sacked again. The result is a mile-high wounded duck in the middle of the field, and Cole has another interception.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 at New Orleans Saints 13

David Gardner: The Bucs were set to kick a field goal to bring the score to 7-6. The Saints jumped offside, and the Bucs capitalized by throwing a screen pass to Preston Parker and a touchdown to to Dezmon Briscoe. As a Bucs fan, I found myself cheering then thinking, "who is that?"

Bill Barnwell: That was an incredible throw by Freeman on the TD.

David Gardner: And an amazing catch by a guy who was on the practice squad last week.

The Bucs were driving and on the Saints' 24 before Freeman got sacked, they we're penalized for delay of game and then Freeman was sacked and fumbled. A big momentum changer. The Saints get the ball at midfield with 1:49 left.

Alright. Best trick play of the day so far. The Bucs were going for it on fourth-and-1. They faked a Josh Freeman sneak up the middle, then he dropped back looking for a short outlet to the tight end, so instead he chucked it to Mike Williams in the end zone, who scored.

Bill Barnwell: It isn't exactly an optimal playcall for fourth-and-1. But it worked.

Aaron Schatz: Mike Williams was clearly not the receiver that play was designed for. They got lucky when he outjumped Jabari Greer -- actually, more like out-timed him, Greer jumped earlier, then Williams got up. But that was not how it was designed. I would guess it was designed for a tight end or something, and he couldn't curl out from his block-and-release.

Bill Barnwell: I mean...it's great that the play worked. But you don't want to have to complete a 21-yard tossup to have to convert fourth-and-1. Your success rate on fourth-and-1 should be somewhere around 60 percent; is that really a "This is going to work 60 percent of the time" kinda play?

Aaron Schatz: No, but I'm guessing the tight end sneak out is a "work 40 percent" type of play -- and you do need to run a pass play of some sort every so often on fourth-and-1 so the other team has to think a pass is a possibility. This just happened to be one of the times the tight end sneak out didn't work -- and the Bucs got lucky and completed for a touchdown anyway.

David Gardner: Considering every receiver was interfered with, including Williams, I think it would be a pretty successful play under normal circumstances.

Bill Barnwell: Were any of the receivers besides Williams further than five yards past the line of scrimmage?

Mike Tanier: It's a Dirty Dozen play. If it works, it gives the Bucs life. If it fails, they were facing the champs and needed a miracle to make the playoffs, and the coaches showed faith in the boys. It was a Die with Your Boots On move.

Doug Farrar: If it fails, Jeremy Bates called it and Charlie Whitehurst overthrew the other Mike Williams in the end zone.

David Gardner: Brian Billick just said Reggie Bush isn't a high-carry guy, and that the Saints are lucky if they get him for 10 carries a game. That's the most obvious way to call a guy soft that I've heard recently.

Tim Gerheim: Maybe I misheard Billick but I didn't think he meant they were lucky if they could get 10 carries out of him before he craps out or something. I took it more as a description of his playing style, where he's just not that good a runner, but can be very useful as a changeup on draws and the like, plus his value as a receiver. I just looked, and he has pretty dreadful career averages both rushing and receiving, which somewhat belies that characterization, but it is the reputation.

Bill Barnwell: By the way, since I'm usually pretty negative about announcers: I hope Billick doesn't get a head coaching job. I think he's really good. (And not just because that was a shot at Reggie Bush.)

Someone is going to have to explain that Josh Freeman dumpoff to LeGarrette Blount to me.

Tom Gower: Freeman should have thrown it right at Blount's feet, not at his body where he might actually catch it.

Bill Barnwell: I know that the Saints aren't really playing for anything right now, but they just punted on fourth-and-1 from midfield down 23-13 with 2:10 left.

Cincinnati Bengals 7 at Baltimore Ravens 13

Bill Barnwell: Ravens get a big play early on a flea flicker. Normally, flea flickers result in a deep pass, but the Ravens use it to run a tight end screen to Todd Heap. That was nifty.

Mike Tanier: Ed Reed has Jean Grey telekinesis. That is the only explanation for his career.

Bill Barnwell: Bengals line up to go for it at first on fourth-and-1, down 13-7 with 5:32 left, inside Ravens territory. Then they pull off Carson Palmer and line up for a 45-yard field goal. Kevin Harlan notes "Well, that makes sense." No, it doesn't. They split the FG unit out and the Ravens call timeout. Then they run the ball on fourth-and-1 and get stuffed.

After Carson Palmer fumbles to end another Bengals drive, the Ravens can't get a first down and punt. They get back into two-deep and Palmer just hits two passes to the sideline and one over the middle, easy as can be, to gain about 50 yards in 19 seconds. Bengals are repeatedly targeting Lardarius Webb and/or Webb's side of the field. Not sure if it came down to a slower-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery or poor performance, but he hasn't lived up to his placement on the Top 25 Prospects list.

And then Carson Palmer overthrows a fade on third down and a checkdown on fourth down. Tao of Carson.

Aaron Schatz: Palmer had Cedric Peerman wide open for what would have been the winning touchdown on fourth-and-2 and threw it three feet over his head. Seriously, in the flat. Kids in sandlot games don't overthrow a receiver by that much.

Bill Barnwell: He threw it two yards out of bounds. I mean, it was such a bad throw that I wonder whether he got the downs confused.

Tom Gower: The game is delayed as the officials check with the supervisor in the box to confirm that the Bengals truly did use all four downs in so ineffective a fashion.

Rob Weintraub: Just what I wanted to do with my Sunday afternoon--debate with my Bengal buddies which was the more fitting way for this disaster of a season to conclude, with Palmer's unforced fumble or Palmer's horrific tosses to the beer vendors with the game there for the taking. Unbelievably frustrating, especially after whipping those purple screwheads yet again in every phase for four quarters.

Chicago Bears 3 at Green Bay Packers 10

Mike Kurtz: Wow, Aikman describes a deceptive coverage by the Bears as a "Mickey Mouse Game." Just wow.

Vince Verhei: Matt Forte gets a couple of big runs to the left side. It's been several weeks since I checked this, but earlier this year Forte was dead last in DYAR on runs up the middle, but top five to the outside.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure the move of Chris Williams to guard is working any better than Chris Williams at tackle.

Bill Barnwell: Erik Walden just sacked Jay Cutler inside the red zone. Walden should've forced a fumble, since Cutler didn't feel the pressure whatsoever, but he hit Cutler too high, around the neck/shoulder pads. Had he hit Cutler lower, it almost surely would have been a fumble.

Vince Verhei: Cutler was gripping the ball with one hand too. Even where he was hit, most quarterbacks would have dropped the ball.

Bill Barnwell: God, what an awful throw on that pick by Cutler. Nothing was open, he took forever to make a decision, and while I can understand Cutler forcing a bullet into tight coverage thinking there's a window, he lofted up a lazy pass that two different Packers could have intercepted.

Doug Farrar: I’ve had something like that on AutoText since last season.

Bill Barnwell: Fake sneak gone bad: The Packers run it at the 1-yard line and Rodgers backs out to pitch the ball to Brandon Jackson; the pitch falls short and Jackson spends most of his time recovering the fumble, not trying to score. Rodgers gets sacked on third down and Packers have to kick FG.

Aaron Schatz: I'm kind of blown away that the Bears have played their starters for the whole game so far. I know it is a rivalry game, but in general that means a lot more to fans than it does to players or management.

Bill Barnwell: And Jay Cutler throws the Packers into the playoffs with another ugly interception, a deep in that sails on him and misses by three yards.

New York Giants 17 at Washington Redskins 14

Aaron Schatz: Eli Manning just had yet another tipped interception. Hit Manningham in both hands, bounced to Philip Buchanon.

I wonder why Washington is wearing its road uniforms today. The Redskins are one of the two teams that wear white at home, but they are wearing red today with the Giants in white.

Bill Barnwell: So it'll blend in with all the empty seats.

Vince Verhei: Mario Manningham gets a 90-yard score because DeAngelo Hall tried to jump and knock the ball down. Note to DeAngelo Hall. You are short.

Jacksonville Jaguars 17 at Houston Texans 34

Vince Verhei: This game is 17 minutes old, and Houston already has 13 carries for 156 yards.

David Gardner: They're doing a phone interview with David Garrard during the Jaguars game. Why didn't he travel with the team?

Mike Tanier: Now they are showing Garrard wearing a cast that extends halfway down to his ribs from his bad finger.

Vince Verhei: Eleven minutes after my last post, Jacksonville now has more rushing yards than Houston, and the game is tied at 17. Keep in mind: this team is missing their quarterback and running back.

Tom Gower: I saw approximately none of the game, but I'd just like to note the Texans held two teams under 24 points this year: the Rusty Smith-led Titans (0 points) and the Jaguars without David Garrard or Maurice Jones Drew (17 points).

Vince Verhei: It took 17 weeks, but the Texans finally beat their FOA 2010 projection.

Tennessee Titans 20 at Indianapolis Colts 23

Tom Gower: Titans actually run a direct snap play to wideout Damian Williams on their first drive. He got a couple. I don't understand plays like that. He hasn't shown an ability to throw, and doesn't have the size/frame to run effectively inside. It'll only work once, and maybe not even then. They then followed it up with a toss-sweep on third-and-1, because the Colts D obviously isn't fast or anything (and also tops in Power).

Aaron Schatz: I finally figured out how Rob Bironas made it to the NFL out of Arena Football. He made a deal with the devil, giving up his soul and his hair for kicking ability.

Bironas tried a 60-yarder and it looked like Antonie Bethea was going to return it for a touchdown but 1) Craig Stevens caught him in the last couple yards, and 2) there was a flag because Gary Brackett tried to murder Ken Amato with a head-to-head hit at the start of the return. Brutal. Fine time.

Will Carroll: Brackett's going to be paying a big fine for the hit on Amato (which will be reduced later, of course.) Amato never lost concsciousness, but wow, he's out of it walking to the dressing room. Do most teams carry a backup long snapper?

The other thing that gets me is that here in Week 17, after all the camp, workouts, minicamps, and all the other things, a player like Antoine Bethea can't run 100 yards or so without being completely winded. Really?

Bill Barnwell: It's more than 100 yards because he also ran a fair bit horizontally. Also, adrenaline.

Vince Verhei: You ever done a 100-yard sprint? It's not easy.

Mike Tanier: Yes, but he should NOT have been looking back and angling sideways. Lower your body, keep your momentum forward when there are no defenders in front of you, and there is a chance that Stevens knocks you into the end zone when trying to tackle you.

Will Carroll: Sure, but this one was mostly north-south. Max, he ran 150 yards and most of that lateral portion was the gassed part. I'm also not buying it that having a big guy chasing me down is going to make me run slower ... I'm not saying it's easy. I'm saying it should be easy for an NFL-caliber athlete. They could have put anyone back there in the end zone, so how about a guy who could actually run 100 yards?

Bill Barnwell: It's not like he had a headstart on the big guys. He had to run through them, and run around guys and read blocks, slow down, and speed up.

Vince Verhei: I didn't see the play, so I don't know how it went down. But you put Usain Bolt back there and have him run 100 yards, and yes, he will be winded. And that's not even accounting for the thirty minutes of football that had already been played.

Will Carroll: Manningham didn't look tired at the end of that.

Bill Barnwell: That's exactly my point: Manningham ran a go route and didn't have to change direction, make a cut, read his blockers, or juke anybody out. It was also 90 yards straight as opposed to something like 140 yards from Bethea.

Tom Gower: Latest strategy against the Titans is to block with the front four and let the linebackers flow to where CJ goes. On carry #10, Jared Cook was supposed to block LB Kavell Conner and failed in his assignment.

Titans tie the game up at 20. I thought there was a good chance they'd come out flat like they've done a couple times today, but I've been pleasantly surprised by the effort and performance. This "holding the Colts to field goals twice" would've been really useful in some more important Titans-Colts games. The biggest play the last drive was an 18-yard completion to Randy Moss where he got one foot it, but it was ruled a catch on the field and there wasn't definitive evidence to overturn. CJ also finally had some success running the ball.

Dominic Rhodes fumbles the ball away in Titans' territory inside two minute mark. Two plays later, rookie center Kevin Matthews, son of Bruce, has a bad snap to Collins with the Titans in field goal range, and the Colts recover. The Colts, Garcon in particular, have had serious issues with drops in the second half.

Aaron Schatz: The Colts are getting yardage and moving into field goal range to knock of Tennessee... and Jeff Fisher doesn't call any timeouts, whatsoever, that would allow the Titans to get the ball back and attempt to tie. Did he just not care? And does this mean he knows something that we don't know about his future? Like, "Hey, I was missing from the Tennessee Titans Christmas card?"

Tom Gower: I imagine Fisher's thinking was that he didn't want to give the Colts extra time to move into better field goal range. When should he have called them? When they kicked the field goal, it was a first down. He could have taken all three and Colts still could've kicked with :03 left.

San Diego Chargers 33 at Denver Broncos 28

Bill Barnwell: Touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd comes when Lloyd is left just alone in the end zone. Nobody within five yards of him. Makes up for an earlier play where Tebow hit Lloyd deep and Lloyd had the ball go through his hands.

Tebow just threw a shovel pass harder than I've ever seen anyone throw a shovel pass before. Since he's awful, Steve Beuerlein has to mention that it was a "little shovel pass" twice during the replays.

Chargers give up a kickoff return for a touchdown. Even in a win, what could be a more fitting end to their season? Nate Kaeding actually tried to slide tackle the returner and came up short.

Arizona Cardinals 7 at San Francisco 49ers 38

Bill Barnwell: I get to pull my favorite joke out of mothballs: That 49ers head coach looks like he won a "head-coach-for-a-day" raffle.

David Gardner: In discussing Fox's new cartoon, Bob's Burgers, the Fox commentator just said, "If you're hungry for laughs -- and I'm sure fans of both of these teams might be -- don't miss" the show.

Vince Verhei: Did anybody notice that Arizona's leading passer today was somebody named "R. Bartel?" Seriously.

Mike Tanier: I crashed my browser looking for R. Bartell. Not a good sign.

Bill Barnwell: He was great, he had the bottle of cologne, the button that said "Yes, I am a Model...", good hair ... oh, Bartel?

Aaron Schatz: Do you know how many Arizona quarterbacks I have had to add to the stupid master player database this year? Grrrrrr.

St. Louis Rams 6 at Seattle Seahawks 16

Bill Barnwell: Seahawks get a 61-yard bomb to Ruvell Martin early. Would have been a touchdown, but Whitehurst (after making a nice move to avoid a sack) underthrows the bomb. Somehow, defensive lineman James Hall makes the tackle on the play.

Vince Verhei: Now R. Bartell is playing corner for the Rams. Dude gets around.

Mike Tanier: I am not emotionally ready for the Seahawks to be in the playoffs.

Aaron Schatz: I'm a little surprised at taking out Steven Jackson for Kenneth Darby on third downs. Jackson is such a good receiving back... is he a particularly poor blocker or something?

Tom Gower: I think they have played Darby more on third downs this year. It seems like they like him better on draws and want to give Jackson a break.

Aaron Schatz: Seattle short-yardage rushing = FAIL.

Mike Tanier: Oh, burn that slow reverse to Robinson.

Tom Gower: Burn Fells's horrible attempted block, you mean. Also, burn Bradford getting passes tipped at the line.

Mike Kurtz: Why stop there? Burn this game.

Vince Verhei: Rams third possession ends with what I believe is the fourth Sam Bradford pass the Seahawks have knocked down at the line of scrimmage. That's important, because it stops the terrible Seattle cornerbacks from being exposed.

Mike Kurtz: Ah, see, there, the slow reverse for -9 was put in to set up the fake reverse for 1.

Vince Verhei: We go to halftime with the Seahawks up 7-3, and I'm asking where this Seattle defense came from. And no, the answer is not just "it's the Rams" -- Seattle came into the game dead last in weighted DVOA in rushing and passing defense, but they've been nearly dominant so far. It's like they gave up on the season a month ago and started mailing it in, then woke up this morning and realized they were only one win away from the playoffs.

Bill Barnwell: A lot of it has been field position. Three of the Rams' drives have started inside the ten, and their average starting point has been the 21-yard line. If you need five first downs to score, you can't run the ball on third-and-short, and there's no deep ball, you're not going to score points.

Vince Verhei: Rams had six first-half drives. Four of them picked up less than 10 yards. A fifth gained 23. Then in the third quarter they got the ball at the Seattle 21 and were held to 12 yards and a field goal. It's not just the field position.

Bill Barnwell: They're playing the fourth-worst offense in the league. They've held the Cardinals and Panthers, the only other offenses below the Rams (besides the Seahawks themselves), to 14 ppg in three games.

Doug Farrar: Seattle's defense is working for two reasons -- first, they're operating the same underneath coverages they did effectively against the Falcons until Mike Mularkey realized you could go deep against that crap. So far, Pat Shurmur hasn't wised up in a similar fashion.

Second, they were most vulnerable against the run when Kentwan Balmer plays the five-tech end in the "Leo" front. IN this game, they're going with more traditional under and over four-man fronts, avoiding putting Balmer in those positions he can't handle.

Mike Tanier: Oh cripes, did R. Bartell recover a fumble? Is this the Year of R. Bartell?

Aaron Schatz: I think it is pretty obvious what the Rams need to address first in the offseason: the secondary.

Ned Macey: Speaking of the way they've been built, the Rams are sort of a tough one for the whole Loser's Curse phenomenon, no? I'm pretty sure they're happy with Smith/Long/Bradford, even if the first two are "overpaid." The Rams are not out of cap space, and other than Steven Jackson drafted however many years ago, they don't have a ton of other talented players, so they weren't exactly able to get great players through some other means.

Vince Verhei: By the way, the ESPN.com drive chart for this game has the old blue- and-green, Steve Largent-era Seahawks logo. The Seahawks switched logos in 2002.

"It's a pretty good ping-pong table." Quote of the year.

Bill Barnwell: Not to mention that Bradford was wearing a lumberjack shirt in that video.

Aaron Schatz: OK, does anyone out there have an idea of what Pete Carroll said when the officials claim he was asking for a timeout and he claims he wasn't?

Vince Verhei: It's clear on the replay that Pete Carroll said "I don't want to call timeout." Then they said he called timeout. So he kind of got screwed there. On the other hand, I don't know WHY he felt the need to say he didn't want to call timeout. He could just ... not call a timeout.

Tom Gower: On the third down pass play, Chris Long absolutely RAN OVER Sean Locklear. The right guard pushed Long in the back (legal in the pocket), so he didn't get to Whitehurst, but I feel like I need to recognize that sort of destruction.

Aaron Schatz: Can someone please, please tell St. Louis it is time to try a pass over four yards, particularly to someone who isn't Daniel Fells?

As I type that, they do try it -- Bradford launches it way downfield, pretty much perfect, and it goes right through Danario Alexander's hands. Eek. The need for receivers may actually outweigh the need for defensive backs.

Bill Barnwell: They have a lot of young receivers. Amendola's a good slot guy. The other ones ... one of them should develop. I wrote in November when Randy Moss was on waivers that the Rams were the best fit for them, as a guy who was limited but could still stretch the field and make catches downfield.

Tom Gower: Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton are both on IR. I suspect the offense would look a lot better with both of them, considering Clayton was clearly their best wideout when he was healthy. In addition to defensive backs, I think they need at least one outside linebacker.

Rob Weintraub: Collinsworth -- "It's all on the line for Bradford to prove himself as a young QB in this league on the next couple of drives." Instantly he throws an awful pick. Not as good as Aikman predicting a Woodson blitz sack earlier today, but not bad.

Aaron Schatz: The officials hand Seattle an absurd first down on second-and-1 when Lynch gets stopped at the line, and move things so fast Steve Spagnuolo has no time to challenge.

Vince Verhei: Michael Robinson's gift first down on that second-down run was karmic justice for Vinny Testaverde's non-touchdown run in 1998.

Tom Gower: They did move the ball back half a yard after the initial spot, so it was maybe a half yard too far, not a full yard. I didn't rewind to see where the previous first down spot was, but I don't think the error was quite as egregious as everyone's making it out to be.

Aaron Schatz: I have to give the Seahawks credit. They may have sucked for the last three months, but they came to play tonight, especially the defense, and they played to win.

Bill Barnwell: What is playing to win?

Aaron Schatz: Not playing like Daniel Fells is your best downfield threat for most of the game. That's a good start.

Tom Gower: I feel cheated, because I think the Rams are the better team and actually have a bright future, but I have to agree with you about that. The Seahawks won this game because they were the better team tonight. The Rams are not a good team, and they have some horrible glaring flaws, and couldn't overcome them tonight. Credit in particular to the Seahawks' pass rush late in the game; they teed off and beat the Rams' line.

Aaron Schatz: Also, when I say "playing to win," I mean playing well under pressure. I don't believe in chokERS, but I do believe in chokING. I don't believe in clutch playERS, but I believe in clutch PLAYS. I'm talking about not playing well under pressure in one specific game or on one specific play. And the Rams didn't, especially whoever jumped on that field goal attempt.

Bill Barnwell: If Fells is open...

Tom Gower: What should the Rams have done, though? The Seahawks know the Rams players, too, they know that they need to cover Amendola and Brandon Gibson, and should pay attention to Laurent Robinson (or whoever was in the game on that play). The list of potential targets is just mediocre enough you can cover the better options, and then it's a choice of throwing to a covered slightly better player or a more open worse guy.

Aaron Schatz: The average yards in the air on a pass to Fells prior to tonight was 4.4. Not your deep threat there.

Bill Barnwell: I still don't understand how that's not "playing to win". What were the Rams playing to do? Give a solid performance?

Aaron Schatz: Maybe I should have used more words. How about "their playcalling was too conservative"? To be honest, Bill, I think you are fighting a strawman here. "Playing to win" is usually handy shorthand for "playcalling was poor and too conservative" in the same way "Curse of 370" is handy shorthand for "it is not a good idea to give your running back too many carries in a season, and 370 is a rough estimate but not a hard and fast rule about where the overwork begins to become a problem."

I'm not saying they literally didn't care about winning.

Bill Barnwell: Maybe, but I think it's sort of the murky "Team X wanted it more than Team Y" concept that just gets used as a broad substitute for explaining why a team lost. I still think the bigger problem is that they were 1-of-13 on third down against one of the worst defenses in football, many of which didn't require a deep pass to complete.

Vince Verhei: I'll tell you what they should have done: Run Steven Jackson more, especially early. They ran 11 first-quarter plays, only one was a Jackson run. He only got 11 total carries. He was stuffed just once, and gained at least 5 yards four times. Not a great day, but better than what they were doing trying to pass.


Vince Verhei: I've been meaning to say something about this all season: I don't know who the woman singing Christmas carols in the Hyundai commercials is, but she is the whitest, least soulful vocalist I've ever heard.

Mike Tanier: I have a problem with her too. Like she was the producer's favorite barrista or something.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, no, the band (the duo) is called Pomplamoose. They are very white sounding, yes, but some of their stuff on the Internet is pretty neat.

(Remember that any singer you are constantly subjected to in a commercial will begin to sound awful, even Feist.)

Tom Gower: I thought Feist was awful the first time I heard it. But if there is an FO music-lovers contingent (and there definitely is), I am not among its members.

Vince Verhei: I didn't even necessarily mean it as a bad thing. It's just that their are singers who belt songs out with all their might, wailing and moaning and screaming, and their are those who just pleasantly hit the notes, and she's as far to that end of the spectrum as anyone I've heard.

Bill Barnwell: Just to clarify -- nobody from Seattle has put out an album since 1994, right?

Aaron Schatz: Or before 1989, just ask Jimi Hendrix. Or his ghost, at least.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 03 Jan 2011

176 comments, Last at 16 Nov 2012, 4:50am by soul music


by Jean'sDeadAgain? (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:16am

So that's why Ray Lewis has a giant Raven that shoots laser beams out of his eyes -- for when Ed Reed goes Dark Phoenix on everyone...

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:21am

"Vince Verhei: Two thoughts on the Randle El touchdown pass: Is five yards the shortest touchdown pass by a non-QB ever? And I like Roethlisberger in the flat, frantically pointing to Ward all alone in the end zone."

wasn't it 3 yards?

And just off the top of my head , LT and Payton both had 2-3 yard TD passes ....

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:42am

I think Nagurski used to use the jump pass near the goal line quite often.

Randle El continues to pad his stats as the most effective non-QB passer in history. His line: 22/27, 6 TD, 0 INT, 12 YPA, 156.1 RTG. One can only speculate what he might have accomplished had he not wasted 4 years in WAS throwing a measly 9 passes.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:00am

I was thinking of him too, but too lazy to try to dig up stats/proof.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by Shattenjager :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:19pm

I thought this would be fun to look up.
I immediately thought of Marcus Allen and Keith Lincoln as also having great passing stats, so I wondered about it.

Best Non-QB passers with at least 5 attempts: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/hJsVz
The list is headed up by Frank Wycheck (5/6, 148 yards, 2 TD)

Best Non-QB passers with at least 10 attempts: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/wlgii
The list is headed up by LaDainian Tomlinson (8/12, 143 yards, 7 TD)

Best Non-QB passers with at least 20 attempts: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/tiny/6lAqm
The list is indeed headed up by Antwaan Randle El.

I also will note that a number of QBs still come up on these searches because they are listed at another position at some point as well (see Norris Weese, Norm Van Brocklin, Johnny Lujack).

Also, after looking them up:
Marcus Allen: 12/27, 282 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT
Keith Lincoln: 8/17, 240 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:27pm

Surprised Walter Payton isn't tops on the list. His completion percentage was low, but I think even after 10 years in the NFL, every completion had gone for a TD.

by Dr. Link to Sweetness (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:44pm

Through 1983, Payton indeed had no completions to players that didn't score -- that is, completions to players on his own team, as he threw a pick in 1975 and two picks in 1983. His career numbers as a passer aren't that great, though: 11 of 34 for 331 yards, 8 TDs, but 6 INTs. Click my alias for link.

by Marko :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:04pm

Not all of Payton's career passing numbers were as a non-QB. He played most of a game in 1984 as a shotgun QB (predating the Wildcat by more than 20 years) because injuries forced third-string QB Rusty Lisch to play and Lisch's utter ineptitude forced Mike Ditka to remove Lisch from the game. Here are some highlights from that game: http://smartfootball.com/wildcat/walter-payton-and-the-wildcat.

At shortly after the 8:00 minute mark, he threw a sweet 2 yard TD pass to Matt Suhey. On this play, he was lined up as a wingback, went in motion, took a pitch from the QB and threw the pass.

by andrew :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:17pm

What about Bobby Douglas?

by BigCheese :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 8:59pm

Starting QB Bobby Douglass?

- Alvaro

by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:02pm

Re: your bullet #2, Shattenjager: does young Schotty know about this?

by biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:20am

I think Brad Smith had a 3 yard TD pass this year as well.

Was there even an explanation from anyone as to why Mark Sanchez played? He was in for the first drive, the Jets ran 6 RB plays, and on all 3 3rd down plays, Brad Smith came in and ran from Wildcat.

What was the point?

by Led :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:29am

They wanted him to go through the same in week and game day routine as a normal start. I don't see why it's that important, but there it is.

by Dr. Made a Few Dumb Comments Myself (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:47pm

Sorry, Vince, but that comment would have benefited from a few moments' reflection. Click my alias for a link of all 1-yard touchdown passes in the NFL since 1940, sorted by passer; it's easy to scroll through and pick out non-QBs from memory. Off the top of my head: Ricky Watters, LDT, Mark Malone (ha ha, I kill me), Ronnie Brown, Marcus Allen...

by StanleyNeedsATan :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 9:49am

Bucs Earnest Graham had a 2 yard TD in week 13

by apk3000 :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:33am

I don't think the Redskins have worn white at home at all this year. I believe Shanny chose to go with the rest of the NFL. They didn't even make the Cowboys wear their "unlucky" blues.

by Eddo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:14am

This is true. Every home game I've seen the Redskins play (via Red Zone), they've worn burgundy.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 1:58am

The Eagles and Cowboys are the two teams who wore white at home this year.

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 2:43am

It's true. They've also been wearing the gold pants rather than the white pants most of the time, bringing the team back to the colors of the Vince Lombardi/George Allen era, rather than the color scheme they've worn since the first Gibbs era starting in 1981.

Personally, I think it's a great look, and I wish they would wear the gold pants every time they wear the burgundy jerseys. The white pants turn the look from great to terrible.

by Dean :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:17am

They'd better not draft Terrell Prior. He'd just sell the pants.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:42am

but why take him out and then put him back in?

According to Brady, it was situational training for Hoyer (and maybe Brady). In the real world, the backup often has to go into the game without warning. And then the starter might be back after a few plays. So Belichick had decided that at some point he was going to pull Brady for several plays and stick Hoyer in there without any warning to simulate the situation.

Macatee and Gannon actually mentioned that possibility at some point. Though down in the stands (I was at this game) people certainly were confused.

by nat :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:56am

That would be very smart. Have someone on the sidelines assigned to randomly declare "The QB is hurt" sometime in the first half, so the players and coaches get practice with the switchover. Brady would have to be warned ahead of time, so he comes out without delay.

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:46pm

You could just make easier on yourself by starting a drive with the backup. He still wouldn't know it is coming until the drive actually starts, and the coaches would have a little more time to get ready. Plus, the timeout after the kick return would simulate an injury timeout.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:05pm

BB is purposely avoiding this situation, since it doesn't recreate the frenetic situation of entering in the middle of a drive.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:09pm

This proves the Dolphins Coaching staff are geniuses because they've been bouncing their QBs in and out of game situations all season. A play for Henne, wildcat, a play for thigpen, punt. Here the whole time I thought it was horrible play calling. Instead they were preparing the team for possible injury. Genius :)

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:47am

Is five yards the shortest touchdown pass by a non-QB ever?

No. Vinatieri threw a 4yd TD (against the Rams, I think) in 2004.


(I believe that game was also the regular season debut of CB Troy Brown.)

by T. Diddy :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:30am

LaDainian Tomlinson threw a 1-yard TD pass against the Chiefs in 2006, per PFR:


by nat :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:51am

Why is he back in? What is the point?

To make sure all the RBs get reps with both QBs? You'll notice that Green-Ellis got a lot of reps with Hoyer, after being out for a bit. Which makes sense, since you'd expect not to lose both your starting QB and your best RB. You could imagine Hoyer and Green-Ellis working together to preserve a win with Brady on the sideline. But not if they fumble the first handoff due to insufficient game time together. You could also imagine Taylor in the game with Brady after other RBs get knocked out. You'd like it to be as familiar as possible for him.

Timing matters for every player combination. But I'd assume the feel for the handoff is particularly critical. You could accomplish a lot of this by subbing RBs a lot in the first half. But that's a less realistic situation for a RB.

Or you could assume they did it to run up the score and pad Brady's stats. Because they are godless heathens deserving of a home in the deepest pits of hell. That works, too.

by dryheat :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:41pm

And just to drive home that point, Mike Reiss charted the offensive line combos for that game, per offensive drive:

Here was the breakdown on the team's 11 drives (LT/LG/C/RG/RT):

1. Light/Mankins/Koppen/Wendell/Vollmer
2. Light/Mankins/Koppen/Wendell/Vollmer
3. Light/Mankins/Koppen/Wendell/Vollmer
4. Ojinnaka/Mankins/Koppen/Wendell/Vollmer
5. Light/Ojinnaka/Koppen/Wendell/Vollmer
6. Light/Mankins/Koppen/Wendell/LeVoir
7a. Light/Mankins/Koppen/Ohrnberger/Vollmer
7b. Light/Mankins/Koppen/Wendell/Vollmer
8. Ojinnaka/Mankins/Wendell/Ohrnberger/LeVoir
9. Vollmer/Ojinnaka/Wendell/Ohrnberger/LeVoir
10. Vollmer/Ohrnberger/Koppen/Wendell/Ojinnaka
11. Vollmer/Ohrnberger/Koppen/Wendell/Ojinnaka

Now that's Continuity of Operations Plan drill if I've ever seen one.

by DeepThreat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:53am

Aaron Schatz: Tom Brady came out for Brian "Red's Cigar" Hoyer, then for some reason came back in. Why is he back in? What is the point? I understand leaving him in for a half so he doesn't have two weeks off, but why take him out and then put him back in?

Very surprised Aaron doesn't know that Belichick has always done this.

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:56am

"Can someone please, please tell St. Louis it is time to try a pass over four yards, particularly to someone who isn't Daniel Fells?"

I'm sure they'd love to do that, if only they had a player who could get open. This game chrystalized the Rams glaring need for a top flight WR. They have plenty of WRs who make good supporting players, but all of them are being asked to do more than they're capable of doing. And they pretty much all came up small in the clutch today.

BTW - I believe the DL who jumped offsides on the FG attempt was Fred Robbins. Yes, it's a bonehead play, but Robbins also had an amazing year and is probably the unsung hero of the defense all year long.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:51pm

Robbins has been an unsung hero of several defenses over the past few years, he was good for the Vikings, then the Giants and now the Rams. He never seems to get any credit, always gets replaced and has always been a pretty decent player.

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:08pm

I remember him having one good year for the Giants (he may have had more than one, but one in particular stood out). As for his tenure with the Vikings, I wasn't aware he had any. I thought he'd gone straight from NY to STL. Regardless, he's just good enough to ask for a big money contract and just bad enough to not get it. At this point, he's not getting any younger. However, that doesn't change the fact that this year, he was absolutely first rate.

by JasonK :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:51pm

Robbins was a Viking in 2000-2003, before his Giants years. The Giants let him go largely because they weren't confident about his health-- he had microfracture surgery after the 2008 season, and wasn't 100% for any of the 2009 campaign. But he was a big part of the team's defensive successes in 2007-08.

He was always a threat to block a FG/XP, too, which probably helps explain his guessing wrong on the snap count last night.

by shekb (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:04am

Bruce Allen flipped the home colors back to what they were when his dad was coaching (and added the gold pants for the kicker). Also he threw back to the same GMing tactics used during the Cerrato era.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:31pm

What color pants does the punter wear?

by jedmarshall :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:11am

This week's adventure with Phil Simms (Caveat: I usually don't find Simms to be as awful as his reputation around here and certainly more tolerable than Dierdorf)

Paraphrased "The Colts have had lots of success building around Peyton Manning. I always wonder why more teams don't allow their quarterback to be more involved in helping create the offensive game plan."

Step 1: Draft an all time great QB.
Step 2: Build around his strengths.
Step 3: Profit

The Browns, Bills, Panthers, etc. are so stupid. The simple 3 step process is right in from of them! If the Panthers had let Jimmy Claussen play a bigger role, they'd be in the playoffs instead of picking first.

by BlueStarDude :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:52am

"[Simms] certainly more tolerable than Dierdorf"

Yeah, but I've had broken bones that were more tolerable than Dierdorf.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:56pm

And root canals.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:34pm

You know, this dentist . . . he's one of the truly great ones. When you see the way he prepares, he studies, he works . . . just look at the way he's holding that scraper? Wait, is he . . . yes! He's asking for more X-rays! Folks, we are seeing the kind of display here you just don't get to see very often. What a privilege.

by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:11pm


by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:38pm

I rarely get to hear the other announcers, because almost every Sunday, it's:

1:00 Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, AFC East
4:15 Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, NFC East

As bad as we find them, those guys are pretty clearly each network's A-team (sure enough, they're already scheduled to call their respective conference championships). Solomon Wilcotts, for example, is particularly nauseating, but I only catch him once or twice a year. The radio guys (James Lofton) are even worse.

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:42pm

Even living in Buck's hometown, I would still rather mute the TV and turn on the one-man-multiinstrumentalist known as Joe Buck Yourself.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:28pm

Could be worse, I guess. Pomplamoose could be singing the commentary

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:44pm

Not in my house, they couldn't.

by Led :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:14am

I confess I've watched almost no NFC West snaps this year. Is that the style of offense the Rams played with Bradford all year? If so, his conventional stats are a bit less impressive. That's a lot of high percentage, safe throws that don't accomplish much.

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:38am

Bradford hasn't thrown downfield much. On the other hand, you saw his WR corps at their worst - and that's saying something.

by Anonymous454545 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:28am

I mute the commercials, so I don't get the full effect, but the commercial does seem annoying even on mute. My wife saw it for the first time and remarked that it seemed to be imitating "Always Sunny," which is of course the whitest and least soulful show on TV (in a good way).

Oh, and I will forever think that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have a "relationship" that extends FAR beyond battling the Steelers, Bengals, and to a lesser extent the Browns. Come to think of it, with his giant mellon Ben R. does resemble a Sentinel.

by griot (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:42pm

This youtube made me laugh - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKD07BYcreg

It's amazing this gimmick went beyond one or two novelty covers.

by Jay Gloab :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:33pm

Is the the cover of Single Ladies? (I don't do YouTube while at work.) That is right up there with the worst music I've ever heard.

by griot (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:54pm

Video is from their Telephone cover, the audio and description is mocking their shtick.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:19pm

The girl isn't that bad - though she does have that Eli Manning in the headlights look. But that dude is rediculously overanimated for the Seseme Street level of music they put out.

by Zieg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:43am

Sucks to be be on the outside looking in watching the team you demolished last week (and have a substantially better record than) sitting pretty with a home game in the playoffs. I mean you can make a case for Green Bay and even New York as better teams, but to have the head to head result vs Seattle just staring you in the face is particularly frustrating. To know it all came down to some questionable calls that led to a loss of 4 points which led to losing a game which now leaves us out of the playoffs is worse.

by BucNasty :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:45am

David Gardner: The Bucs were set to kick a field goal to bring the score to 7-6. The Saints jumped offside, and the Bucs capitalized by throwing a screen pass to Preston Parker and a touchdown to to Dezmon Briscoe. As a Bucs fan, I found myself cheering then thinking, "who is that?"

He's the guy Marvin Lewis got steamed about us signing to our practice squad for actual roster spot money. Also, check out this amazing helmet catch from college:


by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:10pm

With my eight-year-old Buc-fan son in the room (who I try very hard to watch my language around), Briscoe's also the guy that made me shout out "holy @#$!!, did you see that catch???" Stunning throw, great catch. Seriously, the WR play for the Bucs this year . . . I'm going to wake up in a few minutes and see Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton, and the corpse of Joey Galloway all wearing red and shoot myself in the head, aren't I?

As for the TD to Williams, it was clearly designed to hit Winslow in the left flat, but two defenders recognized it and totally (and legally, it was within five yards) mauled him at the line. Freeman was smart enough to see it and toss it up to Williams, who's pretty amazing at being able to time jumps and control his body in the air so he can come down with those things. Was a heads-up play--option 1 was covered, so toss it up to the one-on-one coverage to the guy who's got a chance to make the catch.

by Sander :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:35pm

Also note that Greer was manhandling Williams illegally, too.

by Malene, Copenhagen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:52am

So we're saying that it's more "white" to hit the notes "pleasantly"?

That's... slightly disgusting.

Also, Celine Dion wants a word.

by dsouten :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:00pm

It takes some serious effort to read that angle into it.

by armchair journe... :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 6:04am

Where's the effort? Pretty plain English.

"she is the whitest, least soulful vocalist I've ever heard...there are singers who belt songs out with all their might, wailing and moaning and screaming, and there are those who just pleasantly hit the notes, and she's as far to that end of the spectrum as anyone I've heard."

Spectrum: Soulful <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> Least Soul / "Whitest"
Spectrum: Wailing <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>> Pleasant

Unintended pairing? Most certainly. But the wording made me go "huh?" as well.


EDIT: But it would make for a pretty odd SAT analogy problem

armchair journeyman quarterback

by Strange/David (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 1:27pm

See, now, I thought of it not as two left-right scales, but as a x-y coordinate graph. Most soulful at the top of the y-axis, least soulful ("whitest") at the bottom of the y-axis; wailing at the far right of the x-axis, pleasantly hitting the notes at the far left of the x-axis.

I also, for the purposes of Pomplamoose, mentally replaced the word "pleasantly" with the word "accurately," because her voice grates on my nerves even though it's successfully finding the appropriate notes. (I'm more irritated by her zombie-in-makeup doe-eyed expressionlessness.)

This two-axis system puts her solidly at the extreme lower left of the graph, in what I like to call "the zone of suck."

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:54am

So nobody watched the Eagles/Cowboys game?

by Adam B. :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:16pm

Is this the first time in Audibles history that an Eagles game was skipped?

by DavidL :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:27pm

That is correct, whether or not you mean "nobody on the FO staff".

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:54pm

That's some really lousy snark.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:42pm

why would they? It was a throwaway game for the Eagles. They (FO) aren't going to be watching it to pick out trends for next week's wild-card game or anything ...

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:56pm

Then why watch half the games on the schedule then? Cards/Niners was completely meaningless. Chargers/Broncos, Pats/Dolphins and Vikings/Lions had no reason to watch either. Yet all of them were commented on. I'm thinking whoever put this together simply missed the Eagles/Cowboys game.

by DavidL :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:05pm

All of those games featured starters playing against starters, even Pats-Dolphins. Even if they didn't have playoff implications, they still told us something meaningful about the teams involved. Eagles/Cowboys was meaningless in every sense of the word.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:32pm

The game wasn't that widely broadcast. Texas (apart from Houston), Oklahoma, New Mexico, Eastern PA, Maryland, DE. Tanier is in Philadelphia, but he actually goes to the games this year so doesn't have much opportunity to send out emails about it.

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:43pm

"The game wasn't that widely broadcast."

Irrelevant due to Sunday Ticket.

I realize the game was completely irrelevant, I'm just surprised there isn't even a single line about the game.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:50pm

I don't think the comment made Audibles, but Mike Tanier, our resident Eagles fan, noted that he was not paying any attention to the Eagles because the Packers and Giants games were so much more interesting.

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:02pm

Fair enough. Heck I'm an Eagles fan and the only reason I watched was because I was paid to.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:01pm

On the plus side, I finally got around to reorganizing my CD collection.

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:44pm

People still have CDs?

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:55pm

I do, and vinyls too.

Then again, I don't take corporate programming directed singles-based disposable pop "music" rammed down my palate.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:10pm

Vinyl is different, unless you're buying new albums on vinyl. That I don't quite get. But old stuff on LP? Hell yeah.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 8:42pm

Old and new. Hell, some of the stuff I like is ONLY* (today) released on vinyl.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:55pm

So, what do you like rammed down your palate then?

by Retire OmarTomlin (not verified) :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 12:38am

Obviously not Omar Tomlin.

by Vesuvius Hambone :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 2:17am

Umm, Pomplamousse?

by apk3000 :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:42pm

I'm pretty sure that for several games, the comments are based off RedZone or highlights.

by Karma Coma :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:07pm

I watched the Shortcuts and wished i hadn't. I had to check the box score later to see if it was statistically as bad as it looked. I can't even remember the last time i watched a game that both teams finished with more net yards rushing than net yards passing.

"Profit is limit ONLY by your ability to BANG SPORK"

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:30pm

"I took it more as a description of his playing style, where he's just not that good a runner, but can be very useful as a changeup on draws and the like, plus his value as a receiver."

I said when Bush was drafted that the Saints were spending a high first on Kevin Faulk. I stand by that.

by paddypat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:08pm

Faulk's conventional numbers over the course of his career are a lot better than Reggie Bush's. I'm kind of insulted by the comparison actually. Faulk has a better yards per carry, a better yards per catch, was a much better runner between the tackles, etc. And I think Danny Woodhead is better still, or at least he seems to be so far. I don't even think Bush compares to Faulk as a blocker...

by MJK :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:07pm

Of course, Faulk was a fairly high pick himself (an upper half second, I think) who came in with some pretty high expectations himself.

by TBall (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:53pm

Dan Connolly looked winded about 50 yards into his return, so Bathea is twice the returner that the Pat's O-lineman is.

More to the point, the Colts have had 11 different players return kicks or punts this year. Bathea was not one of the 11. The only value of putting a player in the end zone is returning a kick for a TD (which Bathea was not quite able to do), because the half is about to end, and defend the end zone from a fake kick. Why not put Tryon back there, as he leads the team in kick returns and also plays DB?

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:56pm

Did anyone else see the Steelers trick play where they ran an end around towards the left, then the runner turned back to his right and threw to a wide open reciever on the right sideline. I love it when NFL teams manage to come up with a completely original wrinkle and that was a beauty but I can't work out why they'd use it in a pointless game against the Browns. Maybe they're hoping to influence the pursuit in the playoffs but I think I'd have held onto that one for a more significant game.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:07pm

Randle El slipped, I don't think the play was designed to work the way it did.

now, as to running it at all, in this type of game, I agree.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:29pm

I thought that he slipped while trying to turn around and the way the receiver was just stood there trying to look as if he wasn't there so the defenders would miss him makes me think it was designed.

by BJR :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:12pm

It wasn't a pointless game. They needed the win to clinch the division and a first round bye. Fairly important I'd have thought.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:27pm

It happened when they were already up 31-3.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:15pm


Usain Bolt sure looked devastatingly winded after running the 200m faster than anyone in recorded history.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:09pm

Which proves Barnwells point - if he hadn't had to run on that curved part, he would have been fine at the end.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:57pm

*Not sure if serious dot jpg*

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

by The MOOSE (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:14pm

My theory as to why Brady came back in and continued to play into the 3rd quarter:

Belichick, who is a football history buff, never talks about players' individual records but will go out of his way to allow players to earn them if possible without detracting from team goals. This was also shown by keeping BJGE in until he passed 1000 yards for the season and pulling him.

The record Brady was going for? Continuing his 2-touchdown/0-interception game streak where he passed Don Meredith earlier in the year. Pats first touchdown was running. Pats second TD was passing. Pats third TD was the punt return. So in the third quarter Brady still needed the second TD to keep the streak going.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:34pm

That's a 'record' no one had ever heard of until Brady approached it and someone did some data mining. While Belichick does love his NFL history, I doubt this one was in his planning. These pseudo-records are being broken all the time, because you can mix and match results in near-infinite ways. Most consecutive wins in snow, at home, in outside stadiums, against NFC opponents, etc. Not really records, are they?

by The MOOSE (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:46pm

Yes I completely agree with it being an arbitrary record. And I don't think Belichick would have kept Brady in much beyond that point, but I do think he was giving him an opportunity to continue the streak since it had been brought to the public's attention.

by spanky (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:25pm

the guy made maybe the single dumbest decision i have ever seen with that silly lateral to ahmad bradshaw as he was getting sacked. holy smokes. dude, youre going down and losing yards. thats guaranteed. youre protecting a slim lead. why in blazes would you sloppily lateral the ball and lose more yards? its a live ball, guy! are you kidding?

which brings me to my next point...eli manning sucks. lets throw it out there. there are so many QBs out there who catch flack for their play, but eli just seems to skate by. the national media loves him, the local fans love him because he was on their super bowl winning team, but frankly, i dont see it. hes had every conceivable advantage as a QB. usually good running game. great line. very good playmakers at receiver. the same coaching staff. the same coordinator. the same system. yet, hes never taken the next step. through his 7th season, it doesnt look like that next step is coming.

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:36pm

I think its silly to say Eli Manning sucks, because, clearly, he doesn't, but I'd say you were giving him too much credit if you said he was in the top 15 QBs in the NFL. Maybe even the top 20.

He's still making the same poor decisions he made as a rookie (specifically, throwing high and behind receivers coming across the middle), and making them quite often. He's got all the physical tools, but doesn't seem to have it mentally.

by JasonK :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:09pm

It's hard for me to comprehend the idea of throwing high and behind receivers on shallow crossing routes as a "decision." The guy simply doesn't have elite accuracy on short throws and checkdowns. This feels odd, because he can really rip balls 15 yards downfield, but the misses from close range are too consistent to ignore.

As for "having it, mentally," if Eli doesn't, I don't know who does. He's successfully running one of the most intellectually demanding offense in the NFL (pretty much every backup QB or veteran WR who has spent time with the Coughlin/Gilbride offense attests to this), he handles all the line calls, and he probably has more freedom to alter playcalling than any other QB outside of Big Brother. He does make an occasional really dumb in-the-moment decision (like that lateral, or the series of FAIL-slides against Philly, or the left-handed goalline INT against Tennessee), and clever defenses (read: ones featuring Darren Sharper) can occasionally have success in disguising their plays well enough to throw off the sight-reads that the Coughlin-Gilbride offense depends on. But on balance, I don't think this adds up to a deficiency in his mental capacity as a QB.

by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:29pm

"It's hard for me to comprehend the idea of throwing high and behind receivers on shallow crossing routes as a "decision." The guy simply doesn't have elite accuracy on short throws and checkdowns. This "

Oh, its definitely an accuracy issue at the heart of it, but the thing is, hes not trying to compensate at all (and maybe thats a coaching issue). He's probably more accurate than Donovan McNabb, but McNabb goes out of his way to keep the ball down on those sorts of passes, and because of that hasn't had the INT issues.

As to being able to run a very complex offense, thats a completely different thing from being able to react quickly and correctly.

by MJK :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:56pm

This brings to mind a debate that I recently had with a friend of mine... which QB would your rather have, to build a franchise around? Eli Manning or Jay Cutler?

Both fairly young middle of the road QB's with some big benefits, but also some very well known liabilities. Both INT-prone. Eli is probably the smarter of the two, but Cutler probably has more physical upside.

by dryheat :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:11pm

Eli by an early-round knockout. He's not elite, but he's good enough to win consistently with. Cutler just seems fatally flawed. Give him enough time, and he'll make a boneheaded play to cost his team the game no matter how much talent you surround him with.

Physical upside for QBs is tragically overrated. There's no need to be able to throw the ball through steel plate, nor is throwing a 70-yard spiral a particularly useful skill.

by Eddo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:45pm

I'm not sure I would take Cutler, necessarily, but this statement is oft-repeated, with little evidence:

"Give him enough time, and he'll make a boneheaded play to cost his team the game no matter how much talent you surround him with."

It makes it seem like Cutler's teams are always poised to win games, until he comes along.

He played poorly against Green Bay, but that was not one boneheaded play that cost the game. No more so than Manning's multiple turnovers.

He threw four picks to DeAngelo Hall, but actually snuck in a TD from the one before fumbling, except Lovie Smith didn't challenge.

He played poorly against Seattle. The whole team (except for Devin Hester as punt returned) played poorly against Seattle.

The line nearly got him killed against the Giants.

The whole team played like garbage against the Patriots. Cutler himself looked OK until the game was well out of hand and he had to start throwing every down.


He was the main reason they beat the Jets, after throwing a pick-six in the first half. He took over in the third quarter against an above-average defense.

He played well in both games against the Vikings.

In close games against the Packers at home, the Lions in Detroit, and the Cowboys in Dallas, he played well enough for the Bears to win. He didn't make any fatal mistakes in those games.

Is he an elite QB? No. Does he need to improve his decision-making? Absolutely. Is he still prone to awful games? Unfortunately, yes. Of course, you could say similar things about Eli (replace "decision-making" with "accuracy").

I find this "Cutler will inevitably make a mistake to cost his team the game" a bit over-the-top, though, considering his team won 11 games this year and is 18-14 overall the past two years. That makes it sound like he's costing the Bears games they would have otherwise won handily; yet I think there are as many games where he's been the only reason the offense even moves the ball, let alone the Bears get enough points to win.

I understand my comments might be a bit homerish, and I've defended Cutler in the past. However, I just don't see enough from Eli Manning to think he's an obvious as choice as you make him out to be. Or that Cutler's as much of a disaster as you imply.

EDIT: Especially on the heels of a season where Eli threw nine more interceptions than Cutler.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 9:35pm

I couldn't agree more. All Eli has going for him is the SB win (which yes, is impressive, specially against the Pats, but is still far outweighed by the rest of his career IMHO).

If Cutler doesn't throw 3picks a game and the Bears manage to knock off the Pats in the SB due to their sufocating D, some lucky bounces and one freak play, will people start putting Cutler at the same level at Eli?

- Alvaro

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:44pm

Which step is that? The one where his receivers stop tipping passes right to defenders multiple times per game?

Check out his stats, he did take a huge step forward after the 2007 season.

by paddypat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:15pm

The point is that Eli is not going to live up to his billing. Remember that he was the GUY in that 2004 draft and Philip Rivers was the chump No. 2 QB. Eli went to the Giants for 2 number 1's and 2 number 3's after the trade with San Diego, and look how it's panned out; what a laugher. Rivers is clearly the much better player!

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:42pm

Well Eli will never be as good as Rivers, so I guess that means he sucks.

by Tri Shanku (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:00pm

Kevin Gilbride is his OC. That alone endears Eli to me. Yes, I am a bitter Bills fan who survived through Gregg Williams era.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:31pm

can someone explain to me why my favorite all time PSU quarterback, M Robinson, is now a full back? he's not nearly big enough to be a devestating lead blocker, and those fb draws last night were comical.

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:38pm

He's not a good enough QB to play the position on the NFL level, but he's a good enough athlete that the team wants to find ways to get him onto the field.

by Jetspete :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:59pm

i agree 100%, but i cant for the life think that the answer to the question of where he fits on an nfl roster is fullback.

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:42pm

Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure the move of Chris Williams to guard is working any better than Chris Williams at tackle.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. They didn't move Williams to guard because they thought he would be better at guard. He got hurt, and the backups for this Bears line are even worse than the starters (which is saying something), so they were searching desperately for 5 guys who could play without getting Cutler concussed, and when he came back the biggest hole was at guard so they plugged him in there instead of destroying the little continuity they had.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:04pm

I think Williams has played quite well at guard this year. His best work is in the running game where he has constistently been mashing guys on movement blocks (Forte's success outside is greatly assisted by Williams agility as he pulls, and he finds guys and puts them down. His pass blocking has some issues though, at times he seems suprised by a quick step from a tackle and buggers up the block. I wouldn't write him off though as he hadn't played guard for four (or five) years before this year, these may be techinical issues that can be corrected with a whole offseason (should such a thing exist) to work on them. He still causes himself problems when he doesn't maintain proper knee bend and loses power, I refuse to beleive that it is beyond the wit of man to get a guy to bend his legs a little bit more so I have hope.

Now it is the end of the season and reasonable conclusions can be generated I think we should re-open your 'Bears O-Line Thread' on the discussion boards. It is still the biggest personel issue on the team for the playoffs and the offseason.

by luvrhino :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:44pm

When you run the playoff simulations, do you recalculate the DVOA for each round?

I suspect you do not. However, most of the time the team that wins each round will see their DVOA increase. This mostly affects the Divisional Round of the playoffs where the Wild Card Winners will have the extra victory to boost their DVOA.

Also, is there any additional advantage given the teams with a Bye (beyond just Home Field Adv)? If yes, do would also get a small Bye-advantage for the Championship Round if they're playing a non-Bye team there?

Without any analysis, i suspect these cancel each other out. Yes, the playoff simulations should boost the DVOA of winners each round. However, the advantage of getting a week of rest would boost the effective DVOA of the Bye recipients, meaning the probabilities for each game would be about the same. The added complexity of recalculating DVOAs probably isn't worth it.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:14pm

I think the playoff simulations just consider the season DVOA. DVOA statistics on the site generally don't include playoff games.

by Marko :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:48pm

"Wow, Aikman describes a deceptive coverage by the Bears as a 'Mickey Mouse Game.' Just wow."

I noticed that comment at the time, too. I'm pretty sure he meant "cat and mouse game." And he wasn't referring to the coverage; he was referring to the Bears' pre-snap shifting and then the line stunt they ran.

by Dean :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:19pm

He must have been hanging around Emmitt lately.

by Jeff Fogle :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 1:50pm

"However, it's hard to argue that the offensive consistency has improved things. The offense has scored 19 points per game during that three-game streak after averaging 22 points per game in the previous 12."

I think the evidence is very clear that it's improved things, but, the first game in the sample is Detroit's #3 quarterback playing DVOA's #2 defense in the NFL. And, even then, a 190-66 rushing edge (vs. GB's backup who came in rusty)helped them eke out a win. In the last three games:

*20-27-20 offensive points scored in regulation, with their #3 QB once, and their #2 QB the other two times.

*5.3, 5.6, and 6.6 yards-per-play when they're at 5.1 for the year.

*19 of 39 on third downs for 49%, when they had been 38% before that.

*14-14-13 points per game on drives of 60 yards or more, when they had been at 9.3 for the season before that.

*Winning the turnover battle 2-4 with help from a lower risk offense.

*With two of the those last three games coming on the road (in back to back weeks no less), and the opposing defenses ranking 6-8-17 in yardage defense.

Some internal signs of improvement even if the scoreboard is still hanging around 20. Not suggesting Detroit can maintain 49% on third downs. 5.8 ypp, and 14 long distance points per game over a 16-game sample next year. (New Orleans this year is at 49%, 5.6, and 14.9). But those are good indicators for quality with meaning...and they did come vs. a challenging enough schedule after changing their approach to play calling.

I realize BB was making his comment mid-game rather than after the game. Think the numbers from Det-Minn are an additional data point that suggest meaningful improvement from what had been going on in a way that got things aligned better in terms of driving the field for points, avoiding turnovers, and giving the defense time to rest. 20 points with a fresh defense is better than 20 points with a tired defense, and an offense does have that kind of influence...

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:03pm

I was amused at Urlacher dismissing the game afterward as 'not feeling like a big game'. I could be wrong but I suspect if the Bears had won BU's remarks would be quite different.

Superlative effort by the Packers punter. And other than the one Manning return a solid effort by the cover teams.

Belaga had a rough night. He has had more of these as the season has progressed versus fewer. Teams finding his weak spots? He's tired?

Ted Thompson finds linebackers who can run and Capers finds a use for them. Erik Walden??

Sam Shields must be more than ok if Capers is comfortable with sticking him on Johnny Knox so Charles Woodson can roam the field. This looks to be Caper's way of getting Woodson out of coverage but taking advantage of his other skills while acknowledging that the safeties in place are already pretty good.

Is that the first play action to the TE by the Packers this season down near the goal line? Holmgren and Sherman ran that play all the time with success. I thought McCarthy was avoiding it just out of stubborness as not wanting to be "me too". But a backward lateral to the the rb? Geez oh pete was that ridiculous.

Donald Driver is officially old. This makes me sad.

by Marko :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:13pm

I don't watch all of the Packers' games, but I reccall at least one other play action pass to the TE near the goal line. I don't remember who it was against, but it was a pass to a wide open Andrew Quarless, who dropped it.

As for the "backward lateral," by definition a lateral is backward (or at least not forward). If it went forward, it would be a pass.

by Eddo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:17pm

Agreed regarding Urlacher's comments. It's best to just tune him out most of the time.

As bad as the Bears' offense looked (I'd argue it was Cutler's second-worst game of the year, after the DeAngelo Hall game), I felt the game on the whole was a little promising for the playoffs. The Bears went on the road, against a team that many consider the best team in the NFC, and nearly won. Made the Packers' offense look pretty awful, in fact. And while the Bears' offense isn't good, it's been improving, and I would think this is about as bad a game I would realistically expect from them. Add in the outlier performance of the Packers' special teams outplaying the Bears', and the Packers don't scare me nearly as much as they did two days ago.

Of course, the Bears aren't very likely to see the Packers again (they would both have to make the conference championship).

So maybe I'm overly optimistic, but if anything, this game actually made me a little more hopeful for the Bears' playoff chances.

by Flounder :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:32pm

You never know which GB offense is going to show up from week to week. Will it be the one where the offensive line holds their own and the receivers dominate? Or will it be the one where the line gets routinely run over and receivers have pass after pass bounce off their hands?

I knew after the first two drives (offense is moving well on both, but a dropped pass by Jackson costing GB a first down and a fumble by Driver) that it was going to be a long day.

by TomC :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:43pm

Of course, the Bears aren't very likely to see the Packers again (they would both have to make the conference championship).

If that unlikely situation were to obtain, I pray to god it doesn't involve the same officiating crew. The Packers' DBs took Knox completely out of the game with physical, at-the-border-of-legality play. I'm guessing that was also why Hester was so quiet, but that wasn't as obvious as it was with Knox. The one small WR that did show up was R. Davis, but he's a special teams gunner, so I'm guessing he's a bit better at getting off a jam than the rest of the guys.

(Just to clarify: I'm not complaining about the officiating; for the most part, it was consistent and within most people's reasonable interpretation of the rules. But that end of the spectrum is maximally bad for a team with waterbug receivers playing against a team with physical corners.)

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 7:23pm

If you don't want to, I'll complain about that officiating crew. They missed two blatant pass interference calls.

One against Knox in the endzone, where the defender grabbed his jersey prior to the pass being thrown, and proceed to tackle him before the pass arrived. So holding or PI should have been called.

Another Tim Jennings was guilty of PI. Going over the back of the receiver to knock the ball down, but doing so before the ball arrived.

Finally, on a post route (by Knox I think, but I'm not sure), he was jammed the entire route constant contact from the LOS to 15ish yards downfield and no call.

Those were the worst on receivers the ball went to, so I have no idea what was going on on passes to receivers even Jay Cutler thought were too covered to throw to.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 9:43pm

The officiating on pass coverage was absoutely atrocious in this game. And the one on Knox int he end-zone should have been first and goal at the one instead of third and goal, sack, FG. Things might have been very different then.

Since the game was meaningless for the Bears it's hard to get upset. On the contrary, I come away feeling that, if they meet again (at Soldier), the Bears will have the advantage.

- Alvaro

by TomC :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 2:57am

Yeah, I lied; I was complaining.

by Flounder :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:25pm

Yeah, I found Urlacher's comments interesting too. They sure looked like they were playing plenty hard. The one possible exception was Cutler. During the 4th quarter, it looked like he did not give a rat's ass if they won or not.

Donald Driver is old. And that makes me sad too.

Walden and the Masthay were the MVPs of the game. Who would have thought!

by Eddo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:09pm

I'm curious as to what you base your Cutler judgement on. In general, he wears the same expression no matter what and generally looks very casual when playing.

In fact, I seem to recall at least one really nice scramble in the fourth quarter, which sure looked like he put forth some good effort.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:07pm

I think the announcer in the Patriots game just said the Patriots are preparing for a "Sugar Bowl run."

That would explain why Brady was still in, then- he was scoring style points.

by SandyRiver :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:12pm

"Dan Connolly looked winded about 50 yards into his return, so Bathea is twice the returner that the Pat's O-lineman is."

Edelman looked pretty fresh at the end of that long PR, which had some circling plus a broken tackle. True, he was on cruise for the final 20 yd or so, but Bethea was actually staggering, looking like he was about to pass out. It reminded me of that marathoner several Olympics past who lurched/fell during his final, stadium lap.

by Temo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:15pm

He [Brad Smith] is the Kevin Maas of football.

I know who Kevin Maas is, but this sentence still makes no sense to me. Can anyone clarify for me?

by roguerouge :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:12pm

Legendary flash-in-the-pan for the Yankees during the 1980s, when they were really struggling under Steinbrenner. Basically, the fandom latched on to any prospect as the next big hope because there were brief periods of time that rookies were allowed to struggle before Steinbrenner made another ill-advised free agency decision. Maas was a guy bulit on hype, small sample size heroics, desperation and irritation. Think Billy Volek.

by Temo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:56pm

Like I said, I know who Kevin Maas is (he came up in the '90s, btw). I just don't see the connection to Brad Smith, who is legitimately good and has been for multiple seasons now.

by Led :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 4:05pm

One of the FO guys -- might be Barnwell -- has an irrational contempt for Brad Smith. Even though Smith was only a 4th or 5th round pick, his salary is low, he's a very good special teams player and he contributes occasionally in the option/wildcat package, he's totally useless because he's not a good receiver. Or something.

by roguerouge :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:28pm

Split the difference: right era of Yankeedom, wrong year (1990). As a former 22nd round draft pick with only specialist value in the majors, he's pretty comparable to Brad Smith, actually.

by NYExpat :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 7:52pm

Considering that Maas only had 4/10ths of a good season while Brad Smith has already had three very productive seasons as a part-time player, that's a huge insult to Smith.

If you're going to try to make a NFL-MLB comparison (which is going to have problems no matter what), Smith is like a utility infielder who can play various positions and hit well enough to give you an advantage. Tony Phillips is the pinnacle, and Smith probably ranks around Omar Infante. Like Smith, Infante gets mocked for being overrated (check out some of the press when he got selected for the All-Star game), but he's nonetheless quite valuable (just ask Kent Conrad).

by Temo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 9:47pm

It's Brooks Conrad, unless there's a reference there that went over my head. But otherwise I agree.

I can't see how Brad Smith is overrated at all. I prefer the SmithCat offense to Sanchez's shenangins any day of the week.

If you want an NFL-MLB comp for Kevin Maas, go with Elvis Grbac or something.

by NYExpat :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:32pm

You're right, Brooks Conrad.

Smith is a very good piece to have. We'll have to disagree about preferring to have Smith running the offense instead of Sanchez (have you seen Smith's deep throws? A-bysmal).

by Jerry :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 7:18am

I think Bill was trying to say that Smith plays well in week 17, like Maas playing well as a September callup.

by Crymeariver (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:27pm

Re: "but why take him out and then put him back in?"
Ten years of watching Belichick, and EXPERTS still think he's losing his mind.
Why's he working Troy Brown at DB in August?
Why does he keep using big, bruising defensive linemen on offense on the goal line?
Why's he taking that safety? (Oh, that's why.)
Sometimes I think he made that 4th and 2 call just to humor the skeptics.

by Temo :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:35pm

I don't remember anyone asking any of those 3 questions.

by Crymeariver (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:36pm

Perhaps your subscription to the Boston Globe expired back about 2001.

by Athelas :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 7:25pm

They've been asked a lot here in Boston.
Probably by Borges.

by TreeRol (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:25pm

I'm not sure why any of those questions have to be accusing, rather than a simple desire to learn. I'm sure BB had his reasons for the QB switches, and I'm sure they are very good reasons. I'd just like to know what they are, in order to lead me to a better understanding of the game of football.

As opposed to "Why would that moron do such a thing?" I can't imagine there are many people saying that.

by Crymeariver (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 5:59pm

A few years ago, Belichick sent Matt Cassell into a game where he promptly threw an interception. Brady was in on the next play. Immediately all the experts were opining on what a short leash Cassell was on. Yesterday Hoyer came in and threw an incomplete pass and immediately the wiseguys at NFL Network jumped in with the same observation. As someone up-thread pointed out there's a method to BB's madness, as Brady explained at his postgame press conference to someone who actually thought to ask the question rather than jump to a conclusion. I'd say at this point in his career, Belichick has earned the benefit of the doubt. So if you're sitting there in your armchair on Sunday when he does something out of the ordinary, it might be more "expert" not to question his sanity, but to ponder: "What's the genius up to now?"

by Purds :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:37pm

Peirre Garcon is terrible. Did anyone else notice that yesterday's game confirmed that?

And, while I am on the topic of terrible WR's, if St. Louis were QB'ed by any experienced QB (Brady, either Manning, Rivers, Brees), those STL WR's ears would still be ringing this morning. Man, what a terrible group of receivers. They're lucky that their rookie QB doesn't rip them like a veteran would.

by greybeard :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:29pm

I watched Bradford 3 times this year and in those games he threw almost half of his passes behind the LOS and his receivers have managed to get 5-6 yards out of those throws on a consistent basis. I have rarely seen him complete a pass that goes more than 7 yards from LOS. He also threw a really boneheaded pick yesterday.

As far as I can tell from the games I watched, were Bradford not a rookie he would be benched in probably 28 of 32 teams with his performance. I understand he showed great potential for a rookie in a bad team. But he is also getting the benefit of a great running back and playcalling that limits his sacks and interceptions by a lot of 1 and 3 step drops, single read or no read passes. Before he starts chewing his undrafted #1 WR or undrafted TE or 3rd and 7th round #2 and #3 WRs, he should prove himself a little.

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 7:27pm

I say his receivers are so bad that's the only kind of pass that the Rams can reliable try to complete. I mean his receivers at the beginning of the year were so bad, I don't think any of them could start for more than 2 or 3 other teams, and they've all be hurt. They're number 1 guy was a cast of the Ravens, who aren't exactly stacked in that department.

Don't underestimate the difficulty of completing those short throws either, it's something Rex Grossman couldn't do for example. Bradford's DVOA is 10% higher than Bulger's from last year. They've added Bradford and a LT, and had tons of receiver injuries.

by greybeard :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 12:02am

Yes, those throws are not easy and some QBs cannot make them at all. But most can and they are easier than most other throws and they do not require the experience/intelligence aspect by middle/long range throws to the middle of the field.
His receivers are not good either. But that was not really my point.

My point is Bradford played well relative to our expectations of what he would do as a rookie QB starting for Rams. But that is it. He did not play well enough to earn the right to yell at anybody. Hopefully Rams will get some good receivers next year and he will be able to show his real qualities. This year hid did not really played well (76.5 passer rating, 4.7 ANY/A good for 28th and same as McCoy and only 0.2 yards better than Derek Anderson, 4.2 AYPA 32nd 0.1 yards better than Anderson, 81 DYAR 34th and -9% DVOA).

Also he is very well compensated for his work, whereas those receivers are making probably 40 times less than him. They are outperforming their compensation and at this point he is underperforming his.

by tuluse :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 12:30am

If the receiver screwed up, why can't he yell at him? Why do you care if Bradford yells at a receiver? Does it really matter what their respective salaries are?

I find your whole statement perplexing.

by Purds :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 1:08am

I agree with tuluse here. I readily retract the statement that overall, Bradford is good, as I admit I have seen only that one game. But, who cares when someone was drafted? You think anyone on the field cares that Brady was a #6 round pick, I mean anyone with any brain? To anyone watching, or playing, Brady's a great QB, no matter where drafted.

If you put stock in a player, or take stock from a player, because of where he was drafted (or not drafted at all), you've already lost. You going to get mad at a drafted kid for playing only a little better than an undrafted kid? He's still better, and it's not the kid's fault he was drafted.

by greybeard :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 2:47am

I must have confused you with bringing up the where the player is drafted. I did not mean it as a measure of how good a player is, only about how much they are paid to do their jobs and what kind of performance you should expect from that person. I manage people with different levels of experience and paychecks and always give them feedback relative to their level. Even the least paid person is entitled to constructive feedback, but that should come from their boss at appropriate time to improve their production not from from their peers and in terms of yelling. NFL of course is not similar to regular workplace so you probably would disagree.

Forget about the draft talk. My point is simple. Bradford has not earned the right to yell at anybody. (I am not in the opinion that just because someone is playing QB he has the right to yell others. I believe earning the right to tell people when they make a mistake comes when you prove that you are doing your part very well. If you disagree with that then we will have to agree to disagree. )

by tuluse :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 3:08am

All I can say-at the risk of sounding like a player complaining to the media-is that you don't know what the Rams are asking Bradford to do. He could be executing the game plans to near perfection. As for your point that his stats look bad, couldn't that be because the receivers keep screwing up which lower his stats?

by greybeard :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 3:37am

I am not sure I understand what you are saying. If Bradford is executing what he is asked to do and that ends up making him not a great QB, it still makes him not a great QB. Maybe his coaches and receivers are holding him back, or maybe his coaches are getting the best out of him given the situation. Neither us can know. All we know is how he played. Maybe he is making his receivers look bad, who knows, maybe he is incapable of reading defenses and therefore all the passes has to be thrown within the 7 yards of LOS to avoid sacks and interceptions. After all on Sunday he went long 4 times and one of them was an interception.
Also it is not easy to gain yards for a receiver when he gets the ball behind LOS. And as far as I can tell the STL WRs are doing a good job of getting meaningful yards on those behind the LOS passes and short slants.

Anyway. I don't really care if Bradford is better than he looked on the games I watched. On the games I watched he did not look like anything special yet he is getting praise entire year so he must have been good in other games.

by Purds :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 8:42am


I don't have the season-long perspective you do for Bradford. I guess I was just trying to note how miserable his recievers played in the parts of Sunday's game I could force myself to watch (I really did try to get into that game, but couldn't for too long). It was like having 3 different Peirre Garcons out there -- get open, and drop the ball. How depressing for a rookie QB who likely doesn't yet have the confidence that vets have.

by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 9:10am

I've watched every Rams game this season (because I'm a fan. Woe). I'd say Sunday was easily Bradford's worst game.

The playcalling has been that conservative all season, but the reason is the WRs. Laurent Robinson and Gibson can't get any separation on anything approaching an intermediate route, so there's basically no point having them running them. Gibson is marginally better than Robinson, but has inconsistent hands. Danario Alexander can get separation on deep routes, but as there's no other threat a single safety can take that away pretty easily, and as he showed on Sunday he doesn't have the best hands. That lets another safety come up into the box and take away the crossing routes that Amendola had been making hay on. It says something when as a team the best route your receivers can run is a screen/smoke.

Hoomanawanui has shown flashes as a good TE, but he struggled with injury both early and late in the season. I'm still intrigued by Fendi Onubun, who could be good.

I'd disagree with what the guys say about the Rams needing secondary help as a #1 priority. Ron Bartell was excellent for the first half of the year, but got hurt and has been poor the second half, so I suspect he's been playing injured. Bradley Fletcher Bradley is a 2nd year player who shredded his ACL and MCL in the middle of last season, and wasn't expected back for the start of this year. He got back for the start of training camp, and has started most weeks, but has admitted that he's never got really more than 90% healthy. Another year and full health and he should be pretty good. He's shown great flashes. Kevin Dockery, however, is terrible. We need a nickel back, but I wouldn't say its our number 1 need.

IMO the #1 need for the Rams is a #1 WR, followed by an outside linebacker who can play both the pass and run, and a guard or two who can run block. And a backup RB.

Btw, one of the reasons I think Steven Jackson has been coming off the field on 3rd down isn't so much that he's a bad blocker (although he isn't great), its that he's been playing with a broken finger that wasn't fully healed, which made him a bit less of a threat as a receiver and didn't help his blocking either.

by Dean :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 10:41am

I can't see a single thing in this post to argue with.

The sad thing is, about the time the rest of the country started looking in on the Rams to see what all the fuss over Bradford was about was also right about the time that he started to hit the rookie wall. His play really tailed off over the final month, but in October and November you really saw a guy on trajectory to being an elite QB. The sky is the limit for Bradford.

I would add another DT as a high priority item. In fact, if they don't use their first round choice on a WR, this is where I'd like to see them go in the first round. Fairley will be long gone, but they might be able to find a space-eater. I'd like to see them add a second safety, too. But the corners are set. Fletcher really emerged this year, and we already knew Bartell was good.

by greybeard :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 4:43pm

The games I watched were all in December. That explains why his reputation did not fully match what I observed.

I am a 49ers fan, but I'd like Bradford to get better WRs and become a good QB. Not only am I tired of 49ers loosing, I am also tired of seeing them loose games/division to other miserable teams like Seahawks and Rams. I'd rather have them eliminated in week 10 than go on another 5 weeks to try to achieve a 7-9 record so that can qualify for playoffs. Good competition in the division makes other teams to aim higher and get better.

by tuluse :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 12:46pm

I'm saying you don't know what the coaches are asking each player to do. Imagine that the Ram's receivers are so bad that even Peyton Manning would have to use the game plan they are giving Bradford. In that case Bradford only looks bad in your eyes because of the receivers stinking up the joint, which would be good cause for yelling at said receivers, no?

Also, Bradford doesn't have to earn anything in your eyes, he has to earn the right to be a leader with his coaches and teammates. Frankly, you have no idea if he's done that or not, so expending energy trying to decide if he can yell at a receiver is pointless.

by greybeard :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 4:53pm

"I'm saying you don't know what the coaches are asking each player to do. Imagine that the Ram's receivers are so bad that even Peyton Manning would have to use the game plan they are giving Bradford. In that case Bradford only looks bad in your eyes because of the receivers stinking up the joint, which would be good cause for yelling at said receivers, no?"

Or Bradford stinks so much that all the coaching stuff can do is to ask him throw 5 yards passes. Then he would have no right to yell at his receivers, no? Not that I believe this is the case or it is even remotely close to what is going on, but you don't know any more than I do what the truth is.

"Frankly, you have no idea if he's done that or not, so expending energy trying to decide if he can yell at a receiver is pointless."

This is the internet. All our comments are pointless from the perspective of people we are commenting about. I don't believe any of the Rams player care what Tuluse or Purds thinks more than they care about what I think.

by Spielman :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 10:25pm

And maybe before you start chewing him out, you should watch more than three games to get a little bit of context for your criticisms.

by greybeard :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 3:14am

I am not a Rams fan. I am not a masochist. Why would I watch more than 3 games?

Did I chew him out? I think you are being a little sensitive.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:01pm

For as much talk as there is of 'too many games in the last week don't matter,' I thought there were a number of entertaining games to follow. Maybe fans don't always get to see their home team in a competitive game, but there were enough other games on to keep me interested. Also, the Rams/Seahawks was the night game, which meant I could go to bed early and not miss any good football.

by Ezra Johnson :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:06pm

I admire the Bears for not pulling a Colts vs. Jets '09. And as far as I know their remarkable injury luck this year continued through the game. I also admire the way that defense swarms to the ball. On the second long pass to Jennings that got to the one, there were about five Bears in on the tackle, including Peppers hustling all the way down the field. As a Packers fan I am very thankful for their problems on offense.

by Mark Pitcavage (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:33pm

Someone will probably already have pointed this out, but the Roethlisberger to Wallace TD did not pass Bradshaw to Swann or Bradshaw to Stallworth for most Pittsburgh TD passes of 40+ yards from one quarterback to one receiver. That measure had previously been passed. The record that Roethlisberger-Wallace broke was the one held by 1980s Steelers Bubby Brister and Louis Lipps (Brister had a strong arm, and Lipps was a master of the long ball catch).

by Duke :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 3:37pm

I just found out about Pomplamoose last week (searching for more info after seeing the Hyundai commercials) and they are MY FAVORITE THING EVARR!!!

by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:58pm

de gustibus...if you attach heavy enough cables to their coffins, Duke Ellington, Hank Williams, Frederick Chopin and Jerome Kern alone are now revolving fast enough to solve the energy crisis...

by TomC :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 6:35pm

Aaron Schatz: OK, does anyone out there have an idea of what Pete Carroll said when the officials claim he was asking for a timeout and he claims he wasn't?

Vince Verhei: It's clear on the replay that Pete Carroll said "I don't want to call timeout." Then they said he called timeout. So he kind of got screwed there. On the other hand, I don't know WHY he felt the need to say he didn't want to call timeout. He could just ... not call a timeout.

I was listening to the radio call, and those announcers were pretty sure Carroll was trying to argue for a measurement and finally had to call a timeout after it was clear they weren't going to measure.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 9:53pm

I know he just willed his team to a win and came up big by putting them in hte play-offs, as you'll learn from any talking head today, but is it me or is Charlei Witehurst really, REALLY bad?

He has the quickest trigger finger on running the ball I have seen in quite a while. There was one play where the O-ineman was keeping hte defender at bay, but Whitehurst saw him reaching out a hand and freaked. Then he noticed he had room, looped around the lineman to take the defender out of the play and, about 7 yards behind the LoS, standing there quite by himself, didn't even LOOK downfield and just took off for a small gain.

Combined with what seemed to be 90% of his passes being thrown at or behind the LoS, I kept thinking he reminded me of a rookie Mike Vick, only without the cannon or the athleticism.

- Alvaro

by tuluse :: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:34pm

I watched the whole game on the website with the cable cam, and yeah he has terrible pocket presence. There were many plays where he could have just shifted left, right, or forward a bit to give his receivers more time, but instead took off running like a mad man. Whenever he got outside the pocket he almost always looking to run, not pass.

He's like a worse Kordell Stewart (apologies if Stewart played significantly different earlier in his career compared to his year with the Bears, which is my main memories of him).

by Dr. Don't Have FO Premium Yet (not verified) :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 11:40am

apologies if Stewart played significantly different earlier in his career compared to his year with the Bears

He did. Click my alias for a link to his FO player page; if you have FO Premium, you can presumably look at his whole career more quickly than I can. In 2003, with the Bears: passing -44.8% DVOA -551 DYAR, rushing 8.9% DVOA 65 DYAR. In 2002, with the Steelers: passing 16.2% DVOA 314 DYAR, rushing -1.4% DVOA 20 DYAR. In 2001, with the Steelers: passing 4.4% DVOA 451 DYAR, rushing 22.3% DVOA 134 DYAR. 1997 was also a good year, 1998 through 2000 not so much.

by BigCheese :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 2:54am

What do you mean "almost"??? I didn't see him get out of the pocket looking to throw even once (I think he was out of the pocket on the TD pass, but that looked like a designed roll-out).

And the one advantage to this being the first season they have shown more than four or so Bears games this season (in 01 when they won their division they didn't show a single regular season Bears game here. Not one), and the fact that there wasn't another way to watch those games, means I was mostly spared the Kordell Stewart experience.

- Alvaro

by BigCheese :: Wed, 01/05/2011 - 3:25am

OK, just watched the TD drive on NFL Network's Replay, and it was indeed a designed roll-out, with the pocket moving with him.

Also, something I didn't remember, the only reason that TD happened (pretty much the only reason Witehurst is being otuted as having played well), is that, two plays before, after a sack on second down, he gets sacked again very, very quickly, but it's nullified by a defensive holding (which doesnt' really affect the play, as the O-Line was badly, BADLY beat). SO that would ahve been a FG, there wouldn't have been any TDs in the game and no one would be spouting that "Charlie stepped up" nonsense, one hopes.

- Alvaro

by Jerry :: Tue, 01/04/2011 - 7:20am

Solomon Wilcots on Mike Wallace: "Speedsters usually don't come back for the ball. They feel that if it's underthrown, it's not their fault."

Dan Fouts was doing color on Browns-Steelers, not Wilcots.

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