Week Three Monday 10-pack

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Sunday presented one of most compelling slates of games in a long time, with hyped contests living up to their billing and, ultimately, 11 of 15 games being decided by seven points or fewer.

From that many great games, it would be easy to draw 50 interesting story lines.

For now, we’ll limit it to 10.

1.  Vick shouldn’t worry about drawing flags.

After a 29-16 loss to the Giants that dropped the Eagles to 1-2, Philly quarterback Mike Vick complained about the fact that he hasn’t drawn more flags for roughing the passer.  But Vick should worry less about getting hit and receiving 15 yards and more about not getting hit as much as he gets hit.

He’s still reckless with his body, and in a season featuring plenty of quarterbacks who are racking up hundreds of yards of passing by making fast decisions, Vick needs to process information more quickly and get rid of the ball.

As to the notion that he’s not the beneficiary of calls that other quarterbacks are getting, Vick is simply wrong.  In last week’s 10-pack, we pointed out that several big-name quarterbacks took big-time hits without big-yardage penalties being called.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took a low hit to the knee against the Chargers, with no flag thrown.  Ditto for one of the two low hits absorbed by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Seahawks.  And Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan suffered a blatant helmet-to-helmet hit against Vick’s Eagles, with no penalty.

Vick should worry about things he can control, not things he can’t.  With two injuries in two weeks, the ideal outcome isn’t taking a hit and getting a flag.  It’s not taking the hit.

2.  Calvin Johnson rule continues to create confusion.  (And yes, there’s an echo in here.)

In an effort to clarify the rules that apply when a receiver receives the ball while going to the ground (or being dragged to it), the league once again has failed to make the situation any less confusing.

A player must catch the ball, get two feet down (or a body part other than a hand), and possess the ball long enough to make a football move, regardless of whether a football move is actually made.  If the player is going to the ground, he must maintain possession of the ball through the act of landing.

So why did the go-ahead touchdown in the Giants-Eagles game, courtesy of a touchdown pass to receiver Victor Cruz, count?  Good question.

The league’s position seems to be that if, in the process of going to the ground, the receiver takes the ball across the plane of the goal line, he doesn’t need to maintain possession when he lands in the end zone.  And that seems to conflict with the plain language of the rule.

Supposedly, the rules for making a reception are the same regardless of whether the player is in the field of play or in the end zone.  So why does a different rule continue to apply when the player happens to be falling into the end zone?

At some point, the league needs to throw the entire rule out and start from scratch with a procedure that better reflects common sense and the reasonable expectations of those who watch, coach, and/or play the games.

3.  No-huddle offense not used as much as it should have been.

So with the league huffing and puffing when it comes to the question of defensive players faking injuries in order to take some of the steam out of a no-huddle offense, this would be the perfect weekend for offenses to shift into no-huddle overdrive, right?

Right.  But that’s not how it played out.

The research staff at Football Night in America advises that a no-huddle offense was used only five times in Sunday’s 15 games.

The Pats went no-huddle midway through the second quarter, culminating in a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowki.  The Pats used it again in the third quarter, resulting in a Brady-to-Danny-Woodhead touchdown.

In Seattle, the Cardinals went no-huddle in the second quarter, with Kevin Kolb eventually finding Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown.  The Seahawks also opened the second half without huddling.  They scored a touchdown on the drive, with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson running it in.

Finally, the Raiders opened their game against the Jets in no-huddle, with a Darren McFadden touchdown capping the effort.

That’s five no-huddle drives, five no-huddle touchdowns.  And no no-huddle injuries to defensive player, real or otherwise.

We’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing more of the no-huddle offense.

4.  Torrey Smith has a Randy Moss-style debut.

Ravens rookie receiver Torrey Smith played in the first two games of the season, but with Lee Evans playing the role of field-stretching receiver, Smith didn’t get many reps in the offense.  With Evans out on Sunday due to a lingering ankle injury, Smith got his opportunity.

And he made the most of it.

Smith had three catches for 133 yards and three touchdowns.  In the first quarter.

It was a debut that conjured memories of Randy Moss, who torched the Cowboys with three catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns on Thanksgiving in 1998.

The difference this time around is that few people were watching the Ravens-Rams game, a CBS late-afternoon regional broadcast on a day that featured a FOX doubleheader.  If it had happened on national television and/or in prime time, Torrey Smith would have been the toast of the league this week.

Instead, he’ll simply be the toast of Baltimore.

5.  Tom Jackson gets it wrong on Jermichael Finley.

During ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Tom Jackson proclaimed that Packers tight end Jermichael Finley will have a hard time against the Bears.

Given that I’d actually done some research on last year’s Week Three game between the Packers and Bears at Soldier Field, which coincidentally was aired on Jackson’s network, in preparation for Friday’s PFT Live, I knew that Finley had 115 receiving yards against Chicago in that game.  So I pointed it out on Twitter, and Finley noticed it.

Did he ever notice it.

Finley filleted the Bears for three touchdowns on Sunday, which possibly will force Jackson to claim that he was merely trying to motivate Finley.

Look, we all make predictions.  And at some point everyone is going to be wrong.  But Jackson (or the producer that planted the idea regarding Finley into his head) didn’t bother to pull up the box score from last year’s game to see that Finley has a recent history of eating the Bears’ lunch.

It’s fitting, we suppose, that the blunder occurred on the same day that the Bills beat the Patriots since that 31-0 pasting of the Pats in 2003, which prompted Jackson to declare that the Patriots hate their coach.

6.  Vikes know how to start, not finish.

One team that both the Bears and Packers could sweep this year has shown that it knows how to play very well in the first half of games, outscoring its opponents 54-7.

But in the NFL the games are played for 30 more minutes after halftime, and the Vikings have now blown leads of 10, 17, and 20 points.

It would be easy to say that the Vikings need to only step it up in the second half.  However, the frustration of ultimately losing each week eventually will cause the Vikings to have both a bad first half and a bad second half.

Something has to give this weekend.  The 0-3 Vikings visit the 0-3 Chiefs.

7.  Players jumping into the stands will eventually get the NFL sued.

When the NFL beefed up the rules regarding things players can and can’t do after scoring touchdowns, the league provided an exemption for the Lambeau Leap and its variations in other stadiums.

Eventually, the league will regret that decision.

At some point, some player is going to do a reverse stage dive into the front row and injure a fan by striking him or her with shoulder pads, cleats, a helmet, or some other part of the players’ body.  That thought immediately came to mind on Sunday, when Darren McFadden pulled a Jack Black in School of Rock maneuver after entering the end zone at the Black Hole.

We know, we know.  I’m just being a lawyer, worrying about killing everyone’s fun with concerns like reasonable prudence and customer safety.  But an injury is eventually going to happen, and here’s hoping that when it does the league won’t offer up some lame assumption of the risk or comparative negligence defense premised on the fact that the fan knew or should have known that large men in full uniform may choose to take a header into the front row.  Instead, the league needs to break out the checkbook and fairly compensate whoever was injured in the name of allowing the NFL to broadcast on a weekly basis images of players having close encounters with the fans.

8.  Heidi game, revisited.

The infamous Heidi game of 1968 featured the Jets visiting the Raiders, with the Jets leading as NBC cut to regularly-scheduled programming at 7:00 p.m. ET.  The Raiders scored one touchdown to go ahead, and another touchdown after the Jets fumbled the ensuing kickoff.  And no one in the East Coast saw it.

This year, a tie game between the Jets and Raiders had a similar exchange.  Oakland took the lead on a 25-yard touchdown run by rookie phenom Denarius Moore, and Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie mishandled the ensuing kickoff.  The Raiders recovered, and a 17-17 tie became a 31-17 Oakland lead.

The difference this time?  There was still a full quarter to play.  And the Jets thereafter made it interesting.  But it was hard not to think about 1968 when the Raiders broke the game open with those back-to-back scores.

9.  “Suck for Luck” could be key to getting Cowher.

The Dolphins reportedly aren’t ready to fire coach Tony Sparano after falling to 0-3.  Eventually, however, Sparano will be the former coach of the Dolphins, barring a dramatic turnaround.

And with so much speculation regarding the question of whether a team will deliberately lose late-season games in order to get in position to land Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, there’s another reason for the Dolphins to be tempted to give it a try.

Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher is believed to be interested only in joining a team with a very good quarterback situation.  We can’t imagine a situation much better than launching the career of Andrew Luck.

Thus, if Dolphins owner Stephen Ross hopes to woo Cowher, Ross will need someone better at quarterback than Chad Henne.  Ross possibly will need Andrew Luck in order to seal the deal with Cowher.

10.  Spagnuolo needs to win some games.

Though it’s far too early to seriously question the long-term job security of Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, it’s worth pointing out that his team is 1-6 in its last seven games.

It’s also worth pointing out that, this year, his team has been outscored 96-36, which translates to an average margin of 20 points per game.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Rams still must play the Redskins, Packers, Cowboys, and Saints before finally getting to play an NFC West foe.

And so 0-7 (and 1-10) remains a very real possibility.

Making the new Rams look a lot like the Rams of the recent past.

53 responses to “Week Three Monday 10-pack

  1. ‘And with so much speculation regarding the question of whether a team will deliberately lose late-season games in order to get in position to land Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, there’s another reason for the Dolphins to be tempted to give it a try.”

    What does losing gam coach gonna get in front of the team and say “ok gents, go out and lose this game!”es deliberately even mean anyway? What, is the

    I don’t exactly think Chad Henne is going to purposely blow a game so the team can draft his replacement, lol.

  2. I don’t expect the players to throw a game, but the coach can make all kinds of bone-head plays, substitutions, etc. to make it impossible to win

  3. NYG is a much better situation for Cowher. Better at QB, better at RB and better on D. Coughlin is sure to “retire” after this season and why wouldn’t Cowher go to NY where he can enjoy the same kind of long term stability he did in Pittsburgh?

    There could even be a chance that he would keep Gilbride for Manning. Gilbride was the one time OC in Pittsburgh under Cowher but his offense was doomed due to lack of suitable personnel (especially at QB where the choice was made to start Kent Graham ahead of Kordell Stewart… for three games not counting those due to injuries).

    Seriously, though, the Giants have Pro Bowl talent that Cowher could re-awaken as a younger “players’ coach” with a strong pedigree for winning.

  4. I know I was born 10 years after the “Heidi” game, but I doubt the thought of that game popped into many people’s heads. More likely it was:

    “Wait, the Raiders are running all over the Jets?”


    “Seriously, the Raiders are doing this?”


    “What the heck was the deal with the punt return at the end of the Packers-Bears game?”


    “No, really. The Raiders?”

  5. My Raiders are getting love from every media outlet. Its amazing what happens when you win especially against good teams.

  6. I think with the rookie salary cap in place this year, trading top picks is going to be A LOT easier. So the race for Luck may not be limited to top 3 pickers. Example: If Vikes get, lets say 6th pick and they put AD (hypothetically) and some future picks on the block for Andrew Luck, maybe they can draft him.

    So it actually it comes down to which team will be more QB desperate and give up more for Luck.

  7. As per Pt. 2 (Calvin Johnson rule) – it’s the same thing as a RB or QB…they already have possession of the ball, and once they break the plane of the goal line, play over, TD. With the original Calvin Johnson play, Johnson did not have possession until he was in the End Zone. He had to “complete the process” of making the catch, which he did not do. It’s the same for ANY reception, not just TDs.

    It’s not that hard of a rule, but any chance PFT gets to rip the Giants, they’re going to take.

  8. A QB value is 50% of a team or more. A bad QB doesn’t have to ‘blow a game’…just perform normally and the team will lose no matter how hard the players are trying.

    Most of us in Seattle believe TJack was brought in exactly for that reason… to ensure we lose for Luck or maybe Barkley, as he is a USC player.
    Going 8-8 with Hass was not an option. We need a top 5 pick.


  9. Sorry, I don’t agree with you on point 2. Victor Cruz caught the ball with his hands, planted both feet, was stood upright and then got tackled to the ground. The Calvin Johnson rule simply does not apply.

    Had he caught the ball inside the End Zone it still would have been a touchdown because going to the ground wasn’t part of the catch. It was part of being tackled after the catch.

    Cruz made the catch and then got tackled. Sure, the two things happened pretty close together but they were very cleary two separate acts.

  10. good article but i disagree on the suck for luck. every team gave it there all yesterday ( even the rams ) and while its possible this could happen down the stretch, were not quite there yet which is good. the vikings should have won, the chiefs could have won, the dolphins had a chance to win. what happens if the rams finish last this year? ohhhhh

  11. All credit to the Bills for breaking the streak yesterday – you did it, you earned it. You played lights out when the game was on the line.

    See you in Foxboro.

  12. I’ve been saying for years that as long as the McClaskey family owns the Bears the team will be mediocre. Last year they were ok, this year they will regress back to not quite mediocre.

    NFC North – Packers, Lions, Bears, Vikings.

  13. Vick should worry about things he can control, not things he can’t. With two injuries in two weeks, the ideal outcome isn’t taking a hit and getting a flag. It’s not taking the hit.


    Vick’s biggest problem (besides having trouble reading blitzes) is that he goes for the big play, every play. Many times he will ignore the wide receiver that is open underneath early to wait on the potential big play.

    I am extremely sick of announcers telling us how Vick had to hold on to the ball because the receivers aren’t open, then seeing the replay where the underneath players are open but ignored.

    One that sticks out, i think it was early in the second half (and a play on which vick got hit after the throw). A receiver ran a 10 yard comeback route on the outside (not sure who it was) but was open when he made his comeback after approx 2 – 2.5 seconds. Vick held onto the ball another 3 seconds and then tried to force into Desean Jackson’s hands about 5 yards from the first receiver.

  14. Listening to Vick cry about not drawing flags was weak.

    Its got more to do with him hanging on to the ball too long. Thats why he is “on the ground every time.”

    Finly from GB is a beast, but I do worry that Rodgers may target him too much, but the guy gets open and is a really tough matchup for anyone.

    The Vikings are just flat out sad. They should stick with the same QB cuz he got them up 20-0 in the first half.

  15. This just in. Vick is an over-rated media darling. Oh wait, that was the story five years ago too. And he is still a whiner.

    Just because I believe that Vick deserves a second chance in life does not mean I have to root for him. That seems to be an ongoing theme with the press.

    By Week 10, Philly fans may be asking for Kafka for QB. Certainly should not be asking for Vince Young. He is nothing but Vick Ultralight.

  16. After eight-plus seasons as an NFL quarterback and two years as an inmate in federal prison, Michael Vick’s sole true legacy remains intact–he is without question the most over-valued, over-hyped, overrated athlete in the history of professional sports!

  17. We’ve had players leaping into the front row long enough. In order to get those tickets you have to have been a season ticket holder long enough to know players jump into those seats. OR you paid a premium to get those tickets in the hopes it would happen. You are not paying a scalper those prices otherwise.

    So yes, some one someday will get hurt. But it would be a free American taking that risk.

    I think the practice should be outlawed because its now stupid, un-original and played out.

  18. Hope the vikings chiefs end in a tie. That would be great. The best part is McNabb should know this time that it could happen.

  19. ap and picks for 1 overall next year ur an idiot. just stop for real. best rb of the last 30 yrs and draft picks your out of ur mind o line n wr for vikes not another qb

  20. Falcons ran no huddle a bunch against Tampa Bay. I don’t have an NBC research team to confirm, but I saw it.

  21. In regards to Vick, as an Eagles fan, you’ll get no argument from me that he should be less reckless with his body and style of play so he takes less hits.

    However, to suggest that he’s “taking hits to draw penalties” is absolutely absurd. This isn’t about him taking a hit AND drawing a flag, it’s about ONCE he takes a hit whether he gets the flag or not…and he hasn’t (if you don’t see the distinction, refresh yourself on introductory statistics, namely conjunctive events vs. conditional probabilities).

    To this latter point, suggesting that (based off a sample size of ONE week that had a few examples) he’s wrong that other QBs have been treated differently in the PAST, is completely ignorant. Other QBs HAVE gotten different treatment in the past, regardless of missed calls a week ago. To ignore the past few seasons where protecting the quarterback has grown to be a bigger concern and focusing on one single week in the current season is short-sighted and weak.

  22. clavette, if the Rams end up with the first pick, thanks to the rookie pay scale, they can either take a non-QB (and not have to pay ridiculous money), or listen for good trade offers (which are more likely to be made since the team trading wouldn’t have to pay ridiculous money either).

  23. The Calvin Johnson rule is a poorly worded, and as such a poorly interpreted rule. It was intended for those players who dive for a ball and don’t return to their feet in the process of making the catch. However, it has since been used on catches that are obvious TDs (such as CJs last year) to overturn the play. That was never the intention of the rule. The rule was intended to ensure that a player who dives for a ball maintains possession even after his body hits the ground. No place within the rule does it mention “making a football move” or holding the ball for enough time to make such a move. However, there is a rule that states if a player has possession of the ball in the end zone and has both feet in the end zone, it is to be ruled a TD. On the CJ play, he caught the ball, had both hands on the ball, and his feet hit the ground. He went to the ground NOT as part of the act of making the catch, but because the defender ran into him, knocking him down. He still had possession at that time, until he went to get up from the play.

    It was a TD, and the rule was POORLY interpreted and POORLY applied in that instance, as well as others since then.

    I agree that the rule MUST be more clearly defined as to which situations it is to be used for, and what constitutes the end of the play.

  24. “Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher is believed to be interested only in joining a team with a very good quarterback situation. We can’t imagine a situation much better than launching the career of Andrew Luck.”

    Really? You can’t imagine a much better situation than a rookie quarterback? How about, I don’t know, an established stud quarterback?

  25. I’ve been thinking that the lawsuit was going to happen for diving into the stands for a while now. A few years ago a GB WR (I think Driver) attempted to jump into the stands at Soldier in a section with a lot of Packer fans. There were plenty of Bear fans there throwing things at him (mostly beer and harmless stupid drunk stuff).

    The league really has two responsibilities here. To protect the players from drunk idiots and to protect drunk idiots from the players.

  26. Danny Woodhead did not score a touchdown. It was the other 5’10” white guy who caught it. The guy who shredded Buffalo for 200+ and 2 scores, Wes Welker

  27. Vick’s not waiting for the deeper guys to get open and ignoring the checkoff guys. Vick’s waiting because his mind can’t process beyond a couple of progressions. I don’t know why this is so hard for some people to get, it’s a problem he’s had his entire career.

    As far as Cruz’s TD catch is concerned, he made the catch, got both feet down then made a “football move” by turning toward the goal line, essentially establishing possession, then got tackled in the end zone.

  28. Why anyone would watch the ESPN pre and post game shows is beyond me. NFL Network is much better. ESPN blowhards are old and boring. Jackson’s comment stated here barely scratches the surface.

  29. At least one of those hits was because he started looking for the guy that intercepted a pass from him, and he got leveled. Maybe he needs to go over the rules of football a little more, or just learn to take his lumps.
    I admire Andy Reid for giving him a second chance, but the Eagles made a huge mistake putting all their money on Vick. We here in Atlanta are enjoying the show. It is much better watching him crap out for another team.

  30. “dirtyharry44 says:
    Sep 26, 2011 9:40 AM
    Why anyone would watch the ESPN pre and post game shows is beyond me. NFL Network is much better. ESPN blowhards are old and boring. Jackson’s comment stated here barely scratches the surface.”

    I agree, with the exception that Irvin has to go. When he’s all hyped up, it’s a really hard thing to watch.

  31. AP and a pick for the right to select Andrew Luck?

    That would be an awful, awful move.

    Also, it would result in a little bit of pressure on Luck.

  32. A coach doesn’t have to tell his guys to lose for a “Suck for Luck” campaign. Look at the Colts with Peyton Manning out for the year (per the owner) all the Polian’s have to do is not sign another quarterback, keep an over his head head coach Caldwell and his staff running the team, and they will be lucky to win 2 games even if the players play with pride.

    After watching Bill Polian these past years, I think this strategy is highly possible. And Andrew Luck can learn and follow the path set out by the Packers and Aaron Rogers of replacing a Hall of Fame quarterback

  33. What was wrong with Cruz’s TD??? He caught the ball with 2 feet down outside the endzone…… he broke the plane on a football move reaching into the endzone and had the ball knocked away after he broke the plane….

  34. “Thus, if Dolphins owner Stephen Ross hopes to woo Cowher, Ross will need someone better at quarterback than Chad Henne.”

    You are nutz if you think this is hennes fault.

    7.8 ypt average 4 tds 3 ints, 2 came on desperation last plays. Almost 900 yards passing and 10 carries for 100 yards rushing.

    Here is where u should be crying. Hes been SACKED ELEVEN TIMES! Cant tell you how many dropped balls Ive seen. Hennes a different qb this year, unfortunately you are just going down your checklist of “to do’s” when a team collapses.

  35. BYE VICKKKK ! lmao.. my boys DESTROYED vick yesterday.. so him n mccoy go on record blamin the refs.. how about blame our d-line and ur o-line.. vick dont like takin hits then get the ball out quicker and stop runnin around like a RB. thats why he takes so much hits bec he cant let a play go he has to be a hero each play.. and he were the hero.. for me and my boys bec the refs had to peel vick off the turf LOVE ITTTTT

    cant think ur gonna run wild every wk and not take more hits than a normal QB..that the loss ( 🙂 ) like a man n keep it movin! even tho vick just got washed by my Defense..

  36. and might i add eli manning lookedl ike a GENERAL for the first time a year in a half or so. he looked poised and confident for the first time i seen in years. making accurate passes (even most imcomplete passes were on target just WR mistakes or drops). he was consistantly consistant. led by a monster running game. and killdrive is even startin to expand the playbook im noticing and looked damn good sunday playcalling. Eli mastered the eagles at the line of scrimage with audibles and protections.

    WHY CANT THE GIANTS DO THIS YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT we would be contendors every yr..if eli can do what he did last week each week or atleast look that good each wk id ont see why we cant win 10-11 games and make another run..

    our season is all on eli. he does what he did wk 1 n u see the result but he does what he did to eagles and u got an elite type qb who can destroy you. Cmeeeeeeeen ELI

  37. First off – is it really a top 10 storyline that a former player that is now an entertainer got it wrong about a player? Seriously?

    Secondly – what is so difficult to understand about carrying the ball over the goal line versus receiving the ball in the end zone? The play is over and dead if you have control of it going into the endzone once the ball breaks the plane. If the player is trying to gain control of the ball while already in the endzone, then obviously then need to maintain that control.

  38. savannahrose44 says: Sep 26, 2011 2:32 AM

    Something has to give this weekend. The 0-3 Vikings visit the 0-3 Chiefs.

    I have no words…
    I dont think anyone would be too surprised if they both dropped to 0-4.

  39. I’m kindof shocked coaches and owners want their million dollar players jumping in the stands anyway.

    McFadden’s jump yesterday was funny, you see some guys barely get a cheek on the wall, his whole body went over and just his feet were hanging on edge of the wall. Funny but not funny if anything there has .0001% to do with what is wrong with his groin.

  40. This is the way the catch rule should be:

    Instead of talking about “football moves” made or unmade, they should talk about “securing the ball”. In the case of CJs catch, he secured the ball and then landed on both feet. Done. It’s a catch.

    Of course, you’d see a lot more fumbles this way.

  41. Re: #6 about the Vikings: “One team that both the Bears and Packers could sweep this year”…

    While that may very well be true, ummm…you don’t think the Lions might sweep them? Seems to me their odds are pretty good given that they’re the only NFC North team that’s beat them so far…

  42. “…Hope the vikings chiefs end in a tie. That would be great. The best part is McNabb should know this time that it could happen. …”

    Why are you so confident he will remember?

    (Oh, wait, you DID say “should”…)

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