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

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 8

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) D.C. Drama

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

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

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

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

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



2.) NFC powers tighten gap on AFC powers

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



4.) Little Big Men

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



6.) Uh oh

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

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

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

On his former teammates…

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

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

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

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

His final word…

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

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



7.) The NFL’s best team?

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

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



8.) Do we believe the nautical villains?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



9.) NFL makes a good impression in Europe

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

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

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

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



10.) Quick Hits

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


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


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


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


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


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


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Posted on: October 29, 2010 4:14 pm
 

Max Hall gets ripped

Posted by Andy Benoit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on: October 28, 2010 9:40 am
 

Hot Routes 10.28.10: Why not try Kabletown?



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- Jets owner Woody Johnson is trying to solve the Cablevision/Fox conundrum so New York's fans can, you know, actually watch the game. Yeah, good luck with that, Woody. By the way, the title of this post is in homage to 30 Rock. Kabletown doesn't actually exist. Or does it?

- George Atallah, the NFL Players Association’s assistant director of external affairs, plays off the Cablevision/Fox fight and says it’s similar to where the NFL owners and NFLPA labor dispute is headed.

- Tremendous news for a guy down on his luck. Seahawks RB Stafon Johnson – who had the whole crushed larynx thing last year and the terrible leg injury/reconstructive surgery in the preseason – is possibly only a few weeks away from beginning to run.

- Carl Johnson, the league’s vice president of officiating, told the NFL Network on Wednesday that the officials blew the Minnesota TE Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown catch/reversal from last Sunday. Yet, Vikings coach Brad Childress’ $35,000 fine will stand. No reversal on that.

- Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott might be in some trouble. With his job. Not with the law or anything.

- Armando Salguero thinks Sean Smith should be starting at CB instead of Jason Allen. He might get his wish this week.

- Cardinals QB Max Hall thinks he can be so much better than he played last week when he went (gasp) 4 for 16 for 36 yards and a pick. Arizona hopes so. Sounds like Hall is going to start this week, despite suffering a concussion last Sunday.

- Here’s how Cowboys WR Miles Austin is trying to correct his “drops” problem. By focusing more. That's a pretty good idea.

- Tampa Bay’s Cody Grimm will face off this week against his father, Russ Grimm. Well, Russ Grimm won’t be playing. He’s a coach now for the Cardinals. Hopefully, though, Cody can score a free dinner off his old man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****
Quickly …

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

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

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

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

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Posted on: October 26, 2010 8:25 pm
 

Max Hall passes concussion tests

Posted by Will Brinson

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

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

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

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Posted on: October 25, 2010 4:27 pm
 

Hot Routes 10.25.10 Week 7 box score tidbits

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Yet another story lost in the Favre hoopla Sunday night: the Vikings finished with 196 yards rushing that game.

Randy Moss had just three catches Sunday, which was three more than Donald Driver. Driver’s streak of 133-straight games with a reception is over. (For what it’s worth, Drive was playing with a bum quad.)

Carson Palmer lost Sunday, but we’re guessing that his fantasy owners won. Palmer’s final numbers: 36/50 for 412 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. C. Palmer (US Presswire)

Jordan Shipley, in his first game back since suffering a concussion after T.J. Ward’s vicious and dirty hit, caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.

John Abraham caused some problems for the Bengals. It wasn’t an utterly dominant performance, but Abraham recorded two sacks Sunday and consistently pushed the pocket.

The Bears were just 2/10 on third down against the Redskins. That means they had three times as many turnovers as third down conversions.

Ryan Torain ripped off 125 yards on 21 carries. The Bears were playing without injured outside linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle).

Bears guard Chris Williams finally got off the snide, catching his first pass of the season for a gain of four yards. (Without seeing the play, the guess here is that the ball was either tipped, or Cutler was remarkably errant on an attempted smoke screen to DeAngelo Hall.)

Albert Haynesworth was a menace for most of the afternoon. He finished with a sack and two tackles for a loss.

The Titans won despite getting just 66 yards out of Chris Johnson’s 24 rushing attempts.

Jeremy Maclin was targeted 14 times but finished with just five catches for 42 yards.

The Chiefs gashed the Jaguars for 236 yards on the ground. At one point, Thomas Jones ripped off a 70-yard run and Jamaal Charles came in and punched in the goal-line score.

Dwayne Bowe scored two touchdowns for a second week in a row.

For the Jaguars, some guy named Courtney Greene started at safety and led the team with 12 tackles. (Because Greene started at safety, we’ll assume this means he’s about to be cut.)

It took Big Ben all of two games to get back into 300-yard passing form. Roethlisberger threw for 302 yards against the Dolphins.

The Steelers held Ronnie Brown to 14 yards on nine carries.

The official box score lists the Steelers have having four fumbles, with two lost and one recovered. That leaves one fumble unaccounted for. Does anyone, by chance, know what happened there?

Colt McCoy won his second start as a pro, but he contributed only 74 yards through the air in doing so.

Peyton Hillis rushed for 69 yards, which was enough by one yards to beat out punter Reggie Hodges to be the Browns’ leading rusher Sunday.

Saints safety Darren Sharper had two tackles in his first action of the season.


Scott Fujita returned to New Orleans and posted 11 tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss, an interception and a pass deflection.

The Rams scored 17 points in the second quarter at Tampa but zero in the other three quarters.

LeGarrette Blount headlined the Bucs backfield with 11 carries for 72 yards. Cadillac Williams, who caught Josh Freeman’s winning touchdown pass, had just 12 yards on four carries.

Matt Moore was 28/41 for 308 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (which, granted, was an ugly one returned by Ray McDonald for six points). All in all, that’s a mountain-moving quarterbacking performance for the Panthers.

Steve Smith had four catches for 50 yards in his first game back from an ankle injury (which he tweaked in the third quarter, by the way), but it was David Gettis who wore the receiver hat for the Panthers. The sixth-round rookie had eight receptions, 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Joe Flacco was just 16/31 against the Bills, but he did throw three touchdowns and no interceptions. None of those TD’s went to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The former Pro Bowler was targeted just twice and finished with no catches.

Steve Johnson and Lee Evans both went over 100 yards for the Bills.

Ray Lewis: 15 tackles, one sack, one huge fumble force and recovery.

Max Hall and Derek Anderson combined for 12/33 passing

The Cardinals lost four fumbles at Seattle.

The Raiders pretty much embarrassed the Broncos in every statistical way imaginable.

Four the Patriots 15 first downs Sunday were a result of a Chargers penalty.

San Diego rushed for a measly 38 yards on 19 attempts.

Journeyman Antwan Barnes posted two tackles for a loss and two sacks for the Chargers.


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Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 6:23 pm
 

Strolling the Sideline: Epic 'passing' numbers

Posted by Will Brinson



There are eight divisions in football. You probably know that.

What you might not know is that there are 13 teams in first place right now. 13! That's the first time in NFL history that this many teams have been in first place six weeks into the year.

Want more proof that there's parity in the NFL? For only the second time in history, there are 21 teams with a .500 or better record -- which is bananas, frankly.

Not to mention Cincinnati and Minnesota at 2-3 and we have the three cellar dwellers of the AFC West kicking it at 2-4. (Granted, they're not within "striking distance" of .500, but they're just two games back of first place.)

All of that is to say, there are only four teams that you can reasonably say are finished six weeks into the year -- the Panthers, the Bills, the Browns and the Lions.

Even Detroit's got a shot given how topsy-turvy that division looks.

Of course, this isn't playing out with just shoddy football -- 51 games this year have been decided by eight points or less, which is equal to the third highest number through seven weeks since 1994.

Factor in that only two games this week have spreads of more than 10 points (nine games are your standard "three-pointers"), and it's pretty obvious that, right now, we have some of the most even-field-football going on in a long time.

Make sure to enjoy it.

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Remember how the Atlanta Falcons gave up some big plays to the Eagles? Well, that's part of their "thing" -- they have a talented defense but one that's young and it can burn them if teams take shots downfield.

That could be problematic in Week 7, considering that Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco rank second and fourth, respectively, in active players with receptions of 40-plus yards.

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Enjoy a good shootout? Like watching fantasy players pile up points? Then you should probably check out the Jaguars-Chiefs game. Jacksonville tops the league with eight 40-yard-plus passes allowed and give up an obscene 8.8 yards per pass to opponents, not to mention 263.7 yards per game in the air. KC's not that much better, having given up five 40-plus bombs and 249.4 yards per game through the air so far this season.

Of course, they haven't played Trent Edwards and/or Todd Bouman all year, though.

****


Neither the Jaguars or the Chiefs are so bad against the pass that they're on pace to "top" the most passing yards allowed per game since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, a distinction held by the 1995 Atlanta Falcons, who coughed up an average of 283.8 yards per game. The Houston Texans, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks are all currently "better" (it's actually worse, but it's Friday, and we're feeling generous). Out of the three, clearly the Texans look the worst, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68.9 percent of their passes for 306.2 yards per game so far, with a QB rating of 106.3, 8.2 yards per completion and 14 total TDs to four interceptions. Things are very, very bad. We'll talk about whether they can keep it up next week, as they're on bye now.

But the Redskins and Seahawks are both playing, so it's worth questioning whether or not they can give up enough yardage to stay on pace. The Seahawks get Max Hall and the Cardinals, so it doesn't seem likely that they'll cough up 290 yards -- this is the same Cards team that upset the defending champs without scoring an offensive touchdown last week.

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The Redskins get the Bears, who despite running a Mike Martz high-flying passing offense, are mediocre as mess this season, ranking 22nd in the league in passing yards per game at 192.8; Jay Cutler, as you may know, has been sacked approximately 342 times so far (okay, "only" 27), and he's thrown six touchdowns against three picks.

In short, it doesn't seem likely that either team will be close to the Texans after this week -- even if you tack on 50 yards t the Bears and Cardinals respective averages (because, you see, they're going against poor passing defenses) the Redskins end the week with 290.26 yards allowed per game and the Seahawks fall all the way to 276.10 per game.

If either one plays well, or Max Hall and Jay Cutler act like Max Hall and Jay Cutler, the Texans could be far and away up top for an amazingly "productive" season against the pass. 

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The Chargers are the top team in the NFL in terms of offensive and defensive yardage, and yet, have a losing record.

Is raw yardage an impossibly silly statistic to use in terms of gauging the best team in the NFL? Absolutely, although it's not usually indicative of a team that's 2-4.

In 2009, the Saints (Super Bowl champions) were the top offensive yardage team, while the Jets were the top defensive yardage team. In 2008, it was the Saints and Steelers (Super Bowl champions). In 2007, it was the Patriots (Super Bowl participants) and Steelers. In … well, you get where I'm going here, right?

Andy and I discussed the rarity of this in our podcast, but just how abnormal is it? Michael David Smith notes at the Wall St. Journal that only eight teams since the 1970 merger have ever led both offensive and defensive yardage in a week. Although out of those eight, several led multiple weeks, for a total of 18 weeks, but we're talking all-time great teams here, with the 1972 Miami Dolphins and 2007 New England Patriots in the mix.

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Amazingly, Brett Favre doesn't already (by himself) hold a longevity record -- he and John Elway are currently tied for most games started in one stadium, with 118, which, by the way, is an absolutely bananas number when you consider that free agency exists, teams only play half their games at home and how hard it is to get even 16 straight starts.

Anyway, Elway obviously has all 118 of his at Mile High Stadium -- Favre, as you might have guessed, has started 118 at Lambeau Field.

All complaints about the drama surrounding Favre aside, it's still incredibly ironic/amazing that he'll break that record as a Minnesota Viking.

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Posted on: October 11, 2010 5:06 pm
 

F&R NFL Approval Matrix Week 5

Posted by Will Brinson

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

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