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The Cardinals had a winning record with backup quarterbacks last year thanks in large part to their high-profile edge rusher who terrorized opposing offenses. We look at defeat leaders for every position, as well as overall leaders over the past few seasons.

29 Dec 2014

Audibles at the Line: Week 17

compiled by Andrew Potter

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 turn 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 Steelers 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.

Cleveland Browns 10 at Baltimore Ravens 20

Aaron Schatz: Holy crap did the Ravens just blow Cover-3. I can't quite tell who it was on the video. It looked like a safety but it also looked like it was No. 21, which would be Lardarius Webb. And he clearly had the back right third and he came forward to cover a tight end instead and Taylor Gabriel was running wide-open with NOBODY around him. I mean, wow.

And then suddenly I'm watching another game, but CBS comes in and Boomer Esiason shows the highlight and goes "maybe the Browns have found a quarterback after all." OK, sure, he was under duress, but it didn't take a lot of complicated reading coverage to throw to a guy with nobody within ten yards of him.

Vince Verhei: It doesn't say much about Connor Shaw, but it says tons about Mike Pettine. With his whole team in turmoil and nothing to play for, with a practice squad quarterback, he's got his crew outplaying a more talented club that has much higher stakes in this game.

And on that note, can you imagine if Baltimore misses the playoffs because of back-to-back losses to Case Keenum and Connor Shaw? I know they have secondary injuries, but somebody has to be fired for that, don't they?

Rob Weintraub: Let's not put too much stock on Boomer saying that -- it's just something these guys say to get into the highlight. He doesn't really mean it (I hope), though there is a surprisingly vocal "Play Shaw!" contingent in Cleveland.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, the Ravens have secondary injuries, but that's not why they have scored 6 points on Cleveland midway through the fourth quarter today. That's 20 points against Jacksonville, 13 against Houston, and now six (so far) against Cleveland in their final three games. The Baltimore offense has totally imploded in December.

Dallas Cowboys 44 at Washington Redskins 17

Aaron Schatz: DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant are truly great players, and they both broke big Dallas records today. But we do have to consider the development of overall offensive levels in the NFL when we compare them to players like Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, not to mention Tony Dorsett or Drew Pearson.

When Emmitt Smith set the previous all-time record for rushing yards for the Cowboys, the league as a whole averaged 3.92 yards per carry. This year, the league as a whole averaged 4.15 yards per carry.

Dez Bryant... well, he's just a touchdown machine. He's special. But if you look at the Dallas all-time top receiving touchdown seasons, you'll see that seven of the 11 seasons of 11-plus touchdowns have come since 2006, including the Terrell Owens 15-touchdown year that was the record before Bryant broke it today.

Scott Kacsmar: A good chunk of that 4.15 vs. 3.92 difference is probably the increase in athletic quarterbacks. I generally view rushing records on an even level unless we're talking about single-season records where games played are a factor. Something like Eric Dickerson's record compared to what O.J. Simpson did in 1973 in 14 games. So I think Murray beating out an Emmitt Smith record is very impressive. The Cowboys are basically modeling this year's team after those '90s teams.

Cian Fahey: The Cowboys are still playing Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray in the second half. I'm not sure what the motivation here is.

Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys know a secret; the refs in Green Bay will be specifically working things to make the Lions and Packers tie!

Indianapolis Colts 27 at Tennessee Titans 10

Cian Fahey: Much like Robert Griffin with sliding in previous seasons, someone needs to repeatedly drill Andrew Luck about ball security while in the grasp. He has had some bizarre moments this season that simply shouldn't have existed.

Pitching the ball to Trent Richardson in the hope that he can accelerate to get to the corner, and then turn around the corner for positive yardage, has to rank up there in the 'plays that make fans realize their coaches are morons' totem pole.

Tom Gower: The Titans are definitely trying -- they came out blitzing Andrew Luck a lot, and had some success against a makeshift Indianapolis offensive line (e.g., Jack Mewhort has kicked outside to right tackle and is starting for Gosder Cherilus, not that you'd know that from listening to CBS's F/G crew). On the other hand, they're still the Titans. Most offensive possessions are stalling out quickly, as they've failed on a number of reasonable third downs, and Luck has found plenty of open receivers, including an 80-yard gain down to the 1-yard line on a pass to Reggie Wayne in the middle of three Tennessee defenders.

Cian Fahey: Wayne looked like a wide receiver who was a game or two away from calling it a career on that 80-yard gain too, Tom.

Vince Verhei: The Titans, being the Titans, had lots of guys fall down in the secondary, and Reggie Wayne found himself with the ball and ten yards behind any Tennessee player. Two Titans were able to run him down and tackle him short of the goal line. In related news, Reggie Wayne is 36 years old.

New Orleans Saints 23 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Vince Verhei: The Saints are down 20-7 at halftime to the worst team in a terrible division, while the Buccaneers are playing themselves right out of the first overall draft pick next year. This is a striking condemnation of both teams, two horrible ways to end two horrible seasons.

Aaron Schatz: I'm having a ridiculously hard time tracking any single game for the purpose of Audibles right now. So much to track. And so much of it means nothing.

Also, I'm watching today with former Scramble writer Ian Dembsky, who is a Tampa Bay fan and is completely losing his mind every time Red Zone shows a highlight of the Bucs doing something good against New Orleans and blowing their shot to Suck for the Duck.

J.J. Watt's safety was fun but you haven't seen anything like Ian Dembsky celebrating Josh McCown getting tackled in the end zone by Junior Galette. TAMPA BAY IS ON THE OREGON TRAIL AND JOSH McCOWN HAS ALL THE DYSENTERY BABY!!!

Vince Verhei: "All the dysentery?" That explains, well, the overwhelming majority of McCown's career.

Philadelphia Eagles 34 at New York Giants 26

Vince Verhei: I'm pretty sure that the Giants are going to be my pick for new team in the playoffs in 2015. Eli Manning is Eli Manning, but Odell Beckham is amazing, Rueben Randle has been dominant today, and Victor Cruz is coming back next year. That could be as good a trio of targets as you'll find in the league.

Cian Fahey: Longevity is all that Odell Beckham needs to be considered one of the very best wide receivers in the NFL. From a skill set point of view, he simply has everything. I expected him to be an effective player from his first game this year because he showed a refined skill set in college, but nobody could have expected him to come in after those injuries and immediately be the best receiver in the NFL this season.

He may not actually be that, but with Calvin Johnson having a relatively quiet year, the discussion can actually be had. It's between Beckham and Dez Bryant for me. Both players have been phenomenal with their range of abilities and consistency throughout the season.

Aaron Schatz: Please, please, please, I am begging the gods of fate, do not let Odell Beckham be Michael Clayton. (The good news is that he's far more impressive from a technical point of view, so it sure seems much less likely that this year is a colossal fluke.)

Buffalo Bills 17 at New England Patriots 9

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots are definitely bringing a big dose of Week 17 silliness today, with an offense that seems to be mostly built around Brian Tyms and a dropped pass by Steve Maneri. The defense is playing mostly everyone, though, and looked awful on the first drive with Buffalo easily moving up the field for a touchdown.

The Bills just punted the ball on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots' 43-yard line early in the fourth quarter, up 17-9. The Patriots have allowed a league-worst 83 percent conversion rate on short-yardage runs this year. I realize this game doesn't matter, but isn't that even more reason to throw caution into the wind and have some freakin' balls?

Jacksonville Jaguars 17 at Houston Texans 23

Vince Verhei: The Jaguars asked Toby Gerhart to block J.J. Watt one-on-one on one play. The result was a sack-fumble. Toby Gerhart has not tried to block J.J. Watt one-on-one since.

Rob Weintraub: Meanwhile, no one wants the sixth seed in the AFC. The Jags show the Jets how to run a gadget play, with Blake Bortles catching a lateral and throwing across the field for a touchdown to give Jacksonville the lead in Houston. With San Diego and Baltimore taking the pipe, we could have the Chiefs pulling the inside straight for the postseason berth.

Vince Verhei: With Houston needing to win to save their season and clinging desperately to a four-point lead, J.J. Watt burns Luke Joeckel for a sack and a safety. It is so much fun watching great players do great things.

Andrew Healy: Haven't seen a minute of Jaguars-Texans, but Watt-for-MVP will have some serious momentum with that stat line. Three sacks, three hits, four TFLs. Not saying that case should happen, but if Aaron Rodgers has a very bad game, it's now in play. Watt posted the numbers he had to. And, yes, Watt is impossible-to-adequately-describe-in-words good.

Still, this would be crazy. Not only is Watt playing the wrong position for a good-not-great defense that will miss the playoffs, but 10 of his 20.5 sacks have come against Tennessee and Jacksonville. So many other arguments against Watt-for-MVP that it's hurting my head.

San Diego Chargers 7 at Kansas City Chiefs 19

Cian Fahey: Andy Reid has a very quarterback-friendly offense in Kansas City. It's no real surprise that Chase Daniel can replicate what Alex Smith has done all season, and that says more about Smith's lack of quality than it does Daniel's individual talent.

Vince Verhei: I don't know if any offense has asked less of its quarterback this season than Kansas City, and Chase Daniel has stepped into this incredibly friendly scheme and managed to not throw up all over himself. He's 13-of-17 at halftime with no picks and only one sack, but for just 117 yards. He did throw what was nearly the first touchdown to a Kansas City wide receiver this year, but Dwayne Bowe fumbled the ball at the goal line. Fortunately for Kansas City, Travis Kelce recovered the ball in the end zone for the score. Chiefs have that play plus three field goals (thanks in part to a DeAnthony Thomas 41-yard punt return) to lead 16-7 at half.

Meanwhile, Philip Rivers has dropped back to pass 10 times, with wildly erratic results. He has four completions for 93 yards (the big one a 44-yarder down the sideline to Eddie Royal), but he has been sacked three times and thrown a pick. The Chargers have been surprisingly run-heavy, but that's likely to change as they face a second-half deficit.

Scott Kacsmar: So it appears a 9-7 Houston team gets the tie-breaker over a 9-7 Kansas City team for the last AFC playoff spot. This bothers me a lot, because I don't think the system is designed to put the best teams forward. The Texans had a really soft schedule and their best wins will be Baltimore and Buffalo. The Chiefs played the West divisions and have wins over New England, Seattle, Miami, Buffalo and San Diego (twice if they close). I'm fine with head-to-head being the top tiebreaker, but that's not applicable here. Conference record and common games are the next tiebreakers while Strength of Victory is fourth. I feel like SOV might deserve to be second. Yes, you both have nine wins, but this team's nine wins are clearly better. You could even say Strength Of Schedule (fifth tiebreaker) deserves to be up there since that explains some of the losses as well.

Aaron Schatz: D.J. Fluker really did not want Justin Houston breaking the all-time sacks record. He gave him a nice big bear hug on what should have been San Diego's final play. I have no idea how the refs missed that holding call. The Chargers lose anyway, they weren't going to come back with two scores in under a minute.

New York Jets 37 at Miami Dolphins 24

Rob Weintraub: In the highly entertaining Jets-Dolphins game, Geno Smith hits Eric Decker on a long one to set up the Jets down deep. Then they run a gadget play that has Jeremy Kerley throwing it to Geno, and it kicks up off his foot, gets picked, and run back for a long touchdown. But the refs, apparently not in New York's plan to blow this game for the No. 3 draft pick, rule that the ball ticked the grass first, incomplete.

Detroit Lions 20 at Green Bay Packers 30

Andrew Healy: On a Lions' drive after an Eddie Lacy fumble early in the second quarter, Joique Bell has a couple of very nice runs and a couple of huge holes to run through. On the drive, Matthew Stafford is 0-for-5. The Lions get 52 yards on five runs, four of them by Bell, none shorter than 6 yards. Stafford had two atrocious throws on the drive, including on the fourth-and-10 from the Packers' 31-yard line, where he overthrew an open receiver when rolling right and with time to set his feet. Still, the Lions' came very close to scoring a tying touchdown when Stafford just missed Calvin Johnson on a deep post where it looked like Megatron maybe had a play on the ball.

Uh-oh. Aaron Rodgers looks like he might have pulled a hamstring. He still throws a touchdown pass (god, he's good), but oh boy. Hamstring would be the positive scenario.

Andrew Potter: He came into the game with a calf injury. He's aggravated that. Look at the way his foot hangs as he falls down -- that's usually because his calf's "popped." Hopefully not as bad as it looks, but I really don't expect him back today.

Andrew Healy: After a Lions' touchdown with about 30 seconds left in the first half (aided by a high-leverage roughing penalty against Brad Jones), Matt Flynn will get the chance to continue his domination of the Lions in season-ending games. His second-best game with at least 20 attempts is almost 3 yards per attempt worse than the 10.9 YPA he had in that game from 2011-12, so a repeat of the $26 million (kinda) game is possible but not likely.

The numbers from the first half are pretty surprising. The Packers have one offensive touchdown, but are averaging 8 yards per play, including 6.6 yards on 17 rushes against the Lions' historically good run defense. You would assume that would get harder in the second half if Rodgers can't come back.

Tom Gower: Packers up 21-14 and driving. Rodgers returns after a calf injury that I expected to keep him out of the second half. He doesn't seem to be moving like he normally does -- I don't think he's left the pocket to extend the play a single time yet -- but he's still moving the ball well, normally to the middle of the field. The Green Bay run game has also unexpectedly good today, in marked contrast to the earlier Lions game.

Detroit struggled a ton on offense in the first half, thanks in large part to Matt Stafford having a very Matt Stafford-esque performance where he can't hit the broad side of the ball, followed by a very Matt Stafford-esque drive at the end of the first half for a touchdown where he was spot on. It's Year 6, so I'm thinking he's a WYSIWYG and this is always what you're going to get at this point.

Andrew Healy: Flynn goes three-and-out on his first and only drive. Then Aaron Rodgers comes back in and leads the Packers to a touchdown that puts them up 21-14 with 3:33 left in the third quarter. He was accurate on the drive on his two throws for 42 yards despite not really stepping into either of them, as he limped around Willis Reed-style. He emerged from the tunnel Reed-style, too. Rodgers is now 9-of-9 for 153 yards since starting 0-for-3.

The Packers' offensive line has had a good day since the first quarter. They hold up on a Lions blitz on a third-and-3 near midfield. Eddie Lacy catches a little flip from Rodgers for the first down, but loses the ball as he's rolling on the ground. Jim Caldwell challenges the play, but Walt Anderson explained the rule as he made the original call. Since Lacy was on the ground, he was down when contact was made. I think you'd have to literally make contact with only the ball for it to be a fumble. They apparently were challenging that Lacy controlled the ball in the end, but there seemed to be no evidence at all that the ball was moving. Strange challenge that Caldwell stuck with even after it looked like Anderson tried to talk him out of it.

Stafford did the Jekyll-and-Hyde thing on the first two drives of the second half, too. Looked great on the touchdown drive, followed by a terrible throw and then a poor decision on a near pick on the subsequent three-and-out.

Don't want to get too critical, but I'd rather see Mike McCarthy go for it on fourth-and-6 from the Lions' 34-yard-line early fourth quarter up 21-14. Crosby's field goal amid the flurries is blocked. But the Lions decide to return the gift and Joique Bell gives up a fumble without contact on the very next play.

Rodgers is doing well despite the injury still, now 15-of-18 for 208 yards since the first quarter. Almost all of that has been short and over the middle. I'm not sure Rodgers even can throw deep, but the Lions have seemingly not adjusted to force him to try.

Aaron Schatz: Lions' offensive line has not had a good day. Garrett Reynolds replacing Larry Warford has been a bad thing.

St. Louis Rams 6 at Seattle Seahawks 20

Vince Verhei: Last week I talked about how fun it was to see Seattle's stars make all the big plays. Well, this week they're making all the mistakes. To wit:

  • Russell Wilson breaks every rule in the quarterback book, throwing late, across his body, to the middle of the field, while getting hit. The ball, of course, is intercepted, robbing Seattle of a chance to try a field goal.
  • Marshawn Lynch fumbles the ball away while fighting for yards on a screen pass. The Rams recover and get a field goal on the drive.
  • Wilson fumbles on a read-option exchange on third-and-short. Seahawks fall on the ball, but it costs them a chance to convert, and on the next play they punt from near midfield.

Other than that, it has been exactly what you'd expect. The Rams' front seven is much better than Seattle's offensive line. The Seahawks' front seven is much better than the Rams' offensive line. Seattle is losing the turnover battle 2-0, and that's the biggest reason they're down 6-0 at halftime.

Cian Fahey: It hasn't been discussed much because of his incredible rushing numbers, but Russell Wilson has regressed somewhat as a passer this year. He's playing with a hesitation that wasn't there for most of last season, although it came about during the playoffs.

This play is a great example of it:

He has plenty of time to throw to the slant at the top of the screen for a simple first down. Instead he turns around and runs into the opposite flat to take a sack.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks have settled down, gotten some big plays from Marshawn Lynch and Paul Richardson (plus a hysterical interception where Shaun Hill pitched the ball right to Jordan Hill -- I guess he didn't see the 303-pound man) and now lead 13 to 6.

Coming into today, here's what Seattle's offense has done by quarter:

First: 3.7% DVOA (16th)
Second: 13.1% (8th)
Third: 19.8% (4th)
Fourth: 33.3% (2nd)

I know we long ago deconstructed the myth of establishing the run, but it seems like this specific offense, with so much misdirection and asking defenders to chase so many players, really wears defenses down.

Well, all the bounces went Seattle's way in the second half, that's for sure. Bruce Irvin got a tip-drill pick-six to put the Seahawks up 20-6. Seahawks then played that 14-point lead like it was a 40-point lead, giving up all the 7-yard gains St. Louis wanted. On third-and-goal, Bennie Cunningham took a swing pass and was stretching for the goal line, but Earl Thomas swooped in out of nowhere to chop the ball out of his hands. Ball bounced into the end zone and out of bounds, Seattle's ball at the 20-yard line, and that was St. Louis' last realistic shot.

I realize they have played a long string of backups, but Seattle ends the regular season on a six-game winning streak, giving up 39 total points in those six games. Things are going well.

Carolina Panthers 34 at Atlanta Falcons 3

Aaron Schatz: Even though the Falcons might have the worst pass rush in the league, the Panthers are leaving a back or tight end in to block on pretty much every pass.

If the Falcons lose this close, they'll feel particularly awful about an egregious drop by fullback Patrick DiMarco on a wide-open pass for a touchdown.

I know, I know, speed of the game, human error, refs have it tough, but wow did the officials just miss a huge facemask penalty that should have been called on Robert Blanton as he was stripping the ball from Roddy White. Panthers defense looks much stronger than Falcons offense right now, but that's a huge gift because not only did the Panthers recover the fumble (yay, fumble luck!) but the fumble should have been cancelled by the facemask.

Rob Weintraub: A great deal of anger in Atlanta that Thomas Dimitroff stays in the GM job, while there is zero support for Mike Smith, not even a tinge of Rex Ryan-esque concessions to his success in years previous. Be interesting to see how much, if any, run Sexy Rexy gets in Atlanta, though he's not exactly an Arthur Blank type of guy. Smitty mind wind up getting the safety mat gig for a year or two in Baltimore, his old stomping grounds, or in Cincy, with his old mentor Marvin Lewis, as an assistant coach.

Cincinnati Bengals 17 at Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Aaron Schatz: Can definitely see the improvement of Pittsburgh's offensive line this season in this game. For the most part, Ben Roethlisberger is getting time to throw. The Bengals, on the other hand, are moving the ball with Jeremy Hill, broken tackles, and shorter pass routes.

And I know we're not supposed to ride the "Andy Dalton in prime time" narrative, but again, this game is close because of Hill and the Bengals defense, not because Dalton is playing well. He just overthrew a wide-open A.J. Green for his second pick of the day.

Mid-fourth quarter, 20-17 Pittsburgh... Didn't we have a situation a few weeks ago where we were left with the question, if the Saints have to pass on fourth-and-long, wouldn't they rather have Drew Brees doing it than Thomas Morstead? Well, hey, at least Thomas Morstead grew up occasionally throwing a football. Seriously, who do you want throwing the ball on fourth-and-long, Ben Roethlisberger with Antonio Brown on the field, or your Australian punter? Brad Wing just shot-putted a horrible fake punt across his body to a totally covered receiver. I guess inside the 50 makes sense as a place to pull out your fake punt, but... ugh.

Tom Gower: What's bigger, the result of the game with the Steelers winning the AFC North or the injuries of currently undetermined severity to Le'veon Bell (knee) and A.J. Green (concussion protocol)?

Andrew Healy: The Steelers’ offensive line gave Roethlisberger a very clean pocket for much of the night. Looked like Collinsworth must have been pointing that out with the replays (watched without sound). I thought Roethlisberger was often good, but not always with those opportunities. He had one very bad decision on a pick where he threw right to Reggie Nelson 15-20 yards downfield when the corner also had good coverage.

Another takeaway is that Antonio Brown is really good. He had a beautiful change-of-direction punt return for the opening touchdown and created space effortlessly with excellent route running. No surprise there.

Tom Gower: Tactically, I was interested in how the Steelers used Heath Miller and Le'veon Bell. I hit this during the game on Twitter, but this was a topic of interest to me since I wrote about Bell this week. All-22 and a deep attention-paying rewatch could tell me differently, but it seemed like Pittsburgh likely used the attention Bell would draw to decoy the Bengals from paying attention to Miller. Then, they had barely thrown any passes downfield to Bell this season (three catches more than 10 yards downfield coming in, trusting NFL's PYD figures), and they put him over Miller, instead of under him, for another big play. Of course, the whole basis for this strategy is something that has bugged me for years, the ability to attack Cincinnati's linebackers in space. Outside of Vontaze Burfict, who's now on IR, this has been an issue and is still an issue, as we've seen time and again (if you need a dramatic demonstration, go back and watch the New England game).

Rob Weintraub: With the loss Cincy does not win the division, thus become the only team to lose both coordinators to head coaching gigs and NOT win the division anyway the following season, close though they were. Otherwise I'm too much of a homer to comment.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 29 Dec 2014

174 comments, Last at 31 Dec 2014, 7:58pm by theslothook


by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:30am

Green Bay continues to tinker with its run defense alignment which now includes putting safety Sean Richardson in as a nominal linebacker. The results have been a mix of negative run plays coupled with some big gains. Which is progress from the previous steady gains attained by the opposition.

McCarthy's playcalling remains inexplicable at times so much so that Packer fans now respond to playcall confusion with a simple "McCarthy" as if that explains everything. McCarthy's fascination with John Kuhn I know is appreciated by the Kuhn family but annoys everyone else.

Josh Sitton has gone up against Suh many times now and I think I can count a total of two games where Suh clearly had the better game. When you can handle Suh one on one regularly that is a huge win for the offense

The coaches keep explaining the blocks on special teams by pointing to Lang and Sitton not being on special teams to help them rest from their nagging injuries. Ok, that has been the case now for about half the season. One would expect a coaching staff would somehow compensate by now.

by dank067 :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:51pm

It was nice to see that when the Packers were back at the goal line in the fourth quarter they kept their receivers on the field and gave Rodgers what appeared to be a pass/sneak option. Maybe I sound insane for advocating Rodgers sneaking while injured, but I thought it was a good call and related to something Tanier pointed out in his piece this morning—when you take Cobb and Nelson off the field, you're telegraphing the run.

One other thing, though. As well as the Packers have run the ball the last two months of the season, you'll note that coming into this week that per this site they're only 25th in stuff percentage. Odd playcalling/Kuhn shennanigans may be a factor in this, but I don't think the Packers have been great in short yardage situations all season.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:02pm

Either it's called or Lacy freelancing but there have been too many calls where the back is trying to get the corner versus between the tackle.

Certainly the pitch play needs to be taken out back and thrown in the dumpster. For every time it workers there have been five or so where the runner loses 2-3 yards.

by oaktoon :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:42pm

No surprise that Rodgers said he made the call on the sneak have felt their unwillingness to use that play-- in contrast to Brady and pats-- has hurt their short yardage offense. It dates back to the concussion in 2010. Before that Rodgers scored a lot of rushing tds sneaks and bootlegs. Since not so much. He also got hammered by the Bears that year in the title game on a naked bootleg Td. Mccarthy has effectively taken those plays out of the scheme the past four years. I think lining up with four wideouts and a single back would work better than the predictable lacy or Kuhn runs

by Temo :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:36am

It's possible in the picture that you posted that Wilson didn't have a good throwing lane for that pass. Here's an instance where being a short QB will make a very noticeable difference.

by a2coupe :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:45pm

This is exactly what I was thinking. Last thing they need is the edge rusher to JJ Watt the pass and take it to the house.

by formido :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:51pm

That's exactly what happened. Wilson is into low risk throws.

And, sure, height would have helped there, but being short is what makes Wilson the mobile nightmare he is. Folks are so eager to point out where height helps that they refuse to acknowledge where it hurts. Wilson's mobility more than compensates for his lack of height. All in all, it's been a good trade-off.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:37am

I came down with the flu on Christmas night. I've basically been unable to move for days, have spent hours in bed, can barely walk up the stairs without taking a break, and I'm still not better. Yesterday, I lay in near-catatonia on the couch, painfully watching the Bucs throw away their chance at the #1 pick and the only thing that might make this year worthwhile. When McCown got dropped, I leaped to my feet and screamed "SAAAAFETY!!" and jumped around the room, at which point I collapsed to the ground, hacking and coughing painfully and violently for a good 30-45 seconds, just wracked with agony.


I still feel dirty having rooted for the Saints . . .

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:03pm

That's OK. Look at it this way. You weren't cheering for the Saints to win, you were cheering for TB to lose. I would never cheer for San Diego against Denver, but in 2010, with Denver having a firm grasp on the #2 pick in the draft, Tebow tried to do Tebow things in the last game of the season against the Chargers. All I could think of was, "This isn't funny anymore. Knock it off!" I think the game ended with SD knocking down a Hail Mary in the end zone and I was totally relieved.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:37am

And to get it out of the way quickly, anyone who seriously suggests Suh should be suspended is loony. Even a fine assumes a lot of things that are unclear but Suh does have a history of being a jerk so ok, fine the guy.

But a suspension? Crazy talk

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:43am

I think it will be a lot like the Matt Schaub groin kick in 2012: "We can't prove you did it on purpose, so we can't suspend you. But deep down we think it was on purpose so we're just going to fine you."

I had really thought Suh had put this nonsense behind him, but I can't really defend him anymore.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:53pm

Well I guess I was wrong. Looks like Suh is suspended, according to Chris Mortensen.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:55pm

What a stupid jackass. Suh, not Mort.

by Sakic :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:04pm

Suh did just enough to make a dirty play not look like a dirty play which is why he won't get suspended. Although, with his reputation who knows if the NFL will use this to send a message...suspension for a playoff game...pretty steep but apparently fines just don't work on this guy.

Did he get fined for that swinging forearm shiver against Josh McCown a few weeks ago...I remember watching it happen and it drew a flag but I don't know if there was any additional punishment.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:30pm

Don't care about either team, and doubt he will be suspended, but you can't argue that it was not/did not look like an intentionally dirty play. Stepping on Rodgers with the right foot may have been accidental, but when he puts his left foot on the leg and then puts his weight on it (when his right foot unnecessarily leaves the ground), he crossed the line into clearly intentional dirty play.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:52pm

My first reaction to seeing the replay is that it seems unlikely to me that someone whose foot is planted in that type of awkward position would take so long to remove it and step to the ground unless they were intentionally keeping it there. Suh's just smarter than Raiola in that he knows better now than to do something blatantly obvious like stomp on a guy, so there's an element of doubt as to his intent, but I just can't believe that someone would stand in that awkward position for so long unless he intended to.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:51pm

In my opinion when he lefts his right foot off the ground -- which, when you left foot is on someone's leg is clearly very awkward -- and puts more weight on his on-the-leg left foot, he removes all doubt as to his intent. If it was accidental, you leave your right foot on the ground and move your left foot. In any event, he has been suspended...

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:37am

I know they didn't talk about it in Audibles, but Ndamokung Suh, if nothing else, has made me much less worried about the fact that he's unlikely to be with the team next year. I'm less angry about the "step" and more angry with the stupidity of it all. I mean, did he really think nobody would see it with cameras everywhere these days? Even if he does get away with it, what's the point? What's the endgame there?

It's frustrating that what should have been my enjoyment of the Lions most successful season in more than two decades has been poisoned by the actions of the two knuckleheads Raiola and Suh.

As far as the game, I have to tip my hat to Rodgers (goes without saying really), but most of all to the Packers offensive line. It's been a long time since I've seen an opposing offensive line control the LOS like that (Week 2 against San Francisco in 2012 was the last time I can remember that happening). Lacy had some great holes to run through, and a gimpy Rodgers had a clean pocket all day (the only sack occurred because Flynn held the ball for too long.

by TomC :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:51am

My wife and I (both Bears fans) were watching that game and trying to decide who to root for. She hated Schwartz and the culture of "past the whistle" he instilled and hadn't updated her opinion, so she was Packers all the way. I was on the fence and starting to pull for Detroit, especially after they got screwed by a couple of bad calls early. I was in the middle of explaining to her that the team as a whole was much different under Caldwell, and that their only truly dirty guy was not playing, when Suh pulled his cute little stunt. I said: "welp, never mind" and put on my imaginary Green Bay hat.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:58am

The two point conversion call looked to be a bad call but what else? The Levy facemask?

I keep hearing from Lions fans that Detroit was (insert adverb/adjective of choice) but both teams looked to be getting stuff that looked legit as a penalty not called and ticky tack stuff called. I just shrugged as the officials being officials

by TomC :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:08pm

No, I'm talking about stuff in the first quarter. The only one I specifically remember was the false start called on Detroit when the GB D-lineman jumped and made contact but they called it on Jed Collins because "the back is not protected when the defense enters the neutral zone." Yeah, but he made contact. It was at the Lions 2-yard line, so it was only a 1-yard penalty, but it should have been five the other way, which is a big deal. Turns out they got a first down anyway, so it didn't affect anything.

Again without being able to recall specifics, I remember remarking that the calls evened out in the 2nd half, so I don't think anyone got screwed overall. The better team that day clearly won the game.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:24pm

I understand that perspective.

by poplar cove :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:17pm

or maybe the penalties being so one sided again this year I think is what it was. It was 10-5 in favor of the Packers is what most are complaining about. Just the whole thing.

Combine this with Rodgers play at goal line holding up and Bell 2 point play being reversed and all adds up to another year in Lambeau and another awful officiated game. Also the frustration of having to listen to the Joe Buck man love for Green Bay can drive a man nuts and may actually add to our frustration levels. Be thankful Packers backers that you have no clue what were talking about.

by Sakic :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:10pm

The Levy face mask was a case of a non-penalty looking like a penalty. In real time the official calls that every time unless he has the perfect angle on it. I told my a friend of mine that it was the make up call for the Jones roughing penalty at the end of the second quarter (which yes, by rule was a penalty but seriously...Stafford acted like he had been hit with a baseball bat.)

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:15pm

I thought Stafford had contact made to his helmet a couple of times in the 2nd half, while not being egregious in any way, have not infrequently resulted in flags in other games.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:48pm

Yea, when your hand makes contact with the quarterback's face, it's going to get called far more often than not. I didn't think that call before the half was particularly unusual in relation to the way games are called these days.

Overall, I didn't really see all that much to complain about the way the game was called.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:27pm

I understand the league's goal but so many qbs are ducking into contact as a fan it's exasperating when the flag is thrown. Now, that was NOT the case of the Jones penalty where Jones (as is his specialty) does something really stupid.

But you take a guy like Julius Peppers who has 6'7" can run directly into the qb standing up and have his chest make contact with the qb's helmet. That Peppers has not been flagged has surprised me as this happens at least once a game.

Meanwhile, qbs go into a fetal position on Matthews who has been flagged I believe twice if not three times this season for doing nothing other than tackling a guy.

by Sakic :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:03pm

The Jones penalty was definitely a penalty by today's set of rules no question about it. It was just one of those plays that frustrates me as a football fan because there was no "roughing" on the play. A hand hitting a helmet inadvertently is part of football...not a reason to give the offense a fresh set of downs and it happens a lot in the current state of the NFL (similar to the afore-mentioned ducking into contact...another pet peeve of mine.) I think I was more upset at the time because Rodgers had already left with the calf injury and the Lions scored on the next play and I was thinking it was a potential game changing (and playoff changing) penalty.

by techvet :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:34pm

Brad Jones should be in the Packers Hall of Fame for highest accumulation of stupid penalties. I will be surprised if he's back with the Packers next year unless it's at bargain prices. He is good on special teams, but can be a liability in space.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:52am

It's fair to conclude at this point that Suh is just a stone cold moron, which, in a league without the likes of Daniel Snyder and some other lukewarm morons, would affect Suh's market value significantly. I thus expect a bidding war to erupt for Suh.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:46am

The amount of praise of ODB and the Giants get up there is bizarre - first off, it's a game they lost to a not very good Eagles team with an atrocious secondary. Second, the Eagles finally (sorta) benched Fletcher and Williams so Beckham was doing his work against the 4th and 5th string CB's from that terrible secondary. Reuben freakin Randle also got 150 yards. It was impressive to catch some yards against them. It was a team playing Watkins and Carroll on the outside to see if there was any chance they might be viable starters. They are not. 63 of Beckham's yards came in garbage time when the Watkins slipped and fell down in man coverage. Literally any wr in the league would have scored on that play.

Conversely, almost every time Beckham was matched up with Boykin, he lost the match-up. Even on the big circus catch that's making the highlight reels, it's 3 and 26 or something and Boykin is well aware they're many yards shy of the first down marker. He calmly lets Beckham make the catch and tags him down. It's a beautiful, but totally meaningless catch. On the endzone throw, Boykin simply pulls the ball out of his hands. It's weird to say that a guy who had 185 yards didn't have a great game, but he really didn't. I would say his major weakness a wr is how CB's can control his routes and move him around with their positioning and strength. He just gets manipulated surprisingly easily by CB's in that regard. He also begs for flags constantly, which make me feel like he's all too aware of how the defense's physicality affects his game.

He's clearly a player with amazing ball-skills and quickness, but I think he's more likely to be on that DeSean Jackson tier below Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant where he's physically overmatched at times and can be muscled around. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt like this game demonstrated those limitations more than his limitless potential - I actually thought "eh, I heard all the hype, but that guy won't be one we need to worry too much about in the coming years." There's no way Bryant or Johnson lets Boykin casually pull that TD pass out of his hands (let alone get guided into that flat angle.)

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:06pm

I probably haven't seen as much ODB (I resent that nickname, there's only one ODB in my book) as others, but it seems that he vastly outperformed Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson's rookie seasons. Lot's of room for strength training and growth to help him combat physicality.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:38pm

He's definitely very good and I don't think it's an insult to compare him to my favorite wr - but he just doesn't have any aspect of his game as far as boxing defenders out and he gets maneuvered into difficult angles really easily. It wouldn't astounding if he overcame it, but right now he just has no sense of the body positioning battle that goes on versus a CB. CB's who are really smart with that stuff (like Revis and Asomugha in their prime) would make him invisible. I think his need to make so many circus catches is a little bit a function of that - he gets positioned into bad spots and the ball ends up farther away or in a more difficult angle than it should.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:14pm

Well, yeah, ODB isn't huge so he's going to lose physical confrontations. He's never going to be a guy like Terrell Owens who just block defenders out of the way. I mean, I'm a Bucs fan, and that's what Mike Evans does so well--he's big, he's physical, he's committing OPI at a "Young Michael Irvin" level, but he'll never have the shiftiness or the ability to get open like ODB does. It'd be like saying Peyton Manning's lack of mobility means he isn't a good QB, because Russell Wilson is much better at running than him.

Criticizing ODB for getting pushed around would be like criticizing Evans for not having amazing quickness. Everybody's got different talents. ODB is a freak. A 91-1305-12 statline in 12 games as a rookie? What's happening now is he's able to maximize his talents in freakishly impressive ways so far.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:43pm

Yeah, I guess the context is not that I'm saying he stinks, but trying to decide what his ceiling could be.Is it Dez Bryant/Calvin Johnson? DVOA likes him better than either of them already this year - although I think wr DVOA is the instance where DVOA's meaning is most cloudy. DVOA thinks Randall Cobb is the best wr in the league and I think there's plenty of reason to dispute that. Anyway, I'm just thinking about his ceiling and how the Philly game showed the ways it might be lower than his numbers and highlight reel suggest (because that shit suggest a first ballot HOF!)

I was surprised in the Washington game how once they double-teamed him, he was totally shut down. Obviously, all but the very best wr's are going to get shut down by a double-team and drawing a double-team is a value in and of itself, but I've seen Johnson and Bryant fight through double-teams regularly. It gets overlooked that TO was a deep threat and you couldn't roll a safety up too close to him because he could absolutely beat you over the top in a blink. Beckham showed in the Philly game how he can be pushed around and he pretty clearly lost the individual battle to Boykin, who was manned up on him.

Now, I actually think Boykin is excellent, so I'm not sure "lost a one-on-one match-up to a crummy pass defense's #3 CB" is as bad as it might initially sound. But I think teams will get tape of him this off-season (I wonder how much his lack of early season playing time and the NYG's terrible offense allowed him to catch teams off-gaurd?) and develop strategies for dealing with him because he's certainly a good enough wr that you need a strategy. After teams adjust, I do think it's an open question how much defenses will be able to exploit his apparent weaknesses as a wr and how he can continue to develop.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:20pm

I'd say he's the love child of Steve Smith and DeSean Jackson, that's a rather handy player.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 9:24pm

No - he has no Steve Smith in him. That's ludicrous. He might not be as lacking in physicality as DeSean, but that's his comp. He's almost a literal opposite of the kind of player Smith was. And let's get two seasons out of him before we compare him to anybody. I remember oh so many years ago when Josh Gordon broke out and was getting marked for the Hall of Fame...

by Dales :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:18pm

"He also begs for flags constantly, which make me feel like he's all too aware of how the defense's physicality affects his game"

The only game I saw him complaining for flags was yesterday's-- and he had a reason to be upset. Getting interfered with and hit helmet-to-helmet (early again) on one play will tend to upset a player. The Eagles got away with murder yesterday.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:43pm

That hit was shoulder to shoulder - neither player's helmet is contacted. It still might qualify as defenseless receiver but only because the definition of that rule is so broad. Any time he didn't catch the ball, he got up barking for a flag and running around like a lunatic - and he DEFINITELY should have drawn one for throwing off his helmet. There's no ambiguity on that.

by Dales :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:07pm

It was helmet to helmet, and it was early, and it was after the corner had already interfered.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 9:48pm

First off - Boykin slaps the ball away from him in the endzone before the play you're talking about. Beckham immediately gets up and starts screaming for a flag, even though there's no way he deserves one.

Second, on the play which occurs with 4 minutes left in the half (so not "early") that sets Beckham off, I wouldn't be shocked if Carroll had drawn an interference flag there, but it's hardly egregious. A non-call is not unreasonable. Second - you can go look at the clip of it on the NFL's site right now in slow-mo, it cues up at around 2:00 minutes into the highlights package. Malcolm Jenkins' shoulder hits Beckham in shoulder/chest. Now, as I said, that frequently draws a defenseless receiver flag, but it's not a helmet to helmet. Neither player's helmet touches the other player at any time, not even snapping around after the initial impact. Jenkins' shoulder doesn't even touch Beckham's helmet. It's certainly not a clear violation of any rule, just the kind of physical play that I'm pointing out Beckham really can't handle.

Now, after the play, Beckham throws his helmet off while screaming for a flag. That is, unquestionably, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

by TomC :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:02pm

I was morally obligated to watch CHI-MIN, but the only reason I was looking forward to it (other than voyeuristic train-wreck fascination) was to chart Bridgewater's progress between the first meeting and week 17. It was quite impressive. Other than a two-play stretch where he threw behind his guy both times, the second resulting in a tip and pick-almost-6, he was very accurate and seemed to be making good decisions. The only thing that worries me is his throwing motion. I hadn't noticed before how long and loopy it is and what a strange release point he has. Philip Rivers gets away with his weird windup (usually) because his arm is so good; I don't think Bridgewater has the same pure arm strength. But all in all, it seems like Minnesota has the tools to be a competent NFL team for a while, which means that the Bears need to hit the lottery on these next GM/coach hires or else the NFCN cellar will be their personal hidey-hole for the next several seasons.

by t.d. :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:31pm

Oh, I don't know. Detroit better enjoy this playoff run because it might be a while before they get another one, and they've got the same problem the Bears have with Cutler- franchise money being paid to a guy who might be closer to being the 20th best quarterback than being a top-10 guy

by poplar cove :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:19pm

Fox broadcasting posting some stupid stat about Stafford losing on the road to teams with winning record really has the Stafford hate going crazy today. Keep in mind all that Aaron Rodgers is 1-10 on the road versus teams with winning records his last 11 games.

by poplar cove :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:20pm

Fox broadcasting posting some stupid stat about Stafford losing on the road to teams with winning record really has the Stafford hate going crazy today. Keep in mind all that Aaron Rodgers is 1-10 on the road versus teams with winning records his last 11 games.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:58pm

I can probably take credit for that one after writing before the 2013 season about Stafford being 1-23 against teams with a winning record. Did an Insider article about it


Stafford received very little help from the defense and actually never played a 9-7 team until Buffalo this year, and yes, Detroit lost after the field goals went in Buffalo's favor in the end. So he's 3-31 against winning teams now. All on him? Of course not, but like we saw so often this year, he hasn't played well in those games.

by thebuch :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 11:49am

Also keep in mind that Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl as a six seed, so he's done it in high leverage situations before, albeit not recently.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:57pm

I don't watch college football almost ever, so I know nothing about prospects until the draft gears up. I saw the clips of Bridgewater and the clips of Bortles and couldn't believe it when Bridgewater started falling and Bortles started rising. I just don't understand scouts. It seems plain as day Bridgewater is NFL caliber, even if there are legitimate questions about his ceiling. But legitimate NFL caliber is hugely valuable!

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:14pm

I know next to nothing about scouting, but I was questioning why you would put so much stock in one bad pro day, as opposed to the much larger sample size of what's on tape when actually played against live competition.

Think about what the Texans would have looked like with competent quarterbacking most of the year.

by Alternator :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 10:39pm

At the NFL level, everyone is an egomaniac, convinced that HE can get the best possible results. Bortles ceiling looks higher than Bridgewater's; ergo, egomaniacs think they can reach it, and presto! Bortles the better prospect.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:06pm

Well, since nobody at FO was silly enough to pay attention to Vikings/Bears, I'll "contribute" by noting the the past 10 years are perhaps the worst consecutive 10 that any Vikings fan has witnessed. The .470 winning percentage, 3 playoff appearances, two division titles, and one advance to the Conference Championship game are, in my judgement, significantly worse that the first 10 years of the franchise, with a .460 winning percentage, 3 playoff appearances, 3 division titles, and one advance to the Super Bowl, given that the latter was as an expansion club, and had a historically great defense the last two years of the 10 year span.

The irony is that this is probably easily the best ownership the cub has had, in terms of putting forth winning percentage as a top priority. I'll take good luck in picking qbs and head coaches over good intentions any day.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:14pm

Do you think Peterson will play for the Vikings next year?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:25pm

Unless they can find a great offensive and/or defensive lineman (non-Suh variety) to devote cap space to, they'd be nuts to not roll the dice one more year with 28, even at 15 million. If he is anywhere close to what level he has been at, there isn't anybody who is going to assist Bridgewater's development, or the defense, more than a guy who makes Bridgwater's already pretty good decision making easier, or keeps the defense off the field, as well as a HOF running back who can run great between the tackles, and can score literally every time he takes a handoff, even with a mediocre offensive line.

If he had started 16 games this year, I very strongly suspect that they would have been in contention for a playoff spot at 12 noon central time yesterday. Very few non qbs can have such an impact.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:13pm

"This bothers me a lot, because I don't think the system is designed to put the best teams forward."

The system isn't designed to put the best teams forward. It's designed to give the best teams a chance to win.

With 32 teams and a 16-game schedule, the NFL is never going to have a balanced schedule. So the presumption is that the best team is going to be likely to at least win its own division, even though it might not have the best overall record. And a few wild cards are added for fun. But arguments about whether the #6 seed is truly the 6th best team, or whether every divisional winner really deserves to play in the playoffs kind of miss the point. It's pretty much a guarantee that some non-playoff team is going to be better than some playoff team. (Does anybody really think that the Cardinals and Panthers are better than the Eagles? Maybe the Cardinals were before all the injuries.)

Having said that, I'm sure the NFL and the networks are pleased that the Ravens managed to pull out their game and set up a 1st round matchup with the Steelers. That's got to be a far more appealing game than Steelers-Texans would have been, even accounting for the JJ Watt factor.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:52pm

I think most Eagles fans don't think it's a team that deserves to make the playoffs. They already lost the GB, Seattle, Arizona and a healthy, rested Dallas - they're clearly a tier below playoff caliber in that regard. Sure, they crushed Carolina, but if they wanted to make the playoffs all they needed to do was prove they deserved to be there by beating one of those other playoff-bound NFC teams.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:08pm

It's also designed to keep a lot of teams "in the hunt", so fans have a reason to watch.

by Lance :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:44pm

The recent scheduling trick-- added, if I recall correctly, because Manning and the Colts had their division and a first-round bye locked up by week 13 almost every year)-- of making sure that the last game or two for every team in the league was a division game certainly helped with that. As long as a division winner automatically makes the play-offs, then there will definitely be drama when weeks 16 and 17 are division games.

by Al Hirt Hologram :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:51pm

I'll go ahead and say it's even the opposite. If two teams have the same record, the one winning head-to-head or something with a similar small sample is more likely to be the worse team. That's fine with me. It makes the tiebreakers simple enough, like with the hierarchy in the AFC #6 seed race yesterday. And it's a tiny equalizer.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:26pm

It's also about putting the team that earns its chance. It's not based on how you're playing when. If you get the record you get the spot regardless of whether you lose your entire team the last day to dysentery or not. Earn the spot by winning games, not pick the best team by power poll.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 5:34pm

Talking about tie-breakers. How do you best differentiate between two teams that are 9-7? Both earned the same record, but they obviously played different schedules. That should be a bigger factor than comparing conference records or common games.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 6:41pm

I've always thought using conference record as a tie-breaker is silly. "Hey, you're tied but you're better than your own conference!" Why is that better than being better than the other conference? If Miami had won yesterday, they'd have the same record as Buffalo. Split head-to-head, both 4-2 in the division, but Miami would have the edge over Buffalo because...Buffalo went 4-0 vs the NFC North while Miami went 2-2. The Bills made the mistake of going 0-4 against the AFC West. (How they simultaneously went 0-4 vs. the AFC West and 4-0 vs the NFC North? Go figure.)

Common games makes slightly more sense than conference record. But I'd prefer to see strength of schedule elevated...or better yet, strength of victory. (What does it prove when you lose to better teams as opposed to beating worse teams?) The counterpoint to strength of victory could be humiliation of loss.

Go record, then head-to-head, then (for division champ only) divisional record, then strength of victory.

by Jerry :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 8:00pm


(1) is necessary.

(2) is arbitrary. Head-to-head, or a playoff game (like the league did to break ties in the two-division era) are completely sensible. After that, it's "What can we do to avoid a coin flip?"

(3) shouldn't provide perverse incentives. Point differential has been de-emphasized so teams don't go into their last game trying to just lose by less than 20.

(4) should be understandable to the average fan. Division record and conference record are easy. Strength of victory, or even DVOA, not as much.

(By the way, Rick, I really liked your post that started this thread.)

by PackerPete :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:14pm

I agree with Andrew regarding McCarthy's call for a field goal on 4th and 6 from the Lion 36 yard line. In those weather conditions and with Crosby's late season mini-slump, the odds of a successful field goal were maybe 50-50. The odds of Rodgers converting a first down are at least 50-50. I'd of gone with Rodgers.

The Packer O line has really come together. No sacks against Buffalo's front four, no sacks on Rodgers from the Lions front four, as well as rushing for double the Lions' per game yards against rushing. Great work.

Think Fox is salivating over a Packers v Cowboy playoff game in Lambeau in two weeks?

by dank067 :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:39pm

18 years too late on Cowboys/Packers at Lambeau! Although you never know what can happen in Round 1.

McCarthy has occasionally been willing to go for it in those types of 4th down situations so I wonder if he was worried about subjecting Rodgers to the pass rush in an obvious passing situation. (He also is generally more conservative with those decisions when playing with a lead.) Like you said though, hats off to the Packers offensive line, especially after Rodgers came back in the game. They didn't face a ton of third-and-longs from there, but they kept a very limited Rodgers clean just about every time they had to.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:48pm

I think Detroit matches up well with Dallas. If Stafford plays worth a hoot I could see Detroit winning without needing exceptional things happening in other phases of the game

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 6:41pm

Does Detroit minus Suh match up well?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 6:50pm

Since Suh can't be on the field, the plan is to have him jump Romo in the parking lot that morning. Word on the street is that stomping is on the agenda.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:14pm

The Ravens offense was mystifying yesterday. While it can be expected that the passing offense would be subdued by the 2nd ranked pass defense of the Browns, they couldn't run for most the game against the worst run defense. No doubt that was in part due to both starting OT's being out, with UDFA rookie Hurst and 5th rd rookie Urschel filling in.

However at a certain point in the fourth quarter, the Ravens offense just obliterated the Browns. Flacco went something like 8/9 for 160 yards and 2 TDs, and Forsett was ripping off long runs, and the game was over.

Fortunately for the Ravens, they stunk it up just long enough to keep KC motivated and thinking they had a chance to make the playoffs. Once KC had the Chargers game in hand, the Ravens steamrolled the Browns.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:16pm

Fortunately for the Ravens, they stunk it up just long enough to keep KC motivated and thinking they had a chance to make the playoffs. Once KC had the Chargers game in hand, the Ravens steamrolled the Browns.
It all makes sense now! John Harbaugh is brilliant.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:25pm

Both Baltimore starting OTs got hurt against the Texans; they were out for the Browns game. At LT the Ravens went with a rookie UDFA (James Hurst); at RT they slid Yanda over and subbed in a rookie 5th-rounder to play RG (John Urschel).

by DEW :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:25pm

I will say on the punting issue that a defense-first, offense-shaky team like the Bills is the kind of team where playing it arch-conservative isn't completely idiotic, because their chance of a good outcome from a punt (due to the defense being, well, good) is higher than average and the chance of a bad outcome from going for it also higher than average. That said, it's a meaningless game against the Pats' backups.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:06pm

In the days before the game, there was some discussion about how the Pats' long snapper might be injured, and how that would affect the punting game, etc. I asked "Why punt?" Seriously, if it's a meaningless game, why punt at all? Why not just spend the entire day in a 4-down offense? At the very least it would be an interesting experiment. And I guarantee it's a lot harder to stop a drive when the defense is required to hold the offense to less than 2.5 yards/play than 3.33 yards/play.

Bills fans must be crazy: in the last three weeks they beat Green Bay, lost to Oakland, and beat the Pats. I know that would drive me nuts.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:10pm

And unlike 2004, they beat a superior team's backups in week 17 with the playoffs NOT on the line. My cousins are Bills fans, and their facebook feeds were lit up with frustration yesterday.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:35pm

Honestly, while I'm frustrated, the team actually exceeded my expectations (I figured they'd finish 8-8 after looking at the schedule), and didn't have but one soul-destroying loss this year (Oakland). I'll take it, since the trend is upward.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:53pm

I figured the loss at home to the pats was soul crushing. That felt like their one ugly defensive game.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:32pm

I agree with you. Finishing with a winning record with backup-level quarterbacking for most of the year is a pretty large accomplishment. And the future looks bright with the front office appearing to have a clue when it comes to building a roster (even if I'm usually against trading up in 1st round on general principle).

by TomC :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:16pm

Yeah, no shit, especially since the Oakland loss is technically what kept them out of the playoffs (I think they would have won a tiebreaker over Baltimore based on division record). Now maybe Belichick doesn't turtle as completely as he did yesterday with something on the line for the other team, but still...

by t.d. :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:33pm

Huh. Every team Oakland beat this year missed the playoffs by one game

by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:49pm

Uh, no. The Niners missed the playoffs by three games. If Oakland had gone 0-16, it would have been the Chiefs in the playoffs. I'm sure from RJ's perspective that was the most important win of the year.

by t.d. :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:14pm

Don't know why, but I thought they'd beaten SD, not SF. While SF wouldn't have made it anyway, the Oakland game effectively ended their season, too, iirc (though you could argue the Thanksgiving Seattle game was the killing blow)

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:49pm

Now that is playing spoiler.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:33pm

No, the Ravens winning made the Oakland game meaningless, if no less frustrating.

by johonny :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:20pm

Mia/jets the dolphins finish the season in grand style by making Geno smith look good. The jets didn't play like a team firing there coach and Miami did. Word is Wallace quit in the first half. You might not have noticed because the rest of the team soon followed. Joe philbins team imploded for a second straight season. 2015 should be just as ugly as right now Miami feels like the last place team in that division.

by jw124164 :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 1:22pm

As a Falcons fan, I appreciate the competency brought in by Dimitroff/Smith, but it's time for us to do better than that. They've whiffed on too many draft picks - if that's mostly on Dimitroff's shoulders, he should be gone too. Sorry Coach Smith - you blew two games with poor clock management/play calling this year - we need to actually move up to "competent" there.

I wouldn't want Rex as HC, but as DC - you betcha. I don't know that he'd take that now. I think we have the basis of a good offense for a few years to come, with a bit more investment/health in the line. That defense needs a near complete makeover though ..

by Led :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:33pm

OT: Anyone know when FO is planning on posting Quick Reads this week? (Not complaining! Just wondering.)

by Flounder :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:45pm

Because it appears on ESPN first, I believe it will still be tomorrow even though there is no Monday night game this week.

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:40pm

So if we skip ahead to next year's (likely) playoff additions, the two added games this weekend would be Philly at Green Bay and Houston at Denver. Other games would stay the same. Seattle and New England would still have the weekend off. Seems like too much. If it actually went to 16 teams, we'd add KC at New England and SF at Seattle. Might not need Sunday Ticket anymore if the playoffs get too expanded.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:49pm

Ugh - there are already too many crummy also-ran's in the playoff without throwing in another team like Houston, Who wants to see Philly lose by 30 again in GB or Denver yawn through a laffer? SF? KC? These teams don't need to be in the playoffs.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:03pm

I fear the available cash makes playoff expansion inevitable, but 12 teams really is the right number, it seems to me. It makes making the playoffs a real accomplishment, while in most years making week 17 very interesting, this year being a bit of an exception.

by Lance :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:44pm

Wait. I totally missed this. They are going to expand the play-offs next year? Ugh.

Football is already rather random. Adding two more teams to the mix only increases the chance that the final match-up is going to involve flukes that "got hot" at the right time (and avoided injury, etc.) to go on a wins streaks and, with a bit of luck, become the "champs" even though realistically we know other teams were probably better.

by gomer_rs :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:02pm

I wish the Cowboys had protected their starters and had poor ratings. That would be the ultimate defense against an expanded playoffs. If the 1-2 seeds no longer get the bye then the risk of injury in weeks 16-17 after the playoffs have been secured is just not their.

Wouldn't be surprised if Jerry wouldn't allow Garret to rest starters for that exact reason. I'd be shocked if Jerry wasn't one of the owners pushing for expanded playoffs.

The Union can stop it though. The Union must sign off on any change.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:07pm

I guarantee Jerrel favors expanded playoffs. He has significantly larger debt to service than the NFL average.

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 5:17pm

Nothing has officially been approved, but all signs have pointed to the owners voting for 14 playoff teams for the 2015 season. We'll see what they do in the spring.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 5:22pm

"It's horrible how a lousy seven-win team is going to make the playoffs this year!"

"Hey, let's expand the playoffs!"

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 6:52pm

I am completely opposed to expanding the playoffs, but under the current system where division winners make it in no matter how bad they are, expanding the playoffs is more likely to open a spot for a 10-6 or 9-7 team that would otherwise be on the sidelines than it is to let in another 7-win team.

by Ezra Johnson :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:42pm

I've come to the realization that even the Packers' run game can be attributed to Aaron Rodgers. The so-called blueprint is to play Cover-2, rush with four and stop the run with six in the box. Their success is absolutely predicated on being able to run the ball against that. That's why the stuff percentage is so high in obvious run situations, and why they've had problems in the red zone. Yesterday they ran right down the field against cover-2, then couldn't get a yard on the goal line. Yes, the line is improved, and their pass-blocking is superb, but if you ask them to line up and play smashmouth, they can't do it.

by oaktoon :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:52pm

Bingo. Unfortunately seattle's defense has enough talent and flexibility to not be forced into a pick your poison mentality. But the best hope other than Rodgers having a career day is to run effectively with lacy against the six man box. Hope you only need 21-24 pts to win and that Wilson throws a pick

by GoDog :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:44pm

I would agree a full suspension is out of order. A fine hurts the player, but a suspension hurts the team along with the player. As long as the league senses this kind of behavior isn't spiraling out of control, it will use fines (escalating with repeat offenders) instead of suspensions.

If the league thinks it must do something to increase the control, it could consider partial suspensions instead of full suspensions for the less egregious offenses. Suspending a player for a quarter or half would send a message stronger than a fine but not hurt the team. If it gets to the point full suspensions are warranted, teams would start the process of some form of intervention. Let's face it; some of these knuckleheads won't change and will become a liability. The team has to move on a player with a problem in playing the game the right way.

by thebuch :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 1:19pm

Fines and suspensions have proven ineffective for both Suh and the Lions, why give both the team and the player another chance when they've been through too many chances already? Only way to stop dirty organizations and players is a true zero tolerance policy, not bend this time because Suh made it "look innocent". We all know he knew exactly what he was doing with the second step.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 2:57pm

This season firmly reminded me how one year can do a lot to change perceptions. Case in point - I thought both trestman and McCoy had found innovative ways to fix their qbs. I thought Lovie could build a good cover 2 defense overnight. Hell, doesn't the same apply to Sean Payton every season?

Honestly - this gets back to RR, but does anyone really believe their coach does something special for their organization? I think Belichick does, I think Chip Kelly probably does too(he's doing it with qbs like foles and sanchez), and probably Carrol as well. And Harbaugh.

And I think RR does as well. Chase Stuart noted that the Jets D has been regressing every year under RR. Not coincidentally - they've been hemorrhaging talent every year under RR. The only thing I absolutely hate about Ryan is his bizarre aversion to drafting edge rushers.

Outside of coaches listed above - I'm pretty much nonplussed with the rest.

by gomer_rs :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:01pm

Harbaugh. Before he showed up the 49ers were on a looong run of mediocrity.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:31pm

"Honestly - this gets back to RR, but does anyone really believe their coach does something special for their organization? I think Belichick does, I think Chip Kelly probably does too(he's doing it with qbs like foles and sanchez), and probably Carrol as well. And Harbaugh."

Keep in mind there's more than one Harbaugh, and it's arguable which one has had more success than the other.

by gomer_rs :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:44pm

Baltimore Harbaugh is less impressive than his brother. The Baltimore franchise has been well run for a long time and he is more like Mike Tomlin at Pitt.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:57pm

Prior to John Harbaugh the Ravens made the playoffs 4 out of 12 years. Under John Harbaugh they've made the playoffs 6 out of 7 years, with the only down year being 8-8. Tomlin rode Cowher's team to a Super Bowl but I don't think has been a better coach overall.

I think Jim Harbaugh is a good offensive coach, but frankly the strength of the 49ers has been the defense under his regime and a lot of those pieces were in place before Harbaugh arrived.

by gomer_rs :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:04pm

Jim H. is known as an 'offensive coach' but the Stanford teams he coached were known for their defense and the SF teams he coached have been great a defense. I'd say that there is little proof that he is any kind of a good talent evaluator/developer like Pete Carroll but coach. Yeah, he's demonstrated value.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:17pm

I was referring to Jim Harbaugh, but you could make an argument for Jon. I'm always impressed when a coach is able to put together multiple winning seasons despite not getting elite qb play.

That said, its really hard to know what it is Jon is doing. With coaches like RR, Kelly, and a few others - we know they are bringing scheme and playcalling to the table. Shanny was able to field good run games.

But then there are coaches like Fox, Tomlin, and Jo Harbaugh - where the schemes seem independent of the coach, yet they are still successful. I suspect there's a managerial aspect to coaching that is hugely important but probably impossible to capture with data.

All that to say - I'm still uncertain about Jon. In the coaches I listed above, I believe everyone of them could improve Jacksonville or Oakland in some very tangible way that we could observe. Could Jon?

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:32pm

John Harbaugh is reliant on his coordinators for the X's and O's, and probably wouldn't be as effective with other franchises. Really, Ozzie Newsome's drafting acumen is the driving force behind the Ravens success. Once the QB play stabilized under Flacco, they became well set up to succeed year in year out.

All in all, Jim is probably a better coach. BUT, part of being a good coach is working well with others, sharing power, delegating responsibilities, etc. Doesn't seem like Jim has those kind of skills working with his front office.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 6:50pm

"The Baltimore franchise has been well run for a long time and he is more like Mike Tomlin at Pitt."

Harbaugh impresses me a lot more than Tomlin. He's never been 1-and-done in the playoffs, unlike Tomlin. And the Ravens have done better under Harbaugh than they did under Billick, while Tomlin seems to have been a bit of a drag on the Steelers.

I know if I wanted a coach for my team (and Belichick weren't available), I'd go to John Harbaugh before Tomlin, and before Jim Harbaugh.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:02pm

Of the people who have coached 100 NFL games, 13 have a better winning percentage than Tomlin. I think Harbaugh is wonderful as well, but with these sorts of resumes, it's a bit much to describe anyone as a drag on their team.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 10:15pm

According to DVOA, the Jets defense was better in 2011 than in 2010. According to points allowed, perhaps Stuart is correct, but that includes points off turnovers and special teams, where the defense didn't even take the field.
As far as the edge rushers, the Jets might be stuck drafting one in Gregory, the way the first five picks work out.

by jklps :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:19pm

Can somebody let me know how it feels to root for an actual, competitive football team? Those of us in the DC area seemingly have forgotten.

by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:22pm

Drive up the Parkway and I'll buy you a drink. I'm feeling generous.

by jklps :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:24pm

Thanks, but I'll never root for the Ravens...ever.

Maybe the Washington team can move, and we can get somebody else's franchise too...

by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:31pm

That's okay I could never root for a team called the Redskins. EVER. I've felt that way all my life.

by jklps :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:51pm

I don't like the team name, never said I did. I was just simply pointing out where Ozzie Newsome and the pick that turned into Ray Lewis came from.

It isn't because I like Washington that I will never root for Baltimore..it is that I have connections to Cleveland too.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:02pm

Well the main reason why Baltimore ended up with the old Cleveland franchise is because the Redskins used their influence to prevent Baltimore from getting an expansion team. I mean, who in their right minds actually thought Jacksonville would be a more viable city for an NFL franchise than Baltimore?

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:36pm

Don't worry, Dan Snyder is only 50 years old, I'm sure if you wait 20+ more years you might get an owner who could possibly field a competitive team.

by jklps :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:52pm

So I should just root for another team?

by t.d. :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:28pm

feelin' your pain in Jacksonville (at least RG3 is exciting)

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:34pm

I would take having an owner who, other than looking like Ron Jeremy, seems like a decent fellow, over Dan Snyder.

by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:37pm

You make it sound like an owner who looks like "the Hedgehog" is a bad thing.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:51pm

How great would it be for the NFL to have an owner who IS Ron Jeremy?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:59pm

"Ladies and gentlemen! I give yoooooouuuu . . . your Los Angeles Hedgehogs!"

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:23pm

I think the sideline and halftime entertainment would be.....um......er......unrestrained.....

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 8:39pm

Daaaamn, I haven't laughed out-loud at a convo thread in a long time. Until the Ron Jeremy tangent above--thanks. I'll start sketching the cheerleader outfits ASAP. Lots of Velcro that doesn't really stick.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:19pm

I don't think the owner is responsible for this current mess. They just missed on a qb and since they triple downed on it with draft picks, it hurts even worse. Even still, if this had worked and RG3 was healthy and progressing like we'd expected, we would be trumpeting the Redskins moxy and then writing about how all those picks the rams got don't equate to great qb play.

by gomer_rs :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:35pm

Basically if the Redskins had said "you know we need a better field, and no one Wild Card game is worth our franchise QB that we just traded the next two drafts for so, RG you're going to sit tonight against the Seahawks." We'd have a much different narrative about that draft and trade.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by t.d. :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 5:44pm

Yeah, but it's crazy how quickly they seem to be willing to consider cutting bait with RG3, and Gruden has exacerbated that. Kirk freakin' Cousins has lost every game he's started, yet Gruden was trying to push for him. RG3 looks like he's been coached not to run, and they've taken some of his safety net(easy reads) away, and boy does that look foolish. Bill James wrote a long time ago that bad organizations tend to blame their problems on their best players, and Washington seems like exhibit A of that

by RickD :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:01pm

They traded as much for RG3 as they did because Snyder wanted to do that. Shanahan wasn't the one pushing for the RG3 trade, that was Snyder.
Snyder has been behind all of the bad free agent acquisitions of the past. He's the one who thought Jim Zorn would be a better coach than Gregg Williams. He's the one who stuck with Jim Haslett while getting rid of the Shanahans when the offense was much better than the defense.
Snyder is an arrogant fanboy. He seems to make hiring decision based on name recognition. Even the GM, Bruce Allen, is on the Redskins because his father was George Allen. Jay Gruden? Unproven coordinator who happens to share a last name with Jon Gruden, a Super Bowl winning coach.
And there's little doubt that Snyder's influence undermined the Shanahans w.r.t. the development of RG3. Would RG3 have gotten away with his prima donna stuff had he been under Belichick and Bob Kraft? Never.
Snyder has built an organization that's run like a medieval fiefdom. There are favored players, backstabbing assistant coaches (if we are to believe London Fletcher, and I find him credible), and a star system in place. And the problems go far deeper than the RG3 trade. The team is very thin on talent. They have very little depth on either offense or defense (and the special teams are just awful).

The best thing that could happen to this franchise would be a ban on Snyder interacting with his own team, like the one that kept George Steinbrenner away from the Yankees in the early 90s. That changed a dysfunctional organization into the best team in baseball for a decade.

by Tarrant :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 3:59pm

Aaaaaaand so Suh is suspended for the Lions' first playoff game. He has appealed, however.

I probably would have gone with a hefty fine, if only because there is SOME reasonable doubt - I have no doubt that it was intentional, particularly given he reacts in no way like someone who is surprised he is suddenly stepping on something that isn't the ground (looking down, stepping forward again, looking behind him, whatever). Even if the first step wasn't intentional, it's hard for me to believe the second one wasn't wholly so, where it seems like he was clearly trying to put more weight on his food. He doesn't even look back or try to help up Rodgers (which I think if it was unintentional there might be a "Oh sorry dude!" or something somewhere in there), as if he knew exactly what he was doing, and he reacted not at all to Rodgers hitting him as he walks away.

Especially after the Raiola suspension, Suh had to know that was a ridiculously stupid move, and it's the Lions that are going to suffer for it. He probably figured making it a little more veiled/making it look less deliberate would help, but with his history, he wasn't going to get the benefit of the doubt, and he should know that by now.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:21pm

I would say there is about a .1% chance that he didn't know he was standing on Rodgers leg, when he took the other foot off the ground, and transferred all his weight to Rodgers. What a dummy.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:06pm

Suh suspended for the playoff game

This is ridiculous

by Dales :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:09pm

He's fortunate it isn't for the entire playoffs.

by gomer_rs :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:13pm

Without Suh against DeMarco Murray and that line, I have a feeling that will be their entire playoffs.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:17pm

Well, I'm a Packer fan and while I would agree with just about size fine a suspension, especially for a PLAYOFF game, seems overkill. Suh was being a jerk, yes. But suspending him assumes a lot of things that one can only infer but not know for certain.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:24pm

I think it was very clear he did it on purpose, as he stepped back onto the leg, then shifted all of his weight onto that leg. It's not like you're going to mistake somebody's leg for the ground, I'm going to suggest whatever sense of balance Suh has probably could determine he was on a body part. I don't have any doubt he wanted to step on Rodgers' bad leg.

That being said, he wasn't suspended for stepping on Rodgers' leg. He was suspended for stepping on Rodgers' leg after having done a number of other similar things in the past. He's very much a repeat offender in this. If Ziggy Ansah does it, no suspension, because he'd be new to that sort of thing. Suh? He has a long history, so he gets suspended. I have no issue with it whatsoever.

by Vandal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:31pm

Would you feel the same way if his 350lb frame, standing on one CLEATED foot, had broken Rodgers tibula? Certainly possible. What should the punishment be then? And why should the outcome affect the punishment? Shouldn't it be the action that's punished?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:37pm

Hey, don't get me started on the wisdom of giving a criminal 6-12 years, as opposed to life without parole, because the criminal is a lousy shot.

by big10freak :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:38pm

I am merely speaking to what folks are assuming to be true but cannot know for certain.

I COMPLETELY AGREE that is VERY LIKELY that Suh knew EXACTLY what he was doing. But he has plausible deniability.

Philosophically I am opposed to punishing folks for what I believe they were thinking at the time of an incident.

It's like the line about the guy asking the official if he can eject him for what he is thinking, the official says 'no' and the guy says "I think you suck".

Do I strongly suspect Suh was trying to hurt Rodgers? Yes. Can I be certain by what transpired? No. And I don't know what he was thinking.

I completely understand the other view.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:49pm

"Can I be certain by what transpired? No. And I don't know what he was thinking."

That, right there, could be a defense for all sorts of things the NFL is going to suspend you for. Intention isn't a criteria for suspension--how many safeties or LBs have had suspensions for hitting WRs in the head across the middle? I don't doubt they're not aiming for the head, they're just trying to lay the big hit.

I don't think Suh has anything resembling plausible deniability. How can someone suggest he didn't know he was putting all of his weight on his back leg? He's not walking backwards, he's not off-balance, nothing like that. He steps back, shifts his weight onto that leg which is several inches higher off the ground, then walks forward, and then ignores Rodgers swatting at him. I think it's utterly clear Suh did exactly what he intended and, based on his history, I think he's a douchebag who should have been suspended.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:55pm

I'm going to second this. Knowing Suh and watching the video - he likely did it intentionally. And given this is the umpteenth time this has happened - I'm basically resolved to think hes a scumbag and should probably be suspended for a year if not more.

That said, I don't think its as clear cut intentional as others. The Raiola stomp was clear cut. The previous Suh stomp was clear cut. The haynesworth stomp was clear cut(and one of the most bushleague things I've ever seen). This was just hanging on the edge of possibly unintentional that you can't be sure. And given the uncertainty, I probably would have gone with a fine and not a suspension.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 6:10pm

I can see debating whether this is suspension-worthy. However, there is no reasonable debate about his intent, as he has no plausible deniability at all. He was stepping on a human leg with his left foot. He knows he is not stepping on the ground at that point. Instead of removing his left foot from the human leg, he removes his right foot from the ground, increasing the weight/force applied to said human leg. A freak athlete who was not trying to increase pressure/inflict pain on the leg they are standing on just wouldn't do that.

He is not being punished for anyone's assessment of what he was thinking (which may not be deeper than "Mongo Stomp"). He is being punished for his actions recorded from multiple camera angles, which unequivocally demonstrate an intent to step on the unprotected leg of a downed opponent.

by poplar cove :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:29pm

The amount of force applied by Suh in this action may have been lucky to kill a small rodent. Let's slow down and think for a second what he did here and compare this to the other dozens of plays a week flagged but not suspended in the NFL where actual physical harm was inflicted. You know chop blocks, using the helmet as a weapon, concussion type plays, etc...

Suspending a guy over something like this is way over the top. In fact I laughed watching it the first time. Thought it was sorta funny. There's not a single person here if he was watching a college game and seen this same thing happen would say "that guy should be suspended for that".

Now add in the fact this suspension is for a playoff game and probably one of the biggest games in Lions team history (sadly). Fine the guy if you have too but suspend over something like this? wow

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 9:17pm

That's my first impression as well, but it battles with my deep seated hatred of numbnuts who are too effin' stupid to catch a clue, and decide to be slow learners after they have been told, repeatedly, to knock off the numbnuttery. Hell, I'd have more respect for a guy who actually took a cheap shot while participating in the active portion of a play.

I kind of had the same feeling after Belichik was caught again taping the signals from the opponents, and then decided to claim he misunderstood the meaning of the memo from the league office banning the procedure. I woulda' been tempted to tell him that since fairly simple instructions were so difficult to understand, I was giving him a year off to take remedial language classes, and was taking away his draft picks in the spring he came back, so he wouldn't have to use any valuable time scouting football players. I hate highly paid adults acting like my 2nd grader.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:18pm

I don't have an opinion on the suspension; I'm not willing to a Zapruder-like film review to evaluate it. Suh is just too stupid for words, however, to get himself into a situation like this, assuming the action involved wasn't wholly unintentional, which I don't think it was. Fer' the love of Conrad Dobler, there wasn't even an element of trying to make a play, or affect the outcome of a play. Just pure, unfiltered, dumbassery, now having a giant impact on, what, a few hundred people and their families, some of whom shed the literal, not proverbial, blood, sweat, and tears inherit in playing NFL football. What idiocy.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:42pm

Coming a week after Raiola was suspended for stepping on an opponent's leg no less. I think if the incidents were reversed (Suh first) there was about a 15% greater chance he would have avoided suspension. But, given his history and target, he still likely would have been suspended.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 5:17pm

"Fer the love of Conrad Dobler" should be a more common phrase...

by greybeard :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 5:48pm

I wish they actually kicked him out of NFL. One of these days he will injure a player and cause permanent disability. Football is already a violent game. No need to add the unnecessary violence to it.

by poplar cove :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 7:32pm

seriously? over that? i'm completely and utterly shocked over the reaction of this incident. Joe Buck (once again) turned this into a much bigger story than it needed to be and now here we are talking about a guy stepping on another. I bet there's 20 different similar situations or even worse in an nfl game each week involving being in a pile with fingers, etc.

Can someone please tell of me one time they even remember seeing something close to this even being flagged in a game before? Where a guy looking the other way steps on another and I'm talking flagged. This is suspension which is beyond ridiculous.

by greybeard :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 9:04pm

Yes. Over that. And over the many other times he did things similar to that. He has shown over and over that he will do things that would put him in jail if they were done outside the playing field. At one point one of those incidents will harm someone. Why wait for that to happen?

by Anonymouse :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:56am

I somehow doubt that the jails of America are teeming with people who step on other people's legs and violently remove people's headgear on the streets. Can we ease up on the hyperbole?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 9:25pm

Yes, you would be flagged, 100% of the time, for deliberately stepping on a prone player well away from the action, if you didn't disguise it in some manner, and the zebra was paying attention to what you were doing.

Suh's problem is that he is too ridiculously stupid to grasp that people are going to pay close attention to his behavior, due to past infractions, and that even if he fools the ref a few feet away from him, he can't get away with anything. The fire hydrant out on my curb has more self awareness than that imbecile.

by Sakic :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 9:28am

This is why Suh was suspended (courtesy of Mike Tanier from a year or so ago.)

Ndamukong Suh, a timeline:

2010: (preseason) Roughing the Passer, Jake Delhomme: $7,500.

2010: Unnecessary Roughness, Jay Cutler: $15,000.

2011: (Preseason) Roughing the Passer, Andy Dalton: $20,000.

2011: Unsportsmanlike Conduct/Unspeakable Evil, Evan Dietrich-Smith: two $82,500 game checks.

2012: Kicking Matt Schaub in the Stuff: $30,000.

2012: Threatening a Cable Guy with a Pellet Gun: $0. Suh was cleared of charges, as he never actually pointed the gun, and this was actually one of the few relatable things Suh has done in the last three years.

2013: Chop block, John Sullivan: $100,000.
Mathematics fans and Suh's accountants should take note that Suh's fines can be modeled by this equation: $ = 2634(2.03)^t, where t is the number of years since Suh's 2009 debut. According to the model, if Suh wails Carson Palmer in the knee with a hydrant wrench during pregame introductions, he will be fined $104,615. More interestingly, if Suh does something horrible in the year 2022, his 13th season, he will incur a fine of $26 million dollars. By that point, of course, he will either have retired, cleaned up his act, or become Bane.
Anyway, Jake Delhomme must look at this list and wonder why clobbering him was only worth $7,500. At least he gets off better than a cable guy.

Bottom line, the NFL is saying that they obviously don't believe Suh has gotten the point so maybe he will after this.

by Ezra Johnson :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 4:26pm

Well, you could argue that getting Rodgers out of the game was their only chance, so he was trying to do for the team what he couldn't do between the whistles. I think Suh gets frustrated when he can't dominate his opponent as he's been doing all his life, and that's when the shenanigans start.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 12/29/2014 - 9:36pm

There's also a lot of under the pile and away from the ball shenanigans that we never see, especially if they don't draw a flag and warrant a replay. I think Suh, for whatever reason, hasn't gotten it through his head that the cameras are always on the QB these days and they are always looking for out for a QB's health. That's what makes it so impossibly dumb.

by oaktoon :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 6:39am

With Harbaugh out of the league and Sean Payton reeling from a 7-9 season, who would be your top 5 NFL coaches? Or, perhaps more precisely, who are Numbers 2-5 after BB?

I think Kelly is good, but jury out given defensive problems and sputtering offense this year. But give him a quality QB and he might definitely be in this list. Jason Garrett might be flying up the list-- or maybe not if/when Romo implodes next week.

McCarthy is not appreciated by elites-- I don't see how you leave him off this list given consistent winning and the success of the part of the team he has direct responsibility for.

Can't see anyone in the NFC South...

Carroll obviously. Ariens would be a popular choice, but he has a 20 something DVOA team-- do the 11 wins trump that?

The other Harbaugh and Tomlin have both won SBs-- I would narrowly favor Tomlin for the body of work. Marvin Lewis has to win a playoff game. Is John Fox the Denver head coach, or Peyton Manning? Pagano is a nice story but let's see them get to a championship game... Andy Reid? He's top 10-- too many clock and judgment failures to go higher..

So in my book it is, in no particular order, Carroll-McCarthy-Tomlin and then I'd go with Kelly in a narrow choice over Payton and Harbaugh (and the other Peyton). Kelly's innovations have had impact-- give him a quality QB and the Eagles would be near the top.

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:17am

"The other Harbaugh and Tomlin have both won SBs-- I would narrowly favor Tomlin for the body of work."


82-46 (.641)
5-3 playoff record
playoffs made 5 out of 8 years
1 Super Bowl

John Harbaugh:

72-40 (.643)
9-4 playoff record
playoffs made 6 out of 7 years
1 Super Bowl

It's pretty close but Harbaugh seems to me more impressive. Makes the playoffs more often, and wins more in the playoffs.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:33am

Harbaugh also has a worse, or at least more high-variance quarterback, but still gets consistent overall results.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 11:50am

C'mon, people. Do you really want use the won loss records in a tiny sample of playoff games to delineate, in a meaningful way, between two guys with nearly identical winning percentages, over 112-128 total regular season games?

They are both pretty obviously terrific coaches. This has the making of a pretty irrational debate.

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 1:45pm

"Do you really want use the won loss records in a tiny sample of playoff games to delineate, in a meaningful way, between two guys with nearly identical winning percentages, over 112-128 total regular season games?"

YES!!! Let the Tomlin-Harbaugh irrational thread commence!

by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 2:22pm

Suggested starting points:

1.Who's better looking?
2.Whose wife is hotter?
3.Whose kids are better athletes?
4.Whose got the bigger house?
5.What kind of car do they drive?

plus the bonus:

Harbaugh went to Miami of Ohio "the Cradle of Coaches". He must be better.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 2:47pm

6. Number of times the coach has tripped an opposing returner on the way to the end zone.
7. Number of screaming matches gotten into with Ditka in the 80s.
8. Number of FO posters who have created accounts based on hating said coach.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 3:35pm

While Jim once had a screaming match with Ditka (well at least one). I don't think John or Tomlin ever has.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 3:52pm

Yeah, I was forced to mention again a couple weeks ago to such a poster that there are all of 13 humans on the planet who have coached 100 NFL games, and posted a better winning percentage than the hated coach. Thus, so when it is claimed, as the poster did, that the hated coach had blown a large number of victories due to his obvious shortcomings, the poster was either claiming that NFL head coaches are generally a ridiculously incompetent lot, or the hated coach's team had ridiculously underrated talent over many years.

Next debate: Does Dan Gable's loss in his final collegiate wrestling match, to go 181-1, prove he is the chokingest choker in the history of college sports?

by Led :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 2:39pm

Agreed, but if you were required at gunpoint to arbitrarily pick one over the other for ranking purposes, those small differences favor Harbaugh. I'd also slightly favor Harbaugh because Roethlisberger is significantly better than Flacco, increasing the degree of difficulty for Harbaugh. But the bottom line is that both are excellent coaches.

by theslothook :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 4:14pm

When I was doing my draft research, I had to re-read all of Dr.Z's old all pro articles. He would pick his coach of the year and what struck me was how different we think of those same coaches now. Coaches like Mariucci, Seifert, Holmgren, Shannahan, and others.

My point - time can really alter what your perception of a coach is. Take McCarthy. He's been very successful, sure, but one simply cannot deny the quarterback he's had. If you take Rodgers off the packers, how good is McCarthy? Can people honestly say what he's done is more impressive than say Lovie Smith getting to the playoffs with the likes of Orton and Grossman? Or even say Harbaugh, who has been to the playoffs a ton despite inconsistency at the qb position.

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 7:56pm

Twenty-three teams apparently thought Alex Smith was a better prospect than Rodgers. Aaron had a loop in his delivery in college that has been eliminated. He's obviously great now, but he's been coached up considerably, and McCarthy deserves a lot of credit for that. He is also an outstanding game-planner. This is the first year that Rodgers has had almost complete control at the line of scrimmage. I think McCarthy is underrated, except for in-game decisions, which are not strong.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/31/2014 - 12:24pm

"Twenty-three teams apparently thought Alex Smith was a better prospect than Rodgers"

That is an unsubstantiated claim. Only a single team passed on Rodgers to draft Smith.

by oaktoon :: Wed, 12/31/2014 - 7:50pm

True dat-- and one of the evaluators on said team was... Mike McCarthy

I will be the first to state chicken-and-egg considerations are laced into this question..

Was it Walsh? Montana? Rice? If all three are the greatest there ever was, how come they ONLY won 4 SBs? (And Seifert coached the 4th... And Rice missed the first two) With Lott, Haley, Craig, Taylor, Clark, Jones, Romanowski, et.al,?

On McCarthy he must be given some credit for Rodgers' development... And for the fact that together they have scored more pts/game than any other Coach/QB pairing save Payton-Brees... And a reliable 10-11 win team every year...

OTOH, how well did they play without #12 last year? And what about their record in recent years against quality teams, partic. on road? And some of the tactical decision-making? And was Capers the right hire? Why can't the special teams get better?

You can go round.. and round.. and round.... But that's what makes it so fun...

by theslothook :: Wed, 12/31/2014 - 7:58pm

But the larger body of evidence suggests is less the coach imo. You look at every successful coach/qb combination and almost none ever achieve the sustained success they did once they left. Worse, its not at all clear coaching quality remains constant over time. Landry was a great coach for so long...until he wasn't. Was BB the same coach in Cleveland? And don't get me started on Shannahan(who despite the elway comments, was still pretty successful post elway in denver).

I don't buy the McCarthy fixed Rodgers argument because he didn't do the same wonders for Alex Smith. I just think Rodgers is an anomaly in that he took the coaching and actually applied it on the field in a way, say, Stafford and Cutler have not.

I understand how people feel about McCarthy, I just think he's being praised for results and I really will need to see him without Rodgers for at least a full season before I feel safe in praising him. For other coaches without hall of fame qbs, I'm more generous. The easiest way to build a consistent winner is to land an elite qb. There's a reason John Fox has gone three straight seasons with double digit wins when before he was lucky to go 8-8 with Tebow.

by theslothook :: Wed, 12/31/2014 - 7:58pm

double post.

by BJR :: Wed, 12/31/2014 - 5:49am

Andy Reid makes my top 5 for sure. He's won 60% of his regular season games over a huge sample without ever having the benefit of top tier QB play. He never inherited a good situation like a Tomlin or a Jo. Harbaugh. Two years ago he took over a Chiefs team coming off the worst record in the league and has achieved back-to-back winning seasons.

The game-management issues and lack of post-season success obscure the fact he is a damned good coach.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/31/2014 - 12:26pm

I don't think we need to rip on McNabb that bad. He was pretty damn good and helped Reid win a lot of games.

by Dice :: Tue, 12/30/2014 - 8:20pm

I'd also take Harbaugh over Tomlin(Ravens fan). McCarthy probably makes my top five, while Reid falls just outside it. Reid has gotten a lot out of some dubious rosters.