Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Nov 2006

Week 10 Rundown: Cotton Mather's Revenge

This week in the rundown: Cotton Mather, midi-chlorians, the Cliché-o-Matic, revenge of the A-Train, Raiders vs. Amalekites, the World's Largest Outdoor Fondue Party, and another reference to Heroes. Secret FO-Heroes connection: FO designer/tech guy Benjy Rose and Masi Oka (who plays Hiro) sang a capella together in college.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 09 Nov 2006

51 comments, Last at 14 Nov 2006, 4:48am by TomC


by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 2:56pm

Without 6-foot-5 Plaxico Burress on the field, Eli Manning's throws kept sailing over his receivers' heads, and baby bro threw for just 179 yards against one of the league's worst defenses.

Eli's main problem against the Texans wasn't throwing the ball over his receivers' heads; it was, variably, dropped passes in the end zone (Shockey), receivers who can't run a sideline route to save their lives (Tim Carter, multiple times), or passes far to the left or right of the intended target (2 passes on the 3-and-out when the Giants were down 10-7).

If you want to see Eli throw passes far over his receivers' heads, watch a tape of the Tampa Bay game.

by Richard (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:04pm

Good as always. Just like to say, "Screw you, Tanier."

-from Charger fan

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:14pm

I'm surprised there was no mention of Steve McNair's return to the franchise which locked him out of the practice facility while still under contract. Do you think he'll be primed for this game?

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:19pm

#1... Eli criticism is the norm here, so don't be surprised by comments that seem as if the game wasn't even watched. So what his WRs consisted of a guy playing on a partially torn ACL, a career backup, and a 1st year guy who never played college football. Eli still stinks and overthrows passes! Yes, apparently two high passes constitutes him doing it all game long.

by Kachunk (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:32pm

"Mather continued at length, but we couldn't figure out what he was talking about, and his "s" looked like an "f" so often that it confufed us."

Woulda been better.

by new guy (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:36pm

FOX Sports is serving up an awesome showdown at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will probably have the call. We can't wait to sit down on the couch and ... What? When? They can do that now? What's next: Family Guy on Tuesday morning on the Oxygen channel?

What does this mean?

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:42pm

CHI/NYG is on NBC for SNF. It was supposed to be on FOX.

by Kachunk (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:43pm

That game got moved to either monday night or sunday night. The new flex scheduling thing.

by BlackThunder (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:45pm

I've learned to deal with the Eli hate around here. It's better off just to ignore it. The fact of the matter is, I'm sure most teams would be more than happy if they had Eli on their team.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:47pm

I think Tyler Brayton will be celebrating in the Cotton Mather-approved method, by tithing a portion of his salary to an NFL-approved salary. Isn't that what happens with fines? $10,000 to the Atlanta Genital Institute or whatever.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:55pm

I think Mike Vick might want to swing in to the Atlanta Genital Institute to get his various simpleces checked out. OK, I admit that was too easy. My brain is lazy today.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:14pm

Plate Tectonics? That sounds dangerously, and blasphemously like Mister Charles "Satan" Darwin talking, Tanier.... Is it time to get the witch-burnin' sticks out? Don't make me do it. Confess now.

Larry Foote may have surpassed Joey Porter as the dumbest Pitt LB (at least in terms of his public commentary). I bet his dogs can't even kill a pony.

Eh, those Amalekites are always causing trouble, aren't they?

Nice work, Mike T, always amusing, usually informative, mosty insightful, but never knees me in the gonads. Unless I'm Quentin Jammer and don't know it.

by Fiver (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:17pm

Re: McNair, here's a question I've had banging around in my head for a few weeks. If Kevin Dyson had managed to make that extra yard in the 2000 Super Bowl, and the Titans had won in OT, would McNair be working on a Hall of Fame career? His great Titans teams from 1999 through 2003, his MVP award, his legendary ability to play (and even excel) when injured, his 37 rushing TDs and top 3 ever QB yardage rushing numbers...I think you could make a case for him. He's strikingly similar to Roger Staubach, not only in career numbers but also in playing style. The problem is he's doesn't have a championship ring, by the narrowest of margins.

If McNair had that ring in one of the most thrilling Super Bowl wins ever, how close would he be to HoF consideration? Opinions?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:20pm

So what his WRs consisted of a guy playing on a partially torn ACL, a career backup, and a 1st year guy who never played college football. Eli still stinks and overthrows passes!

Donte Stallworth (perpetually sore hamstring)
Reggie Brown (2nd year in the league)
Greg Lewis (he's Greg Lewis)
Jason Avant (rookie 4th(?) rounder)
Hank Baskett (undrafted rookie)


by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:23pm

DrewTS, glad I could set you up. I was thinking about Ron Mexico after I wrote that, but it's actually a reference to the movie Johnny Dangerously--to dissuade his younger brother from having premarital sex, Michael Keaton shows him a movie of the AGI where the guys are walking around in hospital garb with what appears to be basketballs stuffed down their pants. Funny or painful or both.

by paytonrules (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:24pm

Clearly you haven't been reading the conventional media lately otherwise you'd know:

a) Indianapolis is far and away the best team in football.
b) The Bears lost 5 games last week, not just one, and the NFC is up for grabs. They weren't that good earlier in the season - avg margin of victory not withstanding.
c) The NFC is a conference mostly for high school teams. Girls teams.
d) Eli Manning is better than God.

As a Bears fan I've gotten really annoyed with the panic in Bear-land, and the national media suddenly deciding that one loss means that not only are the Bears not a juggernaut (duh) and not the best team in football (probably) but the real favorite in the NFC is the Panthers.


Wasn't this about the article? um...yea!

by jebmak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:25pm

from Hofstra who can beat you deep or short, up the sidelines or over the middle. Reggie Bush? He leads the league in hype, runs bounced to the outside for no gain, and he's second in the NFL in unnecessary spin moves (can't top that Dwight Freeney).



Larry Foote said. "Why do earthquakes happen? Nobody knows."

(Note: There's no mystery, Larry. Earthquakes occur because plate tectonics beneath the earth's surface rub and grind against one another. Or maybe there are angry lava gods at work. We're told both theories have merit).

LOL what the hell, did he really say that?

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:31pm

I have no problems with that. I am a Colt partisan and still bristle at the co-MVP year, but McNair was always a solid QB, gutsy leader who could beat you a few ways (sometimes by removing his femur and swinging it like a club), good-not-great numbers, but a long and consistent career, and generally considered to be a good guy. I think he'd get consideration based on the volume of his "very-goodness" (i.e. very good in numerous categories, probably not great in any one). I don't think I'd vote him in myself, but I'm not a voter, am I? And where would he be without horse tranqulizers, though? (Simmons reference, one of the few I'd ever make.)

Final question: If Eddie George did not break through the line for a 65 yard run in the 4th qtr two games earlier and Indy won Manning's 1st playoff game by the 3 point they had at the time, then went on to get that one extra yard in the SB that we're giving to McNair, would the world still be divided into the love/hate Manning camps?

by Joe (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:36pm

It looks like CBS is finally willing to show a Chargers game in high-def. Gee, thanks CBS, it only took you half a season. I guess if you only have the resources to produce three HD games a week, you obviously should use them on such powerhouse teams as Cleveland, Houston, Miami & Buffalo.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:42pm

To make the Troy Brown penalty worse, he wasn't actually throwing the ball to the official, but to the ball boy for safe-keeping, as it was the catch that broke Stanley Morgan's team record for receptions.

by Carl Everett (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:44pm

Don't disrespect Larry Foote like that. I ain't seen no plate tectonics, so I don't believe that they exist.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:51pm

Paytonrules, relax, man, relax. Be happy they got the loss now and don't have to go through what Indy did last year. You don't want they hype and pressure and you'd rather have them reading how people doubt them (chip on the shoulder motivation) rather than how perfect they are. Call it the Rodney Harrison Paradox. This is actually good, believe me.

As an Indy fan, I am rubbed the wrong way about how vilified an 8-0 team is by the smart guys (as opposed to the stupid mass media who lap them up like something yummy), especially after two huge road wins over top teams. But it's all true, really. A couple huge flaws, a couple huge strengths. They've won with luck and pluck and Manning's arm. All three can't last forever. They have five real wins and three kinda wins, so I'd rather have their weaknesses pointed out and I'll stew on my own and hopefully get the last laugh.

BTW, from my perspective it was not just one game, it was 2.80 games with a total death spiral vs Miami, but two games about 90% lost to AZ and MN. I'd be concerned if I were you. Giants are banged up, though, but Philly's luck might turn around--they might end up being the 2006 version of 2005 SD--the team with a horrible record and bad luck that nobody wants to play. And SEA will be getting their key offensive guys back on the field in time for the playoffs--they're a bit of an unknown. NO? Maybe.

Let the media have their fun; they have papers and magazines and ads to sell, so they have to stir shit up. See you in Miami in three months.

by dbt (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:00pm

#16: The conventional wisdom isn't all wrong. The basic concept is that the Bears got a mulligan on what was considered a fluke near-loss in Arizona that they pulled out. Losing to Miami basically removed the fluke status on that steaming turd so it was two losses in one for most people. Plus with the bye they haven't dominated a non-49ers team in a month.

by James C (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:01pm


'Larry Foote may have surpassed Joey Porter as the dumbest Pitt LB (at least in terms of his public commentary). I bet his dogs can’t even kill a pony.'

just to say very funny.

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:04pm

Jammer is the human pass interference penalty.

What, you mean his one pass interference penalty this year? Quit living in the past Tanier. Next person that makes fun of the Chargers secondary has to prove to me that they watched a Chargers game this year.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:12pm


Heh, a Bears fan getting irritated with media hype. Irony comes in all shapes and sizes in the NFL. ;-P

by Israel (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:19pm

Let me defend Larry Foote. We know the Steelers are losing because of fumbles and assorted other things that seem unfathomable and are certainly (to the Steelers and their fans) unpredictable.

Same thing with earthquakes. We know what causes them - the question is why.

He thinks that predicting the Steelers' sorry situation after Week 9 is akin to predicting earthquakes.

by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:27pm

"The Lions have one of these games every year, that perfect confluence of competency and benevolence that momentarily shields the eyes from the horrors of fact," wrote Drew Sharp in Monday's Freep. "But then the storm passes through and the sunlight returns and you can see things for what they really are." Ah, hopelessness. Familiar, comfortable hopelessness.

"Good old hopelessness. Nothing beats hopelessness."

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:34pm

Re 15

Ahh yes, the old ESS video. I haven't seen that movie for many's the year.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:38pm


Marcus Robinson: always hurt or mediocre.

Travis Taylor: drops balls, commits penalties.

Troy Williamson: can't catch, AT ALL!

Billy McMullen: so good he was traded for an undrafted rookie beore training camp.

Bethel Johnson: can't run routes, not good enough to stick with the Patriots when their receiving corps stunk.

I challenge the man who says he was watched worse receivers than I have this year!!

by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:59pm

I have no idea where to put this, but did anyone notice The Cold Hard Football Facts taking an incredibly weak shot at FO today?


Yeah, so I read that site. I'm not proud.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 6:24pm

re: 30
Now you know how it feels to have been a Raven fan pre-2005 (Derrick Mason).

by D (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 6:25pm

You know what really bugs me about people saying that KC should stick with Huard because the team is 5-2 with him starting; they ignore the far more important fact that he has been really good. Right now Huard is sixth in passing DPAR and second in passing DVOA (Green finished fourth in DPAR and seventh in DVOA last year for a comparison) and his standard stats are good too. True Huard won't be throwing for 4,000 yards like Green has for the last 3 years, but the point is that his numbers are good enough too justify keeping him in the starting lineup.

by D (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 6:27pm

Sorry about the double post, but I shoud add that I personally would probably go with Green once he's ready since KC has been compensating for Huard's inexperience by putting LJ on pace for a career ending 398 carries this year, however that does not change the fact that KC would be justified sticking with Huard but not because "he just wins."

by David (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 8:18pm


Have you even been watching the Giants this season? In every game I've seen them play in (3-4 I guess) Eli has overthrown numerous passes to Plaxico which he has had to either tip to himself or jump quite a bit to catch (and he's a tall guy).

by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 10:02pm

re: 25

Sean, I'm a Chargers fan, I've watched every game this season, and I say that the Chargers secondary still sucks. But, I actually don't think it's the personnel, it's all of the soft zones that Philips calls. Jammer especially likes to play a more physical man-to-man game. Take last year's Indy game, for example. I thought the secondary played excellent in that game, and I always wondered why they didn't do more of that.

The Chargers have the worst prevent defense ever. Even the Browns went right down the field on them at the end of both halves. The pass rush must get to the QB for this defense to have a chance.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 2:04am

Well-reasoned article, but my gut says MDS is right that the Rooneys would never dismiss BC and I don't think he's the type to leave if he sees more work to be done. He's already missed a significant chunk of his kids' childhoods because of his job. What's he gonna do now to replace that adrenaline jolt... play golf?

Let's see a show of hands as to why he'd make a bad TV talking head:

1) Chewing out co-anchors seen as unfriendly, scores poorly with viewers.
2) Spittle on camera lens costly to keep up with. Viewers who misplaced their glasses don't seem to mind so much.
3) Chin keeps crushing those little microphones clipped to his collar. Deaf viewers trying to lip-read are distracted by spittle, but don't seem to mind this too much.
4) He badgers co-anchors into running laps and doing pushups.
5) Reminds people of Ditka's foray into TVland. Entire country gives up football in favor of chess tournaments.

Actually, based on his press conferences, he could be stellar. Win or lose, he's humble, authoritative, funny, self-deprecating, and honest. He'd lend the yuk-yuk-fests on Sunday morning a certain gravitas.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 2:20am

RE #37, shit. sorry, wrong thread! I'm idiot, but you already knew that.

by Kellerman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 10:58am

Actually, Eric Steinbach has been playing all season, though he may yet get suspended due to DUI. Levi Jones is the one who has been out for a few weeks (and still is). Rookie Andrew Whitworth has been playing LT and looks fine on running plays and is starting to catch on in pass blocking, though he still needs help from a TE or back on many plays. I don't think Willie Anderson is out either, though he is listed on the injury report as probable. I don't think Rich Braham is such a key loss. He has been getting older(obviously) and slower for several years and regularly misses several games without the offense being overly effected. For example he missed the game at Jacksonville last year and the Bengals controlled Henderson and Stroud just fine with Eric Ghiaciuc playing his first-ever game. What was different about that game and this season is simple- a healthy Carson Palmer. Palmer has played decently, and appears to be making an amazing recovery from his injury. But notice I said "making." Just because he has played every snap, people seem to forget that he is not yet fully healed. Next year he probably returns to 2005 form. Right now, he just doesn't move quite as nimbly and doesn't throw with the same accuracy. Everything seems to be high. Every pass to Chad Johnson needs a leaping grab of some kind for a completion. Some of that may be tied to the route running, but Palmer's throws to everybody seem just a little off. I do think that Palmer has been hit low and semi-late an awful lot without calls being made. Back to the o-line, I do think we may see the Bengals' actual Center of the future play his first NFL game this week. Ben Wilkerson from LSU , who was probably the best NCAA center in 2003 and 2004 has been activated for this game. HIS injury seems to have healed, after two seasons of recovery.

by Gerry (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 1:32pm

kevinNYC said,

"So what his WRs consisted of a guy playing on a partially torn ACL, a career backup, and a 1st year guy who never played college football. Eli still stinks and overthrows passes!"

Wanker replied,

"Donte Stallworth (perpetually sore hamstring)
Reggie Brown (2nd year in the league)
Greg Lewis (he’s Greg Lewis)
Jason Avant (rookie 4th(?) rounder)
Hank Baskett (undrafted rookie)"

"Boo-freaking-Hoo. "

Someone made a statement that Eli's completion pct is not as good as it could be in party because of a shallow and injured receiving corps.

You replied by saying boo-hoo, because the Eagles also have a shallow and injured receiving corp.

I am not sure how that invalidates the original point, especially because Eli has a higher completion percentage than Donovan does. BOTH could have higher if they were getting more help from their wideouts. Then, that is true of every single quarterback, ever.

I think kevinNYC's point is one that I agree with-- Eli's accuracy problems in the past have led to the overstating of his accuracy problems now. There is not a comment about Donovan being inaccurate in just about every single FO reference of Donovan, but there is for Eli. Talking about previous years, that is extremely fair. Talking about this year, not so much.

But like kevinNYC and blackthunder, I have come to accept that it is what it is. Everyone has their biases, and there is a bias against Eli among the FO writers. He's 11th in DPAR and DVOA, which is a solid, if unspectacular, standing. He's a good quarterback, not a great one, and he is still developing, so we'll have to see how his career unfolds. It already is not unfolding in a normal manner.

by Gerry (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 1:36pm

"Football Outsiders
These guys are obsessed with the Cold, Hard Football Facts. But this isn’t the type of natural enemy that inspires fear. It’s more of an annoyance … like a mosquito ... or rectal itch."

Hmm. Been reading FO for about 2 years now. Never before heard of "Cold Hard Football Facts". This must be one of those highly invisible obsessions that only very special people can detect.

Either that or a heck of a lot of projection. Either/or.

by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 3:28pm

39 does a good job correcting Tanier's errors regarding who's in and out on the Bengals o-line. Just to add a few points:

Yes, it looks like Willie Anderson will play; if he's out he will likely be replaced by Scott Kooistra, who has filled in for him quite ably in the past.

Eric Steinbach is no longer in danger of suspension from his BUI (he was boating, not driving); he agreed to enter a "diversion program" and charges were dropped.

Second round pick Andrew Whitworth has held his own in relief of LT Levi Jones (who ought to be back in a week or two), defying draft expert predictions that he could only make it at RT, not LT in the NFL. However, Central Michigan product Eric Ghiaciuc absolutely blows. He gets bull-rushed back into Palmer's face on a regular basis. I expect you could cut off both of Chargers NT's Jamal Williams' arms and he would still eat Ghiaciuc for lunch. He will need a ton of help from Steinbach and RG Bobby Williams in this game.

Ben Wilkerson was signed off the practice squad to the active roster but I would be surprised if he sees any action unless there's a major emergency.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 4:35pm

Just got done watching DAL-WAS.

Mark Brunell is like the guy with no legs in the movie 'Kids'. Isn't that painfully obvious? He's trying to do it all with his arm... time to start calling him noodlelegs instead of noodlearm.

by BHold (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 7:24pm

It makes you wonder, has the city of San Diego payed FO to unfoundedly bash Eli in every article they write?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 8:34pm

Larry "Underrated" Foote, providing solid evidence of the vastly superior educations received by football players at the University of Michigan. Thanks, Larry.

by Craig B (not verified) :: Sat, 11/11/2006 - 10:27am

'"Edwards will soon face the toughest football decision of his coaching life," wrote Joe Posnaski in the Kansas City Star. "Here is the big statistic: The Chiefs are 5-2 in Huard's starts. Here is the big thing: The Chiefs players now believe in him completely." Ah, wins and belief, the bread and butter of the local columnist on a deadline.'

Isn't Posnanski also the guy that is big on statistical analysis for baseball? You would think he'd know better than make that quote.

by Podge (not verified) :: Sat, 11/11/2006 - 3:09pm

"If Eddie George did not break through the line for a 65 yard run in the 4th qtr two games earlier and Indy won Manning’s 1st playoff game by the 3 point they had at the time, then went on to get that one extra yard in the SB that we’re giving to McNair, would the world still be divided into the love/hate Manning camps?"

I think its a little unfair to ask to be honest, because expecting an Indy run D to be solid is as smart as expecting the lava gods not to dislike San Francisco.

Also Mike: "The Chargers are extremely strong. Marty Schottenheimer will have to work overtime this season to beat himself in the playoffs."


by Carlos (not verified) :: Sat, 11/11/2006 - 8:57pm

I think brunell is terrible too. in fact, i've thought he was terrible all three years now. All he does is avoid INTs, which is the start of what you need in a QB, not the whole package.

BUT, according to FO stats, Brunell has been among the elite QBs this season. What's up with that? And, while I still believe he stinks, why is FO writing that Brunell is much better than perceived?

by Michael (not verified) :: Sun, 11/12/2006 - 3:52am

The 49ers vs. the lions will be a interesting game. It will be high scoring watch out for a close game. This game will have no defense involved what so ever. 34-31 niners.

by hector (not verified) :: Mon, 11/13/2006 - 3:42am

36, if you're still even checking in, I'm wondering if you could estimate how often the Chargers have played zone this year and how often they've played man. It bugs me when it's assumed Jammer will be on "------------" (fill in name of top receiver) just because he's the best cover guy. This isn't football in the backyard.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/14/2006 - 4:48am

The Colts are overvalued, drained from their win at Foxboro, and possibly looking ahead to a trip to Dallas. The Bills are just bad. This game has the makings of a 14-13 snoozer.

I hope for your sake you played that hunch. Bills +11 and the under was quite a nice parlay.