Tag:Derek Anderson
Posted on: November 29, 2010 8:59 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 10:24 pm
 

Frank Gore out Monday with hip injury

Posted by Will Brinson

Frank Gore was -- surprise, surprise -- the focal point of the 49ers offense on their first drive in Arizona (make sure to follow the game live here), but after Shane Andrus missed a field goal wide right, the Cardinals took the field and Gore was seen jogging to the locker room.

He has some sort of hip injury and his return is questionable -- the best guess is that it occurred on a missed pass when he bobbled a ball and Paris Lenon tattooed him.

Gore's clearly the staple of San Francisco's offense, and he had 43 yards on just four carries during the first drive, but the Niners appeared not to need him (at least immediately anyway), because after Derek Anderson and Beanie Wells fumbled a handoff, Troy Smith hooked up with Michael Crabtree for a quick touchdown.

Update (9:07): Gore's already back in the game -- he missed just one Cardinals possession, and he picked up 10 yards on his first play back, so it would seem like there's nothing too seriously wrong with him. Although it'd be shocking to see the Niners pull him in this must-win, Brian Westbrook was in the backfield on the first down after Gore's run.

Update (9:12): Apparently Gore IS hurt, because according to Michelle Tafoya, Gore came to the sidelines shaking his head as if he wasn't able to keep playing, and now Brian Westbrook is getting the red zone carries.

Update (10:00): It sure does appear as if Gore's done for the evening -- it's halftime and he hasn't returned to the game. Meanwhile, Westbrook's getting all the carries and the Niners hold a 15-point lead, so it seems logical that San Francisco would keep him out if he's really hurting.

Update (10:20): One three-and-out into the second half by the Cardinals and Frank Gore has been declared officially out. Too bad -- it looked like there might be some drama (albeit fantasy-related) to this game.

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Posted on: November 22, 2010 6:24 pm
 

Hot Routes 11.22.10: Week 11 boxscore tidbits

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Did you notice the Giants only had 208 yards of total offense against the Eagles Sunday night?

Justin Tuck had three sacks and was phenomenal in containment outside and against the run.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis racked up 96 yards on 21 carries against the Colts.

Donald Brown had 68 yards on 17 carries, but 36 of those yards came on one good run. Brown was his usual ineffective self for most of the night. J. Mayo (US Presswire)

Jerod Mayo led the Patriots with 15 tackles, though fellow inside linebacker Gary Guyton stood out more. Guyton had nine tackles.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 21/34, 316 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Fred Jackson and Cedric Benson both rushed for over 115 yards.

For the second week in a row, the Bills won and Lee Evans caught just two passes. (Not trying to suggest there’s a correlation between the two.) Steve Johnson has become Buffalo’s No. 1 wideout. He had eight catches for 137 yards and three scores against the Bengals.

For the second straight week, Felix Jones gave the Cowboys 51 yards on the ground. That is his second highest rushing output of the season.

Jahvid Best, who is battling a bad foot, had just two yards on three carries. Or maybe it was three yards on two carries. Anyway, he was a non-factor.

Dez Bryant averaged minus-two yards per catch on all of his non-touchdown receptions Sunday.

Very rarely does a DT lead his team in tackles. That’s what Ndamukong Suh did for the Lions (eight stops).

Before leaving with a re-aggravated groin injury, Clinton Portis looked fresh on five carries (32 yards).

Pilloried all week for poor route running, Redskins wideout Joey Galloway caught three passes for 32 yards. That was three more than Randy Moss caught, by the way.

Titans rookie Marc Mariani recorded his second touchdown return of the season (87 yards on a punt).

It came predominantly in garbage time, but Derek Anderson was 25/46 for 295 yards and a touchdown. And Matt Cassel, who raised the bar for garbage time excellence last week, was a sturdy 15/24 for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

Dwayne Bowe caught two touchdowns, giving him a Chiefs record six-straight games with a touchdown. Bowe is on pace for 1,100 yards and 18 TD’s.

Adrian Wilson led the Cardinals with seven tackles after struggling a week ago.

Thanks to the big deficit, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson got only 14 carries Sunday (72 yards). That was only two more carries than the Packers gave Dimitri Nance (37 yards).

Sidney Rice’s debut: three catches, 56 yards.

Clay Matthews added another sack to his records (league-high 11.5 on the season). He also had two tackles for a loss and two hits on the quarterback.

LaDainian Tomlinson still looks fresh. He only managed 36 yards on 12 carries, but he turned in 71 yards on seven receptions.

Joel Dreessen could wind up keeping the starting tight end job even once Owen Daniels is healthy. Dreessen, who is a slightly better blocker than Daniels, caught four passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

With RT Damien Woody out, the Texans got three sacks (two from Mario Williams) and seven hits on Mark Sanchez.

Pittsburgh held Oakland to 61 yards rushing, which is par for the course for the Steelers this season.

Jason Campbell was 7/19 for 70 yards and a pick before getting benched in the second half. Bruce Gradkowski finished 13/24 for 98 yards and a pick.

Rashard Mendenhall’s 59 yards rushing were just four more yards than Ben Roethlisberger had on the ground.

James Harrison had two sacks, two tackles for a loss and two hits on the quarterback (one of which drew a ridiculous roughing the passer flag)…and those numbers still don’t describe the depth of his impact Sunday.

Joe Flacco had his first 300-yard passing game of the season against the Panthers.

Ray Lewis got his 30th career interception (and took it to the house).

The Jaguars won despite six turnovers (four from David Garrard).

Peyton Hillis was held to 48 yards on 21 carries, though he produced 95 yards on six receptions.

The Jaguars sacked Colt McCoy six times. Six sacks used to be a half-season for Jacksonville.

Interesting: Michael Turner got 28 carries for Atlanta (131 yards) and Jason Snelling got just one.

Who needs Pierre Thomas? Chris Ivory turned in99 yards on 23 carries for the Saints.

Brandon Stokley, Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu all had at least five catches and 75 yards for the Seahawks.

The 49ers generated only 71 yards on the ground against Tampa Bay’s bottom-feeder run defense. Forty five of those yards came from Troy Smith scrambles.

Mike Williams, barely 48 hours removed from a DUI arrest, caught all three passes thrown his way. Williams finished with 54 yards and a touchdown.

Patrick Willis stamped his ticket to Hawaii: two sacks, two tackles for a loss, two QB hits and a team-high 13 tackles.

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:02 am
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: Did We Really Doubt Mike Vick?

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 . This week: Where have all the job controversies gone? No, but seriously, we're all locked in! Also, Vick talk, because it's Vick Week. And who's on the hot seat?

It's fairly bizarre that for at least say, oh, five weeks we wondered whether or not Michael Vick should be the starter for the Eagles.

Well not so much wondered but at least kind of debated. Well, okay, after we saw how Vick played against Detroit and Jacksonville there wasn't a debate, but Kevin Kolb's performance against Atlanta and his strong effort while Vick was sidelined at least had people thinking twice.

Speaking of thinking twice, remember when Andy Reid decided to go with Vick and we all got all RABBLE-RABBLE! on him for not being man enough to make up his mind?

Yeah, we should probably all apologize for that, because he ended up being 100 percent correct in his decision making, which culminated in Week 10's fantasy point explosion where Vick piled up 413 yards and four touchdowns via the air and ground. (And really, it's kind of criminal that he didn't win both the FedEx awards this week.)

Reid's decision making also includes signing Vick in the first place, prepping him to be a better pocket passer, and putting him in situations to succeed (even if sometimes those situations have fans of football screaming "STOP LETTING HIM TAKE HITS TO THE RIBS, BIG GUY!").

At the end of the year, if the franchise tag survives the new CBA, Vick's likely to get tagged, which may be why the two sides have yet to discuss an extension. Mike Florio of PFT cites a source who says that Vick's contract/extension value is lower than one might think (relative to the market value of the guy he whipped on Monday, Donovan McNabb, who just got a pretty big deal) unless the Eagles can get some sort of assurances that Vick won't get in trouble. In fact, one of the sources points out that "all he has to do is breathe in the wrong direction and he will be suspended for life." Obviously that's a bit of hyperbole (after all, Vick survived his birthday party that wasn't exactly a Sweet 16), but not that much -- he's about to go from one of the greatest second-chance stories of all-time right back to super-popular, rich mega-bajillionaire.

His current humility and attitude towards life sure seems like it can survive that temptations that come along with that, but in the same way that Reid showed some good faith in Vick, well, the quarterback should reciprocate towards Philadelphia, even if it means taking less money than he could get elsewhere.

Reid's talents for offensive scheming fit Vick's talents for offensive performance, and there's no reason to mess with a good thing. Not saying he should completely cave on contract demands (this is a business after all) and not saying the Eagles should put all their eggs in one basket, particularly one with a history of not always holding up, but this is a pretty good marriage right now, and everyone involved would be wise to let it keep rolling.

****
Elsewhere in the NFL, well, man, there ain't a whole lot of job issues anymore. We can start in Carolina (per usual), but at this point we're debating the semantics between Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike, which is like debating between, um Mike Goodson and Tyrelle Sutton.

Actually, no it's not, because Sutton, along with Jonathan Stewart, aren't likely to play this week. Which leaves Goodson and whatever poor soul the Panthers have to start at quarterback against a Ravens defense that is suddenly enraged at being called "not elite." Should be good times!

Arizona's "solved" their quarterback problems the same way Seattle has -- by default. It just makes more sense to roll with Derek Anderson and Matt Hasselebeck at this point, rather than go with the alternative, which involves a rookie and Jesus Beard, respectively.

****
Troy Smith appears to have solved the problems in San Francisco (yes, those problems were "losing" coupled with "crappy quarterback play") and, as we mentioned last week, why wouldn't he? Well, except for that ridiculous "week-to-week" tag that Mike Singletary hit him with; that's insulting to Troy and the team and anyone who's ever seen Alex Smith or David Carr lose games.

People lamented his height as a reason for not having quarterback success in the NFL, but that's a poor excuse when the talent is there. And, frankly, probably an indicator of why talent evaluation misses so badly sometimes.

****
Even the Dolphins, who just lost TWO quarterbacks in the last week, aren't a debatable team, because there's Tyler Thigpen, who's had some decent success in Kansas City, and there's Patrick Ramsey, who has a resume with enough teams on it that even Todd Bouman cringes when he reads it.

So …

****
Pants on Fire (Because, you see, it's a hot seat)

- Brad Childress: Once Brett Favre's lost all hope, there's no reason to continue believing that you've got a job as a head coach. Even more telling of Chilly's future is that he didn't know about Favre's "shoulder injury," which should probably be indicative of his status after this year. Frankly, the team's absolutely foolish not to give Leslie Frazier a chance right now.

- John Fox: He's as good as gone at this point, but give him credit for this -- he 100 percent has not lost the Panthers in terms of the team believing him. You can see it from those guys that they buy into what he's saying, even at 1-8, and that's perhaps the best possible endorsement one can give the coach of the worst team in football.

- Marvin Lewis: Donovan McNabb is making fun of his team's record. If you watched Monday night, you know Donovan shouldn't be making fun of anyone. So, yeah …

- Gary Kubiak: He got an endorsement from the owner, which is always considered a good thing, except it always ends in someone getting fired. Still, considering how terrible his defense is, maybe he should be getting credit for the fact that the Texans are 4-5.

- UMM, seriously, what happened? There were at least 15 guys on the hot seat a week ago. Now all of a sudden Wade Phillips gets fired, Jacksonville's a winner again, Lovie Smith is getting freebies from Chilly and everyone's either being coached by a new regime or a guy who's quickly reviving the team (yes, we're even lumping Mike Singletary there, but . NO GOOD PEOPLE. WE WANT MORE FIRINGS.

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Posted on: November 4, 2010 3:06 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 3:31 pm
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: We Talking About Stamina

Posted by Will Brinson

On Sunday, Mike Shanahan inexplicably pulled Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman. Were it not for Randy Moss and Brad Childress, that's all anyone would have talked about Monday and Tuesday.

To counter said distraction, Shanahan and the Redskins brought in Jamarcus Russell for a tryout.

As much as all of that reads like an Onion Sports story, it's the truth, folks -- and as such we have some sort of a quarterback controversy going down with the 4-4 Redskins.

Well, perhaps "controversy" is too strong a word. After all, Grossman isn't as good as McNabb, and Russell, who weighed in at 286 pounds, might have trouble making a Lingerie Football League team. (Actually, he might have an easier time getting on an NFL squad than that, but you see the point.)

The hemming and hawing of Shanny was the worst of it all -- he originally claimed that Grossman was better at running the two-minute offense (clearly a) a lie and b) patently wrong) and then decided that McNabb wasn't in good enough shape to stay on the field.

Regardless of why, Kyle Shanahan (yes, son of Mike) protege Grossman entered the game and immediately guaranteed the Lions a win with a fumble-turned-touchdown.

We understand now that there are locker room issues with Washington (I mean, duh, right?) thanks to Shanahan's decision, and that while he certainly doesn't have the problems of the aforementioned Childress, he's getting dangerously close to blowing up a Washington season that once had promise.

Will Grossman start for the Redskins the rest of the way home? We can only hope so -- after all, that means when the Vikings sign McNabb next year, Leslie Frazier will finally get the respect he deserves.

Whatever, that's a lot of projection, but is it really worth discussing whether or not Grossman should replace McNabb in the starting lineup? Of course it's not -- if the possibility of David Carr replacing Alex Smith in San Francisco a mind-boggling mishap of mediocrity (and it was, as I said and then we saw) then this is just a slap in the face to common sense.

Most coaches go out of their way to avoid quarterbacks controversies like these -- somehow, Mike Shanahan has managed to invite one, while also insulting his veteran leader and the only talented quarterback on the roster.

No amount of humiliation-based motivation is worth the obvious downside to this. And swapping out McNabb for Grossman at this stage would just be proof that Shanny had his brain surgically replaced with Dan Snyder's.

****


Speaking of the 49ers, Troy Smith did a pretty good job of making sure that David Carr won't be seeing the field as a starter (there are always injuries, and he'll seemingly always get a job based on just potential, sigh) any time soon.

But what happens when Alex Smith returns in a few weeks? At that point, Troy will have had multiple weeks with reps as the starter and possibly even more wins than Alex, in many less tries.

It's not like we're discussing someone off the street either -- Troy has the credentials to a degree (the Heisman Trophy has to be worth something, right???) and reasonable stats when he started. His accuracy isn't as good percentage wise as Alex, but he doesn't cough the ball up as much, and San Fran is very much a Frank Gore-based team.

Just saying we shouldn't be so quick to roll right back to Alex just because he was the top pick a few years ago.

****
Matt Moore and Derek Anderson will continue getting the nod -- both moves are the smart play, in reasonably similar situations -- both teams are equal at -65 in point differential, both have star wide receivers, both have a talented pair of running backs that are underperforming, both teams have rookie quarterbacks they believe to be the future, etc., etc. The only difference is that the Cardinals are in a crappy division. And given the way Jimmy Clausen and Max Hall have played, which is to say, "not good," it behooves both coaches to allow their youngsters to develop on the bench and learn while watching for a little while.

****
Pants on Fire (Hot Seat Watch)

- Brad Childress: If I fired Andy right now, no one would notice or care, but the bosses would probably say "um, why did you do that without telling us?" and then fire me too. (Just kidding, I don't have hiring/firing power. And if anything, I'm the Randy Moss of the group. You should see what happens when my coffee isn't premium brand.) Thin ice for Chilly.

- John Fox: Someone asked Sean Payton if he would be willing to hire Fox as an assistant next year, even though Fox still has a job (technically). That's an indication of something, insomuch as 1-6 is at least.

- Wade Phillips: At some point, the awkwardness of Wade's eventual firing will wear off. Thank goodness he doesn't have a primetime game this week!

- Jack Del Rio: Betting against Del Rio when his job is on the line is like betting against Michael Jordan these days. Still, the Jags are going to be hard pressed to make the playoffs in that division with that talent and you have to think Wayne Weaver will at least explore something new once the CBA gets sorted out.

- Mike Singletary: The bright side of eventually losing the NFC West race to the Seahawks and Rams is that he'll be immediately employed as a six figure motivational speaker.

- Marvin Lewis: No one's really talking about Lewis' job being in jeopardy because it's too easy to place blame on Carson Palmer for stinking. But there's a lot of talent on this team and they're underachieving badly.

- Josh McDaniels: The biggest problem for Pat Bowlen is that admitting he messed up with McDaniels is about as fun as Mike Shanahan admitting he messed up with Grossman. Which is like full circle or something, man.

- Norv Turner: A win against the Texans on the road would go a long way towards keeping Norvell safe, particularly with divisional games coming up and Vincent Jackson returning. He should also give Philip Rivers 10 percent of his paycheck for winning games with a receiving corps only outflanked in mediocrity by the Bolts' special teams.

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Posted on: November 1, 2010 3:21 am
Edited on: November 1, 2010 10:53 am
 

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 8

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) D.C. Drama

It was one of those scenarios that make you question yourself. You see Donovan McNabb standing on the sidD. McNabb (US Presswire)eline with 1:45 left in the fourth and the Redskins trailing the Lions 30-25. You see Rex Grossman taking the field. You pause a second. Once you’re sure it’s really happening, you say, Wait, what’d I miss here?

Benching McNabb for Grossman is a decision that’s somehow as downright stupid as it sounds. Most baffling is that this stupid decision was made by Mike Shanahan. It’s one thing to bench a veteran star quarterback. It’s another to bench him when he’s managed to lead your team to a decent 4-4 record despite having a fourth-string running back and a slew of fourth-string receivers playing prominent roles. And it’s another when he had been playing well in the very game you sat him down.

Behind a banged-up Washington offensive line that was overmatched by Detroit’s suddenly vibrant front four (Ndamukong Suh is the early favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year), McNabb endured five sacks, 10 hurries and 11 hits Sunday. Yet still, he was 17/30 for 210 yards passing, plus he ran for 45 yards on four scrambles. OK, sure there was the interception to Alphonso Smith and, before that, another bad ball that Smith should have picked and taken to the house. But fine, let’s say McNabb’s performance Sunday was only mediocre. There’s still the unforgivable factor in Shanahan’s stupid decision, which is that the guy he replaced McNabb with was Grossman.

That’d be the same Grossman who could barely find a team last season; the same Grossman who actually invented new ways to turn the ball over as a Bear. When you flip karma the bird like Shanahan did, karma tends to respond quickly. Sure enough, on his first snap, Grossman made a play that only Grossman could make, fumbling the ball on a nasty blindside sack. Karma was so ticked off at Shanahan that not even Suh’s foolish Leon Lett impersonation while returning the recovered fumble could prevent a Lions victory at that point.

Thanks to a bye, the Redskins now have two weeks to deal with the ensuing storm of controversy that is about to unload on D.C. And karma is not likely to throw them any breaks. The next time McNabb and the Redskins take the field will be Monday, November 15, when they host…the Eagles.



2.) NFC powers tighten gap on AFC powers

You had to know it wouldn’t last. Yes, the AFC is better than the NFC this year, but not by the ridiculous margin that September and October gave us. Outstanding defense brought us closer to equilibrium Sunday, as the Packers stifled the Jets and the Saints swarmed the Steelers. Both NFC teams dominated behind their defensive pass rush.

The Jets had no answer for Clay Matthews’ speed off the edge. It helped that Brandon Chillar had his best game of the season, and Green Bay’s young defensive linemen, B.J. Raji and C.J. Wilson, controlled the trenches.

The Steelers could not get ahead of the Saints’ über-aggressive blitzes. It was remarkable that Gregg Williams dialed up the attacks, considering he was without top three corners Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter and Patrick Robinson (who left early with a right ankle injury). The two most popular preseason Super Bowl picks from the NFC are now both 5-3.



3.) New York’s Gamble
S. Weatherford (US Presswire)
Sticking with the Jets-Packers game…

When Jets punter Steve Weatherford took off and ran from inside his own 20-yard line late in the first quarter Sunday, you could have sworn you were watching your idiot roommate playing Madden on the X-Box. The Jets actually fake punted from their own 20-yard line! And on fourth and 18! After replay, it was determined that Weatherford stepped out of bounds a yard-and-a-half short of the first down. Green Bay wound up getting three points out of the splendid field position – the only points the Jets D has allowed in any first quarter this season – and Rex Ryan left himself open to easy second-guessing.

Except, it wasn’t Ryan’s decision. Turns out, Weatherford made the call. That’s right, the punter – the punter! – called his own number. Whoa, talk about gall. Take any receiver willing to go over the middle, any quarterback willing to step into a blitz and any linebacker willing to shoot the gap against a steamrolling running back and, chances are, none of them have the stones Weatherford must have. Afterward, he explained himself:

"It would have been a good decision had it been fourth-and-nine, but that’s my fault. I made the decision to try to make the play, but it didn’t work out for the team. We’re a team that’s willing to go out there and lay it on the line, but it just didn’t work out today. It’s a situation where I don’t have the green light, but if I do it, he’s not going to be mad if I get it. It has worked out in the past. It worked out in Oakland, it worked out in Miami, (but) today, it didn’t. It could have been a huge swing for us in the game, but obviously we came up about a half-yard short."



4.) Little Big Men

Let’s shift to a positive special teams note and go back to the Lions-Redskins game. Did you see the electrifying return artists in that contest? In order to, you may have had to squint in order to. Detroit’s Stefan Logan (5’6”, 180 pounds) and Washington’s Brandon Banks (5’7”, 150 pounds – that’s right, 150) put on a show.

Logan had a dazzling 71-yard punt return in the second quarter to set up one of Calvin Johnson’s three touchdowns. (Johnson, by the way, spent all afternoon taking advantage of the inconsistent safety help on DeAngelo Hall’s soft man coverage.

Banks had a 96-yard kick return for a score. He also had a 46-yard kick return, a punt return that went for 35, and another kick return score that got called back for holding. And before he was aware of that holding penalty, Logan celebrated his score by dunking the ball over the goalposts. That’s a 5’7” man dunking over a 10”-high crossbar while wearing full padding and still catching his breath after running the length of the field.



5.) The bad NFC team we should be talking about

I refuse to discuss the Dallas Tin Men, errrr, Dallas Cowboys this week. We just saw them last week on Monday night. We have to see them next week on Sunday night at Green Bay (apparently, that is “America’s Game of the Week”). We have to see them on Thanksgiving and again a few weeks later on NFL Network. There will be plenty of chances to talk about what’s wrong with America’s team, what changes Jerry Jones will make, how obvious it is that Wade Phillips is a dead man walking, etc. And mind you, the Cowboys will be irrelevant in the playoff hunt this entire time. So, knowing that’s ahead, I’m going to rest upB. Green-Ellis (US Presswire) and save my sanity by pretending the game against the Jaguars never happened (this, by the way, makes me feel like a Jacksonville native).

I will, however, talk about the NFC’s other fallen team, the Vikings. While it’s chic (and easy) to assume that everything is Favre’s fault, the reality is, the Vikings defense has been one of the great underachieving units in football this season. Jared Allen dressed as a ghost for Halloween. Come to think of it, Allen actually busted out that costume a few weeks ago. His teammates haven’t stepped up, either.

For the first time in team history, the Vikings have gone three straight games without a sack.

With a nonexistent pass rush, Minnesota’s ho-hum secondary has been exposed. Madieu Williams put on a clinic Sunday for how not to make plays; Pats receiver Brandon Tate should have given the veteran safety a game ball afterwards. And scouts are finally figuring out what’s wrong with cornerback Asher Allen: he’s not good at playing football. Allen gives up separation in his man coverage technique, he struggles to locate the ball in the air and his open-field tackling is hit or miss.

What’s more, the Vikings’ once-impenetrable run defense is giving up only 3.9 yards per carry, but overall, it ranks 13th in yards per game. That’s as startling drop considering this group ranked second last year and first in each of the three years before that. Late in the fourth quarter Sunday when the Vikings needed a stop on the ground, they plain couldn’t get one. On New England’s final possession, BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran the ball six times for 60 yards to ice the game.



6.) Uh oh

You ever noticed the amount of misbehavior the youngest kids in families with a lot of children can get away with? It’s stunning. While the parents are getting drained dealing with the older kids breaking curfews, fighting amongst each other and bringing home ugly report cards, the younger kid is secretly living a dream that includes watching raunchy movies, stealing bits of cash from around the house and detonating fireworks in the elderly neighbor’s mailbox. It isn’t until something goes really wrong before the parents realize that they’ve been neglecting their biggest handful of all.

Think of Randy Moss as the rebellious youngster in Minnesota. While everyone is focusing on Brad Childress and Brett Favre and, perhaps now, Jared Allen and the defense, the newcomer at wide receiver is subtly stewing about what’s turned out to be a lost season in his contract year. Did you hear what Moss said after the Patriots game? Here are the big pieces:
R. Moss (US Presswire)
On his relationship with the media…

"I got fined $25,000 for not talking to you all, and me personally, I really don't care, but at the same time, I do ask questions, I mean answer questions throughout the week. The league can fine me $25,000. I'm not going to answer any more questions for the rest of this year. If it's going to be an interview, I'm going to conduct it. So I'll answer my own questions. Ask myself the questions, then give you all the answers.”

On his former teammates…

"Man, I miss them guys, man. I miss the team," Moss said. "It was hard for me to come here and play.

"Been an up-and-down roller-coaster emotionally all week. And then to be able to come in here and see those guys running plays that I know what they're doing, and the success they had on the field, the running game -- so, I kind of know what kind of feeling they have in their locker room, man, and I just want to be able to tell the guys that I miss the hell out of them. Every last helmet in that locker room, man."

On his preparation with the Vikings coaching staff for this game…

"The bad part about it -- you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over to me and say, 'Dag, Moss, you was right about a couple plays and a couple schemes they were going to run.' It hurts as a player that you put a lot of hard work in all week, and toward the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that's when they acknowledge about the hard work you put in throughout the week. That's actually a disappointment."

His final word…

"I'm definitely down that we lost this game. I didn't expect we'd lose this game. I don't know how many more times I'll be in New England again. But I leave coach Belichick and those guys with a salute: (and yes, Moss actually saluted while saying this). 'I love you guys. I miss you. I'm out.'"

Read into all that what you will. I read into it that this is Moss’ way of telling the Vikings, I hate being on this team.



7.) The NFL’s best team?

According to the standings, it’s the Patriots. They’re the only team that has just one loss on the season. It’s kind of hard to believe, given that New England pairs a ball control offense with a defense that ranks 28th in yards allowed and dead last on third down. But no team manages in-game situations better than the Patriots. (That’s why their games always feel so choppy.)

At least that 28th-ranked defense is improving by the week. Jerod Mayo is a star at inside linebacker. He’s a rock of a run defender and a sterling open-field tackler against the pass. First-round rookie Devin McCourty is blossoming into a bona fide No. 1 corner. The defensive linemen around Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork have elevated their games; Mike Wright has a sack in four-straight contests, and last year’s second-round pick, Ron Brace, showcased his development on the fourth-down goal-line stop in which he blew up Phil Loadholt and stuffed Adrian Peterson. Finally, safety Brandon Meriweather is close to regaining his ’09 form. Overall, this is a young defense that should only get better.



8.) Do we believe the nautical villains?

I’ve been saying all season that the Buccaneers are not good enough in the trenches to make the playoffs, and that the Raiders’ greatness on paper is matched only by their embarrassing ineptitude on the field. I’m not ready to eat crow yet, though I’m fingering my silverware (I’ll assume crow is something you’d eat with a knife and a fork).

The Bucs got their fifth consecutive road victory with a 38-35 win at Arizona Sunday. But Tampa’s MVP that game was Cardinals quarterback Max Hall. When the undrafted rookie threw his first career touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald, the veteran receiver, rushed over and gave Hall the ball (it was a truly classy move by Fitzgerald, considering how justifiably frustrated he’s been with the team’s quarterback play this season). Along these lines, it would have made sense for Bucs corner Aqib Talib to give Hall a souvenir ball on the second quarter pick-six he threw, as that was Hall’s most precise touchdown strike on the afternoon. D. McFadden (US Presswire)

That was also Hall’s second pick-six on the day, which is why Ken Whisenhunt decided that maybe Derek Anderson is the best guy to lead the team after all. (If Anderson and Whisenhunt were dating, all of Anderson’s friends at this point would be pleading with the quarterback to stop letting the head coach just use him like this.)

My point? The Bucs are 5-2, but their most recent win came against a hapless Cardinals club. Obviously, a win is a win in the NFL. But if the Bucs’ head coach wants to talk about his team being the best in the NFC, then the “they haven’t beaten anybody” argument is fair game. The combined records of the teams Tampa Bay has defeated (Cleveland, Carolina, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Arizona): 12-24. The combined record of the teams Tampa Bay has lost to (Pittsburgh, New Orleans): 10-5. So, I’m skeptical. It will be easier to gauge this team after it faces division foe Atlanta next week.

Regarding the 4-4 Raiders, wins over Denver and Seattle don’t exactly merit great acclaim, but the convincing nature of those wins does. After spanking the Broncos 59-14, the Raiders pounded the Seahawks 33-3. Darren McFadden – whom I was shocked to learn, led the league in yards after contact heading into this game – rushed for 121 of the team’s 239 yards. This against a Seattle run defense that ranked second in the league prior to Sunday.

Jason Campbell was a sterling 15/27 for 310 yards and two scores – and those numbers aren’t inflated by one or two Jon Kitna garbage time-like plays. Campbell threaded the needle on both touchdown strikes. The first was to fullback Marcel Reese, a versatile second-year pro who can best be described as “exactly what 49er fans erroneously claim Delanie Walker SHOULD be”. Reese is an effective route runner when lining up as a wide receiver. Campbell’s second touchdown was to Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is inconsistent, but in a good way (given that last season he was consistently dreadful).

Is Oakland a legit contender? In the AFC West, perhaps. But overall...well…at least they can win in the trenches. (The defensive line was every bit as dominant as the offensive line Sunday.) That makes them more stable than Tampa Bay. Still, at the end of the day, a team must be able to throw in order to win. The Bucs at least have an upstart first-round quarterback in Josh Freeman. The Raiders still have a controversy between Campbell (who played well Sunday but, throughout his career, has proved to be a robot programmed for mediocrity) and Bruce Gradkowski (a poor man’s Jeff Garcia).



9.) NFL makes a good impression in Europe

So the Brits wound up seeing a pretty good game between the 49ers and Broncos. Dammit all. The hope to avoid having to share the truest American sport with the rest of the world looks more futile than ever.

On Sunday, after a slow start that probably still had Wembley Stadium’s soccer-acclimated sellout crowd of 83,000-plus on the edge of its seats, the offenses for both teams came to life late in the second half. Thirty of the game’s 40 points were scored in the fourth quarter. Both teams relied on their usual identity. For the Broncos, that meant riding Kyle Orton (28/40, 396 yards). For the Niners, that meant riding Frank Gore (29 carries, 118 yards).

Though a compelling contest it was, and though interesting is the debate over whether it was a mistake for Josh McDaniels to keep the team in the U.S. until Thursday (three days longer than the Niners), the story of this game is the success of the NFL’s British venture. Not only did the game sell out, but approximately 38,000 fans filled Trafalgar Square for an NFL block party Saturday. Earlier in the week, Roger Goodell said the league’s goal is to put a team in London. Maybe that’s just lip service the Commissioner had to pay in the days leading up to this game, but if the world has learned anything the past 10 years, it’s that in whatever way globalization can happen, it will.

So start getting your minds wrapped around it, football fans: the NFL is only going to ingrain itself deeper in London. And, perhaps, other foreign markets. Maybe you’re cool with that. If you are, great. If you’re not (like me), Sunday was just another reminder that you’d better start getting used to it.



10.) Quick Hits

***Todd Haley went for it again on fourth down Sunday. This time the Chiefs had fourth-and-two and were deep in Buffalo territory. For the past few weeks, people have been commenting on Haley’s gutsy fourth down calls. But we’re discovering that this is just the way the man coaches. He’s attempted 11 fourth downs this season, tied for fourth most in the NFL. The difference is that very few of them have been of the desperation variety. Haley believes it’s a numbers game, and he usually makes the decision to go for it a few plays before reaching fourth down (to help the play-calling, he tell offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss ahead of time when it’s four-down territory). It’s an unusually aggressive approach.S. Smith (US Presswire)


***Interesting that the Jets had Darrelle Revis play left cornerback in the first half and then had him shadow Greg Jennings in the second half. Revis was effective in both cases – it was just fun watching Rex Ryan change up the game plan.


***Steve Tasker, who spent the entire overtime period between the Chiefs and Bills trying to add a soothing calm amidst the lovable screaming of Gus Johnson, had a great line about Ryan Succop’s first field goal attempt in OT. When Succop’s ball got caught in the wind and suddenly hooked sharply left, Tasker said “that ball had a left turn signal on it”.


***The Rams wore their blue and yellow throwback uniforms to honor the retirement of Isaac Bruce’s number 80. It’d probably be good if we started debating Bruce’s Hall of Fame credentials now. Given the length of the Art Monk trial, and the Andre Reed-Cris Carter-Tim Brown dilemmas, Bruce’s candidacy is going to be particularly complicated.


***Turns out cornerback Sean Smith didn’t fully regain his starting job for the Dolphins this week, but against the Bengals he played extremely well. Smith got some help from an erratic Carson Palmer on the game-sealing interception, but before that, he was very active covering receivers with underneath technique.


***I’m not affiliated with the San Diego Chargers, but even I felt a little awkward seeing Vincent Jackson standing on the sideline in street clothes Sunday.


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Posted on: October 29, 2010 4:14 pm
 

Max Hall gets ripped

Posted by Andy Benoit

A special thank you to Ron Jaworski for a.) being boldly honest and b.) basically writing an entire post for me. Jaws was recently on Phoenix’s KTAR radio. He was asked about Cardinals undrafted rookie quarterback Max Hall. Here he goes:

"The one thing we’ve heard about Max -- the moxie, the leadership, all that -- those are all wonderful attributes for a quM. Hall (US Presswire)arterback. But the attributes you have to be able to have to be successful week in and week out over a long period of time is the ability to throw the football accurately and with velocity. And clearly, when I look at the tape, I don’t see either of those. I don’t see the ball going down the field. You see the bubble screens, the bootlegs, throwing the ball in the flat, nothing down the field. You just don’t see a skill set that projects to be a consistent NFL quarterback. Things don’t look good when you’re on the field with Max Hall. It’s that simple. I’m sure he’s a wonderful guy giving everything he’s got, but the skill set just isn’t there.

"The one thing I’m beginning to see seep in is the wide receivers not finishing their routes, not working as hard as you have to. They’re just not getting the football and when it comes their way, it is inaccurate, it’s bouncing at their feet, it’s high, it’s behind them, so receivers begin to lose the confidence in the quarterback. These aren’t things that I’m making up. These are things I look at when I see the tape. The eye in the sky doesn’t lie. You’re going to see the receivers become disinterested. They don’t want to be out there lead blocking for power sweeps and stretch running plays. They want to catch some balls. It’s an outstanding group of wide receivers. But you can see when the ball is not coming down the field, when the explosive plays aren’t designed. You’re going to lose the receiving corps."

Larry Fitzgerald, in particularly, has been quite visibly frustrated at times this season. Jaws has noticed.

"I can't see Larry Fitzgerald staying in Arizona with the present status of this football team," Jaws said. "I just can't see it. . . . . Larry Fitzgerald with 29 catches is somewhat of an embarrassment for someone with that skill set. . . . In all likelihood I think Larry Fitzgerald is going to be gone."

Needless to say, Jaws believes Derek Anderson gives Arizona the best chance to win. There’s no sense in trying to develop Hall at this point because, as Jaws reminded listeners, the NFC West is still wide open.

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Posted on: October 27, 2010 3:28 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 5:48 pm
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: 'What's Best for the Team'?

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 . 

Week 7 might see an unusual number of coaches actually doing 'what's best for their team' (Brad Childress' words) when it comes to quarterback decisions.

Or perhaps not -- many an external factor can change a coach's choice on who to start.

Let's begin in Minnesota, or, technically, in New England -- where the Vikings will take on the Patriots in a game that's got a storyline or two.

There's Randy Moss' return to New England after being traded from the Pats earlier this season, a monumental factor that's being even more monumentally overshadowed by the fact that every single bone in Brett Favre's foot has been reduced to little tiny pieces in the past week or so.

OK, that's a stretch, but we do know it's a pretty severe injury. Or, at least some of us do.

"You're talking to the wrong guy to rate severity," Childress said. "I just know how they were advertised to me, and I didn't use any [medical definitions] that weren't said to me."

Chilling words (pun intended) from a coach who seems to be more passive-aggressive than anything when it comes to making a decision about who'll start for him under center.

The pervasive understanding sure seems to be that Childress, if he had his druthers or any, ahem, "juevos rancheros" at all, would start Tavaris Jackson at quarterback for the Vikings. This would require Childress being in charge, though, and his description of Favre's injury ("an evolving situation") is pretty indicative that he's not.

Favre doesn't call the shots, of course, but it's pretty clear that if he wants to play, he's going to play, despite what he says; and yeah, the same thing applies to his streak of 291 consecutive games.

"I don't want to go out there for one play, I don't want to go out there for three plays," Favre said. "If I'm able to play, I want to play the whole game and give us the best chance to win."

That's utter baloney, regardless of how nice it sounds coming from Favre. He prides himself on his iron man status as much as anything, and it's pretty obvious that if he can get that next start, he's going to get that next start, even if it's at the expense of Minnesota's success.

The only thing that could stop him is Childress stepping in, telling everyone involved that Favre is going to take a week off, get rested and thereby putting the burden on Adrian Peterson to control the game and Tavaris Jackson to make one or two big throws without any huge mistakes.

It's a plausible proposition, but probably one that won't come to fruition. But only because Favre wants to keep his streak intact grit out a win just too damn much.

****


The Titans might offer up the spiciest of all job situations, because Jeff Fisher's shown in the past he doesn't give a flip who throws the ball for his team, as long as they help Tennessee win.

Kenny Britt's emergence as a potential true No. 1 wideout -- even if he's facing future discipline -- under Kerry Collins might make the decision easier.

Clearly Vince Young has potential and whatnot, but he's remarkably inconsistent, and Collins has had tremendous success with Fisher, most notably in stealing V.Y.'s starting spot two years ago and last week against the Eagles, when he lead a measty comeback in Nashville that featured Britt catching three touchdowns for 225 yards.

As long as Tennessee has Chris Johnson, it'll obviously be dangerous, and with a bye week coming after the Titans tangle with the Chargers in San Diego Sunday, it makes a whole lotta sense for Fisher to give V.Y.'s a quite convenient extra week of rest on his injured leg.

Will ownership want that no? Probably not. Will Vince? Definitely not. Does Fisher care? Absolutely not -- a win in San Diego gives Tennessee establishes the Titans as a legitimate threat to win the AFC (if that wasn't clear already), and "CSI:Nashville" knows that keeping Collins under center for now gives them the best chance to win.

At least until he does his best "Kerry Collins in the first of 2009" impersonation -- but that's what Vince Young's sitting there for!

****
The Eagles finally make their way to the bottom of this piece (or at least the middle anyway), and with good reason -- Kevin Kolb showed Sunday why Michael Vick should be the starter.

(Ironically, yes, that was while Collins showed he should start over Young, but that's neither here nor there.)

Look, we've said it plenty of times, but Kolb's plenty good and will play plenty of snaps for the Eagles at some point; he's just a different animal than Vick.

Last week we talked about how Kolb, even when posting monster numbers against Atlanta, still looked a little weak-armed. This won't change. Ever.

And Vick is, when healthy, one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL -- he'll start until he forgets how fragile his ribcage is and takes off on an ill-advised run down the middle of the field towards the goal line. Again.

****


Perhaps the best decision by any coach -- and it's an odd choice if only because of who the coach is -- will happen in London, where Mike Singletary decided to plug in Troy Smith as the starter while Alex Smith is out.

There's no telling if Troy will start for the entire two-to-three week duration that Alex is supposed to miss, but it doesn't really matter: Frank Gore would be a better option than David Carr.

Plenty of people probably weren't watching the stinker of a game he gave up in Charlotte, but believe me, he has no business taking snaps as a starter in the NFL ever again. It's like drafting Michael Clayton in fantasy -- just because he's a top pick and has tons of talent doesn't mean he has to succeed eventually.

Cut him and move on. (Oh wait, that happened in real life too. Ha.)

****
Los Pantalones Fuegos (We're talking about jobs so we might as well mentions who's seat is hot, no?)

- Mike Singletary: Right now he's getting a few too many votes of confidence. A blowout overseas at the hands of a Denver team that got torched by the Raiders last week could push him to the brink.

- Brad Childress: Weird how so many of the guys with quarterback situations are mentioned here right? 2-6 to start the season could make it worth Minnesota's while to see what Leslie Frazier can do as a head coach.

- John Fox: It's hot all season, but a win against the Rams would go a long way towards keeping him in town through 2010.

- Josh McDaniels: It wasn't the losses piling up, but the way in which they piled up (read: giving up nearly 60 points to division rival Oakland).

- Wade Phillips: Tony Romo's injury almost guaranteed that he won't be fired until the end of the season, if that's any consolation.

- Jack Del Rio: Losing to a Jon Kitna-led Cowboys team just before the bye could seal his fate. Kitna will do that to you.

- Lovie Smith: He's only slightly less delusional than Singletary. And he has four wins, so that helps.

****
Quickly …

- Needless to say, giving the job to Colt McCoy was the right call for Eric Mangini. Kid's kind of hard to root against.

- Max Hall's the starter for Arizona if he's healthy and that makes the most sense given that the only other option is still Derek Anderson. It's simple science, really.

- Apparently Washingtonians want Rex Grossman to get a shot over Donovan McNabb. Please go monitor a midterm, folks -- there's more value in that.

- Darren McFadden probably has his starting job back now, I think.

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Posted on: October 26, 2010 8:25 pm
 

Max Hall passes concussion tests

Posted by Will Brinson

Ken Wisenhunt said that Max Hall would be his starter if the rookie out of BYU was healthy, and that means (theoretically) he'll start Sunday, as Whiz announced that Hall passed the necessary concussion tests.

That's according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic who says that "if all goes well" Hall will get the nod on Sunday.

It probably makes sense to roll with Hall, even though he looked pretty lost against the Seahawks Sunday -- there's only so much of an advantage that Derek Anderson's "experience" and "awareness" bring to the table.

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