Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Oct 2010

MMQB: Week 7 Storylines

This week, PK reflects on the rough seasons of Favre and Brees, reveals that the effects of the NFL's new policy may be positive, explains why Hue Jackson should get a gold star, and agrees with everyone else: Jay Cutler is not the only goat in Chicago.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 25 Oct 2010

64 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2010, 4:31am by countertorque


by Joe somewhere (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:36am

normaly I first read the comments and then PK, this time vice versa - first

by SteveNC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:23pm

Was reading the comments (before your comment) more enjoyable for you than the average week of comments?

by Theo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:17pm


by billsfan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:55am

"Coincidence,'' said DeAngelo Hall of the Redskins, when I asked him if he thought the quiet day was sign of a change or just happenstance. "Last week's not going to happen very often. It was kind of a freaky Friday kind of Sunday. I don't see a lot of players changing their games.''

Who knew DeAngelo Hall was such a Lindsay Lohan fan?

(I also like the Eagles)

by Theo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:13am

The games I've seen the redskins play I've seen a very good DeAngelo Hall. His tackling has improved a lot too.

by dmb :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:26pm

Yes, he's having a fantastic year. Teams have been testing his tackling -- Dallas and Green Bay seemed particularly happy to throw quick 3-5 yard hitches and let the receiver beat Hall after the catch -- and Hall has consistently made good open-field tackles. He's also scored two game-winning touchdowns.

He's also been torched a couple times (he gave up big gains against the Colts and Texans), but his M.O. has always been a risky one. He's gambled much more successfully this year than he has in the past, but I don't know if there's anything fundamentally different about his play that would suggest his hot streak is likely to continue long-term.

by Theo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:21pm

Just saw the skins game again, and it's pressure.
Hall knows now when the pressure is coming, so he know whether a route will be short (say; hitch) or long (hitch and go).
He can tell in this defense if he can gamble on a short route and jump it.
Yes, the tackling is way better and he's playing way more solid, to use a word that will always come in handy when you just use eye-seen-research.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:12pm

I'm glad to see a player acknowledge the limited data set of a single week, as opposed to PK who seemed to want to use a single week as proof that everything has completely changed.

by spenczar :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:58pm

It's amazing - Hall used to be seriously overrated. You'd hear sportscenter anchors referring to him as an elite CB, which he certainly wasn't, back with the Falcons. Everyone caught on though by the time he was cut by the Raiders, and then the universal agreement was that he sort of blew.

Now, he's improved a whole lot, and I think he's actually underrated by many people. It's a really remarkable 180 and quite an unusual career shape.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:59am

Come on PK -- I'm a huge Pats fan and even I thought your Brady sucking-upness was ridiculous. Yes, SD's pass defense is good, but Brady had plenty of unforced errors and didn't look very good at all.

by buzz :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:15am

Brady for the MVP? Really? I haven't gone through the whole article but this has to really be a joke right? Without stats from this week Brady is 5th in DYAR and I can't imagine from this game he moved any higher. sure they are scoring well but they have a lot of special team and defensive scores. The offense could barely move the ball against the chargers this year. Maybe this is the anyone not name Manning year to win but really Brady?

by B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:55am

I'd rather use DVOA over DYAR to rank quarterbacks, as you'll end up with teams who have to throw the ball all the time getting inflated DYAR numbers, like Denver. Still, that puts Brady 3rd so the MVP right should be Manning.

by piratefreedom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:25am

"You see the drive Tom Brady directed at the start of the third quarter in San Diego? Masterful."

Ladies and gentlemen - Peter King's pick for the most interesting thing about the game

I enjoy King's works but this analysis seems just a little star QB centric.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:10am

That was a blurb about the Pats, not an analysis of the game. And it was the best drive of the game for the Pats.

by B :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:48am

I don't get why people are upset about the Mia/Pit replay. We all know that Rothlesburger just has to get the ball near the end zone for it to be ruled a touchdown. i think it's part of the Testeverde rule.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:17am

People are upset because the Steelers fumbled the ball and the fumble was acknowledged by the refs, but the consequences of that fumble were ignored.

If it was indeed a loose ball, then neither team had possession. It seems unfair to give the Steelers possession by default. I know the video replay was arguably inconclusive, but watching the play live it seemed obvious that the Dolphins had recovered the fumble.

People are also upset because Roethlisberger lied through his teeth, twice. First he said he had control until he was in the end zone. Then he said he actually had control of the ball in the scrum until he heard somebody say "Touchdown!" He's a liar.

In basketball or hockey, when control of the ball or puck has not been established, the ball or puck is re-entered into play via a jump ball or a face-off. But in the NFL, the Steelers just automatically get it back? That seems unfair.

I don't blame the refs here - they followed the rules. But the rules are crap. If the fumble had happened at the 20 yard line instead of at the goal line, the refs would have sorted through the scrum and awarded the ball to somebody based on who had the ball. In this case, that was the Dolphins!

Do you see why people are upset?

by TayloreatsBrady (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:25am

According to the Dolphins, the refs on the field were yelling "White Ball". Why did the refs on the field have to defer to the video evidence?

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:39am

Same reason Megatron didn't have TD to win over the Bears in week 1. The rules are detailed, specific, and often stupid in light of the actual game. The league does not want to empower officials to violate the rules in the book in the name of on the spot fairness.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:47am

It's because the rules are written poorly. Once they went into video review, they could only consider the evidence that was in the video.

by S.K. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:36am

I liked that King said the call was correct because once the officials ruled a touchdown they didn't bother to police the fumble recovery (therefore making it impossible for them to know who had the ball afterwards). Well... i guess that might be correct... but doesn't that make it an absolute travesty that they didn't police the fumble recovery? You're telling me the entire crew said to themselves "well, this is probably going to be a touchdown, no need to bother paying any more attention here." and we're okay with this?

by Dennis :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:06pm

Why should they police a fumble recovery after a play has been blown dead? Plus calling it a TD on the field might have caused some players to pull back from trying to recover it. Whether there was a clear view of the recovery should be irrelevant if the recovery occurred after the play was blown dead on the field. If you are going to allow things to count that happen after a play is blown dead, it's going to create a dangerous situation of having players continue to play after the whistle.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:16pm

See Hochuli-gate 2008. I think the way that it's interred is that the opposing team has to clearly and cleanly grab the ball, without anyone from the other team contesting the grab, for it to be turned over. Before then, if the play was whistled dead, the ball went back to the fumbler no matter what.

I also think it's a bad rule for safety reasons.

by Yesimadolphinsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:28pm

The bottom line is the Dolphins got hosed. Plain and simple. I understand the rule: that the ball is dead once the touchdown is called. Why, then, are there so many plays where the refs let play continue to see who recovers so the fumble can be challenged? Why, in this case, did they call the play dead? The line judge who called a touchdown, running onto the screen, clearly had no view whatsoever because Roethlisberger's back was to him. That line judge happens to be from Pittsburgh by the way. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Seriously though, let play continue and see who comes up with it, like SO many other plays since instant replay's inception. The Dolphins very obviously had possesion when everyone got up. There were Pittsburgh players diving to get it as if they believed play was still going on. Because they knew what a call normally is in that situation. If it had been ruled a fumble on the field it was CLEAR it was "white ball" just like all the referees were saying.

I understand the rule, and it sucks. The Dolphins got hosed out of a win.

by GlennW :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:57pm

Unless someone can prove otherwise with something specific from the rulebook, I believe that it is totally within the referee's discretion to unpile the bodies and determine possession after a down-by-contact or goal line no-fumble call. That was the intent of the "play on" down-by-contact rule-- to allow only possession to be established, with no further advancement of the ball permitted. Given the closeness of the bang-bang fumble/TD call at the goal line, I think the officials should have immediately focused on possession. Regardless of these reports that someone was yelling "white ball", when I reviewed the play on commercial break it was apparent that the officials were focused on signaling the TD call and not at all on determining possession. (For the record, I'm a Steelers fan.)

by EStreet :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:26pm

I'm a Steelers fan and I agree with the Dolphins fan's assessment. The correct call was made on replay, but they missed the fumble initially thus screwing the Dolphins out of a win. If you are a football fan long enough, you have plays like this go for you and against you and it is not at all satisfying when they go against you.

This is unfortunately an area that replay is not going to completely fix, so we will need to live with a bad call every now and then. You can't ask the refs to put the whistle in their pocket all of the time because they might have missed a call.

In my opinion, the call overturning the Shianco TD in the Vikings-Pack game was way more egregious. That call was actually made correctly on the field and then the refs made up a rule to overturn it after looking at it. That is the crap that needs to be stopped.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:36pm

Wasn't there still 2:30 left on the clock? Can we stop pretending this screwed them out of a win? There was probably about a 15-20% chance the Steelers could've won that if Miami retained possession. Force a three and out, punt, short drive, long FG.

(Is there a way to have Burke run a WPA chart at that point except giving the Fins possession?)

by GlennW :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:47pm

Sure, but this is true of almost any big shift in situation. I'd much rather have an 85% chance of winning than a 40% chance (percentages estimated, but certainly Miami had at least double the chance of winning if they recover that fumble than if they didn't). It's undeniably a huge play decided in part by an official, which always sucks but does happen from time to time.

by Spielman :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:12pm

Exactly. Let's not pretend that a bad call that does less than take certain victory from one team and deliver it to the other can't still be a pretty big deal.

by EStreet :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:07pm

Miami had many changes to win, not to mention that they only needed a FG to win at the end. They had chances, I'm just saying that it sucks when a bad call goes against you - especially in such a critical situation.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:39am


by rk (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:49pm

I'm pretty sure it is the referee, Gene Steratore, not the line judge, Ron Marinucci, who is from Pittsburgh (Washington, PA, actually). Anyway, as soon as it was decided that there was a TD, there was no way Miami was getting the ball under the current rules. There has to be a clear recovery. If it requires the officials to dig through a pile of bodies to determine possession, there is no clear recovery. Sure the Dolphins, but only because touchdown should never have been signaled or because the ball didn't bounce directly to a Dolphin.

by Jerry :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:51pm

Jerry Bergman, the head linesman, is a Pittsburgher. (Of course, if this was a case of hometown bias, it would have been a touchdown.)

by FireOmarTomlin :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 2:46pm


great choice of word for a typo.

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

by otros :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:20pm

I agree on the safety concerns, but in a game that includes the possibility of reversal of the call on the field the ref shouldn't just stop working the play as the TD is signaled. I'm not saying I have a better solution, but it's pretty clear that in cases like this, the rule is far from satisfactory, from a fairness standpoint.

by t.d. :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 10:10am

Also, wtf is someone who clearly didn't see the play doing signaling a touchdown? I thought they made a huge deal about 'call what you see, not what you think happened'

by GlennW :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 12:36pm

Agreed in general about not calling what you don't see, but this was a tough one. From right down the goalline it really did appear as if Roethlisberger had crossed the plane with the ball, and only from the endzone angle (where another official would not be able to make a TD/no-TD determination) was it apparent that the ball had started to come loose beforehand. I guess the side judge could employ the "swallow the whistle and let it play out" strategy, but as Mike Pereira pointed out this is discouraged-- by training the officials are supposed to call what they think they see on the field one way or the other, and let replay sort out any discrepancy where applicable. I do see the logic in this part of the equation.

But I guess I was wrong about the officials being allowed to unstack the pile to determine would-be possession after the fact. By rule, down-by-contact challenges on possession go to replay, no exceptions. I'm not sure this is a good rule as the players are permitted and encouraged to play on (so why not the officials?), but it is the rule.

by GlennW :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 12:49pm

Also, by "swallowing the whistle" on the actual TD call, the side judge would be placing the replay-reversal onus on the matter of the football indisputably crossing the goalline. Replay was not intended to be such a cover-your-ass bailout option for the officials (although it has been used as such in some cases). The ball-breaking-the-plane decision is a simple binary one that the official must make one way or the other, as opposed to say, pass interference or holding, which is where the officials really are trained to be absolutely sure they saw an infraction.

by countertorque :: Thu, 10/28/2010 - 4:31am

Sure, Roethlisberger is a liar. And so is every player at any level of sports who calls for a clearly bogus flag or claims a clearly caught ball was incomplete. If no one "lied" in this way, we wouldn't need any refs. "No, I held on that play. Here, let's take another try from 10 yards back."

I don't condone the sentiment "if you're not cheating, you're not trying," but even as fans we often see events in a manner that is so biased, that it distorts the facts. You have to believe that it's that much worse for the players. Maybe Roethlisberger did briefly have his hand on the ball after he lost it. Maybe every rational person would agree that he never had a chance at regaining possession. Does that make him a "liar?"

I totally agree that Miami fans should be pissed. But, I seriously doubt many of them are pissed because Roethlisberger "lied" about possession of the ball after the fumble. Even if he said "Miami clearly recovered the ball," in his post game interview, it wouldn't change the outcome of the game.

by hbh_uk :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:48am

"All of a sudden, Matt Cassel's gone from liability to lowering the boom. In the past two weeks, he's led Kansas City to 73 points, is a 70-percent passer, and has thrown five touchdown and no interceptions."

No, PK, not "all of a sudden". Might playing against two of the worst pass defences in the league have something to do with it? I think I could put up a 19-of-36, 235-yard, 2TD, 2INT line against the Jags. Similar against the Texans, although I'd probably give up a strip-sack fumble.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 10:57am


You people give PK a break.

After the Denver debacle yesterday, he only has two franchise fanboi crushes left.

by Kal :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:17am

Yes, LEAVE PETER KING ALONE! He WRITES and he WRITES and you just don't appreciate what an artist does, and you just suck his SOUL DRY!


by RickD :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:24am

Minnesota at #15? At 2-4? His Favrism knows no bounds.

by S.K. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:46am

I think my favourite part of this was the "Coincidence or Reality?" header on page 2. As we all know, these two concepts are mutually exclusive.

by Quincy :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:31pm

I know this is a PK thread, but I had to comment on this gem from fellow SI writer Don Banks' Snap Judgments column and this seemed as good a place as any:

"A week after I wrote that Atlanta's lack of explosive playmakers kept it from being as dangerous as the likes of Philadelphia and other top contenders in the NFC, Falcons receiver Roddy White reminded us all that he might be the most underrated receiver in the game."

Really? So a week after you underrated Roddy White, you noticed a lot of people are underrating Roddy White? Thanks. Nice of you to not to hog all of the blame for yourself.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 3:40pm

As bad as PK is, Banks is ten times worse. It's obvious he knows nothing about football, and he might not even watch the games. Consider:

"The man has certainly taken his share of grief this season, but that was a superb individual effort turned in by Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth on the Cutler fumble he forced at the Washington 1. Haynesworth, anticipating Cutler sneaking the ball, went up and over Bears center Olin Kreutz to knock the ball out of Cutler's grasp as he tried to extend it over the goal line."

Haynesworth stopped Cutler, but Cutler then extended the ball (over the goal line, even, which went unnoticed by everyone) and had it knocked out by a linebacker. London Fletcher, I believe.

This has been pretty well detailed after the fact, yet it remains in his article. Good work, editors.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:18pm

Cutler was really unfortunate on that play.

Not only did the ball likely cross the plane, but he actually pulls the ball back after that, only to have it knocked out anyways.

by Quincy :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:57pm

I approve of the way everyone here stays on top of in-game announcers for the cliches, inanities and inaccuracies they spout, but at least the announcers don't have the luxury of editing their comments and most of them are former NFL players who lack broadcasting training. I wouldn't mind having a separate thread here to share and mock the worst offenses of Banks, Prisco, Judge and other dunces who supposedly have some journalistic credentials. Those guys deserve pure, concentrated ridicule.

by FireOmarTomlin :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 2:51pm

Prisco can only be known as Crisco. his articles get edited/redacted with no note of the original error.

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

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 12:41pm

Will reaf p. King article later. Top storylunes should be these ((maybe he pick same onws.) -

Raiders officially back. Just lefft bronc s & chargers in dust. Chiefs gettting scalped next.

Players tackled nicer thius week.

Bad offficiatting ravens game. Bikks got hosed. Also fumblr at end pitt vs dolphsin game black eye for league.

by 0tarin :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 1:20pm

Poor officiating is no surprise in a Ravens game--just ask any Baltimore fan ;)

Self-deprecation aside, that play did make me curious about how it *should* have been handled. I'd agree that forward progress (obviously) stopped and as the Ravens hoisted the ball-carrier into the air and methodically removed the ball, his wallet, and his innocence in one swell foop. That said, is a forward-progress call (or lack thereof) challengeable? I'm assuming no, both because it wasn't challenged and because it would be a highly subjective issue. But regarding the latter point, isn't ball placement rather subjective in the first place? How would challenging a forward-progress ruling differ significantly from challenging the spot of the ball?

Furthermore, does the rule book have anything in place regarding how long progress needs to be stopped before it should be called? As a Ravens fan, I was glad to see them just barely manage to not lose, but not knowing enough about the actual rules, it appeared to me like a screwed call. Just wondering if the rule book has anything in place for it.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:34pm

Forward progress being stopped is a pure judgement call by the refs, and is not in any way reviewable. As long as the refs haven't whistled the play dead yet, forward progress is not stopped. Typically, the refs seem to try to be certain that there's no chance of the running back gaining any more forward progress.

For what it's worth, as the play was happening, I really thought some of the Bills were going to get into the "scrum" and push the pile forward for an extra yard or two. (You can't legally push the ball-carrier, but you can push the Ravens players as though you're blocking them.) So if I were the refs, I wouldn't have whistled it dead either.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 6:42pm

You can't legally push the ball-carrier,

I've never seen this called, despite seeing a quite a few Blantyre examples of it. It might technically be illegal, but the refs don't call it.

by Pat Swinnegan :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 10:46pm

From Jerry Markbreit's old column:

"The NFL rulebook says that no offensive player may assist the runner, except by individually blocking opponents for him. However, the foul is only called when teammates lift the runner from the ground after he has fallen and [not] down by contact, or are in front of him and actually pull him forward. It is too difficult to determine whether the action by teammates behind the runner is actually aiding the runner, because the players are bunched so closely together that one would be guessing. One of the cardinal rules of officiating is never guess; you must be absolutely sure before the flag is thrown."

by bubqr :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:32pm

""I think the skirts need to be taken off in the NFL offices.''
-- NFL Players Association president Kevin Mawae"

It's that the same kind who is supposed to defend future ex-players in negotiations ? Wasn't there a whole debate about how badly the NFL was treating his retirees and stuff ?

by billsfan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 4:01pm

He probably just thought that Jen Sterger worked there...

(I also like the Eagles)

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 2:37pm

Dont say anything in rule biok about f.p. as far as how long. Is judgment call for offivials.

Bigger prob in game Corner intercep that didnt count. Force out rule not aoply. Corner carried off field by receivver.

by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:07pm

Hall's argument for why his team could end up being the best in the NFC is fantastic. It has to go in TWIQ:

"Why not us?" Hall said. "The NFC is wide open, obviously. We only got blown out once [vs. St. Louis]

And, this is unrelated, but...
"the law firm -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis"
Did PK make this up, or did he borrow it from elsewhere? Because I thought it was pretty clever.

by billsfan :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 7:16pm

It's a name commonly used by the Boston Sports Media.

(I also like the Eagles)

by dbostedo :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:50am

I've actually heard it all over the place - ESPN Radio, Fanball, Other sports talk shows...

by ammek :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 1:32pm

Football Outsiders………

by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 2:21pm

Thanks, I assumed it was too clever to be his own invention.

by the original Guido Merkens (not verified) :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 8:45pm

does a franchise started in 1961 count as 'new'? (Rangers)

by Jerry :: Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:07pm

They're new to the World Series. (And one city will get to celebrate a baseball championship for the first time.)

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/27/2010 - 5:33pm

Yeah, and they better beat those rat faced, dirty dog Giants and their goofy hat wearing fans. Not that I'm bitter about the Phillies.