Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Dec 2012

NFL Lowdown: Week 14

Operation Coachfire, DeAngelo Hall jokes, and psychoanalysis of Jim Harbaugh.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 07 Dec 2012

28 comments, Last at 09 Dec 2012, 11:16am by Led


by Athelas :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 9:22am

"Prediction: Jets Being, Jaguars Nothingness"
Good stuff.

by nat :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 9:51am

I'll take the UNDER on this one.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 10:02am

You need a new/better editor

by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:21pm

Seconded. That was ugly.

by erniecohen :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 11:26am

Concerning the end of the NYJ-ARI game, I've always dreamed of a defensive team surrounding a ball carrier, lifting him into the air, and trying to pry the ball loose while slowly carrying him downfield so as to maintain forward "progress". The defenders cannot even be blocked without blocking them in the back, and in my fantasies, the officials interpose themselves like WWF referees, while the defenders try all sorts of underhanded tactics (tickling, jaws of life) to extract the ball.

by Ryan D. :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 11:55am

Can a player still declare themself as "down" verbally?

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:58pm

Woudld be s lot of poking and slappong like binch of oldd ladies at garage sale

by BlueStarDude :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:01pm

Mike, You're still my favorite writer, but come on, which Cowboys team is going to show up? It wasn't too long ago this team was ranked #1 in variance. There have just been too many injuries. Is there another team in playoff contention without four of their starting front seven on defense let alone the 2nd (Lee), 3rd (Ratliff), and 4th (Carter) best players in that front seven? Add to that the staring SS, their nickle corner, and in-season replacement Peprah who at least was looking like an improvement over McCray and it should be no mystery why the defense isn't playing well anymore, yet every tv show, radio show, and nfl site seems oblivious to the obvious.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:51pm

Let's see the Packers have played the last 5 or so games without 4 of their starting front 7. DE Jerrel Worthy, ILB Desmond Bishop and his replacement DJ Smith, OLB Nick Perry, OLB Clay Matthews. Then in the secondary starting cornerback Sam Shields, starting S/CB Charles Woodson as well. So that is 4 of the front 7 (and I can list rotational players like CJ Wilson and Mike Neal) and 2 of the back 5 so over half of the preferred starters. Bishop missed the whole season on IR so you can discount but Smith started the first 6 games before he went IR. Perry is on IR.

Oh and their best offensive lineman (Bulaga) went on IR a few weeks back. Their #1 WR (Jennings) has only played in 4 games. Their #2 WR (Nelson) missed the majority of two games, and the entirety of another and will miss the next game. Their starting RB (Benson) went on IR like 6 weeks ago. His back-up (Starks) was on the PUP list and is now out again.

Yet the Packers have still managed to maintain the #4 offense and #7 defense. Injuries happen, massive injuries can happen, coach up the depth, scheme around it, and drive on. I'm not saying that injuries can't completely derail a season, but I'm a fan of a team that has had a ton of them in three of the last four years (they were pretty darn healthy last year and went 15-1) and those include playing games without a league MVP caliber QB, a DPOY caliber linebacker, pro bowl caliber offensive lineman (Sitton in past years and seriously Bulaga on pace this year even with the horrendous game vs Seattle).

Yes the Packers have had luck too, some of the injuries this year and in years past have hit very deep units, and they got lucky with how good some of the draft picks were, but they had games in 2010 where they had 1 healthy d-lineman by the end of the game as well and were playing an offensive lineman there.

Include the injuries in the stories, for sure, but I just can't believe they are the majority of the story anymore. The Patriots have also gone through crazy injury strings in the past (heck they were in playoff contention without Brady for the whole season) the Steelers get to the Super Bowl with Ben missing games, and key defensive starters missing time. It's quite entertaining in fact to see how teams deal with injuries, because they always happen.

by BlueStarDude :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 2:40pm

I knew the Packers had some high profile injuries this year. Didn't realize as many.

But there is this sense out there that Dallas is this wildly talented, inconsistent team. But the inconsistency this year has really been a function of the depleted defense IMO (which is why I didn't get into the banged up RBs, the banged-up OL [which stinks anyway other than Smith], Austin's inability to stay healthy, Witten's spleen, etc.) and that's what I was trying to speak to. I didn't mean to whine about injuries to my favorite team. I just don't get the perception out there. A major problem for the defense has been communication and losing first Lee and then Carter has exacerbated that. Losing everybody up the middle--NT, ILBs, SS, and backups to some of those positions to boot--has killed them in the Eagles and Redskins games where they got torched.

The Packers fair better through their injuries because they're a better, deeper, more talented team. Most importantly they have a better QB (not hating on Romo, I'm glad to have him after having gone through Bledsoe, Vinny, Carter, Henson, Leaf, but he's no Rodgers).

p.s. If I could choose a favorite team it'd be the Packers. Love what they stand for. Unfortunately most of us choose our teams when we're five and we're stuck with them regardless of which idiot owner buys them and runs them like a circus.

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 8:50pm

I didn't realize that injuries on the defense were responsible for Romo's multiple-turnover games.

by BlueStarDude :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 9:54am

Romo's multiple turnover games happened relatively early in the season. As I noted above Dallas had the least variance through the first half (+) of the season so those are already taken into account. Again, I was speaking to the cliche often put out there that "you don't know which Cowboys team is going to show up." The fact (at least according to the stats here) is that Dallas was a very consistent team until the past few weeks (where their variance has drift far down, to the middle of the pact). Since their offense has been somewhat banged up all year (and the OL stinks no matter what), the big difference, IMO, has been the accumulated injuries on defense. The way the Eagles and Redskins gashed them on the ground, the way they really hadn't been before, speaks to the particular injuries they've had.

by BJR :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 8:07pm

Rational, impartial analysis seems to go out of the window - even on this site - where the Cowboys are involved.

by BigCheese :: Sun, 12/09/2012 - 5:18am

"Another" would imply that the Cowboys are in play-off contention. Must have been a typo, I guess...

- Alvaro

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

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:03pm

The dissection of Harbaugh only holds if you think that the niners were more likely to win the superbowl with Smith. How quickly all the hand wringing over him has been forgotten.

by omaholic :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 3:42pm

Yeah, I don't get the Kaepernick hate. I am a fan of Mike's, but I get a bitter and mean spirited vibe, without the funny.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 8:10pm

I guess there's the other side of the fence too, because its hard for me to understand the Kaepernick love.
lower completion %, lower YPA, more fumbles.
To me its not a situation where you replace your starter with him on a permanent basis because the starter was the more effective passer.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 1:25am

While I don't want to anoint Karpernick, I don't want to bin him but I should point out that his YPA is 8.4 to Smith's 8.0, and he has quite a lot of room to grow. Clearly Harbaugh didn't think Smith could make it through the playoffs and so he took a chance. I do think that the final four games of the regular season, when the defensive coordinators have had a chance to look at his game, will be the test. If he can improve through that period then he has a good chance of performing well with the 49ers this season. If not and Kaepernick regresses in the final month, they can still go back to Smith, probably with a playoff birth.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 5:18pm

The 49ers only have 8 wins. If they had 10 or 11, then mess around and give the backup QB a chance in a game that wont decide your playoff seed. But the attitude that one can coast in to a division title is a folly. Seattle's right behind the Niners and the only game I would count as 'automatic' is week 17 vs Arizona. I guess we'll all see the outcome of the Colin Kaepernick Extravaganza when the show goes on the road against NE and SEA or maybe even before that when MIA comes to town. They may only need to go 2-2 to wrap up the division but I would trust Smith over Kaepernick

by robbbbbb (not verified) :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:56pm

We're not scuplting status of Wilson out of mashed potatoes. We're layering them out of paiper-mache. It works better in the rain. Get it right, Tanier.

by Bobman :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 2:22pm

Personally, I use those ten pound bags of used coffee grounds SBUX gives out on Fridays for your garden. And my sculpture is in the shape of Andrew Luck's neck beard, but maybe that's just me. Contemplating a freeform scuplture of Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams for the front lawn.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 3:38pm

Those r sall better hobboes tham making scultpueoss of Emmanulele Lewis out of sanitary napkins. If younger reader, emmahnle Lewis played Webster on TV show 1985 costarrtig former Loin tackle A. Karris. Karris play in 1960s back when Loons good team.

by young curmudgeon :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 6:15pm

If the Detroit team really was called the "Loins," I'd be hard-pressed not to switch my lifelong allegiance to them from the Steelers. It might be even more tempting if they were really called the "Loons."

Raiderjoe: outstanding, knowledgeable football commenter and brilliant performance artist.

by young curmudgeon :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 6:11pm

"like the coral that survives around volcanic vents on the ocean floor"

Most of the volcanic vents, certainly the most well-known ones (so probably the ones Mike is referring to here), are deep ocean phenomena. Coral, which relies on symbiotic photosynthetic zooxanthellae, does not survive in the deep ocean because, being photosynthetic, the zooxanthellae require light. Mike is probably thinking of those large, weird-looking tubeworms, but they aren't even in the same phylum as coral.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 2:51am

Taxonomy burn!

by Roch Bear :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 1:36pm

Ahhhh, a word like "zooxanthellae" provides the reader a comforting reassurance of expertise, be it from a lifelong study or a minute with Wikipedia. Well played and thanks.

by young curmudgeon :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 11:01pm

I taught marine bio for many years. It's actually a little depressing to realize that a minute with Wikipedia would produce much the same result! At least one would have to know where to start looking on Wikipedia, so I'm not quite obsolete yet.

by Led :: Sun, 12/09/2012 - 11:16am

Most people who misuse "literally" do so to add an ironic intensifier. Meaning the opposite of the usage is exactly the point. Metaphors ("my head exploded!") achieve their effect by the proximity of the literal meaning. Overuse of the metaphor drains the literal meaning from the phrase, rendering it a cliche. Sticking "literally" in front of it is an attempt to juice it back up again. It's bad prose but no more "wrong" than the original metaphor.