Tag:Oakland Raiders
Posted on: October 11, 2010 5:06 pm
 

F&R NFL Approval Matrix Week 5

Posted by Will Brinson

Our affinity for graphs and charts and purty pictures knows no bounds, so (with a nod to the smartypants at NY Mag), we present our first-ever NFL approval matrix. Suggestions, complaints and intellecutual property lawsuits may be directed to us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).

Click to embiggen.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 4:36 am
Edited on: October 11, 2010 2:18 pm
 

10 Sunday stories that deserve attention Week 5

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) The Almost Legend

The Alex Smith Story on Sunday night was like a Greek tragedy. The much-maligned quarterback of the disappointing 0-4 Niners makes one of the great blunders of the 2010 season when he reads blitz from the Eagles, eschews his hot receiver (Vernon Davis) and instead fumbles, resulting in an easy Quintin Mikell touchdown return. Smith endures the wrath of a Candlestick crowd that showed up at the stadium seemingly determined to boo their own team until the visiting Eagles could feel right at home. A. Smith (US Presswire)

Mike Singletary hears the boos, hears the We Want Carr! chants (which, by the way, surely sparked a few wry smiles from Houstonites watching the game) and, from the looks of it, tells his quarterback he’s making a change. His quarterback appears to respond with something along the lines of, Like hell you are! Singletary, to his credit, sticks with Smith – which is important because not only did Smith practice all week and clearly beat out Carr when the two were competing for the job this summer, but also because Al Michaels, during one of his rare breaks from gushing about the paradise that is the Bay Area, had told the NBC audience that Singletary deeply values loyalty.

Smith, backed by the support of no one but himself, goes back out and goes 5/5 with a touchdown on a drive that was crisper than a dry Cornflake. No one could have blamed Smith if he’d celebrated that touchdown by giving the Candlestick crowd the Chuck Cecil treatment. Instead, he goes back to the sideline, watches the game through a fierce stare, and then goes back out and does it all again.

The 49ers get the ball back trailing 27-24 with 1:28 to play. When Smith completes a 27-yard pass to Vernon Davis (who finally got to do what he does best, which is run seam routes), we think we might be seeing a modern comic book hero unfold before our very eyes. But three plays later, Smith’s arm gets hit by a penetrating Trevor Laws, resulting in an interception and gut-wrenching 0-5 start for the preseason NFC West favorites.

Now, Singletary’s job could come into question. (You know, because it’s his fault Frank Gore fumbled twice. And because it’s his fault Smith gave up the ball to Mikell before all the fireworks. And because it’s his fault Joe Nedney missed a 40-yard field goal. And because it’s his fault offensive tackles Joe Staley and Anthony Davis played poorly at times.) Smith’s starting status should be secure, but a winless record has a way of tricking decision-makers into hasty moves. So we’ll see.

Overall, at least this sure-to-be-boring game that yours truly openly dreaded all week turned out to be one of the best dramas thus far of this young 2010 season.

2.) Rethinking the NFC?

The Green Bay Packers were supposed to run away with the NFC North. Instead, they’re a game and a half behind the 4-1 Bears and, after Monday night, could be only a half-game up on a Vikings team that just acquired the greatest deep threat in NFL history. If Sunday’s loss at Washington alone isn’t bad enough, how about the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers, tight ends Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley, outside linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett all came away with injuries that could put their status for Week 6 in jeopardy?

Rodgers has a concussion. Lee has a shoulder (he hurt it on a play in which he caught a touchdown…and celebrated). Finley, according to reports, has a displaced hamstring (don’t worry, no one knew you could displace your hamstring). Matthews has the more traditional pulled hamstring. Pickett has a knee. This for a team that has already lost for the season running back Ryan Grant, safety Morgan Burnett and inside linebacker Nick Barnett.

Packer fans should actually be breathing a sigh of relief, though. Finley initially appeared to have some sort of serious knee injury (he was doing the whole “towel over the head thing” while riding a cart to the locker room, and he came back to the sideline on crutches).
A. Rodgers (US Presswire)
From a Super Bowl standpoint, the Packers are not good enough to survive the loss of Finley. If he is out for an extended period of time, the Packers will discover that Greg Jennings and Donald Driver aren’t actually impossible to defend. The outside wideouts benefit greatly from the attention Finley commands from opposing safeties. Not to mention, Finley himself is good for at least 80 yards a game. Green Bay still has enough talent at wide receiver to compete, but an offense can’t disguise its intentions with a wide receiver the way you can with a tight end.

Regarding the other two injured superstars: Rodgers will presumably be back soon (not to put any pressure on the guy, but quarterbacks in Green Bay don’t really miss games); Matthews has successfully come back from a hamstring injury once already (he missed virtually the entire preseason, and then recorded three sacks in each of the first two regular season games). It’s important he get healthy ASAP. There was a noticeable decline – perhaps even disappearance – of Green Bay’s front seven prowess after Matthews went out Sunday (the Redskins punted on seven of their first eight possessions but exploded in the second half to finish with over 350 yards through the air).

Note: The original diagnosis of a "displaced hamstring" for Finley was accurate (Finley says he's had the issue before), but his knee was actually the bigger deal. On Monday we learned that Finley will undergo arthroscopic surgery and miss around three weeks. 

Note II: For a full rundown of Green Bay's substantial list of injuries -- updated Monday afternooon -- click here.  

3.) Taking the Pack to task

Now that we’ve (sort of) played the sympathy card for the banged-up Packers, how about censuring them for bungling the field goal at the end of regulation? Mason Crosby missed a 53-yarder that would have won the game. But he’s not to blame.

Instead, blame the head coach and quarterback. Why – WHY !? – did Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers settle for a 53-yarder in that situation? Two plays before Crosby’s kick, Rodgers made a masterful presnap read against a Redskins blitz from his right side. He lasered a ball to rookie tight end Andrew Quarless for a 21-yard completion. There were 26 seconds on the game clock when that play commenced. After Quarles’ catch, the Packers sauntered to the line of scrimmage and got around to spiking the ball with seven seconds left.

Seven seconds is enough time to take two stabs at a quick-out pass that could pick up around five yards. That’s the type of play Green Bay’s offense does better than any offense. Instead, the Packers settled for a 53-yard attempt. Thinking you can make a 53-yarder to end a game is almost as bad as thinking you can block Chicago’s 21-yarder to end a game.

4.) You play to win the game. Hello ?!

If only Herm Edwards had said this when he was with the Chiefs, instead of when he was with the Jets. Oh, that would have been the perfect introduction here. Instead, we’ll settle for a somewhat flimsy angle of “Play to win the game – that’s what Edwards’ replacement in Kansas City, Todd Haley, did Sunday at Indianapolis.”T. Haley (US Presswire)

Of course, Haley’s Chiefs did not win the game. Their loss allowed the 1972 Miami Dolphins to schedule their annual champagne celebration unusually early (first time since 1970 that no NFL team started 4-0). But Haley sure played to win. Figuring he probably couldn’t outscore Peyton Manning with Matt Cassel straight-up (indeed, Cassel was a modest 16/29 for 156 yards and, like the rest of the Chiefs team, produced zero touchdowns Sunday), Haley looked to manufacture points through calculated (reckless?) gambles. He opened with an onside kick. He went for it on fourth-and-two on the teams’ first possession. Both moves were unsuccessful, putting the Chiefs on the wrong end of a six-point swing. But at least Haley was willing to take the risks.

Haley maybe would have taken a more traditional approach had he known his defense would be so stifling. Chiefs fans should feel encouraged about Romeo Crennel’s young group. It was the real deal Sunday. Ends Glenn Dorsey and Wallace Gilberry got consistent separation against the Colts front line (both in terms of penetration and shedding blocks in lateral run support).

Outside linebacker Tamba Hali all but locked up a trip to Hawaii with the way he destroyed right tackle Ryan Diem (forget what I said in the Key Matchup feature about Hali being a minimal factor because he tends to wreak havoc late in plays rather than immediately off the snap). 

Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson was a stud in all phases. Formerly a strict open-space player, Johnson is proving his mettle between the tackles in high-traffic areas. He’s one of the fastest-closing tacklers in the game today. (Johnson led the Chiefs with nine stops in this game.) Plus, he can drop into coverage.

Speaking of coverage, the Chiefs have arguably the league’s best young cornerback tandem in third-year gems Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. Flowers was, once again, barely challenged Sunday. Carr, to the surprise of many, held his own against Reggie Wayne; he has excellent size and strength. Crennel is able to variegate his defensive looks because he has two trustworthy cover corners on the outside.

The Chiefs still have plenty of issues to take care of offensively. Cassel  needs to rely less on his legs and more on his arm. The front five must stay viable for four quarters (the Colts defensive line was the markedly fresher unit late in this one). Jamaal Charles is a sensational home run threat, but he fumbles too often and goes down if a defender so much as breathes on him. And Dwayne Bowe must lose the oven mitts if he is to be the true No. 1 receiver this offense needs (Bowe had a pair of crucial drops late).

There are no moral victories in pro football. And Haley’s team could have won Sunday if it had only executed better in the second half. But at the end of the day, if we were wondering whether Kansas City is a legit contender in the AFC West, the answer is a resounding Yes.

5.) Which brings us to…

Written somewhere in Norv Turner’s contract is a clause that says the Chargers fourth-year head coach only has to win at home. At least it sure seems that way. You would have thought San Diego could win in Oakland given that the empty seats would create a 2010 Qualcomm Stadium feel. Not to mention, the Chargers had defeated the Raiders 13 straight times.

You actually can’t blame Tuner for this one. If you’re into blaming coaches, go ahead and feast on special teams coordinator Steve Crosby. Even if you’re not into blaming coaches, feast on Crosby; the Dolphins last week made criticizing special teams coaches the new chic thing. Crosby’s unit gave up two early blocked punts that resulted in nine Raiders points. In all, the Chargers special teams have allowed three blocked punts and four return touchdowns on the season.

The offense also gave up a return touchdown of its own. Phillip Rivers’ fumble on a hit from Michael Huff was scooped up by Tyvon Branch for what amounted to the game-clinching score. The only thing unusual about that Chargers turnover was that it did not occur in the red zone. (San Diego had two first half turnovers inside the 20.)

Malcolm Floyd had 213 yards receiving. Rivers had 431 passing. Antonio Gates, who had five catches for 92 yards, extended his all-time tight ends record for consecutive games with a touchdown catch to nine. Still, when Rivers kept looking for Patrick Crayton and Craig “No Longer Worthy of a Catchy Nickname Like Buster” Davis late in the fourth quarter, you couldn’t help but think that this team might (would definitely) be better off with Vincent Jackson lining up outside.

On the Raiders side, this win, naturally, came at the hands of a backup quarterback. It seems like Bruce Gradkowski gets knocked out for at least part of every game. This week it was a shoulder that sidelined the Jeff Garcia ersatz. After some Jason Campbell-like jittery passes early on, Jason Campbell did a spectacular job filling in for Gradkowski. Campbell finished 13/18 for 159 yards and a touchdown.
Also, running back Michael Bush, filling in for injured Darren McFadden, rushed for a hard-earned 104 yards on 26 carries. The Raiders, 2-3, may have a few backfield controversies to sort out before facing their winless Bay Area neighbors in Week 6.

6.) That other team with quarterback drama

Before we dispel the notion that Max Hall is going to lead a resurgence in Arizona, let’s dispel the notion that the Saints have serious issues. Yes, the Saints, by their standards, are struggling a bit. They miss Reggie Bush in the passing game and Pierre Thomas in the running game. They’re uncharacteristically turning the ball over at inopportune places on the field. (Heck, even Drew Brees got into the act, with two of his three interceptions being the result of an underthrown ball). Most concerning is, defensively, the Saints are not creating turnovers – at least not like they were last season. They have just four interceptions on the season. Their fortunes hope to change once free safety Darren Sharper (knee) gets off PUP. M. Hall (US Presswire)

Regarding the Cardinals – you have to admire Max Hall’s grit. He seemed determine to break the NFL record for most injuries suffered in a single game (four players currently share the unofficially record – Albert Haynesworth, Jason Peters, Jevon Kearse and, somehow, Vince Carter). Hall took gobs of big hits Sunday.

One hit, in particular, stands out. It was on the play in which Hall fumbled and lost his helmet. This was a cool play because we actually had a review to see if Hall lost the football before he lost his helmet (new rule states that a play is immediately dead if a player with the ball loses his lid). Sean Payton challenged the play because not only did Cardinals right tackle Levi Brown recover the fumble, he also scored. (By the way, don’t tell Beanie Wells, but Brown actually doubled Wells’ fantasy output on Sunday. Wells requested more playing time and then spent the entire game running to the right and meeting the Saints safeties.)

Here’s a question for the Competition Committee: is it really fair for a team to score a touchdown recovering its own fumble? Rules prohibit a team from fumbling forward inside the final two minutes of a half (thank you, Dave Casper and the Raiders). Why not just prohibit the offense from fumbling forward or advancing a recovered fumble at all times? The offense should not be rewarded for fumbling.

7.) Another change…

Drew Brees’ first half interception to Paris Lenon came off the hands of running back Ladell Betts (Betts, by the way, had a tough all-around game Sunday). Carson Palmer’s final interception – hauled in by Sabby Piscitelli – resulted from a tipped ball by Chad Ochocinco. Tony Romo’s second pick – courtesy of Michael Griffin – was tipped by tight end Martellus Bennett. In all three of these instances, the receiver was at fault for the turnover. We see this kind of thing every week.

It’s time the NFL do something about it. Obviously I’m not talking about outlawing tipped interceptions. (Come on.) I’m talking about crediting tipped interceptions to a guilty receiver. Much like how a fielder’s error doesn’t count as a hit against a pitcher, a receiver’s error shouldn’t count as an interception against a quarterback.

Of course, maybe it all levels out in the end. Look at Romo, for example. Yes, he had the tipped pick. But his 69-yard touchdown to Miles Austin should have been an interception. Safety Michael Griffin disguised his coverage and baited Romo into throwing into a double team. Romo’s poor quarterbacking on that play was nullified only by Griffin’s poor angle and timing. Perhaps luck swings both ways. Still, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make sense to keep better turnover statistics.

8.) NFC East

While we’re on Romo…it’s time for him to lose that little Scottish hats in the postgame interviews. Oh, and it’s time for him and the Cowboys to start winning. (How’s that for analysis?) The Cowboys, at 1-3, are still only 1.5 games out in the NFC East. But that division is looking a lot better as of late. The Giants have rediscovered their pass rush (10 sacks against the Bears last week, three on Sunday against the Texans). They also have one of the brightest young stars in the game in wideout Hakeem Nicks, who has amazing body control and change-of-direction ability to go with long arms, long legs and hands big enough to palm a table for two. Nicks had 130 yards and two scores on 12 receptions Sunday.T. Romo (US Presswire)

The Eagles are 3-2 and have not only a rejuvenated Michael Vick but a freshly-blossomed LeSean McCoy. The second-year running back is averaging over 100 yards per game in total offense.

Finally, the Redskins appear to be rock solid defensively. They too have a second-year sensation in outside linebacker Brain Orakpo, though it’s been the play of rangy safety LaRon Landry that has galvanized Jim Haslett’s new 3-4 defense.

In short, the NFC East has four quality teams. The most polarizing of the bunch can’t have many more games like the one it had against the Titans (12 penalties for 133 yards, minus-three turnovers, six sacks allowed).

9.) Move the fans

The Redskins-Packers broadcast was constantly interrupted by the outstretched arms of fans that repeatedly got into the camera shot celebrating on big plays. These were the fans sitting in the row in front of the camera. This kind of interruption should absolutely never happen. Yet, we see it each week (especially in Redskins games).

The television networks should demand that seats near key cameras be left unoccupied. In fact, go ahead and leave open the first row or two of seats that are closest to the broadcast booth, as well. Nothing is more obnoxious than hearing in the background the cheers of a few individual fans during a telecast.

10.) Quick Hits

***The NFL’s best pass defense (Baltimore) got the better of the NFL’s best pass offense (Denver). But the story of the game was the return to full health of Ray Rice, who showed his familiar lateral explosiveness in rushing for 133 yards on 27 carries. Also, Joe Flacco was effective against the Broncos’ non-existent pass-rush.

***Is Todd Collins the first quarterback in NFL history to get benched late in the third quarter despite his team protecting a 14-point lead? What’s funny is that Collins clearly deserved the hook. If Mike Martz had called just four or five more deep passes outside the numbers, Collins would have found a way to finish with more interceptions than completions. (In the end, he had six completions and four picks.) The only thing shakier than Collins’ accuracy was his decision-making when his pocket trembled.

***Hard to decide who had the better self-tipped interception, Julius Peppers or Kroy Biermann. Obviously, Biermann returned his for six points, while Peppers did not. But Peppers had the wherewithal to shush the Carolina crowd after the play, which was a nice touch.

***Carson Palmer’s first interception – the pick six to Cody Grimm – was inexcusable. But his second was on Terrell Owens for not coming back to the ball. And the third was on Chad Ochocinco for deflecting it up in the air.

***Disappointing to see the Rams not show up in Detroit. Instead of that game giving us the story one of super awful team and one potential Cinderella, it just gave us the story of two really bad teams. The Rams are 2-3; the Lions are 1-4. The Mark Clayton injury is devastating for St. Louis. He had finally blossomed after joining a team in which he was the elder statesman.

***Memo to all announcers: quit saying a team “burned a timeout” when the team is using the timeout to stop the clock late in a game. That’s not burning a timeout – that’s wisely spending it. Burning a timeout is when you call one early in a half because of miscommunication.


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Posted on: October 11, 2010 4:24 am
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Posted on: October 9, 2010 7:39 pm
 

Week 5 injury news and analysis, part III

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Giants at Texans

Though he’s listed as questionable, expect starting RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle) to play. But he’s not going to have an easy time against Houston’s No. 2 ranked run defense. FB Madison Hedgecock and C Shaun O’Hara are listed as out. O’Hara’s backup, Adam Koets, is probable, but he’s also been battling knee problems. Bradshaw will have to work to get his yards.

Remember last week when Osi Umenyiora was listed as questionable with a knee injury but then he ended up recording three sacks against the Bears? Yeah, Houston QB Matt Schaub probably knows about that as well. Anyway, Umenyiora is probable for this week.

Houston WR Andre Johnson is listed as questionable a week after he missed the Raiders game with an ankle injury, but he said this week that he feels great running around on the practice field. Expect him back on the field. WR Jacoby Jones, though, is doubtful with a calf injury. DE Mario Williams is questionable with a groin, but he also said that he feels like he’s got to play with his injury.

Saints at Cardinals


Our ridiculous injury report of the week goes to New Orleans, which is listing 19 players. Thirteen of those names are listed as probable (it’s almost like, “What’s the point?”). S Roman Harper (hamstring) was limited in practice all week and DE Will Smith (groin) only practiced Friday. Both are questionable. Not that it should matter facing an Arizona squad starting a rookie free agent quarterback.

For the Cardinals, WR Steve Breaston (knee) and WR Early Doucet (sports hernia) are still out. In Breaston’s place, look for undrafted rookie Stephen Williams (three catches, 32 yards last week) to get his second-straight start. Breaston and Doucet will try to return in Week 7 after the Cardinals have a bye next week.

Titans at Cowboys

The Cowboys shouldn’t have too many problems with their injuries this week. RB Chris Gronkowski (groin) is listed as questionable, but he said this week that he expects to play. He had a similar injury last year, and he didn’t miss a game. TE Jason Witten (knee), G Kyle Kosier (knee) and WR Dez Bryant (ribs) are probable.

Titans starting OG Leroy Harris didn’t practice all week, and he’s listed as questionable. Though Harris is in his first year as a starter, coach Jeff Fisher said Harris is experienced enough where he could play Sunday without practicing all week.

Chargers at Raiders

Though he’s listed as questionable, San Diego LB Shawne Merriman will play, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. RB Ryan Mathews is listed as probable, but San Diego isn’t going to rush him back from his ankle injury too soon. The Chargers have Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles waiting in the wings if Mathews is limited or can’t play.

With S Darrell Stuckey doubtful to play, the person who will replace Steve Gregory – who was suspended four games this week for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs – likely will be Paul Oliver.

The Raiders LB corps has been hit hard – Travis Goethel and Thomas Howard are out, while Ricky Brown and Quentin Groves are questionable. RBs Darren McFadden and Michael Bennett are out, along with DT John Henderson and LG Robert Gallery.

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Posted on: October 8, 2010 11:32 am
Edited on: October 8, 2010 3:53 pm
 

Cable says McFadden is 'very, very doubtful'

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE 3:52 p.m. ET: McFadden, along with LG Robert Gallery, has been ruled out for Sunday's game. 
 
The bad news for Raiders fans is that Darren McFadden, who's been one of the better backs in the NFL over the first quarter of the season, is really bothered by a hamstring injury. 

So much so that Tom Cable called him "very, very doubtful" for Sunday.

"If you look at when Mike's played, it's been the same things," Cable said. "He runs more physical in the box, maybe. You may not get as much play on the perimeter, but you'll get it running downhill at the defense. (McFadden) has been very productive, so we've got to find a way to get that same production, but I think Michael's ready to take that load."

But, hey, there's good news too -- Michael Bush, who actually outperformed McFadden in Week 4, is finally (supposedly) healthy. 

Just in time for the league-leading Chargers defense!

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 11:19 pm
 

Raiders nearly put the WNBA to shame

Posted by Andy Benoit

Fans in Oakland deserved worse than just a simple blackout of the Texans-Raiders game Sunday. All television stations in the Bay Area should have been blacked out. It would have been justified.Oakland (US Presswire)

The attendance at the Oakland Coliseum was WNBA-esque: 32,218. Most NFL teams get that many tailgaters before games. It was the smallest Oakland crowd since 30,738 fans attended the 1967 season finale against Buffalo. And it was the smallest crowd to see an NFL games since a measly 31,650 folks attended the January 2 showdown between the Buccaneers and Cardinals. (Remember, that game was played in Sun Devil Stadium, which never attracted an NFL crowd.)

The Raiders are bad an unappealing. And the Texans, while on the rise, aren’t one of the league’s mega franchises. But the combined record of these two teams heading into Sunday was a respectable 3-3. And, for a change, Oakland’s skill position players have even been fun to watch this season (namely Darren McFadden). So what gives?

It probably isn’t right to blame the fans. (Scratch that television-wide blackout idea.) What’s more likely: tens of thousands of people being wrong for ignoring a team, or a team, which is run by one person and a small handful of Yes Men, doing a poor job of selling itself?

The Raiders have now endured nine straight blackouts. Given the latest attendance figures, there seems to be no end in sight.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: October 5, 2010 5:23 pm
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: The Old Hanging Chad(s)

Posted by Will Brinson

Dey Took Er Jobs takes a look at the various job controversies around the league. If you don't get the title, you don't watch enough South Park .


As late as Monday afternoon, this column had the potential to be BOR-ING. But bless you both, Chad Henne and Buddy Nix, for your beautiful run of incompetence -- Chad Henne decided to get his interception on against the Patriots in a Monday night South Beach slaughtering and Nix shipped Marshawn Lynch out to Seattle on Tuesday afternoon for a fourth round pick, totally changing the landscape of people fighting for jobs in the NFL.

As a result of Monday night's performance, there's all kinds of wild conjecture flying that the Dolphins will consider looking to Tyler Thigpen (you may recall him from mop-up duty last night) or Chad Pennington.

In part, the latter makes sense -- Pennington led the original 'Fins revival a few years ago. The reluctance to bail on Henne stems from the fact that he has "all the tools" (as the old saying goes) and Miami invested a second-rounder in him

And the fact that bailing from Henne, regardless of how robotic some of his throws look, is a knee-jerk mistake.

Look, again, some of his decisions in the pocket were beyond embarrassing, but if you take away the three picks (it's okay, I'm laughing while I write it too), he went 29 of 36 for 302 yards and two teeters, and that's the type of game that will win most of the time.

Now as to why we so willingly yanked out all the mistakes from his line, well, look no further than the special teams issues on Monday night -- when the third branch of your team coughs up 20-plus points, it changes your gameplan entirely. In the case of the Dolphins, it switched them from a run-heavy/run-often team looking to keep the ball out of Tom Brady's hands into a team that was forced to pass more than it wanted to.

Or, as Tony Sparano said, it "puts a lot of stress on the position."

Panic is inevitable in South Beach -- the Dolphins fired their special teams coach within 12 hours of the Pats loss -- and that's okay. But they're 2-2 headed into the bye, just a game (plus tiebreakers) back of the Pats and Jets and firmly in a convoluted playoff race just a quarter of the way into the season.

Giving up on Henne now would be overkill -- especially when games against Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Baltimore after the bye will give them plenty of opportunity to make a move.

****
"Beast Mode" should end up starting for the Seahawks -- Julius Jones was released after Seattle acquired Lynch, Leon Washington is best used in situational running and special teams, and Justin Forsett just hasn't looked like a feature back.

As has been bandied about many a time between Andy and I, Lynch isn't exactly an elite running back. But he does possess some traits -- most notably an ability to actually be physical when running -- that the rest of the Seattle backs just don't have. Add in Pete Carroll's disappointment with the running game following the loss to the Rams, a bye week to prep Marshawn for the team's system and there's no reason to think he couldn't garner the majority of carries right off the bat.

The fascinating subplot of this job fight is that Lynch was in Forsett's wedding recently -- the two were roommates at Cal, which means it should at least be congenial.

****
Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb just WON'T LEAVE ME ALONE. Stupid Vick had to go and get his stupid ribs stuck in between two stupid Redskins on a stupid run near the stupid goal line (why yes, I do own him in like four fantasy leagues, why do you ask?) and now Kolb takes the reigns as starter.

Again.

The Eagles get the 49ers on national television this week and then get a bye, so it's unlikely that Kolb could perform so well in two weeks to warrant Andy Reid changing starters for the rest of the season. But I'm fairly certain I've said that like twelve times this season already.

****
Jake Delhomme is healthy which means we can just move on past that whole Mini-Seneca Wallace Era that featured a win and ... oh, I see. We can't move on? There's some sort of controversy in Cleveland? NO!

Okay, there's not a controversy, per se, but Eric Mangini did say that starting Delhomme wasn't "a knock on Seneca" because he'd, after all, "decreased the amount of turnovers the last couple of games." Translated from Coach on the Hot Seat Speak, that means that if Jake throws more than one interception in the first half next week, he's getting yanked.

****
Cadillac Williams actually acknowledged that he might not be Tampa Bay's feature back for much longer; presumably that means that LeGarrette Blount makes a play for the starter's role, which, by the way, is bat-s insane.

And also just kind of gross from a karma perspective, considering that it should definitely be Stafon Johnson starting somewhere. But whatever -- Cadillac has been awful this year, and if he can't average more than three yards per carry, you certainly can't blame the Bucs for putting some fresher legs in there.

****
Ryan Torain could be stealing a job, too. Clinton Portis, always a charming interview, hopped on the radio Tuesday and gave Mike Wise an on-air scoop (yes, the same one, irony alert, thanks) when he told him that he didn't think he'd play this week.

Torain's been a better runner, a more physical runner, is healthier, doesn't fall down randomly when running in the middle of the open field, has fresher legs and has more to prove. Plus, this is Mike Shanahan we're talking about -- it wouldn't be appropriate for him not to have a random dude come storming up from the practice squad to rush for 1,000 yards in his system.

****
Quickly ...

- Forgot to mention the Bills whole RB situation, but the presumptive notion has to be that Fred Jackson will see some carries and C.J. Spiller will get a much-increased role.

- The Jags dumped Todd Bouman which means Trent Edwards gets promoted which means that David Garrard slightly thinner ice than Jack Del Rio.

- Darren McFadden, who's been pretty daggum good this year, could miss Week 5. If he does, Michael Bush gets to really make a power play for the starter job in Oakland (although they'll still split carries when McFadden's healthy); Bush looked better against Houston and was considered a distinct possibility to begin the season as starter before a hand injury.

- Poor Garrett Hartley. That's like having your dad beat you in basketball. When you're 29.
Posted on: October 5, 2010 10:29 am
 

Hot Routes 10.05.10: Everybody Pat Chung Tonight


Posted by Will Brinson

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  • Albert Breer of the Boston Globe page/NE">Patriots+news">thinks that the defensive system is "taking shape." And it is the shape of Patrick Chung. Okay, he didn't write that -- but that was a critical bounceback game for a Pats D.
  • Perhaps it started, as Ian Rapoport notes in today's Boston Herald , from Bill Belichick's speech to the team -- a classic "you are the underdogs" rant that we all really want, since, you know, there's nothing better than a bunch of Bostonians still trying to pretend they're the scrappy fellas.
  • Matty at The Phinsider calls the Dolphins' loss lots of mean names, but when reality replaces anger for him, it sounds pretty clear that he's concerned for the future, even though it's only Week 6.
  • Armando Salguero writes in the Miami Herald that no one on the special teams unit should be safe . Of course, he also writes that they've been "flirting with disaster for three years" (cue the Molly Hatchet and head to the archives for some scrutiny!). But yeah, when you suck at your job you can totally be fired.
  • A bunch of San Diego restaurants are showing Chargers games even though the games are supposed to be blacked out. The NFL, predictably, is not happy about this. And the restaurants don't care . It's a rebel state that California.
 
 
 
 
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