Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Dec 2005

TMQ: 13 Down, Three to Go for Indy

This week, Gregg Easterbrook tells us why the Jags never had a chance against the Colts after punting on their first possession, wonders if the Ming Ding Xiong should sit Kyle Orton, and praises Kris Brown for saving the Texans' season. The swinging gate also gets a mention, as does a great holiday gift suggestion: a Brooks Bollinger game worn jersey for the low, low price of $299.

(Ed. note added by Aaron: My theory about the Minnesota defense is also mentioned in here. Just so people understand, Easterbrook refers to me as a writer for the New York Sun, not FO, because he doesn't want the NFL folks to complain about him promoting us too often. So it's all good.)

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 13 Dec 2005

52 comments, Last at 14 Dec 2005, 10:17pm by Todd S.


by bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:04pm

I love the fact that the websites described the Colts' fake FG formation formation not just as "swinging gate" but as a "modified swinging gate." Well then, thanks folks, that explains everything.....

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:05pm

That may be the dumbest tmq lede ever.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:14pm

Great -- we don't link to the printer version of King -- but we do to TMQ.

No cheerbabes, no hideous Stones picture, no mention of how Baltimore followed one of his immutable laws on 4th and goal and lost anyway -- OK, so maybe that last one doesn't show up in the main article either.

I can't remember the last time Stover hit a 52-yarder, but he does have a point about punting from the 35 -- just go for it in that location if you don't think you can kick it.

by Rollo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:16pm

TMQ's reasoning fails to consider that Jacksonville has been one of the worst power running teams in the league, and also fields a defense that held the Colts to 10 back in September. Del Rio has gone for plenty of risky 4th and 1 calls earlier in the season and most have backfired. I don't there's any way you can fault the decision, unless you had money or a journal lead riding on the Colts.

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:18pm

Nice shoutout to Aaron.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:55pm

Roethlisberger turned and flipped the ball back to Ward, who ran for the touchdown

WHO RAN FOR THE TOUCHDOWN? That's all he can say about Hines' glorious run? He seems to praise the call and the "turn and flip," but all but ignores the run itself!?

Very disappointing.

by michael (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 5:57pm

man, i've been waiting for this one all day, because you just knew there would be *no* mention of "AIYYEEEE!!! Why *aren't* you kicking?? (contrapositvie does/doesn't prove the rule) in regards to the Lions going for it on fourth down instead of kicking a figgie in a tie game.

At least Jauron sent a message to his team that he was challenging them to win.

by Kris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:11pm

His latest article is all rushed. Like Rollo said, TMQ doesn't consider JAX's season when it comes to rushing or the number of times Del Rio has gone for it on fourth down.
Also, his DEN/BAL comments gets me to believe that TMQ only pointing out the wrong most of the time than praising teams that can get it right or follows TMQ's laws CAR/TB (2 straight rushes needing 2 yards for a first down and fail) and DET/GB (DET going for it on a 4 and goal on the 1, fail, but pin GB on the 1.)
Lastly, I'm surprised he didn't go nuts with HOU/TEN game with the facemask penalty at the end of the game that gave the Texans a shot to tie it. He got it wrong saying there were 10 seconds left on the clock. He was more impressed with the number of people that showed up.
TMQ surely has got some football smarts, but he is surely mailing it in when it comes to the regular season with these last month of articles.

by Kevo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:23pm

He blasts the 3-10 Saints for not playing aggressively, but lauds the 1-12 Texans for losing in style.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:26pm

Also, his DEN/BAL comments gets me to believe that TMQ only pointing out the wrong most of the time than praising teams that can get it right or follows TMQ’s laws CAR/TB (2 straight rushes needing 2 yards for a first down and fail) and DET/GB (DET going for it on a 4 and goal on the 1, fail, but pin GB on the 1.)

Yup, he only points out when teams don't follow his laws and lose, never when they do follow his laws and lose.

by JG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:31pm

Hey Aaron, how much of your advertising budget did it take to get your name and PFP mentioned in the same article on NFL.com. Nice job getting some recognition!

by jds (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:37pm

I've got some questions on the swinging gate, that perhaps some Colts fans can answer. I only saw it on the highlight reels, but I understand that the Colts were up 14 - 3 in the last 5 minutes of the half, from a very makeable spot for the FG.

My basic question is why run the play? Was the real intention to come out in a goofy formation, so that Jax would panic and call a timeout. That is, were the Colts really expecting to trick Jax into burning a timeout so they wouldn't have one for the 2 minute drill. Then after the timeout they would just kick the FG for a 17 - 3 lead. I can't see the real play (that is, execution of the swinging gate) being called by the Colts staff. Did Jax cross them up by not calling the TO, and so the Colts actually had to run the play?

Alternatively, did the Colts just want to run the play so they can see if Hunter Smith can throw the ball in game conditions, so they can determine if they can use the plays where he throws (from punt or FG formations). Since they found out he really can't throw, do they now delete those plays from the playbook?

Further alternative, did they want to call this and show this option, so that next time they call it they can "go traditional" and throw to the guy behind the wedge, because everybody's going to be madly pointing at the long snapper?

I just want to know what the coaches were thinking, because to my mind that play is one you call when you are down by 3 or 7, or tied, or up by 3 or 7, not when you are up by 11, and almost guaranteed to go up by 14 if you just took the relatively easy FG.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:38pm

I was excited by Go Win The Game. Maybe I've been only barely reading TMQ lately (okay, there is no "maybe" about it ...) but is this a brand new soon-to-be-running schtick? And later, when a team tries to Go Win The Game and fires an interception that sets up the other team's winning score, he can be crucified for failing to mention it?

Turn, turn, turn.

by Kris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:40pm


Matt Stover last attempted and made a 50 yard field goal against DAL at home on week 11 in 2004. All of 50 yard attempts came at BAL in 2004. He was 2 for 3 that yeat.

by djcolts (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 6:50pm

Re #12.

I actually like the call. If they succeed and get the TD - then the game is probably over. But, they failed. However, Jax was still stuck on their own 6 yard line when they took over. The Colts D got a 3 and out - and the Colts drove to a FG at the end of the half, anyway.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 7:13pm

#12 I have a couple of theories:

1) This was called on the drive where Peterson hit Reggie Wayne late and Henderson was pushing E. James' head into the ground after the play (both of which drew flags). I think the Colts really wanted to come out with a touchdown on this drive and put the game out of reach. So it was a good time to try a trick play. (The call was good; the execution just missed. Actually, the ball was catchable but the TE/long snapper mis-timed his jump a bit and the pass glanced off his hands.)

2) It wasn't just a makeable field goal. The Colts had the ball inside the JAX 5-yard line. So if you fail, the worst case is having a backup QB pinned in his own end with just over 2 minutes before halftime. You're likely to get the ball back anyway. (Which of course is what happened-Indy still got the 3 points before half.) Furthermore, with the Colts' dreadful kick return coverage, JAX is likely to get the ball near their own 40 after a FG which would give them plenty of time to match that FG. JAX could afford to be more aggressive in that situation with the much better field position.

I liked the call. If the pass were a tad more accurate, or the receiver didn't jump, or if he jumped at the right time there's a good chance it's a TD. They failed, but the D held, got the ball back and the Colts kicked a FG anyway. Just to annoy Pat I'll point out that Vanderjerk is 19 for 20 this year, and his career FG% is better on the road than at home (according to CBS anyway). :)

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 7:29pm

Go Win The Game is a good idea when your quarterback is named Brady or maybe Manning. It's a bad idea for some people named Manning or if your QB is named Bledsoe or various other things.

It also depends on what your FG kicker's name is. If it's Vinateri, sure, go win the game. If it's Brien or Kaeding, maybe think again...

by doktarr (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 7:30pm

Easterbrook's bit about the 2002 draft was maybe the best thing he's written all year. He exaggerated for effect in spots, but it's a solid point.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 7:52pm

I normally don't mind Easterbrook, but the intro was one of the most pathetic bits of Colts-worship I've yet seen this season. You can't even punt, because you have to score every single possession? You're not going to do that! The Colts aren't going to do that! Stop trying to pretend that it's impossible to come back from any sort of deficit!


by admin :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 8:11pm

My god, people. Can we go one week without 90% of the comments being how much you all hate this column? Why on earth do you still read it if you hate it so much?

by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 8:18pm

I'm not so sure Fnor (#19). Not only does TMQ say something along those lines in every column, he has for years, back to the Slate days. In fact, last year, after the Colts-Pats playoff game he ruthlessly took Dungy to task for punting in several similar situations. He also this year frequently asks something along the lines of, "is there one chance in a thousand Bill Belichick does not go for it this situation?" And, not to get too wordy here, but can you defend Del Rio's decision? I've read numerous articles that say that NFL coaches should be going for it on 4th and medium distance on their side of the field. That was a bad give up type call by Del Rio. Of course, TMQ engages in hyperbole with his "game over" shtick, but that's what he does.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 8:24pm

You can’t even punt, because you have to score every single possession? You’re not going to do that!

Yah! I mean, he makes it sound as if some team should try onsides kicking every single kickoff against the Colts!

Wait, some team basically tried that?

And said team recovered both of the ones they tried?


Maybe it isn't such a bad idea after all.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 8:29pm

Just to annoy Pat I’ll point out that Vanderjerk is 19 for 20 this year, and his career FG% is better on the road than at home

Yah. Man, the Colts really need that dedicated roster spot to kick 19 field goals - of which the majority were 20 to 29 yards, and the long was only 48.

Call me when he's 34/35 with a long of 54, and the majority in the 40-49 yard range. Then I'll agree he deserves a dedicated roster spot. :)

by Al H (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 8:29pm

Re: 19

I was actually at the Jags/Colts game and you should've seen how punting on that 4th and 1 just took the air out of the crowd. It was almost like a gutpunch especially with the ensuing touchdown drive. I was just surprised he actually called that, considering 4th and 1 is a gimme for our team usually. Both Byron and Garrard are strong quarterbacks and exceptional on the Sneak.

Even more curious was when they called a QB sneak on 3rd and 3, picked up 2 yards and THEN punted. But c'est la vie

by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 8:34pm

re 4
Del rio, or as i like to call him, Mr wussypants, has gone for it on 4th and a yard 4 times going into the colts game.
Two were runs, one was a conversion
Two were passes, one was a conversion.
I would hardly call that a lot, and they were successful half the time.
Later in the game they went for it on 4th and a yard and scored, bringing up the total to 60 percent on 4th and one.
So far this year the Jaguars have had 8 4th down attempts,
behind both the Colts at 9 and the Bronco's at 15.

by michael (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 8:43pm

My god, people. Can we go one week without 90% of the comments being how much you all hate this column? Why on earth do you still read it if you hate it so much?

I still read it largely because, if i didn't, this weekly comment thread wouldn't make any sense.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 9:03pm

Illustrated version linked on my name.

by Kris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 9:06pm

Actually I like TMQ's column. He brings a different point of view that some people don't see or realize. It had me hooked when I first discovered him on Page 2.
It's just lately his diatribe has been filled with erroneous descriptions and not enough detail in others.
Still, his column is worthwhile reading considering the football networks and ESPN don't go over the strategies and laws he keeps preaching about.
My only thing with the plays that he describes is that if he is with the NFL Network, provide the video on which he describes the plays in his article. That way, we can see what he is talking about.

by Shylo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 9:24pm

And still lost 51-some disappointing amount? Go Titans, indeed.

by jason (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 9:41pm

re: 18

Except for one thing, he should have listed Sheldon Brown in his list of Eagles picks at 16. Possibly their best DB of the 3 chosen

by MDZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2005 - 11:34pm

He was spot on about Levi Jones who absolutely manhandled Freeney a few weeks ago. TMQ must not have seen the Giants-Seahawks game because Umenyiora (sp?) gave Walter fits and got a few sacks if I remember correctly.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 1:12am

In the Vikings paragraph in which Aaron's insight is mentioned TMQ says Johnson's stats are comparable to Culpepper's stats as the starter. Which they are if you overlook the gigantic difference in TDs to INTs (8 and 2 for Johnson, 6 and 12 for Culpepper).

TMQ has carved out a unique niche in all of sportswriting and he's still a must read. However, his use of stats and examples can be maddeningly selective. He's like the David Brooks of football writers. Never inaccurate per se, but frequently telling an incomplete story when you know he knows better.

by admin :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 1:43am

Sigh, that's my analysis too. Look at Culpepper's INTs this year -- they were nearly all in the first two games of the season. TMQ just forgot to say that Culpepper's numbers SINCE WEEK 3 are similar to Johnson's numbers -- in other words, it is reasonable to assume that, had he stayed healthy, Culpepper would have continued to put up numbers similar to Johnson's.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 3:28am

RE: Pat #23,

Look at Indy's Special DVOA. The only thing they're good at is FG/XP. (Hunter manages to make them mediocre in punting.) Belittle it as a series of short FGs if you like, but it is possible to miss those. The numbers don't lie.

The more reasonable argument is that they don't need a dedicated kickoff specialist, since he's not all that great anyway. But it's worth noting that there is some advantage to having two kickers taking up roster space. They can do an adequate job in case of an injury to either one of them. This avoids the David Akers scenario.

by Jason (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 5:22am

I don't see how you can reasonably assume the Culpepper performances from weeks 1 and 2 can just be tossed aside as though they did not happen and have no predictive power.

by jds (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 6:01am

Aaron, your analysis on the Vikings may be correct with respect to it being a result of a change in defensive scheme, but you got the wrong guy. Erasmus James has been the invisible man. Hopefully it is just rookie growing pains, but he does nothing for that D. One interesting note is that the secondary got stronger once Smoot went out.

by Hector, Paris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 7:46am

I like this column.
It's entertaining and long enough to cover almost entirely the time I spend (lost) in metro when I'm coming back home on Tuesday (seldomly) or Wednesday. I like the nicknames , the marroon zone and I find it insteresting to have the description of some plays.
I like the "sweet (sour) play of the week" series and we all know TMQ is relaxing when speaking football. He is just as your father always speaking of the time when passes were quite forbidden, you played it safe, you ran it and all these others theories. When I want some serious stuff about coaching strategy, I don't read TMQ, when I want some fun, I read TMQ. I hope he'll continue his column and wish it wasn't shortened.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 9:05am

I've posted a few times this year on what a great season Levi Jones is having. What I did find interesting was TMQ's point about his relatively small size in comparison to Mike Williams and McKinnie (sp?). Is there any validity in that across the league as a whole, and is the trend for bigger linemen, (on both sides of the ball), becoming subject to diminishing returns?

by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 10:05am

The Bengals were criticized not for taking Jones, but for taking him at #10 when they could have traded down, gotten an extra pick and still taken him later in the round. Considering the team's long, ugly history of selecting first-round busts, that's probably what they should have done.

by admin :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 12:00pm

Re: 36. Well, I'll have to watch James next time I watch the Vikings. Yes, I think it has more to do with the 4-3 alignment and less to do with James. Why is a team playing 3-4 when their shallowest position is linebacker? And yes, Brian Williams is playing very well.

On the other hand, giving James sole credit for the turnaround makes about as much sense as the conventional wisdom which gives Johnson sole credit for the turnaround without mentioning defense at all.

Re: 35

Look at who Culpepper played in those first two games, during which the offensive line was still getting used to playing without Matt Birk. I'm using FO numbers here, so I'm ranking INT/pass attempt without considering Hail Mary passes.

TB: INT every 27.1 passes (4th)
CIN: INT every 16.7 passes (1st)

Culpepper's other INTs came against Chicago (INT every 27.4 passes, 5th) and Atlanta (INT every 32.2 passes, 13th). So Culpepper faced THREE of the top FOUR defenses that he could theoretically face since Minnesota itself is second (INT every 23.2 passes).

Johnson, on the other hand, has faced STL (INT every 56.4 passes, 27th), GB (INT every 48.8 passes, 23rd), NYG (INT every 34.7 passes, 16th), CLE (INT every 33.4 passes, 15th), and DET twice (INT every 32.2 passes, 12th).

Johnson's DVOA is 16.7%. Culpepper's DVOA was -13.9%. But Culpepper's 2005 DVOA from Week 3 through the injury was 8.4%. The trend was very clearly upward.

by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 12:07pm

James, I'm planning to write something soon about big linemen, specifically whether it's meaningful that the relatively big Steelers ran all over the relatively small Bears. From the research I've done so far my general feeling is that there's not much correlation between an NFL lineman's size and the quality of his play. If anyone has thoughts about this, I'd love to hear them.

by JG (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 12:32pm

One thing I'm curious about on the subject of linemen size is matchups. Some teams go for smaller, quicker linemen (i.e. Chicago), Whereas other teams want Hulk sized unmoveable/immobile barrels of lead (i.e. Pittsburgh).

I've always been of the opinion that smaller D-linemen actually match-up well again large o-linemen due to their quickness and mobility, but that wasn't the case at all in the snowbowl 2005 last week.

I've heard analysts extol this viewpoint as well, saying that speed on the d-line is a reactionary measure to increasing o-line size, and that ultimately it will drive the o-lines to become smaller and quicker as well.

The question that ultimately arrises after watching the Pittsburgh-Chicago game then is "Do small, quick d-linemen match up well against hulking o-linemen, or have I just been playing too much Madden?"

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 12:33pm

I'm not totally sure why they ran that play, just wanted to try something new to freak people out maybe. I totally understood why they went for it, given their desire to make the Jags pay for the cheap shots. Also, I would guess their success rate for a play there on 4th down would probably be around 50%, so expected value would be better for going for it.

It was Reagor's head that was being slammed into the ground repeatedly. I was yelling at the TV on this one, especially since it only cost them 3 yards.

While I have been pretty unimpressed with Rayner's kickoffs, I wouldn't suggest that Vanderjagt's is the wasted roster spot. However, Vandy's had some nagging injuries all year so not having him handle kickoffs is probably a great thing for keeping him somewhat healthy.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 12:33pm

Belittle it as a series of short FGs if you like, but it is possible to miss those. The numbers don’t lie.

Of course it's possible to miss them. But if you replaced Vanderjagt with their kickoff specialist, how many would he have missed? Maybe 1? 2? Would this have affected any of their games?

And now comes the question - if the offense is struggling in a game, what kind of field goals do you think they're going to need - short ones? Not likely.

The more reasonable argument is that they don’t need a dedicated kickoff specialist, since he’s not all that great anyway.

As mediocre as he is, Vanderjagt is ridiculously worse. Really. He's just terrible. Enough so that I'm sure the reason that they never try a field goal past 50 yards is because Vanderjagt doesn't have the distance.

But it’s worth noting that there is some advantage to having two kickers taking up roster space. They can do an adequate job in case of an injury to either one of them. This avoids the David Akers scenario.

If Rayner gets injured (or is pulled off the roster due to roster space issues, which is what happened last year, if memory serves), the Colts chance of winning goes down dramatically, because Vanderjagt is so incredibly bad at kickoffs.

Let me stress this - the Colts only kicked off once during the Colts-Patriots game last year, but Vanderjagt kicked 41 yards. The Patriots started on their own 44 yard line that drive! This distance is almost exactly the same as Mike Bartrum's kickoffs for the Eagles!

The main problem here is that if the Colts have roster space issues, they'll deactivate/release Rayner, and not Vanderjagt. Which is the big mistake - because Rayner is a decent replacement for Vanderjagt. What, they'd lose maybe 3 points a game? Vanderjagt is anything but a decent replacement for Rayner.

What I can't figure out is why they don't pick up Jose Cortez. His average kickoff distance is ~64 yards, which easily beats Rayner's 61.5. He averages a little better than 1 touchback per 10 kickoffs, which is ridiculously better than Rayner.

And then if they're pushed for roster space, Cortez is even a decent kicker inside 40 yards, which is where the vast majority of the Colts field goals have been.

In my mind, the main reason to get rid of Mike Vanderjagt is because of the danger of what happened last year versus the Patriots. Granted, the Colts didn't need a kicker then, but even if they had been scoring touchdowns during that game, the Patriots would've matched them score for score simply because of the field position Vanderjagt was giving them. If the Colts were willing to deactivate Vanderjagt for a game when they're pushed for space, then I'd say sure, if you've got the space, keep him. But in my mind he's still a waste of space.

The Colts don't need a good field goal kicker. They do need a good kickoff kicker.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 12:34pm

However, Vandy’s had some nagging injuries all year so not having him handle kickoffs is probably a great thing for keeping him somewhat healthy.

Well, that, and the fact that a punter could've kicked the ball farther than Vanderjagt's last kickoff.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 12:38pm

OK, I'm getting confused. Big hulking linemen don't do screens and traps very well at all, yet that was the core of Pittsburgh's plan of attack against Chicago. One of the few coherent things I heard Jimmy Johnson say was that he took the screen out of his Cowboy playbook because the "Hulks" he had on his o-line couldn't play in space well enough to run a screen.

So is Pittsburgh running roadgraders, or the same trap/counter/screen game that they have for years?

by DGL (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 2:48pm

Another question on the big O-line, small quick D-line issue: From what I've read (not having been able to watch the PIT-CHI game), the bigger PIT O-line dominated the smaller quicker Chicago D-line -- but two weeks earlier, the smaller quicker Indy D-line blew out the bigger PIT O-line. Are the two D-lines significantly different in talent? Was Chicago out-schemed by Pgh, but Pgh was out-schemed by Indy? Did the noise in the dome slow down the Pgh O-line a step, enabling the speed of the Indy D-line to be more of a factor than it was in Pittsburgh for Chicago?

by JG (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 3:16pm

RE: 47
I think the dome might be an issue. Chicago's D-line starts in a sprinter's stance in order to get off the line and past the blockers quickly. It may have been hard to get a quick start is snowy conditions, whereas the dome in indy very much would allow for a quick start. Just a theory.

by Isaac Newton (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 3:36pm

I have two comments regarding Indy's fake figgy:

1. we should be praising Indy for being creative in their play-calling. all too often we see a running play after a 1st down incomplete, or a punt from the opponent's 35-40 yard line, etc. coaches make calls based on what's expected of them in this situation and there's no creativity. but it's plays like this fake FG that make football worth watching.

2. one of the reasons cited for why the dungy hasn't won a SB yet is b/c he get's too cautious/conservative. so now he's being ultra-aggressive, and his critics persist. (bear in mind that he probably didn't call the play, but OK'ed the "go for it".) maybe dungy is just telling his team: i want us to be aggressive b/c i've learned that's what it takes to win a championship

by Stravinsky (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 3:41pm

Pittsburgh rushed for 128 of their 190 rushing yards in the second half in the snow. The blizzard-like field conditions probably did a nice job of netralizing Chicago's D-line speed.

by Mloco (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 7:09pm

Re: #41

I’m planning to write something soon about big linemen, specifically whether it’s meaningful that the relatively big Steelers ran all over the relatively small Bears. From the research I’ve done so far my general feeling is that there’s not much correlation between an NFL lineman’s size and the quality of his play. If anyone has thoughts about this, I’d love to hear them.

MDS - One of the classic counter arguments to the Bigger=Better offensive line is the current offensive line of the Denver Broncos. I'd also like to mention the offensive lines the 49ers have used as an interesting case study. E.g., for most of the 1980's they used undersized linemen and valued continuity to maximize pass protection and utilize them for sweep/trap blocking plays and to block downfield on swing passes. Then in the early to mid 1990's they went with oversized guards and undersized tackles in response the the run-stuffing behemoth defensive tackle and the very quick pass-rushing defensive end. Most notable at this point was the signing of R. Brown.

In any case, I am of the opinion that history has given short shrift to Jesse Sapolu and Steve Wallace for anchoring one of the best extended performances by an offense in NFL history. I mean these guys went from blocking for Joe Montanta/Wendell Tyler/Roger Craig to Steve Young/Ricky Williams/William Floyd.


by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/14/2005 - 10:17pm

#43 The play I'm thinking of was when the Colts were driving on offense just before the field goal. Since the offense was on the field, it couldn't have been Reagor's head being shoved into the ground. It was Edge.