Tag:Chad Henne
Posted on: April 6, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 3:20 pm
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Offseason Checkup: Miami Dolphins

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups .



Entering their Monday Night Football matchup against the Patriots in Week 4, the Dolphins had to be feeling confident in their chances of beating New England in Miami. The Dolphins defense had looked good in knocking off the Bills and Vikings (which, at the time, was considered a pretty good win), and then Miami played the Jets to a close loss before the Patriots came to town.

A 41-14 disaster later, Miami fired special teams coach John Bonamego and never got more than a game above .500 for the rest of the season (and, in fact, finished the year at 7-9).



Coach on the hot seat, quarterback

Although Tony Sparano took a 1-15 team and turned it into an 11-5 division title winner a year later (beating out the Patriots for the honor), he’s gone 7-9 in back-to-back seasons. Apparently, owner Stephen Ross listened to Bill Parcells’ recommendation and decided to bring back Sparano for another season (though Ross DID disgustingly go out of his way to woo Jim Harbaugh for the job). But the specter of Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher still are out there and until Sparano is off the hot seat, fans will wonder about their availability.

Sparano would get a great deal of help if QB Chad Henne could put together a consistent season. WR Brandon Marshall blasted his QB at the end of last season and said he actually works better with QB Tyler Thigpen (a major ZING, by the way). It’s too early to give up on Henne, especially now that Chad Pennington will miss all of 2011 because of a torn ACL, but it’s getting to the point where Henne needs to show somebody something.




1. Running back
On paper, the duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams would seem a surefire way for the Dolphins to rack up rushing yards and plenty of touchdowns. Yet, the Dolphins managed to finish 21st in running last season. There’s a good chance that neither back will return to Miami next year, leaving Patrick Cobbs and Lex Hilliard on the roster at RB. Which means the Dolphins will need some big-time help at that spot and which is why Alabama’s Mark Ingram might be a good draft pick (though the Dolphins might want to trade down instead).

2. Offensive line
You know what doesn’t help your third-string quarterback perform better? A terribly inconsistent offensive line. That’s what Tyler Thigpen faced in Miami’s 16-0 loss to the Bears in Week 11 – a line missing starters Jake Long and Joe Berger who then watched backup Cory Procter get injured on the second offensive series, meaning Richie Incognito had to move from guard to center. Miami could make a play for a solid center in the draft.

3. Keep improving the defense
n 2009, the Dolphins ranked 25th in the league in defense, but last year, they improved that number to No. 13. Most of the starting front seven is solid, but Miami’s DBs had a tough time hanging onto interceptions last season. It also would help if they got more playmakers in the secondary.




After Ross stopped emasculating Sparano for Harbaugh and then gave him a two-year extension, Ross made it clear he wanted a more aggressive, more exciting offense. Sparano, though, said he plans to keep running the ball more often than not. Could we see both? I suppose, though I kind of doubt it.

I also don’t see a playoff run with Miami, considering the Patriots and Jets still will be battling for AFC East supremacy. All of which means the meddling Ross probably will fire Sparano, and then, everybody can just start over again in Miami. Which means we might not see good pro football in Miami for a while.

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 10:30 am
 

Dolphins might have had improper contact

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

During Roger Goodell’s news conference Tuesday at the conclusion of the owners meetings in New Orleans, he discussed the player conduct policy, the state of labor negotiations and the chances of teams using replacement players.

But Goodell also let slip that five teams have been fined or are in the process of being investigated for improper contact between coaches and players (this isn’t necessarily an NFL lockout matter; these rules were in the books before all that).

Henne One of them, according to the Miami Herald, might be the Dolphins. This theory is based on QB Chad Henne discussing the playbook with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for the last month in preparation for player-led workouts during the lockout.

NFL executive Jeff Pash didn’t exactly confirm that was true – and the team had no comment for the Herald – but Pash did let everybody read between the lines.

"Five teams were contacted, whether they were inquiries or fines or some of each, I haven't read the letters so I don't know," Pash told reporters. "The commissioner sort of rather strongly suggested that one team in South Florida might have crossed the line. Beyond that, I don't know."

To take a look at the rules regarding offseason contact, click on this Boston Herald photo.

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Posted on: January 25, 2011 8:51 pm
 

Jeff Ireland's apparently a Chad Henne fan

Posted by Will Brinson

There aren't a tremendous number of people associated with the Miami Dolphins that seem to love Chad Henne.

Except, perhaps, the one who really matters the most -- Jeff Ireland.

"He’s shown some aggressive tendencies, and shown some exciting throws," Ireland said per the Sun-Sentinal. "Chad has all the ability in the world. We just have to put a plan together and an offense philosophy that fits Chad Henne and I think we’ll be able to do that."

Okay, Ireland's probably the second most important guy to make happy in the 'Fins organization; Stephen Ross is probably the guy you really want to please down there.

But still, this is not-so-faint praise from a guy who's really high up in the Dolphins organization. And it means, if you take it at face value, that Miami's committed to go into 2011 with Henne as their starting quarterback.

Two problems with that. One, that was their plan in 2010 and you saw how that worked out. And two, Henne (in his current iteration) doesn't exactly fit the "sexy offense" mold that Ross is looking for. He mentioned earlier this year that he wants something a little more fast-paced and high-scoring than Dan Henning's outfit provided.

Which means there's still a chance for Cam Newton to end up landing in Miami's lap later in the first round. On the bright side, though, perhaps drafting a quarterback would be just enough to scare Henne into not telegraphing every third pass.

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Posted on: January 22, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Dolphins extend GM Ireland's contract

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Dolphins announced earlier today that general manager Jeff Ireland had signed a multi-year contract extension, and it must come as a relief, though not necessarily a big surprise, to Ireland (and, I suppose, to those who want stability in the organization).

While Ireland certainly has garnered some positive accomplishments since taking over his role after the 2007 season, he had to wonder – at least, slightly – about his job security now that Bill Parcells is basically out of the picture.

Ireland was one of Parcell’s guys – Parcells hired Ireland when he took over the team’s football operations after they worked together in Dallas – but after Parcells stepped away to become a team consultant, one had to wonder if owner Stephen Ross really thought Ireland was the horse he could ride.

Apparently, that is the case.

“The decision to extend Jeff’s contract as our General Manager was an easy one," said Ross in a statement. "The young talent that Jeff has assembled during his three years with the Dolphins has made a profound impact on our franchise’s recovery from the 1-15 season of 2007. Jeff has my full support moving forward as we pursue our goals to build the best and brightest front office in the National Football League and ultimately to win a Super Bowl championship for all of South Florida and Dolphin fans around the world.”

Since taking over, Ireland has drafted talented players like OT Jake Long, CB Vontae Davis, LB Koa Misi and WR Brian Hartline while procuring the services of WR Brandon Marshall and TE Sal Anthony Fasano .

But he’s also missed out on big picks – 2008 second-round pick Phillip Merling and 2009 second-round pick Pat White come to mind – while the jury is still out on QB Chad Henne (2008 second-round pick).

Plus, there was that incident when he, in a pre-Draft interview, asked former Oklahoma State and current Cowboys WR Dez Bryant about the rumors that his mother was a prostitute. Ireland later apologized for the misstep.

But Ross, unlike his latest dealings with coach Tony Sparano, made this transaction rather clean, because so far, Ireland has done enough to impress.

"He's an excellent judge of talent," CBS’ own analyst Charlie Casserly told the Palm Beach Post earlier this month. "He has a clear vision of what he wants the team to look like on the field, and he wants to have a physical team up front on both lines. Any time you have that, you have a chance to win."

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Posted on: January 5, 2011 10:37 am
 

More reasons Marshall doesn't like Henne

B. Marshall has made his unhappiness known with the offense of Tony Sparano (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

As Dolphins coach Tony Sparano continues to wait to hear about his job status, his players have begun to let loose their feelings. And it’s likely not helping Sparano’s cause. Or the confidence of QB Chad Henne.

We told you Tuesday about RB Ricky Williams saying he and Sparano were not a great fit and that he was excited to test the free agent waters. Williams said the team respects Sparano, but then he went on to blast Sparano’s micromanaging.

So, that wasn’t good.

But it gets worse.

WRs Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline also broke down why the team’s offense was so mediocre on a Miami radio show Tuesday, via the Palm Beach Post. And then Marshall went on a rant against Henne.

From the Post :

Marshall, who on Sunday said he’s been on “different pages” with quarterback Chad Henne all year, explained what he meant with radio host Michael Irvin, and said he works better with backup Tyler Thigpen.

Marshall said that in Sunday’s 38-7 loss to New England, there were several plays in which he was lined up 1-on-1 against Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty with no safety help over the top. Marshall, listed at 6-foot-4, has six inches on McCourty, and in the past, his height advantage and the 1-on-1 coverage almost always dictated that Marshall would change his play to a “go” route, and the quarterback would lob the ball up and let Marshall make a play.

“In the past, taking the shot always worked out pretty good, and that’s something I’ve been trying to get called all year,” Marshall said. “I’m covered, (but) that doesn’t mean I’m covered. … Just throw it up, you know?”

But Marshall said that Henne and quarterbacks coach David Lee were never willing to improvise plays at the line of scrimmage, and when Marshall did, they would get upset with him on the sideline.

“Henne, the way he plays the game is he goes exactly through his reads, no matter the matchup,” Marshall said. “Then you get to the sideline, and it’s some conflict there because they don’t like it (changing routes on the fly).”

But Marshall said Thigpen is different. And better with whom to work. It’s because, Marshall theorized, Thigpen played with big-time receiver Dwayne Bowe while he was in Kansas City.

“I think Tyler gets it a little more,” Marshall said. “I’ve been trying to communicate with the quarterbacks all year, and we finally get it in the last game. It shows what we’re capable of doing. So yeah, Tyler is a guy that kind of gets it.”

And Henne apparently doesn’t. Again, not good.

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Posted on: December 13, 2010 4:34 pm
 

Hot Routes 12.13.10 box score tidbits Week 14

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Ryan Torain ripped off 172 yards against a Bucs front seven that had major problems getting off blocks early on.

Thanks to a 64-yard reception, Bucs rookie wideout Arrelious Benn had his first 100-yard game as a pro (122, to be exact). In fact, Benn’s previous high was 53 yards.

The Browns ran nine plays on their opening field goal drive against the Bills but just 37 plays the rest of the game.

The Packers were 2/12 on third down and 0/1 in the red zone at Detroit.

Though no player had more than 51 yards rushing for Detroit, the Lions still racked up 190 yards on the ground.

Hines Ward had his best outing since Week 7, catching eight passes for 115 yards against Cincinnati.

In addition to an interception returned for a touchdown, LaMarr Woodley had two sacks and two tackles for a loss.

Michael Turner rushed for over 100 yards for the third time in four weeks. The Falcons running back is getting stronger as the season wears on.

Kroy Biermann and John Abraham both had two sacks against the Panthers.

The Raiders and Jaguars combined for 387 yards rushing. Three players – Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings – went over the century mark.

Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis had four catches for an important 57 yards. He also scored his career-high ninth touchdown.

The Rams were just 1/4 in the red zone against the Saints. (Unless you count Sam Bradford’s pick-six to Malcom Jenkins as a score.)

Pretty simple what happened in San Francisco: Niners zero turnovers, Seahawks five.

Brian Westbrook had 87 yards on six receptions.

The Patriots recorded 27 first downs at Chicago.

Perhaps the only Bears defender who played well was Brian Urlacher. He had 11 tackles (three for a loss), a sack and three pass breakups.

Chad Henne’s 5/18 performance was the lowest completion percentage that a winning Dolphins quarterback has had since 1980.

Dolphins punter Brandon Fields had 10 punts for 564 yards.

More special teams notes: Cardinals kicker Jay Feely was 5/6 on field goals.

Part of the reason the Cardinals-Broncos game took forever to end: Kyle Orton 19/41; John Skelton 15/37.

The Chargers had 25 first downs, which was 20 more than the Chiefs had.

Brodie Croyle probably isn’t the answer: Kansas City finished the game with 19 total yards passing.

Antoine Cason took over as the punt returner for San Diego. He averaged 15.2 yards per return with a long of 42.

The Eagles held Miles Austin and Roy Williams to a combined four catches for 45 yards.


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Posted on: December 13, 2010 2:25 am
Edited on: December 13, 2010 4:41 pm
 

10 stories worth your attention Week 14

Posted by Andy Benoit

Want more Week 14 review? Hit up our podcast

T. Brady (US Presswire)1.) Goodness!

For the second week in a row, the New England Patriots took center stage on the NFL’s headline game of the week and gave viewers an entire second half of garbage time. The garbage time is almost worth it, though, because watching the Patriots obliterate opponents in the first half has become like watching Picasso paint, Sinatra sing or Rosie O’Donnell eat. New England’s latest masterpiece took place at Soldier Field, where the Patriots were the only people who refused to be bothered by a little frozen rain. (You could almost hear the Bears saying down on the sidelines, “Hey what the hell? I thought we agreed beforehand that the weather was going to have a significant impact on this game!)

Tom Brady, the unquestioned MVP of 2010, has 19 touchdowns and 0 interceptions over his last eight games. Thanks in part to the frost-bitten fingers of the Bears linebackers, Brady has thrown 268 passes without an interception (18 behind Bernie Kosar’s all-time record). The last time Brady was this brilliant (2007), opponents at least knew where he wanted to go with the football (Randy Moss over the top; Wes Welker underneath). There’s no figuring out THIS version of Brady. A great illustration of this would be Deion Branch’s improbable 59-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half. Yes, that play was aided by the Bears’ coverage mistake, but Brady lulled the Bears into that mistake.

None of New England’s receivers or running backs would be surefire starters on a typical NFL team (not even slot master Wes Welker). But Brady has made viable weapons out of all of them. You already knew that, though. We all know that the Patriots are versatile and balanced. What we didn’t know is that a “versatile and balanced” formula can yield five straight games of 30 points-plus.

Even more surprising is that the Patriot defense has been nearly as dominant as the offense recently. The Pats have allowed just 10 points over their last two games. This season, the lineup has consisted of Vince Wilfork at nose tackle, Jerod Mayo at inside linebacker, Devin McCourty at cornerback and a mixture of players rotating at the other eight positions. The “fluidity” of the lineup made for ugly inconsistency at times early this season. But now Bill Belichick has broken-in his rookies and found niches for all his ancillary players. The Patriots rank near the bottom against the pass and on third down, but they also lead the AFC with 20 interceptions. Consider this proof that the best way to hide your weaknesses defensively is to play with a lead (something this club knows how to do).

 



2.) One game where the snow was too much

By now you’ve probably seen the footage of the snow crashing through the torn roof of the Metrodome. What’s the rule of political correctness with this one? Do we have to leave it at “Scary sight, lucky no one was hurt”? Or are we allowed to mention how cool it was? (Absolutely positively no pun intended.) Metrodome (US Presswire)

The Vikings may not be thrilled about the snow damage…right now. It turned their Week 13 home game into a glorified road contest. But in the big picture, you have to figure that a collapsed roof can’t hurt Zygi Wilf’s leverage for getting a new stadium.

When the history books are written, the Giants-Vikings game will probably be remembered for something other than the “awesome but only because nobody was hurt” Metrodome roof collapse: it’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that Brett Favre’s consecutive starts streak is coming to an end. We include it in this piece – which is normally a review of Sunday’s action – because, predictably, during the hours of 7:00 am to 1:00 pm Sunday we got new Favre quotes and updates every three to four minutes. Even with no game being played, or perhaps because of no game being played, Favre was a dominant story Sunday. The last update was that Favre’s shoulder is a multi-week injury, and an extra 30 hours wouldn’t make that much of a difference in his recovery. Thus, it’s likely Favre sits. (Of course, Leslie Frazier refutes this, so perhaps yet another extensive Favre piece could be for naught.)

Obsessive compulsive Favre fans will find themselves dry-heaving if the legendary streak stops not on the nice round 300, but rather, on 297, which is not prime number but on first glance, sure looks like one. (If you’re counting playoffs, Favre’s streak is at 321.)
Whether you love Favre or love to ride around on your high horse and tell everyone how you can no longer stand the guy (even though you still watch all his games, perk up during the SportsCenter and Pardon the Interruption segments about him, listen to his press conferences and click on every Jenn Sterger story you Googler, errr, “happen to come across”), there’s no denying that the end of the streak is a big deal.

But you know what? It won’t be that big a deal for long. Peyton Manning, who at 34 years old has started all 205 regular season games of his career, needs to play six more years to pass Favre’s mark. No guarantees, certainly, but Manning will probably do that. If he does surpass Favre, the moment will feel like an enormous let down. Favre has battled bumps, bruises and full-on injuries his entire career. And, to everyone’s pleasure and chagrin, he’s always been very public about them (the Ed Werder reports throughout this past week confirm that). Manning, aside from a broken jaw in 2001 that most people don’t remember and a bursa sac issue late in the ’08 preseason, has never been hurt. That makes his streak far less sexy, even if its smoothness is yet another testament to his brilliance.



3.) Jags


The Jaguars-Raiders provided the best 60 minutes of action we got Sunday. The story of the game was once again the effectiveness of Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars rushing attack. MJD had 101 yards on 23 carries (his sixth consecutive triple-digit-yard rushing performance); backup Rashard Jennings – who, if you haven’t seen him, is essentially the AFC’s version of Ryan Torain – came in and capitalized whenever the Raiders showed signs of fatigue. One instance of this was Jennings’s 74-yard touchdown run that was part of Jacksonville’s 21-point third quarter.

Two of Jacksonville’s touchdowns were set up by big plays on special teams: Montell Owens’ recovery of Jacoby Ford’s kick return fumble in the third quarter and rookie Deji Karim’s 65-yard return late in the fourth. Jacksonville needed to make plays on the third side of the ball Sunday because, aside from a few effective play-action passes and drag routes to blossoming tight end Marcedes Lewis, David Garrard and the passing game had no answer for Oakland’s vastly underrated defensive line.

At the end, however, the Raiders looked like the 6-7 team they are when Jason Campbell was forced to make plays in obvious throwing situations. It’s too bad Campbell, who was asked to hand the ball off and get out of the way at San Diego a week ago, struggled down the stretch. He had been fantastic early on, completing 11 of his first 14 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He evaded the rush and consistently hit his second and third reads. But when the Raiders were compelled to be one-dimensional, Campbell began staring at the pass-rush and gyrating unnecessarily in the pocket. He took an awful sack on the second to last play of the game and then somehow topped that mistake by throwing in the middle of the field to Jacoby Ford, which caused the game clock to expire.
M. Jones-Drew (US Presswire)
At the end of the day, the better team won this game. With this victory, the Jaguars ensure that they won’t reproduce last season’s disappointing collapse (0-4 finish after 7-5 start) and they put themselves in position to clinch the AFC South with a win over Indy next week.

But don’t get too giddy, Jags fans. Your team’s defense has a glaring weak spot that Peyton Manning will ruthlessly attack. That weakness is named Sean Considine. The backup safety who already lacks speed in the worst of ways put on a tackling-missing clinic Sunday. If regular starting safety Courtney Green does not return from a separated shoulder suffered against Tennessee, the Jags are in trouble.



4.) Following up on the run

Last week we talked about how, lately, teams have been winning games by dominating on the ground. Nine teams in Week 12 and five teams in Week 13 outrushed their opponents by 150 or so yards. It's an interesting trend, and we promised we’d check in on the running game again this week. So how’d it look?

After San Diego got underrated inside linebacker Stephen Cooper back and predictably stifled the Brodie Croyle-led Chiefs offense. The Chiefs were held to just 48 yards rushing. The Chargers, meanwhile, racked up 207.

Kansas City still has the No. 1 rushing offense in football, though the Jaguars are less than eight yards per game behind them now. Jacksonville gashed Oakland for 234 yards (the Raiders, spurred by Darren McFadden’s ability to accelerate, rushed for 153 yards).
The Panthers totaled 212 yards against the Falcons, but of course, only the Panthers would know how to convert 212 yards rushing into a 21-point loss. The Cardinals got 211 yards, 79 more than the Broncos.

Overall, teams are continuing to win on the ground. Again, this isn’t to say that a rushing attack is more important than a passing attack. But the data does seem to say that a rushing attack is more important this year than last year. Of the top 10 rushing offenses in 2009, five made the playoffs. Of the top 10 rushing offenses this season, seven are playoff bound (the three that aren’t are Oakland, Minnesota and Houston).



5.) Changes needed in Cincy

Another week, another loss for the Bengals. This time it was on the road to a Pittsburgh team that Cincy played close on a Monday night back in November and beat twice in 2009. Terrell Owens once again expressed his frustration in the postgame press conference. The 36-year-old has actually been one of the few bright spots on the Bengals this season, but there are questions about whether he’ll be back once his contract expires after the season. Ditto head coach Marvin Lewis.
C. Palmer (US Presswire)
But the man whose future in Cincy needs to seriously be questioned is Carson Palmer. He is not the same player he was prior to his ’08 elbow injury, and he’s certainly not the same player he was prior to his ’05 knee injury. Palmer threw two more pick-six’s Sunday – one to his close USC friend, Troy Polamalu, and another to LaMarr Woodley. Like Palmer’s three previous pick-six’s this year, these were gimme interceptions resulting from a blatant misread.

Palmer insists that he’s healthy; perhaps he is. But his bizarre accuracy issues and decisions from the pocket suggest something is awry. More troublesome is that the Bengals have become a team that expects – and is expected – to lose each week. That’s partly the product of ownership’s willingness – nay, eagerness – to bring in every underachiever and character-flag guy under the sun. But it’s also a product of poor leadership. As the immensely-compensated franchise quarterback, Palmer shoulders a chunk of the leadership burden.
 
Insiders around the league complain that Palmer is too nice – that he’s too willing to turn the other cheek and endure an earful of criticism from teammates (i.e. Chad Ochocinco). The dynamic of the quarterback-receiver relationship in Cincy has become the most defining aspect of this team’s identity. And now we’re talking about the identity of a team that’s lost 10 straight.

The problem is Palmer is under contract until 2015, and it’s doubtful that owner Mike Brown, who has a reputation for caring more about dollars than victories, will be willing to take the bath he’d need to take in order to make a change under center.



6.) The Jets are “struggle-ling”

From one struggling USC quarterback to another, what’s up with Mark Sanchez? He was awful against Miami – and that’s putting it kindly. Sanchez completed 17 of his 44 passes Sunday, threw an interception (along with a handful of “near interceptions”) and fumbled four times (losing just one). His two early turnovers led to Miami’s only 10 points. Ten points wound up being three more than what was needed to beat a Jets team that has now gone nine straight quarters without an offensive touchdown.

Time to panic in New York? Yes and no.

We’ll start with the “no” first. The Jets, at 9-4, are two games up in the AFC Wild Card race with three to play. They hit a slump last season, still got in at 9-7 and went on to the AFC Title Game.

But the “yes” part is that the ’09 slump came earlier in the year, and from Week 1 through Week 17, the ’09 Jets were one of the league’s best rushing teams. The ’10 Jets seem to be hitting a wall on the ground. LaDainian Tomlinson looks more like what we thought he’d look like all along: a savvy third-down back but not a 20-carry-a-game star. Shonn Greene has been little more than a flaky flirt this season. After 17 yards on eight carries againsM. Sanchez (US Presswire)t the Dolphins, Greene has averaged fewer than four yards per rushing attempt in four of his last five outings (granted, this could be in small part because the Jets prefer to use his bruising body in short-yardage situations).

It’s not just the offense. Coming into Sunday, there were concerns about New York’s pass defense. As the NFL Matchup Show pointed out, teams are max-protecting against Rex Ryan’s complex blitzes more this season and finding ways to exploit the safeties and linebackers in coverage. However, it’s hard to gripe about the pass defense this week, considering the Jets held Chad Henne to 5/18 for 55 yards (those are his final stats – not first, second, third or fourth quarter stats).

But defensive dominance is only valuable if you have an offense that can at least control tempo. The Jets controlled tempo last season by running the ball some 60 percent of the time. This season, they’re running less than 48 percent of the time. In other words, they’ve hitched their wagon to their second-year Trojan horse, and now that Trojan horse is showing iffy footwork, jittery pocket presence and questionable decision-making skills under pressure. Sanchez is capable of bouncing back, but it looks like it will take more than a well-publicized lunch meeting with the head coach to make that happen.



7.) P.S. from Jets-Fins game


The late window of games was surprisingly futile Sunday. The Bears got devoured by the Patriots. The Seahawks went to San Francisco and pulled another one of their maddening inept masterpieces out of their…ears. The Rams looked like an upstart but overmatched club facing the defending World Champions on the road. The Chiefs gave the type of performance that had to make Matt Cassel, who was watching at home, sick to his stomach all over again. And, out of principle, I boycotted the Broncos-Cardinals game (the poor Sunday Ticket-less folks in my hometown of Boise, ID got stuck with this as their CBS afternoon game). So I have no idea what happened there, though I heard the Cards won by a lot.

The only late-window contest that was close was the Jets-Dolphins. And, let’s be honest, that game was only close because neither team knew how to play offense in a driving rainstorm.

But we can’t be sour about an entire late afternoon of football. So, in an effort to give a toast with a glass that’s half full (half full for these next few paragraphs, anyway…can’t be half full too long because we still have an NFC West story on the way), I present to you Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake. The former CFL superstar entered Sunday’s game with an NFL-best 12 sacks. He secured a Dolphins victory by increasing that total to 14 on the final two plays of the game.

Everyone has been touting Clay Matthews as the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year. But until Sunday at Detroit, the Packers outside linebacker had been somewhat quiet the past month-and-a-half (quiet for DPOY standards, that is). Wake has been a beast week in and week out. As quick as he is off the edge, the 250-pounder takes on blocks remarkably well. This vast array of skills has made him one of the premiere run-defending outside linebackers in the game (did you see the fourth down stop he had on Shonn Greene in the second half?).

Consider this bit here an effort to get Wake’s name where it belongs: in the forefront of the DPOY discussion.



8.) The NFC West: You’re kidding, right?


It looks like the NFC really is going to have a sub-.500 team in the postseason this season. The Rams and Seahawks both got dismantled Sunday, falling to 6-7. St. Louis is a young team; Seattle is just downright irritating. When they lose, they sure like to get their money’s worth.

Both the Rams and Seahawks will be underdogs in Week 15. The two square off for what could be a “win and you’re in” game in Week 17. (The league wouldn’t dare make that the Sunday night game, would it?)

We could debate all day about the merits of a 7-9 playoff team. There are two sides to the debate: the side that says “division title or not, you can’t let a sub-.500 team in and screw over a likely 10-6 team” and the side that says “a division title is a division title, let ‘em in – even if it means screwing over a likely 10-6 team.” The problem here is that, both sides can agree, a 10-6 team, or ever a worthy 9-7 team, is going to get screwed over.

The NFL needs to use common sense and change the playoff regulations after this season (the suggestion here is only guarantee a playoff spot to ABOVE .500 teams AND re-seed all playoff teams by record). If the league can’t find the motivation to fix this soon-to-be embarrassing mess on its own, maybe FOX can provide encouragement. The playoff games represent a significant chunk of the NFL television package’s value. It’s not fair that FOX, which forks over the GDP of a small country for the right to broadcast NFC games, gets stuck with a pathetic Wild Card matchup simply because the NFL refuses to amend its outdated playoff system.



9.) The Real McCoy

How is it that LeSean McCoy plays for one of the most prominent franchises in professional sports, records over 120 yards in offense four straight games yet does not come up in most discussions involving the top echelon of running backs in the NFC? McCoy was quiet throughout most of the first two-and-a-half quarters against Dallas Sunday night. Then, midway through the third, he burst up the middle for a 56-yard run (left guard Todd Herremans was spectacular all night, and particularly in getting to the second level on this play). In the fourth quarter, McCoy had runs of 13, 6, 12, 19, 13 and 6 yards. He finished with 16 carries for 149 yards, leaving him with 972 yards rushing on the season. L. McCoy (US Presswire)

Because he has become arguably the best screen pass weapon in the game, McCoy leads the Eagles with 67 receptions on the season (534 yards). Prior to DeSean Jackson’s 210-yard outburst – highlighted by an NFL-long 91-yard touchdown catch that was nearly as stunning as his fall-into-the-end-zone celebration was clever – Philly’s leading receiver in terms of yardage was Jeremy Maclin. In short, the Eagles are rolling behind Michael Vick and three bona fide stars with a combined four years of experience coming into this season. The key is that all four players have lethal speed, which forces defenses to play more zone. Safe but simple zone looks has given these young Eagles easier reads to make.

Speaking of Vick, if Andy Reid was displeased about the amount of hits he was enduring prior to this game, he must now be downright irate. That’s one thing the Eagles must be concerned about moving forward.



10.) Quick Hits

***Donovan McNabb once again looked pretty good running that super complex two-minute offense in Washington. When the Redskins botched the extra point snap (actually, the Redskins didn’t botch the extra point snap – only long snapper Nick Sundberg and holder Hunter Smith did), it marked the second time this season that McNabb’s successful two-minute drive at the end of regulation was ruined by the field goal unit. (The other was against the Titans in Week 11.)

***The game in Buffalo managed to be as poor as the weather. Would you believe it was two Jake Delhomme turnovers in the fourth quarter that helped seal the loss for the Browns?

***Two defensive ends who stood out in the Jaguars-Raiders game: Jeremy Mincey for Jacksonville and Lamarr Houston for Oakland. Both can pressure the passer but also play the run.

***Raise your hand if you had Andre Whitworth, Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley in the touchdown pool for the Bengals-Steelers game.

***Did you see the way Dick LeBeau censured Polamalu after the safety inexplicably tried to pitch the ball back on his second interception? How many assistant coaches would grab a superstar by the pads like that and read him the riot act? And how many superstars would go up to that coach afterwards for an apology hug? It’s a special culture in Pittsburgh.

***I realize the Lions’ surprising win over the Packers probably deserves more than an afterthought mention in the quick hits like this, but really, what is there to say? I watched a majority of this game and I can tell you, in all honesty, nothing happened. Well, there was the Aaron Rodgers injury, of course. But we’ll be talking about that all week anyway. As far as everything else goes, this was a game in which neither team converted a third down until midway through the third quarter. The Packers lost because of unfortunate first half turnovers

***The Bucs front seven looked disinterested in run defense in the first quarter. Unable to shed blocks, the Bucs surrendered 121 yards to Ryan Torain (the most rushing yards in an NFL first quarter since Tiki Barber against the Raiders in 2005). Torain had just 51 yards the rest of the game, though.

***Somehow, the Redskins actually got more out of Albert Haynesworth this Sunday than they got in any other game since Halloween.

***The Saints got Pierre Thomas back after his nine-week absence with a left ankle injury. (Thomas had 39 yards on 12 carries against the Rams.) This team is rolling. Reggie Bush is once again healthy and in top form. Gregg Williams’ defense has been extra effective with safety blitzes in recent weeks. On Sunday, bourgeoning free safety Malcom Jenkins intercepted Sam Bradford (who, for a lot of this game, was rattled by New Orleans’ pass-rush) and returned it 96 yards for a game-swinging interception touchdown late in the first half. How is it that no one is really buzzing about the 10-3 defending World Champions?

***Good idea to paint the lines red on Chicago’s snowy field.

***The Chargers rediscovered their rushing attack Sunday (big time). Mike Tolbert had 66 yards on 16 carries. That was one more yard than rookie Ryan Mathews had on the same number of attempts. Darren Sproles, who came into the game with only 36 rushing attempts, produced 53 yards on six carries.

***Sean Smith is a somewhat limited cornerback in terms of fluidity and physicality, but he was tremendous Sunday. Smith was credited with four pass breakups, though it felt more like 12.


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Posted on: December 2, 2010 3:30 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2010 3:31 pm
 

Hot Routes 12.2.10 emotional blowups are OK

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit and Will Brinson

Some Browns news for you: cornerback Joe Haden was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. And former Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli has now joined the team.

Darin Gantt of the Charlotte Observer counts down prospective candidates for Andrew Luck's services (read: does he like Charlotte enough to leave Stanford?)


Speaking of awesome places to play football, Bills first-rounder C.J. Spiller is loving that tropical Buffalo weather.


Jason Garrett, Jon Kitna defend Dez Bryant's sideline blowup.


Can you believe we’ve come to care so much about Derek Anderson this week?


It was finally discovered why Panthers high-priced cornerback Chris Gamble was benched this past Sunday: teammates say he missed practice.


Chad Ochocinco and Darren Sharper have been exchanging barbs via Twitter. It’s a an argument over #whichstarhasbeenlessrelevantthisse
ason.


Some believe Chad Henne is getting more comfortable in Miami.


Forget LeBron facing Cleveland. How about Woodhead facing New York!?!

The Giants got some good news about injured wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. Neither will play against the Redskins this week, but both are very hopeful for Week 14 against the Vikings.


Click here if you’re interested in reading up on the Chargers ownership and possible relocation issues. The AEG rumors are interesting…you have to think AEG would know how to get a stadium built, right?


The Seahawks are retiring future Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones’ number 71 this Sunday.


The Bucs thought about filling their void at safety with cornerback/slot ace Ronde Barber, but they ultimately decided against it.


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