Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Nov 2011

Lions, Texans Getting a Bad Rap

I enjoyed writing this one: it forced me to watch a lot of Texans game tape, then watch every single Lions "roughness" foul, which was a lot of fun unless you have an emotional attachment to Matt Ryan.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 09 Nov 2011

25 comments, Last at 11 Nov 2011, 6:35pm by andrewtna


by gtliles82 :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 11:11am

Mike -

No mention of the horsecollar called against a Lions DB (think it was Houston) against the Niners? Replay showed he grabbed the Niners player by the upper part of his jersey from behind, but was nowhere close to a horsecollar.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 12:27pm

You are correct, it was Chris Houston. His hand was not inside the collar, he didn't pull Gore backward, and he didn't take him down immediately. Even Pereira said it was a bad call (not in those words, mind you).

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 12:34pm

I think a better word to describe the Lions would be "dumb". As I make my way through my charting, I see play after play where they commit penalties that are the result of not thinking: from what you listed, that includes late hits (especially on special teams) and high hits, as well as other types of silly penalties that aren't personal fouls.

Talent-wise, they are significantly better than last year, but I think they have some of their old habits. Hopefully that is something Schwartz and company are working on as well. Detroit is not yet good enough to overcome those mistakes in games against solid teams: see the 49ers game as an example. (San Francisco is not that different ... they committed their share of mistakes in that game as well.)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 1:38pm

Chicago isn't a solid team?

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 5:29pm

They weren't that night. Not with Harris playing hurt, Meriwether starting and Omiyale playing.

by mawbrew :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 2:25pm

I think a better word would be classless. I really wanted to be able to embrace the Lions success (live in Michigan) but their behavior, particularly on defense, just rubs me wrong.

I do think Suh has been lucky not to be suspended yet. I thought he should have been suspended for the dirty play on Delhomne. But since the reaction from the media wasn't outrage (more sort of giggling admiration) and Delhomne wasn't obviously hurt, it was a slap on the wrist. I still think if it had been Manning or Brady instead of Delhomne that Suh would have been suspended (maybe for more than one game). Taking this a bit further, if it had been Manning what would be the media take given Manning's current neck issues?

by gtliles82 :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 2:39pm

Suh got a $7,500 fine for the Delhomme hit. I think that's about on target, not too harsh but not a 'slap on the wrist'.

He then got a $15k fine shoving for Cutler too hard from behind. It was a clean hit that shouldn't have been flagged, let alone fined.

by mawbrew :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 3:32pm

Just curious, how little does a guy making 12 million a year have to get fined for it to qualify as a slap on the wrist?

How much do you think it would be worth to the Lions to avoid a similar dirty play that might injure Stafford?

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2011 - 1:20pm

Well, for one thing, Suh did not make $12 million last year -- his 1st-year salary was $450,000.

And second, you're just being a troll here. Suh has not done nearly as much truly nasty stuff as James Harrison or even Dunta Robinson. He doesn't aim with his head on tackles, he doesn't go for the knees, he's never done a helmet-to-helmet, and he's never slapped anyone in the head. That's the real dirty stuff.

Facemasks are sometimes hard to avoid. You're reaching for the QB's jersey, and he lowers his head and you get the facemask instead. Just have to work on aiming lower.

by mick5434 :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 5:17pm

I think the media would be wondering why he is hitting a player with a neck injury who is not playing.
Oh you didn't mean if he was playing did you?

by mrh :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 3:41pm

I think a lot of it is coaching. As a Chiefs fan, I watched a lot of Gunther Cunningham's defenses take the same kind of penalties. I don't know that he encourages it, but he certainly seems to tolerate it. Don't know enough about Schwartz's Titan D's to say if that's how they were too.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 11/10/2011 - 1:12pm

I seem to remember a quote from either Schwartz or Cunningham about offside and neutral-zone penalties, that they were willing to accept those as part of the price for having an aggressive defense. (DVOA seems to support their theory, at least at the halfway point of this season.)

Also, given that defensive penalties don't seem to have the same impact that offensive penalties do, and that Schwartz is a FOFO, it may be that they don't care as much about penalties in general.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 1:29pm

Question on figure 1:

If the DT turns and chooses to engage the left guard, doesn't the center's cut block then become a chop block?

by daz :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 7:44pm

No. Cut blocks are legal if the person doing the cut block is lined up next to the one who is engaged with the defender.

This was a big issue following the Week 1 Ravens-Steelers game as a few of the Steelers DL were complaining about the same thing (except it was the guards doing the cutting) and there were a few articles outlining the rules.

by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2011 - 10:01am

A Center can't be called for a chop block on a player blocked by a guard, but can on a player blocked by a tackle.

A guard can't be called for a chop block on a player blocked by the centre or the tackle on his side.

A tackle can't be called for a chop block on a player blocked by the guard next to him, but can be for a player blocked by all other linemen.

by gtliles82 :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 1:33pm

I agree about the stupidity angle for Detroit.

Another thing is the Lions seem to ramp up the intimidation in pre-season games. Suh's had two dirty hits in his career, in my opinion - Delhomme in the 2010 pre-season and Andy Dalton in the 2011 pre-season. It's possible they use those games to make statements (see the Pats game as well) when they know the penalties don't really hurt.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 2:38pm

So when does the NFC North play the AFC South next? Houston vs Detroit could be interesting.

by TomC :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 2:50pm

What a surprise: a gratuitous Jay Cutler dig in a column on a completely unrelated subject!

I expect some data to back up your diving assertion, Mike, because frankly I think it's bullshit.

by dryheat :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 2:58pm

While the Alex Gibbs blocking technique hasn't been made illegal yet, the ethics of it have certainly been called into question. With all the emphasis on player protection these days, I'm shocked that it hasn't been made illegal.

by gtliles82 :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 5:31pm

This is a good question. The cynical answer is that the NFL only cares about improving offense and thus only makes rule changes to protect offensive players. I'm curious to know how many serious injuries have actually occurred from cut blocking though. I'm sure its bound to happen but can't think of many examples.

by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 11/10/2011 - 10:10am

After a quick google, I came up with Eric Berry, NC State players this season (according to their coach), John Lynch a few years back, San'Derrick Marks the last two years (according to him) and a great quote from Joe Bugel: "I believe if you're an offensive lineman you show what you're made of by blocking a guy in his numbers, above the waist. Like men."

A run of the mill quote until the last two words.

Google has also told me that its apparently only legal within the tackle box and within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage.

by tuluse :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 5:35pm

Injured defensive players means more offense. Who cares that Tommie Harri's career was destroyed by cut blocking.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/10/2011 - 12:33am


Offensive players are allowed to facemask and to spear without penalty.

by MCS :: Wed, 11/09/2011 - 4:09pm

I guess the entire country will see on Thanksgiving. I wonder how long it will take for the Lions to go after the head of Aaron Rodgers.

by andrewtna (not verified) :: Fri, 11/11/2011 - 6:35pm

How do you write this article without mentioning Duane Brown's punch on Clint Session on the sideline? There is, in fact, clear video proof of that.