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NFL football is a violent game, and traumatic injuries are unfortunate but unavoidable. But are bigger players more likely to be hurt than their smaller peers?

22 Oct 2012

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

compiled by Rivers McCown

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

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

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 49ers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Thursday, October 18

Seattle Seahawks 6 at San Francisco 49ers 13

Tom Gower: I've watched the whole thing, but have had a hard time getting into it. Overall it's been pretty much how I thought the game would be: bad offenses playing against good defenses don't tend to have much success, and that's the way both teams are. The interesting things are the more micro-level complexity I don't pick up live, like exactly how the the one surprise this game, Frank Gore's success running up the middle, has happened.

Danny Tuccitto: I'm sneaking a peek every few minutes while at my friend's bachelor party. Just noticed on that last Niners red zone trip in the early fourth that, continuing the theme from last week, Kaepernickat fail leads to Alex Smith forgetting how to play quarterback.

Would love to know how many times there's been a declined safety-by-penalty in the past 20 years.

Aaron Schatz: I don't feel like looking through all the workbooks. I'm guessing "zero."

Sunday, October 21

Baltimore Ravens 13 at Houston Texans 43

Andy Benoit: Anyone else find it absolutely crazy that Terrell Suggs is back already? Hope they know what they're doing ... no reason to think they don't. But still...

Mike Kurtz: I think there is every reason to think they don't. Or rather, that they're more concerned with competing than with the likelihood of Suggs re-injuring himself. Considering how aggressive Harbaugh is, combined with the other injuries on Baltimore's defense and Suggs' (presumably) incredibly optimistic take on his own rehab, I get the feeling this was much more a football decision than a medical decision. I wouldn't be surprised if he aggravates it either this week or the next.

Rivers McCown: I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, Adrian Peterson has been fine this year.

Andy Benoit: Suggs' sack on the third Houston series came off a three-man rush. He beat Derek Newton to the inside with a stunt.

Mike Kurtz: Houston is being incredibly unaggressive considering Baltimore's injury situation, a lot of running up the middle and very short passes. Really odd.

Rivers McCown: Really Kubiak.

Mike Kurtz: Alan Ball with possibly the greatest punt coverage of all time, grabbing the ball and flipping over it while tossing it back into the field of play. That leads to a decent run, followed by a fumblesack, followed by a sack safety. Special teams!

Andy Benoit: Johnathan Joseph nabs a pick-six off a J.J. Watt pass deflection. Four of J.J. Watt’s nine pass deflections this year have resulted in interceptions.

Rivers McCown: The Texans came out completely flat and looked awful on offense for most of the first quarter.

Now they are up 16-3. And James Casey got a fullback belly carry. The Ravens seemed to abandon the run awfully early.

J.J. Cooper: I'm so impressed by J.J. Watt that I think I might change my name to ... well I guess I already have that one covered. Is anyone close to him for Defensive Player of the Year at this point? He's a 3-4 defensive end (who plays more tackle than end in reality) who leads the league in sacks, and he might be even better on pass plays when he just hovers around the line looking to deflect the ball.

Is it possible to look at the DVOA of the plays where he picked up the sack compared to the DVOA of his four tips for INTs? I was wondering if the tips have actually had more value.

Aaron Schatz: J.J., I'm sure the tips had more value, because interceptions are more valuable than sacks. Then again, are the tipped interceptions 100 percent Watt? He has to share the recognition with the defensive backs, right?

I wrote a note down about that Suggs sack because I thought Newton looked so awful. Suggs just went left, then right, and completely faked him out of his shoes with barely any contact.

I too am wondering what happened to the run for the Ravens. This sure isn't looking like the offense I was predicting in my Upset Watch column. They've tried the play-action a couple times, and Flacco has really overthrown the receivers. And I said that the Ravens should be able to pass to the outside if they can keep Flacco upright long enough, but they are having serious problems with the "upright" part of that sentence.

Andy Benoit: The Ravens defensive line continues to really struggle getting off blocks, and so the Ravens front seven continues to really struggle against zone run team.

Aaron Schatz: And then Owen Daniels kindly pushes his way through the linebackers and catches the ball in the back of the end zone to make it 23-3. In the 20th century NFL, this game would be over. In the current NFL, hey, comebacks are a dime a dozen.

Mike Kurtz: I think that was a bad review on the touchdown, not because the ball hit the ground, but because by the time the ball is secured his shoulder is already out of bounds.

J.J. Cooper: Good point on the shoulder. No way he had full possession on the catch before then.

Rivers McCown: I think I'd be more afraid of a Ravens comeback if Joe Flacco weren't struggling to reach 50 passing yards by halftime. This is a classic Bad Flacco game.

Andy Benoit: The Texans are having success with Daniels crossing patterns. He's got seven first-half receptions working against voids of Ravens zones and against linebackers.

J.J. Cooper: Texans kick a field goal to end the first half. 29-3. This one is over unless Frank Reich shows up for the second half. Also Haloti Ngata left the game due to more problems with his right knee.

Rivers McCown: Watt just deflected another pass, tying the NFL record for a defensive lineman in a season at 11.

It's Week 7.

Oh, and a Texans special teams blunder combined with a long PI on Joseph led the Ravens to their first touchdown of the day. Remember Tandon Doss? He's back! (In pog form.)

Is Watt the MVP at this point? All the elite quarterbacks are having middling years statistically (by their standards) and have seen at least a few losses. Is It maybe Matt Ryan?

Aaron Schatz: I'm willing to say Watt, but I don't think he still will be come Week 17. New England and Green Bay are going to turn it around and their quarterbacks will get the credit.

Vince Verhei: Well, since the afternoon games are light, let me throw this out to the group: If I gave you an even-money bet on Houston's odds of making it to (not necessarily winning) the Super Bowl, which way would you bet? They're 6-1. Only three teams left on their schedule have winning records (Bears, Patriots, and Vikings) so it's highly unlikely they won't get the top seed in the AFC. Will anyone beat them at home in the playoffs? New England? A Broncos team that Houston already beat in Denver? Baltimore just went to Houston and got licked. Nothing is a sure thing, but I'd absolutely put Houston's odds of making the Super Bowl at greater than 50 percent.

Aaron Schatz: The FO playoff odds formula believes that you are very much overestimating the value of Houston's home-field advantage. Last time I checked, Green Bay just beat them by 18 there. If Green Bay can do that, New England or Denver can do that. We had Houston at 27 percent to make the Super Bowl last week. I'm guessing it comes out about 35 percent after this week's win.

Although let me add, if the odds really are 6-1 to win the AFC (not necessarily the Super Bowl), even our playoff odds formula thinks that is a really great bet.

Rivers McCown: Based on what Green Bay did to them, I think Houston would struggle with New England's skill position talent. They'd be the one team I'd pick against a theoretical homefield to the Super Bowl Texans team. Assuming they can put it all together, anyway.

Aaron Schatz: The Pats have a strong run defense to shut down Arian Foster and Ben Tate, and they could run no-huddle with three tight which theoretically lets them get extra blockers to try to keep Watt from batting down half the passes.

On the other hand, even clearly now-in-decline Andre Johnson would destroy their cornerbacks.

Vince Verhei: Points about the New England offense conceded, I will still take Matt Schaub and Co. against the pass defense that looked helpless against Russell Wilson.

Green Bay Packers 30 at St. Louis Rams 20

Andy Benoit: Packers snag a successful surprise onside kick. We'll assume they aren't worried about having to out-score the Rams for four quarters, so they must have seen something on film.

Tennessee Titans 35 at Buffalo Bills 34

Andy Benoit: Chris Johnson has four carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills run defense is playing to form after taking a break to actually make some stops against the Cardinals last week.

Tom Gower: Defense has been very optional in the first half in Buffalo, as the Titans lead 21-20. Johnson has two of the scores, from 16 and 83, which were probably his two best runs of the year. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick has not been as terrible as he's been some games this year, and the Titans have had their normal trouble tackling.

The Titans took advantage of great field position in the second half, getting their first touchdown early off a fumblesack and the second, game-winning score late after a penalty and bad punt by Not Brian Moorman. I wonder how much Chan Gailey should and will be criticized for kicking the extra point when the Bills scored to go up 33-28.

Washington Redskins 23 at New York Giants 27

Matt Waldman: Fred Davis takes a tumble on a post route and has an Achilles injury. Hops to the sideline and then carted to the locker room after an examination. Davis was called for an illegal shift that nullified a play-action slant to Josh Morgan for a score, but Morgan was at fault for not settling into his spot before Davis' motion. Morgan has always been one of those players that teases fans with physical skill, but never took those skills to the next level of play.

Interesting that the Redskins are among the worst in the league on third-and-short plays.

Ahmad Bradshaw and London Fletcher are having a fun battle in the flat during the first two Giants drives. Bradshaw runs through Flecther for a first down on an outlet pass in first series -- tough running. Two plays later, Fletcher tackles Bradshaw for a loss on an outlet pass to the same flat -- great anticipation by the linebacker. In the second series, Bradshaw catches another dumpoff and puts a move on Fletcher to get up the flat and stretch for the first down as Fletcher wraps the back at the Redskins 10. Very close.

Fletcher now meets Andre Brown in the air on a one-yard plunge, but the back keeps his feet and bulls forward to get across the goal line. Great leaping hit by Fletcher to meet Brown at the one, but Brown's balance saves the day. Really fun to watch a veteran like Fletcher, who is Methuselah by by defender standards, play with abandon.

Robert Griffin nearly hits Leonard Hankerson on a deep post with play-action, a pump fake, and a nice job climbing the pocket. Hankerson only manages to get fingertips on the ball ... he probably should have leaped for it, but it was very close. Griffin has always had fantastic deep accuracy. Some of these play-fakes are funny because Griffin has performed some where he and the back aren't even in sync. Doesn't matter with Griffin's speed -- defenses are reacting. I wondered how Griffin's speed with drops and play-fakes would play out in the NFL because I have never seen a player execute so fast from snap to drop, but all these play fakes really make it a dangerous thing for defenses. If they ever expand this offense to make more backside throws with reverse pivots and other fancy drop footwork as Griffin develops, it's going to be even more amazing to watch.

Andy Benoit: Alfred Morris is consistently getting downhill early in his runs -– particularly runs to the left.

Matt Waldman: Morris loses a big gain up the left flat due to a "phantom leg whip" on the backside that strikes no one. Wondering if maybe the official ruled it based on seeing cleats in the air. I get the idea of calling the penalty even if it doesn't help the offense, but this was barely something I'd even consider a leg whip. On the next play, Morris fumbles the ball away.

Griffin throws an interception in Giants territory on a short pass to Logan Paulsen. He double-clutched and then tried to force it to the second window. Steve Brown jumps the route. First time I've seen an indecisive play by Griffin in the game.

Andy Benoit: Mike Shanahan elects to go for it on fourth-and-3 near the 50 with 10:00 left in fourth, trailing by seven. It's successful, they run play-action to Hankerson on a slant out of Doug Farrar's favorite: the pistol formation.

Aaron Schatz: Washington probably wants to burn the play where the entire offensive line blocks right and trusts the backup tight end to pull all the way from right to left to take out Jason Pierre-Paul before he can get to the quarterback. That didn't work.

Amazing what happens when your offensive coordinator doesn't call a ridiculous bootleg with limited passing options, on fourth down.

Redskins did it again four plays later, they ran another play -- it might have been a read option, I'm not sure -- where nobody picked up JPP who was on the offensive right, and he came in and took out RGIII for a sack-fumble. Read option or whatever, maybe we should just NOT call plays where we leave JPP or Justin Tuck unblocked.

Matt Waldman: Griffin sacked three times in this current series with two fourth-down conversions. Giants linebackers are getting smart about dropping quick to take away short passes over middle. JPP has two sacks -- one of them a strip sack that Linval Joseph recovers.

Aaron, what makes it worse is that the player responsible, Niles Paul, is a former receiver and kick return specialist from Nebraska converted to a tight end. Not a good situation for Washington's pass protection with Davis in a walking boot. Paulsen isn't much better; he's a space receiver from Oregon familiar with this option offense. A better receiver than a blocker, but not a high-end athlete by NFL tight end standards, either.

Andy Benoit: Eli Manning nullifies the fumble with a quick interception to linebacker Rob Jackson. He never saw Jackson drop off the line and into the flat.

Third-and-15 late in the fourth quarter, the Giants are backed up, Redskins play coverage and the Giants complete a screen to Andre Brown that, incredulously, goes for a first down.

Griffin makes a career-highlight reel type play on fourth-and-10, eluding Pierre-Paul outside the pocket to complete for a first down. On the next play, Griffin gets a long scramble run because the Giants went to man coverage. Memories of what Michael Vick did late to them a few years ago.

Then, Griffin lofts a perfect deep-touch throw to Santana Moss. Moss beat the man coverage of Jayron Hosley out of the slot.

Matt Waldman: Eli comes back on third-and-2 and hits Victor Cruz up seam behind the defense for deep touchdown to re-take lead. Josh Wilson toasted again as man defender over Cruz tight to line.

Andy Benoit: Madieu Williams had terrible technique on that touchdown. Stayed crouched and had his eyes in backfield, Cruz simply ran right by him. Wilson was expecting help.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure why Perry Fewell calls a cover-0 blitz against RGIII when Washington needs a touchdown to take the lead.

But come on, Eli Manning with 1:30 left and three timeouts? No problem.

Sometimes you just have to appreciate the beautiful, and those were two pretty sweet throws by two very good quarterbacks.

Matt Waldman: Moss fumbles the ball with 39 seconds left on a route with both hands around the ball. Chase Blackburn still strips it loose. Just seconds ago, Morgan fumbled the ball and then recovered it to set this game-loser up.

Andy Benoit: From hero to goat!

Arizona Cardinals 14 at Minnesota Vikings 21

Ben Muth: Bobby Massie just gave up a sack and fumble to end a promising Arizona drive in the red zone. The most frustrating part of Massie's rookie year is how often he gets beaten around the edge with pure speed. I'm not talking about guys beating him with solid outside moves (they're doing that too though), which is at least understandable. I'm talking about being too slow to keep guys from running right around him. I'm not sure Massie is athletic enough to ever play tackle in the NFL.

Cardinals took advantage of a Paris Lenon pick to score on a LaRod Stephens-Howling touchdown run. Arizona has had some success on the ground early against Minnesota.

Daryl Washington has a knack for timing blitzes in the A gap. He just blitzed perfectly to sack Christian Ponder. Bad job by the Minnesota's left guard of not recognizing the A-gap pressure and picking it up. He left it to the running back, who had zero chance of getting to Washington in time.

Andy Benoit: Percy Harvin nabs a red-zone touchdown on a three-yard crossing pass off boot-action. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said this week that he regrets not using Harvin more in red zone lately.

Ben Muth: The Vikings call a timeout on their own 20 with 14 seconds left. On the next play, Ponder is hit as he's throwing it and Sam Acho picks it off. But Jay Feely misses the 47-yard field goal on the last play of the half to bail Ponder out.

J.J. Cooper: No explanation I can give for the Vikings there. They called timeout on third-and-2 from their own 20 with 14 seconds left. They are 50 yards from a realistic chance to score and the interception came on a short pass. If they had completed it, they would have been facing first-and-10 from their own 35 with five seconds to go. Why not just run Adrian Peterson up the middle and take your lead to the locker room?

Aaron Schatz: However, bad the Ponder interception was, it can't compare to the play early in the third quarter where Early Doucet has two Vikings sitting right next to him, about five yards in front of John Skelton, and Skelton throws it directly at Doucet anyway, by which I mean into the arms of Harrison Smith for a pick-six.

Ben Muth: He's been poor all game, but that interception was truly putrid.

Cards go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Minnesota 18, down 14, with 7:40 left in the third. They run a play-action boot with Reagan Maui'a as the only option.

Antoine Winfield covers Maui'a and makes the tackle on Skelton when he tries to run. Tim Ryan can't wait to bash the decision after it failed. I liked the decision, but hate any situation where Reagan Maui'a is a number one option.

Aaron Schatz: Seriously, how on earth do you run a fourth-down play with only one pass option and that option by the way is not Larry Fitzgerald? Whisenhunt: Deliberately making stats people look stupid?

Ben Muth: The most frustrating part of the fourth-down call is that I assume that was one of the Cardinals' two-point plays. That means they designed that play and practiced it every week so they could get two yards when they absolutely had to get it.

I'm concerned about any offensive staff that thinks Reagan Maui'a is their best option for two yards.

Vince Verhei: Bill Simmons proposed a classic "logical trade that will never happen" for this offseason: Philip Rivers to Arizona. Chargers need to start over, and the Cardinals can't afford to waste another year of Fitzgerald's career. But moves that big hardly ever happen.

Rivers McCown: What is Philip Rivers worth to the Cardinals? Two firsts? Can the Chargers justify that trade? Can the Chargers actually justify getting rid of Rivers if they don't get a killing?

Vince Verhei: Well, two firsts would be overkill. He's north of 30 and has been in decline for two years now. First and a third?

Ben Muth: What's the record for number of sacks given up by a pair of teammates? I imagine D'Anthony Batiste and Massie are on pace to shatter it. Both have given up two more today.

Aaron Schatz: I actually heard John Clayton say something about this on ESPN radio on the way down, I believe he said 28.5 by two guys from the Eagles in one of the Randall Cunningham years.

Ben Muth: Ugh, the Cardinals line up to go for it on fourth-and-5 but don't get the play off and take the delay of game. Then they give up a sack on a nose/tackle twist that Lyle Sendlein and Adam Snyder can't pass off.

With four minutes left the Vikings still haven't had a first down in the second half. But it doesn't matter the way Skelton's been playing.

The Cardinals are trying to help Massie with chip blocks and Massie still gives up sacks. The latest happened on a spin move to the inside despite having Stephens-Howling outside to chip. How do you get beat inside when you know you have help outside? Lack of ability plus not having a clue is a bad combination for a rookie.

Rivers McCown: Who is the Cardinals third tackle, anyway? How bad must he be for them to keep throwing Massie and Batiste out there?

Ben Muth: I'm not sure if Nate Potter or Pat McQuistan is the third tackle, but either one can't be any worse than Massie or Batiste. Heck, I'd take that surfer who had her arm bit off by a shark over Batiste or Massie right now.

Dallas Cowboys 19 at Carolina Panthers 14

Andy Benoit: Cam Newton's end zone interception was an irresponsible decision. Last-second throws under pressure to the middle of the end zone don't end well.

Phil Costa is leaving this game with a serious leg injury. Costa is coming off not just his best game as a pro but, according to Greg Cosell, arguably the best game of any center this season.

Mike Kurtz: While sacking Newton at the end of the game was a huge play, I'm not sure Anthony Spencer doing an extended celebration 20 yards in the backfield when you know the offense is trying to get back to the line quickly is such a great idea. The Panthers don't have it together enough to capitalize, of course, but it's still really stupid.

New Orleans Saints 35 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27

Andy Benoit: Saints No. 5 wideout Joseph Morgan showed great balance and body control on a long touchdown catch. That’s the highlight. The play involved poor safety help over the top from Mark Barron.

Matt Waldman: That play was crazy. Morgan took a deep streak up the right flat and ducks inside two Tampa defenders as if he were a professional wrestler entering a ring during an all-out melee. Both defenders run into Morgan but the receiver somehow maintains his balance while back-dropping one of them. Crazy looking ending to a 48-yard score.

Vince Verhei: Fun facts about Morgan: He went to college at something called "Walsh," and he now has three career receptions for two touchdowns and 44.3 yards per catch.

These defenses, by the way, are collectively awful.

Matt Waldman: Josh Freeman is recognizing good opportunities to hit Vincent Jackson on quick-hitting streaks up left side after Jackson defeats the coverage fast. One is a 17-yard score in the first half and just now, they hook up on a 95-yard play where about 85 of it is Jackson after the catch. Bucs have a nice schedule down the stretch to potentially contend for a wild card. Not sure they can make it, but they will keep things interesting.

Vince Verhei: Two Saints defenders go for the ball and miss, but Jackson is run down from behind at the 1-yard line. Tampa Bay then runs three straight dives into the pile to set up fourth-and-goal at the 1. Freeman runs what appears to be a quarterback keeper with no receivers in the pattern. The Saints are not fooled, and the play loses two yards. Saints' ball at their own 3-yard line.

Aaron Schatz: At least the Bucs didn't do something silly like kick a field goal from the 1 against a Saints offense that is killing them. Instead they bootleg out Freeman and he looks like he is hobbling, and the receiver never opens up -- assuming it wasn't just a keeper all along, and he ends up running out of bounds at the three.

I don't know about the play calling but I'll tell you, the execution here was horrendous. Man, bad offenses are really trying to make us look bad on fourth downs today, aren't they? And Josh, your defense is going to have a much better shot at a safety if you throw the ball away instead of running out of bounds at the 3 like an idiot.

Tom Gower: Freeman was terribly indecisive on the bootleg as well. LeGarrette Blount would also have not have been my choice for those goalline carries.

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, the Bucs just got an unsportsmanlike on a Saints field-goal attempt because they were shifting around trying to get the Saints to false start. So in an effort to turn a 51-yard field goal into a 56-yard field goal, they gave Drew Brees a whole new set of downs. Seriously, Greg Schiano? That boy's not right.

Mike Kurtz: The Buccaneers had one minute, at New Orleans' 26-yard line. They have two shots at the end zone, a completion is short of the sticks, then they sit around, running the clock down to about 20 seconds. They convert on the next play, but only have 17 seconds left to get a touchdown. Jackson very nearly gets it with five seconds left, but his heels are out. Kind of a debacle.

Cleveland Browns 13 at Indianapolis Colts 17

Vince Verhei: Cleveland has a third-and-1 down 17-13 at the Indy 40 late in the fourth quarter. A deep pass to Josh Gordon should have been a touchdown, but Gordon dropped it. Then on fourth-and-1, needing a touchdown, INSIDE INDY TERRITORY, they punt the ball away. Camera cuts to new owner Jimmy Haslam, who is throwing a colossal tantrum in his luxury box. He may pink-slip the entire organization before the day is through.

Browns force a three-and-out, by the way, but a punt and fair catch gives them the ball at their own 31 with four minutes and change to go.

Matt Waldman: Funny, Gordon made a nice catch earlier for a 33-yard score and makes it look effortless. Rookie ups and downs for a player that is talent-wise the team's best receiver. He caught what Little has had for weeks. Travis Benjamin and Gordon might be the best talents on the team's depth chart.

I have to see this tantrum. (See it!)

Vince Verhei: The Browns final drive ends on a fourth-and-6 play when Jerraud Powers breaks up a slant pass. I'm pretty sure that fourth-and-1 is a safer play than fourth-and-6.

Jacksonville Jaguars 23 at Oakland Raiders 26 (OT)

Vince Verhei: OK, I wasn't paying attention to the schedule until the late games started today. I can't tell you how irritated I am that there are only two late games, and one of them is Oakland-Jacksonville, both of which barely qualify as NFL teams.

Aaron Schatz: Blame the NLCS. No FOX games in the late slot today due to baseball.

Andy Benoit: When was the last time there were only TWO late-window games? I kinda like it ... less chaos, makes these games feel more important.

Tom Gower: Week 1 regularly features a light late slate thanks to CBS carrying the US Open.

Vince Verhei: You want Blaine Gabbert encapsulated in one play? On third-and-12, he throws a two-yard quick swing to Marcedes Lewis. The play gains zero after the catch, and Jacksonville punts.

Andy Benoit: Great double move by Darrius Heyward-Bey on Rashean Mathis for a 59-yard completion. Carson Palmer showed his old deep ball form.

Tyvon Branch bit on an underneath route and let Cecil Shorts run unimpeded long. Bad safety play.

Palmer's interception to Derek Cox was a reckless decision and throw. He tried to flip the ball backhanded while falling down. In the middle of the field.

Vince Verhei: Without Gabbert and Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jags' first four drives of the second half have totaled 16 plays for seven yards. And yet they've added a pair of field goals after starting in Oakland territory twice.

Andy Benoit: Jags had less than 70 yards of offense after Gabbert left the game.

J.J. Cooper: When you lose a guy like Gabbert how can you expect an offense to recover?

Rivers McCown: Luckily Gene Smith spent that third-round pick on a punter. No way that offense needed any additional reinforcement.

Tom Gower: Offensive line was certainly a bigger need, and a recurring issue that became even more serious when guard Uche Nwaneri went out early today.

Vince Verhei: The Raiders were actually very conservative at the end of regulation. The first two plays of their last drive were both runs, and they only threw the ball after they picked up a first down. Sebastian Janikowski tried a 64-yarder at the end to win it and came up short. I can't fault Oakland for that strategy though. Barring a kick return or turnover, no way the Jaguars were going to score again at that point.

New York Jets 26 at New England Patriots 29

Vince Verhei: Did Phil Simms just say that the Jets' choice to defer meant Tom Brady wouldn't get a chance at a late drive? He does know that teams alternate possessions in this game, right?

Ben Muth: Donald Thomas (starting for an injured Logan Mankins) starts blocking the linebacker, then tries to come off on the defensive tackle on a stunt. He ends up blocking neither, and the pressure forces Brady to throw it away on first down.

Vince Verhei: More New England sloppiness: Pats go three-and-out on their first drive. There is confusion on the punt team, and somebody calls timeout to avoid a penalty. Because it's MUCH better to punt on fourth-and-9 than fourth-and-14. Bill Belichick teams never used to make these kind of mistakes.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, wait, it gets better. The Pats get caught with Brandon Deaderick running off the field on third-and-2 from the 4. Problem: He's the 11th guy. He realizes it, turns around, and gets in position in time for Tim Tebow to gain three. Then three Pats go off, and one comes on the field... then another comes on the field... wait, where's the third guy? Where's the third guy?

Yes, the Jets just scored a touchdown with 10 Pats on the field.

Andy, this is the kind of thing you love in the Pats-Jets game. Pats are using 3-tight end personnel on this drive, but out of an empty-back look.

Andy Benoit: Pats three-tight end personnel comes with a mild asterisk, though, considering two of those tight ends are better receivers than 80 percent of NFL wideouts (and 100 percent of Jets wideouts). But yeah, love when teams control the game through use of specific personnel.

Mike Kurtz: Mark Sanchez throws an incredibly ugly lame duck interception from around the Patriots' 40, despite Shonn Greene standing wide open with no other player within 20 yards as the outlet. What is wrong with this guy? Seriously.

Aaron Schatz: Pats get caught in one of their weird zones where nobody in the press box is sure what on earth they're trying to do, and Alfonzo Dennard lets the receiver go past him but Tavon Wilson doesn't come over to pick him up until super late. So it sure was nice of Sanchez to underthrow his receiver by six or seven yards and hand the Pats a pick on what should have been an easy touchdown.

Sean McCormick: Hill was open had Sanchez thrown it in a timely manner. That said, the ball should have gone to Greene.

Aaron Schatz: Not just a timely manner, but a "five yards further, actually in the end zone" manner.

Danny Tuccitto: On that Sanchez interception you guys just mentioned, I get that he was late throwing the ball, but MY GOD the ball hung in the air forever. And it looked like he put every last ounce of effort into it. So what gives? Is there a 40 mile per hour wind at Gillette today? (Just got back into town 15 minutes ago from a wedding, watching game at a sports bar with no sound.) Is his arm strength *that* bad? Did he bet on New England?

Sean McCormick: It's almost as if the ball slipped out of Sanchez's hand. He still could have hit Hill, late as the throw was, had he put some heat on the rifle.

Aaron Schatz: Major disagreement at Gillette at halftime. Some of us think the Pats should be up by like three scores and are leaving points all over the field. Others think the Jets seem to be totally in control and are a couple of stupid mistakes away from a lead.

Hmmmm ... we may all be correct.

Vince Verhei: It is kind of funny. I'm watching it thinking New England is dominating, but if you take away special teams, the Jets are actually winning on offense and defense. (It's 16-10 in the third quarter, with seven of New England's points coming on a kickoff return.)

If I have a third-and-1 inside the 10, I like a Tebow run a lot more than a Sanchez-to-Chaz Schilens slant route. Tony Sparano disagrees, and the Jets get a field goal instead of a go-ahead touchdown.

Aaron Schatz: We need to sit the TV announcers all down and explain to them how the new automatic challenge rules work, because they keep announcing that coach such-and-such has thrown a challenge flag when coach such-and-such has done no such thing, and then everyone on Twitter wants to know where the unsportsmanlike penalty is. This happened with Pete Carroll last week, if I remember correctly, and happened with Belichick today.

By the way, the Pats avoided having to start Nate "the rugby guy" Ebner at safety by moving Devin McCourty back there, like in last year's playoffs. That's also why we're actually seeing Ras-I Dowling on the field in nickel situations.

Danny Tuccitto: Soooo ... the Patriots take a lead into the fourth quarter again. Hope you're not having Week 6 flashbacks, Aaron.

Aaron Schatz: The Jets have Jeremy Kerley open on a corner route at will, to the point where you wonder why they aren't using it more.

Jets are taking a ton of time off the clock in the fourth quarter, which is hugely important when you are losing by 10.

Andy Benoit: On Sanchez's touchdown to Dustin Keller, it looked like he was throwing to Kerley and missed perfectly. Not saying he absolutely was looking for Kerley ... but I can't imagine he'd try to fit the ball into such a tight back window like that.

Danny Tuccitto: After the Jets touchdown to make it 23-20, guess I can put to bed my question about Sanchez's wounded duck earlier. That touchdown pass had contrails. For whoever it was supposed to be aimed at.

Aaron Schatz: Pats get ball with 5:40 left. Brandon Lloyd gets called for an iffy push-off pass interference that is no different from something Stephen Hill did on previous drive (neither was really worthy of a flag) and every Patriots fan sees his heart drop through his chest. They're going to punt the ball back and let the Jets take the lead. Amazing.

Vince Verhei: Sanchez takes a 10-yard sack on third down, severely hurting the Jets' odds of making a go-ahead field goal. Highlights of this game should be accompanied by the Bulk & Skull from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. At least Nick Folk bailed him out by hitting the 43-yarder.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots drive down the field for Stephen Gostkowski's game-tying last-second field goal looked surprisingly easy. We'll have to see what happens here in overtime.

Danny Tuccitto: Love the first bullet point on CBS' Powerpoint slide of the overtime rules: "Coin flip decides possession." Somewhere, Marty Mornhinweg and Phil Luckett just simultaneously flipped a bird at the television.

Aaron Schatz: A back shoulder throw to Aaron Hernandez on the outside is the wrong throw to try to make when you desperately need a third-and-long in overtime. They get lucky when an official calls a somewhat questionable pass interference on Kyle Wilson.

So what happens when they get into the same situation a minute late? SAME DAMN PLAY. This time, no DPI, no conversion. Gostkowski hits a 48-yard field goal. Now they have to stop the Jets offense from scoring a touchdown. Uh... good luck with that.

J.J. Cooper: I had to put the kids to bed so I am late writing this, but could the Jets have shown less faith in Sanchez on their final drive of regulation? They get the gift fumble recovery and have the ball with 2:01 remaining. With the two-minute warning and three Patriots timeouts, if the Jets get a first down they can pretty much line up for the game-winning field goal as time runs out. But if they don't get a first down, they know they will give the Pats the ball back with plenty of time. So what do they do? Run the ball up the middle twice and then run a very safe West Coast tight end drag with a rollout that still results in a sack. Hello overtime.

Mike Kurtz: Only the Jets could get the ball at the two-minute warning at their opponent's 20-yard line with the game tied and lose in overtime.

Andy Benoit: Sanchez and Kerley connected several times for crucial passes outside the numbers to the right side of the field. That’s a key thing you have to defend in New York’s offense.

Aaron Schatz: It's almost like the Pats had no idea that their weak-ass zones would leave that open.

The Pats win and get relief, but Houston fans should feel a lot better about their Super Bowl chances, and Denver fans should feel a bit better, after watching how Baltimore and New England played today.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Cincinnati Bengals 17

Rivers McCown: Cedric Peerman just scored. I'm awaiting your opus, Mr. Waldman.

Matt Waldman: I'm waiting for 100 yards.

Ben Muth: Ben Roethlisberger just avoided Geno Atkins on a sack and Collinsworth called it "posterizing him." I haven't bought a poster in a while, but I don't remember avoiding sacks being used as the primary photos of choice for quarterbacks.

Rivers McCown: Mike Wallace and Greg Little must have switched hands for today's games.

Ben Muth: On the double pass from Brown, Baron Batch looked like a drunk guy trying to catch a set of keys dropped from a fourth story window.

Aaron Schatz: Hey, kids! Just got home, what did I miss?

Mike Kurtz: Steelers offensive line: pretty good. Steelers defensive line: putrid. Bet you didn't expect that!

Rivers McCown: Not that it wound up mattering, but Marvin Lewis deciding to use two timeouts (one to initially stop the clock) to challenge that Wallace catch was utterly silly. You're basically hoping that the refs bail you out there on a play that was way too close to call.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 22 Oct 2012

201 comments, Last at 24 Oct 2012, 5:54pm by Guido Merkens


by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:05am

"Highlights of this game should be accompanied by the Bulk & Skull from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. "

I left the word "theme" out of this passage. You can enjoy that little ditty here.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:13am

Watching the jets pats for most of the game, the jets did a great job in coverage. They got pressure sparsely against Brady, but their coverage down the field was good and they made plenty of tackles for no gain. This, in my opinion, is the most effective way to defend the pats. Its the way denver use to defend them in the old days, bait brady into easy throws then stop them for no gain. He throws alot but it limits the damage. It worked for a while, or so I thought. Then the final drive before OT. The jets do three man rushes and brady finds guys wide open in the middle of the field for big gains. The patriots basically get a field goal and to ot we go. the jets again opened with three man rushes and got burned before finally choosing to blitz and stop ne.

The o line of the pats does a great job not getting blown back at the point of attack. The interior of the o line really holds their blocks well and really does a good job getting guys in the ground. Its a reall unsung part of the pats offense. Ever since 2006, I've waited for the pats machine to fall off to regression and it still hasn't. I wondered if it were moss related, but it survived that. I wondered if its welker, or gronk, or hernandez related, but I don't think it is. The easy answer is to say brady, but i think the o line's consistency is a big reason and probably, outside of the qb, the single most important part of why the pats offense is as successful as it is.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:31pm

It's worth mentioning that the Pats played backups at both guard positions yesterday. With both starting guards out and both starting safeties out, it's really not that surprising that they had to claw and scratch out a win.

What I think this game showed is that the Jets need a better QB. I mean, most of us already knew that, but I didn't see many blitzes out of the Pats, and none until the last couple of Jets' drives. So Sanchez got to face one of the worst pass defenses in history missing two starters and using a four-man rush to very little avail. A starting NFL QB just has to be better.

by Marko :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:47am

"Would love to know how many times there's been a declined safety-by-penalty in the past 20 years."

The only situations I can think of that would make sense are (1) where the play resulted in a defensive TD, (2) where the play resulted in a turnover that would have given the defense the ball deep in the red zone, or (3) at the very end of a game on a third down play where the team on defense would rather force the opponent to punt from inside their own 5 yard line than have a safety because that team needed a TD or a field goal and the gain of two points wouldn't be worth the loss of field position due to a free kick from the 20. Of course, in the latter situation, the team on offense could then take an intentional safety on fourth down, like Bill Belichick smartly chose to do a few years ago.

by theosu :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:17am

Lewis' failure wasn't challenging the Wallace catch, it was letting almost 25 seconds run off before challenging it. In the heat of the moment I can sympathize with a coach for failing to consider 'if I lose this challenge I will still stop the clock, so heave!' but that was the correct play. It was close and important enough to challenge, as long as that challenge occurred immediately. The delay resulted in going to the two minute warning after second down (assuming they had stopped the Steelers) instead of after third.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:28am

Good solid quality win for Raiders vs lice opponent. Making up ground on Brobkcs now. Should get division lead by Thanksgiving.

Patriots. Not clearly better than Jets. Dolphins okay.

Ravens with touch injuries. Bengsals, Sreerlers mediocre.

Texams real deal.

Chargers are Norverated.

So when look at whole conference have to think playoff teams going to be Pates, Ravens, Texabs, Raiders and two other teams

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:00am

Raiderjoe, not to offended the holiest of holy's, but why isn't it a safe assumption that the broncos won't win the division? hardest part of their schedule is behind them now and they have clearly the best qb in the division? does thou doubtest the greatness of P F M?

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:27am

Broncos great chance yo make playoffd buy Raiders going to hsvrv z lot to day zo

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:45am

Wow! RJ says something nice about the Broncos and his phone goes into full spell check meltdown!

by Athelas :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:13am

Could someone please translate the end of RJ's post for me?

by Kurt :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:26am

the Raiders are going to have a lot to say about it (where "zo" = "about it").

by Athelas :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:35am

AH! thank you. I'm usually good at translation, but that one, not so much.

by jw124164 :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:41am

Norverated should be made an official dictionary word.

by Mike W :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:29am

Raiderjoe laughs at Google Translate.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:43am

Occam thinks "zo" = "too"

by apbadogs :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:40am

Why is it Raiderjoe can't type a comment without numerous misspellings? Bad phone?

by Tim R :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:41am

Good Sierra Nevada?

by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:41am

Just interrupted / distracted whole hallway laughing at RJ's post. "Touch" injuries, Norverated, there is clear genious at work here.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:34am

How about the Brobkcs?

What really made me laugh out loud was "playoff teams going to be Pates, Ravens, Texabs, Raiders and two other teams".

And yet the Raiders are only one game behind first place, so who knows.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by BJR :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:35am

I enjoyed 'lice opponent' (presumably instead of 'nice') when talking about the Jaguars.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:11pm

Sorry about posting. Meant live as in jaguar live opponent. Came toplay unlike when Ravrnz went to Houston and stunk up building

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:36pm

Never change, Raiderjoe! And please, TWEET MORE

by houle (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:51pm

wait a minute there is a readierjoe twitter....holy shit i'ma gonna have to get a twitter accoutn now so i can follow that

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:25pm

I think its @Raiderjoe_FO but following him seems to have broken my twitter app.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:29pm

Well, eventually, when the NFL hits 137 teams in 96 markets, they will run out of mammal names and will logically start adopting insect names, right? Watch out for the swarming defense of the Louisville Lice! They're small, but fast, like the Fayetteville Fleas. I think all this emphasis on alpha predator mammals like lions, tigers, bears (oh my) is way overdone. And when all the macho human team names like raiders and buccaneers are used up, we'll have the Albuquerque Accountants against the Eerie Economists. Talk about a bloodbath.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:00pm

Usually I get a few chuckles from RJ's typing ("lice" opponent? Better shower thoroughly after that game!). But the Chargers term Norverated above is just genius.

Though of course, I don't think anyone Norverates Norv himself. Been hearing about he's on the bubble for years, yet somehow he's still there.

Thanks, RJ, for a great new term.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:26am

Per ESPN: Jason Garrett invited Joe Gibbs to "speak to Cowboys players at the team's chapel service Saturday night. Gibbs' message was that everyone makes mistakes, but what's important is how you handle adversity."

EXCUSE ME Joe? Is that kind of thing normal to do?

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:26pm

Gibbs then added, "Hopefully, you will all make mistakes and face a lot of adversity."

by dbt :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:32am

I don't think I've seen many things that make me cringe more than Blaine Gabbert coming out to call the OT coin toss in sweats. What, one of the guys still in uniform couldn't do it?

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:46am

Because Gabbert was having such a lucky day?

by Dave In Tucson (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:11am

The Packers have tried a surprise onside kick at least once every season going back to the 2010 GB@NE SNF game. I think the NYG@GB playoff game last year is the only time the Packers have not recovered.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:16am

They recovered one in the 2009 playoff game at Arizona, too.

by Steve J. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:38am

Two things on New York/Washington:

1. It appears that Eli Manning may have a bit of a blind spot in that short left zone. He got baited by a similar fake blitz against the Bucs a few weeks ago and threw an equally bad interception.

2. Fewell may have called a Cover-0 blitz under the assumption that the high-risk/high-reward approach was more likely to give enough time to Eli Manning and the offense if they gave up the touchdown. If they had forced Washington to go more slowly the result may well have been the same, but the Giants' offense would have had less time to score. Considering how little success the Giants' defense had in generating non-turnover stops, I can see some logic for playing for big defensive plays.

by andrewm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:42am

We were typing at the same time! Twinsies!

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:44am

Agreed on both comments. That does seem to be a weird blind spot for Eli. I did think that the worst Eli game I have seen in a while. He seemed to be off on his touch all day - as opposed to last week when he was gunning it into tight coverage with precision.

Also puzzling on the late TD that on the Cover-0 Moss was being covered by Jayron freakin Hosely. Seems odd.

by JasonK :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:04pm

Well, the Giants have 3 reasonably competent CBs healthy right now, and Jayron is the 3rd of them. In general, he has played rather well, and he has the athletic profile you look for in a guy to match up with a Santana-Moss-type slot WR.

On that particular play, Hosely failed to re-direct Moss off the line and allowed Moss the outside release he was looking for, but after that point Hosely played adequate trail technique. Not great, but not awful, either. In that circumstance, a perfect pass is a TD, and anything less is incomplete. Griffin threw a perfect pass.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:45am

2. sounds like an insane way to coach a defense. Defensive coaches are not rewarded for playing the matador defense.

by andrewm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:41am

On the Giants/Redskins-

I too wondered why the Giants were blitzing and playing man so much on the second-to-last Redskins drive (the one where Washington took the lead (briefly)). I kinda assumed that Coughlin didn't trust his defense to get a stop, so ordered up high risk/high reward strategy in order to either (a) get a turnover or (b) let them score quickly, with enough time left to score themselves. Less humiliating than just letting them score by standing up...

by Zieg (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:09am

So why was Mike Williams inelligible on the last play of the Tampa game? He'd left the field of play but the announcers seemed to think he just needed to establish himself in the field of play again before catching the ball. He came back in, took several steps and ran around a bit. I'm not sure what more would be required other than giving written notice to an official and the defense. What did he need to do there to become elligible again? Or were the sportscasters idiots and once out there was no way he could recover?

by Travis :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:36am

An eligible receiver can't re-establish and make a normal legal catch once he goes out-of-bounds. The only things re-establishing does in this case are (1) allowing Williams to catch the pass so long as another player touched it first and (2) taking away the penalty for illegal touching (it just becomes an incompletion).

Had Williams illegally been forced out-of-bounds, resulting in an illegal contact flag, he could have re-established and made a legal catch.

The smartest thing Williams could have done once he went out-of-bounds would have been to take himself out of the play so Freeman could throw elsewhere.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:46am

I think some of the confusion comes from the appearance of the receiver being forced out by the defense.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:19pm

Right, except that was legal because Freeman was out of the pocket.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:37am

Thanks for the great explanation! I knew the basics of the rule, but not all the details.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Marko :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:37pm

There was a long discussion about all of this in yesterday's game discussion thread. And from seeing the replay today, it is clear that the QB was out of the pocket before the receiver was pushed out of the back of the end zone. So it was not illegal contact and the call was correct.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:12am

When in doubt, trust the "announcers are idiots" option. He could not be the first to touch the ball after being out of bounds. The ball needed to touch any other player first before he caught it.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:55am

Right. It seemed the announcing crew was confusing the WR out of bounds rule with the kick off coverage out of bounds rule.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:21am

The Packers rookie defensive back Hayward had his 4th interception in the last 3 games. The one against the Rams the receiver had a half step or so on him but the ball was a bit underthrown and Hayward looked at just the right time and nabbed the INT.

He also tackles well. He looks to have mediocre speed so I am guessing that was why he didn't go in the first round because boy everything else about the player looks to be great. Ball awareness. Good use of hands. Good tackler. Can change direction quickly. Just a fine looking defender

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:45am

The worry on him coming out of college was that he pretty much only played zone, and scouts were worried about him playing man and how he would handle NFL receivers who could execute good double moves (he was beat by one of these in the St. Louis game). Maybe the speed thing is the whole worry about the man coverage that scouts had.

Interestingly, two of his ints prior to St. Louis came in man coverage (though he was playing from the slot), the other was catching a tip. The St. Louis in was also a man coverage play.

I agree though, he looks good and he should have a good career. As a fan I'm even more encouraged that before the shoulder injury House was beating him (and Shields) out too. I think they have a succession plan for their corners now. Williams (29) should still have a few more good years. House and Hayward are both 23 and both look like they can be NFL starters. Shields (24) has a lot of starts under his belt already and while he has his issues, his speed is something that won't go away for awhile, and if he is mostly just playing man his coverage tends to be good.

I feel pretty good about their safeties too. Burnett (23) is already a solid starter. McMillian (23) has played solid. Jennings (24) is just a guy he'll stick around a few years as a sub until they get someone better. But all 3 of them have good enough coverage skills that they can play slot coverage in dime/quarter coverages and could be pressed into service as nickle corner if injuries dictated it and keep Jarret Bush off the field on defense (he's fine on special teams).

A lot of youth that appear to have solid starter or better ceilings. I'm happy about this.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:53pm

Well with the news coming out this afternoon that Woodson is out 4-8 weeks with a broken collarbone those succession plans are going to be accelerated.

I think they can mostly replace his play at this stage, though with multiple players, but he was a leader on the field (I don't see this affecting his off the field leadership much) and that could cause some issues. I've seen him call stuff out that caused players to shift and make adjustments. I'm not sure they can easily replace that. Burnett is getting better, but field leadership was clearly one of his weaknesses last season, if Jennings or McMillian already had that they would be playing more already.

So I think we'll see McMillian and Burnett as the base defense safeties and they will likely stay on the field in the nickel too. Hayward who played the other slot in dime when Woodson moved up into it will be the primary slot guy and depending on how quickly Shields gets back (might be back at practice this week) it will be Shields or House playing outside. It's not that Hayward can't, it's just he has proven to be a stud in the slot so far and House in his first game back was playing about as well as Shields and Williams have been outside.

Dime if Shields isn't healthy worries me a bit, they might be tempted to put Jarret Bush in the slot, but I'm thinking if Shields is still down they might do Burnett and Jennings at safety and put McMillian in one slot with Hayward in the other and House/Williams outside (I think they put that on the field for a couple plays vs St. Louis after Woodson got hurt). McMillian did hit a 4.42 at the combine, he's fast, and he was mostly a coverage safety. If Shields is healthy it's simply just House and Hayward in the slot with Shiedls/Williams outside. They can still do their quarters D (that wasn't so good vs Houston) if they want with Jennings added in there.

I'm actually more worried about special teams. Hayward and McMillian were both heavy players. They reduced Hayward in St. Louis, they don't want House playing them much with the shoulder injury, and if they will likely want to reduce McMillian and possibly Jennings if they are getting more snaps. Maybe that other safety, Richardson who played at Vandy with Hayward, will no longer be sitting on the inactive list every week.

So yeah I'm even more glad the succession plan for Woodson was in place, though I think they wanted to be able to draft another safety and maybe another corner before they let him go completely. The Driver and Jennings succession plans are working pretty well. If Jennings doesn't want to come back next year I think they would be fine with just drafting another WR. Hoping they do spend another high pick on an offensive lineman (a 2nd round guard, I still think Sherrod when healthy will be alright and Bulaga is better than he has played this year, Newhouse is fine as a back-up, I'm worried about Lang and Sitton has rebounded after a down year last year), and I'm not going to complain if a good pass rusher is there earlier and they take him, I think Perry is going to be a 10 sack type player next year with more time to adjust to the position but having another player of that type in case Matthews gets hurt, would be awesome.

I'm just happy that a lot of the draft moves this year worked out and they are back in the position of being able to draft for a succession plan. You still can't miss on picks, it will catch up to eventually, but being able to let a player like Jennings or Woodson walk away and still feel OK helps with the salary cap games and of course at sustaining excellence.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:34am

Somebody's gotta tell Christian Ponder that if the idea is to have him and the team be the '73 Dolphins for Halloween, Griese only had 8 ints all year.

Well, they have 5 wins, which exceeds my season projection for them, but if they don't learn how to execute the forward pass, my other projection, that they could lose the last 8 games of the year, might still come true.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:36am

Peterson continues to look good. That's a positive.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:33am

Hey, they have quickly rebuilt their offensive line into a physical, solid, unit, which is an impressive accomplishment. Unfortunately, with the notable exception of Stubbleface's 2009 performance, they have not been decent at what the current rules of the game are designed to promote, for about eight years.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:45am

They played the game that way today, but Ponder once again couldn't manage 5 yard passes.

It was exasperating to watch them keep trying to pass in the second half when it became obvious Ponder had lost his confidence completely, and, on top of that Peterson was pounding them. After Peterson started the 2nd half with two runs of 4 and 22. Then they passed 5 of the next 6 plays and passed unsuccessfully on the next 4 first downs.

On the plus side the defence looks good. Winfield is playing as well as I've ever seen him and watching good secondary play as a whole is so refreshing. They didn't blitz once in the entire game, so that helps, but Smith, Robinson and Cook look competent. Smith looks to me like he's going to be quite good actually.

Peterson - wow. He says he's not even fully up to speed yet.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:55am

Winfield may have had the best long career of any player I've ever seen who has only made, if I remember correctly, one Pro Bowl.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:45am

That's what happens when you're a corner who is great at tackling and bad at catching. If Winfield had won a Super Bowl early in his career (like, for instance, Ronde Barber), he could have coasted through Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl. I'm not saying that Barber isn't deserving, but Winfield is probably about as good of a corner as Barber, who has made 5 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro teams.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:57am

Winfield's first year with the Vikings, 2004, was the best unrecognized performance by a corner I've ever seen. He was unbelievable, forcing fumbles, tackling guys in the open field short of the stick, breaking up passes, etc.. He almost single handedly won a game at Lambeau that the Pack ended up winning in ot, if I remember correctly. He kept the the Vikings in a playoff game in Philly by forcing fumbles.

I do see that he has made three Pro Bowls, though, so he hasn't been completely overlooked. Of course, that didn't happen until he had already been deserving for years, the Pro Bowl being what it is.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:46am

As a Michigan fan, I've never seen a corner shut down a running game to his side of the field like Winfield did when he was at Ohio State. He seemed to blow up every run outside of the tackle on his side of the field during one of the UM-OSU games that I watched.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:00pm

Not Charles Woodson? Because Woodson up until about a year ago was fantastic at run support.

by Roch Bear :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:20pm

May be right, but Winfield gets so many style points for his wondrous execution of the drop to the ground, let the blocker fly over, then pop up and tackle move.

by Guido Merkens :: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 5:54pm

Maybe I was more frustrated when Michigan's runs got blown up than when Michigan blew up an opponent's runs. But yes, Woodson was great at every facet of the game, and overall is the best collegiate defender I've ever seen.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 1:43am

So, he's basically Charles Tillman lite, is what you're saying?

- Alvaro

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

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:55am

Tillman short rather than Tillman lite.

by Marko :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:48pm

Charles Tillman also has had a great career but made only one Pro Bowl so far (last season). If you picked a current team based on this criteria, Tillman and Winfield could be the CBs.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 1:45am

Charles Tillman is the greatest ball-puncher in NFL history. Aside from all the fumbles he gets, the ball-punch prevented a Clavin Johnson TD in the end-zone tonight. He is an underrated player.

- Alvaro

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

by dryheat :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:30am

Ebenezer Ekuban would like to submit Logan Mankins for your consideration.

by nuclearbdgr :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 1:40pm

Badger fans would submit Eric Decker from his time at Minnesota

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:15pm

Peterson's unbelieveable. I definitely understand when he says he's not 100% because there have been a handful of runs that would've gone to the end zone pre-injury, but I love the way he's using what he has right now.

Did you see Peterson's tackle after the first INT? He leveled the guy and nearly stripped the ball. The dude plays with the heart of a lion.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:35am

A lot of folks around Minneapolis are complaining that Ponder's game has gone into the tank since he started dating some ESPN reporter named Samantha Steele

Previously not a fan of ESPN but I am now. WAY TO GO ESPN! AWESOME BABY!!!!

by apbadogs :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:43am

Have you SEEN Samantha Steele? I'd spend more time with her than in the film room, that's for sure.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:47am

People have been saying that kind of thing about Brady/Bundchen for years.

"A person is smart. People are dumb..." - Agent K

by Marko :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:34pm

That's why Ponder's teammates have started calling him Christian Steele.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:38am

I suspect the Vikings surprising season will come crashing down to earth in the second half of the season; mostly because of a very tough schedule but also because their QB is not good enough. For the first 4 games Ponder had zero ints, but that was largely great fortune due to some very easy drops by their opponents. In the year and half I've been watching him what is clear is that he will regularly be very inaccurate on very simple passes. And when he misses, he misses high and soft - a terrible combination.

I read entering Sunday, Ponder's average pass was traveling a league-low 5.6 yards past the line of scrimmage. The next-lowest average was the 7.1 yards of Houston's Matt Schaub (ESPN - Seifert). I doubt that figure changed much yesterday. They are asking him to do about as little as you can ask a QB to do in this day and age and he is showing that even that is too much for him.

He's young, but I don't see the accuracy required to play the position. I also don't see good instincts in the pocket. He doesn't step up and when he feels pressure his instinct is to run right. Which I can understand because when he rolls left he throws some of the worst passes you can imagine.

by Malene, copenhagen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:53am

To be fair, I think Phil Simms point was that by deferring, you wouldn't risk Brady getting a late drive to end the half AND THEN getting the ball to start the 3rdQ, for a potential 14 point swing.

It's still slightly moronic, but not quite on that "I don't understand anything"-level.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:48am

Yes, Simms said exactly that.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:58am

That's exactly what he was saying. I don't think it's moronic but Simms does make some strange calls during games. So many as to lose the benifit of the doubt much of the time. Simms is hit or miss for me much of the time. I think he's a much better studio analyst than a color commentator.

by Athelas :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:17am

That may be what he meant, but not what he said.
And that comment was bookmarked by Nantz at the end of the game when he proclaimed the Jets the biggest underdog winners of the day.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:21am

Yeah, that was really bizarre. He said something to that effect TWICE before correcting himself and that definitely seemed after someone yelled in his ear from the booth.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:01am

That is precisely what he said. Simms explained it straight-up right before the Jets kicked off and I just confirmed it on Rewind. Complete with the bits about playing a prolific offense on the road. VV just happened to hear it wrong from what I can tell. Easy to do when one is trying to watch mutliple games at once. It's all good.

Nantz also didn't call the Jets underdog winners. He said, "If this holds up, which we expect it will, is gonna be a stunner. Biggest underdog of the day in the league." Then after the ref confirms the fumble the fireworks go off he accidentally calls the Jets the team standing alone at the top of the AFC East. And them he corrects himself right away after he realized when he said.

by DGL :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:46am

Quoth Vince, "If I gave you an even-money bet on Houston's odds of making it to (not necessarily winning) the Super Bowl, which way would you bet? They're 6-1."

To which Aaron responded, "If the odds really are 6-1 to win the AFC (not necessarily the Super Bowl), even our playoff odds formula thinks that is a really great bet."

I believe Vince's "6-1" was referring to the Texans' record, not to odds of them making the Super Bowl.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:58am

I think you're right. The give-away seems to be "even-money bet".

by DavidL :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:01pm

I read it as "you'd probably take an even-money bet for the Texans to win the AFC, but SURPRISE! They're actually getting 6-1 odds."

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:13pm

The Texans are 5-1 to win the Super Bowl.


So yeah, if you can find anybody giving 6-1 to make the Super Bowl, you should jump on it.

by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:47am

So what was the basis for the misconduct penalty against Tampa Bay on the field goal? Presnap movement on a defense is illegal?

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:00am

No, but trying to cause a false-start is. I didn't see the play, so I don't know whether or not the penalty was justified.

by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:04am

Isn't the issue of debating intent beyond a referee's scope? Pre-snap motion on a field goal could just as easily be intended to confuse blocking assignments in an attempt to get a blocked kick. It could let them overload one side without giving the Saints time to run a fake to the open side... I didn't see the play but I'm really interested in the justification.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:27pm

Looks like the player who was lined up in what would normally be the MLB position was shouting calls that sounded like a snap count. It's illegal for the defense to simulate snap counts, which is interpreted as trying to draw the offense into a false start.

In other words, if you're a defensive player, you can't yell "hutt!" or similar things pre-snap.

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

by DL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:52am

Am I the only one who keeps seeing the same (I think) prevent defense at the end of each and all Patriots games that allows even the worst of QBs gain significant yardage and get to within single digits of the Pats, regardless of point margin at the beginning?

It's been the same thing with the Pats up and the other team willing to keep going instead of just waiting for the game to end.

Is it selection bias, seeing this only when the other team is successful at coming back on their own merit, or is this a real situation with the Patriots 2-minute defense?

by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:22am

No, its definitely part of the problem.

For some reason, the Patriots seem to have gone to a really conservative defense the last couple of years in these situations, and it just doesn't work. It also seems like, the last couple of years, their offense goes into marty-ball mode when they have the ball and a small lead. Its infuriating.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:40am

I dunno. To me, the Patriots are awful at pass defense in any situation, and it just is they aren't any better in these situations. They don't have a late and close defense problem, just a bad defense problem.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:01pm

The problem is not a decision to use a prevent defense. It's much worse than that. The problem is that they have a secondary that regularly blows assignments, leaving people wide open.
At some point, BB is going to have to find better people to coach this secondary. I know there's no Revis back there, but they should be able to play much better than they have been playing.

The reason you see this problem displayed more often during the last few minutes of the game is because opposing coaches are not always that clever. For example, the Jets continued to use the running game when Shonn Greene was getting 3.4 yards/carry, even while the Pats' secondary was hemorrhaging yardage left and right. Had the Jets used a more focused passing attack, they should have won this game in regulation.

Case in point: the first play call after the fumble recovery at the Pats' 18 was a direct snap to Tebow. What is Tebow going to do? Tebow isn't in the game to pass. Everybody knows that he's not going to pass there. He flops forward for 2 yards and a down has been wasted.

Then the Jets did another running play for 1 yard. By the time they called a passing play, it was already 3rd and long.

You wouldn't see Denver do that kind of nonsense. Or Green Bay or New Orleans or any team with a QB that they trusted.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:27pm

The Jets first drive, Sanchez came out and threw a couple of deep passes, and they put up a quick TD. Then he threw the wounded hang-glider interception, and it seemed like the Jets offensive staff just lost all confidence asking him to throw it deep. I would throw it deep against the Pats on EVERY play. They don't have the horses to either rush the QB consistently, or cover the WR long enough...

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:01pm

I said the same thing after the Seahawks game. Rotate your WRs in and out of the game and throw deep every play. I think the liklihood of getting 1 completion or a defensive penalty out of the three downs is rather high. Approaching 100%, in fact.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:41pm

Why rotate the receivers? It's not like they have to run hard to get open against the Patriot secondary. They might be able to do it in place of mid-week practice or something...

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 2:00am

Hmmm... this gets me thinking. Why wouldn't you do that against ANY team? Tire the corners out, keep rotating WRs. That should lead to some very definite missmatches.

- Alvaro

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

by Nathan :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:38pm

You know it's bad when, as a Pats fan, a DB commits a defensive holding penalty and you think "well at least they didn't give up an enormous completion or not turn to play the ball and give up a 40 yard PI penalty.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:55am

I saw something pretty slick in the Wisconsin/Minnesota college game and wondered if it could be used in the NFL on field goal attempts.

A Wisconsin defender timed the snap perfectly and jumped over the Minnesota offensive line without touching anyone and drove on the kicker causing the ball to be pushed right and the kick missed.

I know the NFL has made different things illegal to proect the center, etc

Wouldn't this be viable in the NFL? He didn't use anyone on his team to launch himself. He just flat out jumped over the line and hit teh ground running at the kicker

It was pretty awesome

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:47am

LaVar Arrington used to do this in college (the video below is on a short-yardage run, but I believe he also blocked at least one field goal by jumping over the line):

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:59am

The difference is that the Wisconsin player (Borland?) jumped like a frog and landed on his feet and hit the ground running toward the kicker. I have seen lots of players just dive over a line. This was two legs up near his chest and then back down again.

I hope I am explaining this effectively

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:56pm

Watch the Rams - Packers, Crosby's last field goal. #83 (Brian Quick) of the Rams does this, hops right over Goode, takes a step and jumps again as the kick goes off.

Edit: Was able to get a few screen caps off Rewind.


and the other one doesn't want to upload, but that shows him hoping over pretty clearly.

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:03pm

I think probably you don't usually see it because 1) jump number one is too soon to block anything and 2) by the time the defender can gather themselves to either jump against or move towards the kicker, the kick is away.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:14pm

I hear you. Borland made it work. But then he makes a lot of unexpected things work like being able to rush from the DE position despite being 5'11" and 230 lbs 3rd and long

That's just crazy

by Jim W. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:34pm

Dallas has actually blocked field goals doing that a couple of times in the past several years. Anthony Spencer jumped over the long snapper and blocked the attempt against Seattle last year; Jay Ratliff did the same thing against Kansas City in 2009.

by Jake77 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 9:58am

On the Griffin 4th and 10, while it was a great play, it also looked like a classic “get yourself into trouble and get yourself out of trouble” play. There was no pressure and it looked like the was a really clean pocket for Griffin to step into, with JPP double teamed and walled off to Griffin’s left, and Osi walled off to his right. Instead, Griffin tried to go to the outside and run it up the sideline but that just got JPP back into the play, and JPP beat Griffin to the edge, which prompted the last bit of improvisation by Griffin.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:14am

"J.J., I'm sure the tips had more value, because interceptions are more valuable than sacks. Then again, are the tipped interceptions 100 percent Watt? He has to share the recognition with the defensive backs, right?"

Almost nothing any player does is 100% them. What is the point of this comment? You always need to keep the team nature of the sport foremost in mind when analyzing it. it is not baseball.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:27am

Regarding Watt he has been researching via film and then discussing with the rest of the defense on 'how' he should tip passes to increase the chances of an interception.

I don't know if this is for real or players just talking but given the results to date it looks to be plausible.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:15am

He has to be talking out of his fundament doesn't he?

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:47am

I don't know. Tipping a pass is raising a hand and then having the QB throw it there. Not sure what kind of control you'd have there. I'm going with "random" on tips turning into interceptions unless he can keep it going for a long, long time.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by BJR :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:19pm

That has to be nonsense.

The commentators in the late game last night noted that Pittsburgh had 0 tipped passes on the season coming into the game, whereas Houston seem to be tipping 4 or 5 a game (it isn't just Watt - Connor Barwin also had a couple of tipped passes yesterday). It got me to thinking how much of tipping passes is down to emphasis in coaching. To become good at it obviously requires the athletic ability to leap high, and the instinct to anticipate the timing of the pass, but it seems to me like the kind of technical thing that most NFL calibre defensive linemen should be proficient at if they practice enough.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:28pm

Watt tipped a lot of passes while at Wisconsin when he wasn't getting into the backfield. He has done this since he got into the lineup


by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:15pm

Tipping passes is sustainable and coachable, perhaps trying to tip them upwards could be similar but anything more than that is probably not possible.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:30am

The logical trade that will never happen is Matt Flynn to any team that really needs a QB. He's stuck behind Wilson for at least through next year and he's better than the starters in Jax and Arizona.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:47am

Well, it's logical except for the contract part. Seattle paid a lot of money to a guy with close to a zero track record and couldn't beat out a mid-round rookie, despite being given every opportunity to do so. The Cardinals already have a guy like that at Quarterback. It would make a lot more sense to pick up a guy like Colt McCoy or Shaun Hill, who can at least be unproven at a reasonable price.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:50pm

First, that rookie has turned out to be pretty good and would have been drafted much higher if he were even Drew Brees height. It's similar to saying Drew Bledsoe must have sucked after his injury because he lost his job to a sixth round pick. I'm not sure Flynn would be better unless the Seattle WRs steal some of the Chargers stick'em.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:11pm

Yes. The rookie has turned out to be "pretty good". He was drafted to be a backup-level QB, which right now, he probably is. The fact that Flynn was so thoroughly unimpressive in the Pre-season that a backup-level QB severely outperformed him is telling.

Drew Bledsoe DID suck after his injury, first half of 2002 with Buffalo notwithstanding. Brady didn't really have anything to do with that, but back to the comparison, Bledsoe had about 8 seasons of quarterbacking, including several pro-bowls, on his resume that convinced Buffalo to take on his contract. Flynn had, if I recall correctly, 2 starts heading into free agency. It's going to be very hard to find a team that would take on that contract, unless they had a similar one to unload at a position of dire need for Seattle.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:44pm

And it's also telling that a coach who had seen Flynn every day in practice (Philbin) didn't make more of an effort to sign him.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:43pm

I don't know if Flynn wanted to go to the Dolphins that much either. It's not like Jeff Ireland brings anything resembling sanity or stability to the franchise.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:31am

I noted earlier that I think the Viking season is going to come crashing down to earth....in looking at their remaining schedule I would make them the underdog 7 of their remaining 9 games..including the last 6 in a row:

at chic
at gb
at ST L
at Hous

for the Vikings to have any chance they will have to win 2 of their next 3 (tb, @sea, det) - even they would still have to have 2 or 3 upset wins to get into the playoffs.

Don't see that happening.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:48am

Oh, they had better beat Tampa on Thursday, if they want to play meaningful games in weeks 16 and 17. I said in July that losing 8 straight to finish the season was a strong possibility, and if Ponder doesn't get better than whht he has shown the past couple weeks, it might even be a stronger possibility.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:27am

you know what is really scary about Ponder to me - I had the same feeling in my belly the last two weeks when he goes back to pass as I did when Tarvaris Jackson was the QB...every time he went back to pass in those two games I thought to myself, "something bad is going to happen".

I was interested to see how Ponder's stats stacked up against Jackson's first two seasons:

Ponder - 59.8%, 5.52 yds/att, 3.9%TD, 3.4%int, 6.47 yds per rush
Jackson - 58.1%, 5.67 yds/att, 2.7%TD, 4.0%int, 4.88 yds per rush

Ponder is actually better thankfully and his stats come part way through season 2 whereas Jackson's are mostly from a full second season.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:31pm

The most likely scenario in which the Vikings make the playoffs (which isn't that likely of a scenario to begin with), to me:

W TB (home) [ 6-2]
L SEA (away) [ 6-3]
W DET (home) [ 7-3]
L CHI (away) [ 7-4]
L GB (away) [ 7-5]
W CHI (home) [ 8-5] Cutler turnover machine
W STL (away) [ 9-5]
W HOU (away) [10-5] Texans resting starters?
L GB (home) [10-6]

Some of those wins will be considerably more difficult for the Vikings to obtain than others. It's not too far-fetched to envision a week 17 win with Rodgers getting flustered by noise and pass rush in a loud dome, but it's even easier to see a loss in Houston or St Louis or hosting the Bears.

Even with an optimistic 10-6 record, they may still need help in a strong conference in order to not miss a wildcard spot.

I won't seriously get any hopes up for a playoff appearance unless the Vikes can get a win in Seattle, Chicago or Green Bay.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:34pm

Rodgers and his receivers love domes because of the sure footing. Noise is always a concern but the bigger one is that Marshal Newhouse his left tackle isn't very good and Belaga the right tackle is having a down year. Hence, Rodgers has been sacked two dozen times already

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:08pm

You're correct - the dome turf is conducive to speed. This helps receivers, but also pass rushers.

The Packers would probably need to be down by 17 with Rodgers taking a couple of big shots for their offense to get rattled, but it's not unprecedented.

by Roch Bear :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:35pm

Helps receivers. (presumably helps their speed and their cutting) Well, yes but it helps the defense too. It is probably an old FO result, but I don't know if fast receivers do better on fast or slow fields.

A simplistic model is to suppose a fast field is simply a shrunken slow field (measuring 'distance' in number of seconds to get across and such. On that model, the faster receiver would be helped by the slow (i.e, big) field, while the agile WR would be helped (relative to the fast WR) by the fast (i.e, small) field.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:24pm

I think 9-7, with no more than 5 losses in conference probably snags a Wild Card; too many good teams in the NFC, who will beknocking each other off. Like I said, however, they better beat the Bucs Thursday to give themselves a decent chance to get to nine. Along with remembering that Nixon isn't President.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:15pm

I think it will take 10-6 because NFC teams are pounding the AFC.

by Marko :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:31pm

9-7 may not be good enough for a wild card spot. Barring injuries, I gotta think that the Bears and Packers both finish with 10+ wins, so one of those teams will grab one wild card spot. It's hard to see a wild card out of the South unless the Saints get on a roll.

So that leaves the competition as the second place teams in the East and West. I assume the Giants and 49ers win those divisions. Arizona has already started to crash and burn, so toss them out. I don't think the Rams are good enough. So that leaves Seattle and the other 3 NFC East teams. Seattle might be good enough to get to 9 or 10 wins. (How pissed would you be if Seattle ends up getting that last wild card spot because of that "win" over Green Bay?) Who knows what you will get the rest of the year from the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins? One of them could get to 9 or 10 wins. Of course, the Redskins would hold the tiebreaker over the Vikings if it's just the two of them tied.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:56pm

Marko, you basically said what I was thinking. At first I thought the idea of a 9-7 wild card in the NFC sounded ridiculous this year, but besides the NFC North (I would be shocked if either of the Bears/Packers failed to get to 10 wins), what division seems sure to produce more than one 10-game winner? As you said, it seems like the Seahawks, Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins could potentially get there, and beyond that, I don't see it happening. I'm also not confident to say that I think any of those teams *will* win 10, just that they seem more likely than anyone else.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:16pm

It's not so much the odds of those teams winning 10 games, but rather the collective odds of one of them winning 10 games, which suddenly becomes pretty good.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:27pm

10-win teams:

last spot:

There are a lot of games between teams in the second group. As Dean says, the likelihood is that at least one of them will do so.

I think it'd be more likely to see a 9-win division winner than a 9-win wild card. But all four divisions have at least one 5-win team already. One thing seems certain: we won't have a 7-win team in the playoffs this year. :)

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:18am

After some less than dominant wins by the teams at the top of Aaron's DVOA pyramid it seems that the Bears could reach the summit if they deliver a beating in tonight's battle of the top-predators in Chicago.

by ppabich :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:29pm

I would say the Packers (#2) won pretty convincingly. The game was 30-13 with 11 seconds left in the game.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:00pm

Fair enough, I think I forgot about Houston curb stomping the Ravens too. Just ignore me, insomnia can be a bitch.

by Ima Pseudonym (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:18am

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Hole in Zone is the Patriot's best defensive back. Sure he allows a lot of catches, but so do the named players. At least Hole in Zone never gets PI or holding called against him, and sometimes his receiver does drop the pass. Plus, his cap charge is practically nothing.

Hope he doesn't show the same year-to-year regression that other CBs have in NE, though I guess they could just find a new one every year.

by nat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:49am

HiZ covers a lot more territory for the Patriots than he has done elsewhere. The man has awesome range, and a nose for the ball, too. It's like he's in three places at once, every single play.

by Purds :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:51pm

BB has a way of getting the best out of all of his players, and HiZ is falling right into that mode: low pay, great production.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:08pm

I suspect this comment is from one of the Pats' coaches, who has intentionally been over-using HiZ in recent weeks (years).

by Dan Slotman :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:08pm


by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:20am

"A deep pass to Josh Gordon should have been a touchdown, but Gordon dropped it. Then on fourth-and-1, needing a touchdown, INSIDE INDY TERRITORY, they punt the ball away. Camera cuts to new owner Jimmy Haslam, who is throwing a colossal tantrum in his luxury box. He may pink-slip the entire organization before the day is through.
Funny, Gordon made a nice catch earlier for a 33-yard score and makes it look effortless. Rookie ups and downs for a player that is talent-wise the team's best receiver."

He moved from Shade to looking directly into the sun about .1 sec before the ball got there, it was about 5ft away when he made the transition. I doubt many people make that catch, and it wasn't a "drop" by anymore than it would have been a drop if it hit the sky camera and fell incomplete.

The punt from the 40 on the other hand was inexcusable and I would fire the coaching staff immediately if I were the owner.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:52am

What would be the advantage of firing the coaching staff immediately? The Browns wouldn't go anywhere this season even if zombie Vince Lombardi were their interim coach. If Shurmur were fired, either Brad Childress or Dick Jauron would coach the rest of the season, and I wouldn't want either of those guys being the long-term coach of the team (as they might have a case to be if the team came up with a few surprising wins down the stretch, like the Chiefs last year with Crennel).

Unless a team has absolutely quit on its coach effort-wise, like the Bucs last year, or they have a chance to make the playoffs with a shake-up, I just don't get what the harm is in letting a coach finish out the year.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:01pm

The advantage would be bringing in a new coaching staff who you are going to keep, and getting rid of the ones you aren't going t keep. You team is going no where, so you might as well give your players as much time as possible with your future staff.

You really think Childress or Jauron couldn't do everything Shumur is doing? What added value is he providing?

I guess an easier thing to say is I would just never hire a coach who would do something like that. There would be a game day decision making test, and if you didn't pass it you who need to describe how you are going to delegate that authority to someone who can pass it.

Each year you see coaches costing their teams 30-40 pts in game day decision making. That is like the value of an all-pro player. I realize their job involves a lot more than that, but it is one of the highest leverage portions of their job and the mistakes are just inexcusable.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:04pm

I think that the problem is that every coach who you would want to bring in is under contract. Who is available that you would want?

Ride out the season with Shurmur and then throw an absurd amount of money at Cowher or hire the next up-and-comer amongst the NFL assistants and the NCAA. Either way, they're not coming in mid-season.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:59pm

Fair enough, but at the same time you might be sending a clear message to future interviewees.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:19am

What's that message exactly? That they should demand guaranteed contracts with huge buy-out clauses? Or that they're better off staying as far away from Cleveland as possible?
I can understand the frustration, but firing a coach midseason to threaten future job applicants can only be counter-productive. Would you rather be Tom Coughlin's assistant or head coach of the Browns for 7 games?

by Deelron :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:27pm

I wish Dez Bryant would stop having rookie ups and downs.

In all seriousness it seems that many receivers drop balls like that, rookie or not (if they are even capable of stretching the field).

by Nathan :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:21pm

Everyone was slobbing RG3's knob so hard after the game I just decided to check it out on NFL Rewind. Check out this bizarro pistol formation they lined up on the 2nd play of their first series. They motioned the TE inside then motioned the WR back as the I back, then gave it to the fullback on a read option. Love it.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:11pm

It was very disconcerting to watch as a fan of the opponent. They were using formations like that all day. Four guys in the backfield, all of whom were legit threats to carry the ball. On top of that they ran at least 2 end arounds after fakes - NYG were at a loss at how to defend every possible threat.

I will say that in the second half, the Giants did tamp down somewhat on the run yardage -(they didn't exactly stop it, but they contained it better) by hitting everyone as they were coming out of the backfield, whether that person had the ball or not.

But I was incredibly impressed by the play design and execution (fumbles aside) for WAS.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 12:36pm

I'm glad to see Tony Sparano getting (kind of) called out here for his pathetic play-calling at the end of regulation last night. One first down wins it, and you run it into the line twice, then have your QB roll out on third down to close off half the field. Incidents of 'prevent offence' frustrates me each and every week in the NFL, but this was particularly egregious given the opposition; they who have possibly the best offence, and possibly the worst defensive secondary in the league.

by jsa (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:14pm

People criticize teams for "running it into the line," as if the OC wanted the run to go for no gain. Jets had had some success running up the middle, both in that game and recent weeks. On the previous drive McKnight carried twice up the middle, for 13 yards and 5 yards. I don't think running the ball is necessarily playing for a FG

Better criticism of Sparano's play calling is after running effectively and repeatedly picking up 3rd and 1 on the ground, going shotgun on 3rd and 1 from the Pats 2 and throwing a slant to Schillens. Jets continue to call plays like this with little success. When you're running the ball well, on 3rd and short at the very least make the D worry about the run.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:03pm

In that particular situation, where one first down is needed to win the game, it was a play call that stood very little chance of success. Regardless of what play-call they are expecting the Patriots are obliged to defend the run up the middle anyway, as it as it takes away the Jets' most straightforward way of achieving their aim.

Doing exactly what the defence is prepared for and expects you to do is generally not a good way to achieve your aim, unless you have outstanding talent - which the Jets obviously don't.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:49pm

There were two awful aspects to that play call:

1.) Putting Tebow in. He's no better than McKnight/Greene on a 1st and 10 run, and takes away the threat of the pass.

2.) The clock was stopping either way. The 2-minute warning was coming. That is the perfect time to throw, because the largest risk of an incomplete (stopping the clock) is gone.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:09pm

Yes, that was the 3rd and 1.9 (after the previous 3rd and 1 foot).
Given Shonn Greene's unmatched success on 3rd and 1 (hadn't failed all season with a reasonable number of attempts), I was baffled at that call. I know it was a very long "1 yard" but the Jets had been making that pickup every time.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:23pm

Rivers McCown: Remember Tandon Doss? He's back! (In pog form.)

I am still chuckling at that an hour later, thank you. (Especially since the cultural references in TWIQ make me feel even older than I am, so it was gratifying to understand one for once. Not sure any of these kids know what a pog is (much less ALF).)

by Saint (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:30pm

Uh does Tom Gower not realize that DVOA has the 49ers ranked as the 4th best offense in the NFL?

by supershredder :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:38pm

Hey can someone please help me find team defense stats with most/number of big plays allowed (20-40yds)? Thanks

by Marko :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:54pm

Based on the comments by Patriots fans over the past few weeks, I would suggest going to Patriots.com or ESPNBoston.

by Travis :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:01pm

They exist on NFL.com, buried here.

by supershredder :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:01pm

Oh didn't even try there! Thank you kindly

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:38pm

Is anyone else getting irritated by the growing trend where commentators call players and coaches by their first names? Last night Collingsworth kept calling Roethlisberger 'Ben' and Tim Ryan constantly calls Jim Harbaugh 'Jimmy'. I'm pretty sure the do it to create the impression that they're really chummy with the teams but it's bloody annoying.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:46pm

Huh. I don't have a problem with a broadcaster calling Peyton "Peyton" or Eli "Eli". Those are their names. I had no clue it irked some people.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:44pm

I think Peyton and Eli are called by their first names mostly to distinguish them from each other; I don't ever recall Peyton being called by his first name until Eli came into the league.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 3:48pm

I just figure they say 'Ben' only because 'Roethlisberger' is a mouthful when you're trying to get a point in between plays. At least Collinsworth didn't call him 'Big Ben', which really is annoying.

by supershredder :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:33pm

I just hate Chris Collinsworth.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:22am


by Sigh (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:36pm

Perhaps they should say "Mister" before everyone's last name, a la the New York Times. Seriously, if given the choice between saying a 4 syllable last-name or a 1-syllable first name, which would you choose?

by Led :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:48pm

The one that doesn't have a cloying sense of faux intimacy.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:51pm

Well, they could always go for faux subservience and say Mr Peyton or Mr Cameron.

by Candace Bergen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:52pm

I have noticed that, yes, and it really is annoying. I'm more irritated by the growing need to refer to every player by his initials (RG3, JPP, etc ). The young man's name is Robert Griffin, call him that. I'm not concerned about his marketing needs. It's all beginning to sound stupid, as though people can only talk in 'text speak'. The occasional abbreviation is fine, but it seems as though it's half the league. Considering the dopes on ESPN insist on spitting out 'National Football League' everytime when NFL would suffice, it seems as though this is some sort of reverse adjustment.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:56pm

However, his dad's name is also Robert Griffin, and so is is grandfather. Which means you should refer to him as Robert Griffin the 3rd. Which is mouthful, thus RG3.

by dryheat :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:19pm

Because if an announcer were simply call him "Griffin" you might mistakenly think he's talking about Roberts 1 or 2?

My favorite development is Titus Young going by "Young Sr" this year...in case you think that's his (presumed) infant son also named Titus lined up at flanker.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:24pm

Most of the time announcers do refer to him as Griffin. Most of the RG3 stuff comes from ESPN or pregame shows. Although, simply having more ways to refer to a person usually is a boon to announcers. It's just a nickname like Joe Cool, or Primetime.

by Sam P (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:29pm

The Redskins actually have two Griffins on the roster, RG3 and Cedric (a CB).

by dryheat :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:22am

Do you suppose that the TV viewer needs to be told which one is taking snaps under center and which one is trying to cover receivers? If so, I suppose an announcer would be justified in calling Robert RG3 or RG, or Robert Griffin.

I don't remember this issue when Tom and Kyle Brady played together, and they were on the same side of the ball.

by Dean :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:56am

Neither of them, to my knowledge, are public figures. If the conversation pertains to his family, then the suffix is necessary. Otherwise, what Robert Griffin are we going to mistake him for?

by peterplaysbass :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 4:08pm

Rex Grossman's dad's name is also Rex Grossman. And his grandfather.

Why wasn't he known as RG3 back when he was the Bears' starter?

Then what would we call Griffin?

by dryheat :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:29pm

RGIII, most likely.

by glickmania :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 5:57am

It's usually because they do know the player or coach from what I can tell as opposed to trying to convince anyone of anything. The more prominent guys (or perhaps all of them) that call the game also meet with the teams in the days leading up to the game. Plenty of them also have relationships off the field, too. First name basis type things are easy to come by in those situations not to mention the points made by other commenters about shorter names being easier to deal with in general.

And no, it doesn't bother me but can come off a little odd at times.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 12:01pm

I know that they meet with them but the audience doesn't so to us, the people the commentary is for, Tom Brady is 'Brady' not 'Tommy'. It's even worse with the local radio commentary, where everyone does it in an attempt to seem like they're rooting for the home team, which for me is inexcusable, commentary should always be neutral.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 12:19pm

Biased commentary is often fun, so I disagree.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 10:40pm

Local radio commentators are often hired by the team, and therefore I absolutely think they should be biased for the team. Maybe not complete apologists, but at least fans of the team. National television hosts shouldn't be, I agree, but if the local guys weren't rooting for the home team, it just wouldn't be right.

by dbt :: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 6:07am

Fan of the team and hoping for success, yes. Misleading people about the reality of what they are seeing bugs me, especially when it comes to sandlot level complaining about officiating.

by tuluse :: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 12:00pm

Bad announcing is bad announcing whether biased or not.

The Bears radio announcers actually is a good example of good biased announcers. Yes they want the Bears to win, and actively root for them during the game. However, they are pretty fair about what is actually happening, the "rooting" comes down to tone not content. They also spend the majority of the time talking about the Bears, but they bring a depth of knowledge you'll never hear from TV announcers. By only calling one team they do increase their understanding of it.

by Dean :: Wed, 10/24/2012 - 1:24pm

To find the opposite extreme, check out (or better yet, don't) Sonny and Sam down in DC. Truly awful. I was listening to NFL Network Radio this past Sunday and they did a "live look in." The officials threw a penalty flag. One of them (Jurgensen?) said, "aw, man, don't be holding." Turned out it wasn't holding. The call was a leg whip. Obviously, since I'm listening to the radio, I can't see the call to know if it's a good call or not, but immediately, both men observed what a terrible call it was. Then they saw a replay and admitted that the leg whip in question actually happened, but added, "but it's a shame they threw the flag. Then again, you know you have to deal with this when you play New York."

This is only the latest example, but I've noticed over the years that its fairly normal for their level of homerism. They really are awful.

I've heard lots of legitimate compliants about the amount if media coverage of New York, but this isn't the NBA.

by Sigh (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 3:47pm

This is what's great about FO: the entire Texans-Ravens discussion given over to talk about the Patriots Super Bowl chances. Thanks Aaron! Job well done as always.

P.S. to Matt Waldman. Paulsen of the Redskins is a TE from UCLA. The TE named Paulson from Oregon is a Steelers' rookie. Nice try though! Maybe you should figure out what his DVOA was on those blocks....

by Dean :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:58am

His name is Logan Paulson. His name is Logan Paulson. His name is Logan Paulson.

by MJK :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 4:58pm

Didn't see the game, just the highlight, but I had a question on the Bucs' last gasp attempt. They threw a TD to a WR in the back of the endzone. However, it was no good because he had stepped (actually, was pushed) out of bounds before catching it (in bounds).

Remind me: I know if you go out of bounds voluntarily, you can't be the first to touch the ball. But does the rule say that if you are pushed out of bounds, you can't catch the ball legally? I thought there was a distinction...

Of course, the more to the point question is: if the receiver couldn't legally catch the ball because he was pushed out of bounds after running down the field, why wasn't there a flag thrown because a receiver was, you know, PUSHED OUT OF BOUNDS after running down the field. Isn't that the definition of illegal contact?

by Marko :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:07pm

This was all discussed extensively above (start with comment 15) and during yesterday's game discussion. The bottom line is the call was correct because there's no illegal contact once the QB leaves the pocket. That's why the DB pushed the WR out of bounds. He knew the rule and, in fact, immediately pointed at the WR once he caught the ball because he knew that it was a penalty for illegal touching.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:12pm

It wasn't illegal contact because Freeman was out of the pocket.

A receiver can only reestablish if he is forced out due to a penalty (ie illegal contact, but also holding, clipping, or illegal hands to the face would work).

by MJK :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 6:00pm

Thanks both (and everyone above) for the clarification. The one highlight I saw didn't point out that Freeman was out of the pocket when Williams was pushed out.

by MJK :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:01pm

Here's my take on the Pats:

Offense is good, but gets too cute in critical situations (McDaniels hubris perhaps part of this). Biggest issue I have with it is that Brady no longer takes check downs and dump offs anymore...if the designed recievers aren't open, he throws the ball away rather than dump off to the wide open RB who dribbled out into the flat. They never used to do that...don't know what's changed. Woodhead is at least as good as Faulk was...

Run defense is very good. Short pass defense is average to tolerable. Deep pass defense is almost the worse I've ever seen (approaching Earthwind Moreland/Duane Starks levels)...probalby about 40% on the lack of pass rush, and 60% on the lack of athleticism of the DB's or possibly the scheme.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:42pm

I know they've always been short centric when it comes to the passing game, but its getting a bit ridiculous how the pats approach third and long. I've seen draws, a ton of screens and hb flare outs, and really, just dink and dunk passes even though the yardage calls for a longer play. I'm not sure why they are doing this but its baffling.

Brady's really starting to duck a hell of a lot more than he ever did. The ducking has directly resulted in him taking his eyes of the field. This was something Brady almost never did.

Finally- the pats production outside the numbers has been awful. In their last 3 games against denver, seattle, and now the jets, I counted exactly 2 completed passes over 10 yards to a receiver on the outside. Again, I know brady and this offense have always been an attack the middle of the field, but it can't possibly be this skewed.

by Candace Bergen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:03pm

I also wonder if Brandon Lloyd simply isn't that good. Somebody mentioned that he may be hurt, and he well may be, but aside from one really good year in Denver, he's mostly been a journeyman for his career. It may just be Chad Johnson, pt. 2.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:26pm

He was also pretty good for Chicago for 5 games in 2008.

Clearly, his powers are only unlocked when playing with Kyle Orton.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:31pm

I would have been more impressed with Lloyd if he'd caught one of the several long passes that went his way yesterday. (I mean, aside from the last one where he was flagged for pushing off.)

by MJK :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 7:47pm

Of course, I would have been more impressed with the officials if they had also flagged Hill for pushing off more egregiously on the preceding drive, or if they had flagged neither receiver for pushing off. But that's just me. I kind of like consistency in my officiating...

by RickD :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 8:13pm

Yeah, that's one of those fouls that's called very inconsistently.

by Nathan :: Mon, 10/22/2012 - 10:28pm

Here's what I've seen of Brandon Lloyd this year. I've seen a guy getting open downfield. I've seen a guy come an inch or two short of a couple long touchdowns that would make this entire conversation a non-issue. I've seen him make several spectacular catches, including catches that demonstrate timing with Brady on back shoulder throws outside the numbers that I haven't seen anyone bring to the Pats in a long time. I've seen a couple unfortunate drops, mostly in the last 2 games. I've seen Brady continue to look to him in key situations, unlike Galloway / Ochocinco who were basically blacklisted out of the offense completely... I don't see a guy who Brady has lost confidence in. I saw him lay out to make a spectacular catch (out of bounds in the Seahawks game) with the game on the line. I see Brady continue to try to stretch the field with him, but they just haven't quite connected yet this year. I see a guy who has 400 yards in 7 games as the 4th option in the passing game. I am really am not worried about Brandon Lloyd... I think the fact that Brady continues to target him on deep shots is a good thing, eventually they'll hit a couple. They have come really, really close a few times.

My main issue with the McD offense has always been, and continues to be, the red zone.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 12:35am

Heres a question for Tuluse, is this the best bears defense of the last 10 years? Is it better than that 05 iteration(ignoring the steve smith godmode playoff game)?

That 05 one had urlacher and briggs in their primes, tommy harris who was arguably as disruptive as JJ watt is now, combined with vasher and tilman and a healthy mike brown. The ends were ogunleye, alex brown, and a surprisingly effective mark anderson providing a nice rotation.

By comparison, the 2012 version has the same linebackers, slower and older but still effective, but their d line is incredibly deep with melton, idonije, and peppers, along with okoye and mclellan. Corners are probably better depth wise too, with jennings, tillman, and hayden. Either Safety i think is definitely not as good as Mike brown was.

So for me, verdict appears to be a tradeoff between elite linebackers and a safety versus greater depth at corner and dline. Not sure, but I still might favor the 05 version- especially when you factor in the cover your eyes trainwreck that was the 05 bears offense(that season probably aged thomas jones more than 4 other normal seasons would have)

by Marko :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 12:48am

You are confusing 2005 and 2006 somewhat. Anderson was a rookie in 2006. That was the team that made the Super Bowl. The 2005 team is the team that lost to the Panthers and Steve Smith in the playoffs. The 2006 defense was very good, but Mike Brown and Tommie Harris were injured during the season and missed the playoffs.

The question of whether this defense is better than those iterations is being discussed a lot in the Chicago media. The general consensus is this defense is better. It is certainly more opportunistic than that defense (at least so far) in creating so many turnovers. That defense created turnovers, too, but not as many as this defense. The defensive line depth is incredible this year. In addition to those you listed, Corey Wootton and Stephen Paea are making big plays. They are able to rotate a lot and keep everyone fresh.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 12:51am

I definitely feel like this lineup is deeper, but that one had more stars it feels like. Elite players at both linebacker spots, d tackle, and safety(arguably)

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:33am

I would agree with that. The 05 and 06 defenses were driven by the stars. While this one is more about every single starter and several backups being at worst average NFL starters.

As for what defense is the best, well that's a tricky question. 2006 before Tommie Harris and Mike Brown got hurt, was the best defense Lovie Smith has fielded in my mind. However, that defense was only together for about 6 games. Mike Brown got hurt in the Cardinals game, and Tommie Harris a few weeks later. The 2005 defense was the scrappiest. They really fought all out for every single yard, and couldn't let up for the entire game because the offense was so bad.

I think this year's defense if it stays healthy will be the best over the whole year, but i don't think it's peaks are quite as high as 2006.

by erniecohen :: Tue, 10/23/2012 - 1:43pm

I'm surprised that nobody pointed out the Jets clock mismanagement on passing on third down at the end of regulation instead of on first. On first down with 2:01 remaining, they put in Tebow, which basically telegraphs a run play, whereas this was the one down where an incomplete pass doesn't cost the a NE timeout.