Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Catch Radius: Best of the NFC

Part I of our catch radius season finale spotlights the NFC kings of double coverage (Calvin Johnson), the sideline (Jordy Nelson), the drag route (DeSean Jackson) and the red zone (Dez Bryant).

31 Dec 2007

Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2008. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

Week 17 Pregame Blues…

Aaron Schatz: Am I the only one who feels like most of today's games are just a total anticlimax? I know Saints-Bears matters, but I don't really care much. I'm only really interested in Washington and Tennessee...

Doug Farrar: I was excited to watch Jacksonville and Houston until I saw no David Garrard, no Fred Taylor and no Pocket Hercules.

Ryan Wilson: Um, Chris Weinke is playing for the 49ers. How is that not some deranged, train-wreck version of must-see television?

Aaron Schatz: Weinke Dinky Dog -- isn't that beautiful? C'mon, say it with me: Weinke ... Dinky ... DOG!

Ben Riley: What, you aren't watching the Seahawks-Falcons game? This is the second straight week the Seahawks have been deprived of a high-definition broadcast, and sadly, I can't really argue with the decision (other than to point out that it's completely ridiculous that all games aren't broadcast in HD).

Aaron Schatz: I thought FOX had every game in HD, and it was CBS that didn't have enough trucks.

Ben Riley: No, CBS and FOX are both short of trucks, or whatever it is they need. I remember reading somewhere that all games will have to be in HD next year, or maybe by 2009.

Michael David Smith: I don't get why the teams that are playing for nothing except to rest their starters for the playoffs don't try more wacky stuff -- go for two after every touchdown, lots of trick plays, etc. -- just for the sake of practicing something you might need, and for the sake of putting things on film that your playoff opponents will feel the need to prepare for.

Sean McCormick: I've got nine months until my next Jets game, with only the draft lurking like an oasis in the desert. I'm plenty interested in this week.

Buffalo Bills 9 at Philadelphia Eagles 17

Sean McCormick: Sav Rocca of the Eagles just made the greatest tackle I've ever seen from a punter. Roscoe Parrish had broken through the first level and was on his way if he got past the punter. Not only did he not get past Rocca, but he got crushed with a textbook tackle. Rocca wrapped up, planted Parrish, and then pushed his helmet into the turf for good measure. Basically, this is why every punter in the league should get his start in Australian Rules Football.

New Orleans Saints 25 at Chicago Bears 33

Michael David Smith: Kudos to Kyle Orton for obviously working hard during all this time he's spent on the bench. I don't know if he'll ever be a legitimate NFL starter, but he's a significantly better player now than he was the last time he got substantial playing time.

Doug Farrar: Clearly, we need to do something in PFP 2008 about the totemic and metaphysical value of hair, facial or otherwise. From the days of Johnny U's flat-top and Broadway Joe's Fu Manchu to the current power of Jared Allen's mullet, this has been an NFL truism. The Orton neckbeard may have a new kind of force, given its ability to counteract meteorological elements aligned against the Bears.

Aaron Schatz: Facial hair is the secret of New England's offensive line dominance. Those may be the greatest beards in offensive line history.

Ben Riley: Um, Sean Payton, it's the first quarter, you're on trailing by 10, and the Saints have fourth-and-2 on the Bears' 28-yard line. Kick the field goal, man! Instead, it's a failed screen pass, and the Bears take over on downs. There are still three quarters to play, but I think we can safely cross New Orleans off the playoff list.

Hey, another blown call in an important game with playoff implications. Bears' safety Brandon McGowan just got called for pass interference in the end zone while covering Marques Colston, even though Colston wasn't actually interfered with, and McGowan made a beautiful play on the ball. Sigh.

Aaron Schatz: I don't think there's anything wrong with going for it there, although the play call might not be the right choice.

Without Mike McKenzie, the Saints pass defense can't stop anything. By "anything," I mean Kyle Orton. We know the Saints have a good offense, so let's play a game: Fix the New Orleans pass defense. What would you do during the off-season? Use the first-round pick on a cornerback? Blow your wad on Asante Samuel or Marcus Trufant? Replace safeties? Improve pass rush? Does anyone know what the Saints' cap situation is like?

Sean McCormick: I would think they're going to be in a good spot to take a corner, just judging from where they'll be and from my very preliminary look at how the draft board is shaping up. I don't know that I would throw a ton of money at either Samuel or Trufant -- Trufant is still a little soft, and I would be worried about Samuel operating in a different defense, especially one that demanded a lot of man coverage.

Probably the best thing the Saints can do is look at the Colts for a model. They've got an offense that can score, so find some pass rushers and some young, cheap secondary players who can play zone and just go from there.

Aaron Schatz: Hey, I know a cornerback who can play zone: Jason David! Seriously, the Saints linebackers don't really fit a majority Cover-2 scheme. If they did that, the number one thing on their to-do list switches from a new cornerback to a new middle linebacker. Brian Simmons or Mark Simoneau in the Tampa-2? Yikes. I do think the Patriots use Samuel in man coverage much more than the Seahawks use Trufant in man coverage.

Sean McCormick: The quickest fix would probably be another edge rusher and a defensive tackle who can penetrate.

Vince Verhei: I'd just like to thank the New Orleans coaching staff for kicking to Devin Hester even though they still had a chance to make the playoffs. It was the way to kick to Hester, if you're going to do it: a high punt, near the sidelines, giving him little room to maneuver. Unfortunately, he's Devin Hester, and they're the Bears, and sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it. So thank you, Saints, for one of the highlights on an otherwise pretty flat final Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars 28 at Houston Texans 42

Doug Farrar: And speaking of ridiculous return men: Ladies and Gentlemen, Andre Davis. The AFC South finishes without a losing team, the first division since 2002 to do so, when the AFC East and AFC West did it. And three teams from that division make the playoffs.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know if there's a rule change, a change in how people build their special teams units, or just the random influx of talented return men, but the colossal league-wide jump in kick and punt returns this year is remarkable. Not counting any random touchdown returns on onside kickoffs:

  • 2005: 9 punt return touchdowns, 12 kickoff return touchdowns.
  • 2006: 9 punt return touchdowns, 15 kickoff return touchdowns.
  • 2007: 17 punt return touchdowns, 24 kickoff return touchdowns.

The odd other side of the coin? In 2005 there was one punt returned for a touchdown by the punting team due to a block or fumble. In 2006, there were three. In 2007, there have been seven.

Will Carroll: Is it the cap? With teams top-loading their lineups, is there less money available for better backups? I see that a bit in injuries, but might it not transfer down to special teams as well?

Tim Gerheim: But the cap's been around for 14 years. That shouldn't be something that would show up this year for the first time. Maybe it's the new K-balls they introduced this year, although I have no idea why that would have an effect, but it's the thing that first comes to mind that's different this year and has to do with the kicking game.

Michael David Smith: Has the number of touchdowns called back by penalty changed? Have they called fewer holds, illegal blocks, etc., on returns?

Aaron Schatz: The number of touchdowns called back is hard to tell, because some official scorers will list the full yardage of a play shortened by a penalty, while others will only list the yardage that counts as if the yardage after the point of the penalty never happened.

However -- this is shocking, because I felt last year like I was seeing block in the back called on nearly every return -- punt and kickoff penalties are indeed down the last three years. Punt penalties (both kicking and returning) have gone from 506 to 375 to 317 (through 16 games). Kickoff penalties have gone from 249 to 189 to 164 (through 16 games).

Seattle Seahawks 41 at Atlanta Falcons 44

Doug Farrar: The Seahawks looked very good on the ground on their opening scoring drive; both Maurice Morris and Shaun Alexander bit off long chunks of yardage behind the kind of solid blocking that Seahawks fans had almost given up on. Morris' run was notable for the downfield blocks of receivers Ben Obomanu and Nate Burleson, and Alexander's benefited from D.J. Hackett's block. The Packers, Mike Holmgren's old team, had cornered the market on blocking receivers; maybe Seattle's coach is picking up something from his past. And as we said about the Pack earlier this season, watch out for this Seattle team if they can add consistent rushing yardage to their aerial game and defense. Note: Walter Jones is out in order to preserve him for the playoffs, replaced by Floyd "I plan to pull a muscle by halftime" Womack.

Ben Riley: I've learned that the Seahawks have been the least penalized team in the NFL this season. He may be confused by clock management, but Mike Holmgren does do some things correctly.

Oh, and Shaun Alexander scored his 100th rushing touchdown a moment ago, passing Barry Sanders. No comment.

Doug Farrar: This is for Aaron, who wondered earlier this year if Hasselbeck had problems with convincing play-action fakes: On Seattle's second drive, he executed a great play fake to Morris that froze everybody. He seems to like that play to the left before a sprint right.

Vince Verhei: I've noticed that too, as the Seahawks have gone to a pass-heavy offense, they've started using a lot of play-action bootlegs. Kind of curious timing, since you'd think the impotent run game would have killed the effectiveness of the play fake, but it seems to be working.

Ben Riley: OK, that was weird. FOX just ran a montage of the Falcons' crappy season with some sort of advent calendar graphic, while the Counting Crows warbled in the background. Way to rub salt in the paper cut, FOX.

Doug Farrar: Jason Sehorn obviously graduated from the Bryant Gumbel School of Journalism –- he just called Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer "Don."

Leroy Hill, the unheralded third of Seattle's linebackers, is all around the ball today. Outstanding run-stopper. Opposing teams are going to have a better shot running at Julian Peterson than Hill, though there's no guarantee of success either way. This is the best defense of the Holmgren era, and it's a lot of fun to watch. I think they'd like to show off a little for Jim Mora, who's back in Atlanta after for the first time since his New Year's Day firing after a great season helping Seattle's secondary.

However, Craig Terrill is getting pushed out of play after play inside as Rocky Bernard's replacement. I felt that Bernard was a Pro Bowl snub, and it looks like he's going to prove his worth in his absence.

Toward the end of the first half, major leaks were springing in Seattle's pass blocking, leading to a Hasselbeck fumble on something like second-and-53. Why Hasselbeck went back in on the series after that is kind of a mystery. He needs to throw a couple slants to Bobby Engram and get the hell out of there.

Ben Riley: Ugly series in Atlanta. On second down, Seattle's patchwork offensive line allows three men to penetrate, prompting Matt Hasselbeck to sprint 30 yards backwards and then hurl the ball out of bounds, which prompts an intentional grounding call from Big Arms Hochuli. The next play, on third-and-40 (seriously), the Falcons blow through the line again and Hasselbeck fumbles. The Babineaux brother who plays for the Falcons picks it up, runs 10 yards, fumbles. It bounces through the arms of a few Seahawk players, then back out, and out of bounds. Ball is eventually awarded to Falcons.

Doug Farrar: Well, I don't think this game showed us anything we didn't already know about Seattle. It's never a good idea to project problems from what you see in a season-ender with so much time for the scrubs. The defensive line is in trouble if Rocky Bernard's not in there for any serious length of time, and that State Farm commercial in which Seattle's offensive line morphs from behemoths to kickers, resulting in Matt Hasselbeck's demise, is entirely fact-based. On the Atlanta side, I saw a group of players with heart and a desire to end an unbelievably horrid season on a positive note. In short, a team that deserved one hell of a lot better than Bobby Petrino. And probably deserves better than Arthur Blank.

Vince Verhei: Just a quick thought from this game: As we wonder whether Atlanta's former quarterback will be able to return to football after several years in exile, Atlanta's current quarterback, who returned this season after three years out of football, played the best game of his career today.

San Francisco 49ers 7 at Cleveland Browns 20

Sean McCormick: Brady Quinn's first drive is a pretty good one. He tried checking down on his first two attempts, both of which ended up as incompletions, but after that he made some sharp downfield throws with some velocity to them. Quinn drove the Browns into the red zone, and on third down he hit Kellen Winslow between the numbers in the end zone on a curl route, but Winslow couldn't hold on. So, three points for Padawan Quinn.

Doug Farrar: Farewell, Bryant Young. We're not going to see another one like you for a long time.

Minnesota Vikings 19 at Denver Broncos 22

(After Chester Taylor fumbled right at the pylon and out of bounds at the Denver end zone in the first quarter, the play was initially ruled a touchdown, but Denver challenged the play and won, with the refs changing the call to a touchback.)

Bill Barnwell: Is anyone watching this game and can explain why that wasn't a touchdown?

Stuart Fraser: I saw a replay. I can only assume, since they gave a touchback, that Taylor was ruled to not be in control of the ball when he bashed it onto the pylon. Looked fine to me though.

Bill Barnwell: I was hoping he was given the touchdown, but then a penalty for spiking the ball onto the pylon.

Vince Verhei: This game, the second half in particular, was the best I've ever seen Tarvaris Jackson play. I've been a critic of his since day one, and when his team was down by 16 in the fourth quarter, I thought they were dead, dead, dead. Instead, he started playing out of his mind, scrambling, throwing on the run, finding receivers, running for first downs. He played better than his numbers -- his receivers dropped several passes, including one that would have been an automatic 60-ish-yard touchdown. It's only one game, but for the first time, I saw why the Vikings have faith in the guy.

The Broncos, meanwhile, showed how to attack the Vikings defense: You don't run at them, you run around them. They were running to the perimeter for good gains all day. And if you can get past that defensive line, the rest of the defense really isn't that good.

Dallas Cowboys 6 at Washington Redskins 27

Stuart Fraser: Does anybody else find it wonderfully comic when two defenders (say hi, Anthony Henry and Roy Williams) go to tackle a ballcarrier (Clinton Portis) and bounce off each other, allowing the runner to continue unimpeded (into the end zone, in this case)?

Note to Dallas: when you introduce Terry Glenn for the first time all season, maybe you might not want to throw to him straight away. They'll be expecting that. If you really must throw to him, maybe Romo should stare him down less. Not that it mattered overly, since Portis fumbled the ball back.

Bill Barnwell: What does Roy Williams do well at this point? Recover? Horse-collaring doesn't count as an acceptable answer.

Stuart Fraser: He pushes many children on swings.

Doug Farrar: Yes, but even then, he has a spokesman who admits that Williams needs help.

Sean McCormick: Only when the children get behind him.

Doug Farrar: So ... yeesh. Dallas' offense in the first half: Six possessions, two first downs, three yards rushing on eight attempts. 73 total yards. They couldn't gain a single yard from their own 1-yard line, and they lost a yard on three plays on a drive that started from Washington's 18-yard line after a Todd Collins fumble. Then, a missed field goal. This wouldn't be so much of a concern if the Cowboys had played like a one-seed in their last few games, but they really haven't.

Washington, on the other hand, continues to play inspired football. Todd Collins makes this passing game more productive and diverse. They're spreading the ball around in bad weather and playing with a lot of confidence. And the Redskins' defense has a little something to do with Dallas' offensive ineffectiveness today.

Aaron Schatz: I'm trying to remember another game like this, where a top team came out in Week 17 with nothing to play for, played the starters anyway instead of resting people, and completely looked like ass. I can't believe the Cowboys are only losing by 10 at halftime. Jones and Barber have combined for eight carries and three yards. THREE.

Stuart Fraser: Wacky situation here in Washington. Collins throws a 15-yard out to Santana Moss, who makes the catch initially but fumbles around and drops the ball at some point after he rolls over, whilst being tackled by a Cowboy defensive back. The ruling on the field is forceout, which is obviously nonsense -- apart from anything else, Moss was down in bounds. The booth goes to review and changes the ruling to an incomplete pass. Isn't a forceout non-reviewable?

Doug Farrar: I'd like to know what's up with the Cowboys' offensive line. That sack of Romo at the end of the first half seemed to be a pretty big indictment of their protection -- Washington brought pressure more often than they played "prevent," and didn't have any trouble getting the sack. Is Andre Gurode's absence that big a deal? One guy's out and the whole thing falls apart?

Stuart Fraser: Gurode's absence means that the Dallas standby play of "shotgun snap over Romo's head, everybody scrambles around and he hits a completely open wide receiver downfield for a big gain" is out of the playbook.

Has anybody ever seen a quarterback look as nonchalant in the pocket as Todd Collins?

Tim Gerheim: I was appalled by the Anthony Henry pass interference call in, let's say, the third quarter. It wasn't a big play, so it probably won't make highlights, but it was basically a 50/50 ball on a quick out, and Henry and, I think, Randle El had to run through each other to get to it. Both were going for the ball and they ran into each other at almost the exact same time that they got to the ball. Flag. If that's pass interference, then there is no such thing as pass defense. The league really needs to fix pass interference in the off-season. It's reached the point, and I think this is new this year, where every contested pass play results in both players looking for a flag with no idea whether one will come, because there really is no rule at this point. It looks like the unwatchable NBA, when somebody drives the lane and there's no way of knowing whether a foul will be called on the shot. If the NFL turns into the NBA, it would be a tragedy of national proportions.

Aaron Schatz: I will say, no pass interference call was gonna make a difference in that Washington-Dallas game. Washington just dominated the Cowboys -- the Cowboys starters, the players who will be taking the field in the postseason. This is four straight subpar games by the Cowboys: two losses and two narrow "skate" wins over bad teams. The Redskins were just doing anything they wanted against mostly man coverage -- basically just in patterns and out patterns, with one nice go route where Moss schooled The Human Target Jacques Reeves. When the Cowboys had the ball, the offensive line clearly missed Gurode, and when Barber can't find yardage you know something is seriously amiss. If I was a Cowboys fan, I would be worried. I don't know which is worse, to play your starters, have possibly your best game of the season in a hard fought battle, and get a moral victory but suffer three injuries -- or to play your starters, not suffer injuries, but play like discouraging crap.

The one optimistic note for the Cowboys is that T.O. should be back for the playoffs.

Doug Farrar: Seattle and Tampa Bay, the three- and four-seeds in the NFC, have to be looking at their matchups next week with some trepidation. The Seahawks take on the Redskins and Tampa Bay the Giants, and both road teams are coming off incendiary performances. Could be at least one upset, and I don't think I like what I'm thinking about who the NFC's hottest team is right now.

Aaron Schatz:And hey, lookie here... that's two divisions with no losing teams, one in each conference.

San Diego Chargers 30 and Oakland Raiders 17

Doug Farrar: The game plan for JaMarcus Russell's first start seemed to be a lot of checkdowns, which makes sense. Boy, this line cannot pass-block. At all. Barry Sims whiffed a block on Jyles Tucker, which allowed Tucker to sack Russell in the end zone and recover Russell's fumble for a San Diego touchdown. Sims also whiffed on the fumble recovery. Atrocious blocking. Two of the three most penalized players through week 16 were Sims and Robert Gallery (Alex Barron of the Rams was the other, but you can pretty much etch that in stone every season), and Sims was tied with Barron, Flozell Adams and George Foster for the league lead in false starts.

Russell is zipping the ball low and behind his receivers on the short stuff too often. Timing seems to be off just yet. I liked what I saw under the circumstances and I think the Raiders have taken a few steps forward offensively this season, but they have got to get that line fixed. League average would be a superhuman improvement.

Kansas City Chiefs 10 at New York Jets 13

Sean McCormick: Wow, how athletic is Derrick Johnson? He was matched up in single coverage with Jerricho Cotchery and ran step for step with him for 50 yards and was in position to keep Cotchery from coming down with the ball.

Ah, if you enjoy the heady mixture of terrible offensive lines, indecisive quarterbacks and a high number of gadget plays, then this game is for you! (All it needs is some spread option sets and you'd have your average college game. But I digress.) Each of these teams is going to have a high draft pick in a quarterback-rich draft. Brodie Croyle and Kellen Clemens have both looked terrible, but at the same time, they've shown skill sets that make you think they might be able to develop if they weren't stuck behind horrendous offensive lines. So how do you evaluate them? Especially when the very thing that makes Clemens and Croyle appealing (their ratio of skill set to cap value) is the thing that makes them expendable?

Michael David Smith: When was the last time a game-winning field goal got called back on a holding penalty? This Jets-Chiefs game sure has been a thriller.

Tennessee Titans 16 at Indianapolis Colts 10

Doug Farrar: So much for Bob Sanders resting on his new contract. Second play of the game, he hit LenDale White like a dump truck crashing into a house.

Aaron Schatz: Wow, the defensive line introductions for the Colts. Even hardcore fans are asking, "Who the hell are these people?"

Did anyone else scream at the television when Vince Young scrambled with a minute left in the first half? One minute left, you need to get into field goal position, only one timeout remaining. He scrambles, and then instead of a) throwing the ball away or b) running as hard as possible to get out of bounds, he turns upfield and goes directly into Bob Sanders. Learn how the clock rules work, Vince, for crying out loud.

After Colts defensive tackle Darrell Reid re-sets the bar by absolutely demolishing Titans running back Chris Henry on a kick return...

Sean McCormick: Now THAT was the hit of the year.

Russell Levine: I'd have to agree with Madden. I think that might be the biggest hit I've ever seen.

Vince Verhei: Dear God, yes. That right there was "hit pause and run screaming through the apartment to show your non-football fan roommates" material right there.

Will Carroll: Madden's line that "it knocked his hair off" is pretty good.

Doug Farrar: This has been a very physical game all around. Two early Indy pass plays were ended by big hits from Titans defensive backs, through the defenders seemed to get the worst of it in both cases. And here's something else to love about Joseph Addai -- on the Colts' first drive, he just creamed Kyle Vanden Bosch on a chip to the left.

Will Carroll: Just before the one-minute mark of the third quarter, NBC showed the doctor working on Vince Young. He was lying on his back and he was doing a manipulation ... on his hip. That's not a stretch that would loosen up his quad. Add in that he was doing a "head dip" limp and that's two notches on the idea that Young's injury is a hip. Is this a new injury, a cascade from the quad, or info that it was a hip all along? I can't imagine a worse injury for a mobile quarterback than a moderate hip injury.

Aaron Schatz: As people may know, I root for (Titans defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz for personal reasons. As people may guess, I root for Jeff Fisher out of professional admiration. It feels really good to see them going back to the playoffs. They put together a 10-6 team with their best (OK, second-best) defensive player suspended for the year and an offense consisting of two mediocre running backs, no above-average wide receivers, and a quarterback who hardly ever throws a touchdown pass and doesn't even scramble effectively anymore.

Usually, when the team loses because of a salary cap implosion, the head coach is going to get blamed and fired. There's only so much you can do with a rebuilding talent base. I'm glad Bud Adams didn't get to that point, and I'm glad that Fisher and Schwartz made it through the valley of the shadow of salary cap death. We talk so much about Belichick and Dungy and Shanahan and Holmgren ... well, Jeff Fisher needs to always be remembered when we talk about the best head coaches in the National Football League.

Sean McCormick: Cleveland is a more entertaining team to watch (and the city certainly deserved a playoff game after all they've been through), but I agree completely about Fisher and his staff. I would put them up against anyone, Belichick included, and have faith that they would give their team every chance to win. In fact, I suspect that owners around the league will look at Tennessee and think twice before cashiering their coach after a single losing season or two.

Aaron Schatz: Unless that owner just hired Bill Parcells as Vice President of Football Operations.

Sean McCormick: Yes, that trumps patience.

Who Gets the Axe?

Michael David Smith: How many coaches do we think are going to get fired tomorrow, the next day and (for owners who want to give their coaches a happy New Year) the day after that? Cam Cameron? Brian Billick? Scott Linehan? Mike Nolan? It seems like there are fewer guys on the hot seat than most years, but maybe that just means there will be more surprise firings than usual.

Patrick Laverty: If I have a vote, I'm going to vote that Cameron does not get fired. The reasoning is a little far-fetched, but I'll go with it. Cameron is a big Bob Knight guy, played for him at Indiana. Knight and Parcells are very good friends. Cameron puts in a call to Knight, Knight puts in a call to Parcells, and Cam gets one more year.

Doug Farrar: I've heard weirder things. Parcells might also get trumped in that he wants Dallas guys and Jerry Jones may fight to keep his staff through the draft. But I think Cameron gets swept aside.

As far as who gets the axe ... I could see Marvin Lewis leaving of his own volition, or he could say the wrong thing and get canned. Lots of frustration there. Linehan might get it, but he's also the victim of a horrific injury bug and what I consider to be a subpar personnel office. The Mike Nolan thing is interesting -- if the Martz-to-San Francisco rumors are true, you have to wonder how that would shake things up. Martz' history has me thinking that he'd go with unheralded Shaun Hill over the big-ticket Alex Smith, and maybe that does something to the offense. That could signify a sea change. Maybe Billick -- after all, he did get the dreaded vote of confidence. But you're right in that I don't think there are as many certain departures this year.

Sean McCormick: It's definitely going to be a light year for coaching changes. Scott Linehan is a definite possibility, but I think most of the guys who are theoretically on the hot seat -- Nolan, Billick, etc. -- are going to hang on for another year.

Vince Verhei: The two guys who I think are in the most danger are Cameron and Nolan. Cameron, because Parcells is going to want to bring in his own guy. Nolan, because his team, which everybody thought was on the rise, totally, utterly, imploded, complete with players and coaches taking shots at each other in the media. It's a disaster down there, and they've got to start over.

Sean McCormick: Two things might save Nolan. The first is that he is still a popular figure in the Bay Area. The second is that he might be able to avoid responsibility for the Alex Smith pick. He might go, but I live out in the Bay Area and I don't get the sense of impending doom that you usually get when a coach is about to get axed. I think he gets another year with a new offensive coordinator and possibly a new quarterback.

That said, Cam Cameron is getting fired without any question. Not necessarily first thing in the morning, but there is no way Bill Parcells will tolerate him. It's also safe to say that the Dolphins don't need to rush in their coaching search, as the next coach is undoubtedly on the Cowboys staff and won't be available for another two weeks at the earliest.

Michael David Smith: I think Jerry Richardson would love to fire John Fox, but not so much that he'll eat the $15 million he'll owe him. I also think Marv Levy retiring means Dick Jauron needs to at least sweat a little bit until he finds out who his new boss is.

Doug Farrar: Jauron having to sweat would be a real shame. I think he did a great job with so many injuries.

Michael David Smith: Agreed. If I were a general manager coming in to replace Levy, I wouldn't fire Jauron. But I think there are a lot of GMs who would fire the guy who's already there if for no other reason than to establish that they're fully in charge. But, who knows, maybe Ralph Wilson will tell the new GM that keeping Jauron is a condition of taking the job.

Mike Tanier: If the Rams dump Linehan in favor of Jim Haslett, it will be a really dumb move. That's been the scuttlebutt out of St. Louis all year, though. I love Herm Edwards, but does anyone envision a scenario where he rebuilds the Chiefs into a serious contender? The time has really come for Carl Peterson to look beyond his short list

Will Carroll: Is there any way to predict who (or what type of guy) gets hired? When New England first won, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel were huge. Same with the Ravens. Dungy, not so much, because of age. Is there a style? Does copycatting matter -- will more offensive coordinators get jobs because offensive teams won this season?

Mike Tanier: Will, Jason Garrett is the red-hot name right now because of what he did with the Cowboys.

Will Carroll: Right, but I figure Jerry gave him a wink and a nod about the job when he hired in Bum's kid (Wade Phillips). Also, Knight and Cameron weren't that friendly.

Aaron Schatz: Josh McDaniels is hot as well, because of what the Pats did this year. Both Garrett and McDaniels have the same downside, which is that some people feel they are still too inexperienced, which is less attractive to the other 31 teams than it is to Oakland. That's why Dallas didn't hire Garrett over Wade Phillips a year ago.

Often, big candidates are coordinators coming off a couple of excellent seasons, from teams that didn't make the playoffs this year -- past hot candidates who can now be interviewed earlier in the process. That screams Rob Ryan. Mike Singletary is a top candidate, but that's basically a personality thing. A team that hires Singletary wants a coach who can lead and inspire, not an X's and O's guy. Patrick Willis is swell and all, but Singletary has never been a coordinator.

Doug Farrar: My sense is that Singletary has been for Nolan what Bob Gibson was for Joe Torre when Torre managed the Mets -- the "attitude coach."

Sean McCormick: Oh, Atlanta, which goes without saying. Still, I think we're looking at three openings, four max. Not a lot of spots and a relative paucity of hot names means that teams can afford to wait for the playoffs to get well underway without worrying about getting stuck in the lurch. And if you figure that Marty is going to get one of the jobs -- as well he should -- that slims the pool of open jobs for hot coordinators even more. Now ... will Marty hire Cam Cameron to be his offensive coordinator? Or will he grab Brian Schottenheimer instead?

Stuart Fraser: With regards to coaches, I've been wondering for a while if you could put together some kind of similarity scores for coaches and prospects, to try and identify patterns in hiring (and maybe even success). Tracking age, playing and coaching history, maybe even play-calling tendencies if we have enough data on that.

This year, I think Cameron might well be the only guy fired. I think Billick should be fired, but I don't see it happening. Marty Schottenheimer has suggested he's happy to stay retired, which is probably a negotiating tactic, but it might mean that there's no safe big-name hire available, which might make GMs more reluctant to sack coaches.

As an aside, if he is retired: Hall of Fame? Or not? Can a guy with 200 wins and a .613 winning percentage be kept out?

Doug Farrar: He's worthy, especially when you factor in his playing career, but I think Marty will be back. As Jon Gruden would say, "It's irrelative."

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 31 Dec 2007

98 comments, Last at 02 Jan 2008, 6:12pm by jimm

Comments

1
by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:27pm

Weinke Dinky Ho Cake -- 'cause hoes got to eat, too.

2
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:47pm

someone have a video link to the huge hit in the indy tennessee game?

3
by AvonBarksdaleCalling (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:47pm

I think the admiration for Fisher is somewhat unwarranted. I do think getting his team to 10-6 this year was a remarkable accomplishment, but the issues that cited indicate that this year will be one-and-done in the playoffs and a serious backslide is forthcoming in 2008.

Even the genius that is Mack Brown couldn't make Vince Young this ineffective or, worse yet, this boring.

Fisher elevates the defensive players he coaches and appears to do the opposite for his offense. That he's in the top tier of NFL coaches says more about the field than it does Jeff Fisher.

4
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:47pm

I think the Lions performance yesterday was a pretty d*mning indictment of the coaching staff in Detroit. GB deactivated six guys before the game like Woodson, Kampman, Driver (guys like that) and Favre led 3 TD drives before sitting with 9 minutes left in the first half. The alleged tackling effort on Grant's TD run was laughable. And Calvin Johnson flat out coasted on plays more than half the time. Kitna kept going to him and the guy was on cruise control so the ball would fly over his hands as he pretended to go for the ball. I saw Johnson play a half dozen times when he was in college and despite playing with NO quarterback on a mediocre team Johnson ALWAYS played hard. Not yesterday.

I could bore people with other examples but THAT more then anything tells me that the Lions organization is rotten to the core, and as a fan of a team in that division I can be assured that until they literally demolish everything and rebuild from the ground up the Packers will always finish at least 3rd in the NFC North.

As a football fan, the Lions performance yesterday OFFENDED ME.

5
by dbt (Bears fan) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:50pm

Punt returns are up, yet we just had THREE punters break the 40.0 yard net barrier this year. THREE!? Josh Cribbs singlehandedly destroyed poor Andy Lee's quest for history with that PR TD, Lechler ended up beating Lee by 0.1.

6
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:55pm

Lions game? There was a Lions game on yesterday?

Badger, the defense has been like that all year. I really didn't watch the game (yet, and my dish was acting up, so I may or may not be charting it), so I can't offer up anything in defense of Johnson other than perhaps his back is still bothering him and he wasn't eager to have to jump for yet another pass and come crashing down on it, usually with one or two players on top of him. (No more first-round draft picks on IR, not just yet, please.)

To anyone who believes that Kyle Orton is currently capable of running an NFL offense, I would like to point out that Mr. Orton threw a pass that Jason David was able to intercept.

After juggling it.

That's how well he was able to break on the ball.

Also, week 17 football sucks.

7
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:55pm

Regarding the special teams commentary I know that in Green Bay Ted Thompson has made improving the special teams something of a personal mission. Potential for special teams contributions are included as part of the draft preparation and Thompson includes questions about attitude toward special team participation in pre-draft interviews.

8
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 12:59pm

z:

Nah. I saw the Lions play multiple times this season. There were pockets of effort but too many of the guys were looking to not get hurt.

Green Bay had the entire backup offense in there by halftime. Even a poor defense should have manhandled a crew with Craig Nall at qb, Brandon Jackson at rb, Shaun Bodiford at wr, and Allen Barbre at guard. Who? Exactly.

I feel for you man. That team is gross. Not bad. Not poor. Just flat out gross.

9
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:04pm

I came away pretty impressed by Troy Smith yesterday. Poised, above average arm, nice escapability-but he typically went through his progessions instead of scrambling out the pocket, which he did too quickly last week. The main knock on him out of college was his height, but I don't recall any batted balls or problems seeing LBs over the middle of the field.

This begs the question as to whether the Ravens will be better served nabbing a QB at the 8 slot or going CB or DE. Classic Ravens conundrum, where a QB gives you just enought optimism at the end of the year to screw you over the next one.

10
by Bob in Jax (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:07pm

I have to say that I believe Jeff Fisher to be an excellent coach who should have job security along the lines of Cowher or Noll. I have watched the job he has done in the AFC South (and AFC Central before that), always getting more out of his teams than anyone expected, even when the talent level was not there. You just don't see 1-15 seasons out of a Jeff Fisher team. If the Thumbtacks ever lose their minds and fire him, he would have another HC job in a week or less, if he so desired. Also, he has the good sense to keep Jim Schwartz, who is also a favorite of mine, despite coaching for the "enemy".

11
by Jin (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:08pm

Lets just hope that Tarvaris Jackson's 4th quarter performance yesterday isn't enough to stop the Vikings from trying to trade for Donovan McNabb.

12
by Digit (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:09pm

Why ISN'T Jim Schwartz a HC candidate somewhere?

Seems like if Bill Parcells is looking for someone, Jim Schwartz should be his first choice, not Jason Garrett.

13
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:10pm

Tom,
NFL.com has it as part of their highlights package for IND-TEN. I've been very happy with the NFL.com videos the past 17 weeks... it looks like they put most if not all of NFL Gameday online.

They didn't have the Chad Johnson catch though...

14
by Flounder (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:13pm

Yes, the GB/Detroit game was really kind of embarrassing, as well as being incredibly boring. It lasted 3 hours, 5 minutes, and not having looked I my watch, I could have sworn it was pressing 4 hours. I guess the Detroit ownership really just doesn't give a rats ass. How Millen can still be there after so many years, winning 27% of his games. They're averaging less than 4.5 wins a year! Mind boggling......

15
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:15pm

The forcing out part of a forceout is not challengeable, but all the other necessary aspects of a completed catch are -- so you can challenge that the receiver didn't have possession, etc. You just can't challenge the judgement call that the ref made when he ruled that the receiver would have come down in bounds if he wasn't hit by the defender.

16
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:20pm

You know the saying that the backup quarterback is the most popular man in town? One place that definitely isn't true is Indianapolis. I don't know if the occasional "Let's go, Sorgi" chants were audible on TV, but they were there, and a lot more aspirational and hopeful than confident. Very widespread dissatisfaction, and watching him play, it's all deserved.

Luke Lawton, though, is pretty popular, drawing "Luuuuuuuuuuuuke" chants when he gets the ball.

If I never see Darrell Reid's hit on Chris Henry again, that won't bother me. They replayed it on the big screens at least 5 times. So long as Henry's a KOR guy, he'll probably take more hits like that, because his speed is almost all straight-line-I haven't seen him demonstrate at all the lateral movement ability of a great returner. It also looked it could have been called for helmet-to-helmet, but that may be my Two-Tone Blue colored glasses.

Fisher is very much a defensive guy-if he can get away with the offense doing as little as possible and giving his team a chance to win, he's all for that. It's very frustrating as a fan, even though it is effective at times. When he needs to open up the offense, he has at least a little (see c. 2002-04). One of my biggest gripes with him is he prefers the bruising back who can carry the ball 25+ times a game, even if said back isn't very good (see, e.g., late career Eddie George, LenDayne).

17
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:26pm

Week 17 football was awesome for any fan of the Washington Redskins. Great job Wade Phillips. I really was nervous about the game but felt better since the Cowboys de-activated Newman, Owens, and Ratliff, and maybe another OL member.

Portis' TD was priceless with Henry and Williams crashing into each other, not to mention the complete domination by the defense. Depth indeed!

Bonus shout-out to Neil Rackers and the Arizona holder as well. If not for the holder bumbling the snap on an XP and Rackers missing a 55 FG at the end of regulation, it's the Cardinals and not the Redskins grabbing the 6th seed in the NFC. You read that right, The Cardinals were a missed XP and field goal away from grabbing the 6th seed in the NFC.

And take heart all ye young QBs, stick with the system, keep yourself limber, learn how to read defenses and make the correct read on throws, because you never know if you'll be called on to lead a team into the playoffs 5, 6, 7, or even 10 years down the line! That's right, I'm talking about the Collins' brothers!

So, Pat Ramsey, Billy Volek, Gus Frerotte, Cleo Lemon, Jared Lorenzen, Jim Sorgi (maybe not), and Matt Cassel... take heart... there's plenty of room in the NFL for 30+ year old QBs who can still play, even when some of the defenders flying at you are 10 years younger.... I've never been more happy to see my team capture the 6 seed in the playoffs... and Aaron, I still think the Redskins chapter in PFP2007 is ridiculous ... 31 teams would be like the Colts if they had a QB like Manning... and everyone can just lay off the "Redskins are hosed if they get any injuries, especially on the OL and DL line"... I daresay their FO has done a decent job in picking up players this season (Adam Archuleta be damned).

Watch out Seattle, the Redskins remember what happened in 2005, don't think you are going up against the same team that started Ray Brown on the OL and limp-legged Brunell at QB (yes, he did have some type of injury as well), because we'll be coming at you with a healthy OL, and a decent set of WRs (as opposed to Moss, Thrash and Farris), as well as a pretty hyped of defense... 'twill be an interesting match-up indeed.

War Joe Gibbs is a players coach, War Joe Gibbs for Coach of the year, War Sean Taylor was already as good as Ronnie Lott, War Sean Taylor loved his baby 10x more than Brady ever did, hypedupRedskinfan OUT

18
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:26pm

Regarding the Viking season - I think they were better than their 8-8 record, not a lot better but they lost both overtime games and another 3 pointer to KC. I think they are heading in the right direction and I think they should stick with Jackson. In his last 7 games he completed over 65% of his passes and was 7 and 7 TD/Int's. He also ran very effectively. I think the Vikings major shortcoming on offence is their WR's, other than Rice I don't see a useful receiver in the bunch, maybe Wade as a 3rd or 4th. Allison is a longshot, but he showed some real explosive ability at times.

I think what did Minnesota in was there inability to adjust to 8+ in the box. Also teams knew that when Peterson was in the game the Vikings would not pass. In the last two losses the Viking offence came alive when they put the game in Jackson's hands.

Also the defensive line losses of Scott and Edwards really hurt by the end of the year. This was already a weak unit against the pass, but it became even more so once Edwards left on suspension and the run defence sagged as well.

I'm still very positive about the team in general.

19
by Gold Star for Robot Boy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:28pm

No love - or mention - of the Cardinals?
It's their third non-losing season since moving to the desert!

20
by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:38pm

I hope the performance of Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown wasn't enough to keep the Eagles from getting Randy Moss or Larry Fitzgerald (and his Trousers of Justice) for Donovan McNabb.

21
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:39pm

Well, that was one Viking loss that wasn't attributable to qb play, overtime fumble aside. I despise Troy Williamson, and whomever is responsible for drafting him. As far as the Vikings defense, the linebackers are quite good, and the reason why the Broncos had running success was because de Robison was getting driven five yards downfield. Hopefully, he'll improve in year 2, James will finally stay healthy, and Ray Edwards' performance isn't steroid dependent. Anyway, they lost in ot in a game where the fumble luck was completely against them, and their receivers dropped a bunch.

I tend to think McNabb is staying with the Eagles, but if Childress doesn't bring in a legit veteran to compete with and push Jackson, Childress is hopeless. A qb controversey would be welcome, because it likely would mean that somebody had done something on the field to create controversey.

22
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:39pm

16. I definitely thought that hit was helmet to helmet, and that the tackler led with his helmet all the way. I'm not as big a fan of that hit as others are, it could easily have resulted in serious injury to both the tackler and the returner.

23
by John (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:40pm

Two things I hated about the Reid blowup.

* The next play looked like a possible Colts interception ruined by an early whistle, but we didn't get to see a replay of it because Madden was still gushing over Reid.

* Not once did I hear anyone mention the fact that Henry very nearly lost the football, managing to snag it between his legs and recover. I thought that was very impressive for a guy who'd just been hit by a truck.

24
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:41pm

Re: Moss catch that was overturned
I was listening in on the radio and he was basically lambasting the rules... saying Moss had 2 feet in and made the catch... and basically lost the ball after he completed the roll. If a player gets tackled does that count as "going to the ground"? Because it seems like it wouldn't. In fact, if he was tackled and lost the ball it would be more like a forced fumble, and since he was already oob doesn't make any sense.

Anyway, it doesn't make sense that "getting tackled" is the same as "going to the ground to make the catch". But for the NFL, I guess it's okay.

You'd think that the NFL would get the officiating situation under control, especially since they always tout how they have a "control room", and grade the officials, yet when is the last time an official was fired? Phil Luckett after the Thanksgiving day fiasco (and wasn't he the head official for the Testaverde TD)? And where is the officiating talent going to come from, college? Are you kidding me? It's clear to me the NFL doesn't really care about getting the calls right or the fairness of the game, they only care about ratings and money, that should be pretty obvious. Even during the SNF game, Roger Goodell in his pregame said something like, "We want to bring the NFL to the most people possible..." well if you want that than why did you go on a YouTube crusade the past year (and it even seems like they've stopped getting videos pulled). So yes, I believe NFL corporate is a bunch of bold faced liars and they don't even care if their teams are run by a bunch of dolts... or else they would've contracted Detroit at some point... seriously, I know the bar is pretty high for owning an NFL franchise, but what happens when some teams are grossly mis-managed so much that it makes a spectacle of the game? I'm sure its not just the Lions of recent years... but it's not good for NFL as a whole... although again, all they care about is money and profits... well duh, of course they do, and I can't blame them... but as much as I enjoy watching the game, players, coaches, strategy, etc... I don't enjoy how corporate the NFL is...

War ranting against NFL corporate... War by posting this I probably made the NFL more profitible... War NFL clearly out of control with insane fans... War USFL forever... War XFL..

25
by Temo (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:43pm

17. All of the cardinal's most competitive years throughout their history have been stories of "almost"!

26
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:44pm

Jimm, you are overrating Jackson's performance yesterday. He was staring down receivers constantly. He has miles and miles to go, especially when going up against defenses with decent talent and coaching.

27
by Flounder (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:51pm

Re: 24 I really don't think that was even close to being a catch. In those circumstances, you simply must control the ball all the way through, and he clearly did not.

28
by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:52pm

21-will I remember hearing at the time Williamson was drafted that Tice desperately wanted Shawn Merriman and he was overruled by higher up in the organization who felt they had to have a Randy Moss replacement. I don't know who exactly, Brezynski maybe or perhaps a parting gift from Red McCombs...

Either way I still feel positive about the season, and in the long run they will probably get more out of that loss (draft position) than they would have if they'd pulled it out, they already showed something in coming back and not giving up despite the score in Washington being clear (they said the players didn't know but I don't buy that).

Speaking of the skins, I was flipping between the Vikes/Broncos and the Skins game (not golf), there was a good stretch during the second quarter where the score was 7-0, and about 5 times I'd flip to them and the Redskins would have the ball at about the Dallas 40, made a decent play for yards, and I'd switch away. Come back about 5 minutes later, and here they are again at the Dallas 40 with the ball making a decent play... but hte score was still the same. I had no idea how they managed it, but I guess fumbles was why...

29
by MDZ (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:55pm

The Reid hit is linked to my name (about halfway down the page). Normally you see a hit like that from a 210 lb safety, not a 295 lb DT. This is the fourth or fifth crushing hit that he's had this year on special teams. That said, his head was down so not only was it a really dangerous play for him, I wouldn't be surprised if he got a fine from the league office.

29
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 1:55pm

I've always had huge respect for Gibbs, but thought he was done after the timeout fiasco. Shows you what I know; he's had a masterful last month, although the luck in having Collins turn out to be a better qb for this team than Campbell, and Campbell being hurt, should be noted. When you get right down to it, however, the Redskins are in because they chose to have Collins on the roster, and the Vikings are out because they selected Bollinger and Holcomb.

31
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:01pm

When New England first won, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel were huge.

They still are!

Thank you, I'll be here all night. Don't forget to tip the veal and try your waitress.

32
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:06pm

Also, I have no idea who wins the NFC, especially if Romo's thumb bothers him, and Gurode is hobbled. The Cowboys are a pretty suspect three loss team, as are the Packers. The Seahawks have a decent chance, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Redskins beat them. Hell, now that the Redskins are playing the qb who can fully utilize Saunders' playbook, I'd give them a chance.

33
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:10pm

#31

very funny.

34
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:13pm

Andrew, Tice has been mercilessly ripped from all sides, but I will say it again; if he would have had an owner who wanted to win, instead of an owner who was looking to squeeze every last nickel out of the operation, the Vikings would have made the playoffs in '03, '05, along with '04, would likely have made a conference championship one time, and still would be head coach in Minneapolis.

35
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:14pm

Re: 27
I didn't see the catch, just heard it described on the radio. Reeves made it sound like he caught the ball with 2 feet down... so he already completed the catch when he rolled oob. This was seconded in the above audibles, but I guess it wasn't as clear-cut as I had thought.

36
by Falcons Depression Support Hotline (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:16pm

As we wonder whether Atlanta’s former quarterback will be able to return to football after several years in exile, Atlanta’s current quarterback, who returned this season after three years out of football, played the best game of his career today.

I know Chris Redman, and Mike Vick is no Chris Redman.

37
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:18pm

At the very worst you have to say that Jeff Fisher is in the top quartile as a head coach. Fisher had an excellent game plan against the colts once again. They had a long ( and impressive), time consuming drive to open the game, followed by plaing back on defense.

This in effect shortened the game. The game started out with really LONG possessions. Even if the Colts were winning by a little bit ( they weren't) it still gave the Titans an opportunity to win the (close) game in the second half.

I am not 100 percent certain, but I believe Peyton Manning was calling the plays in the 2nd Q when Jim Sorgi game in. Manning had a white play sheet and they had a TV shot with Manning doing the talking on his head set while Moore was just chewing his gum like usual. That leads me to believe that Manning was at least calling the plays partially.

I have to also say that I really enjoy listening to Al Michaels call a game, and that Tavaras Jackson covered his hands with some greasy substance inbetween overtime and the end of regulation.

They were hyping up his good performance with 50% passing, under 200 yards and a passing touchdown. Way to foreshaddow what was going to happen in Overtime.

38
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:19pm

How many here would be shocked if the Patriots don't get to the Super Bowl? Yeah, they are the obvious favorites, but they have enough issues on defense to make an upset to a team that hangs 35 on them plausible.

39
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:20pm

I noted that JR Reid hit right as it happened in one of the threads here. Nice shot.

40
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:27pm

Re: AFC South and NFC East
Is that more indicative of the weakness of the outer-division games? I know that the NFC East played the AFC East and NFC North, who did the AFC South play? The NFC West and then AFC West?

41
by shake n bake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:27pm

More angles of the Reid hit and the awesome reaction shot of Clark and Dungy. Link in name.

Reid is listed at 288lb.

42
by Boots Day (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:34pm

With all the love for neckbeards around here, I can't believe there isn't more talk about that thing on Randy Moss. Let's see Jerry Rice catch 22 touchdowns with one of those on his throat.

43
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:34pm

35- But their offense is sick. The Colts have the best chance to pull the upset but a lot of their guys have been hurt. Will Peyton have the same synergy with Marvin Harrison etc. or will they be a little bit off. The Pats aren't exactly a team that allow a huge margin of Victory to beat them. The outdoor cold foxboro stadium also helps slow down opposing offenses.

44
by Dylan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:37pm

I'm getting a little disturbed by this meme that says that Tarvaris Jackson has earned another year.

Look, if the Vikings' offensive problems this year are a problem of their inability to adjust to a stacked box, doesn't some of this have to go onto the QB? Look, I know the receivers suck (especially with Rice out), but Jackson is just too scatter-armed and scatter-brained to make defenses pay for doing this.

If it's like this season and the big prizes are Jeff Garcia and David Carr, then you stick with Jackson. But if you have a chance to get a guy like McNabb or an honest-to-god QB of the future (okay, that probably won't happen in the draft), you jump at it. You won't win any championships with Tarvaris, at least based on the potential he's flashed so far.

That said, this team did exceed my expectations of them this year.

45
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:37pm

Sweet baby Jeebus! I just watched that Reid/Henry hit on NFL.com's GameDay highlight video. The best part of that was probably the reaction shot of Clark on the sideline. I'd tend to agree that it might have been a helmet-to-helmet, but it happened so fast that it was nearly impossible to see. Even when they slowed it down, all you saw at the moment of impact was a blur.

46
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:39pm

Re #40
AFC South played the AFC West and NFC South. They went 13-3 against the NFC South and 12-4 against the AFC West, assuming I did my math right. The AFC West also had the ignominy of finishing with the 2nd worst inter-conference record, going 4-12 against the NFC North.

So, if you want to put it that way, we know the AFC West is bad because they had bad results in 80% of their extra-division games.

Oh, and the AFC East this year had the "perfect" intradivision results: top team goes 6-0, #2 team goes 4-2, losing twice to top team, #3 team goes 2-4, losing twice each to top two teams, and #4 team goes 0-6.

47
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:45pm

I will write this once as a gesture of goodwill to the Vikings fans of FO. Consider it my peace offering as we enter the New Year. But just once and just because what I am reading here and elsewhere is so much foolishness.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was this quarterbacks coach, Brad Childress. With the graduation of his senior quarterback, Darrell Bevell, Mr. Childress looked across his available quarterback options and chose not the immediate backup nor some of the guys with fancy resumes. Instead his eyes fell upon recruit Mike Samuel. 6'2", 210 lbs and with a great arm Childress' gleamed at the thought of Samuel running the Badger offense. Others around the team, writers/the HEAD COACH, voiced a modicum of concern as Samuel had not demonstrated much accuracy but Childress waved such criticisms. "Accuracy can be taught", declared Childress emphatically. And so the Mike Samuel Era at the University of Wisconsin began.

And a fairly successful era it was. Samuel was tough, he was a better runner than anticipated, and he led the Badgers to multiple winning seasons capped off by a Rose Bowl against UCLA 38-31.

But after three seasons as a starter Samuel still made poor decisions under pressure and his accuracy on short to medium throws had not advanced one iota. (Hmmm, throwing the ball up for grabs and spraying the ball around on anything thrown between 5-25 yards? Gee, who does that sound like?)

While Samuel hadn't improved as a "quarterback" the guy had led Wisconsin to a lot of victories. So when the offensive coordinator position became open after the 1998 season Childress was the obvious choice. And within three games into the 1999 season the quarterback of the Wisconsin Badgers was Brooks Bollinger. A smart, tough quarterback who didn't have Saumel's arm but was an ever better runner. But who also would get flustered when rushed and also struggled on mid-range throws.

While something of a grim joke it was true that during Childress' entire tenure at Wisconsin the screen pass was non-existent. It was also true that the Wisconsin offense could roll over mediocre and bad teams but when faced with a good defense whose coaches actually watched game film the Badgers would be stymied. In particular, the Michigan Wolverines regularly stoned the Badger rushing attack knowing that the Wisconsin passing offense was comprised of three basic set plays, roll-out to the TE, play-action deep post pattern, and square out to the WR. Anything else was borne of desperation.

And after being a starter for three years Brooks Bollinger led the team to a lot of wins because he was smart, tough and was a fine runner. But his passing skills had inched forward maybe 2 inches.

So when someone like myself sees Jackson at qb for the Vikings I know EXACTLY what Brad Childress is thinking. I know what he will and will NOT accomplish with Jackson. I know that in three years Jackson will be EXACTLY WHAT HE IS TODAY.

Anyone who thinks Brad Childress is going to "coach up" this guy is deluded. Daft. Deranged. It WILL NOT HAPPEN.

There. I have tried to help my Viking counterparts. I feel like one of those kids from an after-school special who knows the vice-principal is a bad guy but just ignores him until he sees someone from the group that has treated him bad get into the principal's car. Then after initial hesitation, since that kid WAS a jerk, he runs up to the car and pound on the passenger window telling the kid, "Don't go!! Don't do it!!!"

Meanwhile, the vice-principal is getting in to the driver's seat giving me a creepy smile.

THAT is Brad Childress.

Do NOT GET INTO THAT CAR!!!!!!

You have been warned.

48
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:47pm

I like Ken Wisenhunt and Gary Kubiak as young coaches and I think Dick Jauron did a pretty good job as well with a Rookie 3rd round QB, rookie RB and a no name defense that husteled.

I had NFL futures on the Pats and Eagles from last Feb/March and I think the Eagles didn't have the absolute worst case scenerio but not too far from it. I think if you replayed this season 10 times the Eagles are a playoff team at least 7 maybe 8 out of the 10 times.

You also have to throw in the factor that it is tough to make the playoffs when you have 3 teams in your division that make it. That just says the NFC East and AFC South are just plain dogfights.

I actually like all of the AFC South coaches except Phony Fungi. Del Rio gets a lot of crap here but I like him, Fish and Kubiak shows potential too.

I know it is the cool thing to be the guy that Picks the Patriots to get upset in the playoffs, but I really don't see it happening. If you are an amateur that wants to be cool and say the Colts ( or Jags) upset the Pats, please stop.

49
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:48pm

And just for the record, I will literally do anything for/to Joe Banner to see Fitzgerald in an Eagles' uniform next year (assuming McNabb is also back).

50
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:54pm

44- You don't need the disclaimer with Jackson that " with the potential he has showed thus far". The guy choaked and lost the game and people still don't blame him.

Tavaras Jackson has never succeded above the D1AA level and he didn't even complete 55% of his passes there.

47- That was one of the best posts I have ever seen here at FO no joke. He completed a bunch of screens and TE dump offs the last few weeks and people see "improvement" because his stats don't look as dreadful. If you put that turd in a real offense like the Colts or Pats it would look like a Mac Truck running over a rabbit on the interstate.

51
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 3:14pm

Re #12
Schwartz has interviewed for HC jobs a couple times, and apparently was nearly hired by the 49ers when they instead hired Nolan. I would be very unsurprised to see him get that job this offseason.

52
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 3:32pm

BadgerT,
I've been intrigued by your Childress hate. Thanks for explaining...

53
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 3:43pm

Fergasun:

The guy has his positives. But also SEVERE limitations. His offense is going to do what it is going to do, d#mmit, and it will take the equivalent of a natural disaster to get him to change things up.

It was well known around Badger country that part of WI's success in bowl games was the breaking of tendencies. And that sprang from the head coach who would roll up his sleeves and get directly involved in gameplanning the offense.

Childress had his job because he aligned with Alvarez on a run-first approach. But as an old defense guy Barry knew that mixing things up was necessary. It is also true that WI began to incorporate the spread offense after Childress left.

This ain't hate. These be facts.

54
by black (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 3:43pm

47

That was the greatest post in FO history, though I don't have a dog in the fight, I suddenly no longer am even comfortable watching Jackson at quarterback because I will remember this post. And Williamson dropping that pass, which we hope was his last attempt in the league.

You have one the internet sir, go collect your prize.

55
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 3:46pm

The season is over. This probably should wait for the DVOA thread, but if anyone cares how the teams stack up relative to each other based on W/L interactions measured over the entire season (using Maximum Likliehood Estimation), click my name. There's an alternate set of ranks at the bottom that neglects Week 17 games where one team was resting their starters.

Looks like all four playoff games next weekend ought to be tight!

56
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 3:49pm

Oops, forgot the link. Here it is.

57
by black (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 3:58pm

did anybody else notice that during the colts broadcast last night that the announcers didn't acknowledge that the Colts were playing only to get Wayne the receiving title? I had no idea up until the point that he took the lead, and they showed the graphic. If they were padding stats he should have just stayed in and broke TO's receptions in a game record.

58
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 4:02pm

Please, guys, get rid of Tarvaris Jackson. Some of us want to see Adrian Peterson get to run against something other than 4-4 or 5-3 defenses. Normally, it would be all fine and dandy if some team I didn't care about pissed away the best years of its spectacular defense with an abysmal quarterback situation (hello, Bears!) but I want to watch awesome A-Pete highlights.

Jackson has a DVOA of -17% throwing against defenses that were supposed to be obsolete because of today's passing game. The Vikings went 8-8 despite having the greatest rookie running back of all time, an awesome offensive line, and the best run defense in the league. Maybe only one or two teams each year have a supporting cast that good, and Jackson wasted it. If you look at his unimpressive college statistics, it should be obvious to anyone reasonable that he doesn't have a chance to succeed in the NFL.

59
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 4:12pm

57: With Marvin Harrison out, Manning pretty much always throws to Reggie Wayne even when they aren't shooting for records. I think they were definitely going for it on purpose, just like the Cowboys were getting Romo the team completions record.

The way the game started, I wish they had kept him in to break the TO reception record and knock the Titans out of the playoffs. Colts fans don't tend to hate other AFC South teams, but I really wanted the Titans to lose. Albert Haynesworth is evil and I felt bad for the Browns because their win had no bearing on their playoff status.

60
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 4:29pm

"Washington just dominated the Cowboys — the Cowboys starters, the players who will be taking the field in the postseason."

I don't know why Aaron is saying the Cowboys played their starters. They had 4 of their top guys rest, plus Romo played only a half (plus played like crap when he did play, hes still hurt, Barber barely played, lots of defensive guys rested, and they had a vanilla gameplan. No big deal.

"The one optimistic note for the Cowboys is that T.O. should be back for the playoffs"

How can this even pass as analysis? How bout the optimistic notes are that TO, Gurode, Newman, and Ratliff will all actually PLAY, Romo probably won't be hurt anymore, Barber will get more carries, the team will actually gameplan well, and the players will care just a bit more about the game? Honestly that commment is just nuts.

" I’m trying to remember another game like this, where a top team came out in Week 17 with nothing to play for, played the starters anyway instead of resting people, and completely looked like ass."

Umm, how about LAST year when the Bears, the #1 seed and NFC superbowl representative, got crushed by the Packers and played their starters? Seriously, Aaron, I know you bash the Cowboys in every audibles, but at least be accurate.

61
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 4:38pm

In the Jacksonville/Houston blurbs, Aaron shows the comparison of the last couple of years for KO and punt returns.
The first thing I would look into to explain this is penalties.
My gut says that we haven't seen as many great returns canceled out by the inevitable holding or illegal block on the back. I don't know where I can easily access that data, but I believe that if it doesn't affect the outcome of the play, it isn't getting called.

I would also conclude that yes, Hester and Davis, among others, are extremely talented.

62
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 4:39pm

A lot of the criticism of Childress with the Vikings has been marginal at best. Playcalling, the old war horse of fan criticism, is a good example. Childress or Bevell have called plenty of plays this year which resulted in wide, wide, open receivers, well downfield, only to see them overthrown. Screen passes depend on the threat of the downfield pass. Oops. Execution has been the problem.

The biggest reason for the execution problems are called Jackson, Bollinger, and Holcomb, however, and that is on Childress. A lot of coaches have overestimated a young qb, but when you bring in Mike McMahon, Brooks Bollinger, and Kelly Holcomb, with the latter two acquired in desperation trades to make up for the mistake of the previous qb signing, it is reasonable to conclude that the qb evaluation skills are seriously deficient, which is a pretty damning indictment of a head coach with a background in offense.

63
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 4:44pm

59...one little cleat in the head with intent to cause injury and major bleeding causes Haynesworth to be some kind of "bad guy".
Haven't you heard of Albert's Allies, his campaign to cure AIDS, cancer, and rabies in cuddly animals?
Just kdding, but don't fret. Tennessee may get shut out in the first round.

64
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 4:49pm

How about Derek Andersen to the Vikes for their 1st and 3rd round draft picks? Or maybe 1st and 4th? Seems like it would be a good fit... not sure if Cleveland is going to trade him but I heard the argument for trading him and I think its pretty compelling.

Of course if Quinn hasn't done well in practice, then they won't trade him... assuming the Browns coaches know what they can get from him.

65
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 5:01pm

Am I the only one who feels like most of today’s games are just a total anticlimax? I know Saints-Bears matters, but I don’t really care much. I’m only really interested in Washington and Tennessee…

Every football fan with a quarter of a brain and a pulse realized this, dude - 10 of 12 slots locked up entering the weekend, simple paths for the last two, and several teams in rest mode. It's the biggest Week 17 snoozer I can remember.

66
by Bob in Jax (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 5:15pm

RE: #47 -- Well played, sir. Well played.

67
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 5:35pm

I appreciate the kind words. Just trying to do a solid for my Purple-lovin' brethren. It's one thing for the goofs over at the The Daily D#rkman Vikes site to drink the Childress kool-aid. But another thing entirely when I see that purple van pull up and guys like Will peer inside.

But let it also be known that come late 2008 and the Vikes are 5-6 with Purple Jesus leading the NFC in rushing and Childress is still preaching patience with his qb any Vikes fan who wanders in here to gripe will be told to "Hush!"

So let it be written; so let it be done......

68
by chip (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 5:46pm

#47 As a Bears fan, it's nice to know that it's a two-horse race (loosely speaking) in the NFC North between the Bears-Pack. At least the Bears realize that their offense (& QB position specifically) needs to be overhauled. Assuming they address their deficiencies (QB, LOG, ROT, SS) in the draft/FA, they should make it competitive with the Pack. Childress is a man that can't look in the mirror and well, Millen has faculty tenure in the Motor City.

69
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 6:18pm

There sure is a lot of TJack sucks talk here. People seem to have a vested interest in proving they were right about Jackson as opposed to objectively analyzing his play. I've waffled on him from "man this kid can play - to he sucks - to present - cautious optimism. I think he's shown good reason to be positive and some good reason to be concerned. Isn't that the state of almost every successful starter in his first year?

I think his stats suggest he's done pretty well this year given his supporting cast. He completed 58% of his passes, 65% in the last 7 games. His int rate wasn't horrible and he adds some to the offence with his running skills.

I would also argue that he has continued to improve throughout his 14 NFL starts and that he is miles better in his last 4 starts than he was in his first four.

As well I think his stats compare decently with those of Vince Young and Leinart - two much more highly touted prospects.

70
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 6:37pm

jimm:

Now, now. My comments related SPECIFICALLY to Childress. Jackson is not even Exhibit A in my collection of evidence. He's Exhibit C.

C'mon man. Look at those Badger teams and their quarterbacks, look at your Vikings, and then come back and tell me that Childress is executing a DIFFERENT plan. With a straight face and no fingers crossed.

Brad Childress is the personification of the old adage about what is the definition of insanity/stupidity. Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

You know what REALLY drove me nuts when the Moustache Kid was at UW? The Badgers would run their stretch run in short yardage and teams would repeatedly, REPEATEDLY, stuff it for a loss. Happened over and over. Now it didn't hurt them THAT much since the offense was typically moving the ball so well that a key 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1 that REALLY meant something didn't happen THAT often. But still, it was maddening to watch a team with 1600 lbs of linemen not counting the TE who doubled as an OL refuse to just plow up the gut.

So there was this game where the Badgers got a key short yardage with their stretch run. Won the game. And afterward on the radio you couldn't shut the mofo UP. Childress just prattled on and on about how that play is Wisconsin's "bread and butter" and how it's the crux of the offense's success.

No the crux of the offense was having an offensive line that could push a 25 car train up a hill through the snow.

Anyway, you go ahead and keep thinking folks "hate" TJ.

Me, I pity the poor b*stard. 'Cause he has so many things working FOR him (line, running backs, playing indoors half the time) except the one key thing, coaching, just isn't there. Jackson is going to throw his interceptions while Childress stands on the sideline with arms folded and Vikings fans will chew up the kid before they finally get to the person truly responsible.

He's cannon fodder.

71
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 6:51pm

T. Jackson (24yrs) - 12 starts, 58.1%

Bust QB's at 24 years of age:

Harrington - 14 starts, 50.1%
A. Smith - 4 starts, 52.3%
C. McNown - out of football, 55% yr prior
H. Shuler - 5 starts 52.3%
R. Leaf - 9 starts, 50.0%
D. Carr - 11 starts, 56.6%
P. Ramsey - 11 starts, 53.1%

Stars at 24

Favre - 16S, 60.9%
P. Manning - 16S, 62.5%
Brady - 15S, 63.9%
S. Young - 5S, 52.5%
Montana - 7S, 64.5%
Tony Romo - bench
Carson Palmer - bench
D. McNabb - 16S, 58%
D. Brees - 11S, 57.6%
M. Hasselbeck - bench
T. Aikman - 15S, 56.6%

Lewin's ranking is based on professional coaches and scouts assessments (starts, draft position) and accuracy (pct comp). If you carry his theory forward a little I would argue Jackson certainly doesn't belong in group 2 and may well fit comfortably with the bottom of group 2 here. I think next year will tell the tale as I could list other like Tim Couch who would fit in group 2.

72
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 6:52pm

typo above...should read Jackson certainly doesn't fit in group 1 busts.

73
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 7:04pm

You can try and convince me all you want that TJ is going to be a good QB, but what I see with my eyes tells me otherwise. Of course, it's hard to accurately judge any QB who's throwing the ball to Troy Willimson

74
by Dylan (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 7:13pm

Badger, I feel like I should pay you for that motivational speech/Childress history lesson.

But I'm broke right now. Can one of the other Vikings fans take care of that for me?

Really, great post.

75
by vikinghooper (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 8:18pm

The saddest part of the Vikings late season implosion is that this ship has sailed before 3 times in the last five seasons.

I just don't get stupid football. The Vikings had 3 points on the board with 8 minutes left in the game. 16 points in 8 minutes gets you to OT. But in OT, CHILDRESS WENT BACK TO 2 tight ends and running on first down. No chip on Dumervil who turnstiled Cook all game.

I feel sorry for Tarvaris Jackson, because he may never be John Elway, but I could teach him to keep his feet in balance in the pocket, slide away from pocket pressure, throw the ball out of bounds under pressure, and run if the pressure feels heavy.

Tarvaris is showing some ablility, and almost no coaching. I personally think I would be OK with him running the offense for the next two years, although McNabb is intriguing. I just think a lot of McNabb's game was his mobility, and although it's improving, he's on the downside and coaching should be required before you give up on a young QB. For what it's worth, Tarvaris looks better than Leinert and Eli.

76
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 9:04pm

Tavaras Jackson is throwing the ball to 3 man secondaries that are stacking the box to stop the purple Jesus.

He plays in a west coast offense with the purple Jesus at RB, a dominant line, and plays indoors.

Now you like him more than Vince Young, Leinart and Eli?

Since when did those guys drop back and be asked to throw screens and simple passes all day against 3 man secondaries? When did Vince Young throw the ball out of bounds on a deep sideline pass and when did Matt Leinart chuck the ball like a grenade as he was being sacked?

75- You honestly can't say that with a straight face. Matt Leinart won a heisman and a national title in college, Tavaras Jackson couldn't even PLAY D1 college football.

77
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 9:19pm

I would put them up against anyone, Belichick included, and have faith that they would give their team every chance to win.

I would put a Fisher-coached team up against anyone and have faith that they would have their team out there playing dirty and taking cheap shots whenever possible. Seriously. I've watched football for seventeen years now, and I root for a team that has Rodney Cheap-Shot Harrion at SS, and even so I've never seen a team play dirtier than the Titans have over the last couple of years. And Fisher and his staff have to answer for that.

And no, there is no one thing that has made me a Titans-hater--jsut a steady stream of little things and intangible feelings that have been growing for a couple of years. Oh, yeah, and Albert Haynesworth.

While I'll readily concede that the Titans are a better team than the Browns and probably more deserving of a playoff appearance (barely), I'm really sad they got in and the Browns (a team that I feel for and genuinely like) didn't.

Is anyone else really fed up with the way football does tiebreakers? I like the MLB system where, for detemining whether or not a team makes the playoffs, they two tied teams actually face each other to decide the matter. Obviously, that wouldn't work for football, but something has to be better than a system that can unfairly give one team an edge because their game against a pivotal opponent takes place when that opponent is resting its starters because they've already locked up a playoff seed. Or that gives a team an unfair edge because they happened to play a common opponent when that common opponent had some good luck, or wasn't suffering from a critical injury, or something.

There just has to be a better way to do tiebreakers. I have some ideas, but that's probably a topic for another thread...

78
by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 9:30pm

Chris - the fact that Jackson didn't play D1 doesn't mean he couldn't. It's kind of absurd to think he couldn't when two years later he's starting in the NFL and playing pretty well.

Leinart for all his pedigree (Heisman, USC star, Lewin system) has faired very poorly compared to Kurt Warner. I think comparing QB's on the same team is about the only way to get a fair estimate of their abilities. I would say to this point Leinart has been a major disappointment.

If you were a QB trying to put up decent passing stats would you rather play with Arizona or Minnesota?

No one has a clue if Jackson will be good, average or horrible. But he certainly has performed far better than the Joey Harrington/Akili Smith/Ryan Leaf busts. He completed 65% of his passes in the second half of the season for a decent yds/attempt and he was very dangerous running the ball as well.

Lastly, for all the talk of how he benefited from passing against 9 man fronts, the truth is the Vikings were horrible on 1st down because they insisted on trying to pound Peterson into stacked boxes on first down leaving Jackson and the offence to deal with 2nd and 3rd and long.

In fact, since the NYG game, Minnesota was only effective moving the ball when they mixed pass and run or when they largely abandoned the run trying to catch up against Chic, Wash and Den. There standard strategy of two tight end and pound the ball was horribly ineffective after the SD game.

79
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 10:57pm

Gee Chris, what happened to patience when evaluating young quarterbacks? Weren't you telling us that we are all too hard on Eli Manning becuause he's still learning as a fourth year starter? Now you're telling us that the younger and more inexperienced Jackson is, always has been and always will be a loser, and begging David Lewin's projection system to just admit defeat on Jason Campbell? What's the difference between these guys? Oh, I know.

80
by Jerry (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 11:15pm

Badger, I feel like I should pay you for that motivational speech/Childress history lesson.

But I’m broke right now. Can one of the other Vikings fans take care of that for me?

I think Will has some extra Scotch available. (Alas.)

81
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 11:22pm

If Tavaras Jackson "could" play D1, then why didn't he? The answer is because Matt Jones is a better quarterback. College guys would rather play D1 then D2 because they have a much better chance of going pro and every kid dreams of becoming a pro one day. Jacskon was a failure since the start.

Jackson has played pretty good? What planet are you from? The guy has had poor stats even with the purple jesus, a great line, a good defense and playing indoors in a west coast offense. Throw in the 8-9 man fronts and his performance is laughable at best.

Kurt Warner has been an MVP, Tavaras Jackson can't even beat the computer on All Madden.

Tavaras Jackson is just a complete and utter waste of time. Go ahead Vikings fans, defend the guy and piss away a much better team without him.

Jason Campbell has been outplayed by a 12 year bench warmer and now you want to talk about him?

82
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 11:27pm

Duff- When Tavaras Jackson throws 48TD passes after his first 2 years, wins a division and has another playoff appearance in a division with 2 other playoff teams then talk to me.

83
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 11:31pm

Yes I am saying that Jackson is a bust and a loser and always will be. I said that before and then everybody said " nobody said he'd be good". People said that he "deserved" a chance.

He fell flat on his face.

Now you are saying " give him a chance". That doesn't sound like you don't think he will be good.

Go ahead, associate your name with Tavaras Jackson. Then in a year or two when they finally quit on the guy I can remember to go back to Duff man.

Unless of course you are just harassing me and you really don't think he will be any good.

84
by Bob in Jax (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 1:35am

Couldn't resist weighing in on the TJ "debate". Full disclosure -- I have never actually seen him play a game. Ever. The Vikes don't appear much in Florida these days, and I don't get Sunday Ticket. But, here in Jax we had a quarterback with tremendous physical skills that really never played that well. He could flash here and there, but overall he was just replacement level (sometimes worse). He had career backup stamped all over him. Then, one year, the team got a new quarterback coach who really knew his stuff. After extensive film study, the coach identified a flaw in the QB's mechanics (a "hop" in his last backstep just as his foot was planting) and worked diligently with the QB to correct it. After several months of study and coaching, the QB corrected this flaw. He then lit up all of his preseason opportunities, and supplanted the highly drafted starter just before the season started. I am talking, of course, about David Garrard, who has pretty much been on fire since. David also credits Dirk Koetter (the new OC) with helping the game to finally "slow down" for him as he finally understands instinctively the flow of the game in the NFL.

Garrard had a good college career, but was hindered in his development in the NFL by insufficient coaching. To apply this to TJ -- I have no idea how good he is, or can be. But, if he doesn't get some really good coaching soon, no one else will ever know, either. And, according to Badger, that isn't looking too promising.

But, look on the bright side! The Vikings don't employ Matt Millen!

OK, I admit it -- that was cruel.

85
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 3:35am

No Chris, I don't think Tavaris Jackson will ever be any good and I do think the Vikes should cut bait on him. That's not my point. My point was that it is hypocritical to say "give Eli more time" while at the same time saying "TJ and Campbell have already proven themselves to be busts". I also wondered why you would hold these contradictory opinions. Based on many of your previous insane rantings about "mobile quarterbacks" (gee, thats not codespeak for anything is it), I think I have an idea.

Also, for the millionth time, please drop the "Eli threw 48 touchdowns" nonsense. You are aware that this is a statistical analysis website, right? I'm sure other people at the places you usually post are amazed by this superhuman achievement and consequently bow down at the feet of the great Eli Manning, but I think most people here can see through this obviously misleading use of statistics. His DPAR this year(passing + running) is clearly inferior to what Michael Vick (you know, the anti-christ) did last year and even Eli's numbers last year aren't better than Vick's. Since you also always talk about Eli leading his team to the playoffs (not the defense or running game, it's all Eli. Yep), I should ask you how many playoff games he has actually won. Hint: Less than Michael Vick.

86
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 12:12pm

84- If you want to see Jackson play a game, go find the tape on the first meeting with the Lions where he was the least accurate quarterback I have ever seen. Throwing pop flies into center field, passes out of bounds, and that might have even been the grenade game.

I don't know if I'd go head over heels just yet. It feels like we have come a long way since the day that Byron was famously cut. Garrard is certainly better than Byron but that isn't saying much. I always liked Garrard better because if you are going to run that more manageable offense you might as well have a better passer and a guy with more mobility.

I think it is unfair to blame Leftwhich and Garrards shortcomings on coaching, but then once they succeed to credit them ( and not Del Rio etc.) People here at this site loved to take shots at Del Rio but the guy built the kind of team he wanted and they are good.

87
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 12:22pm

If you don't think Jackson will be any good then why waste your time on him? There is no need to Troll around my Ruski friend.

Scouting in general can be a very subjective thing.

For example, Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler and Akili Smith were complete and utter wastes. You cut your losses and move on.

Drew Brees on the other hand had a slower start to his career but he turned out to be worth the wait.

They aren't contrary opinions. There is no one size fits all hear all end all key to scouting.

DPAR can hardly put a true value next to a quarterbacks "worth". It doesn't account for everything and even if it did, it is subject to improve or decline every year.

To say that you don't like Eli's DPAR so he should be benched for Jared Lorenzon is laughable.

Happy 2008

88
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 12:31pm

"If Tavaris Jackson could play D1 then why didn't he"

How the hell would I know, but it's obvious that he was so far above the level required to play D1 it is ridiculous to ramble on about the fact that he didn't.

What is apparent is that T Jackson can play QB in the NFL - will he be great? good? average? awful? That's all debatable, but what isn't relevant is why he didn't play D1.

As for Matt Jones - it seems obvious that NFL personnel experts think he can't play NFL QB.

Of course debating with someone who uses terms like "loser" to describe a player is beyond a waste of time.

89
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 4:09pm

Matt Jones played quarterback at Arkansas. Tavaras Jackson wanted to play quarterback at Arkansas but wasn't as tall, fast, or good as Matt Jones.

Tavaras Jackson switched colleges because he knew that he would never beat out a better Matt Jones.

Matt Jones wants to go pro, but is converted to a wideout.

Now you are telling me that Tavaras Jackson "deserves" a shot after failing at every level? He wasn't even that good at D1AA.

Yes, he is a "loser". Watch the games. You don't need fancy stats to tell you that the guy has severe flaws in his game. That fumble to lose the game last week that could have kept his team out of the playoffs was a classic example.

90
by thestar5 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 5:55pm

Chris, without gettiing into how good Tj is, its unfair to say he isn't good because he didn't play in D1-A. After all, TO played in D1-AA and he turned out okay.

91
by jimm (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 6:06pm

47. BadgerT1000 - "Hmmm, throwing the ball up for grabs and spraying the ball around on anything thrown between 5-25 yards? Gee, who does that sound like?)"

From time to time I certainly see what you reference here in Jackson but as a 24 yr old he completed 58.2 pct of his passes. That is far more alike the kind of percentages that other successful QB's completed at the age of 24 almost all of whom are 55% and under. Below is a list of NFL QB's and there starts and pct comp (sorted by comp pct). As you can see Jackson ranks 16th among QB's with 10 or more starts.

Rank Name Starts Comp %

1 Montana 7 64.5
2 Culpepper11 64.2
3 Brady 15 63.9
4 Cutler 16 63.6
5 ManningP16 62.5
6 Vince Young15 62.3
7 Kosar 12 62
8 Favre 16 60.9
9 Leftwich14 60.5
10 GeorgeJ 16 60.2
11 Bledsoe 15 59.9
12 Roethlisberger 15 59.7
13 Marino 16 59.3
14 McMahon 13 59.3
15 Lomax 13 59
16 Boller 9 58.4
17 Esiason 14 58.2
18 JacksonT12 58.1
19 Ware, A 3 58.1
20 McNabb 16 58
21 GrieseBrian 13 57.7
22 Brees 11 57.6
23 BrownD 15 57.4
24 O'Brien 5 57.1
25 Croyle 7 56.7
26 Aikman 15 56.6
27 Carr 11 56.6
28 Stouffer 6 56.6
29 AndersonDerek 15 56.5
30 Vick 15 56.4
31 Elway 14 56.3
32 EdwardsT 10 56.1
33 Collins 12 56
34 Grossman3 56
35 LongC 12 55.8
36 Dilfer 16 55.4
37 Klingler 13 55.4
38 Cunningham 12 54.9
39 Rivers 0 54.5
40 AndersonKen 14 54.4
41 Rosenbach 16 54.2
42 EverettJ 11 53.6
43 Schroeder 5 53.6
44 WalshSteve 11 53.3
45 MillerC 15 53.2
46 RamseyP 11 53.1
47 Majkowski 7 53
48 ManningE 16 52.8
49 Tolliver 14 52.7
50 YoungS 5 52.5
51 Peete 11 52.4
52 Shuler 5 52.3
53 SmithAkili 4 52.3
54 McNair 16 52
55 ClemensK 7 52
56 Schaub 1 51.6
57 Mirer 13 51.2
58 BlakeJeff 9 51
59 Harrington 14 50.1
60 Leaf 9 50
61 Blackledge 6 50
62 Garrard 1 50
63 Beuerlein 7 49.8
64 NagleBrowning13 49.6
65 Losman 8 49.6
66 Chandler 3 48.8
67 Eason 4 48.4
68 Schlichter 5 44.3
69 Testaverde 4 43
70 McGwireDan 1 42.9
71 StewartK 2 36.7
72 MaddoxT 0 26.1
73 McNown 0 0
74 Tony Romo 0 0
75 Carson Palmer 0 0
76 HasselbeckM 0 0
77 Green, Trent 0 0
78 JohnsonB 0 0
79 Marinovich 0 0
80 O'Donnell 0 0
81 Humphries 0 0
82 Harbaugh 0 0
83 Gannon 0 0
84 Pennington 0 0
85 Lemon, Cleo 0 0
86 Kitna 0 0
87 CampbellJason 0 0
88 McCownLuke 0 0
89 Brunell 0 0

92
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 6:55pm

Re: 27 and 35
Just saw the play and still don't get it. Moss jumped up and caught the ball with 2 feet inbounds, then was tackled out of bounds. As he was tackled he lost the ball. The rule clearly states, "receiver goes to the ground during the process of making the catch". Now I'd argue that the catch was completed once he got his 2 feet in, and he lost the ball in the process of getting tackled, but not completing the catch. It's example 10442 of no one knowing what a "catch" is. I saw this same thing in another game last week (I think CLE-CIN) and the official ruled it differently than in WAS-DAL.

To be fair, I will agree the if he had dove for the ball or his actions placed him on the ground I for sure can see how that was ruled incomplete, but it was the process of the tackle that he lost the ball.

Also that sideline catch was amazing... Sam Hurd... and it's amazing the NFL can rule that a guy who lands out of bounds, yet gets his knee down inbounds for 5 milliseconds is a catch... thanks instant replay.

Dallas completely blew it at the end of the 1st half by throwing 2 incompletions. And then Washington nearly blew the play with 5 seconds left where they called a swing pass to Betts...

93
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 7:14pm

jimm:

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The main object of my posts was Brad Childress.

The main discussion point of my points was Brad Childress.

The primary topic of my posts was Brad Childress.

Brad Childress. The head coach of the Vikings.

Brad Childress. The guy with the moustache and vacant expression who stands on the sidelines during Viking games.

Thank you and Happy New Year.

94
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 9:45pm

90- Steve Mcnair didn't play D1 and he is good, but that isn't the point.

Steve Mcnair also didn't back up Hines Ward or some other receiver at QB, realize he would never be able to start over him, and THEN transfer down.

91- High percentage short passes/dump offs in a west coast offense. How often did you see the guy throwing deep Ins, posts, or even 12 yard curls?

He threw the bomb a few times per game ( they weren't caught) and then his rep-i-taw was passes generally 7 yards within the line and many times even shorter than that.

Who is more impressive, Adrian Peterson on a -1 yard screen pass that goes for a 60 yard touchdown or Tavaras Jackson throwing the -1 yard pass that was barley caught in the first place.

In the Eagles offense andy reid calls a higher percentage of pass plays because a lot of those screens are in effect long handoffs.

Look at all the 1 yard passes Jason Campbell was throwing. It shouldn't be a big suprise that he is getting out played by a 12 year bench warmer.

I am not impressed by Jackson or Childress but you have to cut your losses. Unless you are trying to win a title ala the 02 Bucs, Tavaras Jackson will never be your guy and even then I don't see him even becoming a "brad johnson".

95
by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 10:13am

I've been charting the vikings all year, so I've seen plenty of Jackson.

For the most part I don't think he quite has it. I think its more mental, he has a strong arm and his running/scrambling is tremendous (and actually has improved quite a bit, he had one run against denver where he juked someone out in the open and got another 10 yards). When he runs he seems to have good instincts. Its his passing that is at issue.

Childress (and/or Bevell) do draw up good plays, they often design things that have people wide open. Their timing of their playcalls seems a bit off, it seems to me most of their good plays are things drawn up based on film study during the week of prep, they don't seem to be things bourne of observing something vulnerable during a game. During the Vikings winning streak, they scored first every game, often on a big offenseive play right off the bat. Even in the losses they often had a big play set up perfectly but the execution was off (early on it was mostly overthrows, but this past sunday it was a dropped pass).

Jackson seems to be quite competent when the play is called against the proper defense and everything goes just as it would have in practice. He drops back, sees the primary receiver right where he's supposed to be and delivers the ball on time, in rhythm. When he does this he is accurate. However, when it doesn't go as planned... say some rusher comes through unblocked or the receiver is blanketed, that is where the problems start. His progression reads don't seem to be that good, and he displayed an alarming tendency to try to throw the ball up anyways even if the guy was covered, or worse yet while he was being hit. Over the first half of the season once the play started to break down he almost never turned into anything positive. In the 4th quarter at Denver was the first time I've seen him turn such a play into a positive gain, and that is what I guess some of the hopes pinned on him stem from.

As bad as he has been at times, he is better than Holcomb or Bollinger. Bollinger is everything Badger described him as, flaws and all, and Holcombe... Holcombe is done.

The Vikings under Tarvaris at times moved the ball quite well, certainly better than under Holcombe or Bollinger (discounting the San Diego game as that was all AP).

I definitely think you have to analyze T-jack's performance with the knowledge that it is a qb-rating-friendly west coast offense, along with defenses overplaying Peterson. one irony is that these overplay the run defenses would often drop out of it when AP wasn't in the game, due to his lack of skill as a pass blocker, so defenses seemed like they could cue on the play based on personnel, and fwiw Taylor did a lot of damage running against defenses not overplaying him like they did Peterson.

Anyway based on everything I've seen I believe the Vikes need to get a veteran qb (preferably a west coast qb) in to run the show next year, keep Jackson as a backup to see if he progresses, and maybe retain Bollinger as a #3. McNabb I doubt would be available for any reasonable asking price. Anderson I don't think would be the answer.

As for who they might be able to get, I dunno. Rosenfels? Heck, Shawn Hill was in their system for years and seemed pretty decent late for SF. Guess we wait and see.

As for Childress, I like to think that after all this time he might have learned something since his Badger days.
But I guess we'll see. This year is make or break for him, if they haven't improved by this year I think it will be his last.

96
by ArizonaCardinalsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 1:24pm

As an Arizona State fan, I would like to let Mr. Reid (the only reason I know his name is because he pointed to his jersey five times) know that we are sending him a commemorative "You Forked Him Up" award for his pasting of Chris Henry.

Back to business...someone asked about the Cardinals love, but fans are more concerned with making sure Kurt Warner gets the starting nod for 2008 than they are about an 8-8 season in 2007. And the Ken Whisenhunt admiration will have to wait until he becomes a better game manager. 2 losses to a SF team that was dead last in 8 offensive categories is does not endear a coach to any true fans. And yes, the missed FG is a direct result of Whisenhunt's curious decision to cut Scott Player, the longtime Cardinal punter (still wore the single bar helmet) that was the favorite holder of Neil Rackers. Enter Mike Barr, a crony from the Steelers days, and exit the reliable FG kicking, and his punting wasn't that great either.

At least we're hosting a Super Bowl in 2008...too bad we still have to buy tickets to see it.

97
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 6:08pm

Andrew - thanks for the Jackson evaluation. I watched every Viking game at least twice and I agree with your analysis of Jackson's play.

I'm a little more optimistic than you regarding Jackson because he was able to generate offence when the running game was clearly not working. If you look at the Vikings last 6 games, the Vikings were only able to run the ball effectively in 1 game (Det), yet Jackson's stats improved substantially over the previous games.

I know I'm in the minority here, but I think Childress' commitment to the run on first down really hurt the Vikings down the stretch. I think he needed to attack with more first down passing. From the Giants game on Vikings stats on 1st down:

runs 89 for 268...3.0
pass 31/67 for 403...6.0 (avg includes sacks and scrambles) 3 ints

Obviously Jackson's propensity for brain cramp plays made Childress weary, but they had more fumbles running on first down than Jackson int's.

98
by jimm (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 6:12pm

correction

Jackson was 37/61 on 1st down in the last six games, not 31/67