Tag:Jim Schwartz
Posted on: December 5, 2011 2:20 am
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Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 13

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 13 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

 

1. Tebowtainment

Before diving into another Tim Tebow victory -- this time a 35-32 squeaker on the road in Minnesota -- let's go ahead and get you ready for the upcoming week of screaming talking head mania by offering up the Official Tebow Haters Stat Du Jour: opponent's victories!

As people will tell you over the next seven days, Denver's last five victories came against five teams five teams with a combined 25 victories. (Don't think I'm defending that, just know that I'm preparing you for it.)

You know why people are going to focus on that, as well as the Vikings two-win season and a miserable Minnesota secondary?

Because Tebow just won a game by being a -- gasp! -- traditional passer. Tebow went 10 of 15 for 202 yards and two touchdowns and only rushed the ball four times, one of which was was a lateral kneel to set up the game-winning field goal.

The result of Sunday's win is the most improbable of improbable situations: Denver being the favorite to land the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs. With "just" the Bears, Patriots, Bills and Chiefs remaining on the schedule, Denver's in a better position than Oakland (losers Sunday, with the Packers, Lions, Chiefs and Chargers remaining) to make the postseason.

And if you're a Tebow hater, you better get your block button on Twitter ready, because things are about to get hairy when they get there. On the other hand, if you're a Tebow hater, what's your beef with a team that utilizes an opportunistic defense, a run-based offense that doesn't make mistakes and a quarterback who may or may not have mystical powers to win games?

I understand that people have to argue about something during the week, but are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?

2. You Just Iced Yourself, Bro

On Sunday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took clock mismanagement to an entirely new level in Dallas' 19-13 loss to Arizona in overtime.

First off, Garrett iced his own kicker. Icing an opponent's kicker is a foolhardy move, because it really doesn't work all that well in the first place. But icing your own kicker? That's the stuff that Jim Mora rants -- and knee-jerk firings -- are made of.

Somehow, though, Garrett's ridiculous decision wasn't his worst move of the Cowboys loss. With over a minute remaining, Dallas facing a second and 20 and holding two timeouts, Tony Romo took the snap and completed a pass to Dez Bryant for nine yards. 30 seconds later, Romo took another snap and hit Bryant for 15 yards and a first down, then spiked the ball with eight seconds remaining on the clock.

No timeouts used, 53 seconds burnt and the Cowboys still needing Dan Bailey to kick a 49-yard field goal. Cue up icing of Bailey, and cue up a Kevin Kolb-led game-winning drive for the Cardinals in their first possession in overtime.

There's no need to dive into the hyperbole-filled world of "worst clock management ever," but suffice to say Wade Phillips is laughing his jolly ass off somewhere right now.

3. Yes We Cam ... But Maybe We Shouldn't

Sunday -- a 38-19 win for Carolina over Tampa Bay -- was a big day for Cam Newton. The Panthers won. (It's the most important thing, haven't you heard?) Newton won his first division game. Newton picked up his first winning "streak." And the rookie phenom had, arguably, his best game as a professional quarterback.

Newton went 12 of 21 for and only threw for 204 yards, but he had one touchdown through the air, no turnovers and managed 54 rushing yards on 13 carries and three rushing touchdowns.

That total, by the by, means Newton now holds the single-season rookie record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 13, leaving poor Steve Grogan with no other real historical notation to his name.

Here's the crazy thing though: Newton's just five touchdowns short of Eric Dickerson's record for rushing touchdowns in a season by any rookie. With four games to go, 18 or 19 is well within his sights.

Should it be, though? I say no, and that's coming from someone who's a conductor on the CamWagon and a Newton fantasy owner. Here's why: Newton hasn't learned how to avoid contact yet. He's getting a little better about avoiding shots, but watching him go into a headfirst horizontal spin has to make Jerry Richardson's heart skip a couple of beats.

On a day when you win by 19 points against a terrible rushing defense like Tampa's, especially when they don't have their starting quarterback, there's no reason why Newton has three more carries than DeAngelo Williams, who got $43 million this offseason.

Watching Cam break Dickerson's record would be fun, but not as fun as watching Cam stay healthy over the next decade.

4. Defining Swagger

For the first few weeks of the season, I'm pretty confident I pumped a lot of words in this space in the direction of the Detroit Lions because of their new-found attitude under coach Jim Schwartz.

A "swagger," if you will. Well, it's backfiring, and backfiring badly. Sunday was a perfect example, as the Lions piled up well over 100 yards in penalties -- most of them incredibly stupid and chippy -- during their 31-17 loss to New Orleans.

Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham preach a hard-nose brand of football, and that's great for a Lions team that's been pushed around and publicly mocked for more than a decade because of futility in every aspect.

But you can't give away games by trying to be tough. The Lions, for the first time in a looooong time, are in the middle of a playoff race, and other contenders (the Giants, the Bears, the Falcons, the Cowboys) are imploding all around them.

Did they learn nothing from Ndamukong Suh getting suspended for ridiculously dumb and violent on-field actions? Just go out and be tough without being dumb.

Having swagger doesn't mean having to be stupid.


5. Hibernation Time

Say what you will about Caleb Hanie, but the Bears had a shot at the playoffs even with Jay Cutler out. But after Matt Forte sprained his MCL in Sunday's 10-3 loss to Kansas City, that pipedream just went down the tube.

Hanie was 11 of 24 for 133 yards and three picks, Marion Barber carried the rock 14 times for 44 yards and anyone watching the game knew that it was going to take a Bears defensive touchdown to win that game.

The Bears got burnt because Kansas City hit a Hail Mary to Dexter McCluster at the end of the half, and as pointed out last week, Romeo Crennel really does deserve some love for the defensive schemes he's cooking up these days, but this is a Chicago team that looked like a legit Super Bowl contender just three weeks ago.

Since then, they've been absolutely snakebit with injuries to stars, and even if they're still technically "in" the NFC playoffs as of today, is that defense really going to shut out three of the next four opponents?

Or, put more a little succinctly: Chicago just lost to Tyler Palko. Goodnight, sweet Bears.

6. Next Man Up

Speaking of injuries to key players, can we go ahead and get love for the work Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips are doing in Houston?

Because as soft as the Texans schedule is, Kubes somehow managed to shock the world (well, some of us) by beating Atlanta 17-10 despite having T.J. Yates under center.

But what's new, right? The Texans, as Clark Judge noted on Sunday from Houston, have won without every single one of their stars and it's not just because this team gets to beat up on the cupcakes of the AFC South.

It's because they've got established a quality of depth on this team that allows them to succeed despite potentially debilitating injuries to critical players.

"Because we have a defense that's playing well," Arian Foster said after the game. "We have receivers that can make plays. [We have] a solid offensive line. We have running backs who can make plays. We have weapons around him to help [Yates]."

This steady diet of consistency and quality of depth is precisely why Houston hasn't -- and won't -- collapse under the weight of a run to the playoffs this year.


7. Rookie Wall

The BCS laid a couple of stinkbombs on Sunday that would actually make Jim Caldwell cringe, but the most important thing for us NFL types is that the college season is now over. Not because we want it to end, but now's a good measuring stick of the rookie wall.

The last time Andy Dalton, leading a surprising Bengals playoff run, played a game after the first weekend of December, it was probably on a month's worth of rest, because of the bowl system.

This year, Dalton gets four games in that stretch, with about six days in between each one.

And though the Red Rifle wasn't awful during Sunday's 35-7 loss to Pittsburgh, he was banged up and beat down enough that Bruce Gradkowski came in for mop-up duty.

As noted above, I'm all for keeping rookies safe. But there's got to be some concern that Dalton's entering an unknown area in terms of wear and tear on his body and mind.

It probably won't help that he gets a pair of elite defenses -- Baltimore and Houston -- over the next few weeks either.

8. Please Don't Punch the Zebras

Twice on Sunday we saw players -- Da'Quan Bowers of the Buccaneers and Brandon Pettigrew of the Lions -- make what could at best be called "incidental" contact with referees on the field.

Both Bowers and Pettigrew were involved in scuffles on the field and neither was going after the official, but when they were being pulled away from whatever mini-ruckus was taking place, both struck the official.

That's a 15-yard penalty and it should be an ejection. Only Pettigrew was flagged and neither was ejected. (Oddly, when Bowers lashed out, Brian Price was booted to the locker room by coach Raheem Morris.)

It's not an epidemic running around, but with some of the non-calls we've seen on violent plays this year, it's a little disappointing that the guys in stripes aren't making more of a concerted effort to look out for their own safety.

Expect fines for both guys, particularly if the league wants to ensure players aren't taking aggressive contact with the officials on the field of play.

9. Save Our Sparanos

My man Pete Prisco already broke down the odiferous nature of Oakland's 34-14 stinkbomb in Miami on Sunday, but there's something else at play here: is Tony Sparano saving his job?

Because the Dolphins are suddenly riding a hot streak (they've won four of their last five) that seemed impossible after an 0-7 start to the season. Not only are they no longer the worst team in the NFL, they might not even be the worst team in their division, what with the 5-7 Bills racing them back to the bottom.

Matt Moore looks like Matt Moore looked when Matt Moore was helping the Panthers win meaningless games late in 2009, and Reggie Bush looks like Reggie Bush looked when ... well, Reggie Bush hasn't ever looked like this. But he looks good.

The defense is stifling teams (I don't care how many starters the Raiders were missing), and Miami's got three winnable games on their schedule remaining, as they play the Eagles and Jets at home and the Bills on the road.

If Sparano gets this team to 7-9 by winning seven of their last nine, it really seems inconceivable that Stephen Ross could can him.

10. Utah, Gimme Two

If you're listening to the podcast -- and why aren't you listening and/or subscribing -- you probably heard us rant on the ridiculous nature of two-point conversion usage in football.

And if you're not listening, here's a synopsis: people are doing it wrong. A great example occurred during the Packers-Giants game on Sunday (eventually won by Green Bay 38-35). With 3:35 remaining, the Packers held a one-point lead when Aaron Rodgers hit Donald Driver for a ridiculous touchdown grab.

Up seven points, the Packers had two choices. One, kick the extra point (and go up eight). Or two, go for two and have roughly a 50-percent chance (the conversion rate for two-point conversions) of going up nine points.

An unsuccessful conversion would simply mean the Giants needed to go down and score a touchdown, same as before, except without having to score a two-point conversion afterward. (Same odds apply here for the Giants getting theirs, obviously.)

A successful two-point conversion, however, would put the Packers up nine points, which means the Giants would need to go down, score a touchdown, kick an extra point, recover an onsides kick and then get in range to kick a long field goal. The odds of this happening are a) much worse than the Giants scoring and getting a two-point conversion; or b) much, much, much lower than a coin flip.

For whatever reason, coaches -- and most fans -- don't understand the tremendous advantage being up two possessions present, as opposed to simply being up eight points. The reward (basically ending the game) substantially outweighs the risk (a tie ballgame), however.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... The Packers tied the second-longest winning streak in NFL history, and are just three shy of the 03-04 Patriots, who won 21 straight.
... Frank Gore passed Joe Perry as the 49ers all-time leading rusher, on a day when San Francisco clinched the division.
... Drew Brees became the first player in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards in his team's first 12 games.
... Jimmy Graham became the first Saints tight end in history to top 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
... Hines Ward became the 19th player in NFL history with 12,000 receiving yards in his career Sunday.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF O' THE WEEK

A combo GIF this week! Via SBNation, first we have Hakeem Nicks showing the world how to do the not-so-sissy strut:



And then Nicks following that dance up by doing ... this:


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Steve Spagnuolo -- On the bright side, there might be an opening for a defensive coordinator in Philly ...
  • Jim Caldwell -- You can't not fire your coach if he goes 0-16, right?
  • Andy Reid --  I still don't buy that Philly dumps him, but his seat is warm for sure.
  • Raheem Morris -- Losing to the Panthers, even without Josh Freeman, isn't helping Morris.
  • Norv Turner -- He can get off this list with a playoff berth. So, yeah, um, yeah.

MVP Watch

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers continued their pursuit of perfection, but for the first time all season, Rodgers didn't look totally ridiculously amazing. He was still really good, though. And no one was that much better -- Tom Brady's got a case building, I suppose, but Rodgers is winning in a walkaway, barring something silly happening over the next four weeks.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Vanden Bosch, Stafford fined $7.5K, Moore $15K

Posted by Will Brinson

We told you earlier this week that the Chicago-Detroit tilt from Sunday (a resounding 37-13 victory for the Bears) would likely involve some players getting fined by the NFL.

Well, the first of those fines rolled in on Thursday morning, and it's directed at defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch, who was reportedly fined $7,500 for hitting a runner on the ground, according to ESPN.

Apparently, the collective decision of Lions and Bears players earlier this week that Detroit isn't dirty wasn't enough to prevent the NFL from beginning to fire out expensive Fed Ex envelopes.

But all the fines in this game aren't because of violence -- Earl Bennett was fined for his clothes. Or, more specifically, his orange shoes, which cost him $10,000 for wearing them for the second straight week.

Last week, Bennett was fined $5,000 for wearing the orange cleats and a whole controversy brewed up about whether or not Jay Cutler can pay the fine for Bennett, who's emerged as Cutler's best receiving option. (He cannot.)

UPDATED (Nov. 18; 11:38 A.M. ET): According to the Chicago Sun-Times' Sean Jensen, Bears cornerback D.J. Moore, the man who scrapped with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford that led to the bench-clearing fracas, has been fined $15,000 for his role. According to reports, Moore also has been ruled out for Sunday's game vs. the Chargers.

More fines are almost surely to come.

UPDATED (1:04 p.m.): According to the Detroit Free Press, Stafford has been fined $7,500 for throwing Moore to the ground, the same figure as Rob Sims for jumping on the pile late.

UPDATED (2:35 p.m.): Detroit's Nick Fairley has been fined $15,000 for his illegal hit on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 6:00 am
 

Suh says Lions aren't dirty, Urlacher agrees

Things got chippy between Chicago and Detroit Sunday, and the NFL will no doubt punish them accordingly. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

If the Lions were as aggressive between the whistles as they were after it against the Bears on Sunday, the final score would've been a lot closer than 37-13. Instead, Chicago's defense took advantage of four Matthew Stafford interceptions (including two pick-sixes), Devin Hester added a special-teams touchdown, and Jay Cutler and the offense just got out of the way.

Well, they tried to anyway.

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh ripped Cutler's helmet off after a tackle (he called it "part of the game"). Later in the game, Suh's teammate, Nick Fairley, drove Cutler into the turf on a late hit. (See here and here for the video evidence.)

Stafford also started a fight when, following his third interception, he brought Bears' cornerback D.J. Moore  to the ground by grabbing his helmet (see the video below). Moore, unimpressed, went after Stafford and just like that, it was on like Donkey Kong.

"I thought the play on Stafford was a little bit over the line," Lions linebacker Justin Durant said, according to MLive.com's Anwar Richardson. "That's how I feel about it. He was just trying to make a play. He had thrown an interception and was trying to get there. The guy just took it overboard."

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, appearing on ESPN Radio Chicago, had a different take on the play.

“Their defense was saying something to our sideline late in the game after D.J. Moore beat up their quarterback [Matthew Stafford]. They said some stuff to our sidelines. I don’t know what…their defense was saying something to our sidelines. I don’t know what it was, but there is ways to handle things and there is ways to not handle things. I don’t know…they are a good football team. No doubt about that. They don’t do very good when they get beat up I guess.”

You can judge for yourself if Moore beat up Stafford:


The Lions and Bears mix it up after Stafford takes down Jennings.

Either way, both teams can expect heavy fines, and Durant realizes as much.

"I can imagine some people will have some $20,000 fines," he said. "I'm not sure who was doing what or if anybody was throwing blows. … One time when I was in Jacksonville, we had a fight against the Titans and a couple of guys came off the sidelines and they got fined just for stepping across the sidelines. More than likely, there are going to be some fines."

Using history and the NFL's haphazard approach to punishing players as a guide, we'd wager that, yes, there will be a lot of fines coming out of this.

Lions wide receiver Nate Burelson added: "If you go out there and throw some blows, you got to expect that FedEx letter in your locker."

Much of the conversation this season has been about how the Lions, and Suh in particular, are dirty. Here are two examples from last season that had people so worked up.


Suh explained his approach to the game during an appearance on ESPN's First Take.

"I like to punish the quarterback. I like to punish running backs for them trying to make plays on my defense," he said. "Whether it's dirty or aggressive or whatever that may be, we're going to continue to play that way and make sure we stand up and make sure teams don't run over us."

Urlacher was asked if he thought the Lions were dirty.

“You know what? They play to the echo of the whistle," he said, via Sports Radio Interviews. "As a player you can’t be mad because that is the way the game should be played. They play fast and they play physical and sometimes they go a little bit too far, but you know what? Sometimes you get away with it. …

"I like their head coach. I will tell you that much. I think he has done a good job for that organization and he’s a hard-nosed guy. He wants his guys to play, so I can’t be mad at him, but you don’t like it when you are playing against them because it pisses you off, but you know what they do a good job and they play hard.”

To recap: the Lions aren't dirty, but both teams should expect to be a little lighter in the wallet this week.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 5:45 pm
 

Suh, Goodell make up during meeting

SuhPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Ndamukong Suh had his meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday, and he’s taken to his Facebook page to tell you all about it.

It seems to have gone very well indeed.

"I am very appreciative of the opportunity to sit and speak with the Commissioner and his staff to clarify a few questions about my play, and the game in general,” Suh wrote. “I have gained a better understanding how I need to play the game to help my team win.

“I look forward to the rest of the season and the doing everything we can to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Detroit."

Suh has been characterized as a dirty player (probably because he’s seemingly always trying to rip off the other quarterback’s face), and he’s been hit hard by fines -- which is why he asked to meet with Roger Goodell. He wanted to get clarification on why his style of play has led to so many personal fouls and fines. Now, apparently he’s got it.

“We appreciate that Ndamukong Suh, Coach (Jim) Schwartz, and team president Tom Lewand took the time to meet with us today,” Goodell said in a statement. “Ndamukong plays the game with great skill and passion and is a major reason for the Lions’ success this year. We reviewed video showing that he has clearly made the adjustments to play consistently within the rules so that he can continue to help the team. We commend Ndamukong’s leadership in taking the initiative to schedule today’s meeting.”

Glad to see Suh and the NFL are, once again, BFFs. Opposing quarterbacks can only hope those good feelings last.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 9:43 pm
 

Film Room: Broncos vs. Lions preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



It’s impossible to avoid the Tim Tebow coverage at this point. Since you’ll be hearing about the Broncos-Lions game all week, you might as well make the best of it and be familiar with the two teams. Here is a five-point rundown of the matchup, starting with a quick ode to You Know Who.



1. Tebow
The argument is no longer whether Tebow can become a more conventional quarterback; it’s whether the Broncos can win without him becoming a conventional quarterback. The elongated throwing motion probably isn’t going away. The flawed footwork may improve, but no guarantees. The arm strength will likely always be what it is: middling.

At this point, the Broncos coaching staff is limiting Tebow’s reads with simplified gameplans. That’s common with young quarterbacks. But usually young quarterbacks have more passing tools to work with. Tebow has running tools, which are hard to successfully incorporate into an NFL gameplan.

Tebow worshipers love to tout his “It Factor”. Twice now we’ve seen that “It Factor” late in the fourth quarter when the trailing Broncos have been compelled to cut loose Tebow’s inner sandlot soul. And it’s worked. So why doesn’t John Fox have Tebow play this way for all four quarters? Because he fears that if he did, the Broncos would trail by 30 late in the fourth instead of the usual 15 or 16.

Let’s look at the rest of this matchup.

2. Broncos offense
As we highlighted in last week’s Finer Points analysis, the Broncos have severe limitations at wide receiver. None of their targets are vertical threats. Eric Decker gets off press coverage well but is restricted to underneath stuff. Eddie Royal is an uninspiring slasher. Demaryius Thomas is solid and has upside, but only in a possession sense. And undrafted Matt Willis is untested.

Because of this, the Broncos are a throwback offense that operates out of traditional two-backs, one-tight end sets and abides largely by the laws of run-run-pass. That’s not a winning formula, but if the run game is working, it can at least be a “not losing” formula.

The run game has worked the past two weeks. Though Willis McGahee rushed for 103 yards against the Packers in Week 6, 125 yards against the Chargers in Week 5 and 76 yards against the Dolphins this past Sunday, he's out for for at least the next month with a broken hand. That means, Knowshon Moreno -- last year's first-round pick who is a mechanic, finesse-based back who has been relegated to third down duties -- will take over. Like McGahee, at least Moreno has the benefit of operating behind an offensive line that is well sized and, for the most part, athletic.

3. Lions defense
The Lions run defense is not nearly as bad as its ranking (28) indicates. A few missed tackles have led to big gains on the ground. Missed tackles are the type of mistakes that can quickly be corrected. The Lions have one of the deepest, most athletic defensive lines in football.

The line’s ability to win early in the down allows speedy linebackers DeAndre Levy, Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch to play untouched and downhill – something all three are doing extremely well. Safety Louis Delmas is also outstanding at locating and quickly filling the point of attack against the run. He’ll see plenty of time in the box given Denver’s nonexistent downfield passing game.

Denver needs to forget about running outside and instead attack Detroit right up the gut. That may seem problematic given the presence of Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams, but in the last two weeks, the Niners and Falcons, two other power-run teams, have taken a clever approach to this.

Instead of trying to stop Ndamukong Suh’s initial penetration, the Falcons, taking a page out of the 49ers’ playbook, found a way to use it against him. Right guard Garrett Reynolds let Suh get his amazing jump off the ball.



Center Todd McClure swept around to shield Suh backside, while Michael Turner carried the ball right to the spot that Suh vacated. Reynolds stepped to his right to take care of the defensive end (an easy block given the angle of the hole it was creating) and right tackle Tyson Clabo was able to immediately work up to the second level and block the linebacker (also an easy block given that the linebacker had virtually no time to diagnose and react).



The 49ers used a similar tactic the previous week (see the video here), only with different players. They let Suh get penetration and blocked him backside with motioning tight end Delanie Walker. Center Jonathan Goodwin went cleanly to the second level to block the linebacker, while right guard Adam Snyder handled the left defensive tackle that Goodwin left behind.



This concept did three things for the Falcons and 49ers:

1. Eliminated Suh from the play without costing the offense an extra blocker in a double team, and without asking the right guard to win a one-on-one matchup that few, if any, right guards could possibly win.

2. Opened a natural hole in the A-gap, which is the easiest hole for a running back to hit quickly.

3. Allowed an offensive lineman to immediately reach a linebacker without being touched (a run-blocker’s dream).

Expect the Broncos to try a similar tactic this Sunday. It will be interesting to see what adjustment the Lions will have made to combat this (it’s doubtful they’d ask Suh to NOT penetrate off the snap).

4. Lions offense
This unit has had the chinks in its armor exposed the past two weeks. At this point, Matthew Stafford and the Lions are overly dependent on Calvin Johnson. That’s fine when Jahvid Best is in the lineup. But with Best out, the Lions don’t pose much of a run threat out of shotgun (overwhelmingly their favorite formation).

They also lose Best’s outside presence on bubble screens. This allows defenses to be more aggressive near the line of scrimmage against Titus Young, Nate Burleson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, all of whom struggled last Sunday.

This puts more pressure on Johnson. He’s an otherworldly talent, but he’s never been inspiring against intense double coverage (he was nowhere near as impactful against the Niners two weeks ago as his 113 yards suggested).

Also, as we saw against the Falcons, with the passing game’s quick-strike element suppressed, this unathletic front five gets exposed.

5. Broncos defense
The Broncos have the resources to exploit Detroit’s pass-blocking. Von Miller is the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews. Elvis Dumervil has had a quiet season but will still a handful for Jeff Backus. And last week the safeties and linebackers timed their blitzes extremely well.

The Broncos also have the resources to keep up with Detroit’s passing attack. Champ Bailey is still a top-tier cornerback, shadowing the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver week in and week out. Bailey will need rookie free safety Quinton Carter (who has replaced Rahim Moore) to be a little more reliable in help coverage than he’s been, but with a respectable pass-rush, the Broncos shouldn’t feel too nervous about this matchup.

Nickel linebackers D.J. Williams (insane athlete) and Wesley Woodyard are both stellar pass defenders who can contain Pettigrew. The deciding factor will be whether cornerbacks Andre Goodman and Jonathan Wilhite can physically stymie Burleson and Young. Teams have targeted Wilhite, who’s been in and out of the lineup.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 1:39 pm
 

Casserly details NFL memo on Schwartz-Harbaugh

Posted by Will Brinson

The Jim Schwartz-Jim Harbaugh handshake incident after the Lions-49ers game last week caused quite the stir around the NFL, particularly when the league declined to fine either of the coaches.

But going forward, those guys -- and all other NFL coaches -- will get fined for such behavior, as CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday's edition of The NFL Today.

The basis of Casserly's report was a memo he obtained that NFL VP Ray Anderson sent to all the general managers and head coaches of NFL teams.



"Last Sunday's post-game incident involving two head ouches was embarrassing to the coaches, their teams and the league," Anderson's memo read. "it could easily have erupted into a dangerous brawl. Simply stated, more is expected of our leaders. Coaches Harbaugh and Schwartz have acknowledged that they were wrong and that this type of inappropriate behavior will not be repeated.

"Although no fines were imposed for this incident, everyone should be mindful of his responsibility to act in a way that brings credit to himself, his club and the NFL."

So that's the logic for not fining the coaches -- there was no such system for actually fining them in place. But going forward, that changes, as the league told Casserly.

"If this incident happened today after this memo, both sides would have been fined," Casserly said. "If this memo had existed before last week, both coaches would have been fined."

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 11:46 am
 

Report: Harrison's tumor removed during surgery

HarrisonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

After a tumor was found in the brain of Jerome Harrison -- scuttling a trade between the Eagles and Lions -- Harrison underwent surgery to remove it Friday, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that the surgery went well and doctors believe “all of (the) tumor was removed”.

Which obviously is fantastic news for Harrison.

The report of the brain tumor was a scary moment for Harrison, who had been traded to the Eagles for Ronnie Brown.

But during the physical performed by Philadelphia doctors, after Harrison complained of headaches (strong enough where Brown had to wear sunglasses on the practice field), an MRI revealed a brain tumor. Which means the trade, even though it was voided, might have been the best thing ever to happen to Harrison.

As my colleague Ryan Wilson pointed out on Friday, Lions coach Jim Schwartz visited Harrison in the hospital before he underwent brain surgery.

"He was in very good spirits," Schwartz said. "But after that, I don’t know if I want to talk too much. It’s one of those things, it’s a non-football thing, and I’ll just let him take it away from that spot."

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 6:10 pm
 

NFL makes yet another disappointing decision

T. Polamalu was fined $10,000 for using a cell phone on the sideline (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Sometimes, the NFL makes so little sense when it comes to its discipline, it’s enough to make you scream. Or give you a mind-bending headache.

After declining to discipline Lions coach Jim Schwartz and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for Handshake-Gate (though I much prefer Schwarbaugh-Gate) -- I repeat, for their near-brawl, they were fined exactly zero dollars and zero cents -- the league made a disappointing, yet predictable decision to fine Steelers safety Troy Polamalu for using a cell phone on the sideline of last Sunday’s game.

The reason Polamalu used the cell phone in the first place was because he had suffered a concussion and was calling his wife to tell her he was OK. But the NFL deemed it necessary to fine him $10,000 for the action, making it the world’s most expensive phone call* of the last week.

*I assume this is true, anyway.

Earlier in the week, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin tried to plead on Polamalu’s behalf, saying, “He's had a history of concussion-like symptoms and so forth in the past. She was concerned. In this era of player safety, you would think that common sense would prevail in regards to some of those things. It wasn't a personal call. He wasn't checking on his bank account. He was talking to his wife to let her know that he was fine, and that was it."

Instead, the NFL decided to discipline him twice as heavily as Clay Matthews for his shoe selection and 10,000 times more heavy than Schwartz and Harbaugh**.

**I realize if Schwartz and Harbaugh had been fined $1, the above would have been an accurate statement. As it is, I know you can’t divide anything by zero. But just go with me here.

It’s a shame and it’s unfortunate and … well, I’m fresh out of adjectives. It just kind of sucks.

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