Scramble for the Ball
Fantasy football, the Loser League, and general goofiness

Scramble for the Ball: Midseason Awards

Scramble for the Ball: Midseason Awards
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Ben Riley and Vince Verhei

After Pittsburgh's 23-6 defeat of Washington, every team in the NFL has now played at least eight games. With the 2008 season officially halfway through, the Scramble team takes a break from its three-week barrage of postmodernism to bestow their midseason awards.


Ben: Michael Roos, left tackle, Titans. I know all that may be said. Yes, Clinton Portis is having a great season, but Ron Jaworski thinks that Jason Campbell is the Redskins' most valuable player to this point, and I'm inclined to agree with him (although neither player exactly tore it up against the Steelers). True, Drew Brees is putting up great numbers, but the Saints may not even make the playoffs. As for Albert Haynesworth, let me generate some controversy: I think he played better last year and that he's become the new Brian Urlacher, i.e., a defensive player who the pundits reflexively praise without actually watching him play. Plus, the Titans are afraid to give him a long-term contract lest his production plummet. That's not MVP performance we can believe in.

In my view, the real key to the Titans' 8-0 start is the outstanding play of their no-name offensive line, and the best player on that line is Taebla, Estonia's, (population 811) native son, Michael Roos. Admittedly, Chris Johnson is a special talent -- more on him in a moment -- but when LenDale White is routinely barreling through the secondary for 50-yard gains, you can be assured that the Titans' offensive line is largely responsible. Plus, they've given up a total of four sacks all year (none by Roos) and routinely allowed Kerry Collins upwards of six or seven seconds to wait for the Titans' talentless group of wide receivers to get open.

Runner-up: Justin Tuck, defensive end, Giants.

Vince: Clinton Portis, running back, Redskins. This is a very weird year for MVP candidates. Generally speaking, most of the best quarterbacks in any given season play on the league's best teams, but that's not the case in 2008. Three of the top four passers in DYAR play for teams that are .500 or worse. Meanwhile, Portis has been by far the league's top running back. Coming into this weekend, he had more than twice as many DYAR as the next highest runner, Michael Pittman. In mainstream stats, Portis is still a dominant leader, putting up 995 yards in the first half of the season. The next highest rusher, Adrian Peterson, is actually closer to sixth-place Marion Barber than he is to Portis. The Redskins are 6-3 and gunning for a wild card berth in the league's toughest division, and Portis is the biggest reason why.

Runners-up: Kurt Warner, quarterback, Cardinals; Drew Brees, quarterback, Saints.

Defensive Player of the (Half) Year

Ben: Joey Porter, linebacker, Dolphins. In this week's comments to Audibles at the Line, "Mark" takes us for task for not writing more about Miami's turnaround this season. Well, Mark, this one's for you: I think the best defensive player in the NFL right now is Joey Porter, and he's the main reason the Dolphins remain in the playoff hunt. Porter already has 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and the league's biggest mouth, but he's backing it up on the field and he must be accounted for on every play.

Runners-up: Barrett Ruud, linebacker, Buccaneers; Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback, Raiders.

Vince: Albert Haynesworth, defensive tackle, Titans. The best player on the team with the league's best record. He draws double- (and triple-) teams on almost every play, but he still leads the team in sacks, a rare achievement for a tackle. And it's his presence that allows Keith Bulluck and David Thornton to run freely into opposing ballcarriers. There are a bunch of good players here -- Bulluck, Thornton, Chris Hope, Cortland Finnegan -- but Haynesworth is the keystone to this defense.

Runners-up: Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback, Raiders; James Harrison, linebacker, Steelers.

Best Head Coach

Ben: Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals. Don't look now, but the Cardinals are currently fourth (!) in total team DVOA for the year, and Whisenhunt deserves most of the credit. It takes guts to bench the alleged quarterback of the future in favor of a 37-year-old whose last full season as a starter was in 2001, but clearly the Cardinals are better off with Warner than Leinart at quarterback. Provided Whisenhunt can curb defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's tendency to outthink himself, this is a team that could make some noise in the postseason.

Runner-up: Tony Sparano, Miami Wildcats.

Vince: Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans. It's easy to see that the Titans are undefeated, name Fisher the Coach of the Half-Year, and move on, but there's more to it than that. The defense is actually significantly better than last season, when they were tops in the league (in a down year for defenses), with almost entirely the same personnel. The offense is generally treading water, improving on the ground and falling back in the air, but stability in this case is a remarkable achievement. This team is winning with Kerry Collins at quarterback and Brandon Jones as the leading wide receiver. And if you think any team with a great ground attack can win in the NFL, I will refer you to the 2007 Vikings. But beyond all that, Collins is only playing because Vince Young, the alleged savior of the franchise, has been beaten both in body and mind. Whenever a coach switches quarterbacks, turmoil should be expected, and this was no normal switch. In this case, police were called over concern the benched player may harm himself. Fisher hasn't let any of this be any kind of distraction, and he's got a flawed team looking at homefield advantage. It's a commendable achievement.

Runners-up: Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills; Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins; Jim Zorn, Washington Redskins; Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons. Hell of a year for rookie coaches.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Ben: Chris Johnson, running back, Titans. Watching highlights this week, I saw Matt Ryan execute an amazing play fake where he literally tossed the ball backwards in the air to himself before whirling around and hitting someone (probably Roddy White) for a first down. So if you want to make Ryan offensive rookie of the year, I won't argue with you. That said, let me be candid: I have unhealthy feelings for Chris Johnson. If Adrian Peterson is Purple Jesus, Johnson is my Sapphire Savior, my Cobalt Christ, my Beryl Buddha, my Indigo Vishnu, my Lapus Lazuli Love Machine. Not only is Johnson living proof of the genius of Bill Barnwell's Speed Score, he blocks and runs through defenders like a man twice his size. Now I need a cold shower.

Runners-up: Ryan Clady, offensive tackle, Broncos; DeSean Jackson, wide receiver, Eagles; approximately 14 other rookie running backs.

Vince: Matt Ryan, quarterback, Falcons. Rookie running backs post more great seasons (especially this year) than do rookie quarterbacks. That's why I'm listing Ryan here over Chris Johnson. Ryan is 10th in the league in passing DVOA, and he's doing it with a receiving corps consisting of Roddy White and, well, that's about it. Yes, he's feasted on some bad defenses and struggled against the better ones, and with Detroit, Kansas City, and Oakland in the rearview mirror, I may change my tune eight games from now. But that's just the measurables. Ryan's biggest impact on this team and city has been intangible. After the maelstrom of 2007, the Falcons needed a good, young football player who was only a good, young football player, not a media hype machine or sideshow freak. The fans know that every Sunday, Ryan will show up and do his job to the best of his ability, and he'll usually do it well, and he won't embarrass them with his words or actions. And they needed that so, so badly.

Runners-up: Chris Johnson, running back, Titans; Matt Forte, running back, Bears.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Ben: Chris Horton, safety, Redskins. Taken with pick No. 249 in the 2007 draft, Horton worked his way into the starting lineup in Week 2 and already has almost as many interceptions in the NFL (three) as he did during his career at UCLA (four). Plus, he has a sweet nickname courtesy of Fred Smoot. "He calls me K-Horton," Horton told the Washington Post . "He's like, 'C-Horton's old school. You've got to change your first initial to K and start spelling it new school.' " K-Horton is definitely new school.

Runners-up: Jerod "The Check is in the" Mayo, linebacker, Patriots; Chris Long, defensive end, Rams.

Vince: Jerod Mayo, linebacker, Patriots. The advanced age of the linebacking corps was (and is) a weakness for New England, so they drafted Tennessee's Mayo with the tenth overall pick last April. The youngster has not disappointed. He's the leading tackler on the Pats' 12th-ranked run defense. He's also helped somewhat in pass coverage, where New England ranks 11th in defending tight ends after finishing 21st in that category in 2007.

Runners-up: Brandon Flowers, cornerback, Chiefs; Curtis Lofton, linebacker, Falcons.

Most Surprising Player

Ben: Kurt Warner, quarterback, Cardinals. Halfway through the season, Warner ranks first in Effective Yards (16 more than Brees), second in DYAR, and third in DVOA. Sure, it helps to have Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to throw to, but when Boldin missed two weeks with a broken face Warner didn't miss a beat, throwing to heretofore unheralded wide receiver Steve Breaston. If Warner's pace continues, he will likely win his third NFL MVP award and cement his ticket to Canton. Just an incredible story again.

Runners-up: The Chicago Quarterback Formerly Known as Neckbeard; Jason Campbell, quarterback, Redskins.

Vince: Kyle Orton, quarterback, Bears. Here's part of what I wrote about Orton in PFP 2008: "... in his only season as a starter in 2005, he almost single-handedly kept a great team out of a Super Bowl. Unless he has improved tremendously since then, he belongs on a bench or in the stands." Suffice to say, Orton has improved tremendously since then; his 16.9% DVOA this year blows the -33.8% he posted three years ago out of the water.

Runners-up: Joey Porter, linebacker, Dolphins; Le'Ron McClain, running back, Ravens.

Most Surprising Team

Ben: Miami Dolphins. Last year at this time, as you may remember, the Dolphins were 0-8 and in serious panic mode. One year later, they are in the heart of the playoff race and responsible for introducing the most interesting fad in the NFL since the Icky Shuffle. But while the Wildcat may steal all the headlines, the real surprise down in South Beach is the outstanding play that Parcells-slash-Sparano have coaxed out of Chad Pennington and Joey Porter.

Runner-up: Washington Redskins. (As my friend Tarek never fails to remind me, I predicted Washington would pick first in the 2009 NFL Draft. I was wrong, horribly wrong.)

Vince: Tennessee Titans. Looking back at our Over/Under preview pieces for the AFC and NFC, well, mistakes were made. For example, I actually wrote this sentence: "But as I stand here today, there is no way the Dolphins are going to win six games." It is technically possible that will still be right. But I also picked the Titans to fall short of their eight-win number, and they've already matched that. I thought the defense would decline (it's gotten better), I thought the offensive line would have trouble playing together (I am a fool), I underestimated the impact of Chris Johnson (so did most of the 23 teams who passed on him), and I had no faith in the passing attack (still don't, actually). But they've, well, surprised me.

Runners-up: Miami Dolphins; New York Giants.

Most Disappointing Player

Ben: Braylon Edwards, wide receiver, Browns. As a Seahawks fan who still bears the scars from the 2003 season, when Darrell Jackson and Koren Robinson combined to drop approximately 1,432 balls, I know the pain Browns fans are feeling right now. Braylon Edwards appeared on the verge of becoming one of the NFL's next elite wide receivers last year; instead, he's largely (though not entirely) responsible for Derek Anderson being sent to the bench this week. I have no idea what the problem is with this guy.

Runners-up: Any of the veteran wide receivers discussed here.

Vince: David Garrard, quarterback, Jaguars. The decline in Garrard's game runs deeper than his statistics (9.9% DVOA this year; 37.4% DVOA in 2007). I knew he would throw more interceptions this year, but there's more to it than that. Last year, Garrard would drop back, read his progressions, and deliver the ball with zip and accuracy. Now, he's dropping back, looking lost, holding the ball, and lobbing change-ups into the hands of defenders. Has the decline in the offensive line left him rattled? Were defenses selling out to stop the run last year, and have they now adjusted? I wish I had the answers to these questions. So does Jack Del Rio.

Runners-up: DeAngelo Hall, cornerback, (ex-)Raiders; Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Steelers (Fourteen total fumbles and interceptions this year after only 18 in all of 2007).

Most Disappointing Team

Ben: San Diego Chargers. Some would say the Seattle Seahawks, but after suffering injuries to (deep breath here) the starting quarterback, the starting linebacker, the starting defensive end, and the first-second-third-fourth-fifth-sixth-seventh-and-yes-eighth wide receiver, is it really surprising that they are 2-6? I say no. Instead, I nominate my own personal "Brokeback" team, the San Diego Chargers, because I can't just quit them, even at 3-5 -- although they are really 4-4 using my patented new AVOH (Adjusted Value Over Hochuli) formula. This team should be wiping the floor with the AFC West.

Runner-up: Jacksonville Jaguars. (Where have you gone, Pocket Hercules? The Jaguars turn their lonely eyes to you.)

Vince: Seattle Seahawks. I'm sick of this team. I'm sick of watching them, sick of charting their games, sick of writing about them in Audibles. So rather than talk about them here, I'm going to use this space to eulogize the Tuba Man. Seattle is rife with street musicians, but few stood out like Ed "Tuba Man" McMichael. First of all, he played the freakin' tuba. Second of all, he was -- and I write this with love and admiration, because it was a huge part of his endearing charm -- very, very bad at it. He was a jolly fat guy with glasses and a beard, and usually some goofy headwear like a Dr. Seuss hat. For the past 15 years, Tuba Man would always be seen before and after Seattle sporting events, slowly oompah-oompahing cover versions of Gary Glitter's "Rock & Roll Part 2" or Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." He collected a few odd dollars and made plenty of friends. Then, early in the morning of October 25, Tuba Man was mugged. A police officer who witnessed the attack reported that Tuba Man "on the ground in a fetal position trying to protect himself as the group was kicking and punching him on the ground." Two suspects have been arrested in the attack, with three others still at large. On Monday morning, November 1, Tuba Man passed away. At least three radio stations -- from sports talk to news to classic rock -- are collecting money for a memorial fund, and there is a movement to erect a bronze tuba somewhere near Qwest and Safeco fields. I'll think about the Tuba Man whenever I'm downtown, and I hope that I'll still smile.

Runners-up: Dallas Cowboys; Jacksonville Jaguars.

Dude, Where's My Comic?

Jason Beattie is still learning the finer points of diaper-changing. God bless him. Our comic strip returns for good next week.

Keep Chopping Balls

This week, the Scramble team sends both of our weekly trophies to Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. He gets the Keep Choppin' Wood for needlessly losing a timeout on a pointless challenge as to whether the Colts had 12 men on the field, but he also gets the Colbert Award for Biggest Balls after going for it on fourth-and-15 late in the game. Yes, converting was unlikely, but Matt Cassel's ensuing throw to Bob Sanders served the same as a punt, and the Patriots were out of options (and timeouts). Keep Chopping those Big Balls, Bill.

Loser League

We've got some big news this week, including the first-half LL wrap-up and a preview of the second half, but first, Week 9's biggest losers:

QB: JaMarcus Russell had nearly as many turnovers (two) as the Raiders had first downs (three), so it's no surprise he scored a 0.

RB: A pair of 2s here, for Antonio Pittman and Rudi Johnson.

WR: Five 1s is good if you're at Subway ("five, five-dollar, five-dollar footloooooooong"), bad in fantasy football. Reggie Williams, Bobby Wade, Brandon Stokley, Santana Moss and Devin Thomas each put up an uno.

K: Two 0s this week. Sebastian Janikowski did the easy way: by never getting a chance to kick. Jason Hanson did it the hard way: by making his only field goal, but going 2-for-3 on extra points.

With that out of the way, let's look at the worst players at each position for the first half:

QB: JaMarcus Russell, 93. It's all Lane Kiffin's fault!!!

RB: Fred Taylor, 72. Looks like the end of the road.

WR: Antwaan Randle El, 49. He's not really having a bad year -- his DVOA is 14.1% -- but he's the third option on the Redskins behind Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. He has only one touchdown in 2008 -- after having only one receiving touchdown two of the previous three years.

K: Adam Vinatieri, 46. Bad fantasy kickers play for bad fantasy offenses. Adam Vinatieri plays for the Colts. Black is white. Up is down.

Finally, it's time to crown our first-half Loser League champion: Fuzzy Wittle Kitten, with a score of 349! The team is owned by Simon McAndrews of New York, New York, who put together this wretched lineup:

QB: JaMarcus Russell, OAK
QB: Jeff Garcia, TB
RB: Willis McGahee, BAL
RB: Chris Perry, CIN
RB: Earnest Graham, TB
WR: Mark Clayton, BAL
WR: Ike Hilliard, TB
WR: Antwaan Randle El, WAS
K: Matt Stover, BAL
K: Olindo Mare, SEA

If you missed out on the first half of Loser League, we've got great news: It's time for the second half! It's the new and improved Loser League, complete with Chaz Schilens and Brooks Bollinger! (Yes, adding Schilens and Bollinger is an improvement.) To join in the fun, click the big purply-blue button at the top of the left-hand column on this page. Or just click here. If you win the second half, you'll get a free copy of the 2009 KUBIAK fantasy football projections -- just like Simon McAndrews will.


46 comments, Last at 01 Sep 2010, 9:05am

2 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

One reason I was dismayed that the staff didn't make picks to start the year was because I always enjoyed the mid-season follow up in Scramble. Any way I can get you guys to confidently predict the division winners and wild cards now that we're at the halfway point?

Also, how does Atlanta not even rate a mention as the most surprising team? Were you both brimming with confidence that they were going to turn it around in one offseason?

4 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

I don't know that Atlanta has "turned it around" -- you can't ignore the "Detroit-Kansas City-Oakland" factor. They're better than we thought they would be. I still think they could finish last in their division. I was optimistic about their offense heading into the season. Their defense is shocking me though -- if we did "most surprising unit," the Atlanta defense would be a favorite.

7 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

going from 28th overall DVOA to 13th is tremendous, no matter how you shake it. even if they regress to say, 20th, by the end of the year - that's a respectable leap. This is a team that lost to St Louis last year, that they are now able to steamroll even the crappiest of competition cannot be viewed as anything but 'turning it around.'

8 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

Interestingly enough, "BucNasty," before the season started I wrote that the Falcons "sort of remind me of last year's Cleveland Browns. Many draft pundits thought rookie left tackle Sam Baker from USC was overrated, but he's looked fantastic in the preseason and he will have a Joe Thomas-like effect on the offensive line. With Roddy White and Matt Ryan playing the role of a poor man's Braylon Edwards and Derek Anderson, respectively, the offense should be surprisingly potent."

This observation then led to my reader quote-of-the-year thus far, from commenter "Harris": "Ryan and White are NOT a poor man's Anderson and Edwards. With apologies to Raiderjoe, they're not even the homeless man's Anderson and Edwards. On a very good day, they're the drunken hobo stewing in a brine of his own feces and urine's Anderson and Edwards."

Well, who's stewing now, "Harris"! (I kid because I love.)

5 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

I don't understand the Mayo pick. It's been proved over and over that MLBs do get lots of tackles, even the bad ones. Mayo didn't face a lot of competition, apart from some 72 years old LBs.
If you want to justify the pick, don't say that he is the leading tackler on an average defense. That's really, really not impressive.
True that there is no P.Willis this year, but Chris Horton is IMO by far a better pick (And I'm a PHI fan).

6 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

Thank you for mentioning Ryan Clady in the OROY section, and for NOT mentioning any Broncos in the disappointments section (I certainly couldn't have argued if you had.) Clady has been a bright spot in what is becoming a disaster of a year for my Broncs. I'm excited about the potential in our young players, but I fear that we may be switching coaches soon. And if Shanny is still here, the revolving door at Def. Coordinator is almost certain to continue.

18 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

Obviously the Broncos haven't been great this year, but to be honest, I expected much worse from them. Give Shanny some credit; they've had what, two losing seasons in the last 13 years, and two Superbowls to go with it?

There for a while, they were having some horrible drafts, but it seems like things are turning around with the last couple. Now only if we can draft some defensive linemen...

And who knows, maybe Shanny will trade Hall or Pittmann for Asomugha. Seems to be his thing, trading running backs for secondary players.

9 Re: The Tuba Man

Vince: I would also see The Tuba Man outside McCaw Hall when my wife and I would go to the ballet. I don't remember seeing him much outside Qwest, but that area gets a bit crazy around game time. He will be missed.

10 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

How does Ben say that Justin Tuck is the runner-up MVP of the league and yet not list him among his top 3 defensive players of the (half)year?

11 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

KCB I'm busting a gut here.

Vince, was that the same Tuba Man who used to play outside McCaw Hall as well? (sorry, in terms of live entertainment, I'm more of an opera guy than a Seahawks guy. Go Seigfried! Whoo!)

12 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

I know I'm biased, but I think Orton deserves some consideration for MVP. I don't think any QB is doing more with less than Orton right now. Outside of Pittsburgh this is the worst offensive line for any team with serious playoff considerations, and it might be the worst receiving corps of any team with positive offensive DVOA. He has one very good running back, and two above average TEs. I think watching a week or two of Grossman is really going to make people appreciate what Orton has done this year (or it may just make them think that much less about Grossman). Plus, Orton was looking better each week, and doing it without his best receiver.

14 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

Whoops. I forgot to make the final Loser League Part I results live. That should now be all set if you go to LOSER LEAGUE in the drop down menus above.

17 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

Absolutely LOVE the new 'AVOH' modifier! And I'm glad to see the 'Hawks get an 'injury exemption' from the Most Disappointing list.

Why don't you have a 'Worst Head Coach' section, though?

19 Re: Gary Glitter and Rock and Roll part II

Every time I hear this song being played at american sports events I think, 'How can they play this, does no one in the USA know that this guy f**ks children?' I'm not kidding, they really should stop playing his records. Google him if you don't believe me.

31 Re: Gary Glitter and Rock and Roll part II

I think that's a rather puerile point Vince, where would you draw the line with that one? My major objection is that people will still be buying his records and sending him royalties. Do you like 'Do you wanna be in my gang?' as well because it has assumed some rather creepy connotations. I wouldn't have brought this up at all if you hadn't referred to it in your article and I don't think this is the best place for this discussion. However, I can see no good reason why they couldn't just play something else.

43 Re: Gary Glitter and Rock and Roll part II

Counterexample: I don't like the content of Lolita either, but I reserve respect for Nabakov as an author and I even respect that book for the positive qualities it does have. I have a much greater vobaculary thanks to that creepy book.

It's the fans that love the book that scare me. How can Lolita really be your favorite book?

44 Re: Gary Glitter and Rock and Roll part II

Enjoying Lolita doesn't constitute embracing pedophilia any more than enjoying Crime and Punishment constitutes embracing violent crime. The best works of art often depict things we find disturbing, immoral, disgusting, or otherwise upsetting; appreciating them as art can occur irrespective of our feelings about their subjects.

Lolita isn't my favorite book by any means, but it is a good book, and I have no qualms about saying I enjoyed it a great deal. I can do that while still condemning pedophilia and child pornography. Conversely, I understand that a person's sensibilities can prevent them from being completely objective about a given work- I can't enjoy Seven, for instance, but I'm willing to accept that some people find it a great film, without being obliged to change my opinion of them as a result.

(This really is one hell of a football discussion website, isn't it?)

23 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

If your choice for runner up MVP is a defensive player, how the hell do you not give him defensive player of the year? The inconsistency is mindboggling.

24 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

If your choice for runner up MVP is a defensive player, how the hell do you not give him defensive player of the year? The inconsistency is mindboggling.

26 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

My vote for Most Surprising Player is split between Orton and Chad Pennington. The latter looked physically done last year, and then joined a new team as a stopgap less than two months before the start of this regular season. Now he's having his best season in seven years, with a wide receiving corps that's even worse than Chicago's. Kudos.

This year's NFL Comeback Player award will be hard-fought between Warner, Orton, Pennington, as well as perhaps Warrick Dunn and Javon Kearse.

There must be an argument to be made for Minnesota as most disappointing team, even though they're .500 like last year. Many preseason predictions put the Vikings in the Championship Game at worst, whereas after eight games they're still not off FO's "on the clock for 2009" list.

27 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

Maybe it's because Pennington is one of my favorite NFL players, but I don't see him as a "surprising" player.

I mean, he's throwing the ball more or less like he is last year. He still throws a pretty deep ball but has low velocity on a lot of his passes. The only difference is that he's playing behind a better offensive line (the Jets O-Line of 2007 was pretty sucky), the offense has been better engineered to fit his abilities, and he has a good running game behind him. Also he hasn't been inexplicably benched in favor of a far less talented backup.

He's still the "getting by on smarts and quick decision making" guy he's always been.

28 Jaguars were robbed

Chargers and Seahawks most disappointing teams of the year? Who lost to the winless Bengals, I ask you? Who's going to have a good shot at losing to the winless Lions this week? Who were picked almost everywhere as a strong playoff contender and potential AFC South champion?

29 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

I think it's a little unfair to pin the "most disappointing" tag on Garrard. They've lost 3 guards and their center is just returning from a torn biceps. Neither running back is performing well, and his #1 receiver has been out almost all year. 06 top first round pick Marcedes Lewis seems to drop every other throw his way. Given the likelihood that on any given play a rushing defensive player could come through unblocked and CREAM him, he seems to be doing well. Frankly, he's the only thing working well for this team right now. Him and maybe Brian Williams. Oh, and their special teams aces Montell Owens and Chad Nkang. And their fullback is doing OK. yay?
sam! or the original sam from the old FO

35 KCW Award

You missed the KCW call of the year this week. Trailing 23-15 with under 2 minutes left and all 3 timeouts, Jacksonville had 2nd and goal on 1. A Garrard sneak failed to score, and Jack Del Rio called timeout! Why did he call timeout? To call a run which scored. Why call a timeout here? If the 2 fails, you need all 3. The 2 failed, Cincy went 3 out, and after punting to the Jags 10, there were 20 seconds left on the clock, when there could have been one minute. Good time management Jack.

37 Belichick's Mini-Balls

That 4th & 15 call was necessary because of the incredibly raisin-sacked call of a middle screen on 3rd and 16. And you forget the testicular unfortitude that Belichick showed on the previous drive, when the team lined up to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 7, and made the first down but was negated because Captain Hoodie was sprinting down the field calling the Pats' final timeout, then compunded postgame by mumbling, "Well, we didn't have a good look at the spot first of all, blah blah blah."

I'd give the big balls to Tomlin and Arians for benching Roethlisberger and playing bombs away with Leftwich in the second half.

41 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

I still don't understand the negative attitude towards the "too many men on the field" challenge. The Pats had snapped while a guy was running off the field!

What's wrong with using a challenge to gain five yards?

Belichick has used this challenge in the past, with success. Did anybody question him then?

So, apparently the issue is that the challenge failed.

Which means your KCW award is completely based on hindsight.


I hope FO sticks to this "coaches should never call for challenges because they might lost a time out" policy.

42 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

It was dumb for two reasons:

1) It risked a timeout that they eventually needed. And it was 1st and 10, so its not like it was a huge deal between getting a new set of downs or having to punt or something.

2) When I flip on a football game, its to watch a sports game. Two good teams locked in mortal combat. Where every yard is gained through superhuman athletes living and dying on the field. Executing strategic play calls to perfection.
I do NOT watch football games to watch a POS cheater like Belichick try to weasel his way to 5 yards on the technicality of "that guy running off the field was 1 second too slow muahaha."
Guess what? The football gods don't like that kind of nonsense either. Here's your loss, Pats.

You're right, Belichick used this challenge in the past. It was stupid then and its stupid now. And lastly, by throwing his little red flag, he robbed his supposedly good team of an opportunity to run a play against a shorthanded, 10 man defense. OMG GENIUS!

45 Re: Scramble For The Ball: Midseason Awards

Thanks for the Chris Horton love as DROY. I think his emergence has been vital to the success of the Redskin secondary this year. Remember, this is the team that had so little confidence in Reed Doughty that they went out and signed Stuart Schweigert in the off season, AND drafted Kareem Moore before drafting C. Horton in the last round of the draft.