Tag:Michael Vick
Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:41 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 10:44 am
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

Julius Peppers will play a big role in stopping Aaron Rodgers. (Getty Images)
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Packers vs. Bears
The question is, What did the Chiefs do to make the Packers imperfect, and can the Bears do it too? In short, the Chiefs did nothing special. They ate up clock offensively, running on early downs and sustaining drives with conversions on several third-and-manageable situations. They stayed in base personnel That kept the Packers in their base 3-4, which is plainer than rice cake compared to the blitzes and disguises from their nickel and dime packages. Against that front, Kyle Orton was able to manipulate the defense with play action and eye movement.


Defensively, the Chiefs played press-man against the Packers’ receivers, which the Chiefs had just enough resources to do given Greg Jennings was out. They often rushed only three and forced Aaron Rodgers to beat them from the pocket. Normally, Rodgers would do that with ease, but Sunday he was uncharacteristically jumpy.

The Bears can certainly play this rudimentary style of football – any team can. But that doesn’t mean it will work for them. It hasn’t worked for them yet, after all. Caleb Hanie has been asked to manage the game and has often responded by ruining it (three interceptions in three of his four starts). With no staple ground attack, the Bears haven’t even been in position to play dink and dunk football.

Defensively, Chicago has moved away from the archaic Tampa 2 and towards more press coverage schemes. But their press coverage has not been pure man-to-man, perhaps because of Charles Tillman’s limitations in change-of-direction. It’s doubtful the Bears can simply out-execute the Packers’ receivers; instead they’ll need Julius Peppers & Co. to exploit that injury-riddled offensive line.

Cowboys vs. Eagles
Apparently the 2011 Eagles just needed 12 games to find their identity. The last two weeks they’ve looked like what everyone originally expected them to look like. It’s not that the players are finally getting comfortable in the system, it’s that the system has been tweaked and is finally logical.

Defensively, the Eagles have played more press-coverage and have mixed things up in their pass-rush (for example, aligning Trent Cole and Jason Babin at standup inside linebacker positions behind a two-man line against the Jets – a tactic that generated two of Babin’s three sacks).

They’ve moved Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to dime back, giving the slot nickel duties back to Joselio Hanson. They’ve inserted Casey Matthews back into the lineup, not as a starter but as a nickel linebacker, where he’s been fairly comfortable. Thanks to all this (and more), this defense has given up just 29 points and has recorded 11 sacks over the last two games.

Offensively, Philly’s line is doing a much better job picking up blitzes. The receivers are reading coverages and Michael Vick is playing with patience in the pocket. Vick’s limited football IQ has still led to a few unnecessary hits and missed opportunities, but the good has far outweighed the bad.

LeSean McCoy was bottled up by the Dolphins but, working out of spread formations, he produced 102 yards on 18 carries against the Jets. He’s scored five touchdowns the past two games.

The Eagles won their first meeting with the Cowboys handily. Even on the road this week, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them do that again.

Saints vs. Falcons
No one is playing better than Drew Brees right now, though Matt Ryan has played well enough to make the Falcons this year’s Wild Card Team That Nobody Wants to Face.

After an up and down start, Ryan has gotten comfortable with the Falcons’ new pass-oriented system. That system has had them operating out of 11 personnel (one back, one tight end, three wide receivers) in a no-huddle. Ryan has called most of the game at the line of scrimmage.

This has helped Atlanta on several fronts. For one, Michael Turner, though a power back, has been very good running from the wider 2 x 1 receiver formations. In these sets, Turner gets a clearer picture of his running lanes and faces more cornerbacks and fewer linebackers at the second level.

Secondly, the Falcons can create more inside spacing for Tony Gonzalez, which punishes defenses that try to defend him with a linebacker. Defenses that put a safety on Gonzalez are leaving single coverage on either Julio Jones or Roddy White.

Perhaps the best benefit of the hurry-up is, with all the audibling, Ryan controls the pass protections. That’s given Ryan a much better understanding of where the defensive pressure is likely to come from. Ryan’s presnap protection calls will play a huge factor in the outcome Monday night, as the Saints are known for their aggressive blitzes.

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

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 2:46 pm
 

Film Room: Jets vs. Giants Christmas eve preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


This Christmas Eve battle carries significant playoff implications for both New York teams. With the hype already built in, we can get right to the breakdown.


1. Rex Ryan
The loquacious third-year head coach has already said his is the better team in this game and if that “better team” loses, the blame will be on him. That would make two weeks in a row.

Rarely do we call out a coaching staff in Film Room posts; it’s dicey given the depth of preparation and various subtle and unknown factors that go into a gameplan. But rarely do we see one staff thoroughly outwit another staff the way Andy Reid and his crew did against Ryan & Co. last week.

The Eagles offensive line and backs had no trouble stoning the Jets’ blitzes. That’s noteworthy given that Philly’s front five and LeSean McCoy have been inconsistent in blitz pickup this season. With Jim Leonhard injured, the Jets had to scale back their coverages. They may have scaled too far back; Michael Vick, a poor field reader, diagnosed the Jets’ secondary with ease.

Afterwards, there were reports that Eagles receivers were calling out the coverages prior to the snap. In most of those instances, the Eagles were aligned in spread formations, which widened the Jets defense. That gave Vick clearer looks and, as NFL Matchup Show executive producer Greg Cosell pointed out, it dictated some favorable blocking advantages for the Eagles run game. Instead of adjusting and being proactive, the Jets stagnated and became reactive.

2. Giants run game vs. Jets D
Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine are two of the best in the business. It’s unlikely they’ll be flat two games in a row. It helps that they’re facing a Giants offense that can’t run the ball. When the Giants do attempt to run (and they will), it won’t be from spread formations like the Eagles. They’re a power run team that girth over quickness up front and relies on fullbacks and tight ends on the edges and lead-blocks.

The Jets are tailored to stop this brand of rushing. Nose tackle Sione Pouha will command extra attention inside, leaving one-on-one mismatches for either Muhammad Wilkerson (a fast-rising rookie with a willowy frame and improved explosiveness) or Mike DeVito (a low-to-the-ground energy guy with an underrated burst).

That’s just in the trenches. At the second level, the Jets linebackers present even greater problems. About the only way to beat them is to make them guess wrong (solid, assertive veteran Bart Scott especially can misdiagnose and overreact at times). The Giants running backs, however, have not proven fleet enough this season to trust on draws, counters or other misdirection runs.
Ballard and Keller have been safety valves for their QBs this season. (Getty Images)

3. Tight Ends
In recent weeks, Jake Ballard has evolved from a lumbering but effective seam pass-catcher to something of a potent all-around receiver. He runs a wider variety of routes than anyone would have guessed and is more than a dumpoff option for Eli Manning. One reason for this could be because defenses have been more inclined to double the Giants receivers outside.

The Jets may not have to double given they can match Darrelle Revis on Hakeem Nicks. But that doesn’t mean Ballard won’t be a significant factor Sunday. The Jets linebackers are not particularly comfortable in coverage, and Manning may even like the matchup of Ballard on safety Eric Smith.

Because the Jets corners play so much man, they’re not going to be too responsive to play-action (the corners are outside and watching the receiver, not inside where they can see the quarterback and linemen carry out fakes). Thus, when Manning does fake a handoff, it’s likely Ballard’s defender is the one he’ll be trying to manipulate.

For the Jets, tight end Dustin Keller is critical because, as you’re about to read, he’s Mark Sanchez’s safety valve.

4. Jets passing game
The Giants are usually willing to cover tight ends with linebackers, especially if nickel ‘backer Jacquian Williams is on the field. It’s possible, though, that they’ll find a way to put a safety on Keller.

He’s often Sanchez’s go-to guy in passing situations. This is gold star for Keller, but more than that, it’s a black checkmark for Sanchez. Because he’s as jittery in the pocket and as unreliable in his progressions as he was his rookie year, the Jets’ passing attack is full of simplified one-read plays. A lot of those one-read plays – rollouts, short drag patterns, flairs to the flats, short hooks, etc. – naturally target a tight end. It helps that Sanchez, for all his short-comings, is superb throwing quickly between the numbers.

The Jets have not been able to consistently incorporate their wide receivers in the passing game this season. Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress have not gone over 50 yards receiving in the same game since Week 1. Four times they’ve both been held to 40 yards or less. Some of that is on them (Burress, in particular, has had trouble getting separation as of late), but most of that is on Sanchez and an offensive line that, thanks to right tackle Wayne Hunter, can’t always sustain protection for a seven-step drop.

Perhaps this is the week the receivers come to life. One of them – likely Holmes – will be blanketed by Corey Webster, but the other will get to face either Aaron Ross or Prince Amukumara, two players who have struggled, especially in man coverage.

5. Jets run game
If turnovers hadn’t put the Jets in such an early hole at Philadelphia, we probably would be talking not about Rex Ryan getting outcoached but about Shonn Greene running all over the Eagles D.

The Jets ground game has had some juice in recent weeks. Greene is finally playing downhill, and the line, anchored by indomitable center Nick Mangold, has done a good job hiding its weaknesses and highlighting its strengths (examples: simple pull-blocks for left guard Matt Slauson, running off and not behind finesse left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, tight ends lining up on the right so that Hunter can maximize his raw strength as a strict north/south blocker, etc.).

The Giants, with their iffy linebacking unit, are not a staunch run defense (though second-year end Jason Pierre-Paul is coming close to singlehandedly changing that).

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

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 9:03 am
 

Jerry Jones is 'scared' of Eagles right now

Jerry Jones is 'scared' of Philly this weekend.(US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

The NFC East's been a wild, wild roller-coaster ride this season with every team but the Eagles (the prohibitive preseason favorite) holding sole possession of first place at one point in time.

To wit: Two weeks ago, the Cowboys had their dreams shattered by the Giants on Sunday night ... only to have the Giants pick up the pieces and put it all back together when they folded at home against the Redskins in Week 15. Like I said, crazy. So it's no surprise that Jerry Jones is "scared" of the Eagles when they come into Dallas on Christmas Eve.

"After the butt-kicking they gave us up in Philadelphia, I'm scared," Jones said on KRLD-FM Tuesday, via Marc Sessler of NFL.com. "It's that kind of feeling. The respect turns into being afraid of what they can do to you if you have some breakdowns out there -- so you can put that 'scared' there if you want to.

"I think sometimes I know I do my best when I'm scared."

Unfortunately for Jones, he won't be playing, so however he does may not matter. (Unless in light of recent clock management issues he's decided to wire his owner's box with a line to Jason Garrett's headset.)


It will matter how his players do, though, and they also have every right to be scared. One, the Eagles crushed the Cowboys the last time they played. Two, the Eagles are pretty warm right now and still -- somehow -- in contention to win the division.

And three, a loss would give the Giants a chance to steal first place in the division back and set up a win-or-go-home matchup in New York in Week 17. If they lose that game, the biggest fear for plenty of people will be losing their jobs. And that's reason enough to be scared right now.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 18, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 6:15 pm
 

After terrible start, Jets making it respectable

Philadelphia has taken a 28-13 lead into halftime (AP).

By Josh Katzowitz

You might have thought that with the Giants putrid performance today against the Redskins, there was little question Tom Coughlin’s squad would be the most embarrassing team to hail from New Jersey today. The first 20 minutes of the Jets-Eagles game might have been even worse than that.

That’s because the Jets fell behind four touchdowns to Philadelphia early in the second quarter but somehow have recovered before halftime and went into intermission losing 28-13.

While the Jets have relied on solid running by LeSean McCoy (12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown) and 165 total yards from Michael Vick, the Jets, for most of the half, were hindered by three turnovers. But after allowing four-straight touchdowns to Philadelphia, New York has forced turnovers from the Eagles and has scored 13-straight points to end the half.

But to make matters even worse -- or, frankly, even more stupid -- after Sanchez fit a nice 25-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes to cut the lead to 18, Holmes inexplicably used the ball as a prop and began flapping his wings like an eagle. It, of course, drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Holmes

But hey, lay off Holmes. He’d already fumbled the ball that led directly to an Eagles score and he tipped a Sanchez pass that was intercepted. He was probably just excited he actually held onto the ball this time.

One piece of bad news for the Eagles, despite allowing the touchdown and two field goals in the second quarter. DeSean Jackson, after making a tackle following a McCoy fumble, went to the locker room with an unknown injury.



Follow all the Week 15 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games: MIA-BUF | SEA-CHI | CAR-HOU | TEN-IND | GB-KC | NO-MIN | WAS-NYG | CIN-STL
4 p.m. ET games: DET-OAK | CLE-ARI | NE-DEN | NYJ-PHI




For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:35 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 14

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 14 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. They're Not Saying 'Boooooo' ...

True story: Just over two years ago, T.J. Yates came on the jumbotron at the Dean Dome during a North Carolina game as the lead-in to a UNC football video, said "I'm T.J. Yates and I'm a Tar Heel," and Yates, who was in the crowd, was booed mercilessly by Tar Heel fans in attendance.

One surprisingly strong senior season and a slew of injuries to Houston quarterbacks later, Yates is the starting quarterback for the first Texans team to ever make the playoffs. He's no figurehead, either, as his play in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-19 victory in Cincinnati showed.

We think that logic and common football sense says a rookie quarterback can't take a team deep into the playoffs, but does it? This Texans team's success is predicated on running the ball and playing defense.

And that's not too far off what Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger leaned on as rookies. Both those guys went to the AFC Championship Game, as a rookie quarterback mind you.

Yates is different than those Sanchez or Roethlisberger because he's matured under tough circumstances, his expectations are lower, he didn't leave school early so he's more experienced and he's got good mentors surrounding him on the roster.

If Houston gets into a shootout with an opponent or finds themselves with a huge halftime deficit, they're probably in trouble. But if that happens, it's not on Yates anyway -- the defense and rushing attack probably already let them down.

Just remember that when it comes time to debate the viability of the Texans in the postseason that the rookie quarterback under center is about as viable as the stereotype that the Texans can't stop anyone on defense.

2. Where It's Due in Denver

It's about time, in this LOL-worthy Tim Tebow saga that hit another high with Denver's 13-10 overtime win over Chicago Sunday, to give credit where credit is due. No, not the defense. No, not the running game. No, not the super-human effort from kicker Matt Prater on Sunday. No, not John Fox or John Elway.

Let's give credit to ... Josh McDaniels.

Remember, McDaniels is the guy that drafted Tebow and blossoming receiver Demaryius Thomas. Both might have been reaches when they were taken (25th and 22nd overall, respectively) and both looked like absolutely horrid selections pretty recently. But McDaniels obviously knew something about these guys and his premonitions and talent evaluation is paying off for Denver now.

Look, there are guys that were taken after Tebow and Thomas that are better overall additions to a roster (Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty stand out), and the value McDaniels wasted at those spots is disappointing. Also, given the Rams struggles on offense this year, handing credit his way isn't exactly the chic thing to do.

But as we get further from his nightmare regime in Denver and more ensconced in Tebowmania, it at least warrants a tip of the cap to McD for his decision to select two guys who are starting to fulfill the expectations that come with their draft slot.

3. Cowboy Down

We spent the better part of the podcast (you can listen above, just by clicking play!) trying to figure out who to blame for Dallas' failings in their 37-34 loss to the Giants on Sunday night.

But since Rex Ryan egged on some defensive coverages, Tony Romo egged on a big third-down throw to Miles Austin and Jason Garrett egged on clock management, isn't it possible that it's a systematic issue across the team as a whole?

We assume that because there's a new coach running the show, with different coordinators in place and some new players, that things are different. But things just aren't.

Jerry Jones knows this -- with the Giants at the goal line and the clock ticking down, an NBC camera caught him screaming "Timeout, Jason!"

Give credit where credit is to due to Eli Manning and the Giants for clawing their way back into this game, because it was a pretty magnificent comeback, something Eli's becoming quite proficient at this season.

But these Cowboys just can't close. We've seen it over and over this season and at some point, the bossman's patience for a lack of execution is going to run out.

4. Start 'Em/Sit 'Em?

The Packers have, with their 46-16 obliteration of Oakland in Green Bay, now officially clinched a first-round bye. Thanks to the 49ers losing to the Cardinals on Sunday, Mike McCarthy's team is just one win or one San Francisco loss away from clinching homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

But Sunday's victory came at a price -- star wide receiver Greg Jennings is likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Aaron Rodgers said that "hopefully" the Packers can get Jennings back in time for the team's first playoff game, following their bye, which is approximately five weeks from now.

This begs the question: will McCarthy and Green Bay chase 16-0 with the same fervor as the Patriots?

Losing someone like Jennings is debilitating to their run at repeating as Super Bowl champions, but it's not a dealbreaker because of all the talent they have at the various skill positions. Losing Aaron Rodgers? That's a whole different story.

And what if someone like Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams or Clay Matthews was lost for the rest of the season playing in a meaningless game? Yeah, that would be bad.

There's no right answer that doesn't involve "winning the title" so it's unfair to judge whatever McCarthy and Ted Thompson decide to do. We don't know how things would play out in an alternate universe. But Jennings injury might be a bad sign for the chances at Green Bay running the table.\

5. Familiar Feeling

New England is streaking towards a likely No. 1 seed right now. And they have a  kerfluffle on the sidelines between Tom Brady and his offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien that everyone can talk about. And there's the whole "Can I draft Rob Gronkowski in the second round of my fantasy league next year?" debate that might be worth discussing when going over interesting things about this team. 

But I can't shake the fact that the Redskins piled up well over 500 yards passing between Rex Grossman and Brandon Banks (!) plus 120 rushing yards from Roy Helu and narrowly lost to the Pats 34-27.

Again: the Redskins did this. Back in 2009, New England got throttled by the Ravens in Foxborough, because Baltimore had a stout defense and Ray Rice went HAM on a Pats defense that couldn't shut him down.

This year? The Patriots defense, a season-long problem for the team, reminds a lot of that squad, in that they can't stop anyone who's physical and can play ball control. Or, really, they can't stop anyone -- only four teams have scored less than 20 points against the Pats, and one of those was quarterbacked by Tyler Palko.

There are a lot of good defensive teams headed to the playoffs in the AFC, with a lot of good running backs, and some pretty talented quarterbacks.

Brady and Belichick are great about covering up flaws on a roster, but when they run into a physical team in the playoffs, we might see a similar result from years past.

6. So You're Telling Me There's a Chance?

The 2011 NFL season wouldn't feel right if we didn't get a Lloyd Christmas-inspired false-hope run from the Eagles and Chargers, would it?

The Eagles are still alive after a 26-10 beat down of Miami, although making the playoffs at this point involves jumping a whopping five other teams, and is about as likely as the Eagles retaining Juan Castillo next season.

San Diego's path to the postseason should have been a little bit easier, because the Raiders lost and the Broncos were supposed to lose (see: Tim Tebow doing what Tim Tebow does). Now things are much murkier, as San Diego needs either the Jets -- a team they should have beaten -- to go 1-2 down the stretch, or the Broncos -- another team they should have beaten -- to lose. And the Bolts have to win

8-8 and 9-7, respectively, are doable based for the two teams, based on their schedules. But even that kind of effort might not be enough to save the jobs of certain people in certain positions for these teams.

7. Call It a Comeback, Kid

For the second time this season, four teams in a single week overcame 12-point (or more) deficits to win.

Why? Well, as it turns out, offensive points aren't the only exciting thing that's happened as a result of the offense-friendly rules the NFL installed over the past few years. Comebacks occur more frequently too.

And big comebacks as well -- Atlanta, Jacksonville, Houston and Arizona were all down by 12-plus points and mounted a comeback in Week 14 -- in Week 2, another four teams did it as well.

Limitations on members of the secondary, limitations on defensive players hitting quarterbacks and the middle of the field opening up because of defenseless receiver rules mean teams are able to sling the ball around more frequently.

Defenses simply can't clamp down on teams when they have a lead and if someone takes their foot off the gas (see: the Panthers vs. the Falcons on Sunday), a comeback is absolutely in the cards.

8. Taking Flight

Note to anyone who ends up in a December-only fantasy league: draft Shonn Greene. Dude gets unholy hot when the weather gets cold and he's doing it again this year, with four touchdowns and well over 200 yards the last two weeks, including a career-high 129 rushing yards in a blowout win against Kansas City Sunday.

Not coincidentally, it might be smart to not write off the Jets ever again. Somehow, someway, they manage to win enough games to sneak into the playoffs.

Rex Ryan's crew is doing it again, and even though this rendition of the Jets is clearly inferior to the previous two seasons, it's hard to count them out.

Twice in his two years as head coach, Ryan's used a formula to get to the AFC Championship Game despite fighting uphill to even get into the playoffs. And now he's doing it again.

The Jets last three opponents -- Buffalo, Washington and Kansas City -- are about as cream-puffy as it comes, but you only have to play the people on your schedule. So I'm really not sure why this wasn't as obvious an outcome as Greene being largely irrelevant for fantasy teams until now.

9. Get Your Mojo Running

Lost in some of the fantastic Week 14 action was the fact that the incredibly underrated Maurice Jones-Drew, the only elite skill-position player that the Jaguars have, set the franchise record for career touchdowns, surpassing the also incredibly underrated Fred Taylor.

"Mojo" did it on a day in which he went absolutely b-a-n-a-n-a-s, rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns, and catching six passes for 51 receiving yards and a pair of scores through the air as well.

“Words can’t really explain how excited I am,” Jones-Drew said.

Jones-Drew's one of the prototypes for the modern NFL back -- small but powerful, quick, great hands and a secret workhorse. (Not to mention he's a stalwart in the community, and a good guy to boot.) Amid an often ugly offensive performance by Jacksonville on a weekly basis, MJD's been insanely consistent in 2011.

Dude deserves some love.

10. Great Expectations

It's fascinating to see that Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo are two guys everyone agrees find themselves firmly on the hot seat. That's because last year, Morris and Spags were a combined one game away from both being in the playoffs last year.

Morris won 10 games with the surprising Buccaneers and even though Spagnuolo went 7-9, he had a shot at winning the putrid NFC West in the final week of the season.

The 17 total wins for the two teams has created a pretty terrible predicament for the coaches who nearly got them to the postseason though: both guys are looking like strong candidates to be fired after the 2011 season.

Tampa Bay lost its seventh-straight game in horrific fashion on Sunday when Blaine Gabbert and the Jags dropped a 41-14 bomb on the Bucs and the Rams are scheduled to start Tom Brandstater against the Seahawks. That will probably not end well.

The point of all this is that the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me lately business and Spags and Morris have lost lately. A lot.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Packers have now scored 466 points on the season, the second-highest total in NFL history through 13 weeks, behind only the Pats 503 in 2007.
... Drew Brees and Johnny Unitas are the only two quarterbacks in NFL history with 40-straight games with passing touchdowns.
... Rob Gronkowski has the all-time record for touchdown receptions in a single season by a tight end with 15.
... Eli Manning's 400-yard passing performance was the 14th over the season, an NFL record.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF(S) O' THE WEEK

You can see video of KC kicker Ryan Succop executing the worst onsides kick in the history of football right here, but this GIF of the three-yard putt/kick is just mesmerizingly depressing.



And I'm double dipping this week again, as Jabar Gaffney's dive into the seats without being caught is just too much fun to ignore.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Steve Spagnuolo -- Spags really, really needs a win on Monday night against the Seahawks.
  • Raheem Morris -- As noted above, this team won 10 games last year!
  • Todd Haley -- After righting the ship, the Chiefs are back to sinking. This may be related to "starting Tyler Palko" but still, Haley's the coach.
  • Jim Caldwell -- *stares blankly at Colts record*
  • Norv Turner -- Norv's fanning the hell out of his seat, but the Chargers might not have enough games left to make up for the bad start.

Award Worth Discussing of the Week

Aaron Rodgers has retired the MVP watch and the Colts are locked into Andrew Luck so I'm adjusting on the fly. Today's award worth discussing: Coach of the Year.

I find this race fascinating because you have four primary contenders, all with totally different situations.

There's Mike McCarthy of the Packers, who's threatening to run the table with a defending Super Bowl champ. Then there's Jim Harbaugh, who's made the a talented, underachieving 49ers team relevant again and quickly. They're the two favorites.

Then there's the underdogs: John Fox, who continues to win despite Tim Tebow flying under the radar in terms of media attention, and Gary Kubiak, who will not let a quarterback injury kill his season.

If McCarthy goes undefeated it's impossible not to give him the nod because, well, they didn't lose. But if the Packers falter at all, Harbaugh's sheen could fade enough down the stretch (a loss to Pittsburgh and struggles against Seattle and St. Louis maybe?) to let Fox and Kubes make a play for the award.

My vote, provided things play out the way they have so far, is for Fox, since he's winning with less in a way no one ever saw coming, well ahead of when people believed he'd win.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 9:37 pm
 

Eagles' Reid says job not tied to firing Castillo

Is Reid's future in Philly contingent on dumping his defensive coordinator? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Last Thursday, the Eagles were outclassed by the Seahawks. The loss dropped them to 4-8, and in the process raised more questions about head coach Andy Reid's future in Philadelphia.

It's an odd situation for Reid; he's in his 13th season as the Eagles' coach and he's won 60 percent of the time. Only twice previously has he had a losing record. Eight times the Eagles have won at least 10 games, and that includes seven division titles and one conference championship.

But now, after assembling the Dream Team only to watch Philly lose twice as often as it wins, Reid's job security is tenuous. He hired longtime Eagles offensive assistant Juan Castillo to be the defensive coordinator (that experiment has somehow gone worse than you could ever imagine) and according to a report over the weekend, the only way Reid keeps stays in Philly is if he cans Castillo.

On Wednesday, Reid was asked about the "It's you or Juan" report.

“Nobody has approached me on it,” he said, according to Philadelphia Sports Daily. “My mind is to continue to get better as coaches and players. My mind goes no further than that. That’s where I’m at. We’re right in the middle of this thing and we have to continue to get better; that’s what we have to do.”

Reid added that he is in frequent contact with owner Jeffrey Lurie and team president Joe Banner and while the season has been full of frustrations, everyone's on the same page.

On Monday, Reid said that he hadn't had time to think about his future, but did offer an explanation for the Eagles' struggles this season.

"If you stay in one place long enough, age catches all players no matter how great they are; they're going to outplay their career and you've got to rebuild it," he said on his radio show, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McClane. "We're going through that. You look down the middle of our defense and we are young, young.

"People perceive us to be an old football team, but we're really not an old football team. We're one of the youngest teams in the [NFL]. That takes time."

On the one hand, Reid's right: the Eagles are the sixth-youngest team in the league (average age: 25.8). On the other hand, if he's going with that defense, how does he explain this: the Eagles made the playoffs last season with the fourth-youngest roster, according to ESPN's Mike Sando. (Note: Sando's list is from July 2010 and includes undrafted free agents and unsigned draft choices. Given that most of those players are in their early 20s, it artificially lowers the average. But assuming that each NFL team, on average, cuts the same number of these players before the regular season means that the Eagles were still one of the NFL's youngest organizations.)

McClane writes that the Eagles players still support Reid, including quarterback Michael Vick.

"We've had our bad breaks, games that we should have won . . . and just couldn't pull it out - whether we did it on offense or defense," Vick said. "Honestly, I just don't think Coach Reid had anything to do with that.

"We all have watched the games, we've all seen it, we were all a part of it, we know the reasons why we didn't pull them out, and it wasn't coach's fault. To hear that, it kind of upsets me."

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:34 pm
 

Vick on Week 14: 'I'll definitely be out there'

Posted by Will Brinson



Saying that the Eagles season is "hanging in the balance" would be an insult to all the ornaments dangling periously on our Christmas tree right now, but the Eagles aren't "technically" eliminated, so there's still some hope for 2011, however slim.

Adding to that hope is the fact that Michael Vick says he'll "definitely" return in Week 14 against the Dolphins.

"Yeah, absolutely," Vick told reporters after practice on Monday. "This Sunday I’ll definitely be out there. I feel like I’ve got to be accountable for my team. I want to be there. You know, I just want to get back to doing what I love to do, and that’s playing the game of football. There’s nothing in this world like the game.

"I put my heart and soul into it, man, and I just wish I could have been out there the last three weeks, but it just hasn’t panned out that way. We’ve got to keep our heads up and keep moving in the right direction."

Everything's obviously not all roses in Philly, as the Eagles are 4-8. Plus, Vick says his injured ribs still aren't fully healed.

"I won’t say they’re 100-percent, but we’ve still got a week to go, I get better each and every day," Vick said. "Still working hard in the treatment room to try to get better, but I went out and had a great practice and I feel good."

It doesn't make much sense to bring Vick back unless he's actually ready, but the Eagles have been pretty patient by keeping him on the bench over the past three weeks as they went 1-2 with Vince Young struggling under center.

And while there's no reason to get any hope up about a potential run to the playoffs, it is still possible. All the Eagles have to do is win out (4-0, obviously) and have the Cowboys go 1-3 and the Giants go 2-2.

That scenario is made difficult by the fact that the Cowboys and Giants play each other twice -- someone has to win ... but someone has to lose, too! -- but I suppose weirder things have happened.


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Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Prorating Tim Tebow's statistics + Experts Chat

Is Tim Tebow really an MVP candidate? But, no, seriously, is he? Join us Wednesday at 1:00 pm ET to discuss it with our experts, and check out Tebow's prorated stats below.



Posted by Will Brinson

On our most recent podcast, my colleague Ryan Wilson attempted to convince me that the Tim Tebow haters had disappeared. And while even the most rabit anti-Tebites* have agreed he's doing something special, there are still plenty of people who won't believe.

Whatever, I addressed that in Sorting the Sunday Pile. Instead, I thought it might be kind of interesting to take Tebow's 2011 season, now approximately eight games long, prorate it across a full NFL season, and see where he stands.

A couple caveats apply first. One, when I started doing this, I had in mind that Tebow's season might line up with David Garrard's 2007 season, but Tebow's already out-rushed Garrard. And two, prorating stats is obviously not precise, because performances vary and no single player is going to produce the exact same statline over the course a second set of eight games that they produced over the first.

But still, Tebow's work -- 75 of 158 passing for 1,054 yards, 10 touchdowns, one interception and 468 rushing yards -- since taking over basically encompasses a half season. Double it and we get some theoretical production if he started. That would give Tebow more than 2,000 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 900 rushing yards.

Those are decent -- and more importantly, odd -- numbers for a quarterback, so I figured I'd plug those landmarks into Pro-Football-Reference.com and see all the different quarterbacks that accomplished the feat. I was pretty surprised when this came back:

Player Year Cmp
Att Yds Cmp % TD INT RSH YDS
Randall Cunningham 1990 271
465 3,466 58.3 %
30 13 942
Michael Vick
2006 204
388 2,474 52.6 %
20 13 1,039
Tim Tebow
2011+ 150
316 2,108 47.5 %
20 2 932

Worth noting: Vick went 7-9 with the Falcons that year, while Cunningham went 10-6 with the Eagles. Both guys started all 16 games -- Tebow only has seven starts across his current statistical season. (Oh, and as Wilson points out, Cunningham is now an ordained minister. Coincidence? I think not.)

Tebow's theoretical season, it turns out, puts him in some pretty stout company when it comes to mobile quarterbacks. Obviously he's not on pace to throw up some sort of "Tom Brady 2007" season, and his completion percentage clearly needs work. And maybe if he's improving it, his rushing yards will decline.

The lesson isn't that he's as good as Randall Cunningham or even Michael Vick circa 2006. The lesson is just that Tebow's compiling stats and playing quarterback in a manner that's effective enough to put him in the same category as some talented quarterbacks if he was so do it over the course of a full season.

+ Prorated
*H/T: Kramer, natch

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com