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Tag:Antonio Cromartie
Posted on: December 24, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Giants' Manningham out for Jets game

Cromartie is wholly unimpressed with the wide receivers on the roster of the other New York team. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson


Follow all the Week 16 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
CLE-BAL | DEN-BUF | TB-CAR | ARI-CIN | OAK-KC | MIA-NE | NYG-NYJ | STL-PIT | JAC-TEN | MIN-WAS

4 p.m. ET games:
SD-DET | PHI-DAL | SF-SEA



Saturday's finally here, which means the Giants and Jets are done with the gum-flapping and they can get down to, you know, actual football. Both teams have plenty to play for; a Giants win means the Eagles are out of the postseason hunt and next week's matchup with the Cowboys will be huge. The Jets, meanwhile, will maintain their hold on the No. 6 seed with a victory before they head to Miami for the regular-season finale.

In the days leading up to today's get-together, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin proclaimed that "talk is cheap" right before wide receiver Victor Cruz called out Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.

The two sides went back and forth in the media before Revis' teammate, Antonio Cromartiemade this observation: "You got guys that are not even Pro Bowl material... Who really cares what they have to say?” Adding these sentiments for Mario Manningham: "He let a guy named Victor Cruz come in and take his job."

When the Giants' offense takes the field for the first time against the Jets defense Sunday, Manningham won't be out there. And not just because he's the third wide receiver but because he's been declared inactive with a sore knee.

We'll have to see if is absence will make a difference in the outcome, but for now, Cromartie: 1, Giants WRs: 0.

Other inactives:

Giants: TE Jake Ballard, DE Osi Umenyiora, LB Mark Herzlich, WR Mario Manningham, OT James Brewer, OL Jim Cordle and DT Jimmy Kennedy

Jets: QB Kevin O'Connell, WR Eron Riley, NT Kenrick Ellis, T Austin Howard, CBMarquice Cole, DB Gerald Alexander and DL Ropati Pitoitua.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:40 pm
 

Revis, Cromartie respond to slights from NYG WRs

Cromartie is wholly unimpressed with the wide receivers on the roster of the other New York team. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

On Wednesday, Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks described Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis as "decent." Nicks' teammate Victor Cruz added that "Teams aren’t really scared (of him) anymore. He’s had to earn his money this year. Teams aren’t really backing down. I feel like we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to go out. Until he physically stops us we’re going to throw the ball on him."

A day later and Revis has responded.

"I'm not a monster," he said, presumably laughing. "So why would anyone be scared?" He then added (via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman): "I don't even know who (they are). If I want entertainment, I'll watch reality shows."

Because there's nothing more insulting than to have someone in your line of work -- and who happens to share the same building -- feign surprise that you actually exist.

Antonio Cromartie, the Jets’ other starting cornerback, dispensed with the jokes and got right to rebutting. Regarding Nicks and Cruz he said (via the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta):"You got guys that are not even Pro Bowl material... Who really cares what they have to say?” And he saved these sentiments for Mario Manningham: "He let a guy named Victor Cruz come in and take his job."

Hey, at least Cromartie didn’t call anybody an a-hole.

Rex Ryan, voice of reason, weighed in, too. When apprised of Nicks and Cruz’s original comments he offered this (again via Zimmerman):

"The list would be a lot longer before I got to Revis," he said of the criticisms. He also put out a reminder of the how the Jets defensive scheme works. "[Revis] has almost zero help (in the backfield)."

This game can’t get here fast enough. Luckily, thanks to Christmas falling on a Sunday, the Jets and Giants will play Saturday at 1 p.m.


The Giants and Jets are both battling it out to make the playoffs and Saturday's game will look to play a deciding roll in who advances to the postseason. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan for a preview of this game.

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Belichick mocks Jets D, Rex despondent over loss

Posted by Will Brinson

Sunday night was supposed to be the crowning of the Jets as the new AFC East power. The Patriots were dead (long live the Patriots!) and the Jets were coming on strong. Except, it turns out, everyone lost their short-term memory and the Pats blew out the Jets 37-16, reminding everyone, as Mike Freeman wrote, that the AFC East isn't all that different just yet.

So will the Jets still win the Super Bowl? Well, they should probably try and win the division first, which is something that Rex Ryan doesn't see happening.

"It looks doubtful right now," Ryan said Sunday after the game. "What am I going to say? Maybe I should guarantee the fact that we’re out of it. The last time I did that, we made the playoffs. Yeah, we don’t have a chance."

Before Sunday, we noted that the trash-talking was suspiciously missing from the Jets for Patriots week, and we speculated that it was because Ryan knew he had a chance to really flip the tables in the AFC East. That was correct, because Ryan was clearly devastated by Sunday night's loss.

"We wanted to win this game in the worst way," Ryan said, unprompted, to open his press conference Sunday night.

Bill Belichick said nothing before the game about the importance of this win, but his actions near the end make it pretty clear it was important to him too. As we noted in the podcast, Sunday night was one of the best coaching efforts of Belichick's career and he and Tom Brady just so happened to break the record -- previously held Dan Marino and Don Shula -- for most wins by a quarterback and coach combo.

Week 10 Wrapup

Belichick was seen parading around the Pats sideline, slapping high-fives with backups and, in what's a pretty rare event, smiling after a victory. Oh, and there's this -- apparently he had some colorful words for Rex's crew. Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that Belichick dropped a vulgar little phrase towards the other sideline following the win.

"Thirty-seven points on the best defense in the league, s--- my d---," Belichick reportedly said.

Um, yeah, so that's probably not technically appropriate, and I'm sure we'll hear about this if/when the Jets and Pats meet in the postseason (it's kind of inevitable right?) and it'll probably turn into a big scandal or something. But anyone who's heard Belichick miked up knows this isn't all that surprising.

Besides, for now let's just enjoy the ridiculousness of a 60-year-old man running to midfield and screaming that at his opponent, as well as the silence from Rex.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 5:59 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Where's all the Jets vs. Patriots trash talk?

Posted by Will Brinson

There are very few truths in the NFL, but over the past few years, there's one that's absolute: when the Jets and Patriots play, trash talk will ensue. But that's somehow changed late in the 2011 NFL season, as we've heard nothing from either side about the Week 10 matchup scheduled for this Sunday night.

You might remember such trash talk from incidents involving Wes Welker's press conference about Rex Ryan's feet, Antonio Cromartie calling Tom Brady an a-hole and telling him to target the defensive back specifically, Nick Mangold going after Welker on Twitter, Bart Scott's said that the Pats want to be the Jets, Rex said he wasn't here to kiss Belichick's rings, Rex called the rivalry with Bill Belichick "personal," Scott threatened to end Welker's career, the local newspapers jumped on board -- really, the list goes on forever, if you look at what's been said over the past three years (and that doesn't even count the NFL intervening).

But this year? Nada. The Patriots, losers of two-straight games, aren't big talkers anyway, but the Jets are abnormally silent. In fact, they're even praising the Patriots now.

"We don’t care what difficulties they’re in," Ryan said this week. "Each team goes through dips in the road."

Look, I don't know what alien took over Rex's body, but pageviews be damned, maybe he should hang around for a while, because it's kind of refreshing to have some quiet leading up to a Jets-Pats matchup.



The reality is this, though: Ryan knows that the Jets are the hotter team right now and he knows that his team just performed a defensive dissection against the Bills, and that playing such a game on defense against the Patriots will probably give him the division lead come Monday.

Additionally, the Patriots are straight-up struggling right now, and the Jets have a shot of putting the Pats on their first three-game losing streak since October ... of 2002. (!)

In other words, Ryan knows that poking the bear after you've killed it is much safer than right when you walk into its cave.

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 10:12 am
 

Film Room: Jets vs. Chargers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



For the first time in the Norv Turner era, the San Diego Chargers enter their sixth game of the season with a record other than 2-3. Now that the perennial power of the AFC West is finally living up to high expectations out of the gate, no one seems interested in acknowledging them.

That’s about to change. The Chargers’ matchup against the Jets is the only marquee game on an otherwise shabby Week 7 schedule. Below is a breakdown of that game and this very good San Diego team.

(Ed. Note: But first, our film-room edition of the Pick-Six Podcast. Subscribe via iTunes here.)


1. Norv Turner’s offense
Slow starts and a seemingly lax, bland personality have made Turner ripe for criticism over the years. But what no honest critic can deny is Turner has always been ahead of the offensive strategizing curve, particularly recently, as the Chargers have finished in the top five in scoring each year since he arrived.

Turner’s offense is unique. While the rest of the NFL is spreading out, the Chargers operate predominantly out of base personnel (two backs, two receivers and a tight end). Turner believes that you don’t need to align horizontally in order to attack vertically. The Chargers refer frequently to seven-step drops and dictate one-on-one matchups for their gazelle-like receivers by designing routes that go outside the numbers.

This tactic is fairly easy when Antonio Gates is in the lineup, as safeties are compelled to focus on him in the middle. When Gates is sidelined, as he’s been since Week 3, the receivers’ routes are inclined to develop more slowly, which forces the offensive line to elevate its play (blocking on a seven-step drop is not easy). San Diego’s front five has answered that challenge this season.

One-on-one matchups outside can also be commanded simply by lining up in base formations. With a line as powerful on the ground as San Diego’s, defenses are compelled to have a safety eye the running back, if not walk all the way down into the box. Otherwise, the Chargers can run with ease against a seven-man front. A preoccupied safety can’t offer viable help in coverage outside.

Long developing routes not only generate big plays (San Diego frequently finishes near the top of the league in 20-plus-yard passes), they also stretch a defense, which creates space for dumpoff passes to targets coming out of the backfield. Fullback Mike Tolbert (a surprisingly skilled receiver) and running back Ryan Mathews have combined for 48 catches this season, averaging over 10 yards per pop.

2. The personnel and matchups
The Jets don’t mind the Chargers creating one-on-one matchups for their receivers. They’re used to that, in fact, given the way Darrelle Revis shadows the opposing team’s top wideout with no safety help. Expect Revis to blanket Vincent Jackson, and expect Vincent Jackson to see few balls come his way (Revis is coming off a two-interception performance, and the Chargers had no problem going away from Jackson when he was guarded by Champ Bailey two weeks ago).

This leaves Antonio Cromartie-Malcolm Floyd as the key matchup. Cromartie is built to defend downfield routes; he’s a long-striding runner who likes to track the ball in the air, rather than rely on physical jams and proper press technique. If he can handle Floyd one-on-one, the Jets are in business. Most likely, though, he’ll need some help.

With two corners who, for the most part, can match up to San Diego’s receivers, it will be interesting to see how New York defends the running backs underneath. The Jets indiscriminately integrate their linebackers and safeties into blitzes and zone exchanges. Rex Ryan will likely utilize those blitzes and zone exchanges given that even if the Jets can’t sack Philip Rivers, they can at least disrupt and discourage his seven-step drops. Thus, Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, Bart Scott and David Harris could all take turns blitzing the passer and spying the backs.

3. Philip Rivers
Often, systems are only as good as the quarterback running them. The Chargers have one of the game’s best in Rivers. He is a perfect fit for Turner’s offense. The seven-step drops require a strong arm and the toughness to make throws with defenders bearing down on him.

Rivers has this – all in one package, in fact.

Thanks to his shot-put throwing motion, he does not need much room in order to throw. He can push the ball downfield without having to fully step forward or, obviously, wind up. Mentally, his focus when a hit’s on the horizon is as impressive as anyone’s in the game.

4. The run game
Because Turner’s offense is built largely around manipulating the strong safety, it, more than most, thrives on run-pass balance. That’s why the Chargers traded up last season to draft Ryan Mathews in the first-round. After a disappointing, injury-filled rookie campaign, the first-rounder from Fresno State has started to blossom in recent weeks. Mathews has very fluid lateral agility, which makes him potent in space. The issue has been whether he can create his own space. Last season, he struggled to press the hole and break the line of scrimmage at full speed. That’s a sign of a runner thinking too much.

Mathews has corrected this. He seems to be reading defenses before the snap more than after the snap. As a result, he’s rushed for 98, 81 and 125 yards his last three outings. It helps that he plays with solid lead-blockers in Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester, a mobile interior line, a capable road-grader like Marcus McNeil and arguably the game’s best left guard, Kris Dielman.

5. Other side of the ball
San Diego’s defense has been every bit as effective as the offense this season. Coordinator Greg Manusky has a very straightforward approach, often basing his tactics on the down and distance. With his corners playing so well and with this being a cohesive veteran unit, Manusky does not have to get cute in his approach.

Aside from the willowy Shaun Phillips, the Chargers don’t have a dominant pass-rusher, though Larry English and Antwan Barnes have both flashed occasionally this season. Still, Manusky is willing to blitz on third down, usually with a traditional inside linebacker who can give the Chargers a fifth pass-rusher to dictate that the speed guys face one-on-one matchups outside. The Jets’ floundering pass attack shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for the Bolts.

What might be a problem is New York’s run game. True, it has been stagnant this season. It’s starting to look like Shonn Greene’s ’09 postseason coming out party will also be the pinnacle of his career. But we’ve seen the Jets succeed before.

Physically, they have the potential to pound the rock, and the Chargers’ run defense stumbled against Willis McGahee and the Broncos two weeks ago. Starting ends Jacques Cesaire and Luis Castillo are both on the mend, and nose tackle Antonio Garay, while a quality player, has not stepped up accordingly. Hard to picture that changing against Nick Mangold.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 7 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:03 am
 

Marshall: I'll play like a monster, get ejected

MarshallPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Brandon Marshall hasn’t had much to say this season. He’s caught 22 passes, tied for 29th in the NFL, and considering the Dolphins receiver plays for a winless team, there hasn’t been a reason for Marshall, who’s known for his controversies and who admitted this summer to suffering from borderline personality disorder, to make some kind of outrageous statement.

Until this week when he had a few incendiary comments to make when talking about his team’s upcoming matchup with the Jets on Monday night.

Brandon, the mic is all for you.

“I think the past four games have been tough for me, trying to control some things, and, hey man, I’m just going to let it out,” Marshall said, via the Miami Herald.

“I don’t care if I have two, three cameras on me. I don’t care if I have penalties. It doesn’t matter; I’m going to let it all out. I don’t care what you guys write or what the commentators say. I’m just going to play football. That’s what I’m best at. I’m best when I play emotional. I’m best when I play with passion. You guys are going to see that on Monday Night Football. I don’t know if it’s throwing a football 15 yards in the bleachers, or getting a 15-yarder [penalty], or punting the ball and getting thrown out of the game. But something is going to happen. I’ll probably get kicked out after the second quarter.”

Marshall, by the way, repeated the assertion that he was probably going to be ejected by the second quarter four times. Reporters asked him if he was just kidding around.

Marshall's controversies
I’m not joking. I’m serious,” he said. “They want to fine me, hit me with a $50,000 fine. I’m going to play. The quarter and a half I’m out there, I’m going to play like a monster. I might get into a fight with Bart Scott. [Antonio] Cromartie, we pretty much matured our relationship a little bit. We used to fight in Denver and San Diego. If that happens, it happens. We’ll see.”

Dolphins PR tried to end the interview twice with reporters, but Marshall -- god love him -- kept talking. According to reports, Marshall wasn’t upset or angry. He was matter of fact (which, when you think about it, might be the scariest part of all).

Coach Tony Sparano said he thought Marshall was half-kidding and that Marshall probably was referring to his passion as a pass-catcher and a blocker. But, um, I don’t know about that.

“Football for me has just been too easy,” Marshall said. “I’m saying that in a humble way, if that’s possible. I’ve been blessed with a gift. I’m not going to overthink this thing. I’m just going to go out there, play ball, play with passion, play with aggression out there. My goal is to get thrown out midway through the second quarter. Hopefully, I achieve that -- whatever it takes -- if that’s what I need to get the season going.”

Hey, whatever works.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:25 am
 

Coach Killers, Week 5: Eagles D is in name only

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Eagles defense. This is becoming a weekly occurrence for Philly, a team with high hopes in August, now sitting at 1-4, which could now be ecstatic to go 8-8 and forget 2011 ever happened. All the big-name free-agent acquisitions are well documented, and they're arrival had everything to do with the preseason Dream Team hype (thanks, Vince!).

The problem: despite the league's best efforts, tackling is still a big part of the game … except in Philly, it seems. In fact, based on the way the Eagles' defense has performed through five weeks, tackling is frowned upon.

Sunday's effort against the Bills is the latest indictment. And this aversion to tackling isn't isolated; it's an epidemic. The diagnosis via ProFootballFocus.com:

"We always knew that Asante Samuel can’t tackle his way out of a wet paper bag, but that problem seems to be catching on amongst the Eagles’ defense. Samuel, along with three other Philadelphia defenders, missed a pair of tackles that would have gone a long way in crushing Buffalo’s momentum. While this isn’t an unusual mark for Samuel, it was Jarrad Page that took the top billing. … In addition to that, Page also took some pretty awful angles on running plays, especially on Fred Jackson’s touchdown run in the first quarter. A week of some basic and fundamental tackling instruction would go a long way to help improve this underperforming defense."

Week 5 Recap

It gets worse: the Eagles missed 14 (!) tackles Sunday in Buffalo.

The inability to bring down Bills ball-carriers wasn't the low point, however. It was the Eagles' defense, facing fourth and 1 during a critical series late in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance, jumping offsides on a hard count. That one play encapsulated the season to date.

So where does Philly go from here? Well, if you're head coach Andy Reid, the man responsible for hiring his assistants -- including defensive coordinator Juan Castillo (who, it's worth mentioning, previously had been an Eagles' offensive assistant since the mid-'90s) -- it means throwing around the idea of bringing in a "defensive consultant" during the team's bye week.

Translation: Please look away while we bang on this panic button.

Look, we agree that it was a little peculiar to hire a lifetime offensive coach as the defensive coordinator. But for Reid to admit halfway through the season that it was a huge mistake makes him look even more out of touch, which isn't easy to do given how the season has unfolded so far.

Also: the last time we heard mention of "consultants" was two seasons ago when then-Redskins general manager Vinny Cerrato brought in Sherman Lewis to "offer a fresh set of eyes" for head coach Jim Zorn. who had never called plays in an NFL game before Washington hired him. Oh, yeah, prior to coming out of retirement, Lewis was calling bingo games. So, yes, this could end badly.

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos. Denver fans finally got what they wanted: Tebow under center in a meaningful game. Never mind that he managed to complete just 4 of 10 throws for 79 yards. Or that the same issues that have plagued him since coming into the league in 2010 remain: the long stride, the Byron Leftwich windup with half the arm strength, the inability to consistently read defenses.

There's no question that he's good for the city, at least in the sense that he gives fans something they haven't had in awhile: hope. But after the Tebow Euphoria wears off, the reality is that he's a below average quarterback. (We know, we know: there isn't a stat that measures Tebow's heart … although we suspect ESPN is working on that. In related news: Merril Hoge disapproves of ESPN's efforts to lionize Tebow.) Orton is, in general, a better player, though his performance in recent weeks has earned him the right to get benched. Not only that, but he'll be a free agent in January.

Then again, it's not like the Broncos' playoff hopes rest on this decision. Whoever ends up under center will be leading a team destined for another losing season. The only question is who would benefit most from the experience. Common sense says Tebow because he's younger, and the team's former top pick. The problem with that: Fox has previously stated, on more than one occasion, that Orton was his guy and Tebow wasn't ready for the gig. He now looks like he a) is going back on his word or b) isn't much of a talent evaluator. Either way, he looks bad.

We're guessing Broncos fans will be willing to overlook all that as long as Tebow plays. They just want change and Tebow is certainly that.

(click images to enlarge)


Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets. Like the Eagles' D, this isn't Cromartie's first Coach Killer rodeo. His special teams gaffe against the Raiders helped propel the Jets to a Week 3 loss, and now, two weeks later, he did his part to get New York to 2-3. It's also well documented that he's not much of a Tom Brady fan, telling the media last week that “I hope I’m a target this game. I want to be a target every game.” As CBS' Shannon Sharpe pointed out on NFL Today before kickoff, "You're going to be a target every game because nobody's throwing at Darrelle Revis."

The Jets defense did limit Brady to just 321 passing yards, with a touchdown and an interception. But the one time Brady found Deion Branch in the end zone, it was with Cromartie in coverage, although we mean that in the loosest sense. Cromartie got caught looking in the backfield as Branch broke off his route and ran to the back pylon. It was a throw so easy Tim Tebow could've made it.

Jaguars special teams. Five weeks into the 2011 season and the biggest surprise isn't that the Lions are undefeated or that the Dream Team needs some Inception-style intervention to fix things. It's that Jack Del Rio still has a job. The latest nail in a coffin that probably doesn't have much room for more nails came against the Bengals Sunday, in a game the Jags should've won but didn't … because they're the Jags.

This week, it was the special teams that did their part to guarantee the loss.

First, rookie returner Cecil Shorts didn't field a punt late in the game and the Bengals downed the ball at the Jags' two-yard line. Four plays later, Matt Turk got off a 22-yard punt which, when coupled with a five-yard penalty, meant that Cincy would be starting at the Jags' 23. The Bengals scored a touchdown on the drive and that was that.

Turk's day was a microcosm of Jacksonville's season; he launched a 32-yard punt in the third quarter and was booed by the fans as he made his way off the field.

"Not even close to good enough in either phase," Del Rio, not doubt shocked to still be employed, said of his special teams. …

"It was windy and tough conditions, but I'm not going to sit here and make an excuse. It's nowhere near acceptable to allow a ball to be uncaught and roll to the 2-yard line when we could have caught it at the 30 or 25."

Another fun fact, courtesy of Jacksonville.com: have been outscored 68-13 in the second half this season.

Levi Brown, OL, Cardinals/Cardinals defense (The Curse of McNabb Edition). We talked about it on Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, but is Ken Whisenhunt on the ol' hot seat? He did lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008. Of course, Arizona managed just five wins last season, and in July gave up cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to get quarterback Kevin Kolb (and then gave him a $63 million extension). Now the Cards are 1-4, fresh off a loss to the previously winless Vikings.

Kolbs has looked … well, like a guy who came into the season with seven career NFL starts. Which is to say that, despite all the offseason media hype, he has a long way to go. The problem: the Cards gave up a lot to get him and don't have time to wait around. Not helping: Levi Brown -- the guy Arizona drafted while Adrian Peterson was still on the board -- has been a pass protector in name only.

ProFootballFocus notes thats "These struggles at tackle are nothing new for the Cardinals but continuing to turn a blind eye to these issues won’t do them any good. With Kurt Warner under center they had a QB with an innate feeling for pressure similar to that of Peyton Manning. Someone who could cope with pressure and still make plays. But they no longer have that and for the past two seasons this has crippled the Cardinals’ offense. This season Arizona offensive tackles have now conceded nine sacks, three hits and 36 pressures. Kevin Kolb has been a disappointment but behind these tackles is he getting a fair chance?"

Perhaps more embarrassing: this pregame note from the s/playerpage/133361">Donovan McNabb gathered teammates outside the locker room before the game against the Cardinals and told them, ">Arizona Republic's Kent Somers: "It seemed laughable on Sunday when Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb gathered teammates outside the locker room before the game against the Cardinals and told them, 'Ain't no reason we shouldn't blow these guys out.'"

Given the way the Vikings -- and McNabb in particular -- had played in recent weeks, laughing was the right response. Except that Minnesota led 28-0 after the first quarter.

The solution? Get better. No, seriously.

"That's the problem. It's not one person making a lot of mistakes; it's all of us making one or two mistakes," Kolb said after the loss. "That's where details come in. The head coach hit the nail on the head: We've got to get back to detail-oriented football. It starts with meetings. It starts with showing up to work on time, getting in early, getting your work done. All of the stuff that a professional is supposed to do."

Shouldn't you guys have been doing that from the start?

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:25 am
Edited on: October 15, 2011 12:36 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 5

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.Make sure and listen to our Week 4 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. The Billboards Worked!
When John Fox decided to bench incumbent starter Kyle Orton at half for would-be Denver football messiah Tim Tebow, it seemed like a pretty good excuse for Fox to let the fan-favorite quarterback struggle his way to a miserable second half, giving Fox has a totally justifiable excuse for refusing to answer any Tebow-related questions and instead just glaring at whoever asks them with a stern, judgmental look.

Then Tebow scored on a rushing touchdown that was a designed quarterback draw.

Then Tebow threw a screen pass to Knowshon Moreno, a ball so blessed by Tebow's hand that Moreno used its powers to break several tackles, cross the goalline and bring the Broncos inexplicably within two points.

So, um, we have a quarterback controversy, right? Rich Gannon and Marv Albert certainly think so.


Fox agrees, I think. Maybe. Possibly.

"I think Tim Tebow sparked the team today," Fox said. "We haven't had a chance to watch the tape. We haven't had time to watch the film. I think at this point we've got a bye week. We do need to improve offensively. And it will all be up for discussion."

Right. We definitely do. Although it's pretty arguable that Tebow, despite his shortcomings, should be starting for the Broncos. Kyle Orton will be a free agent after this year, and would still have trade value to a few teams (ahem, Miami).

Tebow, as Fox noted, managed to make the Broncos play harder, even if his own personal play was lacking. Yes, he ran for a touchdown. Yes, he threw for another. And, yes, he gave the Broncos a shot at winning a game in which they had no business having a shot to win. But he still finished 6 of 13 4 for 10 for 34 79 passing yards (28 came on the Moreno touchdown) and played so poorly up until four minutes left in the game that at least one dork fired up Photoshop and created fake, apologetic billboards.

(Ed. Note: Had Orton's stats in there. My bad. Note strikes. Still doesn't make Tebow's stats "good.")



Doh. And, yeah, I literally put this on Twitter 10 seconds before Tebow scampered in for his first touchdown.

Look, I'm prepared to take a ton of flak from Broncos fans in the comments for even begin to suggest that going to Tebow isn't the smart move. But from a perspective of "putting the best player under center" it isn't. Orton's still better. But the Broncos are bad and won't sniff the playoffs this season, so perhaps rolling the dice with Tebow now and at least seeing what he can is the play.

He apparently inspires the team, and that's great. But the reality is that he's a below-average quarterback with a limited skill set who just about helped his pretty awful team pull off a come-from-behind victory against a much better team at home.

And failed.

Yet, we're still talking about Tebow. And that's OK. But there's a whole lot of chatter about Tebow being "the guy" in Denver. And even though the statistics and the tape show that he wasn't all too productive -- though the statistics can't measure heart, not yet anyway! -- that chatter won't stop until Fox caves and names him the starter.

Which should make the next two weeks (the Broncos are on the bye) of speculation super-duper fun.

2. The Snooze Button Is Broken

Leading up to the Eagles's Week 5 matchup with the Bills, Michael Vick made sure the media knew that Philly no longer saw themselves as "the Dream Team." Unfortunately for him, we already knew that. It comes with the territory on a 1-3 start.

After a 31-24 loss in Buffalo, the Eagles are 1-4, and with all due respect to the very-much-for-real Bills, it's not even that hard to fathom. Sure, Andy Reid's team "won the offseason," but as their NFC East compatriots the Redskins know, that means nothing in the regular season.

"No. 1, there's nobody to blame but me," Reid said after the game. "That's how I look at it. I take full responsibility for it. It's my team."

And that's fine, because the Eagles are an incredibly sloppy team right now. If you need more proof than Vick's four interceptions -- he had six all of last year -- just look at the way each half ended. With the Eagles in the Bills territory, Vick took to long to throw the ball away and chunked the rock through the end zone as time expired. In Philly he might have gotten a second, but on the road, that clock's ticking, and the Eagles didn't got a shot at three points.

The worse crime came on a fourth and one with 1:23 to go and the Eagles down seven -- the Bills somehow managed to draw Juqua Parker offsides, grabbed a free first down and took knees to move their record to 4-1.

Buffalo is the real story, because it's absolutely improbable that they're a legit playoff contender. But the Eagles, clear-cut preseason favorites to win their division, are quite the nice juxtaposition to a Buffalo team that's well-coached, scraps for everything and plays sound football en route to winning games.

On the bright(ish) side, there have been seven teams since 1978 to make the playoffs after starting the season 1-4. So Philly's got that going for them.

3. Just Win, Baby

Since Al Davis died on Saturday morning, there were any number of very impressive, very emotional and very deserving tributes for one of the all-time great figures in NFL history.

But the best tribute of the weekend? Oakland figuring out how to just win in Houston, in what was clearly an emotional game for everyone on the Raiders payroll.

"I know he's looking down on this team," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said Sunday. "And he's with us every step of the way."

As Clark Judge noted Sunday, Oakland is indeed finding ways to "just win" and most of the season, they've looked better than their AFC-West counterparts the Chargers, despite sitting a game back in the standings of their division foes. They're still just 2-2 outside the division, but those two wins equal the number they had outside the AFC West in 2010.

If they can replicate their in-division success, 2011 could be a special year. And it probably won't hurt that Oakland has three-straight games at home starting in Week 6 -- you can bet that the Black Hole will be especially dark, which is exactly how Al Davis would have wanted it.

Real quickly, if anyone that's as "young" as I am (30; I'm using the term loosely) is confused by the heartfelt tributes to Al Davis over the weekend, take some time to read about his history in the AFL and NFL and watch some of the offerings the NFL Network is putting out there right now.

The stereotype that my generation takes from Davis is that he ran the Raiders into the ground with his obsession for speed and athleticism. This is because the Raiders last Super Bowl win was in 1983 and since they moved back to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995, they've made the playoffs just three times.

Reality is that while some of those stereotypes do apply, Davis helped spark the rise of the NFL that we know today, he broke down serious barriers when it came to minority hiring in the NFL, and while he owned the team, the Raiders became the only franchise in NFL history to make a trip to the Super Bowl in four consecutive decades.

That's sustained success by any measure, and throughout it all, there really was only one constant: Al Davis.

4. Meanwhile, Across the Bay ...
The San Francisco 49ers are 4-1 after taking Tampa Bay to the woodshed 48-3 on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.

Improbably, Alex Smith threw three touchdowns as San Fran's offense, with the help of a second-straight 125-yard rushing game from Frank Gore, carved up the Buccaneers defense. Vernon Davis found the end zone twice, and the 49ers used the all-around dominant performance to vault themselves to 4-1, as they maintained firm control over the NFC West.

What Jim Harbaugh is doing with San Francisco (and this is the second week in a row I've written this) is absolutely phenomenal, even if allowing a wide receiver to suffer a potentially serious ankle injury with four minutes left and up 41-3 deserves some flak.

Everyone felt confident believing that the Niners needed better coaching to really utilize their talent. That might be true.

But they're a miraculous comeback -- and just three points -- away from being undefeated, and it doesn't really matter who they've played against. Because, frankly, their schedule doesn't get that much tougher. Not counting NFC West games, San Francisco has games in Detroit, versus Cleveland, at Washington, versus the Giants, at Baltimore (Thanksgiving), and versus Pittsburgh.

No one's going to confuse them for the most dominant team in the NFL, even if their win Sunday looked that way, but even if they win the rest of their division matchups and lose the rest of their games (the latter's harder to fathom than the former, by the way) , they'd still end up with nine wins.

They're squarely in the driver's seat for a playoff game at home come January, Alex Smith's got the keys and everyone seems alright with this.

5. Paint it Blonde
I asked this like 12 times on Twitter Sunday, but no one could give me a good answer, so I'll ask again: How is that Reggie Wayne was the only person in the entire Colts organization that knew Curtis Painter was better than Kerry Collins?

Because Wayne knew -- he knew so much that he told us twice that Painter could compete. Unfortunately for Wayne, the newest Manning brother (Curtis!) actually prefers Pierre Garcon when it comes to touchdown passes ...


Don't get me wrong -- even Jeff George would have found Garcon on that play, so terrible was Brandon Flowers coverage. But it's pretty obvious at this point, even with Indy sitting at 0-5, that Painter gives them a better shot at winning than Collins, even if they're now 0-5 after a 28-24 loss to Kansas City.

So why did it take three games and a Collins concussion to figure that out? It's a great question and it probably involves someone(s) on the coaching staff or the front office not being as in-tune to the roster as Wayne is.

For Chiefs fans (read: my good friend and colleague who runs Eye on Basketball, Matt Moore): let's not get too frisky just yet. Your two wins are squeakers against teams that are a combined 1-9. But Todd Haley's seat is cooling at least.

6. Come on, It's All Ball Bearings These Days!
Actually, if you're the Vikings, it's simpler than anything Irwin M. Fletcher ever suggested: just give Adrian Peterson the ball.

Through four games -- all losses -- Peterson was "only" averaging 20.3 carries per game. This isn't to suggest Leslie Frazier should have run him into the ground as soon as he got the head coaching gig in Minny, but if you're leading by double digits at halftime, there's nothing wrong with a healthy dose of AP.

Frazier finally figured that out, and let Peterson loose against a suddenly hapless Cardinals team. Peterson ended the day with 29 carries for 122 rushing yards and three touchdowns; all the scores came in the first quarter, making AP just the fourth running back in the last 20 years to find the end zone three times in one quarter.

The obvious gameplan led to an obvious result: Frazier's first win as a (non-interim) head coach.

Now he's got a bigger problem to solve -- what to do with his quarterback situation. Donovan McNabb struggled again, completing just 10 of 21 passes for 169 yards against a Cardinals secondary that doesn't begin to qualify as "competent." The oft-maligned QB was pelted with "We want Ponder!" chants from the crowd at the Metrodome, and it's probably time for Frazier to perk his ears up and listen.

Could Ponder have produced the same stat line as McNabb? Absolutely. And he certainly could have handed the ball off 29 times, with the potential upside of actually letting Frazier find out if he's a legit franchise quarterback.

7. When the Circus Comes to Town
Victor Cruz of the Giants now holds the (unofficial) NFL record for ridiculous, luck-based catches. Unfortunately for the Giants, he canceled out his big-top performance against Seattle with two absolutely back-breaking turnovers that eventually cost New York the game.

His final statline? Eight catches, 161 receiving yards, a touchdown, a rush for three yards, a terrible fumble and a tipped pass with just over a minute left that the Seahawks Brandon Browner returned 94 yards for a game-clinching pick six.

The catches are nice and the acrobatic entertainment is fun to watch (see: below). But you absolutely can't miss a catch near the goalline that results in the ball being tipped up to a crowd of defenders and gets intercepted.

Eli Manning and Co. could have won even if they probably shouldn't have, given that they were pretty much outplayed from the get-go. Instead, the Redskins are all alone atop the NFC East, which is exactly what Rex Grossman predicted, the Seahawks finally won a game on the East Coast and it's perfectly acceptable to go running for your bomb shelter right now.

8. Clock Mismanagement
Speaking of circuses, whoever spiked the collective Kool-Aid of NFL coaches with Andy Reid's Jamba Juice probably won a lot of money in their pick-em league this week -- the final two minutes of the early games featured a series of incredible gaffes, many of them game-changing.

The Panthers, for instance, lost by three. You think calling a timeout with two seconds left as the Saints scrambled to set up for a field goal, which they eventually made after the pause in action, helped New Orleans? Yes it did. The Saints won by three.

We chronicled the Eagles mistakes -- in each half, no less! -- above. This is nothing new to an Andy Reid-coached football team. But it's still inexcusable.

The Raiders probably appreciate the Texans going incomplete-incomplete-sack with three timeouts to close out the first half, instead of utilizing their clock-killers to get good field position and a shot at some points. The Raiders didn't score, and Jacoby Jones probably deserves some fault, but you can't give the ball back to the other team that quickly.

The Vikings and Giants also behaved in a manner unbefitting of quality teams near the end of the first half, and both Mike McCarthy and Hue Jackson made poor decisions to go for a two-point conversion at an inexplicably early time.

Just sloppy decisions all around. On the bright side, maybe this Les-Miles-to-the-NFL thing could work out after all!



9. Best Team's Best Win?
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Packers march to the Super Bowl in 2010 was their resiliency amid tons of injury. Well, that and their ability to adapt when things weren't going their way. It's what great teams do, and it's what the Packers did once again on Sunday night, despite getting down early to a sharp-looking Falcons team and, most devastatingly their stalwart of a left tackle in Chad Clifton.

Bryan Bulaga was already out on the right side, but it didn't matter -- Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers adjusted their gameplan and spent the second half doing their best General Sherman impersonation, piling up a whopping 25 unanswered points on Atlanta's defense en route to a convincing 25-14 win that puts the Packers at 5-0 for the first time since 1965.

"We just stayed patient," Rodgers said afterwards. "It was a tough game -- I took a lot of shots. I had to move around a lot. [The offensive line] did a great job. The rhythm wasn't there all the time, but we just stayed with it, stayed patient and knew the big plays were going to come."

Rodgers threw for 296 of his 396 passing yards after the half and completed passes to a franchise-record 12 receivers. That's even more impressive considering that the Packers seriously stalled after Clifton went out, as the Falcons were actually able to get some pressure on Rodgers.

It was a brief period in neutral, though, as Rodgers -- who's established himself as the best quarterback in the NFL at this point, and I hope you're alright with that -- and the Packers got rolling and ended up winning in near-blowout fashion.

If they continue to adjust when adversity hits as they have this season (and last), Mike Freeman's note earlier this week about the Packers going undefeated doesn't seem remotely far-fetched.

And as long as No. 12 is under center, neither does another Super Bowl.

10. The Old Don't Bury 'Em Yet Game
High-quality teams that are struggling, like the Steelers, always bust out this old chestnut, randomly ripping into an opponent and reminding us that they're not dead yet.

So we come not to bury the Steelers, but to praise them, on the heels of a 38-17 beatdown of the Titans on Sunday that happened despite a weakened Steelers offensive line, an aging Steelers defense, a surging Titans offense and a busted-up Ben Roethlisberger.

"I told ya, I was just faking it," Roethlisberger said. "I'm a wimp."

Ben, obviously, is the complete opposite of a "wimp," mainly because pain either a) doesn't effect him or b) makes him better. Or something -- the dude was limping like crazy in pre-game warm-ups, and I felt pretty good about my Steelers pick.

Then all 350 pounds of Max Starks managed to rejuvenate the Pittsburgh offensive line who bullied an underrated Tennessee front four, giving Jonathan Dwyer his first career 100-yard rushing game, only allowed Roethlisberger to get sacked once, and protected like a unit capable of helping a team get to the Super Bowl.

Oh yeah, the defense was OK too -- LaMarr Woodley made it quite clear early on that Pittsburgh was going to have a statement game, recording an interception and 1.5 sacks, one of which was one of the most beasty sacks I've seen in a while -- Woodley fought off a blocker after briefly getting his hands on Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and just forcing his way to the takedown.

Pittsburgh's still tied with the Bengals (right?), but they're both just a half-game back of the Ravens now, and in case you thought the Steelers would just limp off into the sunset, you were clearly wrong.

Worth 1,000 Words



Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... What the hell was Matt Schaub thinking on the final play of Raiders-Texans??? Just a horrible pass.
... When Antonio Cromartie picked off Tom Brady to end the half in the Jets-Patriots tilt, it was the first red-zone interception that Tom Brady has thrown at home. Ever. In his career. Say what you want about cherry-picking stats, but that's absolutely insane.
... Comebacks continue: the Chiefs stormed back from 17 points down, making it the seventh time an NFL team has done so this season, the most in NFL history.
... Cam Newton became the first player in NFL history with more than five passing and five rushing touchdowns in the first five games of his career Sunday. Yes, they lost. Whatever.
... Speaking of that Panthers game, what it's gonna take for the NFL to let an official eject someone? Because what Roman Harper did -- needlessly cheap-shotting Steve Smith after Smith made it to the end zone Sunday -- was about as close as it came, and nearly sparked a brawl. Not to wussify the sport further but how about we make a statement before we get Auburn Palace 2.0.

Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"Take a bottle,drink it down...pass it around"

This is what you want the owner of your football team saying shortly before Curtis Painter gets second career start to try and get your team the first win of the season. Obviously.

GIF O' THE WEEK

Courtesy of the fine mustachioed fellas at SB Nation, Victor Cruz' insane circus catch.



Hot Seat Tracker
  • Jack Del Rio: He called his team's performance "crappy" and no amount of blame-shifting by Maurice Jones-Drew is going to save his gig at this point. Bye-week tracking engaged.
  • Tony Sparano: He's making it through the bye week and, hey, might make it the whole season, if only so Stephen Ross can chase Jon Gruden.
  • Jim Caldwell: The Colts are frisky right now, but they're sure not winning. If they land Andrew Luck, won't they want someone that can groom him?
  • Andy Reid: Welcome aboard, sir! Although he could just throw Juan Castillo over the side to cool his seat.
  • Tom Coughlin: Premature? Probably. But I'm just trying to get ahead of the inevitable surge from angry New Yorkers.
  • Ken Wisenhunt: What happens when you trade a bunch of stuff for a quarterback and then spend $63 million on said quarterback but still stink? I'm just asking questions.
Chasing Andrew Luck
Colts (-400) -- It occurred to me today ... if Andrew Luck is really patient and wants to enjoy life and learn things and go about things the smart way, wouldn't he want to end up sitting behind Peyton Manning for two or three years? He'd be like Aaron Rodgers on play-calling steroids after that time frame.
Dolphins (-250) -- Presumably, Luck is part of Ross' package to Gruden.
Rams (+150) -- One would think they'd trade the pick for a lot of wide receivers.
Jaguars (+250) -- Another team with a franchise passer, huh?
Vikings (+300) -- Boy, it's a good thing they didn't rent McNabb for just one year ...
Broncos (+400) -- But, but ... Tebow!
Cardinals (+500) -- Wouldn't this be awkward? "Hey, Andy ... Do you do refunds?"
Panthers (+750) -- Also a very serious "trade the pick" candidate.
Eagles (+1000) -- Are their odds of getting Luck better than their odds of making the Super Bowl? So. Awkward.

MVP Watch
Last week, I pointed out that Aaron Rodgers easily eclipsed anyone else with his performance against the Broncos. (Stafford and Tom Brady got honorable mention and still do.) With stiffer competition on the road, Rodgers again stepped up in a big way. We're only five weeks into the season, so it's a touch silly to speculate on votes, but he'd win unanimously right now.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com