Week 12 Morning Aftermath

Last week, we rolled out a different format for the Morning Aftermath.  And since the complaints were relatively minimal, we’re sticking with it. 

(Cue the “change it back, asshole” crowd.)

So here we go, with ten specific, possibly random, always detailed observations from the day that was in the NFL.

And since plenty of you believe that the Aftermath clutters up the Rumor Mill, we’ll put No. 2 through No. 10 after the “Continue Reading” thing.

1.  Renewing the call for full-time officials.

For years, arguably decades, the NFL’s approach to head injuries involved the rubbing of dirt and the adoption of a tobacco executive’s demeanor.

Then, after a single hearing on the subject before the House Judiciary Committee in October, the league has unfurled a kitchen-sink strategy, with so many new rules and procedures that the act of keeping up with them makes us feel like we’re suffering the symptoms of a concussion, too.

The message?  The NFL will do whatever it must to protect the golden goose, when the league believes that the golden goose is in genuine distress.

Hopefully, that same pressure eventually will be applied to the league’s refusal to consider the hiring of full-time officials.

Apart from the fact that hiring full-time officials would create the perception that the league is doing everything in its power to reduce the error rate to zero-point-zero percent (even if that goal is not attainable), constant access to the officials likely would help prevent the mistake made during last night’s chaotic final seconds of regulation.

During a play that started with 25 seconds on a moving clock, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco fumbled at the Pittsburgh 42.  Baltimore offensive lineman Ben Grubbs recovered at the 37. 

The clock kept ticking.    

The Ravens, with no time outs remaining, rushed their field-goal unit onto the field.

The clock kept ticking.

From the outset, it was obvious that it was going to be a close shave, and the officials rightfully tried to give the Ravens a wide berth, allowing them to beat the buzzer– or not — on their own. 

In the end, the Ravens got their players aligned and kicker Billy Cundiff launched a low-flying attempt that initially looked to be long enough — and that might have made it if the holder had lined up the more customary seven yards behind the snapper, instead of nine.

Through it all, none of the part-time employees in black and white stripes noticed that the ball should have been moved back to the spot of Flacco’s fumble, which would have resulted in an attempt of 60 or more yards.

Even though the Ravens still won the game, a good kick from Cundiff would have created a major outcry from the Steelers and their fans.  (On the bright side, it might have prompted those who think the officials actually wear black and gold stripes to pipe down.  At least for a week.) 

The outcry would have been fully justified.

The NFL pays the officials handsomely (by part-time job standards) to know and to apply all of the rules, under every circumstance.  So if part-time officials aren’t good enough to make the right decisions on a full-time basis, the easiest remedy is to make them full-time employees.

By requiring the officials to devote their full professional time and attention to perfecting their craft, the league could devise offseason simulations in which officials are forced to apply the rules during times of chaos, such as the final seconds of a game where the clock is ticking and one team is trying to get off a final play. 

With increased repetitions, the officials’ ability to think clearly in such circumstances necessarily would improve.

The league prefers the current system in part because it would be extremely expensive to persuade the best officials to give up the trades they ply during the offseason, and from Monday through Thursday from August through January.  But as the NFL continues to grow in popularity and significance, something must be done.

That’s precisely why the NFL has so staunchly opposed efforts to legalize sports wagering.  Once people are legitimately betting large sums of money on the outcome of football games, the pressure on the league to iron out all officiating errors would dramatically increase.

Eventually, one sufficiently glaring error during a game on which many millions of dollars legally was wagered could prompt someone in Congress to decide that it’s time to take a close look at the overall integrity of NFL officiating.

Especially if that someone in Congress ended up on the losing side of the bet.

And within weeks after a hearing on the issue, the memos from the league office regarding improvements to the process would be raining down like ticker tape at the parade the Steelers held after winning what many still believe was a zebra-tainted Super Bowl XL.

2.  Colts need to keep the pedal to the metal.

Regardless of whether they’re chasing a 16-0 finish or whether they’re simply playing out the string, the 11-0 Indianapolis Colts need to guard zealously against a late-season letdown.

Too many times, great teams have taken a collective foot off the gas in December.  Then, when facing after the bye week a wild-card winner riding the momentum of a postseason win and whatever else had to be done in order to get into the tournament in the first place, the great team finds itself the subject of the latest installment of the NFL Films “Missing Rings” series.

In 2005, the Colts won their first 13 games, lost two of their next three, and then fell in the divisional round to a Steelers team that won four in a row to get into the playoffs and vanquished the AFC North champions on their own turf in Cincinnati. 

Two years later, the Colts let up the final weekend of the season against the Titans, who were playing what essentially was an early playoff game.  Indy lost that game, and then the Colts lost their next game — the one that mattered a whole lot more.

Other supposedly great teams have also limped into the playoffs, and then couldn’t flip the switch back to “on” when facing a hungry underdog hoping to make a statement to the football-watching world.  Last year, the Titans saw their 13-3 record evaporate against the upstart Ravens, and the Giants’ 12-4 record and No. 1 seed meant nothing as the Eagles, 5-5-1 after 11 games, derailed dreams of consecutive championships.

Indeed, in every postseason since 2005, half of the teams that earned a bye said “farewell” to the playoffs in their first game. 

In the AFC, the top two seeds are 3-5 in the divisional round during that span.

The Colts know this dynamic better than anyone.  They have played in three division-round games in the last four years.  In those contests, the road team is 3-0.

So now that Indy has become the first team to clinch a spot in the playoffs, the challenge will be to ignore the fact that some of the upcoming games might be meaningless, and to keep pushing toward the playoffs, treating each game like it has great significance.

In reality, it does.  Elite teams that drift off course in December often can’t get back on track. 

For the teams of the AFC, the ability to do so has become the exception, not the rule.

3.  Can we all stop saying that Vince Young has a nine-game winning streak?

Vince Young attributes the resurrection of his career to humility.  He has uttered the word or some variation of it many times over the past month. 

For the Titans sake, it’s hopefully more than a facade.

Based on Young’s most recent performance — a stirring, come-from-behind effort including 387 yards passing, an Elwayesque final drive, and a wing-and-a-prayer touchdown pass to steal the win — it might be getting hard to find a helmet big enough for Young’s head.

The best evidence?  As he left the playing surface at LP Field, Young held up nine fingers. 

For the Titans sake, it was hopefully a tribute to the late Steve McNair.

If, in reality, Young is buying into the sudden and widespread media hype that he has won nine straight games, the only thing that has been resurrected is the monster that was created via premature praise of Young based on his first two NFL seasons.

Let’s look at those supposed nine straight wins.  No. 1 came in 2007, aganst the 4-12 Chiefs.  No. 2 came the following week, by a measly four points against the 4-12 Jets.

No. 3 was a Christmas present to Jeff Fisher from Tony Dungy.  The Colts, who already had nailed down a bye week (scroll up for more on that particular dynamic), went easy on the Titans, treating the game like an exhibition — and giving rise to an admission from Kerry Collins that Fisher and Dungy had some sort of an understanding that Dungy wouldn’t use his time outs late in the game, in order to get the ball back for what could have been a game-winning touchdown.

Speaking of Collins, it was the grizzled veteran who led the team to a win that day.  He entered the game in the second half after Young aggravated a thigh injury, with the Titans trailing by three points.  So Young was no more responsible for the decisive nine points than, well, me.

It was Collins who also entered the next regular-season game, against the Jaguars in Week One of the 2008 season, after Young suffered an injury to his leg, his pride, or both. 

Sandwiched in between those two incomplete efforts from Young was a playoff loss to the Chargers, which apparently has yet to get in the way of a good angle to a story that has plenty of merit without inexplicable media manipulation.

Why don’t we simply focus on the fact that Young has won five straight games?  As far as the 2009 season is concerned, that’s all that matters. 

And, frankly, those five games don’t really matter much at all right now.  It’s the next five games that will determine the team’s fate in 2009 — and the Titans can only hope that Young won’t lose whatever humility he managed to develop during all those games in 2008 that he didn’t win, because he didn’t play.

4.  1975, 1998 revisited for Vikings?

With Sunday’s 36-10 shredding of the Chicago Bears, a game in which the Vikings outgained the Bears by nearly 400 yards (with minus-3 allowed in the entire second half), Minnesota has made it to 10-1 for the third time in team history.

On the prior two occasions, however, things didn’t end very well.

The 1975 Vikings stormed to ten straight wins before losing two of their final four games.  They then lost at home to the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs, in the Hail Mary game.

A full 23 years later, the Vikings climbed to 10-1 via a 28-14 win over Brett Favre and the Packers.  The Vikings later lost to the Falcons in the NFC title game, thanks in large part to Gary Anderson’s only failed kick of the entire year, a 39-yard field goal that would have put the Vikings up by 10 points late in the game.

Now, 11 years after the last 10-1 start, the Vikings again are in position to make something very good happen.  But the purple-and-gold faithful likely aren’t making their reservations for Miami just yet.

OK, so maybe radio play-by-play announcer Paul Allen is peering through his purple-colored glases and dreaming of taking an ISDN box to Radio Row.  But Vikings fans who have had their souls scarred on a consistent basis over the entire 40 years of Favre’s lifetime are justified in waiting for the next monumental gaffe that kills another season of promise.

At one point, it appeared that the defense will eventually check out too early in a game that supposedly had been decided, based on pathetic late-game performances against the Ravens and the Packers.  Or maybe Adrian Peterson will fail to cover up the ball and/or switch arms during a key moment in the divisional round.  Then there’s the ever-present possibility that the late-season 2008 version of Favre will make a one-game cameo appearance, at the worst possible time.

On one hand, every year is different.  Indeed, with Matt Birk jumping to Baltimore via free agency there’s no connection to 1998 on the roster.  And the coaching staff consists exclusively of men who weren’t with the team prior to the 2006 season.

On the other hand, every year in the past 40 has featured an ending for the Vikings that did not involve winning a Super Bowl.  Though plenty of o

ther teams have endured the same fate, none have been as consistently competitive, with only two or three years in which it was clear by Halloween that there was no chance of making it into January.

So the fact that the Vikings almost always have started down the path to a championship but have then found a way to not finish the journey with a championship makes those who follow the team leery that this ride will end the same way.

Possibly with a defensive collapse.  Possibly with an Adrian Peterson fumble.  Possibly with a six-pack of interceptions from a guy who once coughed up that many in a playoff game.

Or possibly with single coverage on a receiver who pushes off and doesn’t draw a flag. 

Or possibly with a chip-shot field goal that sails just wide of the mark.

Or possibly in some new way that we’ve yet to consider — and that Vikings fans ultimately will be unable to forget.

5.  Someone bears blame for Cutler.

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who has been out since Week One with a badly dislocated wrist, has the benefit of distance from the day-to-day challenges his teammates currently face.

With the benefit of that distance, Urlacher realizes that the decision to add a young gunslinger to the Monsters of the Midway wasn’t the best idea.

“Look, I love Jay, and I understand he’s a great player who can take us
a long way, and I still have faith in him,” Urlacher tells Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports.  “But I hate
the way our identity has changed
.  We used to establish the run and wear
teams down and try not to make mistakes, and we’d rely on our defense
to keep us in the game and make big plays to put us in position to win. 
Kyle Orton might not be the flashiest quarterback, but the guy is a
winner, and that formula worked for us.  I hate to say it, but that’s
the truth.”

It’s hard to argue with Urlacher, given the team’s 4-7 record.

So who’s responsible for the mess?  The easiest target is offensive coordinator Ron Turner, who has been unable to get the most out of Cutler’s abilities.  The question becomes whether Turner’s failure to utilize Cutler properly sticks to coach Lovie Smith, who has not taken the Bears back to the playoffs in three seasons since a Super Bowl appearance.

Then there’s the question of whether G.M. Jerry Angelo bears the brunt of the blame for not realizing that Cutler didn’t fit the pre-existing identity of the franchise.

Of course, the last guy who’ll be blamed is Cutler himself.  It can’t be his fault.  If it’s his fault, then Angelo necessarily is responsible for sending two first-round picks and Orton to Denver, and for then signing Cutler to a long-term contract.

Regardless of who it is and when it happens, someone needs to be accountable for what has been one of the worst trades this side of the Herschel Walker deal.

6.  Michael Turner had no business playing on Sunday.

With more and more teams holding out players who have suffered concussions, one team on Sunday made a very bad decision to send into action a guy with a different kind of injury.

Falcons running back Michael Turner suffered a high ankle sprain two weeks ago.  Though word immediately came from Atlanta that the team was optimistic regarding Turner’s ability to recover quickly, one league source laughed at the notion that Turner or anyone else can come back in 14 days from a high ankle sprain.

But Turner sucked it up and played on Sunday.  Against a 9-1 juggernaut from Tampa.

No, wait.  The Bucs were 1-9.  And yet the Falcons felt compelled to go with an injured Turner instead of a healthy Jerious Norwood and a surprisingly effective Jason Snelling.

We suppose that the team would call it a calculated risk.  Few risks consciously taken aren’t.  It doesn’t make the decision any less foolish.

So now with the Eagles and Saints coming to town on consecutive Sundays, the Falcons likely will be without Turner.  If they’d opted to give him another week to heal, they might have had him for both games.

Of course, the Falcons now have bigger problems as they get ready for the two games that likely will decide their playoff fortunes.  Quarterback Matt Ryan is injured — and the backup is Chris Redman.

Sure, Redman played well in place of Ryan on Sunday. 

Against that 9-1 juggernaut from Tampa.

7.  Maybe Los Angeles really doesn’t want a team.

The good news for folks in Southern California came on Saturday afternoon.  After two 24-hour extensions, the Chargers had sold out their game against the Chiefs, meaning it would be televised on CBS affiliates in San Diego and Los Angeles.

So it really was good news, right?

Um, wrong.

Many folks in Los Angeles (we know this because we heard from plenty of them) would have preferred watching the Colts-Texans game, which started three hours earlier than Chiefs-Chargers.  But since FOX had the double-header for the weekend, only one game could be aired by each CBS affiliate.

In Los Angeles, Chiefs-Chargers got the nod.

Colts-Texans?  Nowhere to be seen.

So for many viewers in L.A., a Chargers blackout would have been preferred.  And it makes us wonder whether the bulk of the citizens in Los Angeles would prefer not to be forced to follow any local team.

We’ve heard that sentiment for years, but we’ve never really believed it until Sunday.  And it serves only to reinforce our thinking that the Los Angeles void should be filled with a multiple neutral-site games involving teams from other cities.

Like the Colts and the Texans.

8.  Ravens got it right on fourth-down call.

Yours truly and Rosenthal engaged in a brief Twitter debate last night regarding the Ravens’ decision not to punt while facing a fourth down in their own territory.

Rosenthal said that “[e]veryone that killed [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick for going for it should kill [Ravens coach John] Harbaugh tomorrow.”

But we (I) don’t see it that way.  Belichick opted not to punt from his own 28 while holding a six-point lead arguably because he didn’t trust his defense to keep Peyton Manning and the Colts from moving 70 yards for the game-winning score.  Harbaugh opted not to punt from his own 46 while trailing by three points arguably because he believed his defense would be able to stop the Steelers if got the ball back at that spot.

And the Ravens were contending not with Peyton Manning, but Dennis Dixon.
So the Ravens did the right thing.  And not just because it worked.

But that helped.

9.  NFL didn’t need Roethlisberger, Warner.

Though the Steelers and the Cardinals might have benefited dramatically from the presence of their starting quarterbacks on Sunday, the absence of Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner did nothing to make the games in which they would have played boring or uninteresting.

Really, how can Pittsburgh or Arizona fans complain?  The Steelers and the Cardinals led their games late — unless Roethlisberer and Warner would have been playing defense, they would have had no role in the loss of their teams’ late-game leads.

Though this hardly means that fans will happily tolerate a sensitivity to concussions that results in key players missing key games, the fact that these two games were still competitive might help the NFL persuade the football-watching public to reluctantly swallow a pill that’s shaped and tastes like a rusty screw because, in the minds of many fans, it is.

10.  Under Fewell, the Bills are dangerous.

Two weeks ago, the remaining teams on the Bills’ schedule likely assumed that a “W” could be written in pencil next to the “Buffalo” line.

But while a “W” still might come, it won’t be easy.

Under interim coach Perry Fewell, the Bills are dangerous.  Fewell is a long shot to secure the head-coaching job.  To even get into the discussion, he needs to win as many games as possible.

So Fewell will coach with no pressure or expectations.  “Our thing this week was to be aggressive and attack
and dictate
,” Fewell said Sunday, confirming the existence of a nothing-to-lose mindset. 

As a result of that mindset, the Bills nearly beat the Jaguars eight days ago.  And they shocked the Dolphins on Sunday.

Fewell’s boldest moves have come from a decision to go with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback and Fred Jackson at starting tailback.    And Fewell praised Fitzpatrick on Sunday for audibling to a deep pass when he saw receiver Terrell Owens in single coverage.

“Oh, I love it,” Fewell said after the 31-14 win. “I told him, “You have some big gonads.’  And I told him as
long as he keeps hitting them, keep throwing them.”

Fitzpatrick has “big gonads” because his coach has “big gonads.”  And it’s easy to have big gonads when there’s no real danger of getting them cut off.

69 responses to “Week 12 Morning Aftermath

  1. The customary distance behind the L.O.S. for the NFL is not 7 yards! That’s more for H.S. and College. In the NFL it is 8 yards behind the L.O.S. He was only off by about 1 yard. Look at every FG kicked anymore, or better yet, look at EVERY extra point kicked, they are all placed at the 2yrd line and kicked from the 10yrd line. It does not change from the P.A.T. to a regular FG.

  2. It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, in a league as big and successful as the NFL, part time officials are employed.
    With all that money paid to rookie’s and with all that money the owners get from revenue sharing, it’s just
    a joke.
    There’s no excuse for it, none.

  3. Certainly the NFL needs to hire an OUTSIDE firm to provide PROFESSIONAL officiating. The officiating has been horrible for decades, and the NFL seems to be fine with it. Unfortunately, it makes it look like the NFL is manipulating the games with the pawns the referees. Whether it be a Tuck-Rule to propel the Patriots to the Championship Game, so they could get a no-call on a forward lateral against Pittsburgh so they could win the SB after 9/11, or them screwing up the coin toss like they did against Pittsburgh a few years ago, the officiating has always been horrible. The worst part is that rules seem to change depending on which teams are playing. For example, if Plaxico Burress spikes a live ball it is a fumble, but if Vincent Jackson does it the call is illegal forward pass without the penalty of loss of down, and a first down for SD! Huh? Oh yeah, SD resident Mike Carey was officiating that game!!!

  4. I do have one complaint. PFT is in the habit of rolling out a major change and accompanying the change with some explanation to make people believe it is temporary. Then, if there are few complaints, it is made permanent. Even if there are complaints, it is made permanent. This is a way of cowardly avoiding criticism. I say just make the change, be honest, say you are thinking about making it permanent, and take your medicine, good or bad.
    I guess this won’t constitute a real “complaint” and so PFT will continue to enact major changes the sneaky way.

  5. Having not heard an official account, and also not being intimately familiar with the rulebook, I have an opinion regarding the spot after the fumble. I think that rule is so teams don’t purposefully fumble it forward so another teammate can recover it for gain. Which would suggest that the other team hasn’t touched the ball. In this instance, a Pittsburgh player DID touch the fumbled ball, which makes it fair game whereever it happens to be. instead of ping-ponging only 5 yards, it could have ping-ponged 50 yards and the result would still have been the same: spot it where it’s finally recovered. I think you got this one wrong Florio, but so did the announcers last night.

  6. The league is not going to go to full time refs. If they did they would have no excuse when it comes to teams losing because of bad officiating. One call can change a game, and can deflate a team.
    If it were not for refs, Indy would have at least two losses right now. You can bet that when Manning is behind by a couple of scores, he WILL throw one deep in the second half at least once and get a PI out of it. That is whether the ball is catchable or not, and whether there is any contact made or not. You will even note the receiver making more sure that he is with the defender rather than going for the ball so they can get the call. Yesterday was blatant, as there was little to no contact made on a uncatchable ball. Oh, and it can’t be reviewed, conveniently. Had there been full time refs there would be no excuse for this kind of behavior, and congress WOULD be investigating. I doubt very much you will get full time refs, because I believe very much that the refs get their marching orders from the league head office to keep certain teams competitive. You know, to protect revenue streams.
    That said, I desperately think the league needs full time refs. They really need to start looking at the integrity of this game before more people start seeing it the way I do, and start looking for real sports to watch where the teams are allowed to compete without influence. It should be easy enough to pull these guys in full time, just pay them well. Somewhere from 100K-500K should be enough. Heck, make it 1 mil if you have to. The game is worth it. If they don’t, then I think congress SHOULD take a look into what is going on, because quite frankly, there is no reason not to have full time refs. None at all, except of course, you like to hide possible tampering.

  7. The COlts already own the refs. The league would have real contractual problems hiring refs away from Polian. Those phantom PI calls dont come cheap.

  8. Full-time refs, what a great idea. I mean, you never see a mistake by those full-time umpires in baseball, just ask the Twins. Uh, wait a minute, I meant those full-time NBA officials always get it right.
    Do they need to know the rules better? Yes, and they need someone in the replay booth to be able to get fast reference to a rule if they need it and be able to buzz down to correct the referee if necessary.
    But there is absolutely zero evidence that full-time officials do a better job than part timers.

  9. I don’t see the point in full-time officials. What the hell are they going to do all week that is likely to make for any marked improvement? I just don’t see that any of what fandom loves to whine about when it comes to officiating is related to lack of time to prepare, and I’m really not interested in a fluff move for the sake of PR.
    And, Florio, how many times do you figure to awkwardly drop random references to SB XL and the legion of ill-informed whiners with agendas to push?

  10. That was a pretty ridiculous call on the Texans…as a non-fan of either team, it makes you wonder if the same call would have been made if it was the Colts on D

  11. Last week, we rolled out a different format for the Morning Aftermath. And since the complaints were relatively minimal, we’re sticking with it.
    (Cue the “change it back, asshole” crowd.)
    you had a good idea a few months ago with the aftermath but I suspect it was too much work for you to actually discuss the games
    now every Monday morning we will probably get 10 blurbs about different hot button issues…last week OT rules..this week offciating etc…
    all of it stuff you would be posting about anyway…
    but no discussion about the actual games…cut your work load down since there are usually 13-15 games on Sunday & you are going to post 10 items..
    its lazy & it sucks..

  12. “I don’t see the point in full-time officials. What the hell are they going to do all week that is likely to make for any marked improvement?”
    Maybe take in a little cardio, have their eyes checked, study up on the rules since expecting them to know even the most basic of rules is at best an exercise in disappointment lately.

  13. ” Change it back ” you loser !
    I fail to see how making the refs full time employee’s would help much ? What can they possibly do other than look at film and see where they erred when there are no real games to officiate ? If you want a perfectly called game review each play before moving on to the next.
    Next time Florio Jr has another game, whatever sport it is I recommend you try officiating it whether it’s Football or not, you will soon see how fking hard it truly is.
    Favre Four MVP !

  14. The replay booth is in a tough situation in terms of calling for a spot of the ball. If they buzz down for replay, the Ravens now have a free time out, courtesy of the officials, instead of having to scramble for a FG attempt. I think the replay officials are sometimes gun-shy because they don’t want to change the momentum of a game. Not that it would have changed the outcome in this game, but replay challenges should be left to the coaches.

  15. Anyone who believes that these games are fixed are simply fans of losing teams! They’re pissed off that their teams are never in the top 5. It’s easy for them to scream foul than to give great teams credit for constantly winning.
    Think about how many amazing plays we see each week. Like the Garcon one-hand catch in the end zone against the Texans. There may be a bad call here and there, but nothing to the extent that would stear a game to a specific team.
    The Colts consistently put up points through great plays. They don’t own the refs. Quit crying ya big babies.

  16. This is part of why I believe florio is a biased spoiled brat. Titans just beat my favorite team (cards) yesterday. Vince Young played amazingly well. And florio has to find a way to bash the hell out of him any way he can. The guy has brought this team back to playoff hopes and florio bashes him. I can admit the guy is good, but florio? no way. He has to stay on the bash VY bandwagon.
    Florio is a spoiled little brat and nothing more.

  17. If you watched any of the college games over the Thanksgiving Holiday, it is amazing that they can do replays without serious delays and without forcing the coaches to do the challenging. Seemed like the challenge lasted about 45 seconds on average, and it seemed to work fine. Why can’t the NFL just take a page out of the college playbook(like the 2 point conversion) and do it like that?

  18. Maybe the point isn’t “full time officials” but that the league pay enough to demand the required amount of time in practice and study be put in. The officials of today aren’t always aware of the rules, at least not enough to properly apply them at all times. Obviously they need to take the time in preparation to correct that. They are often too old and out of shape to keep up with the play, so obviously there needs to be a fitness requirement for them. They often seem to be taking their best guess at what happened on a play, so obviously they need to spend significant time in film study to be better prepared to recognize what is happening and make, and equally important–NOT make–the calls and non-call as needed.
    Will this require 40 hours a week? I don’t know but I do know, as does every NFL fan, that what they have out there now are too many fat, slow, old, ill prepared, and incapable officials that are inappropriately deciding the outcome of games.

  19. The last thing the NFL needs is full-time, most likely unioned officials. All you need for proof is MLB. The umpire’s union is nearly as strong as the player’s union and has inspired some terrible umpiring, not better as indicated in this article, but there is really no recourse for MLB because they’re stuck with the union and if the umpires stick together then none of them can be reprimanded. With the NFL not having the same scenario, officials are more accountable for their performances and while there will be mistakes, there are in any profession, it is far less likely to have repeated mistakes in the NFL because their job could be gone tomorrow, unlike MLB.

  20. Question for PFT…
    At the end of the tennesee game they scored a td with no time left yet they kicked the extra point which was inconsequential the outcome. (except to gamblers)
    A few years back in the exact same situation they did not allow the scoring team to kick the extra point with no time on the clock. (I remember because it was the difference between a win and a loss on a decent sized wager)
    So whats that all about?

  21. Oh here it comes, first its the “Favre is washed up” talk, then it’s the “Favre will choke later in the season” talk, then it’s the “Vikings haven’t won against a REAL opponent yet!” talk…
    Now all you guys have to rest on are past seasons with players that are long gone in the NFL? Aren’t we above this curse stuff in football? Let’s give credit where credit is due, and the Vikings deserve a lot of credit this year.

  22. You are speaking for yourself Florio in that bullshit take on the Vikings.I know they are your team and you have felt let down.What team Hasn’t? Any team that says they are going to Miami now is freakin crazy! Too much ball left. I don’t believe past has anything to do with present in regards to sporting teams. Always a first time for the trophy. What if Brett keeps playing perfect? AD runs wild with no fumbles?The D keeps killing the qb and backs?We are very capable of a world championship Florio, quit being so scared like a girl and enjoy it! Past is bs!

  23. After reading this comment, which is made so frequently in the media, I question why I continue reading this crap:
    “Then there’s the question of whether G.M. Jerry Angelo bears the brunt of the blame for not realizing that Cutler didn’t fit the pre-existing identity of the franchise.”
    How about questioning Angelo on why he hasn’t invested in his offensive line so the RB & QB can do their jobs? The line he has put in place is worse than the Packers. Pace and Kreutz are beyond their days are not helping things out at all. They are constantly getting blown back or miss their blocks. This is the reason Forte’s numbers are down and why Cutler is forcing throws all over the place, causing him to be the leader in INT’s.
    The media does this all the time, both in sports and politics. They never tell the real story, which is always much more interesting than just the spreading of gossip as if it were a sorority. The last time the Bears rebuilt their line they brought in Kordell Stewart to play QB b/c they new they needed someone who could run for their life. But we never heard it told/ sold that way.
    Little hint for next year’s fantasy draft, if the Bears do not replenish their OL in the draft or free agency- with quality players- stay away from Forte and Cutler.

  24. Bringing Mike Shanahan in to coach Chicago just makes sooooo much sense. He knows how to coach Cutler and he knows how to establish a run game. Since they’re stuck with Cutler, it’s the only way to go.

  25. that was a bad call against Houston. it gave the colts 43 yards and lead to a TD. however, it was the first possession of the 3rd quarter. lets just say if it is incomplete the colts don’t get a 1st down and turn over the ball.
    colts are still within 2 scores with almost a half to play.
    anyone think manning and the boys still find the end zone twice? i do.

  26. “What would the “full-time” refs do from February until August?”
    They would sit in film rooms reviewing every call of every game they made, and every similar call other ref teams made in other games. I believe this would significantly improve consistency between the different teams of refs and eliminate a lot of mistakes.

  27. Part-time refs are a joke. To the ground…he got pushed All -The -Way- To- The- Ground. Still, the best/most accurate throw of the game was the whiskey bottle.

  28. Why is it that no one ever mentions the play of the Bears offensive line for any of their problems this year. As the commentator touched on, Cutler takes hit after hit on his throws. And part of the reason that teams get such pressure is they can just tee it up knowing the Bears aren’t going to hurt them with the run. But shouldn’t part of the blame for the lack of running success fall on the shoulders of the offensive line as well as Turner’s abominable play calling?

  29. The officiating does suck, but the Colts pass interference call from the view of the back judge at game speed ‘looked’ like a good call. It was at least illegal contact. It is rare that you see an official rule a pass uncatchable. I have seen balls hit 15 feet out of bounds on PI calls. There was no human way possible to make the catch, yet it is called PI. The problem is with selective officiating. The players have a hard time adjusting during the game. Some teams get by with constantly hitting receivers after 5 yds. Some teams get by with holding – at the point of attack – all the time. In the Titans game, you could hear the official yelling to stop holding while the right tackle, tackled a the DT. No flag, Young completes pass for win.
    Watch how many games have a holding penalty late in the game on the team in the lead. There is manipulation going on even if the officials don’t realize it.
    The biggest issue they have is spotting the ball. The league needs to devise a technology that pin points the spot.
    Full-time officials is the way to go, but technology should also be used. Start replaying every play like college does except don’t hire ex-officials to do it. Train and hire folks with no connection to the officials to review plays. There also need to be a better way to insure plays get stopped for replay. All the field officials have to do is ignore the page….you know..they never got it or felt it. I wonder how many times this has happened and no one knows about it.

  30. Mike Florio is an idiot! He needs to watch a little more closely before making stupid comments. Vince Young wasn’t holding up the number nine because of his streak. He was holding up the number nine because he was walking over to Steve McNair’s two sons to give them a high five. He has really done a lot for those kids and Florio tries taking away from that as well as a heck of a performance by Vince Young.

  31. I’m not going to lie and say all those things don’t scare me about the Vikes. Opponents don’t scare me because I believe we are the best all around team in the league, but we can’t hide behind the fact that we have had a history of shooting ourselves in the foot. But this is a completely different team, obviously, so I’m just going to enjoy the ride and hopefully see ya in Miami!!!

  32. The Falcons released a statement saying that they had considered picking up a racist, homophobic running back to fill in for Turner against the Bucs, but the Bengals cornered the market on such players, so they were left with little choice. Larry Johnson tweeted that he wouldn’t have played for the Falcons anyway as their head coach was a white guy who liked to pick fights with black players and their owner seems to be just a little gay. No word yet on whether the Bengals will lock him up long term for $15 million a year. Who d…amn!

  33. Maybe the 9 was to signify an improvement of Vince Young’s wonderlic score. Maybe he was cramming for that while he was on the bench.
    But when the Colts/Titans face off, the starting qb’s would have combined to win their last 30 starts even though this was a good job of discrediting Wonderlic’s streak.
    Sorta like the crowd that crowed about Vick being a winner. He won his first start, but he was benched while losing and the back up QB led the Falcons to the win.

  34. Ok, I promise I’ll never refer to “Vince Young’s nine game winning streak” (never have actually).
    Instead, I’ll just state the obvious: Vince Young always was, and continues to be a WINNER, pure and simple. The guy finds a way to win football games. He did so when he was in college, did so as a rookie, as a 2nd year QB, and continues to now.
    Why is this fact so hard to swallow for so many? Especially for someone who is supposed to be a football “analyst”? I guess Mike Florio isn’t supposed to be an “analyst”, just a talking head with biased opinions just like a bunch of other yahoos who post their prejudices on this and other boards.

  35. Wish somebody would explain about dislocations. Stafford is in after one week, Urlacher is out for an entire season. Is there a norm? Are there degrees of dislocation? What makes the difference in the amount of time a player is out?

  36. PercyHarvin is right. Past has nothing to do with the present. Vikes have just as good of a shot of winning this year as any other team.
    Maroney is just as likely to drop the ball; Manning is just as likely to throw a pick…
    2009-2010 is a new year, with a new QB and a new attitude…

  37. Both the NFL and CFL need full time officials. There were tons of officiating mistakes in the Grey Cup game and that became a big part of the story.
    You can’t afford to have the Super Bowl come down to bad calls.

  38. Sorry Vikings fans but one thing to remember in both the 1975 and 1998 seasons…….the Super Bowl was hosted in Miami….as is 2009…..Just saying…

  39. Vikes Fans
    The past is exactly that–the past and has no bearing on the present. You have assembled a VERY good team. Unfortunately there are abobut 4-5 other VERY good teams out there. You can stack up against either of them. When the playoffs come it’s just a matter of how the games go, who catches the breaks, who doesn’t. You’ve got as good a chance as any.
    Bright side is–either way, you’ve got your next governor. (I’m sorry, that’s just laying out there to be used. Only an attempt at humor)
    As far as Cutler is concerned, Rodgers has the same Oline problem as Cutler (although it does seem to be improving sightly) but he has better receivers & RB’s. Get Cutler some help and he should improve but I have a feeling the Bears spent way too much to get him.
    GB3Pack4–not a doctor but I do know there are varying degrees of dislocations which also are impacted by where they occur. Evidently Urlachers wrist was badly dislocated–like to the extent of pointing the wrong way. Stafford has dislocated shoulder which is painful but can take more abubse. Rodgers played with one for 5-6 games last year. Stafford’s looks worse than Aarons was and it might eventually sit him down.
    @phayes526–Not defending Florio by any means but he did address the McNair angle
    “For the Titans sake, it was hopefully a tribute to the late Steve McNair”.

  40. Let’s clear up the Brett Favre postseason stigma.
    In the 90’s under Holmgren, Favre was magnificent, and that includes 3 NFC championship appearances, 2 titles, and 1 Super Bowl, so he was always capable of winning the “big game”.
    In the 00’s when they finally got back into the playoffs under Sherman other than the Rams game which was all his fault (but the Rams were simply better anyway), the entire team played poorly and was coached miserably and they had no defense under Sherman ever. And Brett was awesome until his defense gave up 4th and 26, so scratch that year from the negative play.
    In the late 00’s in Brett’s old man tour, Brett was magnificent until he hit below zero temps. And it anyone actually saw that game the entire team played like garbage. And while Brett ended the game with an INT, he also hit a 99 yarder in the only good play the Packers had that day.
    The point is, Brett has had some bad games, but mostly good to great games and if anyone looks back they’ll see that. His most recent playoff series (which is WAY more relevant than something from 2002), Brett was awesome until they played in below zero weather. So seeing as how the Viking playoff games will either be played at the Metro or Superdome, Brett will be just fine, and there is not enough evidence to say it’s more likely he’ll play crappy than good. It’s actually quite the opposite.

  41. I thought this was a set of Ten commentaries, not-to-be-confused-with-the-other-ten-set-of-commentaries-on-sporting-news. Where’s the rest?

  42. Mr Florio,
    As much as I like your postings, I need to point out an error with your claim about the Vikings reaching 10-1 for the third time in team history.
    It’s actually the 5th time.
    They were 10-1 in both 1969 and 1973 en route to 12-2 seasons and Super Bowl appearances. While they both ended in Super Bowl losses, the result was much better than your analysis indicated.

  43. It is hilarious to me that I’ve heard at least a dozen analysts criticize Belichec’s decision to go for it on 4th down and not one of them even has a basic understanding of the situation and the pro’s and con’s of it and what was risked.
    All you hear about is how he didn’t trust his defense and this and that and the other thing. That is all irrelevant.
    Had the Patriots converted the 4th down the game is over. If they fail to convert the down, the Colts gain 35 yards of field position compared to where they would have started on average after a punt. He lost 35 yards of field position, nothing more, nothing less. And if they get the first down, which their offense will do 60% of the time, then the game is over.
    Give the Colts the ball via punt and Peyton will chew up that 35 yards against prevent defense 75% of the time. It won’t get difficult for an offense with that QB against a gassed defense until the red zone anyways.
    People have done computer simulations as well that show Belichec obviously made the correct call, and those don’t even take into consideration the fact that his defense was gassed and hemoraging yards.
    It is just funny to see a guy make clearly the correct decision and get so much flak for it. With that said the Steelers/Ravens situation was completely different and shouldn’t be talked about in the same article.
    In fact Harbaugh’s decision was more questionable than Belichec’s. But that is part of why Belichec is such a great coach. He makes the mathematically correct call while other coaches might be coaching to avoid armchair analysts come Monday.

  44. I have to give Vince Young credit for the 99 yard drive he put together against the Cards on Sunday. However, since we are talking about officiating, there has a blatant hold on the 4th and goal play that allowed Vince to stay alive. The right tackle collared the DE and basically had an arm around his neck. i know holding can be called on virtually every play, but I don’t know how you can keep the flag in your pocket when there is a big time hold right at the point of attack. Yes the cards shouldn’t have let the Titans march down like they did, but a hold is a hold.

  45. Mike: Thought you would be man enough to admit that you were wrong, as usual, about the Colts losing yesterday.

  46. Why would anyone in L.A. WANT to watch the Colts? They had lost to Houston only once, and the second time sure as hell wasn’t gonna be yesterday. Meanwhile, the Chargers, a team whose home stadium is only 100 miles away, put on a near-perfect performance in their quest for a fourth consecutive division title. What are they complaining about, unless, of course, the male population of SoCal has a man-crush on Peyton.

  47. just a thought here, but maybe bad calls are a GOOD thing for the game. no matter how you slice it, 1/2 of the teams are losers on any given sunday, by having bad calls, you give a good chunk of those fans something to rationalize the loss with. no one wants to say that their team was the crappier team that day, and didnt play like they had a clue what was going on. if there is a percieved bad (intentionally or accidental) call, then the fans of the losing team have something to hang their hats on for the week and a reason to watch next week.
    Listening to some oakland fans, they honestly believe that if the calls where right, that the raiders would win the division every year. we all know thats not the case, but it gives the fans an outlet for their anger other than their own team. Even now, people from losing teams or from teams that lost are convinced that they would have won if not for some bad calls, and those from winning teams have to point out bad calls also called against their team…. no one says “my team really sucked on sunday and got their asses beat for a solid 60 minutes” when in reality, sometimes that happens (or in detroits case, nearly all the time).

  48. Florio, did you take a stupid pill this morning? This month, year, decade?
    Yes, both the Cardinals game and the Steelers game were exciting right to the end, but it is also possible that had both teams had their starting QB’s playing, their respective teams may have been much further ahead.
    I’m not saying they should have played, but if you are going to look at it as the fans shouldn’t bitch cause they got an exciting game, then you have to look at it the other way as well.
    The answer is something we will never know, cause both QB’s were forced to the the right thing, sit out because of lingering symptoms!

  49. @IanWhetstone …
    You fail to see the point in full-time officials. Hmmm. I fail to see the point in full-time players. What do they find to do all week? It’s not like they train so they have the stamina to run up and down the field on every play … work out with their teammates so they function together like the proverbial well-oiled machine … watch film so they know how they’d react in various situations … run simulation drills so they’re prepared for the unexpected … study playbooks so they have a full understanding of the complicated rules of the game. Gosh no! So what oh what would those silly officials find to do all week?
    All the other major sports have full-time officials. The most experienced NFL officials are getting older. Bad calls are commonplace, and despite the insistence of some half-witted whiners, they affect EVERY team and are undermining the integrity of the game. You’ve got refs giving teams extra timeouts, spotting balls in the wrong places, invoking rules that don’t exist, trying to review plays that aren’t reviewable–come on! These guys need to be properly trained and practiced. That can’t happen when they’re working full-time jobs all week.

  50. Belichec’s call was the wrong one IMO for ONE reason alone.
    If they had punted AND the Colts still won, then you would say the Colts BEAT the Patriots by out playing them on the final drive.
    By going for it and FAILING to convert, you lose the game largely in part due to a coaches decision.
    If I was a coach, I would put the game in the hands of my players when possible. That way, when or lose, it was what they deserved.

  51. Regarding Point 9:
    I think the NFL is becoming too sensitive regarding this whole concussions thing. Granted, their overreaction is justified, after the Congressional hearings on the matter. The last thing the league wants is the U.S. government making rules about how the players should be evaluated, so they’re doing their best to show the gov’t that they are on top of the problem. (But, if the government is gonna stick its nose into any sport regarding concussions, shouldn’t boxing be on the radar? No, it’s not a mainstream sport, anymore.) I just hope that whatever system the league decides to use placates the government and still allows for guys to play tough.
    Let’s face it, Roethlisberger and Warner both wanted to play, and could have. Last year, they would have played. Football is a rough sport, and it should stay that way. Guys are gonna come off to the sidelines seeing stars some times. Look, it’s only in the case of repeated concussions (like what’s been happening to Westbrook) where you start to worry. I’ve had a few concussions, any one in sports has; but just cause you blacked out for a little while doesn’t mean you’re gonna end up like Muhammed Ali.
    We all know that the league needs to address this issue. I just hope that the system that is put in place allows for a player to come back a week after a mild concussion, when they clearly appear fit to do so (as did Warner and Roethlisberger).

  52. Speaking of bad calls, Florio you should post something about the the horrific section of the Vikings/Bears game. Not that the calls mattered in the end, but the refs managed to throw flags on I believe 6 consecutive plays and 3 of them were flat out bad calls and one of them was a ticky tacky facemask call on Peterson. Also they didn’t give the Vikes a free play on Bears offsides because I am pretty sure no Viking jumped the officials just botched it when the Bears jumped across the line.
    I know it is hard to have controversy in a blowout win but there was a several minute sequence where the down didn’t change and it was absolutely unwatchable.

  53. “I hate the way our identity has changed”??? throwing darts from the bench I see Mr. Urlacher .. If your defense was so good the past couple years and your identity was so sound then why were you watching the playoffs on your couch with Mr. Orton…. WAKEUP MOUTH!!!! YOUR TEAMS IDENTITY IS LOSING FOOTBALL GAMES AND SPECIAL TEAMS!!

  54. “In 2005, the Colts won their first 13 games, lost two of their next three, and then fell in the divisional round to a Steelers team that won four in a row to get into the playoffs and vanquished the AFC North champions on their own turf in Cincinnati.”
    Ah… memories. The Steelers win a title after taking down the better team with a cheap shot to the QB’s knee while hitting a 60 yard bomb. What a shame. Bengals really had a shot that year.

  55. @ Patrian
    The game was in the hands of his players. His OFFENSIVE players. They failed to gain a yard or two.
    I understand your point but go read Sando’s post. It lays out the details in a perfectly logical format. It was statistically more probable that their offense could gain a yard or two than his “gassed” defense being able to stop Peyton & the Colts that particular Sunday.
    He decided to risk the game with his offense as opposed to his defense on that particular Sunday. Had they made it, we’d all be glorifying his brilliance.
    BTW, nice post sando.

  56. if you’re too stupid to know how to spell belichick’s name then please shut the hell up about your useless opinion on how he was wrong in going for it on 4th

  57. Add me to the group of people who live in LA but would prefer to watch the best NFL game of the day. I love the NFL but not the chargers or whatever team gets moved here. Like so many others, I’m a transplant and root for the team I grew up with.

  58. if only there was an option to choose what game you wanted to watch every week. oh wait thats right, direct tv has that… well only when it doesnt rain or snow or if its cloudy out

  59. # Fan_Of_ Four says: November 30, 2009 9:56 AM
    “Next time Florio Jr has another game, whatever sport it is I recommend you try officiating it whether it’s Football or not, you will soon see how fking hard it truly is.”
    Yea well, I don’t think anyone is betting big bucks on any of Florio Jr’s games. Those refs are expected to know the rules, and be able to enforce them. If it is to hard for them to be able to do their job correctly, then they should not be reffing. There have been to many mistakes that have been game-changing.

  60. What they need is a full time professional in the booth overseeing the games and replays and making sure
    everything is legit, otherwise the refs system is fine and every team takes it’s turn in the barrel of bad calls except NE,Indy,Minny and Dallas.

  61. i did not see the 9 finger thing for vy, but regardless of whether it was for mcnair or for his streak, if thats the best you can do to slam him, then i think he and his team will take that any day. the guy had a hell of a game, has thrown the ball pretty well over his last 5 games, particularly with his deep ball.
    why turn a very positive turnaround story into something about his ego. he has the right to feel confident in his abilities. to play in the league as a starting qb, you have to have confidence in your abilities or you end up like those bums in cleveland.

  62. 52-0 Patriots over the Titans
    5:38 left in game, Bellicheck isn’t running up the score. Rodney Harrison says Bellichek says ‘play the full 60 minutes’. He leaves Brady in as QB.
    38-17 Saints over Patriots
    5:38 left in the game, Bellicheck takes Brady out of the game and puts in the second string QB.
    Whose running up what score? Who’s a sore LOSER?

  63. Football is Warfare are you kidding??? They have no idea about the effects of a concussion. Merril Hodge was on life support right after his concussion. Footballs a game. We’re talking about the rest of a man’s life! Clearly no one close to you has ever suffered a brain injury. You should be ashamed of yourself! The bottom line is football is a GAME!

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